Transcript of: "BFP Roundtable Video 5– Our Takes on NATO, Russia, Turkey & the 'New Cold War'"

0:00 [START]

0:00 Sibel Edmonds [voice-over]: So It's just like, OK, let's have a real talk -- real talk -- no censorship...

0:12 Peter B. Collins: Welcome to this edition of the Boiling Frogs Post Roundtable. In San Francisco, I'm Peter B. Collins, and I host the Peter B. Collins Podcast; and the Processing Distortion Podcast that's available at BoilingFrogsPost.com. Deep in the heart of Texas, Guillermo Jimenez joins us once again. He runs Demanufacturing Consent and the TracesOfReality.com blog. Guillermo, good to see you.

0:40 Guillermo Jimenez: Good to see you too, Peter.

0:41 Peter: And joining us from the EyeOpener post in Japan, we have James Corbett of CorbettReport.com and the EyeOpener video series here at Boiling Frogs Post.

0:52 James Corbett: Good to be here, Peter. Thanks.

0:55 Peter: And the good-looking member of our panel: our publisher and, of course, the author of Classified Woman, Sibel Edmonds. Hello, Sibel.

1:04 Sibel Edmonds: Hello, everyone.

1:08 Peter: It's been a while since we've been able to convene, and quite a bit has been happening in Ukraine: and we'll start there. I also, during this conversation, want to learn more about the situation in Turkey; and Sibel is certainly very well-positioned to advance some of our knowledge about that. But as we look at events in the Ukraine, the vote in Crimea -- the posturing of both sides -- the place I would like to start is trying to separate any kind of reality from the psychological operations of both sides.

1:43 We start with the US and NATO, which was in a protracted effort to seduce Kiev into a Euro-centric relationship. Most people characterize that as primarily trade issues, but there's a lot of security that went with that package. That is what many people believe caused Yanukovich to tilt eastward to Moscow. And, of course, there are still many questions about who the protesters were in the Maidan Square; who the snipers were, in some of the culminating events. This, of course, occurred during the final week of Putin's Olympics in Sochi, [laughs] which presented some interesting contrasts and distractions.

2:37 But we also know that the US spent at least $5 billion dollars on so-called "democracy-building projects" in Ukraine that were aimed at destabilizing a democratic government. Corrupt, yes; but democratic, I think most people would widely acknowledge. And now, similar to the way the US pivoted after the military coup in Egypt last year and said that that coup put Egypt on a path to democracy, the US now maintains the legitimacy of the self-appointed government in Kiev against the challenges from Moscow about its very legitimacy. So those are just a few of the observations I have to open this discussion. And I'm gonna pick on James next -- he didn't know this was coming -- but James, give us your thoughts and your perspectives on the events as you've seen them from your post.

3:36 James: Well, I guess what strikes me first and foremost is the hypocrisy at every single stage of this conflict so far. The hypocrisy coming, of course, from people like John Kerry: "We're not in the 19th century; you can't invade a country on trumped-up pretexts." But I think the hypocrisy extends to pretty much everything that we've seen so far. Whether you look at, for example, the protest over the Crimean referendum -- "Oh, you can't have a referendum like that, that's against the Ukrainian Constitution!" As if the coup that happened with the Euromaidan was itself not in violation of the Ukrainian Constitution and an overthrow of a democratically-elected government. The hypocrisy that comes from NATO preaching to Russia: "You have to stop all of your posturing, your military posturing on the Russian side of the border there." Meanwhile, of course, Ukraine and NATO are now jointly conducting military exercises and the like.

4:30 So again, the hypocrisy striking one more time. And it continues to go off the charts; and that, I think, rankles anyone who is even halfway paying attention to what's going on. I mean, the propaganda that we're seeing now is ratcheted up to a level that I haven't seen in years and years. I imagine it was like this back during the original Cold War, and I think we're at the exact same level today -- and again, that's not really surprising for regular listeners of Boiling Frogs Post. But, just the blatant nature of it. I mean, just scrolling through the news today, I was looking for stories about the Ukraine: and every single one of them are from the Ukrainian/NATO perspective, not from the Crimean/Russian perspective at all. Every single one of them treats it like some sort of foreign, alien entity that cannot be reasoned with, cannot be understood, has has no sense of reason behind what they do.

5:27 And I think that the danger of this is twofold. Because, of course, first of all there are the people who will simply buy this: who will buy this propaganda and what's going on right now. And of course, we've seen that -- culturally -- happening on every single level: that now Putin is being cast as some kind of demon from hell or something, and people are just sleepwalking into it. The other problem is, of course, this is kind of a tu quoque logical fallacy. It's, "Well, the other guys are doing this, so it's OK if we do it." And I think we shouldn't fall into that trap: that it's one side or another, or we should be on the Russian side as opposed to the NATO side. I think what we're seeing is basically two powers carving out a section of a country for their own geopolitical purposes, and we would be naive to think that this doesn't... that Putin or NATO are not interested in this for their own economic and political reasons, rather than for the good of the Ukrainian people, or the people of Crimea, or what have you.

6:25 So I'm wary of the number of pitfalls that come from this story. So I'd be interested to turn it over to Guillermo to get his take on that, and whether or not he thinks that this is, again, some sort of trap that we're being forced into -- whether it's a pincer movement: you have to choose one side or the other.

6:43 Guillermo: Yeah, I'd agree with that sentiment. In fact, that's what struck me most about the sort of stuff we've seen in the media so far. You touched on it, Peter, touched on it: the... sort of, psyop -- whatever you want to call it -- propaganda war. And the idea -- and in fact, James, you actually... I think you touched on this in a recent podcast -- which I thoroughly enjoyed, because it's exactly the way I felt -- that the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. And the way this has been framed in the media thus far... I think I've said this once before, but I really do feel like it's like this: it's something like a multiple-choice test, and one with only two answers. It's either A or B; it's... you're either with the US and NATO, or you're with the Russians. In other words, as you point out, the fact that this has in some way -- or in many ways, really -- been orchestrated by the US and NATO, what's happening in the Ukraine: then... you are then, by extension, a Russian apologist; you're Putin apologist, and so forth.

7:42 And so, that's the way it's been framed in most of the media. And up until recently, it was most of the media across the board: whether mainstream or alternative, or pseudo-alternative, or whatever you want to call it. It's been like that: it's been that sort of dichotomy, that false dichotomy, throughout. And that's what really stuck me the most about it. That's what I've kind of been focusing on, is the way that it's been framed in the media so far.

And something else that you pointed out that I thought was worth echoing in regards to media as well: the way that Russia's painted in this -- if they're mentioned at all, right? If the perspective is at all brought up -- it's in a sort of... as you say, in a way that this other entity, whatever it is, cannot be reasoned with; cannot be talked to. And this is a classic dehumanization tactic when painting your enemy, or... how should I put this? When framing an enemy, it's important to do this, of course, in the minds of the public. Otherwise... well, they wouldn't be your enemy if you saw them in the same way: as relatable; as people; as people that could be talked to, with... and something could be reached through diplomacy, in other words.

8:52 So that's something that gets forgotten. Immediately the war drums start beating, and that's always the solution, is intervention on the part of either the military directly through the United States, or through NATO. So that's kind of my two cents on that, thus far.

9:12 Peter: Sibel? Tell us what you think.

9:16 Sibel: Sure. [laughs]. Well, I think a lot of posturing is going on on both sides, while both sides know exactly how this game is going to end. Because historically, Crimea has been in this situation for a long time: there has always been this... kind of an invisible divisive line there between Crimea region and the rest of Ukraine, if you look at Ukraine. And I predict that it's going to end up with Crimea getting separated from Ukraine, and both parties after all the posturing saying, "OK, now everything is fine."

9:51 And I want to approach this from the Russian people's perspective, because I think they're in a pretty screwed-up situation as well -- in terms of being given information in Russia -- as we are here, in the United States, as well. Because, again, I want us to take a look at the last, let's say, 17, 18 years, OK? We basically engaged in similar games with Eastern Europe. I mean, we chopped and divided Serbia; we had Albania and Kosovo and Bosnia; we brought in mujahideen from across the Middle East into Eastern Europe, and basically tore apart and divided those nations. We broke up all those countries, just the way that's going to happen with Ukraine.

10:40 And guess, really, what happened with Russia? What did Russia really do? I mean, they did have some posturing there; but US and NATO: they had complete free hand, going in there and taking care of Eastern Europe and taking over the Eastern Europe. And guess what happened next? We have started putting all our bases there. I mean, name a country in Eastern Europe today that is not a NATO base. Can you think of any? I mean, take a look at it: Romania, Poland...

11:11 And so that's what happened, and we saw nothing from Russia. You know: zero, zilch. And then move forward, fast forward... I would say, to the past 15, 16 years. We started meddling and positioning ourself -- and by "we," "us," I mean the United States and NATO -- in all over Central Asia and Caucasus. Azerbaijan: candidate NATO member, OK? With all our troops actually there already: with NATO troops there, they have been training them; and this started in 2002. Georgia: NATO candidate. Take a look at the proximity of these nations, these ex-Soviet blocs, to Russia.

11:55 What has Russia done in the face of all these bases coming right in its backyard? Really, what has it done? Until recently, we had Kyrgyzstan. We had the Manas Airbase. So Kyrgyzstan kicked us out, and we were not really unhappy with it because Kyrgyzstan lost its importance. Now we have Georgia; we have Azerbaijan. We are talking about Estonia; we are talking about Lithuania.

12:21 I think what Russia has had for the past couple of decades since the Soviets' fall... they haven't had real nationalist presidents. They have had presidents and leaders that are... they are good at posturing, like Putin with Syria and everything. Well, Putin has to do this to a certain degree, the posturing. Otherwise, Putin won't stay in this position. But, is Putin a real Russian nationalist? Is he a Russian nationalist president? I would say, absolutely not. And the guy before Putin? Absolutely not: Yeltsin? Are you kidding me?

13:00 Just the other day I was reading this article -- again, somebody wrote it in Russia, and it had to do with the net worth of Putin: that they were putting it somewhere between $250 million dollars and $500 million dollars. And supposedly all these assets, his money -- and this is Putin -- is outside Russia. Well, when I was working with the FBI, through some of the targets we had, there were a lot of discussions and intelligence exchanged that had to do with a lot of assets that -- actually, even at that time -- Putin had in Cyprus, the Greek side of Cyprus. Well, what is this? Greece is not NATO?

13:37 So you're looking at Russia being run by people who really don't have that real Russian nationalist mental attitude, or the feelings, or the belief. They are not idealists; they are not the Russian idealists. Because of that, I kind of shrug off this entire talk of Cold War. And I know that both parties know the endgame: and that being Putin, and also EU/NATO and the United States. Crimea eventually, within the next few months, is gonna be separated, just as we saw happening when we had Yugoslavia and Bulgaristan [sic] disappearing, and getting into these little chunks and pieces. So, that's exactly what we are seeing, and that's how I view the entire situation that we are seeing.

14:28 Peter: I'd like to ask each of the panelists just to critique the United States in this episode. Because I think that the shift last August, when Obama threatened military action against Syria and took us to the brink of war, only to be rescued by Putin -- saved from himself, is how I would describe it -- and I think that Putin saw that as tremendous weakness on the part of the United States. And coupling that with the personal snub --because Obama wouldn't attend the Olympics, and Obama said he was doing that because Ed Snowden is still in Moscow, and perhaps over the gay issues -- but bottom line is, I think that there's a combination of ego and personal pique, plus the opportunism that was really exposed in the way the US mishandled that episode with Syria. James, you want to start?

15:41 James: Well, I think there's something to what you're saying; but to be honest, I don't put a lot of truck in the idea that this really does come down to the interpersonal conflicts of people like Obama and Putin. I think this is part of a much, much broader agenda that has been playing out through administration after administration. As Sibel was saying, for at least a decade and a half, we've been watching this gradual encirclement of Russia by NATO. And again, as Sibel pointed out, we haven't seen a lot of reaction from Russia -- either geopolitically, economically; in any real way -- to this. And that, again, remains the puzzling part.

16:17 And this is something that Sibel and I addressed a number of times in our Gladio B series and in some of our other talks: where, we know that Russia is well-aware of the fact that NATO/Gladio has been operating on their doorstep for a very long time now, and continues to threaten with these staged and provoked terror attacks. And yet -- although, presumably, they do have the goods on this -- have still not come with... produced the goods, to show that this is happening. And it really does raise the question of, "Why? What is going on here? Why do they hold back?"

16:53 And I think one of the answers to that question, that at least makes some plausible sense, is that the War on Terror narrative and all of this, again, serves Russian interests in the same way that it serves interests at home. So that Obama can use the national security threat to implement whatever type of agenda he's looking for, in the same way that Russia can use the national security threat, and Putin can parade on the victims of various terror attacks -- including the ones that he... if not staged, at least certainly looked the other way when they happened, back when he was coming into office. Back in 1999, with the Moscow apartment building bombings -- which, again: I think is a very, very blatant false flag event which needs to be looked into.

17:37 So again, I think that rather than looking at these individual leaders, I think what we need to do is examine the geopolitical and economic interests behind them. And again, I will have to side with Sibel on this: I do see the propaganda war, framing this as the new Cold War. And insofar as that is the new frame for what's going on, I think that that will play itself out in reality. I think there will be that tension; everything will be framed within that from now on. But I really do question to what extent these people are not... if not, exactly, on the same side, at least not exactly on opposite sides. They are using the same strategies and the same types of terror campaigns and the like to produce the same results in their populations. So I am quite skeptical about the way this is all being framed, and where it's heading from here. And again, that's why I want to warn about the either/or mentality that comes along with these types of conflicts.

18:38 Peter: Yeah, that's a very good point. The false choices are often just presented to distract you from a whole range of other possibilities. And it's quite effective; there's no doubt about it. Guillermo?

18:47 Guillermo: Yeah, I guess just to add to that: I know what you're saying as far as what this appears like on the surface with regard to this new Cold War. I've read commentaries like this in the press, specifically regarding Snowden -- because you brought him up, Peter. You know, this was supposed to be Putin's great chess piece that he was able to claim -- in providing Snowden asylum, was able to claim this politically -- as a great victory, and sort of put that in the face of the United States. And of course, Syria is another one of those things that, superficially at least, could be used in that same way.

19:24 I think you're on to something there, James. That's very interesting, and it's giving me at least some pause for thought: the idea that this Global War on Terror meme benefits not just the United States, but countries like Russia as well that, again, appear to be diametrically opposed -- but are they, really? [laughs] So that's interesting. Again, it's given me a lot to think about; but other than that, I really don't know what else to offer at the moment regarding that, specifically.

19:54 Peter: Sibel?

19:56 Sibel: As I said a few months ago -- seven, eight months ago -- I said with Syria, the only thing we are seeing here is a pause. The only thing we are seeing: it has been placed on pause; and it's going to restart again. It's not that, "OK, permanently hands off: Russia won, Putin got his way." No, not at all. I mean, if you look at the latest bill that was passed; the fact that we just sent tanks to the rebels; the fact that it's heating up again, the situation between Turkey and Syria -- which is, with Turkey we are talking about NATO and US, of course, green light and leading from the back -- we are seeing that we are going back again with Syria. And again, James really articulated all those points very, very, well, and we are totally in agreement on that.

20:41 And again, I want to go back to the Russian side and say... well, one of the things that the Russians are experiencing here is the neutered Russia. I mean, truly, it has been the neutered Russia. And I'm trying to keep up and follow up the news on the other factions within Russia -- whether the ultranationalists, or even the moderate nationalists in Russia -- how do they really view this: seeing themselves as a nation sitting there, and they have been -- really non-stop, consistently -- being encircled, and encircled, and encircled. I mean, think about it: we had that brief episode of, what six, seven days' war between Georgia and Abkhazia; and Georgia is basically almost there with being formally, officially --- even though unofficially, it has been part of NATO, really -- become a NATO member. And as I talked about it... again, last time we talked about this with Azerbaijan and what's happening with Azerbaijan.

21:47 So, the circle is really closing in, and we really don't see anything in Russia. And of course, the other thing with the pause... and I would say it had to do with some of the discontent here domestically in the United States on the issue of Syria. You know, it was pretty quick with Libya. It was like, boom-boom-boom, it was done. I mean, there was not even enough time for people to react -- whether globally, or here in the United States. But with Syria, we started seeing a little bit more of dissent here that was vocal -- and talking about false flag attacks possibility; questioning all these issues of chemical attacks.

22:27 And you know how it is when Hollywood starts making too many movies on the same topic? They say, "You know what? We've saturated the market. We need to come up with something new." I think the establishment -- the shadow government, the real deep state within the United States, the global deep states -- they feel like they have played this al-Qaeda card for too long. It's not... I mean, you kind of build immunity to it, to a certain degree, as we saw with Syria. People are not as easily getting bought into... to this whole concept; and it's becoming kind of an old factor, the tool that's being played.

23:06 So, why not pause it, and bring in the Communism and Russia and Putin? [laughter] And we have all these unbelievable poster-like pictures of Putin squinting and looking at the camera; and there is Obama being tough. And we buy that mentality in the US, saying, "Yeah, we gonna stand up; those bad Russians are after us again, and we are the superpower." And guess what? For the majority of the Americans, unfortunately, it has been working. And it's amazing: they have these surveys... as part of the surveys, that most of the people who are really talking big on being against Russia and everything are people who can't even point out where the hell Ukraine is on the map.

23:50 Peter: [laughs]

23:54 Sibel: They don't know anything about Ukraine, where it is on the map; what is the history of the people in Crimea; how that is a little bit different than the rest of Ukraine -- eastern Ukraine versus the rest of Ukraine. And you get to see those people, and that is the playback of what it was during the Cold War: it's the ideology.

24:14 And maybe part of it -- you may agree or disagree -- is the psychology of the masses. We love to have heroes, and we also love to have antagonists and enemies. That gets us going. You know, nothing to revive that nationalistic feeling like "big, bad, evil enemy." [laughter] And al-Qaeda's kind of fading away, man. It was not really effective anymore. So, why not bring Putin and old Russia back, and sit back and watch people just fall for it -- you know, dumbly fall for it -- and get energized. We are now energized again with that animosity, with that competitive streak: us against them, the big bad ex-Communist Russians. [laughs] With $300 million dollars in bank accounts in Western countries. [laughs]

25:07 Guillermo: "U-S-A! U-S-A!" Right: imagine the "#1!" thumb-finger, right? No, that's absolutely right: that really did, that struck a chord with me: the idea of this nationalistic fervor. War is the health of the state, right? And you can't have a war without an enemy to fight. And I'm curious... I want to ask you guys a question, actually: I'm curious about how each of you would respond to the criticism that has been out, circulates out there on the Interwebs -- we touched on this earlier, a little bit -- the idea that it's not either/or; it's not this false dichotomy of good guy or bad guy; it's much more complicated than that; the world isn't black-and-white, it's shades of grey. And there are certainly -- for sure, there's dictators all over the world that deserve to be deposed. I just feel that the US shouldn't be involved at all, as in... our interventionist, or whatever.

25:59 But this I've seen out there, though: that, again, if you don't sufficiently criticize the governments of, for example, Russia; or the government of Ukraine; or the government of Venezuela, for example: then you're an apologist for these regimes, and you must be pro- whatever regime is in power. But see... I mean, me personally -- and I'd imagine, James, you'd have a different perspective on this -- because me, personally, I sort of feel like... I sort of see it as a duty, almost, to criticize my own governments, in a way -- since, this is where my tax dollars go: I'm paying for this, after all. This is all happening in my name and in our name, so to speak; and we're, in fact, paying for it -- quite literally. And in fact, Jon Weiner wrote a commentary piece about this. It's not directly related, but he kind of touched on these same themes about, "Why are we paying for this stuff? Why do we keep paying for the surveillance state, for the national security state?" And just kind of, it serves as a good reminder that we are, indeed, doing just that.

27:02 But I am just curious about how each of you would respond to that bit of criticism: that we don't sufficiently criticize other government and focus, instead, on the United States. And as I've said, Peter, Sibel and I are all in the States; but James, you are in Japan -- a Canadian, no less, [laughs] living in Japan -- so I'd imagine you have a different perspective on that.

27:21 James: I suppose I do. And although you say that I might not agree with that, in fact I do agree with what you're saying; because I think our moral responsibility starts and... maybe not "ends," but at any rate, it largely contains the area that overlaps our area of ability to do something about this. And you're exactly right: if you are an American taxpayer funding the American war machine, then I think your first obligation is to be responsible for where that money is going and to what's happening to it and with it. That's the moral responsibility of someone in the United States.

27:56 So I do agree with that principle. And that's exactly why, in this age of the American Empire, the overarching American Empire -- whose military umbrella, of course, not only encompasses my home country of Canada, but now my adopted country of Japan -- that is why I spend a lot of time focusing on the American Empire and its claws that are reaching into every corner of the globe. And deservedly so: I mean, it is certainly a regime that needs to be held to account.

28:24 But I think my critique with regards to the either/or trap is beyond that analysis. Because I think that once people understand that yes, you're going to have people in the United States... of course, there are the people who rally around the flag, and then there are the people who resist that and will critique the US government. But again, both sides of that are playing into the same dichotomy. And that's not to say that we shouldn't be criticizing the US government and what it's doing; it's not to be saying that we shouldn't spend all of our time -- or most of our time, or the majority of our time, or more of our time -- criticizing the other side of that debate. It's just to understand that when critiquing the United States, we're not doing so in a way that implies that the other side is right.

29:10 And that might be more philosophical than it is practical. [laughter] And that's why I understand there are a lot of people who have problems with this analysis, and why there's... I've gotten some kickback from some people who say, "Well, what are you talking about? America is clearly the aggressor here." And I agree: again, America -- and NATO generally -- is, sort of, the aggressor in the Ukrainian situation; and I do agree with that principle. But, again: it does not make Putin an angel. And I am just very, very, concerned about how this can turn into a conflict that it doesn't have to be. And again, that's all very theoretical and philosophical, [laughter] so I will turn it over to Peter, who hasn't spoken very much himself on this, and get his opinion on this. Where do you stand on this, Peter?

29:52 Peter: Well, Guillermo, what you're touching on is what I consider to be the way policy and issues like this, conflicts, are reduced to cartoon levels. And I take it back to Poppy Bush and his grand invasion of Panama. And he first worked over the American public to demonize Manuel -- what was his name? [laughs] Noriega, Manuel Noriega. See? We forget these cartoon guys! [laughter] And then, of course, was Operation Desert Storm. He intentionally mispronounced "Sad-_d__ăm_" and tried to turn him into this super-evil character.

30:39 And so this is something that, I think, their market research has shown: the American people are pretty easy to buffalo with. And you create these extreme images of good and bad, and you demonize your opponent with everything from halitosis to false claims of nuclear and biological weapons, to the point where people -- it triggers that nationalist response: "Well, we're the good guys: everything we do is right."

31:13 And this surfaced shortly after Yanukovich was deposed; and the meme that was attributed to Angela Merkel, that was then exaggerated and hyped in the American media, was that "Putin is crazy." And that he is in a different orbit, or on a different planet. And there are a lot of negative things that you can correctly say about Vladimir Putin, but I don't think he's crazy. I think he's a very smart and calculating man. And so this was just another example -- to me -- of using this kind of cartoon approach, to really create these monsters that the public would want to tilt at.

32:02 Sibel: Well, actually, one of the things that... one of the points that Guillermo's question raised for me, brought up -- which was... I think it's a very going point -- it's not exactly on the same channel of the thought that we had been discussing, but when it comes to the dollars an money and the taxpayers, et cetera, I want to point out two other facts here at play. Number one: even though it has been on the back pages -- I do the aggregated news at Boiling Frogs Post -- NATO, for the past few days, has been screaming and saying they have been suffering budget-wise. And here, what's happening with Ukraine and Russia shows how badly they need to supplement NATO's budget, and increase it, and expand it. And with all the tension going on, I believe they're gonna sail through that, too.

32:55 Because, again -- with NATO, as well -- after the fall of the Soviet Union, you had the rest of the NATO member nations saying, "Well, you know what? Cold War is over." So, and with all the austerity and everything happening all over Europe, it was kind of a sticking-point issue with the Europeans, of increasing NATO's budget. But now, you just watch and see how quickly they're gonna be able to raise their budget -- NATO -- without having much screaming or the dissent from the public.

33:29 Now, staying back here in the United States, I talked about the pause on Syria. There is another issue we have had a pause on; and that is the debt ceiling, and all this... our own austerity: "We are going to cut on defense. Look at Pentagon expenditure, this mammoth that is getting so big and fat!" Guess what? The deadline is approaching for debt ceiling, OK? And one of the things that's going to happen with the current hiking-up of the tension with Russia, the revival of Cold War mentality: you are not going to see much argument in the United States Congress on debt ceiling, and especially as it applies on expenditure on intelligence and on Pentagon.

34:15 Take a look at Google News, and put the keywords in there: and put "budget;" "intelligence budget" and the "defense budget." And you're going to see how they are linking the current situation and tension and everything that is happening -- the posturing -- to, "Have we become too weak, as defense?" I read another headline -- I didn't read the entire article -- talking about, "Isn't it time to expand the CIA and have them refocus on their espionage activities, and with what's happening in Russia? Because CIA has become too small or weak in terms of its own espionage activities against Russians."

34:52 So what we're gonna see with all this is, next time when it comes up -- which, it's going to come up: all the negotiations and discussions in Congress with the debt ceiling and budget, and cutting the defense and intelligence -- you're not gonna hear a peep from any of the representatives. Nobody is gonna dare to be not nationalistic and American [laughter] --during this tough, scary time against Russia -- not to raise the debt ceiling, and not to expand this already-ginormous Pentagon further. Because that's another great externality, positive externality -- that is, providing the situation, the posturing, the exaggeration with Russia -- is, what's going to happen domestically here. Because our economies suck, OK? [laughter] And that itself has become a sticking point. I know the Tea Party has been using it; libertarians, they have been using it; people have been screaming; unemployment hasn't really recovered that much. And having this -- as it did with Cold War for 40 years, 50 years -- "No matter how much you spend, it's not enough, dude. Spend more." And we, if we are real Americans, if we are proud of our flag, we're gonna say, "What do you mean, you're gonna increase it by $5 billion? Make that $50! There is that big, big bad evil Russians there." So that's another thing we're gonna see; and as a taxpayer, Guillermo, I'm very concerned. [laughter]

36:16 James: Well, just to back you up on that point, I saw a tweet from our old friend NATO Secretary Anders Fogh-Rasmussen the other day saying exactly that: "Now is the time to start increasing the NATO budget again." And so I replied with something to the effect of "You bloodletting psychopath," or something like that [laughter] -- which received a lot of re-tweets, thankfully.

36:37 Guillermo: That gets re-tweeted; exactly, yeah...

36:39 James: No, but I think you're exactly right: we can see this coming. And we've been experiencing it here in the Asia-Pacific region for a while now, with the new threat of the Chinese boogeyman -- and that being the Asia-Pacific pivot and the increase in the military budgets here: now there's another front on this New Cold War as it's being termed.

36:57 If you don't mind, I'd like to hijack this conversation and steer it towards our other topic of Syria and the Seymour Hersh article in the London Review of Books that came out recently. Because I actually have to get running along to another interview at a quarter past the hour. So I just wanted to turn to this: this issue of Seymour Hersh's new article. And for people who haven't seen it, it is at LRB.co.uk, "The Red Line and the Rat-Line." And basically, talking about the Syrian chemical weapons attacking Gouda last year, and the intelligence that was being formed around that -- that was trying to put the blame on Assad, but that tended to backfire; and that's why the whole operation to bomb Syria was called off. For people who don't know, this is basically a continuation of Seymour's reporting -- Hersh's reporting: I shouldn't be on a first-name basis with someone I don't know, I suppose [laughter] -- with Hersh's reporting in the LRB back in December, and basically this is just a continuation of that with more behind-the-scenes details. And of course, like every other Seymour Hersh article, it's based on insider accounts of anonymous intelligence officials and people who are involved in these conversations; so take it for what it's worth.

38:05 And I want to... in fact, specifically to ask Sibel's opinion on what it's worth, because I know you've met... talked to Seymour in person, and you know him to a certain extent. And you know, here he is writing this article now -- months and months and months and months after the incident; and months and months and months after we've been talking about this -- to come out with the behind-the-scenes details of, for example, Erdoğan's visit to the White House last year and what that was all about, and what those officials were saying. And, in fact, coming out exactly to confirm what you and I were talking about in our conversation in January, about Erdoğan and his reverse-engineering.

38:47 And he quotes, for example, one intelligence official as saying that during... "By the end of 2012 Erdoğan was pissed and felt that he was left hanging on the vine. It was his money, and the cut-off was seen as a betrayal." Basically, the cut-off of the Syrian invasion plans and everything: so, Erdoğan felt that he was holding the bag; so he wanted to stage something to get back into it. So it puts all this blame on what Erdoğan was doing in engineering this chemical weapons attack. Very interesting: very interesting this is coming out now, in the way that it is -- from a source that clearly has a lot of sources on the inside of the White House, and intelligence officials, and people who want to leak this to him for their own specific reasons.

39:30 Sibel, why is Seymour Hersh coming out with this now, six years into the Obama administration -- who he has not criticized at all, really, substantively, so far?

39:41 Sibel: And that's a good way of starting this question, because we have always talked about the importance of context and history. It always comes up during our roundtable, how it is with media: they never provide that. And it's so important to quickly provide that context. Because I wrote several articles: in a way, politely -- which is not my usual modus operandi -- politely, I had been criticizing Seymour Hersh. And in one of my articles, I went back and I counted his novella-like articles during the Bush administration. And during this time, he also wrote an entire book: a very thick book.

40:19 He wrote, for New Yorker, 16 articles during the Bush administrations, and on average, every one of these articles were 10 pages long -- single-spaced, tiny little fonts [laughs] -- at New Yorker. And then about year-and-a-half, two years ago, I went back and I counted. During the Obama administration, he had one -- and it had nothing to do with any of Obama administration's wars and black ops, et cetera, et cetera.

40:44 And during the Obama administration we have had so much happening. You know, we had Libya; and where was Seymour Hersh? [looks around] Absent. And we had Egypt happening, and where was Seymour Hersh? [looks around] Absent. We have had... you know, the Syria situation, we've had that since 2011. In fact, Boiling Frogs Post was one of the first sites that reported Americans -- NATO and US troops -- training the rebels in southern Turkey using the US base in southern Turkey, İncirlik Base in Adana. And this is November, OK? This is October, November 2011: where was Seymour Hersh? [looks around] Nowheres to be seen. NDAA...you name it: he has been absent. Very conveniently: because we have had a Democrat president, and because the New Yorker has been very happy to say, "We give all your salary, just shut up; go away, have a vacation. Once we have the Republican, come back and just start where you left off, OK?"

41:48 Now, I know him. He's been a friend. As a person, I respect him; I like him. But as a journalist, he is a highly biased, highly partisan person -- which is, again, a norm with mainstream media. Because he's been working for The New Yorker, and all you have to do, look at The New Yorker. As far as this article is concerned, it is not like lots of misleading stuff. No, it's a decent article. There are some really good points in these articles and I wouldn't be surprised -- and we have discussed this; even, we were talking about the fact, that probably that was a false-flag operation, with this sarin case with Syria. And most likely, Turkey was going to be the country that was going to come up with this, saying, "Oh, here is is: we've proved." In fact, even after the international community ruled out Assad as the source -- and Assad's regime as the source of those chemical operations -- Turkey said, "We don't accept that. We're gonna have our own labs examine it." [laughs] "And most likely, we're going to arrive at a different conclusion."

42:55 So i don't even disagree that that hypothesis, theory: that most likely Turkey was behind this; it was made up. But what Seymour Hersh has done here is, he has put a lot of things on Turkey and Erdoğan. And especially now, especially since for the past six months to a year, US has been totally... upped the propaganda against Erdoğan. And this is Fethullah Gülen: the imam with the CIA operation, trying to oust him; and, of course, the rift between Erdoğan's administration and Fethullah Gülen. And they did their best -- and this is the neocons; this is the Israel lobby; this is the Obama administration, with the mainstream media here in the United States talking about how he's become unpopular -- and guess what? The results came back -- the elections results -- and the party didn't even lose less than 2 percent popularity relative to... compared to two years, and four years, and six years before with the elections.

44:02 So for Seymour Hersh to come right at this point to write this, to put all this thing, and the focus, on Erdoğan and on Turkey; yet, Seymour Hersh did not talk about -- and despite all his "high-level US military sources and US intelligence sources" -- he's not talking about how in 2011, it was NATO and the US training the rebels there. It was US, and it has been the US and NATO, directing all these scenarios, using Turkey -- because Turkey is the neighbor and it's right there across the border -- against the Assad administration. And just making this... you can take all these different... cherry-pick all sorts of bads, throw in a few hypotheses, and arrive at any conclusion you want to arrive. And with Seymour Hersh, in this case, it's even more pathetic: there is no conclusion. He's saying, "Probably, most likely, possibly, maybe Erdoğan and the Turks were setting this up as a false flag." Well, we talked about that. We talked about that: this is highly possible, sure. So, what's the deal?

45:05 But what it has achieved, this article, is what Israel -- and what the neocons, with all their neocon-related media publications -- have been doing against Erdoğan administration: the current administration, the democratically-elected administration in Turkey. And he is echoing the Israelis, the Zionists, the neocons. And there is no difference between the tone of Seymour Hersh's article and, let's say, some of the neocon Zionists that we have been talking about who have been writing at Washington Post and New York Times against Turkey, and Turkey and Syria.

45:47 Who is the director and the producer of all these situations with Syria? It's been the United States of America. Look: Obama is sending all these tanks, now, to the rebels. To come and say, 'This is some sort of a 'kinda'" -- and to put it in Seymour Hersh's terms -- "independent move by Erdoğan and Turkey," that is really hypocritical. And considering the situation the United States put Turkey in: because US used Turkey, did all the stuff; and of course with Putin... -- and we talked about that, everything that happened -- United States decided to put a pause on Syria. Guess what? Who's left out there really naked?

46:27 It was Turkey. it's like, "You caused this situation, now we are really big-time enemies..." -- Assad regime and the Erdoğan administration, Turkish government -- "and with all the refugees that are coming to Turkey, all the chaos that is happening along the borders, now you said you decided to put a pause. Well, what are we gonna do?" So Erdoğan has been saying, "Heck with you! We're gonna do some of this stuff ourselves." Well, obviously Obama is saying, "Not so fast, we are doing it too. Let's do it all together." [laughter] So it's back on again: the Syria game is warming up, and it's back on again. Anyone else? [laughter]

47:04 Peter: Well, a couple of things. One is that I share Sibel's frustration with Sy Hersh, and I canceled my subscription to The New Yorker a couple of years ago because they weren't publishing him anymore. i miss the cartoons. What I will say is that his article did confirm some important things that we could only speculate about before. Our friend Pepe Escobar... who was the first to relate the Benghazi episode to gun-running of Libyan arms into Syria; and Hersh advances that to the recipient party, being al-Nusra Front -- which, of course, is widely reported as being al-Qaeda-linked in the American media.

47:54 The other piece: I think, that while we can quibble with some of the unsourced information that Hersh published, I think that the bottom is that it destroys the credibility of Obama and Kerry in their assertions last August that, "We know. We know this, we know that, we know-know-know." And they were lying. And that part is extremely clear. Now -- also sourced through Pepe Escobar -- my leading suspect for the supplier of the ingredients for the crude chemical weapon that apparently was used in Gouda was Bandar and the Saudis. So in some ways, Hersh appears to be providing some exculpatory information regarding at least a direct Saudi role in the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

48:57 But I also think that the benefit of this story is -- to the extent that Americans become aware of it; and that's another problem -- is that, because it was published in London, there are blog article about it, but very little has surfaced in the corporate media -- at least to my knowledge. But to the extent that people know about it, I think that it will give further pause to any aggressive American moves in Syria, and I can only regard that as beneficial.

49:35 Guillermo: Uh, well, not much left to say on this, but I think that what I'll add is that I had a similar reaction to the article that you did, Peter, initially. I sort of saw it as a confirmation of many of the suspicions that were already circulating, that people have talked about. But I think you made a good point, James, that most of the confirmation is done through anonymous sources. So that's as good as speculation, really: if you're just going to cite anonymous sources. I'll also point out that -- for anyone who's coming at the information for the first time, or who's reading about this rat line and all this stuff for the very first time and is citing the Seymour Hersh article to do so -- I'll just point out what my pal Danny Benavides pointed out on Traces of Reality in the latest "#Terrornoia" update, that Tony Cartalucci wrote about this first on Land Destroyer, "NATO Using Al Qaeda Rat Lines to Flood Syria With Foreign Terrorists," back in October of 2012. So just want to throw that out there as evidence that really, little of this is anything new.

50:42 James: And let me just clarify my position there on the anonymous sources. it's not so much that I disbelieve what those sources are saying in the article, because I'm sure Hersh does have those types of contacts. But my point is more to the effect that these sources are allowed to say these types of things at a certain time that's strategically to the benefit of one or another party within these, sort of, factions of government. So I think that... you know, why is this coming out now, at this particular point? And I think that's in line with Sibel's overall point, that this is the attempt to demonize Erdoğan at this particular time.

51:19 Sibel: And I wanna add...

51:22 Peter: And that's... pardon me, but that's the strategic leak that propels the Hersh article: which is, that the US is brushing back Erdoğan.

51:32 Sibel: Right. And I want to add one thing -- and this has... not really... nothing to do with Syria or Turkey -- and that boils down to the discussion of the "real journalism, pseudo-journalism, somewhere-in-between journalism" that we have been having here. Tony Cartalucci, you mentioned: I have been following him. I really like his writings. He's been a great analyst. And as I said, Boiling Frogs Post broke this story on the Syria in 2011. And James interviewed some sources, including a source from Syria.

52:04 So you're looking at all these independent, alternative, small journalists who have been doing all this reporting on Syria, and even our source was attacked: "Well, how did we establish that much credibility?" Even though he was proved to be absolutely solid with what he provided to us. So, we have gotten much more than... after -- at the end of this whole stage with Syria -- doing nothing for six years, Seymour Hersh comes back and writes a six-page article. Saying, "Dude, where have you been?" [laughter] OK? Number one.

52:34 Number two: with all your resources, with all your contacts, you came up with this. A., It's old story, even though it confirms some of the stuff. B., We have had all these independent journalists putting all this stuff forward. And so it just shows you that independent media -- and some of the real, true independent journalists -- are doing work superior to those formerly Pulitzer-winning people. And for some of them I would say, instead of taking this six, eight years' absence, either say, "I have reached senility stage," and goddamn retire. And go away and enjoy all the money you have made from all of this stuff -- good for you, you have done some great work -- you're a good friend, I like you, I have enjoyed all of our gatherings and everything -- but just for the dignity, say, "You know what? I'm retired now. I'm 75, and I just make myself look so dumb, and without integrity, going away and taking a vacation for eight years when it's a Democrat becoming the President. And I'm..."

53:37 Not for Seymour Hersh: it's for everyone. Just get the hell out of the industry, OK? Go and enjoy your money and don't come back. Or, if you want to be a journalist, and if you want to look like you are someone, or if you want to show that you are someone who deserves to be recognized as a great journalist, then do the journalism like a goddamn journalist does, regardless of who is in the office, OK? Do your research, right your novellas, great articles that you wrote during the Bush administration. I didn't disagree with a single article he wrote: they were fantastic. I was saying hooray to him.

54:10 But guess what? I mean, it really lowers and makes a person stinky to come and take a six years' vacation. So it's time for Seymour Hersh, I believe -- and I hope if he's listening to it, he will take a cue. Retire, go play tennis -- he loves playing tennis -- and just go away, OK? And put your Pulitzers over there on the wall, but go away. But don't do these "paid vacation by New Yorker," because that's not journalism. And that's my last word on this.

54:38 Peter: And on that note...

54:39 James: Sibel, don't hold back: tell us what you really think! [laughter]

54:41 Sibel: Oh, no, I won't. No, no, way.

54:44 Peter: On that note: our thanks to Sibel Edmonds, James Corbett, Guillermo Jimenez, and I'm Peter B. Collins. Thanks for joining us for the Boiling Frogs Post Roundtable.

54:55 [END]


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This transcript by "Adjuvant" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

changed November 2, 2014