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Reprinted from Consortium News
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (right) talks with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, with John Brennan and other national security aides present.
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CIA Director John Brennan told TV host Charlie Rose on Friday that, on assuming office, President Barack Obama "did not have a good deal of experience" in intelligence-related matters, adding -- with remarkable condescension -- that now "he has gone to school and understands the complexities."
If that's the case, I would strongly suggest that Obama switch schools. Judging from his foreign policy team's inept and increasingly dangerous actions regarding Ukraine and the endless stream of dubious State Department and senior military cry-wolf accusations of a Russian "invasion," Obama might be forgiven for being confused by the "complexities."
This U.S. pattern of exaggeration -- making scary claims about Ukraine without releasing supporting evidence -- has even begun to erode the unity of the NATO alliance where Germany, in particular, is openly criticizing the Obama administration's heavy-handed use of propaganda in its "information warfare" against Russia.
The German magazine Der Spiegel has just published a highly unusual article critical of the NATO military commander, Air Force General Philip Breedlove, entitled "Breedlove's Bellicosity: Berlin Alarmed by Aggressive NATO Stance on Ukraine."
It is becoming clearer day by day that the Germans are losing patience with unsupported and alarmist U.S. statements on Ukraine, particularly in the current delicate period when a fledgling ceasefire in eastern Ukraine seems to be holding tenuously.
The Spiegel story was sourced to German officials who say Breedlove and his breed are making stuff up, adding that the BND (the CIA equivalent in Germany) "did not share" Breedlove's extreme assessment of Russian actions. Spiegel continued:
"For months now, many in the Chancellery simply shake their heads each time NATO, under Breedlove's leadership, goes public with striking announcements about Russian troop or tank movements. " False claims and exaggerated accounts, warned a top German official during a recent meeting on Ukraine, have put NATO -- and by extension, the entire West -- in danger of losing its credibility."
Scaring the Europeans
The Obama administration's erratic and bellicose approach to Ukraine caused German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande to take matters into their own hands in February to press for a ceasefire and an agreement on how to resolve the crisis politically, rather than following the U.S. strategy of having the regime in Kiev escalate its "anti-terrorist operation" against ethnic Russian rebels in the east who are supported by Moscow.
Fearing the conflict was spinning out of control -- with the prospects of a showdown between nuclear-armed Russia and the United States on Russia's border -- Merkel traveled to the White House on Feb. 9 seeking assurances from President Obama that he would not fall in line behind his tough-talking aides and members of Congress who want advanced weaponry for Ukraine.
Though Obama reportedly assured Merkel that he would resist the pressure, he continues to keep slip-sliding into line behind the war hawks and letting his subordinates feed the propaganda fires that could lead to a more dangerous war, especially Gen. Breedlove and Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, a former adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.
In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 4, 2015, Nuland presented her usual black-and-white depiction of the Ukrainian civil war, claiming Russia had "manufactured a conflict controlled by the Kremlin, fueled by Russian tanks and heavy equipment." She added that Crimea and eastern Ukraine live under a "Reign of Terror."
Of course, the core problem with how Nuland and pretty much the entire U.S. establishment present the Ukraine crisis is that they ignore how it got started. Nuland, Sen. John McCain and other U.S. officials egged on western Ukrainians to destabilize and overthrow the elected President Viktor Yanukovych, whose political base was in the south and east, including Crimea.
The coup opened historic fissures in this deeply divided country where hatreds between the more European-oriented west and the ethnic Russian east go back many generations, including the unspeakable slaughter during World War II when some western Ukrainians joined with the Nazis to fight the Red Army and exterminate Jews and other minorities.
Despite the U.S. claims over the past year about unprovoked "Russian aggression," Russian President Vladimir Putin was not the instigator of the conflict, but rather he was reacting to a violent "regime change" on his border and to Russian fears that NATO would seize the historic Russian naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea.
But Nuland and other neocon hardliners have never been interested in a nuanced presentation of reality. Instead, they have treated Ukraine as if it were a testing ground for the latest techniques in psychological or information warfare, although the propaganda is mostly aimed at the U.S. and European publics, getting them ready for more war.