We bring to the attention of our readers the following text of Osama bin Laden’s interview with Ummat, a Pakistani daily, published in Karachi on September 28, 2001. It was translated into English by the BBC World Monitoring Service and made public on September 29, 2001.
The authenticity of this interview remains to be confirmed. It is available in recognized electronic news archives including the BBC. Its authenticity has not been questioned.
The interview tends to demystify the Osama bin Laden persona.
Osama bin Laden categorically denies his involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Bin Laden’s statements in this interview are markedly different from those made in the alleged Osama video tapes.
In this interview, Osama bin Laden exhibits an understanding of US foreign policy. He expresses his views regarding the loss of life on 9/11. He focusses on CIA support to the narcotics trade.
He also makes statements as to who, in his opinion, might be the likely perpetrator of the September 11 attacks.
This is an important text which has not been brought to the attention of Western public opinion.
We have highlighted key sections of this interview.
It is our hope that the text of this interview, published on 28 September 2001 barely a week before the onset of the war on Afghanistan, will contribute to a better understanding of the history of Al Qaeda, the role of Osama bin Laden and the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
This interview is published for informational purposes only. GR does not in any way endorse the statements in this interview.
Michel Chossudovsky, September 9, 2014
Full text of September 2001 Pakistani paper’s “exclusive” interview with Usamah Bin-Ladin
Kabul: Prominent Arab mojahed holy warrior Usamah Bin-Ladin has said that he or his al-Qa’idah group has nothing to do with the 11 September suicidal attacks in Washington and New York. He said the US government should find the attackers within the country. In an exclusive interview with daily “Ummat”, he said these attacks could be the act of those who are part of the American system and are rebelling against it and working for some other system. Or, Usamah said, this could be the act of those who want to make the current century a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity. Or, the American Jews, who are opposed to President Bush ever since the Florida elections, might be the masterminds of this act. There is also a great possibility of the involvement of US intelligence agencies, which need billions of dollars worth of funds every year. He said there is a government within the government in the United States.
The secret agencies, he said, should be asked as to who are behind the attacks. Usamah said support for attack on Afghanistan was a matter of need for some Muslim countries and compulsion for others. However, he said, he was thankful to the courageous people of Pakistan who erected a bulwark before the wrong forces. He added that the Islamic world was attaching great expectations with Pakistan and, in time of need, “we will protect this bulwark by sacrificing of lives”.
Following is the interview in full detail:
Ummat: You have been accused of involvement in the attacks in New York and Washington. What do you want to say about this? If you are not involved, who might be?
Usamah [Osama bin Laden]: In the name of Allah, the most beneficent, the most merciful. Praise be to Allah, Who is the creator of the whole universe and Who made the earth as an abode for peace, for the whole mankind. Allah is the Sustainer, who sent Prophet Muhammad for our guidance. I am thankful to the Ummat Group of Publications, which gave me the opportunity to convey my viewpoint to the people, particularly the valiant and Momin true Muslim people of Pakistan who refused to believe in lie of the demon.
I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge of these attacks, nor do I consider the killing of innocent women, children, and other humans as an appreciable act. Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children, and other people.
Such a practice is forbidden ever in the course of a battle. It is the United States, which is perpetrating every maltreatment on women, children, and common people of other faiths, particularly the followers of Islam. All that is going on in Palestine for the last 11 months is sufficient to call the wrath of God upon the United States and Israel.
There is also a warning for those Muslim countries, which witnessed all these as a silent spectator. What had earlier been done to the innocent people of Iraq, Chechnya, and Bosnia?
Only one conclusion could be derived from the indifference of the United States and the West to these acts of terror and the patronage of the tyrants by these powers that America is an anti-Islamic power and it is patronizing the anti-Islamic forces. Its friendship with the Muslim countries is just a show, rather deceit. By enticing or intimidating these countries, the United States is forcing them to play a role of its choice. Put a glance all around and you will see that the slaves of the United States are either rulers or enemies of Muslims .
The US has no friends, nor does it want to keep any because the prerequisite of friendship is to come to the level of the friend or consider him at par with you. America does not want to see anyone equal to it. It expects slavery from others. Therefore, other countries are either its slaves or subordinates.
However, our case is different. We have pledged slavery to God Almighty alone and after this pledge there is no possibility to become the slave of someone else. If we do that, it will be disregardful to both our Sustainer and his fellow beings. Most of the world nations upholding their freedom are the religious ones, which are the enemies of United States, or the latter itself considers them as its enemies. Or the countries, which do not agree to become its slaves, such as China, Iran, Libya, Cuba, Syria, and the former Russia as received .
Whoever committed the act of 11 September are not the friends of the American people. I have already said that we are against the American system, not against its people, whereas in these attacks, the common American people have been killed.
According to my information, the death toll is much higher than what the US government has stated. But the Bush administration does not want the panic to spread. The United States should try to trace the perpetrators of these attacks within itself; the people who are a part of the US system, but are dissenting against it. Or those who are working for some other system; persons who want to make the present century as a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity so that their own civilization, nation, country, or ideology could survive. They can be any one, from Russia to Israel and from India to Serbia. In the US itself, there are dozens of well-organized and well-equipped groups, which are capable of causing a large-scale destruction. Then you cannot forget the American Jews, who are annoyed with President Bush ever since the elections in Florida and want to avenge him.
Then there are intelligence agencies in the US, which require billions of dollars worth of funds from the Congress and the government every year. This funding issue was not a big problem till the existence of the former Soviet Union but after that the budget of these agencies has been in danger.
They needed an enemy. So, they first started propaganda against Usamah and Taleban and then this incident happened. You see, the Bush administration approved a budget of 40bn dollars. Where will this huge amount go? It will be provided to the same agencies, which need huge funds and want to exert their importance.
Now they will spend the money for their expansion and for increasing their importance. I will give you an example. Drug smugglers from all over the world are in contact with the US secret agencies. These agencies do not want to eradicate narcotics cultivation and trafficking because their importance will be diminished. The people in the US Drug Enforcement Department are encouraging drug trade so that they could show performance and get millions of dollars worth of budget. General Noriega was made a drug baron by the CIA and, in need, he was made a scapegoat. In the same way, whether it is President Bush or any other US president, they cannot bring Israel to justice for its human rights abuses or to hold it accountable for such crimes. What is this? Is it not that there exists a government within the government in the United Sates? That secret government must be asked as to who made the attacks.
Ummat: A number of world countries have joined the call of the United States for launching an attack on Afghanistan. These also include a number of Muslim countries. Will Al-Qa’idah declare a jihad against these countries as well?
Usamah: I must say that my duty is just to awaken the Muslims; to tell them as to what is good for them and what is not. What does Islam says and what the enemies of Islam want?
Al-Qa’idah was set up to wage a jihad against infidelity, particularly to encounter the onslaught of the infidel countries against the Islamic states. Jihad is the sixth undeclared element of Islam. The first five being the basic holy words of Islam, prayers, fast, pilgrimage to Mecca, and giving alms Every anti-Islamic person is afraid of it. Al-Qa’idah wants to keep this element alive and active and make it part of the daily life of the Muslims. It wants to give it the status of worship. We are not against any Islamic country nor we consider a war against an Islamic country as jihad.
We are in favour of armed jihad only against those infidel countries, which are killing innocent Muslim men, women, and children just because they are Muslims. Supporting the US act is the need of some Muslim countries and the compulsion of others. However, they should think as to what will remain of their religious and moral position if they support the attack of the Christians and the Jews on a Muslim country like Afghanistan. The orders of Islamic shari’ah jurisprudence for such individuals, organizations, and countries are clear and all the scholars of the Muslim brotherhood are unanimous on them. We will do the same, which is being ordered by the Amir ol-Momenin the commander of the faithful Mola Omar and the Islamic scholars. The hearts of the people of Muslim countries are beating with the call of jihad. We are grateful to them.
Ummat: The losses caused in the attacks in New York and Washington have proved that giving an economic blow to the US is not too difficult. US experts admit that a few more such attacks can bring down the American economy. Why is al-Qa’idah not targeting their economic pillars?
Usamah: I have already said that we are not hostile to the United States. We are against the system, which makes other nations slaves of the United States, or forces them to mortgage their political and economic freedom.This system is totally in control of the American Jews, whose first priority is Israel, not the United States. It is simply that the American people are themselves the slaves of the Jews and are forced to live according to the principles and laws laid by them. So, the punishment should reach Israel. In fact, it is Israel, which is giving a blood bath to innocent Muslims and the US is not uttering a single word.
Ummat: Why is harm not caused to the enemies of Islam through other means, apart from the armed struggle? For instance, inciting the Muslims to boycott Western products, banks, shipping lines, and TV channels.
Usamah: The first thing is that Western products could only be boycotted when the Muslim fraternity is fully awakened and organized. Secondly, the Muslim companies should become self-sufficient in producing goods equal to the products of Western companies. Economic boycott of the West is not possible unless economic self-sufficiency is attained and substitute products are brought out. You see that wealth is scattered all across the Muslim world but not a single TV channel has been acquired which can preach Islamic injunctions according to modern requirements and attain an international influence. Muslim traders and philanthropists should make it a point that if the weapon of public opinion is to be used, it is to be kept in the hand. Today’s world is of public opinion and the fates of nations are determined through its pressure. Once the tools for building public opinion are obtained, everything that you asked for can be done.
Ummat: The entire propaganda about your struggle has so far been made by the Western media. But no information is being received from your sources about the network of Al-Qa’idah and its jihadi successes. Would you comment?
Usamah: In fact, the Western media is left with nothing else. It has no other theme to survive for a long time. Then we have many other things to do. The struggle for jihad and the successes are for the sake of Allah and not to annoy His bondsmen. Our silence is our real propaganda. Rejections, explanations, or corrigendum only waste your time and through them, the enemy wants you to engage in things which are not of use to you. These things are pulling you away from your cause.
The Western media is unleashing such a baseless propaganda, which make us surprise but it reflects on what is in their hearts and gradually they themselves become captive of this propaganda. They become afraid of it and begin to cause harm to themselves. Terror is the most dreaded weapon in modern age and the Western media is mercilessly using it against its own people. It can add fear and helplessness in the psyche of the people of Europe and the United States. It means that what the enemies of the United States cannot do, its media is doing that. You can understand as to what will be the performance of the nation in a war, which suffers from fear and helplessness.
Ummat: What will the impact of the freeze of al-Qa’idah accounts by the US?
Usamah: God opens up ways for those who work for Him. Freezing of accounts will not make any difference for Al-Qa’idah or other jihad groups. With the grace of Allah, al-Qa’idah has more than three such alternative financial systems, which are all separate and totally independent from each other. This system is operating under the patronage of those who love jihad. What to say of the United States, even the combined world cannot budge these people from their path.
These people are not in hundreds but in thousands and millions. Al-Qa’idah comprises of such modern educated youths who are aware of the cracks inside the Western financial system as they are aware of the lines in their hands. These are the very flaws of the Western fiscal system, which are becoming a noose for it and this system could not recuperate in spite of the passage of so many days.
Ummat: Are there other safe areas other than Afghanistan, where you can continue jihad?
Usamah: There are areas in all parts of the world where strong jihadi forces are present, from Indonesia to Algeria, from Kabul to Chechnya, from Bosnia to Sudan, and from Burma to Kashmir. Then it is not the problem of my person. I am helpless fellowman of God, constantly in the fear of my accountability before God. It is not the question of Usamah but of Islam and, in Islam too, of jihad. Thanks to God, those waging a jihad can walk today with their heads raised. Jihad was still present when there was no Usamah and it will remain as such even when Usamah is no longer there. Allah opens up ways and creates loves in the hearts of people for those who walk on the path of Allah with their lives, property, and children. Believe it, through jihad, a man gets everything he desires. And the biggest desire of a Muslim is the after life. Martyrdom is the shortest way of attaining an eternal life.
Ummat: What do you say about the Pakistan government policy on Afghanistan attack?
Usamah: We are thankful to the Momin and valiant people of Pakistan who erected a blockade in front of the wrong forces and stood in the first file of battle. Pakistan is a great hope for the Islamic brotherhood. Its people are awakened, organized, and rich in the spirit of faith. They backed Afghanistan in its war against the Soviet Union and extended every help to the mojahedin and the Afghan people. Then these are the same Pakistanis who are standing shoulder by shoulder with the Taleban. If such people emerge in just two countries, the domination of the West will diminish in a matter of days. Our hearts beat with Pakistan and, God forbid, if a difficult time comes we will protect it with our blood. Pakistan is sacred for us like a place of worship. We are the people of jihad and fighting for the defence of Pakistan is the best of all jihads to us. It does not matter for us as to who rules Pakistan. The important thing is that the spirit of jihad is alive and stronger in the hearts of the Pakistani people.
Copyright Ummat in Urdu, BBC translation in English, 2001
Read about Osama Bin Laden in Michel Chossudovsky’s international best-seller
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The tragic events of September 11, 2001 constitute a fundamental landmark in American history. a decisive watershed, a breaking point. Millions of people have been misled regarding the causes and consequences of 9/11.
September 11 2001 opens up an era of crisis, upheaval and militarization of American society.
A far-reaching overhaul of US military doctrine was launched in the wake of 9/11.
Endless wars of aggression under the humanitarian cloak of “counter-terrorism” were set in motion.
9/11 was also a stepping stone towards the relentless repeal of civil liberties, the militarization of law enforcement and the inauguration of “Police State USA”.
September 11, 2001 marks the onslaught of the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT), used as a pretext and a justification by the US and its NATO allies to carry out a “war without borders”, a global war of conquest.
At eleven o’clock, on the morning of September 11, the Bush administration had already announced that Al Qaeda was responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) and the Pentagon. This assertion was made prior to the conduct of an indepth police investigation.
CIA Director George Tenet stated that same morning that Osama bin Laden had the capacity to plan “multiple attacks with little or no warning.”
Secretary of State Colin Powell called the attacks “an act of war” and President Bush confirmed in an evening televised address to the Nation that he would “make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them”.
Former CIA Director James Woolsey, without mentioning Afghanistan, pointed his finger at “state sponsorship,” implying the complicity of one or more foreign governments. In the words of former National Security Adviser, Lawrence Eagleburger, “I think we will show when we get attacked like this, we are terrible in our strength and in our retribution.”
That same evening at 9:30 pm, a “War Cabinet” was formed integrated by a select number of top intelligence and military advisors. And at 11:00 pm, at the end of that historic meeting at the White House, the “War on Terrorism” was officially launched.
The tragic events of 9/11 provided the required justification to wage war on Afghanistan on “humanitarian grounds”, with the full support of World public opinion and the endorsement of the “international community”. Several prominent “progressive” intellectuals made a case for “retaliation against terrorism”, on moral and ethical grounds. The “just cause” military doctrine (jus ad bellum) was accepted and upheld at face value as a legitimate response to 9/11.
In the wake of 9/11, the antiwar movement was completely isolated. The trade unions and civil society organizations had swallowed the media lies and government propaganda. They had accepted a war of retribution against Afghanistan, an impoverished country in Central Asia of 30 million people.
The myth of the “outside enemy” and the threat of “Islamic terrorists” was the cornerstone of the Bush administration’s military doctrine, used as a pretext to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention the repeal of civil liberties and constitutional government in America.
Amply documented but rarely mentioned by the mainstream media, Al Qaeda is a creation of the CIA going back to the Soviet- Afghan war. This was a known fact, corroborated by numerous sources including official documents of the US Congress, which the mainstream media chose to either dismiss or ignore. The intelligence community had time and again acknowledged that they had indeed supported Osama bin Laden, but that in the wake of the Cold War: “he turned against us”.
The 9/11 Commission Report has largely upheld the “outside enemy” mythology, heralding Al Qaeda as the “mastermind” organization behind the 9/11 attacks.
The official 9/11 narrative has not only distorted the causes underling the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings, it has also erased the historical record of US covert support to international terrorism, while creating the illusion that America and “Western Civilization” are threatened.
Without an “outside enemy”, there could be no “war on terrorism”. The entire national security agenda would collapse “like a deck of cards”. The war criminals in high office would have no leg to stand on.
After 9/11, the campaign of media disinformation served not only to drown the truth but also to kill much of the historical evidence on how this illusive Al Qaeda “outside enemy” had been fabricated and transformed into “Enemy Number One”.
The 911 Reader is composed of a carefully selected collection of key articles published by Global Research in the course of the last eleven years.
9/11 was an important landmark for Global Research. Our website was launched on September 9, 2001, two days prior to 9/11. Our coverage of 9/11 was initiated on September 12, 2001.
Within this collection of more than 60 chapters, we have included several important reports from our archives, published by Global Research in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. These articles provide a focus on issues pertaining to the 9/11 Timeline, foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks, the attack on the Pentagon, the issue of insider trading on Wall Street in the days preceding 9/11 pointing to foreknowledge of the attacks.
What prevails is a complex web of lies and fabrications, pertaining to various dimensions of the 9/11 tragedy. The falsehoods contained in the official 9/11 narrative are manifold, extending from the affirmation that Osama bin Laden was the mastermind, to the assertion by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that the WTC buildings collapsed due to the impacts of fire. (see Part III).
Where was Osama bin Laden on September 11, 2001?
Is there any proof to the effect that Osama bin Laden, the bogeyman, coordinated the 9/11 attacks as claimed in the official 9/11 narrative?
According to CBS news (Dan Rather, January 28, 2002), “Enemy Number One” was admitted to the urology ward of a Pakistani military hospital in Rawalpindi on September 10, 2001, courtesy of America’s indefectible ally Pakistan. He could have been arrested at short notice which would have “saved us a lot of trouble”, but then we would not have had an Osama Legend, which has fed the news chain as well as presidential speeches in the course of the last eleven years.
DAN RATHER. As the United states and its allies in the war on terrorism press the hunt for Osama bin Laden, CBS News has exclusive information tonight about where bin Laden was and what he was doing in the last hours before his followers struck the United States September 11.
This is the result of hard-nosed investigative reporting by a team of CBS news journalists, and by one of the best foreign correspondents in the business, CBS`s Barry Petersen. Here is his report.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARRY PETERSEN, CBS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Everyone remembers what happened on September 11. Here`s the story of what may have happened the night before. It is a tale as twisted as the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
CBS News footage of the Rawalpindi, Pakistan, hospital where bin Laden was allegedly treated the day before 9/11. [Source: CBS News]
CBS News footage of the Rawalpindi, Pakistan, hospital where bin Laden was allegedly treated the day before 9/11. [Source: CBS News]
The foregoing CBS report which is of utmost relevance indicates two obvious facts:
1. Osama bin Laden could not reasonably have coordinated the 9/11 attacks from his hospital bed;
2. The hospital was under the jurisdiction of the Pakistani Armed Forces, which has close links to the Pentagon. Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts were known to both the Pakistani and US military.
U.S. military and intelligence advisers based in Rawalpindi. were working closely with their Pakistani counterparts. Again, no attempt was made to arrest America’s best known fugitive. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed, at the time, that the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden were unknown. According to Rumsfeld: “Its like looking for a needle in a stack of hay”.
October 7, 2001: Waging America’s 9/11 War of Retribution against Afghanistan
The immediate response of the US and its allies to the 9/11 attacks was to the declare a war of retribution against Afghanistan on the grounds that the Taliban government was protecting “terror mastermind” Osama bin Laden. By allegedly harboring bin Laden, the Taliban were complicit, according to both the US administration and NATO, for having waged an act of war against the United States.
Parroting official statements, the Western media mantra on September 12, 2001 had already approved the launching of “punitive actions” directed against civilian targets in Afghanistan. In the words of William Saffire writing in the New York Times: “When we reasonably determine our attackers’ bases and camps, we must pulverize them — minimizing but accepting the risk of collateral damage” — and act overtly or covertly to destabilize terror’s national hosts”.
This decision was taken by the Bush-Cheney war cabinet in the evening of September 11, 2001. It was based on the presumption, “confirmed” by the head of the CIA that Al Qaeda was behind the attacks.
On the following morning, September 12, 2001, NATO’s Atlantic Council meeting in Brussels, endorsed the Bush administration’s declaration of war on Afghanistan, invoking Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.
An act of war by a foreign nation (Afghanistan) against a member of the Atlantic Alliance (the USA) is an act of war against all members under NATO’s doctrine of collective security. Under any stretch of the imagination, the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon cannot be categorized as an act of war by a foreign country. But nobody seemed to have raised this issue.
Meanwhile, on two occasions in the course of September 2001, the Afghan government –through diplomatic channels– offered to hand over Osama Bin laden to US Justice. These overtures were turned down by president Bush, on the grounds that America “does not negotiate with terrorists”.
The war on Afghanistan was launched 26 days later on the morning of October 7, 2001. The timing of this war begs the question: how long does it take to plan and implement a major theater war several thousand miles away. Military analysts will confirm that a major theater war takes months and months, up to a year or more of advanced preparations. The war on Afghanistan was already in the advanced planning stages prior to September 11, 2001, which begs the question of foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks.
The repeal of civil liberties in America was launched in parallel with the bombing and invasion of Afghanistan, almost immediately following 9/11 with the adoption of the PATRIOT legislation and the setting up of a Homeland Security apparatus, under the pretext of protecting Americans. This post-911 legal and institutional framework had been carefully crafted prior to the 9/11 attacks.
Al Qaeda is a US Intelligence Asset
Important to the understanding of 9/11, US intelligence is the unspoken architect of “Islamic terrorism” going back to the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war.
Bin Laden was 22 years old and was trained in a CIA sponsored guerrilla training camp. Education in Afghanistan in the years preceding the Soviet-Afghan war was largely secular. With religious textbooks produced in Nebraska, the number of CIA sponsored religious schools (madrasahs) increased from 2,500 in 1980 to over 39,000.
“Advertisements, paid for from CIA funds, were placed in newspapers and newsletters around the world offering inducements and motivations to join the [Islamic] Jihad.” (Pervez Hoodbhoy, Peace Research, 1 May 2005)
”The United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings….The primers, which were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines, have served since then as the Afghan school system’s core curriculum. Even the Taliban used the American-produced books,..”, (Washington Post, 23 March 2002)
Under the Reagan administration, US foreign policy evolved towards the unconditional support and endorsement of the Islamic “freedom fighters”. This endorsement has not in any way been modified.
In a twisted irony, throughout the post 911 era, US intelligence in liaison with Britain’s MI6, an Israel’s Mossad, continues to provide covert support to the radical Islamist organization allegedly responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Al Qaeda and its various affiliated groups including the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and factions within the Free Syria Army (FSA) are directly supported by the US and NATO.
In a bitter irony, the US and its allies claim to be waging a “war on terrorism” against the alleged architects of 9/11, while also using Al Qaeda operatives as their foot-soldiers.
Front row, from left: Major Gen. Hamid Gul, director general of Pakistan’s
Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), Director of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Willian Webster; Deputy Director for Operations Clair George; an ISI colonel; and senior CIA official,
Milt Bearden at a Mujahideen training camp in North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan in 1987.
Ronald Reagan meets Afghan Mujahideen Commanders at the White House in 1985 (Reagan Archives)
VIDEO (30 Sec.)
The Collapse of the World Trade Center Buildings
Based on the findings of Richard Gage of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings was not caused by fire resulting from the crash of the planes:
In more than 100 steel-framed, high-rise fires (most of them very hot, very large and very long-lasting), not one has collapsed, ever. So it behooves all of us, as your own former chief of NIST’s Fire Science Division, Dr. James Quintiere, said, “to look at real alternatives that might have been the cause of these collapses.”
Let’s start with temperatures – 1,340° F. temperatures, recorded in thermal images of the surface of the World Trade Center rubble pile a week after 9/11 by NASA’s AVIRIS equipment on USGS overflights. Such temperatures cannot be achieved by oxygen-starved hydrocarbon fires. Such fires burn at only 600 to 800° F. Remember, there was no fire on the top of the pile. The source of this incredible heat was therefore below the surface of the rubble, where it must have been far hotter than 1,340 degrees.
Mark Loizeaux, president of Controlled Demolition, Inc., who was hired for the Building 7 cleanup, said that “molten steel was found at 7 WTC.” Leslie Robertson, World Trade Center structural engineer, stated that on October 5, “21 days after the attacks, the fires were still burning and molten steel was still running.” Fire department personnel, recorded on video, reported seeing “molten steel running down the channel rails… like you’re in a foundry – like lava from a volcano.” Joe O’Toole, a Bronx firefighter, saw a crane lifting a steel beam vertically from deep within a pile. He said “it was dripping from the molten steel.” Bart Voorsanger, an architect hired to save “relics from the rubble,” stated about the multi-ton “meteorite” that it was a “fused element of molten steel and concrete.”
Steel melts at about 2,850 degrees Fahrenheit, about twice the temperature of the World Trade Center Tower 1 and 2 fires as estimated by NIST. So what melted the steel?
Appendix C of FEMA’s BPAT Report documents steel samples showing rapid oxidation, sulfidation, and intergranular melting. A liquid eutectic mixture, including sulfur from an unknown source, caused intense corrosion of the steel, gaping holes in wide flange beams, and the thinning of half-inch-thick flanges to almost razor-sharpness in the World Trade Center 7 steel. The New York Times called this “the deepest mystery uncovered in the investigation.”
NIST left all of this crucial forensic evidence out of its report. Why? Because it didn’t fit in with the official conspiracy theory.
Last year, physicist Steven Jones, two other physicists, and a geologist analyzed the slag at the ends of the beams and in the samples of the previously molten metal. They found iron, aluminum, sulfur, manganese and fluorine – the chemical evidence of thermate, a high-tech incendiary cutting charge used by the military to cut through steel like a hot knife through butter. The by-product of the thermate reaction is molten iron! There’s no other possible source for all the molten iron that was found. One of thermate’s key ingredients is sulfur, which can form the liquid eutectic that FEMA found and lower the melting point of steel.
In addition, World Trade Center 7′s catastrophic structural failure showed every characteristic of explosive, controlled demolition. … The destruction began suddenly at the base of the building. Several first responders reported explosions occurring about a second before the collapse. There was the symmetrical, near-free-fall speed of collapse, through the path of greatest resistance – with 40,000 tons of steel designed to resist this load – straight down into its own footprint. This requires that all the columns have to fail within a fraction of a second of each other – perimeter columns as well as core columns. There was also the appearance of mistimed explosions (squibs?) at the upper seven floors on the network video recordings of the collapse. And we have expert testimony from a European demolitions expert, Danny Jowenko, who said “This is controlled demolition… a team of experts did this… This is professional work, without any doubt.”
Fire cannot produce these effects. Fire produces large, gradual deformations and asymmetrical collapses. Thermate can produce all of these effects used in conjunction with linear shaped charges. If the thermate is formed into ultra-fine particles, as has been accomplished at Los Alamos National Laboratory, it is called super-thermate, and is very explosive.(Richard Gage, January 2008)
The following AE911Truth Video provides irrefutable evidence that the WTC center towers were brought down through controlled demolition.
According to David Ray Griffin: “The official theory of the collapse, therefore, is essentially a fire theory, so it cannot be emphasized too much that fire has never caused large steel-frame buildings to collapse—never, whether before 9/11, or after 9/11, or anywhere in the world on 9/11 except allegedly New York City—never.” (See David Ray Griffin).
According to Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, based on solid scientific analysis and evidence, the collapse of the WTC towers was engineered through controlled demolition. While AE11Truth does not speculate on who might be behind the conspiracy to bring down the WTC buildings, they nonetheless suggest that the carrying out such an operation would require a carefully planned course of action with prior access to the buildings as well as an advanced level of expertise in the use of explosives, etc.
The Collapse of WTC Building Seven
The most grotesque lie pertains to the BBC and CNN announcement in the afternoon of September 11, that WTC Building Seven (The Solomon Building) had collapsed. The BBC report went live at 5.00pm, 21 minutes before the actual occurrence of the collapse, indelibly pointing to foreknowledge of the collapse of WTC 7. CNN anchor Aaron Brown announced that the building “has either collapsed or is collapsing” about an hour before the event. (See WTC7.net the hidden story of Building 7: Foreknowledge of WTC 7′s Collapse)
CNN anchor Aaron Brown seems to struggle to make sense of what he is seeing one minute after announcing that WTC Building 7, whose erect facade is clearly visible in his view towards the Trade Center, has or is collapsing.
Coverup and Complicity
The 911 Reader presents factual information and analysis which points to cover-up and complicity at the highest levels of the US government.
This body of articles by prominent authors, scholars, architects, engineers, largely refutes the official narrative of the 9/11 Commission Report, which is reviewed in Part IV. It dispels the notion that America was attacked on September 11, 2001 on the orders of Osama bin Laden.
This is a central issue because US military doctrine since 9/11 has been predicated on “defending the American Homeland” against Islamic terrorists as well as waging pre-emptive wars against Al Qaeda and its various “state sponsors”. Afghanistan was bombed and invaded as part of the “war on terrorism”. In March 2003, Iraq was also invaded.
Fiction prevails over reality. For propaganda to be effective, public opinion must firmly endorse the official 9/11 narrative to the effect that Al Qaeda was behind the attacks. A well organized structure of media disinformation (Part XI) is required to reach this objective. Perpetuating the 9/11 Legend also requires defying as well smearing the 9/11 Truth Movement.
Throughout the post 9/11 era, a panoply of Al Qaeda related events and circumstances is presented to public opinion on a daily basis. These include terrorist threats, warnings and attacks, police investigations, insurgencies and counter-insurgencies, country-level regime change, social conflict, sectarian violence, racism, religious divisions, Islamic thought, Western values, etc.
In turn, 9/11, Al Qaeda – War on Terrorism rhetoric permeates political discourse at all levels of government, including bipartisan debate on Capitol Hill, in committees of the House and the Senate, at the British House of Commons, and, lest we forget, at the United Nations Security Council.
September 11 and Al Qaeda concepts, repeated ad nauseam have potentially traumatic impacts on the human mind and the ability of normal human beings to analyze and comprehend the “real outside World” of war, politics and the economic crisis.
What is at stake is human consciousness and comprehension based on concepts and facts.
With September 11 there are no verifiable “facts” and “concepts”, because 9/11 as well as Al Qaeda have evolved into a media mythology, a legend, an invented ideological construct, used as an unsubtle tool of media disinformation and war propaganda.
Al Qaeda constitutes a stylized, fake and almost folkloric abstraction of terrorism, which permeates the inner consciousness of millions of people around the World.
Reference to Al Qaeda has become a dogma, a belief, which most people espouse unconditionally.
Is this political indoctrination? Is it brain-washing? If so what is the underlying objective?
People’s capacity to independently analyse World events, as well as address causal relationships pertaining to politics and society, is significantly impaired. That is the objective!
The routine use of 9/11 and Al Qaeda to generate blanket explanations of complex political events is meant to create confusion. It prevents people from thinking.
All of these complex Al Qaeda related occurrences are explained –by politicians, the corporate media, Hollywood and the Washington think tanks under a single blanket “bad guys” heading, in which Al Qaeda is casually and repeatedly pinpointed as “the cause” of numerous terror events around the World.
The Alleged Role of Iraq in the 9/11 Attacks
9/11 mythology has been a mainstay of war propaganda. In the course of 2002, leading up to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, “Osama bin Laden” and “Weapons of Mass Destruction” statements circulated profusely in the news chain. While Washington’s official position was that Saddam Hussein was not behind the 9/11 attacks, insinuations abounded both in presidential speeches as well as in the Western media. According to Bush, in an October 2002 press conference:
The threat comes from Iraq. It arises directly from the Iraqi regime’s own actions — its history of aggression, and its drive toward an arsenal of terror. .,.. We also must never forget the most vivid events of recent history. On September the 11th, 2001, America felt its vulnerability — even to threats that gather on the other side of the earth. We resolved then, and we are resolved today, to confront every threat, from any source [Iraq], that could bring sudden terror and suffering to America. President Bush Outlines Iraqi Threat, October 7, 2002)
Meanwhile, a new terrorist mastermind had emerged: Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi.
In Colin Powell’s historic address to the United Nations Security Council, in February 2003, detailed “documentation” on a sinister relationship between Saddam Hussein and Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi was presented, focussing on his ability to produce deadly chemical, biological and radiological weapons, with the full support and endorsement of the secular Baathist regime. The implication of Colin’s Powell’s assertions, which were totally fabricated, was that Saddam Hussein and an Al Qaeda affiliated organization had joined hands in the production of WMD in Northern Iraq and that the Hussein government was a “state sponsor” of terrorism.
The main thrust of the disinformation campaign continued in the wake of the March 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. It consisted in presenting the Iraqi resistance movement as “terrorists”. The image of “terrorists opposed to democracy” fighting US “peacekeepers” appeared on television screens and news tabloids across the globe.
Iran: Alleged State Sponsor of 9/11
In the wake of the Iraq invasion, the same alleged “state sponsorship” of terrorism accusations emerged in relation to Iran.
In December 2011, the Islamic Republic of Iran was condemned by a Manhattan court, for its alleged role in supporting Al Qaeda in the 9/11 attacks.
The investigation into Tehran’s alleged role was launched in 2004, pursuant to a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission “regarding an apparent link between Iran, Hezbollah, and the 9/11 hijackers”. The 91/11 Commission’s recommendation was that the this “apparent link” required “further investigation by the U.S. government.” (9/11 Commission Report , p. 241). (See Iran 911 Case ).
In the December 2011 court judgment (Havlish v. Iran) “U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels ruled that Iran and Hezbollah materially and directly supported al Qaeda in the September 11, 2001 attacks and are legally responsible for damages to hundreds of family members of 9/11 victims who are plaintiffs in the case”.
According to the plaintiffs attorneys “Iran, Hezbollah, and al Qaeda formed a terror alliance in the early 1990s. Citing their national security and intelligence experts, the attorneys explained “how the pragmatic terror leaders overcame the Sunni-Shi’a divide in order to confront the U.S. (the “Great Satan”) and Israel (the “Lesser Satan”)”. Iran and Hezbollah allegedly provided “training to members of al Qaeda in, among other things, the use of explosives to destroy large buildings.” (See Iran 911 Case ).
This judicial procedure is nothing more than another vicious weapon in the fabricated “War on Terror” to be used against another Muslim country, with a view to destabilizing Iran as well as justifying ongoing military threats. It also says a lot more about the people behind the lawsuit than about the accused. The expert witnesses who testified against Iran are very active in warmongering neocon circles. They belong to a web of architects of the 21st century Middle-Eastern wars, ranging from high profile propagandists to intelligence and military officers, including former U.S. officials.
Ironically, while Washington accuses Iran and Afghanistan of supporting terrorism, the historical record and evidence indelibly point to the “state sponsorship” of Al Qaeda by the CIA, MI6 and their counterparts in Pakistan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Al Qaeda death squads have been recruited to wage America’s humanitarian wars throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
In Syria Al Qaeda units were recruited by NATO and the Turkish High command: “Also discussed in Brussels and Ankara, our sources report, is a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels.” (http://www.debka.com/article/21255/ Debkafile, August 31, 2011).
In Libya, jihadists from Afghanistan trained by the CIA were dispatched to fight with the “pro-democracy” rebels under the helm of “former” Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) Commander Abdel Hakim Belhadj:
Western policy makers admit that NATO’s operations in Libya have played the primary role in emboldening Al Qaeda’s AQIM faction (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb). The Fortune 500-funded Brookings Institution’s Bruce Riedel in his article, “The New Al Qaeda Menace,” admits that AQIM is now heavily armed thanks to NATO’s intervention in Libya, and that AQIM’s base in Mali, North Africa, serves as a staging ground for terrorist activities across the region. http://www.globalresearch.ca/al-qaeda-and-natos-pan-arab-terrorist-blitzkrieg/
Table of Contents of the 9/11 Reader
In Part I, the 911 Reader provides a review of what happened on the morning of 9/11, at the White House, on Capitol Hill, the Pentagon, at Strategic Command Headquarters (USSTRATCOM), What was the response of the US Air Force in the immediate wake of the attacks? Part II focusses on “What Happened on the Planes” as described in the 9/11 Commission Report.
Part III sheds light on what caused the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings. It also challenges the official narrative with regard to the attack on the Pentagon.
Part IV reviews and refutes the findings of the 9/11 Commission Report.
Part V focusses on the issue of foreknowledge by Western intelligence agencies. Part VI examines the issue of how foreknowledge of the attacks was used as an instrument of insider trading on airline stocks in the days preceding September 11, 2001. The bonanza financial gains resulting from insurance claims to the leaseholders of the WTC buildings is also examined.
Part VII focusses on the history and central role of Al Qaeda as a US intelligence asset. Since the Soviet-Afghan war, US intelligence has supported the formation of various jihadist organizations. An understanding of this history is crucial in refuting the official 9/11 narrative which claims that Al Qaeda, was behind the attacks.
Part VIII centers on the life and death of 9/11 “Terror Mastermind” Osama bin Laden, who was recruited by the CIA in the heyday of the Soviet Afghan war. This section also includes an analysis of the mysterious death of Osama bin Laden, allegedly executed by US Navy Seals in a suburb of Islamabad in May 2011.
Part IX focusses on “False Flags” and the Pentagon’s “Second 9/11″. Part X examines the issue of “Deep Events” with contributions by renowned scholars Peter Dale Scott and Daniele Ganser.
Part XI examines the structure of 9/11 propaganda which consists in “creating” as well “perpetuating” a “9/11 Legend”. How is this achieved? Incessantly, on a daily basis, Al Qaeda, the alleged 9/11 Mastermind is referred to by the Western media, government officials, members of the US Congress, Wall Street analysts, etc. as an underlying cause of numerous World events.
Part XII focusses on the practice of 9/11 Justice directed against the alleged culprits of the 9/11 attacks.
The legitimacy of 9/11 propaganda requires fabricating “convincing evidence” and “proof” that those who are accused actually carried out the attacks. Sentencing of Muslims detained in Guantanamo is part of war propaganda. It depicts innocent men who are accused of the 9/11 attacks, based on confessions acquired through systematic torture throughout their detention.
Part XIII focusses on 9/11 Truth. The objective of 9/11 Truth is to ultimately dismantle the propaganda apparatus which is manipulating the human mindset. The 9/11 Reader concludes with a retrospective view of 9/11 ten years later.
Timeline: What Happened on the Morning of September 11, 2001
On the morning of September 11, Pakistan’s Chief Spy General Mahmoud Ahmad, the alleged “money-man” behind the 9-11 hijackers, was at a breakfast meeting on Capitol Hill hosted by Senator Bob Graham and Rep. Porter Goss, the chairmen of the Senate and House Intelligence committees.
“Foreknowledge” and “Failure to act” upholds the notion that the terrorist attacks (“act of war”) “waged by Muslims against America” are real, when all the facts and findings point towards coverup and complicity at the highest levels of the US government.
On the morning of September 11, Pakistan’s Chief Spy General Mahmoud Ahmad, the alleged “money-man” behind the 9-11 hijackers, was at a breakfast meeting on Capitol Hill hosted by Senator Bob Graham and Rep. Porter Goss, the chairmen of the Senate and House Intelligence committees.
The main justification for waging this war has been totally fabricated. The American people have been deliberately and consciously misled by their government into supporting a major military adventure which affects our collective future.
9/11 Ringleader connected to secret Pentagon operation
- by Dr. Daniele Ganser – 2005-08-27
Atta was connected to a secret operation of the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in the US. A top secret Pentagon project code-named Able Danger identified Atta and 3 other 9/11 hijackers as members of an al-Qaida cell more than a year before the attacks.
According to Chossudovsky, the “war on terrorism” is a complete fabrication based on the illusion that one man, Osama bin Laden, outwitted the $40 billion-a-year American intelligence apparatus. The “war on terrorism” is a war of conquest. Globalisation is the final march to the “New World Order”, dominated by Wall Street and the U.S. military-industrial complex.
On August 28 Sheikh Said Afandi, acknowledged spiritual leader of the Autonomous Russian Republic of Dagestan, was assassinated. A jihadist female suicide bomber managed to enter his house and detonate an explosive device.
The murder target had been carefully selected. Sheikh Afandi, a seventy-five-year old Sufi Muslim leader, had played the critical role in attempting to bring about reconciliation in Dagestan between jihadist Salafi Sunni Muslims and other factions, many of whom in Dagestan see themselves as followers of Sufi. With no replacement of his moral stature and respect visible, authorities fear possible outbreak of religious war in the tiny Russian autonomous republic.
The police reported that the assassin was an ethnic Russian woman who had converted to Islam and was linked to an Islamic fundamentalist or Salafist insurgency against Russia and regional governments loyal to Moscow in the autonomous republics and across the volatile Muslim-populated North Caucasus region.
Ethnic Muslim populations in this region of Russia and of the former Soviet Union, including Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan and into China’s Xinjiang Province, have been the target of various US and NATO intelligence operations since the Cold War era ended in 1990. Washington sees manipulation of Muslim groups as the vehicle to bring uncontrollable chaos to Russia and Central Asia. It’s being carried out by some of the same organizations engaged in creating chaos and destruction inside Syria against the government of Bashar Al-Assad. In a real sense, as Russian security services clearly understand, if they don’t succeed in stopping the Jihadists insurgency in Syria, it will come home to them via the Caucasus.
The latest Salafist murders of Sufi and other moderate Muslim leaders in the Caucasus are apparently part of what is becoming ever clearer as perhaps the most dangerous US intelligence operation ever—playing globally with Muslim fundamentalism.
Previously US and allied intelligence services had played fast and loose with religious organizations or beliefs in one or another country. What makes the present situation particularly dangerous—notably since the decision in Washington to unleash the misnamed Arab Spring upheavals that began in Tunisia late 2010, spreading like a brushfire across the entire Islamic world from Afghanistan across Central Asia to Morocco—is the incalculable wave upon wave of killing, hatreds, destruction of entire cultures that Washington has unleashed in the name of that elusive dream named “democracy.” They do this using alleged Al-Qaeda groups, Saudi Salafists or Wahhabites, or using disciples of Turkey’s Fethullah Gülen Movement to ignite fires of religious hatred within Islam and against other faiths that could take decades to extinguish. It could easily spill over into a new World War.
Fundamentalism comes to Caucasus
Following the dissolution of the USSR, radical Afghanistani Mujahadeen, Islamists from Saudi Arabia, from Turkey, Pakistan and other Islamic countries flooded into the Muslim regions of the former USSR. One of the best-organized of these was the Gülen Movement of Fethullah Gülen, leader of a global network of Islamic schools and reported to be the major policy influence on Turkey’s Erdogan AKP party.
Gülen was quick to establish The International Dagestani-Turkish College in Dagestan. During the chaotic days after the Soviet collapse, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation officially registered and permitted unfettered activity for a variety of Islamic foundations and organizations. These included the League of the Islamic World, the World Muslim Youth Assembly, the reportedly Al-Qaeda friendly Saudi foundation ‘Ibrahim ben Abd al-Aziz al-Ibrahim.’ The blacklist also included Al-Haramein a Saudi foundation reported tied to Al-Qaeda, and IHH,  a Turkish organization banned in Germany, that allegedly raised funds for jihadi fighters in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Afghanistan, and was charged by French intelligence of ties to Al Qaeda. Many of these charities were covers for fundamentalist Salafists with their own special agenda.
As many of the foreign Islamists in Chechnya and Dagestan were found involved in fomenting the regional unrest and civil war, Russian authorities withdrew permission of most to run schools and institutions. Throughout the North Caucasus at the time of the Chechyn war in the late 1990’s, there were more than two dozen Islamic institutes, some 200 madrassas and numerous maktabas (Koranic study schools) present at almost all mosques.
The International Dagestani-Turkish College was one that was forced to close its doors in Dagestan. The College was run by the Fethullah Gülen organization.
At the point of the Russian crackdown on the spread of Salafist teaching inside Russia at the end of the 1990’s, there was an exodus of hundreds of young Dagestani and Chechyn Muslim students to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other places in The Middle east, reportedly to receive training with the Gülen movement and various Saudi-financed organizations, including Salafists.  It is believed in Russia that the students trained by Gülen supporters or Saudi and other Salafist fundamentalist centers then were sent back to Dagestan and the North Caucasus to spread their radical strain of Islam.
By 2005 the situation in the Caucasus was so influenced by this Salafist intervention that the Chechen Salafist, Doku Umarov, cited by the UN Security Council for links to Al-Qaeda, unilaterally declared creation of what he called the Caucasus Emirate, announcing he planned to establish an Islamic state under Sharia law encompassing the entire North Caucasus region including Dagestan. He modestly proclaimed himself Emir of the Caucasus Emirate. 
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Part II: Salafism at war with Sufi tradition
Salafism, known in Saudi Arabia as Wahhabism, is a fundamentalist strain of Islam which drew world attention and became notorious in March 2001 just weeks before the attacks of September 11. That was when the Salafist Taliban government in Afghanistan willfully dynamited and destroyed the historic gigantic Buddhas of Bamiyan on the ancient Silk Road, religious statues dating from the 6th Century. The Taliban Salafist leaders also banned as “un-islamic” all forms of imagery, music and sports, including television, in accordance with what they considered a strict interpretation of Sharia.
Afghani sources reported that the order to destroy the Buddhas was made by Saudi-born jihadist Wahhabite, Osama bin Laden, who ultimately convinced Mullah Omar, Taliban supreme leader at the time to execute the act.
Before and…After Salafist Taliban …
While Sufis incorporate the worship of saints and theatrical ceremonial prayers into their practice, Salafis condemn as idolatry any non-traditional forms of worship. They also call for the establishment of Islamic political rule and strict Sharia law. Sufism is home to the great spiritual and musical heritage of Islam, said by Islamic scholars to be the inner, mystical, or psycho-spiritual dimension of Islam, going back centuries.
As one Sufi scholar described the core of Sufism, “While all Muslims believe that they are on the pathway to God and will become close to God in Paradise–after death and the ‘Final Judgment’– Sufis believe as well that it is possible to become close to God and to experience this closeness–while one is alive. Furthermore, the attainment of the knowledge that comes with such intimacy with God, Sufis assert, is the very purpose of the creation. Here they mention the hadith qudsi in which God states, ‘I was a hidden treasure and I loved that I be known, so I created the creation in order to be known.’ Hence for the Sufis there is already a momentum, a continuous attraction on their hearts exerted by God, pulling them, in love, towards God.” 
The mystical Islamic current of Sufism and its striving to become close to or one with God is in stark contrast to the Jihadist Salafi or Wahhabi current that is armed with deadly weapons, preaches a false doctrine of jihad, and a perverse sense of martyrdom, committing countless acts of violence. Little wonder that the victims of Salafist Jihads are mostly other pacific forms of Islam including most especially Sufis.
The respected seventy-five year old Afandi had publicly denounced Salafist Islamic fundamentalism. His murder followed a July 19 coordinated attack on two high-ranking muftis in the Russian Volga Republic of Tatarstan. Both victims were state-approved religious leaders who had attacked radical Islam. This latest round of murders opens a new front in the Salafist war against Russia, namely attacks on moderate Sufi Muslim leaders.
Whether or not Dagestan now descends into internal religious civil war that then spreads across the geopolitically sensitive Russian Caucasus is not yet certain. What is almost certain is that the same circles who have been feeding violence and terror inside Syria against the regime of Alawite President Bashar al-Assad are behind the killing of Sheikh Afandi as well as sparking related acts of terror or unrest across Russia’s Muslim-populated Caucasus. In a very real sense it represents Russia’s nightmare scenario of “Syria coming to Russia.” It demonstrates dramatically why Putin has made such a determined effort to stop a descent into a murderous hell in Syria.
Salafism and the CIA
The existence of the so-called jihadist Salafi brand of Islam in Dagestan is quite recent. It has also been deliberately imported. Salafism is sometimes also called the name of the older Saudi-centered Wahhabism. Wahhabism is a minority originally-Bedouin form of the faith originating within Islam, dominant in Saudi Arabia since the 1700’s.
Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz of the Centre for Islamic Pluralism give the following description of Saudi conditions under the rigid Wahhabi brand of Islam:
“Women living under Saudi rule must wear the abaya, or total body cloak, and niqab, the face veil; they have limited opportunities for schooling and careers; they are prohibited from driving vehicles; are banned from social contact with men not relatives, and all personal activity must be supervised including opening bank accounts, by a male family member or “guardian.” These Wahhabi rules are enforced by a mutawiyin, or morals militia, also known as “the religious police,” officially designated the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) who patrol Saudi cities, armed with leather-covered sticks which they freely used against those they considered wayward. They raid homes looking for alcohol and drugs, and harassed non-Wahhabi Muslims as well as believers in other faiths.” 
It’s widely reported that the obscenely opulent and morally-perhaps-not-entirely-of- the-highest-standards Saudi Royal Family made a Faustian deal with Wahhabite leaders. The deal supposedly, was that the Wahhabists are free to export their fanatical brand of Islam around to the Islamic populations of the world in return for agreeing to leave the Saudi Royals alone. There are, however, other dark and dirty spoons stirring the Wahhabite-Salafist Saudi stew.
Little known is the fact that the present form of aggressive Saudi Wahhabism, in reality a kind of fusion between imported jihadi Salafists from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the fundamentalist Saudi Wahhabites. Leading Salafist members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood were introduced into the Saudi Kingdom in the 1950’s by the CIA in a complex series of events, when Nasser cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood following an assassination attempt. By the 1960’s an influx of Egyptian members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Saudi Arabia fleeing Nasserite repression, had filled many of the leading teaching posts in Saudi religious schools. One student there was a young well-to-do Saudi, Osama bin Laden. 
During the Third Reich, Hitler Germany had supported the Muslim Brotherhood as a weapon against the British in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. Marc Erikson describes the Nazi roots of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood thus:
…as Italian and German fascism sought greater stakes in the Middle East in the 1930s and ’40s to counter British and French controlling power, close collaboration between fascist agents and Islamist leaders ensued. During the 1936-39 Arab Revolt, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of German military intelligence, sent agents and money to support the Palestine uprising against the British, as did Muslim Brotherhood founder and “supreme guide” Hassan al-Banna. A key individual in the fascist-Islamist nexus and go-between for the Nazis and al-Banna became the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini.
After the defeat of Germany, British Intelligence moved in to take over control of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ultimately, for financial and other reasons, the British decided to hand their assets within the Muslim Brotherhood over to their CIA colleagues in the 1950s. 
According to former US Justice Department Nazi researcher John Loftus, “during the 1950s, the CIA evacuated the Nazis of the Muslim Brotherhood to Saudi Arabia. Now, when they arrived in Saudi Arabia, some of the leading lights of the Muslim Brotherhood, like Dr Abdullah Azzam, became the teachers in the madrassas, the religious schools. And there they combined the doctrines of Nazism with this weird Islamic cult, Wahhabism.” 
“Everyone thinks that Islam is this fanatical religion, but it is not,” Loftus continues. “They think that Islam–the Saudi version of Islam–is typical, but it’s not. The Wahhabi cult has been condemned as a heresy more than 60 times by the Muslim nations. But when the Saudis got wealthy, they bought a lot of silence. This is a very harsh cult. Wahhabism was only practised by the Taliban and in Saudi Arabia–that’s how extreme it is. It really has nothing to do with Islam. Islam is a very peaceful and tolerant religion. It always had good relationships with the Jews for the first thousand years of its existence.” 
Loftus identified the significance of what today is emerging from the shadows to take over Egypt under Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi, and the so-called Syrian National Council, dominated in reality by the Muslim Brotherhood and publicly led by the more “politically correct” or presentable likes of Bassma Kodmani. Kodmani, foreign affairs spokesman for the SNC was twice an invited guest at the Bilderberg elite gathering, latest in Chantilly, Virginia earlier this year.
The most bizarre and alarming feature of the US-financed regime changes set into motion in 2010, which have led to the destruction of the secular Arab regime of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Muhammar Qaddafi in Libya, and the secular regime of President Ben Ali in Tunisia, and which have wreaked savage destruction across the Middle East, especially in the past eighteen months in Syria, is the pattern of emerging power grabs by representatives of the murky Salafist Muslim Brotherhood.
By informed accounts, a Saudi-financed Sunni Islamic Muslim Brotherhood dominates the members of the exile Syrian National Council that is backed by the US State Department’s Secretary Clinton and by Hollande’s France. The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood is tied, not surprisingly to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood of President Mohammed Morsi who recently in a meeting of the Non-Aligned in Iran called openly for the removal of Syria’s Assad, a logical step if his Muslim Brothers in the present Syrian National Council are to take the reins of power. The Saudis are also rumored to have financed the ascent to power in Tunisia of the governing Islamist Ennahda Party, and are documented to be financing the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Syrian National Council against President Bashar al-Assad. 
Part III: Morsi’s Reign of Salafi Terror
Indicative of the true agenda of this Muslim Brotherhood and related jihadists today is the fact that once they have power, they drop the veil of moderation and reconciliation and reveal their violently intolerant roots. This is visible in Egypt today under Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi.
Unreported in mainstream Western media to date are alarming direct reports from Christian missionary organizations in Egypt that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood has already begun to drop the veil of “moderation and conciliation” and show its brutal totalitarian Salafist colors, much as Khomeini’s radical Sharia forces did in Iran after taking control in 1979-81.
In a letter distributed by the Christian Aid Mission (CAM), a Christian Egyptian missionary wrote that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood “announced they would destroy the country if Morsi didn’t win, but they also said they will take revenge from all those who voted for [his opponent Ahmed] Shafiq, especially the Christians as they are sure we did vote for Shafiq. Yesterday they began by killing two believers in el Sharqiya because of this,” the missionary added, speaking on condition of anonymity.
This report came only weeks after Egyptian State TV (under Morsi’s control) showed ghastly video footage of a convert from Islam to Christianity being murdered by Muslims. The footage showed a young man being held down by masked men with a knife to his throat. As one man was heard chanting Muslim prayers in Arabic, mostly condemning Christianity, another man holding the knife to the Christian convert’s throat began to cut, slowly severing the head amid cries of “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is great”), according to transcripts. In the letter, the Egyptian missionary leader added that, “soon after Morsi won, Christians in upper Egypt were forcibly prevented from going to churches.” Many Muslims, the letter claimed, “also began to speak to women in the streets that they had to wear Islamic clothing including the head covering. They act as if they got the country for their own, it’s theirs now.” 
Already in 2011 Morsi’s Salafist followers began attacking and destroying Sufi mosques across Egypt. According to the authoritative newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm (Today’s Egyptian), 16 historic mosques in Alexandria belonging to Sufi orders have been marked for destruction by so-called ‘Salafis’. Alexandria has 40 mosques associated with Sufis, and is the headquarters for 36 Sufi groups. Half a million Sufis live in the city, out of a municipal total of four million people. Aggression against the Sufis in Egypt has included a raid on Alexandria’s most distinguished mosque, named for, and housing, the tomb of the 13th century Sufi Al-Mursi Abu’l Abbas.
Notably, the so-called “democratically elected” regime in Libya following the toppling of Mohamar Qaddafi by NATO bombs in 2011, has also been zealous in destroying Sufi mosques and places of worhip. In August this year, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova expressed “grave concern” at the destruction by Islamic Jihadists of Sufi sites in Zliten, Misrata and Tripoli and urged perpetrators to “cease the destruction immediately.”  Under behind-the-scenes machinations the Libyan government is dominated by Jihadists and by followers of the Muslim Brotherhood, as in Tunisia and Egypt. 
The explosive cocktail of violence inherent in allowing the rise to power of Salafist Islamists across the Middle East was clear to see, symbolically enough on the night of September 11,th when a mob of angry supporters of the fanatical Salafist group, Ansar Al-Sharia, murdered the US Ambassador to Libya and three US diplomats, burning the US Consulate in Bengazi to the ground in protest over a YouTube release of a film by an American filmmaker showing the Prophet Mohammed indulging in multiple sex affairs and casting doubt on his role as God’s messenger. Ironically that US Ambassador had played a key role in toppling Qaddafi and opening the door to the Salafist takeover in Libya. At the same time angry mobs of thousands of Salafists surrounded the US Embassy in Cairo in protest to the US film. 
Ansar Al-Sharia (“Partisans of Islamic law” in Arabic) reportedly is a spinoff of Al-Qaeda and claims organizations across the Middle East from Yemen to Tunisia to Iraq, Egypt and Libya. Ansar al-Sharia says it is reproducing the model of Sharia or strict Islamic law espoused by the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Islamic State of Iraq, a militant umbrella group that includes al-Qaeda in Iraq. The core of the group are jihadists who came out of an “Islamic state”, either in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s, or among jihadists in Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003.
The deliberate detonation now of a new round of Salafist fundamentalist Jihad terror inside Muslim regions of the Russian Caucasus is exquisitely timed politically to put maximum pressure at home on the government of Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Putin and the Russian Government are the strongest and most essential backer of the current Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, and for Russia as well the maintenance of Russia’s only Mediterranean naval base at Syria’s Tartus port is vital strategically. At the same time, Obama’s sly message to Medvedev to wait until Obama’s re-election to evaluate US intent towards Russia and Putin’s cryptic recent comment that a compromise with a re-elected President Obama might be possible, but not with a President Romney,  indicate that the Washington “stick-and-carrot” or hard cop-soft cop tactics with Moscow might tempt Russia to sacrifice major geopolitical alliances, perhaps even that special close and recent geopolitical alliance with China. Were that to happen, the World might witness a “reset” in US-Russian relations with catastrophic consequences for world peace.
F. William Engdahl* is the author ofFull Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order
 Dan Peleschuk, Sheikh Murdered Over Religious Split Say Analysts, RIA Novosti, August 30, 2012, accessed in
 UN Security Council, QI.U.290.11. DOKU KHAMATOVICH UMAROV, 10 March 2011, accessed in http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1267/NSQI29011E.shtml. The UN statement reads: “Doku Khamatovich Umarov was listed on 10 March 2011 pursuant to paragraph 2 of resolution 1904 (2009) as being associated with Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden or the Taliban for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf of, or in support of”, “recruiting for”, “supplying, selling or transferring arms and related materiel to” and “otherwise supporting acts or activities of” the Islamic Jihad Group (QE.I.119.05), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (QE.I.10.01), Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs (RSRSBCM) (QE.R.100.03) and Emarat Kavkaz (QE.E.131.11).”
 David M. Herszenhorn, Putin Says Missile Deal Is More Likely With Obama, The New York Times, September 6, 2012, accessed in http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/07/world/europe/putin-calls-missile-deal-more-likely-if-obama-wins.html. According to an interview Putin gave on Moscow’s state-owned RT TV, Herszenhorn reports, “Mr. Putin said he believed that if Mr. Obama is re-elected in November, a compromise could be reached on the contentious issue of American plans for a missile defense system in Europe, which Russia has strongly opposed. On the other hand, Mr. Putin said, if Mr. Romney becomes president, Moscow’s fears about the missile system — that it is, despite American assurances, actually directed against Russia — would almost certainly prove true.
“Is it possible to find a solution to the problem, if current President Obama is re-elected for a second term? Theoretically, yes,” Mr. Putin said, according to the official transcript posted on the Kremlin’s Web site. “But this isn’t just about President Obama. “For all I know, his desire to work out a solution is quite sincere,” Mr. Putin continued. “I met him recently on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, where we had a chance to talk. And though we talked mostly about Syria, I could still take stock of my counterpart. My feeling is that he is a very honest man, and that he sincerely wants to make many good changes. But can he do it? Will they let him do it?”
Citizens across the globe are feeling the blade of austerity measures and corporate greed as they lose their jobs and their wages are reduced. Families worldwide are under increasing pressure as social services such as education are being eroded. We face an age of economic transformation, where the poor are becoming poorer and the rich are becoming richer. The middle class is shrinking and under increasing attack, too.
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A deluge of articles have been quickly put into circulation defending France’s military intervention in the African nation of Mali. TIME’s article, “The Crisis in Mali: Will French Intervention Stop the Islamist Advance?” decides that old tricks are the best tricks, and elects the tiresome “War on Terror” narrative.TIME claims the intervention seeks to stop “Islamist” terrorists from overrunning both Africa and all of Europe. Specifically, the article states:
“…there is a (probably well-founded) fear in France that a radical Islamist Mali threatens France most of all, since most of the Islamists are French speakers and many have relatives in France. (Intelligence sources in Paris have told TIME that they’ve identified aspiring jihadis leaving France for northern Mali to train and fight.) Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), one of the three groups that make up the Malian Islamist alliance and which provides much of the leadership, has also designated France — the representative of Western power in the region — as a prime target for attack.”
What TIME elects not to tell readers is that Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is closely allied to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG whom France intervened on behalf of during NATO’s 2011 proxy-invasion of Libya – providing weapons, training, special forces and even aircraft to support them in the overthrow of Libya’s government.
As far back as August of 2011, Bruce Riedel out of the corporate-financier funded think-tank, the Brookings Institution, wrote “Algeria will be next to fall,” where he gleefully predicted success in Libya would embolden radical elements in Algeria, in particular AQIM. Between extremist violence and the prospect of French airstrikes, Riedel hoped to see the fall of the Algerian government. Ironically Riedel noted:
Algeria has expressed particular concern that the unrest in Libya could lead to the development of a major safe haven and sanctuary for al-Qaeda and other extremist jihadis.
“Crucially, still in 2007, then al-Qaeda’s number two, Zawahiri, officially announced the merger between the LIFG and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM). So, for all practical purposes, since then, LIFG/AQIM have been one and the same – and Belhaj was/is its emir. “
“Belhaj,” referring to Hakim Abdul Belhaj, leader of LIFG in Libya, led with NATO support, arms, funding, and diplomatic recognition, the overthrowing of Muammar Qaddafi and has now plunged the nation into unending racist and tribal, genocidal infighting. This intervention has also seen the rebellion’s epicenter of Benghazi peeling off from Tripoli as a semi-autonomous “Terror-Emirate.” Belhaj’s latest campaign has shifted to Syria where he was admittedly on the Turkish-Syrian border pledging weapons, money, and fighters to the so-called “Free Syrian Army,” again, under the auspices of NATO support.
Image: NATO’s intervention in Libya has resurrected listed-terrorist organization and Al Qaeda affiliate, LIFG. It had previously fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now has fighters, cash and weapons, all courtesy of NATO, spreading as far west as Mali, and as far east as Syria. The feared “global Caliphate” Neo-Cons have been scaring Western children with for a decade is now taking shape via US-Saudi, Israeli, and Qatari machinations, not “Islam.” In fact, real Muslims have paid the highest price in fighting this real “war against Western-funded terrorism.”
LIFG, which with French arms, cash, and diplomatic support, is now invading northern Syria on behalf of NATO’s attempted regime change there, officially merged with Al Qaeda in 2007 according to the US Army’s West Point Combating Terrorism Center (CTC). According to the CTC, AQIM and LIFG share not only ideological goals, but strategic and even tactical objectives. The weapons LIFG received most certainly made their way into the hands of AQIM on their way through the porous borders of the Sahara Desert and into northern Mali.
A leading member of an al Qaeda-affiliated terror group indicated the organization may have acquired some of the thousands of powerful weapons that went missing in the chaos of the Libyan uprising, stoking long-held fears of Western officials.”We have been one of the main beneficiaries of the revolutions in the Arab world,” Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a leader of the north Africa-based al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb [AQIM], told the Mauritanian news agency ANI Wednesday. “As for our benefiting from the [Libyan] weapons, this is a natural thing in these kinds of circumstances.”
It is no coincidence that as the Libyan conflict was drawing to a conclusion, conflict erupted in northern Mali. It is part of a premeditated geopolitical reordering that began with toppling Libya, and since then, using it as a springboard for invading other targeted nations, including Mali, Algeria, and Syria with heavily armed, NATO-funded and aided terrorists.
French involvement may drive AQIM and its affiliates out of northern Mali, but they are almost sure to end up in Algeria, most likely by design.
Algeria was able to balk subversion during the early phases of the US-engineered “Arab Spring” in 2011, but it surely has not escaped the attention of the West who is in the midst of transforming a region stretching from Africa to Beijing and Moscow’s doorsteps – and in a fit of geopolitical schizophrenia – using terrorists both as a casus belli to invade and as an inexhaustible mercenary force to do it.
This article was published before the Greeks voted “no” in the referendum on austerity.
Alexander Tsipras, the prime minister of Greece, has called a national referendum this Sunday to call the bluff of the European Union and International Monetary Fund who are trying to force his country to accept severe austerity in return for effectively rolling over much of the countries’ debt.
A recent CorpWatch report - The EuroZone Profiteers - can help shed further light on this matter. While it’s true that corrupt Greek politicians borrowed billions for shaky government schemes from these banks, there was a very good reason that the financiers made these rash loans: they were under pressure from European Union bureaucrats to compete in a global marketplace with U.K. and U.S. banks.
Take the German banks. While Anglo-American banking is dominated by many branches of a few major banks, Germany had some 4,000 unique institutions in 1990 that made up a three-pillar system of savings banks, co-operative banks, and private banks. These banks lived modestly on miniscule profits of one percent in comparison to Britain’s four mega-banks, which boasted returns as high as 30 percent on equity. Under pressure from Brussels, the German government agreed to push some of the bigger banks to become more “market oriented” by withdrawing state guarantees known as “anstaltslast” and “gewährträgerhaftung” to back them up in times of failure.
Likewise Prime Minister Jacques Chirac began a process of privatizing French banks in the late 1980s to “shoulder its responsibilities to the business community.” (The banks that had been nationalized over time by General Charles de Gaulle in 1945 and by President Pierre Mauroy in 1982) Like the Germans, the French banks enjoyed state protection, and thus were easily able to raise money to lend out.
The European Union was firmly behind this since they wanted European entities to compete on a global stage. “Sometimes it is said that competition is not to the benefit of all: It can favor larger firms, but hurt smaller businesses. I do not share this view,” Mario Monti, the European competition commissioner, said in October 1997. “Naturally, competition will reward greater efficiency. It will put pressure on less-performing companies and on sectors already suffering from structural problems.”
But French banks knew that they could not make billions by competing in Germany, nor were German banks expecting to vanquish the French. They looked instead to a simpler and easier market to loan out the plentiful supply of cash they had – the poorer, mostly southern European states that had agreed to take part in the launch of a common currency called the Euro in 1999.
The logic was clear: In the mid-1990s, national interest rates in Greece and Spain, for example, hovered around 14 percent, and at a similar level in Ireland during the 1992–1993 currency crisis. So borrowers in these countries were eager to welcome the northern bankers with seemingly unlimited supplies of cheap cash at interest rates as low as one to four percent.
Take the case of Georg Funke, who ran Depfa, a German public mortgage bank. Depfa helped Athens get a star credit rating, raised €265 million for the Greek government railway, helped Portugal borrow €200 million to build up a water supplier, and gave €90 million to Spain to construct a privately operated road in Galicia. For a while, the middle class in Greece like the middle classes in Spain and Ireland, benefited from the infrastructure spending stimulus. When Depfa nearly collapsed in 2008, Funke was fired.
Or take the case of Georges Pauget, the CEO of Crédit Agricole in France, who bought up Emporiki Bank of Greece for €3.1 billion in cash in 2006. Over the next six years, Emporiki lost money year after year, blowing money on one foolish venture after another, until finally, Crédit Agricole sold it for €1 – not €1 billion or even €1 million – but a single euro to Alpha Bank in October 2012. Crédit Agricole’s cumulative loss? €5.3 billion.
Money poured in from other banks like Dexia of Belgium. Via Kommunalkredit, Dexia loaned €25 million to Yiannis Kazakos, the mayor of Zografou, a suburb of Athens, to buy land to build a shopping mall. It made similar loans to other Greek municipal authorities including Acharnon, Melisia, Metamorfosis, Nea Ionia, Serres, and Volos.
“The tsunami of cheap credit that rolled across the planet between 2002 and 2007 … wasn’t just money, it was temptation,” financial writer Michael Lewis wrote in Vanity Fair. “Entire countries were told, “The lights are out, you can do whatever you want to do, and no one will ever know.”
Bloomberg took a look at statistics from the Bank for International Settlements, and worked out that German banks loaned out a staggering $704 billion to Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain before December 2009. Two of Germany’s largest private banks—Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank—loaned $201 billion to Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, according to numbers compiled by BusinessInsider. And BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole of France loaned $477 billion to Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain.
There is a very good parallel to this situation of cheap and easy money in the recent sub-prime mortgage crisis in the U.S.
In a recent book, A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home, author Laura Gottesdiener explains that 30 years ago, African Americans were unable to borrow money to buy houses because of a practice called redlining—where banks drew fictitious red lines around neighborhoods they would not lend to even if the borrowers had good credit and good jobs.
Today, redlining is illegal, but the reverse has happened. In the 1990s, poor people around the U.S. were offered 100 percent loans to buy houses at low rates with virtually no collateral.
“The mortgage market for white Americans was flush. There was no more money to be made from issuing mortgages to white Americans. The banks needed new consumers,” Gottesdiener told Corporate Crime Reporter magazine. “So, they moved into the minority market. But they weren’t selling the conventional loans. They were selling these incredibly exploitative predatory loans.”
We know how the sub-prime crisis ended in 2008 – and it almost brought down the global economy.
What happened after the creation of the Euro was very similar. The Greek government is in debt today to Germany and France not just because they borrowed money for unwise projects, but also because the bankers pushed them to take money that they would never have been able to approved under normal circumstances.
How the Greeks will vote on the European Union austerity package this Sunday is hard to predict, but more must be done – it is time to investigate the bankers who created the EuroZone crisis and hold them accountable.
But the bankers are not the only ones. There must be repercussions for the European Union bureaucrats and politicians who promoted the idea that free-market competition in financial services would benefit everyone. And not least of all, there should be a serious debate on how to reverse many of the policies that were used to create the European single market in financial services.
ISIS has been developing its presence in the Caucasus within the territory of the Russian Federation. On June 23, 2015 ISIS announced the creation of a new governorate, called Wilayat Qawqaz in Russia’s North Caucasus, after several senior militants in the area pledged allegiance to ISIS.
ISIS has been setting conditions to establish this governorate in support of its regional expansion campaign since at least January 2015. The Declaration of Wilayat Qawqaz followed the circulation of a Russian-language audio statement on Twitter on June 21, in which supporters of ISIS in the regions of Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Kabarda, Balkaria and Karachay pledged allegiance to ISISs leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
These areas represent four of the six subdivisions that constitute the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus terrorist network. Militants in these four most frequently conducted domestic attacks in support of the IECs stated goals of establishing a Caucasus emirate under sharia law and waging global jihad. The two IEC subdivisions where supporters have not formally pledged to ISIS are Cherkessia and Nogay steppe.
Rising of IS presence in the Russian Caucasus clashes with weakening of the IEC. Russian security forces killed the IECs leader, Aliaskhab Kebekov, in April 2015. The failures of IEC give ISIS new opportunities to gain the control on IEC vestiges in the region. Probably, in the near feature, the majority of the IECs active force will be loyal to ISIS.
The Russian leadership fully comprehends the threat, and is seeking to carry out pre-emptive strikes against ISIS fighters. The government has already accelerated its domestic security efforts in the region following a gun battle that Islamic militants initiated against government forces in the Chechen capital of Grozny in December 2014.
IEC had been a serious threat to Russian security for several years before the major crackdown on it was launched in 2011. Since the start of the campaign, which remains ongoing, attacks inside Russia have declined by 30%. On account of a massive surge of counter-terror operations many terrorists either being killed. Also, the developments in the Caucasus can push Russia to increase its involvement in Syria and Iraq anti-IS frontlines, where it has recently equipped the Iraqi Security Forces with new supplies of Russian anti-tank rockets.
ISISs creation of Wilayat Qawqaz may be a publicity effort meant to boost morale rather than a statement of intent to initiate military operations. However, ISIS has repeatedly voiced its interest in the Caucasus over the past year. The organization maintains a large base of Chechen fighters within Iraq and Syria, and frequently releases Russian-language propaganda encouraging individuals to pledge allegiance to ISIS. At all counts, both the pledge of allegiance and the declaration of Wilayat Qawqaz will enable IS to assert its continued expansion and vitality at the expense of al-Qaeda, the Russian state, and the international anti-ISIS coalition.
The purposes of Islamic State and its sponsors are to establish instability zones in Eurasia and involve Russia into the growing conflict in the Middle East. In this case the main directions of attack will be Central Asia from Afghanistan and Caucasus from Iraq. The aims are to take control of productive oilfields in the South Caspian region, destabilize Iran and reach the Caucasus Mountains. Islamic State groups in the Caucasus will be used to contain Russian forces while ISIS will advance toward North through Caucasus and Caspian Sea regions.
Another point of the evolving crisis in the Caucasus is Armenia. The massive protests have been striking the country since June 23. The reason of the crisis is energy prices raised by the government. Nonetheless, the main internal voices of protest is television channel Gala TV, sponsored by the US foundation National Endowment for Democracy and local unit of Radio Liberty, organization founded as part of a large-scale Psychological Operation of CIA during the Cold War.
US-backed nongovernmental organizations activity and western diplomacy over the region is also a factor. The bluntly exercising of well-known social, political and internet technologies used for color revolutions in other post-Soviet countries creates an opportunity of further disruption.
In case of success of color revolution or chaos in Armenia, the South Caucasus will be hit with heavy conflagration because of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic or NKR is a de facto independent state established as result of Nagorno-Karabakh War between the majority ethnic Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh backed by the Republic of Armenia, and the Republic of Azerbaijan. The war ended with a ceasefire in 1994. Today, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains one of several frozen conflicts in the former Soviet Union. The escalation on the situation has been observed since the autumn of 2014. Only on March 20, 2015, from 10 to 20 Armenian soldiers were killed in clash against Armed Forces of Azerbaijan. On account of color revolution in Armenia the conflict over NKR will be defrosted and Armenia-Azerbaijan war will be restarted.
Also, we cannot ignore the USAs attempts to encourage Georgia in ideas of aggressive militarist policy in the region. The main directions of military escalation in this case are Republic of South Ossetia and Republic of Abkhazia. Furthermore, Georgia already has an experience of military aggression against Republic of South Ossetia on 2008. Under the pressure of the USA Georiga can increase the support of terrorist groups in the North Caucasus as it already did during the governance of Mikhail Saakashvili. The USA doesnt concern over the fact that Georgia will become one of the terror-hit on account of this strategy.
Thus, we observe the well-known US policy to set up chaos throughout the world. The so-called West, leaded by US regime, points ISIS aggression toward the US-convenient direction, at the same time the region is groomed for political deconstruction. In the case being examined ISIS is only a key to start the US-preplanned process. The large-scale net of western NPOs was created in Georgia and Armenia. A number of western influence moles were planted in the government bodies. Local elites mostly depend on the US, their funds allocate in the West. So, they dont care grass-roots interests. The situation at hand is a part of a deconstruction strategic plan aimed to Eurasia. The current goal is to set up chaos zone in the Caspian-Caucasian-BlackSea strategic region. ISIS is a kind of bickford fuze to detonate preload blast.
No one can really tell what will come out of the upcoming negotiations with the Troika (International Monetary Fund, European Commission, European Central Bank). Meanwhile Austrians are signing a petition to leave the European Union and Greek’s Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, has resigned. RT reports:
In Binoy Kampmark’s view this is what might happen next:
More liquidity will be sought and observers are predicting that the European Central Bank will rebuff the request by the Bank of Greece. This will then trigger the effective withdrawal of Greece from the zone, if no capital can be found. To save Europe, it may well be incumbent that Greece exit it, at least in so far as the system has failed it. (Binoy Kampmark, Oxi in Greece: Saving the European Idea, Global Research, July 6, 2015)
Virtually absent from the mainstream media coverage are the IMF’s profit from Greek loans and the dirty role Goldman Sachs played in Greek’s finances.
The Jubilee Debt Campaign has released figures showing
According to diplomatic source in Brussels, Varoufakis’s opponents consider that he intentionally protracted the debt talks in order to hold a referendum. “In these conditions there is lack of trust in the main Greek negotiator,” the source said.
In Greece, the domestic banks got more than $30 billion of bailout from the Greek people. Let that sink in for a moment – the supposedly irresponsible Greek government had to bail out the hardcore capitalist bankers.
According to investigative reports … Blankfein, now Goldman Sachs CEO, Cohn, now President and COO, and Loudiadis, a Managing Director, all played a role in structuring complex derivative deals with Greece which accomplished two things: they allowed Greece to hide the true extent of its debt and they ended up almost doubling the amount of debt Greece owed under the dubious derivative deals.
The usual narrative of the Greek economic tragedy is that the country is paying for its past profligacy, but there is deeper back story of political repression fueled by major powers intervening in Greece and contributing to a dysfunctional political system, recalls ex-U.S. diplomat William R. Polk.
Focusing exclusively on the monetary aspects of the Greek crisis the media misses much of what disturbs the Greeks and also what might make a solution possible.
For over half a century, Greeks have lived in perilous times. In the 1930s, they lived under a brutal dictatorship that modeled itself on Nazi Germany, employing Gestapo-like secret police and sending critics off to an island concentration camp. Then a curious thing happened: Benito Mussolini invaded the country.
Challenged to protect their self-respect and their country, Greeks put aside their hatred of the Metaxis dictatorship and rallied to fight the foreign invaders. The Greeks did such a good job of defending their country that Adolf Hitler had to put off his invasion of Russia to rescue the Italians. That move probably saved Josef Stalin since the delay forced the Wehrmacht to fight in Russia’s mud, snow and ice for which they had not prepared. But, ironically, it also saved the Metaxis dictatorship and the monarchy. The king and all the senior Greek officials fled to British-occupied Egypt and, as new allies, they were declared part of the “Free World.”
Meanwhile, in Greece, the Germans looted much of the industry, shipping and food stuffs. The Greeks began to starve. As Mussolini remarked, “the Germans have taken from the Greeks even their shoelaces…”
Then, the Greeks began to fight back. In October 1942, they set up a resistance movement that within two years became the largest in Europe. When France could claim less than 20,000 partisans, the Greek resistance movement had enrolled about 2 million and was holding down at least two divisions of German soldiers. And they did it without outside help.
As the war’s outcome became apparent, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was determined to return Greece to the prewar rule of the monarchy and the old regime. He was motivated by fear of Communist influence within the resistance movement.
Churchill tried to get the Anglo-American army that was getting ready to invade Italy to attack Greece instead. Indeed, he tried so hard to change the war plan that he almost broke up the Allied military alliance; when he failed, he threw all the soldiers he still controlled into Greece and precipitated a civil war that tore the country apart. The Underground leaders were outsmarted and their movement was smashed. The bureaucracy, police and programs of the prewar dictatorship resumed control.
After the war, with Britain out of money and no longer able to sustain its policy, London turned Greece over to the Americans who announced the “Truman Doctrine” and poured in money to prevent a leftist victory. American money temporarily won the day, but the heavy hand of the former regime created a new generation of would-be democrats who challenged the dictatorship.
This is the theme beautifully evoked in Costa Gavras’ film “Z,” starring Yves Montand. As the film shows, the liberal movement of the early 1960s was overwhelmed by a new military dictatorship, “the rule of the colonels.”
When the military junta was overthrown in 1974, Greece enjoyed a brief period of “normality,” but none of the deep fissures in the society had been healed. Regardless of what political party chose the ministers, the self-perpetuating bureaucracy was still in control. Corruption was rife. And, most important of all, Greece had become a political system that Aristotle would have called an oligarchy.
The very rich used their money to create for themselves a virtual state within the state. They extended their power into every niche of the economy and so arranged the banking system that it became essentially extra-territorialized. Piraeus harbor was filled with mega-yachts owned by people who paid no taxes and London was partly owned by people who fattened off the Greek economy. The “smart money” of Greece was stashed abroad.
The Current Crisis
This state of affairs might have lasted many more years, but when Greece joined the European Union in 1981, European (mainly German) bankers saw an opportunity: they flocked into Greece to offer loans. Even those Greeks who had insufficient income to justify loans grabbed them. Then, the lenders began to demand repayment. Shocked, businesses began to cut back. Unemployment increased. Opportunities vanished.
There is really no chance that the loans will be repaid. They should never have been offered and never should have been accepted. To stay afloat, the government has cut back on public services (except for the military) and the people have suffered. In the 2004 elections, the Greeks had not yet suffered enough to vote for the radical coalition led by the “Unity” (SYRIZA) party. Only 3.3 percent of the voters did.
Then, after the 2008 financial crash came years of worsening hardship, disapproval of all politicians and anger. It was popular anger, feeling misled by the bankers and by their own foolishness. There was also hopelessness as Greeks realized that they had no way out and began to turn to SYRIZA. After a series of failed attempts to secure a mandate, SYRIZA won the 2015 election with 36.3 percent of the vote and 249 out of 300 members of Parliament.
Today, the conditions that impelled that vote are even more urgent: the national income of Greece is down about 25 percent and unemployment among younger workers is over 50 percent. So where does that leave the negotiators?
Faced with German and EU demands for more austerity, the Greeks are angry. They have deep memories of hatred against the Germans (this time, not soldiers but bankers). They have been, time after time, traduced by their own politicians. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras must know that if he is charged with a “sell-out,” his career is finished.
And the bail-out package offered by the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank is heavily weighted against Greece. Greeks also see their option of exiting the Euro as similar to stances taken by Britain and Sweden in not joining in the first place – although a painful adjustment for the Greek economy would be expected if Greece undertakes an unprecedented departure from the European currency.
However, unless the IMF and ECB offer a real chance for a better life for Greeks by forgiving most of the debts, I believe that the Greeks might well vote on Sunday to reject the austerity demands and leave the Euro.
William R. Polk is a veteran foreign policy consultant, author and professor who taught Middle Eastern studies at Harvard. President John F. Kennedy appointed Polk to the State Department’s Policy Planning Council where he served during the Cuban Missile Crisis. His books include: Violent Politics: Insurgency and Terrorism; Understanding Iraq; Understanding Iran; Personal History: Living in Interesting Times; Distant Thunder: Reflections on the Dangers of Our Times; and Humpty Dumpty: The Fate of Regime Change.
The language the Guardian and all other corporate media have been using about Syriza’s victory at the weekend against draconian EU-imposed austerity is revealing. Here are some examples of the subtle but effective framing from the paper’s front page today:
* The referendum is described in the standfirst and text as “polarising” rather than what it is: an exercise in direct, participatory democracy. If a 61% win is an illustration of a polarised society, what does that make David Cameron’s recent absolute victory in British parliamentary elections with 24% of the total vote? In the face of massive threats and intimidation from the EU establishment, echoed by European media, Greeks have shown there is a wide consensus against endless austerity. Nothing “polarised” about that at all.
* Syriza is repeatedly characterised as a “radical leftist” party, while its cool-under-pressure leader, Alexis Tsipras, is described as “fiery” (will the Guardian show some balance by labelling the German chancellor Angela Merkel “bullying”?). The truth, of course, is that Syriza is a broad alliance of parties representing an array of political views from the centre to the left united only in their opposition to a continuing EU-imposed austerity programme designed chiefly to benefit European financial institutions rather than the Greek people. Syriza only looks like it’s on the radical left because media like the Guardian are positioned in the soft neoliberal centre.
* The article concludes by stating that the “no” vote won because it was “supported by the hard left and the neo-fascist right in Greece, while the mainstream centre-left and centre-right campaigned for a yes vote.” The Guardian’s clear implication is that the lunatics have taken over the Greek asylum. But is that really the case? Or is that just the way EU elites want us to interpret the result? Germany has been pushing hardest for savage austerity in Greece. But it is worth recalling that after the Second World War, following German aggression that wreaked huge destruction across Europe, western countries, including Greece, that had suffered so much under the Nazis decided to forgive Germany much of its debts. In the exact reverse of Europe’s austerity approach to Greece, the US implemented the Marshall Plan to help rebuild Germany and other devastated European economies to create markets for its own industrial expansion.
* The EU elites, referred to as “creditors” but actually representing Europe’s large financial institutions, are repeatedly described as “mainstream”. That is presumably supposed to confer legitimacy on them and suggest they represent Europe and Europeans. But there is nothing “mainstream” about these unaccountable elites trying to bring about “regime change” in Greece by bleeding the country of hope. If they succeed and Syriza goes down, Greece will end up with real extremists – either the neo-Nazis of Golden Dawn or the country’s crony elites who got Greece into this mess, with the aid of the wider European elites, in the first place. What “mainstream” opinion in the rest of Europe thinks about Greece, Syriza or the European project is impossible to gauge because most European countries are too terrified to put such questions to their electorates in the way Syriza has done.
Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek finance minister, has stepped down. In a statement, he suggests that his remaining in his post, despite the backing he just received in the referendum, would make trying to renegotiate a deal with European financial institutions all the harder. They prefer his “absence”. A sad indication that the Europe Union is still a very undemocratic project indeed.
The Israeli government believes it is locked in an epic struggle to save Israel from the growing movement calling for an international boycott. Benjamin Netanyahu warns that Israel must “rebrand” itself to avoid pariah status. Ordinary Israelis are therefore being conscripted into an army of spin doctors in a campaign termed “hasbara” – Hebrew for “public diplomacy” or, most literally, propaganda.
In the latest offensive, the education ministry has launched a compulsory hasbara course for students travelling abroad. All youth delegations are now required to learn how to justify Israel’s policies in the occupied territories to outsiders. According to officials, the students must challenge those who “seek to delegitimise Israel”.
It is yet more evidence that hasbara has become a national obsession in Israel – and that the line between support for one’s country and support for the subjugation of another people has been erased.
Some 85 per cent of Israelis say they are keen to become hasbara ambassadors. A hasbara ministry already targets the international media with good news, while cultural events abroad, from food fairs to Israeli entries at film festivals, are designed to prove that Israel has another side.
For years the Israeli government has relied on paid workers – and thousands of volunteers – to surf the net posting pro-Israel comments. At Israel’s international airport, Israeli holidaymakers are offered brochures explaining the importance of persuading those they meet that Israel is misunderstood.
And yet the latest hasbara drive is unlikely to reverse Israel’s slow slide into ignominy.
The hasbara industry’s chief flaw, as Israeli political scientist Neve Gordon observes, is its assumption that “the merchandise is fine, and only the packaging needs to be replaced”.
But rapid developments in information technology mean Israel has less control over manipulating its image than ever before. First it was 24-hour news, then the internet. Now, smartphones make every Palestinian a potential documentary-maker, ensuring that moments of cruelty and oppression are captured and available for anyone who cares to look.
Palestinians post online videos of their everyday abuse: from demolition of homes to stone-throwers being shot with live ammunition.
Last week, Zaki Sabah, 56, a cake vendor in Jerusalem’s Old City, starred in one such video. Bystanders filmed him being savagely beaten by Israeli police on a busy road. Denied a permit for years by the occupation authorities, Sabah has been repeatedly fined and jailed.
Meanwhile, another video exposed Israel’s deceitful account of its supposedly peaceful interception of a boat trying to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. As more than a dozen passengers were held captive over the weekend, footage was smuggled out showing that Israeli commandos had electrocuted some of them with tasers.
Troubling imagery is not restricted to the occupied territories. Film of the charred interior of a historic church next to the Sea of Galilee highlighted last month the latest hate crime by Jewish extremists against Israel’s large Palestinian minority.
The futility of trying to stem the tide of evidence damning Israel on media old and new was exemplified last week by Moshe Yaalon, the defence minister.
“There is no humanitarian distress in Gaza,” he averred, while the media illustrated reports of his speech with pictures of mountains of rubble and children still homeless a year after Israel’s assault on the enclave.
Mr Yaalon’s sophistry may placate Israel’s supporters but the rest of us are more often incensed by such insults to our intelligence.
The hasbara offensive is doomed for another reason.
With the Palestinians’ case substantiated by evidence, rather than Israel’s, the evangelists of hasbara have only one recourse: to blame the messenger. Critics of Israel, it is implied, are either inveterate dupes or unabashed anti-semites. Either they have been deceived by the Israel-haters, or they are haters themselves.
As the hasbara industry moves into overdrive, such slurs are becoming common – including against those Israel needs to cultivate as allies.
Judith Nir Mozes, the wife of interior minister Silvan Shalom, himself a Netanyahu confidant, possibly reflected high-level thinking in Israel when she tweeted last month a racist “joke” about President Barack Obama. “Do u know what Obama Coffee is? Black and weak,” she wrote, ridiculing the leader of Israel’s most important ally.
Similarly, the Israeli foreign ministry mocked foreign journalists, even though they are hasbara’s target audience.
In a short animated video, a naive reporter is shown claiming that the people of Gaza simply want peace as militants fire rockets just behind him. Next the reporter misidentified Hamas’s tunnelling as the “first Palestinian subway system”. The video ends with a warning: “Open your eyes, terror rules Gaza.” The video has since been removed.
Michael Oren, Israel’s recently departed ambassador to the US, has joined the fray too, castigating American Jewish journalists as “self-haters”.
Hasbara’s cartoon version of reality is not only unconvincing but, in alienating friends as much as foes, self-defeating. Mr Netanyahu may hope to repackage Israel, but his product – continuing oppression of Palestinians – is one few can be persuaded to buy.
Standard reporting on the document misses a few key details that make the strategy even more dangerous than people initially realize.
Much has already been written about the US’ National Military Strategy (NMS) since it’s updated unveiling last week, but most analysts haven’t pieced together the finer details of the document that speak to its most lethal aspects. Here’s what they’re missing and why these undiscussed components are so critical in understanding the Pentagon’s forthcoming plans:
“Axis Of Evil 2.0”
Everyone’s spoken about Russia’s inclusion alongside Iran and North Korea as the main state targets of the NMS, but few have drawn parallels to George Bush’s 2002 “Axis of Evil” proclamation.
From this angle, Russia replaces Iraq, and the other two, Iran and North Korea, remain the same. Taking it even further, the purposefully ambiguous language being used in regards to China essentially qualifies it as the fourth member of the “Axis of Evil 2.0”.
The importance behind these four states’ inclusion is that each of them is located in a specific corner of Eurasia that the US plans to exploit in explaining its military buildup there.
The oft-repeated yet completely unproven “Russian threat” is used to justify the strengthening of NATO’s frontline border in Eastern Europe, while Iran, despite being in current negotiations with the US over its nuclear program, is a convenient bogeyman for excusing the billions of dollars of arms that the US regularly ships to the Arab NATO (GCC + Egypt).
China’s promotion of sovereignty in the South China Sea is the perfect rallying cry for the Pivot to Asia, and North Korea’s occasional missile tests and loud reactionary rhetoric invite the US to intensify its presence in Northeast Asia.
Altogether, the US is using inflated ‘threat’ assessments of Russia, Iran, China, and North Korea to continue its push into the Eurasian Heartland, in accordance with the theories of Halford Mackinder and Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Furthermore, it’s milking the fear that it’s mongered over Russia, Iran, North Korea to deploy ‘missile defense’ infrastructure in Eastern Europe, the Mideast, and Northeast Asia.
The purpose of this global anti-missile ring is to neutralize the second-strike potential from Russia, China, and Iran (nuclear in the case of Moscow and Beijing, non-nuclear in the case of Tehran) so that the US can use the threat of a scot-free first strike to blackmail each of them into unipolar submission.
Doctrine Of Disproportionate Force
Russia, Iran, China, and North Korea have a legitimate reason to fear the US, and it’s written right in the NMS itself. According to its authors, one of the US’ “enduring national interests” that it’ll use military force to protect is “a rules-based international order advanced by U.S. leadership”, or to put it another way, unipolarity.
What the Pentagon is saying is that disproportionate military force will be used against its ‘enemies’ (Russia, Iran, China, and North Korea) if they can be tricked into conventionally responding to any of the US or its allies’ provocations against them.
This means that US-engineered proxy wars (the ‘Brzezinski specialty’, if one will) have the very real prospect of turning into direct wars against their true targets, thereby skyrocketing the uneasiness that each of the four aforementioned states must surely be feeling right now about the US and its nefarious NMS.
The Tricks Up Uncle Sam’s Sleeve
The US plans to facilitate its Doctrine of Disproportionate force through “the presence of U.S. military forces in key locations around the world”, which explains why it’s stacking up its deployments in Eastern Europe, the Mideast, Southeast Asia, and Northeast Asia. In terms of how it plans to act against its primary state targets in each of those theaters (its so-called “globally integrated operations), it’s listed a series of eight thinly veiled euphemisms that deserve to be exposed for what they truly are:* “employing mission command”: The US will rely more on regional command posts to direct its forthcoming campaigns, seeking to make them semi-autonomous from the Pentagon via the broad mission objectives that they’re given. This would in turn allow them to take tactical advantage of certain battlefield/theater openings without having to continually refer back for specific permission, which would have the effect of making regional forces more adaptable and agile in their aggression.
* “seizing, retaining, and exploiting the initiative”: Seizing the initiative means making a first strike, while retaining and exploiting the consequent “initiative” is nothing more than following through on the Doctrine of Disproportionate Force.
* “partnering”: There is no difference between this euphemism and the Lead From Behind template.
* “demonstrating flexibility in establishing joint forces”: Building on the Lead From Behind idea, the US is expressing its eagerness to work with any and all forces in pursuing their mutual objectives, showing that it hasn’t learned its lesson from allying with terrorists and other unsavory actors in Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria, to name but a few. To the contrary, the Pentagon seems to believe that such ‘flexible joint forces’ give it a distinct battlefield advantage that should be emulated in future conflicts.
* “improving cross-domain synergy”: For as much as the US chides Russia for its alleged application of “hybrid war”, it’s basically saying that it wants to do the same thing. In fact, it already has, and it’s provably done so with maximum lethality during the War on Libya, the War on Syria, and EuroMaidan, when US-supported proxy forces escalated their destabilization to a conventional Western military intervention in the first battlefield, created an uncontrollable terrorist caliphate in the second, and succeeded in their urban guerrilla campaign to violently overthrow a democratically elected government in the third. If Russia is supposedly practicing ‘hybrid warfare’, then it’s obviously lagging far behind the US’ application of this dark art.
* “using flexible, low-signature capabilities”: Relating to the previous euphemism that deals more with tactics, this one simply underlines the strategic necessity of engaging in proxy wars so as to maintain an aura of ‘plausible deniability’ per the “low-signature capabilities” being employed.
* “being increasingly discriminate to minimize unintended consequences”: The Pentagon is feebly defending its drone assassination program as “minimizing unintended consequences” (besides over a thousand civilian deaths to the contrary), in what can be taken as a signal that it intends to double down on this practice and roll it out in increasingly more conflicts.
Image: Confederate battle flag flying on the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse.
Whenever there’s a suggestion that the Confederate battle flag should be retired to museums or that the name of Confederate President Jefferson Davis should be removed from major highways, there comes the predictable accusation that such moves amount to “rewriting our history” – but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a case of recognizing the real history.
What America needs – perhaps now more than ever – is a serious reexamination of its true history, not the pleasant palliatives offered in textbooks approved by Southern-dominated boards appointed by right-wing politicians. Under such benighted tutelage, popular U.S. history as taught in public schools has become primarily a brainwashing exercise, an ideological foundation for “American exceptionalism,” the jumping-off point for today’s endless wars.
Plus, given America’s continuing racial tensions, it’s particularly important to throw away the rose-colored glasses used to view the issues of slavery and the antebellum South, happy scenes of elegantly dressed white people lounging on the veranda of a stately plantation house, sipping mint juleps while being cooled by fans waved by contented and placid Negroes, a white supremacist’s happiest dream.
A June 24 column by Harold Meyerson cited a recent book — The Half Has Never Been Told by Cornell University history professor Edward Baptist —that explodes the enduring white Southern myth of the kindly and beneficent plantation. Baptist argues that even the word “plantation” should be tossed into the trash bin of historical euphemisms, replaced by the more accurate phrase “slave labor camp,” albeit one with a large, pretty house in the center.
“Torture” is also a word that should apply, Baptist argues, with African-American slaves routinely whipped for falling short of their production quotas. This behavior was not just common among the most ignorant of Southern slaveholders but was a practice employed even by Thomas Jefferson.
According to documents at Monticello, Jefferson had slave boys as young as 10 whipped. In another important book that strips away the excuses employed to ameliorate the evils of slavery, Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves by historian Henry Wiencek disclosed a plantation report to Jefferson explaining that his nail factory was doing well because “the small ones” – ages 10, 11 and 12 – were being whipped by overseer, Gabriel Lilly, “for truancy.”
Jefferson and other slaveholders in the older slave states like Virginia, where the soil had become over-farmed and depleted, also found financial salvation in breeding slaves for the newer (and even more brutal) slave states of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.
Jefferson even calculated that a fertile female had a higher financial value than a strapping male in the fields, all the better to help him pay for his extravagant lifestyle and cover his mounting debts. (According to Wiencek’s book and many other accounts, Jefferson also personally contributed to the breeding process by imposing himself sexually on his female property.)
The Deep South
Baptist’s book provides an overview of the slave economy as more than 800,000 slaves from the Mid-Atlantic region were sold to the Deep South’s cotton planters who employed even a crueler system than in Virginia and Maryland. Slaves often were forced to travel by foot and in chains and worked under the constant “threat of torture.”
Even after slavery was outlawed by the Thirteenth Amendment at the end of the Civil War, Southern whites refused to accept their guilt in the atrocities inflicted on African-Americans. Many whites fancied themselves the victims of “Yankee aggression” as they replaced slavery with another grotesque system, Jim Crow segregation often enforced by lynching blacks.
Around 1920, at the height of Jim Crow and the Ku Klux Klan, the Daughters of the Confederacy honored Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who before the war had been a prominent Mississippi slaveholder, by naming major roadways in the South after him, including stretches of Route 1 in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C.
That roadway skirted some historic African-American neighborhoods settled by slaves freed by President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Many ex-slaves – escaping the Confederacy – ended up in a refugee camp called Freedman’s Village not far from the current site of the Pentagon.
During the Civil War, the area also was the location of Camp Casey, a training base for U.S. Colored Troops who then marched south to fight to end slavery. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Mystery of the Civil War’s Camp Casey.”]
Under orders of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his War Department, captured black Union troops were not to be treated as soldiers but rather as slaves in insurrection, meaning that they could be executed or put into slavery regardless of their pre-war status. In several battles late in the Civil War, surrendering USCT solders were murdered, apparently including some of the soldiers from Camp Casey at the Battle of the Crater.
So, the message of Jefferson Davis Highway was always a warning to African-Americans that they were never too far from the hand of white power. The message of Southern white defiance was repeated in 1964 when Jefferson Davis’s name was added to a stretch of Route 110 near the Pentagon as a Virginian riposte to the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
This fury of white victimhood has been on display again in recent years with the hysterical conspiracy-mongering about President Barack Obama’s birthplace, the Republican Party’s assault on voting rights, the examples of police brutality targeting blacks, and the resurfacing of violent white supremacy as in the nine murders at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Some Brave Southerners
After the Charleston church massacre on June 17, some white politicians did step forward and renounce the South’s long history of racism, slavery and segregation. State Sen. Paul Thurmond, son of longtime segregationist Gov. and Sen. Strom Thurmond, joined in calling for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from South Carolina’s Statehouse grounds.
“I am aware of my heritage, but my appreciation for the things my forebears accomplished to make my life better does not mean that I must believe that they always made the right decisions,” Thurmond said. “And for the life of me, I will never understand how anyone could fight a civil war based in part on the desire to continue the practice of slavery.”
But other white Southerners continued to play the “we’re the real victims here” card or to make up endless excuses for slavery and segregation. Some claimed to be simply standing up for “history” by defending the symbols of the slave South. [For a sample of these attitudes, see comments to Consortiumnews.com’s “Confronting Southern ‘Victimhood.’”]
In Arlington, where I had urged the County Board to petition the state legislature to remove Jefferson Davis’s name from Route 1 and Route 110, there was an angry backlash to the idea from some county residents as well as support from others. One group recommended that, in Virginia, Davis’s name be replaced by the name of African-American tennis player Arthur Ashe, who – unlike Davis – actually came from Virginia.
But resistance to the idea continued. On July 2, Consortiumnews.com’s assistant editor Chelsea Gilmour, who was the author of the article about the training of U.S. Colored Troops at Camp Casey, posted an online petition to change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway to a Facebook group page, “I grew up in Arlington, VA,” which has nearly 13,600 members who mostly share old pictures of Arlington, talk about shops that used to exist, and share memories from their time in Arlington.
However, when the petition was posted, Gilmour said,
“Within seconds, a tidal wave of comments began appearing, generally along the lines of: ‘Are you kidding?!,’ … ‘I will not sign this,’ ‘Why are you trying to rewrite history?!,’ … ‘This is the history of Arlington and the South and we can’t change it.’ … Additionally, a number of personal insults were directed towards me. … When [one commenter who had responded ‘Idiot!’ was] asked by another commentor why his previous comments had been so personally disrespectful towards me, he replied, ‘This is an attack on my Arlington, my Virginia, my South!’”
Taking Down a Petition
Then, there were demands that the petition be removed from the Facebook page. “Within 45 minutes of posting the petition, it had been removed by the administrator of the page,” Gilmour said. “The hateful reaction from a county which has always prided itself on being ‘liberal’ and ‘open to diversity’ was surprising and disheartening.”
When another person posted the petition separately, it was immediately removed again.
This hostility and close-mindedness have been characteristics of many white Southerners for generations. Rather than acknowledge the historic evils of slavery and segregation – and do whatever they could to make amends to African-Americans – too many white Southerners and racists from other parts of the United States have wallowed in their own delusional victimhood.
Instead of confronting the real and ugly history, they have devised a fictional one that is reinforced by the many symbols of the Confederacy, from the many statues of Confederate generals to the Confederate battle flag (now waved as an international symbol of white supremacy) to the honors given to Confederate President (and Mississippi slaveholder) Jefferson Davis.
It is also not an affront to history to recognize the evil realities of history. Even in the Soviet Union – after the crimes of Josef Stalin were exposed – the government stripped his name from the city of Stalingrad, despite that city’s enormous historical importance as a turning point of World War II. The renaming of the city was an acknowledgement of a very dark history. But, so too, is the history of American slavery.
When President Barack Obama went to Charleston on June 26 to deliver the eulogy for one of the massacre victims, State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, Obama read and then sang words from the hymn “Amazing Grace.” Why his choice was so appropriate was that the lyrics were written by Englishman John Newton, an Eighteenth Century slave trader — “a wretch like me” — who repented for the evil that he had helped inflict.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includesAmerica’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.
Image: A section of the demonstration on Syntagma square on Sunday
Thousands gathered on Syntagma Square in Athens on Sunday evening following a resounding rejection of the austerity proposals of the European Union and International Monetary Fund. More than 61 percent of the electorate voted “no.”
This followed Friday’s huge turnout in the square, including many thousands of young people, who declared their intention to vote “Oxi” (“No”) in the referendum.
Young people, having borne the brunt of some of the most brutal austerity measures ever carried out against a European population in peacetime, were critical to the success of the “no” vote, rejecting the proposals by two to one. After more than five years of austerity, 50 percent of Greece’s youth remain unemployed, with no prospect of a future.
Celebration on Syntagma square on Sunday
Chants of “Oxi!, Oxi! Oxi!” [“No!, No! No!”] rang around Athens Sunday night. Sitting on the steps leading to the Parliament, with an overview of the celebratory scene, Athina, a 20-year-old student from Athens, said, “We think it is the best result that we could have. Now other countries can see the Greek people saying we can’t take any more of this.”
Athina was in Syntagma with three of her student friends. Describing the terrible plight of young people, she said, “It is so difficult for us as students. We have to work all the time.” Her friend Afroditi interjected, “We are paid four euros an hour!”
Athina, Chasan, Afroditi and Francesca (from left)
Athina continued, “We are now 20 years old. We live with our parents and they have no money at all. They can’t live and can’t survive. It was about time this happened. It is clear. It is 60 percent. No!”
Asked what they thought about austerity being the EU’s policy throughout the continent, Afrodite said, “The ones who are bringing this to all the countries, it’s about time for them to pay. We won’t help the rich minority. They are a minority. We are the majority.”
Greek youth were not alone in celebrating the rejection of austerity. David and Ines from the northern Spanish city of Palencia said they felt they had to come to the square to express their solidarity with the Greek people. Both are studying architecture in Athens as part of an exchange program.
“The vote tonight is very important not only for Greece but for the whole continent”, David told us. “We have a very similar situation in Spain,” Ines added. “We are having to pay for the mistakes of the government and for the richest one percent of society.” Their friend Alexia from Paris, also an exchange student, added that in France an increasing number of austerity measures have been passed.
Despite the celebratory mood, some present were also concerned about the future. One young man told the WSWS, “I voted ‘no’ but I am not celebrating because I also know the risks of this decision.”
Millions of workers and youth in Greece have made clear their hostility to the onslaught of the global financial oligarchy. The working class opposition embodied in the “no” vote was politically inchoate, with many voters expressing illusions in the Syriza government. However, the vote was also an implicit rejection of Syriza’s continued attempts to seal an agreement with the EU and European Central Bank (ECB) based on an almost identical program of cuts, to be implemented over a slightly delayed timetable.
The Guardian posted a snapshot from the island of Evia, where there was a strong “no” vote. It cited the comments of Athina Vlahogiorgou, a single parent with two children, who is one of many long-term unemployed workers. She said, “After the last five years, whoever wants to ignore what’s been done to us has something wrong in their head. This is not about the Drachma or the Euro. This is a class issue.”
The WSWS reporting team from Athens heard these sentiments repeated with ever growing fervour this week.
As news of the decisive rejection of austerity in Greece became clear, the representatives of the European financial oligarchy were unable to conceal their resentment and hostility at the result.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the head of the Eurogroup could not hide his contempt, declaring: “This result is very regrettable for the future of Greece…” Ignoring the repudiation by the Greek people of the measures the Eurogroup was demanding, he said: “For recovery of the Greek economy, difficult measures and reforms are inevitable. We will now wait for the initiatives of the Greek authorities.”
Germany’s economy minister and Social Democratic Party leader Sigmar Gabriel declared the result was a “rejection of the rules of the euro zone,” and that “negotiations about a programme worth billions are barely conceivable.”
Slovakia’s Finance Minister Peter Kažimír bluntly warned, “We will not go gently into this good night.”
Following the result, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande spoke by telephone and agreed to convene a meeting of the euro zone’s leaders, to be held Tuesday afternoon.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is to hold a conference call today with ECB President Mario Draghi, Dijsselbloem, and European Council President Donald Tusk.
Britain’s right-wing Daily Mail summed up the class hostility of the ruling elite to a decisive rejection of its cuts programme with the headline, “Meltdown! EU in crisis as Greece voted ‘No’ to crippling cuts and heads for eurozone exit.”
Speaking to the Financial Times, Mujtaba Rahman, head of European analysis at the Eurasia Group risk consultancy, declared, “Greece has just signed its own suicide note.”
The Syriza government called the referendum as a ploy, hoping to use it as a means to conclude an agreement with the EU, the ECB and the IMF, whatever the result. However, the referendum only served to galvanise the opposition of the population to the hated austerity memorandums imposed by successive Greek governments.
With the exit polls showing a sizable “no” vote, Syriza Labour Minister Panos Skourletis stated, “The negotiations which will start must be concluded very soon, even after 48 hours.”
In response to Sunday’s vote, Tsipras and other leading Syriza officials stated that they intended to utilise the vote not as a means to put an end to austerity, but to redouble their efforts to reach an agreement with the institutions of the European financial elite. Tsipras claimed, “[T]he mandate you’ve given me does not call for a break with Europe, but rather gives me greater negotiating strength,” adding that “tomorrow the hard work begins.”
With the “no” campaign victory confirmed, Tsipras immediately made overtures to the same EU leaders who have repeatedly refused to make a single concession to Syriza over the past five months. His first call was to France’s Hollande.
Today Tsipras will reportedly meet with the leaders of Greece’s main political parties to canvas their views. These include the leaders of the pro-austerity PASOK and To Potami (The River) parties. Following the vote, the de facto leader of the “yes” campaign, Antonis Samaras of the conservative New Democracy party, tendered his resignation as party leader.
Edward Snowden didn’t just expose the possibility that state surveillance may have intruded into the lives of British citizens. He actually accused U.K. authorities of operating a system where ”anything goes,” and new details revealed this week confirm his suspicion.
The U.K. government is one of the main culprits for privacy infringement. Mass indiscriminate surveillance programmes include monitoring of emails, calls, internet searches, contact lists, and the gathering of vast amounts of other data that is not essential.
Just over a week ago, Amnesty International issued a press release on a ruling by the U.K. surveillance tribunal. The ruling asserted that the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) acted unlawfully by conducting surveillance on two human rights organisations. GCHQ is the government’s security and intelligence organisation tasked with protecting the nation from threats.
The tribunal, which was brought against the U.K. government by ten NGOs and included Amnesty International, found the government in breach of its internal surveillance policies. It violated its own policies by accessing and retaining the communications of two NGOs, one in Egypt and one in South Africa.
At the time, Amnesty International’s Legal Programme Director, Rachel Logan, said,
“Today’s decision revealing GCHQ’s unlawful activity raises the wider question as to why the UK intelligence services were intercepting the communications of these two highly regarded human rights NGOs at all. It is hard to imagine how they could legitimately be the target of criminal suspicion. Were they simply victims of mass surveillance – being swept up in indiscriminate trawling? And if so, do we only know about it because the spies failed to follow even their own weak procedures? Were the rest of us rounded up in the same net?”
Her final question, ”Were the rest of us rounded up in the same net?” came back to haunt her. It was answered this week in the latest chilling episode of the story as Amnesty itself found out that it, too, has been spied on. Just a week after the tribunal, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) informed Amnesty that GCHQ has also been unlawfully intercepting and storing its communications.
On the Amnesty staff blog earlier today, Allan Hogarth said the organisation will now press for the U.K. government to establish an independent inquiry into how and why the intelligence agency has been spying on human rights organisations.
With the financial crisis in Greece reaching a fevered pitch, many have wondered what might happen to the European Union if their most debt riddled member jumps ship. Will it cause a domino effect of defaulting nations, equally interested in leaving this unnatural union? It’s hard to say how it all might pan out, but it’s important to note that anti-EU rhetoric isn’t limited to Greece. Calls to leave the Union are being heard in unexpected places.
Over 260,000 Austrians have signed a petition calling for the EU exit for the country, and now the Austrian parliament must discuss a referendum on the issue.
Overall, the 261,159 people who signed the petition represent 4.12 percent of the electorate.
The petition was most popular in the regions of Lower Austria (where 5.18 percent of potential voters signed it) and in Carinthia (4.85 percent).
The threshold for calling a debate on a potential referendum is 100,000 people.
The petition was launched by 66-year-old retired translator Inge Rauscher, who composed a similar petition in 2000. On that occasion, it was signed by 3.35 percent of the electorate.
Rauscher told The Local that there was probably more support for a referendum now because of the economic crisis and the Greek crisis.
In a press release, she said it was “a great result.”
Unlike Greece, Austria is an extremely wealthy nation, with one of the highest standards of living in the world. Which kind of makes you wonder right? Everyone has been talking about the consequences of what would happen if a financial basket case like Greece leaves the EU, but what happens if one of the more stable and functional nations leave? What if the people who are carrying the weight of the insolvent, decide that they’ve had enough?
All this talk about Greece causing the unraveling of the EU, hasn’t taken wealthy nations into account, even though the whims of their populations should really scare EU leaders. The woman who launched the petition claims that if their country leaves, each household would save 9,800 Euros per year. If that’s truly the case, then it doesn’t sound like the EU can spare Austria.
As for the chances of this happening, it’s hard to say. Current polls place support for measure at around 33%, but Austrian politicians like Robert Marschall think the number is closer to half of the population. He suggests that many of the polls are biased, because they don’t give any anonymity to voters.
We’ll probably find out soon, one way or another. Now that this petition has achieved a sufficient number of votes, their parliament will have to debate the possibility of creating a referendum on the issue. Even if they don’t have enough votes now, that may change if Greece leaves the Euro, and wealthy countries like Austria are stuck with their bill.
Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger .
New reporting reveals that the Obama administration spied on German journalists. (Photo: Patrick Lauke/flickr/cc)
While previous revelations showed that German officials have been the target of U.S. government spying, new reporting indicates that German press was targeted as well.
Both CNN and The Intercept reported Friday on incidents that took place in the summer of 2011 involving the CIA station chief in Berlin, who also represented the NSA at the U.S. Embassy; a top German government intelligence official, Günter Heiss; another senior intelligence official, Hans Josef Vorbeck; and the German news magazine Der Spiegel.
The publications’ new stories detail an incident Heiss confirmed in testimony to the German parliament on Thursday.
CNN’s Jake Tapper reports that that CIA official met at the time with Heiss and his assistant to urge action against Vorbeck for leaking classified information to reporters.
The Intercept also reported Friday that the CIA official told Heiss that Vorbeck was leaking information to the press—a disclosure that the Obama administration told the German publication was because of national security concerns. Further, the revelation appears to have prompted Vorbeck’s demotion later that summer. Tapper adds that Vorbeck’s reassignment was “a move widely seen as a punishment for his cooperating with reporters.”
That the U.S. government thought it appropriate to spy on journalists doing their jobs is controversial enough. But why would it be appropriate for U.S. officials to use these tools — given to save lives and protect U.S. national security — to notify the German government about officials talking to reporters in the normal exercise of a free press?
The Intercept reports the German magazine as suspecting that the U.S. knew of the leak because of electronic surveillance, though the specific target of the surveillance remains unknown.
The Intercept‘s Ryan Devereaux writes:
The revelations, the latest in a series of disclosures detailing the fraught and intertwined intelligence relationship between German and American entities, offer an example of how the Obama administration, known for its aggressive approach to national security leaks at home, similarly asserts itself in leak cases abroad.
Spiegelreported Friday that it had filed a legal complaint with its federal prosecutor’s office over the suspected surveillance.
Access to Iranian sites continues to be a thorny issue and the Americans may be playing a dirty game in the media
A public diplomacy campaign by the Obama administration to convince world opinion that Iran was reneging on the Lausanne framework agreement in April has seriously misrepresented the actual diplomacy of the Iran nuclear talks, as my interviews with Iranian officials here make clear.
President Barack Obama’s threat on Tuesday to walk out of the nuclear talks if Iranian negotiators didn’t return to the Lausanne framework – especially on the issue of IAEA access to Iranian sites — was the climax of that campaign.
But what has really been happening in nuclear talks is not that Iran has backed away from that agreement but that the United States and Iran have been carrying out tough negotiations – especially in the days before the Vienna round of talks began — on the details of how basic framework agreement will be implemented.
The US campaign began immediately upon the agreement in Lausanne 2 April. The Obama administration said in its 2 April fact sheet that Iran “would be required” to grant IAEA inspectors access to “suspicious sites”. Then Deputy Security Adviser Ben Rhodes declared that if the United States wanted access to an Iranian military base that the US considered “suspicious”, it could “go to the IAEA and get that inspection” because of the Additional Protocol and other “inspection measures that are in the deal”.
That statement touched a raw nerve in Iranian politics. A few days later Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei insisted that Iran would not allow visits to its military bases as a signal that Iran would withdraw concessions it made in Lausanne. That reaction was portrayed in media as evidence that Iranian negotiators were being forced to retreat from the Lausanne agreement.
In fact it was nothing of the sort. The idea that IAEA inspectors could go into Iranian military facilities at will, as Rhodes had suggested, was a crude oversimplification that was bound to upset Iranians. The reason was more political than strategic. “It is a matter of national dignity,” one Iranian official in Vienna explained to me.
The Iranian negotiators were still pushing back publicly against Rhodes’s rhetoric as the Vienna round began. Iranian Deputy Foreign Miniser Abbas Aragchi appeared to threaten a reopening of the provisions of the Lausanne framework relating to the access issue in an interview with AFP Sunday. “[N]ow some of the solutions found in Lausanne no longer work,” Araghchi said, “because after Lausanne certain countries within the P5+1 made declarations.”
But despite Araghchi’s tough talk, Iran has not reversed course on the compromise reached in Lausanne on the access issue, and what was involved was a dispute resolution process on the issue of IAEA requests for inspections. In interviews with me, two Iranian officials acknowledged that the final agreement will include a procedure that could override an Iranian rejection of an IAEA request to visit a site.
The procedure would allow the Joint Commission, which was first mentioned in the Joint Plan of Action of November 2013, to review a decision by Iran to reject an IAEA request for an inspection visit. The Joint Commission is made up of Iran, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) and the European Union.
If this Joint Commission were to decide against an Iranian rejection, the IAEA could claim the right to access even to a military site, despite Iran’s opposition.
Such a procedure represents a major concession by Iran, which had assumed that the Additional Protocol to Iran’s “Safeguards” agreement with the IAEA would have governed IAEA access to sites in Iran. Contrary to most media descriptions, that agreement limits IAEA inspection visits to undeclared sites to carrying out “location-specific environmental sampling.” It also allows Iran to deny the request for access to the site, provided it makes “every effort to satisfy Agency requests without delay at adjacent locations or through other means.”
The dispute resolution process obviously goes well beyond the Additional Protocol. But the Obama administration’s statements suggesting that the IAEA will have authority to visit any site they consider “suspect” is a politically convenient oversimplification. Under the technical annex to the Lausanne agreement that is now under negotiation, Iran would have the right to receive the evidence on which the IAEA is basing its request, according to Iranian officials. And since Iran has no intention of doing anything to give the IAEA valid reason to claim suspicious activities, Iranian officials believe they will be able to make a strong argument that the evidence in question is not credible.
Iran has proposed that that the period between the original IAEA request and any inspection resulting from a Joint Committee decision should be 24 days. But that number incensed critics of the Iran nuclear deal. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who is unhappy with the whole idea of turning the decisions on inspections over to a multilateral group that includes adversaries of the United States, has criticized the idea of allocating 24 days to the process of dispute resolution.
Under pressure from Corker and Senate Republican opponents of the nuclear deal, the US negotiating team has been demanding a shorter period, Iranian officials say.
The determining factor in how the verification system being negotiated would actually work, however, will be the political-diplomatic interests of the states and the EU who would be voting on the requests. Those interests are the wild card in the negotiations, because it is well known among the negotiators here that there are deep divisions within the P5+1 group of states on the access issue.
There are divisions within the P5+1, especially over aspects of what the Security Council should be doing, on how sanctions would be lifted and on access [verification regime]. “We can say with authority that they have to spend more time negotiating among themselves than negotiating with us,” one Iranian official said.
Even as Obama was publicly accusing Iran of seeking to revise the basic Lausanne framework itself, US negotiators were apparently trying to revise that very same framework agreement itself. A US official “declined to say if the United States might agree to adjust some elements of the Lausanne framework in return for new Iranian concessions,” according to a New York Times report.
The Americans may have been doing precisely what they were accusing the Iranians of doing.
Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. He is the author of the newly published Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.
Photo: US Secretary of State John Kerry (C) is pictured during an Iran nuclear talks meeting with the Iranian Foreign Minister in Vienna. (AFP)
Typical public radio board members: 66 percent of NPR affiliate board members have the same gender, 72 percent have the same ethnicity and 75 percent represent the same social class as these gentlemen.
For a public radio service,NPR is notoriously known for its lack of diversity within its staff, audience and guests invited onto their shows—problems that NPR has itself acknowledged (6/30/14).
A new FAIR study finds that NPR’s diversity problem also extends into the board of trustees of its most popular member stations: Two out of three board members are male, and nearly three out of four are non-Latino whites. Fully three out of every four trustees of the top NPR affiliates belong to the corporate elite.
FAIR studied the governing boards of the eight most-listened-to NPR affiliate stations, based on Arbitron ratings (Cision, 2/13/13). The stations and their broadcast regions are KQED (San Francisco), WAMU (Washington, DC),WNYC (New York City), KPCC (Los Angeles), WHYY (Philadelphia), WBUR (Boston), WABE (Atlanta) and WBEZ (Chicago). (Two top-rated public stations, KUSC in Los Angeles and WETA in Arlington, Va., were not included in the study because they mainly play classical music rather than having a news/talk format.) Board members were coded by occupation, ethnicity and gender.
Out of the 259 total board members, 194—or 75 percent—have corporate backgrounds. Many of these board members are executives in banks, investment firms, consulting companies and corporate law firms. Some of the elite corporations include Verizon, Bank of America and Citigroup.
Of the board members with corporate occupations, 66 are executives in the financial industry. Another 22 are corporate lawyers. Eleven other members appear to be board members by virtue of their family’s corporate-derived wealth, usually with a primary affiliation as an officer of a family-run charitable foundation.
Of trustees with non-corporate occupations, academics are the most common, with 18 individuals—just 7 percent of total board members. Thirteen were coded as leaders of nonprofit organizations not affiliated with family-run foundations.
The other non-corporate occupations were represented on NPR boards in the single digits: eight former government officials, five medical doctors, five educators, four station insiders, three current government officials, three religious educators and three non-corporate lawyers. (Three other board members’ occupations could not be categorized.)
Corporate-affiliated board members were a large majority on virtually every board. New York’s WNYC has the most, with 90 percent corporate representation, followed by Boston’s WBUR at 83 percent. The board of Philadelphia’s WHYY is 80 percent corporate-tied, the Bay Area’s KQED is 79 percent, Chicago’s WBEZ is 76 percent and Washington, DC’s WAMU is 73 percent.
Two stations, Southern California’s KPCC and Atlanta’s WABE, are affiliated with educational institutions. Both stations are governed under a partnership agreement where two boards share responsibility: the educational institution’s publicly elected board that holds the station’s broadcast license along with the board of a nonprofit entity that manages the station’s day-to-day operations.
In KPCC‘s case, Pasadena City College’s Board of Trustees is 29 percent corporate-affiliated, with an equal number of academics, while the board of Southern California Public Radio is 71 percent corporate. WABE is governed by the Atlanta Board of Education (44 percent corporate) and the American Educational Telecommunications Collaborative (60 percent corporate).
Although the Pasadena City College board and the Atlanta Board of Education do not have a majority of corporate occupations, corporate occupations are still the most common on each board.
The corporate composition of the NPR affiliate boards are in line with a previous FAIR study that found that the governing boards of leading public television stations—most of which are PBS affiliates—are stacked with 84 percent corporate board members overall (Extra!, 10/14).
NPR president and CEO Jarl Mohn claims he wants to ask “wealthy donors” for more money and double revenue from corporate underwriting to stabilize NPR’s financial status (NPR, 10/17/14). What easier way to accomplish these goals than by having governing boards dominated by wealthy individuals from the corporate sector? Of course, the inevitable consequence of this is to put legal control of what is supposed to be public radio into the hands of a tiny, highly privileged fraction of the population.
As evidenced in stations’ annual fiscal year reports where major donors are listed, many of these wealthy and corporate-connected board members are relied upon to regularly donate thousands of dollars to their respective stations. For example, an executive from Capital Group International sits on their board of KPCC, while the Capital Group Companies Charitable Foundation donates between $100,000-$249,999 to KPCC.
Washington DC’s WAMU was the only station to reveal how much of its revenue specifically comes from corporate underwriting—38 percent (WAMU-FM, 10/8/14). With wealthy donors representing the One Percent class making up a substantial portion of contributions from the “public,” it’s hard to see what essentially distinguishes National Public Radio from its explicitly commercial media counterparts–and what justifies NPR and its affiliates receiving public subsidies via the federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
In addition to a lack of occupational diversity, NPR’s governing boards also suffer from a lack of ethnic and gender diversity. Out of 259 board members, 186 (72 percent) are non-Latino whites. Among members who are people of color, 31 are African-American (12 percent), 23 are Asian-American (9 percent), 12 are Latino (5 percent) and one person of Middle Eastern descent. (Six members’ ethnicities were unidentifiable.) Aside from Native Americans, none of whom could be identified on the NPR boards, the most notably underrepresented ethnic group are Latinos, who were 16 percent of the US population in the 2010 census.
Male board members outnumber female members two-to-one, with 170 men constituting 66 percent of the boards, while 88 women were 34 percent. (One board member’s gender was unidentifiable.)
The overwhelming dominance of corporate white males on NPR affiliate boards sheds light on NPR’s 2014 cancellation of Tell Me More, a program focused on issues facing minority communities that fell victim to NPR budget cuts and low ratings. The decision to to cancel the program was ultimately made by NPR’s national board of directors. (See below.) But a Columbia Journalism Review article (6/5/14) argues that NPR member stations—some included in this study—are also partially responsible for the show’s demise, either because of the stations’ reluctance to promote the program or giving it a bad time slot.
WNYC, which aired Tell Me More, has 87 percent white board membership—the most among the stations studied. Among other stations that carried the program, WHYY has 83 percent white membership, followed by WAMU at 73 percent and KQED’s 71 percent.
KPCC—which aired Tell Me More at a late 9 PM time slot—has majority white membership in both of its boards: Pasadena City College’s trustees are 71 percent white and Southern California Public Radio’s are 67 percent white. WABE, which also carried Tell Me More, had the most ethnically diverse boards: The Atlanta Educational Telecommunications Collaborative is 51 percent white, while Atlanta’s publicly elected Board of Education is 44 percent white. (On the Atlanta Board of Education, African-American members outnumber whites five to four; while every other board in the study has a white majority, the ABE doesn’t have a white plurality.)
Among the stations that did not air Tell Me More, WBUR in Boston has a 76 percent white board, and WBEZ’s is 68 percent.
Tell Me More also focused on women’s issues and was aired on stations with mostly male board members.WAMU has 69 percent male membership, followed byWHYY‘s 67 percent. KQED stands at 64 percent male membership while WNYC has 54 percent (out of the 18 women, six were tied to a corporate spouse).
Both of KPCC‘s boards have majority male membership: Pasadena City College trustees are 57 percent male, while Southern California Public Radio’s board is 76 percent male. WABE‘s American Educational Telecommunications Collaborative is 67 percent male, but Atlanta’s publicly elected Board of Education is 45 percent male. (Women outnumber men five to four.)
The boards of WBUR and WBEZ, which did not air Tell Me More, are respectively 78 percent and 64 percent male.
With so many board members drawn from corporate America, the NPRaffiliate boards were virtually bound to demonstrate a lack of ethnic and gender diversity. Fortune magazine (2/4/14) found that less than 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are people of color, and a similar percentage are women (Fortune,6/3/14).
After the cancellation of Tell Me More, NPR vice president of diversity Keith Woods (NPR, 6/30/14) commented on NPR’s lack of diversity in staff and audience, saying, “Diversity numbers and percentages are important because they give a basic, at-a-glance indication of how we’re doing. They’re most useful when they illustrate extremes–huge success and huge deficits.”
Asked about Tell Me More’s cancellation, NPR president and CEO Jarl Mohn (Diane Rehm Show, 3/5/15). commented, “We believe very strongly, very deeply, that the ‘P’ in ‘NPR’ stands for public. We need to represent a wide range of diversity, and not just racial and ethnic diversity”
It’s hard to believe in public radio’s stated commitment to diversity when it stacks its governing boards with white men overwhelmingly drawn from the ranks of the corporate elite.
FAIR also took a look at NPR’s national board of directors. The 17-member board is composed of 10 NPR member station managers, the NPR president/CEO, the chair of the NPRFoundation and five so-called “public members.” (There appeared to be a vacant spot for a public board member at the time of publication.)
While a majority of the board is populated by NPR station managers with backgrounds in public media, the rest of the board members have strong ties to the corporate sector. This includes NPR CEO Jarl Mohn, who has an extensive background in commercial media, having held executive positions within E! Entertainment, MTV and VH1. Additionally, NPRFoundation chair Howard Wollner is a retired Starbucks senior vice president. All four of the so-called public members represent the corporate elite; three of them are executives in the financial industry.
Male board members outnumber women 10 to 6 (63 percent male). Fifteen of the board members are white (94 percent, more ethnically homogeneous than any of the station boards studied), while only one—Caryn Mathes—is African-American.
Aldo Guerrero is a graduate of Montclair State University in New Jersey and a former FAIR intern. His article “Who Rules Public TV?” (Extra!, 10/14) looked at the composition of public television boards. Follow him on Twitterat @AldoAntho.
You can send comments to NPR ombud Elizabeth Jensen via NPR‘s contact form or via Twitter: @ejensenNYC. Please remember that respectful communication is the most effective.
Want to understand how bee-killing neonicotinoids (a class of insecticide) work in less than two minutes, and why you should care that the EPA does nothing to reverse the damage that these pesticides have done to our pollinating insects? Watch this brief video that explains it all.
Dr. Keith Tyrell explains how this new class of pesticides, neonicotinoids, which are considered “new” in that they have only been on the market for about 20 years, are taken up by plants as they grow. These ‘neonics’ are not like old pesticides because they become part of the plant itself, making it toxic. (Neonics are taken up by the roots or leaves and taken to all other parts of the plant.)
Tyrell’s summary is a brief insight into why neonics are ‘bad for everything.’ The European Union has imposed a two-year moratorium on all neonics, but the US still allows them to be sprayed everywhere. In fact, the EPA has decided to allow more of these bee- and butterfly-killing chemicals to enter the environment despite clear dangers.
What’s worse – one study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey found that neonics are widespread contaminants of groundwater which many people use to drink or bathe in. In nine rivers monitored in the Midwest, where neonics are most heavily used, the study found clothianidin in about three-quarters of monitored sites, thiamethoxam in about one-half, and imidacloprid in about one-quarter
If numerous communities banning neonics due to pollinator-deaths, articles reporting on how the chemicals are killing millions bees, and 100+ organizations urging Obama to take action against the chemicals isn’t enough for the EPA to take action, then I’m not sure what it will take.
If you haven’t yet taken the time to understand neonics, I urge you to take two minutes and do it now.
Image: Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis.(Reuters / Alkis Konstantinidis)
After securing a ‘no’ vote at Greek referendum on bailout, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis resigned, saying it would help Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras negotiate a better deal with foreign creditors.
“Soon after the announcement of the referendum results, I was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted ‘partners’, for my… ‘absence’ from its meetings; an idea that the prime minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement. For this reason I am leaving the Ministry of Finance today,” he said Monday in an online statement.
He added that he would “wear the creditors’ loathing with pride” and pledged his continued support to Tsipras and whoever he chooses as his new finance minister.
One of the reasons for Varoufakis’s resignation was reportedly an acute conflict with Jeroen Dijsselbloem, president of the Eurogroup, which includes all the finance ministers of countries in the Eurozone.
A diplomatic source in Brussels told TASS that Varoufakis had “tense relations with individual members of the Eurogroup in the past several weeks, primarily with the body’s president.” According to the source, Varoufakis’s opponents consider that he intentionally protracted the debt talks in order to hold a referendum. “In these conditions there is lack of trust in the main Greek negotiator,” the source said.
Varoufakis’s successor as finance minister will likely be the chief negotiator in talks with international creditors, Euclid Tsakalotos, a senior government official told Reuters. The appointment of the new finance minister is expected after the meeting of political leaders on Monday.
On Sunday more than 61 percent of Greek voters said no to a bailout plan proposed by foreign creditors, supporting their government’s opposition to the plan. The result was praised by the Greek government but lamented elsewhere in the EU, even as foreign officials said they respected the choice of the Greek people. German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that the vote had “torn down the last bridges on which Greece and Europe could have moved towards a compromise.” Germany risks losing some 14 billion euros in revenue from Greek sovereign bonds held by Germany’s central bank. Italy’s foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni, urged the EU to keep looking for middle ground with Greece, despite the referendum.
Obamacare is the name given a law that says you must buy overpriced private health insurance from companies that fund election campaigns. Yes, it’s got some lipstick on it, but compared to a civilized healthcare system like other wealthy nations use it’s awful. But how awful? Surely not as awful as . . .
Obamatrade, which is the name not given to a potential treaty, a.k.a. the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which says that . . .
You must let foreign corporations overturn national laws.
You must throw millions of people out of work.
You must pay more for medicine.
You must allow banks to gamble on and crash the economy.
You must not know what’s in your food.
You must be censored online.
You must destroy family farming.
You must wreck the environment.
You must get paid less.
ALL OF THIS doesn’t bother anybody?
The Supreme Court of the United States recently ruled in favor of Obamacare, and a considerable number of people apparently lost their minds and their bowels.
Again, I admit that Obamacare is an awful law, but it is actually a law passed by Congress. The President and the one before him have been writing laws with signing statements and secret memos, and nobody seems to have gone insane over it.
That same previous president was installed by the same Supreme Court, which stopped an election in Florida so that his opponent couldn’t be shown to have defeated him. Ho hum.
That same Supreme Court has given corporations human rights, made the spending of money an activity protected under the First Amendment as speech, and legalized political bribery. Yawn.
Is it me, or is everything related to Obamacare just a little bit out of whack?
If we were to rename the single largest and most destructive program that the U.S. government wastes money and lives on “Obamawar,” would it then start to bother people?
Can we call the subsidizing of fossil fuels “Obamasmoke”? Would the earth win a few more supporters if we did?
At long last, following years of delay, the U.S. government has finally admitted that it poisoned its own troops in Vietnam decades ago through the mass use of the herbicide known as “Agent Orange.”
In recent days, federal officials agreed to provide millions of dollars in disability benefits to at least 2,100 Air Force reservists and active duty forces that were exposed to Agent Orange on airplanes used to spread it during the war.
NBC News reported:
The new federal rule, approved by the White House Office of Management and Budget, takes effect [June 26]. It adds to an Agent Orange-related caseload that already makes up 1 out of 6 disability checks issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The expected cost over 10 years is $47.5 million, with separate health care coverage adding to the price tag.
Herbicide used to defoliate jungle hideouts and destroy crops
“Opening up eligibility for this deserving group of Air Force veterans and reservists is the right thing to do,” VA Secretary Bob McDonald said in a statement, adding that he would announce the decision in private meetings with veterans’ groups in the coming weeks.
As noted by the non-partisan Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C., the herbicide was a mixture used by the military to defoliate large swaths of Vietnamese jungle as a way of exposing North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops that were using the jungle as cover to move men and material into South Vietnam. It was part of a color-coded herbicide campaign that also aimed to deprive the enemy of food by destroying crops.
The mixture, which was used until the early 1970s, contained a chemical contaminant known as dioxin. Even though its use ended more than 40 years ago, the dioxin contaminant continues to have a harmful effect today. As many Vietnam vets know, dioxin has been linked to cancers, birth defects, diabetes and other ailments and disabilities.
“The Red Cross estimates that three million Vietnamese have been affected by dioxin, including at least 150,000 children born with serious birth defects,” said the institute on its web page. “Millions of Americans and Vietnamese are still affected, directly and indirectly, by the wartime U.S. spraying of Agent Orange and other herbicides over southern and central Vietnam.”
The new federal rule will apply to an expanded number of Air Force and other military personnel who either flew on or worked on C-123 aircraft from 1969 to 1986 and are thought to have been exposed to Agent Orange residue. Those planes were used to distribute millions of gallons of the chemical herbicide during the war, which was waged in various stages between 1955-1975.
Many more could qualify for compensation
According to an Institute of Medicine study that was released in January, some C-123 reservists stationed in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts were exposed to the herbicides resident in the planes and became higher risks for health problems as a result.
Following a review of military records, the VA said it was able to determine that C-123 pilots, mechanics and medical personnel who served at an additional seven locations around the U.S. and abroad might also have been affected by exposure. These locations include Florida, Virginia, Arizona, Taiwan, Panama, South Korea and the Philippines, NBC News reported.
The former military personnel affected by the new rule will become eligible to receive disability assistance including survivor benefits and medical care within the VA system. Vets will have to show that they worked on contaminated planes and then later developed one of 14 medical conditions such as prostate cancer, leukemia and others that the VA has determined are linked to Agent Orange exposure.
The VA said that affected veterans could start submitting applications for benefits right away, noting that it would process them as soon as the rule is formally issued.
The Armed Forces must be prepared to use Facebook and Twitter to spread “lies” to help fight ISIL, a senior British military commander has said.
Gen Sir Richard Barrons, Commander of Joint Forces Command, said the West is lagging behind Islamic State (Isil), which is tweeting in 23 languages. He said the armed forces must be more prepared to use social media to help achieve strategic objectives in Iraq.
Gen Barrons said:
“If you are fortunate enough to be the commander who is going to run the fight for Mosul, probably the most important thing you want to do as you launch your operation, is to get into the minds of the one million citizens of Mosul through their computers and their mobile phone. And either tell them the truth – it’s going to be a tough day… or tell them a lie, you’ve got to move somewhere else. We’ve been doing that for centuries.”
“We are dealing with opponents in Isil and Russia who do this for a living. Isil uses Twitter and Facbook in 23 languages. We barely do it in our own.”..
Sunday evening in Greece should have been time for celebrations. “No” votes won decisively with over a 61% majority.
Phony corporate media polls showed the “yes” camp prevailing – to discourage “no” supporters from voting as well as swing undecided ones to accept Troika demands.
At the same time, heavy-handed Troika and corporate media tactics bombarded Greeks with relentless fear-mongering, Big Lies and threats for voting “no.”
It didn’t work. In this respect, Sunday’s vote was a huge triumph. Ordinary people had some say over their futures – a moment of democracy in an ocean of monied-controlled tyranny. Hold the cheers.
Greeks got the wrong choices – either to accept most Troika austerity demands or all of them instead of up or down on accepting or rejecting them entirely.
Alexis Tsipras was elected on a mandate of ending austerity. He called it “unacceptable.” Yet he largely surrendered to Troika demands and may entirely ahead (despite voters saying “no”) in return for more impossible to repay odious debt – blood money slowly destroying Greece’s economy along with euro entrapment overriding its sovereignty – hardly a cause for celebration.
What’s ahead remains to be seen. For sure, punishing austerity will continue. Likely more will be added. Troika officials already are talking tough. Ignore what they say. Follow what they do.
The ECB governing council will meet Monday to decide if more support for Greek banks will be extended. France’s Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said “(i)f the No wins, it would be a historic mistake to crush the Greek people.”
Former ECB president Jean-Claude Tricket called “(t)he probability of a catastrophe for the Greek people…high.”
Germany’s Angela Merkel heads to Paris Monday to discuss Sunday’s results with France’s Francois Hollande. Troika officials scotched prospects for emergency talks on Greece. One official said they “would not know what to discuss.”
At the same time, Reuters reported the European Commission and EU executive meeting in Strasbourg on Tuesday – then briefing European Parliament members on what they discussed.
German Social Democrat (SPD) party deputy parliament head Axel Schaefer said “EU leaders must get together immediately, even on Monday. The situation is too serious to leave to finance ministers.”
“You have to have confidence in the ability of the ECB to act. We must use all the possibilities in the EU budget to help Greece, which is still a member of the euro and the EU.”
European Parliament president Martin Schulz was defiant saying a “no” vote means Greece “will have to introduce another currency because the euro will no longer be available for a means of payment.”
Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt indicated the door remains open for further talks.
Eurogroup president/Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Greece jeopardized its currency union standing. There is no room for further talks.
German Vice Chancellor/Economic Affairs and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said little chance remains for reaching compromise with Athens.
At the moment, things are in unchartered waters. Greece can’t borrow in capital markets. Remaining trapped in the euro straightjacket prevents it from controlling its monetary and fiscal policies.
The obvious solutions aren’t taken, no matter the intermediate term pain unavoidable on a path back to economic health. Euro strangulation is slowly killing Greece. It’s destroying other weak European economies.
Nations can’t operate effectively without full sovereign control over their affairs – notably monetary and fiscal policies. Euro membership denies it – letting Troika bandits run Greece’s economy instead of its elected government.
The clear solution for Greece is renouncing its odious debt, exiting the Eurozone, turning East for help, and accepting Russia’s invitation to become the sixth BRICS member with access to its New Development Bank (NBD) for financial help on equitable, not loan shark terms. Direct Russian and Chinese help is available on the same basis.
Instead, Tsipras said he’s ready to resume negotiations with predatory creditors bent on looting Greece entirely.
“Our immediate priority is to restore our banking system’s functioning & economic stability,” he twittered.
Chief Greek negotiator Euclid Tsakalotos said referendum results make it easier to reach an agreement with creditors. Not at all. Troika bandits don’t negotiate. They demand.
Yielding to one country means others to follow, weakening the euro system en route to ending it entirely at some point.
The Eurozone and EU are failed systems – exploitive so monied interests can benefit at the expense of ordinary people in return for benefits too inconsequential to matter.
Sunday’s vote was important in one respect. It was a victory for resistance over powerful monied interests ruling the world destructively for their own anti-populist interests.
It’s meaningless unless followed through with sustained refusal to accept continued predatory exploitation until it’s eliminated altogether or weakened enough to end its one-sided dominant control.
Tsipras made it clear he intends reaching an agreement for more bailout help in return for greater austerity than already. Sunday’s victory sadly looks pyrrhic. The wild card is how Greeks will react in response.
The two corporate parties have collaborated in knocking off countries targeted for invasion and regime change. They have both nurtured the jihadist international network that was created under presidents Carter and Reagan. And presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama are complicit in the capital crime of genocide in the Congo, where six million people have died since 1996. The presidential nominee of either party must be a ghoul, a fiend, or a banshee.
“They are all the same in their corporate soullessness. There has never been a dime’s worth of difference between the Clintons (Bill and Hillary) and Barack Obama, and less than ten cents separates the worldviews of these Democratic political twins from the Bush wing of the Republican Party.Each has their individual quirks. Barack destroys the international order and the rule of law while dabbling at song; Bill dismantled the U.S. manufacturing base and threw record numbers of Blacks in prison as he toyed with his trumpet; George W. played the fool who would Shock and Awe the world into obedience; and Hillary is the evil crone that curses the dead while screaming “We are Woman” like a banshee. But they are all the same in their corporate soullessness.
They all lie for a living, and they live to lie.
Hillary Clinton commingled official and personal criminality through the medium of email. Knowing that, in a life dedicated to crime, she could never successfully sequester her private and public conspiracies, Hillary privatized all of her email correspondence during her tenure as Obama’s Secretary of State (in the perfect spirit of neoliberalism). The fate of millions of Haitians whose country’s earthquake and development “aid” are under the Clinton family thumb were doubtless bundled into the tens of thousands of messages she erased on leaving Foggy Bottom.
Republicans have harassed her ever since, seeking an electronic smoking gun to show Clinton’s cowardice or lack of resolve to “stand up for America” and “our troops” or some other nonsense. What the Benghazi affair actually proves is that the Obama administration was just as intent as the Republicans to maintain the fiction that the “rebels” put in power by seven months of NATO bombing of Libya were not various flavors of Islamic jihadists – some of whom were already turning on their erstwhile masters. The U.S.-Saudi project to create and nurture the international jihadist network is a bipartisan venture that dates back to Jimmy Carter’s presidency – and, therefore, nothing for Democrats and Republicans to fight about. However, the GOP’s churning of Clinton’s emails does provide a glimpse into her quest to run for president in 2016 as the woman who vanquished Muammar Gaddafi (“Qaddafi” or simply “Q” in Clinton’s usage).
“Hillary best expressed the ghoulishness of America’s ruling duopoly.”
A number of Clinton’s correspondences were with Sidney Blumenthal, a former Clinton family spin-master who wrote nasty things about Barack Obama while working for Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign – which made it impossible for her to hire him at the State Department. Nevertheless, Clinton needed his talents for hype for the campaign ahead. Their emails in the summer of 2011 discussed how Hillary’s status as stateswoman could soar when the Libyan leader was finally eliminated. “This is a historic moment and you will be credited for realizing it,” wrote Blumenthal, feeding the crone’s huge gizzard of ego, according to an article in Monday’s New York Times. “You must go on camera,” wrote Blumenthal. “You must establish yourself in the historical record at this moment.” Hillary was anxious to seize the time to establish what Blumenthal described as “the Clinton Doctrine.”
The Times piece somehow concludes that Obama stole Clinton’s thunder with an 1,100-word speech, in late August, declaring: “The Gaddafi regime is coming to an end, and the future of Libya is in the hands of its people.” But Hillary best expressed the ghoulishness of America’s ruling duopoly two months later, in October, when Gaddafi was savagely butchered by screaming jihadists. “We came, we saw, he died,” cackled the banshee.
In the annals of global diplomacy, no more vulgar words have been spoken by a major power foreign minister or head of state. Yet, Clinton’s calculated quip perfectly encapsulates the bloodlust that is the common characteristic of both the governing duopoly of the United States and their suckling children in ISIS and the other proliferating al Qaida factions.
Thanks to Seymour Hersh, we now have a much more plausible scenario for the May 2, 2011, demise of Osama bin Laden, the “OG” of the U.S.-Saudi spawned global jihad, whose body will never be located. Virtually the entire U.S. account of his death is a lie, repeatedly contradicted on its own terms – another layer of fictional Americana in the age of empire in decline.
“Jihadists find it difficult to take orders from ‘infidels,’ even when the ‘Crusaders’ are paying the bills and supplying the weapons.”
Clinton was hard-pressed to imagine how she might trump the president’s bin Laden death-watch extravaganza. Her opportunity came five months later, when she delivered her gruesome paraphrase of Julius Caesar on the occasion of Col. Gaddafi’s murder. In the context of Washington’s deeply racist foreign policy, Gaddafi and bin Laden were equally deserving of death, although Gaddafi was among the most fervent and effective fighters against Islamic jihadists: his government was the first in the world to request a global arrest warrant against bin Laden.
The Libyan Islamists were quickly transferred to the new U.S.-NATO-Saudi-Qatari front lines in Syria. The CIA station in Benghazi was at the center of the action – and got burned in the wild and unwieldy process of herding jihadists, who find it difficult to take orders from “infidels,” even when the “Crusaders” are paying the bills and supplying the weapons.
The U.S. consulate and CIA station in Benghazi were attacked on September 11, 2012. The next day, the Pentagon’s intelligence agency issued a report predicting that a “Salafist principality” – another term for an Islamic State – would likely arise in Syria as a result of the war, and that “Western countries, the Gulf States and Turkey are supporting these efforts.” Moreover, the establishment of such an Islamic “principality” would create “the ideal atmosphere for AQI [al Qaida in Iraq, which became ISIS, ISIL and the Islamic State] to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi” in Iraq – events that have since transpired.
The Defense Intelligence Agency report didn’t say so, but the “Western Powers” included the United States, through its CIA.
“The Pentagon warning about the rise of an Islamic State may have had some effect on U.S. policy in Syria.”
The document was declassified this year as the result of a suit by a libertarian right-wing legal outfit. The people of the world continue to be fed the fiction that the U.S. is engaged in a long, twilight struggle against al Qaida Salafists whose international network was created by, and continues to benefit from, “Western countries, the Gulf States and Turkey.”
However, the 2012 Pentagon warning about the rise of an Islamic State may have had some effect on U.S. policy in Syria. One year later, in September of 2013, President Obama backed off from his threat to bomb Syria in “retaliation” for a chemical missile attack against civilians – a crime much more likely committed by western-backed Salafists. The conventional wisdom is that the Russians tricked a hapless Secretary of State John Kerry into agreeing to the peaceful, internationally supervised destruction of Syria’s chemical arsenal; or that the refusal of Britain’s Parliament to go along with an air assault on Syria made the U.S. position untenable; or that Obama feared losing a vote on the issue in the U.S. Congress.
None of this rings true to me. The United States is not easily deterred by the opinions of Europeans, who in the end accept Washington’s acts as a fait accompli. And, it was not clear that Obama would have lost the vote in Congress – a vote that he requested, while at the same time declaring that he did not need the legislature’s permission to “punish” Syria for crossing his “red line.”
I think that high Pentagon officials and elements of the Obama administration – probably including the president, himself – took the Benghazi disaster and the Defense Intelligence Agency report to heart, and decided that it was better to keep bleeding the Syrians and their Russian, Lebanese and Iranian allies through a prolonged war, than to bomb al Qaida into power. For the U.S., regional chaos is preferable to the triumph of the, ultimately, unmanageable Salafists – unchained.
The thirty-plus year war against Iran would, however, be ratcheted up. The Bush administration was snatched back from the brink of a military assault against Teheran in 2007 when – to the great consternation of Vice President Dick Cheney – all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies declared, publicly and unanimously, that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program, years before.
“President Obama claims the right to disregard and methodically undermine international law through “humanitarian” military intervention.”
The spooks reaffirmed their consensus in the 2010 National Intelligence Estimate – again, that there was no evidence Iran has any intention of making a bomb. The Obama administration has since avoided asking the intelligence agencies for their analysis on the issue, knowing they would get the same answer. Instead, they rely on Israeli propaganda, pick and choose various “experts” from inside and outside the arms control “community,” or simply put forward unsupported statements on Iran’s capabilities and intentions: the Big Lie. While Bush was humiliated by facts supplied by his own intelligence experts, Obama has escalated the confrontation with Iran, applying crippling sanctions and the whole range of low-level warfare, in close collaboration with Israel – proving, once again, that Obama is the “more effective evil.”
Obama has nearly completed knocking off victims on the “hit list” of countries that George Bush was working on when General Wesley Clark ran across it in 2002. Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Somalia have been invaded since then, and Sudan was stripped of a third of its territory. Only Iran and Lebanon remain intact and outside the U.S. imperial umbrella.
The Republican-Democratic duopoly plays tag-team in promoting the Project for a New American Century – a doctrine promulgated by neo-conservatives in 1997 that has served as the guiding light of both the Bush and Obama administrations. The differences between the two teams are merely rhetorical. The Bush regime is described as “unilateralist,” although it employed the same “Coalition of the Willing” approach to aggressive war as does the Obama administration. President Obama claims the right to disregard and methodically undermine international law through “humanitarian” military intervention, whereas Bush claimed to be “spreading democracy.” Same weapons systems, same mass murder, same objective: U.S. domination of the planet.
“The spooks reaffirmed their consensus in the 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, that there was no evidence Iran has any intention of making a bomb.”
There’s nothing democratic or humanitarian about the U.S. imperial project. Therefore, its maintenance requires the deployment of 24-7 psychological operations worldwide, but directed primarily against the U.S. public.
Republican strategist Karl Rove was far more honest than his Democratic counterparts when he explained to a reporter, back in 2004:
“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
Election seasons are reality-creation festivals, during which the two corporate parties pretend to put forward different visions of the national and global destiny – when, in fact, they answer to the same master and must pursue the same general strategy.
The continuity of GOP-Democratic rule – the near-identical depravity – is horrifically evident in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where six million people have been slaughtered by U.S. surrogates since 1996: the largest genocide since World War II. Successive U.S. administrations – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, assisted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice, the high U.S. official most deeply implicated in the entirety of the genocide – have armed, financed, and covered up the Congolese holocaust. Each administration has collaborated with its predecessor to hide the crime and obscure the question of guilt – and then to continue the killing.
Decent people do not vote for political parties that produce such fiends, who deserve Nuremburg justice of the capital kind. Any talk of “lesser evils” is both stupid and obscene.
The splendid historic victory of the No shows again that the Greek citizens refuse to accept the creditors’ blackmail.
As shown in the preliminary report by the Truth Committee on Public Debt created by the Hellenic parliament, there are several legal arguments that permit a State to unilaterally suspend or repudiate its illegal, odious, and illegitimate debt.
In the Greek case, such a unilateral act may be based on the following arguments: the bad faith of the creditors that pushed Greece to violate national law and international obligations related to human rights; preeminence of human rights over agreements such as those signed by previous governments with creditors or the Troika; coercion; unfair terms flagrantly violating Greek sovereignty and violating the Constitution; and finally, the right recognized in international law for a State to take countermeasures against illegal acts by its creditors, which purposefully damage its fiscal sovereignty, oblige it to assume odious, illegal and illegitimate debt, violate economic self-determination and fundamental human rights.
As far as unsustainable debt is concerned, every state is legally entitled to invoke necessity in exceptional situations in order to safeguard those essential interests threatened by a grave and imminent peril. In such a situation, the State may be dispensed from the fulfilment of those international obligations that increase the peril, as is the case with outstanding loan contracts. Finally, states have the right to declare themselves unilaterally insolvent when the servicing of their debt is unsustainable, in which case they commit no wrongful act and hence bear no liability.
Eric Toussaint, Scientific coordinator of the Truth Committee on Public Debt (Greece)
Ahead of the payment of €462 million by Greece to the IMF on Thursday 9 April, figures released by the Jubilee Debt Campaign show that the IMF has made €2.5 billion of profit out of its loans to Greece since 2010. If Greece does repay the IMF in full this will rise to €4.3 billion by 2024.
The IMF has been charging an effective interest rate of 3.6% on its loans to Greece. This is far more than the interest rate the institution needs to meet all its costs, currently around 0.9%. If this was the actual interest rate Greece had been paying the IMF since 2010, it would have spent €2.5 billion less on payments.
Out of its lending to all countries in debt crisis between 2010 and 2014 the IMF has made a total profit of €8.4 billion, over a quarter of which is effectively from Greece. All of this money has been added to the Fund’s reserves, which now total €19 billion. These reserves would be used to meet the costs from a country defaulting on repayments. Greece’s total debt to the IMF is currently €24 billion.
Tim Jones, economist at the Jubilee Debt Campaign, said:
“The IMF’s loans to Greece have not only bailed out banks which lent recklessly in the first place, they have actively taken even more money out of the country. This usurious interest adds to the unjust debt forced on the people of Greece.”
There’s a massive spike in cancer cases in Argentina that is strongly associated with glyphosate-based herbicides. These herbicides are a huge earner for agribusiness. But don’t worry, Patrick Moore says you can drink a whole quart and it won’t harm you. Who needs independent testing?
Anyway, all that scare mongering about GMOs and glyphosate is a conspiracy by a bunch of whinging lavishly funded green-blob types. Former UK environment minister Owen Paterson said as much. He says those self-serving anti-GMO people are damaging the interests of the poor and are profiting handsomely. They are condemning “billions” to lives of poverty.
He voted for the illegal invasion of Iraq, which has led to the death of almost 1.5 million Iraqis. His government has plunged millions into poverty and food insecurity in the UK. He now wants to help the poor by giving them GM courtesy of self-interested, corporations and their lavishly paid executives. What was that about self-serving, lavishly funded groups? As a staunch believer in doublespeak, hypocrisy and baseless claims by self-appointed humanitarians with awful track records, Paterson’s sound-bite smears and speeches are good enough for me.
So with that cleared up, hopefully we can move on.
Then there’s all that ‘anti-capitalist twaddle’ (another pearl of wisdom from Patrick Moore) about smallholders being driven from their lands and into poverty due to a corporate takeover aimed at expanding (GM) chemical-intensive agriculture. I showed Mr Moore a paper by economics professor Michel Chossudovsky who had studied the devastation caused by the above in Ethiopia. That’s where the ‘anti-capitalist twaddle’ retort came in. As I’m also a staunch believer in the power of baseless, ill-informed abuse, I was once again convinced.
What about all that rubbish about GM not having enhanced the world’s ability to feed itself? You know, all that stuff about the way it has been used has merely led to greater food insecurity. Nonsense. I watched a prime-time BBC programme recently. Some scientist in a white coat in a lab said that GM can feed the world. He’d proved it in his lab. In reality (not in a lab), the fact it hasn’t done anything of the sort over the past 20-odd years doesn’t matter. He wore a white coat and held GM patents, so he definitely knows best!
That’s just a big old load of rubbish put together by a bunch of conspiracy mongers. Who are these people? Food and trade policy analysts, political scientists, economics professors and the like. A bunch of whining anti-capitalist promoters of twaddle. None of them have studied molecular biology so how can they possibly be qualified to talk on this? I’d rather listen to a man in a lab who says GM can feed the world. He’s much more qualified to speak on politics, trade, the environment or anthropology than a bunch of lefties who don’t know one side of a petri dish from the other.
I happen to believe a profitable techno-fix is the way to go. A techno-fix that comes courtesy of the same companies whose global influence and power are helping to destroy indigenous agriculture across the world. But this is for the good of the traditional smallholder because these companies really, really care about the poor. Okay, okay, I know the top execs over at Monsanto are bringing in a massive annual cheque – but $12.4 million per year helps motivate a CEO to get out of bed in the morning and to develop empathy with the poor – unlike that elitist, self-serving green blob lot who rake in big money – according to hero-of-the-poor, the handsomely rewarded millionaire Owen Paterson… err, let’s swiftly move on.
To divert your attention away from all that scare mongering, conspiracy theory twaddle, I want you to concentrate solely on the science of GM and nothing else. But only on the version of ‘science’ as handed down from the great lawgiver in St Louis which creates it in its own image, not least by dodging any problematic questions that may have prevented GM from going on the market in the first place. Some troublemaker recently wrote a book about that, but someone said it wasn’t worth reading – so I didn’t bother (‘Altered Genes, Twisted…’ something or other – the word escapes me; it doesn’t appear in my lexicon).
So how about joining like-minded humanitarians and the handsomely-paid people over at big bioworld? We believe in mouthing platitudes about freedom and choice while serving interests that eradicate both. And let me add that scientists know that anyone who disagrees with them is just plain dim. C S Prakash recently posted a claim that implied such on Twitter. He’s a molecular biologist, so it must be true. Of course, there are scientists who disagree with us but they are quite clearly wrong – wrong methodology, wrong findings, wrong career turn – we’ll make sure of that!
In finishing, let me make the case for GM clear, based on logic and clear-headed rationality. There are those who are just too dim to understand any of the issues to do with GM so they should put up, shut up or go away and read or write about conspiracy theories on their blogs or in their peer-reviewed non-science journals that aren’t worth the paper they are written on given that the ‘peers’ in question are probably also a bunch of left-leaning wing nuts.
By comparison, unlike those self-serving ideologues, we are totally non-political. Okay, we might be firmly supporting a neoliberalism that is dominated by unaccountable big corporations which have captured policy-making space nationally and internationally, but any discussion of that is to be avoided by labelling those who raise such matters as politically motivated. We get you to focus on ‘the science’ – that is ‘our science’ – and nothing else. The fact that some of us tend to label anyone who disagrees with us as anti-science, anti-capitalist, socialists or enemies of the poor (or even ‘murdering bastards‘) says nothing at all about our political agenda.
It was never going to be the happiest of results. But there was a sense among a good many that this was the least worst of all. The Tsipras government had been a touch cheeky calling a referendum on the issue, if only to add ballast to the bargaining table over bailout terms for Greece. The referendum ballot itself was vague on what exactly the citizens would be voting for. The result, however, was not – 61 percent voting “No”. Austerity was given a battering, if only briefly.
All in all, was this a verdict on the actual terms of the bailout – the nasty business of austerity, or did it spell something far more ominous, such as the exit from the eurozone? Europe’ officialdom certainly thought so, as did the Greek opposition parties. But Tsipras himself had not strayed too dramatically from the austerity regime outlined in the Memorandum with the Troika. Much of this seemed to be a grand show to buy time before the forces labelled by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis as “economic terrorists”.
The moves by the Troika had been remarkable, a hectoring manner that verged on an unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of another country. More to the point, it showed in all too stark terms that mammon had seized the being of democracy, becoming the weapon financiers and banksters could deploy. Currency rules had become constitutional dictates.
Tsipras was certainly not going to let this one pass. Only five months into government, and already the main target to be unseated by the various finance ministers of Europe, not to mention the ECB and IMF, he spoke of how, “Today we celebrate the victory of democracy.” This had to be seen in broader European terms – Sunday had been “a bright day in the history of Europe,” a reminder that “democracy won’t be blackmailed.”
Other commentators would join in from afar. Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman also saw this as a shot in the arm of democratic legitimacy, or at least what frail manner of its being is left. “I would argue that Europe, and the European idea, just won big- at least in the sense of dodging a bullet.” The fact that Greece had been put into this situation was “a shameful moment in European history, and would have set an ugly precedent if it had succeeded.”
Grudgingly, the voices in Berlin and Paris have also conceded that the vote is not something that can be ignored. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office released a statement claiming “that the vote of the Greek people must be respected.”
The unflinching head of the eurozone finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem was less enthusiastic, calling the result “very regrettable for the future of Greece.” He sees no light at the end of this murkiest of tunnels. In fact, he sees a vehicle approaching. “For recovery of the Greek economy, difficult measures and reforms are inevitable. We will now wait for the initiatives of the Greek authorities.”
Other European politicians were also concerned, defining the problems within the very deficient system Europe’s architects had lauded. Slovakia’s finance minister, Peter Kažimír was “disappointed with what now seems to be the final result of the referendum in Greece” (Twitter, Jul 6). Falling back on the tyranny of failed orthodoxy, the minister could only see the diet of austerity as necessary “reforms” for Greece. “Rejection of reforms by Greece cannot mean that they will get the money any easier.”
Germany’s economy minister Sigmar Gabriel vented to the Tagesspiegel, accusing Tspiras of tearing “down the last bridges” in the negotiation process. A new bailout program would be hard to envisage. “With the rejection of the rules of the eurozone… negotiations about a program worth billions are barely conceivable.” Hamstrung, Gabriel could only refer to the dogmatism of a failed system. No debt forgiveness; no readjustments – the rules had to be worshipped. “Tsipras and his government are leading the Greek people on a path of bitter abandonment and hopelessness.”
Meetings are going to have to take place with the central bank and main commercial partners. More liquidity will be sought and observers are predicting that the European Central Bank will rebuff the request by the Bank of Greece. This will then trigger the effective withdrawal of Greece from the zone, if no capital can be found. To save Europe, it may well be incumbent that Greece exit it, at least in so far as the system has failed it.
The markets are jittery, but it would be a mistake to see the issue in pure economic terms. That, it would seem, is precisely the problem. The devilry of the market is ever the enemy of democracy. Currency systems can never constitute political principles of worth. The stock market is no parliament. The problems of Greece go to the failure of the civitas, the lack of representation within the European context. The naysayers have managed to outflank the Troika, if only for a bit longer. They will be plotting the next move.
Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: [email protected]
With 90% of the votes counted, the Greek people have voted 61% to 39% against accepting the latest round of austerity that the EU is trying to impose on the Greek people for the benefit of the One Percent. What is amazing is that 39% voted for the One Percent against their own interests. This 39% vote shows that propaganda works to convince people to vote against their own interest.
The vote was not a vote to leave the EU.
With the backing of the Greek nation, the Greek government hopes to reopen negotiations with the EU and to find a solution to the debt problem that will actually work. The EU objects to the Greek people having a voice in their fate, and unless common sense prevails is inclined to disregard the vote and to maintain the EU’s inflexible position that the debt issue can be resolved only on the EU’s terms. As has been made perfectly clear, these terms are more looting of the Greek economy by the One Percent.
As the Greek banks are closed and evidently cannot reopen without a resolution of the issue, EU inflexibility would force Greece to leave the euro and return to its own currency in order to reopen the banks. This would not require Greece’s departure from the EU as the UK and one or two other EU member states have their own currencies. However, most likely the EU and Washington and Washington’s Japanese, Canadian, and Australian vassals would attack the new Greek currency and drive its value in exchange markets to such a low value that Greece could not import and wealth held in Greek currency would be worthless abroad.
An inflexible EU creates conditions for Russia and China to act. These two powerful nations have the means to finance Greece and to bring Greece into the economic relationships established by these two countries and by the BRICS.
Alexander Dugin, a Russian strategic thinker who has the ear of the Russian government, has said:
“The Russians are on the side of the Greeks, we will not leave them alone in their suffering. We will help them and give them every possible support. Brussels and the liberal hegemony seek to dismantle Greece. We want to rescue it. We took our religions faith from Greece, as well as our alphabet and our civilization.”
Dugin said that the Greek referendum is the start of “the fundamental European liberalization process from the dictatorship of the New World Order.” He says this also is “our own endeavor.”
The Greek drama is far from over. Pray that the Russian and Chinese governments understand that rescuing Greece is the start of the process of unravelling NATO, Washington’s mechanism for bringing conflict to Russia and China. The One Percent have Italy and Spain targeted for looting, and eventually France and Germany herself. If the Greek people rescue themselves from the clutches of the EU, Italy and Spain could follow.
As Southern Europe departs NATO, Washington’s ability to create violence in Ukraine is diminished as the world realigns against the Evil Empire.
Washington’s power could suddenly diminish, thus saving the world from the nuclear war toward which Washington’s neoconservatives are pushing.
Este Viernes 3 de julio, el Consejo de Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas, conformado por 47 Estados miembros (Nota 1) aprobó un texto (la resolución A/HRC/29/L/35) que acoge las recomendaciones del reciente informe de la Comisión de Investigación de este mismo Consejo, creada en julio del 2014, para investigar los hechos acaecidos en Gaza entre junio y agosto del 2014. El texto condena el actuar de las fuerzas de Israel durante la última ofensiva militar realizada en Gaza del 2014 y exige que ambos bandos, tanto Israel como Palestina, investiguen y sancionen a los responsables de cometer graves violaciones al derecho internacional humanitario y colaboren con las investigaciones en curso. La resolución (cuya discusión previa a la votación está disponible en este enlace), se titula “Ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem“.
El punto 5 de la parte resolutiva exige a las partes en conflicto colaborar con la investigación preliminar iniciada por parte de la Corte Penal Internacional (CPI) en los siguientes términos: ” … 5. Calls upon the parties concerned to cooperate fully with the preliminary examination of the International Criminal Court and with any subsequent investigation that may be opened“.
En la parte de los considerandos, el escalofriante saldo en víctimas mortales de la operación militar israelí del 2014 es mencionado en los siguientes términos: “Emphasizing the importance of the safety and well-being of all civilians, reaffirming the obligation to ensure the protection of civilians in armed conflict, and deploring the civilian deaths that resulted from the conflict in and around the Gaza Strip in July and August 2014, including the killing of 1,462 Palestinian civilians, including 551 children and 299 women, and six Israeli civilians“.
A solicitud de la delegación de Estados Unidos, se procedió al voto para aprobar este texto, dada la imposibilidad de aprobarlo mediante la técnica del consenso: la resolución se adoptó con 41 votos a favor, 5 abstenciones y un voto en contra. Como es costumbre en este tipo de votación, únicamente votó en contra la delegación de Estados Unidos, exhibiendo nuevamente su total aislamiento. Entre los Estados que optaron por abstenerse, se contabiliza a Etiopía, India, Kenia, Macedonia y Paraguay: este último siendo el único de los ocho Estados de América Latina actualmente miembros (a saber Argentina, Bolivia, Brasil, Cuba, El Salvador, México, Paraguay y Venezuela) en haber preferido desmarcarse del resto de América Latina.
Foto extraída de nota del sitio Middle East Eye titulada “UNHCR votes to adopt resolution denouncing Israel for Gaza war”
Se lee en una nota de prensa publicada en Israel (ver nota de Haaretz) que: “The officials added that in recent days Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with the Indian premier, the Kenyan president and the prime minister of Ethiopia and asked them to abstain“. En el caso de la India, un medio de prensa califica esta abstención india como un verdadero punto de inflexion en material de política exterior: “The government on Friday denied what appeared to be a major shift in India’s policy on Israel, after it abstained from a vote against Israel at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva” (ver nota de The Hindu). Por su parte los delegados de la India justifican su posición con respecto a la mención hecha a la CPI. En otra nota de prensa se lee que: “”There is no change in India’s long standing position on support to the Palestinian cause. The issue in this particular Resolution was the reference to the International Criminal Court (ICC). India is not a signatory to the Rome Statute establishing the ICC” (ver nota de prensa de Economic Times).
Es posible que los Estados que se abstuvieron y que no fueron contactados directamente por las altas autoridades israelíes hayan sido objeto de solicitudes por parte de las autoridades de Estados Unidos.
La única posición en rojo registrada en el tablero de la votación recuerda la misma oposición solitaria evidenciada en julio del 2014 cuando el Consejo de Derechos Humanos de Naciones Unidas aprobó la creación de una Comisión de Investigación para investigar la forma en que ambos beligerantes conducían sus operaciones militares en Gaza en el 2014: en aquella oportunidad, la resolución se adoptó por 29 votos a favor (incluyendo el voto de todos los Estados de América Latina miembros del Consejo, sin ninguna excepción), 17 abstenciones y el único voto en contra de Estados Unidos (Nota 2). A diferencia de la posición incólume de Estados Unidos en ambas votaciones, el caso de los Estados europeos merece una mención especial: mientras que en el mes de julio del 2014, los Estados miembros de la Unión Europea (UE) optaron por abstenerse (aduciendo que lo que ocurría en Gaza no tenía porqué ser objeto de una investigación), este viernes 3 de julio del 2015, votaron todos a favor del texto, incluyendo a Estados como Alemania, Francia, Países Bajos y Reino Unido.
El informe de la Comisión de Investigación sobre la ofensiva israelí del 2014 fue presentado el pasado 22 de junio del 2015 en Ginebra por los integrantes de dicha Comisión (Nota 3), causando las habituales gesticulaciones del aparato estatal israelí que pareciera impresionar cada vez un poco menos a los demás Estados, europeos incluidos.
Nota 1: Los actuales miembros del Consejo de Derechos Humanos son: Albania, Alemania, Argelia, Antigua República Yugoeslava de Macedonia, Arabia Saudita, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botsuana, Brasil, China, Congo, Corea del Sur, Costa de Marfil, Cuba, El Salvador, Emiratos Árabes Unidos, Estados Unidos, Estonia, Etiopía, Francia, Gabón, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Irlanda, Japón, Kazakstán, Kenia, Latvia, Maldivas, Marruecos, México, Montenegro, Namibia, Nigeria, Países Bajos, Pakistán, Paraguay, Portugal, Reino Unido, Qatar, Rusia, Sierra Leone, Sudáfrica, Venezuela y Vietnam. Sobre la reciente elección del 2014 de miembros del Consejo de Derechos Humanos en la que la candidatura de Costa Rica no prosperó, remitimos al lector a un breve análisis, BOEGLIN N., “Bolivia, El Salvador y Paraguay electos en el Consejo de Derechos Humanos”, Análisis Político Núm. 5, Observatorio de Política Internacional, Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR) – Universidad Nacional (UNA); enero 2015,, disponible aquí.
Nota 2: Remitimos al lector a una breve nota sobre el particular del mes de julio del 2014 publicada: BOEGLIN N., “ONU: HRC aprueba resolución para investigar ataques de Israel en Gaza”, Tribuglobal, 28/07/2014, disponible aquí.
Nota 3: Véase nota publicada, BOEGLIN N., “Presentado informe de Comisión de Investigación sobre última ofensiva de Israel en Gaza del 2014”, GlobalResearch, 28/06/2015, disponible aquí.
Nicolas Boeglin: Profesor de Derecho Internacional Público, Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR)
“Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice has officially recognized that the members of the Ukrainian nationalist organization UNA-UNSO fought on the side of Nazi Germany during the Great Patriotic War.” It went on to note that, “On May 22 of last year, the State Registration Service renamed the party of UNA-UNSO as the Right Sector Party, which is led by Dmitriy Yarosh.”
Whereas Yarosh provided the forces that brought down the Yanukovych government, Parubiy, as the person who had organized the Maidan demonstrations, set things up so that Yarosh’s snipers would be able to operate in such a way that Yanukovych would be blamed for the bloodshed — such as by obtaining the Security Bureau of Ukraine uniforms for Yarosh’s snipers to wear, and by clearing the buildings that they needed to be firing from.
At the end of the coup, on 25 February 2014, Yarosh met in a Kiev restaurant with the other founder of the SNPU (“Svoboda”) party, Oleg Tyagnibok, in order to discuss “Our goals are the same. We both stand for Ukraine without Yids and Katsaps (Russians derogatory). You’ll help me, I’ll help you.” Etc. Ironically, all of Ukraine’s nazis work under far-right Jews, such as Victoria Nuland, of the U.S. State Department. All of them are focused on destroying Russians — it’s the cause that unites them — and receiving their appointments from Jews makes them internationally acceptable as being not ‘really’ nazis (since the West accepts hatred of Russians, which are Obama’s targets).
Already, Obama’s manager for the coup, Victoria Nuland, had, on February 4th, told the U.S. Ambassador, “I think Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. He’s the… what he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know.” That appointment of Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the new Prime Minister dashed Tyagnibok’s hope of receiving an official appointment. As for Yarosh,here was his response when Tyagnibok suggested that Yarosh might do better in politics than he himself, because Tyagnibok was already publicly on record as being anti-Semitic, but Yarosh was not (both men knew that wanting to kill all Russians was okay in the USA but that wanting to kill all Jews was not; and whereas both men were publicly on record for wanting to kill all Russians, Yarosh had never spoken publicly about ‘Yids’):
“Go into politics. You have a lot of support.
D.Yarosh: Politics? Why? So I can wear a beautiful jacket? I already have the power. Gone are the times when we indulged slingshotting. Now I have so many weapons that it will be enough to break all kinds of ‘internal occupants’. If my guys have the SBU, I will bring order to the ‘katsapschine’ (East Ukraine derogatory [for the region where ethnic Russians predominate]) and in the Crimea. Katsaps will flee Sevastopol voluntarily. I’ll cause the earth to burn under their feet.”
“I have seen from the beginning armed protesters in those demonstrations … they were the first to fire on the police. Very often the violence of the security forces comes in response to the brutal violence of the armed insurgents” – Jesuit priest Father Frans Van der Lugt, January 2012, Homs Syria
“The claim that armed opposition to the government has begun only recently is a complete lie. The killings of soldiers, police and civilians, often in the most brutal circumstances, have been going on virtually since the beginning.” – Professor Jeremy Salt, October 2011, Ankara Turkey
“The protest movement in Syria was overwhelmingly peaceful until September 2011” – Human Rights Watch, March 2012, Washington
A double story began on the Syrian conflict, at the very beginning of the armed violence in 2011, in the southern border town of Daraa. The first story comes from independent witnesses in Syria, such as the late Father Frans Van der Lugt in Homs. They say that armed men infiltrated the early political reform demonstrations to shoot at both police and civilians. This violence came from sectarian Islamists. The second comes from the Islamist groups (‘rebels’) and their western backers, including the Washington-based Human Rights Watch. They claim there was ‘indiscriminate’ violence from Syrian security forces to repress political rallies and that the ‘rebels’ grew out of a secular political reform movement.
Careful study of the independent evidence, however, shows that the Washington-backed ‘rebel’ story, while widespread, was part of a strategy to delegitimise the Syrian Government, with the aim of fomenting ‘regime change’. To understand this it is necessary to study the outbreak of the violence in Daraa, in March 2011. Central to that insurrection were shipments of arms from Saudi Arabia to Islamists at the al Omari mosque.
In early 2011 Syrians were well aware of a piece of history few western observers would remember: a strikingly similar Islamist insurrection took place in the town of Hama, back in 1982. Yet this was crushed within weeks by the Syrian Arab Army. Reviewing this conflict is useful because of the myths that have grown up around both insurrections.
US intelligence (DIA 1982) and the late British author Patrick Seale (1988) give independent accounts of what happened at Hama. After years of violent, sectarian attacks by Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood, by mid-1980 President Hafez al Assad had ‘broken the back’ of their sectarian rebellion, which aimed to impose a Salafi-Islamic state. One final coup plot was exposed and the Brotherhood ‘felt pressured into initiating’ an uprising in their stronghold of Hama. Seale describes the start of that violence in this way:
‘At 2am on the night of 2-3 February 1982 an army unit combing the old city fell into an ambush. Roof top snipers killed perhaps a score of soldiers … [Brotherhood leader] Abu Bakr [Umar Jawwad] gave the order for a general uprising … hundreds of Islamist fighters rose … by the morning some seventy leading Ba’athists had been slaughtered and the triumphant guerrillas declared the city ‘liberated’ (Seale 1988: 332).
However the Army responded with a huge force of about 12,000 and the battle raged for three weeks. It was a foreign-backed civil war, with some defections from the army. Seale continues:
‘As the tide turned slowly in the government’s favour, the guerrillas fell back into the old quarters … after heavy shelling, commandos and party irregulars supported by tanks moved in … many civilians were slaughtered in the prolonged mopping up, whole districts razed’ (Seale 1988: 333).
Two months later a US intelligence report said: ‘The total casualties for the Hama incident probably number about 2,000. This includes an estimated 300 to 400 members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s elite ‘Secret Apparatus’ (DIA 1982: 7). Seale recognises that the Army also suffered heavy losses. At the same time, ‘large numbers died in the hunt for the gunmen … government sympathizers estimating a mere 3,000 and critics as many as 20,000 … a figure of 5,000 to 10,000 could be close to the truth’ He adds:
‘The guerrillas were formidable opponents. They had a fortune in foreign money … [and] no fewer than 15,000 machine guns’ (Seale 1988: 335). Subsequent Muslim Brotherhood accounts have inflated the casualties, reaching up to ‘40,000 civilians’, and attempting to hide the vicious insurrection by claiming that Hafez al Assad had simply carried out a ‘civilian massacre’ (e.g. Nassar 2014). The then Syrian President blamed a large scale foreign conspiracy for the Hama insurrection. Seale observes that Hafez was ‘not paranoical’, as many US weapons were captured and foreign backing had come from several US collaborators: King Hussayn of Jordan, Lebanese Christian militias (the Israeli-aligned ‘Guardians of the Cedar’) and Saddam Hussein in Iraq (Seale 1988: 336-337).
The Hama insurrection helps us understand the Daraa violence because, once again in 2011, we saw armed Islamists using rooftop sniping against police and government officials, drawing in the armed forces, only to cry ‘civilian massacre’ when they and their collaborators came under attack from the Army. Although the US, through its allies, played an important part in the Hama insurrection, when it was all over US intelligence dryly observed that: ‘the Syrians are pragmatists who do not want a Muslim Brotherhood government’ (DIA 1982: vii).
In the case of Daraa, and the attacks that moved to Homs and surrounding areas in April 2011, the clearly stated aim was once again to topple the secular or ‘infidel-Alawi’ regime. The front-line US collaborators were Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. The head of the Syrian Brotherhood, Muhammad Riyad Al-Shaqfa, issued a statement on 28 March which left no doubt that the group’s aim was sectarian. The enemy was ‘the secular regime’ and Brotherhood members ‘have to make sure that the revolution will be pure Islamic, and with that no other sect would have a share of the credit after its success’ (Al-Shaqfa 2011). While playing down the initial role of the Brotherhood, Sheikho confirms that it ‘went on to punch above its actual weight on the ground during the uprising … [due] to Turkish-Qatari support’, and to its general organisational capacity (Sheikho 2013). By the time there was a ‘Free Syrian Army Supreme Military Council’ in 2012 (more a weapons conduit than any sort of army command), it was two-thirds dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood (Draitser 2012). Other foreign Salafi-Islamist groups quickly joined this ‘Syrian Revolution’. A US intelligence report in August 2012, contrary to Washington’s public statements about ‘moderate rebels’, said:
‘The Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq, later ISIS] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria … AQI supported the Syrian Opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media’ (DIA 2012).
In February 2011 there was popular agitation in Syria, to some extent influenced by the events in Egypt and Tunisia. There were anti-government and pro-government demonstrations, and a genuine political reform movement that for several years had agitated against corruption and the Ba’ath Party monopoly. A 2005 report referred to ‘an array of reform movements slowly organizing beneath the surface’ (Ghadry 2005), and indeed the ‘many faces’ of a Syrian opposition, much of it non-Islamist, had been agitating since about that same time (Sayyid Rasas 2013). These political opposition groups deserve attention, in another discussion. However only one section of that opposition was linked to the violence that erupted in Daraa. Large anti-government demonstrations began, to be met with huge pro-government demonstrations. In early March some teenagers in Daraa were arrested for graffiti that had been copied from North Africa ‘the people want to overthrow the regime’. It was reported that they were abused by local police, President Bashar al Assad intervened, the local governor was sacked and the teenagers were released (Abouzeid 2011).
Pro-Government Rally 2014
Yet the Islamist insurrection was underway, taking cover under the street demonstrations. On 11 March, several days before the violence broke out in Daraa, there were reports that Syrian forces had seized ‘a large shipment of weapons and explosives and night-vision goggles … in a truck coming from Iraq’. The truck was stopped at the southern Tanaf crossing, close to Jordan. The Syrian Government news agency SANA said the weapons were intended ‘for use in actions that affect Syria’s internal security and spread unrest and chaos.’ Pictures showed ‘dozens of grenades and pistols as well as rifles and ammunition belts’. The driver said the weapons had been loaded in Baghdad and he had been paid $5,000 to deliver them to Syria (Reuters 2011). Despite this interception, arms did reach Daraa, a border town of about 150,000 people. This is where the ‘western-rebel’ and the independent stories diverge, and diverge dramatically. The western media consensus was that protestors burned and trashed government offices, and then ‘provincial security forces opened fire on marchers, killing several’ (Abouzeid 2011). After that, ‘protestors’ staged demonstrations in front of the al-Omari mosque, but were in turn attacked.
The Syrian government, on the other hand, said that armed attacks had begun on security forces, killing police and civilians, along with the burning of government offices. There was foreign corroboration of this account. While its headline blamed security forces for killing ‘protesters’, the British Daily Mail (2011) showed pictures of guns, AK47 rifles and hand grenades that security forces had recovered after storming the al-Omari mosque. The paper noted reports that ‘an armed gang’ had opened fire on an ambulance, killing ‘a doctor, a paramedic and a policeman’. Media channels in neighbouring countries did report on the killing of Syrian police, on 17-18 March. On 21 March a Lebanese news report observed that ‘Seven policemen were killed during clashes between the security forces and protesters in Syria’ (YaLibnan 2011), while an Israel National News report said ‘Seven police officers and at least four demonstrators in Syria have been killed … and the Baath party headquarters and courthouse were torched’ (Queenan 2011). These police had been targeted by rooftop snipers.
Even in these circumstances the Government was urging restraint and attempting to respond to the political reform movement. President Assad’s adviser, Dr Bouthaina Shaaban, told a news conference that the President had ordered ‘that live ammunition should not be fired, even if the police, security forces or officers of the state were being killed’. Assad proposed to address the political demands, such as the registration of political parties, removing emergency rules and allowing greater media freedoms (al-Khalidi 2011). None of that seemed to either interest or deter the Islamist insurrection.
Several reports, including video reports, observed rooftop snipers firing at crowds and police, during funerals of those already killed. It was said to be ‘unclear who was firing at whom’ (Al Jazeera 2011a), as ‘an unknown armed group on rooftops shot at protesters and security forces’ (Maktabi 2011). Yet Al Jazeera (2011b) owned by the Qatari monarchy, soon strongly suggested that that the snipers were pro-government. ‘President Bashar al Assad has sent thousands of Syrian soldiers and their heavy weaponry into Derra for an operation the regime wants nobody in the word to see’. However the Al Jazeera suggestion that secret pro-government snipers were killing ‘soldiers and protestors alike’ was illogical and out of sequence. The armed forces came to Daraa precisely because police had been shot and killed.
Saudi Arabia, a key US regional ally, had armed and funded extremist Salafist Sunni sects to move against the secular government. Saudi official Anwar Al-Eshki later confirmed to BBC television that his country had sent arms to Daraa and to the al-Omari mosque (Truth Syria 2012). From exile in Saudi Arabia, Salafi Sheikh Adnan Arour called for a holy war against the liberal Alawi Muslims, who were said to dominate the Syrian government: ‘by Allah we shall mince [the Alawites] in meat grinders and feed their flesh to the dogs’ (MEMRITV 2011). The Salafist aim was a theocratic state or caliphate. The genocidal slogan ‘Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the grave’ became widespread, a fact reported by the North American media as early as May 2011 (e.g. Blanford 2011). Islamists from the FSA Farouq brigade would soon act on these threats (Crimi 2012). Canadian analyst Michel Chossudovsky (2011) concluded:
‘The deployment of armed forces including tanks in Daraa [was] directed against an organised armed insurrection, which has been active in the border city since March 17-18.’
After those first few days in Daraa the killing of Syrian security forces continued, but went largely unreported outside Syria. Nevertheless, independent analyst Sharmine Narwani wrote about the scale of this killing in early 2012 and again in mid-2014. An ambush and massacre of soldiers took place near Daraa in late March or early April. An army convoy was stopped by an oil slick on a valley road between Daraa al-Mahata and Daraa al-Balad and the trucks were machine gunned. Estimates of soldier deaths, from government and opposition sources ranged from 18 to 60. A Daraa resident said these killings were not reported because: ‘At that time, the government did not want to show they are weak and the opposition did not want to show they are armed’. Anti-Syrian blogger, Nizar Nayouf, records this massacre as taking place in the last week of March. Another anti-Government writer, Rami Abdul Rahman (based in England, and calling himself the ‘Syrian Observatory of Human Rights’) says:
‘It was on the first of April and about 18 or 19 security forces … were killed’ (Narwani 2014). Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad, himself a resident of Daraa, confirmed that: ‘this incident was hidden by the government … as an attempt not to antagonize or not to raise emotions and to calm things down – not to encourage any attempt to inflame emotions which may lead to escalation of the situation’ (Narwani 2014).
Yet the significance of denying armed anti-Government killings was that, in the western media, all deaths were reported as (a) victims of the Army and (b) civilians. For well over six months, when a body count was mentioned in the international media, it was usually considered acceptable to suggest these were all ‘protestors’ killed by the Syrian Army. For example, a Reuters report on 24 March said Daraa’s main hospital had received ‘the bodies of at least 37 protestors killed on Wednesday’ (Khalidi 2011). Notice that all the dead had become ‘protestors’, despite earlier reports on the killing of a number of police and health workers.
Another nineteen soldiers were gunned down on 25 April, also near Daraa. Narwani obtained their names and details from Syria’s Defence Ministry, and corroborated these details from another document from a non-government source. Throughout April 2011 she calculates that eighty-eight Syrian soldiers were killed ‘by unknown shooters in different areas across Syria’ (Narwani 2014). She went on to refute claims that the soldiers killed were ‘defectors’, shot by the Syrian army for refusing to fire on civilians. The Washington based group Human Rights Watch, referring to interviews with 50 unnamed ‘activists’, claimed that soldiers killed at this time were all ‘defectors’, murdered by the Army (HRW 2011b). Yet the funerals of loyal officers, shown on the internet at that time, were distinct. Even Rami Abdul Rahman, keen to blame the Army for killing civilians, said ‘this game of saying the Army is killing defectors for leaving – I never accepted this’ (Narwani 2014). Nevertheless the highly charged reports were confusing, in Syria as well as outside.
The violence spread north, with the assistance of Islamist fighters from Lebanon, reaching Baniyas and areas around Homs. On 10 April nine soldiers were shot in a bus ambush in Baniyas. In Homs, on April 17, General Abdo Khodr al-Tallawi was killed with his two sons and a nephew, and Syrian commander Iyad Kamel Harfoush was gunned down near his home. Two days later, off-duty Colonel Mohammad Abdo Khadour was killed in his car (Narwani 2014). North American commentator Joshua Landis (2011a) reported the death of his wife’s cousin, one of the soldiers in Baniyas.
Al Jazeera, the principal Middle East media channel backing the Muslim Brotherhood, blacked out these attacks, as also the reinforcement provided by armed foreigners. Former Al Jazeera journalist Ali Hashem was one of many who resigned from the Qatar-owned station (RT 2012), complaining of deep bias over their presentation of the violence in Syria. Hashem had footage of armed men arriving from Lebanon, but this was censored by his Qatari managers. ‘In a resignation letter I was telling the executive … it was like nothing was happening in Syria.’ He thought the ‘Libyan revolution’ was the turning point for Al Jazeera, the end of its standing as a credible media group (Hashem 2012).
Provocateurs were at work. Tunisian jihadist ‘Abu Qusay’ later admitted he had been a prominent ‘Syrian rebel’ charged with ‘destroying and desecrating Sunni mosques’, including by scrawling the graffiti ‘There is no God but Bashar’, a blasphemy to devout Muslims. This was then blamed on the Syrian Army, with the aim of creating Sunni defections from the Army. ‘Abu Qusay’ had been interviewed by foreign journalists who did not notice he was not Syrian (Eretz Zen 2014).
Journalist Nir Rosen, whose reports were generally against the Syrian Government, also criticised the western consensus over the early violence:
‘The issue of defectors is a distraction. Armed resistance began long before defections started … Every day the opposition gives a death toll, usually without any explanation … Many of those reported killed are in fact dead opposition fighters but … described in reports as innocent civilians killed by security forces … and every day members of the Syrian Army, security agencies … are also killed by anti-regime fighters’ (Rosen 2012).
A numbers game was being played to delegitimise the Syrian Government (‘The Regime’) and the Syrian Army (‘Assad loyalists’), suggesting they were responsible for all the violence. Just as NATO forces were about to bomb Libya and overthrow the Libyan Government, US voices began to demand that President Assad step down. The Brookings Institution (Shaikh 2011) claimed the President had ‘lost the legitimacy to remain in power in Syria’. US Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Joe Lieberman said it was time ‘to align ourselves unequivocally with the Syrian people in their peaceful demand for a democratic government’ (FOX News 2011). The big powers began to demand yet another ‘regime change’.
In June, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton dismissed the idea that ‘foreign instigators’ had been at work, saying that ‘the vast majority of casualties have been unarmed civilians’ (Clinton 2011). In fact, as Clinton knew very well, her Saudi Arabian allies had armed extremists from the very beginning. Her casualty assertion was also wrong. The United Nations (which would later abandon its body count) estimated from several sources that, by early 2012, there were more than 5,000 casualties, and that deaths in the first year of conflict included 478 police and 2,091 from the military and security forces (OHCHR 2012: 2; Narwani 2014). That is, more than half the casualties in the first year were those of the Syrian security forces. That independent calculation was not reflected in western media reports. ‘Watchdog’ NGOs such as Human Rights Watch, along with US columnists (e.g. Allaf 2012), continued to claim, well into 2012, that Syrian security forces had been massacring ‘unarmed protestors’, that the Syrian people ‘had no choice’ but to take up arms, and that this ‘protest movement’ had been ‘overwhelmingly peaceful until September 2011’ (HRW 2011a, HRW 2012). In fact, the political reform movement had been driven off the streets by Salafi-Islamist gunmen, over the course of March and April.
In June reporter Hala Jaber (2011) observed that about five thousand people turned up for a demonstration at Ma’arrat al-Numan, a small town in north-west Syria, between Aleppo and Hama. She says several ‘protestors’ had been shot the week before, while trying to block the road between Damascus and Aleppo. After some negotiations which reduced the security forces in the town, ‘men with heavy beards in cars and pick-ups with no registration plates’ with ‘rifles and rocket-propelled grenades’ began shooting at the reduced numbers of security forces. A military helicopter was sent to support the security forces. After this clash ‘four policemen and 12 of their attackers were dead or dying. Another 20 policemen were wounded’. Officers who escaped the fight were hidden by some of the tribal elders who had participated in the original demonstration. When the next ‘demonstration for democracy’ took place, the following Friday, ‘only 350 people turned up’, mostly young men and some bearded militants (Jaber 2011). Five thousand protestors had been reduced to 350, after the Salafist attacks.
After months of media manipulations, disguising the Islamist insurrection, Syrians such as Samer al Akhras, a young man from a Sunni family, who used to watch Al Jazeera because he preferred it to state TV, became convinced to back the Syrian government. He saw first-hand the fabrication of reports on Al Jazeera and wrote, in late June 2011:
‘I am a Syrian citizen and I am a human. After 4 months of your fake freedom … You say peaceful demonstration and you shoot our citizen. From today … I am [now] a Sergeant in the Reserve Army. If I catch anyone … in any terrorist organization working on the field in Syria I am gonna shoot you as you are shooting us. This is our land not yours, the slaves of American fake freedom’ (al Akhras 2011).
Abouzeid, Rania (2011) ‘Syria’s Revolt, how graffiti stirred an uprising’,Time, 22 March
Haidar, Ali (2013) interview with this writer, Damascus 28 December. Ali Haidar was President of the Syrian Social National Party (SS NP), a secular rival to the Ba’ath Party. In 2012 President Bashar al Assad incorporated him into the Syrian government as Minister for Reconciliation.
Truth Syria (2012) ‘Syria – Daraa revolution was armed to the teeth from the very beginning’, BBC interview with Anwar Al-Eshki, YouTube interview, video originally uploaded 10 April, latest version 7 November, online:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoGmrWWJ77w
Seale, Patrick (1988) Asad: the struggle for the Middle East, University of California Press, Berkeley CA
Such an aggressively expansionist move, ostensibly to deter political unrest on its southern border – which runs from Rafah to Eilat – but in reality an effort by the Netanyahu administration to become a hegemonic power in the region, would be strongly opposed by the U.S., Britain and Russia and the entire UNSC.
In an action that would inevitably instigate a full scale regional conflict involving Egypt, ISIL, Hezbollah and Israel, this latest expansionist thinking by the Netanyahu government could well bring about a paradigm shift in Middle East geo-politics and global groupings.
1967 Six Day War: Israeli Conquest of Sinai
It has been recognised for some years that Netanyahu’s Likud policy of illegal settlement would inevitably lead to war at some stage but a forced annexation by Israel of the entire Egyptian Sinai Peninsula was never envisaged.
Such a crude military action would immediately sever relations between Egypt and Israel leaving Jordan as Israel’s only diplomatic connection in the entire Middle East. And that would leave America’s vassal state virtually isolated within a political environment determined to force its relocation by any means at any cost. An invidious situation that would be construed as being self-imposed by a right-wing Knesset intent on illegal expansion at the expense of the indigenous peoples of the area and in contempt of the wishes of the United Nations General Assembly.
Any attempt by the Netanyahu government to colonise Sinai would greatly exacerbate the current global perception of Israel as an undeclared nuclear weapons state intent on achieving Middle East hegemony in an existential hostile action against the historic indigenous peoples of the region. And that would be an explicit threat to world peace and global stability.
Just days after the U.N. released its “Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—during a closed meeting of Israeli officials— remarked that “Israel is considering whether or not to stay in the Human Rights Council in light of the recent UN Gaza report.”
Flight or fight? It appears that because the report took a critical stance in questioning Israel’s motives and actions during last summer’s 51-day-bombardment of Gaza and the West Bank, Netanyahu is more willing to bow out altogether than to confront the issues detailed in the report head-on.
Some crucial findings: Since Operation Protective Edge, Netanyahu and other Israeli officials have maintained the same assertion— that Israel did everything in its power to avoid hitting Palestinian civilians and that it went above and beyond the standards of international humanitarian law. The U.N, report contradicts that very claim and others—in its principal findings and conclusions.
In Gaza, as Palestinians struggled to find ways to save their own lives and those of their families, they were confronted with intense attacks, with no way of knowing which locations would be hit and which might be considered safe.” Additionally, “Regarding precautions, the Israel Defense Forces stated repeatedly that its measures were more stringent than those required by international humanitarian law. In many incidents, however, the weapons used, the timing of attacks, and the fact that the targets were located in densely populated areas indicate that the Israel Defense Forces may not have done everything feasible to avoid or limit civilian casualties.” And finally, “The limited effectiveness of the above-mentioned precautionary measures must have become abundantly clear in the early days of the operation, given that many buildings were destroyed, together with their inhabitants. The apparent lack of steps to re-examine these measures in the light of the mounting civilian tollsuggests that Israel did not comply with its obligation to take all feasible precautions before the attacks.
Further, the report criticizes Israel over its lack of credibility in self-conducted investigations: “Moreover, the investigations process followed by the Israel Defense Forces focuses on possible individual criminal responsibility at the level of the soldier on the battlefield. Even where the behaviour of soldiers and low-ranking officers during hostilities has come into question, however, this has rarely resulted in criminal investigations.” Ultimately, this shows that even in committing violations on an independent level, Israel grants the members of its military force the utmost impunity.
Where there’s smoke there’s fire: Despite the unfortunate fact that the majority of Americans sympathize with Israel, anyone who is willing to apply even a minimal degree of logic can see that Israel is desperately trying to sweep the crimes that it’s committed under the rug—and Netanyahu’s potential backing out of the U.N. Human Rights Council should undoubtedly set off your internal “smoke-detector.”
Image: Manlio Di Stefano – Foto Roberto Monaldo / LaPresse
Member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies Manlio Di Stefano called on his government to re-establish diplomatic ties with Syria and revisit its “biased stances and unrealistic choices” against it.
In a written enquiry he submitted to the Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Di Stefano said Syria has been facing a proxy war since 2011 by terrorists coming from 89 countries who have fomented widespread chaos and swelled the ranks of terrorist organizations, citing ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra amid documented evidence of logistical, financial and media support they receive from certain countries.
The Italian lawmaker said the Turkish intelligence is involved in facilitating cross-border infiltration of terrorists into Syria and aiding sales of oil that ISIS has stolen from Syria and Iraq for generating revenues.
Jordan, he added, plays a similar role by facilitating the entry of terrorists to Syria as Israel is treating terrorists who have been injured during battles with the Syrian army in its hospitals.
“The opposition’s Coalition is racked by internal divisions and rattled by embezzlement and continuous financial scandals and it has the lowest approval ratings on the Syrian lands…Its military organization that is called the Free Army is an inseparable part of the terror organizations,” he added.
He said the Italian FM has to answer few questions regarding the steps that his government intends to take to restore ties with Syria and exert pressure on Turkey, Qatar, Israel and Jordan to halt their support for terrorist organizations.
Nine months ago during the 51-day Israeli assault on Gaza, which killed 2,200 people, El Wafa rehabilitation hospital was bombed. Its helpless patients, mostly paralyzed or unconscious, were saved before it was flattened. Under fire the hospital staff carried them out in bed sheets and drove them to a maternity clinic in Gaza City. The same El Wafa team has already built up another unique hospital and chronic care facility in a building donated to them. So far it does not have the capacity and specialized equipment lost when El Wafa was destroyed, but other such centers are planned to meet the overwhelming medical needs of the disabled and wounded in the devastated towns of Khan Yunis and Rafah.
Inspiring the 200-strong El Wafa team is the hospital executive director, Basman Elashi, a man of remarkable organizational skills and optimism who accomplished these feats despite the continuing blockade of Gaza. His story of bravery is also the story of a prosperous American/Palestinian family splintered and scattered by the US “war on terror.”
Three years ago Basman Elashi and his brother Bayan arrived at the Egyptian/Gaza border with no papers, passports or documents and in the custody of the FBI. They had been abruptly deported from the US. The Egyptian border officials protested at their lack of papers, but monitored by US officials they let them through, with the menacing words: “I will let you into Gaza. I will never let you out.” It was a brutal homecoming to the land Basman, now a grandfather, had left as a child.
Once in Gaza, Basman said he received “an unconditional welcome, lovely people….But I had never thought I would be back in Gaza….We never thought that one day we would be criminals. For 40 years we trusted the law in the US… I’m a son of the US.”
The Elashis lived the American dream for decades before they became targets of the war on terror. For nearly 40 years, the five Elashi brothers, their wives and their 23 children enjoyed the fruits of hard work and material success, first in California, then in Texas. It was the culmination of the ambitious journey their father had set them on when he took the boys out of Gaza to school in Egypt. Palestinians had no chance of university places in Egypt so they headed next for the UK and the US. Following college, then marriages to young Palestinian women from Jordan and Saudi Arabia, the brothers set up their own businesses in Los Angeles.
Basman explained to me in Skype conversations this spring that it was the realization of how far the brothers had come from the life of Gaza that made them start a development charity. “First we thought the Palestine issue had disappeared, a closed issue as far as the media was concerned. Then came the violent suppression of the first Intifada—kids, students, in Gaza with stones against the military. We felt that living comfortably in the US we had everything… it was our responsibility to help people in such need back home.”
They left California after the Rodney King riots of 1992. “Our shop was among many burned down, we then had 19 children between us, the city public schools were bad—we left LA. We chose to settle in Dallas, Texas, partly because there was a good Islamic school there.” ‘
The brothers bought homes close to each other and to their common work. Together they built up a successful computer company, Infocom, and registered their charity as the Holy Land Foundation. HLF became the largest Muslim charity in the US, giving to many needy causes beyond its Palestinian roots, including Hurricane Katrina victims. They were a dynamic extended family, well known in the community, good employers, supporters of all kinds of human rights causes beyond the Palestinian issue and with numerous high-achieving children in school. Basman and Wafa’s daughter, Eman, who has a family of her own in the US, remembers her childhood as “amazing, beautiful, surrounded by family, all those cousins to play with always, and so much love and support.”
A week before Sept. 11 2001, a team of armoured US agents stormed into the headquarters of Infocom, the family business where all five brothers worked. They were on a hunt for links to the funding of the string of terrorism attacks on US targets in the 1990s, notably the devastating 1998 East African embassy bombings, and the suicide attack on the USS Cole in harbour in Aden 18 months later. “We had no clue anything was coming,” Basman said. “They believed this was the hub of terrorism in the whole world and there would be resistance…they were ready for war…they found just papers and computers.”
Infocom was closed down and its assets frozen. Nevertheless within days the brothers convinced a judge, based on what was taken from the office, that there was no reason the company could not continue to operate. They changed the name to Synaptix, opened a new bank account, and business went on. However three months later, in December 2001, three days after a visit to President Bush from Ariel Sharon, then the Prime Minister of Israel, the US Treasury Department designated the Holy Land Foundation a “specially designated global terrorist.” The next day, the FBI closed the charity down.
From this point on the brothers’ lives were defined by four trials: two involving Infocom, and two, the Holy Land Foundation. The American dream imploded for the Elashi family. The trials concluded with all five brothers sentenced to jail terms in connection with Infocom. Three were subsequently deported, while Ghassan, who was the chairman of HLF, received a 65-year sentence in connection with HLF.
At the center of it all was the US government’s post-9/11 fixation on perceived Muslim enemies anywhere from Iraq to Dallas. The wide net cast to scoop them up would soon fill Guantanamo Bay prison with men from across the world held largely despite no evidence of terrorism connections. The search for Al Qaeda and its financiers was one obsession. The long-held wish by the US and Israel to destroy Hamas, the Gaza resistance movement designated as a foreign terrorist organization in January 1995, got a new impetus in this political climate. Muslim charities were easy targets. The prosperous Elashi brothers, who had a cousin married to a prominent Hamas leader, were in the US government’s crosshairs.
In 2002, the Bush administration indicted the five brothers on 33 counts for “dealing in terrorist funds” and for selling computer technology to Syria and Libya between 1997 and 2000. The two countries were then listed by the US as state sponsors of terrorism.
“We knew the law forbade us to work with Libya and when we got an order from a customer in Malta we sent a person to check him. We were deceived. We didn’t know of the Libyan connection until the indictment,” Basman explained. In the Syrian case Infocom received US approval for shipments of equipment, to various consulates in Damascus. “The one on the indictment was worth only $3,000 and when I called the export department to ask if it needs a license they told me no because it was very small…. I didn’t document the phone call.”
The five Elashi brothers and Infocam were convicted in the first trial on the exports in 2004. In the second Infocom trial in 2005, Basman, Bayan and their brother Ghassan were also convicted of conspiracy with a specially designated terrorist (SDT), Mousa Abu Marzook, a Hamas official. Infocam had sent a dividend check to Marzook, the husband of their cousin, Nadia, who was herself an investor in Infocom. The Marzouks had left the US before Mousa Abu Marzook’s designation as an SDT in August 1995, eight months after Hamas was so designated. The dividend check was to cover Nadia Marzook’s family household expenses in Jordan. (She was not an SDT.)
Basman was sentenced to six and a half years and Bayan to seven in criminal custody; both had been in federal custody since December 2002 on alleged “immigration violations.” Two other brothers, Ihsan and Hazim, received respectively six and five-and-a-half years. One of them, Hazim, was ordered by the court to be deported after his sentence, and now lives in Lebanon. Ghassan was sentenced to seven years, but then as chairman of the HLF had to face two further trials in the Holy Land case. Basman, who was no longer formally involved with the foundation, was not charged in that case.
The HLF trials became the symbol of a US government war on Muslim charities. The government case was that HLF’s donations to Gaza were controlled by Hamas. The case was brought under the Patriot Act’s designation of “assistance” for “material support for terrorism.” The government used secret evidence at trial, and flew anonymous witnesses in from Israel. The prosecution introduced two of the key witnesses by pseudonyms, “Avi” and “Major Lior,” informing the court that they were an Israeli intelligence official and a member of the Israeli Defence Force. Since the defense counsel was not allowed to know who they really were, they could not be cross-examined on their competence or credibility. As Avi said in court, “you can not research me.”
In 2007 the first HLF trial ended in a mistrial and no guilty verdict. But the second trial achieved the convictions that the government had sought. It was almost inevitable after the prosecution’s “repeated, gratuitous invocation of violence,” as one of the defense lawyers put it, including the testimony given by National Security Council member Steven Simon who linked Hamas terrorism with 9/11 and the risk of future terrorism. None of the defendants were accused of violence or directly supporting terrorism; they were convicted of funding in Gaza zakat(alms-giving) committees, some of which were, the prosecution’s anonymous witness maintained, controlled by Hamas. The court was told by the defense that USAID, the UN, the Red Crescent and other non-governmental organizations funded the very same zakat committees, as did European funds. The committees were at that time the only way of getting charity funding to Gazans.
In 2008, the five HLF directors, including one member of the Elashi family, Ghassan, were convicted on charges of material support for terrorism. Ghassan Elashi, the chairman, and HLF chief executive, Shukri Abu Baker, received 65-year sentences. Nancy Hollander (counsel for Abu Baker) said after the sentence, “I was horrified by it, the thought that somebody gets 65 years for providing charity is really shameful and I believe this case will go down in history, as have others…as a shameful day. Essentially these people were convicted because they were Palestinians.”
Linda Moreno, another defense attorney for HLF, told me this month, “Many lawyers have defended a case they never should have lost, one that breaks their heart. This was mine. The government of Israel came after the most successful Islamic charity in the United States. HLF’s success, in part, was their campaign of billboards and other media showing the devastation the occupation had in Palestine, especially on the children. Images of hungry children living in rubble that was once their home, destroyed by the IDF, contrasted with the ambulances, medicine, food and backpacks provided by the HLF, undermined the image of Israel. My client fed the wrong children. This is why he will die in jail.”
The trials and a litany of appeals ever since have resonated internationally. In the London Review of Books, British barrister Francis Fitzgibbon ends an article on the HLF trials with the words: “In late 2001, the Bush administration wanted the world to think it was in charge of events. According to David Aufhauser, a senior Treasury Department lawyer, there was great political pressure on the department to name those who’d funded al-Qaida’s terrorism: ‘We just listed as many of the usual suspects as we could and said, Let’s go freeze some of their assets.’ The HLF, he wrote, was a co-operative organisation that sent large amounts of money to Palestinians and must have ‘looked like low-hanging fruit.’”
In 2009 the American Civil Liberties Union reported on the results of the HLF trials, and concluded that they caused “a pervasive fear among Muslim charitable donors.”
At the time of the ACLU report, Ghassan Elashi, the former chairman of the largest Muslim charity in the US, was serving his 65-year sentence in one of the most restricted of US jails. Basman spent nearly eight years in US prison or immigration detention, four of them in solitary. “The first two weeks in prison was the hardest time in my life. But then I relaxed, reading the Koran, and spent all my time reading.”
“I was eight years among criminals, rapists, etc. I taught them English, maths, history, for $70 a month. I graduated a lot of people. Even the warden asked me, Why are you in jail? Why? Maybe because I’m Palestinian? Maybe because I’m from Gaza? Maybe because I’m an activist?”
In 2009, Basman was suddenly released from prison and flew back to Texas and his mother and son. “I got a call in prison, Go, we don’t want to see you here…I was motionless, in shock.” His first craving as a free man was for his mother’s scrambled eggs. By the time he was released, his wife and youngest child had been forced to leave the US on “voluntary departure” and were in Saudi Arabia. Basman spent the next three years living with his mother. “My mother is my strength and in those years I did everything for her and with her.” But he was in limbo and he knew he did not control his own future or his family’s. “I spoke to many immigration lawyers, they all told me I would never ever get the right to stay in the US because of my link to the HLF.” He never imagined Gaza might be his destination.
Basman’s brother, Bayan, serving his seven-year sentence from the Infocom trial, was subsequently ordered to be removed from the US, but remained in detention while the government claimed it was trying to find a country where he could be sent. After a habeas corpuspetition he was released from prison in 2010 under condition of indefinite monitoring. He was required to check in with the police in Dallas weekly, which he did for two years. Bayan and Basman and their families did everything possible to obtain travel documents to leave the US after their sentences, trying desperately to find a country that would admit them. Bayan initially sought to go to Finland, which did not accept him. Before he was finally removed to Gaza, Bayan had applied to 40 countries for admission, and was refused by all of them.
The brothers had been trying for years to obtain citizenship in the US. In the years before his arrest, Basman almost managed to get US nationality on three occasions, but each time he was stymied. “It was just chance—the first time the visa was waiting for me in Saudi Arabia, but then came the invasion of Kuwait and the Saudis would not let me in, as a Palestinian. Then I could have had it through my mother, but three months before my interview I was arrested.”
He had always maintained legal status through his employment, but his visa depended on maintaining his job. “As soon as we were arrested we were illegal.” Basman still feels tied to America. “Part of my body is American, I’m grateful they gave me my education, I still love America, people are decent. Just a few people decided to do bad things.”
The words of one US immigration officer in Dallas in the early years of their troubles still stick in Basman’s mind: “I want to separate out all these wives and break this whole Elashi network.” All the wives heard her and were stunned. The same official told Basman’s wife Wafa, and her sister-in-law Fayrouz, that they could stay in the US if they divorced their husbands. Both refused. (Fayrouz and her husband Hazim now live in Lebanon.) The officer’s wish has come true; the family is now scattered across several continents, with the prospect that many of them will never see each other again.
While Basman was in prison, his wife Wafa, a Palestinian from a Gaza family born and brought up in Saudi Arabia, now stateless, was also jailed by US immigration. Basman’s daughter Eman and her husband used to drive five hours each way to visit her mother every weekend. In August 2007, Wafa accepted voluntary departure to Dubai. She spent three months there before moving on briefly to Syria. Finally one of her brothers, a nationalized Saudi, achieved permission from the king to bring Wafa and her younger daughter to Saudi Arabia, where she had lived as a child.
Far away in Gaza, Basman talks of how much he loves his wife and how her pain and anger are hard for him to bear. “She can’t come to me and I can’t come to her. She is very, very upset and I’m unable to help her, except sending her the little money I make here in Gaza. Our two other children are in Chicago and Texas… they broke a family.”
Eman is haunted by the effects of the separation. “It’s been very, very hard on my mother, and my little sister; she never really saw my parents together and never had that secure big family life that was snatched away from us.”
Eman lives a busy professional life in Chicago, with her two small children and Jordanian husband. It is far from the idyllic Texas childhood she remembers, surrounded by 22 cousins and eight aunts and uncles, every day until she was 17. When the disaster hit she became her father’s great support. “She lived the jail years with me, in contact every day, sending me money I needed for things like phone calls. I could always count on her….she is a good person,” said Basman.
There was a moment of hope to reunite the family when Eman’s brother turned 21 and applied for Wafa to join him in the US. But at Wafa’s interview at the US consulate in Saudi, she was asked if she was still married to Basman, and when she said yes she was told she would have to demonstrate a hardship case. “She couldn’t lie—material hardship was not the issue, living as our family was the issue. They refused her visa.”
Now Eman manages biannual visits to meet her mother and sister in Jordan, all staying with her mother in law. But the 10-day annual leave from her job makes it a fleeting pleasure. “Deep down in my heart the hardest part is that we don’t share daily life.”
Bayan’s wife, Lima, is in Jordan. She is receiving cancer treatment, which she could not obtain if she were living with her husband in Gaza. Her son is in the US, but her four daughters have chosen to live with her in Jordan, two of them with their husbands.
Basman and Bayan live together in Gaza these days. “We are an electronic family,” says Basman, describing contact kept alive by Skype and group messages. “But 13 years, it is drying our relations.” His youngest daughter’s messages rend his heart. “She says her siblings are lucky; they know what it means to have a father’s hug.”
Since the Israeli destruction of Al Wafa, Basman has been working non-stop on the rebuilding and equipping of the new hospital. “I’m very happy to be working 24 hours. If I stop and think about my family in the US—two grown children and my mother, and my little girl in Saudi Arabia—I would be devastated.”
He is immersed in Gaza society and deeply appreciative of its human quality. “People’s word and trust is what matters here, everyone is a human being, not a number.” But the Israeli blockade puts up obstacles that are difficult even for someone as resourceful as Basman. He was invited for a 45-day European tour to give evidence to the UN investigation into the 2014 war, and to speak to the European Parliament, the Italian Parliament and many others, in the immediate aftermath and when the need for medical assistance to all hospitals was acute. But even these powerful international bodies could not get him out of Gaza to testify to what he had witnessed. He ended up doing his talks on Skype.
The two Elashi brothers are stateless. They cannot even get residency in Gaza, as they are not permitted an Israeli ID because they left Gaza as children before the 1967 war. Bayan has a Palestinian passport, but it is not valid for travel without extra documentation, which is denied him.
Over the last three years, a team led by US law professor Susan Akram, with the assistance of law students, has worked pro bono to get the UN and various governments to intervene to reunite these families. Akram submitted dossiers and letters on their cases to the Commissioner-General of UNRWA and UNRWA’s top lawyer; to UNHCR at headquarters in Geneva and in Jordan; to the head of the ICRC and the Red Cross delegation in Palestine/Israel; to the US consular officers in charge of refugee affairs in East Jerusalem; to the Minister in charge of Palestinian Affairs within the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (trying to get them Egyptian travel documents and entry into Egypt); and to the Jordanian government through UNRWA.
“The various UN organizations have clear responsibility to promote a durable solution and reunite the families,” Akram said this month. The possibility of legal action in the US to secure their return has proved impossible. Half a dozen large law firms in the US have been approached to take up their cases, as well as the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and a number of public interest law firms, but none will touch it, and one prominent law firm, after agreeing to take it, backed off, saying it was “too controversial” and their lawyers didn’t want to work on it.
At their old home area in Texas, Basman’s elderly mother, Fadwa Al-Afrangi, still believes she will see her sons “inshallah.” She smiles as she knits a blue and white baby blanket. Sweaters, scarves and foot warmers pile up in gift bags for occasions yet to be known. Here in Dallas she is at the center of a devout family that endures in happy companionship despite everything that has happened to them in the last 13 years. When Fadwa’s five sons went to prison, the community gathered around her. Today, her daughter Maha Elashi, Basman’s sister, has moved south from Boston to be with her mother, leaving her husband alone. Next door, and in and out of both houses, is her daughter-in-law Majida, wife of the imprisoned Ghassan, and a high school teacher with four children.
Fadwa talks of the border from Egypt to Gaza being opened one day, and then she will be able to go and spend time with her sons Basman and Bayan. One of Majida’s daughters, Asma, also dreams of going to Gaza. Asma is a speech pathologist, and like her father Ghassan, the philanthropist who once headed HLF and is now serving a 65-year sentence, she wants to use her skills to make a contribution to the people in the place where her family’s extraordinary history began.
Sitting alone with Skype on his screen in the silence of his Gaza hospital at night, Basman too says he believes there will ultimately be justice and that his family’s dream of being reunited will be realized. “Where next? I am extremely happy here in Gaza. My only issue is that I’m in a concentration camp. Having a passport would let me unite with my family, if not, I won’t see anyone in my family in all the rest of my life.”
Victoria Brittain has lived and worked as a journalist in Saigon, Washington, Algiers and London. She has reported from more than 30 African countries, Cuba, Grenada and Palestine for English and French publications. She was a foreign correspondent and then Associate Foreign Editor at the Guardian over a 20-year period. She has written a number of books plays about Africa, Guantanamo Bay and related subjects – most recently Shadow Lives, The Forgotten Women of the War on Terror.
Every single mainstream media has the following narrative for the economic crisis in Greece: the government spent too much money and went broke; the generous banks gave them money, but Greece still can’t pay the bills because it mismanaged the money that was given. It sounds quite reasonable, right?
Except that it is a big fat lie … not only about Greece, but about other European countries such as Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland who are all experiencing various degrees of austerity. It was also the same big, fat lie that was used by banks and corporations to exploit many Latin American, Asian and African countries for many decades.
Greece did not fail on its own. It was made to fail.
In summary, the banks wrecked the Greek government, and then deliberately pushed it into unsustainable debt … while revenue-generating public assets were sold off to oligarchs and international corporations. The rest of the article is about how and why.
If you are a fan of mafia movies, you know how the mafia would take over a popular restaurant. First, they would do something to disrupt the business – stage a murder at the restaurant or start a fire. When the business starts to suffer, the Godfather would generously offer some money as a token of friendship. In return, Greasy Thumb takes over the restaurant’s accounting, Big Joey is put in charge of procurement, and so on. Needless to say, it’s a journey down a spiral of misery for the owner who will soon be broke and, if lucky, alive.
Now, let’s map the mafia story to international finance in four stages.
Stage 1: The first and foremost reason that Greece got into trouble was the “Great Financial Crisis” of 2008 that was the brainchild of Wall Street and international bankers. If you remember, banks came up with an awesome idea of giving subprime mortgages to anyone who can fog a mirror. They then packaged up all these ticking financial bombs and sold them as “mortgage-backed securities” for a huge profit to various financial entities in countries around the world.
A big enabler of this criminal activity was another branch of the banking system, the group of rating agencies – S&P, Fitch and Moody’s – who gave stellar ratings to these destined-to-fail financial products. Unscrupulous politicians such as Tony Blair joined Goldman Sachs and peddled these dangerous securities to pension funds and municipalities and countries around Europe. Banks and Wall Street gurus made hundreds of billions of dollars in this scheme.
But this was just Stage 1 of their enormous scam. There was much more profit to be made in the next three stages!
Stage 2 is when the financial time bombs exploded. Commercial and investment banks around the world started collapsing in a matter of weeks. Governments at local and regional level saw their investments and assets evaporate. Chaos everywhere!
Vultures like Goldman Sachs and other big banks profited enormously in three ways: one, they could buy other banks such as Lehman brothers and Washington Mutual for pennies on the dollar. Second, more heinously, Goldman Sachs and insiders such as John Paulson (who recently donated $400 million to Harvard) had made bets that these securities would blow up. Paulson made billions, and the media celebrated his acumen. (For an analogy, imagine the terrorists betting on 9/11 and profiting from it.) Third, to scrub salt in the wound, the big banks demanded a bailout from the very citizens whose lives the bankers had ruined! Bankers have chutzpah. In the U.S., they got hundreds of billions of dollars from the taxpayers and trillions from the Federal Reserve Bank which is nothing but a front group for the bankers.
In Greece, the domestic banks got more than $30 billion of bailout from the Greek people. Let that sink in for a moment – the supposedly irresponsible Greek government had to bail out the hardcore capitalist bankers.
Stage 3 is when the banks force the government to accept massive debts. For a biology metaphor, consider a virus or a bacteria. All of them have unique strategies to weaken the immune system of the host. One of the proven techniques used by the parasitic international bankers is todowngradethe bonds of a country. And that’s exactly what the bankers did, starting at the end of 2009. This immediately makes the interest rates (“yields”) on the bonds go up, making it more and more expensive for the country to borrow money or even just roll over the existing bonds.
The banks also control the politics of nations. In 2011, when the Greek prime minister refused to accept a second massive bailout, the banks forced him out of the office and immediately replaced him with the Vice President of ECB (European Central Bank)! No elections needed. Screw democracy. And what would this new guy do? Sign on the dotted line of every paperwork that the bankers bring in.
(By the way, the very next day, the exact same thing happened in Italy where the Prime Minister resigned, only to be replaced by a banker/economist puppet. Ten days later, Spain had a premature election where a “technocrat” banker puppet won the election).
The puppet masters had the best month ever in November 2011.
Few months later, in 2012, the exact bond market manipulation was used when the banksters turned up the Greek bonds’ yields to 50%!!! This financial terrorism immediately had the desired effect: The Greek parliament agreed to a second massive bailout, even larger than the first one.
Now, here is another fact that most people don’t understand. The loans are not just simple loans like you would get from a credit card or a bank. These loans come with very special strings attached that demand privatization of a country’s assets. If you have seen Godfather III, you would remember Hyman Roth, the investor who was carving up Cuba among his friends. Replace Hyman Roth with Goldman Sachs or IMF (International Monetary Fund) or ECB, and you get the picture.
Stage 4: Now, the rape and humiliation of a nation begin. For the debt that was forced upon them, Greece had to sell many of its profitable assets to oligarchs and international corporations. And privatizations are ruthless, involving everything and anything that is profitable. In Greece, privatization included water, electricity, post offices, airport services, national banks, telecommunication, port authorities (which is huge in a country that is a world leader in shipping) etc.
In addition to that, the banker tyrants also get to dictate every single line item in the government’s budget. Want to cut military spending? NO! Want to raise tax on the oligarchs or big corporations? NO! Such micro-management is non-existent in any other creditor-debtor relationship.
So what happens after privatization and despotism under bankers? Of course, the government’s revenue goes down and the debt increases further. How do you “fix” that? Of course, cut spending! Lay off public workers, cut minimum wage, cut pensions (same as our social security), cut public services, and raise taxes on things that would affect the 99% but not the 1%. For example, pension has been cut in half and sales tax increase to more than 20%. All these measures have resulted in Greece going through a financial calamity that is worse than the Great Depression of the U.S. in the 1930s.
Of course, the ever-manipulative bankers demand immediate privatization of all media which means that the country now gets photogenic TV anchors who spew propaganda every day and tell the people that crooked and greedy banksters are saviors; and slavery under austerity is so much better than the alternative.
If every Greek person had known the truth about austerity, they wouldn’t have fallen for this. Same goes for Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and other countries going through austerity.The sad aspect of all this is that these are not unique strategies. Since World War II, these predatory practices have been used countless times by the IMF and the World Bank in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
This is the essence of the New World Order — a world owned by a handful of corporations and banks.
So, it’s time for the wonderful people of Greece to rise up like Zeus and say NO (“OXI” in Greece) to the greedy puppet masters, unpatriotic oligarchs, parasitic bankers and corrupt politicians.
Dear Greece, know that the world is praying for you. Vote NO to austerity. Say YES to freedom, independence, self-government, and democracy. Yes, democracy, the word that was invented by YOU!
P.S. (You can also watch this video where John Perkins – author of “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” – talks about exploitation of Latin American and Asian countries using the same tools of debt-austerity-privatization. He used to do this for a living!
The Ukrainian forces have violated the ceasefire regime 46 times over the last 24 hours, the Donetsk People’s Republic defense ministry said on Thursday. The Kiev forces used multiple rocket launchers, artillery, battle tanks, anti-aircraft guns and small arms, the defense ministry said. A lot of settlements and cities of DPR came under fire were.
Kiev uses foreign mercenaries against the DPR, DPR Defence Ministry spokesman Eduard Basurin said on Thursday. Basurin noted that among them were “Croats, Poles, Lithuanians, Norwegians, Danes and even Germans” who are fighting with the Ukrainian forces against the Donetsk and Luhansk republics. Foreign mercenaries are particularly numerous in the Mariupol area.
Four civilians were killed and over 70 injured in a massive attack by the militants on several districts of the city of Aleppo in Syria. Clashes between government forces and terrorists in western Aleppo also left five militants dead. Aleppo is now divided between government forces that largely control the west of the city and the militants that have a strong presence in the east.
Israeli forces have detained 550 Palestinians, including women and children, in the occupied West Bank since the beginning of 2015. The detainees, who were arrested in the southern city of al-Khalil, included seven women and 105 teenagers, Amjad Najjar, the head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society in al-Khalil, said on Thursday. We remember, over 7,000 Palestinians are reportedly incarcerated in 17 Israeli prisons and detention camps.
On Friday, presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton addressed a hand-picked audience at a Dartmouth College campaign event. She lied calling Iran an “existential threat to Israel… I hope we are able to get a deal next week that puts a lid on (its) nuclear weapons program.”
Even if we do get such a deal, we will still have major problems from Iran. They are the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism.
They use proxies like Hezbollah to sow discord and create insurgencies to destabilize governments. They are taking more and more control of a number of nations in the region and they pose an existential threat to Israel.
We…have turn our attention to working with our partners to try to reign in and prevent this continuing Iranian aggressiveness.
Fact: US and Israeli intelligence both say Iran’s nuclear program has no military component. No evidence whatever suggests Tehran wants one. Plenty indicates otherwise.
As a 2008 presidential aspirant, she addressed AIPAC’s annual convention saying:
The United States stands with Israel now and forever. We have shared interests….shared ideals….common values. I have a bedrock commitment to Israel’s security.
(O)ur two nations are fighting a shared threat” against Islamic extremism. I strongly support Israel’s right to self-defense (and) believe America should aid in that defense.
I am committed to making sure that Israel maintains a military edge to meet increasing threats. I am deeply concerned about the growing threat in Gaza (and) Hamas’ campaign of terror.
No such campaign exists. The only threats Israel faces are ones it invents.
Clinton repeated tired old lies saying Hamas’ charter “calls for the destruction of Israel. Iran threatens to destroy Israel.”
“I support calling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard what it is: a terrorist organization. It is imperative that we get both tough and smart about dealing with Iran before it is too late.”
She backs “massive retaliation” if Iran attacks Israel, saying at the time:
“I want the Iranians to know that if I’m president, we will attack Iran. In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.”
She endorses using cluster bombs, toxic agents and nuclear weapons in US war theaters. She calls them deterrents that “keep the peace.” She was one of only six Democrat senators opposed to blocking deployment of untested missile defense systems – first-strike weapons entirely for offense.
Originally published on Global Research in August, 2014:
1. Binyamin Netanyahu claims to speak for the majority of world Jewry although, in fact, he represents only a minority of Jewish Israelis and Americans – those who support his right-wing, Likud Party. To many others, particularly in Europe, he is considered a US-financed, Zionist rabble-rouser with an extremist political agenda that rejects any Palestinian state and requires the ‘transfer’ of all indigenous Arabs out of former Palestine.
2. Israeli policies such as the illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state); the 8 year blockade of essential supplies into Gaza; the mis-labelling of exported fruit and vegetables to Europe and the horrific killing of hundreds of defenceless women and children in Gaza – all have the effect of exacerbating antisemitism around the world. The agenda of the Israeli government against the indigenous Arab population being the primary driver of anti-Jewish feeling both in Europe and globally.
3. Netanyahu is well aware of this link and the detrimental effect of his policies on the security of Jewish communities worldwide, and on public opinion, but he also knows that the greater the increase in antisemitism the more French, British and other Jewish nationals will be forced to sell their homes and reluctantly leave the countries of their birth to seek sanctuary in Israel. This is a key principle of the Netanyahu government agenda that all American, European and diaspora Jews should be ‘persuaded’ to emigrate to the Israeli state – together with their assets.
4. However, this agenda is also partly supported by millions of evangelist, Christian Zionists in America, who believe in the literal word of the bible and whose goal is for all 14 million Jews in the world to be relocated to the Israeli state where they can be baptised and converted, en masse, into the Christian church! The Israeli government ministers smile knowingly behind their hands as they accept this support – without which their economy would collapse.
5. The Israel lobby in America comprises over a dozen organisations including AIPAC, the primary Zionist political pressure group with links into the White House that heavily influences US foreign policy around the world.
However, for many integrated European Jewish communities, Mr Netanyahu’s alleged war crimes in Gaza plus his violent, expansionist agenda with its consequent rise in antisemitism, are very bad news indeed.
The head of UNICEF said yesterday, that 392 children had been killed in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, and that about 370,000 children had been traumatised.
A boycott of academic and trading links with the state of Israel now seems to be inevitable consequence of the atrocities carried out in Gaza.
Alex Andreou confirms what a young Greek resident said yesterday, in Kings Heath. Both informants stress that if family and neighbourhood bonds had not been so strong, there would have been three times as many victims of austerity. As it is, family members working abroad are doing what they can to help relatives who cannot pay their rent in full because of restrictions on cash withdrawals and people are leaving the cities for rural areas where food is grown; the only changes noticed there are in the falling pensions.
Andreou’sFriday Byline article described the political corruption and corporate tax evasion rife in Greece for decades:
“Accounts were falsified in order to facilitate entry into the Euro. Unforgivable economic crimes were committed. These weren’t committed by most ordinary people of course – the very people now asked to take on the burden of the follies of our rich oligarchs. Corrupt politicians who passed the country back and forth like a joint were quick to secure their money in Swiss bank accounts. But we must share in a collective responsibility for them. We all knew what was going on and we either became part of it or didn’t rebel soon enough or loudly enough . . .” He countered the idea that Greece has not paid a heavy price for those sins:
“In the last five years, we have made adjustments which reduced a 15% deficit to zero, while the economy contracted by a quarter. Incomes fell by over a third. Pensions were slashed by 40%. 18,000 people are sleeping rough in Athens alone today. 11,000 are estimated to have committed suicide explicitly because of financial worries. The Church is raising thousands of children in orphanages. Almost a third of the population are living below the poverty line”.
Myths are circulating
Andreou addresses default: “a normal part of debt, not some monstrously catastrophic event. Germany has defaulted on its debts four times in the last century. Italy six”.
In banking parlance, due diligence was not exercised
In January on the Jubilee Debt website, Tim Jones points out: “It is not the people of Greece who have benefitted from bailout loans from the IMF, EU and European Central Bank, but the European and Greek banks which recklessly lent money to the Greek State in the first place”.Andreou adds: “The IMF report, published yesterday, vindicates Syriza’s position almost entirely. Greece’s debt is not viable, it says. The approach of “austerity first, debt relief maybe” was a disaster. Another programme of cuts without debt restructuring would be so counter-productive that the IMF refuses to be part of it.
Greece was one of the countries which took part in the debt cancellation conference based on the 1953 London conference which agreed cancellation for 50% of Germany’s debt to governments, people and institutions outside the country. Tim Jones reminds us that the payments on the remainder were made conditional on Germany earning the revenue from the rest of the world to pay the debt. It supported German economic recovery, and gave an incentive for creditors to trade so that they would be repaid. He points out that Syriza is proposing a similar conference (some have suggested a reduction of around 50%, though there is no policy officially stated), with the remainder of the debt to be paid over several decades to ensure that Greece can continue to repay.
Professor James K. Galbraith, who holds a chair in Government and Business Relations at the University of Texas and has worked for the past four years with Yanis Varoufakis, now Greek finance minister, dispels nine of the myths in circulation about the Greek crisis here. Amongst them:
The creditors have been generous. Angela Merkel has called the terms offered by the creditors “very generous” to Greece. But in fact the creditors have continued to insist on a crushing austerity program, predicated on a target for a budget surplus that Greece cannot possibly meet, and on the continuation of draconian policies that have already cost the Greeks more than a quarter of their income and plunged the country into depression. Debt restructuring, which is obviously necessary, has also been refused.
The Greek government is imperiling its American alliance. This is a particular worry of some US conservatives, who see a leftist government in power and assume it is pro-Russian and anti-NATO. It is true that the Greek Left has historic complaints against the US, notably for CIA support of the military junta that ruled from 1967 to 1974. But in fact, attitudes on the Greek Left have changed, thanks partly to experience with the Germans. This government is pro-American and firmly a member of NATO.
The Greek government is playing games. Because Finance Minister Varoufakis knows the economic field of game theory, lazy pundits have for months opined that he is playing “chicken” or “poker” or some other game. In Heraklion two weeks ago, Varoufakis denied this as he has done many times: “We’re not bluffing. We’re not even meta-bluffing.” Indeed there are no hidden cards. The Greek red lines – the points of principle on which this government refuses to budge – on labor rights, against cuts in poverty-level pensions and fire-sale privatizations – have been in plain view from day one.
A “No” vote will destroy Europe. The citizens of Greece face a referendum on Sunday that could decide the survival of their elected government and the fate of the country in the Eurozone and Europe. To those who believe in the ninth myth, Galbraith affirms that only the “No” vote can save Greece – and by saving Greece, save Europe.
“The EU is actively trying to install a government formed of the very corrupt entities that stripped the country like locusts for four decades”.
“A ‘No’ means that the Greek people will not bend, that their government will not fall, and that the creditors need, finally, to come to terms with the failures of European policy so far. Negotiations can then resume – or more correctly, proper negotiations can then start.
“If there ever was a moment to speak for decency and democratic values – as well as our national interest – it is right now”.
On Wednesday, the Pentagon released its 2015 National Military Strategy, a 24-page blueprint for ruling the world through military force. While the language in the report is subtler and less incendiary than similar documents in the past, the determination to unilaterally pursue US interests through extreme violence remains the cornerstone of the new strategy.
Readers will not find even a hint of remorse in the NMS for the vast destruction and loss of life the US caused in countries that posed not the slightest threat to US national security. Instead, the report reflects the steely resolve of its authors and elite constituents to continue the carnage and bloodletting until all potential rivals have been killed or eliminated and until such time that Washington feels confident that its control over the levers of global power cannot be challenged.
As one would expect, the NMS conceals its hostile intentions behind the deceptive language of “national security”. The US does not initiate wars of aggression against blameless states that possess large quantities of natural resources. No. The US merely addresses “security challenges” to “protect the homeland” and to “advance our national interests.” How could anyone find fault with that, after all, wasn’t the US just trying to bring peace and democracy to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria?
In the Chairman’s Forward, Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey attempts to prepare the American people for a future of endless war:
Future conflicts will come more rapidly, last longer, and take place on a much more technically challenging battlefield. … We must be able to rapidly adapt to new threats while maintaining comparative advantage over traditional ones … the application of the military instrument of power against state threats is very different than the application of military power against non state threats. We are more likely to face prolonged campaigns than conflicts that are resolved quickly … that control of escalation is becoming more difficult and more important.(Document: 2015 U.S. National Military Strategy, USNI News)
War, war and more war. This is the Pentagon’s vision of the future. Unlike Russia or China which have a plan for an integrated EU-Asia free trade zone (Silk Road) that will increase employment, improve vital infrastructure, and raise living standards, the US sees only death and destruction ahead. Washington has no strategy for the future, no vision of a better world. There is only war; asymmetrical war, technological war, preemptive war. The entire political class and their elite paymasters unanimously support global rule through force of arms. That is the unavoidable meaning of this document. The United States intends to maintain its tenuous grip on global power by maximizing the use of its greatest asset; its military.
And who is in the military’s gunsights? Check out this excerpt from an article in Defense News:
The strategy specifically calls out Iran, Russia and North Korea as aggressive threats to global peace. It also mentions China, but notably starts that paragraph by saying the Obama administration wants to “support China’s rise and encourage it to become a partner for greater international security,” continuing to thread the line between China the economic ally and China the regional competitor.
“None of these nations are believed to be seeking direct military conflict with the United States or our allies,” the strategy reads. “Nonetheless, they each pose serious security concerns which the international community is working to collectively address by way of common policies, shared messages, and coordinated action. (Pentagon Releases National Military Strategy, Defense News)
Did you catch that last part? “None of these nations are believed to be seeking direct military conflict with the United States or our allies. Nevertheless, they each pose serious security concerns.”
In other words, none of these countries wants to fight the United States, but the United States wants to fight them. And the US feels it’s justified in launching a war against these countries because, well, because they either control vast resources, have huge industrial capacity, occupy an area of the world that interests the US geopolitically, or because they simply want to maintain their own sovereign independence which, of course, is a crime. According to Dempsey, any of these threadbare excuses are sufficient justification for conflict mainly because they “pose serious security concerns” for the US, which is to say they undermine the US’s dominant role as the world’s only superpower.
The NMS devotes particular attention to Russia, Washington’s flavor-of-the-month enemy who had the audacity to defend its security interests following a State Department-backed coup in neighboring Ukraine. For that, Moscow must be punished. This is from the report:
Some states, however, are attempting to revise key aspects of the international order and are acting in a manner that threatens our national security interests. While Russia has contributed in select security areas, such as counternarcotics and counterterrorism, it also has repeatedly demonstrated that it does not respect the sovereignty of its neighbors and it is willing to use force to achieve its goals. Russia’s military actions are undermining regional security directly and through proxy forces. These actions violate numerous agreements that Russia has signed in which it committed to act in accordance with international norms. (2015 NMS)
Russia is an evildoer because Russia refused to stand by while the US toppled the Ukrainian government, installed a US stooge in Kiev, precipitated a civil war between the various factions, elevated neo Nazis to positions of power in the security services, plunged the economy into insolvency and ruin, and opened a CIA headquarters in the Capital to run the whole shooting match. This is why Russia is bad and must be punished.
But does that mean Washington is seriously contemplating a war with Russia?
Here’s an excerpt from the document that will help to clarify the matter:
For the past decade, our military campaigns primarily have consisted of operations against violent extremist networks. But today, and into the foreseeable future, we must pay greater attention to challenges posed by state actors. They increasingly have the capability to contest regional freedom of movement and threaten our homeland. Of particular concern are the proliferation of ballistic missiles, precision strike technologies, unmanned systems, space and cyber capabilities, and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) technologies designed to counter U.S. military advantages and curtail access to the global commons. (2015 NMS)
It sounds to me like the Washington honchos have already made up their minds. Russia is the enemy, therefore, Russia must be defeated. How else would one “counter a revisionist state” that “threatens our homeland”?
Why with Daisy Cutters, of course. Just like everyone else.
The NMS provides a laundry list of justifications for launching wars against (imaginary) enemies of the US. The fact is, the Pentagon sees ghosts around every corner. Whether the topic is new technologies, “shifting demographics” or cultural differences; all are seen as a potential threat to US interests, particularly anything related to the “competition for resources.” In this skewed view of reality, one can see how the invasion of Iraq was justified on the grounds that Saddam’s control of Iraq’s massive oil reserves posed a direct challenge to US hegemony. Naturally, Saddam had to be removed and over a million people killed to put things right and return the world to a state of balance. This is the prevailing view of the National Military Strategy, that is, that whatever the US does is okay, because its the US.
Readers shouldn’t expect to find something new in the NMS. This is old wine in new bottles. The Pentagon has merely updated the Bush Doctrine while softening the rhetoric. There’s no need to scare the living daylights out of people by talking about unilateralism, preemption, shrugging off international law or unprovoked aggression. Even so, everyone knows that United States is going to do whatever the hell it wants to do to keep the empire intact. The 2015 National Military Strategy merely confirms that sad fact.
According to the Nobel Laureates, the threat of nuclear war belongs to a bygone era. Nuclear war is no longer the main threat, its climate change, “a threat of comparable magnitude”.
The threat to humanity prevails but it has taken on a different form:
Nearly 60 years ago, here on Mainau, a similar gathering of Nobel Laureates in science issued a declaration of the dangers inherent in the newly found technology of nuclear weapons—a technology derived from advances in basic science. So far we have avoided nuclear war though the threat remains. We believe that our world today faces another threat of comparable magnitude.1 (emphasis added)
While Climate Change is the object of concern, the Nobel science laureates are silent on the ongoing US-NATO wars and the war crimes committed by the Western military alliance in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, not to mention the destabilizing impacts of economic warfare.
Meanwhile the Pentagon is beating the drums of war. The recent threats of the Obama administration to use nuclear weapons on a first strike pre-emptive basis not only against Russia but also against several non-nuclear states in the Middle East are casually ignored by the Science Nobel Laureates.
The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest. The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously.
While a World War III scenario implying the preemptive use of nuclear weapons has been on the drawing board of the Pentagon for more than ten years, military planners are now involved in the formulation of concrete attack plans directed against Russia including the deployment of missile systems and NATO ground forces inside Ukraine.
The Doomsday Clock
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (BAS) which has historically warned against the dangers of nuclear war, has changed its narrative. According to the BAS, nuclear war is less of a threat today compared to the Cold War era:
Today, the mind-numbing possibility of nuclear annihilation as a result of a deliberate attack on the other by the United States or Russia seems a thing of the past, …. (emphasis added)
The fact of the matter is that none of the safeguard of the Cold War era prevail. This assessment totally disregards the US doctrine of preemptive nuclear war involving first strike nuclear attacks as an instrument of peace-making, as formulated in the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review.
Climate change and nuclear war are now presented side by side in the BAS’ doomsday clock. Nuclear war is no longer the main threat.
2015: “Unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity, and world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth.” Despite some modestly positive developments in the climate change arena, current efforts are entirely insufficient to prevent a catastrophic warming of Earth. Meanwhile, the United States and Russia have embarked on massive programs to modernize their nuclear triads—thereby undermining existing nuclear weapons treaties. “The clock ticks now at just three minutes to midnight because international leaders are failing to perform their most important duty—ensuring and preserving the health and vitality of human civilization.”
Apples and Oranges
Climate change vs. Nuclear War, “A threat of comparable magnitude”, according to the Nobel Science Laureates.
Scientific assessment of climate change focuses on “the impact of human activity” on the Earth’s climate and ecology. We are dealing with a complex long-term process, involving scientific assessment and measurement.
By casually juxtaposing climate change and nuclear war, the BAS scientists and Nobel Science Laureates are essentially “comparing apples and oranges”. There is a fundamental misunderstanding regarding the nature of causality, which serves to distract public opinion from the imminent dangers of global warfare.
While the decision to unleash a nuclear attack against a known enemy can be implemented in a matter of minutes, –i.e. a decision of the US president and Commander in Chief, – the causes, the underlying time trends as well as policies pertaining to climate change are of an entirely different nature.
In the post-Cold War era, nuclear war has become a multibillion dollar undertaking, which fills the pockets of US defense contractors. What is at stake is the outright “privatization of nuclear war”. War and nuclear war are the result of concrete military and political decisions, in response to powerful economic interests.
Global Warming on the other hand is not unleashed by “pushing a button” at the political level. (With the exception of geoengineering used as a weapon of warfare).
The campaign against war and nuclear war is virtually dead since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
What is at stake for the peace movement is to ultimately undermine a decision-making process at the highest levels of the US government apparatus including the US State Department, the Pentagon and the intelligence apparatus. Is there a sense of Urgency? Yes there is.
Today, US-NATO are leading simultaneous wars of aggression in several regions of the World coupled with a process of political destabilization and restructuring. Under the brunt of powerful financial institutions, national economies are undermined and destroyed, large sectors of the World population are impoverished.
These actions within the economic sphere are based on a deliberate process of financial manipulation. The Pentagon, NATO, the IMF and Wall Street work in tandem. We are dealing with a coordinated decision-making process both within the economic, geopolitical and military spheres. It’s called war and “financial warfare”.
To distract public opinion from the very real dangers of a World War III scenario, the mainstream media has its eyes riveted solely on the imminent dangers of climate change.
While climate change is an important global issue in its own right, at this juncture in our history, it is essential that people comprehend the logic of US led hegemonic wars, under the disguise of counterterrorism operations. There is no such thing as a humanitarian war. Moreover, these wars are economic wars. They are wars of economic conquest.
The propaganda campaign consists in presenting global warming as the sole danger to humanity with a view to minimizing the public’s understanding of the dangers of war and nuclear war, which are inevitably coupled with a global process of neoliberal economic restructuring and impoverishment.
At his West Point speech on May 28 2014, President Obama said, “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.” Obama stated his bottom line is that “America must always lead on the world stage,” and “the backbone of that leadership always will be the military.” American exceptionalism based on might, not diplomacy, on hard power, not soft, is precisely the hubris and arrogance that could lead to the termination of human life. Washington’s determination to prevent the rise of Russia and China, as set out in the Brzezinski and Wolfowitz doctrines, is a recipe for nuclear war.
The need is dire for the president of the US, Russia, or China to state in a highly public forum that the existence of nuclear weapons creates the possibility of their use and that their use in war would likely mean human extinction. As nuclear war has no winners, the weapons should be banned and destroyed before they destroy all of us. (Steven Starr, Global Research, June 2014, emphasis added)
During the Cold War era, the doctrine of “mutually assured destruction” (MAD) prevailed. The US and the Soviet Union understood that the use of nuclear weapons could potentially lead to Worldwide nuclear radiation and a nuclear holocaust.
In the wake of the Cold War, this understanding on the dangers of nuclear war (MAD) no longer prevails. Moreover, the Pentagon has recently made public its policy of a nuclear first strike against the Russian Federation in response to Russia’s alleged aggression against Ukraine.
Should we be concerned? Is Nuclear War more dangerous than Global Warming?
If these US nuclear strikes were to be implemented, humanity would be precipitated into a Third World War, which could potentially be the “final war” on planet earth.
1. The Mainau Declaration on the Dangers of Climate Change was signed by 36 of the 65 Nobel laureates in attendance.
Order Michel Chossudovsky’s Book directly from GR,
Global Research, Montreal, 2011, also available in pdf.
Nuclear war has become a multibillion dollar undertaking, which fills the pockets of US defense contractors. What is at stake is the outright “privatization of nuclear war”.
The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest. The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously.
Central to an understanding of war, is the media campaign which grants it legitimacy in the eyes of public opinion. A good versus evil dichotomy prevails. The perpetrators of war are presented as the victims. Public opinion is misled.
Breaking the “big lie”, which upholds war as a humanitarian undertaking, means breaking a criminal project of global destruction, in which the quest for profit is the overriding force. This profit-driven military agenda destroys human values and transforms people into unconscious zombies.
The object of this book is to forcefully reverse the tide of war, challenge the war criminals in high office and the powerful corporate lobby groups which support them.
“This book is a ‘must’ resource – a richly documented and systematic diagnosis of the supremely pathological geo-strategic planning of US wars since ‘9-11’ against non-nuclear countries to seize their oil fields and resources under cover of ‘freedom and democracy’.” -John McMurtry, Professor of Philosophy, Guelph University
“In a world where engineered, pre-emptive, or more fashionably “humanitarian” wars of aggression have become the norm, this challenging book may be our final wake-up call.” -Denis Halliday, Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations
Michel Chossudovsky exposes the insanity of our privatized war machine. Iran is being targeted with nuclear weapons as part of a war agenda built on distortions and lies for the purpose of private profit. The real aims are oil, financial hegemony and global control. The price could be nuclear holocaust. When weapons become the hottest export of the world’s only superpower, and diplomats work as salesmen for the defense industry, the whole world is recklessly endangered. If we must have a military, it belongs entirely in the public sector. No one should profit from mass death and destruction. -Ellen Brown, author of ‘Web of Debt’ and president of the Public Banking Institute
On June 19 the Obama Justice Department led by new Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced it will “fast track” $29 million to victim families of the June 17 shooting at the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston South Carolina, Reuters reports. The exorbitant payout amounts to over $3.2 million per family.
As widely reported in corporate news media, a prominent victim of the tragic shooting was career South Carolina political leader and Democratic Party operative Senator Clementa Pinckney. Pinckney was also pastor of the AME Church, and alongside Pickney four of the slain–Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, and Daniel Simmons Sr,–were AME reverends and officers.
“The massive Gothic structure” housing Charleston’s AME Church “suffers from severe structural deterioration resulting primarily from termite infestation” Church administrators were thus in dire need of funds for such repairs, the South Carolina Department of Archives and History observed in 2014.
Veteran 19-Year South Carolina Legislator Senator Clementa Pinckney [Image Credit: CNN]
DOJ spokesman Kevin Lewis stated that the funds are intended to “help families of victims of the mass murder of nine churchgoers at a historic black church in Charleston.”
An unknown portion of the money will be sent under the US national Crime Victim Assistance Formula Grant program, and may be used to provide services to the shooting victims’ families, the DOJ’s Lewis said.
Between June 15 and 19, 2015 the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Charleston was conducting The Active Shooter Threat Instructor Training Program, “designed to provide a field training agent or officer with high quality training and instill the analytical knowledge, skills and attitudes needed for the highest proficiency in this specialized field,” the course description reads. “The course takes Active Shooter Threat Tactics Training to the next level by emphasizing leadership, teach backs, and adult learning as well as the traditional technical skills needed by field training officers and special agents.”
President Obama meets with Attorney General Loretta Lynch in the Oval Office, April 27, 2015. [Image Credit: Official White House Photo]
In the wake of the December 14, 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre event overseen by the Department of Homeland Security Eric Holder’s DOJ funneled at least 9 million in federal money via the DOJ to the Newtown community for alleged services to victims’ families and the “trauma” experienced by first responders (e.g. here,here and here).
Such funding bolstered an unprecedented $50 million allocated by Connecticut Governor Dannell Malloy for the construction of a new Sandy Hook Elementary School contingent upon the leveling of the then-existing structure. Further, tens of millions were generated through a “Sandy Hook Charity Industry“–a vast array of independent charities purportedly soliciting funds on behalf of the families. The population of Newtown is 1,977, according to 2013 statistics.
GENEVA ¦ WASHINGTON – Cuba today became the first country in the world to receive validation from WHO that it has eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.
“Eliminating transmission of a virus is one of the greatest public health achievements possible,” said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “This is a major victory in our long fight against HIV and sexually transmitted infections, and an important step towards having an AIDS-free generation” she added.
Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS: “This is a celebration for Cuba and a celebration for children and families everywhere. It shows that ending the AIDS epidemic is possible and we expect Cuba to be the first of many countries coming forward to seek validation that they have ended their epidemics among children.”
Every year, globally, an estimated 1.4 million women living with HIV become pregnant. Untreated, they have a 15-45% chance of transmitting the virus to their children during pregnancy, labour, delivery or breastfeeding. However, that risk drops to just over 1% if antiretroviral medicines are given to both mothers and children throughout the stages when infection can occur. The number of children born annually with HIV has almost halved since 2009 – down from 400 000 in 2009 to 240 000 in 2013. But intensified, efforts will be required to reach the global target of less than 40 000 new child infections per year by 2015.
Nearly 1 million pregnant women worldwide are infected with syphilis annually. This can result in early fetal loss and stillbirth, neonatal death, low-birth-weight infants and serious neonatal infections. However, simple, cost-effective screening and treatment options during pregnancy, such as penicillin, can eliminate most of these complications.
WHO/PAHO has been working with partners in Cuba and other countries in the Americas since 2010 to implement a regional initiative to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.
As part of the initiative, the country has worked to ensure early access to prenatal care, HIV and syphilis testing for both pregnant women and their partners, treatment for women who test positive and their babies, caesarean deliveries and substitution of breastfeeding. These services are provided as part of an equitable, accessible and universal health system in which maternal and child health programs are integrated with programs for HIV and sexually transmitted infections.
“Cuba’s success demonstrates that universal access and universal health coverage are feasible and indeed are the key to success, even against challenges as daunting as HIV,” said PAHO Director, Dr Carissa F. Etienne. “Cuba’s achievement today provides inspiration for other countries to advance towards elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis”.
Global efforts to stop mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis
There have been major efforts in recent years to ensure that women get the treatment they need to keep themselves well and their children free from HIV and syphilis and a number of countries are now poised to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of both diseases.
In 2007, WHO launched the Global elimination of congenital syphilis: rationale and strategy for action. The strategy aims to increase global access to syphilis testing and treatment for pregnant women. By 2014, more than 40 countries were testing 95% or more of pregnant women in prenatal care for syphilis. But although progress has been made, many countries have still to prioritize preventing and treating mother-to-child transmission of syphilis. In 2012, syphilis affected 360 000 pregnancies through stillbirths, neonatal deaths, prematurity, and infected babies.
In 2011, UNAIDS with WHO and other partners launched the Global Plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015, and keeping their mothers alive. This global movement has galvanized political leadership, innovation and engagement of communities to ensure that children remain free from HIV and that their mothers stay alive and well.
Between 2009 and 2013, the proportion of pregnant women living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries receiving effective antiretroviral medicines to prevent transmission of the virus to their children doubled. This means that globally, 7 out of 10 pregnant women living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries receive effective antiretroviral medicines to prevent transmission of the virus to their children. Among the 22 countries which account for 90% of new HIV infections, 8 have already reduced new HIV infections among children by over 50% since 2009, based on 2013 data, and another four are close to this mark.
WHO validation process
In 2014, WHO and key partners published Guidance on global processes and criteria for validation of elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis, which outlines the validation process and the different indicators countries need to meet.
As treatment for prevention of mother-to-child-transmission is not 100% effective, elimination of transmission is defined as a reduction of transmission to such a low level that it no longer constitutes a public health problem.
An international expert mission convened by PAHO/WHO visited Cuba in March 2015 to validate the progress toward the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. During a five-day visit, members visited health centers, laboratories, and government offices throughout the island, interviewing health officials and other key actors. The mission included experts from Argentina, the Bahamas, Brazil, Colombia, Italy, Japan, Nicaragua, Suriname, the United States of America and Zambia.
The validation process paid particular attention to the upholding of human rights, in order to ensure that services were provided free of coercion and in accordance with human rights principles.
Required validation indicators include:
Impact Indicators – must be met for at least 1 year
New paediatric HIV infections due MTCT of HIV are less than 50 cases per 100 000 live births; and
MTCT rate of HIV to less than 5% in breastfeeding populations or less than 2% in non-breastfeeding populations
Process Indicators – must be met for at least 2 years • More than 95% of pregnant women, both who know and do not know their HIV status, received at least one antenatal visit • More than 95% of pregnant women know their HIV status • More than 95% of HIV-positive pregnant women receive antiretroviral drugs
Impact Indicators – must be met for at least 1 year
Rate of MTCT syphilis are less than 50 cases per 100 000 live births
Process Indicators – must be met for at least 2 years
More than 95% of pregnant women received at least one antenatal visit
More than 95% of pregnant women are tested for syphilis
More than 95% of pregnant women with syphilis receive treatment.
The term “validation” is used to attest that a country has successfully met criteria (internationally set targets for validation) for eliminating MTCT of HIV and/or syphilis at a specific point in time, but countries are required to maintain ongoing programmes.
In 2013, only two babies were born with HIV in Cuba, and only 3 babies were born with congenital syphilis.
The Choice Greeks have in Sunday’s referendum is accepting most Troika austerity demands or all of them – what this writer calls death by hanging or firing squad.
Troika supporters are going all-out to scare Greeks to accept what most harms them – endless austerity until the entire population (except its elites) is forced into impoverished indentured servitude under Western bankster rules.
The latest 11th hour rumor claims “Greek banks prepare plan to raid deposits to avert collapse,” according to the Financial Times.
A so-called “bail-in” would impose at least a 30% haircut on deposits over 8,000 euros, the FT said citing unnamed bankers and businesspeople. It would resemble the 2013 Cyprus plan imposing haircuts on uninsured deposits over 100,000 euros.
An unnamed source said the bail-in “would take place in the context of an overall restructuring of the bank sector once Greece is back in a bailout programme. This is not something that is going to happen immediately.”
It’s not coincidental that rumors like this (true or false) are floated on the referendum’s eve. With a close vote expected, Troika bandits aim to shift enough undecided Greeks to the “yes” camp on Sunday.
Banks are closed. Capital controls remain in place restricting depositor access to maximum 60 euros daily from ATM machines alone. No foreign transactions are allowed.
Greek bankers want people to vote “yes” on Sunday – to protect their bottom line interests. The FT cited two unnamed Athens ones saying only enough cash remains to supply them for a few more days.
Greek deposits are guaranteed up to 100,000 euros. The FT said deposit insurance funds amount to only three billion euros – not enough to cover demand in case of bank collapses.
Months of capital flight left few deposits over 100,000 euros left. The FT quoted an unnamed analyst saying “it makes sense for the banks to consider imposing a haircut on small deposits as part of a recapitalisation” plan.
Bail-ins are grand theft by other means – a financial coup d’etat on top of all other wealth transfer schemes imposed to save banks from their own transgressions – making ordinary people pay to keep them operating by declaring deposits part of their capital structure, no longer money belonging to savers.
Whether bail-ins are coming remains to be seen. Greece’s Bank Association head/National Bank of Greece chairman Louka Katseli said reports of depositor raids belong “only in the sphere of fantasy. There are no such scenarios at any Greek bank, not even as an exercise on paper.”
In late May, the European Commission gave France, Italy and nine other EU countries two months to adopt new rules on propping up banks facing insolvency or face legal action.
All EU countries must comply with so-called bank recovery and resolution directives (BRRD) mandating bail-ins instead of bail-outs to rescue troubled financial institutions.
Greece is in compliance so can institute bail-ins if ordered. They may follow if conditions warrant.
It bears repeating. Raising the issue and other pressure tactics ahead of Sunday’s vote aim to scare Greek voters to accept what demands rejection. It remains to be seen what they decide. Polls indicate it could go either way.
Voting “no” won’t change Europe’s financial landscape. It won’t end Greek crisis conditions or painful austerity. It will be a huge victory in one respect – showing ordinary people can say no to bankers and perhaps triumph.
At the same time, the struggle for Greece’s soul, all Europe, America and beyond continues. Business as usual still dominates – the power of monied interests over democracy and populism. Nothing in prospect suggests real change.
A Final Comment
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said Troika officials offered an acceptable bailout deal, according to a Channel 4 interview. It’s conditional on Greeks voting “no” on Sunday.
He didn’t reveal details so it’s unclear what both sides may accept. It’s very clear terms involve greater austerity than already – instead of no further anti-populist measures and an agenda to restore vital social services once economic and financial conditions permit.
On Friday, Belgian media announced that their country’s contribution to the anti-ISIL coalition mission has been suspended. Commenting on the announcement, a senior Syrian official told Sputnik that that Brussels’ move comes as no surprise, given the growing divide between the coalition’s stated military aims and its actual activities.
Friday’s announcement came after Belgium’s six F-16 fighter bombers had already returned from their base in Jordan, where they had spent the last nine months participating in the US-led bombing campaign against ISIL in Iraq. Brussels has declared that it could no longer afford to continue funding the air operation.
Asked for comment by Sputnik, Syrian Information Minister assistant Ali al-Ahmed stated that Brussels’ announcement comes as no surprise, given repeated reports of Europeans’ growing doubts “about the effectiveness of the coalition and its operations.” Noting that the Belgian government has been plagued by high rates of disapproval of “this enormous and ineffective spending,” al-Ahmed told Sputnik that “Belgium has now come to personify European countries’ dissatisfaction over the coalition’s actions.”
The Syrian civil servant lamented that “from the very beginning, this coalition has not been serious in its approach to fighting the terrorists. We have noticed that the coalition only strikes at those ISIL and al-Nusra objects which threaten Western interests. The coalition’s military aviation is fighting terrorism not out of the need to fight evil, but based on the narrow self-interest of the parties involved.” According to al-Ahmed, “this explains why air strikes regularly miss ISIL targets and facilities,” or strike “military targets of the forces of the people’s militia leading the real fight against ISIL.” The advisor notes that “even civilians who assist the army and the militia have repeatedly been subjected to coalition airstrikes.”
Al-Ahmed criticized Western nations’ use of limited financial resources for expensive airstrikes, noting that these funds could have been much more effectively spent by providing assistance to the countries directly involved in the fight against ISIL terror, including Iraq and Syria.
Ultimately, Al-Ahmed, whose country has been involved in a battle against radical Islamic groups for over four years now, pessimistically noted that “the main goal of this coalition is to preserve the balance of forces on the ground, so that no one can win, with the shedding of blood continuing for a long time, until the US is able to implement its interests in the region.”
Do these things, they said, for all our sakes and you will return to prosperity with our help. They lied.
“They have decided to strangle us, whether we say yes or no”, said a Greek woman to me yesterday. “The only choice we have is to make it quick or slow. I will vote “oxi” (no). We are economically dead anyway. I might as well have my conscience clear and my pride intact.”
Her view is not atypical among friends and relations I have canvassed in the last few days. Trust has evaporated. Faith in European Institutions is thin on the ground. Lines have been crossed. At times of financial strain, a country’s currency issuer, its central bank, should act as lender of last resort and prime technocratic negotiator. In Greece’s case, the European Central Bank, sits on the same side as the creditors; acts as their enforcer. This is unprecedented.
The ECB has acted to asphyxiate the Greek economy – the ultimate blackmail to force subordination. The money is there, in our accounts, but we cannot have access to it, because the overseers of our own banking system, the very people who some months ago issued guarantees of liquidity, have decided to deny liquidity. We have phantom money, but no real money. There is a terrifying poetry to that, since the entire crisis was caused by too much phantom money in the first place.
EU Institutions are now openly admitting that their aim is regime change. A coup d’état in anything by name, using banks instead of tanks and a corrupt media as the occupiers’ broadcaster. The rest of Europe stands back and watches. Those leaders who promised the Syriza government support before the election, have ducked for cover. I understand it. They sympathise, but they don’t want to be next. They are honourable cowards. They look at the punishment beating being meted out and their instinct is to protect their own.
Many people within Greece have the same reaction. “[Tsipras] is an idealist”, a friend wrote, “but I don’t know whether idealism has the power to change reality. Life has shown me the opposite to be true. I will vote “yes”, with tears in my eyes. I will be another Brutus.”
This tacit collusion, both within Greece and around Europe and the World, with the economic waterboarding being administered to a country on its knees, is made possible by a single politically expedient narrative: That Greece deserves to suffer and should just pay its debts. It is the single most common comment I have had on social media. And the most bitter to swallow.
Corruption and tax evasion had been rife for decades. Accounts were falsified in order to facilitate entry into the Euro. Unforgivable economic crimes were committed. These weren’t committed by most ordinary people of course – the very people now asked to take on the burden of the follies of our rich oligarchs. Corrupt politicians who passed the country back and forth like a joint were quick to secure their money in Swiss bank accounts. But we must share in a collective responsibility for them. We all knew what was going on and we either became part of it or didn’t rebel soon enough or loudly enough.
Those factors are what put us on the front line when the global financial crisis began to unfold within the Eurozone. All those systemic flaws are what made Greece the weak link when the earthquake hit. But we didn’t cause the earthquake. We just lived in creaking houses that went down easily.
The idea that Greece has not paid a heavy price for those sins, is fiction. In the last five years, we have made adjustments which reduced a 15% deficit to zero, while the economy contracted by a quarter. Incomes fell by over a third. Pensions were slashed by 40%. 18,000 people are sleeping rough in Athens alone today. 11,000 are estimated to have committed suicide explicitly because of financial worries. The Church is raising thousands of children in orphanages. Almost a third of the population are living below the poverty line.
These catastrophic shifts would have been unfathomable for most economies. It is only because family and societal bonds are so strong, that we do not mourn triple the number of victims. There is no moral hazard to any debt write-off or restructure. Not a single Greek person will say: “Great! That was easy.”
Greece should have been allowed to default in 2010. Default is a normal part of debt, not some monstrously catastrophic event. Germany has defaulted on its debts four times in the last century. Italy six. Default is reflected in interest differentials. An element of interest on a loan is of course “rent” for using someone else’s money, but the reason Germany’s government 10y bonds trade at below 1% and Venezuela’s at over 24% is not whim. It reflects risk. Removing that risk is the real moral hazard.
“Stop whining and pay what you owe.” “Nobody forced you to take the loans in the first place.” “Why should taxpayers elsewhere pay for your extravagance?” There was some truth to all of those things back in 2010. There is no truth to them now. We were forced to take the loans. That is precisely what happened. We were told “do this for all of us”, to avoid contagion. Less than 10% of the “Greek” bailout has gone to Greece. The rest has gone to strengthen irresponsible financial institutions, mainly French and German, which were heavily exposed.
There was no provision within the Eurozone for what happens if market shock creates sudden and dramatic divergence between countries’ economic cycles. We were no longer individually in charge of basic economic levers like quantitative easing or devaluing our currency – a standard response in those circumstances. Our fates were entangled. We could either devalue the whole of the currency which would help countries severely affected by the crisis or not devalue which would help countries like Germany which were in a more robust position. We were told: “do this and we will look after you”. Whatever it takes, said Mario Draghi, to convince Greece to take yet another loan.
Markets smelt blood and there was indecent speculation which made things much worse. This is what Chancellor Merkel said in February 2010 about the crisis: “The debt that had to be accumulated, when it’s going badly, is now becoming the object of speculation by precisely those institutions that we saved a year-and-a-half ago. That’s very difficult to explain to people in a democracy who should trust us.”
Where is that narrative now? When was it replaced exclusively by lazy, profligate Greeks making life difficult for everyone else? History is being rewritten.
The IMF report, published yesterday, vindicates Syriza’s position almost entirely. Greece’s debt is not viable, it says. The approach of “austerity first, debt relief maybe” was a disaster. Another programme of cuts without debt restructuring would be so counter-productive that the IMF refuses to be part of it. Will the world listen now? Or is the idea that somewhere in Greece there is a mattress stuffed with a trillion Euros which we are simply refusing to hand over out of ideology?
Greece feels betrayed. The people “in the know” assured us that if we did as they instructed, the situation will improve. It didn’t. It got worse. And then worse again. We agreed to buy back our own debt at a premium and, by doing so, gave time to large financial interests to disentangle themselves from Greece, to put buffers against contagion. Now they don’t care. Greece was played. We were convinced to get in a lifeboat full of holes and now Europe wants to set us adrift.
The people of Europe need to realise that they were all played, too. Taxpayers’ money was pumped, not into Greece, but into failing banks, like everywhere else. Profit has been privatised and risk nationalised. They need to stop blaming the canary for coming up from the mine half dead.
The EU’s behaviour over the Greek Referendum on Sunday is telling. Everyone agrees that corruption at the highest levels and chronic tax evasion were Greece’s downfall. And yet, instead of cheering a government that, despite ideological differences, is prepared to tackle those things, they have employed any unconstitutional and undemocratic means necessary to overthrow it. They are actively trying to install a government formed of the very corrupt entities that stripped the country like locusts for four decades.
The message from Brussels and Berlin is very clear: We would rather deal with corrupt but obedient leaders, than honest ones with ideas of sovereignty. Your vote is irrelevant. Democracy is irrelevant.
There are consequences beyond the financial. If Europe chooses to create a failed state on the edge of its borders, with a Middle East and North Africa ablaze and a Russia and China looking to expand their influence, the fallout will be unpredictable. Psychologically, too, they have damaged the European Project, probably beyond repair. Punishing a member state for having done precisely as instructed, will make every other state feel unsafe; make them question whether they are next.
“Come be part of the European Family”, they said. Many are now realising that the family in question were The Borgias.
Image: File photo of Palestinian homes and buildings destroyed by Israeli airstrikes.
The UN’s Human Rights Council on Friday stressed the urgency of ending the occupation of Palestinian territory and denounced Israel’s refusal to cooperate with an independent commission on last year’s Gaza conflict.
A resolution was voted for by 41 states with just the U.S. opposing the proposal in Geneva.
The resolution condemned the “non-cooperation by Israel with the independent commission of inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict and the refusal to grant access to or to cooperate with international human rights bodies seeking to investigate alleged violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”
It also stressed the “urgency of achieving without delay an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967″ and denounced the 1,462 civilian deaths in Gaza in July and August, including 551 children and 299 women, as well as the deaths of six Israeli civilians.
Members said they were “gravely concerned by reports regarding serious human rights violations and grave breaches of international humanitarian law, including possible war crimes.”
Israeli pressure resulted in the council omitting reference to possible war crimes, committed in the occupied territory in 2008, 2009 and 2014.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces deployed heavily at the 300 Checkpoint in Bethlehem on Friday as restrictions announced during the week were imposed on Palestinian worshipers.
A Ma’an reporter said Israeli forces prevented men under 50 and women under 30 from entering Jerusalem, while children under 12 and girls under 16 were allowed to enter.
The Bethlehem checkpoint is the main crossing point into Israel for the southern West Bank, with thousands travelling from other towns and villages to enter Jerusalem.
Ramadan often offers a rare opportunity for Palestinians to visit East Jerusalem, part of the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel, as entry to the city remains strictly limited during the rest of the year.
To overlook tremendous progress that Ecuador registered under the current administration, would take great determination and discipline.
New airports, highways, hospitals and culture centers are everywhere, and they are impressive. Cities are counting with wide sidewalks, and public parks are equipped with all sorts of playgrounds for children, some extremely innovative.
There are public libraries in some of the parks, armed with free Wi-Fi zones. Buses and trolleybuses are running on dedicated lanes and are heavily subsidized (25 cents per ride), while Quito is planning to build its first line of metro.
Children in public park.
Government puts great emphasis on health, education and culture.
You want to check your pulse before a powerwalk in the park, or are you a single mother who wants to talk to a nutritionist? Help is always there, available. Not only at the hospitals, but in small, modern health centers. And help is always free!
While, when I used to live in this part of the world some two decades ago, most theatres were out of reach for indigenous people, now cultural institutions, including the National Theatre, are celebrating great culture of the original owners of this land. 85% of all cultural events in Ecuador are free of charge and even those that are charging some entry fee are heavily subsidized.
But above all, it is confidence and optimism on the faces of common people that is impressive. While in 1990’s it was all doom and gloom, young and old people coming from once deprived neighborhoods of the cities, as well as countryside, are now smiling assertively. Once again, this is their country, and their home!
It is great news for majority of Ecuadorian citizens – but terrible nightmare for the ‘elites’.
They no longer feel unique, no longer is this country their huge, private playground and a milking cow. The ‘elites’ still have money and their villas, as well as servants, luxury cars and regular trips to those lands they are faithfully serving – North America and Europe.
But their status is diminishing. No longer they feel admired, no longer they are feared. Increasingly they are forced to play by rules and to respect local laws. That would be unimaginable just ten years ago. For some, this is the end of the world!
The rich, the ‘elites’, are sour losers. In fact, they have no idea how to accept defeat. Never before in the history of this country they actually had to. To them this is new reality, this nation ruled by the government, which is working on behalf of the people. The ‘elites’ feel let down, cheated, even humiliated. They have no idea how to respect democracy (rule of the people). They only know how to make decisions, and to give orders, and to loot.
This could lead to inevitable conflict, and Ecuador is not an exception. To greater or smaller extend, the same is happening in Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and even in Chile. Immediately after people vote a socialist government in, immediately after the government begins working for the majority, the elites start reacting. Their goal is clear and predictable: to discredit the administration and to reverse the course.
Attacks can be performed through ‘nonviolent’ means, including protests, disinformation campaign through mass media, even hunger strikes. Or they can be conducted by extremely aggressive means: economic sabotage, creation of shortages; things that extreme right wing used so successfully against the socialist government of Salvador Allende in Chile, before the 1973 military coup.
If everything else fails, ‘elites’ unite their forces with the military and with the West, commit treason, and attempt to overthrow legitimate left-wing government, through direct actions.
This happened on several occasions in Venezuela, and now, such violent scenario could not be excluded in Ecuador and elsewhere.
Lately, in Ecuador, right-wing ‘elites’ are continuously protesting against the administration, accusing it of corruption and other ills.
The latest chapter was related to proposed progressive inheritance tax law, which would order those who own houses priced over 1 million dollars, to pay 70 percent to the state. Poor people would pay nothing, if their houses cost lesser than 35.000 dollars. Those whose dwellings are priced under US$100.000 would still pay very little.
Rich Ecuadoreans see this as unacceptable. They began stalking government offices. They protested all over the capital. They launched tremendous propaganda campaign against the government. And they threatened to disrupt the visit of the Pope Francis, to Ecuador. Fearing huge scandal, the government postponed passing of the law. That calmed down passions for a day or two, but in no time the protesters returned to the streets of Quito.
“We will not rest until this government collapses!” A man taking his family to one of protest sites told me. Entire family dressed in black, crosses hanging on their chests.
And then again, before leaving Ecuador, I was approached by a well to do family, as I was walking towards my hotel:
“Please, our daughter is writing an essay in English… It is her homework, for her English language class… Private school, you know… She was asked to approach a foreigner, and encourage him or her to describe everything negative that is happening in this country.”
How did they know I was a foreigner? Oh yes, I was holding a novel written in English.
I patted their cute private-school daughter on the head.
“I will teach you a nice song”, I said, in Spanish.
Then I clenched my right fist and began singing “International”, loudly and clearly, in Russian.
In horror, they fled. One passer-by applauded.
Corruption is one of the main rallying cries of the ‘elites’. They claim that the government is mismanaging the country.
They can get away with such statements only because they are controlling mass media – most of the television networks and newspapers. Otherwise, entire country would die from laugher.
When right wing was in charge, it grabbed everything. Like in Paraguay where 2% of the population is still controlling well over 75% of land. Like in Chile, where, after Pinochet was forced to step down, his country was suffering from the greatest income disparity in South America. Like in Venezuela, where, before Hugo Chavez became the President, ‘elites’ grabbed billions, using oil deposits as collateral for insane loans that were happily supplied by the West and its institutions. Corruption and theft had been synonymous with the upper class rule, everywhere in Latin America.
It should not be forgotten that John Perkins, author of “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”, was actually working mainly in Ecuador and Indonesia, when he was administering sex, alcohol and cash as tools to persuade local elites to take more and more unnecessary loans, because indebted nation is easy to control from Washington or London.
Entire nations, including Ecuador, were robbed, plundered, forced into perpetual underdevelopment. By whom?! By those damned elites who are now talking about corruption in the government ranks!
Instead of being grateful that they are not facing treason trials, ‘elites’ in places like Ecuador are now, once again, on the offensive, selling their souls and their country to the Empire!
In an indigenous city of Riobamba, I speak to Pablo Narvaez, director of culture, and to his wife Carina.
Pablo and Carina created impressive regional youth orchestra, not unlike those in Venezuela. But here, they did it first with almost no help, by training poor boys and girls from the villages, turning them into impressive professional musicians.
Local house of culture, under their management, is inspiring, as a building but mainly because of what it is offering: high quality art, most of it political: pigs devouring dollar bills, while poor indigenous children are watching in desperation and spite. In another room, great satirical painting demonstrates that indigenous people from Amazonia are not pure, anymore, squeezing their VAIO computers and mobile phones.
After discussing local art, we all walk to the market, where countless cheeky women serve local delicacy – suckling pigs.
Buy my pork and marry me.
“Hey!” they scream at me and at my friend Walter Bustos, who used to be part of the government, and who is still deeply involved in the ‘process’. “Hey, eat my pig and then marry me!”
These are not shy, depressed indigenous women, anymore. These are confident good-hearted matrons living in the country that gave them back their dignity, and sense of humor.
Pablo, originally concert pianist and professor, is not always holding the same political line as the President of Ecuador, but they agree on many issues:
“Ideologically, I come from the left. But I do not belong to any political party. We are all human beings, and so I intuitively believe in equality. I share many believes with the government, when it comes to social inclusivity and education, as well as the infrastructure. The process is long, we all have to be patient…”
We talk about the progress that had been already made: great improvement in health, water supply, electricity, education and culture.
Riobamba has only over 200.000 people. Before Pablo and his wife came on board, the city had 50 live events annually.
“Now we arrange over 750 events per year”, says Pablo. “We utilize all infrastructure that we have here: theatres, museums, even churches…. Markets, too, as well as public squares.”
Young dancers rehearsing.
Culture and arts always form important part of the Latin American revolutions. On this continent, it is not only about ideology, ideas and hard work; it is also about heart and dreams.
Public art exhibitions.
“And what about the taxes?” I ask, before we part. I know that Carina used to work in this field. I told her, that on the way to Riobamba, we stopped in a village, where people complained even about symbolic one dollar per month taxation.
Carina smiles: “Taxes always existed. I used to help collecting them. But now they are formalizing the tax system. Here, until now, there is no ‘culture’ of paying taxes, formally…”
And this is what the right wing is using for its own political gains. Their propaganda shouts: “Let us win and you will pay nothing!” They dare to say this to the poor whom they were robbing for centuries!
Before we leave, youth orchestra is blasting old traditional Quechua tune, to celebrate out visit. It is all touching and we all feel optimistic.
Youth orchestra in Riobamba.
Pablo gives me several books of poetry published in Riobamba, his own and those of other poets. All of them are published in two languages: in Spanish and in local language – Quechua.
We drive back to Quito, part of our long journey on a perfect, new 6-lane highway.
Countryside is stunning. On the left, spectacular volcano Cotopaxi, one of the highest in the world, is hiding its snow-capped peak in the clouds. Ecuador, President Correa often says, is like a paradise on earth. It has tall mountains, stunning coastline, jungle of Amazonian basin, and Galapagos Islands, overflowing with pristine fauna and flora.
It also has natural great resources. If there is no sabotage from ‘elites’, if there is no intervention from the West, this country could continue flourishing under progressive, people-oriented, socialist government.
But there is sabotage, there is subversion, and there are interventions.
And all this could collapse, if not defended!
Back in Quito, I speak to Sonya Maria Bustos and her husband Norberto Fuertes, both journalists, now working for the magnificent Ecuadorian Cultural Center.
They offer to connect me to some top government officials, including Oscar Bonillo, the secretary general of Allianza.
I refuse. Next time, yes, but during this visit I want to travel and see with my own eyes; I want to hear directly what people of Ecuador have to say.
Sonya is sad:
“Because of ‘elites’, country is now unstable, despite the fact that so many things changed for better! No more hospitals full of poor children! Do you remember – before, sick people were everywhere! New hospitals are growing all over the country. But some very rich people are trying to get into the government – to infiltrate it…. In order to stop the progress.”
For these children Ecuador should not be allowed to fall.
She pauses. We are both lost in thoughts. Then she continues:
“Now rich people get out of their Hummers in order to protest. 8 years of great progress, but they are still protesting. They have no shame… People like Guillermo Lasso, who has definitely some sort of contract with the United States…”
My friend Tamara Pearson, an Australian journalist who spent many years living in and covering Venezuela, is now working for TeleSUR in Quito. Like myself, she is impressed by developments in Ecuador, under Correa:
“If you ask people in Ecuador: in Quito, in the big and small towns around it, how they feel about the current government, almost all of them are positive – in stark contrast to the people in Honduras and Guatemala, for example. Often the first thing they’ll mention is the roads: a lot of infrastructure has been improved, and roads mean a lot to so many communities, many of them indigenous, that were cut off and isolated with only harsh dirt roads, often broken up by landslides from the constant rain, to connect them to larger towns and to food and gas supplies. Though there is much still to do, poverty has decreased, corruption has notably decreased, and people feel that things are decent, dignified, and stable and want that to continue. Most remember the greedy presidents of the past who lied and stole, and unlike Correa, did not speak Quechua, and don’t want to return to those days. Like Chavez, Correa has his weekly show (though on Saturdays here – in Venezuela it was on Sunday mornings). The show goes for hours, and Correa discusses issues and provides information on what the government is doing. A summary is given in Quechua at the end. Though there is much less of a push towards political participation here than in Venezuela – I’d say almost none – its clear that this is a government that puts people first, the poor majority first, and Correa at least prioritizes informing people of what the government is doing, – something the Australian government for example, doesn’t even bother to do.”
But many others, including Walter Bustos, worry about the future. Walter worries that President Correa does not have the military covering his back. He also worries that dollarization of Ecuadorean economy could prove to be a weak point for political resistance against the West. He worries that many young people are turning into technocrats, and that, at the end, as long as they keep their good jobs, they wouldn’t care for whom they are working, for Correa or for someone else.
His friend Paola Pabon, Assembly member representing Pichincha, worries as well. She supports President Correa, and she sees him as a great regional leader, but she also admits that Ecuadorian revolution is fragile, and that there is lack of unity between the government and the military.
Both agree that the US is behind the recent protests.
At the end of my work in Ecuador, I fly to Cuenca, to that beautiful colonial city, and from there I hire a car and drive to the hard of Cañari land, to Ingapirca, where massive Inca castle still dominates gentle landscape, and where old Inca and pre-Inca road systems are still connecting villages and towns.
Miguel, a local comrade, is travelling with me. He also translates when we enter deep villages that are lost at the bottom of valleys, or are hugging steep green hills.
“Spaniards robbed everyone here,” I am told. “They took everything. They destroyed castles and settlements. Then capitalism took the rest.”
“People were forced into Christianity”, I say. “They were ruined by Christianity. Do they really still believe in it?”
I am told that Christianity is just a ritual, for the majority here. People do not attach much importance to it, anymore. Their lives go on, and their original culture is once again prevailing.
Near Ingapirca I am witnessing people celebrating The Inti Raymi, “Festival of the Sun”, dating back to Inca Empire.
Inti Raymi near Ingapirca.
I am told about determined government drinking water projects and schemes, and about improvements in both health and education. Most of the people here, as well as around Riobamba, are benefiting from those revolutionary changes.
But many are not able to formulate their support for Correa. They take recent developments for granted.
And Correa and his men and women are not very good at propaganda, or with mobilizing the people, definitely not as good as President Chavez used to be in Venezuela.
Here, the revolution is gentle and shy, as is the accent of Cañari people near Cuenca.
And there lies the danger.
Ecuadorean ‘elites’ are not gentle at all. Their arrogance, greed and selfishness are ready to smash all achievements of the revolution. Their message is clear: to hell with Ecuadorian people, especially those who are poor, as long as we can keep our villas, Hummers and our kids in those private schools!
Just recently, President Correa warned that the plan of destabilizing the government is being put in action.
Leaders of the “opposition” will wait until arrival of Pope Francis, or perhaps they will wait bit longer, until his departure from Ecuador. Then they will hit. And they will hit hard. The mayor of Quito leads the anti-government forces in the capital.
The government should not follow the path of President Allende. It has to counter-attack, before it is too late! Treason is serious crime in all societies. And treason is exactly what Ecuadorean elites are now committing!
Yemen is Obama’s war – premeditated genocidal aggression against 26 million Yemenis using Saudi-led terror bombing and suffocating blockade to his dirty work.
The entire population is at risk. Official death and injury reports way understate reality. Casualties mount daily. Millions don’t have enough food to eat. They can’t get medical treatment for injuries and illnesses.
Yemen is being systematically destroyed. A holocaust is unfolding in plain sight, largely ignored by Western media. Yemen is 90% dependent on food imports. At the same time, Saudi terror bombing crippled its agriculture sector. Famine threatens the country. Millions of lives are at risk.
A hollow July 2 State Department statement “call(ed) for an immediate humanitarian pause” to a conflict Obama initiated and wants continued until Yemen is entirely destroy and its population massacred or murdered from deprivation.
Claiming America is “work(ing) actively with humanitarian organizations to help facilitate the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid” is polar opposite truth. Obama wants Yemenis starved to death or killed by Saudi-led terror bombing attacks.
They’d stop today along with blockade conditions with one phone call from Washington to Riyadh not forthcoming. Obama wants conflict continued, not ended.
One Saudi terror bombing incident targeting a residential area killed 27 members of Walid Al-Ibbi’s family, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported. On May 5, he lost his wife, four daughters and 21 others slaughtered in cold blood on the night “someone came to ask for my daughter’s hand in marriage,” he said.
Happiness became nightmare. “I didn’t even have time to be happy for my daughter before the strike happened,” he said.
It discusses Saudi-led terror bombing against civilian targets, including residential communities, schools and markets – despite no evidence of military activities.
A Saudi spokesman said the entire city of Saada is considered a military target – civilians treated no differently than combatants.
US-orchestrated, Saudi-led terror bombing is naked aggression against a nation threatening no others. Murdering civilians compounds the highest of high crimes against peace.
Obama bears full responsibility. Riyadh and other regional partners share it. So do Western leaders for failing to condemn US-ordered naked aggression and not acting to stop it.
Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Seyyed Khamenei denounced Western media silence on the atrocities being committed against Yemenis and throughout the region, saying:
“The world’s media that are dominated by the US, Britain, and the Zionists sometimes launch a propaganda campaign over an animal’s life while they keep outrageously quiet towards these crimes…such as the bombardment of Yemen these days as well as the past years’ aggression on Gaza and Lebanon.”
“What should a dignified person do in the face of such bias and evil,” he asked? On July 1, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) declared a Level 3 (L3) emergency crisis in Yemen – its highest designation beyond dire.
It said over 80% of Yemenis (21.1 million people) urgently need humanitarian aid to survive. Over half the population is food insecure. They don’t have enough to eat.
Malnutrition threatens millions – especially young children. Over 20 million have no access to clean water and sanitation. “This severely increases the risk of outbreaks of water-borne diseases including cholera,” said OCHA.
Dengue fever and malaria outbreaks were reported. “The health system is facing imminent collapse with the closure of at least 160 facilities due to insecurity and lack of fuel or other critical supplies,” OCHA explained.
Saudi terror bombing destroyed or heavily damaged dozens of hospitals and clinics – deliberately targeted to prevent sick and wounded Yemenis from accessing treatment.
US/Saudi blockade prevents enough vital supplies getting in. What’s arriving is a small fraction of what’s needed. OCHA calls access to “affected populations…a crippling challenge…to help alleviate the suffering of millions of families.”
They struggle daily to survive. Basic services largely collapsed throughout much of the country. Medicines for cancer, diabetes, hypertension and other chronic diseases largely ran out. Saudi terror bombing makes it impossible to provide enough help for desperately needy people.
Destroyed infrastructure will take years or decades to restore once hostilities end. Throughout most of the country, supplies of food, fuel and medicines are dangerously low or not available.
Yemen is 100% dependent on fuel for electricity, pumping water from underground wells, running hospital generators, transporting available goods and other vital activities.
Many parts of the country have less than one hour a day of electricity. Some have none at all. “Yemen’s health system is on the brink of collapse,” said OCHA.
Hundreds of thousands of displaced Yemenis have limited or no access to emergency shelters and basic household supplies.
Yemen is ground zero for a deepening humanitarian crisis of epic proportions, worsening daily with no relief in sight. Women and children have greater difficulty accessing aid than men. Saudi terror bombing, displacement and inadequate or no aid compromises their ability to survive.
It bears repeating. Western leaders able to intervene responsibly are doing nothing to stop a deepening holocaust affecting millions of Yemenis. They continue suffering largely out of sight and mind.
In May, the board of Pacific Rubiales, a Canadian firm and the biggest private oil producer in Colombia, announced its support for a takeover bid by the Mexican conglomerate Alfa and U.S.-based Harbour Energy. Pacific Rubiales operates Colombia’s biggest oil field, in the province of Meta, and during the past seven years the company has become synonymous with a doubling of oil exports, from half a million to a million barrels a day. Oil came to account for half of Colombia’s exports and 20% of official revenue, making Pacific Rubiales the most valuable company on the Colombian stock market.
However, by January, the sharp drop in oil prices, and the firm’s trouble developing new oil fields, had cut share prices by 90% from their 2011 high. It was unclear whether Pacific Rubiales shareholders would accept the takeover offer when the Monitor when to print, but Alfa chairman Armando Garza Sada was optimistic: “We maintain our positive view regarding Pacific Rubiales’ excellent track record and on the strength of their people. Thus, by incorporating ALFA and Harbour Energy as new equity holders, we foresee Pacific Rubiales successfully developing investment projects in Colombia.”
The emphasis in the above statement is added, because outside the business pages of daily newspapers, there is nothing excellent about the company’s track record. Pacific Rubiales is just as synonymous with human rights and labour rights violations as with oil export success, and if new production is to occur, there’s slim evidence it will benefit anyone outside the corporate boardroom. Still, the problem in Colombia is much bigger than one company. And the case of Pacific Rubiales, regardless of whether it remains a Canadian firm, holds important lessons on the evolution of Canadian neocolonialism going back 20 years.
Oil, mining and the military
“Pacific Rubiales is the poster boy of a bad corporation,” says Jorge Garcia-Orgales, staff representative on global affairs for the United Steelworkers union and member of the Colombia Working Group, which gathers several Canadian NGOs and six national unions. “From attacking trade unionists and communities in their camps to creating fake company unions to treating workers like animals, everything can be said about them.”
A lot has been said about the company. A 2013 report of the People’s Tribunal on the Natural Resource Extraction Industry in Colombia, for example, found Pacific Rubiales guilty of a series of violations of labour, environmental and Indigenous people’s rights. Brittany Lambert, co-ordinator of the Americas Policy Group at the Ottawa-based Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC), points out that Canada’s extractive sector is “very dominant in Colombia,” encouraged to invest there by extremely low royalty rates. Efforts to organize extractives sector workers or improve working conditions are all too frequently suppressed with little protest from the Canadian state.
According to Lambert, workers at Pacific Rubiales began mobilizing and striking in 2011 under the leadership of the Petroleum Workers Union (USO). It was in response to substandard working conditions including the use of 28-day contracts (instead of hiring full-time staff), low pay, and poor sanitary and health conditions. In an attempt to crush the strikes and the union, Pacific Rubiales ended the contracts of thousands of workers affiliated to USO, threatened union leaders, and created a new company union that continues to run a slander campaign against USO. Lambert says USO members in the town of Puerto Gaitán, where Pacific Rubiales operates, experienced 24 labour and human rights violations, including death threats, harassment, arbitrary detention and homicide between 2011 and 2014.
USO President Rodolfo Vecino described to me in 2013 how Pacific Rubiales had fired more than 4,000 workers and used the Colombian army and police to repress thousands of protesting employees. He said three strikes by USO against the company had been ended at gunpoint by the Colombian military and that conditions at company operations “are akin to living in a labour concentration camp.” Workers are paid about the minimum wage for an 18-hour day, “but when our union tried to exercise its labour rights, we were attacked by police and military forces,” Vecino told me.
Raul Burbano, program director at Common Frontiers, says Colombia’s extractive sector was militarized in a conscious effort by the government to attract foreign investment to a country that has been in civil war for half a century. Recently, the army created Energy, Mining and Transport Battalions to help secure oil, gas and mining projects in conflict zones. “In some cases these corporations provide financing or logistical support like trucks, and fuel to the military forces,” says Burbano.
Canadian-Colombian activist Armando Sanchez, who visited Puerto Gaitán in 2012 as part of a Canadian delegation to show solidarity with the USO workers, says they raised these and other issues with the Canadian embassy in Colombia, “but the officials denied any wrongdoing by Pacific Rubiales, even though this was public knowledge.” It left Sanchez with the impression that Canada “was working with the company and trying to cover up its violations of workers’ rights.”
Clearing the path for Canadian extraction
Whether or not there is direct collusion between the embassy and Pacific Rubiales, Canada has played an active role in changing regulations governing Colombia’s energy sector in ways that favour Canadian companies.
In a project that began in 1997, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA, now absorbed into the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development) spent $11.3 million on determining how to “improve the institutional capacity” of Colombia’s energy and environment ministries to regulate the hydrocarbon and mining sector. Over 2001 and 2002, CIDA partnered with the Canadian Energy Research Institute, an industry-funded government and academic think tank, to help write a new extractives policy for Colombia.
According to CIDA officials, in a 2006 email, “the project constituted an appropriate blend of Canadian technical assistance, consulting services and training in Colombia and Canada to implement changes to institutional and regulatory frameworks for the hydrocarbon and mining sectors.” Specific to oil, the plan was to “work on new approaches to incremental production of marginal fields, hydrocarbon reserves estimation and royalties,” since this would “improve Colombia’s prospects for attracting foreign investment.”
The Colombian government, led at the time by former president Alvaro Uribe, took the advice. Royalty rates for foreign oil companies dropped from 20% to 8%. The companies could also retain 100% of the oil they produced where they would have previously been required to give half to Ecopetrol, the state oil company. A time limit on production was removed where previously ownership of the oil concession would revert back to Ecopetrol after a limited period.
In the mining sector, royalty rates were reduced from 15% to a mere 0.4% in 2001, which “consolidates looting,” according to Francisco Ramirez, former president of Sintraminercol, the now-defunct state mining union. Partly as a result of this drastic reduction, 50 Canadian mining companies now dominate the Colombian mining sector and several of them, including Gran Colombia, Eco Oro Minerals and Cosigo Resources, have been linked to human rights violations, significant displacement and environmental degradation, as I describe in my 2012 book, Profitingfrom Repression: Canadian Investment in and Trade with Colombia.
The Uribe government hoped new foreign investment would boost declining production and maintain Colombia’s position as an oil exporter. But as journalist-academic Garry Leech observes, the government simply used—with Canadian government support, we should add—“the misleading concept of maintaining oil self-sufficiency” to justify a handover of state resources to multinationals.
Free trade: Locking in the loot
Having successfully created the conditions for increased Canadian ownership of Colombian extraction, the Canadian government further entrenched its neocolonial position in 2011 with the passage of a free trade agreement with the Andean nation. Burbano says the Canada–Colombia Free Trade Agreement “forms part of what many call the ‘architecture of impunity’ on a global scale.” He points out that these neoliberal trade deals “provide super rights to multinational corporations, protecting investor interests with no corresponding obligations for corporations.”
The majority of these deals, including the FTA with Colombia, include an investor-to-state dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS), which allows Canadian extractives companies to dispute Colombian government decisions (e.g., tougher environmental standards, or the revocation of a mining or hycrocarbon permit) before an arbitration panel made up of investment lawyers. These undermine “basic democratic rights of all people by giving corporations a backdoor means of watering down democratically enacted legislation or creating a chill effect on progressive environmental, labour, and health regulations,” says Burbano. “This is a form of neocolonialism that allows countries in the North to benefit or maintain hegemonic control over the strategic natural resources of the Global South.”
Lambert explains that when the Canada–Colombia FTA was signed, the Uribe government “was mired in a growing political scandal for its close links to paramilitary death squads.” The agreement was therefore, for Uribe, a means to secure the semblance of international support. “The Canadian government responded, closely tying Colombia’s political objectives and Canada’s economic objectives together in the agreement,” says Lambert.
“Human rights activists have accused the FTAs [with Canada and the United States] of directly or indirectly fostering and protecting investments that are associated with militarization, violence and forced displacement,” adds Burbano. (An estimated 5.7 million people have been internally displaced by conflict in Colombia, according to the United Nations, more than all other countries except Syria.) That’s because they “promote market liberalization, privatization and deregulation” over anything else. In particular, agrarian reform or land redistribution, both demands of the FARC rebels in their peace talks with the Colombian government (see sidebar), will be difficult under free trade’s restraints.
“The pressure on the rural economy created by [the Canadian and U.S. FTAs] led to agrarian strikes in Colombia’s rural sector,” Burbano explains. “In 2013, more than 200,000 farmers across the country went on strike demanding an end to the FTAs and protesting the government’s agricultural policies that were impoverishing them and forcing them to compete against heavily subsidized U.S products.”
The Canadian government ignores these realities in its annual human rights impact assessments of the Colombian free trade deal. The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development even proposes it is impossible to make a connection between the agreement and its possible socioeconomic effects. This ridiculous position is held up as proof by civil society groups like the CCIC that Ottawa does not care to seriously review the impact of its trade policy in the Americas.
“Civil society organizations believe that the current reporting mechanism has proved to be a hollow, meaningless substitute for the independent, impartial, comprehensive human rights impact assessment [APG member groups] had called for when the deal was being negotiated,” says Lambert. She says she would like to see Ottawa create a better process with genuine participation by Canadian and Colombian organizations with firsthand knowledge of the impacts of Canadian trade and investment in Colombia.
Lambert also proposes “the creation of a Human Rights Ombudsman in Canada for the international extractive sector and legislated access to Canadian courts for people who have been seriously harmed by the international operations of Canadian companies.”It is a reasonable request that begins to acknowledge the need to replace Canada’s current colonial relationship in Colombia, which tolerates and even supports corporate abuse of workers by companies such as Pacific Rubiales, with a more just foreign policy based on the real development needs of the Colombian people.
Peace Talks in Havana Continue Despite Recent Violence
The 10,000 guerrillas of the peasant-based Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been engaged in a 50-year civil war with the Colombian state. Two years ago, peace negotiations commenced in Havana, Cuba between the rebels and the government of Juan Manuel Santos. The talks, which are sponsored by Norway and Cuba, have achieved partial agreement on three of the five main points of negotiation related to land reform, political participation of former FARC fighters and the elimination of drug trafficking. The remaining two issues, on the nature of demobilization and the rights of victims, are still being discussed.
“The FARC has [also] demanded in Havana that the Colombian government review all contracts it has signed with foreign oil and gas and mining companies. This is a big issue because these companies pay no taxes,” said William Castilla, a Colombian activist with the Toronto-based group Colombia Action Solidarity Alliance (CASA), in an interview.
More than 220,000 Colombians have been killed in the civil war whose roots lie in the Colombian elite’s refusal to distribute land more equitably; 3% of the people own over 70% of the country’s arable land. Most of the killing was done by the Colombian army and affiliated paramilitary death squads. The peace talks were jeopardized this May when the Colombian army killed 36 guerrillas in response to FARC rebels shooting 11 soldiers. FARC has cancelled a ceasefire with the government as state bombardment of rebel positions continues, but negotiations continue in Havana.
“This situation has to change. As Colombians we don’t have another choice than rectifying so many injustices and showing a collective spirit of reconciliation, because perpetual war cannot be our destiny,” wrote Ivan Marquez, head of the FARC delegation in Havana, on his blog.
“To build peace, this country needs a consistent basis of social justice, democracy and sovereignty. Without the human feeling of understanding and forgiveness, there won’t be peace. We’ll have to banish revenge and hatred, exclusion and intolerance from our hearts. We will have to dedicate our major efforts and strength to the construction of peace, and make it accompany us for many future centuries.”
Victoria Sandino, also part of the FARC peace delegation in Havana and head of the FARC’s gender sub-commission, told a March 6meeting of Colombian government officials and women’s organizations that the “active participation” of women in the peace process “is not only an obligation, but also a moral duty for those who were invisible for so many years.
“We feel identified particularly with feminist ideas inspired by the ideals of emancipation of women, together with the anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-patriarchal struggles, as systems of domination that not only exploit the majority socially and economically, but also exclude and violate women,” she said.
“We have been witnesses of the pain of the peasants; we have seen whole villages that have been dispossessed, we have seen the large-scale mining and the land hurts us, the country hurts us. We have come with our heads up, proud, rebellious, purposeful, but above all convinced that the future of our country should be free of war.”
The FARC is particularly concerned about obtaining land reforms from the government, the right to political participation and preventing death squad killings of the kind that followed a peace process in 1985. In that year, a section of the FARC laid down its arms and reorganized itself as a political party called the Patriotic Union (UP), which performed impressively in 1986 elections. For their success, close to 5,000 members of the UP were massacred, mainly by paramilitaries. The party was physically wiped out, leaving the FARC with no apparent option than to continue the armed struggle.
Asad Ismi is the Monitor’s international affairs correspondent and author of the book Profiting from Repression: Canadian Investment in and Trade with Colombia (2012, Third Edition). For his publications visit www.asadismi.ws.
In the last 11 days seven Black churches have been burned down. The first burning occurred within a week of the June 17 Charleston Massacre, where a self-proclaimed white, racist terrorist murdered nine Black people. Some of the burned down churches had “KKK” scrawled on their outside walls and investigators have concluded that three churches (Hills Seven-day Adventist in Knoxville, Tennesee; God’s Power Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia and Brian Creek Road Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina) were torched by arsonists.
The fact that these church burnings came quickly in the wake of the Charleston Massacre raises serious concerns about them being acts of racist violence and terrorism. K. Marshall Williams, president of National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia, called for “…a nationwide outcry and action on all levels of government and society to insure that these acts of terror and hatred toward African Americans cease.”
Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, characterized these fires were as “heinous acts of violence.” He called for the “apprehension and prosecution” of those responsible.
The latest fire destroyed Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopalian Church in Greenleyville, South Carolina. This church was rebuilt after the Ku Klux Klan burned it down two decades ago.
Frank Chapman, Field Organizer of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression said in a press statement released July 2, “We stand in unqualified and unconditional solidarity with the Black churches, whose places of worship are being desecrated by racist terrorists. We are familiar with the terror tactics of the KKK and other racists hate groups, for they have been visited upon us ever since the overthrow of Radical Reconstruction. These fascists, cowards have always targeted Black churches in the South. That is why we don’t believe these are just random acts of violence. These are deliberate acts of terrorism designed to cripple and destroy our movement. Our response must be one of united action in support of the demands for justice put forth by the Black community and their allies. This is not a time for attacking the religious beliefs of the victims and survivors of racist terror. We must insist and demand that these racist-terrorists be brought to justice.”
In the course of my work at Fox News, I am often asked by colleagues to review and explain documents and statutes. Recently, in conjunction with my colleagues Catherine Herridge, our chief intelligence correspondent, and Pamela Browne, our senior executive producer, I read the transcripts of an interview Browne did with a man named Marc Turi, and Herridge asked me to review emails to and from State Department and congressional officials during the years when Hillary Clinton was the secretary of state.
What I saw has persuaded me beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty that Clinton provided material assistance to terrorists and lied to Congress in a venue where the law required her to be truthful. Here is the backstory.
Turi is a lawfully licensed American arms dealer. In 2011, he applied to the Departments of State and Treasury for approvals to sell arms to the government of Qatar. Qatar is a small Middle Eastern country whose government is so entwined with the U.S. government that it almost always will do what American government officials ask of it.
In its efforts to keep arms from countries and groups that might harm Americans and American interests, Congress has authorized the Departments of State and Treasury to be arms gatekeepers. They can declare a country or group to be a terrorist organization, in which case selling or facilitating the sale of arms to them is a felony. They also can license dealers to sell.
Turi sold hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of arms to the government of Qatar, which then, at the request of American government officials, were sold, bartered or given to rebel groups in Libya and Syria. Some of the groups that received the arms were on the U.S. terror list. Thus, the same State and Treasury Departments that licensed the sales also prohibited them.
How could that be?
That’s where Clinton’s secret State Department and her secret war come in. Because Clinton used her husband’s computer server for all of her email traffic while she was the secretary of state, a violation of three federal laws, few in the State Department outside her inner circle knew what she was up to.
Now we know.
She obtained permission from President Obama and consent from congressional leaders in both houses of Congress and in both parties to arm rebels in Syria and Libya in an effort to overthrow the governments of those countries.
Many of the rebels Clinton armed, using the weapons lawfully sold to Qatar by Turi and others, were terrorist groups who are our sworn enemies. There was no congressional declaration of war, no congressional vote, no congressional knowledge beyond fewer than a dozen members, and no federal statute that authorized this.
When Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., asked Clinton at a public hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Jan. 23, 2013, whether she knew about American arms shipped to the Middle East, to Turkey or to any other country, she denied any knowledge. It is unclear whether she was under oath at the time, but that is legally irrelevant. The obligation to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth to Congress pertains to all witnesses who testify before congressional committees, whether an oath has been administered or not. (Just ask Roger Clemens, who was twice prosecuted for misleading Congress about the contents of his urine while not under oath. He was acquitted.)
Here is her relevant testimony.
Paul: My question is … is the U.S. involved with any procuring of weapons, transfer of weapons … buying, selling … anyhow transferring weapons to Turkey … out of Libya?
Clinton: To Turkey? … I will have to take that question for the record. Nobody’s ever raised that with me. I, I…
Paul: It’s been in news reports that ships have been leaving from Libya and that they may have weapons … and what I’d like to know is … the (Benghazi) annex that was close by… Were they involved with procuring, buying, selling, obtaining weapons … and were any of these weapons transferred to other countries … any countries, Turkey included?
Clinton: Senator, you will have to direct that question to the agency that ran the (Benghazi) annex. And I will see what information is available and … ahhhh…
Paul: You are saying you don’t know…
Clinton: I do not know. I don’t have any information on that.
At the time that Clinton denied knowledge of the arms shipments, she and her State Department political designee Andrew Shapiro had authorized thousands of shipments of billions of dollars’ worth of arms to U.S. enemies to fight her secret war. Among the casualties of her war were U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three colleagues, who were assassinated at the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, by rebels Clinton armed with American military hardware in violation of American law.
This secret war and the criminal behavior that animated it was the product of conspirators in the White House, the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Justice Department, the CIA and a tight-knit group of members of Congress. Their conspiracy has now unraveled. Where is the outrage among the balance of Congress?
Hillary Clinton lied to Congress, gave arms to terrorists and destroyed her emails. How much longer can she hide the truth?
How much longer can her lawlessness go unchallenged and unprosecuted? Does she really think the American voters will overlook her criminal behavior and put her in the White House where she can pardon herself?
Image: A lingering Manhattan Project mystery is still buried at New York’s Great Kill Park. Photo credit: National Park Service
In August 2005, the New York Police Department, with the Department of Energy, conducted an anti-terrorism radiation flyover survey. The survey was intended to provide a baseline of radiological activity, in order to catch a suspicious construction of a dirty bomb.
They didn’t find a dirty bomb—but there was plenty of radiological activity. Surveyors found 80 radioactive locations in the city—one of them beingGreat Kills Park in Staten Island, one of the city’s five boroughs. The Park is a popular place near a suburban enclave inhabited by cops, firefighters and other unsuspecting residents. The Park, more than 500 acres of woods surrounding softball and soccer fields and a marina, was constructed from garbage dumped in the bay between 1944 and 1946. Unregulated and illegal dumping has a long history in New York City.
Children Are Especially Vulnerable
The radium is the legacy of nuclear weapons production coupled with a cavalier attitude towards the odorless, tasteless and invisible threat posed by radioactivity.
“This is potentially a very dangerous situation,” said former Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) in 2013, whose congressional district includes the park. “The last thing I want is to have anyone or their children get sick or hurt because of this contamination.”
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), children are more susceptible than adults to radiation because they are still growing. Their cells are rapidly dividing, which provides a greater opportunity for radiation to disrupt the process than in adults. The main concern for children exposed to radium is leukemia, says international consultant Dr. Marvin Resnikoff, a spokesperson for Radioactive Waste Management Associates, which works on cleaning up radioactive waste dumps. Radium is chemically similar to calcium and has an affinity for bone where it irradiates the bone marrow.
Resnikoff told WhoWhatWhy that walking through Great Kills is like being “exposed to an X-ray machine you can’t turn off.” He added that children playing on the site could “get material on their hands and wipe their faces” causing “incidental ingestion” of radium.
Government Likely Still Underestimates the Problem
The government measurements probably underestimate the actual radiation levels in Great Kills, according to Resnikoff.
“One foot of dirt can shield up to 98% of gamma radiation” given off by the radium, he said, adding that there could be significant levels of radium buried under the soil. Dr. Resnikoff said the diffuse nature of the contamination in the park indicates a lot of the contamination may be uranium ore left over from the Manhattan Project days.
A WhoWhatWhy investigation has shown that it is likely that the material stems from the World War II nuclear weapons program and was dumped into a public landfill by radium companies that were little more than public fronts for the United States government during its effort to build the first atomic bomb.
In 1939 the United States, convinced it was in a race with Germany for the bomb, purchased all the uranium it could find. Belgian owners of the ore coveted the phenomenally valuable radium that existed side-by-side with the uranium. When the price of radium collapsed a few years later as better and safer sources of radioactivity were developed, the excess and unneeded radium would end up in the public waste stream.
More radioactive “hotspots” were reported in Great Kills in 2007 as the government dug up contaminated soil and medical devices used in past decades to apply radium to cancerous tumors.
By 2009, half the park was closed indefinitely as more and more contamination was unearthed. In 2014 a community meeting was held in Staten Island with the National Park Service (NPS), which admitted that the radioactive contamination was greater than predicted.
“As we’re getting through this tough job, we’re finding that the contamination is not only in these discrete pockets, but is dispersed in the soil and also at the surface,” Kathleen Cuzzolino, an environmental protection specialist for the Park Service told The New York Times in 2013.
Initial Explanation Doesn’t Hold Up
The NYPD initially said that the radioactivity in Great Kills was caused by “industrial” activities before the park was built. As the extent of the contamination was revealed, that story became less and less believable. The government embarked on a decade-long study of the contamination. What began as a few hotspots around discarded medical waste gradually evolved into a widespread and expensive problem. Eventually, the NPS announced that up to “1,200 discrete areas” of the park were contaminated with high radiation levels and also admitted that dozens of spots, some with radiation levels up to 200 times normal had also been found throughout the park.
After another flyover earlier this year, a new five-year study was announced under CERCLA, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. Known as the Superfund, it is the legal mechanism for cleaning up some of the nation’s most polluted areas. During cleanup, the areas contaminated by radiation remain closed off to the public.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) public health assessment categorized the radioactive contamination at Great Kills as an “indeterminate public health hazard.” That means the agency doesn’t have enough information to make a “professional judgement” on the potential damage to the public at Great Kills.
The report also warns that radiation exposure on children requires special considerations. Yet despite the construction of 18,000 feet of “perimeter fencing” and warning signs against trespassing, huge gaps within walking distance of playgrounds in this residential neighborhood allow easy access to the closed-off areas.
But Where is the Radioactive Material From?
Photo credit: Rutgers / Wikimedia
In the 1920s, young girls were employed by the factory to paint luminescent dials using radium. Supervisors ordered the women to lick the thin paint brushes after each stroke to keep the tips pointed and the strokes precise.An investigation by WhoWhatWhy is beginning to fill in some of the unknowns about where the radioactive material plaguing Great Kills came from. The story begins with a company called Radium Chemical, and its main chemical squeeze, radium, a highly radioactive element that glows in the dark. Radium Chemical made a product called “Undark.”
The women realized something was wrong when horrific tumors began to grow in their jaws. Heading straight for the bone, the radium replaced calcium and caused the lower jaws of the woman to literally fall apart. The young women, many as they lay dying, filed lawsuits, but few received compensation and their suffering was soon forgotten.
The owners escaped liability by morphing into new companies under different names and slightly different boards of directors. Still, the ownership of the radium always seemed to trace back to Joseph A. Kelly Sr., a pioneer in marketing radium. His interlocking network of radium paint companies would become one of the largest World War II government contractors by supplying luminescent dials for fighter planes and bombers. He would also quietly become a major supplier of radium and other rare elements used in the Manhattan Project.
The radium business was long over when the cleanup bill came due. In 1983 Kelly’s son Joseph Jr. agreed to remove 140 grams of radium from his abandoned one-story brick Radium Chemical Company factory in Woodside, Queens. The massive clean up in this quiet industrial corner of the city would cost New York State at least $6 million. Meanwhile Kelly was only required to pay $500,000 in “personal liability” based on the value of his assets.
Kelly had made other agreements regarding heavily-polluted sites the company also owned in Georgia and Illinois, which ultimately ended up stiffing the states with the cost of cleanup. In Queens that cleanup apparently extended to the city sewer system.
“Although it’s not known exactly what Radium Chemical was doing at this address,” former New York state Assemblyman Maurice D. Hinchey said, ”it would appear that radium particles were washed down through the plumbing system.”
One gram of Radium-226, the isotope contaminating Great Kills Park and the most common form of the element, emits a massive amount of dangerous radiation—as much as three tons of depleted uranium. Imagine a spot of salt in your hand equal to enough raw ore to fill your living room, emanating indelible amounts of cancer causing radiation.
Problem Extends Past Staten Island
Even more contamination was found at another Radium Chemical site on East 44th Street, now the site of a luxury high-rise. The New York Times reported in 1988 that there may have been as many as 13 radium-processing facilities owned by Radium Chemical Company operating in the city.
Safety considerations were almost unknown during the war effort. According to Manhattan Project troubleshooter George A. Cowan, his radiation monitor “went berserk” on a 1943 trip to the Radium Chemical Company offices in a “big building” on Sixth Avenue.” In his memoirs Cowan wrote that workplace conditions that would be illegal today were commonplace.
“I checked out the primitive chemical hood I was directed to use to make the [Radium-Beryllium] neutron source,” Cowan wrote. “I went to the roof of the building where air from the hood was released,” and was appalled to find that “the roof was unacceptably radioactive.”
Not Just Radium Chemical
Radium Chemical may not be alone in carrying blame for Great Kills. Throughout the 20th century, Radium Chemical had one major competitor, International Rare Metals Refinery, Inc, also known as the Canadian Radium and Uranium Corp., located 40 miles north of the city in the hamlet of Mt. Kisco.
The Bayonne Bridge spans the waterway linking New Jersey with Staten Island, a site that remains radioactive today. Photo credit:Raymond Bucko, SJ / Flickr
Boris Pregel, an agent for International Rare Metals Refinery, negotiated a deal that the company would sell its uranium to the Manhattan Project for its bomb, and keep its radium to sell. In 1939, a barge from Africa arrived at the warehouse Pregel administered under the Bayonne Bridge near the colonial-era town of Port Richmond on Staten Island. The barge was loaded with 1200 tons of high-grade uranium ore packed in burlap sacks containing the uranium that would fuel the atom bomb. The site of this warehouse remains radioactive to this day.
In the US, the uranium was fed into the massive nationwide bomb-making complex. Some of the uranium was used as fuel in the great Hanford reactors making plutonium on the Columbia River and some went to Oak Ridge for enrichment. The bomb project would soon be located in every corner of the country. Increasingly radioactive “dregs” of the ore—as it was further and further processed—would eventually return to New York City for radium extraction at Mt. Kisco. Polonium, another strategic radioactive element would also be extracted as part of the payment for the uranium ore.
Time to Own Up
In 1957, International Rare Metals Refinery, Inc was targeted in New York State’s first prosecution for exposing employees to excessive radiation but a judge suspended the fine. Waste from the demolition of the factory was reportedly hauled to Croton, New York, where a federal judge said unrestricted dumping had turned the landfill into “an environmental time bomb.”
Based on a tip, a reporter for a local newspaper in 1979 used a borrowed geiger counter to scan the site, walking along railroad tracks where the building had once stood while the detector was held near the ground. The audible sound of the “counts” would speed up as the radiation levels surpassed natural background levels. The New York State Health Department looked into it and admitted that there was radioactivity higher than background levels but reported that there was ”no health hazard” to the public.
This, of course, is not the case. Radium fell out of use by the 1960s, and today is rightfully seen as a dangerous carcinogen. It presents a threat whether as a potential terrorist weapon or hidden by willful ignorance and neglect in a children’s playground—such as Great Kills.
So just how long until it’s taken care of? Radium has a half life of 1,600 years. Unless major initiatives are taken, it’ll long outlive any of us.
For those who labor under the misguided delusion that Europe defines its own destiny independently, no clearer wake up call could have been given than the latest US-French spying scandal. It is a wake up call not because of revelations that the United States has been spying on the French government, but because the French government, like its neighbor Germany who was also a victim of US spying, has predictably let the matter drop with no apparent repercussions for the perpetrators.
Time magazine, recognized widely as a mouthpiece of the US State Department, essentially gloated in its article, “Why the U.S.-France Spying Scandal Will Quickly Blow Over,” that European dependence on the US economically and militarily is so deep and unswerving, that no violation of Europe’s sovereignty could endanger “relations.” By relations, of course, Time means US primacy and European servility.
Time used words like “the free world” to describe what is essentially the Western World. However, one must strain to associate “freedom” with what is apparently a global power violating the privacy of every nation on the planet, including its own, closest allies.
Shameless Politicians, Shameless Business Community?
It is no secret that politics in the West is determined almost exclusively by special interests in industry and finance. Industry and finance underwrites and are the primary beneficiaries of most of the Western governments’ foreign and domestic policy. This is particularly the case when foreign military interventions are launched, and whether successful or not, bring these interests immense whirlwinds of wealth.
That the US was spying on European politicians is no surprise. This is to ensure those bent in servile obedience to Washington remain so. However, revelations regarding the spying scandal also reveal that European industries were also spied upon. Euronews’ article “WikiLeaks: NSA spied on French ministers and business too” reported:
The latest WikiLeaks report says the US National Security Agency spied more extensively on top French officials in an apparent bid to seek information on economic policy, exports and trade.
Jointly published by the French newspaper Liberation and the online outlet Mediapart, the allegations follow claims that French presidents were bugged.
What this reveals is not only the inferiority with which the United States views French politicians, but the equal inferiority it views France’s business community with as well. One of the greatest tricks of empire has always been attacking and co-opting one’s competitors through their ego, leading French industrial and financial interests to believe that there truly was a “chair at the table” for them.
In exchange for sitting in this “chair,” all that was required was “cooperation.” This includes abandoning on multiple occasions France’s own national interests to pursue the larger overarching ambitions of their Transatlantic masters. Foregoing trade with Russia, accepting the current financial and political order imposed by Washington upon Europe, and pursuing multiple wars across North and Central Africa, as well as covertly in the Middle East, has France being dragged into a dangerous game believing themselves as equals in what is clearly a lopsided relationship.
In such a lopsided relationship, it would seem Washington would be more than willing to pass on risk to its Transatlantic “partners.”
Time would like France to forget what just happened, and leave the impression that such violations of trust and mutual respect are typical of the “modern world.” If that were the case, one would expect France to have been conducting equal or greater espionage against the United States in turn, but apparently, that is not the case with France likely lacking even the ability to do so if it wanted.
This reaffirms that however the Europeans view themselves, at the end of the day such notions are irrelevant. Those who control their destiny and have shaped the geopolitical, socioeconomic features of their continent view the Europeans with no more respect or regard than they do any other client regime on the planet. It is likely, that should Europe remain in this lopsided relationship long enough, the time will come where the illusion of mutual interests will wear thin, Europe will attempt to pursue only what is in their best interests, and be regarded no differently than any other “rogue state” labeled as such by Washington.
For France, the only thing more humiliating for national honor than its politicians and economic leaders being spied on and manipulated without their knowledge, are politicians and economic leaders who lack the self-respect to respond to such an outrage. Words like “partnership” are often used when describing the Transatlantic community, but with a brute nation monitoring the every move of those within what it appears to believe is its sphere of influence, “prison warden” and “inmates” might be a more apt description.
Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
The Greek debt crisis saga continues with no resolution in sight. As expected, the European leaders rejected a last-minute proposal by Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece, requesting an extension of the bailout program that expired on 30th June and seeking a new €29.1 billion bailout package that could have covered country’s debt obligations over the next two years.
The rejection led the country to default on its €1.6 billion loan repayment to the International Monetary Fund. Greece is the first developed country to default to the IMF. Even though the IMF does not use the term default, it will now classify Greece as being “in arrears” and the country will only receive funds in future once the arrears are cleared.
After several rounds of protracted negotiations in Brussels, Greece had rejected the anti-austerity conditions contained in the bailout package prepared by the troika (European Commission, European Central Bank and the IMF). The troika demanded substantial cuts in pension and wages besides overhauling value-added tax as a precondition for releasing the remaining funds from the bailout package which expired on 30th June. Disappointed over the rigid stand taken by troika, on 27th June, Mr. Tsipras announced a referendum to decide whether or not Greece should accept the bailout conditions. The referendum will take place on 5th July.
By announcing a referendum, the Greek government has put the ball in people’s court. It is hard to predict the outcome of forthcoming referendum. It is likely that a No vote would strengthen the bargaining power of the current government which came to power on anti-austerity platform in January 2015. While a Yes vote would make the government’s position untenable and probably lead to general elections.
On 28th June, the Greek government imposed capital controls and other regulatory measures to maintain liquidity and stability in the banking system. These include:
All banks in the country will remain closed for a week (June 29- July 6, 2015).
An individual can withdraw up to €60 per card a day from ATM.
The foreign bank cards are exempted from this daily limit.
The transfer of money to outside Greece will require approval from the official authorities.
A specialized agency will deal with urgent payments that cannot be met through cash withdrawals or electronic transactions.
The Accumulation of Public Debt
No discussion on Greek debt crisis would be complete without analyzing how the country’s public debt got accumulated over the years. In 2004, the country’s public debt was €183.2 billion. By 2009, it reached as high as €299.5 billion, or 127 percent of country’s GDP.
Currently, Greece’s public debt stands at €323 billion, nearly 175 percent of country’s gross domestic product. Both the critics and supporters of Greek’s government admit that such a high debt-GDP ratio is unsustainable. The current government is seeking substantial write-off of country’s debt so as to put the country back on a growth trajectory. While seeking debt relief for Greece, several economists and legal experts have referred to London Agreement in 1953 which gave generous debt relief to West Germany by writing off its 50 percent of debt, accumulated after world wars. This debt relief was one of the key factors which enabled the reemergence of Germany as a world economic power in the post-war period.
In 2015, the Greek Parliament set up a Truth Committee about the Public Debt to investigate how country’s foreign debt got accumulated from 1980 to 2014. The Committee has recently released a preliminary report which states that Greek public debt is largely illegitimate and odious. I would earnestly request readers to read this report as it confronts several popular myths associated with the Greek public debt. According to the report, the increase in debt before 2010 was not due to excessive public spending but rather due to the payment of extremely high rates of interest to creditors and loss of tax revenues due to illicit capital outflows. Excessive military spending also took place before 2010.
More importantly, the report reveals how the first loan agreement of 2010 was used to rescue the Greek and other European (especially German and French) private banks. The loan agreements of 2010 (and 2012) helped private banks and creditors to offload their risky bonds issued by the Greek government. In simple words, the debt of the private banks was transformed into public sector debt via bail-outs. As pointed out by Tim Jones of Jubilee Debt Campaign, it is not the people of Greece who have benefitted from bailout loans from the troika but the European and Greek banks which recklessly lent money to the Greek government in the first place.
Out of €254 billion lent to the Greek government by troika since 2010, only 11 percent have been spent to meet government’s current expenditure. Of course, previous governments of Greece are equally responsible for spending beyond its means and falsifying its public accounts.
Who owns Greece’s public debt? Currently, close to 80 percent of Greece’s public debt is owned by public institutions — primarily from the EU (member-states, ECB and EFSF) and the IMF (see chart below) The rest is owned by private creditors.
Austerity Caused a Humanitarian Crisis
The social and economic consequences of austerity measures imposed by troika on Greece have been devastating. Since 2010, Greece’s GDP has fallen by 25 percent and unemployment rate is 26 percent. The youth unemployment rates are at an alarmingly high level. Currently, over 56 percent of young people in Greece are without a job and there are more than 450,000 families with no working members. After five years of fiscal adjustment and economic hardship under the austerity program, Greece’s major indicators (including GDP, employment and incomes levels) are still far below the pre-crisis levels.
The welfare spending cuts proved to be counter-productive. As pointed out by Ozlem Onaran of University of Greenwich: “The wage and pension cuts and fiscal consolidation led to lower GDP, tax losses, and higher public debt. Our estimates show that the fall in the wage share alone has led to a loss in GDP by 4.5%, and a 7.80% point increase in the public debt/GDP ratio. The fall in wages alone explains more than a quarter (27%) of the rise in the public debt/GDP ratio in this period. The conditionalities of the memoranda have not only been counterproductive in terms of its aims regarding debt sustainability, but also engineered a humanitarian crisis.”
Many legal experts argue that the harsh austerity program imposed by troika could potentially pose a violation of human rights. According to Ilias Bantekas, Professor of International Law at Brunel University Law School, “The measures imposed against the Greek people were wholly antithetical to fundamental human rights as these stem from customary international law, multilateral treaties and the Greek constitution. Consequently, these ‘loans’ were held to be odious, illegal or illegitimate.”
It is pertinent to note that not just in Greece, the austerity programs also failed to yield positive results in Cyprus, Spain and Ireland.
Grexit: Pain and Gain
What would happen if Greece abandons or is forced to exit the euro? In the short-term, it would certainly entail greater uncertainty and economic hardship. A massive capital flight by the elites along with collapse of banks and businesses which have borrowed in euros cannot be ruled out. The payments of salaries and pensions could also be delayed for months.
The social and economic consequences could be disastrous for Greek economy and its people if the transition from the euro to a new national currency (possibly drachma – its old currency) is badly managed. Hence, the transition should be well-planned and properly implemented with popular support.
There is a growing consensus that a massive devaluation of drachma would help in increasing domestic demand and improving the prospects of economic recovery. A weak drachma would make Greek exports more competitive and its tourism more attractive and therefore would open up new opportunities to enhance exports and encourage more tourism over the long-term. Exports account for nearly 30 percent of its GDP. Because of a weak new drachma, the demand for domestic goods would increase as imports will become more expensive thereby boosting the domestic demand which, in turn, would also encourage greater domestic production and create more jobs for Greek people.
In addition, Greece will also regain its independent monetary policy and fiscal space to set policies in tune with its own economic needs instead of those of Eurozone economies. Needless to say, a small country like Greece (representing less than 2 percent of EU’s GDP) should never have joined the flawed monetary union in the first place.
Wider Ramifications for Europe
Greece leaving the euro will have serious economic ramifications for the rest of Europe. If Greece leaves the Eurozone, the threat of financial contagion to other weak Eurozone economies (such as Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy) looms large and subsequently these economies may as well exit the euro. Not only such a move would weaken the Eurozone but, more importantly, it would spell the end of the single currency experiment and the larger European project towards greater economic integration.
Besides, one cannot ignore the fact that the euro may face massive devaluation if international investors liquidates their European assets and investments en masse.
Furthermore, there are human and geo-political ramifications which are not sufficiently understood by European leaders. How will the EU cope with the influx of migrants from North Africa who enter Europe (via Mediterranean route) without the active cooperation of Greek government?
Technically speaking, an exit from euro does not mean an exit from the EU. A Greek veto on extending sanctions against Russia over Ukraine would further weaken the European strategy to isolate Russia.
The observation made by many commentators that Grexit would isolate the country from the world economy is highly misplaced. Greece can explore new economic partnerships and build strategic alliances with Russia, China and other developing world. Given its favourable geo-economic location in Southern Europe, Greece can emerge as an important regional energy distribution hub. Greece has already launched discussions with Russia to build a gas pipeline to Greece via Turkey and then to Europe. This pipeline could bring immense benefits to Greece’s economy in terms of new investments and jobs. Greece is currently considering joining the New Development Bank (NDB) which was set up in 2014 by BRICS. Becoming a member of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is another possibility.
The Growing Chasm
In the last two months, the chasm between Athens and Brussels has widened to an alarming degree. Both sides need to show flexibility to come to a mutually satisfactory agreement on debt restructuring and payments. Unfortunately, the Eurozone leaders have explicitly ruled out any write-off of principal and are not interested in discussing debt relief before Greece implements austerity program like the previous governments. Needless to say, the European leaders need to act more like statesmen as the European Union is founded on the values of respect for democracy, equality, human rights and solidarity.
Everyone agrees that Greece’s current public debt is unsustainable. Hence, a debt relief should be the starting point for negotiating a new program. The Eurozone creditors should write off at least half of its debt to Greece while the Greek government needs to tackle massive tax evasion by country’s oligarchs besides streamlining its public finances in a time-bound manner.
The referendum will be keenly watched by the world. Irrespective of the outcome of Sunday’s referendum, one thing is certain: The Greek debt crisis saga is not going to end very soon.
Now that the United States and Cuba are preparing to open embassies in each other’s countries, what else needs to happen to support the process of détente between the two countries?
During a recent visit to Cuba I posed this question to René González and Antonio Guerrero, two of the “Cuban Five” – five Cuban men who traveled to the United States in the 1990s to gather information about terrorist plots against Cuba and then became celebrated Cuban heroes during their subsequent incarceration by the United States.
Their reply? End the embargo and return Guantánamo Bay to Cuba.
“We have to remember that relations between the countries have never been normal,” González said, arguing that the normalization of relations won’t happen overnight. He added:
We were occupied by US troops in 1898. From then on, we were a subject of the US government and especially the US corporations. Then came the Revolution, which tried to correct that imbalance. Then came a different stage – of aggressions, blockade and policies against Cuba, which has lasted for more than 56 years. You cannot expect that establishing normal relations … [for] the first time in history is going to be an easy process.
Marjorie Cohn with René González and his wife, Olga. (Photo courtesy of Marjorie Cohn)
Guerrero noted that the US had taken one major step toward normalization already by removing Cuba from its list of countries alleged to support terrorism but noted that the next step toward normalization will require a much larger step – ending the US embargo, which in Cuba is more commonly referred to as the “blockade.” Normalization, González said, will require “the dismantling of the whole system of aggression against Cuba, especially the blockade. Everybody knows how damaging it has been for the Cuban people. It’s a small island. For 50 years, it has been asphyxiated by the biggest power in the world. It had a cost on the Cuban people, on their economy.”
The Illegal Occupation of Guantánamo Bay
González also listed the return of Guantánamo to Cuba as necessary for normalization. After the blockade is lifted and Guantánamo is returned to Cuba, he told me, “I believe the process will take speed.”
González rightly pointed out that the US occupation of Guantánamo is illegal. The United States gained control of Guantánamo Bay in 1903, when Cuba was occupied by the US Army after its intervention in Cuba’s war of independence against Spain. Cuba was forced to accept the Platt Amendment to its Constitution as a prerequisite for the withdrawal of US troops from Cuba. That amendment provided the basis for a treaty granting the United States jurisdiction over Guantánamo Bay.
The 1903 Agreement on Coaling and Naval Stations gave the United States the right to use Guantánamo Bay “exclusively as coaling or naval stations, and for no other purpose.” A 1934 treaty maintained US control over Guantánamo Bay in perpetuity until the United States abandons it or until both Cuba and the United States agree to modify it. That treaty also limits its uses to “coaling and naval stations.”
None of these treaties or agreements gives the United States the right to use Guantánamo Bay as a prison, or to subject detainees to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment – which has been documented at the prison. The United States thus stands in violation of the 1934 treaty.
Moreover, the doctrine of rebus sic stantibus, enshrined in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and a norm of customary international law, allows one party to a treaty to abrogate its obligations when there is a fundamental change in circumstances. Using Guantánamo Bay as a prison and torturing detainees is a fundamental change in circumstance, which constitutes grounds for Cuba to terminate the treaty.
The Diplomatic Importance of Freeing the Cuban Five
Marjorie Cohn with Antonio Guerrero. (Photo courtesy of Marjorie Cohn)
The United States and Cuba would not likely have announced this week their plans to reopen embassies in each other’s countries if President Barack Obama had not successfully negotiated the full release of the Cuban Five in the agreement he reached with Cuban President Raul Castro on December 17, 2014. That deal, to work toward normalization of relations between the two countries, had eluded Obama’s 10 predecessors over a 55-year period. It will likely be Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement.
A part of the deal that had enormous symbolic significance to many Cubans was the freeing of Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino – the three members of the Cuban Five who were still imprisoned at the time of the agreement. On December 17, 2014, the three men were granted clemency and returned to Cuba. The other two members of the Cuban Five – René González and Fernando González – had previously been released in 2011 and 2014, respectively, after serving their full sentences.
The case of the Cuban Five garnered international condemnation in particular because the five men had traveled to the United States to gather intelligence on Cuban exile groups for a very legitimate reason. Since Cuba’s 1959 Revolution, terrorist organizations based in Miami, including Alpha 66, Commandos F4, the Cuban American National Foundation and Brothers to the Rescue, have carried out terrorist acts against Cuba in an attempt to overthrow the Castro government. The most notorious was the in-air bombing of a Cubana airliner in 1976, which killed all 73 persons aboard, including the entire Cuban fencing team. These groups have acted with impunity in the United States.
The Cuban Five peacefully infiltrated these organizations. They then turned over the results of their investigation to the FBI. But instead of working to combat terrorist plots in the United States against Cuba, the US government arrested them and charged them with crimes including conspiracy to commit espionage and conspiracy to commit murder. Although none of the Five had any classified information or engaged in any acts to injure the United States, they were convicted in a Miami court in 2000 and sentenced to four life terms and 75 years collectively.
A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit US Court of Appeals unanimously overturned their convictions in 2005, ruling that the Five could not get a fair trial in Miami due to the pervasive anti-Cuba sentiment there. Nevertheless, the 11thCircuit, sitting en banc, upheld the convictions, and Hernandez’s life term was affirmed on appeal.
Years of Wrongful Imprisonment
The Cuban Five endured years of harsh conditions and wrongful imprisonment before their release. After being arrested, they were immediately put into solitary confinement and held in “The Hole” for 17 months. Solitary confinement amounts to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, according to United Nations special rapporteur Juan E. Méndez.
“I believe they expected to break us down,” González added. The US government “used the CIPA [Classified Information Procedures Act] and randomly classified everything,” which “allowed them to prevent us from looking at the evidence,” González said. “So they put us in “The Hole” and then put the evidence in another hole.”
Yet, González noted, “Sometimes you have to react as a human with your dignity. And they went after our dignity. And we had to defend it. We were more committed. We were more encouraged to go to trial, and that’s what we did.”
“For us,” González said, “going to trial was great. We wanted to go to trial every day because we wanted to face them and expose the truth of terrorism against Cuba and how the government of the United States supported those terrorists.”
“They decided to behave like thugs.” he told me. “And then you have to resort to your moral values, again to your human dignity and defend that.” González said, “We always knew what we were doing there. We knew that we never intended to make any harm to the United States at all, to the US people. We were very clear on that. As a matter of fact, there was nothing in the whole evidence that would show hatred toward the United States or the US people or an intent to damage anybody. We knew that we were defending human life. And going to prison for defending the most precious thing which is the human life – it makes you strong.”
Surviving Prison Through Poetry and Art
I asked González and Guerrero how they survived prison for all those years. “Our humor never went down,” González said. “We played chess from one cell to another by yelling. We did poetry. Sometimes we had fun just reading the poetry through the doors.”
Guerrero also began writing poetry in prison.
“I started writing poems without even having paper,” he said. “A poem came to my head after they arrested me … And I cannot explain how because I wasn’t a poet. And then I started writing poems.” Guerrero never imagined that his poems would be published, but he shared them with the other prisoners and shared them with people in court. He couldn’t believe it when his first book of poems, Desde Mi Altura (“From My Altitude”), was published.
Guerrero also became a painter in prison. “The penitentiary is very tough,” he said. “So one day I went to the art room … that was another way to free my mind.”
I was thrilled when Guerrero gave me a copy of his newly published book, Absolved by Solidarity, a collection of his paintings depicting the different stages of the trial.
The Five Return to Cuba
When I asked what it was like when all the members of the Cuban Five were back in Cuba together, Guerrero said: “It’s a sense of joy. It’s a sense of victory. It’s a sense of returning to the place where you belong to. And it feels great.”
González added: “My little daughter was four months when I was arrested. I came to Cuba two days before her 15th birthday. I have a grandson now which is a beautiful boy.”
Both González and Guerrero said they had thought they would never see Hernandez in Cuba again because he was serving a term of life imprisonment. “My biggest fear was he would die there,” González said. “And let’s not fool ourselves. The US wanted him to die in prison. And the prosecutor wanted him to die in prison.”
“We know how hard it is to take him from those appetites,” he added, “and we managed to do that. It speaks a lot about Cuba, a lot about the Cuban people, because the Cuban people together as one did everything possible for the Five and it’s just pure joy.”
The Way Ahead
In the days ahead, the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States will rely most of all on the United States’ willingness to act out of respect for Cuban self-determination. “The only thing we want is respect,” Guerrero said. “Let’s try to build something now – good for you, good for us – with respect in the middle. … The point is, we don’t know if the interest of the American government is really to be respectful and friendly to the Cuban government.”
Guerrero said that even if millions of American tourists come flooding in to visit Cuba, he cannot conceive of Cuba becoming a capitalist country and forgetting about the Revolution. “Somebody may bring drugs, or somebody may bring a lot of money and try to buy things,” Guerrero said. “We are not accustomed to that. But we are ready to deal with that and create our security and our understanding. They will be received with peace, with love.”
González added that the Cuban people don’t have hatred or resentment toward the American people specifically. “We don’t blame the American people for the faults of the their government,” he said. “We know they are people like people anywhere. I believe that all of us have more in common than things that divide us. … And I hope sincerely that this new relationship with the US will allow Americans to come here and share with us this beautiful island.”
In June, the Cuban Five visited Robben Island in South Africa, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years by the apartheid regime. Hernandez wrote in the guest book, “It has been a great honor to visit this place together with some of the brave compañeros of Nelson Mandela,” who were “a source of inspiration and strength for the Five Cubans to withstand the more than 16 years in US jails.” Hernandez added that Mandela’s legacy is one “the Five will honor for the rest of our lives.”
Copyright, Truthout. Reprinted with permission.
Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, past president of the National Lawyers Guild, and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her most recent book is “Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.” Copyright, Truthout. Reprinted with permission.
Originally published on Global Research in June, 2014
Iraq is once again front page news. And once again the picture that is presented to us in the Western mainstream media is a mixture of half truths, falsehoods, disinformation and propaganda. The mainstream media will not tell you that the US is supporting both sides in the Iraqi conflict. Washington is overtly supporting the Iraqi Shiite government, while covertly training, arming and funding the Sunni Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Supporting the influx of terrorist brigades in Iraq is an act of foreign aggression. But the mainstream media will tell you that the Obama administration is “concerned” by the actions committed by the terrorists.
The preferred narrative in the U.S. and most Western mainstream media is that the current situation is due to the U.S “withdrawal” which ended in December 2011 (more than 200 U.S. troops and military advisors remained in Iraq). This portrait of events in which the US withdrawal is to blame for the insurgency does not draw any connection between the U.S. invasion of 2003 and the occupation that ensued. It also ignores the death squads trained by U.S advisors in Iraq in the wake of the invasion and which are at the heart of the current turmoil.
As usual, the mainstream media does not want you to understand what’s going on. Its goal is to shape perceptions and opinions by crafting a view of the world which serves powerful interests. For that matter, they will tell you it’s a civil war.
What is unfolding is a process of “constructive chaos”, engineered by the West. The destabilization of Iraq and its fragmentation has been planned long ago and is part of the ”Anglo-American-Israeli ‘military road map’ in the Middle East”, as explained in 2006 in the following article:
“This project, which has been in the planning stages for several years, consists in creating an arc of instability, chaos, and violence extending from Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria to Iraq, the Persian Gulf, Iran, and the borders of NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan.
The ‘New Middle East’ project was introduced publicly by Washington and Tel Aviv with the expectation that Lebanon would be the pressure point for realigning the whole Middle East and thereby unleashing the forces of “constructive chaos.” This “constructive chaos” –which generates conditions of violence and warfare throughout the region– would in turn be used so that the United States, Britain, and Israel could redraw the map of the Middle East in accordance with their geo-strategic needs and objectives. …
The redrawing and partition of the Middle East from the Eastern Mediterranean shores of Lebanon and Syria to Anatolia (Asia Minor), Arabia, the Persian Gulf, and the Iranian Plateau responds to broad economic, strategic and military objectives, which are part of a longstanding Anglo-American and Israeli agenda in the region…
A wider war in the Middle East could result in redrawn borders that are strategically advantageous to Anglo-American interests and Israel…
Attempts at intentionally creating animosity between the different ethno-cultural and religious groups of the Middle East have been systematic. In fact, they are part of a carefully designed covert intelligence agenda.
Even more ominous, many Middle Eastern governments, such as that of Saudi Arabia, are assisting Washington in fomenting divisions between Middle Eastern populations. The ultimate objective is to weaken the resistance movement against foreign occupation through a “divide and conquer strategy” which serves Anglo-American and Israeli interests in the broader region.” (Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Plans for Redrawing the Middle East: The Project for a “New Middle East”, November 2006)
Although the divide and conquer strategy is not new, it still works thanks to the media smoke screens and mirrors.
Engineering a civil war is the best way to divide a country into several territories. It worked in the Balkans and it is well documented that ethnic tensions were used and abused in order to destroy Yugoslavia and divide it into seven separate entities.
Today we are clearly witnessing the balkanization of Iraq with the help of the favorite imperial tool, namely armed militias, referred to as pro-democracy opposition or terrorists depending on the context and the role they have to play in the collective psyche.
Western media and government officials define them not by who they are, but by who they fight against. In Syria they constitute a “legitimate opposition, freedom fighters fighting for democracy against a brutal dictatorship”, whereas in Iraq, they are “terrorists fighting a democratically elected U.S.-supported government”:
“Known and documented, Al Qaeda affiliated entities have been used by US-NATO in numerous conflicts as ‘intelligence assets’ since the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war. In Syria, the Al Nusrah and ISIS rebels are the foot-soldiers of the Western military alliance, which oversees and controls the recruitment and training of paramilitary forces.
The decision was taken by Washington to channel its support (covertly) in favor of a terrorist entity which operates in both Syria and Iraq and which has logistical bases in both countries. The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham’s Sunni caliphate project coincides with a longstanding US agenda to carve up both Iraq and Syria into three separate territories: A Sunni Islamist Caliphate, an Arab Shia Republic, and a Republic of Kurdistan.
Whereas the (US proxy) government in Baghdad purchases advanced weapons systems from the US including F16 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham –which is fighting Iraqi government forces– is supported covertly by Western intelligence. The objective is to engineer a civil war in Iraq, in which both sides are controlled indirectly by US-NATO.
The scenario is to arm and equip them, on both sides, finance them with advanced weapons systems and then ‘let them fight’…
Under the banner of a civil war, an undercover war of aggression is being fought which essentially contributes to further destroying an entire country, its institutions, its economy. The undercover operation is part of an intelligence agenda, an engineered process which consists in transforming Iraq into an open territory.
We knew well before the beginning of the war on terror that Saudi Arabia was a major supporter of Islamic terrorism. But being a staunch U.S. ally Saudi Arabia is the exception to the rule proclaimed by George W. Bush after the 9/11 terrorist attacks: ”We will make no distinction between those who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”
The fact of the matter is they always do make a distinction, especially when it comes to Saudi Arabia. But while its support for terrorism is acknowledged by the mainstream media, the latter ignores that the fact that the U.S. is (indirectly) supporting terrorist entities. In addition, mainstream journalists never address the reason why the U.S is not reacting to Saudi support for terrorists. The facts are clear: the US is supporting terrorism through allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. If those who shape the discourse in the mainstream media fail to connect the dots, it is only because they don’t want to.
In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has been serving US interests as well as its own. The US alliance with Saudi Arabia shows the contempt the US actually has for democracy. This alliance alone clearly indicates that the goal of the US invasion of Iraq was not to bring democracy and freedom to Iraqis. For Saudi Arabia, a democratic Iraq would be a nightmare and a threat to its repressive monarchic rule:
“Ever since the overthrow of Saddam’s regime in 2003, the Saudi regime has been emphatically hostile towards Iraq. This has been largely due to its deeply entrenched fear that the success of democracy in Iraq would undoubtedly inspire its own people. Another reason is the deeply rooted hatred – by Saudi Arabia’s extremist Wahhabi Salafi religious establishment – towards the Shia. The Saudi regime also accuses Maliki, of giving Iran a freehand to dramatically intensify its influence in Iraq. The Saudi regime has made no secret that its overriding priority is to severely undermine what it perceives as highly perilous and yet growing Iranian influence.
Even though the Saudi regime vehemently opposed U.S. pull out from Iraq, nevertheless in Dec. 2011, Syria rather than Iraq became Saudi Arabia’s principal target for regime change. The Saudi regime has consistently considered the Syrian regime of Bashar Al Assad, an irreplaceable strategic ally to its primary foe Iran. The Saudis moved swiftly to shore up the armed insurgents by deploying its intelligence services, whose instrumental role in establishing Jabhat Al Nusra JN was highlighted in an intelligence review released in Paris in January 2013. The Saudi regime also used its huge influence and leverage on not only Sunni tribal leaders in western Iraq, but also on Saudi members of AQI, convincing it that its principal battlefield must be Syria and that its ultimate goal should be deposing Bashar Al Assad’s Alawite regime, since its overthrow would break the back-bone of the Iraqi Shia-led government and inevitably loosen Iran’s grip on Iraq.” (Zayd Alisa Resurgence of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Fuelled by Saudi Arabia, March 3, 2014)
From Paul Bremer to John Negroponte
But the most important piece of the Iraqi puzzle is Washington’s covert support of the terrorists. To better understand the sectarian violence plaguing the country today, we need to understand what the US has done during the occupation. Paul Bremer, author of “My year in Iraq, the Struggle to Build a Future of Hope”, played an important role while he was Civil Governor of Iraq in 2003-2004. Hopeful future for whom, one might ask when looking back at what he has done during that year. Certainly not for the Iraqis:
“When Paul Bremer dissolved the Iraqi National Security and Police Forces, he formed another one from mercenaries and sectarian militias who were backing and supporting the occupation. In reality, the nature of hideous crimes committed by these forces was the major motivation behind the sectarian violence killing of 2006-2007.
According to Geneva Convention Protocols, the occupation represented by Bremer, not only failed its duty to protect the population of the country under occupation, they officially formed militias and armed gangs to help them control the country.
In 2004-2005, US Ambassador John Negroponte continued Bremer’s work. With his experience in crushing dissent in Central America with the help of bloodthirsty death squads during the 80′s, Negroponte was “the man for the job” in Iraq:
“US sponsored death squads were recruited in Iraq starting in 2004-2005 in an initiative launched under the helm of the US Ambassador John Negroponte, who was dispatched to Baghdad by the US State Department in June 2004…
Negroponte was the ‘man for the job’. As US Ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985. Negroponte played a key role in supporting and supervising the Nicaraguan Contras based in Honduras as well as overseeing the activities of the Honduran military death squads.
In January 2005, the Pentagon, confirmed that it was considering:
‘forming hit squads of Kurdish and Shia fighters to target leaders of the Iraqi insurgency [Resistance] in a strategic shift borrowed from the American struggle against left-wing guerrillas in Central America 20 years ago’.
Under the so-called ‘El Salvador option’, Iraqi and American forces would be sent to kill or kidnap insurgency leaders, even in Syria, where some are thought to shelter. …
Hit squads would be controversial and would probably be kept secret.
While the stated objective of the ‘Iraq Salvador Option’ was to ‘take out the insurgency’, in practice the US sponsored terror brigades were involved in routine killings of civilians with a view to fomenting sectarian violence. In turn, the CIA and MI6 were overseeing ‘Al Qaeda in Iraq’ units involved in targeted assassinations directed against the Shiite population. Of significance, the death squads were integrated and advised by undercover US Special Forces.” (Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Terrorism with a “Human Face”: The History of America’s Death Squads, January 04, 2013)
Now we are being told that ISIS has managed to put its hands on US-made sophisticated weapons. Make no mistakes. These weapons did not get there accidentally. The US knew exactly what it was doing when it armed and funded the “opposition” in Libya and Syria. What they did was not stupid. They knew what was going to happen and that is what they wanted. Some in the progressive media talk about blowback, when an intelligence asset goes against its sponsors. Forget about blowback. If that’s what it is, it was a very carefully planned “blowback”.
US Foreign Policy. Failed, Stupid or Diabolical
Some will argue that US foreign policy in the Middle East is a “failure”, that policymakers are “stupid”. It’s not a failure and they’re not stupid. That’s what they want you to think because they think you’re stupid.
What is happening now was planned long ago. The truth is that US foreign policy in the Middle East is diabolical, brutally repressive, criminal and undemocratic. And the only way out of this bloody mess is “a return to the law”:
As we move closer to the 5 July referendum, it becomes clearer every day – Brussels, Washington and Berlin are waging an open “class war” against Greece, because the Greek people, the citizens of a sovereign country – the first democracy in Europe, the country that gave Europe her name – these people have had the audacity to democratically elect a socialist government. Now they have to suffer. They do not conform to the self-imposed rules of the neoliberal empire of unrestricted globalized privatization of public services and public properties from which the elite is maximizing profits – for themselves, of course – it is outright theft of public property.
The weapon is finance; the instruments are the mega-banksters of Europe and Washington. They are like dehumanized missiles. The fight is no-holds-barred – all out, no scruples. The savages of Brussels have the audacity to call for Mr. Tsipras’ resignation in case the Greek referendum rejects the austerity package. – Can you imagine!
Madame Lagarde, the heartless Iron Lady of the IMF, keeps referring to the Greek government as ‘children’. She keeps asking to talk to ‘adults’ – inferring that what Greece suggests and proposes as an alternative to the killer plan of the troika is mere child’s talk. – What an abject arrogance.
And that in the face of senior IMF economists who have already months ago declared that austerity doesn’t work in the case of Greece – and, in fact, in no case. To revive the economy of a country, the economy needs oxygen to breathe, to recover – just the contrary of an austerity program. Austerity is strangulation by debt and suffocation by complete annihilation of a nation’s social safety net.
In the early 2000’s the independent Evaluation Department of the World Bank issued an analysis of structural adjustment and so-called budget support loans of the 1990s around the world. The report was negative throughout. It was an internal report and, as far as I know, never hit the road, i.e. the media. Even as an internal report it disappeared quickly form the Bank’s intranet. A ‘structural adjustment’ loan is exactly that – a blank check against severe austerity. Austerity doesn’t work. And less so with a heavy debt burden at 6% or 7% interest, money that the ECB generates electronically (as all banks do), lends it to European predator banks in Germany, France – you name it – for 1% or less – which in turn onlend the money at usurious rates of up to 7% to Greece and other which are in the crosshairs of the troika.
Madame Lagarde of the IMF knows it; the Goldman Sachs banker who heads the European Central Bank (sic) knows it – and even in the European Commission there must be some economists who understand 101 of economics.
Conclusion – this is an all-out war – against Greece, against a Government elected by the people to work for the people and while doing exactly that the Government is ambushed by bankster missiles with a threat, if you don’t accept the attack, you, Mr. Prime Minister, better resign.
It’s to remain speechless – almost – in the face of this new ‘normal’ against which nobody, no western European Government protests, let alone a Eurozone government. Everybody accepts this terror dictum of Brussels and Washington, even those that may be next. I am naming Brussels first, because they would be the main responsible to stand up in unison for one of their brothers of the Union; but we know quite well that the ‘union’ is a non-union; and that the Europeans are just vassals, spineless vassals and that Washington calls the shots.
The anti-referendum propaganda is also running hot. From the UK, from Germany and even from France – but interestingly not from Greece – ‘the latest’ polls are published, saying that the ‘yes’ vote – for more austerity – is gaining speed, that they are moving even ahead of the ‘no’ vote-intentions. Speculations with false polls have always been an excellent tool to manipulate public opinion – to, in turn, manipulate public balloting. – Who wants to be with the losers? – So, they prepare a field of ‘false’ winners to twist the minds of the people.
Which brings to mind another falsehood – a danger Syriza surely is aware of, the false-flagging into submission and chaos, a cowardice that Washington is well versed in applying everywhere they want ‘regime change’. They have a lot of practice throughout the world acquired during the last 100 – 150 years; yes – that long. A former CIA agent recently admitted that virtually all ‘terror’ attacks on US soil during the last 15 years, including 9/11, and most of those around the globe were false flags.
Imagine – Greece votes “No” to the austerity – as they should – the EU may or may not expulse them from the Eurozone, as Germany has everything to lose. Expulsion would be totally illegal, mind you – but there are no international laws that have any value in the face of the unelected super-monster construct of the current neoliberal reign over the western world.
With a ‘no’ Greece may even decide exiting the murderous Eurozone by themselves – returning to the drachma – nationalize the banks and start a recovery program with a banking system that actually works for the Greek economy not for the pockets of some white collar thieves in the upper gremia of faraway globalized banksters.
The masters of the universe wouldn’t like that – at all. Especially in a country that hosts the key NATO base in Europe. Socialism and NATO do not go hand-in-hand.
What to do? – Washington’s one-fits-all recipe may do – a false flag attack on, say the NATO base, the US embassy, or the German embassy – or anywhere else where the interests of slave-drivers are at stake. With the bought support of the western presstitute media, they may pretend the Greek have carried out the attack – and soon they may construct an argument whereby foreign troops will have to invade Greece to protect ‘the foreign’ interests. The first step towards chaos. Look at Ukraine – look at the entire Middle East – no need to list them all the countries which were false-flagged into submission. But don’t be intimidated.
This should not happen in Greece; a strong-willed people, the cradle of democracy and of Europe – and supported by a strong military – a perfect reason not to cut the military budget, as demanded by the troika.
As I suggested many times before, there are bright prospects ahead for Greece after stepping over this nefarious threshold of the Eurozone and taking government back in her own reign – practicing democracy and being free to deal and trade with whom they please, also with the East – which is –according to all common sense where the future for economic development lies.
Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik News, TeleSur, VNN, Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution – Essays from the Resistance.
Србија ће бити ремоделована на основу ИПАП-а чак и више него што је до сада реструктурирана. НАТО, у ствари, има надзор над целим процесом реконфигурације и званичници НАТО-а ће усмеравати процес кроз радне групе.
Индивидуални акциони план партнерства (ИПАП) Републике Србије и Организације северноатлантског уговора (НАТО) који је 20. децембра усвојила влада Србије, а 15. јануара и Северноатлантски савет, чиме је процедура усвајања окончана – представља технократски шематски план којим се НАТО поставља као гарант потпуног губитка суверенитета Србије и спровођења реформи у свим сферама друштва по мери Новог светског поретка, које подразумевају распарчавање државе, корпоративно преузимање свих виталних грана привреде, потпуно разарање система националне безбедности и даљу демонтажу српског народа. Под флоскулом „усклађивања са стандардима ЕУ“, као што је „Печат“ писао у прошлом броју, НАТО реформе ће покривати сва друштвена поља: политички и безбедносни домен, војна питања, научну сарадњу, управљање кризама, систем планирања у ванредним ситуацијама, заштиту тајних података. Дакле: све!
ИПАП споразум најдубље задире у све сегменте наше унутрашње организације – политички, етнички, духовни, образовни – уз тотално испирање мозга, праћено физичком окупацијом…
Шта ИПАП споразум представља, да ли је после његовог потписивања и даље одржива реторика о војној неутралности Републике Србије и да ли ће процес растакања државе и системска и систематска лоботомија српског народа резултирати и коначним моралним сломом: учествовањем у мултидимензионалном рату који Запад води против Русије, за „Печат“ говоре врсни познаваоци НАТО, Рик Розоф, водећи истраживачки новинар у свету у домену војно-политичког деловања ове алијансе, оснивач и уредник интернационалне мреже „Стоп НАТО“, колумниста „Глобалних истраживања“, „Волтера“ и Руске телевизије (РT) и Махди Даријус Наземораја, аутор студије „Глобализација НАТО“ (Clariti Press, 2012) једне од најауторитативнијих критичких књига о НАТО-у, која се користи као приручник у одабраним колеџима, попут Пентагоновог колеџа Здружених снага одбране, Академије ваздушних снага САД, као и на универзитетима Харвард и Беркли. Његов рад о НАТО-у архивиран је 2011. у Војној мултимедијалној библиотеци саме алијансе у Бриселу, под одредницом „НАТО и Либија – Специјални фокус“ (Анали, збирка текстова водећих међународних експерата).
Рик Розоф: Евидентно за све, осим за намерно слепе и глуве, да је Србија део НАТО-а
Одавно упозоравам да Пентагон користи НАТО како би преузео читаву Европу – све европске земље у овом моменту са изузетком Русије, мада и тамо доминира половином, – у, као што сте истакли, свим могућим категоријама: војсци, одбрани, куповини наоружања („интероперабилност“), војној производњи, планирању, спољној политици, унутрашњој безбедности и полицијским снагама, судству, законодавству, економији, финансијама, социјалним питањима, култури, наводним људским правима, итд.
Када је НАТО отворио канцеларију за везу у Београду и Србија била увучена у прелазни програм „Партнерство за мир“ (који се користио за довођење у НАТО дванаест источноевропских земаља од 1999-2009), било је евидентно за све, осим за намерно слепе и глуве, да је Србија део НАТО-а, упркос лажним флоскулама о неутралности које су наводни радикали и социјалисти сервирали народу у Србији.
Индивидуални акциони план партнерства је друга фаза а Акциони план за чланство је последња у постизању пуноправног чланства у НАТО. Босна, Македонија и Црна Гора већ имају Акциони план за чланство. НАТО уводи земље у блоку, тако да ће се Србија придружити када и остале три земље.
Махди Даријус Наземораја: Тони Блер ће бити део механизма за праћење преузимања Србије
Српска влада је предузела видљиве кораке који показују да је Београд обавезан Вашингтону и Европској Комисији. Читав процес унутрашњих реформи је веома убрзан и похваљен од стране САД. Штавише, Београд је управо потписао Индивидуални акциони план партнерства (ИПАП) споразум са НАТО-ом, који ставља његову самопроглашену неутралност под велики знак питања.
Србија и стаза ка чланству у НАТО
Индивидуални акциони план партнерства (ИПАП) је полазна тачка за улазак у НАТО.ИПАП Програм је формално одобрен 2002. године током самита НАТО оджаног у чешкој престоници Прагу. Реч је о прилагођеном програму сарадње и интеграције који НАТО посебно дизајнира за сваку појединачну земљу на основу њених унутрашњих, безбедносних, економских, геополитичких, и социјалних околности. ИПАП је специјално прилагођен процес који се дизајнира не само како би обезбедио интеграцију у НАТО већ драстично и драматично моделује земљу за чланство у НАТО скројену по мери која је за сваку земљу специфично одређена. Следећи корак НАТО интеграција после ИПАП-а је Појачани Програм Дијалога са НАТО. Појачани Програм Дијалога, НАТО гради на ИПАП програму и отвара врата за Акциони план за чланство (МАП).Споразум МАП између НАТО и не-НАТО земље је последњи корак који не-НАТО земља мора предузети пре уласка у НАТО.
Иако је Београд одбио да приступи „Интензивираном програму дијалога“ 2008., када је НАТО једнострано израдио Интензивирани дијалог програм за Србију, курс који је Влада Србије предузела са ИПАП је онај који у будућности отвара врата за улазак у НАТО и ствара баријере за сарадњу са Русијом.Чињеница да је НАТО израдио Интензивирани дијалог план за Србију 2008. године, јасно показује да су циљеви НАТО-а да се Србија придружи овој војној алијанси.
ИПАП је дизајниран да реконфигурише земље. Другим речима, Србија ће бити ре-модлована на основу ИПАП-а чак и више него што је до сада реструктурирана. НАТО у ствари има надзор над целим процесом реконфигурације и званичници НАТО-а ће усмеравати процес кроз радне групе.
Реформе у Србији представљају институционалну и социо-економску колонизацију
Пре него што је Београд чак пристао да се придружи програму ИПАП, Србија је морала да буде део НАТО програма Планирања и Ревизије (ПАРП). ПАРП је НАТО програм који се одвија у склопу тзв. Партнерства за Мир (PfP). ПАРП је коришћен од стране српске владе у циљу прилагођавања српске војске како би постала интероперабилна са НАТО-ом имитирајући структуре НАТО-а и пресликавајући земље НАТО. То је учињено када је Београд предузео војне и безбедносне реформе у свом одбрамбеном карактеру, док су званичници НАТО-а направили процене учинка и водили цео процес за Србију.
ИПАП, међутим, помера ствари много даље од ПАРП програма. Главни фокус ИПАП-а су „домаће реформе“. Те, такозване „реформе“ неће се тицати само војног, обавештајног и сигурносног поља, већ ће укључити такође и политику владе, политичке структуре и економију Србије. Због тога Индивидуални акциони план партнерства садржи одредбе о економији, спољној политици и ЕУ. Песимиста би једноставно и искрено закључио да је Србија колонизована.
Термини „Европске интеграције“ и „Европске вредности“ које садржи ИПАП документ, такође су обмањивачке и имају за циљ да монополизују дефиниције које користе технократе Европске уније и Вашингтона о томе шта то значи бити „европски“. По овим дефиницијама Русија, која је историјски била заштитник Европе и представља највећу европску земљу, категоризована је као не-европска земља. Оно што ове бирократске дефиниције раде је уништавање европске разноликости и свих алтернатива Европској унији унутар Европе кроз вештачке дефиниције европских вредности које селективно укључују и искључују шта је „европски“ и шта није „европски“ на основу геополитичких и економских интереса који не почивају на реалности.
Геополитика иза интензивиране „реформе“ у Србији
Потписивање ИПАП-а од стране Београда мора бити сагледано у геополитичком контексту мулти-спектралног рата који САД и НАТО воде против Русије и Евроазијске економске уније – као и против народа читаве источне Европе и Србије, без обзира на про-САД и про-НАТО политику коју воде њихове владе – користећи кризу у Украјини као изговор. Због појаве Евроазијске економске уније и интензивирања ривалства са Москвом и њеним савезницима, САД и Европска комисија ЕУ се отимају да учврсте своје сфере утицаја и да спрече све земље које нису чланице ЕУ и нису чланице НАТО земаља да се прикључе Евроазијској Економској Унији и Уговору о колективној безбедности предвођених Русијом.
То је разлог због кога Вашингтон и Европска комисија убрзавају улазак Србије и неколико других земаља у НАТО и Европску унију. Ово је и разлог због кога је Тони Блер – ратни злочинац који је учествовао у НАТО окупацији Косова и рату 1999.- агресији на Србију и Црну Гору када је био британски премијер – потписао уговор да саветује премијера и владу. Тони Блер ће бити део механизма за праћење преузимања Србије.
Изјава министра спољних послова Србије Ивица Дачића изречена фебруара 2015. да САД „подржавају реформе у Србији“ представља знак убрзаног преузимања државе у Србији. Није случајно да је Дачић отишао у Вашингтон на разговоре на високом нивоу о „реформи“ процеса у Србији. Не само да се министар иностраних послова Дачић састао са америчким државним секретаром Џоном Керијем, већ се такође састао са нео-конзервативком која је била на линији фронта Вашингтона за промену режима у Украјини, америчком државном подсекретаком Викторијом Нуланд.
Да ли ће Србија били регрутована за рат против Русије?
Ствари не изгледају обећавајуће у погледу српске неутралности. Иако се Србија уставно обавезала на војну неутралност, руски званичници су показали знаке скептицизма у прошлости. Две године након што је у новембру 2011. направљен нацрт ИПАП-а између Србије и НАТО-а, руски министар одбране Сергеј Шојгу дошао је у Београд како би питао српску владу у вези са њеним намерама. Он је чак цитиран у српском листу „Новости“ да је рекао Првом потпредседнику Владе Александру Вучићу, да иако је већина грчког народа била против приступања Грчке НАТО-у, грчка влада је игнорисала њихове жеље и Грчка је упркос томе приступила НАТО-у. Александар Вучић је одговорио да се Република Србија никада неће прикључити НАТО-у.
Разговор између Шојгуа и Вучића вођен је у новембру 2013. Годину дана касније, октобра 2014, српска влада је дала иста уверавања Москви, када је руски председник Владимир Путин посетио Београд. Месец дана пре доласка Путина у Београд, међутим, Србија је била позвана да у британском граду Њупорту буде по први пут учесник на самиту НАТО-а.Српска влада је била одушевљена позивом на самит НАТО-а у Велсу и видела га је као награду за реструктурирање Београда.
ИПАП је коначно одобрен од српске владе 20.децембра 2014. Ратификован је од НАТО-а 15.јануара 2015. Придруживши се ИПАП-у, српска влада је одступила од уверавања која је дала руској федерацији и српском народу. Уколико српска влада настави да иде овим путем, Србија ће постати чланица НАТО-а или ће постати де-факто чланица и без формалног учлањења у НАТО и биће употребљена против Русије и било које друге земље која одбије да следи наредбе Вашингтона или ЕУ.
Image: Chief of Mission at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana Jeffrey DeLaurentis (C, L) talks to Cuba’s interim Foreign Minister Marcelino Medina in Havana July 1, 2015 (Reuters / Enrique de la Osa)
The US restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba is a Trojan horse strategy which is set to mask Washington’s intentions to re-colonize Cuba, tap into its market and return it to neo-colony status, says political analyst Daniel Shaw.
The US and Cuba could open embassies in each other’s capitals as early as July 20. The move might seem like the start of a new era for the two countries, but there are still plenty of potential stumbling blocks. Cuba is demanding that Washington returned the territory it leases for the Guantanamo Bay military base and detention center. But the US has said that will not happen.
RT:What kind of relationship does the US hope to develop with Cuba?
Daniel Shaw: If the US was truly sincere about respecting Cuban sovereignty and human rights, they would first return Guantanamo Bay to the Cuban people, to the Cuban government where it belongs. It’s an incredible double standard that we would expect any sovereign country to allow US bases on their territory. We could imagine for a second that Cuba would insist upon having any type of military base outside of Cuba in Florida or anywhere in the US. So there are still a number of stumbling blocks to have truly reciprocal, respectful relations between the two countries.
RT:Could this decision affect the status of Guantanamo Bay which Cuba still considers to be illegally occupied?
DS: The Cuban leadership has put that on the table front and center, and President Obama has refused to even engage that question. The US has always used this human right discourse and flipped it on its head, when the US is continually violating the human rights of the Palestinian people and the Iraqi people and in other countries that are occupied by the US military. They continually use this against Cuba, Venezuela, against any ‘regime’ that doesn’t serve their interests.
RT:What are the prospects for lifting the more than 50-year US embargo on Cuba?
DS: It sounds like the US Congress is not even considering this. The blockade against the Cuban people has been incredibly severe and cruel. It’s cost the Cuban economy billions of dollars. We believe in the Answer Coalition movement that the US owes the Cuban people reparations for these damages. It’s amounted to an economic war; it’s created a lot of scarcity which is its very intention. They feel like they can blockade and suffocate the Cuban people, they create a lot of internal political strive which will then have a backlash against the Cuban government. This plan has backfired, so now they are employing their latest strategy which comes in the form of open friendly diplomatic relations when it’s really just Trojan horse type of strategy trying to mask their true intentions of re-colonizing Cuba, of tapping into the Cuban market and returning Cuba to a status that it had before 1959 as a neo-colony of the US.
RT:But is there at least some good news for the Cuban economy, after years of isolation?
DS: Certainly there is some good news. It showed that the Cuban people stood firm when the entire capitalist world is aggressively surrounding Cuba and wanting to break them, the people went through incredible sacrifices specifically in 1991 when a special period began. I think as Americans we can’t begin to comprehend what the Cuban people were faced to endure solely because their government and their representatives decided on a different political and economic system which the US didn’t approve of. But certainly there is a reason to be very happy but also to realize that the struggle is not over.