Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has passed away at the age of 58 following a two-year fight against cancer and a severe respiratory infection. His untimely demise raises serious questions about the future of the oil-rich Latin American power.

The president of Venezuela died on Tuesday afternoon, Vice President Nicolas Maduro has announced. “It’s a moment of deep pain,” he said, accompanied by senior ministers.

Foreign Minister Elias Jaua has announced in televised comments that Maduro will assume the interim presidency. Elections are to be held in 30 days, he added.

The country’s military chiefs appeared live on state television to pledge their loyalty to Maduro, whom Chavez had named as his preferred successor.

The national army has been deployed to ensure the Venezuelan people’s sovereignty and security, Venezuelan Minister of Defense Diego Molero said.

Supporters of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez react to the announcement of his death outside Miraflores Palace in Caracas, March 5, 2013 (Reuters / Jorge Silva)

Supporters of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez react to the announcement of his death outside Miraflores Palace in Caracas, March 5, 2013 (Reuters / Jorge Silva)

Venezuela will observe seven days of mourning after the leader’s passing. Thousands of Chavez supporters have taken to the streets across the country to mourn their late president.

The news comes weeks after Chavez returned from Cuba, where he underwent the fourth cancer operation. His ‘delicate condition’ had recently worsened due to complications from a respiratory infection, with official reports stating he was breathing through a tracheal tube and unable to speak.

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles, whom Chavez defeated in last year’s elections, has called for national unity in the wake of the president’s death.

My solidarity is with the entire family and followers of President Hugo Chavez, we call for Venezuelan unity at this moment,” Capriles wrote on Twitter.

Supporters of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez react to the announcement of his death outside the hospital where he was being treated, in Caracas March 5, 2013 (Reuters / Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Supporters of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez react to the announcement of his death outside the hospital where he was being treated, in Caracas March 5, 2013 (Reuters / Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

In the US, crowds of Venezuelan immigrants took to the streets cheering while waving their country’s flag. Dozens of members of the anti-Chavez community took to the streets in Doral, Florida, wearing national colors and chanting “He is gone!”

“We are not celebrating death,” Ana San Jorge, a 37-year-old Venezuelan immigrant explained, “We are celebrating the opening of a new door, of hope and change.”

There are currently some 190,000 Venezuelan immigrants in the United States.

 

A crowd sings and waves the Venezuelan flag at a local restaurant following the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in Doral, Florida, March 5, 2013 (Reuters / Robert Sullivan)

A crowd sings and waves the Venezuelan flag at a local restaurant following the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in Doral, Florida, March 5, 2013 (Reuters / Robert Sullivan)

One of the world’s best-known socialist leaders and a staunch critic of the United States, Chavez had been battling the disease for nearly two years, undergoing four surgeries and several sessions of chemotherapy in Havana.

Despite his ailing health, Chavez was reelected in November 2012 to a fourth term. However, he was not able to attend his January 10 inauguration ceremony, which cast doubt on the succession of power in the country. Prior to his death, the Venezuelan opposition called for a new election should Chavez be unfit to take office.

Until his last days Chavez was in touch with the public. His last tweet, published on February 18, read, “I am still clinging to Christ and trust in my doctors and nurses. Ever onward to victory! We will live and overcome!”

Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gather in front of Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas on March 5, 2013 (AFP Photo / Leo Ramirez)

Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gather in front of Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas on March 5, 2013 (AFP Photo / Leo Ramirez)

‘We are all Chavez’

Chavez’s allies across Latin America have joined in an expression of grievance. A teary-eyed Bolivian President Evo Morales declared that “Chavez is more alive than ever.”

“We are all Chavez,” said Rosario Murillo, the wife and spokeswoman of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, adding that the deceased Venezuelan president is “one of the dead who never die.”

The Cuban government declared two days of national mourning and ordered the flag to be flown at half-mast. “The Cuban people view him as one of their most outstanding sons,” President Raul Castro’s office said in a statement.

Argentina also announced three days of mourning nationwide as the country’s President Cristina Fernandez and the President of neighboring Uruguay Jose Mujica prepare to travel to Venezuela for the funeral.

Another of Chavez’s close allies, Ecuadorian President Rafael Ortega, praised the legacy of the Venezuelan president.

“We have lost a revolutionary, but millions of us remain inspired,” he said.

Supporters of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez react to the announcement of his death outside the hospital where he was being treated in Caracas, March 5, 2013 (Reuters / Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Supporters of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez react to the announcement of his death outside the hospital where he was being treated in Caracas, March 5, 2013 (Reuters / Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Chavez’s popularity extended much further than Latin America, James Petras, professor of sociology from Binghamton University, told RT.

In fact President Chavez was loved not only by Venezuelans but throughout Latin America. And even in the US, outside of very limited circles, like Miami and some other immigrant places,” he said.

Outside of US media reports Chavez was seen as a good leader and reformer, Petras asserted.

“Working people in Europe, the US, Asia and certainly in the Middle East looked up to Chavez as someone who represented developing welfare program in the face of the Western countries reducing the welfare expenditures, cutting pensions and eliminating medical coverage,” he explained.

Friend or tyrant? US reaction is mixed

Reacting to Chavez’s death, US President Barack Obama said the US was interested in a “constructive” future relationship with Venezuela.

“At this challenging time of President Hugo Chavez’s passing, the United States reaffirms its support for the Venezuelan people and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government,” Obama said in a brief written statement.

Former US President Jimmy Carter praised Chavez for his strive for independence and influence in the region.

“President Chavez will be remembered for his bold assertion of autonomy and independence for Latin American governments and for his formidable communication skills and personal connection with supporters in his country and abroad to whom he gave hope and empowerment,” he said in a statement.

But some US politicians sharply disagreed with this estimate of Chavez’s policies.

“Hugo Chavez was a tyrant who forced the people of Venezuela to live in fear. His death dents the alliance of anti-US leftist leaders in South America. Good riddance to this dictator,” US Representative Ed Royce, Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said.

Meanwhile, US actor Sean Penn, a good friend of Chavez, said the US “lost a friend it never knew it had.”

“Poor people around the world lost a champion. I lost a friend I was blessed to have. My thoughts are with the family of President Chavez and the people of Venezuela,” Penn said in a statement.

 

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (L) jokes with US actor Sean Penn during his visit to Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, on February 16, 2012 (AFP Photo / Leo Ramirez)

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (L) jokes with US actor Sean Penn during his visit to Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, on February 16, 2012 (AFP Photo / Leo Ramirez)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered his “deepest condolences” to the people of Venezuela on Wednesday.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague also offered condolences to the people of Venezuela and Chavez`s family saying that as a president, Chavez “left a lasting impression on the country and more widely.”

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, who met with Chavez numerous times, expressed his deep condolences and praised the deceased leader for his achievements.

“He was out-of-the-ordinary and a strong man, who looked into the future and always set the highest standard for himself,” he said in an official telegram to Venezuela.

 

Watch Hugo Chavez tribute video on RT YouTube channel


For years, Los Angeles has been ground zero in an intense debate about how to improve our nation’s education system. What’s less known is who is shaping that debate. Many of the biggest contributors to the so-called “school choice” movement — code words for privatizing our public education system — are billionaires who don’t live in Southern California, but have gained significant influence in local school politics. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s recent contribution of $1 million to a political action committee created to influence next week’s LAUSD school board elections is only the most recent example of the billionaire blitzkrieg.

For more than a decade, however, one of the biggest of the billionaire interlopers has been the Walton family, heirs to the Walmart fortune, who have poured millions into a privatization-oriented, ideological campaign to make LA a laboratory for their ideas about treating schools like for-profit businesses, and treating parents, students and teachers like cogs in what they must think are education big-box retail stores.

As a business chain, Walmart has spent a fortune — in philanthropy and campaign contributions — trying to break into the Los Angeles retail market with its low-wage retail stores.

Now the Walton family — which derives its fortune from the Arkansas-based Walmart — is trying to use that fortune to bring Walmart-style education to Los Angeles.

The Waltons have long supported efforts to privatize education through the Walton Family Foundation as well as individual political donations to local candidates. Since 2005, the Waltons have given more than $1 billion to organizations and candidates who support privatization. They’ve channeled the funds to the pro-charter and pro-voucher Milton Friedman Foundation for Education Choice, Michelle Rhee’s pro-privatization and high-stakes testing organization Students First, and the pro-voucher Alliance for School Choice, where Walton family member Carrie Walton Penner sits on the board. In addition to funding these corporate-style education reform organizations, since 2000 the Waltons have also spent more than $24 million bankrolling politicians, political action committees, and ballot issues in California and elsewhere at the state and local level which undermine public education and literally shortchange students.

In 2006, Greg Penner, who married Carrie Walton Penner (daughter of Walmart chairman Rob Walton and granddaughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton) and serves on Walmart’s board, spent $250,000 to oppose a statewide ballot initiative that would have created a universal preschool system to give California’s children a much-needed leg up in early education. It also would have created thousands of good jobs for preschool teachers.

In Los Angeles alone, the Walton Family Foundation has donated over $84.3 million to charter schools and organizations that support them, such as Green Dot Schools, ICEF schools, and the Los Angeles Parent Union, as well as $1 million to candidates or political action committees which support diverting tax dollars away from public schools. They believe in high-stakes testing, hate teachers unions, want to measure student and teacher success primarily by relying on one-size-fits-all standardized tests, but have an entirely different set of standards when it comes to judging charter schools.

You’d think that the Waltons would invest in ideas that would improve education. But there’s little evidence that private charter schools and vouchers — the Waltons’ two big obsessions — are effective at boosting students’ learning outcomes. A 2009 study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University discovered that only 17 percent of charter schools provided a better education than traditional public schools. Thirty-seven percent actually offered children a worse education. In other words, on balance, charters make things worse, even though many of those schools “cream” the best students from regular public schools. Just this month, the same Stanford center released a study that called for stronger monitoring and review processes for charter schools.

Other research confirms that charters rarely deliver on the promises their backers make. In October 2012, the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Education released an audit finding that the California Department of Education lacks the necessary oversight capabilities to monitor charter schools’ compliance with federal law. With about 100,000 children in charters — the highest number of charter students in the country, representing more than 15 percent of the children in the district — Los Angeles bears the brunt of this regulatory failure.

The Walton family became America’s richest family by creating a retail model built on ruthless cost-cutting, low wages and few benefits. So, it isn’t surprising that some studies show that charter school teachers are paid less than teachers at traditional public schools and have few years of education on average. Is this the right model for our schools?

Many studies show that parents’ incomes are the best predictor of students’ academic performance, which results in a wide “achievement gap” between affluent and low-income students. Walmart contributes to this gap. It is not only the nation’s largest private employer, with well over one million employees, but it also has the largest number of poverty-level jobs in the country. If the Waltons, who still own half of Walmart, really wanted to do something to help improve schools, they could start by paying their employees a living wage.

If we are serious about the future of our children, we must ask: why are the Waltons, a largely out-of-state family with no ties to Los Angeles’ children and little background in education, intent on turning our communities’ educational choices into a junior version of the cut-throat, profiteering corporate world? It’s time for us to take a hard look at ideological billionaires who are throwing their wealth into undermining our schools — before our children pay the real price.

Peter Dreier teaches politics and chairs the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His latest book is The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame (Nation Books, 2012).

Article originally published by Global Research in 2005, which points to previous attempts to assassinate President Hugo Chavez

This empire, unlike any other in the history of the world, has been built primarily through economic manipulation.  “How do we know that the CIA was behind the coup that overthrew Hugo Chávez?” asked historian William Blum in 2002.

“Same way we know that the sun will rise tomorrow morning. That’s what it’s always done and there’s no reason to think that tomorrow morning will be any different.”

Now we have a bit more evidence the CIA and the FBI connived with reactionary elements to not only briefly overthrow Chávez, abolish the constitution and the National Assembly, but later assassinate the Venezuelan State Prosecutor, Danilo Anderson. He was killed by a car bomb in Caracas on November 18, 2004, while investigating those who were behind the coup. Giovani Jose Vasquez De Armas, a member of Colombia’s right wing paramilitary group called the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, claims he was in charge of logistics for the plot to kill Danilo Anderson. Vasquez De Armas told the Attorney General’s office that those planning the killing, “all discussed the plan with the help of the FBI and CIA.”

And the sun will rise tomorrow.

“According to the Attorney General, Vasquez De Armas said that during a meeting in Darien, Panama, on September 4 and 6, 2003, an FBI Officer called ‘Pesquera’ and a CIA agent called ‘Morrinson,’ attended a meeting along with two of the plot’s alleged organizers, Patricia Poleo and Salvador Romani, as well as two of those who actually did the killing, Rolando and Otoniel Guevera,” writes Alessandro Parma. “An official from the Attorney General’s office, speaking on behalf of Vasquez De Armas, said that in Panama the FBI and the plotting Venezuelans agreed, ‘to take out Chavez and the Government.’ He said, ‘the meeting’s final objective was to kill President Chavez and the Attorney General.’”

None of this is new or particularly revelatory.  Steve Kangas writes:

“CIA operations follow the same recurring script. First, American business interests abroad are threatened by a popular or democratically elected leader. The people support their leader because he intends to conduct land reform, strengthen unions, redistribute wealth, nationalize foreign-owned industry, and regulate business to protect workers, consumers and the environment. So, on behalf of American business, and often with their help, the CIA mobilizes the opposition. First it identifies right-wing groups within the country (usually the military), and offers them a deal: “We’ll put you in power if you maintain a favorable business climate for us.” The Agency then hires, trains and works with them to overthrow the existing government (usually a democracy). It uses every trick in the book: propaganda, stuffed ballot boxes, purchased elections, extortion, blackmail, sexual intrigue, false stories about opponents in the local media, infiltration and disruption of opposing political parties, kidnapping, beating, torture, intimidation, economic sabotage, death squads and even assassination. These efforts culminate in a military coup, which installs a right-wing dictator. The CIA trains the dictator’s security apparatus to crack down on the traditional enemies of big business, using interrogation, torture and murder. The victims are said to be “communists,” but almost always they are just peasants, liberals, moderates, labor union leaders, political opponents and advocates of free speech and democracy. Widespread human rights abuses follow.”

Examples include the coup to overthrow the democratically elected leader Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran, the ouster of democratically elected Jacob Arbenz in Guatemala, one coup per year (between 1957-1973) in Laos, the installation of the murderous “Papa Doc” Duvalier in Haiti, the assassination of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, the overthrow of Jose Velasco in Ecuador, the assassination of the democratically elected Patrice Lumumba in the Congo (later Zaire), the overthrow of the democratically elected Juan Bosch in the Dominican Republic, the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Joao Goulart in Brazil, the overthrow of the democratically elected Sukarno government in Indonesia, a military coup in Greece designed to install the “reign of the colonels” (when the Greek ambassador complained about CIA plans for Cypress, Johnson told him: “F— your parliament and your constitution”), the overthrow of the popular Prince Sahounek in Cambodia, the overthrow of Juan Torres in Bolivia, the overthrow and assassination of Salvador Allende in Chile, the assassination of archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador, and dozens of other incidents rarely if ever taught in American school history lessons.

As John Perkins (author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man), as a former respected member of the international banking community and National Security Agency economist, told Amy Goodman: “Basically what we were trained to do and what our job is to do is to build up the American empire. To bring—to create situations where as many resources as possible flow into this country, to our corporations, and our government…. This empire, unlike any other in the history of the world, has been built primarily through economic manipulation, through cheating, through fraud, through seducing people into our way of life, through the economic hit men.” Perkins’ job was “deal-making”:

It was giving loans to other countries, huge loans, much bigger than they could possibly repay. One of the conditions of the loan—let’s say a $1 billion to a country like Indonesia or Ecuador—and this country would then have to give ninety percent of that loan back to a U.S. company, or U.S. companies, to build the infrastructure—a Halliburton or a Bechtel. These were big ones. Those companies would then go in and build an electrical system or ports or highways, and these would basically serve just a few of the very wealthiest families in those countries. The poor people in those countries would be stuck ultimately with this amazing debt that they couldn’t possibly repay. A country today like Ecuador owes over fifty percent of its national budget just to pay down its debt. And it really can’t do it. So, we literally have them over a barrel. So, when we want more oil, we go to Ecuador and say, “Look, you’re not able to repay your debts, therefore give our oil companies your Amazon rain forest, which are filled with oil.” And today we’re going in and destroying Amazonian rain forests, forcing Ecuador to give them to us because they’ve accumulated all this debt. So we make this big loan, most of it comes back to the United States, the country is left with the debt plus lots of interest, and they basically become our servants, our slaves. It’s an empire. There’s no two ways about it. It’s a huge empire. It’s been extremely successful.

Most of the money for these loans, according to Perkins, is provided by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the two premier neolib loan sharking operations (it is important to note that the Straussian neocon, Paul Wolfowitz, is now president of the World Bank, thus demonstrating how closely related the neocons and traditional neolibs are).

If the loan sharks are unable to steal natural resources (oil, minerals, rainforests, water) as a condition of repaying this immense debt, “the next step is what we call the jackals.”

Jackals are CIA-sanctioned people that come in and try to foment a coup or revolution. If that doesn’t work, they perform assassinations—or try to. In the case of Iraq, they weren’t able to get through to Saddam Hussein… His bodyguards were too good. He had doubles. They couldn’t get through to him. So the third line of defense, if the economic hit men and the jackals fail, the next line of defense is our young men and women, who are sent in to die and kill, which is what we’ve obviously done in Iraq.

Hugo Chávez is now between the assassination point of this neolib plan and invasion, when “our young men and women” will be “sent in to die and kill” Venezuelan peasants the same way they are now killing poor Iraqis. Of course, it remains to be seen if Bush can actually invade Venezuela—the neocon roster is teeming with targets, from Syria to Iran—and so we can expect the Bushcons and their jackals to continue efforts to assassinate Chávez, as Giovani Jose Vasquez De Armas reveals the CIA and the FBI are attempting to do, with little success. One notable failure by the jackals is Fidel Castro in Cuba, who experienced numerous assassination attempts and CIA counterinsurgency specialist Edward Lansdale’s Operation Mongoose (consisting of sabotage and political warfare), also known as the ‘’Cuba Project.’‘

As Blum notes, we know all of this is happening, same as we know the sun will come up tomorrow.

Kurt Nimmo is a photographer, multimedia artist and writer. You can visit his blog “Another Day in the Empire” at www.kurtnimmo.com/blog.

Right now, the American people are like frogs in warm sequester water.  For some, inundated with all the corporate media talk about out-of-control spending, the cuts to the deficit feel good right now. But as the sequester takes hold and federal spending is pulled from the economy, those views are likely to change. 

US elected officials seem to be focused primarily on making sure the other party is to blame, when in fact both are to blame, and on measuring the political fallout.  In many ways, this is part of the battle to determine which arm of the corporate duopoly will have a majority in Congress after the 2014 year elections.

But for the rest of us, a large spending cutback by government in the midst of a jobs crisis and shrinking GDP is exactly the wrong policy for the economy.  The US economy is likely to find itself in a recessionshedding more jobs in 2013 with an increased deficit to GDP level in part because of the sequester, but also because the federal government was already in austerity, shrinking at a very fast rate (despite what the corporate media, pundits and politicians say). Thus the road to a double-dip recession has sped up due to the sequestration. Here are some facts you should know.

In fact, Zero Hedge published a disconcerting list of twelve recent events that show the next economic collapse may almost be upon us. And, they point out that the sequester will make things worse.  Less money in the economy when big business is not spending is a sure sign of economic disaster, potentially even deflation which could lead to worse than a recession.


Federal Government Spending Percentage Change

The sequester will cut $85 billion in government spending from March 1 to September 30. It is a 5% cut for most federal spending, but because the fiscal year began on October 1, 2012, five months have already passed and thus the one year cut is jammed into 7 months. Some agencies, like those providing unemployment benefits have been unable to prepare so there are likely to be 10% or so cuts in checks to the unemployed. Other agencies have been able to prepare somewhat by not filling vacancies and taking other budgetary actions since last October. And others, which give out grants for research, will be giving out fewer funds in grants.  How the sequester will impact agencies will vary from program to program.

It will also vary from state to state. States like, Virginia, New Mexico, Alabama and South Carolina, with high federal spending will face more severe cutbacks, while states like, New York, Ohio, Illinois and Oregon, with less federal spending will face less. But there will be budgetary pain all across the nationin health care, housing, education, security and immigration, among others.

The sequester does not seem to bother Wall Street, as the stock market approaches record highs, but then Wall Street has always desired cuts rather than the kinds of job program spending that the economy needs. Big business made its money in large part by increasing production and shrinking wages.  A hungry, desperate unemployed and underemployed work force is good news for them – and that is very likely what the sequester will produce. (But check #1 on this list of 12 recent events. It may be the Wall Sreet bubble is about to burst.)

In fact, probably the best comment on the sequester came from Chris Hayes who pointed out that if the White House and Congress really want to scare themselves, the next threat should be a trillion dollar spending program, half to create government jobs and half to pay-off peoples debts!

Check out the new OccuCard to learn more about Austerity. Hand them out to educate others. Visit OccuCards.com.

There is more than the sequester happening in the US economy.  Here are some key stories of the last week:

We can’t say it enough: It’s important to know the facts so we know what we are facing, but we can do something about it. We are inspired that people all across the country and across the world are taking action to protest and to build alternative systems. This week on Clearing the FOG, we spoke with Thomas Gokey of Strike Debt Rolling JubileeLearn how debt affects your community and what you can do to resist it. There will be a week of national solidarity actions to bring awareness to medical debt and the solution of a national single payer health program March 16 to 23.

This article is from a weekly newsletter published by It’s Our Economy. To sign up for the newsletter, click here.

Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers are co-directors of ItsOurEconomy.us and co-hosts of Clearing the FOG Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter @KBZeese and Margaret @MFlowers8.

President Hugo Chavez has Died

March 6th, 2013 by Tamara Pearson

By Tamara Pearson

Merida, March 5th 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) –After two years of battling cancer, President Hugo Chavez has died today at 4.25 pm.

Vice-president Nicolas Maduro made the announcement on public television shortly after, speaking from the Military Hospital in Caracas, where Chavez was being treated.

Military and Bolivarian police have been sent out into the street to protect the people and maintain the peace. For now, things are calm here, with some people celebrating by honking their car horns, and many others quietly mourning in their homes.

Maduro made the announcement just a few hours after addressing the nation for an hour, accusing the opposition of taking advantage of the current situation to cause destabilisation.

“Those who die for life, can’t be called dead,” Maduro concluded.

In Caracas, thousands of people have gathered in Plaza Bolivar and are said to be heading to the Miraflores Palace. Those gathered are shouting that “Chavez lives, the struggle continues,” “the people united will never be defeated,” as well as swearing that the Venezuelan bourgeoisie “will never return” to the Miraflores Palace.

Chavez supporters are also gathering in central squares across the country to rally together and mourn the death of their president.

Describing the scene in Caracas, Andromaco Martinez, stated that he was on the metro when he found out about the president’s death, “people began running everywhere”.

In Plaza Bolivar, “no-one is crying or praying,” he said, emphasising that the Venezuelan people would defiantly defend the revolution.

“The struggle has already been ignited,” he added.

How desperate are the politicians, particularly those with connections to arms manufacturing, selling guns and/or firing them (AKA the military, ‘our boys’, former career in …) to continue financing the machines of war while the economy goes down the tube?  Very. Whatever else needs tax payers’ money – such essentials as education, health and social care – the Ministry of Defence gets favoured treatment.  In 2010 all the government departments were ordered to make savings and reductions.

For almost all of them that amounted to a 25% cut in their annual budgets – except the MoD.  Oh, the right noises are made: the MoD is ‘struggling with cuts to its budget’ and so on.  No mention that, of all sections of society whether ordinary citizens or those parts of government they think they are funding with their taxes, the MoD is rewarded with the smallest reduction (8%) to its very large budget.  Only the rich and the multinationals fare better, their contributions to the public purse being so small as to be almost invisible to the ordinary taxpayer.  On second thoughts, I’ll rephrase that.  Their contributions to our global financial worries have been great.  Their loss of income has been tiny.

A few days ago David Cameron suggested that ‘we’ (that is, the tax payer) should use some of the money Britain contributes to international aid to fund our military’s ‘peace keeping and defence-related’ actions.  I like the ‘defence-related’ bit.  In order to ‘defend’ this country we trashed Iraq and made the situation in Afghanistan worse, that poor country having been trashed by other nations, including our own, for centuries.  We helped trash Libya, using a ‘responsibility to protect’ UN Resolution (protect whom, I wonder?) while Syria implodes due to the West’s interference.  I won’t even mention the Balkans.  Let’s just say that any time military forces are sent in it does little for peace.  Or development, except that of bigger and better weapons.

Cameron’s clever wheeze failed.  People were outraged at the thought of giving money to the Ministry of Defence instead of those desperately in need.  So, a week later Defence Minister Philip Hammond tried a different tack – cut our Welfare budget and give the money to the MoD.  Why should the MoD get all the goodies?  Why should it be favoured over every other area of need in the country, except perhaps, and only perhaps, Health and Education (although their cuts are taking places in hidden ways)?  And what sort of record does the MoD have when it comes to housekeeping?  Very, very poor.

 

For years the MoD has wasted much of its over-generous budget.  It has lost money through ordering the wrong equipment, failed equipment, unnecessary supplies and committing to huge projects that cost too much, were delivered late and often mothballed as soon as they were delivered.  In 2010 the Public Accounts Committee criticised the MoD for creating a ‘black hole’ of £36bn.  The chair of the Committee, Margaret Hodge, said budget commitments were allowed to get out of control because the department lacked a proper financial strategy and that the MOD had a dangerous “culture of optimism on spending”.  The optimism seems to consist of an attitude based on “the country will pay for it”.

Later that year Channel 4 broadcast one of its Dispatches programmes How the MoD Wastes Our Billions, and the sums looked even worse.  With what was then a budget of £42 billion a year (2008-9), we were struggling to pay for and equip just 10,000 soldiers in the field.  Wounded soldiers in Afghanistan died because the Army didn’t have the right helicopters to ‘e-vac’ them, but here the MoD spent £2.4 million a year on ‘pop star’ helicopters, flying senior military and MoD officials around the country.  Following the fuss about the helicopter shortage, this perk was axed, to complaints from the then Chief of Defence Staff, Sir Jock Stirrup.  Vast sums are spent on subsidised housing (with servants no less), although another Chief of Staff, Sir Richard Dannatt, maintained it was vital that an inflated number of top heavy staff should be looked after this way.  Of Army staff alone in the MoD, 496 are of brigadier and above ranks.  And note: these are not officers in the field but occupying MoD desks while they wait for their pensions.

Bernard Gray’s 2009 report on MoD spending said that up to £2.5 billion a year was wasted on the procurement of weapons and equipment, much of it coming in over budget, defective and late.  It takes around 7000 staff at the procurement centre at Abbey Wood to manage this shopping spree.  Tell that to a soldier whose body armour had its heat-dispersing panels installed back to front, so that instead of keeping him cool in an Iraq summer, it made him hotter still.  In December 2010 Bernard Gray became the top MoD procurement man.  Having been so critical, did he fix the problem?  Not really.  By the time it had been ‘eliminated’ in 2012 it had grown to £38bn.

But another sinkhole for the public’s money was identified – the MoD is holding vast quantities of unwanted and in some instances out-of date equipment (including a 54-year-old supply of bombing equipment for an old model of the Nimrod aircraft).  This ‘just in case’ mentality is costing the country yet more billions.  Margaret Hodge said: “Out of the £19.5bn of inventory the National Audit Office reviewed, they found stock worth £6.6bn was either unused or over-ordered.  In February this year the MoD was being urged to sell about £3bn’s worth of this redundant stock – which would help their ailing budget in these austere times.  And they are running out of storage space for all the equipment that will come back from Afghanistan, which is probably one reason why they’ve decided to leave it there .  They say it will cost too much to bring back.  Either way, another waste of money.

And the military itself (as opposed to the MoD) is facing large cuts, including a possible 20,000 army personnel being made redundant, a few thousand at a time.  Many will come back from serving in Afghanistan to be kicked straight out onto civvy street.  It is after all, far easier to axe people than say goodbye to the self-important projects or cancel deals with one’s arms manufacturer friends.  But veterans aren’t the MoD’s business.  That is the responsibility of Welfare & Pensions.  And Mr Hammond wants to take money from Welfare and spend it on … what?  For, while he seemed to completely disregard the people who will be made redundant, what I found really worrying was what he said in an interview with the Telegraph:

“Many people in Britain will regard the end of combat in Afghanistan as a very good news story, but for many young men and women joining the Armed Forces, the lure of operations is a big recruiting sergeant and we have to think how we are going to replace the excitement of operations for them with equally stimulating training and exercising.”  Is he already looking forward to the next war?  Has it crossed his mind the damage war does?  Has it occurred to him how much in demand Welfare is, and will be, by the veterans of our on-going wars, wars that are mostly unnecessary and often quite illegal, wars that would not be fought if real diplomacy took place instead of the sabre-rattling in Whitehall?

Whether returning troops leave the Forces or are kicked out, they will need support.  If they have died, families will have lost their breadwinner and need support.  If they are seriously wounded they will perhaps need expensive lifetime care.  Many come back with invisible wounds, mental scars that make it difficult for them to adapt to a civilian life.  The army was their home and they cannot cope without it.  Many become homeless, leaving distressed and struggling families behind.  Go into any night shelter for the homeless and you will find a high number of ex-soldiers, veteran alcoholics and druggies, unemployable.  And lost.  Nearly 10% of the male prison population in the UK are veterans.  Many of them are serving long sentences for murder and other violent crimes.  And usually suffering from undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of what they saw and did in the name of this country.  Combat Stress, formed to help veterans with PTSD, has seen a huge increase in men seeking help since serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A Ministry that happily throws away our money is just as profligate in its waste of human beings.

A government of rich men, happy to waste a billion or twenty of public money on useless weapons and grand ideas of conquest are hardly likely to know how important an extra £10 or £20 a week will be to a veteran, scarred by our foreign wars or ‘interventions’, homeless, self-medicating with alcohol and drugs and mad with PTSD.  I have long believed that, if the MoD spent its money on the proper support of all those who have been damaged fighting ‘in this country’s interests’, it would not have the money to go to war ever again.  And in these times of austerity that would be the best saving this country could make.

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim

Venezuelan media today announced that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has died.

At approximately 5.30pm local time on March 5, Vice-President Nicolas Maduro addressed the nation, stating that after nearly three months of treatment in Cuba and Venezuela, Chavez passed away in the Dr. Carlos Arvelo military hospital in Caracas.

Hugo Chavez speaking to hundreds of thousands of supporters of the Bolivarian revolution at an election rally in Caracas, October 3, four days before he was re-elected president for the fifth time.

“Those who die for life, can’t be called dead,” he stated, after announcing that the president has lost his two year battle with cancer.

Hugo Chavez, who was 58-years-old, was re-elected president in October (for the fifth time since 1998) on a platform of deepening the popular and democratic socialist revolution his government has been leading. The Bolivarian revolution has greatly reduced poverty, nationalised strategic industries and promoted a range of new forms of participatory democracy.

However, in December Chavez returned to Cuba for fresh treatment on cancer, raising fears his health problems had drastically worsened. Chavez endorsed Vice-President Nicolas Maduro as the candidate for the Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), if new elections were required due to his health problems.

As late as last week, the government was maintaining that Chavez was improving in Caracas, after returning to Venezuela in the early hours of February 18.

Yesterday, the government released an official statement indicating that the chemotherapy has left Chavez in a “very delicate” state.

“From today, there has been deterioration in his respiratory performance, related to the immunodeficiency of his current clinical condition. At present he is suffering from a new and serious respiratory infection.”

Then earlier on March 5, Maduro alluded to possibly US involvement in a “scientific attack” on the president. Pointing to evidence produced after the death of Yasar Arafat that the Palestinian leader had been poisoned, Maduro said: “Eventually there will be a scientific investigation into President Chavez’s illness.”

On March 5, before Chavez passed away, two US officials were expelled for allegedly contacting members of the Venezuelan military for the purposes of launching “conspiracy plans”.

The Bolivarian Guard and police have been deployed on the streets of major towns and cities to maintain the peace. As the news of Chavez’s death spread, people across the country began gathering at major plazas. More reporting on the response of the Venezuelan people is to come.

[Green Left will be running much more commentary on the life of one of the most important revolutionaries of the 21st century so far, who raised the banner of "socialism for the 21st century", as well as wjhat it means for Veneuela's Bolivarian revolution.]

On March 1, a U.S./NATO helicopter gunship killed two Afghan brothers, seven and eight years of age, as they tended cattle in Uruzgan province. According to reports from residents, the boys were listening to a radio, which the helicopter crew interpreted as “radio signals” from Afghan resistance fighters.

The latest killing comes amidst a series of atrocities against civilians that has further enflamed opposition to the ongoing occupation. 

On. Feb. 24, Hamid Karzai, the U.S.-installed “president” of Afghanistan, announced that he was demanding the withdrawal of all U.S. Special Forces troops from Wardak province within two weeks. Wardak is a key strategic region and an area of active resistance to the U.S./NATO occupation. 

Will NATO commanders pay any more attention to Karzai’s latest “order” than the many earlier ones that NATO forces ignored and Karzai quietly dropped? Not likely.

What prompted Karzai’s latest proclamation was explained in a statement from his office, which read in part: “After a thorough discussion, it became clear that armed individuals named as US special force[s] stationed in Wardak province engage in harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people.

“A recent example in the province is an incident in which nine people were disappeared in an operation by this suspicious force and in a separate incident a student was taken away at night from his home, whose tortured body with throat cut was found two days later under a bridge.”

While U.S. commanders predictably denied the accusations, the level of popular anger in Wardak was made clear by street protests and threats by civilian groups to join the armed resistance if U.S. forces were not withdrawn.

On Feb. 26, 500 people marched in protest of the killings. “If the situation remains like this, this province will collapse very soon,” protester Haji Abdul Qadim told the Reuters news service. “People will join the insurgency very soon because of the abuses of these forces.”

In another recent incident brought to international attention on Feb. 26, a Swedish organization that operates health clinics in Afghanistan said that U.S. military forces occupied and damaged one of their clinics in Wardak on Feb. 11.

The Swedish Committee for Afghanistan said in a statement: “Foreign soldiers entered the health facility by force, tied up and blindfolded the guard on duty, and occupied the facility.”

Andreas Stefansson, director of SCA, said that it was the second time one of SCA’s clinics had been occupied by NATO troops. The previous occupation lasted three days. Stefansson said that NATO has promised that such an occupation would not happen again.

“What we are seeking is that they actually live up to what they say,” Stefansson said. (Reuters, Feb. 26)

On Feb. 13, 10 people, including women and children, were killed in a NATO air strike in Kunar province. On June 6, 2012, 18 civilians were killed in a strike in Logar province. The grisly list of “accidental” killings stretches back a decade.

A ‘president’ in name only

These atrocities and the daily abuses that inevitably accompany imperialist occupation are the source of burning anger among the Afghan people. In the eyes of the population, Karzai shares blame with the occupiers for these outrages. Thus, Karzai’s repeated “orders” forbidding Afghan army units from calling in U.S./NATO air support and for U.S. troops to withdraw from Wardak and stop the hated “night raids” on people’s homes.

In reality, the lowest level U.S. commander has greater military authority than does the ‘president’ of the country.

But his proclamations continue to be disregarded by the occupation forces, exposing the actual power relationship in the country. In reality, the lowest level U.S. commander has greater military authority than does the “president” of the country.

Further illuminating both this relationship and the U.S. intention to maintain a dominant role in Afghanistan was a Feb. 3 joint interview with then-Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey. Panetta and Dempsey reaffirmed that the United States would sustain a “strategic partnership” with Afghanistan, citing a decision by the NATO heads of state during a 2012 summit meeting in Chicago to maintain a long-term presence in the country despite a drawdown in the number of U.S. ground troops in the country.

“We’re committing to an enduring presence,” Mr. Panetta said on Feb. 3.

“Strategic partnership” and “enduring presence” are more Washington weasel words for continuing colonial domination over Afghanistan.

On Feb. 26, it was revealed that claims of resistance attacks inside the country declining by 7 percent in 2012 were just one more Pentagon lie. The 7 percent figure was posted on the International Security Assistance Force (the official name of the U.S./NATO force in Afghanistan) website in January, to bolster the administration’s “positive track” line about the war.

When the Associated Press made inquiries about the statistics, NATO officials in Kabul immediately backtracked, stated that they had “erred,” and admitted that in fact, there was no decline at all.

Costs of war

Eleven and a half years of U.S./NATO war and occupation have been a disaster for all but a tiny sliver of the Afghan population.

Despite tens of billions of dollars in U.S.-funded “reconstruction aid,” Afghanistan remains one of the very poorest countries on the face of the Earth. The total U.S. budget for the Afghanistan war is over $640 billion and counting. (Center for Strategic and International Studies)

While U.S. and other NATO-country contractors, and elements of the Afghan elite, have become incredibly rich from this “aid,” the Afghan government presently spends a miniscule $46 per year on health care per person. (GlobalHealthFacts.org)

Afghanistan ranks as the worst country in the world for infant mortality, with a shocking 122 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. (CIA World Factbook 2013) By way of comparison, the infant mortality rate is 6 per 1,000 in the U.S. and 4.8 per 1,000 in Cuba. Life expectancy is just 49 years. Afghanistan is listed as 172nd out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index, with the average adult having 3.3 years of schooling.

In addition to the tens of thousands killed and hundreds of thousands wounded in the war, more than 2.7 million Afghans remain external refugees, most in Pakistan and Iran, and 425,000 are internally displaced. (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 2012

No amount of lying Pentagon propaganda can hide the reality that the war has been an unmitigated disaster for the Afghan people and for the thousands of dead and tens of thousands of maimed troops sent to kill and die there in the interests of empire.

George W. Bush to be Held Accountable for War Crimes

March 5th, 2013 by Global Research News

When the George W. Bush Library and Policy Institute is dedicated on April 25, 2013, at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas, protestors will be there to demand the ex-president be held accountable for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and violations of U.S. and international law. President Barack Obama, former U.S. presidents and many heads of state are expected to attend the dedication ceremony.

A coalition of local, state and national peace and justice groups organizing the protest is inviting people from across the country to participate in an event called “The People’s Response.” According to Leslie Harris of CODEPINK Greater Dallas, “The illegal invasion of a sovereign nation was declared a ‘supreme crime’ at the Nuremberg trials. That Bush and his advisors walk free today is unconscionable; there must be accountability so history won’t repeat itself.”

In addition to demonstrations, organizers are planning on- and off-campus activities to highlight crimes of the Bush administration and the far-reaching effects of an executive branch that was able to act with impunity. Teach-ins and panel discussions on the illegality and consequences of the Iraq war, torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prisons and warrantless surveillance are planned. A film festival showcasing documentaries about the Bush years is also being planned.

Rev. Bill McElvaney, professor emeritus, Perkins School of Theology at SMU, an early opponent of locating the George W. Bush Institute on campus, said, “The invasion of Iraq, and the approval of torture are violations of the United Methodist Social Principles, thus placing Southern Methodist University in contradiction to its own heritage as an institution of The United Methodist Church.”

According to Texas State Representative Lon Burnam, “We demand justice for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths and the thousands of American soldiers who died in this illegal and unjustifiable war.”

Bill Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg were interviewed on Charlie Rose on February 28th, 2013 that mainly focused on the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and how “new approaches” to their agenda can be utilized.  Bill Gates along with Michael Bloomberg has contributed large sums of money to numerous causes such as the Global Polio Eradication Initiative originally launched in 1988 by the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).Bill Gates has been in the forefront for the depopulation agenda which he publically stated in 2010 during a conference for TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) that “The world today has 6.8 billion people… that’s headed up to about 9 billion. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent.”   The Charlie Rose interview was an indication on how new technological advances can possibly help them vaccinate the majority of children in the Third World including Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries throughout Africa.  The technology used to track children for vaccinations is dangerous.  It sets the precedence to target children in many Third World countries.  Charlie Rose asked Bill Gates about the “New Approaches” used in the process:

Charlie Rose: You mentioned the five or a six year plan the new initiative has learning from old lessons and therefore, coming up with new approaches.  What are the new approaches?

Bill Gates: Well, we’re able to use new technology like satellite photos to see are there people moving around, nomadic roots.  You know we see if when we go out to get all the children, if there’s some settlement areas that we’ve actually missed.  We also put a – – a phone in the vaccine box they carry around that looks where they’re located every three minutes and so it has that GPS data.  At the end of the day you plug that in and compare it to where they were asked to go, and you can see if you’re – you’re really covering all the kids.

The “New Technology” used to locate children to administer vaccinations is a method that will be introduced to many countries targeted for depopulation.  It is a scenario that poses a threat to humanity.  The Polio vaccine has contributed to the more deadly ‘Non-Polio Acute Flaccid Paralysis (NPAFP)’.  NPAFP is not any different from polio paralysis, but it is twice as dangerous.

In an article titled “Study: Polio vaccine campaign in India has caused 12-fold increase in deadly paralysis condition” by alternative health website naturalnews.com staff writer Ethan A. Huff reported that:

“The mainstream media has been busy hailing the supposed success of India’s polio vaccine campaign over the past few years, with many news outlets now claiming that the disease has been fully eradicated throughout the country. But what these misinformation puppets are failing to disclose is the fact that cases of non-polio acute flaccid paralysis (NPAFP), a much more serious condition than that caused by polio, have skyrocketed as a result of the vaccine’s widespread administration”

What the polio vaccine has done was increase a more severe condition called non-polio acute flaccid paralysis (NPAFP).

In 2011, for instance, the year in which India was declared to be polio-free, there were 47,500 known cases of NPAFP, which is a shockingly high figure under the circumstances. And based on data collected from India’s National Polio Surveillance Project, cases of NPAFP across India rose dramatically in direct proportion to the number of polio vaccines administered, which suggests that the vaccines were responsible for spurring the rapid spread of this deadly condition.

Not only has NPAFP increased 12 times due to the Polio Vaccine campaign, the cost to India increased 100 times more than the original amount as well.  Huff wrote: 

According to the IJME report, the entire polio vaccine scam in India was spawned from initial grants made by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and various other groups that claimed the program would eventually pay off. But the overall costs once India started paying for the program quickly ballooned to more than 100 times the initial investment amount, with more than $2.5 billion and counting still being funneled into it.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is a fraud.  But more importantly, it is a dangerous step towards forced inoculations by the global elites who claim that their philanthropies are supposed to help people.  Overall, it sets a dangerous path towards an Orwellian society that will be monitored and targeted for vaccinations that do more harm than good.  The ultimate goal is depopulation, not saving populations.

Una década después de la invasión de Iraq encabezada por Estados Unidos la destrucción causada por la ocupación extranjera y el régimen subsiguiente ha tenido un impacto generalizado sobre la vida diaria de los iraquíes, el ejemplo más alarmante de lo cual es la violencia en contra de las mujeres. Al mismo tiempo, la política con atuendo religioso del régimen sectario está forzando que las mujeres pierdan todo tipo de derechos que se habían ganado con mucho esfuerzo: empleo, libertad de movimiento, matrimonio civil, prestaciones de asistencia y el derecho a la educación y a la atención sanitaria.

A pesar de ello, las mujeres tratan de sobrevivir y buscan protección para ellas y sus familias. Pero para muchas de ellas, la violencia a la que se enfrentan proviene de la misma institución que debería garantizar su seguridad: el gobierno. Los altos cargos del régimen iraquí se suelen hacer eco de los mismos desmentidos que las autoridades de ocupación británico-estadounidenses y afirman que hay muy pocas mujeres iraquíes detenidas o ninguna. Una cantidad cada vez mayor de organizaciones de derechos humanos internacionales e iraquíes informan una realidad bien diferente.

La difícil situación por la que atraviesan las mujeres detenidas fue el detonante de las protestas generalizadas que se han extendido por muchas provincias iraquíes desde el 25 de diciembre de 2012. El trato que las mujeres han recibido de las fuerzas de seguridad es una herida ensangrentada que, además, está rodeada de secretismo, especialmente desde 2003. Se ha detenido de forma rutinaria a las mujeres como rehenes, una táctica para obligar a sus seres queridos masculinos a rendirse a las fuerzas de seguridad o a confesar los crímenes que se les imputan. En las pancartas y paneles que llevan los cientos de miles de manifestantes se ven las fotografías de las mujeres encarceladas que piden justicia.

Según el parlamentario iraquí Mohamed al-Dainy, entre 2003 y 2007 hubo 1.053 casos de violaciones documentadas (pdf) cometidas por los soldados de la ocupación y las fuerzas iraquíes. Los abogados que defendieron a personas que habían estado presas afirman que las prácticas de detención británicas entre 2003 y 2008 incluyeron asesinatos ilegales, golpes, el encapuchar a las personas presas, privación de sueño, obligarlas a desnudarse y humillaciones sexuales, que en muchos casos afectaron a mujeres y niños. Los abogados de las personas presas afirman que los abusos fueron endémicos y provenían de “los sistemas, la forma de dirección y el adiestramiento” del ejército británico.


Foto: En 2008, una mujer iraquí pasa al lado de un soldado británico y de un vehículo militar con un cartel con un dólar impreso en el que está escrito en árabe “Puedes conseguir algo dinero a cambio de alguna información”. Foto Essam al-Sudani/AFP/Getty Images

Estas mismas fuerzas de ocupación adiestraron a las fuerzas iraquíes. Según informó The Washington Post, hubo frecuentes abusos mientras las fuerzas iraquíes estaban bajo la supervisión de comandantes estadounidenses, lo cuales no mostraron deseos de intervenir:

“De todo el derramamiento de sangre en Iraq, nada puede ser más perturbador que la campaña de tortura y asesinato llevada a cabo por las fuerzas de policía adiestradas por Estados Unidos”.

En el periodo posterior a Abu Ghraib las personas presas fueron entregadas a las fuerzas iraquíes. Esto les permitió torturarles al tiempo que las fuerzas de ocupación podían negar toda responsabilidad en ello.

Hoy Iraq puede jactarse de tener uno de los índices de ejecución de la pena de muerte más altos del mundo. En un solo día, el 19 de enero de 2012, se ejecutó a 34 personas, entre ellas dos mujeres, algo que la Alta Comisionada de la ONU para los Derechos Humanos Navi Pillay [1] consideró impactante:

“Dada la falta de transparencia en los procesos judiciales, [existe] una preocupación aún mayor por la existencia de un proceso debido y la imparcialidad de los juicios, y por la muy amplia cantidad de delitos por los se que se puede imponer al pena de muerte en Iraq”.

No es de extrañar que diez años después de la invasión la organización basada en Estados Unidos Human Rights Watch haya acusado a las autoridades iraquíes de “violar con impunida los derechos de los ciudadanos iraquíes más vulnerables, especialmente las mujeres y los presos”. Se hace eco de este informe de HRW otro informe de los comités de derechos humanos y mujer, familia y niños del propio parlamento iraquí, que concluyó que hay 1.030 mujeres presas que padecen abusos generalizados, entre los que se incluyen las amenazas de violación.

En respuesta a estas conclusiones, el primer ministro Nouri al-Maliki amenazó con “detener a aquellos miembros del parlamento que hayan hablado de violencia hacia las mujeres presas”. Mientras tanto, el vice-primer ministro Hussain al-Shahristani ha reconocido que hay 13.000 presos con cargos de terrorismo, pero solo de pasada mencionó a las mujeres presas:

“Hemos trasladado a todas las mujeres presas a cárceles en las provincias en las que han nacido”.

Las declaraciones de Al-Shahristani son una más de la larga lista de declaraciones contradictorias y engañosas hechas por los más altos cargos del régimen, desde la declaración de al-Maliki de que “solo hay unas cuantas mujeres terroristas” hasta su contradictoria promesa de que perdonará a todas “las mujeres presas detenidas sin una orden judicial o en vez de algún familiar masculino que hubiera cometido un crimen”. Esta afirmación vino seguida de un desfile de nueve mujeres vestidas de negro de los pies a la cabeza en el canal oficial del Estado, al-Iraqiya, como un gesto de la “buena voluntad” del régimen.

Los manifestantes y las organizaciones de derechos humanos iraquíes calculan que hay 5.000 mujeres presas. La verdad se va sabiendo muy poco a poco. Hace unas semanas fueron liberadas 168 presas y se prometió liberar a otras 32. Todavía no se ha llevado ante la justicia a ninguna persona acusada de tortura, de violación o de abusos.

Y se suponía que todo iba a ser tan diferente. Eso fue lo que se prometió a las mujeres iraquíes.

Después de la invasión de Iraq se creó un sistema de cuota política para garantizar que al menos el 25% de los miembros del Parlamento fueran mujeres. Esto se jaleó como un gran logro del “Nuevo Iraq” en comparación con el 8% de representación femenina bajo el régimen baathista. Pero esta estadística simbólica se ha esgrimido con frecuencia para encubrir los crímenes del régimen en contra de las mujeres.

La realidad es que desde entonces el gobierno de al-Maliki ha prescindido de la cuota para los puestos en el gobierno: de los 44 ministerios solo hay una mujer ministro. Pero incluso este nombramiento contiene una lúgubre ironía: la ministra para Asuntos de las Mujeres, Ibtihal al-Zaidi, no dudó en afirmar:

“Estoy en contra de la igualdad entre hombres y mujeres. Si las mujeres son iguales a los hombres, van a perder mucho”.

Quizá no resulte sorprendente que muchas organizaciones de mujeres hayan pedido la desaparición del ministerio para Asuntos de las Mujeres después de que la ministra adoptara una postura en contra de los derechos de las mujeres en vez de en favor de estos.

Los derechos humanos, incluyendo los derechos de las mujeres, son la prueba decisiva de la democracia. Las declaraciones de los altos cargos, incluyendo las del primer ministro, demuestran que, contrariamente a lo que algunos iraquíes habían esperado, en realidad los “liberadores” han establecido las condiciones para que continúe la injusticia. Y esto, a su vez, da lugar al extremismo.

[1] Véase “Iraq anuncia 21 ejecuciones en un día”, http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=163404

(N. de la T.)

Fuente: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/25/iraqi-women-american-promise-democracy

Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

Image: White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, who is President Barack Obama’s nominee to be CIA director.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski and other defenders of CIA Director-nominee John Brennan say they are reassured by his Jesuit education at Fordham that he must be well-grounded in moral philosophy. But two Fordham alumni, Scott McDonald and Ray McGovern, disagree in this open letter to Mikulski.

From: Scott McDonald and Ray McGovern

To: Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland

Subject: Misplaced Trust in “Values” of John Brennan

Dear Senator Mikulski:

During John Brennan’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on February 7, you expressed yourself as being reassured by his values and Jesuit education, suggesting you may intend to vote to approve his nomination to be Director of the CIA. We believe your trust in Mr. Brennan is misplaced.

Despite the fact that Mr. Brennan holds a degree from Fordham College, a Jesuit college and our Alma Mater, we contend that he has failed to live the mission that is compelled by his education, his Alma Mater, and his religion. In no way is he a man “for and with others.”

To live up to the Jesuit mission, to be a man or woman “for others,” is to stand on the side of the oppressed in opposition to structures of oppression and violence. Mr. Brennan, a man who has built a career designing, implementing, and defending such structures, can more aptly be described as a “man for extrajudicial assassinations,” “a man for torture and rendering,” or “a man for government secrecy and deception.”

During your brief questioning of Mr. Brennan, you suggested that his Jesuit education, along with what you believe to be his values, inclined him to “speak truth to power, to speak truth about power.” While a sound Jesuit education calls one not only to be honest, but also to challenge unjust power structures, Mr. Brennan has a record of anything but honesty, having repeatedly lied about the CIA drone campaign, including whether or not it even existed, and the number of civilian deaths it has caused.

Mr. Brennan has served as the Administration’s mouthpiece in deceiving the American people and Congress about a program of extrajudicial killings, including the targeting and killing of American citizens.

Mr. Brennan has defended the use of torture by the United States, as well as the U.S. secret prison system throughout the world. He has also openly endorsed the United States’ rendition policies, which effectively circumvent due process and habeas corpus and outsource America’s torture regime to client states.

Senator Mikulski, you and 20 other Democratic Senators, were able to see through the “intelligence” that deceived most of your colleagues into voting in October 2002 to authorize war on Iraq — intelligence later described by Senate Intelligence Committee chair Jay Rockefeller as “unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.”

Your expressed inclination to trust Mr. Brennan leads us to conclude that you have not performed due diligence in looking into his role, as right-hand-man to then-Director George Tenet, in that consequential intelligence fraud. You voted to approve the bipartisan Intelligence Committee report of June 2008 that prompted those devastating remarks by Sen. Rockefeller. And so, we assume you are aware that that “intelligence” was not “mistaken” – as many still claim – but, rather, fraudulent.

As fellow graduates of Fordham College, who try to live out the mission of our education, we feel it is our duty to voice serious concern and opposition not only to the nomination of Mr. Brennan as Director of the CIA, but to Mr. Brennan’s repeated use of his Jesuit education and his warped understanding of Augustine’s “just war theory” to try to justify the unjustifiable, and to serve as a shield of Jesuit morality around the Administration and the CIA’s immoral and unlawful policies abroad. We find this abuse of Jesuit moral and ethical training offensive.

Mr. Brennan should be challenged to reconcile his education with his professional conduct. Reviewing his record, we find it highly doubtful that the two can be reconciled. We therefore urge you, as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to vote against confirming him as CIA Director.

Sincerely,

Scott McDonald, B.S. summa cum laude (Phi Beta Kappa), 2012, Fordham
Ray McGovern, B.A. summa cum laude (Phi Beta Kappa), 1961, Fordham

 

Scott McDonald graduated from Fordham College in 2012 with a B.S. in Physics and a minor in Mathematics. He plans to enroll in law school this fall and eventually pursue a career practicing law in the public interest. 

Ray McGovern graduated from Fordham College in 1961 with a B.A. in Russian. He served as a CIA analyst for 27 years and now works with “Tell the Word” at the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.

Washington Steps up Africa Intervention

March 5th, 2013 by Bill Van Auken

The Obama administration is “markedly widening its role” in the escalating French-led neo-colonial war in Mali, according to a report published Monday in the Wall Street Journal.

According to unnamed French officials cited in the report, US Reaper drones have been utilized to track down alleged Islamist fighters in the Ifoghas mountain region of northern Mali, supplying targeting information for some 60 French airstrikes in just the past week.

A force of 1,200 French troops alongside another 800 US-trained special forces soldiers from Chad and units of Mali’s own army have engaged in fierce clashes with the insurgents, who have operated in the region for many years and are well acquainted with its terrain.

Given the new, more violent stage of the war—which as of Sunday had claimed the lives of three French Foreign Legionnaires and dozens of African troops—the French Foreign Ministry announced last week that it would not withdraw its 4,000-strong expeditionary force “in haste,” effectively signaling that a withdrawal previously scheduled for later this month would almost certainly be postponed. French officials told the Associated Press that the country’s troops would remain in Mali at least until July.

Chadian officials claimed over the weekend that the country’s troops had killed Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who is alleged to have led the armed group that seized the Amenas oilfield in Algeria in January. Belmokhtar is said to have links with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

“Chadian forces have totally destroyed the principal bases of the jihadists in the Adrar massif of the Ifoghas [mountains], to be more precise in the town of Ametetai,” Chad’s military command announced on Saturday. The announcement came one day after Chad’s president, Idriss Déby, claimed that another AQIM leader, Abou Zeid, had been killed in the same operation.

French and US officials were more cautious about the claims, saying that they had been unable to verify the killings. Washington has extensive experience with reporting alleged jihadists having been killed, only to have them turn up again very much alive.

French military commander Adm. Edouard Guillaud cautioned in an interview on Monday that while the deaths were “likely,” the French forces did not recover the bodies of the two men. Guillaud urged “extreme caution,” warning, “there is always the risk of being contradicted later by a dated video.”

The stepped-up use of US drones in the Mali war follows last month’s announcement of the deployment of at least 100 US troops to neighboring Niger, where an agreement was reached with the local government to allow Washington to set up a drone base on the country’s territory. While presently, the US claims that it is only flying unarmed surveillance drones, the establishment of the base creates the conditions for the Obama administration to spread its campaign of remote-control killings throughout West and Central Africa.

While justifying its intervention as a response to the growing presence of Al Qaeda-linked forces—which overran northern Mali only after they were utilized by Washington as ground troops in the US-NATO war to topple the regime of Col. Muammar Gaddafi in neighboring Libya—the real aims being pursued by US imperialism are asserting US hegemony over the region’s extensive oil, uranium and other mineral wealth and countering the rising economic influence of China.

The Journal article quoted an unnamed Western official as stating that the US role in Mali represented a “rare North African success story,” in which Washington had rolled out a new “counterterrorism strategy of working ‘by, with and through’ local forces.”

In other words, US imperialism is attempting to prosecute its predatory campaign in Africa by counting on the region’s servile national bourgeois elites to provide African troops as a proxy force.

“In recent years,” the Journal reports, “a Joint US Special Operations Task Force in Africa has provided Chad’s Special Anti-Terrorism Group, the unit involved in the operations last week, that allegedly killed Mr. Belmokhtar and Mr. Zeid, with equipment, training and logistical support.”

Chad has reported that 26 soldiers from the unit have been killed since the launching of the offensive in Mali.

Chadian officials acknowledged that the Chadian unit fighting in Mali, the Special Anti-Terrorism Group, had been trained by US Green Berets. According to the Journal , US officials claimed that “American forces didn’t accompany the Chadian unit into Mali.” Any such direct involvement by US forces in ground fighting in Mali would undoubtedly be carried out covertly.

In addition to the Chadian unit, other US-trained African troops are being readied for possible deployment to Mali.

Gen. Carter Ham, the chief of AFRICOM, the US military command overseeing the African continent, flew last week to Mauritania for closed-door meetings with the country’s president, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, and senior military officials. He also addressed Mauritanian, US and French soldiers engaged in combined military exercises in southern Mauritania, near the border with Mali.

The exercise, known as “Flintlock 2013,” is part of an annual series organized by Pentagon since 2000, before the so-called “global war on terror” and the invocation of Al Qaeda as a pretext for worldwide interventions.

On Monday, Abdel Aziz, speaking at a joint press conference with Niger’s president, Mahamadou Issoufou, said that he was prepared to send Mauritanian troops to Mali “to provide stability and security.” He said his government would “take on this responsibility as soon as possible,” while adding that it had already deployed troops to the country’s border with Mali to block supply lines and escape routes for insurgents there.

While the US-French intervention in Mali has been cast as a humanitarian venture aimed at rescuing the Malian people from Islamists, the reality is that the war has unleashed immense human suffering.

The United Nations refugee agency has reported that some 40,000 Malians have fled the fighting, seeking safety in refugee camps in neighboring Burkina Faso. The bulk of those crowded into the refugee camps in Dijbo, in northern Burkina Faso, are Tuaregs, who left to escape the French bombing and out of fear that Malian troops would exact retribution on the minority population for having risen in revolt against the central government.

Another 4,000 have fled into Mauritania since France, backed by Washington, launched its military intervention on January 11. A week after the initiation of the neo-colonial war, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees warned that “in the near future there could be up to 300,000 people additionally displaced inside Mali, and over 400,000 additionally displaced in the neighboring countries.” This assessment is rapidly being confirmed.

“We are scared of reprisal killings,” Malian refugees told the UN news agency IRIN. “We are scared of attacks from Malian soldiers. No one dares return.” The news agency reported that farming families had been unable to tend their fields because of the fighting and had fled in fear of starvation. It also reported that, while schools have reopened in the city of Timbuktu, they are largely empty because so many students and teachers have joined the surge of refugees.

“Who can assure our safety, our security? No one. I do not have confidence in anyone,” Timbuktu school director Amhedo Ag Hamama, now volunteering as a teacher in Mbéra refugee camp in eastern Mauritania, told IRIN.

Stocks of food and water are proving inadequate to deal with the number of refugees, threatening to produce a humanitarian catastrophe.

South America – Venezuela in particular – has been the target of a coordinated campaign by the US government and private industry over the past few years. But those of us who have been paying attention know this is nothing new.

WikiLeaks recently published new documents showing that US global intelligence corporations like Stratfor and its foreign offshoot CANVAS worked hard over the past decade (aided and abetted by US Government agencies) in a failed attempt to overthrow Venezuela’s democratically elected president Hugo Chavez.

Meddling in the ‘Backyard’

The US corporate over-world has always worked closely with the CIA, the State Department and the Pentagon promoting the overthrow – known as “regime change in rogue states” – of governments that do not automatically align to US interests; or, better said, of governments that do not automatically align with the interests of the supra-national global power elite that is deeply embedded inside private and public power structures in the US.

A supporter of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hangs a pair of shoes at the front of the US embassy in Caracas. (AFP Photo / Juan Baretto)

A supporter of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hangs a pair of shoes at the front of the US embassy in Caracas. (AFP Photo / Juan Baretto)

 

This has been especially true throughout Latin America, traditionally America’s geopolitical and economic backyard, from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego.

For example, September 11th of this year (of all dates!) marks the 40th anniversary of the CIA-backed, financed and orchestrated overthrow and assassination of Chile’s democratically elected president, Salvador Allende.

Allende was replaced by a pro-US and pro-UK military junta headed by General Augusto Pinochet.  At the time, private corporations like ITT worked hand in hand with CIA operatives promoting strikes, social turmoil and waging psychological warfare through the local media.  Then it was Chile; now it’s Venezuela.

 

General Augusto Pinochet (left) poses with Chilean president and Marxist leader Salvador Allende 23 August 1973 in Santiago. (AFP Photo)

General Augusto Pinochet (left) poses with Chilean president and Marxist leader Salvador Allende 23 August 1973 in Santiago. (AFP Photo)

 

In fact, the 1970s and 1980s saw the Kissinger-designed and executed ‘Condor Plan’ finance and diplomatically support various military coups and regimes not only in Chile but in Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay and other countries in the region.

 

Such US-UK support for authoritarian and criminal regimes would only stop when some Latin American general like Argentina’s General Leopoldo Galtieri went too far by doing something really stupid, like Argentina’s 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands.

 

Relatives of Argentine soldiers who died during Argentina's 1982 war over the Falkland Islands decorate tombs at a cemetery. (AFP Photo / Angeline Montoya)

Relatives of Argentine soldiers who died during Argentina’s 1982 war over the Falkland Islands decorate tombs at a cemetery. (AFP Photo / Angeline Montoya)

 

Barring that, all those US-backed coups used local military strongmen trained in the US Military’s School of the Americas in Panama to do as they pleased in their local countries, as long as: (a) they kept those countries aligned to US geopolitical imperatives which during the Cold War meant being staunchly anti-Communist; (b) accepted Chicago-Boys-style financial dependency and artificially created public debts; (c) kept local populations in permanent fear and thus ‘disciplined and orderly.’

Since the fall of the former Soviet Union, however, these tactics changed dramatically.  Now US control over Latin American countries is centred on promoting ‘democracy.’ Well, actually, “the kind of democracy that we want to see,” as Hillary Clinton so eloquently put it when visiting ‘Arab Spring Egypt’ back in March 2011.

 

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C) shakes hands with Egyptians as she takes an unannounced walk through Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the 18 days of protests that overthrew long time ally Hosni Mubarak, on March 16, 2011. (AFP Photo / Paul J. Richards)

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C) shakes hands with Egyptians as she takes an unannounced walk through Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the 18 days of protests that overthrew long time ally Hosni Mubarak, on March 16, 2011. (AFP Photo / Paul J. Richards)

Such money-controlled democracy is, of course, no democracy at all, but rather an obscene money-sloshing and media clownery system that catapults their favourite candidates into local positions of power.

When the US has its way as in Mexico, Colombia and Chile, and their candidates win local elections, then it’s all business as usual.

But when growing political awareness among the local populace elects presidents into power who prioritize the local national interest as in Ecuador (who just re-elected their fine president Rafael Correa), Bolivia (Evo Morales) and, most notably, Venezuela with Hugo Chavez, then the ‘regime change’ mega-juggernaut comes into full action.

Public and private initiative

In America, you never know whether it’s the White House and Congress running the country and the corporate over-world, or if it’s the other way around: The corporate over-world runs the White House, Congress and the country.

Recent WikiLeaks documents released on Venezuela describes Stratfor as “a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defence Intelligence Agency.”

“The emails,” WikiLeaks goes on to explain, “show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment laundering techniques and psychological methods.”

The filtered emails cover a wide range of issues on the energy sector, especially oil; political change and the state of right-wing forces inside Venezuela; and the state of the country’s armed forces. They also refer to Venezuela’s relations with Cuba, China, Russia and Iran, and provide bleak projections for the economy and the financial sector.

The Serbian-based and US-supported Center for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) is yet another such ‘global intelligence’ front of what, in practice, are organizations specializing in engineering social turmoil – even civil war – as countries like Serbia, Libya, Afghanistan and Syria have painfully learned.

The leaked emails from CANVAS had them explaining their recommended strategy for toppling governments, as in one revealing message to Stratfor:

“When somebody asks us for help, as in Vene (sic!) case, we usually ask them the question ‘and how would you do it?’. That means that the first thing is to create a situational analysis (the word doc I sent you) and after that comes “Mission Statement” (still left to be done) and then “Operational Concept”, which is the plan for campaign… For this case we have three campaigns: Unification of opposition, campaign for [September 2010 parliamentary elections] and parallel with that a ‘get out and vote’ campaign.”

Very straightforward!

Stratfor Global Intelligence CEO George Friedman (AFP Photo/Ronaldo Schemidt)

Stratfor Global Intelligence CEO George Friedman (AFP Photo/Ronaldo Schemidt)

Stratfor’s founder and chairman is one George Friedman, who is regularly interviewed in the Wall Street Journal, CNBC and CNN and is advisor to JPMorganChase, CitiGroup and Ernst & Young.  Stratfor’s president & CEO is Shea Morenz, who for many years was a senior officer at Goldman Sachs.  Not exactly corporations and megabanks bent on promoting the common good of the people of Venezuela, or of any other country in Latin America or elsewhere.

Clearly, there are no sharp lines separating these private intelligence publishers and analysts, think tanks like the Council on Foreign Relations, RAND Corporation, National Endowment for Democracy and major corporations, from public US-Government agencies like the CIA, NSA, USAID and the State Department.

In fact, throughout Latin America, lucid political observers will always keep an eye on what ‘La Embajada’ is up to. ‘La Embajada’ is Spanish for ‘The Embassy’ –  not just any embassy, of course, but the local Embassy of the United States.

No surprise then to learn that this batch of WikiLeaks documents reveals US-based firms working to overthrow Hugo Chavez by assisting and financing opposition candidates like Henrique Capriles Radonsky, who was Chavez’s main opposition candidate, coming in second place in last year’s presidential elections.

Venezuela's Democratic Unity coalition presidential candidates Capriles Radonsky. (AFP Photo / Juan Barreto)

Venezuela’s Democratic Unity coalition presidential candidates Capriles Radonsky. (AFP Photo / Juan Barreto)

Capriles Radonsky is strongly backed by US, European and Israeli  interests, thanks to his notable alignment to those countries’ objectives in Venezuela and the region.  Of Jewish background – in a country with a very tiny Jewish community – Radonsky promises to steer Venezuela away from the close ties forged by Chavez with Iran, Cuba, Russia, China and (until it was overrun and destroyed by NATO) also Libya.

Due to President Chavez’s ailing health, this public-private US initiative is again hard at work promoting all opposition forces inside Venezuela, whilst they eagerly await good news (for them) about president Chavez’s condition, hoping that he may have to relinquish the presidency he won late last year, which would mean new elections in a Venezuela without Chavez.

That would spell real tragedy for that country, as the US public-private initiative would again go into full ‘lets-get-our-boy-into-the-Miraflores-presidential-palace-in-Caracas’ Mode.

Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gather at Simon Bolivar Square in Caracas. (AFP Photo / Juan Baretto)

Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gather at Simon Bolivar Square in Caracas. (AFP Photo / Juan Baretto)

 

A tragedy not just for Venezuela but for the entire region as well, where the US continues holding full sway in countries like Colombia – whose president Juan Manuel Santos is a member of the Rockefeller-funded, New York-based ‘Americas Society’ that promotes in-roads into Latin America for the powerful Council on Foreign Relations, whose head office is just across the street from them on Park Avenue at 57th Street. And Mexico recently elected pro-US rich-boy Enrique Peña Nieto as president. Two countries where it’s business as usual.

‘Make it look like a democratic election’

In advising on how to engineer destabilisation, CANVAS told Stratfor, that “We only give them the tools to use.” Referring to the 2010 parliamentary elections, they wrote, “This year we are definitely ramping up activity in Venezuela… they have elections in September and we are in close connection with activists from there and people trying to help them (please keep this to yourself for now, no publication). The first phase of our preparation is under way.”

So, this is “the kind of democracy the US wants to see.” Or, as Don Corleone in ‘The Godfather’ would recommend to agents and operatives if he sat in the State Department or the CIA: “Make it look like a democratic election.” 

Maybe Corleone’s best disciples are actually running the show after all.

AFP Photo / Geraldo Caso

AFP Photo / Geraldo Caso

 

Adrian Salbuchi is a political analyst, author, speaker and radio/TV commentator in Argentina.


 

United Kingdom Funds Al Qaeda Syria Terrorists

March 5th, 2013 by Tony Cartalucci

 Resorting to name-calling, the United Kingdom’s legitimacy slumped further still as it stubbornly maintained its support for terrorists attempting to overthrow the Syrian government, now unsuccessfully for over 2 years. Unlike in Libya where NATO was able to militarily intervene directly and overthrow the Libyan government before the public realized the so-called “rebels” were in fact the US State Department, United Nations, and the UK Home Office (page 5, .pdf)-listed Al Qaeda terrorist organization, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), the West’s assault on Syria has dragged on much longer.

Image: (left to right) Foreign Secretary William Hague, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and the Al Qaeda-coddling Moaz al-Khatib, are all, by US criminal code, providing material support to terrorist organizations, more specifically, Al Qaeda. Hague has even expressed a desire to directly arm these terrorists.

….

So long in fact, that the entire world is now acutely aware of the so-called “rebels,” their overt affiliations and membership amongst Al Qaeda, the serial atrocities they’ve committed, and the draconian, barbaric sectarian (and quite “undemocratic”) rule they plan on imposing, already on display in northern Syria where extremist cleric, Moaz al-Khatib, designated by the West as the “opposition leader,” recently visited.

Al-Khatib is portrayed as a “moderate” by the Western media, which makes a point of repeating this every time al-Khatib’s name is mentioned. His profile, as provided by the BBC states:

Mr Khatib is not allied to any political party and is known as a moderate who has called for political pluralism and strongly opposes sectarian divisions among Syrians

“We demand freedom for every Sunni, Alawite, Ismaili (Shia), Christian, Druze, Assyrian … and rights for all parts of the harmonious Syrian people,” he said after being elected leader of the National Coalition.

Of course, his carefully crafted image and rhetoric is overshadowed by his actual deeds, which included his openly embracing Al Qaeda in December of 2012, demanding that the US delist Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, al-Nusra, as a terrorist organization. Reuters quoted al-Khatib as saying:

“The decision to consider a party that is fighting the regime as a terrorist party needs to be reviewed. We might disagree with some parties and their ideas and their political and ideological vision. But we affirm that all the guns of the rebels are aimed at overthrowing the tyrannical criminal regime.”

Al-Khatib’s comments not only indicated his support for Al Qaeda, but revealed his “opposition” front’s collaboration with the terrorist organization, admittedly leading the fighting across Syria from Daraa in the south, to Idlib and Aleppo in the north, and all along Syria’s border with Iraq, where the very extremists the US fought for nearly 10 years are slinking over the border and now being portrayed as “freedom fighters” by the Western media. It should also be noted that al-Nusra is guilty of some of the most heinous atrocities of the Syrian conflict, including a recent, indiscriminate car bombing in Damascus which killed over 50 people, including school children.

More recently, Al-Khatib, even as he prepared to receive millions in aid from the West, including the US and UK, reiterated his support for Al Qaeda. The Washington Post’s article, “U.S. announces expanded battlefield aid to Syrian rebels, but not arms,” stated:

Coalition chairman Mouaz al-Khatib angrily appealed for a humanitarian corridor to the besieged city of Homs and said the rebels are tired of Western complaints about extremists in their ranks. He argued that the real enemy is the Assad regime but said too many outsiders are worried only about “the length of a beard of a fighter.”

“No terrorists in the world have such a savage nature as those in the regime,” Khatib said in Arabic.

The Syrian opposition leader’s finger-jabbing anger was in marked contrast to Kerry’s clipped and measured tone. Kerry looked at Khatib without expression as the Syrian spoke.

Al-Khatib’s history as a “cleric,” and his continuous, open, and adamant support for Al Qaeda, even in the wake of repeated atrocities, should be a prompt for the West to add him and his “opposition” organization to its list of foreign terrorist organizations. Anti-terrorist legislation in both the US and UK stipulate that any individual or organization providing material support for a listed terrorist organization is guilty of a criminal offense. Clearly not only does al-Khatib qualify, but so does US Secretary of State John Kerry and his British counterpart Foreign Secretary William Hague, as they hand Al Qaeda-coddling al-Khatib millions to carry on his open support of terrorism.

Syria’s President Assad Called “Delusional” for Reading West’s Own Documented Admissions

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad recently berated the West for its hypocritical support of terrorism in Syria, and likened the West’s attempt to portray itself as attempting to bring peace to Syria to an arsonist trying to put out a fire. While the UK’s Foreign Secretary William Hague resorted to juvenile name-calling as he dismissed accusations that his government is sponsoring international terrorism, President Assad is simply reading articles dating back to 2007 where Western officials openly admitted their plan to use terrorist extremists to overthrow the Syrian government – not for promoting “democracy,” but specifically to undermine and overthrow Iran in turn.

Both Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh’s New Yorker 2007 article, “The Redirection,” and the Wall Street Journal’s 2007 article, “To Check Syria, U.S. Explores Bond With Muslim Brothers,” tell a narrative of a West actively arming and funding sectarian extremists with direct ties to Al Qaeda even then, to begin undermining and overthrowing both Syria and Iran. The conspiracy admitted to then, is now openly being executed to horrific effect in Syria and along its peripheries.

William Hague and John Kerry can deny, spin, and coverup the fact that they are funding and arming Al Qaeda either directly or through a series of increasingly obvious proxies, millions to overthrow the Syrian government, but Syrian President Assad is by no means “delusional” as Hague childishly accused, for pointing out this documented and increasingly transparent conspiracy. Hague, it would appear, would also have us believe the New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh and the staff at the Wall Street Journal are likewise “delusional.”

It is important that we identify the corporate-financier interests driving this increasingly unhinged, unraveling agenda – interests we most likely patronize on a daily basis, and both boycott and permanently replace them to erode the unwarranted influence they have used to both plan and execute this assault on Syria’s people. Today it is Syria, surely tomorrow, if they succeed, it will be us.

Shadow Justice in the UK: Britain’s “Secret Courts”

March 5th, 2013 by Global Research News

Civil liberties campaigners vowed to continue fighting Government plans for secret court hearings in sensitive national security cases after MPs rejected stronger safeguards.

Ministers comfortably saw off a bid to reinstate amendments made by the House of Lords despite Labour securing the support of a number of Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs.

Several prominent Labour ex-ministers defied their own party’s position to back the Government in last night’s vote on controversial elements of the Justice and Security Bill.

An attempt to make judges balance national security against the public interest of open justice was defeated by 297 votes to 226, majority 71, in what opponents called a “dark night for British justice”.

Minister Kenneth Clarke insisted the measures were essential to enable sensitive intelligence material to be introduced in a small number of civil cases where the state is being sued.

The alternative, he said, was that the Government would be unable defend the action and could be forced to pay out millions in compensation – as happened with a series of former Guantanamo Bay detainees.

The defeated changes, originally passed in the House of Lords only to be reversed by the Government in the Commons committee going through the Bill line-by-line, would have made the legislation impossible to operate, he said.

The vote came after former Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf said the legislation already ensured the operation of closed material proceedings was under the “complete control” of the judge in any case.

Critics complain though that CMPs undermine the principle of open justice and allow the security services to cover up involvement in abuse and torture.

Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan told the Commons that while he accepted the difficulty of “reconciling the issues of justice and security” the legislation was not “proportionate to the scale of the problem”.

Among prominent Tories backing the amendments was Andrew Tyrie who said they were “about whether people can get to hear the case made against them, and whether we can keep legal safeguards we have had for generations”.

Analysis of division lists revealed seven Liberal Democrats rebelled to support the public interest test amendment, including party president Tim Farron, deputy leader Simon Hughes and former minister Sarah Teather.

The issue is set to provide a renewed confrontation this weekend between Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and his party activists – who last year voted overwhelmingly to oppose the legislation – at the Lib Dem spring conference in Brighton.

Labour former foreign secretary Jack Straw backed the legislation, however, telling MPs it was about “how you protect the sources of information on which intelligence depends”.

Party colleague Hazel Blears, a former counter terrorism minister, also gave her support.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said last night: “History teaches that politicians abandon ancient legal principles at their peril. Today’s cover-up is tomorrow’s scandal.

“The opposition to turning British courts into secret commissions continues. Once again, we look to the House of Lords to defeat Secret Courts and defend the Rule of Law.”

Clare Algar, executive director of Reprieve, said: “This has been a dark night for British justice.

“These plans for secret courts were always dangerous and unnecessary, but the failure of even minor attempts to modify the Bill means that it is even worse than when it first reached the House of Commons.

“MPs must now vote against the Bill altogether if they want to defend British justice.

“Should that fail, the House of Lords will be the only thing standing in the way of plans which would mean the end of the right to a fair trial in a vast range of civil cases.”

Speaking after the vote, Mr Khan said: “It’s disappointing that Labour’s attempts to reintroduce checks and balances into the Government’s plans for closed material proceedings have been defeated by the Tories and Lib Dems.

“This had the support of the Government’s own Independent Reviewer of Terrorism and the Joint Committee of Human Rights. We will be looking to our colleagues in the House of Lords to once again bring some balance to the Government’s plans over the coming weeks”

A Conservative Party source said: “By opposing this Bill, Labour are prepared to accept the possibility of millions of pounds going without challenge to individuals who could be terrorists.

“This raises the appalling prospect of taxpayers’ cash funding jihadist groups.”

Pointing to the presence of former Labour home office ministers Paul Goggins and George Howarth among those voting with Mr Straw against the amendments, they said: “This shows that under Ed Miliband the Labour Party is more interested in playing politics than acting as a serious alternative government.”

An activist tells Press TV that the video-sharing site, Youtube, deliberately takes down videos depicting the war crimes perpetrated by the FSA terrorists against the people of Syria but ironically provides those terrorists with space to wage their propaganda war against the Syrian nation.

The move comes as the Youtube owners refused to take down an insulting video against the prophet of Islam [PBUH] claiming that taking down such an insulting video would be against the principles of freedom of speech.

Press TV has conducted an interview with Mimi Laham, activist from the Persian Gulf littoral city of Dubai to shed more light on the topic of the program. What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview.

Press TV: Ms. Laham let us look at what do you think is the main reason for what we are seeing as a censorship, this attack on freedom of speech and dealing with the Iranian media?

Laham: I think, you, know, it is really across the board, any media that is taking an anti-Syrian insurgent line, in particular, is getting harassed.

Your journalist Maya Nasser was, actually, assassinated in Syria and of course there are too many journalists who mentioned that have experienced kidnapping and execution at the hands of the insurgents in order to suppress their word of decent against insurgency and even Youtube has been taking down many anti-Syrian channels that have been documenting the war crimes of the FSA in Syria, the FSA being the Syrian insurgents.

I mean I have a play list of 60 videos that documented the war crimes and 30 of those videos are now gone along with their channels and this was within six months. Ironically Youtube publicly apologized for mistakenly shutting down a pro-rebel channel and reinstated that channel. That channel being the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

So there is a clear double standard here.

Press TV: Have you been given an explanation by Youtube why your videos have been taken down?

Laham: Well, for one thing, one of the videos taken down was accused of copyright infringement but it was a video of a security mercenary firm Aegis gunning down civilians in Iraq.

Now this Aegis, which is similar to Blackwater but the British version, claimed copyright on a video of themselves shooting civilians in Iraq and Youtube accepted this as an excuse to take down the video and flag my channel and this is one excuse.

Another flag was given to me because I posted videos of war crimes conducted by the FSA and they said that, you know, this is shocking, do they took it down even though their guideline says that you should not remove videos that document war crimes.
So clearly Youtube is taking part in covering up war crimes for mercenary firms such as Aegis and for the Syrian insurgents.

Press TV: There is only a minute left Ms. Laham, but I want to look at in general, what do you think can be done with these attacks of freedom of speech?

Because as you said, for example like Youtube, obviously you were saying that they are taking these measures against you, so what other forms can be used? We see for the Iranian TV the satellite operators are taking off.

So what is the answer in order to make sure that free speech is out there and that we can stop them from stopping the free speech?

Laham: Well I just want to say that Youtube itself has admitted that it takes down videos upon request of governments internationally, in particular the US and the UK. So they admit that they censor videos.

Now what some people have been doing is that just pumping out videos on many, many channels at a time this is something that Syriantube does and in case one gets shut down, there will be like hundreds to take its place.

Another way is to set up your own website and put your own videos up there, as Press TV has done, and we need an alternative to Youtube and there is a new one coming out called Truetube but what we really need is something that is not controlled and that is a difficult feat but I think that is what the world is needing.

As I sat in court last Thursday at Fort Meade, watching Bradley Manning take responsibility as the Wikileaks whistleblower, two things struck me: (1) his thorough intelligence fueled by intellectual curiosity and (2) his empathy for other people when so many in war had lost their humanity.

This was the second time I had heard Manning testify. The first was his testimony about the abusive pre-trial incarceration he suffered for one year while being held in a cage in Kuwait and in solitary confinement in the Quantico Brig.  I’ve now seen him testify for a total of 15 hours.

Bradley Manning, sketched by Clark Stoeckley of the Bradley Manning Support Netowrk

Bradley Manning testifying, sketched by Clark Stoeckley of the Bradley Manning Support Network

His testimony leads me to wonder: what would have happened to Bradley Manning if we had a decent educational system that included affordable, preferably free, college education so that young people weren’t driven to the military for economic reasons? What could Bradley Manning have given the country if he had been able to pursue his interests and natural talents? Would Manning have joined the military if the country was honest about how the US Empire operates around the world?

But, that was not to be.  The country failed Bradley Manning.

I hope we do not fail him again.

Bradley Manning reading his plea statement in court, sketched by Clark Stoeckley of the Bradley Manning Support Network.

Bradley Manning reading his plea statement in court, sketched by Clark Stoeckley of the Bradley Manning Support Network.

Manning made it clear last Thursday that he leaked the documents to Wikileaks because he saw serious problems in US foreign policy. Problems which are as serious as they can be: war crimes, criminal behavior at the highest levels up to Secretary of State Clinton, unethical behavior and bullying of other nations.

Manning’s sole purpose was to “spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general.”* He hoped the debate “might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment every day.”

Regarding the collateral murder video which showed civilians, including two Reuters journalists being massacred, he said “I hoped that the public would be as alarmed as me about the conduct of the aerial weapons team crew members. I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan are targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live in the pressure cooker environment of what we call asymmetric warfare.”

When discussing the State Department cables Manning saw that the US was not behaving the way the “de facto leader of the free world” should act as the cables “documented backdoor deals and seemingly criminal activity.” Again, he hoped for a change in policy as the “cables were a prime example of a need for a more open diplomacy” that would avoid conflict and save lives.

In some of these statements you get a hint of Manning’s empathy for fellow human beings. The incident that really showed it was his comments on David Frankel’s book “The Good Soldier,” where Frankel describes a seriously injured Iraqi civilian on the ground at the end of the Collateral Murder video. He lifts two fingers toward the soldier, a well-known sign of friendship, as he asks for help. The US soldier responds lifting his middle finger as the Iraqi died. Manning puts himself in the place of the Iraqi thinking his final act was an act of friendship only to be returned by a crude obscenity of unfriendliness. Manning acknowledges that this “burdens me emotionally.”

Manning was clear that he was solely responsible for his actions saying “The decisions that I made to send documents and information to the WLO [Wikileaks Organization] and website were my own decisions, and I take full responsibility for my actions.”  He described his conversations with an anonymous person at Wikileaks but made it quite clear there was no espionage conspiracy between Manning and Julian Assange.  His statement made it much more difficult for the US to prosecute Assange under the Espionage Act.

There is no question that Manning will spend years in jail.  The ten charges he pled guilty to last week each carry two years for a total potential of 20 years incarceration. The government has announced it will still prosecute the espionage and aiding the enemy charges which could lead to a life sentence. This is an abuse of government power.  They may be able to prove their case, but that does not mean he is truly guilty of those crimes, if convicted it will be another example of laws written to favor the prosecution; another example of injustice in today’s United States.

Judge Denise Lind. Sketch by Clark Stoeckley, Bradley Manning Support Network.

Judge Denise Lind. Sketch by Clark Stoeckley, Bradley Manning Support Network.

Judge Denise Lind has beautiful judicial decorum in court and shows she is on top of the details of the proceedings and the law.  She is an impressive judicial figure but so far when there have been disputes between Manning and the government she has tended to split the difference, always giving a little more to the government. She has served in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps for 25 years, four as a judge.  She is a product of a system that does not blow the whistle, does not go outside the chain of command and views following orders as a way of life. She will do what she thinks is just when she considers Manning’s case, but I doubt it will seem like justice to those of us who support Manning.

How can we avoid failing Bradley Manning? Ongoing support through the Bradley Manning Support Network continues to be essential but more than that, we need to do what we can to disseminate the information he leaked and work to create a national debate on a foreign policy that is seriously off-track.

This will be a long term effort, and as we pursue that work, we should never forget the young man who put his life and liberty on the line to give the world a glimpse of US foreign policy, a person who was failed by a country that talks about its concern for the young but does not do enough for them. Now, it is our job to pick up the materials Bradley has provided and work to create the better world we urgently need and he sought in his own patriotic way.

* All quotations are taken from the transcript of Manning’s testimony prepared by Alexa O’Brien as the court has not release his written statement to the public.

Kevin Zeese is an attorney who serves on the steering committee of the Bradley Manning Support Network. He also serves a co-director of It’s Our Economy. His twitter is @KBZeese.

UN Demands Prosecution of Bush-era CIA Crimes

March 5th, 2013 by Russia Today

 A United Nations investigator has demanded that the US publish classified documents regarding the CIA’s human rights violations under former President George W. Bush, with hopes that the documents will lead to the prosecution of public officials.

Documents about the CIA’s program of rendition and secret detention of suspected terrorists have remained classified, even though President Obama’s administration has publicly condemned the use of these “enhanced interrogation techniques”. The US has not prosecuted any of its agents for human rights violations.

UN investigator Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, said that the classified documents protect the names of individuals who are responsible for serious human rights violations.

“Despite this clear repudiation of the unlawful actions carried out by the Bush-era CIA, many of the facts remain classified, and no public official has so far been brought to justice in the United States,” Emmerson said in a report to the UN Human Rights Council, according to Reuters.

Kept in secret prisons around the world, the CIA’s detainees were subjected to torture including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and various other interrogation techniques that violate human rights. The detainees were often subjected to clandestine transfers to secret prisons known as CIA ‘black sites’.

“There is now credible evidence to show that CIA ‘black sites’ were located on the territory of Lithuania, Morocco, Poland, Romania and Thailand, and that the officials of at least 49 other states allowed their airspace or airports to be used for rendition flights,” Emmerson said, describing how suspected terrorists were often detained without being charged for any crimes, receiving extradition procedures or having access to lawyers.

Emmerson has urged the US to prosecute any public official who was involved in setting up the CIA “black sites” at which human rights or legal violations occurred. Even though the Obama administration has condemned those who promoted the use of such facilities for inhumane procedures, the administration has taken no steps to punish any of its public officials. Attorney General Eric Holder has said that the Justice Department would not take legal actions against those who “acted in good faith” and followed the guidelines provided by the Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush era.

But without names and details about the involvement of US officials at CIA black sites, the government is maintaining a level of secrecy and “perpetuating impunity for the public officials implicated in these crimes,” Emmerson said.  A Senate committee led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) previously investigated the CIA’s interrogation program and may have had complete access to classified information about it.

Emmerson has called for this information to be published “without delay, and to the fullest extent possible.”

While the UN special rapporteur lacks the power to force the Obama administration to release this information, his report puts further pressure on the US government to expose a practice it publicly condemns, but continues to keep secret.

Who Wants War on Iran?

March 5th, 2013 by William Boardman

 There are those who would have bombed or invaded Iran years ago to make sure there would be no Iranian Bomb, and their voices are getting louder again as another day of high level talks approaches.  Even though Iran’s Supreme Leader has spent years forswearing nuclear weapons, which he calls a “crime against humanity,” skeptics demand proof that there’s nothing to worry about. 

The Iranian nuclear program, whatever it may be, was the only item on the agenda for the seven-nation discussion in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on February 26, and cautious optimism has been expressed by participants including the United States, Russia, and Iran.  Known as the P5+1 because the group includes the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States) plus Germany, the group is called the E3+3 in Europe.

Perhaps the clearest framework for understanding what the Iranian nuclear development program might or might not be is to keep in mind that the most intense claims that Iran is building nuclear weapons comes from the region’s undisputed nuclear-armed state, Israel.  Much like Iraq’s Saddam Hussein playing cat-and-mouse with WMDs he didn’t have, Iran has cooperated with weapons inspectors only to a point of uncertainty as to whether the program is or is not military.

Iran is one of the 190 countries that have signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which allows for non-military development of nuclear power, nuclear medicine, and other nuclear applications.  Iran claims it has the legal right to enrich uranium as part of its civilian nuclear energy program.

Iran also claims that it has met its obligations to the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), although in 2005 the IAEA, in a vote with 12 abstentions, found Iran in non-compliance over its enrichment program (but even the Congressional Research Service was uncertain whether “non-compliance” constituted a “violation” of the treaty).  The dispute had continued ever since, with IAEA inspectors getting inconsistent access to Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.  During 2012, four IAEA reports continued to provide inconclusive indications of a possible Iranian nuclear weapons program.

Israel Rejects Nuclear Transparency 

Israel has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty and is a presumed nuclear power along with other non-signatories who have nuclear weapons: India, Pakistan, and

North Korea.  In 2010, the IAEA sought to bring Israeli nuclear facilities within the safeguards of IAEA, with only limited success, as Israel did not reveal all its facilities and has not yet does so.    Estimates of the Israeli nuclear stockpile vary from75 to 400 warheads, with 200 thought most likely, which Israel could deliver by missile, aircraft, or submarine.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has suggested more than once that Israeli might act alone against the perceived Iranian nuclear threat, telling the New York Times in November:

“If someone sits here as the prime minister of Israel and he can’t take action on matters that are cardinal to the existence of this country, its future and its security, and he is totally dependent on receiving approval from others, then he is not worthy of leading… 

 “I am not eager to go to war….  I have been creating very heavy pressure, and part of this pressure comes from the knowledge some of the most powerful nations in the world have that we are serious. This isn’t a show, this is not false.”

Netanyahu first called for an attack on Iran at least as early as 1992, when he said the Iranians were only three to five years from producing a nuclear weapon.   But warnings like that are much older, going back to the 1970s and concerns that the Shah of Iran might arm his police state with nuclear weapons.

In Jerusalem on February 12, Netanyahu again threatened Iran:

“They have to know that if the sanctions and diplomacy fall, they will face a credible military threat. That is essential, and nothing else will do the job, and it is getting closer….  This has to be stopped for the interest of peace and security for the entire world.”              

Iran Denies Nuclear Weapons, Rejects Transparency

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has often denied the existence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, as he did in 2008 during an interview with NBC anchor Brian Williams, when he also questioned the utility of nuclear weapons as a source of security:

“Again, did nuclear arms help the Soviet Union from falling and disintegrating? For that matter, did a nuclear bomb help the U.S. to prevail inside Iraq or Afghanistan, for that matter? Nuclear bombs belong to the 20th century. We are living in a new century … Nuclear energy must not be equaled to a nuclear bomb. This is a disservice to the society of man….”   

On February 10, Ahmadinejad, whose term as president ends in a few months, indicated Iran’s willingness to discuss its nuclear program in bi-lateral talks with the U.S., adding that: “You pull away the gun from the face of the Iranian nation, and I myself will enter the talks with you.”

Ahmadinejad’s superior, Iran’s clerical Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei gave a foreign policy speech in February 2012 in which he said much the same thing about nuclear weapons that he had said before:

 “The Iranian nation has never pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons. There is no doubt that the decision makers in the countries opposing us know well that Iran is not after nuclear weapons because the Islamic Republic, logically, religiously and theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous.”

Not being able to confirm reality, in either Israel or Iran, American and Europeam policy makers tend, unquestioningly in public, to trust the former and demonize the latter.  And now as the world enters the fourth decade of fear-mongering about Iran’s “nuclear weapons program,” some are ratcheting it up again in advance of the Kazakhstan meering, with front page stories that start like this from the February 13 Washington Post:

“Iran recently sought to acquire tens of thousands of highly specialized magnets used in centrifuge machines, according to experts and diplomats, a sign that the country may be planning a major expansion of its nuclear program that could shorten the path to an atomic weapons capability.” 

If that assertion seems to have a familiar ring, perhaps it’s because it’s so similar in structure and content to what then-President Bush falsely stated, in his 2003 state of the union speech, know known as the infamous “Sixteen Words”:

“The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”   

Washington Post Works to Create Crisis 

On February 14, under a headline about “the Iranian nuclear crisis,” the Post re-hyped the apparent 2011 order of “ring-shaped magnets” from China as a setback to the “Western-led effort to slow or halt Iran’s nuclear development.” Even though the Post had no idea if the magnets were ever delivered or whether they were actually for centrifuges with a benign purpose.

Taking the Post reports apart on Consortiumnews.com, Robert Parry drew attention to details buried in the story that contradicted the breathless lead – that the centrifuges were old and that Iran had long since told the IAEA of its plans to build 50,000 of them and not some “major expansion of nuclear capacity.”

Parry notes that the sole source for the magnet story was a private entity called the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) whose head is David Albright and that

 “Though Albright insists that he is an objective professional, ISIS has published hundreds of articles about Iran, which has not produced a single nuclear bomb, while barely mentioning Israel’s rogue nuclear arsenal…. 

“The articles not only hype developments in Iran but also attack U.S. media critics who question the fear-mongering about Iran.” 

Albright has hyped the threat of weapons of mass destruction before.  In 2002 when the Bush administration was lying the country into a war against Iraq, claiming that Iraq had “a clandestine nuclear weapons effort” as  well as “chemical and biological weapons” – none of which was true.  As Parry sums it up,

 “A decade ago, Albright and the ISIS were key figures in stoking the hysteria for invading Iraq around the false allegations of its WMD program. In recent years, Albright and his institute have adopted a similar role regarding Iran and its purported pursuit of a nuclear weapon, even though U.S. intelligence agencies say Iran terminated that weapons project in 2003.” 

 And Who Decides What Is Necessary? 

In his 2013 state of the union, President Obama dealt with Iran in a single, misleading, and threatening sentence:

“Likewise, the leaders of Iran must recognize that now is the time for a diplomatic solution, because a coalition stands united in demanding that they meet their obligations, and we will do what is necessary to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon.”   

Since 1979, the United States has waged a long twilight war against its former puppet state with no apparent understanding of why Iran may still resent the U.S. for overthrowing Iran’s elected government in 1953 and imposing one of the world’s nastier police state on 70 million people.  There is credible evidence that the U.S. has not only imposed for economic sanctions that are tantamount to acts of war on Iran, but has also colluded in assassinations of at least five Iranian nuclear scientists as well as cyber attacks on the country’s infrastructure.

Secretary of State John Kerry suggested on Valentine’s Day that if Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful, Iran should have no trouble proving it.  He urged the Iranians to make “real offers and engage in real dialogue.”

Both the President and the Secretary of State are lawyers, and is aware, most likely, that they don’t have enough evidence of Iran’s “nuclear weapons program” to show probable cause for a get a search warrant from any fair court, never mind an indictment.

That suggests, to use Obama’s words, that perhaps “what is necessary to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon” might be to stop attacking them.

 William Boardman   [email protected]

Forty-eight years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Supreme Court is currently deliberating the enforcement provision of the historic legislation known as Section 5. The provision requires that any changes proposed by “covered jurisdictions” must go before a three-judge federal panel in Washington D.C. before being certified by the Justice Department.

This provision is being challenged by authorities in Shelby County, Alabama where election officials claim that the law is no longer relevant because the South, where the struggle emerged that resulted in the passage of the bill, has changed over the last five decades. Alabama was the center of the protracted voting rights campaign during 1963-65, which culminated in the march from Selma to Montgomery in March 1965.

On March 7, 1965, six hundred African Americans attempted the first Selma to Montgomery march when they were halted, beaten, teargased and driven back across the Edmond Pettus Bridge. Dozens of people were injured and the brutality of the Alabama state police and Dallas County sheriff deputies was captured by the national media prompting embarrassment by the federal government and outrage among African Americans and their allies throughout the South and across the United States.

The demonstration was attempted in response to the Alabama state police shooting death of Jimmie Lee Jackson, 26, who after a night march in Marion, Alabama on February 18, attempted to protect his mother from a vicious law-enforcement attack. The police officer involved was not charged at the time and it would be over four decades in later (2007) before he pled guilty to a lesser charge than murder involving the incident.

Another attempt to cross the bridge was carried out by two thousand people led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph Abernathy two days later on March 9. This demonstration was halted as well by state police.

The march leaders on March 9 turned the crowd around and headed back to Brown’s Chapel in Selma. They were awaiting a decision by the federal district court on whether they had a constitutional right to march as they had been denied by the-then Gov. George Wallace.

After the second attempted march across the bridge on March 9, three clergymen from various northern cities were attacked by white hoodlums in Selma. Rev. James Reeb was hit by a club and later died from his injuries.

Eventually the U.S. District Court granted an order to conduct the march and President Lyndon B. Johnson federalized the Alabama National Guard to provide security for the demonstrators. Tens of thousands traveled to the area from around the region and the country.

The marchers arrived in Montgomery safely on March 25 although the Ku Klux Klan murdered a Detroit woman, Viola Liuzzo, while she was transporting activists in the aftermath of the demonstration. It was revealed years later that a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) informant, Gary Rowe, was present in the vehicle from which the shots were fired that killed Liuzzo, who was the wife of a Teamster leader.

 Section 5 Debated Before Supreme Court

The recent challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was debated before the U.S. Supreme Court on February 27. Justice Anthony Scalia commented during the arguments that the continued existence of the enforcement provision constituted “the perpetuation of racial entitlement.”

These remarks drew the ire of millions across the U.S. Scalia stated that Congress was cowed in 2006 to extend re-authorization of the Voting Rights Act.

“I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any senator to vote against continuation of this act. They are going to lose votes if they do not reenact the Voting Rights Act. Even the name of it is wonderful—the Voting Rights Act. Who is going to vote against that in the future?” (rawstory.com, March 1)

U.S. Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, who at the time of the Selma to Montgomery march was the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and was severely beaten by Alabama cops on March 7, expressed his shock and dismay at Scalia’s remarks. Justice Sonya Sotomayor, appointed by President Barack Obama, and the only Puerto Rican on the Supreme Court, challenged Scalia comments.

The elimination of Section 5 would virtually leave the Voting Rights Act meaningless. Already numerous voting districts have been allowed to “opt out” of the provision.

According to allvoices.com, “If the Supreme Court decides in favor of Shelby County, the state of Alabama will be able to change its voting laws without first getting approval of the Department of Justice. In addition to implementing strict new voter ID laws, Alabama would be free to unilaterally create a variety of barriers to voting rights that it could claim are not discriminatory against black voters, despite appearances to the contrary.” (February 25)

This same article goes on to note that in Florida during 2012, “Gov. Rick Scott decided to eliminate early voting on the Sunday before Election Day, which is traditionally the day African American churchgoers board ‘Souls to the Polls’ buses that take them to vote. With no obvious reason to cut early voting on that particular day, critics called Scott’s move a deliberate effort to target and suppress the African American vote.”

Continuing on this same argument, the article says “If Alabama wins its case lawmakers would be exempt from Section 5 provisions. This would enable them to limit or end early voting hours, enact strict voter ID laws, as well as be free to redraw congressional district lines.”

Process Well Underway in Michigan

Although the Voting Rights Act grew out of the struggles against southern segregation and racism, northern cities were not exempt from this policy in the past as well as today. The city of Detroit and the entire state of Michigan has been subjected to legislation which has denied voting rights to nearly half the African American population.

The passage of Public Act 4 during 2011 by a majority of extreme right-wing Republican legislators enabled Gov. Rick Snyder to impose what is called “emergency management” on municipalities.  A petition campaign during 2012 put this issue on the ballot in the fall when it was defeated.

Nonetheless, the right-wing state house and senate passed another bill, along with other conservative legislation such as right-to-work, therefore nullifying the vote of the people of the state.  Emergency Managers have already been appointed in numerous African American cities such as Benton Harbor, Flint, Highland Park, Ecorse and Flint.

In Detroit, the public school system is under emergency management and was placed there by former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm. On March 1, Snyder declared Detroit to be in a “financial emergency” almost ensuring that an emergency manager will be appointed in a city that is more than85 percent African American.

The appointment of an emergency manager would prohibit the ability of Detroit’s residents to elect officials with legislative and administrative authority. These actions are being taken under the guise of an economic crisis, which in fact is the result of the predatory mortgage and municipal bond lending of the banks and rating agencies.

Consequently, the Voting Rights Act in effect is being eliminated in Michigan. There are attempts underway to challenge Snyder’s efforts.

The banks are saying that Detroit is obligated to pay over $14 billion in long term debt. The Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs has also called for a halt to the payment of debt-service on what they describe as fraudulent loans and bond issues.

The Moratorium NOW! Coalition has filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain contracts and other documents related to these loans and bond issues. The City of Detroit so far has not responded by turning over the documents and a judgment of default will be sought in the next few days.

The challenge to the Voting Rights Act Section 5 is reflective of the ongoing phenomenon of racism and national oppression in the U.S. Social justice, civil rights and all progressive organizations must recognize these moves for what they are: an attempt to set back the clock in order to better facilitate the oppression and exploitation of people of color and all working class people throughout the country.

Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Israel Lobby Is Actively Promoting War On Iran

March 5th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

On March 3, AIPAC’s 2013 conference began. It “Celebrat(es) 65 Years of Friendship.” Washington again was venue. A rogue’s gallery of participants attended. Warmongering speeches were featured. AIPAC does it annually.

It calls Iran “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and is racing toward a nuclear weapons capability.”

AIPAC lobbied successfully to impose lawless sanctions on Iran. It wants Tehran’s government toppled.

It wants unchallenged Israeli regional dominance. It favors no-holds-barred belligerence to achieve it.

Expose AIPAC for what it is. It menaces freedom and peace. It embraces war. Its conferences glorify it.

US legislators are heavily pressured. AIPAC wants Washington’s diplomatic, military and economic support if Israel attack Iran preemptively.

AIPAC wants war. Doing so is lawless, madness and self-destructive.

“America must make clear that it will act to prevent Iran from achieving the capability to build a nuclear weapon at a time of its choosing,” it says.

“Contain(ing) a nuclear Iran” is inadequate. US policy must reject any possibility of Tehran developing nuclear weapons. All options must be considered, including “military action.”

Economic sanctions must be “accelerated” and “crippling.” Washington should do whatever it takes to prevent a nuclear Iran.

AIPAC president Michael Kassen welcomed participants. He lied saying Israel is threatened. He called America its most reliable ally.

“Today, that relationship is more important than ever before,” he said. “Are we doing everything we can to ensure that America will stand by the side of Israel now and always?”

“For the sake of the United States; for the sake of Israel, our only answer can be and must be ‘Yes!’ ”

He’s concerned about America’s “growing allure of isolationism.” It threatens US/Israeli relations. It’s “extremely dangerous” for Israel’s security and well-being.

America’s leadership is changing, he warned. Over 40% of US legislators in recent years are new. Many never visited Israel. Many others never travelled abroad.

Many on congressional committees have no foreign policy experience. He stressed reaching beyond AIPAC’s traditional Jewish base of support.

Silence greeted his warnings. Standing ovations followed his affirmation of US support.

Michael Oren is Israel’s US ambassador. He opened AIPAC’s conference. He addressed its plenary session.

He lied saying “diplomacy hasn’t worked and sanctions haven’t stopped the Iranian nuclear program.”

“We seem to be negotiating with ourselves,” he added. “What is the price of inaction,” he asked?

He wants Israel declared a “major strategic ally.” AIPAC prioritizes it. Getting it will be unique. No other nation has it. It may exempt Israel from sequestration cuts. It advance the ball for war.

In Foreign Policy’s May/June 2011 edition, Oren headlined “The Ultimate Ally,” saying:

Washington “has no better friend in the world than Israel.” Roots are longstanding. Most Americans support it.

 ”America needs Israel now more than ever.”

 ”Israel has always sided with the United States on major global issues.”

 Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig called Israel “the largest American aircraft carrier in the world that cannot be sunk, does not carry even one American soldier, and is located in a critical region for American national security.”

“Israel not only enhances America’s defenses – it also saves American lives,” said Oren.

“In return for its aid to Israel, the United States receives not only an armed but an innovative ally, enhancing America’s military edge.”

“ISRAEL IS AMONG THE FEW COUNTRIES in the world – and the only Middle Eastern state – to consistently stand alongside the United States on strategic issues. ”

 ”A nuclear-armed Iran will imperil every pro-Western Middle Eastern state and ignite a nuclear arms race in an inherently unstable region.”

 ”Israel remains the region’s only credible foil to Iran.”

 ”Israel is the only Middle Eastern state never to oppose America on major international issues.”

 Its benefits are “incalculable.” They “outweigh any price.” It’s a “partner par excellence.” It’s “America’s ultimate ally.”

Washington needs Israel now more than ever, said Oren. He’s instructed to repeat it ad nauseam. He wants “major strategic ally” status.

He wants America’s support for war. He wants its independent government toppled. He wants its major regional rival eliminated. He wants a subservient pro-Western vassal state replacing it.

Netanyahu’s home in Israel. He repeated a familiar theme. He said Iran uses nuclear talks to buy time. It “continue(s) enriching nuclear material for an atomic bomb and is indeed getting closer to this goal.”

 ”(I)n the coming days, I will continue my efforts to unify and galvanize forces ahead of the major national and international challenges that we face.”

 Dennis Ross and Eliot Abrams participated in a Sunday AIPAC panel discussion. They’re hawkish pro-Israeli flacks. They’re unindicted war criminals. They claimed Iran deceived P5+1 countries.

 Ross called its strategy “rope-a-dope.” It’s buying time. He urged P5+1 countries to “go for an endgame strategy.”

 He wants Iran made an offer it can’t refuse. He wants an alternative stressed if it does. He wants Washington and other P5+1 countries to be more aggressive. He has war in mind.

When Netanyahu and Obama meet, they’ll define “prevention.” They want “better understanding of when (it) fails and force becomes inevitable.”

Abrams favors it. He accused Iran of advancing its nuclear weapons program. No evidence whatever suggests it. Abrams knows it. He lied.

He added more. He said Tehran helps Assad in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon. He ignored Washington’s support for anti-Syrian government terrorists. He said nothing about its regional menace. He focused on belligerence and bald-faced lies.

Outgoing Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke. He keynoted the conference. He called for Washington to establish a “regional security framework.”

He wants one able to unite regional countries around the “joint challenges of radical Islamic terror, border security, missile defense and Iran.”

He suggested anti-Iranian sanctions and diplomacy failed. He doesn’t believe they’ll produce “a moment of truth in which the ayatollahs will give up their nuclear program.”

He wants all options considered. “(A)nd we expect all who say it to mean it,” he stressed. We in Israel, he added, “mean it. Let me repeat – we mean it.”

He left little ambiguity where he stands. Netanyahu is likeminded. So is AIPAC. It’s openly stated priority is obtaining “major strategic ally” status. Its equally clear one is war on Iran.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/aipac-conference-promotes-war/

The Fed’s Monetary Policy of Zero Interest Rates

March 5th, 2013 by Prof Rodrigue Tremblay

“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.” Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), 3rd US President

“It is well enough that people … do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.” Henry Ford (1863-1947), American automobile industrialist

“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850), French economist

It is becoming increasingly obvious that the Bernanke Fed’s monetary policy of fixing short-term interest rates at close to zero percent, and (with inflation at two percent or so) of forcing negative real interest rates, was primarily designed not to help the U.S. economy but to shore up the super large American banks that were on the verge of bankruptcy when the investment bank Lehman Brothers failed on September 15, 2008. Indeed, with this policy, the Bernanke Fed has transferred hundreds of billions to these super banks at a huge cost to the rest of the economy and to international holders of U.S. dollars.

Just as the Greenspan Fed created the housing bubble and let the derivatives market explode, thus sowing the seeds of the 2007-2008 financial crisis, the Bernanke Fed, using faulty economic analysis, has embarked upon a policy of zero short-term interest rates for many years, —an open-ended QE3 policy of buying mortgages and other financial instruments with newly printed money, thus creating the largest bond bubble in U.S. history.

When the distortions it has created in the U.S. economy unfolds in the coming years, the true costs of this policy will become clearer. Indeed, when the Fed tries to unload the financial assets it has acquired from the near-insolvent super large American banks, in a not too distant future, bond prices will be in danger of collapsing and nominal interest rates could spike, with a very negative impact on financial markets and on the real economy.

Economists know that price controls and price fixing do not work, at least, not for very long. Credit markets are not immune to this economic reality. In any market, for any good or service, when prices are fixed by a government or a government agency below the market clearing price, sooner or later a gap develops between the excess quantity demanded and the insufficient quantity offered.

The classical example of resource misallocation is rent control implemented in some cities and in some countries. The inevitable result of such a policy is eventually the appearance of a shortage of rental units and a deterioration in the quality of those still offered. In fact, if any given government wishes to create housing slums and a housing shortage, it can just impose stringent rent controls on a permanent basis. This does not mean that housing cannot be subsidized. But freezing prices is generally not an efficient way to subsidize housing or any other commodity or service.

Now. What happens when the Fed artificially sets the short-term interest rate at close to zero for a long period? A long series of negative economic repercussions follow.

-First, large banks which have access to Fed loans at this artificially low rate will borrow as much of that newly created money as they can and they will lend risk-free to the deficit-laden government at two or three percent. Nice trade if you can get it!

-Second, the demand for bank loans will go up with the banks’ prime borrowing rate artificially low. However, banks will increase their borrowing requirements for private borrowers since they can invest their excess reserves risk-free, either at the Fed itself, albeit a low rate, or by lending to the government at a higher rate. Private borrowers will be frustrated and valuable projects may remain under-financed, while the government has little incentive to curb its deficit.

-Third, banks and their preferential clients will use part of their excess reserves obtained at close to zero percent to buy financial assets. Stock prices and bond prices will go up.

-Fourth, other investors such as insurance companies and pension funds, with the knowledge that the Fed will keep short-term rates low for an extended period of time, will buy staggered long-term bonds and keep their prices artificially high, when one considers the inflation risk and the time risk involved.

-Fifth, with borrowing rates so low for so long, some financial operators will begin buying up companies with leveraged money, thus placing finance ahead of industry.

—All of this translates into negative economic and financial distorsions in the long run.

Maybe that’s the reason the Bernanke Fed seems so popular on Wall Street. It has been a powerful tool for asset reflation. I even personally heard a financial commentator on the CNBC financial TV network declare that Ben Bernanke was the “best Fed chairman, ever” because he was being credited for a stock market rally!

Such is not the consensus among economists and on Main Street, where savers and retirees on fixed income have seen their revenues collapse over the last five years. That reminds me how Fed chairman Alan Greenspan was venerated on Wall Street, that is, until it became clear that his policy of low interest rates, easy money, junk mortgages and inadequate banking regulation brought down the financial house of cards. In economics, there is no magic, and the piper has to be paid sooner or later!

I don’t know if it is because of the fact that the American central bank and its federal banking system is partly owned by large private banks, or because there are so many bankers who sit on the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), (the committe that sets interest rates) and who are in conflict of interest, but the Fed has a recurring and nagging tendency to create financial bubbles and economic booms and busts that end up—more often than not—benefiting large banks and their CEOs, at a huge cost to the real economy. The Fed is really an institution primarily designed to subsidize large banks with public money.

The American government itself subsidized the large banks with its $700 billion TARP program. We agree that the Fed had to intervene during the financial panic that followed the failure of Lehman Brothers, whatever its role in creating that crisis. However, did it have an obligation to keep subsidizing the super large banks for five years or more and dump the cost on the rest of the economy while imposing very little restraint on their lax behavior? I don’t think so.

The Fed cannot argue that without such a prolonged subsidy policy, the ­economic recovery after the 2008-2009 recession would have been thwarted. In fact, this has been the slowest recovery from a recession since WWII. And the Bernanke Fed should share some responsibility for that.

But now that the Bernanke Fed has dug itself into a monetary hole, it should be extra prudent and careful in reversing course, less it precipitate the U.S. economy into another recession.

People have suffered enough in losing their jobs and, for many, their homes, and for many retirees, the income from their savings, without again being the Fed’s victims.

Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay, a Canadian-born economist, is the author of the book “The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles”, and of “The New American Empire”)

 Please visit the book site about ethics at: www.TheCodeForGlobalEthics.com/   Send contact, comments or commercial reproduction requests (in English or in French) to:

[email protected]

 To write to the author:

[email protected]

 

 

Fracking our Future: the Corrosive Influence of Extreme Energy

March 5th, 2013 by Global Research News

by Frack Off

Following in the wake of shale gas and coal-bed methane (CBM) extraction is the spectre of underground coal gasification (UCG). But if we adopt these wholesale we could close off any hope of stepping back from the climate change brink, says campaign group Frack Off

The earthquakes caused by the first attempt to frack a shale gas well in the UK, almost two years ago, were a wake up call that has implications far beyond the damage caused to Cuadrilla’s well-bore. When your plan for getting gas is fracturing rock two miles under the Lancashire countryside, you know the cheap and easy energy is long gone.

The signs have been there for many years, from oil rigs pushing out into deeper and deeper water to the vast tar sands mining operations in Alberta, getting energy is taking increasing amounts of effort. People have been slow to connect the dots but now with the exploitation of unconventional gas threatening to spread thousands of wells, pipelines and other industrial infrastructure across the country, the issue of this relentless rise in energy extraction effort is finally beginning to get the attention that it deserves.

 


Like yeast growing in a vat, the fundamental question has always been whether industrial society will be poisoned by it’s own waste (alcohol in the case of yeast) before it runs out of resources (sugar). While significant attention has been paid to the relentless build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, worrying about running out fossil fuels has been very much a fringe activity.

The answer to this question has now become somewhat clearer, though it is much more nuanced than most people would expect. Rather than destruction by environmental crisis (“climate change”) or economic crisis (“peak oil”) we face an intricately linked combination of the two (“extreme energy”). This is not to deny the importance of either climate change or peak oil, but they not only have the same cause but are happening in the context of each other, so neither can be viewed in isolation.

Unsustainable energy

As our society’s unsustainable consumption of energy depletes easier to extract resources, it is driving the exploitation of evermore extreme and damaging energy sources. From fracking to the push to build a string of new biomass power stations which will devour the world’s remaining forests and the plans for a wave of new, more dangerous, nuclear power stations, energy extraction is becoming much more destructive.

In the past the dominant environmental impact of exploiting fossil fuels was the impact of the carbon emissions associated with burning them but as the effort required for energy extraction has grown, so have the environmental consequences of the extraction processes themselves. The poster child for this effect are the Athabasca tar sands in Alberta, but across the globe, from the Arctic Ocean to the rainforests of Borneo, energy extraction is driving increasing environmental destruction.

A common propaganda tool is to portray such concerns as a stark choice between economic growth and environmental preservation, but in reality extreme energy is as damaging to people’s economic well-being as it is to the environment.

As extraction effort grows, a greater fraction of economic activity must be allocated to the energy sector. In a market economy the mechanism by which this is achieved is, of course, rising energy prices, which will have the effect of diverting resources away from other activities.

In the last decade the fraction of the global economy devoted to energy extraction has almost tripled, to over 10 percent of GDP. If the use of more extreme extraction methods increases then an even greater proportion of the worlds resources must be sacrificed to these efforts.

This path leads to a world where energy extraction dominates the economy, and the majority of the population lives in its shadow. Look at the Niger Delta to see what such a world looks like.

The greatest threat

In the UK unconventional gas is by far the greatest threat. Despite the North Sea in terminal decline and increasing pressure on imports there is an insidious push to increase our dependence on gas. Fracking is seen as the way to achieve this but even if is feasible, it would require drilling of tens of thousands of wells and the devastation of the huge swathes of countryside. This will result in toxic and radioactive water contamination, air pollution, severe health effects in human and animals and increased greenhouse gas emissions all for a very short term hit of extremely expensive gas.

Following in the wake of shale gas and coal-bed methane (CBM) is the even more dire spectre of underground coal gasification (UCG) which involves partially burning coal underground and bringing the resulting gases to the surface. UCG has an even worse record of environmental contamination and could potentially emit enough carbon to raise global temperatures by up to 10 degrees Celsius.

A wholesale adoption of fracking and associated methods would close off perhaps our last chance to step back from the brink. Extreme energy requires a dedication to energy production to the exclusion of all else, which would radically alter the structure of our society.

Increasingly, more expensive energy infrastructure must be built, which will divert huge amounts resources away from worthwhile activities. It will quickly become the case that the largest single consumer of the energy produced will be energy extraction processes themselves. We will end up on a treadmill running faster and faster just to stand still as everything falls apart around us.

The decision we face is between prioritising abstract notions of profit and growth or the real well-being of communities and ecosystems. The two can no longer pretend to coexist.

Useful Links

Frack Off: www.frack-off.org.uk

Back in 2002, South Africa hosted a UN environmental Summit on sustainability. It drew a rag tag army of green activists from all over the world, many excited to visit the now free South Africa that they fought for through the apartheid years, and hoping to meet members of the liberation movement led by Nelson Mandela

The closest to Nelson Mandela they got was to gather in front of a giant statue, created by a Swedish artist, in a commercial Square named after the South African icon. When they pictured the new South Africa, they probably saw the townships where tens of thousands of people marched for justice.

Instead, they found themselves in Sandton, a “township” that only capitalists could imagine, an upscale enclave within the city of Johannesburg devoted to corporation, banks and giant malls even more opulent than similar temples of consumption in other countries. Many wandered around in front of the luxury shops safeguarded by a security army, wondering what that had to do with saving the planet.

South Africa has become a Mall country. There’s even one now in Soweto.

In the old days, empires colonized countries; now their economic combines colonize consumers into market segments who depend on modern malls to organize  the shopping that drives economic life.

The mall is for the modern economy what the factory was for the old one, until consumption trumped production as the engine of economic activity. We no longer make many goods; we just generate demand and sell goods others produce in a transaction based culture where whole societies are organized around venues  for routinized and regimented shopping that is masqueraded through advertising as “fun.”

Durban’s giant Gateway Mall, with its food stores, restaurants, game parlors and movie theaters, calls itself a “theater of shopping.”  It claims to be the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.

The academic, Christopher McElligot sees the mall as a “consumer dreamworld for the constantly moving “happiness machine.”  Another professor, Dr Arzu Seri, goes further and locates malls  in the structure of how our modern economies operate, noting, “In shopping malls, the material culture of capitalism creates an appearance of variety, a colorful surface, which hide the uniformity of capitalist relations and the resulting inequality and poverty.”

These institutions are now referred to as pillars of a “consumer democracy” by analysts writing in the Globalist who say there is showdown coming between China’s economy and our own.

Write Nicolas Berggruen and Nathan Gardels,

“The United States has turned into a borrower and consumer-driven economy dominated by the financial sector and services industry and a country where inequality has grown dramatically. In contrast, China is an investor and export-driven economy that is still industrializing, still largely impoverished and sharply unequal.

This contrasting dynamic between two clashing systems has generated an imbalance in the global economy that, if not corrected, threatens the peace and prosperity that has so far been achieved through globalization.”

Julian Delasantellis speaks in Asia Times about malls as key to American survival but they are now also a global phenomenon as you can experience every day in South Africa:

“In what is, according to some media reports, the bleakest time in finance history since the moneychangers were driven from the Temple, Americans keep spending. How can they not? … No matter what the politicians bleat on in the Iowa cornfields about the centrality of Jesus in American life, the country’s real unifying faith, affirmed no matter what race, color, creed, gender, or sexual orientation, is mindless consumerism.

In this, the nation’s 1,100 enclosed shopping malls are temples to this national faith, with the 500-store Mall of America, in Bloomington, Minnesota, the faith’s new Vatican, its shining food court on a hill.”

My friend, the late Alexander Cockburn. saw the Mall a mirror of an economic culture in crisis, writing,  “The left, by and large, never much cared for malls. They represented privatized space, the collapse of the public realm, and the freedoms — of association and public protest — protected in public space. Malls, whether in strip or covered form, symbolized a conversion of people from citizens to consumers, the death of Main Street, architecture reduced to utter banality Today, mirroring the distress in the mother ship of capitalism, its colonies and settlements are in decay”

In short, as we shop until we drop, it is our society that is dropping too under the weight of the debts we have been encouraged to accumulate. What many don’t see is that even as the cash registers churn, so do the credit card machines. Our acquisition habit is being funded by lenders who tack on interest while taking their cut when shoppers inevitably fall behind in paying their bills, as they know they will.

In this age of the Sequester. government debts are on the agenda. in part because many of the debts to be repaid are owed to foreign governments and big banks who have the clout to lobby the political system to  get their money with interest!

But the enormous debt load strangling families as consumers who have no choice but to continue running it up if they want to feed and cloth themselves is much less visible.

That debt is rising. MarketWatch reports:  “American consumers increased their debt in the final three months of 2012 for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2008…Consumer credit rose $31 billion to break a four-year downtrend.”

The ultra-modern Malls, with their vast parking lots, are, like Casinos, magnets for “the sheeple” looking for bargains but ultimately seduced into spending more than they have. The high real estate expense adds to sales costs for upscale retailers insuring that only chain stores can afford to sell there. Overall, prices are unaffordable to South Africa’s poor black majority that trades in an informal economy of unhealthier food and cheaper goods.

Meanwhile, as Patrick Chalmers, a former Reuters journalist turned critic of financial reporting and the creator of Fraudcast News notes, the financial solutions being proposed in no way respond to the real economy problems squeezing the public.

“Our leaders’ feeble attempts at regulating banks, international finance and global markets have totally failed, leading to ongoing financial crises since the global meltdown of 2007-2008, “ he writes.

“The false debates created with regard to conventional economics, and our policymakers’ fixation with a sterile definition of prosperity as determined by economic growth, are major barriers to change.”

And so, once again, as governments look out for themselves, allegedly to deal with debts and deficit and pay off vast military expenditures, often fueled by corruption, their austerity-driven massive lay-offs will force the newly unemployed  to go on to unemployment doles, and into deeper personal debt. Around and around we go: where it stops, nobody knows?

News Dissector Danny Schechter made the film In Debt We Trust in 2006 that warned of the financial crisis. He edits mediachannel.org. Comments to

[email protected]

From February 20-23, the Third Africa-South America Summit (ASA) was held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. The event was a follow-up meeting to two others held in Nigeria in 2006 and Venezuela in 2009.

This event enjoyed the participation of 63 governments from both continents including twenty heads-of-state from Africa and five from South America. The summit was held under the theme: “Strategies and Mechanism to Promote South-South Cooperation.”

The summit adopted the Malabo Declaration containing a number of resolutions aimed at enhancing cooperation between the two continents. The deliberations also resulted in the establishment of a presidential committee which will be the decision-making organ between the gatherings that are held every three years.

Republic of Zimbabwe Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, who was a member of the delegation headed by President Robert Mugabe, described the summit as a great success. After returning from Malabo at the Harare International Airport he briefed reporters on developments at the meeting.

Mumbengegwi said that “As you know the theme of the summit relates to South-South cooperation. The Summit discussed strategies and mechanisms to promote South-South cooperation.” (Zimbabwe Sunday Mail, February 24)

He went on to note that “A permanent secretariat based in Venezuela was also approved to run day to day coordination and implementation of our cooperation.”  Some 30 joint projects have been proposed in the fields of education, information, trade, communication and technology among other areas.

According to Mumbengegwi, “So far South America has expressed interest in 16 projects. However, implementing this has not been done and the reason being the lack of an implementation framework.”

The Zimbabwe official recognized that these projects embodied the potential to reap tremendous economic benefits for both regions. Brazil committed to cooperate with African states in various areas including agriculture as a means of boosting economic growth.

Venezuelan President Issues Statement to Summit

President Hugo Chavez of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela circulated an open letter to the ASA Summit urging both regions to unite in order to become a “true pole of power.” The letter was read aloud by Foreign Minister Elias Jaua to all delegations at the gathering.

Chavez called for “an authentic and permanent link of joint work” between Africa and South America. “It’s in our continents, where enough natural, political and historic resources are found…to save the planet from the chaos it’s been driven towards [by the capitalist system]” he said. ((Venezuelan Analysis, February 22)

The Venezuelan leader now undergoing medical treatment, stressed that “in no way do we deny our sovereign relations with Western powers, we must remember that they are not the source of the comprehensive and definitive solution to the problems that our countries share.” Chavez said that Africa and Latin America was essential in developing a “multipolar” world order, in order to provide an alternative to the dominance of the United States and its allies internationally.

Chavez called for an escalation in cooperation in the areas of energy, education, agriculture, finance and communications. To facilitate these objectives, Chavez suggested the development of a University of the Peoples of the South, a petroleum firm to link oil resources from the two continents and the creation of a Bank of the South.

Trade between Africa and South America has increased significantly over the last decade from $US7.2 billion in 2002 to $US39.4 in 2011. With the creation of a secretariat to better coordinate these trends even greater cooperation could occur at a much more rapid level.

Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino discussed the difficulties in enhancing cooperation between Africa and South America. He said that “we don’t know each other well, we don’t have experience of joint work…there’s so much we can offer each other, and not only in terms of commerce.” (Venezuelan Analysis, February 22)

Patino said that the difficulty in building cooperation was rooted in the legacy of European colonialism. Although Africa and South America share a common history of the large presence of African peoples stemming from the Atlantic Slave Trade and the economic and political domination by imperialism and neo-colonialism, the process of decolonization has in many ways hampered unity between developing states.

Chavez in his remarks observed that military intervention by imperialism has hampered cooperation between the regions. Since 2009, when the last ASA Summit occurred, Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi was in attendance as the-then chairman of the African Union, the U.S. has escalated its destabilization policies towards Africa and South America.

The Venezuelan leader claimed that “It’s not by luck or chance… [that] since the Summit in Margarita (Venezuela) the African continent has been the victim of multiple interventions and attacks by Western powers.” Therefore, he continued, Venezuela “totally rejected all interventionist activity by NATO” in Africa and other parts of the world.

Africa Calls for South-South Unity

Republic of Namibia Deputy Prime Minister Marco Hausiku, who led a delegation of 13 officials to the ASA Summit, emphasized that “the peoples of South America and Africa share a common historical background of waging the struggle for freedom and self-determination. We must speak with one voice to advance the common interests of our peoples.” (Informante.web.na, February 27)

African Union Commission Chairwoman, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, in a statement said that “Africans cannot ignore the common heritage shared by our two regions forged by historical ties as well as by circumstances of which we have not always been the masters. Indeed, we have no choice but to take responsibility over our respective destinies in a collective approach as this is dictated by our past and present as well as by the need for us to successfully fight for a bright future.” (African Executive, March 1)

The ASA Summit issued a communique demanding statehood for the Palestinian people. The gathering recognized that the Palestinian question was one of the main challenges to international peace and security in the modern world.

In regard to Syria, the gathering condemned the ongoing violence inside the country and recommended dialogue over conflict for all of the parties involved.

Brazilian President Makes State Visit to Nigeria

In the immediate aftermath of the ASA Summit, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff made a state visit to the West African state of Nigeria. These two states have the largest populations in the respective continents of Africa and South America.

After a closed door meeting, President Goodluck Jonathan of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and President Rousseff issued a joint communique saying that reforming the United Nations was a welcomed development. The two leaders noted the efforts by Nigeria to acquire non-permanent membership on the Security Council for 2014-1015.

Both leaders signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) covering agriculture and food security, petroleum, power, bio-fuel, trade and investment, mining, education, aviation, infrastructure management, finance and culture. Jonathan reported that a bi-national commission would be established to implement the MoU.

The heads-of-state noted the growing cooperation in the economics sphere. The MoU, they said will be utilized to “leverage on the economy of our people, improve the lot of unemployed young men and women and make sure Nigerians and Brazilians are happy people.”

The MoU went on to say that “Our exchanges have actually grown significantly between 2009 and 2012, years marked by crises. Our trade exchanges have grown and for 2012 the figures come to $US9 billion.”

 Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor, Pan-African News Wire

We reported last year:

The government treats copyright infringers as terrorists, and swat teams have been deployed against them. See thisthisthis and this.

As the executive director of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School notes:

This administration … publishes a newsletter about its efforts with language that compares copyright infringement to terrorism.

The American government is using copyright laws to crack down on political dissent just like China and Russia.

We noted last month that the “cyber-security” laws have very little to do with security.

The Verge reported last month:

In the State of the Union address Tuesday, President Obama announced a sweepingexecutive order implementing new national cybersecurity measures, opening the door for intelligence agencies to share more information about suspected “cyber threats” with private companies that oversee the nation’s “critical infrastructure.” The order is voluntary, giving companies the choice of whether or not they want to receive the information, and takes effect in four months, by June 12.

***

“Cyber threats cover a wide range of malicious activity that can occur through cyberspace,” wrote Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, in an email to The Verge. “Such threats include web site defacement, espionage,theft of intellectual property, denial of service attacks, and destructive malware.”

***

“The EO [executive order] relies on the definition of critical infrastructure found in the Homeland Security Act of 2002,” Hayden wrote.

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 (PDF), passed in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, was what created the Department of Homeland Security. At that time, the US was still reeling from the attacks and Congress sought to rapidly bolster the nation’s defenses, including “critical infrastructure” as part of its definition of “terrorism.” As the act states: “The term ‘terrorism’ means any activity that involves an act that is dangerous to human life or potentially destructive of critical infrastructure or key resources…”

But again, that act doesn’t exactly spell out which infrastructure is considered “critical,” instead pointing to the definition as outlined in a 2001 bill, also passed in response to September 11, which reads:

“The term “critical infrastructure” means systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters.”

This is the same exact definition that was originally provided in the president’s cybersecurity order as originally published on Tuesday, meaning that the White House appears to be relying to some degree on circular reasoning when it comes to that definition. Some in Washington, including the right-leaning think tank The Heritage Foundation, are worried that the definition is too broad and “could be understood to include systems normally considered outside the cybersecurity conversation, such as agriculture.”

In fact, the Department of Homeland Security, which is one of the agencies that will be sharing information on cyber threats thanks to the order, includes 18 different industriesin its own label of “critical infrastructure,” from agriculture to banking to national monuments. There’s an argument to be made that including such a broad and diverse swath of industries under the blanket term “critical” is reasonable given the overall increasing dependence of virtually all businesses on the internet for core functions. But even in that case, its unclear how casting such a wide net would be helpful in defending against cyber threats, especially as there is a limited pool of those with the expertise and ability to do so.

It’s not just intellectual property.  The government is widely using anti-terror laws to help giant businesses … and to crush those who speak out against their abusive practices, labeling anyone who speaks out as a potential bad guy.

February 27, the German parliament voted by a large majority to support the French colonial war in Mali. In April, up to 330 German soldiers are to be stationed in that country.

The parliamentary motion includes two mandates. As part of the European Union (EU)-led training mission EUTM, 180 soldiers will be used to train the Malian army. The German army (Bundeswehr) will send 40 scouts and 40 medics and doctors to Koulikoro, 65 kilometres northeast of the capital city, Bamako. Another 100 soldiers are on standby to intervene “if necessary” to “protect the German soldiers.”

According to the commander of the EUTM mission, General François Lecointre, the military trainers from the EU will commence training more than 2,500 Malian soldiers beginning April 2.

The aim of the mission is to stabilise the ailing Malian army and enable it to support the combat mission conducted by French troops in the north of the country. About one year ago and before the French invasion, the Malian army had been driven out of the region by a coalition of Islamist rebels and Tuareg warriors.

The second mandate involves an additional 150 soldiers to logistically support the combat mission of the French Air Force. The plan is to use an Airbus to refuel French Rafale and Mirage fighter jets in the air. In addition, 63 soldiers and three Transall planes will continue to transport French combat troops and troops from the Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to Mali.

In January, shortly after the beginning of the war, the German army commenced logistical support of combat French and African troops, without a mandate from the German parliament. Since then, the Transall planes have transported some 570 soldiers and about 290 tons of material in 117 flights carried out in the area of operation.

According to official estimates, the German military operation will cost at least €55.5 million. In addition to the governing parties, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Christian Social Union and the Free Democratic Party (FDP), the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Greens also voted in favour. From a total of 567 MPs, 496 voted in favour of the training mandate, and 492 for the deployment of “logistical support.”

The mandate initially runs for 12 months but is likely to be extended. Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere (CDU) had already prepared parliamentarians in the first discussion in parliament for a prolonged military campaign, declaring, “No deployment is a walk in the park.”

The parliamentary vote is a further expansion of the dirty imperialist colonial war in Mali. The official website of the federal parliament states, “Germany [will] contribute, through its actions, to bring under state control those areas in northern Mali still under the influence of terrorist, extremist and armed groups.”

Officially, the Bundeswehr missions in both Mali and Afghanistan have been justified with the alleged “war against terrorism”.

In parliament, Rainer Stinner, foreign policy spokesman of the FDP parliamentary group, declared that the situation in Mali “has long-term influence on our German security interests” and that there was “a risk that terrorist forces or forces with evil intent would spread in another regions of the world.”

The reference to “terrorism” by imperialist powers to justify their colonial wars is hypocritical. The same Islamists active in northern Mali were in 2011 important allies of Western powers in their campaign against the Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi. Now, these powers and their regional allies are backing similar reactionary forces in Syria to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and install a pro-Western puppet regime.

In reality, the wars in Mali and Afghanistan have nothing to do with a “struggle against terrorism,” but are rooted in definite geo-strategic and economic interests.

The latest military campaign in Mali is part of the imperialist campaign for a renewed colonial subjugation of Africa, which began with the NATO war against Libya two years ago. In common with the entire Sahel region, Mali is rich in natural resources. The major imperialist powers are seeking to secure these resources in an increasingly aggressive competitive race with China, which has close economic ties with Mali and other countries in the region.

After hesitating to participate in the Libya campaign, the German bourgeoisie is determined to gain a share of the spoils in Mali. German companies have made clear they intend to join the race for raw materials in Africa.

A long and detailed report last week in the German business newspaperHandelsblatt made clear that the German business and political elite are preparing to intensify their capacity to wage wars to secure the resources so necessary for the German export industry. The article lists China as one of Germany’s biggest competitors in this race, and explicitly identifies North Africa as one of the most strategically important regions in this respect.

The article relates that the German ambassador to NATO has been “given the job of reassessing north Africa and Middle East, along with its regional allies, to define which countries are of particular importance for Western and German security interests.”

German imperialism also regards the war against Mali as a prelude to further wars in the region. This was indicated in a comment by the foreign affairs spokesperson for the Greens, Kerstin Müller, who declared that the German operation amounted to “emergency surgery in order to prevent an even worse situation.” She then added: “If we want avoid intervention in the future in Niger or Burkina Faso, then we need a strategy for the entire Sahel.”

A particularly cynical role in the return of German imperialism is being played by the Left Party. Well aware that the motion would be passed overwhelmingly, the party voted against for tactical reasons.

In her speech before the vote, the “peace spokeswoman” of the Left Party, Christine Buchholz, gave the other parties a clear signal that the Left Party is quite willing to support future German military operations. She argued against a “general debate on the war policy of the federal government” and called instead for “a general discussion about how we can solve economic and social problems and the extreme problems that the arms trade causes in the world.”

The readiness of the Left Party to support military intervention in the interests of German imperialism was already clear from the position it took towards the Western aggression against Syria. In December of last year, leaders of the party backed an appeal for an intervention in Syria. The statement was also supported by the leaders of the CDU, the SPD and the Greens.

He’s an American diplomat. He’s a foreign policy specialist. He’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. His portfolio includes 50 countries.

He’s moving on. More on that below.

He serves US imperial interests. They include international security, NATO, coordinating with EU nations and regional organizations, counterterrorism, and nonproliferation.

“From the beginning of the Obama administration,” he said, “we’ve made a deliberate and conscious effort to strengthen our ties with Europe and to work with our most important allies around the world on global issues.”

Imperial ones are prioritized. He stopped short saying so. His new position includes them. He’s Washington’s man in an important part of the world. He’s Israel’s man at State.

On March 2, the White House announced his appointment. He’ll join Obama’s National Security Staff. He’ll do so on March 11.

He’s his new Special Assistant. He’s also White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and Gulf Region.

National Security Advisor Tom Donilon said:

“Phil has been a key member of President Obama’s foreign policy team for the past four years, and his work with our European Allies and partners has been indispensable in helping us to formulate policy and address issues around the globe, including Libya, Syria and Iran.”

Add Israel to his portfolio. He’ll prioritize its interests. George Mitchell did earlier as Obama’s Special Envoy for Middle East Peace.

So did Dennis Ross under Clinton, Bush and Obama. Committed Zionists alone are appointed. The more hardline, militant, and anti-Iranian, the more eligible. Gordon’s resume qualifies him.

From 1999 – 2009, he was Brookings Institution senior fellow. It’s a longtime imperial tool. It’s reliably pro-Israeli. It’s militantly anti-Iranian. It reports what Washington wants to hear.

It’s trustees, senior fellows and experts include a rogue’s gallery of extremists. They turn truth on its head. They’re well paid to do so. Gordon did for a decade. He contributes to major mainstream media publications. They welcome his views. They reflect power politics.

He held teaching and lecturing positions at London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies. IISS calls itself “a world-leading authority on global security, political risk and military conflict.”

He also taught and lectured at INSEAD (European Institute of Business Administration) and the German Council for Foreign Policy (DGAP).

INSEAD calls itself “The Business School for the World.” It’s allied with Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

DGAP is an applied research think tank. It focuses on foreign policy political, economic, scientific and national security issues.

During his 2008 campaign, Gordon was Obama’s senior foreign policy advisor.

In its September/October 2008 issue, The American Interest published his article headlined “Obama’s Foreign Policy Options.”

Are Americans better off then than earlier, he asked? Not at all, he said. “(T)he world is more dangerous. America’s enemies are stronger and more numerous, and our international standing is vastly diminished.”

He disingenuously called democracy the centerpiece of Washington’s foreign policy. It stalled or reversed in the Middle East, Russia and Latin America, he claimed.

At the same time, America’s popularity hit all-time lows. “Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders remain at large, and major terrorist attacks around the world proliferated.”

He turned truth on its head saying so. He called “these unwelcome developments” not entirely Bush’s fault.

Who then if not him? Events preceding his presidency contributed. Post-9/11, they accelerated.

Obama advanced them further. Gordon perhaps knew he would if elected. Presidents prioritize advancing America’s imperium.

Gordon’s job at State does the same thing. His tenure and positions showed he did what Washington expects. He moves on to do more.

He wants America’s standing in the world improved. In 2008, he said he wanted allies “inspired (to) work willingly with us, conduct tough but serious diplomacy with adversaries, (and) seek to build national unity and international legitimacy….”

He said Obama needs “to defend traditional American interests forcefully while grappling with new issues and repairing the breach with an alienated world.”

He didn’t say how. It’s unknown then if he knew what he knows now. Obama exceeded the worst of Bush. He’s waging multiple direct and proxy wars. He’s got others in mind.

Across North Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Eurasia, America’s more hated than ever. It’s for good reason. Obama’s waging war on humanity. Don’t expect Gordon to explain.

He said expect Obama to “bring a new and distinctive approach to today’s changed world.” He’s “not bound by Manichean, highly militarized thinking.”

He knows “military force has a role to play in the world.”

“He has called for a larger US military, advocated the deployment of at least two additional brigades to Afghanistan, and on many occasions said he would not hesitate to use force to protect US national interests.”

He knows other challenges have to be addressed.

His “international background also allows him to see the world in a usefully different way.”

It’s not clear what experience he means. He taught constitutional law, was Illinois’ 13th District senator, and served less than four years as US senator before being elected president.

What little he knew little about foreign policy came through his chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs.

He assembled a war cabinet as president. It remains in place. New names and faces replaced old ones. Policies remain unchanged.

He prioritizes national security. It means maintaining the “strongest military on the planet,” he said.

He outspends all other countries combined. He has to given his priorities. War on the world defines them. He’s got lots of new targets in mind.

America’s peace president loves war. He continues Bush’s war on terror. Occupation, colonization, exploitation, and dominance follow. So do mass death, destruction, instability and human misery.

Obama reinvented a Cold War with Russia. He challenges China’s economic and military might.

He supports “the principle of willingness to engage directly with adversaries,” said Gordon. He’s more than ever inclined to do so now.

He prioritizes doing it militarily. He’s committed to might over right.

He’ll make tactical changes accordingly. Basic strategy remains unchanged. Gordon supports it.

It’s belligerent, hardline and dangerous. It threatens global war. Don’t expect Gordon to explain. “American foreign policy presents no easy options,” he said.

“Obama and his team offer not just an opportunity for change, but for strategic intellectual coherence.”

It’s hard imagining what he meant. Things didn’t soften. They toughened. America’s more than ever belligerent. War on humanity is policy. Gordon’s job is supporting it. Expect him to take full advantage.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/imperial-americas-in-good-hands-with-philip-gordon/

DR Bachar al-Assad

أجرت صحيفة صنداي تايمز البريطانية مقابلة مع السيد الرئيس بشار الأسد.

فيما يلي النص الكامل للمقابلة:

صنداي تايمز: سيادة الرئيس، عرضكم الذي قدمتموه مؤخراً بإجراء حوار سياسي ترافق مع رفض الحكومة السورية للمجموعات التي يترتب عليكم تهدئتها من أجل وقف العنف، مثل المجموعات المسلحة و”الائتلاف الوطني السوري”، أي التحالف الرئيسي للمعارضة، وبالتالي فإنكم تقدمون غصن زيتون فقط للمعارضة الموالية، ومعظمها داخلية، والتي تتخلى عن الصراع المسلح وتعترف فعلياً بشرعية قيادتكم. من الجهات التي تبدون استعدادكم فعلاً للتحدث إليها؟

الرئيس الأسد: كي يكون جوابي دقيقاً، دعيني أولاً أصحح بعض المفاهيم الخاطئة التي يتم تداولها، والتي وردت في سؤالك.

صنداي تايمز: حسناً.

الرئيس الأسد: أولاً، عندما أعلنت الخطة، قلت إن هذه الخطة موجهة للمهتمين بالحوار، لأننا لا نستطيع وضع خطة تستند إلى الحوار مع جهات لا تؤمن به. وهكذا، فقد كنت واضحاً تماماً فيما يتعلق بهذه المسألة.

ثانياً، هذا الحوار المفتوح لا ينبغي أن يكون بين مجموعات حصرية بل بين جميع السوريين وعلى كل المستويات لأنه يدور حول مستقبل سورية. نحن ثلاثة وعشرون مليون سوري، ولنا جميعاً الحق بالمشاركة في صياغة مستقبل البلاد، وليس كما يعتبر البعض بأنه حوار بين الحكومة ومجموعات معينة في المعارضة، سواء كانت في الداخل أو في الخارج. إن استعمال تعابير “داخلية” و”خارجية” يمثّل تصوراً سطحياً للمسألة. الحوار أكثر شمولية، وهو يتعلق بكل سوري ويدور حول جميع أوجه الحياة في سورية. لا يمكن تحديد مستقبل سورية ببساطة بمن يقودها، بل بطموحات وتطلعات جميع أفراد شعبها.

الجانب الآخر للحوار هو أنه يفتح الباب للمسلحين لتسليم أسلحتهم، وقد أصدرنا أكثر من عفو لتسهيل هذا الأمر. هذه هي الطريقة الوحيدة لإجراء الحوار مع تلك المجموعات. وهذا ما كنا قد بدأناه، حتى قبل طرح الخطة، وقد سلّم البعض أسلحتهم وعادوا إلى ممارسة حياتهم الطبيعية.

إذا أردت الحديث عن المعارضة، ثمة مفهوم خاطئ آخر في الغرب، وهو أنهم يضعون كل الكيانات، حتى لو لم تكن متجانسة، في سلة واحدة، كما لو أن كل من يعمل ضد الحكومة معارض. ينبغي أن نكون واضحين حيال هذه القضية، ثمة معارضة تتكوّن من كيانات سياسية، وهناك إرهابيون مسلحون. يمكننا الانخراط في حوار مع المعارضة، لكن لا يمكننا الانخراط في حوار مع الإرهابيين. نحن هنا نحارب الإرهاب.

ثمة عبارة أخرى تُذكر بشكل متكرر وهي “معارضة الداخل” أو “المعارضة الداخلية”، ويصفونها “بالمعارضة الموالية للحكومة”، في الواقع فإن مجموعات المعارضة ينبغي أن تكون وطنية وموالية لسورية. إن المعارضة الداخلية والخارجية لا تتعلق بالموقع الجغرافي، بل بجذورها، وبمواردها وتمثيلها. هل غُرست هذه الجذور في سورية وهل تمثل الشعب السوري والمصالح السورية أو مصالح حكومات أجنبية؟ وبالتالي، هكذا ننظر إلى الحوار، هكذا بدأنا وهكذا سنستمر.

صنداي تايمز: لقد رفضت معظم مجموعات المعارضة هذا الطرح، على الأقل المعارضة الخارجية، وهي الطرف الذي يتم الحديث عنه على أنه المعارضة، والعالم بأسره يقف وراءها. معظمهم رفضوا مبادرتكم، ووصفوها بأنها “مضيعة للوقت”، وقال البعض بأنها مجرد “كلام سياسي لا فحوى له” استناداً إلى حالة انعدام الثقة؛ ووصفها وزير الخارجية البريطاني وليم هيغ بأنها “تتجاوز حدود النفاق”، وقال الأميركيون بأنك “منفصل عن الواقع”.

الرئيس الأسد: لن أعلّق على ما تقوله هذه الكيانات التي تُسمّى سوريّة لأنها غير مستقلة بقرارها. كسوريين، نحن مستقلّون ونرد على الأطراف المستقلّة، وهو ما لا ينطبق على هذه الكيانات. ولذلك لننظر في المزاعم الأخرى. إذا أردنا التحدث عن الانفصال عن الواقع، فإن سورية تحارب الخصوم والأعداء منذ سنتين، ولا يمكن فعل ذلك دون دعم شعبي، ولن يدعمك الناس إذا كنت منفصلاً عن واقعهم. ومن جانب آخر، أظهرت استطلاعات رأي أجريت مؤخراً في المملكة المتحدة أن نسبة كبيرة من البريطانيين يريدون من بلادهم عدم التدخل في شؤون سورية، وهم يعتقدون بأنه لا ينبغي على الحكومة البريطانية أن ترسل دعماً عسكرياً لما يسمونه “المتمردين” في سورية. ورغم ذلك، فإن الحكومة البريطانية تستمر في دفع الاتحاد الأوروبي لرفع حظر توريد السلاح المفروض على سورية وذلك للشروع بتزويد المجموعات المسلحة بأسلحة ثقيلة. هذا ما أسميه انفصالاً عن الواقع، أي عندما تكون منفصلاً عن الرأي العام في بلادك!

ويمضون أبعد من ذلك عندما يقولون بأنهم سيرسلون “مساعدات عسكرية” يصفونها بـ “غير المميتة”. إن المساعدات الاستخبارية، وأجهزة الاتصالات والمساعدات المالية المقدمة مميتة جداً. وخير مثال على ذلك أحداث الحادي عشر من أيلول التي لم تُرتكب بأدوات مميتة. إن تطبيقات التكنولوجيا غير المميتة والمساعدات المالية هي التي تسببت بتلك الفظاعات. الحكومة البريطانية تريد إرسال مساعدات عسكرية إلى المجموعات المعتدلة في سورية، وهي تعرف تمام المعرفة بأنه لا وجود للمجموعات المعتدلة في سورية. جميعنا نعلم أن المجموعات التي نحاربها الآن هي القاعدة أو جبهة النصرة، وهي تابعة للقاعدة، ومجموعات أخرى تتبنى أيديولوجيا متطرفة. هذا ما يمكن وصفه بأنه يتجاوز حدود النفاق!

ما يتجاوز حدود النفاق أيضاً هو الحديث عن حرية التعبير وفي نفس الوقت يتم حظر القنوات التلفزيونية الفضائية السورية من الأقمار الصناعية الأوروبية. وعندما يتم ذرف الدموع على من يُقتل في سورية في أعمال إرهابية وفي نفس الوقت يُمنع مجلس الأمن من إصدار بيان يدين التفجيرات التي حدثت الخميس 21/2/2013 في دمشق، وقد كنتِ هنا، حيث قتل أو جرح ثلاثمئة سوري، بينهم أطفال ونساء، وجميعهم من المدنيين. ما يتجاوز حدود النفاق هو الحديث عن حقوق الإنسان وفي نفس الوقت الذهاب إلى العراق وأفغانستان وليبيا وقتل مئات آلاف الناس في حروب غير شرعية، والتحدث عن الديمقراطية بينما أوثق حلفائك هي الأنظمة الأكثر أحادية وسلطوية في العالم والتي تنتمي إلى القرون الوسطى. هذا هو النفاق.

صنداي تايمز: لكنكم تشيرون دائماً إلى الأشخاص الذين يقاتلون هنا بأنهم إرهابيون، هل تقبلون بأن البعض إرهابيون فعلاً، من جبهة النصرة والمجموعات المرتبطة بالقاعدة، لكن هناك آخرين مثل “الجيش السوري الحر”، أو المجموعات المنضوية تحت لوائه، أو المنشقين، وبعضهم أشخاص عاديون، شاركوا في إطلاق الانتفاضة، لكنهم ليسوا إرهابيين بل أشخاص يقاتلون من أجل ما يعتقدون بأنه الطريق الصحيح في هذه المرحلة؟

الرئيس الأسد: بالطبع، عندما نقول بأننا نحارب القاعدة، فإننا نعني بأن المجموعة الإرهابية الرئيسية والأكثر خطورة هي القاعدة. لقد قلت في العديد من خطاباتي ومقابلاتي بأن هذه المجموعة ليست الوحيدة في سورية، طيف هذه المجموعات يتسع ليشمل صغار المجرمين، ومهربي المخدرات، ومجموعات تقتل وتخطف من أجل المال فقط إضافة إلى المرتزقة والمسلحين؛ ومن الواضح أن هؤلاء لا يمتلكون أي أجندة سياسية أو دوافع أيديولوجية.

ما يسمى “الجيش الحر” ليس كياناً كما يريد الغرب لقرائكم أن يعتقدوا، إنه يتكون من مئات المجموعات – كما عرّفته الجهات الدولية التي عملت مع أنان والإبراهيمي – ليس لديهم قيادة ولا تراتبية، إنه مجموعة من العصابات المختلفة التي تعمل لأسباب مختلفة. إن ما يسمونه “الجيش الحر” مجرد عنوان أو مظلّة تستعمل لإضفاء الشرعية على هذه المجموعات.

هذا لا يعني أنه في بداية الصراع لم يكن هناك تحركات عفوية، كان هناك أشخاص يريدون إحداث تغيير في سورية، وقد أقررتُ بذلك علناً عدة مرات. ولهذا قلت إن الحوار ليس من أجل الصراع نفسه، بل من أجل مستقبل سورية، لأن العديد من تلك المجموعات التي طالبت بالتغيير باتت الآن ضد الإرهابيين، هي لا تزال تعارض الحكومة، لكنها لا تحمل السلاح. بالنتيجة فإن وجود احتياجات مشروعة لا يجعل السلاح مشروعاً.

صنداي تايمز: في خطتكم ذات المراحل الثلاث: المرحلة الأولى تتحدث عن وقف العنف، من الواضح أن هناك الجيش من جهة، وهناك مقاتلون على الطرف الآخر. في حالة الجيش هناك تراتبية، وعندما تريد وقف إطلاق النار هناك قائد يستطيع السيطرة على ذلك لكن عندما تتحدثون عن وقف إطلاق النار أو وقف العنف، كيف يمكنكم افتراض حدوث نفس الشيء بالنسبة للمجموعات المسلحة وأنتم تقولون بأن هناك مجموعات كثيرة جداً مجزأة ولا تخضع لقيادة واحدة.

هذه إحدى نقاط خطتكم، وبالتالي فهو طلب مستحيل. تتحدثون عن استفتاء، لكن مع وجود عدد كبير من المهجّرين داخلياً وخارجياً، والعديد منهم يشكّلون العمود الفقري للمعارضة، على الأقل المهجرون منهم، فإن استفتاءً بدونهم لن يكون عادلاً. المرحلة الثالثة تتعلق بالانتخابات البرلمانية، وينبغي أن يحدث كل هذا قبل عام 2014. إنها قائمة طويلة جداً من الأشياء التي ينبغي أن تحدث قبل العام المقبل. إذاً ما الشروط التي تضعونها للحوار ولجعل هذه الخطوات تحدث؛ ثم أليس بعض الشروط التي تربطونها بالحوار مستحيلة التحقق؟

الرئيس الأسد: هذا يعتمد على طريقتنا في النظر إلى الوضع. أولاً، لنقل إن البند الرئيسي في الخطة هو الحوار، والحوار هو الذي يضع الجدول الزمني لكل شيء آخر، وللإجراءات والتفاصيل المتعلقة بهذه الخطة. البند الأول في خطتي كان وقف العنف، إذا لم نستطع وقف العنف، فكيف يمكن أن نمضي إلى الإجراءات الأخرى مثل إجراء الاستفتاء والانتخابات؟، ورغم ذلك فإن القول بعدم إمكانية وقف العنف ليس مبرراً لعدم فعل شيء.

من جهة أخرى، كما قلت، نعم هناك العديد من المجموعات وليس لها قيادة واحدة، لكننا نعرف أن قيادتها الحقيقية هي تلك البلدان التي تموّلها وترسل لها الأسلحة، وهي بشكل رئيسي تركيا وقطر والسعودية. إذا أرادت الأطراف الخارجية فعلاً المساعدة في هذه العملية، ينبغي أن تضغط على تلك البلدان للتوقف عن تزويد أولئك الإرهابيين بالمال والسلاح. وبالنتيجة فإننا، كأي دولة ذات سيادة، لن نتفاوض مع الإرهابيين.

صنداي تايمز: يقول منتقدوك إن المفاوضات الحقيقية قد تفضي إلى سقوطك، وسقوط حكومتك أو نظامك، وأنك تعرف هذا، ولهذا السبب فإنك تقدّم سيناريوهات مستحيلة عملياً للحوار والمفاوضات؟.

الرئيس الأسد: أنا لا أعرف هذا، بل أعرف العكس. منطقياً وواقعياً، إذا كان هذا هو الحال، ينبغي على أولئك الخصوم أو الأعداء أن يدفعوا من أجل الحوار لأنه سيؤدي إلى سقوطي. لكنهم في الواقع يفعلون العكس. إنهم يمنعون ما يسمى “كيانات المعارضة الموجودة خارج سورية” من المشاركة في الحوار لأنهم يعتقدون أن العكس هو الصحيح، إنهم يعرفون أن هذا الحوار لن يؤدي إلى سقوطي، بل سيجعل سورية أقوى. هذا هو الجانب الأول.

الجانب الثاني هو أن الحوار بمجمله يتعلق بسورية وبمستقبلها وبالإرهاب، إنه لا يتعلق بالمناصب والشخصيات، وبالتالي لا ينبغي أن يصرفوا انتباه الناس بالتحدث عما سيحققه أو لن يحققه هذا الحوار للرئيس. بالنهاية هو من أجل سورية كما قلت منذ قليل وليس من أجلي أنا. في المحصلة كلامهم هذا ينطوي على تناقض، بمعنى أن ما يقولونه يتناقض مع ما يفعلونه.

صنداي تايمز: قلت إن دفعهم من أجل الحوار قد يؤدي إلى سقوطك؟

الرئيس الأسد: لا، ما قلته هو أنه طبقاً لما يقولونه هم، إذا كان الحوار سيفضي إلى سقوطي فلماذا لا يشاركون فيه؟ هم يقولون إنه سيؤدي إلى سقوط الرئيس، وأنا أدعوهم إلى الحوار، فلماذا لا يأتون إليه ليسقطوني؟ هذا بديهي، ولهذا قلت بأنهم يناقضون أنفسهم.

صنداي تايمز: سيادة الرئيس، جون كيري وهو رجل تعرفه جيداً، بدأ جولة ستأخذه عند نهاية الأسبوع إلى السعودية وقطر وتركيا حيث سيتحدث إلى هذه الدول عن وسائل “تنحيتك”. وفي وقت سابق من هذا الأسبوع، في لندن وبرلين، قال إن الرئيس الأسد ينبغي أن يرحل، كما قال إن أحد أول التحركات ينبغي أن تتمثل في وضع مقترحات جذرية لإقناعك بالتخلي عن السلطة. هل تدعوه إلى دمشق لإجراء محادثات معه، وماذا ستقول له؟ ما رسالتك له الآن بالنظر إلى ما قاله هذا الأسبوع ولما ينوي قوله لحلفائه عندما يزورهم في نهاية الاسبوع؟ وكيف يمكن أن تصف كيري من خلال معرفتك به في الماضي؟

الرئيس الأسد: أنا أفضّل وصف السياسات وليس الأشخاص. وبكل الأحوال ما زال من المبكر الحكم عليه، فلم يمضِ على استلامه منصبه كوزير للخارجية بضعة أسابيع.

وفيما يتعلق ببقية السؤال، فإن ما ذكرتِه يتعلق بمسائل أو قضايا سورية داخلية، ولن يُطرح أي موضوع سوري مع أي أشخاص أجانب. نناقش هذه المسائل فقط مع السوريين داخل سورية، وبالتالي فلن أناقشها مع أي شخص يأتي من الخارج. لدينا أصدقاء ونناقش قضايانا مع أصدقائنا ونصغي لنصائحهم، لكن في المحصلة القرار قرارنا كسوريين ونتخذه وفقاً لما نعتقد أنه الأفضل لبلادنا. لكن إذا كان أي شخص يرغب “بصدق”، وأشدّد على كلمة “بصدق”، أن يساعد سورية، وأن يساعد في وقف العنف في بلادنا يمكنه القيام بشيء واحد وهو الذهاب إلى تركيا والجلوس مع أردوغان وأن يقول له: توقّف عن تهريب الإرهابيين إلى سورية.. توقّف عن إرسال الأسلحة وتوفير الدعم اللوجستي لأولئك الإرهابيين. ويمكنه الذهاب إلى قطر والسعودية وأن يقول لهم توقّفوا عن تمويل الإرهابيين في سورية. هذا هو الأمر الوحيد الذي يمكن لأي شخص فعله في التعامل مع الجزء الخارجي لمشكلتنا، لكن لا يمكن لأي شخص من خارج سورية أن يتعامل مع الجزء الداخلي من هذه المشكلة.

صنداي تايمز: إذاً، ما رسالتك إلى كيري؟

الرئيس الأسد: رسالتي واضحة، وهي أن يفهم ما قلته الآن، ورسالتي ليست فقط لكيري بل لكل من يريد التحدث عن الأزمة السورية، وهي أن السوريين وحدهم هم الذين يمكن أن يقولوا للرئيس ابقَ أو ارحل ولا أحد غيرهم. أقول هذا بوضوح كي لا يضيع الآخرون وقتهم ولكي يعرفوا على ماذا يركّزون.

صنداي تايمز: ما هو الدور، إذا كان هناك أي دور، الذي يمكن لبريطانيا أن تلعبه في أي عملية سلام من أجل سورية. هل كان هناك أي اتصالات غير رسمية مع البريطانيين؟ وما هو رد فعلكم على دعم السيد كاميرون للمعارضة؟ وماذا كنت ستقول له لو كنت جالساً معه، خصوصاً وأن بريطانيا تدعو إلى تسليح المتمردين؟

الرئيس الأسد: ليس هناك أي اتصالات بين سورية وبريطانيا منذ وقت طويل. أما التحدث عن دور فلا يمكن فصل الدور عن المصداقية، ولا يمكننا فصل المصداقية عن تاريخ ذلك البلد. بصراحة، وأنا الآن أتحدث إلى صحفية بريطانية وإلى الجمهور البريطاني، اشتهرت بريطانيا (في منطقتنا) بلعب دور غير بناء في مختلف القضايا وعلى مدى عقود، وبعضهم يقول قرون. أنا أتحدث الآن عن التصور العام في منطقتنا. ومشكلة حكومة كاميرون أن خطابها السطحي وغير الناضج يبرز فقط هذا الإرث من الهيمنة. أقول هذا بصراحة. كيف يمكن توقُّع أن نطلب من بريطانيا أن تلعب دورا في حين أنها مصممة على عسكرة المشكلة؟ كيف يمكن أن نطلب منهم أن يلعبوا دوراً في جعل الوضع أفضل وأكثر استقراراً، وكيف يمكن أن نتوقع منهم تخفيف حدة العنف، في حين أنهم يريدون إرسال المعدات العسكرية للإرهابيين ولا يحاولون تسهيل الحوار بين السوريين؟ هذا غير منطقي. أعتقد أنهم يعملون ضدّنا وفي الوقت ذاته ضد مصالح المملكة المتحدة نفسها. هذه الحكومة تتصرف بطريقة ساذجة ومشوَّشة وغير واقعية. إذا أرادوا أن يلعبوا دوراً فعليهم تغيير هذا والتصرف بطريقة أكثر عقلانية ومسؤولية. وإلى أن يفعلوا ذلك، لا نتوقع من مشعل الحرائق أن يكون رجل إطفاء.

صنداي تايمز: في العام 2011، قلت إنك لن تضيع وقتك بالتحدث إلى الكيان الذي يقود المعارضة، أتحدث الآن عن الكيانات الخارجية للمعارضة. وفي الواقع فإنكم بالكاد اعترفتم بوجود مثل تلك المعارضة. ما الذي غيّر رأيكم مؤخراً؟ وأي نوع من المحادثات تجرونها مع مجموعات المعارضة التي تعتبر مكوّناً وعاملاً رئيسياً في هذه الأزمة، خصوصاً بالنظر إلى ما قاله وزير خارجيتكم، وليد المعلم، في مطلع هذا الأسبوع عندما كان في روسيا بأن الحكومة مستعدة للتحدث إلى المعارضة المسلحة؟ هل لكم أن توضحوا ذلك؟

الرئيس الأسد: في الواقع لم أغيّر رأيي. مرة أخرى، هذه الخطة غير موجّهة لهم، إنها موجهة لكل سوري يقبل الحوار. لذلك فإن إطلاق هذه المبادرة لا يشكّل تغييراً في رؤيتنا. هذا أولاً.

ثانياً، ومنذ اليوم الأول من هذه الأزمة، قبل حوالي عامين، قلنا إننا مستعدون للحوار، وبالتالي لم يتغير شيء، لدينا موقف ثابت من الحوار. قد يفهم البعض بأني غيّرت رأيي لأنني لم أعترف بالكيان الأول للمعارضة ومن ثم اعترفت بالكيان الثاني. في الواقع فإني لم أعترف بأي منهما؛ والأهم من ذلك أن الشعب السوري لا يعترف بهم ولا يأخذهم على محمل الجد. عندما يفشل مُنتَج معين في السوق فإنهم يسحبون المنتج، يغيّرون اسمه ويغلفونه بشكل مختلف ومن ثم يطرحونه مجدداً في السوق، لكنه لا يزال على عيبه، الكيانان الأول والثاني هما نفس المنتج، لكن الغلاف مختلف.

فيما يتعلق بما قاله وزير خارجيتنا، فقد كان واضحاً جداً. جزء من خطتنا هو أننا مستعدون للتفاوض مع أي شخص، بما في ذلك المقاتلون الذين يسلّمون سلاحهم. لن نتعامل مع الإرهابيين المصممين على الاستمرار في حمل السلاح، وإرهاب الناس، وقتل المدنيين، ومهاجمة الأماكن العامة والمؤسسات الخاصة وتدمير البلاد.

صنداي تايمز: سيادة الرئيس، العالم ينظر إلى سورية ويرى أن البلاد تتعرض للتدمير، حيث قُتل ما لا يقل عن سبعين ألف شخص، وهُجِّر حوالي ثلاثة ملايين، والانقسامات الطائفية تتعمق. العديد من الناس في سائر أنحاء العالم يحمّلونك المسؤولية، ماذا تقول لهم؟ هل أنت مسؤول عما حدث للبلد الذي تقوده؟

الرئيس الأسد: تذكرين هذه الأرقام كما لو كانت مجرد أرقام إحصائية، فيما يستعمل بعض اللاعبين هذه الأرقام لدفع أجنداتهم السياسية، للأسف، هذا هو الواقع. وبصرف النظر عن دقة هذه الأرقام، فكل رقم منها يمثّل رجلاً أو امرأة أو طفلاً سورياً. عندما تتحدثين عن آلاف الضحايا، نحن نرى آلافاً من العائلات التي فقدت أحباءها والتي ستحزن عليهم لسنوات وسنوات، لا يمكن لأحد أن يشعر بالألم كما نشعر به نحن.

وإذا نظرنا إلى موضوع الأجندات السياسية، ينبغي أن نطرح أسئلة أكثر أهمية في ظل الوضع على الأرض والذي يجعل من المستحيل الحصول على أجوبة دقيقة، وأول هذه الأسئلة هو كيف تم التحقق من هذه الأرقام؟ وما هي نسبة المقاتلين الأجانب فيها؟ وما عدد المقاتلين الذين تتراوح أعمارهم بين 20 و 30 عاماً؟ وكم عدد المدنيين – النساء والأطفال الأبرياء؟

من جهة أخرى، نعلم جميعاً كيف تم التلاعب بعدد القتلى والضحايا في الماضي لتمهيد الطريق للتدخل الإنساني في عدد من الدول. ونذكر هنا أن الحكومة الليبية أعلنت مؤخراً أنه كان هناك مبالغة كبيرة في عدد الأشخاص الذين كانوا قد قتلوا قبل غزو ليبيا، قالوا إن 5000 شخص قتلوا من كل جانب في حين أن الأرقام التي كان يتم الحديث عنها في ذلك الوقت كانت بعشرات الآلاف. وفي مثل آخر، فإن البريطانيين والأميركيين الذين كانوا موجودين فعلياً في العراق خلال الحرب قالوا إنهم لا يمتلكون حتى الآن أرقاماً دقيقة حول عدد الضحايا العراقيين الذين قتلوا بسبب غزوهم لهذا البلد. وفجأة نجد أن نفس المصادر لديها أرقام دقيقة جداً حول ما يحدث في سورية. هذه مفارقة غريبة.

أقول لكِ ببساطة إن هذا الرقم لا وجود له في الواقع. إنه جزء من الواقع الافتراضي الذي يريدون خلقه لدفع أجندتهم في التدخل العسكري تحت عنوان التدخل الإنساني.

صنداي تايمز: إذا سمحت لي، فيما يتعلق بهذه النقطة حتى لو كانت الأرقام مبالغاً بها وليست دقيقة، فهي أرقام أكّدتها مجموعات سورية. رغم ذلك هناك آلاف الأشخاص الذين قتلوا، بعضهم مقاتلون لكن بعضهم أيضاً مدنيون، وبعضهم قُتل نتيجة الهجمات العسكرية، على سبيل المثال، بسبب القصف المدفعي أو الغارات الجوية على بعض المناطق. إذاً، حتى إذا لم نجادل بالأرقام الفعلية، إلاّ أنهم رغم ذلك يحمّلونك المسؤولية عن مقتل أولئك المدنيين الذين قتلوا بسبب الهجمات العسكرية. هل تقبلون بذلك؟

الرئيس الأسد: أولاً، لا نستطيع التحدث عن الأرقام دون التحدّث عن الأسماء، الناس الذين قتلوا لهم أسماء. ثانياً، لماذا قُتل هؤلاء؟ أين وكيف قتلوا؟ من قتلهم؟ عصابات مسلحة، مجموعات إرهابية، مجرمون، مختطِفون، الجيش، من؟

صنداي تايمز: إنه خليط من كل هذه العمليات.

الرئيس الأسد: نعم إنه خليط، لكن سؤالك يعني ضمنياً أن هناك شخصاً واحداً يتحمل المسؤولية عن الوضع الراهن وعن جميع هؤلاء الضحايا. والحقيقة هي أنه منذ اليوم الأول والوضع في سورية يتأثر بالديناميكيات العسكرية والسياسية، وكلاهما يتحرك بسرعة، وفي مثل هذه الأوضاع، هناك محفِّزات وعوائق. إن افتراض أن طرفاً واحداً مسؤول عن جميع العوائق وأن طرفاً آخر مسؤول عن جميع المحفزات أمر مناف للعقل والمنطق.

لقد قُتل عدد كبير من المدنيين الأبرياء، والكثير من السوريين يكابدون ويعانون. كما قلت من قبل، إن هذا لا يؤلم أحداً في العالم كما يؤلمنا نحن السوريين، ولهذا ندفع نحو الحوار السياسي. أنا لست في وارد توزيع اللوم هنا، لكن إذا كنت تتحدثين عن المسؤولية، فإن الأمر الواضح هو أن لدي مسؤولية دستورية تقضي بالمحافظة على سورية والسوريين من المجموعات الإرهابية والمتطرفة.

صنداي تايمز: ما هو دور القاعدة والجهاديين الآخرين، وما هو التهديد الذي يشكلونه لسورية والمنطقة وأوروبا؟ هل أنت قلق من أن تتحول سورية إلى ما يشبه ما حدث بالشيشان في الماضي؟ هل أنت قلق حيال مصير الأقليات إذا خسرتم هذه الحرب، أو نشوب حرب طائفية شبيهة بما حدث في العراق؟

الرئيس الأسد: دور القاعدة في سورية كدورها في كل مكان من هذا العالم: القتل، وقطع الرؤوس، والتعذيب ومنع الأطفال من الذهاب إلى مدارسهم؛ لأن أيديولوجيا القاعدة، كما تعلمين، تزدهر حيث يسود الجهل. إنهم يحاولون اختراق المجتمع بأيديولوجيتهم الظلامية المتطرفة، وهم ينجحون في ذلك.

أما إذا أردنا التحدث عن القلق حيال أي شيء في سورية، فنحن لسنا قلقين على “الأقليات”، هذا وصف سطحي لأن سورية هي مزيج من الأديان، والطوائف، والعرقيات والأيديولوجيات التي تشكّل معاً خليطاً منسجماً ومتناغماً بصرف النظر عن الحصص أو النسب المئوية.

ينبغي أن نقلق على غالبية الشعب السوري المعتدل بطبيعته والتي ستصبح أقلية إذا لم نحارب هذا التطرف – وعندها ستتوقف سورية عن الوجود.

وإذا كان هناك قلق على سورية بهذا المعنى، ينبغي الشعور بالقلق على الشرق الأوسط، لأننا المعقل الأخير للعلمانية في المنطقة. وإذا كان ثمة قلق على الشرق الأوسط، ينبغي على العالم بأسره أن يكون قلقاً على استقراره. هذا هو الواقع كما نراه.

صنداي تايمز: ما مدى التهديد الذي تشكله القاعدة الآن؟

الرئيس الأسد: التهديد الذي تشكله بأيديولوجيا أكبر من التهديد بعمليات القتل التي ترتكبها. القتل خطير بالطبع، لكن المسار الذي لا يمكن عكسه هو مسار الأيديولوجيا، هذا هو الأمر الخطير، وقد دأبنا على التحذير من ذلك منذ سنوات، حتى قبل الصراع. لقد كان علينا التعامل مع تلك الأيديولوجيات منذ أواخر السبعينيات، كنا أول من تصدى لأولئك الإرهابيين في المنطقة، أولئك الذين كانوا يرتدون عباءة الإسلام.

لطالما حذرنا من ذلك، خصوصاً في العقد الماضي، خلال غزو واحتلال أفغانستان والعراق. إن الغرب يتصرف برد الفعل وليس بالفعل والمبادرة، علينا أن نبادر وأن نعالج الأيديولوجيا أولاً. فحرب على الإرهاب دون معالجة الأيديولوجيا لن تجدي نفعاً وستجعل الأمور أسوأ.

إن القاعدة وأيديولوجيتها تشكل تهديداً وخطراً ليس فقط على سورية بل على المنطقة بأسرها.

صنداي تايمز: نُقل عن المسؤولين الأميركيين مؤخراً، وخصوصاً بالأمس، أن القرار الأميركي بعدم تسليح المتمردين يمكن أن يتم تعديله. إذا حدث ذلك، فما تداعياته من وجهة نظركم في سورية وفي المنطقة؟ وما هو التحذير الذي توجهونه ضد هذه الخطوة؟ إنهم يتحدثون الآن عن تزويد المتمردين بالعربات المصفحة والتدريب والسترات الواقية.

الرئيس الأسد: تعرفين أن الجريمة لا تتعلق فقط بالضحية والمجرم، بل بالمتواطئ والشريك الذي يقدم الدعم، سواء كان الدعم معنوياً أو لوجستياً. لقد قلت مراراً إن سورية هي بمثابة خط تماس جغرافياً وسياسياً، واجتماعياً، وأيديولوجياً، ولذلك فإن اللعب بهذا الخط سيكون له تداعيات خطيرة في سائر أنحاء الشرق الأوسط.

وفي الوقت ذاته، هل الوضع أفضل في ليبيا اليوم؟ في مالي؟ في تونس؟ في مصر؟ إن أي تدخل لن يجعل الأمور أفضل، بل سيجعلها أسوأ. وعندما يتزعزع استقرار هذه المنطقة، فإن أوروبا والولايات المتحدة والمتواطئين الآخرين سيدفعون الثمن عاجلاً أو آجلاً. إنهم لا يستشرفون ما سيحدث في المستقبل.

صنداي تايمز: ما هي رسالتك إلى إسرائيل بعد غاراتها الجوية التي شنتها على سورية؟ هل ستردّون؟ وكيف ستردون على أي هجمات مستقبلية تشنها القوات الإسرائيلية، خصوصاً وأن حكومتها قالت إنها ستفعل ذلك مرة أخرى إذا دعت الحاجة؟

الرئيس الأسد: لقد ردّت سورية في كل مرة، لكن بطريقتها، وليس بالمثل، والإسرائيليون وحدهم يعرفون ما نقصده، أي كيف كان ردّنا.

صنداي تايمز: هل لكم أن تتوسعوا في ذلك؟

الرئيس الأسد: نعم، الرد لا يعني صاروخاً بصاروخ أو رصاصة برصاصة. لا ينبغي أن يكون ردنا معلناً بالضرورة؛ والإسرائيليون وحدهم يعرفون ما أعنيه.

صنداي تايمز: لكن لا تستطيع أن تخبرنا كيف؟.

الرئيس الأسد: نحن لا نعلن ذلك.

صنداي تايمز: قابلت صبياً في السابعة من عمره في الأردن.

الرئيس الأسد: صبي سوري؟

صنداي تايمز: صبي سوري كان قد فقد ذراعه وساقه في هجوم صاروخي في الحراك. قُتل خمسة أطفال من أسرته في ذلك الانفجار. كأب، ما الذي يمكن أن تقوله لذاك الصبي؟ ولماذا قُتل كل هذا العدد من المدنيين الأبرياء، سواء في الغارات الجوية أو في عمليات القصف التي يقوم بها الجيش وأحياناً بإطلاق النار من قبل ما يسمى بالشبيحة؟

الرئيس الأسد: ما اسم ذلك الصبي؟

صنداي تايمز: الحقيقة كان لدي اسمه … لكن .. يمكن أن أحضره لكم لاحقاً.

الرئيس الأسد: كما قلت، لكل ضحية في هذه الأزمة اسم، ولكل ضحية أسرة. الطفل صابر مثلاً، وعمره 5 سنوات، فقد ساقه وهو يتناول الفطور مع أسرته في بيته، وفقد والدته وأفراد أسرته الآخرين. ريّان طفل عمره 4 سنوات شهد ذبح شقيقيه لأنهم شاركوا بمسيرة جميعاً. ليس لأي من هذه الأسر أي انتماء سياسي.

الأطفال هم الرابطة الأكثر هشاشة في أي مجتمع، وللأسف فهم في كثير من الأحيان يدفعون أبهظ الأثمان في أي صراع. كأب لدي أطفال صغار، أعرف معنى أن يتعرض الأطفال للأذى من شيء بسيط، فكيف إذا تعرض لأذى كبير أو إذا فقد المرء طفلاً، إنه أسوأ شيء يمكن لأي عائلة أن تواجهه.

في كل الصراعات، هناك هذه القصص المؤلمة التي تصيب أي مجتمع. لكن هذا هو الدافع الأكبر والأقوى بالنسبة لنا في محاربة الإرهاب. الإنسانيون الحقيقيون، الذين يشعرون بالألم الذي نشعره حول أطفالنا وحالات الفقدان التي تصيبنا، عليهم أن يشجعوا حكوماتهم على منع تهريب الأسلحة والإرهابيين ومنع الإرهابيين من الحصول على أي معدات عسكرية من أي بلد.

صنداي تايمز: سيادة الرئيس، عندما تستلقي في سريرك في الليل، هل تسمع الانفجارات في دمشق؟ وكحال السوريين الآخرين، هل تشعر بالقلق على عائلتك؟ هل تقلق من أن سلامتك الشخصية قد تتعرض للخطر؟

الرئيس الأسد: أنا أرى الأمور بشكل مختلف تماماً… هل يمكن لأي شخص أن يكون آمناً شخصياً أو أن تكون عائلته آمنة إذا كان البلد في خطر؟ إذا لم يكن البلد آمناً، لا يمكن أن يكون الفرد آمناً. لذلك، وبدلاً من أن تشعر بالقلق على نفسك أو عائلتك ينبغي القلق على كل مواطن وكل عائلة في بلدك. إنها علاقة متبادلة.

صنداي تايمز: تعلمون المخاوف لدى المجتمع الدولي حيال الأسلحة الكيميائية في سورية. هل يمكن لجيشكم أن يستعملها كخيار أخير ضد خصومكم؟ وتشير التقارير إلى أنه تم نقل هذه الأسلحة من مكان إلى آخر عدة مرات. إذا كان ذلك قد حدث، فلماذا؟ هل تشاطرون المجتمع الدولي قلقه حول إمكانية وقوعها في أيدي المتمردين الإسلاميين أو المجموعات المرتبطة بالقاعدة على سبيل المثال، ما هو أسوأ ما يمكن أن يحدث لهذه الأسلحة؟

الرئيس الأسد: كل ما ذُكر فيما يتعلق بالأسلحة الكيميائية في سورية في وسائل الإعلام أو في أحاديث السياسيين لا يعدو كونه تخمينات، نحن لم نناقش، ولن نناقش أبداً، مسائل تتعلق بأسلحتنا مع أحد.

ما ينبغي للعالم أن يقلق بشأنه الآن هو وصول المواد الكيميائية إلى أيدي الإرهابيين، وقد تم نشر مقاطع فيديو تظهر اختبار مواد سامة على حيوانات أمام الكاميرا وتهديدات للسوريين بأنهم سيموتون بنفس الطريقة. لقد تبادلنا هذه المقاطع مع بلدان أخرى، وهذا ما ينبغي للعالم أن يركّز عليه بدلاً من فبركة عناوين مضللة حول الأسلحة الكيميائية السورية لتبرير أي تدخل في سورية.

صنداي تايمز: أعلم أنك لا تقول إن هذه الأسلحة آمنة أو غير آمنة. لكن ثمة مخاوف حول ما إذا كانت آمنة أو ما إذا كان لا أحد يستطيع الوصول إليها.

الرئيس الأسد: ما من بلد يتحدث عن قدراته.

صنداي تايمز: أمر آخر يكثر الحديث عنه أيضاً: ما هو دور حزب الله وإيران وروسيا؟ وهل تعرفون بوجود أي مقاتلين من حزب الله في سورية وماذا يفعلون؟ وما هي الأسلحة التي يزودكم بها حلفاؤكم الإيرانيون والروس، وما هي أشكال الدعم الأخرى التي يقدمونها لكم؟

الرئيس الأسد: الموقف الروسي واضح جداً فيما يتعلق بالأسلحة – إنهم يزودون سورية بأسلحة دفاعية وبشكل يتوافق مع القانون الدولي.

حزب الله، وإيران وروسيا يدعمون الشعب السوري في حربه ضد الإرهاب.. دور روسيا بنّاء جداً، ودور إيران داعم جداً ودور حزب الله هو الدفاع عن لبنان وليس الدفاع عن سورية. نحن بلد عدد سكانه 23 مليون نسمة ولدينا جيش وطني وقوات شرطة قوية، لسنا بحاجة إلى مقاتلين أجانب يدافعون عن بلدنا.

السؤال الذي ينبغي أن يُطرح هو حول دور البلدان الأخرى – قطر، وتركيا والسعودية، وفرنسا، وبريطانيا، والولايات المتحدة – التي تدعم الإرهاب في سورية بشكل مباشر أو غير مباشر، عسكرياً أو سياسياً.

صنداي تايمز: سيادة الرئيس، هل لي أن أسألك عن موقفك أنت؟ وزير الخارجية الروسي سيرغي لافروف قال مؤخراً إن الأخضر الإبراهيمي اشتكى من أنه يريد أن يرى قدراً أكبر من المرونة من نظامكم وأنه في حين أنكم لا تقولون لا، يبدو أنكم أيضاً لا تقولون نعم. هل تعتقدون أنه يمكن التوصل إلى تسوية تفاوضية تظل بموجبها رئيساً، وهو ما يتساءل عنه كثيرون؟

الرئيس الأسد: لا تتوقعي من سياسي أن يقول فقط نعم أو لا بالمعنى المطلق، إنه ليس اختباراً متعدد الخيارات بحيث تشيرين إلى الجواب الصحيح أو الخاطئ. يمكن أن تتوقعي من السياسي أن يقدم رؤية، ورؤيتنا واضحة جداً، لدينا خطة، وكل من يريد أن يتعامل معنا يمكنه فعل ذلك من خلال خطتنا، هذا واضح جداً كي لا يكون هناك إضاعة للوقت.

هذا السؤال يعكس ما يتم تداوله في وسائل الإعلام الغربية حول شخصنة المشكلة برمتها في سورية، والإيحاء بأن الصراع برمته يتعلق بالرئيس ومستقبله.

إذا كانت هذه الحجة صحيحة، فإن رحيلي سيوقف القتال. من الواضح أن هذا مناف للعقل والمنطق، والسوابق الحديثة العهد في ليبيا، واليمن، ومصر تشهد على ذلك. دافعهم هو تجنب جوهر القضية وهو الحوار والإصلاح ومحاربة الإرهاب. إن إرث تدخلاتهم في منطقتنا يتمثل في الفوضى والدمار والكوارث. إذاً كيف يمكنهم أن يبرروا أي تدخل لهم في المستقبل. هم لا يستطيعون ولذلك فإنهم يركزون على تحميل المسؤولية للرئيس ويدفعون من أجل رحيله؛ والتشكيك في مصداقيته؛ وما إذا كان يعيش في فقاعة أم لا؛ وما إذا كان منفصلاً عن الواقع أم لا. وهكذا فإن محور الصراع يصبح الرئيس.

صنداي تايمز: بعض المسؤولين الأجانب دعوا إلى محاكمتكم بتهم ارتكاب جرائم حرب في محكمة الجنايات الدولية بوصفكم الشخص المسؤول عن أعمال الجيش، هل تخشون المحاكمة من قبل محكمة الجنايات الدولية، أو احتمال الملاحقة القضائية في المستقبل والمحاكمة في سورية؟

الرئيس الأسد: عندما تُطرح أي قضية تتعلق بالأمم المتحدة، فإنك تثيرين قضية المصداقية، وجميعنا نعرف، وخصوصاً بعد انهيار الاتحاد السوفييتي، وعلى مدى السنوات العشرين الماضية، بأن الأمم المتحدة وكل المنظمات التابعة لها بلا استثناء هي ضحية الهيمنة بدلاً من أن تكون معقلاً للعدالة. لقد أصبحت أدواتً مسيّسة لزعزعة الاستقرار ومهاجمة البلدان ذات السيادة، وهو ما يتعارض مع ميثاق الأمم المتحدة نفسه.

السؤال الذي ينبغي طرحه الآن هو: هل سيحاكمون القادة البريطانيين والأميركيين الذين هاجموا العراق عام 2003 وتسببوا بمقتل أكثر من نصف مليون شخص، ناهيك عن الأيتام والمشوهين والمعاقين؟ هل سيحاكمون الأميركيين والفرنسيين وغيرهم ممن هاجموا ليبيا دون قرار من الأمم المتحدة في العام الماضي، وتسببوا أيضاً في مقتل مئات أو ربما آلاف الأشخاص؟ هم لن يفعلوا ذلك.. الجواب في غاية الوضوح.

من جانب آخر، تعرفين أن إرسال المرتزقة إلى أي بلد يعتبر جريمة حرب طبقاً لمبادئ نورمبيرغ وطبقاً لميثاق لندن لعام 1945، وبناء عليه هل سيحيلون أردوغان إلى هذه المحكمة لأنه أرسل المرتزقة إلى سورية؟ وهل سيفعلون الشيء ذاته مع القطريين والسعوديين؟ إذا حصلنا على أجوبة هذه الأسئلة، عندها يمكننا التحدث عن منظمات السلام وعن المصداقية.

جوابي مختصر جداً وهو أنه عندما يدافع الناس عن بلادهم فإنهم لا يأخذون في الاعتبار أي أمر آخر.

صنداي تايمز: النظر إلى الوراء والحكم على الماضي بمنظور الحاضر أمر رائع سيادة الرئيس.

إذا أتيح لك إعادة عقارب الساعة عامين إلى الوراء، هل كنت ستتعامل مع أي شيء بطريقة مختلفة؟ هل تعتقد أن هناك أشياء كان ينبغي معالجتها بطريقة مختلفة؟ وما هي الأخطاء التي تعتقد أن بعض أنصارك ارتكبوها وكنت ترغب بتغييرها؟

الرئيس الأسد: يمكن أن تطرحي هذا السؤال على رئيس إذا كان هو المسؤول الوحيد عن كل سياق الأحداث. في حالتنا في سورية، نعرف أن هناك الكثير من اللاعبين الخارجيين، وبالتالي يجب تطبيق الحكم على الماضي من منظور الحاضر على كل لاعب من هؤلاء. يجب سؤال أردوغان على سبيل المثال: هل كنت سترسل إرهابيين لقتل السوريين؟ هل كنت ستقدم دعماً لوجستياً لهم؟ ويجب سؤال السعوديين والقطريين: هل كنتم سترسلون الأموال للإرهابيين وللقاعدة أو لأي منظمات إرهابية أخرى لقتل السوريين؟ وينبغي طرح نفس السؤال على المسؤولين الأوروبيين والأميركيين: هل كنتم ستوفرون مظلة سياسية لأولئك الإرهابيين الذين يقتلون المدنيين الأبرياء في سورية؟

في سورية، اتخذنا قرارين: القرار الأول إطلاق الحوار والقرار الثاني محاربة الإرهاب. إذا طلبتِ من أي سوري أن يحكم على الماضي بمنظور الحاضر وسألته ما إذا كان سيقول لا للحوار ونعم للإرهاب، لا أعتقد أن أي شخص عاقل سيوافقك الرأي. لذلك، أعتقد أنه إذا حكمنا على الماضي بمنظور الحاضر نجد أننا بدأنا بالحوار وسنستمر في الحوار، وقلنا بأننا سنحارب الإرهاب وسنستمر في محاربته.

صنداي تايمز: هل تفكر على الإطلاق بإمكانية العيش في المنفى، إذا وصلت الأمور إلى ذلك الاحتمال؟ وهل ستخرج من البلاد إذا كان ذلك يزيد من فرص السلام في سورية؟

الرئيس الأسد: مرة أخرى، الأمر لا يتعلق بالرئيس. ما من مواطن أو شخص وطني يمكن أن يفكر بالعيش خارج بلاده.

صنداي تايمز: لن تغادر أبداً؟

الرئيس الأسد: ما من شخص وطني يمكن أن يفكر بالعيش خارج بلاده. وأنا حالي كحال أي سوري وطني.

صنداي تايمز: ما مدى الصدمة التي تسبب بها الانفجار الذي أودى بحياة بعض كبار ضباطك، بمن فيهم صهرك؟

الرئيس الأسد: أنت تذكرين صهري، لكن هذه ليست مسألة عائلية، فعندما يتم اغتيال مسؤولين رفيعي المستوى فإن المسألة مسألة وطنية وليست عائلية. إن جريمة كتلك تجعلنا أكثر تصميماً على محاربة الإرهاب. الأمر لا يتعلق بالمشاعر بقدر ما يتعلق بما ينبغي فعله.

صنداي تايمز: أخيراً سيادة الرئيس هل لي أن أسألك عن زميلتي ماري كولفن التي قتلت خلال عملية قصف لمركز إعلامي معارض في بابا عمرو في 22 شباط من العام الماضي؟ هل تم استهدافها، كما أشار البعض، لأنها أدانت الدمار على التلفزيون البريطاني والأمريكي؟ أم إنها كانت ببساطة سيئة الحظ؟ هل سمعت بمقتلها حينذاك، وإذا كنت قد سمعت ماذا كان رد فعلك؟

الرئيس الأسد: بالطبع، سمعت بقصتها من وسائل الإعلام. عندما يذهب صحفي إلى مناطق صراع، كما تفعلين أنت الآن، لتغطية الأحداث ونقلها إلى العالم، أعتقد أن هذا عمل شجاع جداً. وكل شخص أو مسؤول عاقل وكل حكومة ينبغي أن تدعم الصحفيين في جهودهم لأن ذلك سيساعد في تسليط الضوء على الأحداث على الأرض وفضح البروباغاندا أينما وجدت. للأسف، ففي معظم الصراعات هناك صحفيون يدفعون حياتهم ثمناً لذلك. من المحزن دائماً عندما يقتل صحفي، لأنه ليس مع هذا الطرف أو ذاك، وليس حتى طرف في المشكلة.. إنهم هناك فقط لتغطية الأحداث.

ثمة حرب إعلامية على سورية تمنع إيصال الحقيقة إلى العالم الخارجي. لدينا 14 صحفياً سورياً قتلوا منذ بداية الأزمة، ولم يقتلوا جميعاً في الميدان، بعضهم استُهدف في منزله، واختُطف وعُذِّب ثم قُتل. بعضهم لا يزال مفقوداً. هوجمت أكثر من محطة تلفزيون سورية من قبل الإرهابيين وقنابلهم. والآن ثمة حظر على بث القنوات التلفزيونية السورية على أنظمة الأقمار الصناعية الأوروبية.

ومن المعروف أيضاً كيف أن المتمردين استغلوا الصحفيين أحياناً لمصلحتهم، وأفضل مثال على ذلك الصحفي البريطاني الذي تمكن من الهرب منهم.

صنداي تايمز: تقصد أليكس طومسون؟

الرئيس الأسد: نعم، لقد تم استدراجه إلى فخ من قبل الإرهابيين كي يتم اتهام الجيش السوري بقتله. ولهذا من المهم دخول البلاد بشكل قانوني، والحصول على تأشيرة دخول. لم يكن هذا هو الحال في حالة ماري كولفن. لا نعرف لماذا، والأمر ليس واضحاً. إذا دخلت إلى البلاد بشكل غير قانوني، لا يمكن أن تتوقعي من الدولة أن تكون مسؤولة عما يحدث.

على عكس الاعتقاد السائد، فمنذ بداية الأزمة حصل مئات الصحفيين من سائر أنحاء العالم، بمن فيهم أنت، على تأشيرات دخول وهم يغطون الأحداث ويرسلون تقاريرهم بحرية من داخل سورية دون أي تدخل في عملهم ودون أي عوائق تحول دون إنجاز مهامهم.

صنداي تايمز: شكراً جزيلاً.

الرئيس الأسد: شكراً لك.

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The Israel Lobby at its Intimidating Worst – in Britain

March 4th, 2013 by Global Research News

How the British Board of Jewish Deputies and its allies are smearing a decent critic of Israel as an anti-Semite – and the success they’re having.

The view in Israel of British Jewry is that they’re cowed by traditional British anti-Semitism and running scared from the “Muslim takeover” of the country. They’re not as chutzpahdik as the American Jews, supposedly. But I think Israel is selling the British Jews short, or at least their leaders. For the last month, the country’s Jewish machers have been smearing a member of Parliament as an anti-Semite with the sort of cynicism and relentlessness that could make their American counterparts envious. Chuck Hagel, meet David Ward.

A month ago, on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Ward, an MP from the Liberal Democratic party, posted this statement on his website:

Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis

British MP David Ward (Photo: David Ward official Facebook)

Does that sound anti-Semitic? To the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council and other stalwart communal bodies, it most certainly does. They immediately seized on Ward’s use of the term “the Jews” to accuse him of being an anti-Semite, and since then have been pressuring the Lib Dems to teach him a lesson. The party has obliged, chastising Ward publicly and ordering him this week to consult the party’s “Friends of Israel” organization to “identify and agree [on] language that will be proportionate and precise” when speaking out on the Mideast conflict, according to yesterday’s Jerusalem Post. (Note: In its properly outraged coverage of this story, the Jerusalem Post has taken to omitting Ward’s opening phrase, “Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools,” when quoting the statement from his website. Wonder why.)

Ward, an MP from Bradford East and a member of Parliament’s Britain-Palestine caucus, has been pretty defiant. While taking pains to say he didn’t mean to offend Jews, he’s stood by his statement about Israel. When Sky News suggested he was blaming Jews in general for Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, he replied:

I’m accusing the Jews who did it, so if you’re a Jew and you did not do it I’m not accusing you. I’m saying that those Jews who did that and continue to do it have not learned those lessons. If you are a Jew and you do not do those things and have never done those things then I am of course not criticizing you.

He went on to tell The Guardian:

There is a huge operation out there, a machine almost, which is designed to protect the state of Israel from criticism. And that comes into play very, very quickly and focuses intensely on anyone who’s seen to criticize the State of Israel. And so I end up looking at what happened to me, whether I should use this word, whether I should use that word – and that is winning, for them.

The British macherdom is not amused. The Deputies and Leadership Council rebuked the Lib Dems for “a pedestrian and lackluster response to what amounts to anti-Semitism at the heart of parliament.” The Holocaust and Educational Trust said, “This is a disappointing response to Mr. Ward’s sickening and unacceptable comments which he has kept on his website.” The affair isn’t over, either. Jerusalem Post: “The Liberal Democrat party said a date will be fixed to review Ward’s progress in an effort to conclude the disciplinary process against him.”

So don’t let anybody tell you British Jews won’t stand up and fight; the leaders of the Jewish “defense” organizations, at least, will fight as nasty as they need to.

The statement Ward made on his website, which he wrote after attending a Holocaust memorial ceremony in Bradford, contains not a nanogram of anti-Semitism. He was talking about the Jews of Israel who were responsible for the Nakba and those who later became responsible for the occupation. (I think he was awfully one-sided about the Nakba – there were massacres and ethnic cleansing of Jews as well as of Palestinians in the 1947-48 war, which was initiated, even if understandably, by the Palestinians – but that’s a whole other thing from anti-Semitism.) And what he told the Guardian about the “machine” that intimidates British public figures from criticizing Israel has obviously been proven true.

It’s an old story, it happens in the United States, in France, in Britain – the established Jewish defense organizations take a nationalistic view of Israel, and have few if any qualms about exploiting the suffering of Jews in the past as a shield for the suffering Israel inflicts on the Palestinians. It’s so demoralizing: Jews used to stand with the weak, now they stand with the oppressors of the weak when the oppressors are their own. And the memory of the times when Jews were weak – which we aren’t now, not in Israel or the Diaspora – is their best weapon.

I’m not talking about Diaspora Jewry in general, who remain disproportionately involved in human rights causes. I am talking about the recognized Diaspora Jewish leadership, the AIPAC types, the Board of Deputies types. By defending Israel’s subjugation of the Palestinians, especially by conscripting the Six Million to do it, they betray Jewish history. It is MP David Ward, in this episode, who honors it.

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US political leaders and media pundits trumpet North Korea’s recent testing of missiles and nuclear weapons as a great threat. But the US mass media do not tell the whole story. Without the context of history and current events, the actions of North Korea look insane, but when put in context we find that the United States is pushing North Korea on this path. North Korea is really not a significant threat compared to what the United States is doing with nuclear weapons, the Asia Pivot and war games off the Korean coast. In this article, we seek greater understanding by putting ourselves in the place of North Korea.

Historical Context: Korea, a Pawn for Big Power, Brutalized by the United States

The history between Korea and the United States goes back to the late 1800s when the US had completed its manifest destiny across North America and was beginning to build a global empire.  In 1871, more than 700 US marines and sailors landed on Kanghwa beach in west Korea, seeking to begin US colonization (a smaller US invasion occurred in 1866).  They destroyed five forts, inflicting as many as 650 Korean casualties. The US withdrew, realizing it would need a much larger force to succeed, but this was the largest military force to land outside the Americas until the 1898 war in the Philippines. S. Brian Willson reports that this invasion is still discussed in North Korea, but it has been erased from the history in South Korea as well as in the United States.

Korea succumbed to Japanese rule beginning in 1905, often serving as a pawn between Japanese conflicts with China and Russia. This was a brutal occupation. A major revolt for Korean democracy occurred on March 1, 1919, when a declaration of independence was read in Seoul. Two million Koreans participated in 1,500 protests. The Koreans also appealed to major powers meeting in Versailles after World War I, but were ignored as Japan was given control over the East. The Japanese viciously put down the democracy movement. Iggy Kim, in Green Left, reports they “beheaded children, crucified Christians and carried out scores of other atrocities. More than 7,500 people were killed and 16,000 were injured.”

Near the end of World War II, as Japan was weakened, Korean “People’s Committees” formed all over the country and Korean exiles returned from China, the US and Russia to prepare for independence and democratic rule. On September 6, 1945, these disparate forces and representatives of the people’s committees proclaimed a Korean People’s Republic (the KPR) with a progressive agenda of land reform, rent control, an eight-hour work day and minimum wage among its 27-point program.

But the KPR was prevented from becoming a reality. Instead, after World War II and without Korean representation, the US quite arbitrarily decided with Russia, China and England, to divide Korea into two nations “temporarily” as part of its decolonization. The powers agreed that Japan should lose all of its colonies and that in “due course” Korea would be free. Korea was divided on the 38th parallel.  The US made sure to keep the capital, Seoul, and key ports.  Essentially, the US took as much of Korea as it thought the Russians would allow. This division planted the seeds of the Korean War, causing a five-year revolution and counter-revolution that escalated into the Korean War.

Initially, the South Koreans welcomed the United States, but US Gen. John Hodge, the military governor of South Korea working under Gen. Douglas MacArthur, quickly brought Koreans who had cooperated with the Japanese during occupation into the government and shut out Koreans seeking democracy. He refused to meet with representatives of the KPR and banned the party, working instead with the right wing Korean Democratic Party – made up of landlords, land owners, business interests and pro-Japanese collaborators.

Shut out of politics, Koreans who sought an independent democratic state took to other methods and a mass uprising occurred.  A strike against the railroads in September 1946 by 8,000 railway workers in Pusan quickly grew into a general strike of workers and students in all of the South’s major cities. The US military arrested strike leaders en masse. In Taegu, on Oct. 1, huge riots occurred after police smashed picket lines and fired into a crowd of student demonstrators, killing three and wounding scores. In Yongchon, on Oct. 3, 10,000 people attacked the police station and killed more than 40 police, including the county chief. Some 20 landlords and pro-Japanese officials were also killed.  A few days later, the US military declared martial law to crush the uprising. They fired into large crowds of demonstrators in numerous cities and towns, killing and wounding an unknown number of people.à

 Syngman Rhee, an exile who had lived in the US for 40 years, was returned to Korea on MacArthur’s personal plane. He initially allied with left leaders to form a government approved of by the US. Then in 1947, he dispensed with his “left” allies by assassinating their leaders, Kim Ku and Kim Kyu-Shik. Rhee consolidated power and the US pushed for United Nations-sponsored elections in May 1948 to put a legal imprimatur on the divided Koreas.  Rhee was elected at 71 years old in an election boycotted by most parties who saw it as sham. He came to power in the midst of an insurgency.

On Jeju Island, the largest Korean island lying in a strategic location in the Korea Strait, there continued to be protests against the US military government. It was one of the last areas where people’s committees continued to exist. Gen. Hodge told Congress Jeju was “a truly communal area that is peacefully controlled by the People’s Committee,” but he organized its extermination in a scorched-earth attack. In September, Rhee’s new government launched a massive counterinsurgency operation under US command.  S. Brian Willson reports it resulted in the killing of “60,000 Islanders, with another 40,000 desperately fleeing in boats to Japan. Thus, one-third of its residents were either murdered or fled during the ‘extermination’ campaign. Nearly 40,000 homes were destroyed and 270 of 400 villages were leveled.” It was an ugly attack, Iggy Kim notes: “Torture, mutilation, gang rape and arbitrary execution were rife. . . a quarter of the Jeju population had been massacred. The US embassy happily reported: ‘The all-out guerilla extermination campaign came to a virtual end in April with order restored and most rebels and sympathizers killed, captured, or converted.’” This was the single greatest massacre in modern Korean history and a warning of what was to come in the Korean War. As we will see, Jeju is part of the story in today’s US Asian escalation.

More brutality occurred on mainland Korea. On October 19, dissident soldiers in the port city of Yosu rose up in opposition to the war in Jeju. About 2,000 insurgent soldiers took control of the city. By Oct. 20, a number of nearby towns had also been liberated and the People’s Committee was reinstated as the governing body. People’s courts were established to try police officers, landlords, regime officials and other supporters of the Rhee dictatorship. This rebellion was suppressed by a bloodletting, planned and directed by the US military.

The Korean War followed. S. Brian Willson summarizes the war:

“The Korean War that lasted from June 1950 to July 1953 was an enlargement of the 1948-50 struggle of Jeju Islanders to preserve their self-determination from the tyrannical rule of US-supported Rhee and his tiny cadre of wealthy constituents. Little known is that the US-imposed division of Korea in 1945 against the wishes of the vast majority of Koreans was the primary cause of the Korean War that broke out five years later. The War destroyed by bombing most cities and villages in Korea north of the 38th Parallel, and many south of it, while killing four million Koreans – three million (one-third) of the north’s residents and one million of those living in the south, in addition to killing one million Chinese. This was a staggering international crime still unrecognized that killed five million people and permanently separated 10 million Korean families.”

Bragging about the massacre, USAF Strategic Air Command head General Curtis LeMay, who blanket-bombed Japan in World War II and later ran for vice president with segregationist George Wallace, summed it up well, “Over a period of three years or so we killed off – what – twenty percent of the population.”  Willson corrects LeMay, writing “it is now believed that the population north of the imposed 38th Parallel lost nearly a third its population of 8-9 million people during the 37-month long ‘hot’ war, 1950-1953, perhaps an unprecedented percentage of mortality suffered by one nation due to belligerence of another.”

Context Today: Korea Targeted, Mock Attacks, Learning from Iraq and Libya and the Asia Pivot

This historical context results in North Korea taking the threats of the United States very seriously. It knows the US has been willing to kill large portions of its population throughout history and has seen what the US has done to other countries.

In 2002, President George W. Bush labeled North Korea part of the “axis of evil” along with Iraq and Iran.  S. Brian Willson traveled 900 ground miles through six of North Korea’s nine provinces, as well as Pyongyang, the capital, and several other cities, talking with dozens of people from all walks of life; all wanted to know about the “axis of evil” speech.  He found that North Koreans “simply cannot understand why the US is so obsessed with them.”

Of course, the North Korean government witnessed the “shock and awe” campaign of bombardments against Iraq and the killing of at least hundreds of thousands (credible research shows more than 1 million Iraqis killed, 4.5 million displaced, 1-2 million widows and 5 million orphans). They saw the brutal killing by hanging of the former US ally, now turned into an enemy, Saddam Hussein.
And, they can look to the experience of Libya. Libya was an enemy but then began to develop positive relations with the US. In 2003, Libya halted its program to build a nuclear bomb in an effort to mend its relations with the US.  Then last year Libya was overthrown in a US-supported war and its leader Moammar Gadhafi was brutally killed. As Reuters reports, “‘The tragic consequences in those countries which abandoned halfway their nuclear programs… clearly prove that the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) was very far-sighted and just when it made the (nuclear) option,’ North Korea’s KCNA news agency said.”

The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea. In November 2012 the US upgraded its weapons systems and announced an agreement with Japan that would allow South Korea to bomb anywhere in North Korea.  In June 2012 the Pentagon announced that Gen.l Neil H. Tolley would be removed as commander of US Special Operations in South Korea after he revealed to a Japanese foreign affairs publication that American and South Korean troops had been parachuting into North Korea on spy missions.
US troops and bases are not popular. Protests erupted in 2002 after two Korean woman were killed and a court martial found the US soldiers not guilty of negligent manslaughter.  Several pubs and restaurants put up signs saying “Americans Not Welcome Here.” In an August 2005 protest against US troops by 1,100 people, 10 were injured by police. One month before that, 100 were injured in a protest.  In 2006 protesters occupied land on which the US planned to expand a base, resulting in a conflict and their eviction followed by installing barbed wire around the area to protect it from South Koreans.  The South Korean government banned a rally that was expected to draw more than 10,000 protesters.

South Korea and the US regularly hold military exercises off the Korean coast, which North Korea describes as planning for an invasion. The United States claims these exercises are defensive in nature to assure preparedness.  Prior to the recent nuclear test, Seoul and Washington conducted a joint naval exercise with a US nuclear submarine off South Korea’s east coast, followed by a joint air force drill as well as live weapon exercises near a disputed sea boundary between North and South Korea.
These drills have gotten more aggressive during the Obama administration and since the death of Kim Jong-il, as outlined by geopolitical analyst Jen Alic here:

•”The first joint military exercises between the US and South Korea since Kim Jong-il’s death suddenly changed their nature, with new war games including pre-emptive artillery attacks on North Korea.

• Another amphibious landing operation simulation took on vastly larger proportions following Kim Jong-il’s death (the sheer amount of equipment deployed was amazing: 13 naval vessels, 52 armored vessels, 40 fighter jets and 9,000 US troops).

• South Korean officials began talking of Kim Jong-il’s death as a prime opportunity to pursue a regime-change strategy.

• South Korea unveiled a new cruise missile that could launch a strike inside North Korea and is working fast to increase its full-battery range to strike anywhere inside North Korea.

• South Korea openly began discussing asymmetric warfare against North Korea.

• The US military’s Key Resolve Foal Eagle computerized war simulation games suddenly changed, too, simulating the deployment of 100,000 South Korean troops on North Korean territory following a regime change.

• Japan was brought on board, allowing the US to deploy a second advanced missile defense radar system on its territory and the two carried out unprecedented war games.

• It is also not lost on anyone that despite what on the surface appears to be the US’ complete lack of interest in a new South Korean naval base that is in the works, this base will essentially serve as an integrated missile defense system run by the US military and housing Aegis destroyers.”

North Korea has shown anger at these drills.  In response to the announcement of the  largest annual joint exercises for US and South Korean troops scheduled for March and April of this year, in a rare direct message to US Gen. James Thurman, North Korea warned the top American commander in South Korea on Feb. 23 of “miserable destruction” if the US military presses ahead with the joint drills with South Korea set to begin next month.

Add to these drills the “Asia Pivot” President Obama is implementing, which will result in 60 percent of the US Navy being moved to Asia, and one can understand why North Korea believes that it is necessary to have nuclear weapons.  Part of this Asia Pivot includes Jeju Island, where the US military is trying to install a massive Navy base.  The village of Gangjeong, where the base is to be built, and the elected assembly of Jeju Island have voted to stop the naval base construction. The people of Jeju have mounted protests and resistance efforts against the base. But the base is a key location for the Asia Pivot.  Jeju faces Shanghai across the East China Sea, the South China Sea lies south of the island, and the mainland of South Korea lies to the north.

Jeju – designated as the “Peace Island” as part of an apology for the 1948 massacre – is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a destination for honeymooners. Bruce Gagnon visited Jeju Island twice and reported on the protests there, which include the mayor of Gangjeong being arrested in protest and Professor Yang Yoon-Mo, who is now in jail on a hunger strike.  This is his third hunger strike. The previous one lasted 74 days and he almost died. Gagnon works with the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.

Beyond that, as S. Brian Willson points out, the US is remaking its nuclear arsenal so that nuclear weapons can be used in a war. Three weeks before his “Axis of Evil” speech, President Bush presented a “Nuclear Posture Review” report to Congress that ordered the Pentagon to prepare contingency plans for use of nuclear weapons. The first designated targets for nuclear attack were the “axis of evil” members – along with Syria, Libya, Russia, and China.  The US remains the only country to have used nuclear weapons against another nation. The US has approximately 5,113 nuclear warheads, including tactical, strategic, and non-deployed weapons. According to the latest official New START Treaty declaration, the United States actively positions 1,722 strategic nuclear warheads on 806 deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and strategic bombers.

While calling for a world without nuclear weapons, President Obama has instead continued Bush’s plan and  has increased the budget for nuclear weapons. He has been giving the nuclear arsenal a massive and costly overhaul, modernizing the land-sea-air combination of planes, submarines and missiles that deliver nuclear bombs and warheads. Obama made a commitment in a letter to the Senate in February 2011 to accelerate, “to the extent possible,” the design and engineering of a new plutonium facility at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico while sustaining a facility in Tennessee.  What would a North Korean leader think of all this?

And when it comes to talks with North Korea, there is no progress. As our guests on “Clearing the FOG” – Bruce Gagnon and Elliot Adams, both active with Veterans for Peace – pointed out: China encourages talks, but the US refuses.  Gagnon and Adams suggest a first step would be a peace treaty with North Korea – an end to the Korean War, something that was never agreed because the fighting ended in a truce. The US needs to stop boxing North Korea into a corner with escalating rhetoric, military actions off its coast and crippling sanctions, and allow North Korea into the community of nations.

Once again, Korea is a pawn in a bigger battle between the US and China and Russia. Countries like Australia and Japan have joined the US and NATO, which has also been brought into the Asian Pivot. As Gagnon points out, North Korea is very independent and does not want to be anyone’s puppet and feels it must always show it is ready to defend itself. Adams adds, the US military does not fear “pipsqueak” North Korea with their low tech missiles and bombs, but in the media they use every test by North Korea as an excuse to escalate. Adams clarifies, “the US military needs a bogeyman to justify spending 60 percent of US discretionary spending on an insane, incompetent and bloated military.”

The solution begins with the American people understanding what is really going on in Asia and the Koreas. When the context is examined, and Americans try to stand in the shoes of North Korea, a different picture emerges. This is not easy with the misinformation and inadequate reporting by the mass media, which is complicit with the escalation, but this contextual understanding is essential as the US increases military action in Asia, threatens China and uses North Korea as an excuse.

You can hear our interview with Bruce Gagnon and Elliott Adams on North Korea, Nuclear Weapons and US Expansion into Asia and Space on Clearing the FOG Radio (podcast).

Kevin Zeese JD and Margaret Flowers MD co-host ClearingtheFOGRadio.org on We Act Radio 1480 AM Washington, DC and on Economic Democracy Media, co-direct It’s Our Economy and are organizers of the Occupation of Washington, DC. Their twitters are @KBZeese and @MFlowers8.

Time for Outrage!

March 4th, 2013 by Kevin Zeese

“Ninety-three years old. The last leg of my journey. The end is in sight. I am lucky to be able to seize the time I have left to reflect on my lifelong commitment to politics: the Resistance and the program designed sixty-six years ago by the National Council of the Resistance.” 

These are the opening lines from “A Time for Outrage!”(“Indignez-vous!”) a 35 page book written by Stephane Hessel in 2010 which sold 3 million copies in 30 languages and inspired protests like “Occupy” in the United States and The Indignados in Spain. Hassel died this week at the age of 95.

Each week we see reasons for outrage and, thankfully, more and more people are joining the culture of resistance.

Tuesday, the judge in the Bradley Manning case turned more than 1,000 days in prison, one-third of it in tortuous conditions in Kuwait and Quantico, into 90 days.  The judge allowed excuses for the delays based on the complexity of the case and the secret documents involved so that it fell just under the 120 statutory limit for a speedy trial. Judge Denise Lind does not publish her opinions, (also outrageous) but read for two hours in court, making it almost impossible to analyze the basis of her making 1,000 = 90.

People are outraged at the treatment of Manning and in more than 70 cities, people protested.

The Keystone Pipeline (KXL) continues to be built as the Earth approaches the tipping point on climate change.  Experts have said that tapping into the Alberta Tar Sands could be “game over” for the climate.(Next week we publish an article in TruthOut about how fracking may be an even bigger problem for climate change than the tar sands.)

People are outraged and doing the direct action necessary to stop the KXL. We hope this movie about the Tar Sands Blockade inspires you to join them.

One year ago, teenager Trayvon Martin was murdered after buying skittles in a convenience store. He was tracked by vigilante George Zimmerman and killed. The police did not charge Zimmerman until there was mass protest.

People are outraged and held vigils to mark the anniversary.

Students at Florida Atlantic University occupied the office of the president of their university after it was announced their football stadium would be named after a private prison corporation. President Mary Jo Saunders hid in her office for an hour, then came out and met the students. Following an hour long consensus process, she agreed to a town hall meeting on the issue this Friday.

Students were outraged at the glorification of prison privatization and were heard.

Occupy Austin settled a criminal prosecution that exposed undercover operatives who not only spied on occupy but alsoinstigated felony actions by occupiers.  The occupiers got time served and the Austin police were exposed – three undercover police were named; the lawyer says there were more.

Occupiers were outraged, they fought back and won.

Jeremy Hammond is being held in prison for leaking 5 million StratFor intelligence documents to Wikileaks. He was entrapped by a government informant, and at 28 years of age, he faces life in prison.  Hammond is outraged at the treatment of Aaron Swartz who committed suicide andwrote an open letter about Swartz while Hammond sat in solitary confinement.

People are outraged at the treatment of Hammond and  Aaron Swartz.

Frankly, there are too many outrages to go through. Here’s a quick list of additional recent actions against outrages. These are a handful among many.

-          One Hundred Million Strike Against Austerity and High Prices in India;

-          Protest at DOJ Against Drones and Secret Memo Justifying Them;

-          Zapatistas Struggle for Survival on Planet Earth;

-          Tar Sands Blockade and Appalachia Resist Shut Down a Frack Waste Facility in Ohio;

-          Bulgarian Government Resigns As Austerity Leads Nationwide Protests;

-          US Supreme Court Refuses to Lift Stay on NDAA Injunction;

-          Greece Hit by General Strike Against Austerity

We end where we began, with the wisdom of Stephane Hessel:

“It’s time to take over! It’s time to get angry! . . . Let us not be defeated by the tyranny of the world financial markets that threaten peace and democracy everywhere. I wish all of you to find your reason for indignation. This is a precious thing.”

Share this article and make courage in the face of outrage contagious!

This article is based on the weekly free newsletter of Occupy Washington, DC/October2011. You can sign up to receive the newsletter here.

Kevin Zeese, JD and Margaret Flowers, MD co-host Clearing the FOG on We Act Radio 1480 AM Washington, DC and on Economic Democracy Media, co-direct It’s Our Economy and are organizers of the Occupation of Washington, DC. Their twitters are @KBZeese and @MFlowers8.

Background

Five states emerged after the breakup of the nation formerly known as Yugoslavia: Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the FYR Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia. Later, Montenegro split from Serbia in 2006, and Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 (despite not being recognized by the UN and many more nations). This essay however, will keep its focus before the turn of the century, ignoring Serbia later secessions of Montenegro and dubiously, Kosovo. These five states that used to be Yugoslavia were in economic, political, and above all social turmoil. Serbia, more than others, suffered the most.

Also, Serbia’s then president, Slobodan Milošević, was the only premier of all the give former Yugoslav republics that kept Serbia running under the same Socialist system as in the past. In addition to these circumstances Serbia was also interlaced in the Kosovo conflict. More of a nationalist than a socialist however, Milošević kept a close eye on Kosovo as there was rising tension between ethnic Serbs and ethnic Albanians. Over time, Kosovo became all that Milošević could think about, and as a Serb himself he ordered the slaughter and eviction of many ethnic Albanians, some of whom nasty criminals that killed Serbs, but many if not the majority were helpless civilians. Inspired and if not pushed by the USA, NATO moved into Kosovo to halt Milošević’s work. After several failed attempts to solve the problem diplomatically, Operation Allied Force (the continuous bombing of Serbia until the Milošević government gave in to US/NATO demands) began. On May 8th, 1999, the Chinese embassy in Belgrade was a target of an Operation Allied Force mission that went haywire…or did it? This essay will examine whether or not the bombing was deliberate or unintentional.

Analysis

After peace talks over Kosovo between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (now the Republic of Serbia) and NATO failed in 1998, the latter began its offensive targeting Belgrade and other cities, towns, and villages throughout Serbia. From March 24 to June 11 NATO would heavily bombard the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Many around the world condemned the four-month nonstop onslaught, but the works of the 7th of May 1999, only poured fuel on the ever-burning fire in the Balkans. On that spring night, NATO forces bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, fatally wounding three journalists and injuring twenty staff members. The Operation, known as Operation Allied Force, was intended to bomb targets such as: arms warehouses, ammunition storages, fuel storages, military airfields, communication sites, critical infrastructure in key cities, ministries, and criminal hideouts with an aim to stop Serbian military operations in Kosovo…embassies, were not included as part of their mission.

There are two lenses, or two different perspectives, that one may choose to look through when examining this incident. One possible view will show that NATO’s bombing of the Chinese embassy was a mere mistake, caused by ‘outdated maps’ and a lack of intelligence. The other view is quite different, completely dismissing the thought of the embassy being bombed unintentionally; this perspective sees the bombing as a completely deliberate attack. The views cross each other out entirely, yet both seem to have some degree of plausibility.

However, when the aggressor who claims the incident was a mistake due to faulty intelligence and old maps also has the greatest air forces in the world (US Air Force, Royal Air Force, German Air Force), suspicions over what really happened are aroused (T. Pickering, 1999). Not to help things, the embassy bombed was that of a nation that was helping the Serbian army during the war and also follows a political ideology that the United States despise; Communism. Some may believe the Cold War was over a long time ago, that may instigate a nice debate, but that wasn’t what this essay is about and China’s communist stance may have a role to play. Here, we see that to a great extent, the May 7 bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade was as intentional and as planned as the rest of the bombings carried out by Operation Allied Force in Serbia.

The most popular explanation of the bombing that lay May night in 1999 was that the maps provided were outdated that the coordinates were flawed. Since the US was in charge of 83% of all military procedures in Operation Allied Force, and since it was an American jet that was on call that night, they took most of the blame, not NATO. In addition, since an American company called the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) produced the outdated maps in the US, virtually the whole affair, more or less, rested in the hands of the Americans (W. Cohen, 1999). In a joint statement by then-US Secretary of Defense William Cohen and former CIA Director George Tenet, the “military supply facility was the intended target, certainly not the Chinese embassy”. (W. Cohen, 1999)

Then, Thomas Pickering the former US Under Secretary of State, concluded the same thing, only adding that the target was supposed to be “the headquarters of the Yugoslav Federal Directorate for Supply and Procurement (FDSP)” (E. Schmitt, 1999). The US would not stand down completely though, defending themselves by highlighting the fact that in 1996, the Chinese embassy changed locations from Old Belgrade to New Belgrade across the river Danube. NIMA, they claimed, did not change the location of the Chinese embassy. This reasoning is the main defense of the bombing being a true mistake of war. Yet, according to NAT and US sources, the FDSP was actually a secret weapons warehouse for the Serb criminal and paramilitary leader Željko Ražnatović, also known as Arkan (NATO Press Conference, 1999). Again, new information makes matters seem even more dubious. In the end, this is how the world accepted it, and it was brandished collateral damage that comes with war the same way sugar comes with tea…well, sometimes. In NATO spokesman Jamie Shea’s own words, the bombing was an “unlawful killing” (NATO Press Conference, 1999).

If not a mistake, then what? First, the bigger picture has to be drawn, and Serbia, or the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as it was known then, will be left out of the picture for now. The geopolitical relations in 1999 between the world’s major powers held a subtle, but nevertheless important explanation that needs to be underlined. If the US, the main culprits of the bombing, were developing new and improving relations with their former Communist adversaries, the Russians and the Chinese, why would they put it at risk by bombing one of their embassies, again, confusion prevails. Antonio Esteves Martins, a report for Rádio e Televisão de Portugal (RTP), asked if it was a risk bombing the Chinese embassy after ameliorating relations with Russia and needing China to have a United Nations Security Council approve the whole situation (NATO Press Conference, 1999). This was a serious problem facing NATO, but a larger one for the US, who, after decades of distrust and poor diplomatic relations actually improved ties with Boris Yeltsin’s Russia and worked tirelessly on improving relations with China. In this context, after reconstructing ties with the hope of complete alliance with China, who is also the US’s biggest trading partner, there is no reason to bomb the Chinese embassy whatsoever. It truly seems as if the whole debacle was in fact, a mistake.

Definitely, a mistake is one option. But let’s dig deeper, and see if this result can be accepted with even more evidence. A decade before the Chinese embassy ordeal, in Operation Desert Storm, a similar hapless mistake took place in Iraq. An American F-117 fired at the Al-Firdos refugee camp thinking it was an opponent air base and “accidentally killed more than a hundred Iraqi women and children who, unbeknown to US target planners, had been sleeping inside a tent with the false belief that it offered them shelter” (B. Lambeth, 2001). Not only were there fatal miscalculations on NATO and the US’s part in Iraq, they actually bombed erroneous locations in Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo during the 78-day bombardment that killed more than two hundred civilians (S. Myers, 2000). Only twenty-four hours before the bombing of the Chinese embassy, NATO forces carried out a mission in the southern Serbian city of Niš aimed at bombing an airfield used by the Yugoslav Army.

After the mission, all the jets, weapons, and parts at the air complex were fine and intact, but the nearby food market and medical clinic as well as the lives of ten civilians were gone. (NATO Press Conference, 1999) In another instance, on April 12, NATO “targeted a bridge over the Jusna Morava River in Kosovo…just as a passenger train full of civilian passengers” was passing by. Two days after that in Djakovica, Kosovo, US Air Force F-116 pilots “killed numerous ethnic Albanian refugees…when [they] mistook civilian vehicles for a convoy”. Furthermore, two weeks after the halt in the bombardment of Belgrade, when NATO resumed its attacks, NATO forces “inadvertently damaged the residences of the Swedish, Spanish, and Norwegian ambassadors, the Libyan embassy, and a hospital in which four civilians were killed” (B. Lambeth, 2001). Perhaps the Chinese embassy was put to pieces by mistake, since it’s evident now that even the best army in the world isn’t perfect.

Still however, the excuse of wrong coordinates and an outdated map is unfounded, and not sufficiently substantiated to be solid grounds for an excuse of bombing a wrong location, especially when it is a ‘no-hit zone’, like an other embassy, not just the Chinese embassy. There are many reasons which dismiss the wrong coordinates and outdated maps claim. One of them is the fact that “US diplomats visited the embassy on a number of occasions in recent years” (T. Pickering, 1999). If the US diplomats visited the site, not once but several times, then why was the new location never registered in a high-tech database of crucial importance for military operations? It’s like driving the best and most expensive car in the world, only to realize that its engineers used the wrong tires. A Ferrari will never have wrong tires.

In an interview with a local resident who lived beside the embassy, reporter Jared Israel says the man told him “prior to the building of the embassy, it was a park” (J. Israel) Ex-Under Secretary of State adds that the “true location of the FDSP headquarters was some 300 meters away from the Chinese Embassy”, that’s around three football fields in another direction, making the outdated map and wrong coordinates excuse seem as folly arguments. (GR, 2005) A senior intelligence official also added that “it doesn’t look like an office building…it looks like a hotel, it’s too nice a place. Given all the space around it, I didn’t see external fencing that I would expect from a government facility”. (J. Sweeney et. al) Lastly, the rumor that ex-Yugoslavian “leader Slobodan Milošević was to have been in the embassy at the time of the attack” after bombs targeted his house and several ministries missed him. The London Observer also adds that “senior military and intelligence sources in Europe and the US state[d] that the embassy was bombed after its NATO electronic intelligence (ELINT) discovered it was being used to transmit Yugoslav Army communications”. (GR, 2005)

All the same, it does not seem duly plausible for the world’s superpower to conduct so many military mistakes, especially one like this that is so controversial, yet didn’t receive much media attention. Out “of the 4036 combat strikes that have been conducted, roughly 12 or about a dozen have involved unintended casualties”. (T. Pickering, 1999) That is a 3.36% margin for error, which Secretary Cohen thought “was pretty outstanding”.

The aerial mishaps at the bridge near the Jusna Morava River and the convoy in Djakovica carried plausible excuses according to US sources, which makes their record even more convincing. Referring to the other embassy bombings, in which the residences of three European ambassadors as well as the Libyan embassy were targeted, NATO simply strengthened the argument that the bombing of the Chinese embassy was a mistake…just like the other embassies and residences that were bombed. (B. Lambeth, 2001) This has become a tactic the West, the US mainly, has mastered. In late summer of 1964, the US claimed that two naval vessels attacked the USS Maddox and the USS Turner Joy. This led to the Gulf of Tonkin resolution being approved by the US Congress and President Lyndon Johnson waging war against North Vietnam.

More recently in 2003, the US made another claim, that Iraq violated rules of a 1991 agreement and that Saddam Hussein secretly had weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Nevertheless, the US went into war based on a mere claim. Unsurprisingly, the Tonkin affair was to enter a war fighting the North Vietnamese, who happened to be Communists, and the WMDs claim was an excuse to enter Iraq and topple Hussein’s Ba’athist regime: both North Vietnam and Iraq being countries that were not democracies. Robert J. Hanyok, a historian for the US National Security Agency, admitted that his agency fabricated reports that were given to Congress by intelligence regarding the Tonkin incident. (S, Scott, 2005) Other claims, like Saddam Hussein having affiliations with Al-Qaeda were other motives behind the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Another argument for why the bombing of the Chinese embassy was deliberate would have to be how it was bombed. For clarification, three different bombs fell on three different sections of the building, where three different personnel were asleep. The plane used to bomb the embassy was the B-2 Bomber, also know as the Stealth Bomber because it is “the most effective performer of the entire war” with a “96-percent weapons effectiveness rate”. Why was this particular plane chosen to carry out this specific mission? Other planes were more frequently used in the offensive, such as the F-116, the B-52 Stratofortress, or the F-117 Nighthawk which is a specialized military aircraft for night missions. This spells out that the B-2, most probably the US Air Force’s (USAF) most prolific aircraft, must have been used for a special mission. (B. Lambeth, 2001) Additionally, the Stealth Bomber has only one home; the Whiteman Air Base in Kansas City, Missouri, so with President Clinton ordering the six or so planes to be sent to bomb a target in Eastern Europe, 7,000 miles away, refuel in Italy, then fly back to Kansas City all seems a little skeptical.

The casualties in the bombing included three journalists who were killed and twenty others who escaped with minor and major injuries. There were three bombs that each hit a specified building. (J. Israel) What could these journalists have done so wrong to be bombed by the USAF’s most precise and perilous aircraft? Either they were really dangerous journalists, or, more realistically, spies and intelligence agents working for the Chinese government perhaps. Three NATO officers, a flight controller working in Naples, an intelligence officer monitoring Yugoslav radio traffic from neighboring Macedonia, and a headquarters official in Brussels all knew the “Chinese embassy was acting as a ‘rebro’ (rebroadcast) station for the Yugoslav Army…[and] was also suspected of monitoring NATO’s cruise missile attacks on Belgrade, with a view to developing countermeasures”. (J. Sweeney et. al) With this information, it is clear that the Chinese were breaching rules of engagement and breaking a diplomatic code between themselves and the USA. Well, then this means that the bombing of the embassy was a strategic operation and an act of war, which makes it quite intentional. To add more evidence to the case, an intelligence officer in Macedonia said “when President [Milošević’s] resident was bombed on 23 April, the signals disappeared for 24 hours. When they came on the air again, we discovered they came from the embassy compound”. This meant that after Milošević’s own home could not be a ‘rebro’ they moved to the Chinese embassy, “which NATO located and pinpointed” and later bombed…again, intentionally. Finally, in July 1999, the then “CIA Director [George] Tenet testified in Congress that out of the 900 targets struck by NATO during the three month bombing spree, only one was developed by the CIA: The People’s Republic of China Embassy”.

In a broader perspective, US foreign policy in the Balkan War of the 90’s was a big failure. There were three main aims for entering the war: firstly, a stable Balkan region following the partition of Yugoslavia was key; secondly, the ousting of Serbian dictator Slobodan Milošević and the installment of a new ‘America-friendly’ premier; and thirdly, an independent Kosovo. Presently, the nations that consisted of former Yugoslavia do have economic and diplomatic ties but the populations of all nations still hold grudges, especially between Serbs, Croats, and Bosnians. Also, the new leaders of Serbia post-Milošević were Vojislav Koštunica and Zoran Djindjić, by no means pro-American.

And most importantly, despite Kosovo seceding from Serbia in 2008, it is not fully independent having not been recognized by the United Nations. That looks like a zero out of three, or half perhaps. Wait no, back to zero, Serbia’s new radical party president Tomislav Nikolić disregarded the massacres at Srebrenica stirring anger in Bosnia and Herzegovina on top of other things that are hindering the peace process. Also, not only did the US and NATO fail miserably in the Balkans, they also killed many civilians and decapitated Serbian infrastructure, not only in Belgrade. In the end, the 78-day bombardment was carried out with “total disregard for human life”, with “bombs kill[ing] thousands of innocent civilians and even destroy[ing] hospitals and schools”.

All of this while NATO lost two soldiers, two aircrafts, and four unmanned vehicles. NATO halted their bombardment because Milošević gave up, not because he gave in. The Yugoslav (now Serbian) government never agreed to the Rambouillet Agreement. (P. Schlafly)

References and Citations:

Ben Lambeth, NATO’s Air War for Kosovo: A Strategic and Operational Assessment, (Santa Monica: RAND, 2001), 89-230.

NATO Secretary General Javier Solana and NATO Major General Walter Jertz, interviewed by New York Times, BBC, RTP, FR2, CNN, Sunday Times, Beta Agency, Hungarian TV, Sky News, NATO Press Conference, May 10, 1999.

David A. Fulghum and Robert Wall, “Intel Mistakes Trigger Chinese Embassy Bombings,” Aviation Week and Space Technology, May 17, 1999, pg. 55.

Eric Schmitt, “Aim, Not Arms, at the Root of the Mistaken Strike on Embassy,” New York Times, May 10, 1999.

Steven Lee Myers, “Chinese Embassy Bombings: a Wide Net of Blame,” New York Times, April 17, 2000.

Shane Scott, “Vietnam War Intelligence ‘Deliberately Skewed,’ Secret Study Says,” New York Times, December 2, 2005.

Michael Mandelbaum, “A Perfect Failure: NATO’s War against Yugoslavia,” Foreign Affairs, http://www.nato.int/kosovo/press/p990208b.htm.

Jared Israel, “How the Story of the Embassy Bombing Changed,” Albion Monitor, http://www.albionmonitor.com/9905a/chinaembassymedia.html.

Lance Morrow, “It’s the Stupidity, Stupid,” TIME, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,991155,00.html.

“US Air Strike on China’s Embassy in 1999 was Deliberate,” Global Research, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=20051229&articled=1665.

John Sweeney, Jens Holsoe, & Ed Vulliamy, “NATO Bombed the Chinese Embassy Deliberately,” The London Observer, http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a380949070345.htm.

Phyllis Schlafly, “Numbers Game in Kosovo,” Washington Times, http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a383733326c5a.htm.

William S. Cohen and George J. Tenet, “US Deeply Regrets Bombing of Chinese Embassy,” News Release, May 8, 1999, http://web.archive.org/web/19990915192708/www.consulate.org.hk/ucsn/others/1999/0508.htm.

Thomas Pickering, “State Department Report on Accidental Bombing of Chinese Embassy,” Oral Presentation, July 6, 1999, http://beijing.usembassy-china.org.cn/070699.html.

William S. Cohen, “Cohen Briefing on Chinese Embassy Bombing May 10,” News Briefing, May 10, 1999, http://web.archive.org/web/19990915200338/www.usconsulate.org.hk/uscn/others/1999/0510.htm

United States State Department, NATO, & the Former Yugoslavia, “Rambouillet Agreement,” March 23, 1999.

Ilija Trojanovic is a student at the American University of Beirut.

Russian Weapons for Iraq. How Will US-NATO React?

March 4th, 2013 by Global Research News

In an exclusive interview to the Voice of Russia, Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari talks about the upcoming meeting of the bilateral commission on cooperation as well as the large deals regarding arms and oil trade.

Mr. Zebari, the relations between Iraq and Russia are actively developing. That can be proved by the upcoming meeting of the bi-lateral commission on cooperation, which on the Iraqi side is headed by you. There is information that the meeting may take place in March. Can you give details on when and where it will take place?

Министр иностранных дел Ирака Хошияр Зибари

The upcoming meeting of the Russian-Iraqi commission on cooperation is to take place in Baghdad. It is planed for the first quarter of this year. It was actually planned to take place at the end of last year, but was postponed.

Previous meetings proved the usefulness of that commission. Let me remind you that on the Russian side, the energy minister will head the commission. The meeting will help to expand cooperation between Russia and Iraq. It includes oil, arms, as well as other spheres. At the upcoming meeting we will talk about how we can stimulate the business activities of more Russian companies and the inflow of investment from Russia to Iraq. Prior to this one there have been three meetings in Moscow. We have achieved good results. But time has come to get together in Baghdad as well.

Talking about the results, are you talking about the fact that Russia just forgave Iraq its multi-billion dollar debt?

Not just that. Currently, Russian companies, such as Lukoil, Bashneft and others, are working at the large Iraqi deposits. They work professionally and enthusiastically.

Some Russian companies sign contracts not only with the central government of Iraq, but also with the regional government of Kurdistan (an autonomous region in the North of the country). However, Gazprom Neft Company’s desire to work both in the North and in the other parts of the country was met with the resistance from the federal government, which is unhappy with its direct contact with Iraqi Kurdistan. What is the main issue of that problem and how can it be resolved?

We will deal with that issue. In any case, the Iraqi delegation headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki discussed the future of our cooperation during their visit to Moscow in the fall of 2012. Other ministers and I were assured by the Russian side that your companies would work with all Iraqi regions on the basis of the laws and the constitution of our country.

Mr. Zebari, Massoud Barzani, President of Iraqi Kurdistan, has recently visited Moscow. In his interview to the Voice of Russia he mentioned that the anticipated large deal of arms supply from Russia to Iraq had reportedly fallen through. It appears that the Kurds don’t like that deal that much. Has it really been cancelled? Are there no more arms supplies from Russia to Iraq planned for the near term?

Naturally, Iraq needs to acquire weapons and modernize its army and military equipment. Such are the main tasks for the country’s security – it is our lawful right. It is clear why in pursuing that goal Iraq has turned to Russia among other countries. The Iraqi army has in its arsenal a lot of arms produced in Russia. From that point of view, Russia is closest to us. We have been talking to the Russian side about our needs for a long time. But by the way, during the visit of our Prime Minister to Moscow last fall that I mentioned (I was a part of that delegation), the press gave figures of the volume of the contracts that had little to do with reality. Yes, there was an exchange of opinions. We presented our requirements; the Russian side described its proposals. We discussed the timing. But the press also talked about the contracts, which had not been signed at that point. In many cases it was only our intensions that back then were at the negotiations stage.

As far as the signed contracts go that deal with the acquisition of weapons in Russia, they have not been cancelled. However, we have not started executing them yet.

When will the first supply commence?

As soon as the financial issue is resolved. I believe that the first shipments of weapons from Russia to Iraq will start before the summer, as the latest term.

What kind of equipment will it be? Military aircraft were discussed.

No, we are not talking about aircraft so far. It will be helicopters of a specific kind and missile defense batteries.

And what is the state of your plans to purchase F-16 fighter planes from the USA? There have been talks. Are there any problems with that as well?

No, we have no problems with the Americans on that deal. The supplies are to commence in 2014. Getting back to the topic of cooperation with Russia, it is developing. And evidence of that is the increasing number of official visits – this is an important factor.

The statement below was read by Private First Class Bradley E. Bradley at the providence inquiry for his formal plea of guilty to one specification as charged and nine specifications for lesser included offenses. He pled not guilty to 12 other specifications. This transcript was taken by journalist Alexa O’Brien at the Article 39(a) session of United States v. Pfc. Bradley Manning on February 28, 2013 at Fort Meade, MD, USA.

Judge Lind: Pfc. Manning you may read your statement.

Pfc. Bradley Manning: Yes, your Honor. I wrote this statement in the confinement facility. Start now. The following facts are provided in support of the providence inquiry for my court martial, United States v. Pfc. Bradley E. Manning.

Personal Facts.

I am a twenty-five year old Private First Class in the United States Army currently assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, HHC, US Army Garrison (USAG), Joint Base Myer, Henderson Hall, Fort Meyer, Virginia.

My [exodus?] assignment I was assigned to HHC, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, NY. My primary military occupational specialty or MOS is 35 Foxtrot intelligence analyst. I entered active duty status on 2 October 2007. I enlisted with the hope of obtaining both real world experience and earning benefits under the GI Bill for college opportunities.

Facts regarding my position as an intelligence analyst.

In order to enlist in the Army I took the Standard Armed Services Aptitude Battery or [ASVAB?]. My score on this battery was high enough for me to qualify for any enlisted MOS position. My recruiter informed me that I should select an MOS that complimented my interests outside the military. In response, I told him that I was interested in geopolitical matters and information technology. He suggested that I consider becoming an intelligence analyst.

After researching the intelligence analyst position, I agreed that this would be a good fit for me. In particular, I enjoyed the fact that an analyst could use information derived from a variety of sources to create work products that informed the command of its available choices for determining the best course of action or COA’s. Although the MOS required working knowledge of computers, it primarily required me to consider how raw information can be combined with other available intelligence sources in order to create products that assisted the command in its situational awareness or SA.

I accessed that my natural interest in geopolitical affairs and my computer skills would make me an excellent intelligence analyst. After enlisting I reported to the Fort Meade military entrance processing station on 1 October 2007. I then traveled to and reported at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri on 2 October 2007 to begin basic combat training or BCT.

Once at Fort Leonard Wood I quickly realized that I was neither physically nor mentally prepared for the requirements of basic training. My BCT experience lasted six months instead of the normal ten weeks. Due to medical issues, I was placed on a hold status. A physical examination indicated that I sustained injuries to my right soldier and left foot.

Due to those injuries I was unable to continue ‘basic’. During medical hold, I was informed that I may be out processed from the Army, however, I resisted being chaptered out because I felt that I could overcome my medical issues and continue to serve. On 2[8 or 20?] January 2008, I returned to basic combat training. This time I was better prepared and I completed training on 2 April 2008.

I then reported for the MOS specific Advanced Individual Training or AIT on 7 April 2008. AIT was an enjoyable experience for me. Unlike basic training where I felt different from the other soldiers, I fit in and did well. I preferred the mental challenges of reviewing a large amount of information from various sources and trying to create useful or actionable products. I especially enjoyed the practice of analysis through the use of computer applications and methods that I was familiar with.

I graduated from AIT on 16 August 2008 and reported to my first duty station, Fort Drum, NY on 28 August 2008. As an analyst, Significant Activities or SigActs were a frequent source of information for me to use in creating work products. I started working extensively with SigActs early after my arrival at Fort Drum. My computer background allowed me to use the tools of organic to the Distributed Common Ground System-Army or D6-A computers to create polished work products for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team chain of command.

The non-commissioned officer in charge, or NCOIC, of the S2 section, then Master Sergeant David P. Adkins recognized my skills and potential and tasked me to work on a tool abandoned by a previously assigned analyst, the incident tracker. The incident tracker was viewed as a back up to the Combined Information Data Network Exchange or CIDNE and as a unit, historical reference to work with.

In the months preceding my upcoming deployment, I worked on creating a new version of the incident tracker and used SigActs to populate it. The SigActs I used were from Afghanistan, because at the time our unit was scheduled to deploy to the Logar and Wardak Provinces of Afghanistan. Later my unit was reassigned to deploy to Eastern Baghdad, Iraq. At that point, I removed the Afghanistan SigActs and switched to Iraq SigActs.

As and analyst I viewed the SigActs as historical data. I believed this view is shared by other all-source analysts as well. SigActs give a first look impression of a specific or isolated event. This event can be an improvised explosive device attack or IED, small arms fire engagement or SAF, engagement with a hostile force, or any other event a specific unit documented and recorded in real time.

In my perspective the information contained within a single SigAct or group of SigActs is not very sensitive. The events encapsulated within most SigActs involve either enemy engagements or causalities. Most of this information is publicly reported by the public affairs office or PAO, embedded media pools, or host nation (HN) media.

As I started working with SigActs I felt they were similar to a daily journal or log that a person may keep. They capture what happens on a particular day in time. They are created immediately after the event, and are potentially updated over a period of hours until final version is published on the Combined Information Data Network Exchange. Each unit has its own Standard Operating Procedure or SOP for reporting and recording SigActs. The SOP may differ between reporting in a particular deployment and reporting in garrison.

In garrison, a SigAct normally involves personnel issues such as driving under the influence or DUI incidents or an automobile accident involving the death or serious injury of a soldier. The reports starts at the company level and goes up to the battalion, brigade, and even up to the division level.

In deployed environment a unit may observe or participate in an event and a platoon leader or platoon sergeant may report the event as a SigAct to the company headquarters and through the radio transmission operator or RTO. The commander or RTO will then forward the report to the battalion battle captain or battle non-commissioned officer or NCO. Once the battalion battle captain or battle NCO receives the report they will either (1) notify the battalion operations officer or S3; (2) conduct an action, such as launching a quick reaction force; or (3) record the event and report– and further report it up the chain of command to the brigade.

The reporting of each event is done by radio or over the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network or SIPRNet, normally by an assigned soldier, usually junior enlisted E-4 and below. Once the SigAct is recorded, the SigAct is further sent up the chain of command. At each level, additional information can either be added or corrected as needed. Normally within 24 to 48 hours, the updating and reporting or a particular SigAct is complete. Eventually all reports and SigActs go through the chain of command from brigade to division and division to corps. At corps level the SigAct is finalized and [missed word].

The CIDNE system contains a database that is used by thousands of Department of Defense– DoD personnel– including soldiers, civilians, and contractors support. It was the United States Central Command or CENTCOM reporting tool for operational reporting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Two separate but similar databases were maintained for each theater– CIDNE-I for Iraq and CIDNE-A for Afghanistan. Each database encompasses over a hundred types of reports and other historical information for access. They contain millions of vetted and finalized directories including operational intelligence reporting.

CIDNE was created to collect and analyze battle-space data to provide daily operational and Intelligence Community (IC) reporting relevant to a commander’s daily decision making process. The CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A databases contain reporting and analysis fields for multiple disciplines including Human Intelligence or HUMINT reports, Psychological Operations or PSYOP reports, Engagement reports, Counter Improvised Explosive Device or CIED reports, SigAct reports, Targeting reports, Social and Cultural reports, Civil Affairs reports, and Human Terrain reporting.

As an intelligence analyst, I had unlimited access to the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A databases and the information contained within them. Although each table within the database is important, I primarily dealt with HUMINT reports, SigAct reports, and Counter IED reports, because these reports were used to create a work product I was required to published as an analyst.

In working on an assignment I looked anywhere and everywhere for information. As an all-source analyst, this was something that was expected. The D6-A systems had databases built in, and I utilized them on a daily basis. This simply was– the search tools available on the D6-A systems on SIPRNet such as Query Tree and the DoD and Intellink search engines.

Primarily, I utilized the CIDNE database using the historical and HUMINT reporting to conduct my analysis and provide a back up for my work product. I did statistical analysis on historical data including SigActs to back up analysis that were based on HUMINT reporting and produce charts, graphs, and tables. I also created maps and charts to conduct predictive analysis based on statistical trends. The SigAct reporting provided a reference point for what occurred and provided myself and other analysts with the information to conclude possible outcome.

Although SigAct reporting is sensitive at the time of their creation, their sensitivity normally dissipates within 48 to 72 hours as the information is either publicly released or the unit involved is no longer in the area and not in danger.

It is my understanding that the SigAct reports remain classified only because they are maintained within CIDNE– because it is only accessible on SIPRnet. Everything on CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A to include SigAct reporting was treated as classified information.

Facts regarding the storage of SigAct Reports.

As part of my training at Fort Drum, I was instructed to ensure that I create back ups of my work product. The need to create back ups was particularly acute given the relative instability and reliability of the computer systems we used in the field during deployment. These computer systems included both organic and theater provided equipment (TPE) D6-A machines.

The organic D6-A machines we brought with us into the field on our deployment were Dell [missed word] laptops and the TPE D6-A machines were Alienware brand laptops. The [M90?] D6-A laptops were the preferred machine to use as they were slightly faster and had fewer problems with dust and temperature than the theater provided Alienware laptops. I used several D6-A machines during the deployment due to various technical problems with the laptops.

With these issues several analysts lost information, but I never lost information due to the multiple backups I created. I attempted to backup as much relevant information as possible. I would save the information so that I or another analyst could quickly access it whenever a machine crashed, SIPRnet connectivity was down, or I forgot where the data was stored.

When backing up information I would do one or all of the following things based on my training:

[(1)] Physical back up. I tried to keep physical back up copies of information on paper so that the information could be grabbed quickly. Also, it was easier to brief from hard copies of research and HUMINT reports.

(2) Local drive back up. I tried to sort out information I deemed relevant and keep complete copies of the information on each of the computers I used in the Temporary Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility or T-SCIF, including my primary and secondary D6-A machines. This was stored under my user profile on the desktop.

[(3)] Shared drive backup. Each analyst had access to a ‘T’ drive– what we called ‘T’ drive shared across the SIPRnet. It allowed others to access information that was stored on it. S6 operated the ‘T’ drive.

[(4)] Compact disk rewritable or CD-RW back up. For larger datasets I saved the information onto a re-writable disk, labeled the disks, and stored them in the conference room of the T-SCIF. This redundancy permitted us the ability to not worry about information loss. If the system crashed, I could easily pull the information from a my secondary computer, the ‘T’ drive, or one of the CD-RWs.

If another analyst wanted to access my data, but I was unavailable she could find my published products directory on the ‘T’ drive or on the CD-RWs. I sorted all of my products or research by date, time, and group; and updated the information on each of the storage methods to ensure that the latest information was available to them.

During the deployment I had several of the D6-A machines crash on me. Whenever one of the a computer crashed, I usually lost information but the redundancy method ensured my ability to quickly restore old backup data and add my current information to the machine when it was repaired or replaced.

I stored the backup CD-RW with larger datasets in the conference room of the T-SCIF or next to my workstation. I marked the CD-RWs based on the classification level and its content. Unclassified CD-RWs were only labeled with the content type and not marked with classification markings. Early on in the deployment, I only saved and stored the SigActs that were within or near our operational environment.

Later I thought it would be easier to just to save all of the SigActs onto a CD-RW. The process would not take very long to complete and so I downloaded the SigActs from CIDNE-I onto a CD-RW. After finishing with CIDNE-I, I did the same with CIDNE-A. By retrieving the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A SigActs I was able to retrieve the information whenever I needed it, and not rely upon the unreliable and slow SIPRnet connectivity needed to pull. Instead, I could just find the CD-RW and open up a pre-loaded spreadsheet.

This process began in late December 2009 and continued through early January 2010. I could quickly export one month of the SigAct data at a time and download in the background as I did other tasks.

The process took approximately a week for each table. After downloading the SigAct tables, I periodically updated them, by pulling only the most recent SigActs and simply copying them and pasting them into the database saved on the CD-RW. I never hid the fact that I had downloaded copies of both the SigAct tables from CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A. They were stored on appropriately labeled and marked CD-RWs, stored in the open.

I viewed the saved copies of the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A SigAct tables as being for both for my use and the use of anyone within the S2 section during the SIPRnet connectivity issues.

In addition to the SigAct tables, I had a large repository of HUMINT reports and Counter IED reports downloaded from CIDNE-I. These contained reports that were relevant to the area in and around our operational environment in Eastern Baghdad and the Diyala Province of Iraq.

In order to compress the data to fit onto a CD-RW, I used a compression algorithm called ‘bzip2′. The program used to compress the data is called ‘WinRAR’. WinRAR is an application that is free, and can be easily downloaded from the internet via the Non-Secure Internet Relay Protocol Network or NIPRnet. I downloaded WinRAR on NIPRnet and transferred it to the D6-A machine user profile desktop using a CD-RW. I did not try to hide the fact that I was downloading WinRAR onto my SIPRnet D6-A machine or computer.

With the assistance of the bzip2 compression algorithm using the WinRAR program, I was able to fit all of the SigActs onto a single CD-RW and relevant HUMINT and Counter IED reports onto a separate CD-RW.

Facts regarding my knowledge of the WikiLeaks Organization or WLO.

I first became vaguely aware of the WLO during my AIT at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, although I did not fully pay attention until the WLO released purported Short Messaging System or SMS messages from 11 September 2001 on 25 November 2009. At that time references to the release and the WLO website showed up in my daily Google news open source search for information related to US foreign policy.

The stories were about how WLO published about approximately 500,000 messages. I then reviewed the messages myself and realized that the posted messages were very likely real given the sheer volume and detail of the content.

After this, I began conducting research on WLO. I conducted searches on both NIPRnet and SIPRnet on WLO beginning in late November 2009 and early December 2009. At this time I also began to routinely monitor the WLO website. In response to one of my searches in December 2009, I found the United States Army Counter Intelligence Center or USACIC report on the WikiLeaks organization. After reviewing the report, I believed that this report was possibly the one that my AIT referenced in early 2008.

I may or may not have saved the report on my D6-A workstation. I know I reviewed the document on other occasions throughout early 2010, and saved it on both my primary and secondary laptops. After reviewing the report, I continued doing research on WLO. However, based upon my open-source collection, I discovered information that contradicted the 2008 USACIC report including information that indicated that similar to other press agencies, WLO seemed to be dedicated to exposing illegal activities and corruption.

WLO received numerous award and recognition for its reporting activities. Also, in reviewing the WLO website, I found information regarding US military SOPs for Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and information on the then outdated rules of engagement for ROE in Iraq for cross-border pursuits of former members of Saddam Hussein [missed word] government.

After seeing the information available on the WLO website, I continued following it and collecting open source information from it. During this time period, I followed several organizations and groups including wire press agencies such as the Associated Press and Reuters and private intelligence agencies including Strategic Forecasting or Stratfor. This practice was something I was trained to do during AIT, and was something that good analysts were expected to do.

During the searches of WLO, I found several pieces of information that I found useful in my work product– in my work as an analyst, specifically I recall WLO publishing documents related to weapons trafficking between two nations that affected my OP. I integrated this information into one or more of my work products.

In addition to visiting the WLO website, I began following WLO using Instant Relay Chat or IRC Client called ‘XChat’ sometime in early January 2010.

IRC is a protocol for real time internet communications by messaging and conferencing, colloquially referred to as chat rooms or chats. The IRC chat rooms are designed for group communication discussion forums. Each IRC chat room is called a channel– similar to a television where you can tune in or follow a channel– so long as it is open and does not require an invite.

Once you joining a specific IRC conversation, other users in the conversation can see that you have joined the room. On the Internet there are millions of different IRC channels across several services. Channel topics span a range of topics covering all kinds of interests and hobbies. The primary reason for following WLO on IRC was curiosity– particularly in regards to how and why they obtained the SMS messages referenced above. I believed that collecting information on the WLO would assist me in this goal.

Initially I simply observed the IRC conversations. I wanted to know how the organization was structured, and how they obtained their data. The conversations I viewed were usually technical in nature but sometimes switched to a lively debate on issues the particular individual may have felt strongly about.

Over a period of time I became more involved in these discussions especially when conversations turned to geopolitical events and information technology topics, such as networking and encryption methods. Based on these observations, I would describe the WL organization as almost academic in nature. In addition to the WLO conversations, I participated in numerous other IRC channels across at least three different networks. The other IRC channels I participated in normally dealt with technical topics including with Linux and Berkley Secure Distribution BSD operating systems or OS’s, networking, encryption algorithms and techniques, and other more political topics, such as politics and [missed word].

I normally engaged in multiple IRC conversations simultaneously– mostly publicly, but often privately. The XChat client enabled me to manage these multiple conversations across different channels and servers. The screen for XChat was often busy, but its screens enabled me to see when something was interesting. I would then select the conversation and either observe or participate.

I really enjoyed the IRC conversations pertaining to and involving the WLO, however, at some point in late February or early March of 2010, the WLO IRC channel was no longer accessible. Instead, regular participants of this channel switched to using the Jabber server. Jabber is another internet communication [missed word] similar but more sophisticated than IRC.

The IRC and Jabber conversations, allowed me to feel connected to others even when alone. They helped me pass the time and keep motivated throughout the deployment.

Facts regarding the unauthorized storage and disclosure of the SigActs.

As indicated above I created copies of the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A SigAct tables as part of the process of backing up information. At the time I did so, I did not intend to use this information for any purpose other than for back up. However, I later decided to release this information publicly. At that time, I believe and still believe that these tables are two of the most significant documents of our time.

On 8 January 2010, I collected the CD-RW I stored in the conference room of the T-SCIF and placed it into the cargo pocket of my ACU or Army Combat Uniform. At the end of my shift, I took the CD-RW out of the T-SCIF and brought it to my Containerized Housing Unit of CHU. I copied the data onto my personal laptop. Later at the beginning of my shift, I returned the CD-RW back to the conference room of the T-SCIF. At the time I saved the SigActs to my laptop, I planned to take them with me on mid-tour leave and decide what to do with them.

At some point prior to my mid-tour leave, I transferred the information from my computer to a Secure Digital memory card from for my digital camera. The SD card for the camera also worked on my computer and allowed me to store the SigAct tables in a secure manner for transport.

I began mid-tour leave on 23 January 2010, flying from Atlanta, Georgia to Reagan National Airport in Virginia. I arrived at the home of my aunt, Debra M. Van Alstyne, in Potomac, Maryland and quickly got into contact with my then boyfriend, Tyler R. Watkins. Tyler, then a student at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, and I made plans for me to visit him [the] Boston, Massachusetts area.

I was excited to see Tyler and planned on talking to Tyler about where our relationship was going and about my time in Iraq. However, when I arrived in the Boston area Tyler and I seemed to become distant. He did not seem very excited about my return from Iraq. I tried talking to him about our relationship but he refused to make any plans.

I also tried to raising the topic of releasing the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A SigAct tables to the public. I asked Tyler hypothetical questions about what he would do if he had documents that he thought the public needed access to. Tyler really didn’t really have a specific answer for me. He tried to answer the questions and be supportive, but seemed confused by the question in this and its context.

I then tried to be more specific, but he asked too many questions. Rather than try to explain my dilemma, I decided to just to drop the conversation. After a few days in Waltham, I began to feel really bad feeling that I was over staying my welcome, and I returned to Maryland. I spent the remainder of my time on leave in the Washington, DC area.

During this time a blizzard bombarded the mid-atlantic, and I spent a significant period of time essentially stuck in my aunt’s house in Maryland. I began to think about what I knew and the information I still had in my possession. For me, the SigActs represented the on the ground reality of both the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I felt that we were risking so much for people that seemed unwilling to cooperate with us, leading to frustration and anger on both sides. I began to become depressed with the situation that we found ourselves increasingly mired in year after year. The SigActs documented this in great detail and provide a context of what we were seeing on the ground.

In attempting to conduct counter-terrorism or CT and counter-insurgency COIN operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation with our Host Nation partners, and ignoring the second and third order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions. I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as well as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.

I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday.

At my aunt’s house I debated what I should do with the SigActs– in particular whether I should hold on to them– or expose them through a press agency. At this point I decided that it made sense to try to expose the SigAct tables to an American newspaper. I first called my local newspaper, The Washington Post, and spoke with a woman saying that she was a reporter. I asked her if The Washington Post would be interested in receiving information that would have enormous value to the American public.

Although we spoke for about five minutes concerning the general nature of what I possessed, I do not believe she took me seriously. She informed me that The Washington Post would possibly be interested, but that such decisions were made only after seeing the information I was referring to and after consideration by the senior editors.

I then decided to contact the largest and most popular newspaper, The New York Times. I called the public editor number on The New York Times website. The phone rang and was answered by a machine. I went through the menu to the section for news tips. I was routed to an answering machine. I left a message stating I had access to information about Iraq and Afghanistan that I believed was very important. However, despite leaving my Skype phone number and personal email address, I never received a reply from The New York Times.

I also briefly considered dropping into the office for the Political Commentary blog, Politico, however the weather conditions during my leave hampered my efforts to travel. After these failed efforts I had ultimately decided to submit the materials to the WLO. I was not sure if the WLO would actually publish these the SigAct tables [missed a few words]. I was also concerned that they might not be noticed by the American media. However, based upon what I read about the WLO through my research described above, this seemed to be the best medium for publishing this information to the world within my reach.

At my aunt’s house I joined in on an IRC conversation and stated I had information that needed to be shared with the world. I wrote that the information would help document the true cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the individuals in the IRC asked me to describe the information. However, before I could describe the information another individual pointed me to the link for the WLO website’s online submission system. After ending my IRC connection, I considered my options one more time. Ultimately, I felt that the right thing to do was to release the SigActs.

On 3 February 2010, I visited the WLO website on my computer and clicked on the submit documents link. Next I found the submit your information online link and elected to submit the SigActs via the onion router or TOR anonymizing network by a special link. TOR is a system intended to provide anonymity online. The software routes internet traffic through a network of servers and other TOR clients in order to conceal the user’s location and identity.

I was familiar with TOR and had it previously installed on a computer to anonymously monitor the social media websites of militia groups operating within central Iraq. I followed the prompts and attached the compressed data files of CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A SigActs. I attached a text file I drafted while preparing to provide the documents to The Washington Post. It provided rough guidelines saying ‘It’s already been sanitized of any source identifying information. You might need to sit on this information– perhaps 90 to 100 days to figure out how best to release such a large amount of data and to protect its source. This is possibly one of the more significant documents of our time removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of twenty-first century asymmetric warfare. Have a good day.’

After sending this, I left the SD card in a camera case at my aunt’s house in the event I needed it again in the future. I returned from mid-tour leave on 11 February 2010. Although the information had not yet been publicly published by the WLO, I felt this sense of relief by them having it. I felt I had accomplished something that allowed me to have a clear conscience based upon what I had seen and read about and knew were happening in both Iraq and Afghanistan everyday.

Facts regarding the unauthorized storage and disclosure of 10 Reykjavik 13.

I first became aware of the diplomatic cables during my training period in AIT. I later learned about the Department of State or DoS Net-centric Diplomacy NCD portal from the 2/10 Brigade Combat Team S2, Captain Steven Lim. Captain Lim sent a section wide email to the other analysts and officers in late December 2009 containing the SIPRnet link to the portal along with the instructions to look at the cables contained within them and to incorporate them into our work product.

Shortly after this I also noticed the diplomatic cables were being reported to in products from the corps level US Forces Iraq or USF-I. Based upon Captain Lim’s direction to become familiar with its contents, I read virtually every published cable concerning Iraq.

I also began scanning the database and reading other random cables that piqued my curiosity. It was around this time– in early to mid-January of 2010, that I began searching the database for information on Iceland. I became interested in Iceland due to the IRC conversations I viewed in the WLO channel discussing an issue called Icesave. At this time I was not very familiar with the topic, but it seemed to be a big issue for those participating in the conversation. This is when I decided to investigate and conduct a few searches on Iceland and find out more.

At the time, I did not find anything discussing the Icesave issue either directly or indirectly. I then conducted an open source search for Icesave. I then learned that Iceland was involved in a dispute with the United Kingdom and the Netherlands concerning the financial collapse of one or more of Iceland’s banks. According to open source reporting much of the public controversy involved the United Kingdom’s use of anti-terrorism legislation against Iceland in order to freeze Icelandic access assets for payment of the guarantees for UK depositors that lost money.

Shortly after returning from mid-tour leave, I returned to the Net Centric Diplomacy portal to search for information on Iceland and Icesave as the topic had not abated on the WLO IRC channel. To my surprise, on 14 February 2010, I found the cable 10 Reykjavik 13, which referenced the Icesave issue directly.

The cable published on 13 January 2010 was just over two pages in length. I read the cable and quickly concluded that Iceland was essentially being bullied diplomatically by two larger European powers. It appeared to me that Iceland was out viable options and was coming to the US for assistance. Despite the quiet request for assistance, it did not appear that we were going to do anything.

From my perspective it appeared that we were not getting involved due to the lack of long term geopolitical benefit to do so. After digesting the contents of 10 Reykjavik 13 I debated on whether this was something I should send to the WLO. At this point the WLO had not published or acknowledged receipt of the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A SigAct tables. Despite not knowing that if the SigActs were a priority for the WLO, I decided the cable was something that would be important and I felt that I would I might be able to right a wrong by having them publish this document. I burned the information onto a CD-RW on 15 February 2010, took it to my CHU, and saved it onto my personal laptop.

I navigated to the WLO website via a TOR connection like before and uploaded the document via the secure form. Amazingly, when WLO published 10 Reykjavik 13 within hours, proving that the form worked and that they must have received the SigAct tables.

Facts regarding the unauthorized storage and disclosure of the 12 July 2007 aerial weapons team or AW team video.

During the mid-February 2010 time frame the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division targeting analyst , then Specialist Jihrleah W. Showman and others discussed a video that Ms. Showman had found on the ‘T’ drive.

The video depicted several individuals being engaged by an aerial weapons team. At first I did not consider the video very special, as I have viewed countless other war porn type videos depicting combat. However, the recording of audio comments by the aerial weapons team crew and the second engagement in the video of an unarmed bongo truck troubled me.

As Showman and a few other analysts and officers in the T-SCIF commented on the video and debated whether the crew violated the rules of engagement or ROE in the second engagement, I shied away from this debate, instead conducting some research on the event. I wanted to learn what happened and whether there was any background to the events of the day that the event occurred, 12 July 2007.

Using Google I searched for the event by its date by its and general location. I found several news accounts involving two Reuters employees who were killed during the aerial weapon team engagement. Another story explained that Reuters had requested for a copy of the video under the Freedom of Information Act or FOIA. Reuters wanted to view the video in order to be able to understand what had happened and to improve their safety practices in combat zones. A spokesperson for Reuters was quoted saying that the video might help avoid the reoccurrence of the tragedy and believed there was a compelling need for the immediate release of the video.

Despite the submission of the FOIA request, the news account explained that CENTCOM replied to Reuters stating that they could not give a time frame for considering a FOIA request and that the video might no longer exist. Another story I found written a year later said that even though Reuters was still pursuing their request, they still did not receive a formal response or written determination in accordance with FOIA.

The fact neither CENTCOM or Multi National Forces Iraq or MNF-I would not voluntarily release the video troubled me further. It was clear to me that the event happened because the aerial weapons team mistakenly identified Reuters employees as a potential threat and that the people in the bongo truck were merely attempting to assist the wounded. The people in the van were not a threat but merely ‘good samaritans’. The most alarming aspect of the video to me, however, was the seemly delightful bloodlust they appeared to have.

They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as quote “dead bastards” unquote and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers. At one point in the video there is an individual on the ground attempting to crawl to safety. The individual is seriously wounded. Instead of calling for medical attention to the location, one of the aerial weapons team crew members verbally asks for the wounded person to pick up a weapon so that he can have a reason to engage. For me, this seems similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.

While saddened by the aerial weapons team crew’s lack of concern about human life, I was disturbed by the response of the discovery of injured children at the scene. In the video, you can see that the bongo truck driving up to assist the wounded individual. In response the aerial weapons team crew– as soon as the individuals are a threat, they repeatedly request for authorization to fire on the bongo truck and once granted they engage the vehicle at least six times.

Shortly after the second engagement, a mechanized infantry unit arrives at the scene. Within minutes, the aerial weapons team crew learns that children were in the van and despite the injuries the crew exhibits no remorse. Instead, they downplay the significance of their actions, saying quote “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kid’s into a battle” unquote.

The aerial weapons team crew members sound like they lack sympathy for the children or the parents. Later in a particularly disturbing manner, the aerial weapons team crew verbalizes enjoyment at the sight of one of the ground vehicles driving over a body– or one of the bodies. As I continued my research, I found an article discussing the book, The Good Soldiers, written by Washington Post writer David Finkel.

In Mr. Finkel book, he writes about the aerial weapons team attack. As, I read an online excerpt in Google Books, I followed Mr. Finkel’s account of the event belonging to the video. I quickly realize that Mr. Finkel was quoting, I feel in verbatim, the audio communications of the aerial weapons team crew.

It is clear to me that Mr. Finkel obtained access and a copy of the video during his tenure as an embedded journalist. I was aghast at Mr. Finkel’s portrayal of the incident. Reading his account, one would believe the engagement was somehow justified as ‘payback’ for an earlier attack that lead to the death of a soldier. Mr. Finkel ends his account of the engagement by discussing how a soldier finds an individual still alive from the attack. He writes that the soldier finds him and sees him gesture with his two forefingers together, a common method in the Middle East to communicate that they are friendly. However, instead of assisting him, the soldier makes an obscene gesture extending his middle finger.

The individual apparently dies shortly thereafter. Reading this, I can only think of how this person was simply trying to help others, and then he quickly finds he needs help as well. To make matter worse, in the last moments of his life, he continues to express his friendly gesture– his friendly intent– only to find himself receiving this well known gesture of unfriendliness. For me it’s all a big mess, and I am left wondering what these things mean, and how it all fits together , and it burdens me emotionally.

I saved a copy of the video on my workstation. I searched for and found the rules of engagement, the rules of engagement annexes, and a flow chart from the 2007 time period– as well as an unclassified Rules of Engagement smart card from 2006. On 15 February 2010 I burned these documents onto a CD-RW, the same time I burned the 10 Reykjavik 13 cable onto a CD-RW. At the time, I placed the video and rules for of engagement information onto my personal laptop in my CHU. I planned to keep this information there until I redeployed in Summer of 2010. I planned on providing this to the Reuters office in London to assist them in preventing events such as this in the future.

However, after the WLO published 10 Reykjavik 13 I altered my plans. I decided to provide the video and the rules of engagement to them so that Reuters would have this information before I re-deployed from Iraq. On about 21 February 2010, I as described above, I used the WLO submission form and uploaded the documents. The WLO released the video on 5 April 2010. After the release, I was concern about the impact of the video and how it would be received by the general public.

I hoped that the public would be as alarmed as me about the conduct of the aerial weapons team crew members. I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan are targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live in the pressure cooker environment of what we call asymmetric warfare. After the release I was encouraged by the response in the media and general public, who observed the aerial weapons team video. As I hoped, others were just as troubled– if not more troubled that me by what they saw.

At this time, I began seeing reports claiming that the Department of Defense and CENTCOM could not confirm the authenticity of the video. Additionally, one of my supervisors, Captain Casey Fulton, stated her belief that the video was not authentic. In her response, I decided to ensure that the authenticity of the video would not be questioned in the future. On 25 February 2010, I emailed Captain Fulton a link to the video that was on our ‘T’ drive, and a copy of the video published by WLO that was collected by the Open Source Center, so she could compare them herself.

Around this time frame, I burned a second CD-RW containing the aerial weapons team video. In order to made it appear authentic, I placed a classification sticker and wrote Reuters FOIA REQ on its face. I placed the CD-RW in one of my personal CD cases containing a set of ‘Starting Out in Arabic’ CD’s. I planned on mailing out the CD-RW to Reuters after our I re-deployed , so they could have a copy that was unquestionably authentic.

Almost immediately after submitting the aerial weapons team video and the rules of engagement documents I notified the individuals in the WLO IRC to expect an important submission. I received a response from an individual going by the handle of ‘ox’ ‘office’– at first our conversations were general in nature, but over time as our conversations progressed, I accessed assessed this individual to be an important part of the WLO.

Due to the strict adherence of anonymity by the WLO, we never exchanged identifying information. However, I believe the individual was likely Mr. Julian Assange [he pronounced it with three syllables], Mr. Daniel Schmidt, or a proxy representative of Mr. Assange and Schmidt.

As the communications transferred from IRC to the Jabber client, I gave ‘ox’ ‘office’ and later ‘pressassociation’ the name of Nathaniel Frank in my address book, after the author of a book I read in 2009.

After a period of time, I developed what I felt was a friendly relationship with Nathaniel. Our mutual interest in information technology and politics made our conversations enjoyable. We engaged in conversation often. Sometimes as long as an hour or more. I often looked forward to my conversations with Nathaniel after work.

The anonymity that was provided by TOR and the Jabber client and the WLO’s policy allowed me to feel I could just be myself, free of the concerns of social labeling and perceptions that are often placed upon me in real life. In real life, I lacked a closed friendship with the people I worked with in my section, the S2 section.

In my section, the S2 section and supported battalions and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team as a whole. For instance, I lacked close ties with my roommate to his discomfort regarding my perceived sexual orientation. Over the next few months, I stayed in frequent contact with Nathaniel. We conversed on nearly a daily basis and I felt that we were developing a friendship.

Conversations covered many topics and I enjoyed the ability to talk about pretty much everything anything, and not just the publications that the WLO was working on. In retrospect I realize that that these dynamics were artificial and were valued more by myself than Nathaniel. For me these conversations represented an opportunity to escape from the immense pressures and anxiety that I experienced and built up through out the deployment. It seems that as I tried harder to fit in at work, the more I seemed to alienate my peers and lose the respect, trust, and support I needed.

Facts regarding the unauthorized storage and disclosure of documents related to the detainments by the Iraqi Federal Police or FP, and the Detainee Assessment Briefs, and the USACIC United States Army Counter Intelligence Center report.

On 27 February 2010, a report was received from a subordinate battalion. The report described an event in which the Federal Police or FP detained 15 individuals for printing anti-Iraqi literature. On 2 March 2010, I received instructions from an S3 section officer in the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division Tactical Operation Center or TOC to investigate the matter, and figure out who these quote ‘bad guys’ unquote were and how significant this event was for the Federal Police.

Over the course of my research I found that none of the individuals had previous ties to anti-Iraqi actions or suspected terrorist militia groups. A few hours later, I received several photos from the scene– from the subordinate battalion. They were accidentally sent to an officer on a different team on than the S2 section and she forwarded them to me.

These photos included picture of the individuals, pallets of unprinted paper and seized copies of the final printed material or the printed document; and a high resolution photo of the printed material itself. I printed up one [missed word] copy of a high resolution photo– I laminated it for ease of use and transfer. I then walked to the TOC and delivered the laminated copy to our category two interpreter.

She reviewed the information and about a half an hour later delivered a rough written transcript in English to the S2 section. I read the transcript and followed up with her, asking her for her take on the content. She said it was easy for her to transcribe verbatim, since I blew up the photograph and laminated it. She said the general nature of the document was benign. The documentation, as I had sensed as well, was merely a scholarly critique of the then current Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

It detailed corruption within the cabinet of al-Maliki’s government and the financial impact of his corruption on the Iraqi people. After discovering this discrepancy between the Federal Police’s report and the interpreter’s transcript, I forwarded this discovery to the top OIC and the battle NCOIC. The top OIC and the overhearing battle captain informed me that they didn’t need or want to know this information anymore. They told me to quote “drop it” unquote and to just assist them and the Federal Police in finding out, where more of these print shops creating quote “anti-Iraqi literature” unquote.

I couldn’t believe what I heard and I returned to the T-SCIF and complained to the other analysts and my section NCOIC about what happened. Some were sympathetic, but no one wanted to do anything about it.

I am the type of person who likes to know how things work. And, as an analyst, this means I always want to figure out the truth. Unlike other analysts in my section or other sections within the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, I was not satisfied with just scratching the surface and producing canned or cookie cutter assessments. I wanted to know why something was the way it was, and what we could to correct or mitigate a situation.

I knew that if I continued to assist the Baghdad Federal Police in identifying the political opponents of Prime Minister al-Maliki, those people would be arrested and in the custody of the Special Unit of the Baghdad Federal Police and very likely tortured and not seen again for a very long time– if ever.

Instead of assisting the Special Unit of the Baghdad Federal Police, I decided to take the information and expose it to the WLO, in the hope that before the upcoming 7 March 2010 election, they could generate some immediate press on the issue and prevent this unit of the Federal Police from continuing to crack down on political opponents of al-Maliki.

On 4 March 2010, I burned the report, the photos, the high resolution copy of the pamphlet, and the interpreter’s hand written transcript onto a CD-RW. I took the CD-RW to my CHU and copied the data onto my personal computer. Unlike the times before, instead of uploading the information through the WLO website’s submission form. I made a Secure File Transfer Protocol or SFTP connection to a file drop box operated by the WLO.

The drop box contained a folder that allowed me to upload directly into it. Saving files into this directory, allowed anyone with log in access to the server to view and download them. After uploading these files to the WLO, on 5 March 2010, I notified Nathaniel over Jabber. Although sympathetic, he said that the WLO needed more information to confirm the event in order for it to be published or to gain interest in the international media.

I attempted to provide the specifics, but to my disappointment, the WLO website chose not to publish this information. At the same time, I began sifting through information from the US Southern Command or SOUTHCOM and Joint Task Force Guantanamo, Cuba or JTF-GTMO. The thought occurred to me– although unlikely, that I wouldn’t be surprised if the individuals detainees detained by the Federal Police might be turned over back into US custody– and ending up in the custody of Joint Task Force Guantanamo.

As I digested through the information on Joint Task Force Guantanamo, I quickly found the Detainee Assessment Briefs or DABs. I previously came across the documents before in 2009 but did not think much about them. However, this time I was more curious in during this search and I found them again.

The DABs were written in standard DoD memorandum format and addressed the commander US SOUTHCOM. Each memorandum gave basic and background information about a specific detainee held at some point by Joint Task Force Guantanamo. I have always been interested on the issue of the moral efficacy of our actions surrounding Joint Task Force Guantanamo. On the one hand, I have always understood the need to detain and interrogate individuals who might wish to harm the United States and our allies, however, I felt that’s what we were trying to do at Joint Task Force Guantanamo.

However, the more I became educated on the topic, it seemed that we found ourselves holding an increasing number of individuals indefinitely that we believed or knew to be innocent, low level foot soldiers that did not have useful intelligence and would be released if they were still held in theater.

I also recall that in early 2009 the, then newly elected president, Barack Obama, stated that he would close Joint Task Force Guantanamo, and that the facility compromised our standing over all, and diminished our quote ‘moral authority’ unquote.

After familiarizing myself with the Detainee Assessment Briefs, I agree. Reading through the Detainee Assessment Briefs, I noticed that they were not analytical products, instead they contained summaries of tear line versions of interim intelligence reports that were old or unclassified. None of the DABs contained the names of sources or quotes from tactical interrogation reports or TIR’s. Since the DABs were being sent to the US SOUTHCOM commander, I assessed that they were intended to provide a very general background information on each of the detainees and not a detailed assessment.

In addition to the manner in which the DAB’s were written, I recognized that they were at least several years old, and discussed detainees that were already released from Joint Task Force Guantanamo. Based on this, I determined that the DABs were not very important from either an intelligence or a national security standpoint. On 7 March 2010, during my Jabber conversation with Nathaniel, I asked him if he thought the DABs were of any use to anyone.

Nathaniel indicated, although he did not believe that they were of political significance, he did believe that they could be used to merge into the general historical account of what occurred at Joint Task Force Guantanamo. He also thought that the DAB’s might be helpful to the legal counsel of those currently and previously held at JTF-GTMO.

After this discussion, I decided to download the data DABs. I used an application called Wget to download the DABs. I downloaded Wget off of the NIPRnet laptop in the T-SCIF, like other programs. I saved that onto a CD-RW, and placed the executable in my ‘My Documents’ directory on of my user profile, on the D6-A SIPRnet workstation.

On 7 March 2010, I took the list of links for the Detainee Assessment Briefs, and Wget downloaded them sequentially. I burned the data onto a CD-RW, and took it into my CHU, and copied them to my personal computer. On 8 March 2010, I combined the Detainee Assessment Briefs with the United States Army Counterintelligence Center report on the WLO, into a compressed [missed word] IP or zip file. Zip files contain multiple files which are compressed to reduce their size.

After creating the zip file, I uploaded the file onto their cloud drop box via Secure File Transfer Protocol. Once these were uploaded, I notified Nathaniel that the information was in the ‘x’ directory, which had been designated for my own use. Earlier that day, I downloaded the USACIC report on WLO.

As discussed about above, I previously reviewed the report on numerous occasions and although I saved the document onto the work station before, I could not locate it. After I found the document again, I downloaded it to my work station, and saved it onto the same CD-RW as the Detainee Assessment Briefs described above.

Although my access included a great deal of information, I decided I had nothing else to send to WLO after sending the Detainee Assessment Briefs and the USACIC report. Up to this point I had sent them the following: the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A SigActs tables; the Reykjavik 13 Department of State Cable; the 12 July 2007 aerial weapons team video and the 2006-2007 rules of engagement documents; the SigAct report and supporting documents concerning the 15 individuals detained by the Baghdad Federal Police; the USSOUTHCOM and Joint Task Force Guantanamo Detainee Assessment Briefs; a USACIC report on the WikiLeaks organization website.

Over the next few weeks I did not send any additional information to the WLO. I continued to converse with Nathaniel over the Jabber client and in the WLO IRC channel. Although I stopped sending documents to WLO, no one associated with the WLO pressured me into giving more information. The decisions that I made to send documents and information to the WLO and the website were my own decisions, and I take full responsibility for my actions.

Facts regarding the unauthorized storage and disclosure of other Government documents.

One 22 March 2010, I downloaded two documents. I found these documents over the course of my normal duties as an analyst. Based on my training and the guidance of my superiors, I look at as much information as possible.

Doing so provided me with the ability to make connections that others might miss. On several occasions during the month of March, I accessed information from a government entity. I read several documents from a section within this government entity. The content of two of these documents upset me greatly. I had difficulty believing what this section was doing.

On 22 March 2010, I downloaded the two documents that I found troubling. I compressed them into a zip file named blah.zip and burned them onto a CD-RW. I took the CD-RW to my CHU and saved the file to my personal computer.

I uploaded the information to the WLO website using the designated prompts.

Facts regarding the unauthorized storage and disclosure of the Net Centric Diplomacy Department of State cables.

In late March of 2010, I received a warning over Jabber from Nathaniel, that the WLO website would be publishing the aerial weapons team video. He indicated that the WLO would be very busy and the frequency and intensity of our Jabber conversations decrease significantly. During this time, I had nothing but work to distract me.

I read more of the diplomatic cables published on the Department of State Net Centric Diplomacy server. With my insatiable curiosity and interest in geopolitics I became fascinated with them. I read not only the cables on Iraq, but also about countries and events that I found interesting.

The more I read, the more I was fascinated with by the way that we dealt with other nations and organizations. I also began to think that the documented backdoor deals and seemingly criminal activity that didn’t seem characteristic of the de facto leader of the free world.

Up to this point, during the deployment, I had issues I struggled with and difficulty at work. Of the documents release, the cables were the only one I was not absolutely certain couldn’t harm the United States. I conducted research on the cables published on the Net Centric Diplomacy, as well as how Department of State cables worked in general.

In particular, I wanted to know how each cable was published on SIRPnet via the Net Centric Diplomacy. As part of my open source research, I found a document published by the Department of State on its official website.

The document provided guidance on caption markings for individual cables and handling instructions for their distribution. I quickly learned the caption markings clearly detailed the sensitivity level of the Department of State cables. For example, NODIS or No Distribution was used for messages at the highest sensitivity and were only distributed to the authorized recipients.

The SIPDIS or SIPRnet distribution caption was applied only to recording of other information messages that were deemed appropriate for a release for a wide number of individuals. According to the Department of State guidance for a cable to have the SIPDIS [missed word] caption, it could not include other captions that were intended to limit distribution.

The SIPDIS caption was only for information that could only be shared with anyone with access to SIPRnet. I was aware that thousands of military personnel, DoD, Department of State, and other civilian agencies had easy access to the tables. The fact that the SIPDIS caption was only for wide distribution made sense to me, given that the vast majority of the Net Centric Diplomacy Cables were not classified.

The more I read the cables, the more I came to the conclusion that this was the type of information that– that this type of information should become public. I once read a and used a quote on open diplomacy written after the First World War and how the world would be a better place if states would avoid making secret pacts and deals with and against each other.

I thought these cables were a prime example of a need for a more open diplomacy. Given all of the Department of State cables information that I read, the fact that most of the cables were unclassified, and that all the cables have a SIPDIS caption, I believe that the public release of these cables would not damage the United States; however, I did believe that the cables might be embarrassing, since they represented very honest opinions and statements behind the backs of other nations and organizations.

In many ways these cables are a catalogue of cliques and gossip. I believed exposing this information might make some within the Department of State and other government entities unhappy. On 22 March 2010, I began downloading a copy of the SIPDIS cables using the program Wget, described above.

I used instances of the Wget application to download the Net Centric Diplomacy cables in the background. As I worked on my daily tasks, the Net Centric Diplomacy cables were downloaded from 28 March 2010 to 9 April 2010. After downloading the cables, I saved them onto a CD-RW.

These cables went from the earliest dates in Net Centric Diplomacy to 28 February 2010. I took the CD-RW to my CHU on 10 April 2010. I sorted the cables on my personal computer, compressed them using the bzip2 compression algorithm described above, and uploaded them to the WLO via designated drop box described above.

On 3 May 2010, I used Wget to download and update of the cables for the months of March 2010 and April 2010 and saved the information onto a zip file and burned it to a CD-RW. I then took the CD-RW to my CHU and saved those to my computer. I later found that the file was corrupted during the transfer. Although I intended to re-save another copy of these cables, I was removed from the T-SCIF on 8 May 2010 after an altercation.

Facts regarding the unauthorized storage and disclosure of Garani, Farah Province Afghanistan 15-6 Investigation and Videos.

[NB Pfc. Manning plead 'not guilty' to the Specification 11, Charge II for the Garani Video as charged by the government, which alleged as November charge date. Read more here.]

In late March 2010, I discovered a US CENTCOM directly on a 2009 airstrike in Afghanistan. I was searching CENTCOM for information I could use as an analyst. As described above, this was something that myself and other analysts and officers did on a frequent basis. As I reviewed the documents I recalled the incident and what happened. The airstrike occurred in the Garani village in the Farah Province, Northwestern Afghanistan. It received worldwide press coverage during the time as it was reported that up to 100 to 150 Afghan civilians– mostly women and children– were accidentally killed during the airstrike.

After going through the report and the [missed word] annexes, I began to review the incident as being similar to the 12 July 2007 aerial weapons team engagements in Iraq. However, this event was noticeably different in that it involved a significantly higher number of individuals, larger aircraft and much heavier munitions. Also, the conclusions of the report are even more disturbing than those of the July 2007 incident.

I did not see anything in the 15-6 report or its annexes that gave away sensitive information. Rather, the investigation and its conclusions helped explain how this incident occurred, and were– what those involved should have done, and how to avoid an event like this from occurring again.

After investigating the report and its annexes, I downloaded the 15-6 investigation, PowerPoint presentations, and several other supporting documents to my D6-A workstation. I also downloaded three zip files containing the videos of the incident. I burned this information onto a CD-RW and transferred it to the personal computer in my CHU. I did later that day or the next day– I uploaded the information to the WLO website this time using a new version of the WLO website submission form.

Unlike other times using the submission form above, I did not activate the TOR anonymizer. Your Honor, this concludes my statement and facts for this providence inquiry.

For more information on the lack of public and press access to United States v. Pfc. Manning, visit the Center for Constitutional Rights, which filed a petition requesting the Army Court of Criminal Appeals (ACCA) “to order the Judge to grant the public and press access to the government’s motion papers, the court’s own orders, and transcripts of proceedings, none of which have been made public to date.”


UPDATE

On March 2, 2013, I went through each line of the rush transcript published here on March 1 to check it for accuracy and inadvertent typos or misspellings.

Since multiple news outlets have printed the rush transcript that was originally published here; every single amendment made during this review– including non-substantive typos– are noted with a strike-through and/or highlighted.

When I first published the rush transcript of Manning’s statement, I had noted under “Facts regarding the unauthorized storage and disclosure of the 12 July 2007 aerial weapons team or AW team video” that the handle of the individual who Manning said he interacted with was ‘office’ and not ‘ox’.

When Guardian journalist, Ed Pilkington, approached me to ask for permission to publish the rush transcript on the guardian.co.uk, we had a quick conversation concerning the fact that both he and a Wired journalist had noted the handle was ‘ox’ and not ‘office’.

Because of the overriding need to publish Manning’s statement as soon as possible, and my being back in Court at Fort Meade during our exchange after having worked through the night to get a rush transcript completed and published, I quickly deferred to consensus and amended ‘office’ to ‘ox’.

After reviewing my rush transcript line-by-line, however, I stand by my original notation of the handle as ‘office’, and not ‘ox’. I have amended the transcript above to reflect that determination.

Bradley Manning Nobel Peace Prize Nomination 2013

March 4th, 2013 by Global Research News

by Birgitta Jónsdóttir

February 1st 2013 the entire parliamentary group of The Movement in the Icelandic Parliament, the Pirates of the EU; representatives from the Swedish Pirate Party, the former Secretary of State in Tunisia for Sport & Youth nominated Private Bradley Manning for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Following is the reasoning we sent to the committee explaining why we felt compelled to nominate Private Bradley Manning for this important recognition of an individual effort to have an impact for peace in our world. The lengthy personal statement to the pre-trial hearing February 28th by Bradley Manning in his own words validate that his motives were for the greater good of humankind.

Read his full statement 

Our letter to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee Reykjavík, Iceland 1st of February 2013

Dear Norwegian Nobel Committee,

We have the great honour of nominating Private First Class Bradley Manning for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.

Manning is a soldier in the United States army who stands accused of releasing hundreds of thousands of documents to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. The leaked documents pointed to a long history of corruption, war crimes, and a lack of respect for the sovereignty of other democratic nations by the United States government in international dealings.

These revelations have fueled democratic uprisings around the world, including a democratic revolution in Tunisia. According to journalists, his alleged actions helped motivate the democratic Arab Spring movements, shed light on secret corporate influence on the foreign and domestic policies of European nations, and most recently contributed to the Obama Administration agreeing to withdraw all U.S.troops from the occupation in Iraq.

Save-Bradley-Manning Bradley Manning has been incarcerated for more then 1000 days by the U.S. Government. He spent over ten months of that time period in solitary confinement, conditions which expert worldwide have criticized as torturous. Juan Mendez, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, has repeatedly requested and been denied a private meeting with Manning to assess his conditions.

The documents made public by WikiLeaks should never have been kept from public scrutiny. The revelations – including video documentation of an incident in which American soldiers gunned down Reuters journalists in Iraq – have helped to fuel a worldwide discussion about the overseas engagements of the United States, civilian casualties of war and rules of engagement. Citizens worldwide owe a great debt to the WikiLeaks whistleblower for shedding light on these issues, and so we urge the Committee to award this prestigious prize to accused whistleblower Bradley Manning.

We can already be reasonably certain that Bradley Manning will not have a fair trial as the head of State, the USA President Mr. Barack Obama, stated over a year ago on record that Manning is guilty.

Sincerely,

Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Member of Parliament for the Movement, Iceland

Christian Engström, Member of the European Parliament for the Pirate Party, Sweden

Amelia Andersdottir, Member of the European Parliament for the Pirate Party, Sweden

Margrét Tryggvadóttir, Member of Parliament for the Movement, Iceland

Þór Saari, Member of Parliament for the Movement, Iceland

Slim Amamou, former Secretary of State for Sport & Youth (2011), Tunisia

Birgitta Jónsdóttir is a member of the Icelandic parliament for The Movement. She can be contacted  via her blogsite

The Missing US Economic Recovery

March 4th, 2013 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Officially, since June 2009 the US economy has been undergoing an economic recovery from the December 2007 recession.  But where is this recovery?  I cannot find it, and neither can millions of unemployed Americans.

The recovery exists only in the official measure of real GDP, which is deflated by an understated measure of inflation, and in the U.3 measure of the unemployment rate, which is declining because it does not count discouraged job seekers who have given up looking for a job.

No other data series indicates an economic recovery. Neither real retail sales nor housing starts, consumer confidence, payroll employment, or average weekly earnings indicate economic recovery.

Neither does the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy. The Fed’s expansive monetary policy of bond purchases to maintain negative real interest rates continues 3.5 years into the recovery.  Of course, the reason for the Fed’s negative interest rates is not to boost the economy but to boost asset values on the books of “banks too big to fail.”

The low interest rates raise the prices of the mortgage-backed derivatives and other debt-related assets on the banks’ balance sheets at the expense of interest income for retirees on their savings accounts, money market funds, and Treasury bonds.

Despite recovery’s absence and the lack of job opportunities for Americans, Republicans in Congress are sponsoring bills to enlarge the number of foreigners that corporations can bring in on work visas. The large corporations claim that they cannot find enough skilled Americans. This is one of the most transparent of the constant stream of lies that we are told.

Foreign hires are not additions to the work force, but replacements. The corporations force their American employees to train the foreigners, and then the American employees are discharged. Obviously, if skilled employees were in short supply, they would not be laid off. Moreover, if the skills were in short supply, salaries would be bid up, not down, and the 36% of those who graduated in 2011 with a doctorate degree in engineering would not have been left unemployed. The National Science Foundation’s report, “Doctorate Recipients From U.S. Universities,” says that only 64% of  the Ph.D. engineering graduates found a pay check.

As I have reported on numerous occasions for many years, neither the payroll jobs statistics nor the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job projections show job opportunities for university graduates. But this doesn’t stop Congress from helping US corporations get rid of their American employees in exchange for campaign donations.

There was a time not that long ago when US corporations accepted that they had obligations to their employees, customers, suppliers, the communities in which they were located, and to their shareholders.  Today they only acknowledge obligations to shareholders. Everyone else has been thrown to the wolves in order to maximize profits and, thereby, shareholders’ capital gains and executive bonuses.

By focusing on the bottom line at all costs, corporations are destroying the US consumer market. Offshoring jobs reduces labor costs and raises profits, but it also reduces domestic consumer income, thus reducing the domestic market for the corporation’s products. For awhile the reduction in consumer income can be filled by the expansion of consumer debt, but when consumers reach their debt limit sales cannot continue to rise.  The consequence of jobs offshoring is the ruination of the domestic consumer market.

Today the stock market is high not from profits from expanding sales revenues, but from labor cost savings.

US economic policy has been focused away from the real problems and onto a consequence of those problems–the large US budget deficit. As no interest group wants to be gored, Congress has been unable to deal with the trillion dollar plus annual budget deficit, the continuation of which raises the specter of dollar collapse and inflation.

John Maynard Keynes made it clear long ago, as has Greece today, that trying to reduce the ratio of debt to GDP by austerity measures doesn’t work.

Among the countries in the world the US is in a unique position. It not only has its own central bank to provide the money necessary to finance the government’s deficit, but also the money that is provided, the US dollar, is the world’s reserve currency used to settle international accounts among all nations and, thus, always in demand.  The dollar thus serves as the world’s transaction currency and also as a store of value for countries with trade surpluses who invest their surpluses in US Treasury bonds and other dollar-denominated assets.

Without the support that the reserve currency status gives to the dollar’s exchange value (its price in foreign currencies), the enormous expansion in the quantity of dollars produced by the Fed’s years of quantitative easing would have resulted in a drop in the dollar’s exchange value, a rise in interest rates, and a rise in inflation. Since my time in government, the US has become an import-dependent economy, and import-dependent economies are subject to domestic inflation when the currency loses exchange value.

To sum up, the corporations’ focus on the bottom line has disconnected US incomes from the production of the goods and services that the American people consume, thus weakening and ultimately destroying the domestic consumer market.  The Fed’s focus on saving banks, which mindless deregulation allowed to become “too big to fail,” has created a bond market bubble of negative real interest rates and a dollar bubble in which the dollar’s exchange rate has not declined in keeping with the large increase in its supply. Both the corporations and the Fed have created a stock market bubble based on profits obtained from labor arbitrage (the substitution of cheaper foreign labor for US labor) and from banks speculating with the money that the Fed is providing to them.

This situation is untenable.  Sooner or later something will pop these bubbles, and the consequences will be horrendous.

Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He has had numerous university appointments.  His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is available here:  http://www.amazon.com/Failure-Capitalism-Economic-Dissolution-ebook/dp/B00BLPJNWE/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&qid=1362095594&sr=8-17&keywords=paul+craig+roberts 

It’s not often that you get to witness the birth of a new philosophy but that is what we are told is at the heart of the new Surveillance Camera Code of Practice published by the UK’s Home Office this month [2]. Drum roll please, here it is, the new philosophy – “Surveillance by Consent”.

Now as new philosophies go it’s not the best and it’s not really new, nor is it a philosophy. In fact it’s more of a slogan, or more precisely a propaganda slogan. And what it contains a ready-made judgement to save you the trouble of thinking about the issue at hand, in this case surveillance. Surveillance you are told is by consent. You need not worry how consent is achieved or what that really means. You can rest easy knowing that the word “surveillance” which was sometimes considered controversial now has a positive sounding partner “consent” – which is a good thing. Hooray that’s that thorny issue sorted.

“In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible [...] Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness”

‘Politics and the English Language’, George Orwell (1946) [3]

Image by T.J.Blackwell

Not only has the Home Office created a “new philosophy” they’ve also launched a consultation process [4] into the new Surveillance Cameras Code of Practice. This is so that they can say the people were asked what they thought and their views were taken into account. Perhaps that’s what “surveillance by consent” is about. Except hardly anyone knows there is a consultation and even fewer will bother responding and if they do it’s unlikely they’ll be listened to unless they support the government/Home Office position. Perhaps that’s what “surveillance by consent” is about. We’re getting warmer.

To understand “surveillance by consent” we are told in the Code of Practice Consultation document [5] that it should be viewed as analogous to “Policing by Consent” – a slogan oft used to paint a rosy picture of the friendly British policeman. In fact it’s so often trotted out that it seems rude to deconstruct it here, but what the heck.

Policing by Consent

The slogan “Policing by Consent” is generally attributed to the 20th Century police historian Charles Reith, who constructed it based on what have come to be known as the nine Peelian police principles, so named after Robert Peel, the Home Secretary who introduced the modern police force in 1829. In fact these police principles are not Peel’s but Reith’s principles as it was he who constructed them based on his interpretation of official hand books, public records and the works of earlier writers [6].

A matter of principles

In his book “British Police and the Democratic Ideal” (1943) [7] Reith wrote:

British Police Principles may be defined, briefly, as the process of transmuting crude physical force, which must necessarily be provided in all human communities for securing observance of laws, into the force of public insistence on law observance; and of activating this force by inducing, unobtrusively, public recognition and appreciation of the personal and communal benefits of the maintenance of public order.

p4, ‘British Police and the Democratic Ideal’, Charles Reith (1943)

So police principles are a way of “transmuting crude physical force” – let’s see which of the Reith principles are most frequently used to transmute crude physical force and hence underpin the slogan “policing by consent”. First we have Reith’s 3rd principle:

To recognize always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of willing cooperation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.

3rd Police Principle, p3, ‘British Police and the Democratic Ideal’, Charles Reith (1943)

In his 1952 offering ‘The Blind Eye of History’, Reith expands upon his third principle by explaining that following the creation of the police force in London in 1829 the public were won over (ultimately) and that the police with “their visible behaviour, sufferings and martyrdom appealed to and roused the inherent sense of justice and fair play in people’s minds” [8]. Of course blanket surveillance of the type used in “surveillance by consent” can hardly be said to represent justice and fair play, as everyone is monitored be they law abiding or law breaking. In essence surely Reith’s third principle merely states that the police must get people to obey laws – most people have a sense of right and wrong so good laws are easy to obey; bad laws need enforcing.

Then there’s Reith’s 7th principle:

To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen, in the interests of community welfare and existence.

7th Police Principle, p4, ‘British Police and the Democratic Ideal’ (1943), Reith

This 7th principle makes the strange claim “that the police are the public and the public are the police”, but the police are an organised force and a policeman swears an oath to serve the queen [9]. As Dr A.I.Goodhart wrote in the 1962 report of the Royal Commission on the Police, the idea of the police being the public:

seems to conflict with the fact that the constable is a member of a disciplined service, under a duty to obey orders, and that many of his powers are given to him as a constable and not as a citizen. To say that a constable is a citizen in uniform is no more accurate than it would be to say that all citizens are constables in plain clothes.

p162, Memorandum of Dissent by Dr A I Goodhart, Final Report of the Royal Commission on the Police 1962, Cmnd. 1728,

Would you wear a stab vest to visit your granny?

Since Reith created his principles some seventy years ago much has changed. The police increasingly wear paraphernalia that serves to distance the public from the human being that is the police officer and makes the police look ever more paramilitary. Are the public and the police the same? Would you wear a stab vest to go and visit your granny?

Furthermore we are increasingly seeing moves to privatise large sections of the police, starting with so-called back office functions – for instance the Civica Group has recently won the contract to supply the Dyfed-Powys police with a “hosted” Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system [10], and in 2011, 500 civilian staff from Cleveland police were transferred to police outsourcing giant Steria [11] who now run many of their police services including outsourced Control Room services [12]. Even the recent introduction of elected Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC), whilst presented as a way of making police more accountable, ties into the privatisation agenda – as the commissioners will own the new Police ICT Company Ltd which will manage outsourced contracts that “may include service management for the Automated Number Plate Recognition network” [13]. Can we still say that “the public are the police” when large sections of the police service, including major surveillance tools, are now run by private companies driven by a profit motive – with more set to follow?

After a bit of scratching of the surface we begin to see that the “policing by consent” slogan is used to disguise the fact that modern policing is merely imposed authority, as criminologist Steve Uglow writes:

These images, and phrases such as ‘policing by consent’ and ‘community policing’, form the language of persuasion. Of course, without the consent of the public it is no longer policing but repression. That we do closely identify with ‘our’ police is shown by the high degree of approval for and co-operation with them. But this esteem to some extent derives from the favourable attitude of the media and entertainment industries, since knowledge about the police is, for most people, gleaned at second-hand. Our ‘consent’ is at root artificial, constrained by the limitations of our knowledge.

p11, ‘Policing Liberal Society’, Steve Uglow, Oxford University Press (1988)

The media’s love affair of crime reporting coupled with an abundance of crime-based entertainment drama has only exacerbated the effects of successive governments heavily focusing on crime and policing – where talking tough on crime is seen as a virtue above all others. As criminologist Robert Reiner said in a recent Howard League for Penal Reform pamphlet [14]:

Crime fighting is the dominant image of police in the media, which are the main source of information for public. But this leads the police on a Quixotic quest, as there are inherent limitations to the possibilities of crime control through policing. The drivers of crime and disorder largely lie much deeper than any possibility of being tackled by even the best police. This view was once a widely shared orthodoxy. However, it is now frequently claimed to have been refuted by recent experience and evidence.

‘In praise of fire brigade policing: Contra common sense conceptions of the police role’, Robert Reiner (2012)

The modern police force has become an accepted part of mainstream society to such a degree that people forget that the whole idea of an organised force was one alien to the people of Britain.

In 1818 a parliamentary select committee wrote on the concept of an organised preventative police force:

The police of a free country is to be found in rational and humane laws – in an effective and enlightened magistracy – and in the judicious and proper selection of those officers of justice, in whose hands, as conservators of the peace, executive duties are legally placed. But above all, on the moral habits and opinions of the people; and in proportion as these approximate towards a state of perfection, so that people may rest in security; and though their property may occasionally be invaded, or their lives endangered by the hands of wicked and desperate individuals, yet the institutions of the country being sound, its laws well administered, and justice executed against offenders, no greater safeguard can be obtained, without sacrificing all those rights which society was instituted to preserve.

p32, ‘Third report from the Committee on the State of the Police of the Metropolis’ (1818)

The select committee wrote the above words in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars with revolutionary France, a time when, not unlike now, state surveillance was high [15].

So the slogan “policing by consent” can be seen as a sleight of hand, which discards past resistance to a standing army of police. It promotes acceptance of the police as a virtue above a desire for self-determination and “policing” by the community that pre-dates the modern system.

Interestingly “policing by consent” contains little actual consent. There is no suggestion that there is a choice involved – which raises a serious concern – how can there be consent without choice?

And so we return to the slogan which we are told is analogous to “policing by consent”, namely “surveillance by consent”.

“Surveillance by Consent”

The “surveillance by consent” slogan has been attributed to Andrew Rennison, an ex-policeman who is now both the Surveillance Camera Commissioner and the Forensic Science Regulator. Rennison has constructed the slogan based on the twelve guiding principles of surveillance cameras that form the recently published Surveillance Camera Code of Practice. In fact the twelve guiding principles are a re-working of fourteen golden rules created as part of an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) review of the police use of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras. The fourteen golden rules of the IPCC were broadly based (with some police stuff added) on the eight Data Protection Principles that make up the Data Protection Act 1998 – which is the statute that governs the use of CCTV and ANPR cameras.

Whilst the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice’s consultation document states that the twelve guiding principles “are considered to underpin the establishment and maintenance of surveillance by consent” [5] it appears the 1st principle is the linchpin of the slogan:

Use of a surveillance camera system must always be for a specified purpose which is in pursuit of a legitimate aim and necessary to meet an identified pressing need.

At first glance this might seem quite reasonable but this principle has been in place for some time and it has done nothing to curb the expansion of the surveillance state. The ICO 2008 CCTV Code of Practice [16] asks:

Is it [the proposed system] necessary to address a pressing need, such as public safety, crime prevention or national security?

And the ICO 2000 CCTV Code of Practice [17] states:

The First Data Protection Principle requires data controllers to have a legitimate basis for processing personal data, in this case images of individuals. The Act sets out criteria for processing, one of which must be met in order to demonstrate that there is a legitimate basis for processing the images.

In other words the first principle in the “new” Surveillance Cameras Code of Practice is a rehash of the ICO CCTV Codes of Practice, which are themselves a repeat of the Data Protection Act 1998. If it’s done nothing to curb the surveillance state until now, why would we expect it to be any better if we simply repeat it yet again?

The new code effectively says: keep doing what you are doing and without lifting a finger you’ll be protecting the freedoms of those you probably never even thought about, and to boot you have their consent. And as current systems are anyway bound by the ICO Code then they must already be “surveillance by consent” by default.

The rest of the “new” guiding principles of surveillance restate the other data protection principles – leaving a few spare principles to slot in surveillance industry related technical standards for equipment and training for operators (rehashed from the 2007 National CCTV Strategy) – exactly what you’d expect from a code of practice created under an act of parliament called “Protection of Freedoms” – that is provided you’re the author of a dystopian novel like ’1984′.

The problem with state created regulation

The government introduced this new code supposedly to “further regulate” CCTV – but, aside from the fact that they are just repeating existing regulations, the code and it’s cod philosophy demonstrate all too well that state created “regulation” is not the answer. All that regulation does is create rules for the “proper use” of whatever is being regulated instead of consideration of whether such intrusive measures should be used at all.

Before the Home Office’s new Code, before the ICO’s CCTV codes, before the Human Rights Act, when we were told that there were “no statutory, or other, controls on the use of public space CCTV systems”, the Local Government Information Unit published a code of practice for CCTV that stated: “No sound should be recorded in public spaces” [18]. Now that we have regulation and “further” regulation – the new Surveillance Cameras Code of Practice states: “Any proposed deployment that includes audio recording in a public place is likely to require a strong justification of necessity to establish its proportionality” [19]. So we have moved from a clear prohibition to a blueprint of how to use surveillance cameras shrouded in a lawyer’s code of euphemism and sheer cloudy vagueness.

A code created by the Home Office, the chief promoter within government of surveillance, is like asking a fox to come up with the best way of ensuring that the chicken coup is only ransacked when “necessary”, in a “proportionate” way, when there is a “legitimate purpose” and “pressing need” – “dinner by consent” if you will.

Consent and Choice

consent – verb: express willingness, give permission, agree – noun: voluntary agreement, permission, compliance

Oxford English Dictionary

As with “policing by consent” there is very little about actual consent in the principles used to create “surveillance by consent”. Real consent would require a meaningful debate about whether the meagre benefits of cameras are really worth trading for hard won freedoms. Consent would require the public to be well informed about the harm that cameras have on communities and about the dangers of blindly accepting every new surveillance technology. Consent would require there to be an actual choice – but all the mainstream political parties support the indiscriminate use of surveillance cameras, and the use of the national Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera network that has created automated checkpoints across the country. When politicians debate CCTV it almost always descends into an infantile squabble over who loves CCTV the most [20].

Real choice demands a wider assessment of surveillance technologies, both for existing and new technology. Neil Postman, author of ‘Technopoly’, suggested six questions [21] to assist in understanding how a technology intrudes itself into a culture – such questions should be the starting point of any discussion regarding surveillance technology:

  1. What is the problem to which this technology is the solution?
  2. Whose problem is it?
  3. What new problems might be created by solving the original problem
  4. Which people and what institutions will be most seriously harmed by this new technology?
  5. What changes in language are being forced by these new technologies?
  6. What sort of people and institutions gain special economic and political power from this new technology?
  7. p42, ‘Building a Bridge to the 18th Century’, Neil Postman, Vintage Books (1999)

Without seeking the real answers to these questions we will constantly be vulnerable to claims that upgrades to surveillance tools are needed, that the upgrades are required to tackle a pressing need or a growing threat, and we will be blind to where our society is headed. In his book ‘The Technological Society’, French sociologist Jacques Ellul, referring to the indiscriminate nature of police technology, warned:

The techniques of the police, which are developing at an extremely rapid tempo, have at their necessary end the transformation of the entire nation into a concentration camp.

p101, ‘The Technological Society’, Jacques Ellul, Vintage Books (1964)

With the publication of the Westminster government’s draft Surveillance Cameras Code of Practice a trojan horse has been snuck into every public space in England and Wales – and hidden inside is “surveillance by consent”.

If you believe that consent is something that should be given voluntarily and not something that can be taken by bureaucratic thieves in the night then make your voice heard. If you live in England or Wales then start by telling the Home Office what you think (details of how to respond are at the end of this article). If you live elsewhere in the world – watch out, “surveillance by consent” is no doubt coming to your country soon. If you do nothing, your inaction will be taken as your consent to be surveilled.

Surveillance Camera Code of Practice Consultation links

The consultation document can be downloaded from:
http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/about-us/consultations/surveillance-camera-consultation/consultation-document?view=Binary
The proposed Code of Practice can be downloaded from:
http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/about-us/consultations/surveillance-camera-consultation/code-of-practice?view=BinaryResponses can be submitted online at:
www.homeofficesurveys.homeoffice.gov.uk/v.asp?i=69377oduov

Or sent to:
Home Office
Police Transparency Unit
6th Floor Fry,
2 Marsham Street,
London, SW1P 4DF

Notes:

[ 1] http://www.no-cctv.org.uk/blog/the_freedom_committee_cctv__anpr_and_the_manufacture_of_consent.htm

[ 2] http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/about-us/consultations/surveillance-camera-consultation/code-of-practice?view=Binary

[ 3] http://www.orwell.ru/library/essays/politics/english/e_polit/

[ 4] http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/about-us/consultations/surveillance-camera-consultation/

[ 5] http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/about-us/consultations/surveillance-camera-consultation/consultation-document?view=Binary

[ 6] See ‘The Invention of Peel’s Principles: A study of policing ‘textbook’ history’, S.Lentz and R.Chaires, Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 35, No. 1. (2007) http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2006.11.016

Also see p154 ‘The Blind Eye of History’, Charles Reith, Faber and Faber (1952)

[ 7] ‘British Police and the Democratic Ideal’, Charles Reith, Oxford University Press(1943)

[ 8] ‘The Blind Eye of History’, Charles Reith, Faber and Faber (1952)

[ 9] http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1996/16/schedule/4

[10] http://www.outsourcereye.co.uk/2013/01/16/civica_signs_anpr_contract_with_dyfed-powys_police_force/

[11] http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/2011/08/09/steria-deal-will-save-cleveland-police-70m-84229-29200762/

[12] http://www.steria.com/uk/your-business/homeland-security/command-and-control/

[13] http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/police/pcc/working-beyond-force-area/police-ict-company?view=Binary

[14] http://www.howardleague.org/police-have-marginal-impact-on-c/

[15] http://media.ccc.de/ftp/congress/2012/webm/29c3-5138-en-romantichackers_webm.webm

[16] http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_organisations/data_protection/topic_guides/~/media/documents/library/Data_Protection/Detailed_specialist_guides/ICO_CCTVFINAL_2301.ashx see p7

[17] http://web.archive.org/web/20060409080551/http://www.ico.gov.uk/documentUploads/cctvcop1.pdf see p34

[18] ‘A Watching Brief: A Code of Practice for CCTV’, Local Government Information Unit, 1996, as quoted by House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology – http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/ld199798/ldselect/ldsctech/064v/st0506.htm

[19] Surveillance Camera Code of Practice, paragraph 3.2.2, p9 see [2] above

[20] http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2013-02-11b.557.4

see also http://www.no-cctv.org.uk/blog/back_to_the_future_-_uk_cctv_debate_stuck_in_time_loop.htm

[21] Neil Postman, Technology and Society lecture, Calvin College, 1998 – http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/98576-1

 Coincidence? West’s use of terrorism raises concerns latest violence in Sabah is linked to Wall Street’s campaign to install Anwar Ibrahim as head of Malaysia.

Disturbing and bizarre reports of Philippine-based armed “Islamist” militants landing on the beaches of Malaysia’s state of Sabah, directly ahead of national elections has raised both concerns and suspicions regarding the Malaysian opposition’s involvement, and that of its Western sponsors. The Star/Asia News Network reported in an article titled, “Najib: Govt to investigate claims of Opposition instigating Sulu Sultanate to reclaim Sabah,” that:

The Prime Minister has directed Malaysian intelligence to investigate claims that the Opposition was among parties responsible in instigating the heir of the Sulu Sultanate to reclaim Sabah.

Anwar Ibrahim, head of Malaysia’s opposition coalition, which includes the Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), has spent a lifetime in the service of Western interests. Anwar Ibrahim was Chairman of the Development Committee of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1998, held lecturing positions at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, was a consultant to the World Bank, and a panelist at the Neo-Con lined National Endowment for Democracy’s “Democracy Award” and a panelist at a NED donation ceremony – the very same US organization whose subsidiaries are funding and supporting Bersih, a faux-pro-democracy Western-fundedstreet movement that in fact was created by, and in the service of Anwar Ibrahim’s political ambitions.

Image: Sabah state, Malaysia (right in red) is host of a bizarre invasion by militants based in the Philippines, just months ahead of Malaysia’s general elections. Because Malaysia’s opposition is overtly supported by Wall Street, and because of the West’s liberal use of global terrorism as a geopolitical tool, many suspect Anwar Ibrahim’s opposition party is at least partly responsible for instigating the militant incursion. 

Anwar Ibrahim’s affiliations with Malaysian “Islamists,” and his Western backers’ habitual support for terrorism internationally as a geopolitical tool, raises the possibility that his opposition movement is complicit in the conveniently timed militant destabilization Malaysia now faces, only months before 2013′s general elections.

While Wall Street props up Anwar Ibrahim, his political coalition, and his street front, Bersih, it is funding and arming hardcore Al Qaeda terrorists from Libya and Syria, to Iran and Pakistan. Recent announcements by the US and UK that they will be funding to the tune of millions, Syrian “opposition leader” Moaz al-Khatib who openly collaborates with, embraces, and adamantly defends Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise al-Nusra, is indicative of a global, systematic state-sponsorship of terrorism by the West. Similar support was given to the political fronts of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LFIG) in Libya, who is in fact sending fighters, cash, and heavy weapons into Syria via NATO-member Turkey.Anwar Ibrahim and his political opposition party’s ties to militant terrorists are being investigated, but Malaysia, and other nations in Southeast Asia must be ever vigilant of a West who props up political parties under the guise of “democracy promotion,” while funding and arming terrorists, criminal cartels, and notorious human rights abusers, many times worse than the political parties they seek to subvert.

One military officer and two soldiers were injured in clashes between protesters and security forces in Port Said in northern Egypt on Sunday, Helmy el-Hefny, deputy of health ministry in Port Said, told Xinhua.

While state-run Ahram online quoted a military source as saying that one soldier was killed, Abdel Rahmas Farag, in charge of Port Said hospitals, reaffirmed that three were injured and one of the soldiers is in critical condition.

According to a statement issued by the Egyptian armed forces on its official Facebook page, clashes between protesters and security forces have left one soldier killed, who was shot in the neck by unknown people.

The statement denied any former reports that the soldier was killed during fire exchange between the armed forces and the police, urging residents of Port Said not to approach the governorate’s headquarters or the institutions which the armed forces are securing for the safety of their life.

More than 310 people were injured Sunday in clashes between security forces and protesters over the transfer of prisoners in Egypt’s seaside governorate of Port Said, which entered its third week of general unrest, said the Health Ministry.

The protesters clashed with the police, as the Interior Ministry decided to move 39 prisoners awaiting a verdict over a tragic football riot which killed over 70 in February last year in order to avoid unrest, official news agency MENA said.

About 200 people of the prisoners’ families gathered outside Port Said police department after learning that their relatives would be moved to an unknown prison.

The protesters hurled Molotov cocktails and fireballs at the building and set fire to a police car, while the police responded with teargas to disperse the crowd.

Elsewhere in Egypt, dozens of protesters blocked el-Bahr street at the Shoon Square in Gharbiya’s Mahalla city with burning tires and roadblocks. Protesters also hurled stones at passing cars.

Meanwhile, demonstrators at Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo placed burning tires at its entrances, completely shutting down traffic, while the Interior Ministry ordered all traffic police personnel to leave the square to avert further clashes, official news agency MENA said.

Earlier on Sunday, protests were held by a group of Cairo-based football fans on Salah Salem road leading to Cairo International Airport, hindering U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry from catching his plane on time. The Utras protests blocked the road completely after some of the protesters set fire to car tires, making passengers leave cars and hurry on foot to catch their flights.

For his part, Abdel Fatah Osman, a senior official of the interior ministry, said “political solution no longer works with political congestion in the street.”

A resolution adopted by the Friends of Syria Group in Rome on Thursday encourages extremists there to seize power by force, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Friday.

US, EU and Arab officials who met in Rome on Thursday pledged more assistance to the Syrian opposition fighting against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, recognizing the National Coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

“There is a general understanding within the international community that there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis,” Lukashevich said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website.

“Meanwhile, judging by incoming reports, the decisions made in Rome, as well as the statements that were made there, both in letter and in spirit encourage extremists to seize power by force, regardless of the inevitable suffering of ordinary Syrians.” He did not elaborate.

The Rome statement praised the opposition National Coalition for its reform efforts, urged Assad’s regime to end “indiscriminate bombardments against populated areas,” and deplored “the unabated arms supply to the regime by third countries.”

The US pledged $60 million in “non-lethal” assistance for the Syrian political opposition.

Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday the US would send the Syrian opposition an additional $60 million in non-lethal aid, but still refuses to supply the weapons and sophisticated military supplies the rebels have said they need.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday Moscow’s position on Syria stems from its concern for the Syrian people, and not the fate of President Bashar al-Assad.

The United States has called for Assad to step down, but Russia says it is concerned that the Syrian president’s forced departure would make the conflict worse.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said last Tuesday foreign military supplies to Syria’s armed opposition have been growing. He reiterated Russia’s official position that Moscow will not carry out fresh arms deliveries to the Syrian government, but is only supplying arms and military equipment under contracts signed before the civil war, which has claimed some 70,000 lives according to the latest UN estimates.

Last Monday, Lavrov denied Moscow had tried to smuggle arms components into Syria via Finland, and said there are no Russian troops in Syria apart from several dozen technical staff at the Tartus naval support facility. Russia’s state-run arms dealer Rosoboronexport said on Wednesday it is supplying air-defense missile systems and maintenance and servicing equipment to Syria, but not combat aircraft.

When Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili made an official visit to Azerbaijan last week, he took with him a bit of his unique brand of anti-Russia rhetoric, saying that Baku today faces a similar threat from Russia as has Tbilisi. From Civil.ge:

After visiting Baku, President Saakashvili said that Russia was preparing the same “scenario” for Azerbaijan, which was applied against Georgia in last year’s parliamentary elections when, as he put it, “oligarchs, Russian funds, blackmailing and provocations” were used.

In particular, Saakashvili mentioned the establishment of a diaspora organization in Russia made up of rich businessmen of Azeri origin, which he said posed the same sort of threat as did Bidzina Ivanishvili, the Georgian-born businessman who made billions in Russia and then became prime minister of Georgia on a platform of improving ties with Russia. Saakashvili also noted that Ivanishvili’s government pardoned an ethnic Armenian activist, which he said was done “to please” Russia.

Azerbaijan has traditionally been very careful not to provoke Russia; while it similarly feels a threat to its sovereignty from Moscow, it has followed a somewhat more multi-vectored approach than has Georgia, maintaining good relations with Russia, alongside its ties to Turkey, Europe, the U.S, Israel. and others. And Russia, for its part, has not taken an aggressive position against Baku, seeming more interested in maintaining a regional balance of power between Armenia and Azerbaijan. So it’s not surprising, as the opposition news site Contact.az notes, that officials in Baku publicly ignored Saakashvili’s comments.

But in a meeting with a group of Turkish reporters in Baku, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Hasanov made the relatively rare claim that in a fight to regain Nagorno-Karabakh, the breakaway territory that has been controlled by Armenian forces for two decades, Azerbaijan would not be fighting just Armenians but Russians:

“President Ilham Aliyev has always promised a military solution to the [Nagorno-Karabakh] conflict and he still has the issue on the agenda. The option of a military solution is always on the table, but the most important thing is how this kind of operation will be carried out. We need to become much stronger so that if we become involved in combat in Nagorno-Karabakh we can stand up to Russian troops, because that is who we will have to face. Did Armenia occupy our territories? Do you think Armenia’s power is sufficient for that?” asked Hasanov….

Recalling his home city, which is also in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, Hasanov said the occupation was accomplished with the military support of Russia. “I saw Russian soldiers get out of tanks and celebrate their victory with champagne.”

Russian support of Armenia twenty-plus years ago certainly does not guarantee Russian support in a future war. In theory, Armenia’s membership in the Collective Security Treaty Organization obligates Russia (and other CSTO members) to come to Armenia’s aid if it were attacked, but 1. if the war were limited to Karabakh (still internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory), that wouldn’t be a factor and 2. even if the war did spread to Armenia, it’s not hard to imagine Russia thinking that it was not worth it to get involved. But if Hasanov is telling the truth, and Azerbaijan really believes that it needs to built up its military to be able to match Russia’s, when does he think that would ever happen? Or is this a pretext, meant to buy time after so many years of bragging about Azerbaijan’s growing military might that people might start wondering why Azerbaijan doesn’t pull the trigger already?

Sunday Times: Mr. President your recent offer of political dialogue was qualified with a firm rejection of the very groups you would have to pacify to stop the violence: the armed rebels and the Syrian National Coalition, the main opposition alliance.

So in effect you are only extending an olive branch to the loyal opposition, mostly internal, that renounce the armed struggle, and who effectively recognizes the legitimacy of your leadership, who are you willing to talk to, really?

President Assad: First of all, let me correct some of the misconceptions that have been circulating and that are found in your question in order to make my answer accurate.

Sunday Times: Okay.

President Assad: Firstly, when I announced the plan, I said that it was for those who are interested in dialogue, because you cannot make a plan that is based on dialogue with somebody who does not believe in dialogue. So, I was very clear regarding this.

Secondly, this open dialogue should not be between exclusive groups but between all Syrians of every level. The dialogue is about the future of Syria. We are twenty three million Syrians and all of us have the right to participate in shaping the country’s future. Some may look at it as a dialogue between the government and certain groups in the opposition – whether inside or outside, external or internal -actually this is a very shallow way of looking at the dialogue. It is much more comprehensive. It is about every Syrian and about every aspect of Syrian life. Syria’s future cannot be determined simply by who leads it but by the ambitions and aspirations of all its people.

The other aspect of the dialogue is that it opens the door for militants to surrender their weapons and we have granted many amnesties to facilitate this. This is the only way to make a dialogue with those groups. This has already started, even before the plan, and some have surrendered their weapons and they live now their normal life. But this plan makes the whole process more methodical, announced and clear.

If you want to talk about the opposition, there is another misconception in the West. They put all the entities even if they are not homogeneous in one basket – as if everything against the government is opposition. We have to be clear about this. We have opposition that are political entities and we have armed terrorists. We can engage in dialogue with the opposition but we cannot engage in dialogue with terrorists; we fight terrorism. Another phrase that is often mentioned is the ‘internal opposition inside Syria’ or ‘internal opposition as loyal to the government.’ Opposition groups should be loyal and patriotic to Syria – internal and external opposition is not about the geographic position; it is about their roots, resources and representation. Have these roots been planted in Syria and represent Syrian people and Syrian interests or the interests of foreign government? So, this is how we look at the dialogue, this is how we started and how we are going to continue.

Sunday Times: Most have rejected it, at least if we talk about the opposition externally who are now the body that is being hailed as the opposition and where the entire world is basically behind them. So, most of them have rejected it with the opposition describing your offer as a “waste of time,” and some have said that it is “empty rhetoric” based on lack of trust and which British Secretary William Hague described it as “beyond hypocritical” and the Americans said you were “detached from reality.”

President Assad: I will not comment on what so-called Syrian bodies outside Syria have said. These bodies are not independent. As Syrians, we are independent and we need to respond to independent bodies and this is not the case. So let’s look at the other claims.

Firstly, detached from reality: Syria has been fighting adversaries and foes for two years; you cannot do that if you do not have public support. People will not support you if you are detached from their reality. A recent survey in the UK shows that a good proportion British people want “to keep out of Syria” and they do not believe that the British government should send military supplies to the rebels in Syria.

In spite of this, the British government continues to push the EU to lift its arms embargo on Syria to start arming militants with heavy weapons. That is what I call detached from reality–when you are detached from your own public opinion! And they go further in saying that they want to send “military aid” that they describe as “non-lethal.” The intelligence, communication and financial assistance being provided is very lethal. The events of 11th of September were not committed by lethal aids. It was the application of non-lethal technology and training which caused the atrocities.

The British government wants to send military aid to moderate groups in Syria, knowing all too well that such moderate groups do not exist in Syria; we all know that we are now fighting Al-Qaeda or Jabhat al-Nusra which is an offshoot of Al-Qaeda, and other groups of people indoctrinated with extreme ideologies. This is beyond hypocritical! What is beyond hypocrisy is when you talk about freedom of expression and ban Syrian TV channels from the European broadcasting satellites; when you shed tears for somebody killed in Syria by terrorist acts while preventing the Security Council from issuing a statement denouncing the suicide bombing that happened last week in Damascus, and you were here, where three hundred Syrians were either killed or injured, including women and children – all of them were civilians. Beyond hypocrisy when you preach about human rights and you go into Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and kill hundreds of thousands in illegal wars. Beyond hypocrisy is when you talk about democracy and your closest allies are the worst autocratic regimes in the world that belong to the medieval centuries. This is hypocrisy!

Sunday Times: But you always refer to the people fighting here as terrorists, do you accept that while some are from the Jabhat al-Nusra and those affiliated to Al-Qaeda but there are others such as the FSA or under the umbrella of the FSA? That some of them are the defectors and some of them are just ordinary people who started some of the uprising. These are not terrorists; these are people fighting for what they believe to be the right way at the moment.

President Assad: When we say that we are fighting Al-Qaeda, we mean that the main terrorist group and the most dangerous is Al-Qaeda. I have stated in many interviews and speeches that this is not the only group in Syria. The spectrum ranges from petty criminals, drugs dealers, groups that are killing and kidnapping just for money to mercenaries and militants; these clearly do not have any political agenda or any ideological motivations. The so-called “Free Army” is not an entity as the West would like your readers to believe. It is hundreds of small groups – as defined by international bodies working with Annan and Al-Ibrahimi – there is no entity, there is no leadership, there is no hierarchy; it is a group of different gangs working for different reasons. The Free Syrian Army is just the headline, the umbrella that is used to legitimize these groups.

This does not mean that at the beginning of the conflict there was no spontaneous movement; there were people who wanted to make change in Syria and I have acknowledged that publically many times. That’s why I have said the dialogue is not for the conflict itself; the dialogue is for the future of Syria because many of the groups still wanting change are now against the terrorists. They still oppose the government but they do not carry weapons. Having legitimate needs does not make your weapons legitimate.

Sunday Times: Your 3-staged plan: the first one you speak of is the cessation of violence. Obviously there is the army and the fighters on the other side. Now, within the army you have a hierarchy, so if you want to say cease-fire, there is a commander that can control that, but when you offer cessation of violence or fire how can you assume the same for the rebels when you talk about them being so many groups, fragmented and not under one leadership. So, that’s one of the points of your plan. So, this suggests that this basically an impossible request. You speak of referendum but with so many displaced externally and internally, many of whom are the backbone of the opposition; those displaced at least. So, a referendum without them would not be fair, and the third part is that parliamentary elections and all this hopefully before 2014; it is a very tall list to be achieved before 2014. So, what are really the conditions that you are attaching to the dialogue and to make it happen, and aren’t some of the conditions that you are really suggesting or offering impossible to achieve?

President Assad: That depends on how we look at the situation. First of all, let’s say that the main article in the whole plan is the dialogue; this dialogue will put a timetable for everything and the procedures or details of this plan. The first article in my plan was the cessation of violence. If we cannot stop this violence, how can we achieve the other articles like the referendum and elections and so on? But saying that you cannot stop the violence is not a reason to do nothing. Yes there are many groups as I have said with no leadership, but we know that their real leadership are those countries that are funding and supplying their weapons and armaments – mainly Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

If outside parties genuinely want to help the process they should be pressuring those countries to stop supplying the terrorists. As with any other sovereign state, we will not negotiate with terrorists.

Sunday Times: Critics say real and genuine negotiations may be the cause of your downfall and that of your government or regime, and that you know this, hence you offer practically impossible scenarios for dialogue and negotiations?

President Assad: Actually, I don’t know this, I know the opposite. To be logical and realistic, if this is the case, then these foes, adversaries or opponents should push for the dialogue because in their view it will bring my downfall. But actually they are doing the opposite. They are preventing the so-called ‘opposition bodies outside Syria’ to participate in the dialogue because I think they believe in the opposite; they know that this dialogue will not bring my downfall, but will actually make Syria stronger. This is the first aspect.

The second aspect is that the whole dialogue is about Syria, about terrorism, and about the future of Syria. This is not about positions and personalities. So, they shouldn’t distract people by talking about the dialogue and what it will or will not bring to the President. I did not do it for myself. At the end, this is contradictory; what they say is contradicting what they do.

Sunday Times: You said that if they push for dialogue, it could bring your downfall?

President Assad: No, I said according to what they say if it brings my downfall, why don’t they come to the dialogue? They say that the dialogue will bring the downfall of the President and I am inviting them to the dialogue. Why don’t they then come to the dialogue to bring my downfall? This is self-evident. That’s why I said they are contradicting themselves.

Sunday Times: Mr. President, John Kerry, a man you know well, has started a tour that will take him this week end to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, where he will be talking to them about ways to ‘ease you out.’ In London and Berlin earlier this week, he said that President Assad must go and he also said that one of his first moves is to draft diplomatic proposals to persuade you to give up power. Would you invite him to Damascus for talks? What would you say to him? What is your message to him now given what he said this week and what he plans to say to his allies when he visits them over the weekend? And if possible from your knowledge of him how would you describe Kerry from your knowledge of him in the past?

President Assad: I would rather describe policies rather than describing people. So, it is still early to judge him. It is only a few weeks since he became Secretary of State. First of all, the point that you have mentioned is related to internal Syrian matters or Syrian issue. Any Syrian subject would not be raised with any foreigners. We only discuss it with Syrians within Syria. So, I am not going to discuss it with anyone who is coming from abroad. We have friends and we discuss our issues with friends, we listen to their advice but at the end it is our decision as Syrians to think or to make what’s good for our country.

If anyone wants to ‘genuinely’ – I stress the word genuinely – help Syria and help the cessation of violence in our country, he can do only one thing; he can go to Turkey and sit with Erdogan and tell to him stop smuggling terrorists into Syria, stop sending armaments, stop providing logistical support to those terrorists. He can go to Saudi Arabia and Qatar and tell them stop financing the terrorists in Syria. This is the only thing anyone can do dealing with the external part of our problem, but no one from outside Syria can deal with the internal part of this problem.

Sunday Times: So, what is your message to Kerry?

President Assad: It is very clear: to understand what I said now. I mean, not a message to Kerry but to anyone who is talking about the Syrian issue: only Syrian people can tell the President: stay or leave, come or go. I am just saying this clearly in order not to waste the time of others to know where to focus.

Sunday Times: What role if any do you see for Britain in any peace process for Syria? Have there been any informal contacts with the British? What is your reaction to Cameron’s support for the opposition? What would you say if you were sitting with him now, especially that Britain is calling for the arming of the rebels?

President Assad: There is no contact between Syria and Britain for a long time. If we want to talk about the role, you cannot separate the role from the credibility. And we cannot separate the credibility from the history of that country. To be frank, now I am talking to a British journalist and a British audience, to be frank, Britain has played a famously (in our region) an unconstructive role in different issues for decades, some say for centuries. I am telling you now the perception in our region.

The problem with this government is that their shallow and immature rhetoric only highlight this tradition of bullying and hegemony. I am being frank. How can we expect to ask Britain to play a role while it is determined to militarize the problem? How can you ask them to play a role in making the situation better and more stable, how can we expect them to make the violence less while they want to send military supplies to the terrorists and don’t try to ease the dialogue between the Syrians. This is not logical. I think that they are working against us and working against the interest of the UK itself. This government is acting in a naïve, confused and unrealistic manner. If they want to play a role, they have to change this; they have to act in a more reasonable and responsible way, till then we do not expect from an arsonist to be a firefighter!

Sunday Times: In 2011 you said you wouldn’t waste your time talking about the body leading opposition, now we are talking about the external body, in fact you hardly recognized there was such a thing, what changed your mind or views recently? What talks, if any are already going on with the rebels who are a major component and factor in this crisis? Especially given that your Foreign Minister Muallem said earlier this week when he was in Russia that the government is open to talks with the armed opposition can you clarify?

President Assad: Actually, I did not change my mind. Again, this plan is not for them; it is for every Syrian who accepts the dialogue. So, making this initiative is not a change of mind. Secondly, since day one in this crisis nearly two years ago, we have said we are ready for dialogue; nothing has changed. We have a very consistent position towards the dialogue. Some may understand that I changed my mind because I did not recognize the first entity, but then I recognized the second. I recognized neither, more importantly the Syrian people do not recognize them or take them seriously. When you have a product that fails in the market, they withdraw the product, change the name, change the packing and they rerelease it again – but it is still faulty. The first and second bodies are the same products with different packaging. Regarding what our minister said, it is very clear.

Part of the initiative is that we are ready to negotiate with anyone including militants who surrender their arms. We are not going to deal with terrorists who are determined to carry weapons, to terrorize people, to kill civilians, to attack public places or private enterprises and destroy the country.

Sunday Times: Mr. President, the world looks at Syria and sees a country being destroyed, with at least 70,000 killed, more than 3 million displaced and sectarian divisions being deepened. Many people around the world blame you. What do you say to them? Are you to blame for what’s happened in the country you are leading?

President Assad: You have noted those figures as though they were numbers from a spreadsheet. To some players they are being used to push forward their political agenda; unfortunately that is a reality. Regardless of their accuracy, for us Syrians, each one of those numbers represents a Syrian man, woman or child. When you talk about thousands of victims, we see thousands of families who have lost loved ones and who unfortunately will grieve for many years to come. Nobody can feel this pain more than us.

Looking at the issue of political agendas, we have to ask better questions. How were these numbers verified? How many represent foreign fighters? How many were combatants aged between 20 and 30? How many were civilians – innocent women and children? The situation on the ground makes it almost impossible to get accurate answers to these important questions. We all know how death tolls and human casualties have been manipulated in the past to pave the way for humanitarian intervention. The Libyan government recently announced that the death toll before the invasion of Libya was exaggerated; they said five thousand victims from each side while the number was talking at that time of tens of thousands.

The British and the Americans who were physically inside Iraq during the war were unable to provide precise numbers about the victims that have been killed from their invasion. Suddenly, the same sources have very precise numbers about what is happening in Syria! This is ironic; I will tell you very simply that these numbers do not exist in reality; it is part of their virtual reality that they want to create to push forward their agenda for military intervention under the title of humanitarian intervention.

Sunday Times: If I may just on this note a little bit. Even if the number is exaggerated and not definitely precise, these are numbers corroborated by Syrian groups, however they are still thousands that were killed. Some are militants but some are civilians. Some are being killed through the military offensive, for example artillery or plane attacks in certain areas. So even if we do not argue the actual number, the same applies, they still blame yourself for those civilians, if you want, that are being killed through the military offensive, do you accept that?

President Assad: Firstly, we cannot talk about the numbers without their names. People who are killed have names. Secondly, why did they die? Where and how were they killed? Who killed them? Armed gangs, terrorist groups, criminals, kidnappers, the army, who?

Sunday Times: It is a mix.

President Assad: It is a mix, but it seems that you are implying that one person is responsible for the current situation and all the human casualties. From day one the situation in Syria has been influenced by military and political dynamics, which are both very fast moving. In such situations you have catalysts and barriers. To assume any one party is responsible for all barriers and another party responsible for all the catalysts is absurd. Too many innocent civilians have died, too many Syrians are suffering. As I have already said nobody is more pained by this than us Syrians, which is why we are pushing for a national dialogue. I’m not in the blame business, but if you are talking of responsibility, then clearly I have a constitutional responsibility to keep Syria and her people safe from terrorists and radical groups.

Sunday Times: What is the role of Al-Qaeda and other jihadists and what threats do they pose to the region and Europe? Are you worried Syria turning into something similar to Chechnya in the past? Are you concerned about the fate of minorities if you were loose this war or of a sectarian war akin to that of Iraq?

President Assad: The role of Al-Qaeda in Syria is like the role of Al-Qaeda anywhere else in this world; killing, beheading, torturing and preventing children from going to school because as you know Al-Qaeda’s ideologies flourish where there is ignorance. Ideologically, they try to infiltrate the society with their dark, extremist ideologies and they are succeeding. If you want to worry about anything in Syria, it is not the ‘minorities.’ This is a very shallow description because Syria is a melting pot of religions, sects, ethnicities and ideologies that collectively make up a homogeneous mixture, irrelevant of the portions or percentages. We should be worrying about the majority of moderate Syrians who, if we do not fight this extremism, could become the minority – at which point Syria will cease to exist.

If you worry about Syria in that sense, you have to worry about the Middle East because we are the last bastion of secularism in the region. If you worry about the Middle East, the whole world should be worried about its stability. This is the reality as we see it.

Sunday Times: How threatening is Al-Qaeda now?

President Assad: Threatening by ideology more than the killing. The killing is dangerous, of course, but what is irreversible is the ideology; that is dangerous and we have been warning of this for many years even before the conflict; we have been dealing with these ideologies since the late seventies. We were the first in the region to deal with such terrorists who have been assuming the mantle of Islam. We have consistently been warning of this, especially in the last decade during the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. The West is only reacting to the situation, not acting. We need to act by dealing with the ideology first. A war on terror without dealing with the ideology will lead you nowhere and will only make things worse. So, it is threatening and it is dangerous, not just to Syria but to the whole region.

Sunday Times: US officials recently, in particular yesterday, are quoted as saying that US decision not to arm rebels could be revised. If this was to happen what in your view will the consequences in Syria and in the region? What is your warning against this? Now, they are talking about directly equipping the rebels with armament vehicles, training and body armaments.

President Assad: You know the crime is not only about the victim and the criminal, but also the accomplice providing support, whether it is moral or logistical support. I have said many times that Syria lies at the fault line geographically, politically, socially and ideologically. So, playing with this fault line will have serious repercussions all over the Middle East. Is the situation better in Libya today? In Mali? In Tunisia? In Egypt? Any intervention will not make things better; it will only make them worse. Europe and the United States and others are going to pay the price sooner or later with the instability in this region; they do not foresee it.

Sunday Times: What is your message to Israel following its air strikes on Syria? Will you retaliate? How will you respond to any future attacks by Israel especially that Israel has said that we will do it again if it has to?

President Assad: Every time Syria did retaliate, but in its own way, not tit for tat. We retaliated in our own way and only the Israelis know what we mean.

Sunday Times: Can you expand?

President Assad: Yes. Retaliation does not mean missile for missile or bullet for bullet. Our own way does not have to be announced; only the Israelis will know what I mean.

Sunday Times: Can you tell us how?

President Assad: We do not announce that.

Sunday Times: I met a seven year old boy in Jordan.

President Assad: A Syrian boy?

Sunday Times: A Syrian boy who had lost an arm and a leg to a missile strike in Herak. Five children in his family had been killed in that explosion. As a father, what can you say to that little boy? Why have so many innocent civilians died in air strikes, army shelling and sometimes, I quote, ‘Shabiha shootings?’

President Assad: What is his name?

Sunday Times: I have his name…I will bring it to you later.

President Assad: As I said every victim in this crisis has a name, every casualty has a family. Like 5 year-old Saber who whilst having breakfast with his family at home lost his leg, his mother and other members of his family. Like 4 year-old Rayan who watched his two brothers slaughtered for taking him to a rally. None of these families have any political affiliations. Children are the most fragile link in any society and unfortunately they often pay the heaviest price in any conflict. As a father of young children, I know the meaning of having a child harmed by something very simple; so what if they are harmed badly or if we lose a child, it is the worst thing any family can face. Whenever you have conflicts, you have these painful stories that affect any society. This is the most important and the strongest incentive for us to fight terrorism. Genuine humanitarians who feel the pain that we feel about our children and our losses should encourage their governments to prevent smuggling armaments and terrorists and to prevent the terrorists from acquiring any military supplies from any country.

Sunday Times: Mr. President, when you lie in bed at night, do you hear the explosions in Damascus? Do you, in common with many other Syrians, worry about the safety of your family? Do you worry that there may come a point where your own safety is in jeopardy?

President Assad: I see it completely differently. Can anybody be safe, or their family be safe, if the country is in danger? In reality NO! If your country is not safe, you cannot be safe. So instead of worrying about yourself and your family, you should be worried about every citizen and every family in your country. So it’s a mutual relationship.

Sunday Times: You’ll know of the international concerns about Syria’s chemical weapons. Would your army ever use them as a last resort against your opponents? Reports suggest they have been moved several times, if so why? Do you share the international concern that they may fall into the hands of Islamist rebels? What is the worst that could happen?

President Assad: Everything that has been referred to in the media or by official rhetoric regarding Syrian chemical weapons is speculation. We have never, and will never, discuss our armaments with anyone. What the world should worry about is chemical materials reaching the hands of terrorists. Video material has already been broadcast showing toxic material being tried on animals with threats to the Syrian people that they will die in the same way. We have shared this material with other countries. This is what the world should be focusing on rather than wasting efforts to create elusive headlines on Syrian chemical weapons to justify any intervention in Syria.

Sunday Times: I know you are not saying whether they are safe or not. There is concern if they are safe or no one can get to them.

President Assad: This is constructive ambiguity. No country will talk about their capabilities.
Sunday Times: A lot has been talked about this as well: what are the roles of Hezbollah, Iran and Russia in the war on the ground? Are you aware of Hezbollah fighters in Syria and what are they doing? What weapons are your allies Iran and Russia supplying? What other support are they providing?

President Assad: The Russian position is very clear regarding armaments – they supply Syria with defensive armaments in line with international law. Hezbollah, Iran and Russia support Syria in her fight against terrorism. Russia has been very constructive, Iran has been very supportive and Hezbollah’s role is to defend Lebanon not Syria. We are a country of 23 million people with a strong National Army and Police Force. We are in no need of foreign fighters to defend our country. What we should be asking is, what about the role of other countries, – Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France, the UK, the US, – that support terrorism in Syria directly or indirectly, militarily or politically.

Sunday Times: Mr. President, may I ask you about your own position? Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov recently said that Lakhdar Ibrahimi complained of wanting to see more flexibility from your regime and that while you never seem to say ‘no’ you never seem to say ‘yes’. Do you think that there can be a negotiated settlement while you remain President, which is a lot of people are asking?

President Assad: Do not expect a politician to only say yes or no in the absolute meaning; it is not multiple choice questions to check the correct answer. You can expect from any politician a vision and our vision is very clear. We have a plan and whoever wants to deal with us, can deal with us through our plan. This is very clear in order not to waste time. This question reflects what has been circulating in the Western media about personalizing the problem in Syria and suggesting that the entire conflict is about the president and his future. If this argument is correct, then my departure will stop the fighting. Clearly this is absurd and recent precedents in Libya, Yemen and Egypt bear witness to this. Their motive is to try to evade the crux of the issue, which is dialogue, reform and combating terrorism. The legacy of their interventions in our region have been chaos, destruction and disaster. So, how can they justify any future intervention? They cannot. So, they focus on blaming the president and pushing for his departure; questioning his credibility; is he living in a bubble or not? is he detached from reality or not? So, the focus of the conflict becomes about the president.

Sunday Times: Some foreign officials have called for you to stand for war crimes at the International Criminal Court as the person ultimately responsible for the army’s actions? Do you fear prosecution by the ICC? Or the possibility of future prosecution and trial in Syria?

President Assad: Whenever an issue that is related to the UN is raised, you are raising the question of credibility. We all know especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union – for the last twenty years – that the UN and all its organizations are the victims of hegemony instead of being the bastions of justice. They became politicized tools in order to create instability and to attack sovereign countries, which is against the UN’s charter. So, the question that we have to raise now is: are they going to take the American and the British leaders who attacked Iraq in 2003 and claimed more than half a million lives in Iraq, let alone orphans, handicapped and deformed people? Are they going to take the American, British French and others who went to Libya without a UN resolution last year and claimed again hundreds of lives? They are not going to do it. The answer is very clear. You know that sending mercenaries to any country is a war crime according Nuremberg principles and according to the London Charter of 1945. Are they going to put Erdogan in front of this court because he sent mercenaries? Are they going to do the same with the Saudis and the Qataris? If we have answers to these questions, then we can talk about peace organizations and about credibility.

My answer is very brief: when people defend their country, they do not take into consideration anything else.

Sunday Times: Hindsight is a wonderful thing Mr. President. If you could wind the clock back two years would you have handled anything differently? Do you believe that there are things that could or should have been done in another way? What mistakes do you believe have been made by your followers that you would change?

President Assad: You can ask this question to a President if he is the only one responsible for all the context of the event. In our case in Syria, we know there are many external players. So you have to apply hindsight to every player. You have to ask Erdogan, with hindsight would you send terrorists to kill Syrians, would you afford logistical support to them? You should ask the Qatari and Saudis whether in hindsight, would you send money to terrorists and to Al-Qaeda offshoots or any other terrorist organization to kill Syrians? We should ask the same question to the European and American officials, in hindsight would you offer a political umbrella to those terrorists killing innocent civilians in Syria?

In Syria, we took two decisions. The first is to make dialogue; the second is to fight terrorism. If you ask any Syrian, in hindsight would you say no to dialogue and yes to terrorism? I do not think any sane person will agree with you. So I think in hindsight, we started with dialogue and we are going to continue with dialogue. In hindsight, we said we are going to fight terrorism and we are going to continue to fight terrorism.

Sunday Times: Do you ever think about living in exile if it came to that? And would you go abroad if it increases the chances of peace in Syria?

President Assad: Again, it is not about the president. I don’t think any patriotic person or citizen would think of living outside his country.

Sunday Times: You will never leave?

President Assad: No patriotic person will think about living outside his country. I am like any other patriotic Syrian.

Sunday Times: How shaken you were you by the bomb that killed some of your most senior generals last summer, including your brother-in-law?

President Assad: You mentioned my brother-in-law but it is not a family affair. When high-ranking officials are being assassinated it is a national affair. Such a crime will make you more determined to fight terrorism. It is not about how you feel, but more about what you do. We are more determined in fighting terrorism.

Sunday Times: Finally, Mr. President, may I ask about my colleague, Marie Colvin, who was killed in the shelling of an opposition media center at Baba Amr on February 22 last year. Was she targeted, as some have suggested, because she condemned the destruction on American and British televisions? Or was she just unlucky? Did you hear about her death at the time and if so what was your reaction?

President Assad: Of course, I heard about the story through the media. When a journalist goes into conflict zones, as you are doing now, to cover a story and convey it to the world, I think this is very courageous work. Every decent person, official or government should support journalists in these efforts because that will help shed light on events on the ground and expose propaganda where it exists. Unfortunately in most conflicts a journalist has paid the ultimate price. It is always sad when a journalist is killed because they are not with either side or even part of the problem, they only want to cover the story. There is a media war on Syria preventing the truth from being told to the outside world.

14 Syrian journalists who have also been killed since the beginning of the crisis and not all of them on the ground. Some have been targeted at home after hours, kidnapped, tortured and then murdered. Others are still missing. More than one Syrian television station has been attacked by terrorists and their bombs. There is currently a ban on the broadcast of Syrian TV channels on European satellite systems. It is also well known how rebels have used journalists for their own interests. There was the case of the British journalist who managed to escape.

Sunday Times: Alex Thompson?

President Assad: Yes. He was lead into a death trap by the terrorists in order to accuse the Syrian Army of his death. That’s why it is important to enter countries legally, to have a visa. This was not the case for Marie Colvin. We don’t know why and it’s not clear. If you enter illegally, you cannot expect the state to be responsible. Contrary to popular belief, since the beginning of the crisis, hundreds of journalists from all over the world, including you, have gained visas to enter Syria and have been reporting freely from inside Syria with no interferences in their work and no barriers to fulfill their missions.

Sunday Times: Thank you.

President Assad: Thank you.

Cuba: 50 verdades que ocultará Yoani Sánchez

March 3rd, 2013 by Salim Lamrani

Canadá: ¿Acaso alguien que acepta dinero de Estados Unidos debe ser considerado un preso político?

La famosa opositora está realizando una gira mundial de 80 días en cerca de doce países del mundo para hablar de Cuba. Pero no lo dirá todo…

1. El Artículo 1705 de la Ley Torricelli de 1992, adoptada por el Congreso estadounidense, estipula que “Estados Unidos brindará asistencia a organizaciones no gubernamentales apropiadas, para apoyar a individuos y organizaciones que promuevan un cambio democrático no violento en Cuba”.

2. EL Artículo 109 de la Ley Helms-Burton de 1996, aprobada por el Congreso, confirma esta política: “El Presidente [de Estados Unidos] está autorizado a proporcionar asistencia y ofrecer todo tipo de apoyo a individuos y organizaciones no gubernamentales independientes para apoyar los esfuerzos con vistas a construir la democracia en Cuba”.

3. La agencia española EFE habla de “opositores pagados por Estados Unidos” en Cuba.

4. Según la agencia británica Reuters, “el gobierno estadounidense proporciona abiertamente apoyo financiero federal para las actividades de los disidentes”.

5. La agencia de prensa estadounidense The Associated Press reconoce que la política de financiar a la disidencia interna en Cuba no es nueva: “Desde hace años, el gobierno de Estados Unidos ha gastado millones de dólares para apoyar a la oposición cubana”.

6. Jonathan D. Farrar, antiguo jefe de la Sección de Intereses Norteamericanos en La Habana (SINA), reveló que algunos aliados de Estados Unidos como Canadá no comparten la política de Washington: “Nuestros colegas canadienses nos han preguntado lo siguiente: ¿Acaso alguien que acepta dinero de Estados Unidos debe ser considerado un preso político?”.

7. Para Farrar, “Ningún disidente tiene una visión política que podría aplicarse en un futuro gobierno. Aunque los disidentes no lo admitan, son muy poco conocidos en Cuba fuera del cuerpo diplomático y mediático extranjero […]. Es poco probable que desempeñen un papel significativo en un gobierno que sucedería a los hermanos Castro”.

8. Farrar afirmó que “Los representantes de la Unión Europea descalificaron a los disidentes en los mismos términos que los del gobierno de Cuba, insistiendo en el hecho de que ‘no representan a nadie’”.

9. Cuba dispone de la tasa de mortalidad infantil (4,6 por mil) más baja del continente americano –incluyendo a Canadá y Estados Unidos– y del Tercer Mundo.

10. La American Association for World Health, cuyo presidente de honor es James Carter, apunta que el sistema de salud de Cuba es “considerado de modo uniforme como el modelo preeminente para el Tercer Mundo”.

11. La American Public Health Association apunta que “no hay barreras raciales que impiden el acceso a la salud” y subraya “el ejemplo que ofrece Cuba, el ejemplo de un país con la voluntad política de brindar una buena atención médica a todos sus ciudadanos”.

12. Con un médico para 148 habitantes (78.622 en total), Cuba es, según la Organización Mundial de la Salud, la nación mejor dotada del mundo en este sector.

13. Según, el New England Journal of Medecine, la más prestigiosa revista médica del mundo, “el sistema de salud cubano parece irreal. Hay demasiados doctores. Todo el mundo tiene un médico de familia. Todo es gratuito, totalmente gratuito […]. A pesar del hecho de que Cuba dispone de recursos limitados, su sistema de salud ha resuelto problemas que el nuestro [de Estados Unidos] no ha logrado resolver todavía. Cuba dispone ahora del doble de médicos por habitante que Estados Unidos”.

14. Según la Oficina de Índice de Desarrollo Humano del Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo, Cuba es el único país de América Latina y del Tercer Mundo que se encuentra entre las diez primeras naciones del mundo con el mejor Índice de Desarrollo humano sobre los tres criterios, esperanza de vida, educación y nivel de vida durante la última década.

15. Según la UNESCO, Cuba dispone de la tasa de analfabetismo más baja y de la tasa de escolarización más alta de América Latina.

16. Según la UNESCO, un alumno cubano tiene el doble de conocimientos que un niño latinoamericano. El organismo enfatiza que “Cuba, aunque es uno de los países más pobres de América Latina, dispone de los mejores resultados en cuanto a la educación básica”.

17. Un informe de la UNESCO sobre la educación en 13 países de América Latina clasifica a Cuba como primera en todas las asignaturas.

18. Según la UNESCO, Cuba ocupa el puesto decimosexto del mundo –el primero del continente americano– del índice de desarrollo de la educación para todos (IDE) que evalúa la enseñanza primaria universal, la alfabetización de los adultos, la paridad y la igualdad de sexos así como la calidad de la educación. A título de comparación, Estados Unidos está clasificado en el puesto 25.

19. Según la UNESCO, Cuba es la nación del mundo que dedica la parte más elevada del presupuesto nacional a la educación, con cerca de un 13% del PIB.

20. La Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina de La Habana es una de las más prestigiosas del continente americano y ha formado a decenas de miles de profesionales de la salud de más de 123 países del mundo.

21. La UNICEF enfatiza que “Cuba es un ejemplo en la protección de la infancia”.

22. Según Juan José Ortiz, representante de la UNICEF en la Habana, en Cuba “no hay ningún niño en la calle. En Cuba los niños son todavía una prioridad y por eso no sufren las carencias de millones de niños de América Latina que trabajan, son explotados o caen en las redes de prostitución”.

23. Según la UNICEF, Cuba es un “paraíso para la infancia en América Latina”.

24. La UNICEF subraya que Cuba es el único país de América Latina y del Tercer mundo que ha erradicado la desnutrición infantil.

25. La organización no gubernamental Save the Children clasifica a Cuba en el primer puesto de los países en desarrollo en las condiciones de maternidad, por delante de Argentina, Israel o Corea del Sur.

26. La primera vacuna del mundo contra el cáncer de pulmón, el Cimavax-EGF, fue elaborada por científicos cubanos del Centro de Inmunología Molecular de La Habana.

27. Desde 1963 con el envío de la primera misión médica humanitaria a Argelia, cerca de 132.000 médicos cubanos y otro personal de salud ha colaborado voluntariamente en 102 países.

28. En total, los médicos cubanos han atendido a más de 85 millones de personas y han salvado 615.000 vidas en todo el planeta.

29. Actualmente, 38.868 colaboradores sanitarios cubanos, entre ellos 15.407 médicos, ofrecen sus servicios en 66 naciones.

30. Según el Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD) “uno de los ejemplos más exitosos de la cooperación cubana con el Tercer Mundo ha sido el Programa Integral de Salud para América Central, el Caribe y África”.

31. En 2012, Cuba formó más de 11.000 nuevos médicos: 5.315 son cubanos y 5.694 proceden de 69 países de América Latina, África, Asia… e incluso de Estados Unidos.

32. En 2005, tras la tragedia causada por el huracán Katrina en Nueva Orleans, Cuba ofreció a Washington 1.586 médicos para atender a las víctimas, pero el presidente de la época, George W. Bush, rechazó la oferta.

33. Tras el terremoto que destruyó Pakistán en noviembre de 2005, 2.564 médicos cubanos atendieron a las víctimas durante más de ocho meses. Se montaron 32 hospitales de campaña y se entregaron luego a las autoridades sanitarias del país. Más de 1,8 millones de pacientes fueron curados y se salvaron 2.086 vidas. Ninguna otra nación brindó una ayuda tan importante, ni siquiera Estados Unidos, principal aliado de Islamabad. Según el diario británico The Independent, la brigada médica cubana fue la primera en llegar y la última en dejar el país.

34. Tras el terremoto en Haití en enero de 2012, la brigada médica cubana, presente desde 1998, fue la primera en atender a la población y curó a más del 40% de las víctimas.

35. Según Paul Farmer, enviado especial de la ONU, en diciembre de 2012, cuando la epidemia de cólera alcanzó su clímax en Haití con una tasa de mortalidad sin precedentes y mientras el mundo miraba para otro lado, “la mitad de las ONG ya se habían marchado, mientras los Cubanos todavía estaban presentes”.

36. Según el PNUD, la ayuda humanitaria cubana representa proporcionalmente al PIB un porcentaje superior al promedio de las 18 naciones más desarrolladas.

37. Gracias a la Operación Milagro que lanzaron Cuba y Venezuela en 2004, que consiste en operar gratuitamente a las poblaciones pobres víctimas de cataratas y otras enfermedades oculares, más de dos millones de personas procedentes de 35 países pudieron recobrar la vista.

38. El programa de alfabetización cubano Yo, sí puedo, lanzado en 2003, ha permitido a más de cinco millones de personas de 28 países diferentes, incluyendo España y Australia, a aprender a leer, escribir y sumar.

39. Desde la creación de Programa humanitario Tarará en 1990, en respuesta a la catástrofe nuclear de Chernóbil, cerca de 30.000 niños entre 5 y 15 años fueron curados gratuitamente en Cuba.

40. Según Elías Carranza, director del Instituto Latinoamericano de las Naciones Unidas para la Prevención del Delito y el Trato del Delincuente, Cuba erradicó la exclusión social gracias “a grandes conquistas en la reducción de la criminalidad”. Se trata del “país más seguro de la región [mientras que] la situación en cuanto a los delitos y la inseguridad a escala continental se ha deteriorado en las últimas tres décadas con el aumento del número de muertos en las prisiones y en el exterior”.

41. Respecto al sistema de Defensa Civil cubano, el Centro para la Política Internacional de Washington, dirigido por Wayne S. Smith, antiguo embajador estadounidense en Cuba, apunta en un informe que “no hay ninguna duda en cuanto a la eficiencia del sistema cubano. Sólo unos cubanos perdieron la vida en los 16 huracanes más importantes que golpearon la isla en la última década, y la probabilidad de perder la vida en un huracán en Estados Unidos es 15 veces superior  que en Cuba”.

42. El informe de la ONU sobre “el estado de la inseguridad alimentaria en el mundo 2012” apunta que los únicos países que han erradicado el hambre en América Latina son Cuba, Chile, Venezuela y Uruguay.

43. Según la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Agricultura y la Alimentación (FAO), “las medidas aplicadas por Cuba en la actualización de su modelo económico con vista a lograr la soberanía alimentaria pueden convertirse en un ejemplo para la humanidad”.

44. Según el Banco Mundial, “Cuba es internacionalmente reconocida por su éxitos en el campo de la educación y de la salud, con un servicio social que supera el de la mayoría de los país en vías de desarrollo y en algunos sectores es comparable al de los países desarrollados”.

45. El Fondo de Naciones Unidas para la Población subraya que Cuba “adoptó hace más de medio siglo programas sociales muy avanzados, que permitieron al país alcanzar indicadores sociales y demográficos comparables a los de los países desarrollados”.

46. Desde 1959 y la llegada de Fidel Castro al poder, ningún periodista ha sido asesinado en Cuba. El último que perdió la vida fue Carlos Bastidas Argüello, asesinado por el régimen militar de Batista el 13 de mayo de 1958.

47. Según el informe 2012 de Amnistía Internacional, Cuba es uno de los países de América que menos viola los derechos humanos.

48. Según Amnistía Internacional, las violaciones de derechos humanos son más graves en Estados Unidos que en Cuba.

49. Según Amnistía Internacional, actualmente no hay ningún preso político en Cuba.

50. El único país del continente americano que no mantiene relaciones diplomáticas y comerciales normales con Cuba es Estados Unidos.

 Salim Lamrani

Doctor en Estudios Ibéricos y Latinoamericanos de la Universidad Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani es profesor titular de la Universidad de la Reunión y periodista, especialista de las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos. Su último libro se titula The Economic War Against Cuba. A Historical and Legal Perspective on the U.S. Blockade, New York, Monthly Review Press, 2013, con un prólogo de Wayne S. Smith y un prefacio de Paul Estrade. 
Contacto: [email protected] ; [email protected] 

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Cuba: 50 verdades que Yoani Sánchez ocultará

March 3rd, 2013 by Salim Lamrani

A famosa opositora está realizando uma turnê mundial de 80 dias em cerca de doze países do mundo para falar sobre Cuba. Mas não dirá tudo…

1. O artigo 1705 da Lei Torricelli, de 1992, adotada pelo Congresso norte-americano, estipula que: “Os Estados Unidos fornecerão apoio a organizações não-governamentais apropriadas, para apoiar indivíduos e organizações que promovam uma mudança democrática não-violenta em Cuba”.

2. O artigo 109 da Lei Helms-Burton, de 1993, aprovada pelo Congresso, confirma essa política: “O Presidente [dos EUA] está autorizado a proporcionar assistência e oferecer todo tipo de apoio a indivíduos e organizações não-governamentais independentes para apoiar os esforços com vistas a construir a democracia em Cuba”.

3. A agência espanhola EFE fala de “opositores pagos pelos EUA” em Cuba.

4. Segundo a agência britânica Reuters, “o governo norte-americano proporciona abertamente apoio financeiro federal para as atividades dos dissidentes”.

5. A agência de notícias norte-americana The Associated Press reconhece que a política de financiar a dissidência interna em Cuba não é nova: “Há muitos anos, o governo dos EUA vem gastando milhões de dólares para apoiar a oposição cubana”.

6. Jonathan D. Farrar, ex-chefe da Seção de Interesses Norte-americanos em Havana (SINA), revelou que alguns aliados dos EUA, como o Canadá, não compartilham da política de Washington: “Nossos colegas canadenses nos perguntaram o seguinte: Por acaso alguém que aceita dinheiro dos EUA deve ser considerado um preso político?”

7. Para Farrar, “Nenhum dissidente tem uma visão política que poderia ser aplicada em um futuro governo. Ainda que os dissidentes não admitam, são muito pouco conhecidos em Cuba fora do corpo diplomático e midiático estrangeiro […]. É pouco provável que desempenhem um papel significativo em um governo que sucederia ao dos irmãos Castro”.

8. Farrar afirmou que “os representantes da União Europeia desqualificaram os dissidentes nos mesmos termos que os do governo de Cuba, insistindo no fato de que não representam a ninguém”.

9. Cuba dispõe da taxa de mortalidade infantil (4,6 por mil) mais baixa do continente americano – incluindo Canadá e EUA – e do terceiro mundo.

10. A American Association for World Health, cujo presidente de honra é Jimmy Carter, aponta que o sistema de saúde de Cuba é “considerado de modo uniforme como o modelo preeminente para o terceiro mundo”.

11. A American Association for World Health aponta que “não há barreiras raciais que impeçam o acesso à saúde” e ressalta “o exemplo oferecido por Cuba, o exemplo de um país com a vontade política de fornecer uma boa atenção médica a todos os cidadãos”.

12. Com um médico para cada 148 habitantes (78.622 no total), Cuba é, segundo a OMS (Organização Mundial de Saúde), a nação melhor dotada do mundo neste setor.

13. Segundo a New England Journal of Medicine, a mais prestigiada revista médica do mundo, “o sistema de saúde cubano parece irreal. Há muitos médicos. Todo mundo tem um médico de família. Tudo é gratuito, totalmente gratuito […]. Apesar do fato de que Cuba dispõe de recursos limitados, seu sistema de saúde resolveu problemas que o nosso [dos EUA] não conseguiu resolver ainda. Cuba dispõe agora do dobro de médicos por habitante do que os EUA.

14. Segundo o Escritório de Índice de Desenvolvimento Humano do Programa das Nações Unidas para o Desenvolvimento, Cuba é o único país da América Latina e do Terceiro Mundo que se encontra entre as dez primeiras nações do mundo com o melhor Índice de Desenvolvimento Humano sobre três critérios, expectativa de vida, educação e nível de vida durante a última década.

15. Segundo a Unesco, Cuba dispõe da taxa de analfabetismo mais baixa e da taxa de escolarização mais alta da América Latina.

16. Segundo a Unesco, um aluno cubano tem o dobro de conhecimentos do que uma criança latino-americana. O organismo enfatiza que “Cuba, ainda que seja um dos países mais pobres da América Latina, dispõe dos melhores resultados quanto à educação básica”.

17. Um informe da Unesco sobre a educação em 13 países da América Latina classifica Cuba como a primeira em todos os aspectos.

18. Segundo a Unesco, Cuba ocupa o décimo sexto lugar do mundo – o primeiro do continente americano – no Índice de Desenvolvimento da Educação para todos (IDE), que avalia o ensino primário universal, a alfabetização dos adultos, a paridade e a igualdade dos sexos, assim como a qualidade da educação. A título de comparação, EUA está classificado em 25° lugar.

19. Segundo a Unesco, Cuba é a nação do mundo que dedica a parte mais elevada do orçamento nacional à educação, com cerca de 13% do PIB.

20. A Escola Latino-americana de Medicina de Havana é uma das mais prestigiadas do continente americano e já formou dezenas de milhares de profissionais da saúde de mais de 123 países do mundo.

21. O Unicef enfatiza que “Cuba é um exemplo na proteção da infância”.

22. Segundo Juan José Ortiz, representante da Unicef em Havana, em Cuba “não há nenhuma criança nas ruas. Em Cuba, as crianças ainda são uma prioridade e, por isso, não sofrem as carências de milhões de crianças da América Latina, que trabalham, são exploradas ou caem nas redes de prostituição”.

23. Segundo o Unicef, Cuba é um “paraíso para a infância na América Latina”.

24. O Unicef ressalta que Cuba é o único país da América Latina e do terceiro mundo que erradicou a desnutrição infantil.

25. A organização não governamental Save the Children coloca Cuba no primeiro lugar entre os países em desenvolvimento no quesito condições de maternidade, à frente de Argentina, Israel ou Coreia do Sul.

26. A primeira vacina do mundo contra o câncer de pulmão, a Cimavax-EGF, foi elaborada por pesquisadores cubanos do Centro de Imunologia Molecular de Havana.

27. Desde 1963, com o envio da primeira missão médica humanitária à Argélia, cerca de 132 mil médicos cubanos e outros profissionais da saúde colaboram voluntariamente em 102 países.

28. Ao todo, os médicos cubanos atenderam mais de 85 milhões de pessoas e salvaram 615 mil vidas em todo o planeta.

29. Atualmente, 38.868 colaboradores sanitários cubanos, entre eles 15.407 médicos, oferecem seus serviços em 66 nações.

30. Segundo o Programa das Nações Unidas para o Desenvolvimento (PNUD) “um dos exemplos mais exitosos da cooperação entre cubana com o Terceiro Mundo tem sido o Programa Integral de Saúde América Central, Caribe e África”.

31. Em 2012, Cuba formou mais de 11 mil novos médicos: 5.315 são cubanos e 5.694 são de 69 países da América Latina, África, Ásia… e inclusive dos Estados Unidos.

32. Em 2005, com a tragédia causada pelo furacão Katrina em Nova Orleans, Cuba ofereceu a Washington 1.586 médicos para atender as vítimas, mas o presidente da época, George W. Bush, rejeitou a oferta.

33. Depois do terremoto que destruiu o Paquistão em novembro de 2005, 2.564 médicos cubanos atenderam as vítimas durante mais de oito meses. Foram montados 32 hospitais de campanha, entregues prontamente às autoridades do país. Mais de 1,8 milhões de pacientes foram tratados e 2.086 vidas foram salvas. Nenhuma outra nação ofereceu uma ajuda tão importante, nem sequer os EUA, principal aliado de Islamabad. Segundo o jornal britânico The Independent, a brigada médica cubana foi a primeira a chegar e a última a deixar o país.

34. Depois do terremoto no Haiti, em janeiro de 2012, a brigada médica cubana, presente desde 1998, foi a primeira a atender a população e curou mais de 40% das vítimas.

35. Segundo Paul Farmer, enviado especial da ONU, em dezembro de 2012, quando a epidemia de cólera alcançou seu ápice no Haiti com uma taxa de mortalidade sem precedentes e o mundo voltava sua atenção para outro lado, a “metade das ONG já tinham se retirado, enquanto os Cubanos ainda estavam presentes”.

36. Segundo o PNUD, a ajuda humanitária cubana representa, proporcionalmente ao PIB, uma porcentagem superior à media das 18 nações mais desenvolvidas.

37. Graças à Operação Milagre, lançada por Cuba e Venezuela em 2004, e que consiste em operar gratuitamente as populações pobres vítimas de cataratas e outras doenças oculares, mais de dois milhões de pessoas procedentes de 35 países puderam recuperar a visão.

38. O programa de alfabetização cubano “Yo, sí puedo”, lançado em 2003, já permitiu que mais de cinco milhões de pessoas de 28 países diferentes, incluindo da Espanha e da Austrália, aprendessem a ler, escrever e a somar.

39. Desde a criação do Programa humanitário Tarará, em 1990, em resposta à catástrofe nuclear de Chernobil, cerca de 30 mil crianças 5 e 15 anos foram tratadas gratuitamente em Cuba.

40. Segundo Elías Carranza, diretor do Instituto Latinoamericano das Nações Unidas para a Prevenção do Delito e Tratamento do Delinquente, Cuba erradicou a exclusão social graças “a grandes conquistas na redução da criminalidade”. Trata-se do “país mais seguro da região, [enquanto que] a situação em relação aos crimes e à falta de segurança em escala continental se deteriorou nas últimas três décadas com o aumento do número de mortes nas prisões e no exterior”.

41. Em relação ao sistema de Defesa Civil cubano, o Centro para a Política Internacional de Washington, dirigido por Wayne S. Smith, ex-embaixador norte-americano em Cuba, aponta em um informe que “não há nenhuma dúvida quando à eficiência do sistema cubano. Apenas alguns cubanos perderam a vida nos 16 furacões mais importantes que atingiram a ilha na última década, e a propabilidade de se perder a vida em um furacão nos EUA é 15 vezes maior do que em Cuba”.

42. O informe da ONU sobre “O estado da insegurança alimentar no mundo 2012” aponta que os únicos países que erradicaram a fome na América Latina são Cuba, Chile, Venezuela e Uruguai.

43. Segundo a Organização das Nações Unidas para a Agricultura e a Alimentação (FAO), “as medidas aplicadas por Cuba na atualização de seu modelo econômico com vistas a conseguir a soberania alimentar podem se converter em um exemplo para a humanidade”.

44. Segundo o Banco Mundial, “Cuba é reconhecida internacionalmente por seus êxitos no campo da educação e da saúde, com um serviço social que supera o da maioria dos países em vias de desenvolvimento e, em alguns setores, é comparável ao de países desenvolvidos”.

45. O Fundo das Nações Unidas para a População salienta que Cuba “adotou, há mais de meio século, programas sociais muito avançados, que permitiram ao país alcançar indicadores sociais e demográficos comparáveis aos dos países desenvolvidos”.

45. Desde 1959, e da chegada de Fidel Castro ao poder, nenhum jornalista foi assassinado em Cuba. O último que perdeu a vida foi Carlos Bastidas Argüello, assassinado pelo regime militar de Batista em 13 de maio de 1958.

47. Segundo o informe de 2012 da Anistia Internacional, Cuba é um dos países da América que menos viola os direitos humanos.

48. Segundo a Anistia Internacional, as violações de direitos humanos são mais graves nos EUA do que em Cuba.

49. Segundo a Anistia Internacional, atualmente, não há nenhum preso político em Cuba.

50. O único país do continente americano que não mantém relações diplomáticas e comerciais normais com Cuba são os EUA.

 

Salim Lamrani

Doutor em Estudos Ibéricos e Latino-americanos da Universidade Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani é professor titular da Université de la Réunion e jornalista, especialista nas relações entre Cuba e Estados Unidos. Seu último livro se intitula Etat de siège. Les sanctions économiques des Etats-Unis contre Cuba, Paris, Edições Estrella, 2011, com prólogo de Wayne S. Smith e prefácio de Paul Estrade.

Contato: [email protected].

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Neurotoxins in Your Chocolate Milk?

March 3rd, 2013 by Charles Foerster

This is a time when the public has an opportunity to materially affect how they, the consumers, may protect their own health and that of their offspring for generations to come. In that respect the timer is running down and anyone who consumes milk might want to see what the milk producers have planned.

The 17 other dairy products on the hit list include: 

acidified milk, cultured milk, sweetened condensed milk, nonfat dry milk, nonfat dry milk fortified with vitamins A and D, evaporated milk, dry cream, heavy cream, light cream, light whipping cream, sour cream, acidified sour cream, yogurt, low-fat yogurt, and non-fat yogurt.

To summarize the corporate petition, the IDFA and NMPF (International Dairy Foods Association and the National Milk Producers Federation) have petitioned the FDA to seek approval to allow optional characterizing flavoring ingredients used in milk (e.g., chocolate flavoring added to milk) to be sweetened with any safe and suitable sweetener–including non-nutritive sweeteners such as aspartame.[1]

The Federal Register has the petition listed on their website where it can be viewed and comments can be posted

The proposed amendments to the milk standard of identity would be to promote more healthy eating practices, reduce childhood obesity as well as to promote honesty and fair dealing in the marketplace, so they say.

A more likely scenario is that by using aspartame to flavor the dairy products their costs will be lowered and their profits will increase.

Buyers beware.

Without doubt, the petitioners are using childhood obesity as the talking point to sell the idea of using the cheap but toxic aspartame as the sweetener or flavoring in dairy products.

While the idea of more healthy eating habits and a reduction in childhood obesity are obviously good ideas, using additional aspartame in the food chain is counter-productive and dangerous. The diets of Americans and their children in particular, are already loaded with the substance.


Aspartame
Aspartame is an artificial, non-saccharide sweetener used as a sugar substitute in some foods and beverages. In the European Union, it is codified as E951. Aspartame is a methyl ester of the aspartic acid/phenylalanine dipeptide. Wikipedia
Formula: C14H18N2O5
Molar mass: 294.3 g/mol
IUPAC ID: N-(L-α-Aspartyl)-L-phenylalanine, 1-methyl ester
Melting point: 246 °C
Density: 1.35 g/cm³

So why should we be concerned?

A study was done by the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio which showed adverse health effects to people who consumed aspartame flavored diet drinks. [2] The study suggested that instead of fighting obesity and its associated hazards, the use of aspartame might actually contribute to the conditions. Honesty and fair dealing would necessarily preclude adding even more aspartame to our diets. Right off, that alone is reason enough to question their motives, however, there is more.

Professor E. Pretorius, P. Humphries and H. Naudé, reported several disturbing observations concerning aspartame consumption in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Methanol, which forms 10% of the broken down product, is converted in the body to formate, which can either be excreted or can give rise to formaldehyde, diketopiperazine (a carcinogen) and a number of other highly toxic derivatives. Previously, it has been reported that consumption of aspartame could cause neurological and behavioural disturbances in sensitive individuals. Headaches, insomnia and seizures are also some of the neurological effects that have been encountered, and these may be accredited to changes in regional brain concentrations of catecholamines, which include norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine. The aim of this study was to discuss the direct and indirect cellular effects of aspartame on the brain, and we propose that excessive aspartame ingestion might be involved in the pathogenesis of certain mental disorders (DSM-IV-TR 2000) and also in compromised learning and emotional functioning. [3]

Perhaps the longest on-going study on the deleterious effects of aspartame consumption has been that of Woodrow Monte, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Food Science and Nutrition at Arizona State University. His 30-year research has established direct links between aspartame and several diseases, particularly the diseases of civilization such as heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s. Dr. Monte’s studies center on the methanol-formaldehyde toxicity paradigm with compelling evidence. In his book, While Science Sleeps, Monte explains how he considers methanol a medical Trojan Horse.

Until 200 years ago, methanol was an extremely rare component of the human diet and is still rarely consumed in contemporary hunter and gatherer cultures. With the invention of canning in the 1800s, canned and bottled fruits and vegetables, whose methanol content greatly exceeds that of their fresh counterparts, became far more prevalent. The recent dietary introduction of aspartame, an artificial sweetener 11% methanol by weight, has also greatly increased methanol consumption. Moreover, methanol is a major component of cigarette smoke, known to be a causative agent of many diseases of civilization (DOC). Conversion to formaldehyde in organs other than the liver is the principal means by which methanol may cause disease. The known sites of class I alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH I), the only human enzyme capable of metabolizing methanol to formaldehyde, correspond to the sites of origin for many DOC.

Dr. Monte has also compiled a list of 745 other studies showing that aspartame is indeed a very dangerous substance when consumed by humans. [4]

Numerous other researchers have consistently found damaging evidence linking aspartame andformaldehyde via the methanol component of aspartame. Rich Murray, MA, has also compiled a list of respected studies. [5]

A study included in that list by C. Trocho et al, reports the following:

Formaldehyde derived from dietary aspartame binds to tissue components in vivo. It clearly demonstrates cellular persistence and accumulation, or in layman’s terms, that formaldehyde can remain and accumulate in the body. It is absolutely established that formaldehyde converted from the methyl ester in aspartame embalms living tissue and damages DNA. [6]

Virtually all non-industry research shows that aspartame should never be consumed by humans. If this amendment is passed the mission of the FDA would be compromised and public health will be endangered.

A small window of opportunity exists for concerned citizens to exercise a degree of self-defense in dietary matters for themselves and for the health of their children; May 21, 2013, is the last day for public comments on the issue of allowing aspartame to be used in a wide range of diary products.

Charles Foerster is a former Naval Aviator and professional pilot. Email: [email protected]m

As this piece is being written, there is a little known petition awaiting action at the Food and Drug Administration. The official title is Flavored Milk; Petition to Amend the Standard of Identity for Milk and 17 Additional Dairy Products. It is in the public comment period until May 21, 2013.
Notes:


[1]Federal Register via the Government Printing Office ([www.gpo.gov] FR Doc No: 2013-03835                

[2] Waistlines in People, Glucose Levels in Mice Hint at Sweeteners’ Effects: Related Studies Point to the Illusion of the Artificial, Science Daily.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110627183944.htm

[3] European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2008) 62, 451–462; doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602866; a review, published online 8 August 2007. 

http://macaulay.cuny.edu/eportfolios/liu10/files/2010/09/Direct-and-Indirect-Cellular-Effects-of-Aspartame-On-The-Brain.pdf

                 
[4] 745 References, by Woodrow C. Monte, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Food Science and Nutrition, Arizona State University.

http://www.whilesciencesleeps.com/references/

             
[5] 13 Mainstream Research Studiesin 24 months showing Aspartame Toxicity, also 3 Relevant Studieson Methanol and Formaldehyde Research, by Rich Murray, MA.

http://www.mpwhi.com/13_aspartame_research_studies.htm

              
[6] Formaldehyde Derived from Dietary Aspartame Binds to Tissue Components in vivo., Elsevier, Life Sciences, Vol.63, No.5, pp. 337-349, 199.8

http://www.mpwhi.com/formaldehyde_from_aspartame.pdf

Introduction       

As Greece enters the sixth year of Europe ’s worst economic depression, with 30% of its labor force unemployed and over 52% of its youth jobless, the entire social fabric is unraveling; a suicide rate are skyrocketing and close to 80% of the population is downwardly mobile.  Family and inter-generational relations are deeply impacted; previous certainties evaporate.  Uncertainties, fear and anger evoke daily mass protests.  Over a dozen general strikes have drawn Greeks from middle school pupils to octogenarians in a desperate struggle to conserve the last shreds of dignity and material survival.

The European Union and its Greek collaborators pillage the treasury, slash employment, salaries and pensions, foreclose on home mortgages and raise taxes.  Household budgets shrink to one half or one third of their previous levels.

In a growing number of households, three generations are living under one roof, barely surviving on their grandparents’ shrinking pensions; some households on the brink of destitution.  The prolonged – never ending and worsening – capitalist depression has caused a deep rupture in the life cycle and living experiences of grandparents, parents and children.  This essay will focus on grandfathers, fathers and sons due to greater familiarity with their life experiences

The intergenerational rupture can best be understood in the context of the contrasting ‘life experiences’ of the three generations:  The focus will be on work, political, family and leisure experiences.

Work Experiences:  The Grandfathers

The grandfathers’ families in most cases migrated from rural areas or small towns during the post-civil war period (1946-49) and many settled in the poor suburbs of Athens .  Most barely finished secondary school and found poorly paid employment in textile, construction and public enterprises.  Trade unions were non-existent, ‘semi-clandestine’ and subject to harsh repression by the US -backed rightist regimes into the early 1960’s.  By the mid to late 1960’s the grandfathers gravitated toward the ‘center-left’ parties and the revival of trade union activity.  This was especially the case among the growing assembly plant and public sector workers in the electrical, telecommunication, seaports and transport industries.  The US-backed coup in 1967 and the resulting military junta (1967-1973) had a dual impact:  Outlawing trade unions and collective bargaining, on the one hand, and stimulating foreign investment-led economic growth and corporate style clientelism on the other.

The clandestine anti-dictatorial struggle, the student uprising and infamous massacre at the Polytechnic University (1973) and the collapse of the military dictatorship following its abortive coup in Cyprus , radicalized the grandfathers.  Legalization of political parties and trade unions led to a surge of trade union organizations, struggles and social advances.  Wage increases accompanied the fall of junta.  Entry into the European Union and the large-scale influx of ‘social cohesion funds’ led to an expansion of public sector employment and increased political party clientelism extending well beyond the traditional right-wing regimes.

Job security, pensions and increases in severance pay created a relatively secure and stable labor force except in the manufacturing sectors, which were harmed by imports from the more industrialized EU ‘partners’.

With the election of the Pan Hellenic Socialist Party (PASOK) in 1981, populist welfare legislation and wage increases served as a substitute for any consequential socialization of the economy.  The economic and social security gains were steady, cumulative and led to rising living standards.  The grandfathers joined trade unions, their leaders negotiated wage and workplace improvements and they faced the future with relative optimism:  A comfortable retirement, better educated children and a modest paid-up apartment and small automobile.  They looked forward to enjoying leisure time with family, friends and neighbors.  Or so it seemed in the run-up to the Greek Catastrophe of 2008.

As we shall see Greece ’s economic progress was built on rotten foundations – on EU loans that were secured through fraudulent accounts, a public treasury pillaged by bipartisan kleptocrats and public ‘investments’ in large-scale unproductive clientelistic activities with corrupt business ‘partners’.  In a word, the ‘golden years’ of the grandfathers’ comfortable retirement was based on the illusion that a half-century of work and social advances would translate into a respectable dignified life.

The Fathers:  Work and Play and Play Later        

The fathers were urban born, better educated than the grandparents and highly influenced by the consumer ethos that permeated Greece .  They entered the labor market in the early 1990’s.  They saw themselves as more ‘European’, less nationalist, less class conscious and less involved in social struggles than the previous generation.  Interest in sports and celebrities and their own social advancement precluded any engagement in the great social struggles of the grandfathers.  They experienced rising salaries through top-down negotiations.  They paid no attention to the grotesque enrichment of the kleptocratic socialist political elite and they ignored the growing debts, both personal and public, which ‘funded’ their overseas vacations, the second home and the imported German cars.  They paid handsomely for tutors to prepare their children for the University entry exams.  Their future was assured by ever more optimistic (falsified) government data and the positive assessments by EU experts.  Trade unions and business associations focused exclusively on current increases in salaries, revenues, cheap credit and access to the latest techno toys.

The fathers spoke English, welcomed ever-greater European integration and discarded the doubts and criticism that the grandfathers directed at NATO and Israeli wars, inequalities within the EU and the effects of economic liberalization.  They ignored the criticism of the close ties between the PASOK kleptocrats, local and overseas bankers, ship owners and millionaire plutocrats.

Cynicism was their ‘modernist response’ to pervasive corruption and growing indebtedness.  As long as they got theirs why challenge the status quo?  With the onset of the 
Greek Catastrophe, the fathers lost it all – jobs, social security, homes, cars and vacations.  The ‘Europeanists’ among them suddenly became virulent critics of the Euro bankers – ‘the Troika’ –, which mandated that the fathers should sacrifice everything they possessed in order to save the kleptocratic rulers, the millionaire tax evaders and the indebted bankers.  The economic catastrophe gradually eroded and finally shattered the ‘modern European’ consumerist consciousness of the upwardly mobile middle and working class fathers.

First they suffered successive salary cuts and then they lost their job security, followed by massive firings with and without severance pay.

Dismay, fear and uncertainty were followed by the recognition that they were facing the financial firing squad.  They realized they were trapped in an unending free fall.  They took to the streets and discovered that their entire generation and their entire class was uprooted and discarded.  The fathers discovered they were worthless and they had to march and struggle to reaffirm their self-worth.

Sons:  ‘Who Works?’           

The vast majority of sons are unemployed:  Over 55%, by the beginning of 2013, have never had a job.  Each day and each week their numbers grow as entire families are impoverished and households disintegrate. School attendance has fallen off, as the prospects of employment disappear and the specter of long-term large-scale unemployment haunts everyday life.  The prospects of establishing stable couples and new families among the young are non-existent.      ‘

Street culture’ has multiplied and the video arcades are more often places to meet rather than to play.  Attendance at ‘pop concerts’ has fallen while the sons now turn out in greater numbers at mass protest marches.  The growing politicization and radicalization of the sons now begins in the middle school and deepens in secondary and technical schools and the university.

Many, by their late 20’s, have never had a job, never moved out of their parents or grandparents home and cannot envision a future marriage or family.  The lack of work experience means a lack of workplace comradeship and union membership.  In its place is the centrality of informal, peer group solidarity.  Perspectives for work focus on emigration, hustling for a miserable odd job or joining the struggle.  Today they wander the streets in anger, despair and deep frustration.  As the years pass, the sons increasingly vote for the Left (Syrian) but are fed-up with the ineffectual parliamentary opposition, the ritual marches and the inconsequential social forums, featuring local and overseas radical lecturers who spin theories about the crisis but who have never lacked a job or missed a paycheck.  The vast majority of the young unemployed feel that ‘words are cheap’.  The intellectuals, new-left politicians and overseas Greeks do not resonate with their day-to-day experience and offer no tangible solutions.  Sons have joined with anarchist street fighters.  So far few of the unemployed sons have responded favorably to the neo-Nazi appeal of the Golden Dawn.  But they are hardly enthusiastic over the Left’s embrace of immigrant job seekers, especially when their neighborhoods are victimized by Albanian, Middle Eastern and Balkan drug dealers and pimps

Political Experience:  The Grandfathers and the Radical Legacy    

The grandfathers’ political trajectory differs sharply from their progeny.  Many of their own parents were partisans in the Communist-led million-member national liberation movement (ELAS-EAM).  They fought the Italian fascists and the German Nazi occupation army and took an active part in the civil war.  Following the Anglo-American intervention and defeat of the insurgents, hundreds of thousands of Greeks were sent to slave labor/concentration camps, where many died.  Villagers and farmers were savagely repressed and driven off their land.  Property was confiscated and millions migrated to the cities in search of anonymity and employment.  When the Communist Party was outlawed, many members and ex-members joined ‘progressive parties’, the United Democratic Left (EDA) in search of an alternative.

The grandfathers came to political age with the revival of ‘populist politics’ in the early 1960’s, promoted by the Center Union Party.  After the 1967 coup, they faced six years of US-backed military rule (1967-73).  Under junta rule, some grandfathers engaged in clandestine political and trade union activity.  With the collapse of the junta, most grandfathers joined the newly formed Socialist Party led by a radicalized Andreas Papandreou.

The post-junta 1970’s were a period of intense political debate and the proliferation of previously suppressed Marxists books, lectures, journals, forums and popular cultural events.  Mikis Theodorakis, the great Communist composer, drew tens of thousands to his concerts, many of them workers, evoking scenes similar to Pablo Neruda’s poetry readings to the thousands of workers and peasants in Chile .  In the election of 1981, the grandfathers voted overwhelmingly for the Left:  PASOK won over 50% of the vote and the Communists received close to 15%.  Almost two-thirds of Greeks, and over 80% of Greek workers, voted for socialism (or so they thought!).

The grandfathers celebrated the defeat of the far right and over a half century of Nazi , US and right-wing military rule.  The grandfathers had great hopes that Papandreou would fulfill his promise to ‘socialize’ the economy.  They saw the electoral ascendancy of the Left as a prelude to a break with NATO and as a transition to an independent socialist welfare state.  Despite several massive socialist and trade union conferences on ‘worker self-management of a socialized economy’ and the bankruptcy of scores of indebted private firms, Papandreou argued that ‘the crisis’ precluded an ‘immediate transition to socialism’.  He argued the right wing’s capitalist recovery and only afterward could ‘socialist’ policies be implemented.  He ignored the fact that it was the very capitalist crisis, which led to his election!  Many grandfathers were disappointed but,

Papandreou, with the skilled speeches of a populist balcony demagogue, proposed a series of substantial wage increases legalized and expanded labor rights and implemented and increased social welfare and pension payments.  The grandfathers settled for the populist reforms and the de-radicalization of the political process.  From mid-1980 onward, the grandfathers continued to vote Socialist, but now exclusively with the goals of economic gain and expanding social coverage in health and pension benefits.

Under Papandreou, PASOK degenerated into an inconsequential ‘gadfly’ within NATO.  Its enthusiastic entry into the EEC and its maintenance of US military bases eroded the last vestiges of anti-imperialist activity among the grandfathers.  They narrowed their focus and looked toward PASOK as a clientelistic political machine, necessary to secure employment and guarantee their pensions.

With the onset of the Economic Catastrophe in 2008 and the savage social cutbacks implemented by the utterly inept, corrupt and reactionary George Papandreou, Jr., the grandfathers felt the first shockwaves of instability and the threat of losing their secure and living pensions.  By 2010, the grandfathers totally abandoned their support for PASOK.  Revelations of corruption and the slashing of pensions by 35% drove the grandfathers into the streets in massive protests.  Later, a majority voted for the new leftist SYRIZA Party.

The grandfathers have come full circle: Re-radicalization has accompanied the return of authoritarian rightwing rule under the colonial dictates of the European Troika.

But now the grandfathers’ pensions have to support three generations.  Once again, the search for a new political party is as urgent as during the period immediately after the fall of the military junta.

The Fathers:  The Politics of Downward Mobility

The fathers came to political age at the height of electoral clientelism.  During the 1990’s they voted PASOK, without any of the ideals or illusions of the grandfathers; nor did they engage in any historic struggles.  They voted the candidates and parties who provided access to credit and low interest loans and offered lucrative concessions or promotions within a highly politicized public administration.  The fathers rarely addressed larger ideological issues.  They saw the ‘capitalist versus socialist’ debates as an anachronism of the past.  They studied English and Anglicized their speech and writings.  They no longer paid attention to the negative consequences of Greece ’s affiliation with NATO and the European Union.  The big issues were Greece ’s sponsorship of the Olympics and how to cash in on the spending spree and cost overruns.  PASOK leaders set the example by taking their cut off the top of every building contract, cooking the books, evading taxes and consulting with Goldman Sachs on how to accumulate debts and convert deficits into surpluses.

When the economic crisis hit, the fathers were caught unprepared.  At first, they rationalized it, hoping ‘the crisis’ was temporary; that new loans would flow in to the rescue; that they – especially those in the public sector – would not be affected.  As the Catastrophe ensued, the fathers abandoned their apathy and indifference:  Political decisions now affected their salaries, their wages, their social benefits and their ability to pay their mortgages and credit card debt.  Cynical conformity was replaced at first by uncertainty and anxiety.

As the PASOK regime lowered the boom and signed off on the massive layoffs of public sector workers and salary reductions, the fathers first protested to ‘their’ leaders to no avail and then punished them via the ballot box.  Most turned to the Left, joining SYRIZA, in hopes of regaining the past as much as constructing a new socialist future.

Sons:  The Politics of No Future        

The sons have come to political age having no prior experience of struggle or of upward mobility.  They are stuck at the bottom or are in perpetual descent.  Never having a job or any opportunity, they take action to affirm their existence, their presence and their capacity to act against wave after wave of savage EU-sponsored assaults on their everyday life.  They join their fathers and grandfathers in the huge marches:  inter-generational solidarity.

But they alone carry the burden of never having been a member of a political party or a trade union and never having experienced ‘the good life’.  They never received loans or political favors, but they are now expected to sacrifice their future in order to enrich the creditors, the tax evaders and the kleptocrats.  Their political wisdom is rooted in their gut recognition that the entire political class is rotten; they have their own doubts about those politicos who abandoned PASOK, joined SYRIZA and now claim to be their saviors.

They turn away from those academic political philosophers and journalists who speak a language and elaborate a discourse totally divorced from their everyday experience.  They frankly question whether the Aesopian language of a dead Italian philosopher (Gramsci) can lead them out of this catastrophe.  The overseas theorists may come and go, but life becomes ever more desperate.  Some sons believe that only those who hurl a Molotov cocktail can bring temporary light into the dark tunnel of their everyday life.  The most combative of the sons engage in street fighting and join the black bloc.  The less audacious scan the Internet for ways to relocate, to emigrate:  They reason that it would be better to emigrate to the imperial centers than to suffer a lifetime in this ravaged and plundered colony.

Family: Grandfathers and the Return of the Extended Family         

The Sunday dinner was a hallmark of Grandfather’s time:  A family gathering with roast lamb and potatoes, a peasant salad with feta cheese and olives and sweets for desert.

The grandparents upheld that practice until the Catastrophe put an end to another ‘fine family tradition’ – like everything else that was pleasurable.  Three generations living together, under one roof, on one source of income (grandfather’s shrinking pension) is a situation not conducive to sustaining good relations.  Savings diminish, debts accumulate and frustration leads to conflicts and resentments.  Anger is occasionally directed against those closest to one’s heart.  The loss of independence leads to arguments; family loans never get paid back.  Meal times become moments to relate hardships.  The easy banter, good humor and storytelling disappear in a miasma of worries over the next meal, the precarious household budget and the fruitless search for employment.

Meals have become a time to mull over the stresses of everyday survival.

Fathers: Families – A Precarious Safety Net

The fathers ask:  ‘What will happen when my father dies and his pension disappears?’  ‘How can five of us survive when the regime, under orders from the Troika, has reduced my father’s pension by half?’  ‘How can two families live on 500 Euros a month?’  The last barrier to utter destitution for many fathers is the extended family, as social cuts reduce unemployment payments and savings are exhausted.

Prior to the Catastrophe, the fathers took their wives out to a taverna with other couples on Friday or Saturday night to hear the bouzouki and enjoy a full meal with mezedes, a carafe of good wine and plenty of laughs. Unlike the grandfathers, who patronized the neighborhood butcher and baker, the fathers shopped in multinational supermarkets and at malls, signs of European modernity and ‘cost effectiveness’ and paid with their credit card.

The vacations to London have become a distant memory.  The family house in the Aegean is long sold, the proceeds spent to pay off debts.  At most they can hope for a trip to the crowded, polluted beaches of Attica to escape a sweltering August weekend.

The Sons:  Families are Where You Find Them         

Family has become a grim affair, not a relief from the hopeless outside world:  At home, it’s always ‘grieving time’.  The sons come and go.  They listen to music alone.  Who wants to bring a girlfriend into a cramped bedroom with a grandmother’s disapproving look and sour faces everywhere.  They walk to the corner, take a trip downtown to Exarchia and hang out in a doorway, a video arcade or shoulder a black flag in a march against the entire rotten mess, against the thieves, bankers and creditors.  If their teacher dares to talk about ‘democracy and civic duties’ – and very few do, because even their jobs are in jeopardy – a lone giggle turns into a tsunami of laughter and insults; classes break-up and schoolmates meet to share a few moments of intimate friendship so lacking in the grim austerity of their disintegrating households.

Who cheers for their football team? Who jeers at the phony Papandreou, the porky face of Venizelos, the blood-sucking Stournaras and Samaras … Politicians smell like the putrid fish that even a starving cat wouldn’t touch.  The sons attend meetings of SYRIZA.  It’s all high minded and fierce denunciations with calls to action – but another march?  Another call for ‘engaging the youth’?  But the sons think:  Here we sit; we are never in the front rows; we listen to them; they seem to know each other; they talk in codes that only they understand…  So we wander out and smoke a joint or cadge a beer or meet friends and talk our own talk.

Paternalism, patriarchy and filial piety are all dead.  Casual relations with no long-term perspectives are the new reality.

Leisure:  Grandfathers:  The Café as Refuge

The grandfathers have their own favorite neighborhood cafés.  They walk past boarded-up businesses – over 160,000 bankruptcies since the onset of the Catastrophe.  Nowadays, a cup of black coffee is the ticket to a table, a deck of faded cards that still show some of the colors of the kings and queens.  There was a time, when in the course of an afternoon, a grandfather could order glasses of ouzo and plates of mezedes – Kasseri cheese and olives – for his card-playing comrades.  Then the crack of the dominoes and the rapid movement of the backgammon chips would echo in the noisy, smoke-filled café. Now a waiter moves among the clientele looking for a stray tip.  Even professional waiters are at a loss to survive in a crowded room of survivors.  Where is the generation that will replace the grandfathers?  The fathers won’t have any pension to pay their way to a cup of coffee and a seat in the café.

The Fathers:  The End of European Leisure Time          

The fathers once spent endless hours on the Internet, reading consumer ads to a background of pop music with English lyrics while planning weekend excursions.  They watched televised football games on Sundays for discussion at Monday lunch with workmates or colleagues.  It was not a luxurious life but it was a comfortable routine.  Leisure time, spent with friends or family, with workmates and neighbors, was an enjoyable break from the stress of everyday work, a drive to the shore or to a pleasant outdoor country inn for a weekend dinner.

With the Catastrophe, leisure time is now enforced and plentiful: There are no stressful jobs; there are no jobs and no cash.  Coins jingle deep in the pocket, perhaps enough to buy a liter or two of petrol to knock on closed doors that do not answer – or have nailed bankruptcy notices.  So whom do you see and where do you go?

There is another political meeting where one can wave at friends, envious of those who still hold a job or those who pass out flyers for a meal.  There are protest marches and the warmth and solidarity of the moment.  There are the explosions of jeers at the well-dressed kleptocrats, holed up in the Congress or creeping out the backdoor after signing another death warrant – called an Order of Austerity – condemning another dozen to suicide for the coming week.  Leisure-time now is not pleasure, it is worry:  Who will pay the grandparents medical bills, the insulin injections, the son’s school fees, the car payments?  Right, the mortgage payments are no longer an issue:  The apartment has been repossessed.  The father is ‘free’ from that obligation which is why he sleeps with his wife in a spare room at the grandparents. Those evenings of lovemaking are now sleepless nights of deepening anxiety.  Restless sleep evokes nightmares of paranoid – or real- pursuit through dark labyrinths, running everywhere without direction or familiarity with the streets, the buildings or the people!  The purpose in life is gone, along with the memories of happy excursions and future plans.  Now, the overriding reality is finding a job – that dominates everything.  The father faces the end of his unemployment payments.  Will he and his family join a soup line:  Will it be SYRIZA’s or the Golden Dawn’s?  Whichever party offers a piece of chicken leg in the soup?

The Son:  Leisure:  Light, Blight and Street Fights       

It was great fun, hanging out after school: The jokes, the joints, the public hugs and kisses.  The ferry trips with back packs and the time spent studying with friends … the exams, difficult courses and the anxiety of having to choose a career in a few years.  Those ‘worries’ have disappeared:  The catastrophe eliminated the ‘problem course’, the difficulty of career choice … now even the teachers have left the classrooms – involuntary release – firings have thinned the offerings.  The sons face a blighted future … any ‘career’ will do.           ‘

The biggest crooks do not rob a bank, they own one’ – a philosophy student told a crowd of sons as he demonstrated how to make a Molotov cocktail.  A math major calculated the number of times local and overseas revolutionary scholars have mentioned the ‘crises’ in an hour and come up with an equation, which equaled zero positive outcomes.  The loss of future perspectives and the burden of a grim home life are eroding all respect for a political and legal system that imposes destitution, indignities and humiliation in order to pay foreign creditors.  ‘We pay them, so they can squat in the sun on our beaches, buy up our homes, eat our food, swim bare-ass in our ocean and then tell us we are lazy and deserve what misery we are getting.’

The timid, playful or fearful sons are growing up fast.  Maturity begins at fifteen.  The marches started earlier.  Radical political loyalties followed.  What next, ‘little man’?

The sons are a growing army of unemployed and maturing quickly. Today they are dispersed.  Some want out – leave Greece … But most will stay … Will they organize and move beyond the current electoral opposition and fashion a new radical movement breaking with the rotten repressive electoral system?

Can they become the militants for a new heroic resistance movement?  Whose grandson will climb the walls of the Parliament and defy the colonial collaborators and their Troika masters.

Who will raise the flag of a free, independent and socialist Greece ?

Towards a Framework of Global Warfare?

March 3rd, 2013 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Washington’s most influential establishment think tank The Brookings Institution has called upon the Obama administration to implement what is tantamount to a framework of Global Warfare.

According to Brookings Michael E. O’Hanlon, the US should intervene simultaneously through direct military action in both the Middle East and Africa, in two major geopolitical hubs, namely Syria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The concept of waging simultaneous US led theater wars is nothing new. It is an integral part of US military doctrine. It was put forth in 2000 by the Project of the New American Century (PNAC), a neo-conservative think tank linked to the Defense-Intelligence establishment, the Republican Party and the powerful Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

The PNAC’s declared objective formulated in 2000 was to “Fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous theater wars” in different parts of the World.

According to Brookings Michael E. O’Hanlon:

“there is a case for more assertive U.S. action in both Congo and Syria. … [I]n Syria…the most likely scenario for U.S. troops resembles what the North Atlantic Treaty Organization did in Bosnia in the 1990s. First, we arm the weaker side. Then we support it with air strikes…Using the Bosnia precedent, and allowing for a population four times its size, up to 200,000 foreign troops could be needed in a post-war stabilization effort…

[W]e can as part of multilateral coalitions that intervene in both Congo and Syria at once. [sic] (Michael E. O’Hanlon, Brookings Institution, February 2012, emphasis added)

What is being intimated is to “tone down” prevailing non-conventional and covert forms of intervention in favor of conventional theater wars involving the extensive use of air power and the deployment of US-NATO ground forces, under a R2P humanitarian mandate.

Direct military action involving the deployment of tens of thousands of US NATO forces in Syria would trigger conditions of a broader Middle East war, including the possibility of a confrontation with Russia and Iran, namely a framework of military escalation.

Similarly, US military intervention in the Congo, would create conditions for the militarization of the central African region, which is strategic in terms of its wealth of minerals, oil and natural gas.

A military operation in the Congo would also be a sequel to the war on Libya (2011) and the ongoing war on Mali and Niger, which is characterised by the deployment of coalition ground forces under the pretext of a counter-terrorism mandate.  What is at stake is the conquest of strategic resources, including gold, uranium and natural gas.

The Congo is contiguous to the Sahel region. Direct US military intervention in the Congo could potentially lead to escalation over a large part of the African continent including the sub-Saharan Sahelian belt, Central Africa and East Africa. This process of global warfare applied to Africa is part of a US military and strategic “road-map”. It is a project of neo-colonial conquest by the US over a vast area.

This military agenda –implemented at the crossroads of the most serious economic crisis in modern history– is directly supportive of corporate interests in mining, energy, oil and gas, not to mention the multibillion dollar weapons industry, namely the US “defense contractors”.

The underlying war propaganda used to justify these military operations hinges upon NATO’s R2P. These operations would be conducted under a “peace-keeping mandate”, “with the full support of the international community”.*

Obama has an opportunity here to revalidate the Nobel Committee’s decision to award him its peace prize four years ago. It’s also an opportunity to show that the 2011 Libya mission, of which the president is justifiably proud, was not a one-off. Now, with his new Cabinet, Obama should seriously explore his options in both these tragic wars. 9Michael E. O’Hanlon op cit)

Thanks to Rick Rozoff, Stop NATO for bringing the Brookings article to our attention.

Here we go again. A sudden surge in the price of gasoline and heating oil is followed by reported expressions of frustrated despair by hard-pressed consumers in the midst of silence from the oil companies and abdication of responsibility by the elected and appointed officials of federal and state governments.

The price of gasoline is up by about 50 cents in the past month, according to AAA, making the average gallon go for close to $4 per gallon in many parts of the country. Prices are even higher in California. AAA says that this “is the most expensive we’ve seen gasoline in the dead of winter.”

Every penny increase in the annual price of gasoline takes over $1.6 billion dollars from the pockets of American consumers (Source). That doesn’t even count the higher prices for heating oil homeowners are paying.

There was a time when even a few cents increase in the price of gasoline or natural gas would provoke Congressional investigations, actions by state Attorneys General, and condemnations of the producer countries, the OPEC cartel and Big Oil from presidents and the heads of antitrust divisions of the Justice Department or the Federal Trade Commission. That is, until smooth, smiling Ronald Reagan came to Washington, D.C. with his mantra that “government is not the solution; government is the problem.”

Well, now the multi-layered petroleum cartel has become institutionalized, having “gotten government off its back” and put the New York Mercantile Exchange speculators at the gaming tables.

There seems to be an adequate supply of crude oil in this recessionary global economy. What could be the cause of this latest price spike? The news media offer a spectrum of possible factors – restrictions on exports of Iranian oil imposed by western governments, instability in Syria and elsewhere in the volatile Middle East, oil hungry China, oil speculators on Wall Street and reduced refinery capacity in the U.S.

Each price surge in recent decades seems to have different principal causes. This time it seems to have been precipitated by surging prices of crude – easily manipulated – and in the U.S. the permanent or temporary shutdown for repairs, of too many refineries.

Believe it or not, the U.S. is now a net refined petroleum importer because of the continuing refusal by the industry to rebuild or expand refinery capacity on the very sites where many refineries have been shut down, often in favor of offshore, cheaper installations.

Whenever supply and demand for refined oil products is tight, all it takes is for one or two refineries to suspend operations, other than for repairs, and the prices surge all over the country.

This happened in January to a refinery in California, due to a fire, and most prominently the closure of a key refinery in Port Reading, New Jersey, owned by the Hess company. Five dollars a gallon gas “is a real possibility,” John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital, told Yahoo! Finance, adding “this is partly being driven by the lost refinery capacity of about one million barrels per day…that’s a lot.” (The U.S. consumes about 19 million barrels a day of refined petroleum products.)

So what can our so-called representatives in Washington do about a gouge that has angered almost all conservative and liberal consumers? Well, the Democratically-controlled Senate can start by holding investigatory hearings. The President can speak out more forcefully and indicate he may release some of the government’s crude oil reserves to increase supply.

He can order his Justice Department to at the very least subpoena pertinent oil industry information for starters.

Mr. Obama can forcefully back up Gary Gensler, his appointed, savvy Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, who has been trying to rein in excessive speculation that drives up prices and punishes the motoring public.

In 2011 CFTC data showed that massive inflows of speculative money drove up prices. At that time, even Goldman Sachs analyst, David Greely, claimed Wall Street speculation in the futures market was driving up oil prices. Earlier, Rex Tillerson, the head of ExxonMobil, estimated that speculation was responsible for a more than $40 per barrel price increase when oil was just over $100 per barrel. Over the last month crude oil has ranged in price from $93-$120 per barrel.

Admiral Hyman Rickover who, more than 40 years ago, wisely said that there should always be government-owned shipyards to provide a yardstick by which to restrain the high prices and cost overruns being charged by private ship buildings manufacturing the Navy’s ships. That means, in this oil price context, that the government should own and operate some refineries for the armed forces. Any excess capacity could loosen the market with gasoline and heating oil when the corporate interests maneuver tight supplies for which they get immediately rewarded with cold cash.

Were Obama to direct some of his bully pulpit heat on those members of Congress who are marinated in oil, he might find more support from Capitol Hill for all these initiatives.

So call the switchboard at the White House comment line (202-456-1111) and tell the president that you are fed up and determined to drive less, carpool and walk more where possible, but that he, the president, must be more aggressive in taking on the staggeringly profitable and tax-favored big oil companies.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.

Washington Seeks to Destabilize Venezuela?

March 3rd, 2013 by Global Research News

Venezuela’s opposition leader Henrique Capriles went to the United States to find ways and means aimed at destabilizing the situation in his country, Vice President Nicolas Maduro said.

“He had meetings in Miami already and will be meeting tomorrow with agents, who jointly with a number of defected bankers, are trying to stage a plot against the economy of our country,” Maduro said.

The vice president also said that although President Hugo Chavez is in a poor state of health, he nevertheless continues to rule his country, no matter what Capriles talks about him.

Capriles, defeated by Chavez in the country’s October presidential elections, accused the government of Venezuela on Friday of lying about the socialist leader’s condition.

Chavez, fighting a prolonged battle with cancer, has not been seen or heard for more than two months, apart from several proof-of-life photos showing him in a hospital bed. Little is known from official sources, apart from reports that Chavez has suffered respiratory problems after the surgery.

 President Obama’s military incursion into Niger, ostensibly to establish a drone base to counter «Al Qaeda» and other Islamist guerrilla activity in neighboring Mali, has little to do with counter-insurgency and everything to do with establishing U.S. control over Niger’s uranium and other natural resources output and suppressing its native Tuareg population from seeking autonomy with their kin in northern Mali and Algeria.

The new drone base is initially located in the capital of Niamey and will later be moved to a forward operating location expected to be located in Agadez in the heart of Tuareg Niger… The base is being established to counter various Islamist groups – including Ansar Dine, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Nigeria-based Boko Haram, and a new group, Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA) – that briefly seized control of northern Mali from Tuaregs, led by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, who took advantage of a coup d’etat in Mali to establish an independent Tuareg state called Azawad.

The U.S. has long been opposed to any attempt by the suppressed Tuareg people to establish their own independent state in the Sahara. American opposition to the Tuaregs dovetails with historical French opposition to Tuareg nationalism.

However, U.S. State Department and CIA personnel have been discussing a U.S. presence in Niger since February 25, 2010, when a U.S. delegation met with the Chairman of the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy (CSRD), General Souleyman Salou, just one week after the military junta overthrew democratically-elected President Mamadou Tandja in a coup and suspended the Nigerien constitution. According to a leaked State Department cable from the U.S. embassy in Niamey:

Eric Whitaker, the U.S. Charge d’affaires met with Salou and Colonel Moussa Gros, the Senior Military Advisor to the CSRD, in a session that drew praise from Salou, who highlighted «the friendship between the two countries». Salou also told the U.S. emissaries «the CSRD would continue bilateral information liaison via the Directorate General for Documentation and External Security (DGDSE) [The Nigerien intelligence agency].» He stressed that the CSRD sought cooperation with Washington in the areas of security assistance, the fight against al-Qaida, and support for the regime. Although the United States has a policy of not recognizing governments that achieve power through military coups and force of arms, the Obama administration was as quick to embrace the Nigerien junta as it had in supporting similar CIA-installed juntas in Honduras and Paraguay.

Salou smiled as he stated that he understood the United States did not support military coups and armed seizures of power. Obviously, Salou was in on the Obama administration’s dirty little secret. While publicly opposing coups, Washington had already supported one in Honduras and would soon be supporting them in Paraguay, Libya, Syria, and other countries. Salou’s resume spoke volumes of his U.S. training and according to the leaked cable from Nimaey:

«BG [Brigadier General] Salou has been the Chief of Staff of the Nigerien Air Force since at least 2003. He is a graduate of the US Air Force’s Command and Staff College and is assessed by the DATT [Defense Attache] as extremely pro-U.S…Col. Gros, prior to assuming his role as the advisor to the President of the CSRD, was the military advisor to the Nigerien Prime Minister. Also assessed to be pro-U.S., at least one of his children was educated in the United States and he reports to have served as the Defense Attache) to the U.S. for a short period in 1987».

Niger is a poor African backwater country only of importance to the United States when it can be used as a pawn in wider international geopolitical security matters. The George W. Bush administration used Niger and what turned out to be bogus attempts by Saddam Hussein to obtain Nigerien «yellow cake» uranium to justify its invasion and occupation of Iraq. It was later discovered that forged Niger government documents on a Niger-Iraq uranium connection were provided to the White House by the chief of Italy’s SISMI intelligence service, General Nicolo Pollari, on the orders of then-Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

In addition to using uranium-rich Niger as a cause for intervention I the country, the Pentagon and CIA have also eyed Niger’s other mineral and its oil resources. Those who have stood in the way of plans by Western companies to exploit Niger’s natural resources have often paid with their lives. In 1995, Niger’s Tuareg leader Mano Dayak was killed in a suspicious plane crash in northern Niger. Dayak was engaged in peace negotiations with the central Niger government and was on his way to Niamey when the plane crashed shortly after takeoff. However, an autonomous Tuareg government in northern Niger threatened to undermine the plans of Exxon and other U.S. oil companies and mineral miners to have a free hand in exploiting oil and mineral resources around Lake Chad, along the Chadian-Nigerien border. Many Tuaregs believed Dayak’s plane was sabotaged by the CIA. Ironically, the location of America’s future drone base in Agadez, northern Niger, complete with CIA officers and U.S. Special Operations personnel, will be at Mano Dayak International Airport, named for the martyred Tuareg leader.

Washington’s increasing military presence in the Sahel region has been at least two decades in the making. U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency personnel began recruiting agents-of-influence among the 400-man contingent sent by Niger to fight alongside American troops battling Saddam Hussein’s forces in Operation Desert Storm. Under the rubric of the Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP), the United States, with the cooperation of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), has pumped hundreds of millions of dollars in security assistance to the security and intelligence services, as well as the military forces of West African nations. The TSCTP was formerly known as the Pan-Sahel Initiative. Nigerien security forces have used U.S.-supplied lethal military and non-lethal crowd control equipment, including night-vision equipment, armored high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles, global positioning systems, and secure radios, to forcibly put down pro-autonomy Tuareg and other pro-democracy protesters.

U.S. military training for Niger is provided annually during the Pentagon’s OPERATION FLINTLOCK military exercise. U.S.-trained Nigerien forces are also used to protect the uranium mines operated by the French state-owned Areva nuclear power production company in cooperation with Japanese and Spanish companies.

In addition to U.S. military personnel in Niamey, there are also U.S. bases in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; Bamako, Mali; Nouakchott, Mauritania; and Tamanrasset, Algeria. The U.S. presence in Burkina Faso is known as Creek Sand. From these and other suspected bases, the United States has let loose armed and unarmed drones across the Sahara. This is how the peoples of West Africa have been introduced to America’s first president of African descent. Such a military incursion into Africa would have been unthinkable and undoable for such white American presidents as Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, John F. Kennedy, or Dwight Eisenhower. However, Obama, as a president with roots in Kenya, gives weighty cover for the U.S. plans to establish a neo-colonialist regime for Africa, one run out of Washington.

Niger was once a colonial backwater of the French empire. It is now transitioning into a full-blown protectorate of the American empire. However, Niger should not grow used to its new American masters. The American empire is crumbling due to financial and moral decay. When Pax Americana finally falls, it will leave much of the world, including Niger, in shock.

Bulgaria is facing the wave of the largest mass protests in the last 16 years provoked by price hikes. So the resignation of Boyko Borisov government has been expected. It was this very government and big time players from Washington who made the events unfold this way. 

There have been two intertwined events taking place in the country. The electricity has gone up almost twice for ultimate consumers. On October 2 2008 Nancy E. McEldowney United States Ambassador to Bulgaria, sent a secret cable to C. Boyden Gray, then U.S. Ambassador to the EU and a Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy. The cable said, «With few hydrocarbons of its own, Bulgaria relies on Russia for seventy percent of its total energy needs and over ninety percent of its gas». The vulgar imagination of Ambassador made her see «Bulgaria in bed with the muscle bound duo of Gazprom and Lukoil is only partially true — it is a tryst driven less by passion and more by a perceived lack of options».

The copy of cable was sent from Sofia to the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Commerce, the National Security Council and the Central Intelligence Agency. She wrote, «With the price of energy at near record highs, Russia’s hydrocarbon-generated wealth is increasingly circulating through the Bulgarian economy, making Bulgaria all the more susceptible to Russian leverage. An energy strategy that focuses on renewables and efficiency is one tool Bulgaria can use to put a noticeable dent in negative Russian influence». The Ambassador made the following remarkable revelation, «Though previously a net exporter of electricity, the EU’s decision to force closure of blocks 3 and 4 of the communist-era nuclear plant Kozluduy cost the Bulgarian economy over USD 1.4 billion and put a squeeze on Serbia, Macedonia and Greece, who had purchased the bulk of the exports». She recommended to diversify the energy supply sources as a means to fight the energy deficit (that is to curb the Russian supplies) and rely on US technologies offered by Chevron and Westinghouse.

Since then the Bulgarian media launched a campaign against Russian gas suppliers (Gasprom), potential energy pipelines (the Burgas-Alexandroupolis project) and nuclear facilities (the Belene nuclear plant that was to be built by Russia’s state energy company Rosatom).

In February 2012 some Bulgarian mass media spread the information supposedly about the using of … uncertified steel at manufacturing of high pressure heaters for units No.5 and No.6 of Kozloduy nuclear power plant. Under the agreement for high pressure heaters manufacturing concluded in 2008, Closed Joint-Stock Company ZiO-Podolsk has manufactured and supplied to the Customer (Atomtoploproekt, Bulgaria) 8 devices for power units of Kozloduy facility. The ZIO – Podolsk is a part of Rosatom – Atomenergomash machine building division.

The slander didn’t live long. Valentin Nikolov, Director of Kozloduy NPP, has also confirmed that «during the examination in the institute of Bulgarian Academy of Science the compliance of hardness and chemical composition with 22Кsteel has been proved». The concocted story ended there, but the anti-Russian libel campaign was gaining momentum.

On March 28 2012 the Bulgarian People’s Assembly supported the government‘s decision to abandon the Belene power plant construction plans with 120 «yes» against 41 «no» votes. In autumn 2006 Atomstroyexport was awarded the tender for construction of the Belene 2000 MW plant nuclear power by Bulgarian National Electric Company NEK. Somehow, nobody remembers that those days the European Commission said that Belene complied with the standards of power plants safety in Europe. Moreover, it was one of three best projects that were referred to as examples of Generation III reactors along with in Olkiluoto (Finland) and Flamanville (France). The European Union’s experts recommended building reactors with the same level of safety and reliability standards.

Over 30 Bulgarian national companies involved in the project were to operate at full capacity and guarantee employment. The nuclear plant had an advantage of profitability; one kilowatt-hour was one and a half times cheaper in comparison with renewable energy sources, and five and a half times less compared to a kilowatt-hour generated by Bulgarian thermal stations.

What made the government of Boyko Brasov abandon the core energy project? The answer is obvious: the pressure exerted by the United States.

In 2011 the US companies AES and Contour Global acquired two Bulgarian thermal plants Maritsa Iztok 1 and Maritsa Iztok 3 investing accordingly $1.2 billion and $230 million into the facilities to make them operate at full capacity. The investments were to pay off. For this purpose the Americans lobbied the contract duration of 15 years. During this period of time the Bulgarians were to pay ever growing prices for the energy produced. The US did its best to avoid competition. Former Bulgarian energy minister said if Belene plant were built there would be no need for the US thermal plants in ten years. To the contrary, the withdrawal from the Belene project guarantees them a stable consumer demand.

Hillary Clinton gave a warm welcome to the Belene abandonment decision that actually meant Bulgaria won’t get cheap energy generated by Russian plants. She emphasized the reliability of the United States as a partner. According to her, the oil and gas supplies were to be diversified (read – no Russian exports) and that a number of American firms are well-positioned to help. Still, many Bulgarian energy experts perceived the refusal to build Belene as a threat to national security. Former Minister of Economy and Energy Petar Dimitrov, a member of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), has come up with a warning that myopic following the outside recommendations didn’t meet the national interests. According to him, the country would have to import energy in 15 years. Dimitrov insisted that Bulgarian consumers would pay the price for the «irresponsible decision because the country would face the need to import electricity at tariffs that a majority of Bulgarians would find unbearable». The energy crisis would set in the following dozens of years. Bulgaria was doomed to be a victim of energy dependence and deficit that would diminish the population by one third till 2050. That is by the end of this time the population would be 3.5 million like it was by the end of Turkish yoke that lasted five centuries. Nora Stoichkova, a Bulgarian journalist, revealed the essence of the harmful decision. According to her, Bulgaria pulled out of the Belene project as a result of unprecedented pressure from the United States and the European Union…The US Ambassador to the country did not shy away from making media appearances even more often than the exclusively vigorous Prime – Minister of Bulgaria and outright lobbying of US Chevron and Westinghouse energy giants interests. Kolyo Kolev, director of the Mediana Polling Agency, delicately noticed that many Bulgarians realize the country may lose many economic opportunities following the US geopolitical interests.

The US never stops brainwashing top Bulgarian officials. The rumors go around saying the former US Ambassador to Bulgaria James Warlick was called back because he was not up to par. He didn’t defend the US companies interests vigorously enough and let happened what was to be avoided at all costs: the Boyko Borisov government cracked under the public protests pressure for environment protection. In January 2012 Chevron was banned to use fracking on Bulgarian soil.

The shelf drilling program was halted. According to Bulgarian media, Boyko Borisov received a behind the closed doors thrashing from Barack Obama while on a visit to Washington. Bulgarian analysts are sure the Prime Minister decided not to take part in the South Stream ground-breaking ceremony on December 7 last year under the US influence.

Nora Stoichkova is sure the continuation of the Belene project would have prevented the wave of discontent. It was a real opportunity to bring down the costs and provide for cheap energy. She said the nuclear plant was a chance for low price electricity, new working places and industrial progress. As to her, the withdrawal from the Belene project was a great shame before the whole world. Now the investors know only US government friends have a chance to earn money in Bulgaria.

True, the country has a narrow space for maneuver in the field of energy policy. First, the European Union membership makes it obligatory to make 16% of the sector use renewable energy sources by 2020. The prices went up last summer, because the investors were made to function under the conditions of preferences not oriented on market requirements. Second, the 20 years of pro-US policy dictated by some political circles makes the United States the most preferable nation. In comparison with other European Union members, Bulgaria is a poor country (an average wage is €385.5, an average pension is €138), it’s not easy to protect the national interests. Perhaps Bulgaria doesn’t even realize it has become a country with limited sovereignty as a result of the United Sates diplomatic pressure…

The US built Al-Qaeda and Osama’s encampments

AUDIO

In Afghanistan any 15-30 year-old-male is a target for US “elimination”, activists were arrested and sent to prison in the US for attempting to deliver a letter to Whiteman Air Force Base, where drone operations are conducted, stating why the United Nations believes drone are illegal, war and killing people is profitable for war-profiteers and the US government knew about war crimes and the stealing of US weapons by former Blackwater-XE Academy but looks the other way. All of these matters and more were discussed in an interview with three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly, the co-coordinator for Voices for Creative Non-Violence.

Part I

Robles: Do most Americans know, or is the “man-in-the-street” in the United States right now, are they aware of the fact that al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and even Osama bin Laden, they got their start in a large part thanks to the United States when they were fighting against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan? Do Americans know that?

Kelly: Well, if they do it’s not because they heard it on the mainstream media; they would have had to do some investigating. One of the reasons why initially the United States knew where to bomb potential encampments for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan was because the United States built them.

Robles: Recently there was this white paper came out justifying drone attacks on US citizens and basically it says: “…anyone who is a senior…A US citizen who is a senior al-Qaeda operative or associate…”, back to al-Qaeda: how many American senior operatives of al-Qaeda do you know in the world, or have you ever heard of, or known about?

Kelly: You know there’re some real tragedies associated with that. There was a 16-year-old boy who had gone to a conference in Pakistan and at the conference they had given the youngsters cameras and said: “Try to – because we can’t get journalists into North and South Waziristan, we can’t document what’s happening but maybe you can, and then send the footage out.”

And he was targeted for assassination and killed. He wasn’t an American but al-Awlaki of course was, and this means that people with no due process, with no judge, jury, no trial, sometimes no charges whatsoever, people are targeted for assassination.

They actually say that if you are a young man between the ages of 15 and 30, you potentially could be a figure that the United States could eliminate, without any consultation. The president has a Tuesday morning meeting with about 100 people sometimes, on a conference call, and then they draw up their list.

Robles: Medea Benjamin told me that’s called Terror Tuesdays, is that correct?

Kelly: Yes. She has done such a wonderful job. I hope people will read her book. And of course she stays on top of these issues.

There are many people all across the country right now who are protesting drone warfare. Our co-coordinator Brian Terrell is serving a six-month prison sentence because he crossed the line at the Whiteman Air Force Base where they are operating drones. And he just wanted to deliver a letter with Mark Kenney who served four months in prison for the same action, and Ron Faust who was given five years probation. They had a letter showing the Air Force, how it is that the United Nations believes that the usage of drones is a violation of international law.

Robles: Before we started the interview you mentioned some peace volunteers in Afghanistan. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about them and what they’re doing? And some of the things you are doing on your trips to Afghanistan?

Kelly: Well, a group of youngsters have decided that they want to live without wars. They are not interested in revenge and retaliation, even though some of them lost their fathers, their brothers, uncles. Even though they’ve been among those displaced by the war.

Young Abdullah, when he was just a toddler had to be held over an open flame so that they could thaw out his body when they lived in a wretched refugee camp.

But these kids – I shouldn’t say kids – these young men and women have decided that it is in their best interests by far to try to overcome ethnic divisions. So, the young men living together inter-ethnically and every morning they welcome seamstresses and students from different tribes and backgrounds and ethnic groups to come into their home, and some are heading to an English class and some are part of seamstress cooperative. And they delivered 2,000 very heavy quilts (they’re called duvets) to the neediest of families, and they fanned out up the mountainside and into the refugee camps to find out, where these duvets would most be needed.

The women seamstresses made them: they came every day and collected materials and then they’d send their little kids with wheelbarrows bringing back the finished duvets. And it is a very astounding project to me.

All the duvets were delivered free of charge and the women were paid a meager salary. And it was international, through Voices’ outreach, that paid for the materials and for this meager salary.

So we see small microcosmic examples of people wanting to work together to alleviate suffering, to build a better world. I find it so hopeful when I go to Afghanistan, but I’ll tell you it’s also really cold, and the harsh winters are hard even if you are in a room with a wood-burning or coal-burning stove, and people have respiratory diseases all across the country.

The conditions are very, very hard because the infrastructure is so awful. I mean the electricity goes out and your water might be dependent on a well linked to the electricity, and then you are without water. And you know, that’s how people get cholera; they can’t flush down their own wastes.

Robles: Who is causing all this suffering in your opinion?

Kelly: Well, I do want to remind us that the United States has been spending $2 billion a week, much of it lining the pockets of corrupt warlords. $2 billion a week on its military presence, while right across the street from some of the military bases there are sprawling refugee camps.

So, I think any time the US public wages a war of choice and chooses as its target civilians who are living in one of the poorest countries in the world, then I think we have to do with the cause of a great deal of suffering. We may not know it, but we are not innocent.

Robles: $2 billion a week. How many years has it been, over 12 years now? You’d think that every single Afghan person would be living in a mansion driving a Bentley for that much money.

Kelly: Yes, of course there are people who have ammassed huge fortunes, and before we point fingers at Afghans who have, through corruption amassed fortunes, we should look at the war profiteers and major US companies in the United States and the universities that take their contracts and the faith-based communities that look the other way and the media people that refuse to tell the story. So, there is plenty of blame to go around, and there are plenty of other countries that have fought their wars within Afghanistan.

Pakistan and Iran are fighting proxy wars as we speak today, and in many ways there are Cold War competitions going on between the United States and China, the United States and Russia, and all of those could be solved through negotiation and dialogue and coming to our senses, but instead people like to continue these wars because there is profitability in killing people.

Robles: You talked about war profiteers. Can you tell us a little bit, because we are almost out of time, about the former Blackwater who was then XE, and are now called Academy I believe?

Kelly: This is a group of mercenaries. They are people who have contracted themselves out at great profit. I mean, the going rate for the high-end security contractors is a salary of $129,000 a year, first $89,000 of it tax free. And uh, they’re adapted Special Forces Operations, and Academy, the new Blackwater incarnation I suppose, is building Camp Integrity on 10 acres of land just outside of Kabul which will train people in Special Forces Operations.

They got the contract from the United States government, even though the US Government certainly knew that their antecedents in Blackwater had been convicted of killing Afghan civilians and also allegedly killing Iraqi civilians, in Tahrir Square and also of stealing weapons from the United States military, but they must have fantastic inner connections to keep getting these contracts.

Robles: Before they changed their name to XE they were being investigated for war crimes in Iraq. What percentage would you say there are of private mercenaries and contractors in Afghanistan? And are those counted in any way when the US government talks about a drawdown or a withdrawal of forces?

Kelly: You know, it is so hard to learn that information. I honestly don’t know. You don’t see Westerners at all in the neighborhood where I am, when I’m moving around the city. It’s odd because when you are in the airports you see plenty of Westerners and most of them seem to be connected to some kind of military or security group. But I don’t have any numbers.

I think that also the CIA must have many, many operatives and they don’t have to give that kind of information out, but it is a good thing to keep exploring and trying to better understand. At one point there were as many security contractors in Iraq as there were US military, and the same could be true for Afghanistan.

Robles: Last point, this training base they are building, I was going to ask, is this supposedly to train Afghan peacekeeping forces or Afghan security services?

Kelly: I certainly wouldn’t call it peacekeeping. I think that would be euphemistic.

Robles: Yeah sure!

Kelly: The different versions of Afghan armed troops are staggering in their number; there is the Afghan local police and the Afghan National Security Force, you’ve got special operations now being trained amongst quite a few different military branches. So, it is not certain that the more armaments, the more weapons that flow into the country the more rage that is being felt between different ethnic groups, the more of a prescription for civil war there is, and so it is very alarming to see more sophisticated weaponry coming in and people being trained, to train their weapons on their own people.

Robles: Ok, thank you very Kathy. Unfortunately we are out of time. I really appreciate you speaking with me.

Kelly: Thank you!

This is John Robles you were listening to an interview with Kathy Kelly the co-coordinator for Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Thanks for listening, and I wish you the best.

Greek Military Prepares for Mass Repression

March 2nd, 2013 by Robert Stevens

Former high-level Greek diplomat Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos told the UK’s New Statesman last week that discussions had taken place between senior Greek politicians and the armed forces on the military’s response to what Chrysanthopoulos described as an “explosion of social unrest” expected to occur “quite soon.”

Chrysanthopoulos said that in the coming months, “There will be further increases in armed actions. There will be bloody demonstrations.”

Without giving details, he said, “There are contacts by certain politicians with elements in the armed forces to guarantee that in the event of major social unrest, the army will not intervene.”

This last claim was likely made for public consumption. Even if such a request had been made, any assurances from the Greek military would be worthless given the recent history of the country, in which the “regime of the colonels” seized power in a military coup in 1967 that lasted until 1974. Since the onset of mass austerity in Greece in 2010 there have been constant rumours of coup discussions among high-ranking military personnel.

The most significant aspect of Chrysanthopoulos’ interview is the revelation of discussions between politicians and the military on how to respond to the threat of social revolution.

Greek ruling circles are working on the assumption that insurrectionary struggles are inevitable because of the intolerable level of suffering they have imposed on the working class. Within less than four years, the social position of the Greek working class has been reduced to levels not seen since the Nazi occupation during World War II.

Brutal poverty is a fact of life for millions. One major aspect of the assault on living conditions is the removal of public health provisions.

More than 50 pharmaceutical conglomerates have either halted or savagely cut supplies to Greece—citing concerns for their profits. The dangerous shortage of hundreds of basic medicines is resulting in chaotic scenes of patients rushing from one pharmacy to another in search of vital drugs, while public hospitals lack adequate supplies of drugs to dispense.

Such conduct is not confined to the big pharmaceutical companies. On Tuesday it emerged that the Swiss Red Cross, a non-profit relief agency, is set to slash the number of blood donor packets it supplies to Greece. It cited concerns that it has not received full payment for previous allocations and announced that beginning in 2015 the number of blood donor packets it sends to Greece will be halved from the current annual level of 28,000.

As a result of the austerity policies demanded by the “troika” (the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Union), a staggering 4.65 million people are now either unemployed or economically inactive. There are 450,000 households in which no one is employed. Of the 2.6 million people employed in the private sector in 2010, 900,000 have been laid off. Because the duration of benefits has been slashed, just 225,000 of the unemployed now receive unemployment pay.

In the private sector, just 600,000 workers (from a total 1.6 million) now work a regularly paid eight-hour day. Professor Savas Robolis of the University of Panteion in Athens recently said, “The remainder—a million workers—have had their hours cut or are getting paid late, four or five months late. They are in a state of desperation.”

This week’s annual report by the Bank of Greece found that 23 percent of the population lived below the poverty line in 2012, compared to 16 percent in 2011. Also noted was the exponential increase in child poverty, with the rate of families at risk reaching 31 percent in just one year (2010-2011). In the period 2010-2012, the average gross salary in the country was cut by 20.6 percent and labour costs for employers decreased by 18.5 percent.

Given the austerity measures already in place, there will be an overall reduction in labour costs in Greece for the period 2012-2014 of 17.6 percent. So savage are these measures that they are set to surpass the 15 percent reduction in overall costs demanded by the troika.

Presenting the report, the bank’s chairman, George Provopoulos, claimed that economic recovery would be achieved by means of austerity and demanded that even harsher measures be imposed. “Now that the finishing line is finally visible,” he said, “we ought to intensify efforts, to quicken our pace to cover the final stretch and ensure that citizens’ sacrifices have not been in vain…”

Speaking of the victims of these policies, he declared, “Extreme and unreasonable demands from social groups do not contribute towards this goal.”

The bank’s report was issued as representatives of the troika once again converged on Athens to monitor the implementation of the programme agreed with the New Democracy/PASOK/Democratic Left government.

Among the issues to be settled is how steeply this year’s pharmaceutical budget is to be slashed. As a result of previous troika demands, the budget was cut from €3.7 billion to €2.4 billion last year. Reports suggest it could be cut to €2 billion this year.

With pharmaceutical firms already withholding many drugs, this is a prescription for a health catastrophe and many needless deaths.

The troika is also set to demand a speedup in the layoff of 25,000 public sector workers this year (half by June) in order to meet the agreed 150,000 redundancies by 2015. If Athens were to fail to impose the cuts to the troika’s satisfaction, two tranches of loans for March and April totalling €8.8 billion would be withheld or much reduced. Failure to receive the finance would result in Greece defaulting on its entire debt.

By promising if elected to reverse the austerity programme, SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) won nearly 30 percent of the vote in last year’s election. It is put forward by a host of pseudo-left organizations as a progressive alternative to the pro-austerity governing parties and the means for countering the growth of the fascist Golden Dawn movement.

In reality, SYRIZA is no less a creature of the ruling elite than the right-wing New Democracy party, and is no less wedded to the austerity agenda. This week, SYRIZA press spokesman Panos Skourletis stated, “We do not have a magic wand that will improve and change the situation from one day to the next… We must realize that with every day this policy is applied, things grow worse. This devastation is incalculable and, therefore, restoration of the repercussions of this policy becomes even more difficult.”

The meaning of such comments—that it is impossible to reverse the austerity programme—is unmistakable. SYRIZA is readying its arguments and preparing for what it will be called on to carry out if it achieves its goal of entering a future anti-working class government.

Economic statistics released this week reflect a further weakening of the world economy and a further fall in the living standards of the international working class.

Reports on unemployment, manufacturing activity, economic growth and personal income in Europe, China and the United States point to an overall slowdown in economic growth and a rise in unemployment and poverty. They coincide with new moves by the European Union and the Obama administration in the US to slash social spending and public-sector jobs and wages. These measures mark an escalation of the class-war policies that have fueled the economic slump and already brought untold suffering to hundreds of millions of workers.

On Friday, the European Union statistics agency Eurostat reported that unemployment in the 17-nation euro zone hit a new record in January of 11.9 percent, up from 11.8 percent in December. For the 27-nation European Union as a whole, the official figure for January was 10.8 percent, up from 10.7 percent the previous month.

There were nearly 19 million unemployed people in the euro zone, an increase of 200,000 from January, according to official figures. In the whole of the EU, there were 26.2 million jobless workers, 222,000 more than in December. The real situation is even worse than these staggering figures indicate, since they do not take into account millions of people who have dropped out of the labor market.

The highest reported rate was in Greece, at 27 percent. Spain was close behind, at 26.2 percent. The jobless rate in Italy shot up to 11.7 percent in January, marking the country’s worst unemployment level since 1992.

Youth unemployment in Europe is at Depression levels. Across the euro zone it stood at 24.2 percent in January, up from 21.9 percent in January of 2012. In the EU as a whole the unemployment rate for people under 25 rose to 23.6 percent from 22.4 percent.

The jobless rate for Greek youth was an astounding 59.4 percent. In Spain it was 55.5 percent and in Italy, 38.7 percent.

It is no accident that the countries with the most disastrous jobless rates have been the focus of successive packages of austerity measures by the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, which are acting as agents of the global banking giants and hedge funds.

Separate reports released Friday showed a marked slowdown in manufacturing activity in much of Europe in February. In the euro zone as a whole, the gauge of factory activity was unchanged from the previous month at 47.9. (Any reading below 50 indicates contraction). This marked the 19th consecutive month of shrinking manufacturing.

The figure for Germany was marginally higher, but Italy’s dropped sharply to 45.8 from 47.8. The most stunning decline was in the United Kingdom, where factory activity fell to 47.9 from 50.5 in January, confounding economists’ predictions of an increase. Factory payrolls in the UK declined at the fastest rate in more than three years.

Another indication of the gathering slump in Europe is a report issued Wednesday by the European Central Bank showing that euro zone loans to the private sector contracted for the ninth month running in January. Loans fell 0.9 percent from the same month in 2012.

In the US, the Commerce Department on Thursday upwardly revised its estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the 4th quarter of 2012 from minus 0.1 percent to plus 0.1 percent, meaning the US economy has stalled from its previously anemic pace. The US gross domestic product grew by only 2.2 percent in 2012—a pace far below that required to significantly bring down the unemployment rate.

Government austerity was the main factor in sharply slowing economic growth from the previous quarter, as federal outlays fell at a 14.8 percent annualized rate.

The most stunning indication of the depth of the social crisis was provided by a US Commerce Department report released Friday showing that personal income fell by 3.6 percent in January, the largest monthly drop since January of 1993. Taking taxes into account, personal income plunged by a record 4.0 percent. The report said that outlays for payrolls for manufacturing, goods producing industries, services producing industries and government agencies all declined in January from the previous month.

Another report, issued by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics on Tuesday, showed that layoffs by US manufacturers increased last month. There were 357 mass layoff events during the month, resulting in 43,068 initial jobless benefit claims, an increase of 22 percent from December.

The global slump is also hitting China, the world’s second largest economy. Two separate reports on Chinese manufacturing activity released Friday showed a marked slowdown in the rate of growth. The official Purchasing Managers’ Index was 50.1 for February, the weakest reading in five months and down from January’s reading of 50.4.

A separate gauge published by HSBC Holdings and Markit Economics dropped to a four-month low of 50.4, down from 52.3 in January.

Click here for all articles published this week.

Renting out Egypt’s iconic landmarks, including the Giza Pyramids, to international clients could rake in up to $200 billion over five years, according to a proposal aimed at boosting the economy submitted to the country’s antiquities ministry.

The proposal was authored by Egyptian intellectual Abdallah Mahfouz, who argued that renting historical sites could help breathe new life into the country’s economy.

Earlier this week, Adel Abdel Sattar, Egypt’s secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, reportedly confirmed in an interview with local station ONTV the existence of the proposal to rent Egypt’s main monuments – including the pyramids at Giza, the Sphinx, the Abu Simbel Temple and the temples of Luxor – to international tourism firms.

“But is it possible that we rent our monuments? … This is our heritage, our roots,” the official was quoted as saying. Sattar said he received a request from the Finance Ministry to study the proposal, which has sparked outrage from local archeologists and their international counterparts.

AFP Photo / Pedro Ugarte

“Cry dear Sphinx, people want to rent you out and maybe later cut you into pieces and sell you! Shame on those who want to rent you. You are the symbol of dignity, power and Egypt’s ancient civilization,” Egyptology professor Ahmed Saeed of Cairo University wrote on his Facebook page, according to Ahramonline.

The country’s antiquities ministry has reportedly rejected the controversial plan, which became the talk of the town and gave rise to various rumors. The Gulf state of Qatar reportedly expressed interest in renting Egypt’s landmarks for five years for $200 billion, according to Al Arabiya.

Two years after the rise of the Arab Spring and the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s economic downturn has resulted in higher budget deficits. Currency reserves are said to be at a critical level – $14 billion, or three months’ worth of imports – according to US Ambassador Ann Patterson, who said the “reserves are kept afloat only due to regular injections of cash by Qatar and Turkey.”

While financial hardships have weakened the country’s economy, protests have also paralyzed the country’s tourism industry.

U.S. operational missile defense systems to be deployed in Romania and Poland in 2015 and 2018, respectively, are not designed to intercept potential ballistic missiles launched by Iran…The only purpose of the U.S. missile defense equipment deployed in Europe is to destroy Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles.


Russia would also like to know in what maritime areas the U.S. plans to base long-range interceptors. ..Will the U.S. ground-based anti-ballistic missiles, to be deployed at the Deveselu base in Romania and near the Polish town of Redzikovo, be replaced with more capable ones, thus augmenting their capability to cancel out Russian nuclear deterrence forces?

Why has the U.S. Air Force completed building new underground warehouses at 13 air bases in six NATO member countries to store precision nuclear air bombs designed to destroy hard targets?

[T]he Americans completely exclude from the negotiations such important non-nuclear weapons as anti-missile systems, anti-satellite weapons and high-precision capabilities that could perform lightning strikes in any part of the world.

Before President Barack Obama’s state-of-the- union address on Feb. 13, two reports emerged from the U.S. whose content was rather unusual, as are the possible political and military consequences.

First, The Associated Press reported that secret studies by the U.S. Department of Defense have questioned the capability of the U.S. missile defense system to be deployed in Europe to protect the country from Iranian ballistic missiles. Apparently, the report was based on data presented recently at a secret briefing of the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Second, The New York Times, quoting an anonymous source within the Obama administration, said Washington would call on Russia to jointly reduce further strategic offensive weapons.

The missile defense report is only partially plausible. Indeed, the U.S. government has been conducting studies to determine the advisability of deploying a European and global missile defense system for quite some time. U.S. operational missile defense systems to be deployed in Romania and Poland in 2015 and 2018, respectively, are not designed to intercept potential ballistic missiles launched by Iran — the reason that the U.S. gave for introducing the missile shield. This is the task of the missile defense systems of the United States and its allies deployed in the Gulf region. The only purpose of the U.S. missile defense equipment deployed in Europe is to destroy Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The fact that our country is never mentioned in the missile shield program as a potential participant proves that it is aimed at Russia. Russia is missing from both the NATO Missile Defense Action Plan and the U.S. and alliance’ s “rules of engagement” concerning the use of anti-ballistic missiles, endorsed shortly after the NATO Chicago summit last year.

As for the Times report on a further reduction of strategic offensive weapons, it was denied almost immediately by a White House spokesman, who said he was not expecting any new announcements in Obama’s speech. Indeed, Obama only said Washington was ready to involve Russia in a “nuclear weapons reduction,” without giving any quantitative parameters.

Obama’s address failed to answer a principle question for our country: Will the U.S. reduce or build up its missile defense structure in Europe? Russia would also like to know in what maritime areas the U.S. plans to base long-range interceptors. Around 30 U.S. ships have already been equipped with such equipment, and each ship could carry 30 to 40 missiles. Will the U.S. ground-based anti-ballistic missiles, to be deployed at the Deveselu base in Romania and near the Polish town of Redzikovo, be replaced with more capable ones, thus augmenting their capability to cancel out Russian nuclear deterrence forces?

Other questions arise as well. Why do these “new” ideas on strategic weapons reduction put forward by Washington still not mention whether the U.S. will withdraw its tactical nuclear weapons from Europe, as Russia did more than 18 years ago? Does Washington plan to retain weapons of this type on the continent for several more decades, especially as the Pentagon has already announced their future upgrade by 2030? Why has the U.S. Air Force completed building new underground warehouses at 13 air bases in six NATO member countries to store precision nuclear air bombs designed to destroy hard targets? Why do the U.S. and its NATO allies insist on counting the number of Russian tactical nuclear weapons and determining their location and state of readiness before the official discussions on them begin?

Finally, in light of the two news reports, one could ask: Why were they published, and why isn’t there any additional information?

Here, it seems, everything is simple. It’s obvious that the U.S. intends to go down the road of selectively reducing nuclear weapons, focusing only on a further reduction of strategic offensive weapons. But at the same time, the Americans completely exclude from the negotiations such important non-nuclear weapons as anti-missile systems, anti-satellite weapons and high-precision capabilities that could perform lightning strikes in any part of the world. On top of this, Obama said in his speech that he was willing to “strengthen the missile defense system” during his second term.

This means that the U.S. is floating new arms-control proposals to obscure its far-reaching plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons and the missile defense shield, destabilizing the global political and military environment and undermining the fragile strategic and military balance between Moscow and Washington that took several decades to establish. For instance, building up combat and data-collection missile defense equipment while reducing strategic offensive weapons could lead to a dangerous situation described by U.S. leaders back in the 1960s and ’70s as the nuclear missiles and anti-ballistic missiles arms race. Such an imbalance could tempt the U.S. to launch a first nuclear strike.

This is why, no matter how White House proposals are presented, Russia’s defense interests will not be served by a further reduction of its strategic offensive weapons against the background of a U.S. buildup of missile defense capabilities around the world. Russia’s updated foreign policy, issued in mid-February, says our country has consistently supported constructive cooperation with the U.S. in the area of arms control, including taking into consideration the unbreakable link between strategic offensive and defensive capabilities and the urgency of making the nuclear disarmament process multilateral. It also assumes that negotiations on a further reduction of offensive nuclear weapons are possible “only taking into consideration all the factors affecting global strategic stability, without any exceptions.”

Moscow and Washington should agree once and for all not to use nuclear weapons first against each other and not to deploy their missile defense systems near the borders of the other country. Russia has repeatedly declared its willingness to show restraint in the area of missile defense. A refusal by both sides to use nuclear weapons in a first strike would make the deployment of American missile defense systems at the “forward lines” illogical and set an example of real cooperation for other nuclear states.

Obviously, Russia and the U.S. would maintain their right to deploy and upgrade their infrastructure for the interception of ballistic missiles on their territories.

But Washington should renounce its plans to implement not only the fourth but all the other phases of its current missile defense program. This means calling off the second phase, which has already started, and canceling the third as well. If Washington stops implementation of the fourth phase only, it will not meet the national security interests of Russia. In this case, the U.S. and NATO missile defense system will be deployed anyway.

Quite frankly, instead of thinking how to encircle Russia with nuclear and missile defense weapons, the American side should think about how it can work together with us and other interested parties to prevent meteorites from raining down on our planet.

Vladimir Kozin is a member of an interagency working group attached to the Russian presidential administration discussing missile defense issues with NATO, and is a leading researcher with the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies.

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The recent announcement that the United States would increase its “non lethal” military aid to Syria’s rebels shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.  Some speculated that Obama — having been repeatedly proved wrong about the Syria government’s stability — would leave Syria in silent humiliation.

Not so. The destruction of Syrian society will continue, indeed, increase.  Although there are plenty of non-military options the Obama administration could pursue, he’s instead choosing the bloodiest course possible. Millions of Syrians have had their lives destroyed, and now millions more can look forward to a similar fate.

U.S. media outlets have reported that all of the hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. aid to Syria’s rebels has been “non-lethal,” but the New York Times admitted recently:

“American [government] officials declined to discuss an ongoing covert program to train rebel fighters or the extent to which it has made a difference on the battlefield.”

It’s no exaggeration to say that Obama is helping to orchestrate the largest state-sponsored terror campaign since the still-simmering genocides of the Congo and Yugoslav wars. This fact has been completely hidden from the view of the U.S. public, but it’s a fact nonetheless.

For example, the only effective fighting force of the Syrian rebels, the Al Nusra Front, has been labeled a terrorist organization, even by the United States. Its frequent terrorist bombings have helped shred the fabric of Syrian society; its most recent massive car bombings killed 100 mostly-innocent people in central Damascus, including dozens of children and wounding hundreds more.

U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi denounced the latest terrorist attack as a “war crime.” But such labels do not get attached to allies of the United States. Obama is ignoring the countless similar attacks by Syria’s terrorist rebels, ensuring that such attacks will increase.

In fact, U.S. officials blocked a Russian-sponsored resolution at the United Nations Security Council condemning the recent terror bombings. Actions like these both minimize and encourage indiscriminate terrorist bombings.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s most recent announcement of U.S. aid to Syrian rebels made sure to mention that the aid will not go to “terrorists” — an absurd statement considering that the terrorists in Syria are the ones in power on the ground for the opposition. Of course most of the crucial aid will be funneled to them, no matter who initially receives it.

The Obama administration has been on a relentless search for a non-terrorist dominated Syrian opposition, only to fail and then re-start his quest. Initially the ‘Syrian National Council’ play-acted as the non-terrorist “revolutionary” opposition.

But Hillary Clinton later confronted reality and dumped the group, correctly labeling them as ”… a bunch of out-of-touch exiles who should be replaced with a group more representative of the fighters on the ground.”

The same article referred to the Syrian National Council as “too accommodating to terrorists.”

Obama then sent Clinton on an international tour to discover and organize a brand new non-terrorist “legitimate” Syrian opposition. On her journey Clinton unearthed yet another group of handpicked rich Syrian exiles who hadn’t been in the country in decades, with no connections on the ground and, more importantly, zero military presence of any significance. Clinton re-named the group the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution, and unveiled her new offspring to glowing U.S. media acclaim. But Hillary’s latest baby was again born from smoke and mirrors. The New York Times reported:

“…the coalition has struggled to agree on a slate of governing leaders that would unite what is still a loosely allied organization, trying to weave together local councils, splinter organizations, disparate opposition groups and the loyalties of the armed units fighting the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.”

Obama now intends to buy the legitimacy of his new Syrian opposition, as part of the newly announced aid package. The New York Times shamelessly reports:

“one aim of the $60 million in [new] assistance is to help the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces build up its credibility within the country…”

Obama’s new “friends of Syria” would like the United States to destroy Syria. Many within the rag tag grouping are demanding a direct U.S. military intervention to topple the existing government.

Anyone who has paid attention to the Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libyan wars understands that U.S.-style regime change equals the destruction of a nation. The above three countries were all once independently functioning civilizations, but are now socially and economically destroyed and regionally fragmented, ruled by whomever in the region happens to have the most guns.

As millions of Syrians become internally and externally displaced refugees and the country obliterated, the Obama administration is purposely choosing not to settle the situation with diplomacy. Both Russia and Syria have made recent offers for negotiations. By rebuking these offers and aiding the rebels instead, Obama is choosing more mass slaughter.

Reuters reports:

“Syria is ready for talks with its armed opponents, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Monday, in the clearest offer yet to negotiate with rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad.”

The Obama Administration responds to the peace negotiations:

“…[Syria's Foreign Minister's] offer of talks drew a dismissive response from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was starting a nine-nation tour of European and Arab capitals in London [to help organize the Syrian rebels yet again].”

Why does Obama choose war instead of peace? Because presently Obama cannot dictate his terms; the majority of Syria is still controlled by the Syrian government, which remains in a much more powerful bargaining position, a painfully stubborn fact.

Obama will thus continue to sponsor large-scale mass murder and ethnic-religious cleansing until his handpicked rebels gain enough power on the ground to negotiate a peace favorable to U.S. interests.

The Obama administration’s hands are awash with the blood of countless innocent Syrians, blood that promises to spill into Lebanon and other neighboring states as the region becomes destabilized along ethnic-religious lines. The “popular revolution” in Syria has long ago been replaced by foreign mercenary terrorists financed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Obama administration has overseen this entire process, while actively trying to organize a respectable “public face” for the rebels.

Obama’s recent strides in Syria end with a logical conclusion: U.S. direct military intervention. The stage is still being set, waiting until optimal conditions are met for a Libyan style U.S./NATO mass-bombing mission to finish off the Syrian government. In the eyes of Obama the resulting disaster will be worth the mess, since a non-compliant regime to the U.S. will have been toppled, thus clearing the path for the long term plan of crushing Iran.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org)  He can be reached at [email protected]

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/01/world/middleeast/us-pledges-60-million-to-syrian-opposition.html?hp&_r=0

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/01/world/middleeast/syrian-air-raids-increase-as-battle-for-strategic-areas-intensifies-rebels-say.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/06/world/middleeast/clinton-expresses-support-for-new-syrian-opposition-coalition.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/01/world/middleeast/us-pledges-60-million-to-syrian-opposition.html?hp&_r=0

http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21572198-sectarian-divisions-deepen-war-changing-country-beyond-recognition-country

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/25/us-syria-crisis-dialogue-idUSBRE91O0BD20130225