Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican from Utah, is not the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. That post is held by Democrat Ron Wyden – whose party currently holds the majority of seats in the Senate. But this Tuesday, in a hearing that he was not even chairing, Senator Hatch appeared to be attempting to censor the speech of the witnesses before they testified by admonishing them not to use a list of specific words and phrases.

The hearing was convened to take testimony on the retirement crisis facing millions of Americans because of the disappearance of corporate funded pensions and the inability of most Americans to build up a sufficient nest egg on their own because of stagnant wages and 401(k) fees imposed by Wall Street eating up their savings.

Hatch, with a stern face, told the panelists: “What I hope to not hear today are poll-tested slogans like ‘Upside Down Tax Incentives,’ ‘Bang for the Buck,’ ‘Pension Stripping,’ or ‘The System is Rigged’ without substantiating data.  We need to hear facts and serious policy proposals, not political slogans.”

Adding to concerns that Senator Hatch had succeeded in censoring free speech in a Senate hearing was an empty chair at the witness table – which remained empty throughout the session. The written testimony of this witness never appeared along with other written witness testimony on the Senate web page for this hearing. (We called the Senate Finance committee to inquire what was behind this and were told that even if the witness submits the written testimony in advance, it isn’t posted if the witness does not appear. The Senate Banking committee typically posts written testimony the day before the hearing as do other Senate committees.)

The missing witness was Ellen Schultz, a former investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal who has documented for more than a decade that the retirement system is actually rigged and that serious pension stripping is taking place. Schultz went on to write the seminal work on the subject in 2011: Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers.

Click here to read complete article.

The UN has halted a measles vaccination campaign in northern Syria after at least 15 children died after receiving shots, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed in a joint statement.

“UNICEF and WHO have been shocked and saddened to learn of the deaths of at least 15 young children in Idlib, Syria,” the statement said. “The deaths of the children occurred in areas where a measles immunization campaign had been under way.”

The children were all under the age of two, Reuters reported, citing aid workers.

Around one hour after being given a second round of the measles vaccine in Idlib on Tuesday, the children demonstrated signs of “severe allergic shock,” said Abdullah Ajaj, a physician administering the vaccinations at a medical center in Jarjanaz, according to AP. The second round of vaccinations began in Idlib and Deir Ezzour on Monday.

Following the vaccine, some of the children’s bodies swelled and they suffocated to death.

“There was shouting and screaming, it was hard for the parents. You get your child vaccinated and then you find your child dying, it’s very hard,” Ajaj said.

Conflicting statements from the Syrian opposition and reports from rights groups have put the number of vaccine-related deaths between 34 and 50.

The WHO said it is sending a team of experts to investigate the incidents, adding that “establishing the precise cause of the children’s deaths is vital.”

The immunization campaign has been suspended in both Idlib and Deir Ezzour provinces. However, UNICEF and the WHO are hopeful that the campaign could resume “as soon as possible.”

While it is believed that measles outbreaks can effectively be contained by vaccinations, they can be very dangerous in undeveloped areas. The disease is transmitted through bodily fluids, coughing, and tears from the eyes.

UN agencies and other non-government organizations have been providing medical services in Syria since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011.

The Syrian conflict has since turned into a full-scale civil war, with more than 190,000 people killed, according to UN.

On Tuesday, Assad said the fight against terrorism must begin by placing more pressure on countries which are supporting and financing insurgents in Syria and Iraq.

READ MORE: Assad calls to stop funding armed groups in Syria, Iraq

Meanwhile, the US announced that it has plans to take “targeted actions against ISIS (Islamic State/ISIL) safe havens in Syria,” including striking infrastructure. US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiled a plan to boost Iraqi forces with 1,600 US “military advisers.”

The US will also train and equip 5,000 members of the Syrian opposition to fight militants from the Islamic State group.

Open Letter to Mrs. Michelle Obama From a Son of Haiti

September 18th, 2014 by Jafrikayiti

Dear First Lady Michelle Obama,

As I type these words, I envision bright smiles on seven faces, those of seven precious young ladies. One of them, I am certain, is happy and safe, enjoying a relaxing morning with her grandmother. Two of them are probably enjoying this blessed day with you and President Obama. Another two, much older today than pictured in the photograph below, are the daughters of our late beloved Rolihlahla Madiba Mandela and Mama Winnie Madikizela.

Unlike mine, yours and the Mandela girls, the sixth and seventh young ladies are neither happy nor safe this morning.  As had happened to Zenani and Zinzi Mandela, under Apartheid South-Africa,  in my native Haiti today, Michaelle and Marie-Christine Aristide are like prisoners in their own home,  worrying about politically and racially-motivated violence targeting them, their parents, Dr. Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Mrs. Mildred Trouillot-Aristide as well as other members or sympathizers of the Lavalas political party.

On September 16, 2014, U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters wrote to your Secretary of State: “Dear Secretary Kerry: I am deeply concerned that there is an effort to illegally arrest President Aristide”.

Indeed, recently, a man named Lamarre Belizaire issued an illegal arrest warrant against former President Aristide for allegedly ignoring equally-unlawful summons issued, shortly earlier by the same. Belizaire is considered by most Haitians to be an impostor, as he never met minimal legal qualifications to hold the title of “judge”. In fact, Belizaire has been disbarred by the “barreau de Port-au-Prince”, whereby he won’t be allowed to practice law in Haiti for up to 10 years.

Why do I address this letter to you?

Dear Mrs. Obama, I write this urgent letter to you because, for the past 10 years, the governance of Haiti has been effectively taken over by the Government of the United States, of which your husband, Barack Hussein Obama, is President. While neither legal nor accepted by the People of Haiti, this take-over of their country’s governance by the U.S. Government is real.

Since 2004, the U.S. has intervened to determine the outcome of several mocked elections in Haiti. During the latest such exercise, in 2011, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally selected Michel Martelly to be first runner-up, then President of Haiti, under circumstances that were so shameful, illegal, blunt and disrespectful that they were openly denounced even by the OAS diplomat Ricardo Seitenfus and by former Haitian President René Préval.

The international community had behaved in Haiti as if it were in conquered territory. It boldly put into practice, absent any legal, technical or moral basis, a white coup and a blatant electoral intervention. – Ricardo Seitenfus

One cannot disagree with René Préval when, faced with the ratification of the election of a candidate imposed by the United States through the international community, he asked himself: “In this case, why were elections held?
- Haiti’s Doctored Elections, Seen from the Inside: An Interview with Ricardo Seitenfus (By Dan Beeton and Georgianne Nienaber – February 24, 2014 )

Ten decades ago, under the 1915 U.S. Occupation of Haiti the great American scholar and NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson worked tireless to counter the racist arguments that an intellectually backward but politically and economically-powerful sector of U.S. society used to justify the occupation of Haiti.

Disturbingly, the current occupation, a desired and planned outcome, was also predicated on racist and flawed premises. I recall the shocking statement made by then Assistant Secretary General of the OAS, in front of myself as well as several other witnesses at Haiti’s Hotel Montana, on December 31, 2003:

“The real problem with Haiti” said Luigi Einaudi, “is that the ‘International Community’ is so screwed up & divided that they are actually letting Haitians run Haiti.”

Less than two months after Einaudi uttered these words, on February 28-29, 2004, in the dead of the night, U.S. Marines entered the residence of Haiti’s president, while Canadian RCMP soldiers secured the airport to facilitate a coup d’etat and the occupation of Haiti. Since that fateful night, Haitians are no longer running Haiti. However, the bloodbath the foreigners claim to have intervened to avoid reached unprecedented proportions, with full involvement of the UN forces.

The proper solution for the problem of Haiti is creation of an international trusteeship, one that will allow for the institutions of the Haitian state to be rebuilt and to be made effective, prior to transition, under international stewardship, to a fully self-directed democratic state with an effective market economy. However, it is acknowledged that the intervention/ trusteeship solution has been attempted before in Haiti, and it has failed. The long history and unique culture of this country have given the Haitian people a strong sense of independence and nationhood. This poses a considerable challenge to the international community – to develop and implement an approach that will be perceived as legitimate by the Haitian nation, and not one simply imposed by outside powers.

See: “The Case for International Trusteeship in Haiti” by Major Michael T. Ward http://www.journal.forces.gc.ca/vo7/no3/ward-eng.asp

After seven years in exile, and thanks to the exemplary courage of South-African presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma, the Aristide family returned to Haiti in 2011. As I wrote on the eve of that momentous event, Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s return from exile represents a major blow to the face of white supremacist racism and a serious defeat of global banditry.

“As a priest, as an educator, when he was president, and now as he will return to education, [Aristide will] continue to be a person that always, always, always withstands.” – Mrs. Mildred Trouillot-Aristide (see: Amy Goodman’s coverage of the event on Democracy Now).

Given the self-assigned roles foreigners took in Haiti since the 2004 Coup, the current state of affairs in that country must be considered their collective accomplishment.

Socio-Economic Indicators:

Source: 2014 Human Development Report, UNDP

  • During the period of foreign occupation (2004 to present), the socio-economic situation of Haitian families has deteriorated, in many ways. Over the same period, Rwanda, a country recovering from horrendous socio-political trauma, significantly improved its human development performance, moving its HDI from several points below that of Haiti in 2004 and surpassing it since 2011.
  • Haiti has known multiple prison breaks, the most recent one involving several hundred criminals at a time and counting among the “escapees” close friends of the President.
  • One of the most disastrous consequences of the Coup and subsequent U.N. tutelage is that Haiti, a country with no known cases of cholera for the past 100 years, now has one of the worst cholera epidemics in the world. Over 10,000 Haitians have been killed and nearly a million sickened by cholera since October 2010, when U.N. troops contaminated of a major source of drinking water in the country with the deadly bacterium.

 Political indicators:

  • Enjoying full U.S. support and complicity, Michel Martelly has not organized legislative and local elections which are overdue, since he took office in 2011.
  • Several political opponents of the Martelly regime have been arrested (Enol and Josué Florestal, Jean Lamy Matulnes), while others are constantly harassed using the judicial system and the police force as tools for political repression.
  • The people of Haiti are currently ruled by a neo-Duvalierist regime, under which former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier benefits the open support of powerful national and international allies. Duvalier has brazenly mocked his victims since his January 2011 return to U.N.-occupied Haiti. The dictator, enjoying full impunity, has been posing for glamour pictures with his protectors and friends Bill Clinton and Martelly (N.B.: Duvalier’s son, Nicolas François, is Martelly’s advisor).

President Barack Obama contributed to the current situation by abdicating too much of his role as Head of State, letting the Clintons do as they please with U.S. policy towards Haiti.

The disastrous results of the foreign occupation of Haiti continue to compel voices of reason worldwide, notably in Haiti and in the U.S., to demand an immediate end to this senseless experiment.

Dear Mrs. Obama:

Surely, you and your husband must know that, under the current neo-Duvalierist regime which is figuratively-led by President Michel Martelly, the erratic actions of Lamarre Bélizaire are symptomatic of widespread dysfunction in the Haitian judicial, police and prison systems. Are you aware, for instance,  that, a few weeks ago, over 329 prisoners were let loose in broad day light from a supposedly high-level security prison? Among the “escapees”, the Dominican Republic military captured and returned to Haiti alleged gang leader and kidnapper Clifford Brandt, who also happens to be a campaign financier and close friend of Mr. Martelly and Mr. Lamothe. At the end of 2003, another close friend of Mr. Martelly became entangled in a bizarre drug dealing case which seriously threatened to bring down the government. As of January 2014, Mr. Evinx Daniel vanished from the face of the earth. He simply disappeared!

No doubt, the ongoing persecution of Dr. Aristide has diverted attention from these troubling acts of disappearance performed by key Martelly-Lamothe associates.

Dear Mrs. Obama:

It is high time the United States of North-America abandons its antiquated foreign policy consisting of propping up semi-educated dictators in Latin America and the Caribbean who persecute intellectuals and break political dissent with violent and illegal means. We need real change in which we can all truly believe. You’ve witnessed first-hand how your husband’s ability to lead as President of the United States, has at times been undermined by a racist fringe of the U.S. population. Surely, you must empathize with the struggle of Haiti’s impoverished majority and their embattled leader Jean-Bertrand Arisitide as they continue to face numerously few, but economically well-endowed national and international ideologues who are stubbornly bent on denying black majority rule in Haiti, on account of old racist ideas. Haitians deserve your help in their struggle to recover their sovereign rights!

By this, I am NOT asking President Obama or the U.S. Government to interfere further in Haitian affairs. Unfortunately, this very week, several U.S. Congressmen took this ill-fated direction. On the contrary, I am asking all the foreign forces, including the U.S. Government, the Congress et al. to assume responsibility for the damage they have already caused, pay due reparations to Haitians and get out of Haiti’s business, without undue delay.

Haitians keep saying every which way they can that Einaudi’s assessment of “the real problem with Haiti” was and is wrong. The objective facts also prove the Haitians right. The 2004 foreign occupation of Haiti, conducted and maintained under racist premises, is a dismal and tragic failure.

In honor of millions of displaced, enslaved and tortured Africans, the heroes who fought and died all over the Americas in order to secure our right to freedom, Mrs. Obama, please encourage your husband and his government to finally commit to real, positive, change in U.S. Policy towards Haiti, today!

The FBI has foiled yet another entirely fabricated terror threat of its own creation, with missing mechanisms in two firearms provided to a potential terrorist being the only thing that prevented this latest case of entrapment from going “live.”

A Rochester man, Mufid A. Elfgeeh, is accused by the FBI of attempting to provide material support to ISIS (undercover FBI agents), attempting to kill US soldiers, and possession of firearms and silencers (provided to him by the FBI). The FBI’s own official press release stated (emphasis added):

According to court records, Elfgeeh attempted to provide material support to ISIS in the form of personnel, namely three individuals, two of whom were cooperating with the FBI. Elfgeeh attempted to assist all three individuals in traveling to Syria to join and fight on behalf of ISIS. Elfgeeh also plotted to shoot and kill members of the United States military who had returned from Iraq. As part of the plan to kill soldiers, Elfgeeh purchased two handguns equipped with firearm silencers and ammunition from a confidential source. The handguns were made inoperable by the FBI before the confidential source gave them to Elfgeeh.

What is perhaps more chilling are the details of Elfgeeh’s plans to kill US soldiers. The FBI’s press release stated (emphasis added):

Court documents also indicate that Elfgeeh first discussed the idea of shooting United States military members in December 2013 when he told CS-2 that he was thinking about getting a gun and ammunition, putting on a bulletproof vest, and “just go[ing] around and start shooting.” In February 2014, Elfgeeh told CS-2 that he needed a handgun and silencer. Elfgeeh later gave CS-2 $1,050 in cash to purchase two handguns equipped with silencers and ammunition. On May 31, 2014, CS-2 delivered the two handguns equipped with silencers and ammunition to Elfgeeh. After Elfgeeh took possession of the items, he was arrested by members of the Rochester Joint Terrorism Task Force. Elfgeeh is currently being held in custody.

Elfgeeh’s plans are also – coincidentally – verbatim, the dream scenario of Washington’s warmongers currently attempting to sell a war that will straddle both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border, allow the US to provide terrorists operating in Syria with air support, and lead to punitive operations against the Syrian government for attacking US-backed terrorists with the final objective being long-sought after regime change in Damascus.

With serial beheadings failing to raise Western public support necessary for an expedient intervention in Syria, more insidious provocations appear to be in the works. Setting the stage, a CBS/Associated Press story titled, “Former Deputy CIA Director: ‘I Would Not Be Surprised’ If ISIS Member Shows Up To US Mall Tomorrow With AK-47,” would claim immediately after the initial James Foley execution video that:

“The short-term concern is the Americans that have gone to fight with ISIS and the west Europeans that have gone to fight with ISIS could be trained and directed by ISIS to come to the United States to conduct small-scale attacks,” Morell stated. “If an ISIS member showed up at a mall in the United States tomorrow with an AK-47 and killed a number of Americans, I would not be surprised.”

Morell warned that over the long-term the extremist group could be planning for a 9/11-style attack that killed thousands of Americans.

Elfgeeh’s entrapment is only the beginning. Staged “terror raids” in Australia are also ratcheting up hysteria ahead of an actual event of mass murder carried out on Western soil. The BBC would report in their article, “Australia raids over ‘Islamic State plot to behead’,” that:

Police have carried out anti-terror raids in Sydney sparked by intelligence reports that Islamic extremists were planning random killings in Australia.

PM Tony Abbott said a senior Australian Islamic State militant had called for “demonstration killings”, reportedly including a public beheading.

The raids, with at least 800 heavily-armed officers, led to 15 arrests.

Image: Australian security forces swept the city of Sydney arresting suspects of an alleged plot by ISIS to behead a random member of the public and then drape an ISIS flag upon their body in an attack that would only stand to serve Western ambitions to expand war on both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border. The plot is cartoonish in nature, but Westerners should not underestimate what lengths special interests will go through to provoke war. 

 

The cartoonish nature of the plot – beheading a random member of the public before draping an ISIS flag over their body - is meant to provoke maximum fear and anger first, then maximum support for Australia’s continued involvement in Wall Street and London’s hegemonic ambitions in the Middle East. Likewise, the Rochester arrest made by the FBI amid their own terror plot, serves only to incite fear across the public and irrational support for intervention in Syria that will, in fact, lead to further support of extremists as well as the destruction of the only institution in the region truly fighting terrorism – the Syrian Arab Army.

A Functioning Firing Pin Away From a Staged Mass Shooting

The FBI has a long list of foiled terror plots of its own creation. More disturbingly are the plots they conceived but “accidentally” allowed to go “live.” One might recall the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. FBI agents, according to the New York Times, were indeed overseeing the bombers that detonated a device killing six and wounding many more at the World Trade Center.

In their article, “Tapes Depict Proposal to Thwart Bomb Used in Trade Center Blast,” NYT reported:

Law-enforcement officials were told that terrorists were building a bomb that was eventually used to blow up the World Trade Center, and they planned to thwart the plotters by secretly substituting harmless powder for the explosives, an informer said after the blast.

The informer was to have helped the plotters build the bomb and supply the fake powder, but the plan was called off by an F.B.I. supervisor who had other ideas about how the informer, Emad A. Salem, should be used, the informer said.

The account, which is given in the transcript of hundreds of hours of tape recordings Mr. Salem secretly made of his talks with law-enforcement agents, portrays the authorities as in a far better position than previously known to foil the Feb. 26 bombing of New York City’s tallest towers. The explosion left six people dead, more than 1,000 injured and damages in excess of half a billion dollars.

Considering the 1993 bombing and the fact that the FBI literally oversaw the construction and deployment of a deadly bomb that killed 6, it is clear that the FBI can at any time through design or disastrous incompetence, turn one of their contrived entrapment cases into a live terror attack. One can only guess at how many similar FBI operations are currently taking place within the United States involving ISIS sympathizers – any one of which could be turned into a live terror attack provided the weapons handed over to potential terrorists are functioning, just as the bomb was in 1993 when it was driven into the lower levels of the World Trade Center.

Image: The FBI has an impressive portfolio of intentionally created, then foiled terror plots. Its methods include allowing suspects to handle both real and inoperable weapons and explosives. These methods allow the FBI to switch entrapment cases “live” at any moment simply by switching out duds and arrests with real explosives and successful attacks. Because the FBI uses “informants,” when attacks go live, these confidential assets can be blamed, obfuscating the FBI’s involvement. 

 

Everything from a mass shooting to a bombing, and even an Operation Northwoods-style false flag attack involving aircraft could be employed to provide Wall Street and London with the support it needs to accelerate its long-stalled agenda of regime change and reordering in both Syria and across the Iranian arc of influence. Readers may recall Operation Northwoods, reported on in an ABC News article titled, “U.S. Military Wanted to Provoke War With Cuba,” which bluntly stated:

In the early 1960s, America’s top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba.

Code named Operation Northwoods, the plans reportedly included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities.

That the FBI and Australian authorities are coordinating staged security operations in tandem on opposite ends of the globe to terrify their respective populations into line behind an impending war with Syria suggests a new “Operation Northwoods” of sorts is already being executed. Staged executions on cue by ISIS in the Middle East of US and British citizens at perfectly timed junctures of the West’s attempt to sell intervention both at home and abroad also reek of staged mayhem for the sole purpose of provoking war.Could grander and ultimately more tragic mayhem be in store? As ABC News’ article on Operation Northwoods suggests, there is no line Western special interests will hesitate to cross.

With the West attempting to claim ISIS now has a “global” reach, the US and its partners’ attempts to obfuscate the very obvious state-sponsorship it is receiving will become exponentially more difficult. That the FBI is admittedly stringing along easily manipulated, malevolent patsies who at any time could be handed real weapons and sent on shooting sprees and/or bombings, Americans, Europeans, and Australians would be foolish to conclude that their real enemy resides somewhere in Syria and not right beside them at home, upon the very seats of Western power.

The US-EU-Russia Sanctions Puzzle

September 18th, 2014 by Pepe Escobar

Whatever Russia does, doubt does not even enter the equation. The answer is sanctions. So here we go again. The US Treasury-EU latest sanction package targets Russian banking, the energy industry and the defense industry.

The sanctions are mean. The sanctions are nasty. And there’s no euphemism to describe them; they amount to a declaration of economic war.

Sberbank, Russia’s largest won’t be able to access Western capital for long-term funding, including every kind of borrowing over 30 days. And the current 90-day lending bans affecting six other large Russian banks – a previous sanctions package – will also be reduced to 30 days.

On the energy front, what the US-EU want is to shut down new Russian exploration projects in Siberia and the Arctic, barring Western Big Oil from selling equipment and technology to offshore, deepwater or shale gas projects.

This means Exxon and Shell, for instance, are frozen in their operations with five top Russian oil/gas/pipeline companies: Gazprom, Gazprom Neft, Lukoil, Surgutneftegaz, and Rosneft.

No one ever lost money betting on the stupidity of the usual, unknown “senior US officials” – who are now spinning the latest sanction package is to force Moscow to “respect international law and state sovereignty.” A cursory examination of the historical record allows this paragraph to be accompanied by roaring laughter.

And then there’s the US Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, David Cohen, who insists the package will further “isolate” Russia from the global financial system.

Members of the European Parliament stand to applaud during a voting session on the EU-Ukraine Association agreement at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, September 16, 2014. (Reuters/Vincent Kessler)Members of the European Parliament stand to applaud during a voting session on the EU-Ukraine Association agreement at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, September 16, 2014. (Reuters/Vincent Kessler)

 

The package was also described by Western corporate media as capable of “unnerving already jittery financial markets.” Well, they were not exactly “unnerved.” In Russia, the stocks of companies on the sanctions list went up. In the US, energy stocks went down. Short translation; the “unnerved” markets interpreted the latest package as yet another own goal by Washington and Brussels.

Splitting up Eurasia

As for Russia’s “isolation”, companies are barred from, in Washington-Wall Street newspeak, “important dollar-denominated funding sources.” Or, euphemistically, “Western capital.” This means the US dollar and the euro. Anyone following superimposed moves towards a multipolar world knows Russia does not need more US dollars and euro.

Moscow might use both to cross-purchase goods and services in the US and the EU. Yet these goods and services may be bought elsewhere around the world. For that, you don’t need “Western capital” – as Moscow is fast advancing the use of national currencies with other trade partners. The Atlanticist gang assumes Moscow needs goods and services from the US and the EU much more than the other way around. That’s a fallacy.

Russia can sell its abundant energy resources in any currency apart from US dollars and euro. Russia can buy all the clothing it needs from Asia and South America. On the electronics and high-tech front, most of it is made in China anyway.

Crucially, on the energy front, it would be no less than thrilling to watch the EU – which still does not even have a common energy policy – trying to come up with alternative suppliers. Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Qatar, for a number of complex reasons – ranging from insufficient gas to be committed, to an absence of pipelines – are out of the picture.

The Obama administration, for its part, simply won’t allow the EU to start importing energy from Iran like, virtually, tomorrow. Even with a now quite wobbly nuclear deal reached before the end of 2014 – presumably opening the way to an end to sanctions.

The “irrational” markets see what’s really goin’ on; they are not “irrational” but moved by profit derived from realpolitik.

And all this while Moscow has not even counterpunched. And that could be quite lethal – targeting EU exporters to Russia and even energy supplies from Russia. Then the EU will retaliate. And Russia will counter-counterpunch. That’s exactly what Washington wants: a trade/economic war ravaging and splitting up Eurasia.

 

United States President Barack Obama (Reuters/Gary Cameron)United States President Barack Obama (Reuters/Gary Cameron)

About that $20 trillion…

On the political front, Ukraine and EU had initially agreed to “postpone the EU Association Agreement until the end of 2016.” You can’t make this stuff up; that’s exactly what Yanukovich did last November, as he knew Kiev could not allow itself to lose most of its certified trading with Russia in favor of a vague “free trade” with the EU. This agreement to “postpone” the agreement was in fact overseen by astonishing mediocrity and outgoing European Commission (EC) President Jose Manuel Barroso.

But then the European Parliament, during a plenary session in Strasbourg, hurried up to ratify Ukraine’sAssociation Agreement as President Petro Poroshenko simultaneously submitted it to the Ukrainian Parliament. This does not mean the agreement goes immediately into effect. Economic “integration”with the EU – a euphemism for a one-way invasion of Ukraine by EU products – will start only in January 2016. And there’s no way a crisis-hit EU will incorporate Ukraine anytime soon – or ever.

On Thursday, Poroshenko meets his master, US President Barack Obama, and addresses a joint session of the US Congress. Expect “evil empire” rhetoric to reach interstellar levels.

But it’s on Saturday in Berlin that the real thing starts unfolding; energy negotiations between Russia, the EU and Ukraine. Needless to say, Moscow holds all the key cards.

Washington’s humongous debt is reaching almost $20 trillion – and counting. With a monster crisis approaching like a tsunami from hell, no wonder Washington had to resort to the perfect diversionary tactic; the return of the “evil empire.” It’s the Marvel Comics school of politics all over again.

Russia has a huge surplus of foreign capital – and is able to weather the storm. Germany – the EU’s top economy – on the other hand, is already suffering. Growth is already at a negative 0.2%. This is the way the hysterical sanction wind is blowing – further derailing EU economies. And no one is betting the EU will have the balls to stand up to Washington. Not in vassal-infested Brussels.

Israel’s Gaza Probe Aims to Stymie War Crimes Trials

September 18th, 2014 by Jonathan Cook

Image: Palestinian child used as human shield by the Israeli army a few years ago.

Experts fear army investigation will be a whitewash, designed to block Palestinian threat of going to International Criminal Court

For five days during Israel’s recent assault on Gaza, 16-year old Ahmad Abu-Raida says he was held by Israeli soldiers as a human shield. Repeatedly beaten by the unit that seized him, the youngster describes being forced at gunpoint to enter deserted homes, which could have been booby-trapped, to search for Hamas tunnels.

Ahmad, who was separated from his family by Israeli soldiers after they invaded the town of Khuza’a in the southern Gaza Strip on 23 July, testified that soldiers “were walking behind me, with their rifles pointed at me. ‘Get in and see if there are tunnels or not,’ [the captain] ordered me. … Whenever I told them there were no tunnels, they would take me out and search the room themselves.”

Ahmad’s account, taken by Defence for Children International, is one of five allegations of criminal conduct that the Israeli army announced last week it would be investigating. More than 99 incidents have so far been highlighted by Israel’s military attorney general.

Taking Ahmad as a hostage and using him as a human shield would constitute a grave violation of the Geneva Conventions, the rules of war intended to protect non-combatants.

It would also violate a 2005 decision by Israel’s highest court, outlawing what had until then appeared to be a routine practice, known as the “neighbour procedure,” used by the Israeli army.

Deaths made headlines

Ahmad’s experiences and several other suspected war crimes being investigated by the Israeli military made headlines in the international media during and immediately after the seven weeks of fighting. That has added to the pressure on Israel to be seen to be taking the allegations seriously.

The other cases under investigation are:

  • An Israeli air force missile strike on a beach on 18 July that killed four children playing football, an incident widely reported because it occurred in full view of journalists staying in a nearby hotel.
  • An Israeli strike on a United Nations-run school in Beit Hanoun on 24 July that killed 15 Palestinian civilians sheltering there and wounded scores more.
  • The shooting of a woman as she left her home after her exit from a conflict zone had been coordinated with the Israeli army.
  • The theft of money by a soldier from a home, reported by his commander.

These incidents cover only a fraction of the more than 2,100 Palestinians killed during 50 days of Israel’s operation in Gaza dubbed “Protective Edge.” Some three-quarters of the dead are reported to be civilians, including more than 500 children.

Another 11,000 were wounded, and more than 100,000 are estimated to be homeless.

The speed with which the army’s investigations have been launched reflects the new political and legal environment in which Israel finds itself.

Mahmoud Abbas hesitates

Unlike the situation following Israel’s earlier operation, Cast Lead, in winter 2008-09 – when more than 1,400 Palestinians were killed, again a majority of them civilians – the Palestinians now have a status similar to statehood at the United Nations.

That entitles the Palestinian leadership under Mahmoud Abbas to sign the Rome Statute, allowing it to refer Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague for war crimes investigations.

So far, the indications are that Abbas is actively avoiding such a step, apparently worried that it would lead to severe retaliation from Israel and the United States. Instead, he has sought to use the threat of an ICC application to leverage further peace talks from Israel.

However, Abbas is facing strong pressure from within his own Fatah party’s ranks, and has been isolated by Hamas’ announcement that it supports joining the ICC, even if it risks coming under scrutiny from the Hague body too.

At the weekend, a group of 15 leading Palestinian lawyers convened to prepare a dossier of Israeli war crimes in Gaza in what they billed as an effort to bring the allegations to the ICC.

Based on previous experience, warn critics, Israel’s own investigations are unlikely to be conducted in good faith. They accuse Israel of “going through the motions” to fend off efforts by outside bodies, especially the Hague court, to probe events in Gaza.

“There has to be more than a suspicion that Israel is carrying out these investigations simply to shield its military commanders from legal accountability,” Hala Khoury-Bisharat, an international law professor at Carmel Academic College, near Haifa, told Middle East Eye.

That is because the ICC would be ineligible to examine war crimes allegations unless it could be shown that Israel had failed to carry out credible investigations itself.

Rival investigations

Israel is facing rival inquiries on several fronts, all of which are likely to reach highly critical conclusions.

The most noted and high profile is a commission of inquiry established by the United Human Rights Council, and led by Canadian jurist William Schabas. Its findings are not likely to be made public for many months.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, may approve a separate inquiry into Israel’s attacks on three of its schools in Gaza, in which at least 45 people were killed. However, it would only begin its work after the Schabas committee reports.

In parallel, the two largest international human rights groups, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, are also investigating.

Last week, a day after the army announced its own inquiries, HRW published the findings of a probe into the strikes on the three UN-run schools, accusing the Israeli army of war crimes.

The report observed that the schools were well marked, the coordinates of their location had been passed to Israel, and the army knew hundreds of civilians were taking shelter in each.

Notably, Israel has tried to stifle the work of HRW and Amnesty by blocking their staff from entering Gaza to conduct research. Israel has also indicated it will not cooperate with the Schabas committee.

“The question has to be asked: why is Israel refusing to cooperate with independent investigations?” said Khoury-Bisharat. “It seems Israel is not willing to risk its soldiers being indicted for war crimes.”

Stealing a credit card

In addition, Israel has to contend with Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups, which are currently conducting fact-finding research. On this occasion, however, they are split over how to respond to the Israeli military’s investigations.

All are agreed that the army is incapable of investigating itself fairly, and that, based on past form, Israel will at best convict a few individuals for relatively minor offences.

After much delay following Israel’s 2009 attack on Gaza, Israel punished only four soldiers. The harshest sentence was seven months for stealing a credit card.

This was despite a UN fact-finding commission led by a respected South African jurist, Richard Goldstone, concluding that there were strong suspicions that the Israeli military and Hamas had committed war crimes.

In a statement last week, B’Tselem and Yesh Din, two of Israel’s best-known human rights organisations operating in the occupied Palestinian territories, said that for the first time they were refusing to provide information and testimonies to the military authorities.

Accusing the army of preparing a “whitewash,” B’Tselem called for “the establishment of an effective, transparent and impartial mechanism” to investigate Israel’s conduct.

B’Tselem and Yesh Din pointed out that the Israeli authorities had not even implemented the limited reforms to Israel’s investigation process recommended last year by a former Israeli supreme court judge, Jacob Turkel.

Israel’s human rights community is still bruised from its experiences after 2009’s Cast Lead, when groups close to the government launched a campaign vilifying not only Goldstone but human rights organisations like B’Tselem for assisting him.

In recent years, the government of Benjamin Netanyahu has also repeatedly pondered legislative initiatives to limit the funding of Israeli human rights groups, effectively bankrupting them.

Complaints dismissed

However, the Adalah legal centre for the Arab minority in Israel said it would continue referring allegations of war crimes to the Israeli military, if only to demonstrate that the investigations lacked credibility, transparency and effectiveness.

“These investigations are not independent and therefore not credible,” Sawsan Zaher, an Adalah lawyer, told MEE. “But still, we have to show that we have exhausted every legal remedy available to us locally so that the victims have the chance in the future to pursue actions in international forums.”

Adalah has sent letters of complaint concerning more than 20 major incidents in Gaza, including two that have already been dismissed by Israeli investigators.

These concern an air strike on the al-Kaware home in Khan Yunis on 8 July, the opening day of Israel’s attack, that killed eight members of the family, and a strike the next day on a vehicle that killed a Palestinian journalist.

“In the case of the Kaware family, the Israeli investigators argued that the missile could not be diverted in time, an explanation that is irrelevant to whether this attack constituted a war crime,” Zaher said.

A deeper problem with Israel’s approach, say critics in the human rights community, is that its investigations completely ignore the legality of the military operation’s aims and the army’s strategies, instead concentrating on the behaviour of a few soldiers.

Hagai El-Ad, director of B’Tselem, accused Israel of refusing “to investigate senior officials and examine honestly wide-ranging policy issues pertaining to Israel’s use of military force.”

Arik Ascherman, the head of Rabbis for Human Rights in Israel, agreed in a commentary for the Haaretz daily: “Investigations of specific incidents mostly target soldiers on the ground, but don’t examine policy and other larger questions.”

Changing the rules of war

Israel’s hostility to subjecting its wider military strategy to scrutiny should be understood in the context of its efforts over the past six years to win recognition from the US and Europe for its reinterpretations of the rules of war.

According to an investigation by the Haaretz newspaper in early 2009, military lawyers had approved even before the launch of Operation Cast Lead a redefinition of the key principles in international humanitarian law of “proportionality” and “distinction.”

“Proportionality” demands that the military benefit of any attack outweigh the threat posed to civilian life, while “distinction” requires that the parties to a conflict distinguish between “civilians” and “combatants.”

Israel’s opening attack in Cast Lead on a police passing out ceremony, which killed 89 recruits, was in flagrant breach of both principles, said Khoury-Bisharat.

Haaretz found Israeli lawyers had intensively debated how they could reclassify as combatants those who, like the policemen, were either not actively engaged in combat or not military targets at the time of the attack.

The twisting of international law in this case appears still to be creating waves in the military. When 43 reserve soldiers in Israel’s military intelligence unit 8200 announced last week their refusal to serve in the occupied territories, many noted that intelligence-gathering was being used against “innocent Palestinians.”

One cited in his testimony the air strike on the policemen, calling it “wrong” and observing that it took priority over attacks on suspected rocket and weapons caches.

Instead, Israel has developed a conceptual discourse that implicitly distinguishes between a “civilian” and a new category, broadly defined, of a “militant” or “terrorist.” Israel has thereby been able to classify all members of Hamas as potential military targets, including the political leadership.

This new distinction has also sought to legitimise strikes on the homes of Hamas leaders. On 20 August, Israel hit the home of Mohammed Deif, apparently when he was not there, killing his wife and seven-month-old son.

Critics point out that Israel’s interpretation, if accepted, would entitle groups like Hamas or Hezbollah in Lebanon to target the homes of Israeli reserve soldiers or soldiers off duty with their family.

Similarly, Israel used “massive fire” over a large area of Rafah on 1 August, reportedly killing more than 100 Palestinians, to try to foil Hamas capturing alive an Israeli soldier through one of its tunnels. The shelling was conducted under the “Hannibal procedure,” designed to prevent a soldier becoming a bargaining chip.

Khoury-Bisharat said, according to international humanitarian law, it was impossible to justify so many civilian deaths simply to prevent a soldier being taken prisoner.

Iron Dome a game-changer

However, Israel is facing a new and possibly unexpected problem in its investigations of Operation Protective Edge, one created by the effectiveness of its missile defence system known as Iron Dome.

The system is reported to have shot down most rockets fired from Gaza that threatened Israeli population centres, limiting the civilian death toll to five Israelis and one Thai worker.

According to a leading Israeli think-tank, the Democracy Institute, that could dramatically alter Israel’s legal justifications for using armed force if Palestinian civilians are likely to be hurt or killed.

Amichai Cohen, a research fellow at the Institute, has written: “Given the real, yet much smaller threat that rockets pose to Israeli civilian lives after the invention of Iron Dome, there is a real question of whether the IDF’s freedom of action has been curtailed.”

Khoury-Bisharat concurred: “If Iron Dome is protecting Israeli civilians, then the army can no longer claim a justification for endangering Palestinian civilians by striking instantly at military targets in Gaza. It is obligated to be much more careful than in the past because its own population is safer.”

That would kick one leg from under Israel’s claim that the high death toll of Palestinian civilians reflected a Hamas policy of hiding among the civilian population.

Khoury-Bisharat said she found that argument problematic.

“Israel controls the air, sea and land in Gaza. It determines the location of the battlefield and the freedom of civilians to leave the area through its blockade policy. The reality is that Palestinians had nowhere to escape to.”

House Passes Bill To Arm Syrian Rebels Despite Evidence of ISIS Ties

September 18th, 2014 by Global Research News

In a 273-156 vote on Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed a bill which approved of President Barrack Obama’s $500 million plan to arm and train Syrian rebel forces.

The bill is expected to pass the Senate when it arrives there on Thursday to solidify the President’s goal of dismantling the ISIS “threat.”

It must be assumed that Congress has their heads so far in the sand that they missed the extensive reporting that has documented the ties between ISIS and the so called “moderate” rebel forces that the Obama administration is so hell bent on arming.

As Paul Joseph Watson of Propaganda Matrix documents in his article titled “Obama Plans to ‘Fight ISIS’ by Arming ISIS“, there is ample evidence showing that the rebels in Syria have joined ISIS and supplied arms to the extremists.

The lunacy of such a policy is illustrated by the fact that Bassel Idriss, commander of an FSA-run rebel brigade, recently admitted that Washington-backed “moderate” rebels are still collaborating with ISIS.

“We are collaborating with the Islamic State and the Nusra Front by attacking the Syrian Army’s gatherings in … Qalamoun,” Idriss told Lebanon’s Daily Star. “Let’s face it: The Nusra Front is the biggest power present right now in Qalamoun and we as FSA would collaborate on any mission they launch as long as it coincides with our values.”

July report in Stars and Stripes also documented how the 1,000 strong Dawud Brigade, which had previously fought alongside the FSA against the Assad regime, defected in its entirety to join ISIS.

Also in July it emerged that “several factions within the FSA, including Ahl Al Athar, Ibin al-Qa’im” had “handed over its weapons to the Islamic State in large numbers” and pledged allegiance to ISIS.

Three leading Syrian rebel commanders also announced back in December that they had relinquished ties with the Free Syrian Army’s Supreme Military Council, the military wing of the western-backed Syrian National Coalition, in order to join ISIS.

It is safe to say, due to the evidence presented above in Watson’s article, that some of the $500 million spent on the rebels has a chance of aiding the same terror group that the Obama administration has declared war against.

Send this info to your Congressman or Congresswoman by going here.

Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin

NEW YORK – Sending American troops to combat Ebola in Liberia is “an absolute misuse of the U.S. military,” contends retired Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin.

“The health mission in Liberia would be better accomplished by private-sector NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations), including the French organization Médecins San Frontières, Doctors without Borders, among others, or by some other U.S. government agency such as the Department of Health and Human Services,” he stressed.

Boykin was the deputy under secretary of defense for intelligence under President George W. Bush from 2002 to 2007. His 36-year military career included 13 years in the Delta Force, with two years as its commander.

“I believe it is a total misuse of the U.S. military’s capabilities at a time when the U.S. military is taking drastic budget cuts, it is extraordinarily thin and it is being recommitted to conflict in Iraq. I object to this quite strongly,” he said.

Boykin grasped for reasons to explain why the Obama administration was planning to use the U.S. military in the international health care crisis.

“In the final analysis, the military has organization and leadership, the two key things the Obama administration is probably looking for here,” he speculated.

“The military has a capability to deal with a chemical or biological attack, and some of that may be dual-purposed for dealing with this kind of epidemic.”

But he noted that in his 36 years of military experience, “I never dealt with any thing like this that had to do with a pandemic.”

Boykin expressed concern about the health risk for U.S. troops.

“The U.S. military does not have specific training regarding how to handle a medical emergency like Ebola,” he said.

“It’s rather obvious there is a great risk the U.S. military going into Liberia to fight Ebola will end up getting infected themselves.”

He talked through the steps the U.S. military would have to take to protect troops from contracting the disease.

“One of the first things the U.S. military will have to do is to set up centers where the soldiers can be sterilized and cleaned, to try to reduce the risk to them. But, I think, the U.S. military going into Liberia are going to be clearly at risk of contracting Ebola.”

Even with precautions such as these, Boykin emphasized the risk, not only to the health of the U.S. military deployed to Liberia but also to civilians back in the United States.

“Then, let’s say two or three soldiers in a battalion get Ebola. What are you going to do with them?” he asked. “Obviously, you’re going to have to bring them back to the United States.”

Boykin emphasized the military overburdened.

“This is a terrible misuse of the U.S. military, and it comes at a terrible time when not only is the military really stretched thin, such that the U.S. military can not take on another mission, it comes at a time when we are reducing the military’s funding and the military’s numbers,” he said.

He also questioned why the first line of defense would not be the United Nations peacekeepers.

“If military are required to combat the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, then the first troops that should be involved are the 6,000 United Nations peacekeeping forces that are already in the country,” he said.

“It doesn’t make sense.”

Boykin now teaches at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia and serves as executive vice president at the Family Research Council.

Separately, WND reported the Ebola outbreak in Liberia has not been slowed by the peacekeeping forces in Liberia. They include 4,460 troops, 126 military observers and 1,434 police forces, with an approved budget from July 2014 through June 2015 of $427.3 million.

Last week, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hervé Ladsous told reporters in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, that the U.N. mission there “is not a public health operation” and the peacekeepers stationed there are not trained to combat the Ebola epidemic.

Syria

Everyone knows that the U.S. and its allies have heavily backed Islamic terrorists in Syria in an attempt to implement regime change in that country.

But did you know that the U.S. previously carried out regime change in Syria?

The CIA backed a right-wing coup in Syria in 1949. Douglas Little, Professor, Department of Clark University History professor Douglas Little notes:

As early as 1949, this newly independent Arab republic was an important staging ground for the CIA’s earliest experiments in covert action.
The CIA secretly encouraged a right-wing military coup in 1949.

The reason the U.S. initiated the coup?  Little explains:

 In late 1945, the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO) announced plans to construct the Trans-Arabian Pipe Line (TAPLINE) from Saudi Arabia to the Mediterra- nean. With U.S. help, ARAMCO secured rights-of-way from Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.  The Syrian right-of-way was stalled in parliament.

In other words, Syria was the sole holdout for the lucrative oil pipeline.

(Indeed, the CIA has carried out this type of covert action right from the start.)

In 1957, the American president and British prime minister agreed to launch regime change again in Syria. Historian Little notes that the coup plot was discovered and stopped:

On August 12, 1957, the Syrian army surrounded the U.S. embassy in Damascus. Claiming to have aborted a CIA plot to overthrow neutralist President Shukri Quwatly and install a pro-Western regime, Syrian chief of counterintelligence Abdul Hamid Sarraj expelled three U.S. diplomats ….

Syrian counterintelligence chief Sarraj reacted swiftly on August 12, expelling Stone and other CIA agents, arresting their accomplices and placing the U.S. embassy under surveillance.

Neoconservatives planned regime change in Syria once again in 1991.

And as Nafeez Ahmed notes:

According to former French foreign minister Roland Dumas, Britain had planned covert action in Syria as early as 2009: “I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business,” he told French television: “I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain not in America. Britain was preparing gunmen to invade Syria.”

Leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor, including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials, confirmed that as of 2011, US and UK special forces training of Syrian opposition forces was well underway. The goal was to elicit the “collapse” of Assad’s regime “from within.”

Iraq

Everyone knows that the U.S. toppled Saddam Hussein during the Iraq War.

But did you know that the U.S. previously carried out regime change in Iraq?

Specifically, the CIA plotted to poison the Iraqi leader in 1960.  In 1963, the U.S. backed the coup which succeeded in killing the head of Iraq.

Recently, Iraq has started to break apart as a nation.   USA Today notes, “Iraq is already splitting into three states“. Many say that is by design … a form of regime change.

Iran

Everyone knows that regime change in Iran has been a long-term goal of the hawks in Washington.

But do you know that the U.S. already carried out regime change in Iran in 1953 … which led to radicalization of the country in the first place?

Specifically, the CIA admits that the U.S. overthrew the moderate, suit-and-tie-wearing, Democratically-elected prime minister of Iran in 1953. (He was overthrown because he had nationalized Iran’s oil, which had previously been controlled by BP and other Western oil companies). As part of that action, the CIA admits that it hired Iranians to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its prime minister.

If the U.S. hadn’t overthrown the moderate Iranian government, the fundamentalist Mullahs would have never taken over. Iran has been known for thousands of years for tolerating Christians and other religious minorities.

Hawks in the U.S. government been pushing for another round of regime change in Iran for decades.

Turkey

The CIA has acknowledged that it was behind the 1980 coup in Turkey.

Afghanistan

The U.S. obviously bombed the Taliban into submission during the Afghanistan war.

But Hillary Clinton and then-president Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser have both admitted on the record that the U.S. previously carried out regime change in Afghanistan in the 1970s by backing Bin Laden and the Mujahadin … the precursor to Al Qaeda.

Libya

Not only did the U.S. engage in direct military intervention against Gadafi, but also – as confirmed by a group of CIA officersarmed Al Qaeda so that they would help topple Gaddafi.

Indeed, the U.S. has carried out coups and destabilization campaigns all over the worldcreating chaos.

And see this.

Events last month in Ferguson, Missouri (read my detailed thoughts here) forced Americans to confront the frightening reality that many of of the nation’s police departments have been quietly, but consistently, militarizing over the past couple of decades. It’s one thing to intellectually understand that this has happened, it’s quite another to see cops deploy tanks and point sniper rifles at peacefully protesting U.S. citizens.

Just as disturbing as the scenes themselves, is the fact that this has been happening for so long under the 1033 transfer program with only muted criticism. The program was originated in the late 1990′s under the National Defense Authorization Act of 1997 (recall that the NDAA is also being used to allow for the indefinite detention of American citizens without trial), and it allows for the transfer of excess Department of Defense equipment to domestic police. In other words, it has been public policy for almost two decades to militarize the police.

With the issue squarely still in the public consciousness, it would behoove us to understand that this program is not only arming police with weapons of war. In fact, public schools are also receiving such items, including grenade launchers, M16s and MRAPs.

The Wall Street Journal reports that:

A federal program that has drawn criticism in recent weeks for supplying surplus military gear to local police has also provided high-powered rifles, armored vehicles and other equipment to police at public schools, some of whom were unprepared for what they were getting.

In the wake of school shootings in Newtown, Conn., and elsewhere, some school security departments developed SWAT teams, added weapons and called on the federal government to help supply gear. But now, the program is facing renewed scrutiny from both outside observers and schools using it.

The Los Angeles Unified School District stocked up on grenade launchers, M16 rifles and even a multi-ton armored vehicle from the program. But the district is getting rid of the grenade launchers, which it never intended to use to launch grenades or use in a school setting, said Steven Zipperman, chief of the Los Angeles Schools Police Department. The launchers, received in 2001, might have helped other police in the county disperse crowds by shooting rubber munitions, he said.

In July, the district received a massive MRAP armored vehicle. Mr. Zipperman said his department thought it could be useful for evacuations and to save lives in a “sustained incident.”

Just in case you aren’t aware, this is an MRAP:

Makes you wonder how schools survived in America for over two hundred years without tanks. More from the WSJ…

In Texas, near the Mexican border, the sprawling Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District has 34,700 students and operates its own SWAT team, thanks in part to military gear it received in recent years from the federal program. The gear included two Humvees and a cargo truck, as well as power generators, said district Police Chief Ricardo Perez. The district applied for weapons, too, but wasn’t given any, so instead purchased its own M4 and AR-15 assault-style rifles, he said.

The weapons are given to schools through the 1033 Program, created by Congress in the early 1990s to allow law-enforcement agencies to obtain excess Defense Department supplies, paying only for shipping. The program has transferred $5.1 billion in items, including $4.5 million worth in 2013.

Among recipients are more than a dozen school police departments, according to a spreadsheet from the Defense Logistics Agency, which runs the program. But for security reasons the list excludes districts that received only “tactical” gear such as weapons, as opposed to other types of supplies. That means the list likely understates the number of districts that participated.

California is one of few states that provides a list of participating school districts and what they received. Its state website shows that two school police departments received armored vehicles, others added M-16s and grenade launchers to their armories, while one district took in televisions, projectors and a podium but no weapons.

What I find most interesting about all of this, is where have all the “gun control” politicians and hysterics been on the dangers of the 1033 for all these years?

Indeed, while politicians in D.C. appear determined to invade half the countries on earth, while simultaneously arming the other half, from terrorist groups in the Middle East to police departments and school districts domestically, it appears the only group being singled out for disarmament is the citizenry itself. Makes you wonder doesn’t it…

Cease-fire and its reasons

The piping-hot stage of the Ukraine crisis was over with signing of Minsk cease-fire agreement. It is far from clear how long the cease-fire will last, and whether it will morph into stable peace; still this pause provides a chance to review policies and strategies of the sides. The first part of this essay dealt with the Ukrainian crisis up to the Boeing incident. I wrote there of lacklustre achievements of the rebels and concluded that “without direct Russian involvement, a separatist movement in Novorussia was doomed to fail.”

After the Boeing disaster, the Russians have made peace in Ukraine their priority. Paradoxically, this called for more Russian involvement. From the beginning, State Department claims notwithstanding, Putin did not want the war in the Ukraine, and still less he wanted a war with Ukraine. He would prefer the Ukraine remain neutral and friendly. This dish was not on the menu as the US intended to fight Russia by Ukrainian hands, or at least, to strengthen its hold over Europe by using Russian scarecrow. Still Putin procrastinated hoping things will sort out.

He miscalculated: he did not count on Poroshenko’s military ardour, on the new Kiev ruler’s readiness to inflict huge civilian casualties and to sacrifice his own army. This was unexpected development – after peaceful transition of Crimea, Putin could expect Kiev will honour Donbass desires. Putin could not leave Donbass in flames and forget about it. One million refugees from Ukraine already crossed into Russia; continuation of Kiev’s war in Donbass could dislodge up to five million refugees, too much for Russia to swallow.

Putin was ready to negotiate with Poroshenko and achieve a peaceful settlement; Poroshenko refused. The low-level support for Donbass rebels was not sufficient to change the rules of the game and force Poroshenko to negotiate. This called for a limited victory, at the price of some Russian involvement.

It appears that the “involvement” rapidly changed the situation. Facing defeat at seaport city of Mariupol, Kiev accepted Putin’s proposals. Did the involvement amount to invasion? I have no access to the secrets of state, but I’ll share with you what I have heard and seen and understood.

First, compare Russia to Vietnam of fifty years ago.

  • Vietnam was divided into North and South by the West, like the USSR was divided into Ukraine and Russia by the West.
  • North Vietnam became independent; Russia became independent;
  • South Vietnam remained under occupation, Ukraine remained under Western occupation.
  • People of South Vietnam rose against their US-installed government and North Vietnam certainly supported their struggle.
  • The US presented the war as “North Vietnamese aggression”, but North and South Vietnam weren’t two independent  states; this was one state artificially separated by the West.
  • Likewise, the US presents now the war in Ukraine as “Russian intervention”, but Russia and Ukraine aren’t two fully independent countries; they are rather two halves of one country, in the eyes of Russians and Ukrainians. In their view, people of the Ukraine rose against the US-installed government, and independent Russia had to support their struggle.

People of my generation remember as the US killed millions of Vietnamese people, bombed their cities and ruined their nature – under the banner of “resisting North Vietnamese aggression” but it ended by unification of Vietnam. Poroshenko is a Ngo Dinh Diem of the Ukraine, Putin is an unlikely Ho Chi Minh of Russia.

Actual Russian involvement took form of (1) providing equipment and training for the Novorussia forces, like the US trained the Syrian rebels in Jordan, and (2) allowing some Russian officers to take leave from their duties and join the rebel forces on the voluntary basis. The Russia-trained and equipped rebel units fortified by some Russian officers, weren’t quite up to scratch as regular army goes; their enthusiasm made up for the lack of skill. Kiev regime estimated the whole Russian military presence in the Ukraine at one thousand men; a negligible amount in comparison with 50,000 troops of Kiev regime and 30,000 of the main rebel forces, but it made the difference. Even more important was (3) strategic command and advice provided by retired planners of the Russian General Staff.

I’ve been told by people on the ground that the Novorussian military leader Colonel Strelkov (I described him in Part One) had no previous experience of commanding big-scale operations, and despite his personal courage he could not successfully lead a force of 30 thousand men. Apparently he was asked to leave the command to more experienced professionals. These first-class military planners rapidly improved the situation by stabilizing the link between Russia and the rebel-held enclave. The Kiev army has been pushed away from the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk.

An additional rebel force crossed the old Russian-Ukrainian border far to the south of Donetsk and closed on Mariupol, an important city and port on the Sea of Azov. The lightening speed of the Mariupol attack changed the equilibrium on the ground. Now the rebels could proceed for Melitopol, eventually heading for Kakhovka, a place of ferocious battles of the Civil war in 1919. If they were to take Kakhovka, they would be able to secure the whole of Novorussia or even retake Kiev. This development proved to Poroshenko that he needs a cease fire. He agreed to the Minsk formula and the armistice took place. The rebels were upset by the armistice as they felt their victory was stolen from them, but they were convinced by the Russians that it would be better to safeguard Donbass.

The sanctions

For the main antagonist of Russia, the US, the cease-fire was a minor setback. Washington would prefer the Russians of Russia and Ukraine to fight each other to death, but it had to consider the weakness of Kiev forces. In 1991, at the break-up of the USSR, the Ukraine has got a much better equipped and much stronger army than Russia had, but twenty years of embezzlement turned it into a feeble pushover. When the Kiev army will be beefed up by Western mercenaries and by NATO soldiers, the war is likely to renew, unless there will be a political settlement.

Meanwhile, the US applied various means of economic warfare against Russia. These means are called “sanctions”, though this word is misleading. “Sanctions” are acts of a legitimate authority towards its subjects; such are Security Council sanctions. The US and EU’s measures against Russia aren’t “sanctions” but acts of war on Russia by economic means.

Some “sanctions” were aimed against most powerful Russians in Putin’s inner circle. The idea was to cause these strongmen to plot and get rid of the popular president. This circle of sanctioned persons grew to include many parliamentarians and businessmen, while the ordinary Russians took the sanctions in their stride, or even enjoyed the discomfort they caused to the wealthy of the land. Putin joked that EU travel bans on top legislators would leave them more time to spend with their constituents. “The less time officials and business leaders spend overseas and the more time they spend dealing with current issues the better”, he said.

Other sanctions were aimed at Russian economy: banks, credits were hit; the US allies were forbidden to transfer advanced technology to Russia. Russians were used to this treatment: in the Soviet days, it was called CoCom (Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls), an embargo on advanced technology supplies to the socialist countries. It was a powerful obstacle to their development; if other countries could buy advanced technology from, say, Japan, the Russians and Chinese had to steal it or reinvent it. CoCom is one of the reasons for Soviets after WWII being rather behind-the-times, in comparison with 1930s, when the Soviets could and did buy the most advanced technology of its time. Apparently, Obama resurrected CoCom; and this is the most serious threat to Russia until now.

This will have a strong effect in many ways, not only on Russia’s profits but on Russia’s thinking as well. After 1991, Russia gave up many of its own industries, notably aircraft and switched to buy Boeing or Airbus. Now they have to build their own planes. Russia is fully integrated in Western banking and it has billions of US securities at its account. Russia used its oil profits to buy Dutch cheese, Polish apples, Italian wine, while neglecting its own food production. Under Western sanctions, the Russians are likely to back out of international cooperation and begin to develop or resurrect their own industries and agriculture. This will cost money; the social projects will suffer. The prosperity of the last ten years is likely to vanish.

Russia sparingly applied counter-sanctions. It discontinued importing foods from sanctioning countries, thus applying pressure on European farmers. This measure is likely to influence Europe. In France, for the first time ever, it can bring Mme Le Pen of the Front National into the Palais de l’Élysée, as both mainstream parties are equally beholden to the US. Finland, Slovakia, Greece will ponder leaving the EU altogether. In Russia, its pro-Western glittering and chattering class was quite upset with the disappearance of oysters and parmesan cheese; the food prices rose all over but slightly.

Sanctions after cease-fire

The Russians were bewildered by the Western response of applying more sanctions despite the cease fire in the Ukraine. Apparently, they thought and hoped to restore the ante-bellum friendly co-existence with the US by giving up on the bulk of Novorussia. The Russian ruling elites were ready to accept their heavy strategic losses in the Ukraine and to live with it. But they counted without the US, as Washington pushed for more sanctions.

Slowly, it transpires that for the US administration, the Ukraine crisis just supplied a plausible explanation and a trigger to attack Russia. To be on the safe side, Obama has opened the Second Front against Russia in the Middle East; ostensibly against the chimera of Caliphate, but it has another target.

ISIS (or ISIL, or IS, or Daish, or Caliphate) is a neo-colonisation project for Syria and Iraq. The technique is familiar: Anglo-Americans create a demon, nurture it to its fullness and then destroy and take over the land. They created Hitler, supported him, then demonised and destroyed him by Russian hands. Germany remains an occupied country to this very day. Al-Qaeda was created in 1980s to fight Russians in Afghanistan and later on it was used to create the casus belli in 2001. Afghanistan is still occupied. ISIS was created to fight Russians in Syria, and now it is being used to bomb Iraq and Syria. At the end, the US will occupy and control the whole Fertile Crescent, with Israel as its centrepiece. Some religiously inclined persons may see it as fulfilment of the prophesy of Greater Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates.

The Russians, like the Middle Easterners, do not believe in the official story of saving the world from the threat of ISIS. They remember that quite recently ISIS was supposed to be a moderate force fighting for democracy against the bloody tyrant. They think that the US uses its own toy monster to break up Iraq, to create “independent” Kurdistan, to bomb Syria, to remove Bashar al-Assad from power and lay a new gas pipeline from Qatar via Kurdistan and Syria to Turkey and Europe, thus pushing Russia out of European gas market altogether, to ensure Russia’s income dwindles and the dangerous liaisons of Europeans with Russia are terminated.

Russians do not care for Islamic takfiri extremists like everybody else, so they were surprised that in the US pundits’ minds, there is a connection between ISIS and Russia. Robert Whitcomb, the Wall Street Journal editor, says in an essay called Wishful thinking about Putin and the Islamic State that these two are somehow equal in their sheer wickedness. “We might make fun of those Renaissance paintings in which little devils skitter around. We don’t like to accept that there’s something like evil in the world. But you look at something like the Islamic State and the Putin regime and you realize that those people in 1500 were on to something.” (You won’t be surprised that Whitcomb hates Islam and loves Israel, would you?)

Anne-Marie Slaughter, an ex-State Department and a Professor at Princeton, called for intervention in Syria to teach Russians a lesson. “The solution to the crisis in Ukraine lies in part in Syria. Obama’s climb-down from his threatened missile strikes against Syria last August emboldened Russian President Vladimir Putin to annex Crimea. It is time to change Putin’s calculations, and Syria is the place to do it. A US strike against the Syrian government now would change the entire dynamic. After the strike, the US, France, and Britain should ask for the Security Council’s approval of the action taken, as they did after NATO’s intervention in Kosovo in 1999. Equally important, shots fired by the US in Syria will echo loudly in Russia.”

In Russia, there are some voices calling to support the US strikes in Syria. Important politicians and parliamentarians propose to repeat 2001, when Russians supported the US war on terror, despite its grim consequences. (Since 2001, Afghanistan has been occupied by the US, and the traffic of drugs to Russia and Europe increased twenty-fold). Actually, there are many pro-western politicians in power in Russia, and especially in Russian media. Once, the West had freedom of expression, while Soviet Russia spoke in one voice. Now the positions has been reversed: Russia enjoys pluralism of views and freedom of expression, while in the West, alternative views exist on the margins of the public discourse.

Why the US is so keen on subjugating Russia, provided that Russia is not punching above its weight and is generally accommodating to the US demands? The US is special, as this heir to the British Empire guided by Jewish spirit is the only country ever possessing the unique, expensive and uncomfortable desire to rule the whole of planet Earth. They view every independent force in the universe as a challenge they can’t tolerate. They think that Russia with its nuclear weapons and educated people can become too strong and disobedient. Russia is a bad example for Europe, Japan, China, India as these powers could strive for independence, as well. Russia with its oil and gas can attempt to undermine the dollar status as the world currency. Russian weapons could protect Iran and Syria from American anger.

For these reasons, a war between the US and its proxies and Russia seems very probable. Syria and Ukraine are two perspective battlefields where the battle of will precedes the battle of steel. The war may be conventional or nuclear, regional or world-embracing. The alternative is the US’s full spectrum global domination. Many Russians would prefer a war to this grim prospect.

Israel Shamir can be reached at [email protected]

On Tuesday, the parliaments in Kiev and Strasbourg adopted the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union. The refusal of President Viktor Yanukovych to sign this agreement last November triggered the protests on the Maidan in Kiev and the Western-backed coup against Yanukovych.

In the European Parliament, 535 deputies supported the agreement, 127 voted against and 35 abstained. In Kiev, all 355 deputies present voted in favor, while 95 did not attend the vote. The two sessions were connected by video transmission.

It was left to the Chairman of the European Parliament, the German Social Democrat Martin Schulz, to praise the adoption of the agreement as a “triumph for democracy”. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko spoke of a “historic moment” and pathetically declared: “We are treading the path towards victory.”

In fact, the Association Agreement will go down in history as a dirty deal struck between the imperialist powers of Europe and Ukrainian oligarchs at the expense of the working class and world peace.

At the heart of the Agreement are geopolitical interests. The main issue, theFrankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung noted, is “not trade or if the Ukraine can participate both in a customs union with the European Union and with Russia. It’s about spheres of influence.”

Poroshenko for his part declared in parliament that the ratification of the agreement meant that Ukraine had made its “geopolitical choice.”

The oligarchs who rule Ukraine are integrating the country into the spheres of influence of the EU and NATO, receiving in return guarantees protecting the wealth they illegitimately acquired during the dissolution of the USSR. The Kremlin can only perceive this as a geopolitical threat, after the world’s biggest military alliance has increasingly surrounded Russia militarily since the dissolution of the Soviet Union a quarter of a century ago. The threat of war, which could end in nuclear disaster, has grown accordingly.

Claims that the signing of the agreement was an act of national self-determination, or a step towards the rule of law and democracy, prove to be absurd when one examines more closely the content of the agreement. By committing itself to adopt EU law, Kiev is largely handing over legislative authority to the unelected EU bureaucracy in Brussels, even though it will not be an EU member. About 80 percent of all laws and regulations are subject to EU provisions.

The agreement subordinates Ukraine to the financial and budgetary dictates of the International Monetary Fund and the EU. The consequences will prove to be even more devastating for the desperately poor population of Ukraine than for the Greek people. There, average incomes have dropped by a third due to the financial dictates of the troika, social provisions and education have been eradicated, and broad swathes of the population have been condemned to abject poverty and unemployment.

The economic consequences of the Association Agreement are so devastating, that its centerpiece, the free trade agreement, is only due to come into force at the beginning of 2016. The delay was agreed by the EU Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, and Russian Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev last Friday in Minsk. Russia presented a long list of objections which it wants to negotiate beforehand.

Ukrainian nationalists have condemned the delay of the FTA as an inadmissible concession to Moscow. Fatherland Party chair Yulia Tymoshenko called it “a betrayal of the national interest,” while the chair of the Greens in the European Parliament, Rebecca Harms, ranted: “Mr. Putin has sabotaged the deal.”

In fact, the delay in implementing the free trade agreement is “a sudden and dramatic step to protect the Ukrainian economy,” as Die Zeit writes. The immediate abolition of customs duties on goods from the EU would not only flood Ukraine, but through Ukraine also Russia, with competitive imports from Europe that would threaten to undermine domestic industries.

Russia currently does not levy taxes on imports from Ukraine but has threatened to do so if the free trade agreement is implemented immediately.

Russia is, besides the EU, the main market for Ukrainian products, and the introduction of customs controls would have a devastating effect on the Ukrainian economy, which is already in free fall. The national currency, the hryvnia, has lost 36 percent of its value against the US dollar since the beginning of the year, the inflation rate is 25 percent, and economic output is expected to shrink by ten percent by the end of this year.

The Ukrainian regime also fears the withdrawal of Russian investment. The two economies are closely intertwined, and Ukraine depends on Russian capital. One seventh of the banking sector is in the hands of Russian financial institutions, and large parts of the country’s power system, telephone lines, mobile phone providers, steel mills and real estate are owned by Russian companies. Any sudden withdrawal of capital would lead to severe shocks.

The aim therefore of the free trade delay is primarily to buy time. The same purpose is served by two other laws agreed by the Ukrainian parliament shortly before the adoption of the Association Agreement. One law grants more autonomy to the embattled regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, allowing them have their own elections and set up their own militia. The second law grants an amnesty to separatists who have not committed serious crimes.

These laws have been rejected out of hand by the ultra-right nationalists, upon which the Kiev regime relies. Just 287 of the 450 deputies voted in favor of the amnesty law and 277 for the Autonomy.

There were tumultuous scenes in front of the parliament with at least one deputy assaulted and dumped into a trash can.

Nevertheless, President Poroshenko insisted on the adoption of the laws. The vote was held in secret because this was probably the only way to secure a majority. Poroshenko needs time to reorganise the Ukrainian army with the support of NATO. It has suffered significant setbacks in recent weeks and is presently incapable of defeating the separatists militarily.

For its part, NATO is currently carrying out military maneuvers in Ukraine and the Black Sea, thereby demonstrating that it will escalate its military pressure on Russia.

The US House of Representatives voted Wednesday afternoon to approve the Obama administration’s plan to build up Syrian “rebel” forces as part of a greater US military intervention in the Middle East. The bipartisan approval came by a margin of 273-156, with majorities of both Republicans (159-71) and Democrats (114-85) supporting the measure.

The nominal target is the Islamic fundamentalist group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), which now controls much of eastern Syria and western Iraq. ISIS has carried out atrocities against religious minorities in Iraq and executed three Western hostages, two of them American journalists.

But the real purpose of the US intervention is to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria and establish a pro-US regime in Damascus, just as the invasion and conquest of Iraq—also in the guise of fighting “terrorism”—produced an American puppet government in Baghdad.

The measure approving US training of Syrian opposition forces came in the form of an amendment to a bill known as a “continuing resolution,” which authorizes funding for all federal government operations from October 1, when the current fiscal year begins, through December 11.

Shortly after approving the amendment, the House passed the continuing resolution by a larger margin, 319-108. The bill goes to the Senate, which is expected to pass it easily Thursday, approving the Syria training program as part of the continuing resolution rather than taking a separate vote.

Those voting for the Syrian intervention included the entire leadership of the Republican and Democratic parties in the House: Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Majority Whip Steve Scalise, and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.

A raft of prominent liberal Democrats voted “yes,” including Xavier Becerra of California, John Conyers of Michigan, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

The seven congressmen who are candidates for US Senate seats in the November election all voted for the bill, demonstrating that support for military intervention overseas is a requirement for promotion to higher office within both corporate-controlled parties. These included five Republicans and two Democrats, Gary Peters of Michigan and Bruce Braley of Iowa.

A majority of those who voted against the bill, including most of the Republicans and many Democrats, wanted a more sweeping and aggressive approach to ISIS, authorizing direct US military strikes in Syria and even the use of ground troops. Only a few dozen representatives claimed to oppose any form of military escalation in Iraq and Syria.

Numerous comments in the House debate indicated that the congressmen were well aware that the measure could open the way to a US war against the Assad regime. Carolyn Maloney of New York said she opposed the measure because it “could turn into a war on three fronts: fighting ISIS in Iraq, fighting ISIS in Syria and potentially Assad in Syria.”

As for the nature of the “rebels” that the US government is now publicly committed to arming and training, Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, speaking at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Wednesday, described meeting US-backed fighters who openly declared their willingness to use chemical weapons against the Syrian army.

While the subject was quickly swept under the rug by Secretary of State John Kerry, the principal administration official at the hearing, Gillibrand was raising a touchy issue: ISIS is itself a creation of previous US military interventions, not merely because it arose as a byproduct of the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq, but because many ISIS fighters were trained and armed by the CIA or US allies Qatar and Saudi Arabia as part of their joint efforts to subvert and overthrow the Assad regime since 2011.

The Obama administration has already outlined one scenario in which the war it has launched against ISIS could be transformed into a war with Assad. The Associated Press reported Monday, citing “senior Obama administration officials,” that the US would attack Syrian air defenses if they fired on US warplanes bombing ISIS targets. The AP story elaborated on a report that first appeared Sunday in the New York Times, which suggested that such airstrikes could lead to the overthrow of Assad.

Asked Monday about these reports, White House spokesman Josh Earnest effectively confirmed them. He said the Pentagon had “rules of engagement that are related to any military orders the president directs,” adding, “It won’t surprise you to know that there are contingencies related to self-defense when it comes to these sorts of rules of engagement.”

Only hours before the House vote to authorize US intervention in the Syrian civil war, President Obama visited the US Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, which oversees all US military operations in the Middle East. He received a briefing on recent airstrikes in Iraq from Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of Central Command, and other top military and intelligence officials.

Obama also addressed an audience of military personnel, giving a 15-minute speech on the war with ISIS, while claiming it would not develop into a full-scale ground war on the scale of Iraq and Afghanistan. The US role would be limited to airstrikes and advising Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces, he said.

More significant than this assurance, however, was Obama’s declaration, in the most sweeping terms since he entered the White House in 2009, of American world domination. “Our Armed Forces are unparalleled and unique,” he said. “I want you to know, as I stand here with you today, I’m as confident as I have ever been that this century, just like the last century, will be led by America. It will be and is an American century.”

Obama went on to insist that while “only 1 percent of Americans may wear the uniform and shoulder the weight of special responsibilities that you do… 100 percent of Americans need to support you and your families—100 percent.”

Obama’s remarks on the use of ground troops appeared to be an effort to rebut suggestions by his own military commanders that a wider ground war was in the offing. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said as much in well-publicized testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday. Dempsey also revealed that General Austin had already sought to use US soldiers as ground spotters for air strikes around Mosul Dam in Iraq, although the Pentagon had denied permission.

Another top officer, Army Chief of Staff Raymond Odierno, told journalists Wednesday at a press briefing in Wiesbaden, Germany, that airstrikes had halted the advance of ISIS in Iraq but wouldn’t be an “end-all” to the conflict. “You’ve got to have ground forces that are capable of going after them and rooting them out,” he said, without specifying where those ground forces would come from.

Meanwhile, the well-connected Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, a frequent mouthpiece for high-level leaks from the military-intelligence apparatus, wrote a commentary Wednesday under the headline, “U.S. boots are already on the ground against the Islamic State.” He cited Title 50 of the US Code, regulating the activities of the CIA, which allows the president to send US Special Operations forces on military actions under CIA direction, as in the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

“Let’s be honest,” Ignatius wrote. “US boots are already on the ground, and more are coming. The question is whether Obama will decide to say so publicly, or remain in his preferred role as covert commander in chief.”

Meanwhile, within Iraq, US military operations intensified with the first bombing raids around Baghdad. US warplanes hit targets in Sunni towns southwest of the capital city Monday and Tuesday. The attacks were coordinated with an Iraqi Army offensive that began at dawn Wednesday, with ground forces striking westward in Anbar province, including artillery and mortar barrages of its capital Ramadi and the cities of Fallujah and Haditha.

What do Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran and Russia have in common? They have all been a victim of American aggression in one form or another – either a military attack or economic sanctions. Washington uses ethical pretexts, such as “protecting civilians” or “promoting democracy”, to act belligerently towards these nations, but due to its hypocritical nature of supporting dictators throughout the world and its disregard for human rights, this excuse is a fabrication.

The real reason for singling out these countries is the petrodollar system, a scheme that enables America to stay afloat despite being more than $17 trillion in debt. The existence of petrodollars is one of the pillars of America’s economic might, because it creates a significant external demand for the American currency, allowing the U.S. to accumulate enormous debts without defaulting.

The beginning of the petrodollar

What makes the dollar unique is the fact that since the early 1970s it has been, with a few notable exceptions, the only currency used to buy and sell oil on the global market. This began when in 1973 the Richard Nixon administration began negotiations with the government of Saudi Arabia to establish what came to be referred to as the petrodollar recycling system. Under the arrangement, the Saudis would only sell their oil in U.S. dollars, and would invest the majority of their excess oil profits into U.S. banks and Capital markets. The IMF would then use this money to facilitate loans to oil importers who were having difficulties covering the increase in oil prices. The payments and interest on these loans would of course be denominated in U.S. dollars. 

This agreement was formalised in the “The U.S.-Saudi Arabian Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation” put together by Nixon’s Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1974. The system was expanded to include the rest of OPEC by 1975. This was a major economic success for the U.S. As long as the world needs oil, and as long as oil is only sold in U.S. dollars, there will be a demand for dollars, and that demand is what gives the dollar its value.

How victims of American invasion wanted to stop trading in dollars

This petrodollar system stood unchallenged until September of 2000 when former Iraqi Persistent Saddam Hussein announced his decision to switch Iraq’s oil sales off of the dollar to Euros. This was a direct attack on the dollar. To protect the supremacy of the dollar, the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003. Once Iraqi oil fields were under U.S. control after the invasion, oil sales were immediately switched back to the dollar.

In February of 2009, former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was named Chairman of the African Union. He immediately proposed the formation of a unified state with a single currency. It was the nature of that proposed currency that got him killed.

In March of 2009 the African Union released a document entitled “Towards a Single African Currency”. Pages 106 and 107 of that document specifically discuss the benefits and technicalities of running the African Central bank under a gold standard. On page 94 it explicitly states that the key to the success of the African Monetary Union would be the “eventual linking of a single African currency to the most monetary of all commodities – gold.” In 2011 the CIA moved into Libya and began backing militant groups in their campaign to topple Gaddafi and the U.S. and NATO pushed through and stretched a U.N. no-fly zone resolution to tip the balance with airstrikes. The presence of Al-Qaeda extremists among these rebel fighters was swept under the rug. 

In February of 2014, Russia became the new target for the U.S. Russia is the world’s second largest oil exporter, and not only have they been a thorn in Washington’s side diplomatically, but they also opened an energy bourse in 2008, with sales denominated in Russian currency (roubles) and gold. This project had been in the works since 2006. They have also been working with China to pull off of the dollar in all of their bilateral trade. Russia has also been in the process of organizing a Eurasian Economic Union which includes plans to adopt common currency unit, and which is scheduled to have its own independent energy market.

Leading up to the crisis in Ukraine had been presented with a choice: either join the E.U. under an association agreement or join the Eurasian Union. The E.U. insisted that this was an either or proposition. Ukraine couldn’t join both. Russia on the other hand, asserted that joining both posed no issue. President Yanukovich decided to go with Russia. In response the U.S. national security apparatus did what it does best: they toppled Yanukovich and installed a puppet government.

Having a puppet in place however hasn’t turned out to be enough to give Washington the upper hand in this crisis. They therfore decided to impose sanctions and demonize Russia in hope that Moscow would lose its international friends. However Russia is not Iraq or Libya. It is a dominant power an going up against was unlikely to work out in America’s favour. In fact it has already backfired. The sanctions have merely pushed Russia and China into closer cooperation and accelerated Russia’s de-dollarization agenda. And in spite of the rhetoric, this has not led to Russia being isolated.

End of petrodollar would bring an end to the U.S. hegemony

The petrodollar is the only life support machine left for the U.S. and this is precisely why Washington goes after any country that tries to destroy it. This is not deterring Russia and China from going ahead with their plans. Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov announced after talks in Beijing recently that Russia and China are currently discussing the creation of a system of inter-bank transactions, which would be an analogue to the international system of bank transfers – SWIFT. The Russian authorities intended to reduce the dependence of the financial market on SWIFT after the first wave of US sanctions, when international payment systems Visa and MasterCard refused to work with a number of Russian banks. According to Shuvalov, Russia also discussed the creation of an independent rating agency with China. Specific proposals are to be made by the end of 2014.

All this indicates that the Eurasian Economic Union will gradually abandon the dollar. As soon as Russia and China show that it is really possible to abandon the dollar, especially given the fact that the United States is pushing for this, other countries will follow their example. This could become the beginning of an end of the American global dominance.

Alexander Clackson is the founder of Global Political Insight, a political media and research organisation. He has a Master’s degree in International Relations. Alexander works as a political consultant and frequently contributes to think-tanks and media outlets.

I wrote Monday ”how” and on Tuesday ”why” precious metals (and all markets for that matter) are manipulated, today I will tell you “what” will remedy and the results.

First, the manipulation in U.S. markets has become so blatant and so obvious that foreigners are taking note and altering their future plans.  All you have to do is look around to see nation after nation, friend or foe, making plans to live and trade in a world without using dollars.

China is at the center of these plans but the list is very long of nations who plan to trade in their own (or Chinese) currency.  Off the top of my head, we have seen announcements from Argentina, Brazil, India, South Africa, Britain, France, Germany, Venezuela, Australia and of course let’s not forget about Iran and Russia. This is not all inclusive but the point is …the thought process and preparation is far and wide.

Oddly, the CME group who “oversees” COMEX has made several announcements over the last couple of weeks.  It seems they would like to be seen as putting their foot down on “disruptive” (manipulative) trading practices.  Even more odd was a story which came out last week that showed “central banks” as a category of CME customers.  This “category” it seems has been given financial “incentives” to trade.  Very curious indeed, why would central banks have any need to trade in the S+P futures?

Why would they be given financial rebates from CME to transact trades?  I see it as some sort of joke so to speak because if a central bank needs “more” money, they would just print it up right?  So why the rebates?  More importantly, why would CME allow central banks in as their clients?  Doesn’t this look or “smell” bad in our supposed free and fair markets society?  Then of course you get the skeptics out there who might wonder what gets said over a few drinks after the markets close?  Nothing too important I would imagine except for where the S+P, Treasuries, oil, natural gas , silver and gold will close at TOMORROW?  Ya’ think?

I wrote yesterday that gold and little cousin silver were at “the core” of it all, gold (and silver) could not be let loose to fly far above the scene shining a spotlight on the fraud.  This is “why” they have been locked down …creating and opening an Asian physical exchange is the “what”.  “The what” as in what is being done about it.  The Chinese it seems are in the process of going live with an exchange for gold and silver which will settle physically.  “Physically” as in real gold or real silver will be required and “cash” settlement will not be allowed.  In fact, it will be illegal to cash settle.  I can only say, this is like the dog taking his body back and refusing to let his tail wag him anymore!

Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore are all now in the process of creating live physical exchanges.  Shanghai plans to go live on September 26th Shanghai Gold Exchange Said to Plan FTZ Contract for Sept so COMEX will have more competition as of then.  Currently Shanghai operates a “futures” exchange, this as I understand will be a spot or cash exchange.  Koos Jansen  reports the futures exchange in Shanghai to now only have 92.5 tons remaining of silver, down from 1,200 tons a year back.  Koos Jansen: China again buys the dip in gold and silver gets scarcer | Gold and Precious Metals  He also reports that silver is trading in backwardation, this should NEVER be the case unless investors are in fear of not receiving their silver (or gold) at a future date.  I do want to also point out what is happening in London, they will no longer publish these “forward rates” (GOFO) so we will no longer see any backwardation when it occurs.  Interesting isn’t it… the West becoming more secretive while the East becomes more transparent!

“What” I think is happening is the “two tier” market beginning to take shape that I’ve spoken of for so long.  COMEX and LBMA are making changes, the “fixes” have been changed, CME no longer allowing “disruptive trading practices” (yeah right!), forward rates no longer being published amongst others.  The East on the other hand is becoming more transparent and “real” so to speak.  Why do you think these events are both happening at the same time? Cause and effect or action creates reaction maybe?  The East is clearly positioning itself to “price” both silver and gold.  If (when) there are 2 different “prices” for one ounce of silver or one ounce of gold …which one will be the real one?  Which one will designate the price for a real ounce to change hands somewhere (anywhere) in the world?

Do you see ”what” is happening? China and the East are in the process of taking away the pricing mechanism from New York and London …and there is absolutely NOTHING the West can do about it!  If and this “if” is a very big one, the West had vaults overflowing with silver and gold they could then thwart China by making delivery of metal.  But, this “was” 10 years ago!  We have already crossed this bridge and delivered out whatever metal we could get our hands on and retained the ability to “price”.  We have in my opinion already thrown or “used” this card as inventories and available metal is drying up at the same time international demand remains voracious. China has plans to “guard the dog” so to speak and disallow the Western tail to wag it. Derivatives will no longer hold sway as the overriding pricing mechanism, the real deal physical is in the process of taking over and is being sponsored by the East, who’d of ever thunk it years ago? This, is “what” is happening!

Bill Holter, Miles Franklin associate writer.

In the spirit of dialogue and in the search for common ground to find solutions for the conflict in Ukraine, sixteen prominent business leaders with equal representation from Ukraine, the Russian Federation, Europe, and the United States gathered privately on the invitation of Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, on Sunday September 14th in Geneva. 

While acknowledging the complexity of the situation and the different viewpoints, the participants succesfully agreed on a common approach. The ten points summarized below are considered by all to help resolve the conflict.

All participants recognize that the implementation of these proposals in the present context is challenging given the many complexities. They trust the political leaders involved and their ongoing dialogue, and hope that these proposals can support their initiatives for resolving the Ukraine conflict. The participants also hope that the political leaders can meet soon to bring an end to the conflict, and they pledge their full support for such a political process. 

1. Build on the 12 point ceasefire plan elaborated under the OSCE. Ensure a sustained truce, supporting the immediate end of violence and further loss of life. Acknowledge the primacy of the value of human life.

2. Refrain from using provocative and belligerent language, recognizing that it is only through dialogue conducted in an honest and collaborative spirit that progress, security and sustainable peace can be achieved.

3. Intensify the process of comprehensive dialogue on a national Ukrainian level, between Ukraine and the Russian Federation and between Europe, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the United States with the commitment to establish shared objectives and identify key milestones for the solutions to the present challenges.

4. Maintain a security framework in Ukraine’s eastern region under the oversight of the OSCE, to last until the territorial security is guaranteed.

5. Initiate an inclusive political process towards the decentralisation of power in Ukraine, where additional rights are delegated from the central government to the regions, while also supporting guarantees for minority and language rights.

6. Guarantee the security and sovereignty of Ukraine by the international community. Recognize the supremacy of international law above national interests. Recognize the right of self-determination but encourage to consider a policy of military non-alignment for Ukraine, comparable to the status of other European countries (i.e. Finland, Sweden, Switzerland).

7. Identify how sanctions and counter-sanctions can be avoided and rolled-back in accordance with key milestones achieved in the process of reconciliation, as part of a process of re-establishing normal business dialogue and relations.

8. Put in place an economic recovery plan which addresses the devastation created by the conflict, the need for humanitarian assistance and the rehabilitation of infrastructure required. Establish for this a multistakeholder process and encourage all actors, particularly business, to jointly invest.

9. Coordinate and establish special association and trade agreements for Ukraine as well with the European Union as with the Russian Federation, and later possibly with the Eurasian Economic Community, to stabilize Ukraine’s economy, allowing Ukrainian companies to boost job creation, to improve long-term growth prospects and to reach international levels of competitiveness.

10. Organize a summit for the top political leaders from Europe and European countries involved, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the United States in Geneva within a short timeframe to advance the reconciliation process.  –  emphasis, m.z.  –

URL: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GenevaUkraineInitiative_CommonPrinciples_2014.pdf

(1)  Participants of the Meeting:  Joe KAESER (CEO Siemens; G),  Kurt BOCK (CEO BASF; G), Indra NOOYI (CEO Pepsi; U.S.), German GREF (CEO Sberbank; RU), Andrj KOSTIN (CEO VTB; RU), Ukrainian Oligarchs Wiktor PINTSCHUK,  Serhij TARUTA  et.al. 

The Hidden History of the Korean War

September 18th, 2014 by Dr. T. P. Wilkinson

Former heavyweight boxing champion Mohammed Ali (born Cassius M. Clay) is probably the most famous draft resister in US history. When refusing to accept the draft in 1967, during the American war against Vietnam he told the Press:

“No, I am not going 10,000 miles to help murder, kill and burn other people to simply help continue the domination of white slavemasters over dark people the world over. This is the day and age when such evil injustice must come to an end… Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam, while so-called Negro people in Louisville[1] are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights.”

The only war in the official history of the United State that was lost, was also the first war in which Jim Crow, the apartheid regime created in the US after the Civil War and Reconstruction, was not the policy of the US military. How African-Americans came again to challenge the imperialist war machine in the 1960s cannot be understood without uncovering the decades of silence and deception that have covered the first war the US regime truly lost—although it has never officially ended.

Bruce Cumings, certainly the most authoritative if not the sole US expert on this mysterious conflict, wrote,

Americans know the Korean War as a “forgotten war”, which is another way of saying that generally they do not know it. A war that killed upwards of four million people, 35,000 of them Americans, is remembered mainly as an odd conflict sandwiched between the good war (World War II) and the bad war (Vietnam).”

This reflects what might be called an especially American form of Manichaeism—for Americans there is only the “good” and the “bad”. The ability to judge either their own individual behaviour or that of their government is limited by this narrow dualism, a recurrent pattern in the way they perceive both domestic and foreign affairs. It is what made Jim Crow a most stringent and insidious form of social engineering: white and black, good and bad, sin and salvation, communism (without understanding it) and democracy (without having it). Bipolar disorder predates the pharmaceutical and confessional waves of the last two decades. In fact this disorder, going back to the country’s founding myth, has been a fundamental obstacle to comprehending the vicious invasion of a fiercely independent Asian country, under the pretext of preserving these supposedly clear moral categories. US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, staunch Presbyterian and corporate mercenary, declared the necessity of a “Christian war” in Asia.[2]

I.F. Stone, a unique American journalist, tried to breach the insipid and seemingly impenetrable barrier in the consciousness of Americans when he first published his Hidden History of the Korean War in 1952—in the midst of brutal fighting in Korea and political purging in his own land. Stone wrote:

“Writing in an atmosphere much like that of full war, I realised that I could be persuasive only if I utilised material which could not be challenged by those who accept the official government point of view. I have relied exclusively, therefore, on United States and United Nations documents, and respected American and British newspaper sources.”[3]

Stone’s history is damning although he deliberately used only published sources and not the disclosure of classified documents. His hidden history is a case study in how the control of the narrative—to use a modern term—successfully prevented and prevents obvious criminal conduct by the government and military from being recognised for what it is.

Hence Professor Cumings asserted that Stone’s non-conformist history “is a textbook on how to read… People with a built-in indifference to history are ill accustomed to retrospective digging, to lifting up rugs, to searching for subterranean forces and tendencies. Exploring the labyrinth of history is alien to the American soul, perhaps because an optimistic people find knowledge of the past too burdensome in the present”[4]

But just maybe even more problematic are the basic lies upon which the US founding myth was based and had to be enforced upon every new wave of cheap immigrant labour imported to dilute the poison of Negro slavery and Native American annihilation from which the hypocritical optimism was born. The US war against Korea was only possible because the US regime had emerged from the “good war” with the only industrial economy intact and capable of fulfilling its founder’s “manifest destiny” to replace the empires of their European forebears. This manifest destiny replaced Britain’s “white man’s burden” with the war against communism and nationalism. This optimism, born from decimation of a continent filled with virtually defenceless indigenous, driven by uprooted and exploited labour, was only possible with a culture of forgetting, forgetting the mass murder, the slavery, the poverty and oppression to which immigrants had been subjected in Europe before they came to North America. Two world wars had taught Germans and Japanese their tenuous place in this white man’s republic, racially divisible under god.

I.F. Stone explains the way the war was fabricated by a man William Manchester called an “American Caesar”.[5] He shows that this nominally United Nations war was a process of transforming the continental warrior state into a full-fledged global war machine for whom the very scent of peace was deemed revolting, esp. for dividends. Repeatedly Stone refers to the threat of “peace”. Chapter 15 is called, “Peace alarms”. Chapter 28 is called “Anti-peace offensive”. Chapter 33, “Hiding the Lull” describes how MacArthur’s headquarters worked to conceal the actual decline in combat activity—except US bombing. Chapter 41 is called “Postponing Peace Again”. In fact Stone shows on numerous occasions that the worst fear of those US warlords in Asia and Washington was that “peace might break out”.[6] Even MacArthur’s field commanders lied beyond the distortions for which William Westmoreland would be grated years later. Stone writes:

“Eighth Army Headquarters claimed to have killed or wounded 69,500 of the enemy from January 25 to midnight February 9, an average of about 4,600—or as Headquarters put it, “almost” a “full division” a day. Comparisons with the peak battles of World Wars I and II will indicate what a feat this was… If the figures given out that day at Lieutenant General Matthew Ridgway’s Headquarters were correct, then the push through the no man’s land south of Seoul must rank with the Battle of Stalingrad, the climax of World War II…”[7]

This was somehow plausible—and even acceptable– to Americans since they were repeatedly told how their clean-cut American soldiers were confronting endless “hordes” of Asians. Even the British press could not swallow the official reporting. The Daily Mirror published a story headlined: “Fairy Tales from Korea”.[8]

Aside from the exhaustion of the belligerents during the US Civil War—from 1860 – 1865—after the horrific violence waged by the industrialised armies of the mercantile North against the feudal armies of the Southern latifundista, there has been little serious bloodshed in the history of US conquest—at least as far as whites have been concerned. Hence the optimism that prevails among the warmongering classes seems to have arisen from the exceedingly modest waste of white lives in the two hundred years of the republic’s continental and colonial expansion.

Stone repeatedly demonstrates that Douglas MacArthur always lived up to the reputation he enjoyed among his fellow general officers—as a man who knew how to stage a show. MacArthur’s wilful deceit and manipulation of the US media assigned to his headquarters in Tokyo was every bit as contrived as the embedded reporting and isolated journalist pools of the Grenada invasion (1983) and the endless Gulf Wars starting in 1991. It should be no surprise however that a third generation colonial slaughterer should follow his return to the Philippines (where his father had also been military governor) to pursue the conquest of the rest of Asia, absorbing on the way the colonies and dependencies of Europe’s bankrupt empires.

However Stone rightly distinguishes between MacArthur’s limitless egotism and the genteel ambitions of the Northeastern establishment personified in Dean Acheson, whom the British antecedents thought “was their picture of what a foreign secretary should be: cultivated, personable and superbly tailored.”[9] Where Stone becomes problematic is precisely in this aspect of his analysis. If MacArthur and the rest of the military establishment in Washington were bent on presenting the war in terms of the controlling narrative: good v. bad, communist v. democracy, Christianity v. atheism, and ultimately whites v. non-whites, who were the real targets of the propaganda—the psychological operations at the core of the war against Korea. What made the war against Korea, essentially a civil war to reunify a peninsula that had been colonised by Japan with US brokerage and then partitioned against both Allied promises and the will of the Korean inhabitants, necessary?[10]

It could not have been the general population, including the Black Americans still targets of Jim Crow and white terrorism at home. It could not have been the socialists who emerged in the US as a potent force in the labour movement, abetted by the grudging US alliance with the Soviet Union in World War II. Nor could it have been the average working class man or woman whose claims to a peace dividend were to be foiled by America’s corporate elite. Stone was not privy to NSC 68—promulgated just before 1950 and only declassified in the 1970s. Nonetheless Stone was well aware of the corporate forces prepared to fight against social expenditure but perfectly willing to adopt military Keynesianism if it meant windfall weapons profits.[11]

Stone’s Hidden History leaves us with the facts of war: the total destruction of Korea, esp. north of the 38th parallel. He documents endlessly, from reports in the New York Times and other newspapers of record, that despite the lack of an enemy in the field that had no interest in demolishing its homeland, the Supreme Commander exercised carte blanche (pun intended) to saturate the entire peninsula with high explosives and napalm. The logical conclusion of Stone’s story is that the US regime destroyed non-white Korea—like so many Vietnamese villages thereafter—to save it. But for whom? Stone only hints at the answer.

Today the territory of the Palestinian nation has been virtually obliterated by a US client state. However the debate in the US persists in the same way it did between 1950 and 1953. Perhaps what Stone missed—or was simply unable to say in public—is that same issue which conceals the war against Palestine: Namely the entrenched power of an elite US ruling class.

This imperial consensus however is not uniform in its particular objectives or interests. It only coalesces when there is active warfare. It has only recently been acceptable in albeit limited public venues to discuss the “Israel lobby”. In 1950, it was impossible for anyone to discuss the “China lobby”. Stone tells us that powerful factions in the US elite could not agree whether the dictates of empire meant that US power should be focussed on Europe and the threat posed by the Soviet Union to the expansion of US corporations into European markets or—as the faction to which John Foster Dulles and his brother Allen in CIA belonged felt—directed toward the endless wealth to be plundered in Asia. The evacuation of Britain, France and the Netherlands from their plantation and mining possessions—not least of which the CIA-favoured opium trade, controlled from Shanghai until 1949—promised huge opportunities.

MacArthur’s role ought to be seen in this light. The decision to attempt “rollback” in Asia, rather than “containment” was made possible by the US atomic arsenal. This fearsomely obscene weapon had already been deployed against “non-white hordes” in Japan and appeared no doubt the weapon of choice for US re-conquest of China. Sheer numbers would have made an invasion and occupation of China impossible. The victory of Mao Tse-Tung and the Chinese Communist Party resulted in the expulsion of the last of China’s great warlord drug dealers from the mainland. Not only Chiang Kai-Shek but also his banking and pirate backers in the US, Japan and Britain would have profited immensely from a restoration of the status quo ante.[12] To pursue this goal MacArthur cut the Korean War out of whole cloth and deliberately created conditions which would replicate the rationale used to defend the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

The mystery with which Stone left his readers in 1952 was why did the US regime ultimately stop its campaign to conquer China? Was it the repeated refusal of the Chinese and Russians to intervene far enough to provide objective justification for MacArthur’s fake war against communism? Was it the realisation in Washington that having destroyed all of Korea they could not have fought a two front, perhaps even nuclear war? Perhaps it was precisely the outbreak of a precursor to what has been erroneously called “Vietnam syndrome”, the puncturing of pride within the ruling elite and the choice in Washington and New York to make more money at home and in Europe?

According to Gerald Horne, the Korean War was a major catalyst for Truman’s half-hearted attempts to abolish the US apartheid system of Jim Crow.[13] While the war in Korea served well to establish the post-war military-industrial complex, against which Eisenhower belatedly warned, it did not produce the desired domestic harmony. The Korean War was waged at home against every dissident group that had survived the New Deal and the US victory over the Axis. However, by attacking a fiercely nationalist, non-white country while attempting to preserve all the vestiges of centuries of white privilege at home, the elite was forced for a brief moment to choose. Could it crush nationalism (anti-colonialism) abroad and equality at home? Could it win an absolute ideological victory in Europe while terrorising Blacks in America? Could it arm and train segregated military units and construct the national police force which today keeps the largest prison population in the world under lock and key?

Stone does not ask any of those questions. But then these issues were not yet part of the official and respected narrative.

In 1954, the US regime was compelled to use federal authority to suppress the most atrocious practices of its racist system. It could be confronted with this domestic crime all the way through to the finish of its only “bad war”. Mohammed Ali was only born in 1942, less than ten years before the war against Korea started. However he was only the most famous of those Blacks who refused to join in the annihilation of non-whites throughout the world to support liberties never respected at home. Refusing to go to Vietnam—where both the death squads and saturation bombing deployed by the US Armed Forces in Korea were enhanced and modernised–Ali put it quite bluntly. “My enemy is the white people not the Vietcong.” Sometimes the US ruling elite is forced to recognise the potential hazard of such honesty in the face of their own egregious deceit.

Notes

[1] Louisville, Kentucky, where Mohammed Ali was born.

[2] Stone, p. 25, “He helped draft a manifesto by the Federal Council of Churches that year (1947) calling for a world-wide ‘moral offensive’ by the United States to spread the doctrine of freedom as opposed to Soviet doctrine…” As Stone put it, “the man who in 1943 had been pleading for a ‘Christian peace’ with the Axis no seemed to be advocating a “Christian war” against the USSR.”

[3] Author’s preface

[4] Bruce Cumings, Preface to the 1988 edition.

[5] William Manchester, American Caesar, Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964

[6] Stone, p. 153.

[7] Stone, p. 245.

[8] Stone, p. 242.

[9] Stone, p. 203

[10] Stone, p. 302, Not only the Yalta agreement was violated but the Cairo agreement to restore Korean sovereignty. See here esp. Bruce Cumings, Origins of the Korean War.

[11] Stone, p. 106

[12] Stone, p. 122.

[13] see Gerald Horne, Race to Revolution, New York, 2014. Although Truman issued Executive Order 9981 to end racial discrimination in the US military, it was only in 1952 that the armed forces began forming integrated units—although the allocation of command positions remained race-based well into the early 60s.

Image Credits: forum.omsk.com

A new bill introduced in the U.S. Senate yesterday would authorize the Obama administration to send $350 million dollars worth of sophisticated weapons technology to Ukraine despite the fact that neo-nazi militants are openly fighting alongside Kiev forces.

The bipartisan Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, introduced by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Bob Corker (R-TN), is set to be discussed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee later today.

Despite attempts to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine after a shaky cease fire was called, the legislation would intensify sanctions against Russia, forcing Moscow to “pay an increasingly heavy price” for its “aggression” in the region. The bill would also authorize President Obama to provide military assistance to Ukraine to the tune of $350 million dollars.

From the bill;

Providing defense articles, defense services, and training to the Government of Ukraine for the purpose of countering offensive weapons and reestablishing the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including anti-tank and anti-armor weapons; crew weapons and ammunition; counter-artillery radars to identify and target artillery batteries; fire control, range finder, and optical and guidance and control equipment; tactical troop-operated surveillance drones, and secure command and communications equipment. It authorizes $350 million in fiscal year 2015 to carry out these activities.

The notion that such weapons are not “offensive” and can only be used for defensive purposes is clearly a misnomer. Anti-tank weapons include rocket-propelled grenade launchers and bazookas which can be used to target aircraft as well as fortifications and buildings.

With the administration already facing criticism for its decision to arm so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels despite clear evidence that FSA militants have sold weapons to ISIS, the likelihood of powerful weaponry ending up in the hands of neo-nazi militants who are openly aligned with and have fought alongside Kiev forces is extremely troubling.

As the Telegraph reported last month, Kiev is now deliberately working with armed neo-nazi paramilitaries on the front lines of the battle with pro-Russian rebels, men who proudly display SS tattoos on their necks in honor of the feared Waffen SS – the armed wing of Hitler’s Nazi party.

When the Ukrainian government was asked about their policy of supporting and using neo-nazis in battle, Kiev’s Anton Gerashchenko was unrepentant, commenting, “The most important thing is their spirit and their desire to make Ukraine free and independent.”

The Senate bill risks seeing weapons transferred into the hands of what Foreign Policy magazine calls the “fascist defenders of freedom,” including the Azov Battalion, an “openly neo-Nazi unit has suddenly found itself defending the city against what Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called a Russian invasion.”

Earlier this month, German television broadcast video which showed Azov militants proudly wearing Nazi SS symbols on their helmets.

The Azov Battalion has also recently been converted into a regiment, making it a de facto part of the Ukrainian Army. The paramilitary group forms “the backbone of the forces fighting against the local self-defense militia advocating independence from Ukraine.”

“Azov fighters do more than wave a Swastika-like flag,” writes Robert Parry, “they favor the Wolfsangel flag of Hitler’s SS divisions, much as some of Ukraine’s neo-Nazis still honor Hitler’s Ukrainian SS auxiliary, the Galician SS. A Ukrainian hero hailed during the Maidan protests was Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera whose paramilitary forces helped exterminate Jews and Poles.”

The prospect of using American tax dollars to arm fascists is unlikely to sit well with millions of Americans whose family members fought to defeat Hitler and Japanese imperialism during World War II.

Following last year’s coup d’état, Kiev also handed key positions within the newly formed government to members of the neo-nazi Svoboda Party, despite the fact that one if its top members, Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn, founded a think tank named the Joseph Goebbels Political Research Centre as an homage to the Nazi propaganda minister.

Despite their clear neo-nazi connections, Senator John McCain and others have repeatedly called on the Obama administration to arm pro-Kiev militants.

Plans to further bolster Kiev forces also arrive in the aftermath of numerous incidents involving Ukrainian air strikes on villages which have killed scores of civilians, primarily in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

The one hour video below exhaustively documents how neo-nazi militants were involved in both the overthrow of the elected Ukrainian government as well as fighting on the front lines alongside post-coup Kiev forces.

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor at large of Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com.

Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/paul.j.watson.71
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“It is my firm belief that 9/11 skeptics—and true skeptics of any paradigm-shifting and taboo subject—who publicly expose lies and naked emperors are heroes who have come out of waiting, for we have suffered the ridicule and wrath of those emperors, their minions, and the just plain frightened.

“To survive as babies and young children, we automatically look to our parents (thought-leaders, TV anchormen, politicians, military generals and other parent figures) for confirmation of safety or danger(whether manufactured or otherwise).

“Thus, the need for a leader, an authority, appears to be genetically hardwired. If we have been reared in an authoritarian family and school system, then this tendency to rely on authority figures for confirmation of reality is likely reinforced.

Conversely, if we are (gently) reared in a family, school system, and cultural context that rewards critical thinking and respects our feelings and needs, then the tendency to rely on authority figures would likely be weakened.

“In our American society, many of our officials routinely lie to and abuse us, but nonetheless, many citizens continue to look to them for truth and safety—especially when fear is heightened. This strong tendency to believe and obey authority is another obstacle with which skeptics of the official 9/11 account must contend.

“By unquestioningly believing and obeying authority, we develop and perpetuate faulty identities and faulty beliefs, and to top it off, we make very bad decisions, which often negatively affect others. This can be equally true for the four human proclivities studied by social psychologists: doublethink, cognitive dissonance, conformity, and groupthink.” – Psychologist Frances Shure, M. A., L. P. C. Excerpted from Part 3 of her 9 part series on “Why Do Good People Remain Silent – or Worse – about 9/11?” AEAtruth.org

Over the past 13 years since 9/11/01, the title question has plagued the tens of thousands of organized and committed groups of truth-seeking scientists, physicists, architects, engineers, pilots, ex-intelligence agents, firefighters, demolition experts, psychologists, medical professionals, etc, who have absolute proof that the official story about what happened on that date was a “Big Lie”, too easily perpetrated on a fearful public that was anxious about their future and was all too willing to suspend their freedom and their critical thinking skills and to throw their trust onto authority figures that would tell them what had happened and what to do next. Unfortunately, those authority figures had a long history of being serial liars; and they had hidden ulterior motives.

Millions of clear-headed people all over the world have paid close attention to the evidence that disproves the Big Lie, and thus they have seen through the propaganda that launched and then quagmired and bankrupted the US into two illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are naturally wondering what is going on, and why have they been black-listed?

Hundreds of millions of aware citizens around the world have witnessed the consequences of the destabilization of the oil-rich Mideast that was targeted because of the Big Lie, and they have seen the descent into perpetual war all over the planet.

Billions have seen the suffering, despair and slaughter of innocent Muslim women, children and old men that have been driven from their homes by US soldiers and their high tech lethal weaponry. Observers with open eyes and hearts have seen the rape, plunder, pillage, deaths and decapitations (by un-filmed drone strikes and mortar attacks, it needs to be mentioned) of families, tribes, cultures, societies, religious sects and infrastructure, predictably provoking violent reprisals, including beheadings, from justifiably angry, right-wing extremists bent on revenge and retaliation against American “christian” invaders and occupiers who drew “first blood” during the Crusades..

Qui Bono (Who Benefitted)?

Many observers know the names of the military, economic, corporate and political entities that have benefitted so much from the post-9/11 wars, wars that lavishly enriched them all – at the expense of us taxpayers and the doomed, deceived and dying boots on the ground that did the dirty work for them.

Many of us know the names of the war profiteering oil cartels, weapons manufacturers, gun runners, the rent-a-mercenary-soldier corporations and all the other multinational and American corporations that enjoyed huge stock market gains and profitability – not just from the wars but also from the rumors of war – again at the expense of the soldiers and those of us in the lower 99 %.

The American Empire, the Pentagon,  Full Spectrum Domination, “The New  Pearl Harbor” and “Corporate Personhood”

A few observers also saw the connections between the right-wing pro-corporate think tanks of the past few decades that include this short list of recognizable ones: Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform, American Legislative Exchange Council, American Family Association, Christian Coalition of America, Club for Growth, Eagle Forum, Family Research Council, National Taxpayers Union, among about 800 others. These think tanks seem to be peopled largely by draft-dodging ChickenHawk insiders from the Cheney/Bush administration – that are consistently pushing for American military and economic hegemony abroad. They call it “full spectrum domination”, which seems to be the operating principle that every Pentagon subsidiary endorses and which is pushed by every talking head mercenary general on CNN and Fox TV that has undeclared financial ties to the weapons industry.

Many of the Cheney-Bush insiders that gained tremendous political power after the 2000 stolen election were members or had close connections to the nefarious Project for the New American Century – PNAC – that published in its manifesto “Creating Tomorrow’s Dominant Force”  (exactly one year prior to 9/11/01) the following indicting sentence: 

“the process of transformation (i.e., achieving full spectrum planetary dominance by the US military), even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event––like a new Pearl Harbor.” 

It doesn’t take a genius to decide what group should be at the top of the list when the international war crimes tribunal starts to subpoena people.

Interested in knowing who are the folks from PNAC? Immediately below, Pilots for 911 Truth has provided us with a list of the operatives that deserve to have their day in court to clear their names .They will have some pretty tough explaining to do. Check out http://pilotsfor911truth.org/forum/index.php?showtopic=223 for much more.Here is the short list:

Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, Scooter Libby, Richard Armitage, Richard Perle, Dov Zakheim, Gary Bauer, William Kristol, William Bennett, Norman Podhoretz, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, James Woolsey, Robert Bork’s daughter Ellen, Charles Krauthammer, Jeb Bush, Steve Forbes, Rudy Boschwitz and Vin Weber. No progressives were members of this NeoConservative think tank. (You can see the rest of the list of Republican members at: http://911review.com/motive/pnac.html).

Fair-minded readers will agree that it is extremely important that Americans keep in mind during the upcoming elections that the members of PNAC are still aiming to achieve full spectrum domination in the Senate and the White House, in addition to maintaining the dominance that they already have in the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court. Most of PNAC’s blind supporters happen to be climate change deniers, have no concern for polluting corporations and are therefore quite willing to risk the survival of the planet – thus ignoring the potential suffering of the all of earth’s creatures who they think will be left behind after the “Rapture”).

It doesn’t look good for democracy if punitive, compassionless politicians and their cunning psychopathic paymaster corporations are to gain total power in what is shaping up to be a rolling, right-wing, fascist coup d’etat. (Recall that corporations have been newly deemed by the Supreme Court to be “persons” [albeit with vicious, untreatable and incurable sociopathic/criminal traits]).

9/11 Truth-seekers and Many Eye-Witnesses are Willing and Eager to Testify Before an International Criminal Court

Many of the members of the 911 Truth-seeking groups listed in paragraph one above are articulate, highly intelligent, scientifically astute, very professional, are not seeking to enrich themselves and are very concerned about the future of America. They want a truly independent commission with subpoena power to get to the bottom about what really happened on 9/11/01.

A multitude of experts are ready to be subpoenaed and to testify about the science of controlled demolition, nanothermite, the impossibility of fires or plane impacts to bring down steel-reinforced skyscrapers and the impossibility of amateur Cessna pilots flying commercial jets, much less guiding them into buildings at high speed.

Hundreds of eye-witnesses are ready to testify about the multiple explosions that they heard both prior to the plane’s impact into the two twin towers and also prior to the freefall collapse of each of the three skyscrapers, 1, 2 and 7.

Thousands of professional architects and engineers for 911 Truth are willing to testify about the robust construction of the over-engineered WTC towers that were pulverized into fine dust, each of which had been designed to withstand jet airliner impacts and office fires. These professionals are ready to testify about the impossibility of the absurd “pancake theory” and the fact that the ONLY WAY to bring down steel-reinforced skyscrapers is by controlled demolition by a highly trained team of demolition experts.

Professionals with various areas of expertise are ready to testify to the impossibility of a 100,000 pound aluminum commercial jet that had a 124 foot wing-span and 44 foot high tail section disappearing into the Pentagon through a 16 foot diameter hole in its outer wall, leaving no debris. They are especially eager to question the total disappearance of the two virtually indestructible titanium engines that left no holes and broke no windows in the Pentagon outer ring. And they will question why the 80+ videocameras all around the Pentagon were confiscated immediately by the FBI and still have not been released to the public. The obvious conclusion: no 757 hit the Pentagon; a military missile likely did the damage.

Experienced pilots and on-the-ground eyewitnesses are ready to testify about the impossibility of a commercial jet disappearing into a 15 foot wide smoking slit at Shanksville, PA, with no plane parts, no debris, no luggage, no body parts, and no frantic search and rescue at the site, proving that no crash had occurred there, contrary to what was portrayed in the fictitious Hollywood movie, Flight 93. The Shanksville site now has a national monument that is obviously designed to perpetuate the Big Lie

Scientists and communication experts are ready to testify to the fact that the cell phone calls from flight 93 were hoaxes, only partly because it was impossible to have made calls from a 2001 cell phone from a jet traveling at 30,000 feet at 500 mph.

Patriotic, albeit dissident truth-tellers – typically unfairly painted as being unpatriotic – have been marginalized as “conspiracy theorists” by truth-obscurers in order to discredit and demean them and their unwelcome message.

Being ”Good Germans” Means Believing in the Validity of “My Country, Right or Wrong” Patriotism

The ethically invalid belief in “my country, right or wrong” patriotism – a common American trait – was also fervently believed by most patriotic “Good Germans” during Hitler’s 12 year-long “Thousand-year Reich”. Not wanting to come face-to-face with unpleasant truths about the criminality of police state fascism, most Good German Christians, contrary to what Jesus would have wanted them to do, i.e., resist tyranny by nonviolent means. Unfortunately, most Good Germans preferred to maintain their silence (and ignorance) about what the Nazis were doing in their name.

Most Good Germans did not want to know about the atrocities that their soldier sons were committing in the invaded and occupied territories during WWII, and they felt threatened by the whistle-blowers who were asking questions. Thus most Germans stayed in denial about the Jewish Holocaust and the death camps, despite the cattle car caravans that always came back empty of their human cargo and the over-powering stench of burning flesh that was so prominent in the smoke that was coming out of the camp stacks.

Those who questioned Hitler’s white supremacist henchmen about the “theories” of mass exterminations of “useless eaters” such as Jews, Slavs, homosexuals, foreigners, starving and physically depleted slaves and assorted other minorities might have been labeled as conspiracy theorists if the Gestapo had ever thought of such a cunning concept.

 Part two of this essay will appear in next week’s Duluth Reader, beginning with a section titled “The CIA’s Invention of the “Conspiracy Theorist” Smear Campaign to Discredit Dissenters.”

The entire 4,000 word column is being published in a variety of websites world-wide and it should be archived soon at http://duluthreader.com/articles/categories/200_Duty_to_Warn.
Dr Kohls writes regularly about a variety of issues that includes corporatism, militarism, economic oppression, racism and fascism. He is a member of Medical Professionals for 911 Truth. 

Addendum: 

Over the past few years, I have provided to readers many internet links to some of the sources that reveal the truth about the 9/11 conspiracy and cover-up, any of which effectively debunk the official conspiracy theories that have so successfully brain-washed the average US citizen. Some of this video evidence that proves that 911 was an inside job is widely available on the internet. Start your exploration and edification by going to YouTube and typing in “9/11 Truth” and then following the many links. Some of the best videos are currently being screened on PACT-TV here in the Duluth area, including the newest documentary film “Anatomy of a Great Deception” as well as “The New American Century” and “Plunder”. If you are in the Duluth, MN area, check out PACT-TV’s cable channels 189, 188 or 180 for show times.  

Theodore Roosevelt and American Racism

September 18th, 2014 by Margaret Kimberley

“I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indian is the dead Indian, but I believe nine out of every ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth. The most vicious cowboy has more moral principle than the average Indian.”
– Theodore Roosevelt

It is true today and was true in the past. The most celebrated political figures in this country, including those called blue blooded, elite or patrician, were mostly criminals. The descendants of the Mayflower ought to be ashamed of their heritage instead of bragging about their ancestors who began the genocide of indigenous people. The earliest American presidents Washington, Jefferson and Madison, earned their wealth through slave holding. Their successors in the office of the presidency either acquiesced to the slave holding interests or actively protected them until a bloody civil war put an end to their dirty work.

The Roosevelt family was no exception to this pattern of gaining wealth through thievery and then parlaying it into positions of influence for themselves. These are simple facts but the American desire to believe in cherished myths is not easily ended. This dynamic is obvious in a new PBS documentary series, The Roosevelts: an Intimate History, which chronicles the lives of Theodore Roosevelt, his niece Eleanor and her husband and distant cousin Franklin.

Every American has grown up with tales of the rough riders, teddy bears and walking softly but carrying a big stick. These well worn stories, like George Washington’s cherry tree, serve the purpose of spreading propaganda about the nation’s history and covering up the information we ought to know.

Theodore Roosevelt began his life as the child of a criminal class. His mother came from a slave holding Georgia family. In fact her father sold some of his human property in order to pay for her elaborate wedding to Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. Mrs. Roosevelt actively campaigned against her husband’s plan to enlist in the union army while also smuggling aid to confederate soldier relatives. Her son said that she remained an “unreconstructed” confederate her entire life.

As the title of James Loewen’s book indicates, the American history we are taught is nothing but Lies My Teacher Told Me. The men with their face on the currency, the pantheon of presidents and others deemed “great” are rarely people who should be admired and Theodore Roosevelt is no exception.

He played a major role in every act of American aggression that took place in the late 19th and early 20th century. The Spanish American war was an effort to steal the remnants of Spain’s empire, keeping Cuba a vassal of the United States and forcing the Philippines and Puerto Rico to become American territories. Panama was a Colombian territory until president Roosevelt encouraged a “revolt” which led to a newly independent nation and a better deal for the construction of the canal.

In the Philippines from 1901 – 1911, the United States killed more than 250,000 people in order to end their struggle for independence. First as Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1898 and then as vice president and president, Roosevelt made clear that he lusted for death on a mass scale. “I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one,” Roosevelt opined. He said that war stimulated “spiritual renewal” and [emphasis mine] “the clear instinct for racial selfishness.” He defended the imperial project in the Philippines by declaring Filipinos “Chinese half-breeds” and surmised that the bloodshed was “the most glorious war in our nation’s history.”

Roosevelt also urged white people to make babies in order to conquer the colored masses of the world. In a lengthy discourse that has come to be known as the “race suicide letter” he stated that anyone who didn’t reproduce was “in effect a criminal against the race.”

It isn’t shocking that a man born in the 19th century to wealth and privilege who was raised by a slave holder would turn out to be so loathsome. It should be shocking that in the 21st century there is still such an inclination to sweep this easily accessible information under the rug.

George Washington did not have wooden teeth. He took teeth from other human beings, his slaves, who endured this and other excruciating experiences under bondage. When the United States capital was briefly located in Philadelphia, Washington had to shuttle his slaves back to Virginia for periods of time, lest they be able to appeal for their freedom under Pennsylvania law. The southern planter class settled this inconvenient matter once and for all by creating a new capital city located safely between two slave states.

It is high time for Americans to grow up and that means eschewing tales of teddy bears in favor of telling the unvarnished and ugly truth. Those who feel the need for hero worship shouldn’t look towards Mount Rushmore or the dead presidents on currency. These people are invariably disreputable and should be remembered only as cautionary tales of how human beings should not behave. Theodore Roosevelt is definitely in that category.

Margaret Kimberley‘s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com.Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

David Cameron and the British media have been freaking out about the potential Scottish independence.

They’ve blathered on about “history”, “common defense” and other red herrings.

But it’s really all about oil …

Specifically, if Scotland becomes independent, it gets to keep 90% of the revenues from its huge oil reserves.

The New York Times reports:

Scottish nationalists have long argued that being governed from London has deprived their country of its fair share of the wealth from Britain’s oil and natural gas fields, which mostly lie in North Sea waters off their shores.

“It’s Scotland’s oil” was the rallying cry in the 1970s that helped raise the profile of the Scottish Nationalist Party, which now leads the country and is pushing for a vote to secede in the referendum on Thursday. Alex Salmond, the politician leading the separatist movement, has pointed to North Sea energy as the treasure that would help finance an independent Scotland — ensuring that the country could continue the generous public spending, including free university tuition, that he is promising voters.

Al Jazeera notes:

Massive oil reserves in the North Sea are at the heart of the Scottish independence debate. Many are questioning whether the reserves are just for Scotland or if the rest of the United Kingodm should continue to benefit from their profits.

NBC writes:

The ‘Yes’ campaign … says Scots should have total control of their own affairs and that revenue from Scotland’s offshore oil fields would sustain the country’s economy

In addition, as Max Keiser explained:

(1) The UK can now borrow cheaply using the giant Scottish oil reserves as collateral

(2) If Scotland leaves, the collateral (oil reserves) is no longer available

(3) So the cost of borrowing money for Britain skyrockets

Scotland’s North Sea oil reserves are slowing running out, and so oil won’t be such a valuable resource forever.

But for now, it is still invaluable (especially as collateral for British borrowing) … and the key to Britain’s panic over potential Scottish independence.

Bankers Rule: City of London vs. Scottish Independence

September 17th, 2014 by James Hall

Now that the independence referendum is too close to call, the bankers express their worry. The media blitz ramps up to tip the outcome. Scottish independence has finally rattled the City of London has the usual banksters forecasting the dislocations from a currency panic.

Scotland has a long and noteworthy history of banking. Money, savings and investing is entrenched in the culture and society.

Edinburgh is the fourth largest financial centre in Europe (after London, Frankfurt and Paris). Much of this reputation has arisen from its history of innovation over the last three hundred years. The Bank of Scotland, established in 1695, one year after the Bank of England by an Act of the Scottish Parliament, illustrates the prevailing attitude to the creation of money in that era. A list of banking innovations is a useful background of Scottish banking activities.

The City of London is the granddaddy of financial empires. Anglophiles are eager to point out all the achievements of expanding civilization and exporting the dominant economic model that the British Empire established in the colonial period. Control of indigenous cultures has been a dominant objective within the commonwealth association. Scotland knows this lesson better than most. Therefore, news report at Banks Threaten To Leave Scotland If People Vote For Independence, is totally consistent in the world of high power politics.


“Some of the biggest banks in Scotland are threatening to leave if the people there vote for independence from Britain. In a move designed to pressure the people of Scotland to stay within the UK, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group have said they will relocate if Scotland votes for independence in an upcoming referendum.”

English society maintains class distinctions and privileges within the United Kingdom. Many Scots may accept serving the Crown, but tolerating second-class citizenship insults the proud heritage of the highlands. The case for Scottish Independence would seem to be logical and rational, especially if the direction is to leave the oppressive dictates of European Union bureaucrats in a future break.

Therefore, the attitude that the first minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond maintains is a primary motivation behind a YES vote on independence. The business week article - Can an Independent Scotland, Free of London’s Dominance, Survive? – examines the prevailing issue.

“In a March speech in Edinburgh, Salmond quoted a professor named Tony Travers, who said, “London is the dark star of the economy, inexorably sucking in resources, people, and energy. Nobody quite knows how to control it.”

“UK debt – in theory – would be viewed by financial markets as a riskier bet since there is a remote possibility an independent Scotland would refuse take its share, estimated to be about £120bn. The effect of a smaller UK carrying the same debt burden would be to push up debt-to-GDP ratios, currently about 75%, by about seven percentage points. In practice, however, markets might take that event in their stride. The Treasury has already affirmed its commitment to service all gilts in all circumstances; the possibility of interest rates being lower for longer might even push gilt yields lower.

Instead, it is the currency question that now obsesses the City. “The most important specific risk, in our view, is that the uncertainty over whether an independent Scotland would be able to retain sterling as its currency could result in an EMU-style currency crisis occurring within the UK,” Kevin Daly, senior economist at Goldman Sachs, said yesterday.”

Ask yourself why it takes a possible severance in subjugation, which Scotland endures to bring forth the very real issues of unfunded financial obligations. The essay, Scottish independence: Sterling on knife-edge as City braces for Scots vote, exemplifies just how hazardous the current economic course has become.

“A chorus of British business leaders have been voicing fears about a “Yes” vote in recent days. The right wing Centre for Policy Studies think-tank became the latest group to weigh in with a report warning of a “severe” risk. The CPS claims there is a £13.8bn hole in the Scottish nationalists’ budget plans as North Sea oil will run out faster than expected while public sector costs will rise and financial-services firms will quit Scotland.

Many in the City still have the jitters about the Scottish vote. Leading firms could be facing a £100bn pension funding gap under European rules which demand pensions must be fully funded if they are deemed to be “cross-border” because of Scottish independence. Royal Bank of Scotland is said to have a £5.6bn gap.”

When the BoE central banker states: Mark Carney: Independent Scotland must build currency reserves, he really is saying that the financial markets view the risk of the English economy greater than the potential opportunity for the Scots to establish their own banking system.

“Given the Scottish economy is around £146bn (including the oil industry), this suggests that reserves totalling around £36bn would be needed if Scotland chose ‘sterlingisation’ – ie, using the pound without a currency deal.

The governor indicated that Scotland could start independence with around £15bn of reserves, depending on negotiations ahead of break-up.”


The Scottish vote on independence is a remarkable event. While the polls may not accurately reflect the sentiment of the Scots, the fact is that the City of London will use all their influence and punishments, if the tally goes against the interests.

Scotland has a chance to fire a new shot heard round the world, this time in the backyard of the financial elites. Is it possible to break ties with the New World Order peacefully, or will the consequences of a successful separation be so high that a majority of Scots will lose their nerve?

If any ethnic culture has the courage to vote for independence, it would be the Scots. The destiny of a people is not written from the back offices of bankers and accountants. The world should view the independence vote as a liberation watershed that could open up the financial prospects of ordinary citizens.

This article was orginally published on the Corporatocracy archive page

A Public Bank Option for Scotland

September 17th, 2014 by Ellen Brown

Scottish voters will go to the polls on September 18th to decide whether Scotland should become an independent country. As video blogger Ian R. Crane colorfully puts the issues and possibilities:

[T]he People of Scotland have an opportunity to extricate themselves from the socio-psychopathic global corporatists and the temple of outrageous and excessive abject materialism. However, it is not going to be an easy ride . . . .

If Alex Salmond and the SNP [Scottish National Party] are serious about keeping the Pound Stirling as the Currency of Scotland, there will be no independence. Likewise if Scotland embraces the Euro, Scotland will rapidly become a vassel state of the Euro-Federalists, who will asset strip the nation in the same way that, Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain have been stripped of their entire national wealth and much of their national identity.

To achieve true independence, Crane suggests the following, among other mandates:

  • Establish an independent Central Bank of Scotland.
  • Issue a new Scottish (Debt Free) Currency.
  • Settle any outstanding debt with new Scottish Currency.
  • Take Scotland out of the EU.
  • Take Scotland out of NATO.
  • Establish strict currency controls for the first 3 years of independence.
  • Nationalize the Scottish oil & gas industry.
  • Re-take control of the National Health Service.
  • Establish a State Employment Agency to provide work/training for all able-bodied residents.

Arguments against independence include that Scotland’s levels of public spending, which are higher than in the rest of the UK, would be difficult to sustain without raising taxes.  But that assumes the existing UK/EU investment regime.  If Scotland were to say, “We’re starting a new round based on our own assets, via our own new bank,” exciting things might be achieved. A publicly-owned bank with a mandate to serve the interests of the Scottish people could help give the newly independent country true economic sovereignty.

I wrote on that possibility in December 2012, after doing a PowerPoint on it at the Royal Society of Arts in Edinburgh. That presentation was followed by one by public sector consultant Ralph Leishman, who made the proposal concrete with facts and figures.  He suggested that the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB) be licensed as a depository bank on the model of the state-owned Bank of North Dakota. I’m reposting the bulk of that article here, in hopes of adding to the current debate.

From Revolving Fund to Credit Machine: What Scotland Could Do with Its Own Bank

The SIB is a division of Scottish Enterprise (SE), a government body that encourages economic development, enterprise, innovation and investment in business.  The SIB provides public sector funding through the Scottish Loan Fund. As noted in a September 2011 government report titled “Government Economic Strategy”:

[S]ecuring affordable finance remains a considerable challenge and further action is needed to ensure that viable businesses have access to the funding they require to grow and support jobs. The recovery is being held back by limited private sector investment – indeed, overall investment in the UK remains some 15% below pre-recession levels. Evidence shows that while many large companies have significant cash holdings or can access capital markets directly, for most Small and Medium-sized companies bank lending remains the key source of finance. Unblocking this is key to helping the recovery gain traction.

The limitation of a public loan fund is that the money can be lent only to one borrower at a time.  Invested as capital in a bank, on the other hand, public funds can be leveraged into nearly ten times that sum in loans.  Liquidity to cover the loans comes from deposits, which remain in the bank, available for the use of the depositors.  As observed by Kurt Von Mettenheim, et al., in a 2008 report titled Government Banking: New Perspectives on Sustainable Development and Social Inclusion from Europe and South America (Konrad Adenauer Foundation), at page 196:

[I]n terms of public policy, government banks can do more for less: Almost ten times more if one compares cash used as capital reserves by banks to other policies that require budgetary outflows.

In 2012, according to Leishman, the SIB had investment funds of £23.2 million from the Scottish government. Rounding this to £25 million, a public depository bank could have sufficient capital to back £250 million in loans. For deposits to cover the loans, the Scottish Government then had £125 million on deposit with private banks, earning very little or no interest.  Adding the revenues of just 14% of Scotland’s local governments would provide another £125 million, reaching the needed deposit total of £250 million.

The Model of the Bank of North Dakota

What the government could do with its own bank, following the model of the Bank of North Dakota (BND), was summarized by Alf Young in a followup article in the Scotsman. He noted that North Dakota is currently the only U.S. state to own its own depository bank.  The BND was founded in 1919 by Norwegian and other immigrants, who were determined, through their Non-Partisan League, to stop rapacious Wall Street money men foreclosing on their farms.

Young observed that all state revenues must be deposited with the BND by law.  The bank pays no bonuses, fees or commissions; does no advertising; and maintains no branches beyond the main office in Bismarck. The bank offers cheap credit lines to state and local government agencies. There are low-interest loans for designated project finance. The BND underwrites municipal bonds, funds disaster relief and supports student loans. It partners with local commercial banks to increase lending across the state and pays competitive interest rates on state deposits. For the past ten years, it has been paying a dividend to the state, with a quite small population of about 680,000, of some $30 million (£18.7 million) a year.

Young wrote:

Intriguingly, North Dakota has not suffered the way much of the rest of the US – indeed much of the western industrialised world – has, from the banking crash and credit crunch of 2008; the subsequent economic slump; and the sovereign debt crisis that has afflicted so many. With an economy based on farming and oil, it has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the US, a rising population and a state budget surplus that is expected to hit $1.6bn by next July. By then North Dakota’s legacy fund is forecast to have swollen to around $1.2bn.

With that kind of resilience, it’s little wonder that twenty American states, some of them close to bankruptcy, are at various stages of legislating to form their own state-owned banks on the North Dakota model. There’s a long-standing tradition of such institutions elsewhere too. Australia had a publicly-owned bank offering credit for infrastructure as early as 1912. New Zealand had one operating in the housing field in the 1930s. Up until 1974, the federal government in Canada borrowed from the Bank of Canada, effectively interest-free.

. . . From our western perspective, we tend to forget that, globally, around 40 per cent of banks are already publicly owned, many of them concentrated in the BRIC economies, Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Banking is not just a market good or service.  It is a vital part of societal infrastructure, which properly belongs in the public sector.  By taking banking back, local governments could regain control of that very large slice (up to 40 per cent) of every public budget that currently goes to interest charged to finance investment programs through the private sector.

Recent academic studies by von Mettenheim et al. and Andrianova et al. show that countries with high degrees of government ownership of banking have grown much faster in the last decade than countries where banking is historically concentrated in the private sector.  Government banks are also LESS corrupt and, surprisingly, have been MORE profitable in recent years than private banks.

Young wrote:

Given the massive price we have all paid for our debt-fuelled crash, surely there is scope for a more fundamental re-think about what we really want from our banks and what structures of ownership are best suited to deliver on those aspirations? . . .

As we left Thursday’s seminar, I asked another member of the audience, someone with more than thirty years’ experience as a corporate financier, whether the concept of a publicly-owned bank has any chance of getting off the ground here. “I’ve no doubt it will happen,” came the surprise response. “When I look at the way our collective addiction to debt has ballooned in my lifetime, I’d even say it’s inevitable”.

The Scots are full of surprises, and independence is in their blood.  Recall the heroic battles of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce memorialized by Hollywood in the Academy Award winning movie Braveheart.  Perhaps the Scots will blaze a trail for economic sovereignty in Europe, just as North Dakotans did in the U.S.  A publicly-owned bank could help Scotland take control of its own economic destiny, by avoiding unnecessary debt to a private banking system that has become a burden to the economy rather than a pillar in its support.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt. In The Public Bank Solution, her latest book, she explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her 200+ blog articles are at EllenBrown.com.

War Winds Near Gale Force. Permanent War is Official US Policy

September 17th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

Candidate Obama promised peace in our time. He pledged to “bring America’s longest war to a responsible end.” He lied saying:

“I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do.”

“I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.”

Fighting continues. It rages out-of-control. Washington plans permanent occupation. Withdrawal is more fiction than fact.

Thousands of US troops will remain. They’ll do so indefinitely. It’s just a question of how many.

Obama ravaged Libya. Syria is his war. So is Iraq war III.

Permanent war is official US policy. Obama is the latest in a long line of US warrior presidents. He’s a war criminal multiple times over.

He’s waging war on humanity. He intends escalating things dangerously. He promised no US ground forces in Iraq.

He lied. Over 1,000 special forces were deployed. Hundreds more are coming. Brigades of US ground forces may follow.

Mission creep often follows initial forays. Another potential quagmire looms.

Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey said he’ll recommend deploying US combat troops if ISIS/ISIL/the Islamic State (IS) can’t be defeated other ways.

“My view at this point is that this coalition is the appropriate way forward,” he said. “I believe that will prove true.”

“But if it fails to be true, and if there are threats to the United States, then I, of course, would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of US military ground forces.”

Obama “told me…to come back to him on a case-by-case basis.”

In other words, Obama’s “no (US) boots on the ground” is another of his many Big Lies.

If Dempsey and other military commanders recommend them, expect invasion followed by full-scale war.

Expect potentially thousands of US troops deployed. Expect protracted fighting.

Expect Obama to begin bombing Syria. According to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel:

“Because (IS) operates freely across the Iraqi-Syrian border, and maintains a safe haven in Syria, our actions will not be restrained by a border in name only.”

They’ll “require a sustained effort over an extended period of time. It is a generational problem.”

Post-9/11, Dick Cheney warned of permanent wars in our lifetime. Former CIA director James Woolsey said:

America “is engaged in World War IV, and it could continue for years.”

“This fourth world war, I think, will last considerably longer than either World Wars I or II…”

The Pentagon’s 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) called it the “long war.” It rages. It’s permanent. It’s against enemies America invents.

On September 21, 1992, GHW Bush told UN General Assembly members that multinational troops would become a New World Order army, saying:

“Nations should develop and train military units for possible UN peacekeeping operations.”

America’s permanent war agenda wasn’t explained. Nor was using “peacekeepers” as imperial occupiers. Coalitions of the willing came later.

Obama continues America’s longstanding tradition. Wars are glorified in the name of peace.

The business of America is war. It’s a national addiction. It’s a longstanding obsession. Brute force is official policy.

One nation after another is ravaged. They’re destroyed. They’re plundered. They’re transformed into dystopian wastelands. Their people are exploited.

General Smedley Butler called war a “racket.” His 1933 speech explained, saying:

“I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as (a Marine). I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General.”

“And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers.

“…I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico…safe for American oil interests in 1914.”

“I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in.”

“I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street.”

“The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909 – 1912.”

“I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916.”

“In China, I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.”

“During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket.”

“Looking back at it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints.”

“The best he could do was operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”

Today America’s global empire extends everywhere. Super-weapons Butler couldn’t have imagined enforce it.

Modern-day Butlers don’t exist. Profiles in courage aren’t a US attribute.

On issues of war and peace, both parties march in lockstep. So do MSM scoundrels, academia, think tanks and other influential organizations.

They ignore rule of law principles. They’re on the wrong side of history. They’re mindless of potential catastrophic consequences.

Their ideological extremism makes the unthinkable possible. Things today are dire and then some. Potential global war looms.

Preventing it matters most. Not as long as Obama remains unchecked. Not while he pursues open-ended conflict.

Not when permanent war remains official US policy. Not while one country after another is ravaged and destroyed.

Not when warriors run America. Not in the absence of mass public outrage.

Obama insists he’s authorized to wage open-ended Middle East war. He lied.

No nation may intervene in the internal affairs of others. None may attack another except in self-defense.

None may do so without Security Council authorization. None exits. Expect none forthcoming.

It doesn’t matter. Obama intends making a bad situation worse. He threatens the entire region.

World peace, security and stability hang by a thread. New World Order extremism threatens them.

Ukraine is a global flashpoint. It’s the gravest geopolitical crisis since WW II.

Sergey Lavrov accused US-led NATO of “pushing Kiev for a forcible solution” to ongoing conflict conditions.

Ukraine has a choice,” he said. It can “to go on the path of peace and constructive dialogue in the society or slide into authoritarianism and nationalist radical dictatorship.”

“This is up to Kiev and Ukrainian society to decide.” It depends on “substantial, open and inclusive dialogue involving representatives of all regions and all political forces as quickly as possible.”

It’s

“necessary to discuss the scope of issues concerning constitutional system, the future of the country in general where all nationalities, minorities and regions where human rights would be fully observed in all their variety would live comfortably and safely.”

It’s what Washington deplores. It’s what it’s going all-out to prevent.

It’s to assure unchallenged imperial control. It’s to eliminate Russia as a military and geopolitical rival.

State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin was clear and unequivocal. Irresponsible US policy destabilizes Eurasia. He addressed his lower house colleagues, saying:

“We begin the autumn session amid serious deterioration of the international situation.”

“The long-awaited ceasefire regime in Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics suspended massive bloodshed.”

“But the crisis and confrontation in Ukraine continue. And chaos instigated in the very center of Europe did not cool down belligerent passions of those who had provoked them six months ago.”

“The recent NATO summit has just made the current situation worse.”

“We hear from different sources that the Kiev regime was promised deliveries of weapons and military hardware from some countries of this military bloc, and that is already fraught with outright interference in Ukrainian domestic affairs.”

“Speaking straightforwardly, (it’s aiding and abetting) war crimes committed in the country.”

“…(A)ll masks have…been cast away…(T)he moment of truth has come.”

“…Citizens of many European countries (are) asking their authorities ‘inconvenient’ questions.”

They know “blindly following Washington (rules turns sovereign) European powers” into vassal states.

“A cynical and irresponsible policy pursued by the United States brings the world on the brink of an essentially new Сold War.”

“Its upgraded version is turning into reality of the present day.”

War is more than a racket. It’s ideologically extreme. It’s cold-blooded mass murder and destruction.

It inflicts unconscionable suffering. It’s the highest form of lawlessness.

It serves monied interests. It lets them use ill-gotten gains to make more of them.

It makes the world safe for war-profiteers. It lets them gorge at the public trough.

According to Michael Parenti, it lets “the dominant politico-economic interests of one nation expropriate for their own enrichment the land, labor, raw materials, and markets of another people.”

Nations are destroyed to save them. They’re pillaged for profit. Populations become disenfranchised.

Workers become serfs. Local cultures become mass-market consumer ones.

Agribusiness replaces local farming. Competitive industries are eliminated.  Foreign investment crowds out local capital.

Dominance legitimizes capital’s divine right. Plunder assures obscene profits.

Capital accumulation demands more. Profiteering and dominance matter most.

Trillions of dollars are spent. Waste, fraud, abuse and the grandest of grand theft are standard practice.

Homeland needs go begging. So do popular ones. Peace is a convenient illusion.

Wars without end rage. No end in sight looms. America’s war on terror is state terror.

Howard Zinn once asked “(h)ow can you have a war on terrorism when war itself is terrorism?”

“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

There’s none able to suppress horrendous genocidal high crimes against peace.

Why most Americans don’t challenge what harms them, they’ll have to explain. They have a choice.

They can demand peace, equity and justice or potentially perish in a mushroom-shaped cloud. No in between appears likely.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.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 three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

I’ve been in St. Petersburg and Moscow for the past two weeks.  As for the tragedy being played out in Ukraine, it’s been surprising to find total uniformity of opinion from Russian citizens, including groups of our CCI alumni.  This is not due to “controlled media,” since all I’ve spoken with check a multitude of media sources daily on Internet, including CNN. Their ages range from 25 to 55 years, generally they are the builders of Russia’s middle class. It is not long-term support for Putin, because at least half of them weren’t supporters of Putin previously. But today the situation has changed.

Crimea––they are adamant that Crimea has always been Russian; that Russia fought battles to keep Crimea in former centuries, and except for a small percentage of Tartars, Crimeans are ethnic Russians––and that Khrushchev turning Crimea over to Ukraine was just a fluke on paper of a discredited Soviet leader trying to impress his birthplace with his power. Many of our alumni vacation in Crimea (it has enviable warm weather), they claim they have never heard any language other than Russian spoken on Crimean streets, further that Crimeans are Russian Orthodox, and feel themselves to be Russian. I’m told that in 1991 when Yeltsin gave all areas outside of Russia their freedom, that the Crimeans declared themselves independent. Four months later, the bureaucrats in Kiev disagreed, and unfortunately Crimea has remained politically bound to Ukraine since.  Our friends remind that as children they went to summer youth camps in Crimea and vacation there routinely as adults.  They have always considered Crimea a part of Russia as did the locals. Hence, when it became obvious that Kiev would no longer permit Russian as official language and rapidly began institutionalizing Western Ukrainian culture in Crimea, the locals balked.  Our alumni add that Crimeans were grateful and excited to be officially rejoined with Russia.Sevastopol - city of the Russian glory.

Sevastopol – city of the Russian glory in Crimea.

Is Russia’s Intention to capture former Soviet territories?  Russians were shocked, flabbergasted, that I would even inquire whether Russia’s leadership would try to go into the Baltic countries, Poland or any of the former Soviet Republics.  So I re-asked the question ….  “What would you do if you saw on TV that Russia intended to move troops into one of these former Republics?”  They grew quite agitated that I might feel it even a possibility.  They were adamant that under no circumstances would Russia EVER be interested in having any of those countries under its control again. It was absolutely unthinkable to them.

Will Russia take more Southeastern Ukraine under its control?  Absolutely not, was the speedy answer across the large room.  They offered that Russia may help with reconstruction if and when this war comes to an end.  But NEVER will Russia annex any of Southeastern Ukraine’s land.  They say any information to the contrary is pure propaganda.

Russian/Ukraine history:  Russians have always felt deeply related to Ukrainians –– indeed Kiev was the very center of Rus’ – Russia’s history and culture.  Everyone I speak with here has close relatives living in Ukraine. The two countries have considered themselves of the same stock (except for Western Ukraine).  Ukraine and Russia remind me of Siamese twins — with main arteries, bone structures, and organs being shared.  Cutting, breaking them apart destroys vital flows of manufacturing, trade, other critical infrastructures––in addition to the hearts and souls of the peoples involved with each other for some three hundred years. It’s no wonder that many Ukrainian troops have defected and can’t shoot each other when forced into battle.

ukrmapUkraine has never been an independent nation of people welded together by ethnic bonds of its own. Western Ukraine, the European section which came under the USSR after WWII (formerly Poles, Austrians, Hungarians, and Germans),  is now trying to force the rest of Ukraine, with US help,  to separation with Russia and the joining of Europe. Southeastern Ukrainians, primarily ethnic Russians, refuse to give up their language and culture and be ruled by Western Ukrainians. This is the bottom line.

Western Ukrainians fought with the Nazis against the Soviet Union in WWII, and they have since despised Russia. They of course want to be joined with Europe.  I’ve recommended all along that Ukraine be split into two cooperating states.  Those who want to join Europe should be allowed, but they should not drag the Russian parts of Ukraine away from their trade and close cultural ties with Russia.

Ukraine, unlike Russia, has had terrible, corrupt leaders since communism imploded in 1991.  Oligarchs (and political leaders who catered to Ukraine’s oligarchs) have since run the country into the ground.  Hence ordinary Ukrainians are deeply disappointed and angry that they have not experienced order, stability, or decent economic development as has Russia, Poland, Hungary and the Baltics.  Ukraine is a failed state––the war between the West and the East sectors has further devastated the few hopes that remained before the conflict started.

ENTER THE MAJOR POWER

As far as I can tell a very slender but powerful minority in Washington decided years ago that Ukraine would be the prime place to challenge a future “come back” of Russia as one of several leading powers in the world. Archival material points out that the neoconservatives drew up a plan in 1992 that America had to be ready to take down militarily any country that would compete for its worldwide supremacy. It mentioned Russia which they felt would/could reorganize the union of former USSR republics. This minority gained momentum with both Republicans and Democrats in the Congress and the White House.

As with other countries (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Central and South American countries) the first operation to accomplish is to demonize country leaders and destabilize the countries with the intention of regime change.  It might be justifiable if the situations resulted in better living conditions and opportunities for the peoples of those countries, but unfortunately, none of them have turned out this way.

Victoria Nuland, the U.S. State Department chief diplomat in charge of Ukraine’s future, admitted our US taxpayers had put some $5 billion into preparing Ukraine to align with the US and Europe ––and not Russia.  The result is the war that is now tearing Ukraine apart.

Russians reiterate continuously that theirmilitary is only for defensive purposes, that they will never start a war or a take over another country, but they will defend their borders. With Russia’s tragic history of being invaded by the Mongols, Napoleon, Hitler and others, that is understandable.

RUSSIA WILL NOT TOLERATE NATO ON THEIR BORDERS

Justifiably so.  Can we imagine what our US military would do if the Russians were putting missile bases across Canada within instant attack distance of Washington––or for that matter across the length of Mexico’s border with America?   Or how would France feel if Germany decided to put weapons of mass destruction on their borders?  No regional, let alone world power, would accept this without fighting back.  Putin has, and Washington acts as if this is unreasonable, unthinkable.

My opinion is that Russia has shown remarkable restraint and cool headedness, all the while coming up with strikingly elegant solutions to defuse the dramatic situation south of their border.

Let us hope and pray that wisdom will rule in Washington––that tensions between Ukrainians will be tempered, the shooting will cease and a coalition of countries can begin helping Ukrainians survive the winter.

Sharon Tennison is the founder and President of the Center for Citizen Initiatives (USA).

The Pentagon — The Climate Elephant

September 17th, 2014 by Sara Flounders

There is an elephant in the climate debate that by U.S. demand cannot be discussed or even seen. This agreement to ignore the elephant is now the accepted basis of all international negotiations on climate change.

It is well understood by every possible measurement that the Pentagon, the U.S. military machine, is the world’s biggest institutional consumer of petroleum products and the world’s worst polluter of greenhouse gas emissions and many other toxic pollutants. Yet the Pentagon has a blanket exemption in all international climate agreements.

Ever since the Kyoto Accords or Kyoto Protocol negotiations in 1998, in an effort to gain U.S. compliance, all U.S. military operations worldwide and within the U.S. are exempt from measurement or agreements on reduction. The U.S. Congress passed an explicit provision guaranteeing U.S. military exemptions.  (Interpress Service, May 20, 1998)

The complete U.S. military exemption from greenhouse gas emissions calculations includes more than 1,000 U.S. bases in more than 130 countries around the world, its 6,000 facilities in the U.S., its aircraft carriers and jet aircraft. Also excluded are its weapons testing and all multilateral operations such as the giant U.S. commanded NATO military alliance and AFRICOM, the U.S. military alliance now blanketing Africa. The provision also exempts U.S./UN-sanctioned activities of “peacekeeping” and “humanitarian relief.”

After gaining this giant concession the U.S. government still refused to sign the Kyoto Accord, thus sabotaging years of international effort at an agreement.

The provisions of the Kyoto Protocol nevertheless became the basis of all future proposed international meetings on a climate treaty, including Copenhagen 2009, Cancun, 2010, Durban 2011, Doha 2012 and the United Nations upcoming 21st Conference of the Parties on Climate Change meeting in Paris in 2015.

In all past international conferences it was again and again the U.S. government that sabotaged the meetings and refused to be bound by any treaty. The Obama Administration on Aug. 27 again confirmed that at the UN meeting in New York in September to prepare for the 2015 Paris meeting that only a non-binding agreement could be put forward.

Role of grassroots activists

Unless the climate activists at the grassroots level challenge this exemption of the U.S. military and begins to focus a laser light on the most dangerous source of global warming and climate change, the movement will become will be lost in vague generalities, utopian hopes and toothless accords.

The only hope that the mass outpouring in September in New York will have an impact is if independent voices can begin to consciously challenge the greatest global polluter.

Exposing the horrendous social costs of U.S. militarism must also be part of the challenge. Washington’s military role acts to constantly reinforce at every level the repressive state apparatus.

For decades, and at an accelerated pace since 2001, the military has provided an endless stream of free war equipment to local city and state police, National Guard units and sheriffs’ offices.  Youth of oppressed nations within the U.S. become targets of a vastly expanded police state. The fresh images of tanks and armored police in Ferguson confirmed for millions the results of this racist policy.

Exposing the devastation of U.S. wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya is essential. These U.S. wars have contaminated the soil and water of vast regions under U.S. occupation with depleted uranium, benzene and trichloroethylene from air base operations and Perchlorate, a toxic ingredient in rocket propellant.

More than 1,000 military sites in the U.S. are filled with these toxins, topping the Superfund list of contaminated sites. The poorest communities, especially communities of color, are the most severely impacted by this continuing military poisoning.

It is essential to connect the Pentagon exemption from international negotiations to its primary role as the protector and expander of corporate power on a global scale. The most powerful and profitable corporations are the oil and military corporations; these are the other primary polluters.

Pentagon admits climate change

Unlike the climate change deniers, the Pentagon’s own published studies confirm the danger to the planet. But U.S. officer corps is committed to what they call full spectrum dominance. So every study of climate change by the military planners is based on evaluating how to take advantage of the future crisis to more firmly entrench U.S. corporate power and protect the irrational capitalist system that has created this crisis.

The Pentagon studies are not on plans to deliver emergency aid in the face of climate disasters such as floods, droughts, famines, epidemics, typhoons, tornadoes, hurricanes, ice storms, water shortages and damage to infrastructure. Their war colleges and think tanks’ plans are on how to extract political concessions on docking rights and future military access during a besieged countries’ hour of greatest emergency need.

For example the U.S. Department of Defense releases every four years a. This is a broad outline of U.S. military strategy.

The 2014 Defense Department’s Quadrennial Defense Review describes the threat of climate change as “a very serious national security vulnerability.” This QRD discusses how to maintain global U.S. military hegemony in the face of ever worsening global climate disruptions. (tinyurl.com/pn4awm8)

The military officer caste is focused on maintaining Wall Street rule and capitalist property relations during a crisis. There is concern with preserving the authority of their puppets, allies and collaborators.

“Climate change poses another significant challenge for the United States and the world at large. As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing, and severe weather patterns are accelerating.”

“The impacts of climate change may increase the frequency, scale, and complexity of future missions, including defense support to civil authorities… The Department’s operational readiness hinges on unimpeded access to land, air, and sea training…”

Military and corporate planning is callously focused on how to take advantage of the life-threatening changes.

A most frightening example is the National Strategy for the Arctic Region. This White House Report opens by praising the Arctic as “an amazing place.” But then quickly defines the need for focusing on strategic priorities to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.

The essence of the report is that the melting of the polar ice cap and the “new Arctic environment” means “ocean resources are more readily accessible as sea ice diminishes.” This is an opportunity to access the vast untapped oil, gas and mineral resources and increase the flow of fossil fuels — big profits for big oil. (tinyurl.com/cw2dvhk)

In 2014 Defense the Center for Naval Analysis issued a study titled: “National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change.” This report, a follow-up report to their 2007 report, prepared by eleven retired generals and admirals sees climate change as the source of international instability and the greatest threat to the established capitalist order.

This study is not on how to use the enormous technological ability of the U.S. military machine to provide solutions or emergency assistance. Everything is posed in terms of national security in the face of alleged potential terror threats.(tinyurl.com/lreswx8)

Based on these reports and on the U.S. role in every climate meeting in over 20 years it is clear that U.S. corporate power and the monstrous military machine it has funded must become a focus of class-conscious climate activists. This would contribute greatly to an understanding of the source and the real solutions to this global crisis.

Who, President Barack Obama might well be asking, will rid me of this turbulent, loquacious general? Gen. Martin Dempsey of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is certainly one of those characters who may well have given the game away. The United States, he is suggesting, may well find its soldiers on the ground fighting the Islamic State. Caliphate pretenders will do war against freedom loving Marines on holy desert fields. 

The Senate Armed Services Committee were the first ones to receive the cheeky scoop, though it was hardly a remarkable one: everyone knows that any mission that begins in a noble, humanitarian way, with distantly directed missile strikes, has a habit of turning into a heavily laden ground mission.  Video game trigger pulling becomes mission hugging very quickly.

“My view at this point is that his coalition is the appropriate way forward. I believe that will prove true.” For Dempsey, the juicy details followed with ominous promise. The lacing of boots might well have to be tied against the emissaries of Allah, and US personnel readied. “But if it fails to be true, and if there are threats to the United States, then I, of course, would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of US military ground forces.”

In speaking in such a manner, the General realised that he might have been getting ahead of himself.  Both he and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel are suggesting the training of some 5,000 Syrian fighters, and the involvement of up to 40 coalition states, though this is very much chatter before batter. Both also spoke about the moment when Iraqi and Kurdish forces rally to push the militants out, notably in urban areas such as Mosul.

Such moves may hardly count in the broader calculations – Senator John McCaine of Arizona did suggest that 5,000 Syrian fighters might come up a bit short against 30,000 Islamic State fighters.  Then there was the issue of time and skill – how long would the training sessions last? “To many of us that seems like an inadequate response.”

Obama, Dempsey claimed, “has told me as well to come back to him on a case-by-case basis.”  Such forensic, petri dish tactics might well work in a laboratory (case by case), but are impossible in the changing circumstances of bombing campaigns and faux state building and deconstruction. The Islamic State, ISIS, ISIL and whatever sexy acronym they happen to kill under, are proving to be a formidable migraine for the Obama administration. Missiles and locally backed forces are not working quite the same magic it was hoped for.

Obama finds himself with unenviable strategic lockjaw, the sort any Roman emperor must have felt when unsettled Germanic tribes, or the sniping Parthians were mentioned in meetings. Do you pay them off, incorporate or annihilate them?  Empires are, after all, fuelled on blood and gore, and the American imperium is characterised by celluloid cant and the recently ineffectual allure of gold – the Islamic State is proving a different proposition.

The president has spoken too much about the unpredictable, getting ahead of the realpolitik game before reading the smoke signals. This is particularly so on the matter of Iraq, which has had a tendency to lure American troops in like an insufferably wooing siren. Since 1991, those occupying the Oval Office have had a habit of sending troops and weapons against Iraq, and it is with some irony that the only president to resist releasing troops into the Iraqi vice was the often unzipped Bill Clinton.

On September 10, Obama claimed in a televised address that “we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq.” His cunning plan would “not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.” Such assertions are proving dangerously frivolous.

He wants to take a genteel broom and do some dusting and sprucing on matters political; he wants to target a few naughties in the Middle East who have gotten out of hand in the hope that some order will be restored. He is also aware that the American electorate is not exactly enthusiastic to purr at suggestions that more US service personnel will be slaughtered in the Middle East. (Slaughter non-American civilians, yes, but certainly not the sacred of the stars and stripes.) He has, by some miracle, agitated carrion seeking hawks who see a meek reaction and the vegan pacifist doves who fear a corruption of US principles.

Representative Tom Rooney, for instance, wants destruction and mayhem if ISIS is what they purport to be.  “And anybody you talk to who knows what they’re talking about believes that arming the rebels is insufficient.”  Certainly, if Rooney is reading the fictitious scrawls of such commentators as Tod Robberson of the Dallas News (Sep 16), he may be convinced.  “The world has not witnessed a deadly, violent, coercive religious sweep of this magnitude since the Third Reich in Germany”.  History has well and truly taken an enduring holiday.

The technological imperative of the US war machine can only go so far, what with its excitable, drooling drone controllers and its Tomahawk missile fetishists. Eventually, something on the ground will have to give. The Marines will get busy by executive mandate, adding to existing ground forces (as if others did not know).  Distances will be closed, and US hands will get caked and muddy. This, a response to what independent senator Angus King of Maine has termed a “whack-a-mole” approach.

During the address by Dempsey, anti-war voices were heard.  They, and the president, see the same writing on the wall, though the interpreters are busy with what exactly that writing says. The most obvious, single word is: defeat.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: [email protected]

Want to know just how far Gates’ money reaches to promote GMOs and other unhealthy ‘scientific’ discoveries touted as boons to society? Look no further than Cornell University, the institution that tells us Monsanto’s rBST (also known as rBGH) - a genetically engineered growth hormone used to make cows produce more milk – is safe. Supported by a $5.6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Cornell Alliance for Science is said to help researchers and stakeholders pinpoint and effectively communicate the potential impacts of agricultural technology and how such technology works.

“The project will involve developing multimedia resources, including videos of farmers from around the world documenting their struggles to deal with pests, diseases, crop failure and the limited resources available in the face of poverty and climate change.”

You can bet with their recently received $5.6 million donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that the University will become a support for biotech and the GM agrichemical agenda. The Cornell report on rBST states:

. . .In the late 1970s, Cornell scientists D.E. Bauman and W.B. Currie proposed new concepts on the regulation of nutrient use during lactation. In a series of studies using pituitary-derived bST, Bauman’s group demonstrated that bST markedly improved milk yield even in high-producing dairy cows.The results with pituitary-derived rbST coincided with advances in biotechnology including the development of recombinant DNA technology.”

Somatotropin is a naturally occurring hormone produced in the pituitary gland of animals; the bovine somatotropin (BST) triggers nutrients to increase growth in young cattle and lactation (milk production) in dairy cows. The artificial BST is produced using recombinant DNA technology (biotechnology). With GMO bovine somatotropin (BST), made with recombinant DNA technology, milk production is increased by 10 to 15%. Not only does rBSt cause cows’ utters to metastasize, it is also very unhealthy for humans who consume it – it’s an unnatural, GMO hormone. The Gates Foundation says its donation to Cornell was meant to:

“. . .depolarize the charged debate around agricultural biotechnology and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).”

As reported by Cornell University:

“Proponents and opponents alike speculate whether biotech crops are of benefit to farmers, but rarely are those farmers engaged in the biotech discourse or their voices heard,” said Sarah Evanega, senior associate director of International Programs in Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), who will lead the project. “Our goal is to depolarize the GMO debate and engage with potential partners who may share common values around poverty reduction and sustainable agriculture, but may not be well informed about the potential biotechnology has for solving major agricultural challenges,” Evanega said. “For instance, pro-biotech activists share a lot of the same anti-pesticide, low-input, sustainable-agriculture vision as the organic movement.”

Almost everyone knows by now that Bill Gates supports Monsanto and GMOs at large. He has donated extensively to research agencies that develop GMOs and reportedly owns over 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock. The only polarization over GMOs is between the biotech and multinational companies who stand to gain from selling them, and the people who refuse to eat them. There are over 1,700 independent scientific studies that have linked GMOs to some type of harm – to farm animals, insects, people, and the environment.

“From the beginning of our century until now, Haiti and its inhabitants under one aspect or another, have, for various reasons, been very much in the thoughts of the American people. While slavery existed amongst us, her example was a sharp thorn in our side and a source of alarm and terror…. Her very name was pronounced with a shudder.” – Frederick Douglass, World’s Columbian Exposition, January 2, 1893

We are no longer living in the 19th century with the spectre of Haiti’s successful struggle for its freedom haunting the consciousness of slave masters across the Americas. Yet the military occupation of this country since 2004 by way of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is sending a clear message that the Haitians’ tentative step toward exercising control over the destiny in the 1990s and the early years of the new century is still “a source of alarm and terror” to imperial overlords such a Canada, France, and the United States.

The MINUSTAH occupation army has a combined force of 7, 408 soldiers and police personnel as of July 31, 2014. This armed entity has served as the muscle behind the schemes of the local elite and foreign interests in preventing the disenfranchised urban and rural labouring classes from seeking to capture the levers of national political, economic, and social power.

A number of observers have documented the oppressive actions of MINUSTAH in its ten-year occupation of Haiti: involvement in the sexual exploitation and abuse of girls and women;repression of Jean-Bertrand Aristides’ supporters; the general abuses of living under occupationintroduction of cholera that has killed over 8,500 Haitians and infected more than 700,000 people;  the suspicious death of a teenager; and the compelling reasons for an end to the occupation.

It is high time for progressive people and organizations in Canada, Europe and the United States to demonstrate their anti-imperialist commitment to Haiti by creating campaigns and a movement to organize and mobilize mass opinion against the military occupation. The current mandate of MINUSTAH ends on October 15, 2014, and it is up for renewal at the anti-democratic UN’s Security Council. Therefore, we need to be nimble and swift in putting together initiatives demanding an immediate withdrawal of the UN’s army of occupation.

Further, individuals and groups of good conscience need to develop people-to-people relations with Haitian grassroots organizations in their struggle to control their destiny and fight local and global forces of capitalism and imperialism. There are a number of initiatives that may be pursued in exercising solidarity with the labouring classes in Haiti.

Haiti is a symbol of the Revolutionary Afrikan Tradition that is committed to an assertive anti-imperialist politics. The present occupation of this country by MINUSTAH/United Nations is an attempt to prevent the Haitians from building on their history of militant self-determination. We are morally and politically obligated to build campaigns across the Americas and the rest of the world to demand an end to the occupation of Haiti.

The labouring classes in Haiti have furnished the world with one of the most compelling and dramatic moments in revolution-making in the annals of history. They are the first and only people to have successfully overthrown a system of enslavement through armed struggle.

They defeated the armies of France, Britain, and Spain, which were among the strongest military powers during that period. Haiti lit the fire of freedom in the hearts and minds of enslaved Afrikans and colonized peoples across the Americas. The people of Haiti weren’t comfortable in just being role models for people who sought their emancipation by all available means.

They gave guns, ammunition, ships, and personnel to Simon Bolivar and his fledgling, resource-challenged campaign to liberate Latin America from Spanish colonialism. The Haitians in their humanistic and solidaristic commitment to Afrikan liberation extracted a promise from Bolivar to end the enslavement of Afrikans in all liberated territories under his control or influence. The peoples of the Americas have a special responsibility to be there for the people of Haiti in their resistance to MINUSTAH.

Ending the military occupation of Haiti is a popular demand of the labouring classes in Haiti as evidenced through numerous demonstrations. Further, a survey of Haitians in August 2012 by students from Columbia University found that 65 per cent of respondents wanted an end to the occupation.  Recent polls on Haitians’ attitude toward MINUSTAH revealed that 89 per cent of them have called for the withdrawal of the UN’s occupation force.

While the popular sectors in Haiti are calling for the immediate withdrawal of the occupation forces, a so-called Group of Friends of Haiti at the United Nations is divided over the pace of the drawdown of the occupation forces. Eleven Latin American states that contribute soldiers and/or police to the occupation, are in favour of a slower pace in the reduction of MINUSTAH’s personnel. The elite from these states are seemingly oblivious of Haiti’s contribution to their liberation from Spain’s colonization project.

However, the progressive forces among the people of Latin America have taken a transgressive stance to MINUSTAH’s military presence. The popular resistance of Haitians to the occupation has inspired a campaign by anti-imperialist forces in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean that is mobilizing for the termination of the occupation. It is also calling for the payment of reparations to Haitians for the harm and violence caused to them by MINUSTAH forces over the last ten years.

Amilcar Cabral was correct in asserting in his famous Weapon of Theory presentation at the 1966 Tricontinental Conference in Cuba that action and not mere words would stop imperialism in its tracks:

“We are not going to use this platform to rail against imperialism. An African saying very common in our country says: “When your house is burning, it’s no use beating the tom-toms.” On a Tricontinental level, this means that we are not going to eliminate imperialism by shouting insults against it. For us, the best or worst shout against imperialism, whatever its form, is to take up arms and fight. This is what we are doing, and this is what we will go on doing until all foreign domination of our African homelands has been totally eliminated.”

We are called upon by History to use the options available to us today to rid Haiti (and the rest of the world) of imperialism or what is now euphemistically called globalization. Our principled and solidaristic actions with the Haitian people will definitely speak louder than fiery rhetoric or empty platitudes to resistance or revolution from below.

Ajamu Nangwaya, Ph.D., is an educator and a writer. He is a member of the Organization for Afrikan Struggles and International Solidarity and the Toronto Haiti Action Committee.

Obama pledged that the war against ISIS won’t be fought with U.S. ground troops. He didn’t say anything about contractors, who see this as “the next big meal ticket.”

America’s rapidly-expanding war against ISIS won’t involve large numbers of U.S. troops on the ground, President Obama is promising. And it’s clear that airstrikes alone won’t beat back the extremist group. Which means that if the President wants to have any hope of meeting his far-reaching goal of destroying ISIS, he’s going to have to rely on private military contractors.At least, that’s what the contractors are hoping.At the height of the Iraq war, these firms hired hundreds of thousands of people: guns-for-hire, IT geeks, logistics specialists, interrogators, and short order cooks to ladle out the slop at the military cafeteria. Over time, some of those contractors became the symbol for everything that was wrong with the Iraq war: hugely expensive, ineffective, and indifferent to Iraqi life. Contractors were at the middle of the war’s biggest scandals, from Abu Ghraib to Nissour Square. And it was the abductions and murder of Blackwater contractors that sparked one of Iraq’s biggest battles.None of the five current and former contractors who spoke with The Daily Beast expected a replay of last decade’s Iraq war. But they all said a major opportunity was coming—both for them, and for Obama, who could use the private armies as a way to conceal just how many people will be fighting in this new conflict.“Iraq this time around is not going to be as big as it was before,” said Roger Carstens, a former special operations officer who has served as a contracted military adviser in Somalia and Afghanistan. “That said, this new war will present an opportunity for the companies that have a resident train and advising capability to contribute to this new effort.”President Obama has asked Congress to authorize $500 million to train a new Syrian opposition out of Saudi Arabia. That money would be part of a $5 billion fund Obama requested this spring from Congress to help train and equip U.S. allies to fight terrorists.

One U.S. military contractor working in Iraq who asked not to be named said, “I can tell you the contractor-expat community is abuzz thinking this will lead to more work. We expect a much larger footprint than he is showing right now.”

Those expectations were whet earlier this summer, as ISIS was gaining ground in northern Iraq and the first U.S. special operations teams were arriving in Iraq, when the Pentagon asked military contractors to participate in two important surveys.

“It’s a political disguise. This is an industry that is a proxy, it is creating the environment of security and protection without too many U.S. soldiers on the ground.”

The first one, issued in July, asked the industry to give a rough estimate of the costs associated with building a new network of ten ground based communications satellite stations, known asVSATs in military lingo. VSATs were used by the U.S. military in the last decade throughout Iraq to provide forward operating bases with secure internet and voice communications.

The second one was more specific. It asked for estimates of the cost for “Security Assistance Mentors and Advisers” for Iraq’s ministry of defense and the Iraqi Counterterrorism Service.

A Pentagon spokeswoman told the Daily Beast that the notice was not meant to be a request for proposal or the formal opening of the bidding process, but rather a chance to gauge the interest and capabilities of contractors down the road.

But contractors tell The Daily Beast that these bureaucratic notices—plus a pledge from Obama to wage a long war against ISIS and train up Syrian and Iraqi fighters—represent a business opportunity for an industry that has shrunk in recent years.

In 2008 there were 242,558 contractors working in the countries for U.S. Central Command, the area that includes Iraq and Afghanistan as well as Somalia, Pakistan and Yemen, three countries where the United States has helped train local forces and conducted air strikes, according to the Pentagon’s official estimate.

That was during the height of the last round of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. By this July, that number had shrunk to 66,123, according to the Pentagon’s latest estimate of military contractors working in the countries covered by Central Command, with only 14,634 contractors operating outside of Afghanistan.

But that’s only a fraction of America’s privatized security apparatus operating overseas. The State Department also offers billions of dollars to conduct security for diplomats and other officials.  In 2011, the State Department awarded Triple Canopy a four year deal worth up to $1.5 billion to provide security for the airport in Baghdad, U.S. diplomats and other Americans in the country. A State Department audit of the contract (PDF) found that at a minimum the State Department overpaid for those services by millions.

“There has been consolidation after conflicts,” said Doug Brooks, the president emeritus of the International Stability Operations Association, a trade association for professional military contractors. “There is going to be business, you could say these are shoes instead of boots on the ground. But as in most cases these are going to be local faces who will be hired by these companies, who bring professionalism and training. They have been there already helping to build up the air force in Iraq. It won’t be like the past ten years, but there will be growth in services.”

The shrinking market for military contractors led some of them to seek new patrons. In 2010, for example, an African based military contractor named Saracen began training an anti-piracy force in Somalia with funding from the United Arab Emirates. When this reporter visited the base in 2012, it was a privately-run outpost in Puntland with its own electricity generator, barracks, armory with former South African military officers giving basic training to locals.

But that experience led to some instability. After one of the South African trainers was murdered in 2012 by one of the recruits, the United Arab Emirates pulled out of the project.

One reason why the new war on ISIS won’t be like the old one against al Qaeda is because for now Obama has promised not to send ground forces to Iraq or Syria. The presence of U.S. forces overseas presents a number of opportunities for military contractors in providing everything from the dining facilities to the logistical transport for U.S. soldiers at war.

Also the budgets to fight al Qaeda and other groups expanded dramatically after 9/11 when many government institutions did not know exactly how to fight the new war. Blackwater—the private military firm founded by former NAVY SEAL Erik Prince—became a virtual extension of the CIA’s special activities division working to develop the deadly capability to target and kill al Qaeda operatives all over the world.

It was also Blackwater contractors working in Iraq to protect diplomatic convoys that shot what the Iraqi government said were 17 innocent protestors in the heart of Baghdad at Nisour Square. (This summer, in the U.S. trial of the contractors, former employees of the company said they were responding to fire from the crowd.)

The legacy of Nisour square contributed to the decision of the Iraqi government in 2011 to decline to offer legal immunity to U.S. soldiers and military contractors. Carstens said that any new military contracts for Iraq that would involve training units of soldiers would have to include iron-clad guarantees that the contractors themselves would not be targeted by Iraqi courts. “The companies will need to know that their contractors in Iraq and other places will have legal protections in case anything happens,” he said.

Iraq recently promised immunity for U.S. troops—and it’s likely Baghdad will do the same for contractors too. After all, Iraq’s government has also formally requested U.S. assistance in fighting ISIS and that help was clearly going to include military contractors.

“They are looking for the next big meal ticket and this could be it,” said Sean McFate, a former military contractor for Dyncorp and the author of The Modern Mercenary: Private Armies and What They Mean for World Order. “The things they will provide are logistical support, training or retraining security forces.”

McFate said contractors gave Obama the opportunity to accomplish tasks normally associated with the U.S. military without sending boots on the ground. He said the training missions in particular “would look like Iraqi military boots on the ground and not the U.S. military.” But he said, “It’s a political disguise. This is an industry that is a proxy, it is creating the environment of security and protection without too many U.S. soldiers on the ground.”

Copyright the Daily Beast 2014

Ukraine and the neo-Nazis, Who is Behind them

September 17th, 2014 by William Blum

Ever since serious protest broke out in Ukraine in February the Western mainstream media, particularly in the United States, has seriously downplayed the fact that the usual suspects – the US/European Union/NATO triumvirate – have been on the same side as the neo-Nazis. In the US it’s been virtually unmentionable. I’m sure that a poll taken in the United States on this issue would reveal near universal ignorance of the numerous neo-Nazi actions, including publicly calling for death to “Russians, Communists and Jews”. But in the past week the dirty little secret has somehow poked its head out from behind the curtain a bit.

On September 9 NBCnews.com reported that “German TV shows Nazi symbols on helmets of Ukraine soldiers”. The German station showed pictures of a soldier wearing a combat helmet with the “SS runes” of Hitler’s infamous black-uniformed elite corps. (Runes are the letters of an alphabet used by ancient Germanic peoples.) A second soldier was shown with a swastika on his helmet.

On the 13th, the Washington Post showed a photo of the sleeping quarter of a member of the Azov Battalion, one of the Ukrainian paramilitary units fighting the pro-Russian separatists. On the wall above the bed is a large swastika. Not to worry, the Post quoted the platoon leader stating that the soldiers embrace symbols and espouse extremist notions as part of some kind of “romantic” idea.

Yet, it is Russian president Vladimir Putin who is compared to Adolf Hitler by everyone from Prince Charles to Princess Hillary because of the incorporation of Crimea as part of Russia. On this question Putin has stated:

The Crimean authorities have relied on the well-known Kosovo precedent, a precedent our Western partners created themselves, with their own hands, so to speak. In a situation absolutely similar to the Crimean one, they deemed Kosovo’s secession from Serbia to be legitimate, arguing everywhere that no permission from the country’s central authorities was required for the unilateral declaration of independence. The UN’s international court, based on Paragraph 2 of Article 1 of the UN Charter, agreed with that, and in its decision of 22 July 2010 noted the following, and I quote verbatim: No general prohibition may be inferred from the practice of the Security Council with regard to unilateral declarations of independence.

Putin as Hitler is dwarfed by the stories of Putin as invader (Vlad the Impaler?). For months the Western media has been beating the drums about Russia having (actually) invaded Ukraine. I recommend reading: “How Can You Tell Whether Russia has Invaded Ukraine?” by Dmitry Orlov

And keep in mind the NATO encirclement of Russia. Imagine Russia setting up military bases in Canada and Mexico, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Remember what a Soviet base in Cuba led to.

Has the United States ever set a bad example?

Ever since that fateful day of September 11, 2001, the primary public relations goal of the United States has been to discredit the idea that somehow America had it coming because of its numerous political and military acts of aggression. Here’s everyone’s favorite hero, George W. Bush, speaking a month after 9-11:

“How do I respond when I see that in some Islamic countries there is vitriolic hatred for America? I’ll tell you how I respond: I’m amazed. I’m amazed that there’s such misunderstanding of what our country is about that people would hate us. I am – like most Americans, I just can’t believe it because I know how good we are.”

Thank you, George. Now take your pills.

I and other historians of US foreign policy have documented at length the statements of anti-American terrorists who have made it explicitly clear that their actions were in retaliation for Washington’s decades of international abominations.  But American officials and media routinely ignore this evidence and cling to the party line that terrorists are simply cruel and crazed by religion; which many of them indeed are, but that doesn’t change the political and historical facts.

This American mindset appears to be alive and well. At least four hostages held in Syria recently by Islamic State militants, including US journalist James Foley, were waterboarded during their captivity. The Washington Post quoted a US official: “ISIL is a group that routinely crucifies and beheads people. To suggest that there is any correlation between ISIL’s brutality and past U.S. actions is ridiculous and feeds into their twisted propaganda.”

The Post, however, may have actually evolved a bit, adding that the “Islamic State militants … appeared to model the technique on the CIA’s use of waterboarding to interrogate suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.”


Talk given by William Blum at a Teach-In on US Foreign Policy,

American University, Washington, DC, September 6, 2014

Each of you I’m sure has met many people who support American foreign policy, with whom you’ve argued and argued. You point out one horror after another, from Vietnam to Iraq. From god-awful bombings and invasions to violations of international law and torture. And nothing helps. Nothing moves this person.

Now why is that? Are these people just stupid? I think a better answer is that they have certain preconceptions. Consciously or unconsciously, they have certain basic beliefs about the United States and its foreign policy, and if you don’t deal with these basic beliefs you may as well be talking to a stone wall.

The most basic of these basic beliefs, I think, is a deeply-held conviction that no matter what the United States does abroad, no matter how bad it may look, no matter what horror may result, the government of the United States means well. American leaders may make mistakes, they may blunder, they may lie, they may even on the odd occasion cause more harm than good, but they do mean well. Their intentions are always honorable, even noble. Of that the great majority of Americans are certain.

Frances Fitzgerald, in her famous study of American school textbooks, summarized the message of these books: “The United States has been a kind of Salvation Army to the rest of the world: throughout history it had done little but dispense benefits to poor, ignorant, and diseased countries. The U.S. always acted in a disinterested fashion, always from the highest of motives; it gave, never took.”

And Americans genuinely wonder why the rest of the world can’t see how benevolent and self-sacrificing America has been. Even many people who take part in the anti-war movement have a hard time shaking off some of this mindset; they march to spur America – the America they love and worship and trust – they march to spur this noble America back onto its path of goodness.

Many of the citizens fall for US government propaganda justifying its military actions as often and as naively as Charlie Brown falling for Lucy’s football.

The American people are very much like the children of a Mafia boss who do not know what their father does for a living, and don’t want to know, but then wonder why someone just threw a firebomb through the living room window.

This basic belief in America’s good intentions is often linked to “American exceptionalism”. Let’s look at how exceptional US foreign policy has been. Since the end of World War 2, the United States has:

  1. Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.
  2. Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
  3. Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
  4. Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.
  5. Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.
  6. Led the world in torture; not only the torture performed directly by Americans upon foreigners, but providing torture equipment, torture manuals, lists of people to be tortured, and in-person guidance by American teachers, especially in Latin America.

This is indeed exceptional. No other country in all of history comes anywhere close to such a record.

So the next time you’re up against a stone wall … ask the person what the United States would have to do in its foreign policy to lose his support. What for this person would finally be TOO MUCH. If the person mentions something really bad, chances are the United States has already done it, perhaps repeatedly.

Keep in mind that our precious homeland, above all, seeks to dominate the world. For economic reasons, nationalistic reasons, ideological, Christian, and for other reasons, world hegemony has long been America’s bottom line. And let’s not forget the powerful Executive Branch officials whose salaries, promotions, agency budgets and future well-paying private sector jobs depend upon perpetual war. These leaders are not especially concerned about the consequences for the world of their wars. They’re not necessarily bad people; but they’re amoral, like a sociopath is.

Take the Middle East and South Asia. The people in those areas have suffered horribly because of Islamic fundamentalism. What they desperately need are secular governments, which have respect for different religions. And such governments were actually instituted in the recent past. But what has been the fate of those governments?

Well, in the late 1970s through much of the 1980s, Afghanistan had a secular government that was relatively progressive, with full rights for women, which is hard to believe, isn’t it? But even a Pentagon report of the time testified to the actuality of women’s rights in Afghanistan. And what happened to that government? The United States overthrew it, allowing the Taliban to come to power. So keep that in mind the next time you hear an American official say that we have to remain in Afghanistan for the sake of women’s rights.

After Afghanistan came Iraq, another secular society, under Saddam Hussein. And the United States overthrew that government as well, and now the country is overrun by crazed and bloody jihadists and fundamentalists of all kinds; and women who are not covered up are running a serious risk.

Next came Libya; again, a secular country, under Moammar Gaddafi, who, like Saddam Hussein, had a tyrant side to him but could in important ways be benevolent and do marvelous things for Libya and Africa. To name just one example, Libya had a high ranking on the United Nation’s Human Development Index. So, of course, the United States overthrew that government as well. In 2011, with the help of NATO we bombed the people of Libya almost every day for more than six months. And, once again, this led to messianic jihadists having a field day. How it will all turn out for the people of Libya, only God knows, or perhaps Allah.

And for the past three years, the United States has been doing its best to overthrow the secular government of Syria. And guess what? Syria is now a playground and battleground for all manner of ultra militant fundamentalists, including everyone’s new favorite, IS, the Islamic State. The rise of IS owes a lot to what the US has done in Iraq, Libya, and Syria in recent years.

We can add to this marvelous list the case of the former Yugoslavia, another secular government that was overthrown by the United States, in the form of NATO, in 1999, giving rise to the creation of the largely-Muslim state of Kosovo, run by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The KLA was considered a terrorist organization by the US, the UK and France for years, with numerous reports of the KLA being armed and trained by al-Qaeda, in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, and even having members of al-Qaeda in KLA ranks fighting against the Serbs of Yugoslavia. Washington’s main concern was dealing a blow to Serbia, widely known as “the last communist government in Europe”.

The KLA became renowned for their torture, their trafficking in women, heroin, and human body parts; another charming client of the empire.

Someone looking down upon all this from outer space could be forgiven for thinking that the United States is an Islamic power doing its best to spread the word – Allah Akbar!

But what, you might wonder, did each of these overthrown governments have in common that made them a target of Washington’s wrath? The answer is that they could not easily be controlled by the empire; they refused to be client states; they were nationalistic; in a word, they were independent; a serious crime in the eyes of the empire.

So mention all this as well to our hypothetical supporter of US foreign policy and see whether he still believes that the United States means well. If he wonders how long it’s been this way, point out to him that it would be difficult to name a single brutal dictatorship of the second half of the 20th Century that was not supported by the United States; not only supported, but often put into power and kept in power against the wishes of the population. And in recent years as well, Washington has supported very repressive governments, such as Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Indonesia, Egypt, Colombia, Qatar, and Israel.

And what do American leaders think of their own record? Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was probably speaking for the whole private club of our foreign-policy leadership when she wrote in 2000 that in the pursuit of its national security the United States no longer needed to be guided by “notions of international law and norms” or “institutions like the United Nations” because America was “on the right side of history.”

Let me remind you of Daniel Ellsberg’s conclusion about the US in Vietnam: “It wasn’t that we were on the wrong side; we were the wrong side.”

Well, far from being on the right side of history, we have in fact fought – I mean actually engaged in warfare – on the same side as al Qaeda and their offspring on several occasions, beginning with Afghanistan in the 1980s and 90s in support of the Islamic Moujahedeen, or Holy Warriors.

The US then gave military assistance, including bombing support, to Bosnia and Kosovo, both of which were being supported by al Qaeda in the Yugoslav conflicts of the early 1990s.

In Libya, in 2011, Washington and the Jihadists shared a common enemy, Gaddafi, and as mentioned, the US bombed the people of Libya for more than six months, allowing jihadists to take over parts of the country; and they’re now fighting for the remaining parts. These wartime allies showed their gratitude to Washington by assassinating the US ambassador and three other Americans, apparently CIA, in the city of Benghazi.

Then, for some years in the mid and late 2000s, the United States backed Islamic militants in the Caucasus region of Russia, an area that has seen more than its share of religious terror going back to the Chechnyan actions of the 1990s.

Finally, in Syria, in attempting to overthrow the Assad government, the US has fought on the same side as several varieties of Islamic militants. That makes six occasions of the US being wartime allies of jihadist forces.

I realize that I have fed you an awful lot of negativity about what America has done to the world, and maybe it’s been kind of hard for some of you to swallow. But my purpose has been to try to loosen the grip on your intellect and your emotions that you’ve been raised with – or to help you to help others to loosen that grip – the grip that assures you that your beloved America means well. US foreign policy will not make much sense to you as long as you believe that its intentions are noble; as long as you ignore the consistent pattern of seeking world domination, which is a national compulsion of very long standing, known previously under other names such as Manifest Destiny, the American Century, American exceptionalism, globalization, or, as Madeleine Albright put it, “the indispensable nation” … while others less kind have used the term “imperialist”.

In this context I can’t resist giving the example of Bill Clinton. While president, in 1995, he was moved to say: “Whatever we may think about the political decisions of the Vietnam era, the brave Americans who fought and died there had noble motives. They fought for the freedom and the independence of the Vietnamese people.” Yes, that’s really the way our leaders talk. But who knows what they really believe?

It is my hope that many of you who are not now activists against the empire and its wars will join the anti-war movement as I did in 1965 against the war in Vietnam. It’s what radicalized me and so many others. When I hear from people of a certain age about what began the process of losing their faith that the United States means well, it’s Vietnam that far and away is given as the main cause. I think that if the American powers-that-be had known in advance how their “Oh what a lovely war” was going to turn out they might not have made their mammoth historical blunder. Their invasion of Iraq in 2003 indicates that no Vietnam lesson had been learned at that point, but our continuing protest against war and threatened war in Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, and elsewhere may have – may have! – finally made a dent in the awful war mentality. I invite you all to join our movement. Thank you.

Notes

  1. NBC News, “German TV Shows Nazi Symbols on Helmets of Ukraine Soldiers”, September 6 2014
  2. BBC, March 18, 2014
  3. Information Clearinghouse“How Can You Tell Whether Russia has Invaded Ukraine?”, September 1 2014
  4. Boston Globe, October 12, 2001
  5. See, for example, William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (2005), chapter 1
  6. Washington Post, August 28, 2014
  7. Foreign Affairs magazine (Council on Foreign Relations), January/February 2000

In Iraq and Syria, A Vietnam-type Quagmire Over Oil and Gas?

September 17th, 2014 by Prof Rodrigue Tremblay

“The Pottery Barn rule: You break it, you own it.” Colin Powell (1937- ), George W. Bush’s Secretary of State, (2001-2004) when he warned President George W. Bush in the summer of 2002 of the consequences of military action in Iraq, (quoted in Plan of Attack, 2004, by journalist Bob Woodward).

[The secret involvement of the United States in arming the Islamist Mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan] “was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan. …The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President [Jimmy] Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.” Zbigniew Brzezinski (1928- ), national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981 and one of President Barack Obama‘s main advisors on foreign policies, (interview of January 15, 1998, by Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris).

The use of force is only legal [internationally] when it is in self-defense [against an armed attack] or with a [formal] U.N. Security Council authorization.” Ban Ki-Moon (1944- ), United Nations Secretary General, (2013)

If the political and military situation in the oil-rich Middle East appears to be most chaotic, most complex and most confused, it’s because it is. How could it be otherwise when there are twenty-some governments jockeying for power and influence over there, trying to put their hands on the oil and gas faucets and they have no scruples about getting directly involved in the affairs of each other to reach their goals. Indeed, there is no part of the world where foreign intervention in the domestic affairs of other nations by a host of governments is so prevalent and is even taken for granted.

At the top of the list of outside interventionists, we find the well armed United States of America with its military gear spread all over the world. In March 2003, the Bush-Cheney administration, assisted by the U.K. Tony Blair government and pushed by the Israeli government, used false pretenses and outright lies, and opened a Pandora’s Box of woes in that part of the world by militarily invading the country of Iraq. It did it to overthrow Iraq’s Sunni-controlled government and replaced it with a Shiite-controlled government. This invasion has since destabilized the entire Middle East by rekindling the dormant Sunni-Shiite antagonism, and it has put into motion a series of civil wars and a series of proxy wars in many countries of the region, mainly along the politico-religious lines of Sunni populations vs. Shiite populations, but also along ethnic and tribal loyalties.

In 2011, the U.S. Obama administration thought it could safely withdraw American troops from a devastated Iraq and wash its hands of the entire mess. —Well, it did not turn out that way. The current insurgency of Sunni Muslims both in Syria and in Iraq is a fall-out from the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The ongoing civil war in Syria has been a fertile ground for disenchanted Sunnis to form an Islamic State militia (IS), [also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)].Their aim is to carve up a large chunk of land out of Syria and Iraq that they call an Islamic caliphate to underline the links between politics and religion in that part of the world.

After having left behind a country governed by a sectarian Iraqi Shiite government in December 2011, the Obama administration has very limited options to counter the rise of the most barbaric IS militia in that part of the world. For domestic political reasons, however, Mr. Obama must go into the motion of waging war in the Middle East. (There could be a more logical reason why Obama wants to bomb Syria, as explained below).

On September 10 (2014), President Obama announced that his administration stands ready to send hundreds of American military “advisors” back to Iraq and to intensify the campaign of airstrikes against the Islamic State militia (IS), both inside Iraq and inside Syria, with the assistance of some other governments that are expected to provide ground troops to occupy any territory “liberated” from the IS organization.

Such a strategy raises a few fundamental questions.

First, there is a legal question. How can the United States government say openly that it intends to violate Syria’s airspace to attack the IS jihadists without either a formal agreement with the Bashar al-Assad Syrian government and/or without a supportive resolution of the United Nations Security Council?

Secondly, there is the feasibility of a military ground operation in Iraq and in Syria when the three most directly involved governments in the region, i.e. the Assad Syrian government, the Sunni Turkish government and the Shiite Iranian government are not participants in the operation.

Considering that many countries in the Middle East have complicated interests, their direct military involvement in Syria is questionable, … unless the true objective of the Obama operation is to complete the overthrow of the Assad regime in Damascus. In which case, the IS organization would only be serving as a convenient pretext for another more important purpose, i.e. the overthrow of the Syrian Assad government.

The organization IS (or some other manipulating power behind it) deliberately provoked American media and American conscience with well-staged barbaric beheadings. Keep in mind that in September 2013, Syrian rebel groups had staged a false flag operation by using chemical weapons against civilians in order to provoke an American response. This time, one year later, they seem to have succeeded.

Indeed, what are the ultimate political and military objectives in Syria? Does the U.S. State Department still want to topple the Assad government? If yes, why? What has the Syrian government done to the United States? And, if it is overthrown, who will take its place?

This would be a most curious “strategy” indeed if the U.S. were to fight both the Islamic State militia IS and the secular Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, and end up creating a political vacuum like the one the same policy created in Libya. Politics does not support a vacuum of power. In a country where 60 per cent of the population is Sunni, compared with only 20 per cent in Iraq, the likely successor to an Assad government in Syria would be a sectarian Sunni-controlled Islamist government, whether it be called IS or any other name. It could also become a complete mess as it is today in Libya, where different armed factions are fighting each other to grab some political foothold.

Who would then benefit? This can be ascertained if we rely on some economic analysis. Indeed, let us consider the all-important geopolitics of proposed gas pipelines in the Middle East. Such pipelines are planned to go from the Persian Gulf to Europe in order to diversify and reduce European energy dependence uponRussian gas.

Two main pipeline routes have been considered in recent years to bring natural gas to an energy-starved Europe that is in a more or less open conflict with Russia and which would like to findalternative gas supplies to balance out the Russian dominance of its markets:

-First, there is what has been dubbed the “Islamic pipeline“, (also called the “Friendship Pipeline“ by the governments involved), because it is a proposed 3480 mile-long Iran-Iraq-Syria natural gas pipeline going toward Europe from east to west, from Iran and Iraq to the Mediterranean coast of Syria and Lebanon.

-Secondly, there is an alternative pipeline to supply natural gas to Europe and it is the Qatar-Turkey pipeline which would take a more northbound route and would go from Qatar (the world’s leading exporter of liquefied natural gas) and Saudi Arabia via Syria to Turkey, where it would connect with the Nabucco pipeline originating from the Caspian Sea to supply European customers through Austria, as well as gas-starved Turkey.

This later pipeline is supported by many European states and by the United States, and by Israel who would benefit with a connected pipeline. Therefore, many countries’ involvement in the Syrian civil war is based in part on their desire to see the building of that gas pipeline from Qatar to Turkey through Syria.

However, the Syrian government has rejected this later proposal, preferring the first option. That is why the country of Syria is at the center of decisions regarding the building of pipelines to bring natural gas to Europe. This is also an important source of political conflict in that part of the world. It explains why the governments of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel and the European Union (EU) have worked so hard to overthrow the Syrian Assad government and have financed various rebel groups, including the IS organization.

Conclusion

Oil and gas production, pipeline building and sales are important factors in explaining the political frictions present in the Middle East and the reason why so many governments want to topple the Assad Syrian government. Such an overt or camouflaged policy will only bring more chaos to the Middle East.

To bring peace to the Middle East would require a spirit of compromise and concessions, and serious political negotiations, not decades-long wars. A negotiated political solution would seem preferable to constant military confrontations, especially considering the carnage that wars bring to the people.

The sooner this is recognized, the better for all those involved.

Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is an international economist and author, whose last two books are: The Code for Global Ethics, Prometheus Books, 2010; and The New American Empire, Infinity Publishing, 2003. To read Dr. Tremblay’s blog, please visit:http://www.thenewamericanempire.com/blog.htm The author can be reached at: [email protected].

Obama Declares Perpetual War, In Violation of the UN Charter

September 17th, 2014 by Marjorie Cohn

President Barack Obama escalated the drone war he has conducted for the past five and a half years by declaring his intention to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, or ISIL. Since August 8, Obama has mounted at least 154 airstrikes in Iraq. He will send 475 additional US troops, increasing the total number in Iraq to about 1,600. Obama announced he would conduct “a systematic campaign of airstrikes” in Iraq, and possibly in Syria. But, not limiting himself to those countries, Obama declared the whole world his battlefield, stating “We will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are . . . if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

If, indeed, there were an imminent threat of attack on the United States, Obama would be legally entitled to launch a military operation. The United Nations Charter, which prohibits the use of military force, allows an exception when a country acts in self-defense. Under the well-established Caroline doctrine, the “necessity for self-defense must be instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.” The only problem is, Obama admitted, “We have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland.” Citing only the vague possibility of future “deadly attacks,” Obama nevertheless declared a perpetual war with no specific end time.

The only other exception to the UN Charter’s prohibition on military force is when the Security Council has given its approval. Obama said he would chair a meeting of the Council in two weeks’ time to “mobilize the international community.” But the Charter requires that the Council countenance the military operation before it occurs. The proposed resolution the Council is slated to adopt will reportedly call on countries to criminalize recruitment and travel of foreign fighters that join extremist military forces, and require the sharing of airline passenger information. It will not, however, authorize military force. Obama’s war violates the UN Charter, a treaty the United States has ratified, making it part of US law under the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution.

Obama’s war also violates the War Powers Resolution, which permits the president to introduce US Armed Forces into hostilities or imminent hostilities only in three situations. First, after Congress has declared war, which has not happened in this case. Second, in “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces,” which again, has not occurred. Third, when there is “specific statutory authorization.” Obama has not asked Congress to authorize his military attacks.

Indeed, Obama declared, “I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL.” He was relying on the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that Congress passed in 2001, which President George W. Bush used to invade Afghanistan. But that AUMF only authorized force against individuals, groups and countries that “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the September 11 terrorist attacks. ISIS did not even exist in 2001. In fact, Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s leader, formally kicked ISIS out of al-Qaeda earlier this year.

When it passed the 2001 AUMF, Congress specifically rejected the Bush administration’s request for open-ended military authority “to deter and preempt any future acts of terrorism or aggression against the United States.” Moreover, in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, Congress specified, “Nothing in this section is intended to . . . expand the authority of the President or the scope of the [2001 AUMF].”

Apparently, Obama is also relying on the 2002 AUMF, in which Congress authorized the president to use the armed forces as he determines necessary and appropriate to defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq, and to enforce all relevant UN Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq. But since that threat and those resolutions were aimed at Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, that license, too, has ended. Indeed, in June, the White House declared that the 2002 AUMF “is no longer used for any US government activities.” That means Obama’s current war is not simply a continuation of Bush’s Iraq war, and the 2002 AUMF does not provide Obama with legal license to mount his military attacks.

The War Powers Resolution requires Obama to secure a new Congressional authorization for his war within 60 days of launching “hostilities,” or he must withdraw US forces within 30 days. The 60-day period runs out on October 7. Obama apparently feels unconstrained to comply with this law.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama told the Boston Globe, “The President does not have the power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” Earlier this year, Obama said, “no country can maintain its freedom in the face of continual war.” Yet that is exactly what he is doing with his declaration of perpetual war.

Obama is violating both US and international law. He is also risking even more blowback against the United States. The US government has destabilized the region with Bush’s Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and Obama’s killing of thousands of people with drones. Many Sunnis are less afraid of ISIS than they are of the puppet Shiite government the United States installed in Iraq, which tortured, raped, murdered and arbitrarily detained Sunnis during the last two and a half years.

ISIS is a brutal group. But Obama is imploring Congress to fund the New Syrian Army, which according to The New York Times, “went on to behead six [captured] ISIS fighters.”

Playing both ends against the middle, Obama wants to fight ISIS in Syria without emboldening President Bashar Assad, who is also fighting ISIS. And Obama reserves the right to bomb in Syria, a sovereign country, in defiance of Assad. Obama is playing with fire.

Besides being illegal, Obama’s war promises to exacerbate the volatile situation in the region, resulting in more hostility against the United States. Obama has said in the past there is no military solution to this conflict. He should use his leadership in the Security Council to secure a cease-fire, create a peacekeeping force, mount an embargo of all arms being sent to the region, and pursue a regional diplomatic solution enlisting Iran and Syria in the process. Perpetual war is not the answer.

Copyright, Truthout. Reprinted with permission.

Sacrificing the Vulnerable, From Gaza to America

September 17th, 2014 by Chris Hedges

A Palestinian stands in the rubble of destroyed houses Aug. 1 in the heavily bombed town of Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, close to the Israeli border. AP/Lefteris Pitarakis

Chris Hedges gave this speech Saturday at the Sauk County Fairgrounds in Baraboo, Wis., before a crowd of about 2,000. His address followed one there by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who seems to be preparing to run in the Democratic presidential primaries. The Fighting Bob Fest, the annual event at which they appeared, brings together progressive speakers from around the country and honors Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette (1855-1925), a U.S. senator from Wisconsin who opposed the United States’ entry into World War I. Parts of this talk were drawn from Hedges’ past columns.

I would like to begin by speaking about the people of Gaza. Their suffering is not an abstraction to me. I was the Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times. I spent seven years in the region. I speak Arabic. And for much of that time I was in Gaza, including when Israeli fighter jets and soldiers were attacking it.

I have stood over the bodies, including the bodies of children, left behind by Israeli airstrikes and assaults. I have watched mothers and fathers cradle their dead and bloodied boys and girls in their arms, convulsed by an indescribable grief, shrieking in pitiful cries to an indifferent universe.

And in this charnel house, this open-air prison where 1.8 million people, nearly half of them children, live trapped in an Israeli ghetto, I have witnessed the crimes of occupation—the food shortage, the stifling overcrowding, the contaminated water, the lack of health services, the crippling poverty, the endemic unemployment, the fear and the despair. As I have witnessed this mass of human suffering I have heard from the power elites in Jerusalem and Washington the lies told to justify state terror.

An impoverished, captive people that lack an army, a navy, an air force, mechanized units, drones, artillery and any semblance of command and control do not pose a threat to Israel. And Israel’s indiscriminate use of modern, industrial weapons to kill hundreds of innocents, wound thousands more and make tens of thousands of families homeless is not a war. It is state-sponsored terror and state-sponsored murder.

The abject failure by our political class to acknowledge this fact, a fact that to most of the rest of the world is obvious, exposes the awful banality of our political system, the cynical abandonment of the most vulnerable of the earth for campaign contributions. Money, after all, has replaced the vote.

The refusal to speak out for the people of Gaza is not tangential to our political life. The pathetic, Stalinist-like plebiscite in the [U.S.] Senate, where all 100 senators trotted out like AIPACwindup dolls to cheer on the Israeli bombing of homes, apartment blocks, schools—where hundreds of terrified families were taking shelter—water treatment plants, power stations, hospitals, and of course boys playing soccer on a beach, exposes the surrender of our political class to cash-rich lobbying groups and corporate power. The people of Gaza are expendable. They are poor. They are powerless. And they have no money. Just like the poor people of color in this country whose bodies, locked in cages, enrich the prison-industrial complex.

When you are willing to sacrifice the most vulnerable for political expediency it becomes easy, as Barack Obama and the Democratic Party have amply illustrated, to sacrifice all who are vulnerable—our own poor, workers, the sick, the elderly, students and our middle class. This is a Faustian compact. It ends by selling your soul to Goldman Sachs and ExxonMobil. It ends by deifying a military machine, now largely beyond civilian control, that, along with our organs of state security, has established surveillance and a security state that make us the most spied-upon, eavesdropped, monitored and photographed populace in human history. It is impossible to describe yourself as free when you are constantly watched. This is the relationship of a master and a slave.

Politics, if we take politics to mean the shaping and discussion of issues, concerns and laws that foster the common good, is no longer the business of our traditional political institutions. These institutions, including the two major political parties, the courts and the press, are not democratic. They are used to crush any vestiges of civic life that calls, as a traditional democracy does, on its citizens to share among all its members the benefits, sacrifices and risks of a nation. They offer only the facade of politics, along with elaborate, choreographed spectacles filled with skillfully manufactured emotion and devoid of real political content. We have devolved into what Alexis de Tocquevillefeared—“democratic despotism.”

The squabbles among the power elites, rampant militarism and the disease of imperialism, along with a mindless nationalism that characterizes all public debate, which Bob La Follette denounced and fought, have turned officially sanctioned politics into a carnival act.

Pundits and news celebrities on the airwaves engage in fevered speculation about whether the wife of a former president will run for office—and this after the mediocre son of another president spent eight years in the White House. This is not politics. It is gossip. Opinion polls, the staple of what serves as political reporting, are not politics. They are forms of social control. The use of billions of dollars to fund election campaigns and pay lobbyists to author legislation is not politics. It is legalized bribery. The insistence that austerity and economic rationality, rather than the welfare of the citizenry, be the primary concerns of the government is not politics. It is the death of civic virtue. The government’s system of wholesale surveillance and the militarization of police forces, along with the psychosis of permanent war and state-orchestrated fear of terrorism, are not politics. They are about eradicating civil liberties and justifying endless war and state violence. The chatter about death panels, abortion, gay rights, guns and undocumented children crossing the border is not politics. It is manipulation by the power elites of emotion, hate and fear to divert us from seeing our own powerlessness.

As long as most citizens believe in the ideas that justify global capitalism, the private and state institutions that serve our corporate masters are unassailable. When these ideas are shattered, the institutions that buttress the ruling class deflate and collapse. The battle of ideas is percolating below the surface. It is a battle the corporate state is steadily losing. An increasing number of Americans are getting it. They know that we have been stripped of political power. They recognize that we have been shorn of our most basic and cherished civil liberties. They know that nearly half the country lives in poverty or a category called “near poverty.” Many of the rest of us, if the corporate state is not overthrown, will join them. These truths are harder and harder to hide.

It appears that political ferment is dormant in the United States. This is incorrect. The ideas that sustain the corporate state are swiftly losing their efficacy across the political spectrum. The ideas that are rising to take their place, however, are inchoate. The right has retreated into Christian fascism and a celebration of the gun culture. The left, knocked off balance by decades of fierce state repression in the name of anti-communism, has yet to rebuild itself and turn on a feckless liberal class that has sold its soul to a bankrupt Democratic Party.

The tinder of revolt is piling up. No person or movement can ignite this tinder. No one knows when the eruption will take place. No one knows what form it will take. But it is certain that a popular revolt is coming. The refusal by the corporate state to address even the minimal grievances of the citizenry, the continued pillaging of the nation and the ecosystem, remind us that, as Karl Marx pointed out, unregulated, unfettered capitalism is a revolutionary force. It commodifies everything. Human beings and the natural world become commodities that are exploited until exhaustion or collapse. This is why the economic crisis is intimately twined with the environmental crisis. The corporate state—a system described by the political philosopherSheldon Wolinas “inverted totalitarianism”—is incapable of a rational response to the crisis. A rational response, especially after your uprising in Madisonand the Occupy movement, would at a minimum include a moratorium on all foreclosures and bank repossessions, a forgiveness of student debt, universal health care for all and a massive jobs program, especially targeted at those under the age of 25. But the corporate state, by mounting a coordinated federal effort led by Barack Obama to shut down the Occupy encampments, illustrated that the only language it will speak is the language of force.

Revolutions, when they erupt, appear to the elites and the establishment to be sudden and unexpected. This is because the real work of revolutionary ferment and consciousness is unseen by the mainstream society, noticed only after it has largely been completed. Throughout history, those who have sought radical change have always had to first discredit the ideas used to prop up ruling elites and construct alternative ideas for society, which [today] means the articulation of a viable socialism as an alternative to corporate tyranny.

By the time ruling elites are openly defied, there has already been a nearly total loss of faith in the ideas—in our case free market capitalism and globalization—that sustain the structures of the ruling elites. And once enough people get it, a process that can take years, “the slow, quiet, and peaceful social evolution becomes quick, militant, and violent,” as Alexander Berkmanwrote. “Evolution becomes revolution.”

This is where we are headed. I do not say this because I am a supporter of revolution. I am not. I prefer the piecemeal and incremental reforms of a functioning democracy. I prefer a system in which our social institutions permit the citizenry to nonviolently dismiss those in authority. I prefer a system in which institutions are independent and not captive to corporate power. But we do not live in such a system. Revolt is the only option left. Ruling elites, once the ideas that justify their existence are dead, resort to force. It is their final clutch at power. If a nonviolent popular movement is able to ideologically disarm the bureaucrats, civil servants and police—to get them, in essence, to defect—nonviolent revolution is possible. But if the state can organize effective and prolonged violence against dissent, it spawns reactive revolutionary violence, or what the state calls terrorism. And our backlash, if we on the left do not regain the militancy of the old anarchists and socialists, could be a right-wing backlash, a species of Christian fascism.

The people in Gaza deserve to be free. So do we. But do not look to our political mandarins for help, or expect anything but vaudevillian smoke and mirrors from the billions poured into our campaign circus.

Look within.

We too are powerless. We have undergone a corporate coup d’état in slow motion. It is over. They have won. If we want to wrest power back, to make the consent of the governed more than an empty cliché, we will have to mobilize, to carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience to overthrow—let me repeat that word for the members of Homeland Security who may be visiting us this afternoon—overthrow the corporate state. And maybe, once we have freed ourselves, we can free the people of Gaza.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), whose members comprise the world’s major economies, has significantly cut its growth forecasts for 2014 and 2015 and warned that financial markets could face increased turbulence when the US Federal Reserve begins to increase interest rates.

Further indications of when the US Fed might take that step are expected today after its open market committee meeting. Most attention will focus on whether the Fed continues to say that its benchmark rate will remain near zero for a “considerable time” when its program of financial asset buying ends in October.

In an “interim” assessment, the OECD said it expected a growth rate in 2014 of 2.1 percent in the US, 0.8 percent for the eurozone and 0.9 percent for Japan. This is a downward revision for each of these economies of between 0.3 and 0.5 percentage points.

The trend will continue in 2015, with the US economy predicted to grow by 3.1 percent, compared to the previous forecast of 3.5 percent and the eurozone by 1.1 percent, down from the previous estimate of 1.7 percent.

Overall, the OECD said the world economy was growing at a similar rate to that of the past three years, but this was well below the trend before the global financial crisis and slower than the initial rebound. Significantly, it pointed to “subdued trade-intensive investment” that was reflected in “the persistence of sub-par world trade growth.”

Continuing slow growth in the euro area was the “most worrying feature” of the OECD’s projections. Growth had been “disappointing” in the largest economies—Germany, France and Italy. “Confidence is again weakening, and the anaemic state of demand is reflected in the decline in inflation, which is near zero in the zone as a whole and negative in several countries.” There was a risk of slipping into outright deflation, which would perpetuate stagnation and increase the real debt burden.

The vicious debt-deflation circle is exemplified in Italy. The country’s debt reached almost 136 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter and is predicted to rise to 145 percent by next year, despite a series of austerity programs.

The OECD noted that real wage growth remained “very weak in many countries” and this was holding back a stronger recovery in consumer spending. A graph showed real wages grew by only 0.2 percent in the US from 2009 to 2014, while in Japan and the euro area they declined. In all three areas, labour productivity growth was near 1 percent or more. In other words, any economic growth is flowing almost exclusively to profits.

The OECD did not deal in much detail with China, except to say that policy settings were consistent with “an orderly growth slowdown.” Inflationary data indicated “ample room” for stimulus measures should they prove necessary.

Other reports, however, are starting to sound the alarm bells over the Chinese economy. Evidence of a deceleration came last weekend with the news that the increase in industrial production for August was 6.9 percent year-on-year, the lowest level since 2009, during the global financial crisis.

The Wall Street Journal reported that several financial institutions had lowered their growth projections for China, with predictions that it could fall below the official 7.5 percent by as much as 0.3 percentage points.

The newspaper’s report noted there was evidence that the real estate slump, which has been occurring for some months, was starting to spread, with weakening conditions in many related industries, including steel, flat glass, cement and consumer white goods.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in China was down 14 percent in August compared to a year earlier, following a 17 percent drop in July. This is first time FDI has dropped by more than 10 percent in two consecutive months since 2009.

There is widespread recognition that the days of 10 percent-plus growth have gone. The question is how fast the Chinese economy will slow and how this will affect the rest of the world, especially South East Asian economies that produce intermediate good for Chinese factories, and raw materials suppliers such as Australia.

The OECD expressed concerns over what might take place in financial markets once the Fed lifts interest rates. “Many emerging markets” were vulnerable to financial shocks because of the build-up of debt, especially corporate debt, in recent years. “The anticipated tightening of US monetary policy could lead to shifts in international financial flows and sharp exchange rate movements that would be disruptive, especially for some emerging economies,” it said.

An article published by Bloomberg on Monday said 100 of South East Asia’s largest publicly traded companies were becoming “more vulnerable to default as their debt surges and profitability weakens.” With average economic growth across the region falling to just under 5 percent last year, from 8.5 percent in 2010, companies are turning to debt rather than profits to finance expansion.

“More and more debt is financing less and less growth,” a Singapore-based analyst for Standard and Poor’s (S&P) told the news agency. S&P issued a report stating that blue chip companies in the region will face increased vulnerability when interest rates rise.

Some indication of the possible turbulence has been provided by the movement of the Australian dollar over the past week. After hovering around 94 cents to the US dollar for months, it suddenly fell to below 90 cents earlier this week. The rapid movement was attributed to possible interest rate moves by the Fed, which will tend to send the value of the US dollar higher in international markets, as well as concerns over the Chinese economy, upon which Australia is dependent.

The OECD said the “bullishness” of global financial markets appeared to be at odds with “the intensification of several significant risks,” highlighting “the possibility that risk is being mispriced and the attendant dangers of a sudden correction.”

These sentiments are broadly in line with those in the quarterly review of the Basle-based Bank for International Settlements (BIS), issued last Sunday. It said companies in developing countries had issued almost $375 billion in debt between 2009 and 2012, more than double the amount in the four years before the 2008 crisis.

Rising interest rates and depreciating exchange rates in these countries would “tend to raise the cost of servicing these debts,” the BIS stated, denting profits and depleting capital reserves unless appropriate hedging operations were undertaken. “Stress on corporate balance sheets could rapidly spill over into other sectors, inflicting losses on the corporate debt holdings of global asset managers and other financial institutions.”

The BIS cited the turbulence in emerging markets in mid-2013, after the Fed indicated it would begin to “taper” its quantitative easing program, as an example of how the decisions of large asset managers could significantly affect markets in these economies. It noted that the assets under management of funds dedicated to emerging markets rose from a pre-Lehman peak of $900 billion in October 2007 to $1.4 trillion in May this year and warned that the use of common benchmarks by these funds could lead to “herd behaviour.”

In other words, once a shift out of these markets begins, it could turn into a rush for the exits, in which each fund tries to get out before incurring significant losses, thereby triggering a crisis.

As the world gears up to finance Gaza’s $6bn reconstruction after Operation Protective Edge, an EU source has revealed that Israel will earn billions of euros by making sure that all the steel, concrete and other materials and other aid are sourced in Israel and benefit Israeli companies.

“It is outrageous that a country which has just demolished 25,000 houses is demanding that their construction industry benefit from rebuilding them at the expense of the international community.

At least 65,000 people in the Gaza Strip are homeless after the recent seven-week conflict. Infrastructure ranging from water desalination centres to power plants lies in ruins.

No formal Israeli ban prevents the import of reconstruction materials that were not made in Israel, but EU sources speaking on condition of anonymity say that in practice, Israeli security demands present them with a fait accompli.

“If you want aid materials to be permitted to enter, they will almost inevitably come from Israeli sources”, an EU official said.

“I don’t think you’ll find it written down anywhere in official policy, but when you get to negotiate with the Israelis, this is what happens. It increases construction and transaction costs, and is a political problem that has to be dealt with.”

As well as Israel’s security restrictions on aid, ”it can be very difficult to export materials to Gaza”, the official said. ”A lot of goods for a Gaza private sector reconstruction project we had, ended up being held in Ashdod port for very lengthy periods of time – months if not years – so there was de facto no alternative but to use Israeli sources.”

The source added that the policy had benefited Israel’s economy to the tune of millions of euros and was, in his view, deliberate.

The European Commission donates some €300 million in development aid to Gaza and the West Bank every year, and around €200 million in humanitarian aid.

The EU official’s allegation received backing from international agencies canvassed by EurActiv and is broadly in line with findings in a UN report due to be published later today (3 September).

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) study will say that half of all donor assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza – who the UN body say constitute a captive market – is spent on servicing a trade deficit to Israel.

‘Dual use items’

Tel Aviv imposed a full blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2007 after the ascent to power of the Islamist Hamas movement, which has used suicide bombing and rocket attack tactics against Israel’s occupation, that have claimed hundreds of civilian lives.

But the UN and international NGOs have protested the blockade’s prevention of free movement and trade for the vast majority of Gazans as a collective punishment.

Building materials such as steel and cement, necessary for the reconstruction of Gaza, have been designated by Israel as ‘dual use’ items – adaptable for munitions – that may only be imported to Gaza by the UN and aid agencies under Israeli supervision.

Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli prime ministers’ office, denied claims that Israel’s entry policy to Gaza prevented non-Israeli-made reconstruction materials from entering the Strip.

“I know that policy, and it is not true”, he told EurActiv over the phone from Jerusalem. He was unable though to give examples of non-Israeli reconstruction materials allowed into Gaza, referring inquiries on to Cogat.

The Israeli body, Cogat, which coordinates the entry of aid into Gaza, did not respond to requests for comment.

But ”there are not many choices”, Amir Rotem, the public affairs director for Gisha, an Israeli NGO, told EurActiv. ”The Israeli market has a monopoly of cement in just one company, and I don’t know of any Palestinian-made cement in the West Bank, so there’s not much to choose from.”

‘Chutzpah writ large’

International reactions to the EU official’s claims were strong.

“It is outrageous that a country which has just demolished 25,000 houses is demanding that their construction industry benefit from rebuilding them at the expense of the international community”, one Western diplomat told EurActiv.

“Talk about chutzpah writ large!” he said.

Mahmoud el-Khafif, UNCTAD’s special coordinator for assistance to the Palestinian people, told EurActiv that he believed the EU official’s claims were correct.

“If you look at steel or cement, I think the only source for it would be Israel”, he said. ”It is a serious problem in my opinion as an economist. What happened in Gaza and what is happening in the West Bank in terms of controlling Area C is an ongoing process to reduce the ability of the Palestinian economy to produce, and the only alternative is to import from Israel.”

Later today, a new UNCTAD report will say that economic growth (measured by GDP) in the economy of the occupied Palestinian Territories declined from 11% in 2011 to just 1.5% last year, far below the rate of population growth.

‘An unliveable place before 2020′

Even before the recent fighting, unemployment in Gaza was running at 36% and people were poorer than in the 1990s, when the Oslo peace process began.

Rebuilding the battered Strip now will take 20 years under the current regime of restrictions, according to a report published earlier this week by Shelter Cluster, an NGO chaired by the Norwegian Refugee Council, with the participation of the UNHCR and the International Red Cross.

That could be too late for many Gazans. The UN’s relief and works agency (UNRWA) has previously estimated that Gaza will not be ”a liveable place” by 2020 because of population increase and a depletion of fresh water sources by 2016.

“lf Gaza was going to be an unliveable place by 2020 – before the latest fighting – it will now be an unliveable place considerably before then”, Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for UNRWA told EurActiv, from the Gaza Strip.

“With at least 20,000 homes damaged or destroyed, with miles of water infrastructure devastated, with millions of gallons of raw sewage flowing into the sea every day, and the corrosive impacts of blockade, the sustainability of Gaza will be even more short lived”, he said.

More than 2,100 Palestinians – mostly civilians – were killed in Israel’s recent Operation Protective Edge, as were 73 Israelis – mostly soldiers.

The international reconstruction effort in Gaza could cost more than $6 billion, according to the Palestinian deputy prime minister.

NATO’s Secretary General has accused Russia of being unwilling to build a partnership with the organization, but some Western analysts say it was the Alliance itself which “has violated nearly each and every paragraph of its agreement with Russia, which has stabilized Europe for a certain time”.

“We have tried long and hard to build a partnership in a way that respects Russia’s security concerns and is based on international rules and norms… Regrettably, Russia has rejected our efforts to engage. Instead, Russia considers NATO, and the West more broadly, as an adversary,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen said at a Carnegie Europe event that marked the end of his mandate as NATO chief.

He also added that Russia “has trembled” all of the agreements that kept the peace in Europe and beyond.

But German government consultant and publicist Christoph Horstel has argued that it was quite the opposite.

“I have re-read the NATO-Russia act right before this interview and I see very clearly, there is no thorough discussion necessary, that the paper in fact is dead,” he told Radio VR.

He attributes this death to NATO and accuses the organization of murder. “NATO has violated nearly each and every paragraph of this important paper, which has stabilized Europe for a certain time. And it has done so since at least, 2003, when Iraq was infected by an unauthorized invasion,” Horstel added.

Christoph Horstel also commented on the new round of sanctions against Russia and the fragile ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.

“Russia has made sure and made it possible that there are successful negotiations going on between the [southeastern] republics and the Kiev regime, in spite of all the mistakes and terrible killings this regime has carried out in its [southeastern] republics,” he said. “And still, the sanctions are coming. So, in fact, I feel that the policy of sanctions is now completely void of any real connection to the Ukrainian issue, where Russia is in a very good position and NATO has made itself against any law – against the UN Charter, and against any kind of international treaty they have signed.”

“What we have here is that the sanctions have come to Russia, because Russia is to be subdued, and pushed into obedience by NATO. That is the plan behind that,” he added.

Horstel also explained that what we have here is “the declared will of Washington to disturb the peace in Europe”. The US, he said, has no interest whatsoever in any person living in Europe or in Russia. They have no interest whatsoever in the well-being of the countries and the peoples living here. He adds that they definitely have a power-related and a greed-related interest in disturbing Russia’s relationships, in order to compel Russia to be obedient or start a conflict.

That, he says, could very well be an armed conflict.

It has been openly declared by foreign policy analysts and planning think tanks in the US that Russia’s delivery of raw materials and energy production to the EU must be put to a halt, he said. They want to disturb it and they want to stop it.

When there is a major problem somewhere in the world, Barack Obama loves to show that he is “doing something” by sending a contingent of U.S. troops to the affected area.  But is it really wise for Obama to send thousands of young American men and women into the Ebola death zone?  What are our troops going to do – shoot the virus?  Of course not.  The UN already has 6,000 uniformed peacekeepers in the region, and they are not doing much good.  The truth is that this is a medical crisis that requires medical personnel.  By sending thousands of troops into the heart of the Ebola pandemic, we make it much more likely that Ebola will be brought back to the United States.  Obama should keep in mind that hundreds of health workers have become infected even though they wear protective gear and are trained to deal with Ebola patients.  Our troops have not been trained to deal with Ebola patients and they probably will not be wearing full protective gear when dealing with the general population.  But there are sick people among the general population that could pass Ebola to them.

It is absolutely imperative that we keep Ebola isolated to the areas that it is already affecting.  The number of Ebola victims has doubled over the past month, and there are computer models that are projecting that millions of people could soon be sick if the virus continues to spread at this pace.

Putting medically untrained troops directly into the death zone seems like a very questionable thing to do.  If a single one of them gets sick and brings the virus back home, it could turn out to be one of the most foolish things that Obama has ever done.

On Tuesday, Obama visited the CDC and finally admitted that this Ebola outbreak is “spiraling out of control” and that strong action needed to be taken immediately

President Obama stressed his sense of urgency on Tuesday at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warning that as America scurries to help west African nations grapple with the deadly Ebola epidemic, ‘We can’t dawdle on this one.’

Of course this is something that he should have done a month or two ago, but at least he is finally stepping up to the plate.

However, Obama continues to insist that the chance of an Ebola outbreak happening in the United States is “extremely low”

‘Our experts here at the CDC and across our government agree that the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low,’ Obama declared.

But he described a battery of new biosecurity measures, including toughened airport screening and a growing capacity for lab testing, that will help ‘in the unlikely event that someone with Ebola does reach our shores.’

He better be right about that.

One thing that Obama has correctly identified is the need to build a lot more treatment facilities for Ebola in the affected regions.  Right now, all of the existing facilities are completely full and there are no empty beds left

Countless taxis filled with families worried they’ve become infected with Ebola currently crisscross Monrovia in search of help.

They scour the Liberian capital, but not one clinic can take them in for treatment.

“Today, there is not one single bed available for the treatment of an Ebola patient in the entire country of Liberia,” said Margaret Chan, the World Health Organization’s director-general.

“As soon as a new Ebola treatment facility is opened, it immediately fills to overflowing with patients,” the WHO said.

Obama’s plan calls for building 17 new Ebola treatment facilities with approximately 100 beds each.

Needless to say, that is not going to get the job done.  1700 beds is going to be kind of like spitting into Niagara Falls if we actually do see hundreds of thousands of cases in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea by early next year.

But should we give Obama credit for trying to do something about this crisis even though he has waited far too long and his plan is not well thought out?

I am not so sure.

Meanwhile, the WHO said this week that the Ebola outbreak continues to grow “exponentially” and that a billion dollars may be needed to bring it under control.

And one U.S. health official told the U.S. Senate on Tuesday that if Ebola continues to spread like wildfire that we could be “dealing with it for years to come”…

“If we do not act now to stop Ebola, we could be dealing with it for years to come,” said Beth Bell, director of the national center for emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At a Senate hearing on Ebola, she noted that 100 CDC staff are working in West Africa and hundreds more are assisting from Atlanta. “The best way to protect the U.S. is to stop the outbreak in West Africa.”

Most Americans still do not seem too concerned about this virus.

But this is not the bird flu.  This is a disease that is killing more than half the people that it infects.

Dr. Kent Brantly, one of the American doctors that contracted the virus but eventually recovered, says that this is a crisis that we need to be taking very seriously

“From the time I fell sick, just two months ago, the death toll has tripled,” Brantly said, noting World Health Organization estimates of 5,000 cases, with about half of those patients dying from the virus. “In nine months down the road, we are looking at hundreds of thousands, not just in cases, but deaths.”

Image Credits: European Commission DG ECHO

A United Nations sponsored measles vaccine program in northern Syria resulted in 36 children suffering “excruciating deaths,” according to doctors in the area held by U.S. and Saudi mercenaries who are administering the program.

Infants given the poisoned vaccine experienced rapidly falling heart rates and turned blue.

Anti-Assad activists blamed the Syrian government and accused it of spiking the vaccines with cyanide. The mercenaries previously accused the Syrian government of launching a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta. It was later discovered the so-called rebels had in fact launched the attack.

There were conflicting figures of the number of dead in the towns of Jirjanaz and Maaret al-Nouman in the northeastern province of Idlib, according to news reports.

In addition to the 36 reported deaths, dozens of other children fell seriously ill.

“At least five children have died and 50 others are suffering from poisoning or allergic reactions after measles vaccinations in Jirjanaz, in Idlib province,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is a one-man propaganda operation run by Rami Abdulrahman, an anti-Assad activist based in London.

“It’s very bad. The figures of dead we are getting go into the 30s. Children are dying very quickly,” said the coordinator of the medical charity, Uossm. “We think it will get worse.”

The charity Save the Children said it was “appalled and deeply saddened” by the deaths.

“The local authorities have launched an investigation. It is clear something has gone badly wrong and Save the Children will help the authorities in any way we can to help find out what has happened.”

Save the Children was said to be involved in the alleged assassination of Osama bin Laden. The organization was rumored to be part of a fake vaccination program in Pakistan run by the CIA as a cover for the assassination.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh characterized the raid which supposedly killed Osama Bin Laden in 2011 as “one big lie.” U.S. government insider Dr. Steve R. Pieczenik and others insist Osama bin Laden died in 2001.

In 2013 the organization called for a ceasefire so the United Nations could address a polio outbreak in the eastern part of the country.

Every week, the PBS NewsHour gives viewers its version of a left/right debate segment. On the right is well-known conservative pundit David Brooks. On the left is Mark Shields, who is not especially well-known outside of the NewsHour, and certainly has no meaningful connection to leftish politics. As FAIR (Extra!7/98) has noted, Shields’ publicity materials used to proclaim that he was “free of any political tilt.”

On the most recent installment (NewsHour9/12/14), Shields was making the point that Congress should weigh in on any decision to launch military strikes against ISIS:

Here’s the one power that is defined, delineated by the Constitution, that resides with the Congress, to declare war. And they have abdicated that responsibility.

Shields was clear: Going to war needs a serious discussion.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You said it needs a healthy debate. Is it getting that kind of debate right now?

MARK SHIELDS: No, it isn’t.

Most people would agree that a debate over war sounds good.  As someone who is paid to play the left on public television, what does Shields think about going to war? Well, something like this:

The United States military… has shown its ability, its capacity to come in and dominate the battlefield. But the idea of establishing order, security and peaceful government in its wake after that has eluded us.

Who are the troops who are going to be there to guarantee stability, order and some sense of justice in the areas?

You can’t do that with airstrikes. I mean, airstrikes are wonderful. They’re antiseptic. They’re at a distance. The possibility of your own casualties is finite. But they don’t occupy. You can’t occupy a nation or bring order and stability by airstrikes. So who are people on the ground?  Who is the coalition?  Where are the troops coming from?

So the left view of Obama’s war plan is that airstrikes “are wonderful,” but that in order to really win there needs to be a ground invasion? Or is Shields’ point that a ground invasion is necessary and therefore untenable? It’s hard to tell. During an earlier discussion (NewsHour8/8/14), when he was asked if Obama had “a choice but to go back in militarily,” Shields replied, “I don’t think he did.”

If Shields–and PBS, for that matter–believe in having a full debate about this war, they will need to find a more forceful critic of Obama’s latest war.

Top U.S. Military Official: Our Arab “Allies” Support ISIS

September 17th, 2014 by Washington's Blog

America’s top military official – the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin E. Dempsey – just admitted in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing what we’ve been saying for months … America’s closest allies are supporting ISIS:

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA, MEMBER OF ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE:   Do you know any major Arab ally that embraces ISIL?

GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: I know major Arab allies who fund them.

GRAHAM: Yeah, but do they embrace them? They fund them because the Free Syrian Army couldn’t fight Assad. They were trying to beat Assad. I think they realized the folly of their ways.

Maybe a good start for defeating ISIS would be to stop funding them and their BFFs?

US Prepares for “Generational” War in the Middle East

September 17th, 2014 by Peter Symonds

At a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey set the stage for a massive and protracted expansion of US military operations in Iraq and Syria.

“This will require a sustained effort over an extended period of time. It is a generational problem,” Dempsey told the committee.

In his opening testimony, Dempsey contradicted President Obama’s pledge last week that there would be no American troops engaged in combat in Iraq or Syria. “To be clear,” he stated, “if we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] targets, I will recommend that to the president.”

Obama has already authorised the deployment of 1,600 American military personnel in Iraq, including the placement of US troops with Kurdish peshmerga militia and Iraqi army forces fighting ISIL, more commonly known as ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). Speaking on behalf of the US military hierarchy, Dempsey made clear that such advisers could not be confined to headquarters, but would be needed to provide “close combat advising” in complex operations such as dislodging ISIS from urban areas like Mosul.

In remarks bordering on insubordination, Dempsey implicitly criticised Obama when he explained that the president had already turned down the recommendation of Central Command chief, General Lloyd Austin, to deploy American troops as spotters to call in air strikes during last month’s offensive to retake the Mosul Dam from ISIS.

Dempsey’s public disagreement points to tensions with the White House and the degree to which the military and intelligence apparatus are calling the shots in the new US-led war in the Middle East. The real purpose of the military intervention, a revival of plans shelved last year, is the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This will necessarily require a far greater American military commitment than currently acknowledged.

In the space of just over a month, what was initially announced as limited air strikes to protect the Yazidi minority in Iraq has been transformed into a full-blown war in Iraq and Syria involving the US and some 40 allies. Both Dempsey and Hagel reaffirmed yesterday that the air war that has already begun in Iraq would be taken into Syria. “This is an Iraq-first strategy… but not an Iraq-only one,” Dempsey said.

Hagel told the Senate Committee that Obama will meet with General Austin today at the Central Command headquarters in Tampa for a briefing on the war preparations. “The plan includes targeted actions against USIL safe havens in Syria—including its command and control, logistics capabilities, and infrastructure,” he stated.

Hagel dismissed any notion of Syrian national sovereignty, declaring that “our actions will not be restrained by a border in name only. As the president said last week, ‘if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.’”

As was the case in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Obama administration is launching an illegal war of aggression over the vocal opposition of the Syrian government, which is well aware that it is the real target.

While maintaining the pretext of destroying ISIS, Hagel put Assad squarely in the US cross-hairs. “As we pursue this program,” he declared,

“the United States will continue to press for a political resolution to the Syrian conflict resulting in the end of the Assad regime. Assad has lost all legitimacy to govern, and has created the conditions that allowed ISIL and other terrorist groups to gain ground and terrorise and slaughter the Syrian population.”

The cynicism is staggering. For the past three years, the Obama administration and its allies, especially Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, have backed, financed and armed the anti-Assad militias to overthrow the Syrian government. Having turned a blind eye to atrocities carried out in Syria by ISIS and other reactionary Islamist forces, Washington has seized on the beheading of two American journalists to justify the launching of a war to oust Assad.

Along with US air strikes in Syria, Hagel detailed plans to “train, equip and resupply more than 5,000 [Syrian] opposition forces over one year. The package of assistance that we initially provide would consist of small arms, vehicles, and basic equipment like communications, as well as tactical and strategic training.”

Hagel’s claims that there will be “a rigorous vetting process” to ensure that “weapons do not fall into the hand of radical elements of the opposition” have no credibility. The very fact that the training will take place in Saudi Arabia, one of the chief backers of Islamist militias in Syria, including ISIS, makes clear that the “vetting” will be to ensure that the overriding commitment of these forces is to oust Assad.

In his remarks, Dempsey spoke of the need to “destroy ISIL in Iraq,” where it threatens the stability of the US puppet regime in Baghdad. But he set a more modest goal for Syria, where the Islamist organisation could still be called on as part of the regime-change operation against Assad. There he said the aim was to “disrupt ISIL.”

Dempsey also indicated that the US was pressuring unnamed Sunni Arab nations with “very considerable” Special Forces to commit troops to assist anti-Assad militias on the ground in Syria. While he did not name specific countries, they likely include Qatar and Saudi Arabia, whose intelligence agencies have undoubtedly been active inside Syria.

A revealing exchange in the Senate hearing involving Republican Senator John McCain with Hagel and Dempsey underscored the purpose of the unfolding war. After declaring that it was a “fundamental fallacy” to rely on the Syrian opposition to prioritise fighting ISIS ahead of fighting Assad, McCain asked whether these militias would receive American air cover if attacked by the Syrian military.

The question came too close to the truth—that such an attack, real or fabricated, would provide a convenient pretext for unleashing devastating air strikes against the Syrian military. Responding to McCain, Hagel did not rule out the possibility, simply saying: “We’re not there yet, but our focus is on ISIL.”

Dempsey was more open, stating that “if we were to take [fighting] Assad off the table, we’d have a much more difficult time” persuading the Syrian opposition to join the US-led war. He said the administration had an “ISIL-first strategy”—meaning an open assault against Assad would soon follow.

Behind the backs of the American people and without even the fig leaf of congressional authorisation—which both parties would overwhelming provide, if asked—the Obama administration is embarking on a reckless and illegal war of aggression aimed at securing US hegemony over the Middle East and beyond. While Assad is the immediate target, the US is preparing for a confrontation with his backers—Iran and Russia—that threatens to trigger a far more devastating war.

In 2007, when the Charles Koch Foundation considered giving millions of dollars to Florida State University’s economics department, the offer came with strings attached.

First, the curriculum it funded must align with the libertarian, deregulatory economic philosophy of Charles Koch, the billionaire industrialist and Republican political bankroller.

Second, the Charles Koch Foundation would at least partially control which faculty members Florida State University hired.

And third, Bruce Benson, a prominent libertarian economic theorist and Florida State University economics department chairman, must stay on another three years as department chairman — even though he told his wife he’d step down in 2009 after one three-year term.

The Charles Koch Foundation expressed a willingness to give Florida State an extra $105,000 to keep Benson — a self-described “libertarian anarchist” who asserts that every government function he’s studied “can be, has been, or is being produced better by the private sector” — in place.

“As we all know, there are no free lunches. Everything comes with costs,” Benson at the time wrote to economics department colleagues in an internal memorandum. “They want to expose students to what they believe are vital concepts about the benefits of the market and the dangers of government failure, and they want to support and mentor students who share their views. Therefore, they are trying to convince us to hire faculty who will provide that exposure and mentoring.”

Benson concluded, “If we are not willing to hire such faculty, they are not willing to fund us.”

Such details are contained in 16 pages of previously unpublished emails andmemos obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.

While the documents are seven years old — and don’t reflect the Charles Koch Foundation’s current relationship with Florida State University, university officials contend — they offer rare insight into how Koch’s philanthropic operation prods academics to preach a free market gospel in exchange for cash.

Senior Employees “Screwed” by BP

September 17th, 2014 by Dahr Jamail

(Image: BP logobusiness stress via Shutterstock; Edited: JR/TO)

In early September US District Judge Carl Barbier found BP guilty of gross negligence, or “more reckless and extreme behavior” for their 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, which was the single largest marine oil spill in US history.

Barbier, who is based in New Orleans, wrote that the oil giant had taken measures to cut costs despite obvious safety risks, and mentioned that some of BP’s decisions “evince an extreme deviation from the standard of care and a conscious disregard of known risks.”

BP now faces a penalty of as much as $4,300 for each barrel of oil spilled, exposing the oil company to an additional $18 billion in fines. That is nearly quadruple the maximum civil fine had the finding been simple negligence.

Barbier’s decision prompted the UK government to tell US Supreme Court judges that decisions to authorize payments to people who were not injured by the spill raises “grave international comity concerns by undermining confidence in the vigorous and fair resolution of disputes.”

Given the number of UK citizens, government employees or otherwise, who have a massive financial stake in BP’s financial well-being, the UK government’s interest in the outcome of BP’s US court case is obvious.

In a court brief dated September 4, the UK government said, “The lower courts’ rulings have dramatically expanded” BP’s “scope of liability far beyond anything that would seem to be appropriate under our shared common-law traditions or that anyone would reasonably expect.”

Yet several long-term senior BP “SOHIO” employees who are incensed at what they believe is BP’s attempt to short-change them on their pensions are enraged by the company’s willingness to engage the UK government’s assistance in avoiding fines in the United States, whilst ignoring the pleas of US-based senior employees for the company to honor their pension plans.

For more than half a year, at least 450 BP America employees have described BP as a company that is reneging on their pension plans by up to 75 percent, lying about it, and actively working against them in order not to pay them retirement benefits that were promised.

Russel Stauffer worked for BP in Houston for 32 years, but left in 2012 in “disgust.”

“I quit the company as ‘head of finance for the Gulf of Mexico,’” Stauffer told Truthout. “I had a sweet job, but I could no longer stand the injustice and lies at work.”

Fritz Guenther, a BP employee and United Steelworkers Union member working in Alaska, who has worked for BP for 35 years, said he and his colleagues are “currently fighting to get back the pension plans that BP promised us in writing in 1989.”

But now the UK government’s decision has him “severely pissed off.”

“Where was the UK government in 1989 when BP stole, yes stole, over half of its American workers pensions,” Guenther told Truthout. “Yeah, it’s all well and good to screw your American workers but when the shoe is on the other foot the UK government feels the need to step in? Hey UK government, where were you when your beloved BP was putting the boots to its American workers?”

“Fighting Back”

Guenther said he and his colleagues are “currently fighting back to get the pension plans that BP promised us in writing in 1989.”

Guenther, Stauffer and other previous and current BP employees, with whom Truthout spoke, are frustrated because they all belonged to Standard Oil of Ohio (SOHIO), a company BP bought outright in 1987 and made the cornerstone of its new national operation, BP America. At the time, BP promised these new employees in writing that their pension plan would maintain equal value to the old plan, or would even increase in value.

According to Guenther and several other current and former long-standing BP employees, in 1989 BP converted its US-based workers to a “new and improved” retirement plan.

“But four years ago we realized that over half of our pensions were missing,” Guenther said. “When we brought this to BP’s attention they quit talking to their own long-term employees.”

According to these BP employees who spoke with Truthout, to date over 450 BP America US employees have filed “code of conduct and ethics complaints” with the BP Ombudsman Judge Stan Sporkin.

Following a two year investigation, in which, according to the employees, BP repeatedly lied to the judge and even hired two of the ombudsman’s investigators to stop the investigation, Sporkin concluded that what BP did to their pensions was, according to Guenther, “wrong on every level and BP ‘needs to take bold action’ to correct this for some of their longest serving, most loyal employees.”

Regarding BP’s consistent claims that the company has done everything possible to compensate those impacted by its disaster in the Gulf, coupled with the company enlisting the UK government to come to its aid regarding the recent court ruling against it, Guenther had strong words.

“I am so damn sick and tired of hearing about poor, poor BP everyone is after them,” he said. “How about you guys in the media do a report on how BP stole its US workers’ pensions and has continued to ignore them?”

Wanting Answers

Sarah Fujimoto and her husband both retired from BP in April 2014, after 37 and 36 years of service, respectively.

“We have been through the good, the bad and the ugly with BP,” she told Truthout. “All we want is what we were promised for our retirement, not just for ourselves, but for all of the employees [in our situation].”

Fujimoto said that she has been involved in the issue for four years now, and added, “We want answers [from BP].”

Instead, she said all they’ve received is “a bunch of fluff.”

She provided Truthout with examples of this.

-We (the Ombudsman’s office and BP) will be meeting again in a month, then it takes two-three months for any sort of an update and the updates say nothing.

-We will be meeting again in another month, then months pass and we get nothing of substance.

Fujimoto said she recently phoned BP’s Ombudsman’s office for an update on the situation, and was told, “There will be an update issued in the next couple of weeks.”

She concluded with the hope, after she and her beleaguered colleagues have been patient about the matter, that “BP needs to step up to the plate and do the right thing for their long-standing loyal employees. BP needs to honor their code of conduct. No more smoke and mirrors, no more shell games, just do the right thing.”

However, given BP’s track record in fully compensating those impacted by their oil disaster in the Gulf, in addition to what other former long-term BP employees have told Truthout, Fujimoto’s hopes for BP to do the right thing appear fantastic.

Kirk Wardlaw worked for BP for 31 years before retiring over the pension issue two years ago.

He’d known of the pension disparity for more than 15 years and knows of more than 50 of his former colleagues who were disgruntled over the issue as well.

Wardlaw told Truthout that BP’s actions over this issue show that BP is “a company that doesn’t keep their word,” in addition to being “unwilling to step up and do what’s right unless required by law or forced to do it.”

The employees are accusing BP of not following their own code of conduct as it is outlined on the company website, where it states, “We say what is true” and “We do what is right.”

BP’s former senior engineer Wardlaw offered a warning to people in the Gulf of Mexico who have filed compensation claims with BP.

“Those depending on BP to ‘do the right thing’ in the Gulf of Mexico should be aware of BP’s unfair and callous treatment of some of their own employees, failure to adhere to their own code of conduct, and the willingness to hide behind a standard of ‘we did what was technically legal,’” he said.

Truthout asked BP when the company would reach a conclusion about the pension issue in question, if the company planned on making a public statement, and if the company’s UK office was aware of the pension dispute.

BP responded:

BP has listened to and understands the concerns of our SOHIO employees and has cooperated fully with the Office of the Ombudsman’s investigation. With the Ombudsman’s report on the matter now complete, we are reviewing the findings and will share our position on the matter with these employees shortly.

Changing the Rules

Another long-term BP employee, who still works for the company, requested anonymity out of fear of retaliation by BP.

He pointed out that BP’s British employees have never had their pensions taken away, and when the terms for new employees were changed in 2009, existing British employees were grandfathered into their pension plan and kept their existing plan

“But when BP was accused of violating their code of conduct in 2014, BP responded by rewriting their code of conduct,” the current employee told Truthout.

Guenther remains incensed at both his company’s response to the pension dispute as well as how the company only takes care of its own regarding certain issues, as evidenced by the recent UK government actions regarding the “gross negligence” ruling.

“BP continues to ignore us and to date has not provided us with any updates and, at best, the ombudsman continues to stall any resolutions,” Guenther said of his current situation.

“The ombudsman report concluded that what BP did was wrong and that they need to take bold actions to correct this. So far BP has done nothing even though they have had the report in hand for over six months,” he said.

His concluding thoughts about the company he works for was stark:

“Every time I see one of BP’s ‘Commitment to America’ ads I want to vomit.”

Copyright, Truthout. Reprinted with permission.

The Battle for Oil

September 17th, 2014 by Eric Waddell

Editor’s Note

We bring to the attention of our readers this incisive overview of the US led “battle for oil” by Professor Eric Waddell. The article was first published more than ten years ago in November 2002, during the critical period leading up to the invasion of Iraq.

What is ultimately at stake in Iraq is the intention on the part of the U.S. and its indefectible British ally to establish control over one of the world largest, cheapest and most easily accessible oil reserves.

The war against Iraq is being fought on behalf of the Anglo-American oil giants: BP, Exxon-Mobil, Chevron-Texaco, Shell. The first objective is to secure the control by US-UK forces of Iraq’s oil facilities in the Persian Gulf.


The US domestic consumption of oil exceeds 20 million barrels per day, 26% of total World consumption, an amount higher than the yearly consumption for all of Europe and all of Africa combined. U.S. oil imports constitute 56% of total consumption and are expected to reach 66% by 2020.

The U.S. contains only 2.8% of total proven world oil reserves. Two-thirds of the world’s proven oil and natural gas reserves are in the Middle East (notably Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Iran and Iraq). Very substantial oil and natural gas reserves are located in the overlapping region of the Caspian Sea basin (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan and Iran). Tentative estimates provided by the Energy Information Administration, place total (proven and possible) oil reserves at 243 billion barrels, or in excess of 25% of present global reserves),1 Iraq currently produces 11% of the world’s oil and it ranks only second to Saudi Arabia in the size of its reserves (112 billion barrels). Exploitation costs are less than half those of deep sea drilling. Direct access to the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean ensures strategically secure oil supply routes. The Anglo-American oil giants (BP, Chevron-Texaco, Shell, Exxon) are all absent from Iran and Iraq, which have signed oil contracts and production sharing agreements with French, Russian and Chinese oil companies. Because of the UN sanctions on Iraq, the agreements signed by Baghdad are not (“officially”) operational.

Hidden Agenda

According to the Washington Post (15 September 2002): “A U.S.-led ouster of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein could open a bonanza for American oil companies long banished from Iraq, scuttling oil deals between Baghdad and Russia, France and other countries, and reshuffling world petroleum markets… A proposed $40 billion Iraqi-Russian economic agreement also reportedly includes opportunities for Russian companies to explore for oil in Iraq’s western desert. The French company Total Fina Elf has negotiated for rights to develop the huge Majnoon field, near the Iranian border, which may contain up to 30 billion barrels of oil.” Similarly the Franco-Belgian consortium Total-Fina-Elf, in partnership with Italy’s ENI, also has sizeable investments in Iran. Total had established, together with Russia’s Gazprom and Malaysia’s Petronas, a joint venture with the National Iranian Oil company (NIOC). Washington has on several occasions, attempted to break France’s deal with Tehran on the grounds that it openly contravened the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act.

It is hardly surprising that the recent UN Security Council debates over action to be taken against Iraq have divided the permanent members, with two of the five – USA and UK – demanding immediate military action, two – France and Russia – clearly opposing such an initiative, and the fifth – China – standing equivocally in the sidelines. The resultant “compromise” UN Security Council resolution is a particularly fragile one, with both the US and the UK maintaining their threat to act unilaterally. Indeed both continue to bomb, on a regular basis, the “no-fly zones” established over the northern and southern parts of Iraq, on the increasingly hollow pretext that they are thereby protecting the minority ethnic groups present in these two areas. Moreover, immediately following the adoption of the November 8th UN Security Council resolution, the Pentagon released its plan to invade Iraq, which calls for the deployment of a land, sea and air force of 200,000 to 250,000 troops: “Pentagon planners had considered an approach that would have used 100,000 or fewer troops, but they settled on a much larger force favored by Gen. Tommy Franks, head of the Central Command” (Associated Press, 10 November 2002)

© Map by Eric Waddell, Global Research, 2003.  (click map to enlarge)

Eric Waddell is professor of Geography at Laval University 

1. Energy Information Administration, US Department of the Environment at: http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/caspgrph.html#TAB1

-The oil reserves of the U.S. are estimated at a meager 22 billion barrels. The broader region of the Middle East and the Caspian Sea Basin have oil reserves which are more than thirty times those of the U.S, representing more than 70% of the World’s total reserves. Control of this region by the Anglo-American oil giants means control over at least three quarters of the World’s supply of oil and natural gas. -It would also mean control over the Westbound, Eastbound and South bound oil and gas pipeline routes out of the region. – The U.S is responsible for 5850 million metric tons of greenhouse emissions, representing 20 percent of the World total.

O objetivo final dos EUA e da NATO é dividir (balcanizar) e pacificar (finlandizar) o maior país do mundo, a Federação Russa, e estender mesmo um manto de desordem perpétua (somalização) sobre o seu vasto território ou, pelo menos, sobre uma parte da Rússia e do espaço pós-soviético, à semelhança do que está a ser feito no Médio Oriente e no Norte de África.

A futura Rússia ou as muitas futuras Rússias, uma pluralidade de estados enfraquecidos e divididos, que Washington e os seus aliados da NATO prevêem, estará/estarão demograficamente em declínio, desindustrializadas, pobres, sem qualquer capacidade de defesa e sem zonas interiores que possam ser exploradas para obter recursos.

Os planos imperiais de caos para a Rússia

Washington e a NATO não se contentaram com a destruição da União Soviética. O objetivo final dos EUA é impedir que surjam quaisquer alternativas a uma integração euro-atlântica na Europa e na Eurásia. É por isso que a destruição da Rússia é um dos seus objetivos estratégicos.

Os objetivos de Washington estiveram vivos e presentes durante a luta na Chechénia. Também puderam ser vistos na crise que irrompeu em EuroMaidan na Ucrânia. De facto, o primeiro passo para o divórcio entre a Ucrânia e a Rússia foi um catalisador para a dissolução de toda a União Soviética e para quaisquer tentativas de a reorganizar.

O intelectual polaco-americano, Zbigniew Brzezinski, que foi conselheiro de segurança nacional do presidente americano Jimmy Carter e um dos arquitetos por trás da invasão soviética do Afeganistão, defendeu a destruição da Rússia através duma desintegração e devolução graduais. Estipulou que “uma Rússia mais descentralizada seria menos suscetível à mobilização imperialista” [1] Por outras palavras, se os EUA dividissem a Rússia, Moscovo não poderia desafiar Washington. Neste contexto, afirma o seguinte: “Uma Rússia confederada informalmente – formada por uma Rússia europeia, uma república siberiana e uma república do extremo oriente – teria mais facilidade de cultivar regulações económicas mais estreitas com a Europa, com os novos estados da Ásia central e com [a Ásia oriental], acelerando assim o desenvolvimento da Rússia”. [2]

Esta perspetiva não está restrita apenas a qualquer torre de marfim de académicos ou a grupos de pensamento isolados. Tem o apoio de governos e até tem aderentes cultos. Segue-se abaixo uma reflexão sobre ela.

Os media dos EUA prevêem a balcanização da Rússia

Em 8 de Setembro de 2014, Dmytro Sinchenko publicou um artigo sobre a divisão da Rússia. Este artigo intitula-se “À espera da III Guerra Mundial: Como o mundo mudará”. [3] Sinchenko esteve envolvido no EuroMaidan. A sua organização, a iniciativa ucraniana “Movimento de Estadistas”, defende um nacionalismo étnico, a expansão territorial da Ucrânia à custa da maior parte dos países fronteiriços, o reforço da Organização para a Democracia e Desenvolvimento Económico da Geórgia-Ucrânia-Azerbaijão-Moldova (GUAM), pró-EUA, a adesão à NATO e o lançamento de uma ofensiva para derrotar a Rússia, fazendo parte dos seus objetivos de política externa. [4] Em jeito de nota, a inclusão da palavra democracia no GUAM não deve iludir ninguém: o GUAM, como prova a inclusão da República do Azerbaijão, não tem nada a ver com democracia, mas apenas com contrabalançar a Rússia na Comunidade de Países Independentes (CPI).

O artigo de Sinchenko começa por falar sobre a história do “Eixo do Mal”, frase que os EUA têm usado para denegrir os seus inimigos. Fala sobre como George W. Bush Jr. cunhou a frase em 2002, agrupando o Iraque, o Irão e a Coreia do Norte, como John Bolton alargou o Eixo do Mal para incluir Cuba, a Líbia e a Síria, como Condoleezza Rice incluiu a Bielorrússia, o Zimbabué e Myanmar (Birmânia) e, por fim, propõe juntar a Rússia à lista, como o principal estado pária do mundo. Chega a argumentar que o Kremlin está envolvido em todos os conflitos nos Balcãs, no Cáucaso, no Médio Oriente, no Norte de África, na Ucrânia e no sudeste asiático. Prossegue, acusando a Rússia de planear invadir os estados bálticos, o Cáucaso, a Moldova, a Finlândia, a Polónia e, mais ridiculamente ainda, dois dos seus aliados militares e políticos mais próximos, a Bielorrússia e o Cazaquistão. Tal como insinua o título do artigo, chega a afirmar que Moscovo está propositadamente a pressionar para uma terceira guerra mundial.

Esta ficção não é uma coisa que tenha sido noticiada nas redes empresariais alinhadas com os EUA, mas é algo que tem sido publicado diretamente pelos media que são propriedade do governo dos EUA. A previsão foi publicada pelo serviço ucraniano da Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, que tem sido um instrumento de propaganda dos EUA na Europa e no Médio Oriente para ajudar a derrubar governos.

De modo arrepiante, o artigo tenta dourar as possibilidades duma nova guerra mundial. Ignorando de modo revoltante o uso de armas nucleares e a destruição maciça que significaria para a Ucrânia e para o mundo, o artigo pinta mistificatoriamente uma imagem simpática de um mundo que será corrigido por uma grande guerra global. A Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty e o autor estão essencialmente a dizer ao povo ucraniano que “a guerra é boa para vocês” e que, depois duma guerra com a Rússia, surgirá um paraíso utópico qualquer.

O artigo também se encaixa perfeitamente nos contornos da previsão de Brzezinski para a Rússia, para a Ucrânia e para o subcontinente eurasiano. Prevê a divisão da Rússia, enquanto a Ucrânia passa a fazer parte duma União Europeia alargada, que inclui a Geórgia, a Arménia, a República do Azerbaijão, a Bielorrússia, Israel, o Líbano e a dependência dinamarquesa da Gronelândia no continente americano. Também controla uma confederação de estados no Cáucaso e no Mar Mediterrâneo – esta última poderá ser a União dos Mediterrânicos, que englobaria a Turquia, a Síria, o Egito, a Líbia, a Tunísia, a Argélia, Marrocos e o território ocupado por Marrocos da República Árabe Saaraui Democrática, ou Saara Ocidental. A Ucrânia é apresentada como um componente integral da União Europeia. Neste aspeto, a Ucrânia aparece situada num corredor franco-alemão-polaco-ucraniano, alinhado com os EUA, e num eixo Paris-Berlim-Varsóvia-Kiev cuja criação Brzezinski defendeu em 1997, e que Washington usaria para desafiar a Federação Russa e os seus aliados no CPI. [5]

Redesenhar a Eurásia: Mapas de Washington de uma Rússia dividida

Com a divisão da Federação Russa, o artigo da Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty afirma que qualquer rivalidade bipolar entre Moscovo e Washington acabará depois da III Guerra Mundial. Numa profunda contradição, afirma que só quando a Rússia for destruída, haverá um mundo multipolar genuíno, mas também sugere que os EUA será a principal potência global dominante apesar de Washington e de a União Europeia saírem enfraquecidos desta grande guerra prevista com os russos.

.Acompanhando o artigo há também dois mapas que sublinham o novo traçado do espaço euroasiático e a forma do mundo após a destruição da Rússia. Além disso, nem o autor nem os seus dois mapas reconhecem a alteração de fronteiras na Península da Crimeia e representam-na como uma parte da Ucrânia e não da Federação Russa. De ocidente para oriente fazem-se as seguintes alterações à geografia da Rússia:

• O oblast russo de Kaliningrado será anexado pela Lituânia, pela Polónia ou pela Alemanha. Seja como for, passará a fazer parte duma União Europeia alargada.

• A Carélia de leste (Carélia russa) e o que é atualmente o súbdito federal da República da Carélia no interior do Distrito Federal Noroeste da Rússia, juntamente com a cidade federal de S. Petersburgo, o oblast de Novgorod, os dois terços do norte do oblast Pskov e o oblast de Murmansk são separados da Rússia para formarem um país alinhado com a Finlândia. Esta área até pode ser absorvida pela Finlândia para criar uma Grande Finlândia. Embora o oblast de Arcangel (Arkhangelsk) esteja listado no artigo como uma parte desta área repartida, não está incluída no mapa (provavelmente devido a um erro no mapa).

• Os distritos administrativos a sul, de Sebezhsky, Pustoshkinsky, Nevelsky, e Usvyatsky no oblast de Pskov do Distrito Federal Noroeste e os distritos administrativos mais ocidentais de Demidovsky, Desnogorsk, Dukhovshchinsky, Kardymovsky, Khislavichsky, Krasninsky, Monastyrshchinsky, Pochinkovsky, Roslavlsky, Rudnyansky, Shumyachsky, Smolensky, Velizhsky, Yartsevsky e Yershichsky, assim como as cidades de Smolensk e Roslavl, no oblast de Smolensk do Distrito Federal Central, são ligados à Bielorrússia. Os distritos de Dorogobuzhsky, Kholm-Zhirkovsky, Safonovsky, Ugransky, e Yelninsky do oblast de Smolensk e os distritos Yelninsky aparecem ainda mais repartidos no mapa, com a nova fronteira entre a Bielorrússia e a Rússia amputada conforme proposto.

• O Distrito Federal do Cáucaso Norte da Rússia, que engloba a República do Daguestão, a República de Inguchétia, a República Cabárdia-Balcária, a República Carachai-Circácia, a República da Ossétia-Alânia do Norte, o Krai de Stavropol, e a Chechénia, fica separado da Rússia como uma confederação caucasiana sob a influência da União Europeia.

• O Distrito Federal Sul da Rússia, que é formado pela República da Adigueia, o oblast de Astracã, o oblast de Volgogrado, a República da Calmúquia, o Krai de Krasnodar e o oblast de Rostov, é totalmente anexado pela Ucrânia; isso leva a uma fronteira partilhada entre a Ucrânia e o Cazaquistão e corta a Rússia do Mar Cáspio, rico em energia, e também a sul a uma fronteira direta com o Irão.

• A Ucrânia também anexa os oblasts de Belgorod, Bryansk, Kursk, e Voronej do distrito federal mais densamente povoado e de maior área da Rússia, o Distrito Federal Central.

• A Sibéria e o extremo oriente russo, especificamente o Distrito Federal da Sibéria e o Distrito Federal do Extremo Oriente, são separados da Rússia.

• O texto diz que todo o território da Sibéria e a maior parte do território do extremo oriente russo, que englobam a República do Altai, Altai Krai, o oblast de Amur, a República da Buriácia, Chukotka, o oblast Autónomo Judaico, o oblast de Irkutsk, Kamchatka Krai, o oblast de Kemerovo, Khabarovsk Krai, a República de Cacássia, Krasnoyarsk Krai, o oblast de Magadan, o oblast de Novosibirsk, o oblast de Omsk, Primorsky Krai, a República Iacútia, o oblast Tomsk, a República Tuva e Zabaykalsky Krai, ou passam a ser vários estados independentes dominados pelos chineses ou, juntamente com a Mongólia, passam a ser novos territórios da República Popular da China. O mapa desenha categoricamente a Sibéria, a maior parte do extremo oriente russo e a Mongólia como território chinês. A única exceção é o oblast Sacalina.

• A Rússia perde a Ilha Sacalina (chamada Saharin e Karafuto em japonês) e as Ilhas Curilas, que constituem o oblast Sacalina. Estas ilhas são anexadas pelo Japão.

Na sua página da Internet , Sinchenko publicou o seu artigo da Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, uns dias mais cedo, a 2 de Setembro de 2014. Os mesmos mapas, que são atribuídos à Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, também estão ali presentes. [6] Mas há uma imagem adicional na página da Internet de Sinchenko que vale a pena assinalar. É uma imagem da Rússia a ser alegremente esquartejada para consumo, como uma grande refeição de todos os países fronteiriços. [7]

O banquete às custas da Rússia, segundo Dimitri Sinchenko.

Mapeando uma Nova Ordem Mundial: O mundo depois da III Guerra Mundial?

O segundo mapa é o mundo após a III Guerra Mundial, que fica dividido em vários estados supranacionais. O Japão é a única exceção. O segundo mapa e os seus estados supranacionais podem descrever-se assim:

• Como referido anteriormente, a União Europeia está alargada e controla as suas periferias no Cáucaso, no sudeste asiático e no Norte de África. É a concretização do Diálogo Mediterrâneo e da Parceria para a Paz, da NATO, a nível político e militar e da Associação Oriental e da Parceria Euro-Mediterrânica, da União Europeia (a União do Mediterrâneo) a nível político e económico.

• Os Estados Unidos formam uma entidade supranacional com base na América do Norte, que inclui o Canadá, o México, a Guatemala, o Belize, El Salvador, as Honduras, a Nicarágua, a Costa Rica, o Panamá, a Colômbia, a Venezuela, o Equador, as Guianas (Guiana, Suriname, e Guiana Francesa) e todas as Caraíbas.

• Todos os países que não sejam engolidos pelos EUA na América do Sul formarão a sua entidade supranacional numa América do Sul mais pequena, que será dominada pelo Brasil.

• Formar-se-á uma espécie de bloco ou entidade supranacional no sudoeste asiático, com o Afeganistão, o Paquistão, o Irão, o Iraque, a Jordânia, a Arábia Saudita, o Kuwait, o Bahrain, o Qatar, os Emiratos Árabes Unidos, Omã e o Iémen.

• Formar-se-á uma espécie de entidade supranacional no subcontinente indiano ou sul da Ásia com a Índia, o Sri Lanka (Ceilão), o Nepal, o Butão, o Bangladesh, Myanmar (Birmânia) e a Tailândia.

• Haverá uma entidade supranacional na Australásia e na Oceânia que incluirá as Filipinas, a Malásia, Singapura, o Brunei, a Indonésia, Timor Leste, a Papua Nova-Guiné, a Nova Zelândia e as ilhas do Pacífico. Esta entidade incluirá a Austrália e será dominada por Canberra.
Com exceção do Norte de África, que será controlado pela União Europeia, o resto da África será unificada sob a chefia da África do Sul.

• Uma entidade supranacional do leste da Ásia incluirá a maior parte da Federação Russa, a Indochina, a China, a Península Coreana, a Mongólia e a Ásia Central pós-soviética. Esta entidade será dominada pelos chineses e dominada a partir de Beijing.

Embora o artigo da Radio Free Europe e os dois mapas pós III Guerra Mundial possam ser considerados como noções fantasiosas, temos que fazer algumas perguntas importantes. Primeiro, onde é que o autor foi buscar estas ideias? Foram transmitidas através de quaisquer “workshops” apoiados pelos EUA e pela União Europeia indiretamente? Segundo, o que sustenta a visão do autor duma paisagem política pós III Guerra Mundial?

O autor, essencialmente, segue o traçado de Brzezinski duma Rússia dividida. O texto e os mapas até incluíram as áreas do norte de África, do Médio Oriente e do Cáucaso, que a União Europeia considera como uma segunda periferia ou camada de si mesma. Estas áreas até estão pintadas com um azul mais claro do que o azul mais escuro que identifica a União Europeia.

Mesmo que não se dê importância à Radio Free Europe, ninguém deve esquecer o facto de que o Japão continua a reclamar o oblast de Sacalina e os EUA, a União Europeia, a Turquia e a Arábia Saudita têm apoiado movimentos separatistas tanto no Distrito Federal Sul como no Distrito Caucasiano Norte da Federação Russa.

Ucranianismo

O artigo da Rádio Free/Radio Liberty exibe indícios de ucranianismo, que vale a pena mencionar brevemente.

As nações são construídas porque todas elas são comunidades dinâmicas que, duma forma ou de outra, são construídas e mantidas juntas pelo coletivo dos indivíduos que formam as sociedades. Neste aspeto podem ser chamadas de comunidades imaginadas.

Há maquinações em marcha para desconstruir e reconstruir nações e grupos no espaço pós-soviético e no Médio Oriente. Isto pode chamar-se a manipulação do tribalismo em calão sociológico e antropológico ou, no calão político, a representação do Grande Jogo. Neste contexto, o ucranianismo tem sido especialmente apoiante de elementos anti-governo e dos sentimentos nacionalistas anti-russos na Ucrânia há mais de cem anos, primeiro pelos austríacos e os alemães, depois através dos polacos e dos britânicos, e agora pelos EUA e a NATO.

O ucranianismo é uma ideologia que procura coisificar e impor uma nova imagem coletiva ou uma memória histórica falsa entre o povo ucraniano sobre ele terem sido sempre uma nação e um povo separados é uma projeção política que procura negar a unidade histórica dos eslavos orientais e as raízes geográficas e o contexto histórico por trás da distinção entre ucranianos e russos. Por outras palavras, o ucranianismo procura descontextualizar e esquecer o processo que levou à distinção entre ucranianos e russos.

***

A Rússia sempre ressurgiu das cinzas. A história pode testemunhá-lo. Venha o que vier, a Rússia ficará de pé. Sempre que todos os diversos povos da Rússia se uniram sob uma bandeira pela sua pátria, estilhaçaram impérios. Sobreviveram a guerras e invasões catastróficas e venceram os seus inimigos. Os mapas e as fronteiras podem mudar, mas a Rússia permanecerá.

Tradução de Margarida Ferreira.

O original encontra-se em Stragic Culture Foundation

 

Notas

[1] Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geo-strategic Imperatives (NYC: Basic Books, 1997), p.202.
[2] Ibid.
[3] “Waiting for World War III: How the World Will Change” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty], September 8, 2014.
[4] Ukrainian Initiative “Statesmen Movement” Foreign Policy Strategy Statesman Movement: Chasing Dreams/Visions. Accessed September 9, 2014.
[5] Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, op. cit., pp.85-86
[6] Dmytro Sinchenko, “Waiting for World War III: How the World Will Change”, Dmytro Sinchenko {blog}], September 2, 2014, Accessed September 3, 2014: .
[7] Ibid.

Estado Islâmico, a nova estratégia de Washington

September 17th, 2014 by Roberto Castellanos

11 de Setembro de 2014, Damasco – Em Washington e em várias capitais europeias já se esfregam as mãos, pois as amplas zonas do Iraque e da Síria controladas pelo extremista Estado Islâmico (EI) abre as portas ao Ocidente para uma intervenção a grande escala no Oriente Médio.

A ofensiva do EI permite, também, cumprir um velho sonho: a balcanização da região, que possui as principais jazidas de hidrocarbonetos do mundo.

Com dezenas de milhares de homens, armamento sofisticado e abundante financiamento, o Daesh (acrônimo em árabe desse grupo) passou de uma minúscula formação para representar uma verdadeira ameaça para o Iraque e a Síria.

Decapitações, crucificações, violações sexuais, assassinatos em massa e outros crimes nas zonas que controla, fazem desse grupo sinônimo de terror.

O Estado Islâmico e a Frente al Nusra, braço da al-Qaeda na Síria, foram capazes de crescer graças às doações dos aliados da Casa Branca no Golfo Pérsico, disse Andrew Tabler, analista do Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Durante os últimos três anos, Damasco denunciou o apoio vindo do exterior aos grupos armados e advertiu sobre o perigo que representavam para a região e o mundo, mas suas palavras foram ignoradas.

Com o argumento de combater o terrorismo, agora a Casa Branca iniciou bombardeios no Iraque, país que invadiu em 2003, e ameaça com ampliá-los ao país vizinho, na mira há vários anos.

No entanto, muitos poucos falam do jogo de xadrez que Washington e outros atores internacionais e regionais impulsionam como parte do grande jogo geopolítico.

As atuais fronteiras da região (com uma ou outra variação) datam do fim da I Guerra Mundial (1914-1918), quando a Grã-Bretanha e a França aplicaram o acordo secreto de Sykes-Picot para dividir a zona.

Precisamente essas demarcações impostas por potências estrangeiras foram sempre um elemento perturbador e de atritos entre os países árabes durante décadas, incitados convenientemente pelo Ocidente.

A utilização de diferenças políticas, religiosas, fronteiriças e até econômicas propiciaram os planos para balcanizar o Levante.

O objetivo é o que muitos cientistas políticos conhecem como “a teoria do caos construtivo”, que permitiria às antigas metrópoles e aos Estados Unidos remodelar e desenhar novas fronteiras e instaurar governos afins na região.

A Casa Branca desenvolveu nos anos 90 uma nova estratégia chamada Redireção, na qual os takfiries (extremistas sunitas) jogam um papel importante para transformar a região em um barril de pólvora, apontou Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, sociólogo e pesquisador do Centre for Research on Globalization e a Strategic Culture Foundation, de Moscou.

Gostaria de ver a Síria como um país desintegrado e balcanizado com “mais ou menos regiões autônomas”, afirmou recentemente Henry Kissinger, ex-secretário do Estado norte-americano, durante uma intervenção na Escola Gerald R. Ford de Política Pública da Universidade de Michigan.

Pese às afirmações de Washington, a ofensiva do EI sobre amplos territórios no Iraque, não surpreendeu o governo de Obama, que conta com tecnologia de ponta e o mais alto orçamento do mundo para trabalhos de espionagem.

Tivemos essa informação desde o começo do ano, e a passamos para Washington, assegurou ao jornal britânico The Telegraph, Rooz Bahjat, que trabalha para Lahur Talabani, chefe da inteligência do Curdistão iraquiano.

Em um discurso ao Congresso em fevereiro passado, o tenente-general Michael Flynn, então chefe da Agência de Inteligência de Defesa, advertiu que o EI lançaria um ataque em massa em 2014 em ambos os lados da fronteira.

Segundo o Centre for Research on Globalization, membros chave dessa organização terrorista receberam treinamento da Agência Central de Inteligência norte-americana (CIA) em um acampamento secreto nas redondezas da cidade jordaniana de Safawi, em 2012.

“Os campos de treinamento secretos estadunidenses na Jordânia e em outros países treinaram vários milhares de combatentes muçulmanos nas técnicas de guerra irregular, sabotagem e no terror geral”, revelou o ideólogo militar.

Também há numerosas denúncias sobre instalações similares na Turquia e na Líbia, que depois da agressão ocidental se converteu em um viveiro de jihadistas.

O Daesh não tinha o poder para conquistar e ocupar Mosul (a segunda cidado iraquiana) por si só. O que tem ocorrido é o resultado da colaboração com a inteligência de alguns países da região com grupos extremistas dentro do governo iraquiano, disse o jornalista iraniano Sabah Zanganeh.

Uma reportagem do jornal The Wall Street Journal destacou que um comandante militar do EI, o georgiano de origem chechena Tarkhan Batirashvili, fez das guerras no Iraque e na Síria uma luta “geopolítica entre os Estados Unidos e a Rússia”.

A Síria e o Iraque sofrem hoje com as políticas das potências ocidentais que durante anos fecharam os olhos e financiaram as organizações radicais com um objetivo claro: justificar a intervenção com o argumento do combate ao terrorismo.

* Correspondente da Prensa Latina na Síria.

The following interview was conducted on June 4, 2014 in the Syrian capital of Damascus with the pan-Arab news network Al Mayadeen with Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya for the program From the Inside/Min Al-Dakhel (من الداخل).

The interview was conducted in English and aired by Al Mayadeen on September 14, 2014

Topics covered include the US strategy of encircling Russia and China, NATO’s past sister-alliances, the process of Americanization, and cultural imperialism.


Nazemroaya is the author of The Globalization of NATO, which can be ordered online directly from Global Research.

Visit the GR Online Store or click here.

original

The Globalization of NATO by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

-

 

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Caracas, 16 Sep., 2014. AVN – El ministro de Reconciliación Nacional de Siria, Ali Haidar, ratificó la necesidad de buscar una solución política para terminar con la invasión terrorista en esta República Árabe, que ha incentivado, en los últimos tres años, el asesinato de más de 190.000 personas.

Para Haidar la reconciliación y la tolerancia son los principales elementos para alcanzar una salida negociada a esta guerra impulsada por potencias regionales y occidentales.

Añadió que este proceso forma parte de la estrategia para derrotar el terrorismo en Siria y sentar las bases para un diálogo nacional, informó este martes Prensa Latina.

La propuesta para el proceso de pacificación planteada por el gobierno sirio, plantea a los irregulares entregar su armamento y mantener los fusiles en las zonas de reconciliación y realizar patrullajes en conjunto con el ejército.

Diversos sectores de la sociedad siria, como las tribus y líderes de distintas religiones, apoyan este plan para terminar el conflicto, iniciado en 2011.

Días pasados, el vicecanciller de Siria, Faisal al Mekdad, ratificó que esta nación está dispuesta a coordinar con la comunidad internacional una plan para enfrentar el terrorismo, pero exigió respeto a la soberanía e independencia de su país.

Comentó que Siria sufre desde hace más de tres años acciones terroristas cometidas por bandas armadas financiadas desde el exterior y llamó a Estados Unidos así como a sus aliados occidentales a dejar de financiar a los grupos extremistas que agreden a Siria.

La pasada semana, el vicecanciller denunció que las guerras que afectan al Oriente Medio forman parte de un plan occidental para fragmentar la causa árabe y dominar la región.

Para el analista geopolítico canadiense Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, las acciones que llevan a cabo los terroristas de la agrupación Estado Islámico de Iraq y El Levante (EIIL) forman parte de una política de Estados Unidos en el Medio Oriente.

En una entrevista con Press TV, el analista comentó que lo hecho por esta agrupación, que armó Washington para tratar de derrocar al presidente sirio Bashar Al Assad, “es la clara manifestación de lo que Estados Unidos y sus aliados, incluyendo Israel, han estado tratando de hacer en la región por una década”.

De acuerdo con el analista, el EIIL busca unir a Siria con Iraq para desintegrar los Estados existentes en Medio Oriente; y a su vez, crear Estados sectarios y homogéneos, con base en las etnias, que sean principalmente para sunitas, por lo que tendrían que expulsar a chiítas, cristianos y drusos.

Sin embargo, aclaró que esa presunta lucha étnica no es más que un camuflaje de EEUU para lograr su objetivo de desintegrar a los Estados de Oriente Medio.

La decisión del primer ministro de Canadá de no realizar una investigación sobre los casos de mujeres autóctonas asesinadas y desaparecidas genera indignación y preocupación a nivel nacional.

El primer ministro de Canadá, Stephen Harper, declaró que no se creará una comisión de investigación nacional sobre los casos de mujeres autóctonas asesinadas y desaparecidas.

La Asociación de Mujeres Autóctonas de Canadá, partidos de oposición y primeros ministros provinciales deploran esta decisión del Gobierno conservador.

El informe de la Policía Montada de Canadá publicado en mayo pasado dio a conocer la existencia de 1181 casos de mujeres asesinadas y desaparecidas desde 1980.

Jorge Zegarra, Montreal.

29 de Agosto de 2014

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La Corte Superior de Quebec autorizó ocho recursos colectivos contra la ciudad de Montreal, en Canadá, por parte de ciudadanos arrestados en virtud del reglamento P-6. Los 1610 demandantes denuncian los arrestos de masa y detenciones sufridos durante seis manifestaciones entre el 2012 y 2014.

El reglamento P-6 que fue modificado en el 2012 durante las huelgas estudiantiles, declara ilegal toda manifestación que no haya dado previamente su itinerario a las autoridades. Este reglamento prohíbe también portar una máscara o tener el rostro cubierto.

Los representantes de los recursos colectivos subrayan que este reglamento municipal permite al Servicio de Policía de Montreal reprimir las manifestaciones de manera arbitraria, aplicando esta ley a ciertos grupos y causas pero no a todos.

En diciembre de este año, la Corte Superior oirá también una demanda que contesta la constitucionalidad del reglamento P-6.

Jorge Zegarra, Montreal.

1 de setiembre de 2014

 

Operazione Isis, obiettivo Cina

September 17th, 2014 by Manlio Dinucci

Mentre l’Isis diffonde attraverso le compiacenti reti mediatiche mondiali  le immagini della terza decapitazione di un cittadino occidentale, suona un altro campanello di allarme: dopo essersi diffuso in Siria e Iraq, l’Isis sta penetrando nel Sud-Est asiatico. Lo comunica la Muir Analytics, società che fornisce alle multinazionali «intelligence contro terrorismo, violenza politica e insurrezione», facente parte dell’«indotto» della Cia in Virginia, usata spesso dalla casa madre per diffondere «informazioni» utili alle sue operazioni.

Campo in cui la Cia ha una consolidata esperienza. Durante le amministrazioni Carter e Reagan essa finanziò e addestrò, tramite il servizio segreto pachistano, circa 100mila mujaheddin per combattere le forze sovietiche in Afghanistan. Operazione a cui partecipò un ricco saudita, Osama bin Laden, arrivato in Afghanistan nel 1980 con migliaia di combattenti reclutati nel suo paese e grossi finanziamenti.  Finita la guerra nel 1989 con il ritiro delle truppe sovietiche e l’occupazione di Kabul nel 1992 da parte dei mujaheddin, le cui fazioni erano già in lotta l’una con l’altra, nacque nel 1994 l’organizzazione dei taleban indottrinati, addestrati e armati in Pakistan per conquistare il potere in Afghanistan, con una operazione tacitamente approvata da Washington. Nel 1998, in una intervista a Le Nouvel Observateur, Brzezinski, già consigliere per la sicurezza nazionale Usa, spiegò che il presidente Carter aveva firmato la direttiva per la formazione dei mujaheddin non dopo ma prima dell’invasione sovietica dell’Afghanistan per «attirare i  russi nella trappola afghana». Quando nell’intervista gli fu chiesto se non si fosse pentito di ciò, rispose: «Che cosa era più importante per la storia del mondo? I taleban o il collasso dell’impero sovietico?».

Non ci sarebbe quindi da stupirsi se in futuro qualche ex consigliere di Obama ammettesse, a cose fatte, ciò di cui già oggi si hanno le prove, ossia che sono stati gli Usa a favorire la nascita dell’Isis, su un terreno sociale reso «fertile» dalle loro guerre, per lanciare la strategia il cui primo obiettivo è la completa demolizione della Siria, finora impedita dalla mediazione russa in cambio del disarmo chimico di Damasco, e la rioccupazione dell’Iraq che stava distaccandosi da Washington e avvicinandosi a Pechino e Mosca. Il patto di non-aggressione in Siria tra Isis e «ribelli moderati» è funzionale a tale strategia (v. sul manifesto del 10 settembre la foto dell’incontro, nel maggio 2013, tra il senatore Usa McCain e il capo dell’Isis facente parte dell’«Esercito siriano libero»).

In tale quadro, l’allarme sulla penetrazione dell’Isis nelle Filippine, in Indonesia, Malaysia e altri paesi a ridosso della Cina – lanciato dalla Cia attraverso una sua società di comodo – serve a giustificare la strategia già in atto, che vede gli Usa e i loro principali alleati concentrare forze militari nella regione Asia/Pacifico. Là dove, avvertiva il Pentagono nel 2001, «esiste la possibilità che emerga un rivale militare con una formidabile base di risorse, con capacità sufficienti a minacciare la stabilità di una regione cruciale per gli interessi statunitensi».

La «profezia» si è avverata, ma con una variante. La Cina viene temuta oggi a Washington non tanto come potenza militare (anche se non trascurabile), ma soprattutto come potenza economica (al cui rafforzamento contribuiscono le stesse multinazionali Usa fabbricando molti loro prodotti in Cina). Ancora più temibile diventa la Cina per gli Usa in seguito a una serie di accordi economici con la Russia, che vanificano di fatto le sanzioni occidentali contro Mosca, e con l’Iran (sempre nel mirino di Washington), importante fornitore petrolifero della Cina. Vi sono inoltre segnali che la Cina e l’Iran siano disponibili al progetto russo di de-dollarizzazione degli scambi commerciali, che sferrerebbe un colpo mortale alla supremazia statunitense.

Da qui la strategia annunciata dal presidente Obama, basata sul principio (spiegato dal New York Times) che, in Asia, «la potenza americana deve seguire i suoi interessi economici». Gli interessi Usa che seguirà l’Italia partecipando alla coalizione internazionale a guida Usa «contro l’Isis».

Manlio Dinucci 

مهدي داريوس ناظم رعيا – عالم إجتماع كندي – 14/09/2014

التاريخ الأصلي : 4 يونيو 2014

من الداخل
برنامج حواري مدته نصف ساعة مع وجوه سياسية وبحثية غربية، محوره مقاربة القضية أو الشخصية “من الداخل”. باللغة الانكليزية مترجم للعربية.

فكرة، إعداد وتقديم: زينب الصفّار

يتم تحميل الحلقات على اليوتيوب الأحد في المساء

Indígenas australianos visitan Primeras Naciones de Canadá

September 16th, 2014 by Jorge Zegarra

Una delegación de activistas indígenas de Australia viajó a Canadá para reunirse y solidarizarse con los pueblos originarios de este país.

Representantes del Gobierno provisional aborigen de Australia estuvieron de gira en Canadá para dar a conocer sus reivindicaciones. Los 4 delegados intercambiaron experiencias sobre resistencia y soberanía indígena con las Primeras Naciones de Canadá.

El Gobierno provisional aborigen, es una organización creada en 1990, que reivindica el derecho a la identidad, la cultura y la autodeterminación de los pueblos indígenas de Australia.

En 2007, Australia votó contra la Declaración sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas adoptada por la Organización de las Naciones Unidas (ONU), junto a Estados Unidos, Canadá y Nueva Zelanda. Australia finalmente firmó esta declaración en el 2009.

Jorge Zegarra, Montreal.

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Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has urged the UK government to consider military action against Scotland in the event of a vote for independence.

Mr Blair, who was prime minister between 1997 and 2007, broke his silence in the debate over Scottish independence to urge air strikes – including the use of the Trident independent nuclear deterrent – against Scottish strategic targets in the event of a ‘Yes’ victory next Thursday.

Interviewed in Kiev, Mr Blair said on Saturday that he hoped Scots would vote against independence, but warned that if Scotland voted to break up the United Kingdom then military intervention would be inevitable: “Obviously I hope that Scotland votes to stay part of the United Kingdom. But Scotland should prepare itself for a full-scale invasion by ground forces if it doesn’t.”

Mr Blair’s comments came just weeks after the former PM called for NATO leaders to agree a joint campaign of targeted bombings and drone attacks against badgers in support of the UK government’s campaign to control the spread of TB in the British countryside.

Copyright Pride’s Purge 2014

THE YES ANNUAL MEETING IN KIEV

President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, former Prime Minister of Britain (1997-2007) Tony Blair and Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk participated in the 11th Yalta European Strategy (YES) Annual Meeting in Kiev.

The YES consensus is to refuse regional autonomy for Donbass, deny the results of the referendum.

Meanwhile a new wave of airstrikes targets residential areas in Donesk.  The Yes War is On in Ukraine. And Tony Blair  is tacitly supportive of the Kiev regime’s airstrikes against civilians.

Tony Blair, former British prime minister, speaks at YES conference in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo: YES@2014

 

Petrobras driller. Photo: Nestor Galina. Used under Creative Commons license

Paulo Roberto Costa, former head of Petrobras’ refining and supply unit, has named dozens of politicians who allegedly took bribes from the Brazilian company.Costa claims that Petrobras paid out three percent of the value of new contracts to the politicians in return for favorable votes for the government.

The Brazilian government currently controls roughly two out of three of Petrobras shares. Although the Rio de Janeiro company is is the largest multinational in South America and generates over $141.2 billion in revenues a year, it is also theworld’s most indebted oil company with $114 billion in outstanding obligations.

Brazilian federal authorities arrested Costa on March 20 following a money laundering investigation named “Operation Car Wash.” In the hope of receiving a lighter sentence, Costa named over 60 politicians whom he says were recipients of Petrobras money between 2002 and 2012.

Last week, O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper, and Veja, a weekly magazine, published the names of the politicians. They included Edison Lobão; the minister for energy and mines; Renan Calheiros, the Senate president; Henrique Eduardo Alves; president of the lower house of Congress; and Eduardo Campos, a former governor.

The scandal has threatened to undermine Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s re-election chances when the country goes to the polls on October 5. “I assure you I will take the necessary action,” Roussef told reporters.” But I will not act based on speculation, I want the details.”

Petrobras is being destroyed through political interference, patronage and corruption,” opposition candidate Marina Silva told the media. Silva, who worked closely with Campos, remains untainted by the scandal and is now tipped to win the election, in some part because Campos was killed in a plane accident last month.

The scandal has pitted the two women – who both have claims to radical political backgrounds- against each other. Silva is a committed environmentalist while Roussef – a former urban guerilla who was arrested and tortured by a previous military dictatorship – calls herself a “developmentalist” promoting policies to exploit Brazil’s vast natural resources.

This is not the first time this year that Roussef has come under fire over Petrobras. In March O. Estado de S. Paulo revealed that Roussef has personally championed a 2006 deal, under which Petrobras paid $1.2 billion to buy Pasadena Refining Systems Inc. in Texas. This was despite the fact that the same facility had been purchased by a Transcor Astra Group SA, Belgian commodities trader, for just $42 5 million in 2005.

For her part Roussef blamed Nestor Cerveró, a Petrobras executive whom she says wrote a flawed report on the refinery. It appears that Astra took advantage of a special clause in the contract that forced the Brazilian company to pay more than it had expected. The two went to arbitration in the U.S. but Petrobras lost, and was forced to pay an even higher bill.

The company is attempting to stay out of the political brouhaha by deflecting blame on to its employees.“It is in the best interests of the company’s management to see the completion of all ongoing investigations,” Petrobras said in a statement released to the media. “Any irregular acts that may have been committed by a person or group of people, whether or not they are company employees, do not represent the conduct of the Petrobras institution and its workforce.”

But Petrobras has been caught in a bribery scandals before. In 2008, company executives were accused of accepting almost a million dollars from Alstom, a French engineering group. The money was allegedly funelled from an Alstom subsidiary in Switzerland to an account in Uruguay in 2002 in order to win a contract to supply turbines worth $550 million dollars at the time.

Argentinean farmers have increased their levels of herbicide spraying of crops, and the results don’t look good. A huge increase in cancer incidence is being reported in Argentina linked directly to areas of heavy GMO crop engineering and high biotech herbicide use.

The Ministry of Health in Córdoba, Argentina, reveals in a report that deaths from cancerous tumors are double the national average in areas where genetically engineered crops are grown and agro-chemicals are used.

As reported, the report has documented five successive years of information on cancer increases in the provinces that are experiencing increased elevated rates. The substantial evidence points to GMO-driven agricultural practices as the main culprit, turning our farm lands into a public health hell.

Areas where the most agro-chemicals are used and the most GMO crops are grown - such as the ‘pampa gringa’ area – experience the highest death rates. This area comprises the entire Eastern region of the Córdoba province and is considered a premier agricultural region.

The average rate of cancer deaths is 158 per 100,000 in most provinces, but in four of the ‘pampa gringa,’ areas, death rates range from 216-230 per 100,000 – about 1.5x greater than the normal range.

Other intensively planted GMO regions in Córdoba have cancer deaths well above the provincial and national average as well – ranging from 180-201 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Cancer Multiplying ‘as Never Before’ Through Big Ag Pesticides.

The ‘Report on Cancer in Córdoba 2004-2009‘ is the culmination of an official investigation that was prepared by the Provincial Tumour Registry and the Department of Statistics and Census; it is only its recent publication that has garnered worldwide attention and criticism from doctors and researchers toward the government who has delayed letting the public know its findings until now.

Dr. Medardo Avila Vazquez of the University Network for Environment and Health (Reduas) said:

“What we have complained about for years was confirmed and especially what doctors say about the sprayed towns and areas affected by industrial agriculture. Cancer cases are multiplying as never before in areas with massive use of pesticides.”

He is not the only person who feels the cancer-herbicide link is strong. Dr. Fernando Manas of the Genetics and Environmental Mutagenesis Group at the National University of Rio Cuarto, is investigating the effect of agrochemicals on cancer rates as well.

Researchers at Río Cuarto have studied the people of Córdoba for 8 years and have confirmed, in fifteen scientific publications, that people exposed to pesticides suffer genetic damage and are more prone to cancer.

Despite these overwhelming findings, the government and the makers of these agrichemicals refuse to do anything about it.

Damian Verzeñassi, a doctor and professor of social and environmental health at the Faculty of Medical Sciences in Rosario, remarks angrily:

“The study of Córdoba matches the surveys we conducted in eighteen industrial agriculture areas.Cancer has skyrocketed in the last fifteen years. . .They keep demanding studies on something that is already proven and do not take urgent measures to protect the population. There is ample evidence that the agricultural model has health consequences, we are talking about a production model that is a huge public health problem.”

We all need to be equally adamant that governments everywhere disallow the use of these agrichemicals and GMO crop planting.

Additional Sources:

Pagina12

Listening to President Obama describe his intention to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, he named a number of reasons for launching yet another war in Iraq. Gazing out at the nation through the eye of a camera lens, he intoned, “In a region that has known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are unique in their brutality. They execute captured prisoners. They kill children. They enslave, rape, and force women into marriage. They threatened a religious minority with genocide. In acts of barbarism, they took the lives of two American journalists – Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff.”

Forgive me for saying so, but moral indignity usually rings hollow in the mouth of an American president. Unfortunately, ISIS is not unique in its brutality. Saudi Arabia beheaded at least eight people in August, for “crimes” as absurd to the Western mind as the ISIS crime of being an “infidel.” Saudi Arabia’s puritanical Wahhabi legal apparatus ends lives in the same brutal fashion for such offenses as adultery and, by my troth, sorcery. Yet the Saudis are a permanent American ally, and seem nearly incapable of offending Washington.

Even some of the so-called moderates that the U.S. plans to arm and train—once more—have also beheaded many of their ISIS enemies of late. But that’s just the highlight reel. Since the inception of their rebellion, they’ve evidently been shelling Damascus neighborhoods without regard for who lives there. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that the citizens of Syria are punished for their errant ways. For bothering to show up at the polls in June. For stupidly choosing to overwhelmingly re-elect Bashar al-Assad. Mortars packed with nails and shards of glass rattle through their cafes and thoroughfares. A proper discipline for a people that don’t pick the right candidate. Just ask the Palestinians that voted for Hamas. Here’s a first-hand look at some of the non-ISIS “moderates” we’re thinking of arming.

That covers Obama’s claim about ISIS’ “unique” form of brutality and the charge of executing prisoners. And this is setting aside the military regime the U.S. backs in Egypt that snuffed out the dying embers of the Arab Spring in Cairo and banned the Muslim Brotherhood with a severity to match the Mubarak regime of which it is a remnant.

The president also noted that, “We cannot allow these communities to be driven from their ancient homelands,” referring to Christians and Yazidis, both religious minorities that are said to have been threatened with genocide. In fact, the Catholic Church has called, “slow motion genocide.” This is a fair statement and ISIS cruelty against infidel minorities is awful enough, but one can’t help but notice the parallel in U.S. support for what Israeli historian Illan Pappe calls the “incremental genocide” of the Palestinian people by the Israeli state. The monopoly of media support for that conflict seemed to finally exhibit cracks of dissent in the margins of the latest IDF savagery in Gaza, in which dozens of families were extinguished entire, and more than 2,000 people died, including women and children, in a chilling display of indiscriminate brutality.

You couldn’t say the U.S. is especially vexed by torture, bombings and extrajudicial killings, or other vile assaults on defenseless populations. After all, we have, in the president’s words, “tortured some folks.” And although this is surely deeply regrettable to the president, it isn’t enough of a crime in his view to prosecute the perpetrators. It may have then come as no surprise when we learned that this is what former Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki practiced his entire time in office, backed with little reservation by America. The American insistence on his removal and the formation of the kind of inclusive government Maliki was supposed to form is likely too little, too late to hold the country together, not that a European construct should be forcibly preserved in any event.

And this is not even to mention the general failure of the administration’s much ballyhooed plan to arm and train the Free Syrian Army—even if via the Gulf states—which at one point was said to include a shabby alliance of some 1200 “moderate” groups (swiftly steamrolled by ISIS). It was—and still is—practically impossible for the White House to guarantee that these groups were moderate Muslims, and many are ideologically similar to ISIS or the radical Wahabbism exported from Saudi Arabia. According to sources within Jordan, the U.S. trained dozens of Syrian rebels there that already were or later joined ISIS, thinking they were moderates anxious to unseat the Assad regime and usher in some sort of secular, Western-guided government. Think again.

In the end, freshly minted U.S. arms wound up in ISIS inventories, either sold to them by the moderates themselves, or captured in conquests of Syrian rebels and Iraqi Armies. So why reboot a strategy that proved so utterly bootless in its first iteration? Is it because this time the Pentagon will directly train and arm the rebels? Twenty five billion dollars worth of best practices did little to stanch ISIS’s roll through northern Iraq, where the soldiers who absorbed all that training abandoned their weapons, shed their uniforms, and fled for the hills. The CIA has actually been training rebels in Jordan for some time, apparently to no avail.

However, the White House claims that it has some 40 nations willing to participate to one degree or another in rolling back ISIS. This is a far larger Rolodex of participants than George Bush’s shoddy “coalition of the willing” more than a decade ago. The coalition of the willing that Obama has cobbled together, however robust, may be little more than a headcount of obsequious foreign ministers. Turkey doesn’t want to see dozens of its diplomats slaughtered on YouTube. Sunnis may interpret U.S. intervention as just more support for Shia causes. Qatar and the Kingdom will likely see a degraded ISIS as a boon to the reviled Assad regime. Yet properly ending the ISIS threat would require Turkey to close its border to them, coordinating air strikes with Tehranian foot soldiers in Iraq, and communicating with Assad on countering ISIS in eastern Syria. And convincing Gulf monarchies to quit their Wahhabi evangelism. None of these things is likely to happen, largely because we’ve so dramatically demonized both Iranian and Syrian governments, and seem so beholden to Saudi oil. Such an about face would require more than a series of blandishments from Obama.

In short, the president’s stated reason for renewing American interventionism in the Middle East is what it has always been—terrorism. But surely Obama has observed that terrorist jihadism has metastasized by several orders of magnitude since 9/11, owing not least to American interventions—from Kabul to Baghdad to arming raiders of Aleppo—which have destabilized strong if corrupt governments, unearthed simmering sectarian enmities, and even unwittingly trained and armed the very jihadists that became ISIS.

The United States has other objectives. Terrorism is a useful cover story that posits a righteous cause for American action. To be sure, ISIS is infected by an ideology of puritanical intolerance and hatred, but they are hardly a threat to the might and power of the U.S. What threat there is likely stems from the citizens of some 74 nations that now populate ISIS, many of them American. Repatriating—or not—these radicals will require serious vetting by Homeland Security, but not missiles by the Pentagon. A better, if flawed, argument for war can be made on pure ROI grounds—that the U.S. ought not to stand idly by and watch the dismemberment of a nation it spent the better half of a trillion dollars attempt to cleanse of “insurgents” and usher into a free-market fantasyland.

Not So Ulterior Motives

So, then, what is the president’s underlying motive for another intervention in Iraq? He actually told us in his speech. His reasons were contained in the often-overlooked promise, “to use force against anyone who threatens America’s core interests.” This has been publicly stated at least since the Clinton administration wrote it into its defense policy. It is surprisingly that more scrutiny hasn’t been given to this regular concession, since it openly implies that we may be fighting for access to natural resources, if not simply to secure the homeland. But it has been privately the guiding light of American foreign policy since its inception, not the “security of the American people”, which Obama disingenuously claims is his first priority as Commander in Chief. Were this his priority, he would have long ago seriously addressed two of the leading instigators of jihadism mentioned above.

To clarify key drivers of U.S. foreign policy, dissidents like Noam Chomsky have repeatedly pointed out that one need only look at post-war planning documents, notably the “Petroleum Policy of the United States.” Drafted in 1944, the barely veiled imperial license which characterizes this policy paper insists on “the preservation of the absolute position presently obtaining, and therefore vigilant protection of existing concessions in United States handscoupled with insistence upon the Open Door principle of equal opportunity for United States companies in new areas” (italics mine).

You could hardly say it more plainly, although Woodrow Wilson did just that a few decades earlier when he articulated the all-encompassing policy of which the petroleum credo is but an article: “Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed against him must be battered down. Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process. Colonies must be obtained or planted, in order that no useful corner of the world may be overlooked or left unused” (italics mine). One might merely add that now the tendency is rather for the flag to precede the manufacturer, not follow him.

Moving from strategy to tactics, the administration’s plan may be to use an attempt to blunt the ISIS advance as cover for the overthrow of Assad, an long-lived objective of the U.S. blueprint for the region, memorably shown to a stunned Wesley Clark, who later leaked the plan to the press. Seven countries in five years. You could never fault a neocon for lack of ambition. Obama’s cold feet, Kerry’s gaffe, and Sergey Lavrov’s quick thinking prevented Syrian regime change about a year ago. No matter. The timeline was adjusted. A new pretext would soon emerge. Indeed it has.

All this is not to say that Barack Obama lacks a soul. Unless he is a sociopath of special dimensions, he probably recoils tamely at the sight of a beheading, like the rest of Westerners well trained in stomaching scenes and descriptions of far-flung violence. He probably believes ISIS is an even more lethal incarnation of jihad than al-Qaeda. And he’d be right. But the reasons he, or any U.S. president, for that matter, give for our actions are not the real reasons for those actions. They may be secondary considerations at best. In a democratic society, or one premised on an assumption of democracy, the cynical self-interest of the state must always be cloaked in some noble purpose. Otherwise, the population, not itself thinking in geo-strategic terms, would clamor for peace. Even if the population doesn’t wholly digest the proffered cause, it must be handed that moral palliative by which it might rationalize actions taken in its name. In this sense, the interplay between president and people is a tango, a two-step in which each partner plays a part. And Obama, for his part, is pinioned by forces far greater than himself. Perhaps having seen this political eventuality from afar, he developed his incrementalism early in his career, the perfect rationale for placating vested interests while attempting modest reforms that change little but indicate intent. That tired look in the president’s eyes? He’s tired of being played for the pawn that he is and has agreed to be, and he hasn’t the courage to defy the powers that elected him. Corporate. Networked. Disguised. Ubiquitous. Unsentimental.

Beware the military-industrial complex, cried a post-war Cassandra. But that prophecy came too late. The die was already cast. Now every president feels the pinch of private power. Those of a liberal frame of mind may believe we are much advanced in our sensibilities since the era of shameless colonialism. Yes, our rhetoric has been revised. We now conduct “humanitarian interventions” and are compelled to violence by our high-flown “Responsibility to Protect,” (which may indeed have their proper use in a liberal internationalist policy). Yet, as Patrick Cockburn noted, “…intervention in Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011 turned out to be very similar to imperial takeover in the 19th century.” The priorities haven’t changed, just their wording. And we have subtly turned the Bretton Woods institutions on their heads, refashioning them as mechanism of control and extraction, rather than the stepladders of independence they were invented to be. This meant the need for boots on the ground was no longer of pre-requisite of colonialism. Debt disciplines a nation better than rifles.

Socialists might suggest that the Wilson quote makes clear the primacy of capitalist priorities in American foreign policy. Doors must be flung open to American capital. And capitalism, if anything, has become even more radicalized since Wilson’s day. We live in an age of extremes, ISIS at one pole and Collateralized Debt Obligations at the other. My money’s on the CDOs. They have better weapons. Financial WMDs. And this radicalism, borne in part by the emergence of Asian rivals—the kind neocon Paul Wolfowitz warned we could not permit—is why well-intentioned calls for diplomacy—and globally broadcast proclamations, like the Pope’s avowal that “war is madness”—will finally fall on deaf ears, rendered mute by the din of an approaching delta of drones. If you live in the Levant, cover your ears. You’re in the path of empire.

Post Script: Neither Syria or Iran attended Monday’s meeting of world leaders in Paris to discuss rolling back ISIS.

Jason Hirthler is a writer, strategist, and 15-year veteran of the communications industry. He has written for many political communities. He lives and works in New York City. He can be reached at: [email protected].

Anthony Freda Art

Considering the large number of times that a false flag attack has occurred at or around the same time as a military drill or a civilian emergency preparation drill in the past, it is understandable that many researchers, activists, and otherwise well-informed observers become concerned whenever such drills are scheduled.

This very reason is perhaps why many are raising their eyebrows at a drill scheduled for today and Wednesday (September 16-17) in Nebraska which simulates a nuclear explosion near I-80 in the vicinity of Scottsbluff.

As reported by the local ABC News affiliate KOTA News, Regional West Medical Center is scheduled to participate in the drill in the capacity of training to decontaminate victims, ensure accurate reporting, and treating injuries.

The drill is part of a larger exercise involving 21 government agencies.

Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Dave Edwards stated that “Every time we do an exercise, it is to test our plans. Not necessarily how the staff reacts, but are our plans in place correct.”

Last year, the same hospital worked with staff to prepare for a live shooter scenario.

While it is important to stress that this writer is not predicting a false flag event during the time of this scheduled exercise, it is also important to stress the prevalence of such drills in false flag operations.

Without a doubt, the mainstream media and U.S. government has been attempting to reinforce the possibility that ISIS or other terrorists may engage in nuclear attacks here in the United States as a type of predictive programming.

Indeed, one hallmark of the false flag operation is the running of drills shortly before or during the actual attack. Many times, these drills will involve the actual sequence of events that takes place during the real life attack. These drills have been present on large-scale false flags such as 9/11 as well as smaller-scale attacks like the Aurora shooting.

For instance, as Webster Tarpley documents in his book9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made In USA, at least 46 drills were underway in the months leading up to 9/11 and on the morning of the attack. These 46 drills were all directly related to the events which took place on 9/11 in some way or other.[1] Likewise, the 7/7 bombings in London were running drills of exactly the same scenario that was occurring at exactly the same times and locations.

Although one reason may take precedence over the other depending on the nature and purpose of the operation, drills are used by false flag operators for at least two reasons. One such purpose is the creation of intentional confusion if the drill is taking place during the actual attack. The other, more effective aspect, however, is using the drill as a cloak to plan the attack or even “go live” when it comes time to launch the event. Even more so, it gives the individuals who are involved in the planning of the event an element of cover, especially with the military/intelligence agency’s tight chain of command structure and need-to-know basis. If a loyal military officer or intelligence agent stumbles upon the planning of the attack, that individual can always be told that what he has witnessed is nothing more than the planning of a training exercise. This deniability continues all the way through to the actual “going live” of the drill. After the completion of the false flag attack, Coincidence Theory is used to explain away the tragic results.[2]

Notes:

[1] Tarpley, Webster Griffin. 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made In USA. 5th Edition. Progressive Press. 2011.
[2] Tarpley, Webster Griffin. 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made In USA. 5th Edition. Progressive Press. 2011.

The collapse of Liberia’s healthcare system due to the Ebola crisis is spurring as many as 45 new cases of the illness daily, according to new data. Researchers from the UK figure that each patient turned away from already full clinics is inadvertently spreading the disease to 1.5 other people, a rate of reproduction that could result in a full-on “nightmare doomsday scenario.”

According to the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres, also known as Doctors Without Borders in English, treatment centers in the Liberian capital of Monrovia are now so overwhelmed with patients that they are having to turn away roughly 30 people daily. Based on a reproduction rate of 1.5, this translates into a daily infection rate of about 45 people.

Joining a chorus of others in the international community, Professor John Edmunds, an epidemiologist from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, says a massive increase in foreign aid is necessary to prevent what he says could have an “apocalyptic” impact on Liberia and its neighbors in the coming months.

Echoing what Liberia’s own president said during a recent press conference, the spread of Ebola throughout West Africa is reaching a point of exponential growth in which it will be nearly impossible to contain it. If more beds aren’t brought to these countries to treat and quarantine infected patients, in other words, the rate of disease spread will skyrocket.

“It could get very bad indeed,” stated Prof. Edmunds. “The doubling time of this epidemic is about two weeks, so if we are overwhelmed with our resources right now, it’s going to be twice as bad in two weeks’ time.”

Scientific calculations predict number of Ebola cases will start doubling every two weeks at current rates

Early on in the outbreak, the number of confirmed cases of Ebola was relatively small, and it appeared that the rate of spread was also small. Charts mapping deaths from the disease showed that it was actually starting to fizzle out in April, only to quickly start picking up in early May and June.

Fast forward a few months and we are now approaching a point of no return where containing the disease will be almost impossible. A recent study out of Arizona State University (ASU) found that the rate of reproduction — that is, the average number of people infected by a single disease source — has increased in both Sierra Leone and Liberia from 1.4 to 1.7 for each existing case.

What this suggests is that the region is teetering on the brink of an Ebola explosion, with the number of disease cases rapidly increasing. The number of cases is doubling every few weeks, which means it is a very real possibility that in just a few months millions of people could become infected.

“Based on the durations of incubation and infectiousness of EVD [Ebola virus disease], it is plausible that the number of cases could therefore double every fortnight [two weeks] if the situation does not change,” explains an editorial published in Eurosurveillance.

“There are currently hundreds of new EVD cases reported each week; with the number of infections increasing exponentially, it could soon be thousands.”

Sources for this article include:

http://www.theguardian.com

http://blogs.channel4.com

http://www.sciencedaily.com

http://www.eurosurveillance.org

http://science.naturalnews.com