In what is being widely hailed as a diplomatic breakthrough in the two-tier, CIA-funded My Terrorist, My Friend Campaign (sort of), al Qaeda has agreed to affix Mr. Yuk-Yuk labels to all chemical weapons headed inbound to their North American terror cells.

Speaking upwind near their Somali chemical weapons factory, an al Qaeda spokesman announced, “As a token of goodwill to our new-found American partners in Syria, we want to give the American people a fighting chance when it comes to ID-ing sarin-filled suitcases, baby carriages and large brown envelopes left unattended in key America cities. While not a panacea aimed at entirely curbing our deadly mischief, we view it as a sporting good chance.” When queried if there even are al Qaeda cells in North America, the spokesman pulled his scarf tighter across his face and began singing battle songs in a loud voice tinged with malevolence and insurgent intent.

Fortunately more information was available at the al Qaeda Internet store. Mr. Yuk-Yuk labels will be prominently affixed to all packages. These labels will include a toll-free number serviced by Bangalore help desk employees trained in clipped English and panic-mitigation techniques.

All third-world terror locales will continue to be caught completely unawares via standard terrorist packaging. Paypal accepted.

Not all Americans are on-board however. In fact one petition is circling the nation right now which would designate Capitol Hill a Mr. Yuk-Yuk Free Zone. “Until they remove their exemptions from various labor, safety, health laws and freedom of information requests, they don’t deserve the Mr. Yuk-Yuk early alert courtesy,” huffed one irate citizen.

War weary, beleaguered and thoroughly confused the America populace counted to ten before throwing up its arms en masse. Said one mystified gentlemen at the side of the road, “I run a popsicle stand. So I guess I’ll wait for Senator Carl Levin to release a Powerpoint chart with a lot of lines going here, there and everywhere.”

One mother wailed, “My son died in Afghanistan in 2003 hunting al Qaeda terrorists. I only wish they’d had a similar visibility campaign for IEDs.”

Mr. Yuk-Yuk could not be reached for comment. However he reportedly was greener around the gills than usual, not to mention a tad nervous about his new responsibilities. His attorney did return our call however. “My client prefers hanging around lye, antifreeze and deadly pesticides under the sink. The notion of being discussed in the corridors of Capitol Hill is making him positively ill.”

Norman Ball  (BA Political Science/Econ, Washington & Lee University; MBA, George Washington University) is a well-travelled Scots-American businessman, author and poet whose essays have appeared in Counterpunch, The Western Muslim and elsewhere. His new book “Between River and Rock: How I Resolved Television in Six Easy Payments” is available here. Two essay collections,“How Can We Make Your Power More Comfortable?” and “The Frantic Force” are spoken of here(Preview) and here (Preview) , respectively. A collection of poetry “Serpentrope” is due out early 2014 from White Violet Press. He can be reached at [email protected].

Dangerous Addiction to Secrecy

September 25th, 2013 by Robert Parry

President Barack Obama speaking to the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 24, 2013. (UN photo)

After decades of mutual suspicions, the U.S. and Iranian governments appear headed toward face-to-face contacts. But mutual trust still awaits truth-telling about important facts that defined the relationship — and that may require breaking a dangerous addiction to secrecy.

If President Barack Obama is right about the revived hopes for settling several interlocking crises in the Middle East — from Iran’s nuclear program to the Israel-Palestinian conflict – a good starting place would be a decision by the various sides to lift the curtains of unnecessary secrecy surrounding both current events and their historical context.

But the key actors in these geopolitical dramas can’t seem to shake their addiction to secrecy. For instance, on the historical front, Iran and Russia – as well as Israel and the U.S. intelligence community – have evidence about alleged Republican-Iranian interference in President Jimmy Carter’s hostage negotiations with Iran in 1980, but this material is still kept hidden.


Over the years, key Iranians, including former President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, have declared that a secret deal was struck with Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign to delay the release of 52 American hostages in Iran until after the U.S. election to guarantee Carter’s defeat. But the Iranian government has kept officially mum on its role in the so-called October Surprise case.

In 1993, the Russian government supplied a U.S. congressional task force with a secret summary of Soviet-era intelligence information corroborating the allegations of a Republican-Iranian deal, but the summary contained few details about Moscow’s proof and there was no serious U.S. follow-up of the disclosure with Russian officials. Israel allegedly helped implement the brokered deal by becoming Iran’s weapons supplier in the early 1980s.

The U.S. intelligence community presumably has October Surprise information, too, although when the congressional task force sought it in 1992 the CIA director was Robert Gates, one of the CIA officers implicated in the 1980 operation. He had been installed at the head of the intelligence community in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush, another suspect. So, it probably should have come as no surprise that Gates, the CIA and Bush’s White House dragged their feet on document production in 1992.

So, as a show of good faith now, the various players could stop playing games and open up their archives to finally resolve this nagging historical mystery. Some Republicans might even think better of the Iranians if they knew that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini helped install their hero, Ronald Reagan, in the White House.

Other Americans might see it as a case of geopolitical karma: the United States secretly undermined Iran’s democracy in 1953 and the Iranians returned the favor to the United States in 1980. Just recently, the U.S. government confirmed that the CIA, indeed, had organized a coup d’etat against the elected Iranian government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953, installing the autocratic Shah of Iran who governed Iran harshly until 1979.

The Iranians could now show their appreciation for that belated U.S. admission by disclosing whatever evidence they have about Republican double-dealing during the 1980 hostage crisis. Whatever those facts may show, the truth could clear the air – and establish some trust – as the United States and Iran grapple with how to resolve the current dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. [For the latest and most detailed account of the October Surprise evidence, see Robert Parry’s America’s Stolen Narrative.]

No Stonewall on Syrian Case

On a more current topic – the question of who was behind the chemical weapons deaths outside Damascus, Syria, on Aug. 21 – government claims of secrecy also should be dropped and all pertinent evidence should be presented to the world.

The Russians have a 100-page report purportedly clearing the Syrian government but they haven’t made it public. The Obama administration claims to have physical evidence proving the Syrian government’s guilt but won’t release it, either. Instead, President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry seem committed to a strategy of simply de-legitimizing any doubts that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is guilty.

On Aug. 30, the Obama administration released a four-page “Government Assessment” that asserted the Syrian government’s guilt without presenting any evidence at all. The white paper was palmed off as an “assessment” from the U.S. intelligence community but it really was posted on the Internet by the White House press office.

In a pattern reminiscent of George W. Bush’s phony case for war with Iraq in 2002-2003, U.S. journalists and politicians quickly recognized that their career prospects were brightened if they joined the anti-Assad stampede and darkened if they got in the way.

Then, the 38-page report issued by United Nations inspectors last week presumably sealed the deal on Assad’s guilt, as major U.S. news outlets extrapolated from evidence in the report to conclude that the attack must have been launched by Syrian government forces intimately connected to protecting Assad.

Though the actual facts in the UN report were much murkier – including the absence of any chemical weapons agents at one site and inspectors’ warnings that the evidence at the second site may have been manipulated – the U.S. news media brushed past those concerns and marched in lockstep with Secretary Kerry and President Obama.

Everyone, it seemed, knew that only Assad apologists and crazies would continue harboring doubts. Secretary Kerry declared as much when he announced that he would not let the UN get bogged down in a debate over the guilt of the Syrian government. “We really don’t have time today to pretend that anyone can have their own set of facts,” he said in a slap at the Russians.

President Obama reinforced the point in his address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday: “It’s an insult to human reason and to the legitimacy of this institution to suggest that anyone other than the regime carried out this attack.”

The Stubborn Doubters

Yet, the stubborn doubters reportedly include members of the U.S. intelligence community and UN officials. Clearly, if the Obama administration had the entire intelligence community onboard, there would have been no need for such a dodgy dossier as the “Government Assessment” posted by the White House press office rather than by the Director of National Intelligence. (I was told as much by a source close to U.S. intelligence on Syria.)

And, Robert Fisk, a veteran reporter for London’s Independent newspaper, found a lack of consensus among UN officials and other international observers in Damascus – despite the career risks that they faced by deviating from the conventional wisdom regarding Assad’s guilt.

“In a country – indeed a world – where propaganda is more influential than truth, discovering the origin of the chemicals that suffocated so many Syrians a month ago is an investigation fraught with journalistic perils,” Fisk wrote. “Nevertheless, it also has to be said that grave doubts are being expressed by the UN and other international organisations in Damascus that the sarin gas missiles were fired by Assad’s army.

“While these international employees cannot be identified, some of them were in Damascus on 21 August and asked a series of questions to which no one has yet supplied an answer. Why, for example, would Syria wait until the UN inspectors were ensconced in Damascus on 18 August before using sarin gas little more than two days later – and only four miles from the hotel in which the UN had just checked in?

“Having thus presented the UN with evidence of the use of sarin – which the inspectors quickly acquired at the scene – the Assad regime, if guilty, would surely have realised that a military attack would be staged by Western nations.

“As it is, Syria is now due to lose its entire strategic long-term chemical defences against a nuclear-armed Israel – because, if Western leaders are to be believed, it wanted to fire just seven missiles almost a half century old at a rebel suburb in which only 300 of the 1,400 victims (if the rebels themselves are to be believed) were fighters.

“As one Western NGO put it … ‘if Assad really wanted to use sarin gas, why for God’s sake, did he wait for two years and then when the UN was actually on the ground to investigate?’”

Fisk also reported that “information is now circulating in the city [of Damascus] that Russia’s new ‘evidence’ about the attack includes the dates of export of the specific rockets used and – more importantly – the countries to which they were originally sold. They were apparently manufactured in the Soviet Union in 1967 and sold by Moscow to three Arab countries, Yemen, Egypt and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya.

“These details cannot be verified in documents, and Vladimir Putin has not revealed the reasons why he told Barack Obama that he knows Assad’s army did not fire the sarin missiles; but if the information is correct – and it is believed to have come from Moscow – Russia did not sell this particular batch of chemical munitions to Syria.

“Since Gaddafi’s fall in 2011, vast quantities of his abandoned Soviet-made arms have fallen into the hands of rebel groups and al-Qa’ida-affiliated insurgents. Many were later found in Mali, some in Algeria and a vast amount in Sinai. The Syrians have long claimed that a substantial amount of Soviet-made weaponry has made its way from Libya into the hands of rebels in the country’s civil war with the help of Qatar – which supported the Libyan rebels against Gaddafi and now pays for arms shipments to Syrian insurgents.”

So, rather than bullying people who still have questions about the Aug. 21 incident – or just shouting more loudly than the other side – the Obama administration and the Russian government might want to lay their cards on the table. The secrecy addiction among major world powers is deeply corrosive to democracy and makes a mockery of popular rule.

If President Obama’s pleasant words about the universal human right of self-governance are to mean anything meaningful, he should accept that democracy is meaningless if a population is denied facts and left drowning in a swamp of propaganda.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

Video emerges of unmarked truck-mounted launcher surrounded by militants, firing same ordnance used in August 21 Damascus (and other) chemical attacks.

A note of clarificationThe US maintains that the chemical weapons attack in Damascus in late August could only have been the work of the Syrian government because the militants do not possess the means to carry out such an attack. The report below proves that the technology used to fire the rockets allegedly used in the attack require nothing more than a modified flatbed truck, and that the militants on record have received training and are assisted by Western contractors specifically to handle weapons inside of Syria. 

The very concept of a false flag attack is to use weapons that one’s framed enemy would have at their disposal. This report lays to rest the myth of exotic, inaccessible technology preventing US-backed terrorists from carrying out the Damascus attacks. Considering which party stood the most to gain from the attacks, and the amount of time that has passed with the West still unable to produce convincing evidence, it is clear America and its allies have failed (and will be unable) to make their case. 

In September 17, 2013′s article, “5 Lies Invented to Spin UN Report on Syrian Chemical Weapons Attack,” one fabrication used by the West was exposed in particular [emphasis added]:

Lie 1. Chemical weapons were delivered with munitions not used by rebels: This claim includes referencing “Syria watcher” Eliot Higgins also known as “Brown Moses,” a UK-based armchair observer of the Syrian crisis who has been documenting weapons used throughout the conflict on his blog.

While Higgins explains these particularly larger diameter rockets (140mm and 330mm) have not been seen (by him) in the hands of terrorists operating within and along Syria’s borders, older posts of his show rockets similar in construction and operation, but smaller, most certainly in the hands of the militants.

The Washington Post contends that somehow these larger rockets require “technology” the militants have no access to. This is categorically false. A rocket is launched from a simple tube, and the only additional technology terrorists may have required for the larger rockets would have been a truck to mount them on. For an armed front fielding stolen tanks, finding trucks to mount large metal tubes upon would seem a rather elementary task – especially to carry out a staged attack that would justify foreign intervention and salvage their faltering offensive.

Video has now emerged showing just the sort of unmarked improvised trucks predicted US-backed terrorists would use to carry out the attacks, surrounded by a combination of civilian-dressed and semi-uniformed individuals firing ordnance identical to those used during the Damascus chemical weapons attack. Western media sources are scrambling to explain how this is instead, the “smoking gun” proving the Syrian government was behind the attacks, and not the so-called “rebels.”

This tenuous argument is being spearheaded by the “Brown Moses Blog” run by UK sofa-based, self-taught “weapons expert” Eliot Higgins, which claims:

The following video was just sent to me by @Paradoxy13, showing the type of munition linked to alleged chemical attacks being loaded and fired by what appears to be Assad’s forces .

Unfortunately for Higgins’ credibility and objectiveness, the conclusion he jumps to (based apparently on the color hats everyone is wearing in the video) is based on “evidence” sent to him by Twitter user @Paradoxy13, an overt supporter of the armed militants operating in Syria. His Twitter timeline is proudly topped with the French-colonial flag now being used by the so-called “Free Syrian Army” and flooded with overtly biased propaganda backing both the terrorists in Syria, and their Western sponsors abroad.

The alleged footage Higgins posted on his blog comes from YouTube account, “Darya Revolution” – clearly belonging to militant supporters.

The video descriptions claims:

The moment of launching surface- to –surface missile from Mazzeh military airport — it could carry a chemical head- on the day of the “chemical massacre” in Eastern Ghouta. Darayya Media Centre shot the missile at the exact second it was launched from Mazzeh Military Airport towards Eastern Ghout at around 6 AM. Many soldiers were seen around the point of launching the missile with red caps, which indicates that they were presidential guards.

What serendipity to have both a massive chemical attack in Damascus just as UN monitors arrived in the Syrian capital, and now video shot by militants who claim they just so happened to have a camera ready to film the rockets as they were launched toward Eastern Ghouta in Damascus.

At face value, nothing about this points to the Syrian government – as Higgins claims. Higgins even has to remind readers that the chemical weapons attack allegedly took place at night, directly contradicting the description of the video he is citing as a “smoking gun.”

Image: After firing a single rocket, the truck is promptly covered and prepared for transit. The purpose of a national chemical arsenal is to provide a deterrence against foreign aggressors and for deployment in pitched, full-scale warfare. This modified truck was clearly designed for launching a single rocket, at a painfully slow rate of fire – not for tactical purposes. It is however, literally, the perfect vehicle for a false-flag attack, particularly the chemical attack carried out in Damascus in late August. 


The video shows two trucks surrounded by a motley crew of both uniformed and non-uniformed individuals carrying a variety of weapons – typical of “Free Syrian Army” formations, atypical of the Syrian Arab Army’s operations which include columns of tanks, clearly marked aircraft, camouflaged trucks, and soldiers in full battledress.

There appears to be one truck for carrying and loading the rockets, and another for launching them – the launcher can be seen at the end of the video being concealed under a tarp. Aside from this, there are no other military vehicles seen in the vicinity, and the trucks themselves are unmarked, converted civilian vehicles typical of the “technicals” (improvised fighting vehicles) used by terrorists both in Libya and now Syria. For trucks allegedly carrying “government” chemical weapons, or even large high-explosive rockets,  there is surprisingly lax security around them and a suspicious desire to conceal the improvised weapon system after use.

Image: Terrorists in Syria, and previously in Libya, with the exception of stolen military vehicles, rely on improvised fighting vehicles of varying sophistication called “technicals” like the one pictured above. The larger flatbed featured in a recent video, launching a rocket similar to those found at the scene of an alleged August chemical weapons attack in Damascus, is also clearly an improvised fighting vehicle.


The painstakingly slow process of loading and firing a single rocket would also negate any practical tactical advantage on the battlefield were this footage of another attack, on another day, using a conventional rocket for an artillery strike – as Higgins seems to suggest. The Syrian military possesses an extensive arsenal of artillery pieces and multiple rocket launchers that could easily bombard targets with better accuracy, increased frequency and effectiveness.

Additional “evidence” cited by Higgins of “regime use” of these rocket systems consists solely of militant footage of rocket impacts – not of Syrian troops actually firing the weapons. Higgins operates under the false assumption that previous chemical attacks showing up in militant videos depicting similar rockets could only be the work of the Syrian government, and not false flag operations carried out by an increasingly desperate West and their proxy forces inside Syria. Aside from this assumption, he provides no evidence to back up his claims.

Higgins was handed a “smoking gun” by the people most likely to have benefited from the crime, who claim they “found it” at the feet of the very government they are fighting. Without critical examination, and apparently based on the color hats several individuals were wearing, Higgins concludes that the footage portrays the Syrian government launching a single massive rocket from a modified flatbed.

In reality, we are most likely looking at the EXACT method the US-backed terrorists in Syria used to carry out the chemical weapons attack in Damascus in late August. Whether or not the rockets contained chemical weapons could be a matter of debate – as the rockets and other evidence were all clearly tampered with in the days before the UN investigated the site – this according to the UN itself. On page 18 of the UN’s report (22 of the .pdf), the UN states [emphasis added]:

The time necessary to conduct a detailed survey of both locations as well as take samples was very limited. The sites have been well travelled by other individuals both before and during the investigation. Fragments and other possible evidence have clearly been handled/moved prior to the arrival of the investigation team.

It is confirmed that the US has been training militants and providing “contractors” to accompany them into Syria where they have been operating specifically to handle chemical weapons. CNN reported in their 2012 article, “Sources: U.S. helping underwrite Syrian rebel training on securing chemical weapons,” that:

The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday.

The training, which is taking place in Jordan and Turkey, involves how to monitor and secure stockpiles and handle weapons sites and materials, according to the sources. Some of the contractors are on the ground in Syria working with the rebels to monitor some of the sites, according to one of the officials.

While the video above is claimed to be a “smoking gun,” it instead, under critical examination, illustrates the means with which the false-flag operation was carried out in late August – for the sole purpose of justifying direct Western military intervention to save a faltering proxy war.

That the same rocket used in Damascus has now been seen launched from makeshift flatbeds and not olive green military rocket launchers, along with answering the basic question of “to whose benefit?” and considering that militants are confirmed to have US training in handling of chemical weapons – all at the very least tear down the narrative that “only the Syrian regime” could have carried out the attacks.

Wilson Goode, Barack Obama and the Good Negro

September 25th, 2013 by Margaret Kimberley

In the documentary Let the Fire Burn, former Philadelphia mayor Wilson Good comes off as the hollowest man, dissembling, changing his story and evading questions but ultimately admitting that he approved the horrific plan which killed little children.” He ordered the burning of MOVE because he believed in “the natural order of white people being on top and killing black people if they choose to.”

On May 13, 1985, the mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, allowed a lynch mob comprised of the police and fire departments to kill eleven black people, including five children. He also allowed them to burn 61 houses to the ground which left more than 200 people homeless. Wilson Goode was that city’s first black mayor but being mayor was not his top priority. More than anything else he wanted to be a good negro and earn a stamp of approval from white people. Therein lies a cautionary tale which we would do well to remember today.

A new documentary, Let the Fire Burn, tells the story of the assault on a home occupied by men, women and children who were members of the group MOVE. The extra judicial murders took place nearly 30 years ago but offer lessons for black people who support and excuse any horror committed by the first black president, Barack Obama.

Let the Fire Burn assembles archival film footage showing the numerous confrontations that took place between MOVE and the police over many years. When an attempt to arrest MOVE members resulted in the death of a police officer in 1978, Delbert Africa was savagely beaten in full view of the public and the media. He and eight others were convicted of murder and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 30 to 100 years. Police surveillance of MOVE never stopped, and the group’s conflicts with their neighbors resulted in the 1985 decision to evict them from a house located at 6221 Osage Avenue.

No one watching Let the Fire Burn has to be told that the same police officers who beat Delbert Africa in 1978 and who were then permitted to take part in the 1985 eviction were racist to the core. The expressions of hatred are plain enough to see. Not only the cops on the beat but officials at the highest levels of city government had nothing but contempt for black life and their decision to drop a bomb in a residential neighborhood proves it.

Despite the obvious hatred of the white men in the police force, it is Wilson Goode who emerges as the villain in this story. Goode comes off as the hollowest man, dissembling, changing his story and evading questions but ultimately admitting that he approved the horrific plan which killed little children. He waffled between taking responsibility, claiming he didn’t know a bomb would be dropped, to saying that snow on his television gave him the impression that the fire was being extinguished.

The commission findings and the pontification ultimately meant very little. The MOVE members died and their neighbors lost their homes because they were black. Those homes were rebuilt but so shoddily that they were once again abandoned. Wilson Goode knew the rules. He may have been elected with strong support from black voters but he knew he was not supposed to change what has become the natural order of white people being on top and killing black people if they choose to.

Imagine a black man leading a lynch mob and you have a good assessment of Wilson Goode’s behavior. His complicity in killing the MOVE men, women and children didn’t hurt his prospects the way it should have. In 1987 he was re-elected when he ran against Democrat turned Republican Frank Rizzo. That former mayor’s open racism and switch to the Republicans allowed Goode to once again win black votes despite his awful actions.

The disaster on Osage Avenue should have ended the careers of all concerned but white racism and misguided loyalty to the Democratic Party meant that the killers prospered. The district attorney who approved the eviction in 1985 was Ed Rendell. During his testimony at the investigative commission Rendell made no effort to hide his hatred but it didn’t hurt his career prospects. He went on to be elected mayor and then governor of Pennsylvania and he was often mentioned as a vice presidential or even presidential candidate.

Black people were driven from their homes by bullets and fire in places like Tulsa, Oklahoma and Helena, Arkansas and Ocoee, Florida and in places too numerous to count. Those atrocities are remembered as part of the awful history of America’s apartheid. A white mayor could not have committed cold-blooded murder of black people without facing condemnation but Goode was defended and supported by people who should have wanted nothing to do with him. The desire to see a black face in a high place was strong in 1985 and it is still strong today.

Black Americans have sold their souls just to see people who look like them commit the acts of evil which were previously reserved for white people. The penultimate example of this phenomenon is Barack Obama, the president of the United States. His ascension was the death of black politics, common sense and morality.

A group of people who prior to 2008 were the most progressive in the country no longer speak up for their citizenship rights or express their long held aversion to war and empire. Now black America will support warfare and death if they come wrapped in the package of false race pride.

Barack Obama is the master of giving white people what they want while simultaneously getting love from black people who have gained nothing from him. Goode did not play the game as well. He left politics to become a minister, no doubt seeking spiritual solace for his ungodly act. Rendell makes a good living as a talking head pundit while Goode has disappeared. It must be added that he deserves nothing better.

Obama has mastered what his political predecessors like Goode did not. He is the good negro too, just at a higher level. He has mastered the art of sucking up but to people far more powerful than local politicians in Pennsylvania. Obama is the factotum to the 1%, the elites who rule the world. He may eventually go down in ignominious history too, but sadly it will be for something far more sinister than anything than racist cops in Philly could imagine. He is after all the more effective evil.

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 

Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)

Salim Lamrani, profesor de la Universidad de La Reunión y periodista especialista de Cuba, acaba de publicar un nuevo libro en Ediciones Estrella con un título elocuente: Cuba. Los medios ante el reto de la imparcialidad. Este libro de 230 páginas se divide en nueve capítulos. Tiene un prefacio del gran escritor uruguayo Eduardo Galeano, autor del famoso libro las venas abiertas de América Latina. Lamrani, como buen historiador e investigador, siempre enriquece su trabajo con abundantes fuentes, con más de 350 notas en este libro. Entrevista.


André Garand: Salim Lamrani, háblenos de su último libro

Salim Lamrani: Este libro se basa en el siguiente postulado: el fenómeno de concentración de la prensa en manos del poder económico y financiero se ha convertido, en todo Occidente, en una realidad innegable. Ahora bien, estos medios informativos, vinculados al poder del dinero y que defienden el orden establecido, se encuentran confrontados muy a menudo al reto de la imparcialidad, sobre todo cuando se trata de Cuba. Les resulta difícil presentar de modo objetivo a una nación cuyo proyecto de sociedad desafía la ideología dominante. Además, Cuba es por definición un tema mediático que suscita críticas y controversias y enciende regularmente las pasiones.

André Garand: ¿Qué temas aborda usted en el libro?

Salim Lamrani: Mi libro trata de responder a las siguientes preguntas: ¿Cómo presentan los medios la realidad cubana? ¿De qué modo abordan problemáticas tan complejas como los derechos humanos, el debate crítico, la emigración, el índice de desarrollo humano y las relaciones con Estados Unidos? ¿Acaso desempeñan su papel de cuarto poder? ¿Acaso son capaces de emanciparse del poder político, del poder del dinero y brindar una visión plural de la sociedad cubana? Pues una prensa libre e independiente es esencial en toda democracia y se acompaña, desde luego, de un deber de verdad de información hacia los ciudadanos.

André Garand: ¿Por qué los medios son tan críticos con Cuba?

Salim Lamrani: Cuba, desde el triunfo de la Revolución y la llegada al poder de Fidel Castro, es un tema de debate vivo y animado. Hay una razón esencial para ello: el proceso de transformación social iniciado en 1959 cambió el orden y las estructuras establecidas, puso en tela de juicio el poder de los dominantes y propone una alternativa de sociedad donde –a pesar de todos sus defectos, sus imperfecciones y sus contradicciones que conviene no minimizar– el poder del dinero ya no es el rey y donde los recursos se destinan a la mayoría de los ciudadanos y no a una minoría.

André Garand: Eduardo Galeano, famoso escritor latinoamericano, redactó el prefacio de su libro.

Salim Lamrani: Eduardo Galeano redactó en efecto un texto incisivo lleno de humor sarcástico, tan característico de su estilo, sobre Cuba y los medios. Aprovecho la oportunidad para expresarle mi calurosa gratitud por asociar su nombre y su prestigio a mi trabajo. Aprovecho también esta tribuna para agradecer públicamente a Estela, periodista española, que me ayudó en esta tarea.

André Garand: La portada del libro tiene una cita de Jean-Pierre Bel, nuestro Presidente del Senado, que le da las gracias por su trabajo. Dice lo siguiente: “Gracias por esta mirada sobre Cuba, tan útil”. Es un hermoso reconocimiento, ¿no?

Salim Lamrani: El Presidente Jean-Pierre Bel es un gran amigo de Cuba. Buen conocedor de América Latina. Defensor de la libertad de expresión y de la pluralidad de opiniones. Procede de una familia de resistentes comunistas y es un gran admirador de la Revolución Cubana. Leyó algunos de mis libros y me mandó un pequeño mensaje. Le expreso mi agradecimiento sincero.

André Garand: Una cita de Robespierre, a quien usted dedica el libro, introduce su trabajo. ¿Por qué esta elección?

Salim Lamrani: Robespierre hablaba de pasar la “verdad de contrabando” pues tenía la convicción profunda que triunfaría. Comparto esta fe.

Maximilien Robespierre es el patriota más puro de la Historia de Francia. Es la figura emblemática de la Revolución, el defensor de la soberanía popular. Comprendió desde el principio que el poder del dinero era el principal enemigo del pueblo, de la República, de la Patria. Por ello la ideología dominante vilipendia tanto su legado. Sus aspiraciones a la libertad y a la justicia social siguen vigentes.

Vivimos una época bastante curiosa. Se glorifica a los enemigos del pueblo y se desprecia a sus defensores. Tomemos la ciudad de París: No hay una sola calle que lleve el nombre de nuestro Libertador, una sola estatua de Robespierre, mientras que el traidor Mirabeau tiene un puente y Adolphe Thiers, el carnicero de la Comuna que fusiló a 20.000 patriotas en una semana, goza de un parque y una estatua. Fíjese, el 22 de septiembre, día de la proclamación de nuestra República, ni siquiera se celebra en Francia.

 André Garand: ¿Tiene algún mensaje para los miembros de France-Cuba?


Salim Lamrani: France-Cuba es una asociación que respeto y admiro por su inquebrantable solidaridad con el pueblo cubano. Se trata de la primera asociación francesa de solidaridad con Cuba y sólo podemos rendirle tributo y homenaje al Profesor Paul Estrade, su fundador, y felicitar a todos los que siguen su obra.

Aprovecho la ocasión para transmitir a los miembros de Francia-Cuba mi saludo solidario. Los veo muy a menudo en conferencias y debates y conozco sus cualidades humanas, su hospitalidad y su espíritu combativo. Seguro que tendré la oportunidad de verlos de nuevo y hablar de mi nuevo libro.


Prefacio de Eduardo Galeano

París, Estrella, 2013

230 páginas


Solicitudes al autos: [email protected]

En librería:, y en Amazon :

El hecho de que el Ártico albergue más del 25% de las reservas mundiales de gas y petróleo podría “avivar la militarización de la región”, comenta a RT Michel Chossudovsky, director del Centro de Investigación sobre la Globalización de Canadá.

Chossudovsky explica que la raíz del problema está en que geográficamente “Estados Unidos no tiene realmente territorios limítrofes o, más bien, sus territorios fronterizos con el océano Ártico son muy limitados”, mientras que Rusia, Canadá y Dinamarca son los principales países que tienen territorios en la zona.

El profesor emérito de la Universidad de Ottawa reitera que EE.UU. no es miembro de la Convención de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Derecho del Mar, así que no puede presentar reclamaciones oficiales por el territorio, pero agrega que Washington puede conseguir su ‘trozo de pastel’ a través de la militarización de la región.

“Estados Unidos puede lograrlo a través de la militarización de América del Norte y sus aliados, en particular con Canadá, pero también con Dinamarca y Noruega”, dice enfatizando que esto se remonta a 2002, cuando el entonces secretario de Defensa, Donald Rumsfeld, efectivamente reclamó toda la región bajo el Comando Norte de los Estados Unidos (USNORTHCOM).

Michel Chossudovsky asegura que EE.UU. ahora está construyendo una integración con Canadá bajo la Unión Norteamericana, “lo que significa constitucionalmente que EE.UU. extiende su llamada soberanía sobre territorios árticos de Canadá”. Además, agrega el profesor, bajo el USNORTHCOM, del cual Canadá es un miembro oficioso, este país acepta el derecho de EE.UU. de desplegar sus tropas y las fuerzas navales en el territorio ártico.

“Tendrá lugar una confrontación entre Rusia y EE.UU. y sus socios en la nueva batalla por el petróleo y el gas y aquí estamos hablando de la militarización y el establecimiento de bases militares, la extensión de las compañías de petróleo y gas hasta el Ártico y, por supuesto, esto tiene devastadoras consecuencias ambientales”, concluye Chossudovsky.

Según diferentes estimaciones, en los mares del océano Ártico se han hallado más de 62 billones de metros cúbicos de gas y más de 9.000 millones de toneladas de petróleo, y en la orilla unos 3.500 millones de toneladas de petróleo. El deshielo de la región debido a los cambios climáticos ha aumentado la posibilidad de la explotación del Ártico, atrayendo así la atención de muchos países.

Texto completo en:

Le armi segrete NBC di Israele

September 25th, 2013 by Manlio Dinucci

Gli ispettori Onu, che controllano le armi chimiche della Siria, avrebbero molto più da fare se fossero inviati a controllare le armi nucleari, biologiche e chimiche (NBC) di Israele. Secondo le regole del «diritto internazionale», non possono però farlo. Israele non ha firmato il Trattato di non-proliferazione nucleare, né la Convenzione che vieta le armi biologiche, e ha firmato ma non ratificato quella che vieta le armi chimiche.

Secondo Jane’s Defense Weekly, Israele – l’unica potenza nucleare in Medio Oriente – possiede da 100 a 300 testate e relativi vettori (missili balistici e da crociera e cacciabombardieri). Secondo stime Sipri, Israele ha prodotto 690-950 kg di plutonio, e continua a produrne tanto da fabbricare ogni anno 10-15 bombe tipo quella di Nagasaki. Produce anche trizio, gas radioattivo con cui si fabbricano testate neutroniche, che provocano minore contaminazione radioattiva ma più alta letalità. Secondo diversi rapporti internazionali, citati anche dal giornale israeliano «Haaretz», armi biologiche e chimiche vengono sviluppate all’Istituto per la ricerca biologica, situato a Ness-Ziona presso Tel Aviv. Ufficialmente fanno parte dello staff 160 scienziati e 170 tecnici, che da cinque decenni compiono ricerche di biologia, chimica, biochimica, biotecnologia, farmacologia, fisica e altre discipline scientiche. L’Istituto, insieme al Centro nucleare di Dimona, è «una delle istituzioni più segrete di Israele» sotto la giurisdizione del primo ministro. La massima segretezza copre la ricerca sulle armi biologiche: batteri e virus che, disseminati nel paese nemico, possono scatenare epidemie. Tra questi il batterio della peste bubbonica (la «morte nera» del Medioevo) e il Virus Ebola, contagioso e letale, per il quale non è disponibile alcuna terapia.

Con la biotecnologia si possono produrre nuovi tipi di agenti patogeni verso i quali la popolazione bersaglio non è in grado di resistere, non disponendo del vaccino specifico. Vi sono anche seri indizi su ricerche per lo sviluppo di armi biologiche in grado di annientare nell’uomo il sistema immunitario. Ufficialmente l’Istituto israeliano compie ricerche su vaccini contro batteri e virus, come quelle sull’antrace finanziate dal Pentagono, ma è evidente che esse permettono di sviluppare nuovi agenti patogeni per uso bellico.

Lo stesso espediente viene usato negli Stati uniti e in altri paesi per aggirare le Convenzioni che vietano le armi biologiche e chimiche. In Israele il manto di segretezza è stato in parte squarciato dall’inchiesta compiuta, con l’aiuto di scienziati, dal giornalista olandese Karel Knip. È emerso inoltre che sostanze tossiche sviluppate dall’Istituto sono state usate dal Mossad per assassinare dirigenti palestinesi. Testimoninaze mediche indicano che, a Gaza e in Libano, le forze israeliane hanno usato armi di nuova concezione: lasciano intatto il corpo all’esterno ma, penetrandovi, devitalizzano i tessuti, carbonizzano il fegato e le ossa, coagulano il sangue. Ciò è possibile con la nanotecnologia, la scienza che progetta strutture microscopiche costruendole atomo per atomo.

Allo sviluppo di tali armi contribuisce anche l’Italia, legata a Israele da un accordo di cooperazione militare e suo primo partner europeo nella ricerca & sviluppo. Nella Finanziaria è previsto uno stanziamento annuo di 3 milioni di euro per progetti di ricerca congiunti italo-israeliani. Come quello, contenuto nell’ultimo bando della Farnesina, su «nuovi approcci per combattere gli agenti patogeni trattamento-resistenti».

Così l’Istituto israeliano per la ricerca biologica potrà rendere gli agenti patogeni ancora più resistenti.

Manlio Dinucci

Iran Bashing

September 25th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

It’s longstanding. It’s been ongoing since the 1979 Iranian revolution. February 11, 2014 marks its 35th anniversary.

It ended a generation of repressive Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi rule. He’s not missed.

In 1953, Theodore Roosevelt’s grandson/CIA operative Kermit Roosevelt engineered the Agency’s first coup. Democratically elected Mohammad Mosaddegh was ousted.

At the time, The New York Times called him “the most popular politician in the country.” It didn’t matter. Washington wanted its man in charge.

Reza Shah Pahlavi was installed. America and Britain regained an Iranian client state. A generation of darkness followed. In 1979 it ended.

Strained Iranian/Western relations followed. They persist. Occasionally they boil. Rohani’s election changed nothing. Regime change remains longstanding US policy. Iran bashing reflects it.

It’s the oil, stupid. It’s gaining control of Iranian banking. It’s independent. It prohibits usury. Western banks thrive on it. Money control is key to making more of it at the public’s expense.

At issue mostly is America’s quest for unchallenged regional dominance. It wants it globally. It’s beholden to what Israel wants.

Mainstream media march in lockstep. Iran bashing is longstanding. It’s relentless. It’s openly hostile. It’s vicious. It’s based on Big Lies.

On September 21, The New York Times headlined “President Rouhani Comes to Town,” saying:

“All eyes at this week’s United Nations General Assembly will be on Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani.”

He “sent encouraging signals about his willingness to engage more constructively with the West than his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who insisted on proceeding with Iran’s nuclear program, (and) denied the Holocaust.”

Fact check

Ahmadinejad was frequently misquoted. He’s not a holocaust denier. In September 2007, he spoke at Columbia University. The Times covered the event.

“I’m not saying (the holocaust) didn’t happen at all,” he said. This is not the judgment that I’m passing here.”

He had lots more to say about Iran, its policies, its people, and its right to pursue a legitimate peaceful nuclear program. No evidence suggests otherwise.

“We’re all well aware that Iran’s nuclear issue is a political one,” he explained. “It’s not a legal one.”

Since 1979, Iran sought normalized relations with all countries. It wants “brotherly ties” with the world community, said Ahmadinejad.

Washington bears full responsibility for obstructing it. Don’t expect Times editors to explain.

“The world’s chief concern, President Obama stressed last week, continues to be Iran’s nuclear program, which would threaten Israel and destabilize the region if it produced a weapon,” said Times editors.

Rohani’s “charm offensive is in full swing.” Times editors and their counterparts demand he prove his good intentions. They turn a blind eye to Washington’s bad ones.

On September 23, The Times headlined ”Enigmatic Leader of Iran Backs Overture, for Now,” saying:

“This is Hassan Rouhani’s moment. But when he stands before the world to speak on Tuesday, he will do so as the loyal representative of Iran’s supreme leader, the ultimate authority behind the country’s recent diplomatic charm offensive.”

For nearly 35 years, Washington treated Iran more like a hostile alien force than a normal country.

Unless or until that changes, confrontational US policies will persist. Rohani’s best intentions won’t matter. Rogue states operate that way. America’s by far the worst.

The Chicago Tribune headlined “Iran’s fresh face. Is Rouhani’s overture real or a head-fake?”

He “scored style points in his first weeks in office.”

“He even showed some social media savvy.”

“Most prominently (he said he’s) ready to engage in serious and substantial talks without wasting time.”

“This has prompted a parlor game: What’s Iran up to?” Skeptics say Tehran’s “channeling its inner Putin.”

“[It's] still building its nuclear capabilities, by installing advanced centrifuges to more quickly enrich enough nuclear material for a weapon.”

“The mullahs also are forging ahead to complete a nuclear reactor that would produce plutonium, giving them a second path to building a bomb.”

“And those are just the known facilities. International inspectors keep tabs on declared nuclear facilities. They don’t have carte blanche to scour countries for secret facilities.”

“Iran has propped up Syria’s dictator, Bashar Assad. Iran has funneled missiles to Hezbollah, a threat to Israel.”

“Iran has spent big on Hamas, the terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip and has vowed to block any peace deals between the Palestinians and Israel.”

“Iran has allied with al-Qaida, allowing safe passage for cash, arms and fighters to its fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

“So sure, engage with Iran’s fresh, smiling diplomatic face. Just don’t forget history.”

Fact check

Iran’s a normal country. It operates like most others. It wants peace. It deplores war, terrorism and activities relating to them. Claims otherwise don’t wash.

It’s nuclear program is legal. It’s peaceful. No evidence suggests a military component. It sought normalized relations with Western countries for decades.

Its best efforts are rebuffed. It’s treated with scorn. It’s wrongfully maligned and vilified. Don’t expect the mainstream media to explain.

The Wall Street Journal is unrelenting. It’s at war with Iran. On September 22, it headlined ”From Damascus to Tehran,” saying:

“The ruling clerics in Tehran haven’t survived in power for 34 years without cunning.”

“Fresh from their ally Bashar Assad’s diplomatic victory in Damascus, they now see an opening to liberate themselves from Western pressure too.”

“They’re hoping an eager President Obama will ease sanctions in return for another promise of WMD disarmament.”

“New President Hassan Rouhani sounds less strident notes than his predecessor, but the regime has rolled out other presidents who turned out either to have no power or to be false fronts to beguile the West.”

Obama meeting Rohani in New York “would give the dictatorship new international prestige at zero cost.”

“Iran continues to support US enemies in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and Afghanistan, and it continues to crush its political opposition at home.”

“The danger for world order is that Iran is already close to a nuclear breakout capacity when it will be able to finish a device in a matter of weeks, without technically testing or possessing a bomb.”

“The mullahs could also easily pull the North Korean trick of dismantling one facility while secretly running another one.”

“They have systematically lied about their nuclear program for years.”

“All of which bodes ill for any genuine nuclear breakthrough.”

“If true global security is Mr. Obama’s goal, then at a bare minimum any deal would have to halt Iran’s enrichment of uranium, remove the already enriched uranium from the country, close all nuclear sites and provide for robust monitoring anytime and anywhere.”

“Anything less would be a mirage.”

“A negotiation that dismantles Iran’s nuclear program would be a great step forward, but a deal that promises peace while letting Iran stay poised on the edge of becoming a nuclear power would endanger the world.”

Fact check

The editorial was beginning-to-end misinformation, lies and damn lies. It bears repeating. For decades, Iran sought normalized Western relations. Its best efforts are spurned. It’s through no fault of pursing sincere ones.

Evidence shows its nuclear program is legal. It’s peaceful. It advocates a nuclear weapons-free region. It wants all WMDs destroyed.

It threatens no one. It hasn’t attacked another country in centuries. It deplores war, terrorism and activities relating to them. Don’t expect Journal editors to explain.

On September 23, deputy Journal editorial page editor Bret Stephens headlined ”Striking Deals With Despots,” saying:

“Why are democratic leaders so easily suckered and rolled by dictators when it comes to diplomacy?”

“That’s the question to ask as the Obama administration, fresh from getting rolled by Russia over Syria’s chemical weapons, now tempts getting suckered by Iranian President Hasan Rouhani over his country’s nuclear ambitions.”

“(T)he fundamental problem in encounters between democrats and despots is that, while the former understand the psychology of motivation and seduction (political and otherwise), the latter are masters of the arts of deceit and domination.”

“President Obama has spent five years giving abundant evidence of his desire to reconcile with autocrats.”

Meeting with Rohani “will be hailed as a master diplomat(ic) (and) peacemak(ing) triumph. “(I)t won’t take long to learn who is betrayed, and what is lost, in the service of an illusion.

Fact check

As usual, Journal commentaries get things upside down. Rohani genuinely seeks normalized relations.

He has every right to do so. It’s long overdue. After decades of Western hostility, Iranians deserve that much and more.

Obama’s a warrior president. He’s no peacemaker. He’s all take. He’s no give. He long ago lost credibility.

His word isn’t his bond. His policies belie his rhetoric. It’s empty, duplicitous and meaningless. He’s wants all independent governments toppled. He’s got war plans readied to do so.

Rohani knows his challenge. Despite long odds against success, he’s sincerely pursuing what no other post-1979 Iranian leader achieved. His efforts deserve universal support. Don’t expect Journal editors to provide any.

Foreign Policy magazine contributor Colum Lynch headlined “Iran’s Charm Offensive Has Diplomats Asking Themselves: Is It Real?”

Lynch calls Iran “the perennial bad boy of the international community.” It’s typical of how Western sources mischaracterize the Islamic Republic.

Rohani’s so-called “charm offensive” represents a legitimate, sincere outreach. It’s what any responsible leader would pursue.

Disparaging it shows longstanding anti-Iranian sentiment. It’s not about to change soon. Media bashing won’t let it.

It persists relentlessly. Lynch quoted Gary Samore. He’s Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs executive director.

He’s Brookings Arms Control Initiative nonresident senior fellow.

In 2009, the think tank’s report titled, “Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran” was a regime change policy paper. Pro-Israeli right-wing ideologues prepared it.

Samore’s cut out of the same mold. His views are duplicitous. He’s entirely one-sided.

“Nobody is fooled by the charm offense; everybody understands the supreme leader is seeking nuclear weapons,” he said.

“No matter how many times Rouhani smiles doesn’t change the basic objective of the program.”

False! Samore knows it. He deceitfully claimed otherwise. Lynch lost credibility quoting him.

He added that he’s seen no “indication that (Iranians) are willing to sacrifice that part of the program, which has taken 10 years to build up.”

Why should they? It’s entirely legal. It violates no Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) provisions. It operates the same way as other nuclear nations.

Iran alone is criticized. It’s unwarranted. It unjust. It’s long past time it changed. Don’t expect Samore or Lynch to explain.

William Kristol co-founded the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). The Foreign Policy Initiative’s its new incarnation.

Kristol is a prominent board of directors member. His worldview is sinister. It’s dangerous. It threatens humanity. He headlined his Weekly Standard article “From Bad to Worse,” saying:

Assad’s “more firmly in power than before.” Al Qaeda is “stronger.” America “lost credibility.”

Iran and Russia “gained in stature and influence.” An “irresolute president” bears responsibility. So do “shortsighted” congressional representatives.

Syria is “Act One,” said Kristol. “Act Two opens at the United Nations. There, we’ll see (Rohani display) a charm offensive worthy of Richard III.”

Kristol calls him a “veteran deceiver of the West.”

“in response, (Obama) will move on from punting in Syria to appeasing Iran.”

“The diplomatic dance with Iran will be long and complex. But who doubts that the couple will end up where Iran, the leading partner, wants to go?”

Kristol’s one of America’s most vocal imperial proponents. He endorses every war America wages or plans.

He repeats one Big Lie after another doing so. He deplores peace. He thinks it’s sissy. It shows in what he writes, says and promotes.

He does so disgracefully. He’s not alone. Legions of others are like him. They infest Capitol Hill. They dominate administration thinking.

Mainstream media feature their commentaries. They’re regular TV guests. They support wrong over right. They endorse one war after another.

Whether or not humanity survives makes no difference. Advancing America’s imperium alone matters.

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

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

Visit his blog site at

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

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

El gobierno Obama planea una acción militar contra Siria con el pretexto, en absoluto corroborado, de que el gobierno del presidente Bashar al-Assad ordenó utilizar armas químicas en el ataque a un barrio de Damasco el 21 de agosto. El gobierno Obama calificó de “obscenidad moral” el uso de armas químicas, de manera que Estados Unidos tiene una “obligación moral” de castigar al país que las utiliza.

Sin embargo, esa obligación moral no se invoca contra Israel, que tiene el mayor arsenal de armas químicas, biológicas y nucleares de Oriente Próximo y es el único Estado que no ha firmado el Tratado de No Proliferación Nuclear. Como señalaba el lunes pasado [9 de septiembre de 2013] la página web Foreign Policy, Estados Unidos no solo tenido conocimiento durante décadas de las armas químicas de Israel, sino que ha permanecido callado respecto a ello.

Pero Israel no solo posee el mayor arsenal de armas químicas, sino que también lo ha utilizado contra los palestinos en Cisjordania y Gaza, contra Líbano y Gaza durante los ataques militares de 2006 y durante la operación Plomo Fundido contra Gaza en 2008-2009. las pruebas contra Israel eran tan claras que después de negar inicialmente las acusaciones del gobierno libanés, Tel Aviv se vio obligado a admitir que en su guerra contra Líbano de 2006 había utilizado municiones de fósforo blanco, que provocan quemaduras químicas.

Un protocolo de la Convención sobre Armas Convencionales de 1980 prohíbe el uso de fósforo blanco como arma incendiaria contra poblaciones civiles o en ataques aéreos contra fuerzas enemigas en zonas civiles.

Nada de esto ha provocado jamás una palabra de condena por parte de Washington o de los aliados europeos de Israel y mucho menos una petición a Israel de que se libre de sus armas químicas, sanciones o una amenaza de ataque militar para defender a las víctimas del poderío militar de Israel. De hecho, Estados Unidos ha financiado a las fuerzas armadas de Israel con 3.000 millones de dólares al año y el año pasado votó aumentar su apoyo.

En otras palabras, es completamente legítimo para un aliado de Estados Unidos desarrollar, crear u utilizar armas químicas y para Washington seguir financiando la criminalidad de Israel. Esto mismo no es cierto para sus enemigos.

La Convención sobre Armas Químicas de 1993 prohíbe la fabricación, el uso y transporte de estas armas mortíferas, pero no ofrece mecanismos para hacer cumplir estas normas. Esta es una tarea que Estados Unidos, uno de los principales fabricantes, suministradores y usuarios de armas químicas desde la Guerra de Corea en 1950-53 hasta nuestros días, se ha arrogado a sí mismo como gendarme del mundo.

Mientras que 189 Estados han firmando y ratificado esta Convención, Israel la ha firmado pero no ratificado. Israel es uno de los solo siete países, junto con Burma, Angola, Corea del Norte, Egipto, Sudán del Sur y Siria, que o bien no han firmado o no han ratificado el tratado.

Israel tampoco ha firmado la Convención sobre Armas Biológicas de 1972. Su actitud respecto a ambas Convenciones es ambigua.

En 1993 la Oficina del Congreso estadounidense sobre la Evaluación Tecnológica de las Armas de Destrucción Masiva incluyó a Israel en su lista de países que tenían una capacidad de guerra química ofensiva no declarada. Cinco años después Bill Richardson, un ex viceasesor del ministerio de Defensa, afirmó: “No tengo dudas de que Israel lleva tiempo trabajando sobre cuestiones ofensivas tanto químicas como biológicas. No hay dudas de que han tenido este material desde hace años”.

Israel tiene un centro de investigación médica química y biológica, el Instituto para la Investigación Biológica de Israel (IIBR, por sus siglas en inglés) en un emplazamiento de seguridad en Ness Ziona, a 20 kilómetros al sur de Tel Aviv, y otro en Dimona, en el Negev. Se cree que el IIBR, que emplea a cientos de científicos y empleados, ha desarrollado armas químicas y biológicas, pero la censura oficial impide todo tipo de discusión acerca de sus actividades.

Tras la caída en una zona residencial de Amsterdam en 1992 de un avión de [la compañía aérea israelí] El Al que llevaba gas nervioso desde Israel a Estados Unidos el periódico holandés NRC Handelsblad descubrió unas “sólidas relaciones” entre el IIBR y centros de investigación similares en Estados Unidos, una “estrecha cooperación entre el IIBR y el programa de guerra biológica británico-estadounidense” y una “amplia colaboración en investigación sobre guerra biológica con Alemania y Holanda”.

Desde 2001, tras el estallido de la segunda Intifada, ha habido varios incidentes documentados de soldados israelíes que ha utilizado un “gas desconocido” contra palestinos, particularmente durante la campaña de seis semanas de las fuerzas militares israelíes en Gaza.

Daba la casualidad que el conocido director cinematográfico estadounidense James Longley estaba rodando en Gaza, Khan Yunis y Rafah durante la primera incursión importante israelí en la primavera de 2001. Filmó inmediatamente a las víctimas. Su premiado documental, Gaza Strip, muestra de manera muy gráfica la realidad de la guerra química: los botes [de gas], los médicos, los testigos y el espantoso sufrimiento de las víctimas, muchas de las cuales estuvieron hospitalizadas durante varios días o semanas.

Estos ataques continuaron durante varios años. En junio de 2004 el grupo pacifista israelí Gush Shalom documentó un incidente en el pueblo cisjordano de al-Zawiya donde se trató a 130 pacientes por inhalación de gas después de que el ejército israelí dispersara una protesta no violenta contra el Muro de seguridad de Israel. El grupo afirmó que no eran los gases lacrimógenos habituales y preguntaba: “Entonces, ¿se trata de una manera de dispersar una manifestación o de guerra química?”.

Como se difundió la noticia de estos nuevos gases los periodistas internacionales lo investigaron y el canal de televisión BBC hizo un reportaje especial en 2003 sobre el uso por parte de Israel de “nuevas armas no identificadas”. Informó que Israel se negaba a “decir qué era ese nuevo gas”.

Durante el ataque militar de Israel a Gaza en el verano de 2006 los médicos informaron de que decenas de víctimas tenían el cuerpo completamente quemado y heridas tipo de las de metralla que los rayos X no podían detectar.

Prolongadas investigaciones y análisis de las muestras de los metales encontrados en los cuerpos de las víctimas y el examen de las inusuales heridas llevaron a la conclusión de que la causa más probable de estas fueran misiles muy similares a los Explosivos de Metal Inerte Denso (DIME, por sus siglas en inglés) fabricados por Estados Unidos. En otras víctimas se encontraron restos de tungsteno, una sustancia extremadamente cancerígena.

Israel volvió a utilizar armas de fósforo, cuyos efectos son extremadamente dañinos, en los bombardeos aéreos de una semana contra la población civil desarmada e indefensa durante la operación Plomo Fundido en 2008-2009, el mortífero ataque a Gaza que causó entre 1.166 y 1.417 palestinos muertos y solo 13 israelíes muertos, de los cuales cuatro lo fueron por fuego amigo.

El informe de investigación de la ONU, conocido como el Informe Goldstone Report, reiteraba las conclusiones de otros muchos respetados estudios internacionales y confirmaba el uso desproporcionado de fuerza contra los palestinos por parte de Israel y las acusaciones contra Israel y Hamas de crímenes de guerra y “posibles crímenes contra la humanidad”, incluido el uso por parte de Israel de fósforo. En él se dice que las fuerzas israelíes fueron “sistemáticamente temerarias” al utilizar fósforo en zonas urbanizadas y cita el ataque israelí a las instalaciones de la Agencia de la ONU para los Refugiados Palestinos en la ciudad de Gaza y los ataques al Hospital Al Quds y al Hospital Al Wafa.

Lejos de que Israel fuera llevado ante el Tribunal Penal Internacional como resultado del informe, Goldstone y los demás autores del informe fueron objeto de una campaña internacional de acoso, intimidación y vilipendio de la investigación por parte de Israel, lo que llevó a que Goldstone hiciera una complaciente rectificación de sus conclusiones. Pero tres de sus coautores rechazaron las peticiones de retractarse de su informe o de falsear su objetivo afirmando que eso “despreciaría el derecho de las víctimas palestinas e israelíes a la verdad y la justicia”.

El desarrollo por parte de Israel de armas químicas, biológicas y nucleares, unido a sus fuerzas militares vastamente superiores fue lo que llevó Damasco a establecer su propio programa de armas químicas tras la apropiación [por parte de Israel] en 1967 de los Altos de Golan sirios, su subsiguiente anexión y ocupación, y el establecimiento de colonias israelíes habitadas por 20.000 israelíes.

Jean Shaoul


Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos


North Polarization: Oil May Fuel Militarization of the Arctic Region

September 25th, 2013 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Israel’s Chemical Arsenal Under New Scrutiny

September 25th, 2013 by Jonathan Cook

Israeli officials are reported to be increasingly nervous that international efforts to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons might serve as a prelude to demands on Israel to eliminate its own, undeclared weapons of mass destruction.

Israel maintains a posture it terms ‘ambiguity’ on the question of whether it possesses either nuclear or chemical weapons. But Israel is widely believed to have a large arsenal of nuclear bombs, concealed from international scrutiny, and there are strong suspicions that it has secretly developed a chemical weapons programme.

Those concerns intensified following the disclosure this month of a confidential CIA report suggesting that Israel had created a significant stockpile of chemical weapons by the early 1980s. Israel has refused both to sign the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty, covering the regulation of nuclear arms, and to ratify the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, which obligates states to submit to international oversight and destroy chemical agents in their possession.

Over the past few days there have been a series of moves by other states in the Middle East to bring international attention to Israel’s WMD.

Those efforts followed Damascus’ ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention last week and the announcement at the weekend of a timetable agreed by Russia and the United States to disarm Syria of its chemical stockpiles by the middle of next year.

Israel is now one of only six states refusing to implement the convention, along with Egypt, Myanmar, Angola, North Korea and South Sudan. That has prompted concerns that Israel could rapidly become a pariah state on the issue.

The Haaretz daily newspaper reported this week that the prospect of mounting international pressure on Israel to come clean on its WMD was “keeping quite a few top Israeli defence officials awake at night”.

Shlomo Brom, a former Israeli general and now a researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, called Israel’s current policy on chemical weapons “unwise”.

“The reality in the Middle East has changed since Israel refused to ratify the convention. There is no longer a good reason for Israel to remain with the handful of regimes that oppose it.”

This week Arab states submitted a resolution to the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog body, the International Atomic Energy Agency, calling on Israel to place its nuclear facilities under the IAEA’s inspection regime as part of efforts to create a nuclear arms-free zone in the region.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Israel has refused to sign, was drawn up in 1968, the year after Israel is widely believed to have produced its first warhead.

‘Serious measures’

A report on Sunday by two proliferation experts assessed that Israel had built a total of 80 nuclear bombs by 2004, the year it is believed to have halted production. The same report concluded that Israel had stocks of fissile material potentially large enough to double the number of bombs at short notice.

US officials, however, rebuffed the Arab states’s move at IAEA. Joseph Macmanus, the US envoy to the agency, said the resolution “does not advance our shared goal of progress toward a WMD-free zone in the Middle East. Instead, it undermines efforts at constructive dialogue toward that common objective.”

An Egyptian plan laying the groundwork for establishing a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction was sponsored by the US in 2010, over Israel’s opposition. However, Washington announced last year it was postponing action to an unspecified date. Meanwhile, last Sunday, Iran’s foreign ministry urged the international community to “adopt serious measures” to force Israel to back the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Following Syria’s ratification of the convention, its ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, said “the main danger of WMD is the Israeli nuclear arsenal”, adding that Israel possessed chemical weapons but most other states were not prepared to speak about it.

That may yet change. Israeli government officials are said to be worried that the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, could demand ratification from Israel as part of US efforts to clear the Middle East of chemical weapons. “Now, Kerry may say, the US needs Israel’s help by ratifying the treaty prohibiting the use of chemical weapons,” the Haaretz newspaper reported.

According to reports in the Israeli media, Israeli embassies overseas have been issued with guidelines to evade questions posed by journalists and diplomats related to Israeli chemical weapons.

The Israeli defence ministry refused to comment to Al-Jazeera, referring questions to the prime minister’s office. David Baker, a spokesman for Netanyahu, also declined to comment, calling all such discussion “speculation”. He would not say whether Israel had issued guidelines to officials.

In a rare public statement, Amir Peretz, a former defence minister, told Israel Radio this week: “I very much hope and am certain that the international community will not make this a central question and we will maintain the status quo.” Unlike Syria, he said, Israel was a “democratic, responsible regime”.

Uri Avnery, an Israeli journalist and former politician, said Israelis strongly assumed that their country secretly possessed such weapons.”The Israeli government has always maintained that Israel is an exception, that it is a responsible government and therefore does not need to subject itself to international conventions, whether nuclear, biological or chemical. Israelis believe that because of the Holocaust they have a right to extra protection, which in practice means access to every kind of weapon.”

Israel’s secrecy is, in part, motivated by a promise to avoid embarrassing the US by declaring its weapons of mass destruction. Washington would be violating US law by giving Israel the billions of dollars in aid it receives each year if Israel possesses nuclear weapons outside the non-proliferation regime.

Short-sighted position

Calling Israel’s refusal to ratify the chemical weapons convention alongside Syria “a short sighted position of dubious usefulness”, an editorial in the Haaretz said a change of policy would show Israel was “doing its part in the general effort to rid the region of weapons of mass destruction”.

Suspicions that Israel may be hiding a chemical weapons programme have grown following a recent report in Foreign Policy, a US magazine, revealing that US spy satellites located a suspected chemical weapons site in Israel’s Negev desert for the first time in 1982.

A confidential CIA report from 1983 disclosed to the magazine identified “a probable CW [chemical weapon] nerve agent production facility and a storage facility” near the Israeli town of Dimona, itself close to Israel’s nuclear reactor. The magazine said Israel’s chemical industries were also believed to be involved in the production of weapons.

According to intercepts of Israeli military communications made by the US National Security Agency at that time, Israel Air Force bombers had conducted missions simulating chemical weapons bombing runs in the Negev.

The report suggests “several indicators lead us to believe that they have available to them at least persistent and nonpersistent nerve agents, a mustard agent, and several riot-control agents, marched with suitable delivery systems”.

Although it is not possible to know whether the chemical weapons storage site identified by the CIA in the early 1980s still functions, there are indications Israel has continued to work on nerve agents in subsequent years.

Israel is known to have an Institute for Biological Research at Ness Ziona, about 20km south of Tel Aviv, which describes itself as a government research centre. Officially the institute conducts medical and defence research, including helping Israel prepare against the effects of an attack using chemical or biological weapons.

The institute is believed to have secretly developed offensive capabilities too, most famously used in an assassination attempt on a Hamas leader, Khaled Meshal, in Jordan in 1997.

Meshal, who had a toxin sprayed into his ear in a Mossad operation, was only saved because the two agents involved were captured while still in Jordan. Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister then as now, agreed to hand over an antidote in return for the agents’ release.

Experimental weapons

There have been suspicions that Israel used a similarly hard-to-detect toxin in the still-unexplained death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 2004.

The connection between Israel and chemical weapons also surfaced following a crash by a Israeli plane near Amsterdam in 1992.

The Dutch media reported that the El Al plane had been carrying substantial quantities of a major chemical component of sarin, the nerve agent used near Damascus last month for which the Syrian government has been widely blamed. The US company that supplied the chemical said it had been for delivery to the Institute for Biological Research at Ness Ziona.

A spate of reports, including by the BBC, early in the second Palestinian intifada, a decade ago, also accused Israel of using what appeared to be an experimental form of tear gas that led to severe convulsions in many of those who inhaled it.

More recently, Israel’s repeated attacks on Gaza have fuelled claims that it is using Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME) munitions, an experimental weapon not yet covered by international treaties. Its blast causes severe internal damage to victims and leaves traces of carcinogenic metals such as tungsten in the bodies of those who survive.

In winter 2008-09, Israel was also widely criticised for using white phosphorus in built-up areas of Gaza. Although allowed if used to create a smokescreen on the battlefield, white phosphorus is considered a chemical weapon when used in areas where civilians are likely to be present. Burning lumps of the chemical sear through flesh and lungs and are difficult to extinguish.

Under international pressure, the Israeli military promised to end the chemical’s use earlier this year.

The United States: The Nuclear Threat on the Korean Peninsula

September 25th, 2013 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

A Tragedy Our Society Should Never Repeat

Preface: Additional interviews of leading government-affiliated experts concerning the Gulf oil spillhere and here.

As we reported at the time, the EPA allowed BP to dump mass quantities of a highly-toxic chemical into the Gulf of Mexico in order to help BP hide the amount of oil in the Gulf … and to help to cover up what was really going on.

Last month, 60 Minutes made a fantastic exposé on the whole shenanigan.

We contacted Gulf toxicologist Dr. Susan Shaw – Founder and Director of the Marine Environmental Research Institute – for comment.  Background on Dr. Shaw’s involvement with the BP oil spill here and here.

Dr. Shaw told Washington’s Blog:

It was refreshing to see such a strong public statement about what really happened in the Gulf of Mexico.

I was the first scientist to dive in the oil slick after the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010. As a member of DOI’s [the U.S. Department of the Interior's] Strategic Sciences Working Group (SSWG) and a TEDx speaker, I alerted federal agency heads and the public about the combined toxicity of Corexit and oil, and predicted much of the terrible human suffering and environmental damage we are seeing in the Gulf today. The Australian 60 Minutes report takes the viewer up close to the victims, Gulf residents and cleanup workers whose health problems are overwhelming and who will not recover, ever. As a public health professional, I interviewed residents of Grand Isle LA (“ground zero”) and experienced first hand what we now call the “Gulf syndrome” –  they had blinding headaches, memory loss, heart palpitations, internal bleeding, swollen livers, and skin lesions. Some had been sprayed directly with Corexit, often by planes flying at night. One was a 14 year old school girl who had periodic bleeding from her ears. As a scientist, I was stunned at the depth of suffering, the bewilderment, the loss.

Covering up the oil spill with Corexit was a deadly action that resulted in a tragedy our society should never repeat. For the federal government to make Corexit’s application the standard operating procedure for offshore oil spills is unacceptable. It is outrageous.

Below are links to my previous public statements about the danger and the duplicity of using Corexit to contain oil spills. Scientists know very well how toxic the mixture is.What happened in the Gulf was a political act, an act of cowardice and greed. It is time for Americans to know the truth.

Unfortunately, the government has a habit of covering up disasters – including not only oil spills, but everything from nuclear accidents to  financial problems – instead of actually fixing the problems so that they won’t happen again.

Top 45 Lies in Obama’s Speech at UN

September 25th, 2013 by David Swanson

1. President Obama’s opening lines at the U.N. on Tuesday looked down on people who would think to settle disputes with war. Obama was disingenuously avoiding the fact that earlier this month he sought to drop missiles into a country to “send a message” but was blocked by the U.S. Congress, the U.N., the nations of the world, and popular opposition — after which Obama arrived at diplomacy as a last resort.

2. “It took the awful carnage of two world wars to shift our thinking.” Actually, it took one. The second resulted in a half-step backwards in “our thinking.” The Kellogg-Briand Pact banned all war. The U.N. Charter re-legalized wars purporting to be either defensive or U.N.-authorized.

3. “[P]eople are being lifted out of poverty,” Obama said, crediting actions by himself and others in response to the economic crash of five years ago. But downward global trends in poverty are steady and long pre-date Obama’s entry into politics. And such a trend does not exist in the U.S.

4. “Together, we have also worked to end a decade of war,” Obama said. In reality, Obama pushed Iraq hard to allow that occupation to continue, and was rejected just as Congress rejected his missiles-for-Syria proposal. Obama expanded the war on Afghanistan. Obama expanded, after essentially creating, drone wars. Obama has increased global U.S. troop presence, global U.S. weapons sales, and the size of the world’s largest military. He’s put “special” forces into many countries, waged a war on Libya, and pushed for an attack on Syria. How does all of this “end a decade of war”? And how did his predecessor get a decade in office anyway?

5. “Next year, an international coalition will end its war in Afghanistan, having achieved its mission of dismantling the core of al Qaeda that attacked us on 9/11.” In reality, Bruce Riedel, who coordinated a review of Afghanistan policy for President Obama said, “The pressure we’ve put on [jihadist forces] in the past year has also drawn them together, meaning that the network of alliances is growing stronger not weaker.” (New York Times, May 9, 2010.)

6. “We have limited the use of drones.” Bush drone strikes in Pakistan: 51. Obama drone strikes in Pakistan: 323.

7. “… so they target only those who pose a continuing, imminent threat to the United States where capture is not feasible.” On June 7, 2013, Yemeni tribal leader Saleh Bin Fareed told Democracy Nowthat Anwar al Awlaki could have been turned over and put on trial, but “they never asked us.” In numerous other cases it is evident that drone strike victims could have been arrested if that avenue had ever been attempted. A memorable example was the November 2011 drone killing in Pakistan of 16-year-old Tariq Aziz, days after he’d attended an anti-drone meeting in the capital, where he might easily have been arrested — had he been charged with some crime. This weeks drone victims, like all the others, had never been indicted or their arrest sought.

8. “… and there is a near certainty of no civilian casualties.” There are hundreds of confirmed civilian dead from U.S. drones, something the Obama administration seems inclined to keep as quiet as possible.

9. “And the potential spread of weapons of mass destruction casts a shadow over the pursuit of peace.” In reality, President Obama is not pursuing peace or the control of such weapons or their reduction and elimination in all countries, only particular countries. And the United States remains the top possessor of weapons of mass destruction and the top supplier of weapons to the world.

10. “[In Syria, P]eaceful protests against an authoritarian regime were met with repression and slaughter. … America and others have worked to bolster the moderate opposition.” In fact, the United States has armed a violent opposition intent on waging war and heavily influenced if not dominated by foreign fighters and fanatics.

11. “[T]he regime used chemical weapons in an attack that killed more than 1,000 people, including hundreds of children.” Maybe, but where’s the evidence? Even Colin Powell brought (faked) evidence.

12. “How should we respond to conflicts in the Middle East?” This suggests that the United States isn’tcausing conflicts in the Middle East or aggravating them prior to altering its position and “responding.” In fact, arming and supporting brutal governments in Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Israel, etc., is behavior that could do a great deal of good simply by ceasing.

13. “How do we address the choice of standing callously by while children are subjected to nerve gas, or embroiling ourselves in someone else’s civil war?” That isn’t a complete list of choices, as Obama discovered when Russia called Kerry’s bluff and diplomacy became a choice, just as disarmament and de-escalation and pressure for a ceasefire are choices. Telling Saudi Arabia “Stop arming the war in Syria or no more cluster bombs for you,” is a choice.

14. “What is the role of force in resolving disputes that threaten the stability of the region and undermine all basic standards of civilized conduct?” Force doesn’t have a role in civilized conduct, the most basic standard of which is relations without the use of force.

15. “[T]he international community must enforce the ban on chemical weapons.” Except against Israel or the United States.

16. “… and Iranians poisoned in the many tens of thousands.” This was good of Obama to recognize Iran’s suffering, but it would have been better of him to recall where Iraq acquired some of its weapons of mass destruction.

17. “It is an insult to human reason — and to the legitimacy of this institution — to suggest that anyone other than the regime carried out this attack.” Really? In the absence of evidence, skepticism isn’t reasonable for this Colin-Powelled institution, the same U.N. that was told Libya would be a rescue and watched it become a war aimed at illegally overthrowing a government? Trust us?

18. “Now, there must be a strong Security Council Resolution to verify that the Assad regime is keeping its commitments, and there must be consequences if they fail to do so.” Meaning war? What about the U.N.’s commitment to oppose war? What about the United States’ violation of its commitments to destroy the chemical weapons sitting in Kentucky and Colorado? “Consequences” for the U.S. too?

19. “I do not believe that military action — by those within Syria, or by external powers — can achieve a lasting peace.” Yet, the U.S. government is shipping weapons into that action.

20. “Nor do I believe that America or any nation should determine who will lead Syria … Nevertheless, a leader who slaughtered his citizens and gassed children to death cannot regain the legitimacy to lead a badly fractured country.” The Syrians should decide their own fate as long as they decide it the way I tell them to.

21. “[N]or does America have any interest in Syria beyond the well-being of its people, the stability of its neighbors, the elimination of chemical weapons, and ensuring it does not become a safe-haven for terrorists.” That’s funny. Elsewhere, you’ve said that weakening Syria would weaken Iran.

22. “[W]e will be providing an additional $340 million [for aid].” And vastly more for weapons.

23. “We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world. Although America is steadily reducing our own dependence on imported oil…” That first remarkably honest sentence is only honest if you don’t think about what “free flow” means. The second sentence points to a real, if slow, trend but obscures the fact that only 40% of the oil the U.S. uses comes from the U.S., which doesn’t count much of the oil the U.S. military uses while “ensuring the free flow.” Nor is switching to small domestic supplies a long-term solution as switching to sustainable energy would be.

24. “But when it’s necessary to defend the United States against terrorist attacks, we will take direct action.” In Libya? Syria? Where does this make any sense, as U.S. actions generate rather than eliminate terrorism? Michael Boyle, part of Obama’s counter-terrorism group during his 2008 election campaign, says the use of drones is having “adverse strategic effects that have not been properly weighed against the tactical gains associated with killing terrorists … . The vast increase in the number of deaths of low-ranking operatives has deepened political resistance to the US programme in Pakistan, Yemen and other countries.” (The Guardian, January 7, 2013.) Why is Canada not obliged to bomb the world to “defend against terrorist attacks”?

25. “Just as we consider the use of chemical weapons in Syria to be a threat to our own national security …” We who? How? Congress just rejected this ludicrous claim. Ninety percent of this country laughed at it.

26. “[W]e reject the development of nuclear weapons that could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region, and undermine the global non-proliferation regime.” By Israel which has done this, or by Iran which all evidence suggests has not?

27. “We deeply believe it is in our interest to see a Middle East and North Africa that is peaceful and prosperous,” we just choose to work against that deep belief and to sell or give vast quantities of weapons to brutal dictatorships and monarchies.

28. “Iraq shows us that democracy cannot be imposed by force.” This could have been true had the U.S. attempted to impose democracy.

29. “Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.” Iran’s what?

30. “Arab-Israeli conflict.” That’s a misleading way of naming the conflict between the government of Israel and the people it ethnically cleanses, occupies, and abuses — including with chemical weapons.

31. “[A]n Iranian government that has … threatened our ally Israel with destruction.” It hasn’t. And piling up the lies about Iran will make Iran less eager to talk. Just watch.

32. “We are not seeking regime change.” That’s not what Kerry told Congress, in between telling Congress just the opposite. Also, see above in this same speech: “a leader who slaughtered his citizens and gassed children to death cannot regain the legitimacy….”

33. “We insist that the Iranian government meet its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and UN Security Council resolutions.” Among Iran, the U.S., and Israel, it’s Iran that seems to be complying.

34. “We are encouraged that President Rouhani received from the Iranian people a mandate to pursue a more moderate course.” More moderate than what? Threatening to destroy Israel and creating nukes?

35. “[T]heir own sovereign state.” There’s nowhere left for Palestine to create such a separate state.

36. “Israel’s security as a Jewish and democratic state.” Both, huh?

37. “When peaceful transitions began in Tunisia and Egypt … we chose to support those who called for change” … the minute everyone else was dead, exiled, or imprisoned.

38. “[T]rue democracy as requiring a respect for minority rights, the rule of law, freedom of speech and assembly, and a strong civil society. That remains our interest today.” Just not in our own country and certainly not in places that buy some of the biggest piles of our weapons.

39. “But we will not stop asserting principles that are consistent with our ideals, whether that means opposing the use of violence as a means of suppressing dissent,” and if you don’t believe me, ask the Occupy movement — Happy Second Birthday, you guys!  I SHUT YOU DOWN, bwa ha ha ha ha.

40. “This includes efforts to resolve sectarian tensions that continue to surface in places like Iraq, Syria and Bahrain.” One liberated, one targeted, and one provided with support and weaponry and former U.S. police chiefs to lead the skull cracking.

41. “[A] vacuum of leadership that no other nation is ready to fill.” All criminal outrages should have a vacuum of leadership. “Who would bomb countries if we don’t do it?” is the wrong question.

42. “Some may disagree, but I believe that America is exceptional — in part because we have shown a willingness, through the sacrifice of blood and treasure, to stand up not only for our own narrow self-interest, but for the interests of all.” When was that? The United States certainly comes in at far less than exceptional in terms of per-capita humanitarian aid.  Its humanitarian bombing that Obama has in mind, but it’s never benefitted humanity.

43. “And in Libya, when the Security Council provided a mandate to protect civilians, America joined a coalition that took action. Because of what we did there, countless lives were saved, and a tyrant could not kill his way back to power.” The White House claimed that Gaddafi had threated to massacre the people of Benghazi with “no mercy,” but the New York Times reported that Gaddafi’s threat was directed at rebel fighters, not civilians, and that Gaddafi promised amnesty for those “who throw their weapons away.” Gaddafi also offered to allow rebel fighters to escape to Egypt if they preferred not to fight to the death. Yet President Obama warned of imminent genocide. What Gaddafi really threatened fits with his past behavior. There were other opportunities for massacres had he wished to commit massacres, in Zawiya, Misurata, or Ajdabiya. He did not do so. After extensive fighting in Misurata, a report by Human Rights Watch made clear that Gaddafi had targeted fighters, not civilians. Of 400,000 people in Misurata, 257 died in two months of fighting. Out of 949 wounded, less than 3 percent were women. More likely than genocide was defeat for the rebels, the same rebels who warned Western media of the looming genocide, the same rebels who the New York Times said “feel no loyalty to the truth in shaping their propaganda” and who were “making vastly inflated claims of [Gaddafi's] barbaric behavior.” The result of NATO joining the war was probably more killing, not less. It certainly extended a war that looked likely to end soon with a victory for Gaddafi.

44. “Libya would now be engulfed in civil war and bloodshed.” No, the war was ending, and Libya ISengulfed in bloodshed. In March 2011, the African Union had a plan for peace in Libya but was prevented by NATO, through the creation of a “no fly” zone and the initiation of bombing, to travel to Libya to discuss it. In April, the African Union was able to discuss its plan with Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi, and he expressed his agreement. NATO, which had obtained a U.N. authorization to protect Libyans alleged to be in danger but no authorization to continue bombing the country or to overthrow the government, continued bombing the country and overthrowing the government.

45. [S]overeignty cannot be a shield for tyrants to commit wanton murder.”  Says a man who reads through a list of potential murder victims on Tuesdays and ticks off the ones he wants murdered.

Federal prosecutors told a court hearing Monday that they would go ahead with an October 31 deadline for recommending whether accused Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should face the death penalty if convicted.

Representatives of US Attorney Carmen Ortiz rejected appeals from defense attorneys for a further delay in the process of determining whether Tsarnaev would face the death penalty. A previous deadline of July 26 was extended after the defense argued that prosecutors had failed to make full disclosure of documents.

Though there is no death penalty in the state of Massachusetts, where the trial is being held, Tsarnaev faces the possibility of capital charges under federal law. US Attorney General Eric Holder will make the final decision, once federal prosecutors submit their recommendation.

Tsarnaev was indicted on 45 state and federal charges pertaining to the events last April 15, which killed 3 and injured over 260 people. Seventeen of the 30 federal charges could carry the death penalty.

Defense attorneys have not yet been able to make a submission on the death penalty issue, and complained that the failure of the prosecution to submit documents had delayed their response.

“It’s pretty stunning to say they can make a decision based on what they know without any defense input,” stated Judy Clarke, one of the defendant’s representatives, adding that “[w]e’re really talking about a number of things here, including fairness.”

The new deadline for submission currently stands at October 24, with prosecuting attorney’s submitting their recommendation to Federal authorities by October 31, after which Holder will have 90 days to decide whether to seek capital punishment in the case.

The defense submitted a memo regarding the 2008 Criminal Justice Act (CJA), which lays out certain guidelines regarding disclosure of evidence for all parties when the death penalty is under discussion, and demanded that it be allowed to review all documents beforehand.

The prosecution rejected this, insisting that all decision-making powers lay in the hands of the Attorney General and that the law “confers no authority on this Court to set deadlines for internal Department of Justice deliberative procedures… A defendant has no rights under the CJA Guidelines because they are… nonbinding.”

The prosecution insisted further that the insertion of guidelines into the process represented a violation of the separation of powers, and that the six months which Tsarnaev had remained in custody represented a “reasonable time” for the defense to formulate a challenge to a possible death penalty decision.

That Holder now presides over the potential implementation of the death penalty without admitting a challenge by the defense represents an affront to basic democratic rights. It is typical of the US attorney general, who has openly defended President Obama’s supposed “right” to carry out unmanned drone strikes on the population, including inside the United States.

The potential execution of Tsarnaev is of a piece with the whitewash character of the official response to the April 15 bombing. Dead men tell no tales.

It has already been established that federal authorities had contact with the older of the Tsarnaev brothers, Tamerlan, who was killed in a shootout with police after the bombing. As early as 2011, Tamerlan had been placed under investigation by FBI officials due to memos sent by Russian intelligence agencies warning of the latter’s Islamic fundamentalist activities.

This investigation was later abandoned, with no “derogatory” findings being produced, and Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen by birth, was allowed to return to the Northern Caucasus region where he reportedly spent six months establishing contact with Islamic separatist movements.

Federal investigators and the media have virtually suppressed reports of the well-established links between the Tsarnaev’s uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, and the CIA. Tsarni worked closely with Graham Fuller, a high-ranking CIA veteran, to set up a support group for Chechen nationalist guerrillas, and was married to Fuller’s daughter.

Similarly, federal authorities have never provided a plausible explanation for the May 22 killing of Ibragim Todashev, an acquaintance of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, shot in his home in Florida while being questioned by FBI agents about his knowledge of the Boston events.

Obama at the UN: A Defense of Unilateral Aggression

September 25th, 2013 by Bill Van Auken

US President Barack Obama delivered his fifth address to an opening session of the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday, mixing sanctimonious rhetoric about democracy and humanitarianism with naked threats of US military aggression.

While the media obsessed over whether the US president would stage a handshake with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani—a meaningless gesture that the Iranians reportedly rejected—the real content of Obama’s 50-minute address was the elaboration of a foreign policy doctrine under which Washington arrogates to itself the right to militarily intervene in the Middle East as it sees fit to protect its “core interests.”

The speech made clear that the “turn to diplomacy” in relation to both Syria and Iran represents not some fundamental turn away from the predatory policy pursued by US imperialism in the region through the wars of the last decade, but rather a tactical shift imposed upon the Obama administration by the emergence of overwhelming and unanticipated popular hostility to yet another war of aggression in the Middle East.

This political reversal accounts for the decidedly defensive, at times self-pitying tone of Obama’s address, which was replete with complaints about Washington being maligned and misunderstood.

Before concentrating on the targets for imminent US aggression—Syria and Iran—Obama claimed credit for creating a “more stable” world during his five years in the White House. He pointed to the withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq—forced upon Washington by Iraq’s refusal to sign an agreement granting US forces immunity for war crimes—and the impending end of the war in Afghanistan, where the Pentagon is planning to leave up to 20,000 troops and maintain permanent bases.

He boasted that his administration had “limited the use of drones so they target only those who pose a continuing imminent threat” and to where “there’s a near-certainty of no civilian casualties.” This is nonsense. In Pakistan alone, it is estimated that more than 2,500 people have been killed in drone strikes, most of them civilians and the vast majority under Obama. The US president’s emergence as “assassin-in-chief,” ordering remote-control murders, is the starkest manifestation of US imperialism’s global criminality.

The US president also took credit for “working diligently to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay,” which remains open nearly five years after he promised to close it, with detainees subjected to the torture of forced feeding and men the CIA tortured being placed on trial for their lives before military tribunals.

In spite of these supposed conquests for peace and stability, Obama acknowledged that “dangers remain,” including Al Qaeda terror attacks, sectarian conflict and “the potential spread of weapons of mass destruction.” All of these trends, he claimed, converged most powerfully in Syria.

No one would suspect from the US president’s remarks that Washington is employing and arming Al Qaeda in Syria, as it did in Libya in 2011, as a proxy force in a war for regime change, or that it has deliberately stoked sectarianism, together with its reactionary Arab allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar, for the same purpose.

The US president reiterated his unsubstantiated claims that the regime of Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the August 21 chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus and defended his “willingness to order a limited strike” on Syria, because of his determination that it was “in the national security interests of the United States.”

While claiming that evidence of the regime’s guilt in the August 21 incident was “overwhelming,” Obama offered no explanation of why Washington has refused to present its proof to the United Nations. Both the Syrian regime and Russia have charged that US-backed “rebels” staged the attack in order to blame it on the regime and provoke a US military intervention.

Chiding Russia for its opposition to a unilateral and illegal US war on Syria, Obama stated: “We’re no longer in a cold war. There’s no great game to be won, nor does America have any interest in Syria beyond the well-being of its people.”

There is a long history of the US bombing people for their own “well-being.” That other interests underlie these interventions goes without saying. Obama’s reference to the “great game”—the term used to describe the rivalry between British imperialism and the Russian empire over dominance in Central Asia—is telling. Precisely such predatory aims are involved in Syria, where Washington seeks to overthrow the Assad regime and replace it with a puppet government, as a means of isolating and weakening Iran, which it sees as a rival for hegemony in the energy-rich and strategically vital regions of the Persian Gulf and Central Asia.

Obama insisted that the deal reached between Washington and Moscow on the chemical disarmament of the Syrian regime be backed up with a “strong Security Council resolution” with “consequences” for Syria if it fails to meet the timetable set for destroying the weapons. Washington and its allies are pushing for a Chapter 7 resolution that would authorize military force. Russia has insisted it will veto any such measure.

“If we cannot agree even on this,” Obama said, “then it will show that the United Nations is incapable of enforcing the most basic of international laws.” This is pretense he intends to use for justifying a unilateral US military attack.

Much of the rest of Obama’s speech dealt with Iran and unsubstantiated US allegations that it is developing nuclear weapons. Despite his statement that “the diplomatic path must be tested” in US-Iran relations, Obama’s remarks consisted largely of ultimatums to Tehran, the implicit threat of military force and no concrete offer to lift the decades of US-driven sanctions that Rouhani in his own speech to the General Assembly described as “violent—pure and simple,” adding, “It is the common people who are victimized by these sanctions.”

At the heart of Obama’s speech, and belying all its democratic and humanitarian blather, was a blunt definition of “US policy toward the Middle East and North Africa.”

“The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure our core interests in the region,” he said. First and foremost among these interests was “the free flow of energy from the region.” He also listed terrorism and weapons of mass destruction—the phony pretexts for the US invasion of Iraq—adding that “wherever possible” Washington would “respect the sovereignty of nations,” and wherever not, “we will take direct action.”

That Washington’s militarist policy is stated so nakedly before the United Nations is one more indication of the uncontrolled eruption of American imperialism and the growing danger that US threats against Syria and Iran could turn into a regional war and even a global conflagration.

Obama included a rhetorical barb aimed at Russian President Vladimir Putin, who criticized him for declaring in his speech on Syria earlier this month that Washington’s propensity to act militarily wherever it sees fit is what makes the US an “exceptional” nation.

“I believe America is exceptional,” Obama declared Tuesday. “In part because we have shown a willingness through the sacrifice of blood and treasure to stand up not only for our own narrow self-interest, but for the interest of all.”

Aside from the self-serving contention that Washington’s unending military interventions—from Somalia to the Balkans, Haiti, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and Central Africa and elsewhere in the past two decades alone—are in the “interest of all,” this use of the term American exceptionalism betrays a historical ignorance that is unintentionally revealing.

Historically, this claim of “exceptionalism” was developed by bourgeois historians and sociologists to explain why, America, as opposed to the nations of “old Europe,” did not see the emergence of a mass socialist movement in the working class. This was attributed largely to the absence of a feudal past and an entrenched nobility, abundant natural resources and a political tradition that extolled egalitarianism. All of these supposedly contributed to the absence of the stark social inequality and class polarization that existed elsewhere.

Now, America’s “exceptionalism” is invoked not to praise American wealth and democratic institutions, but to justify American militarism—the means by which US imperialism increasingly seeks to offset its relative economic decline. This testifies to the depth of its political crisis, and the revolutionary implications of the sweeping changes in social relations during the past 35 years, which have turned the US into one of the most socially unequal nations on the planet.

Neither the media nor anyone in his UN audience paid attention to the opening of Obama’s remarks, in which he proclaimed the success of “efforts to recover” from the 2008 financial meltdown. “Today, jobs are being created, global financial systems have stabilized and people are once again being lifted out of poverty,” he proclaimed.

In fact, the current “recovery” is a success largely for the top 1 percent, which according to a recent report accounted for 95 percent of all increases in income between 2009 and 2012. At the same time, the latest Census survey shows average household incomes falling to the lowest level in a quarter of a century. Fully one-third of the American population fell into poverty at some point during the same period.

Mother Agnes Mariam de  la Croix, author of the controversial ISTEAMS Report

The chemical attacks which took place in East Ghouta on August 21, 2013 could be the most horrific false flag operation in history.

To date, available evidence indicates that numerous children were killed by “opposition rebels”, their bodies manipulated and filmed with a view to blaming the Syrian government for the attacks, thus sparking outrage and galvanizing worldwide public opinion in favor of another bloody, imperial US-led war.

While confirming the use of chemical weapons against civilians, the UN report has failed to identify the authors of the attacks:

Instead of a non-politicized investigation and lab analysis, the UN investigation of alleged nerve-gas attacks inside Syria was led by Professor Ake Sellstrom, a man of mystery who keeps a veil of secrecy around his research and political-military relationships…

This cosmetic veneer of Swedish neutrality has been deftly exploited by Israel and NATO to perpetrate falsehoods throughout Sellstrom’s work for the UN, including denial of the chemical-and-biological causes for “Gulf War Syndrome” and the shipments of U.S. chemical weapons to the Saddam Hussein regime…

What is publicly known about Sellstrom is that the biochemist heads the European CBRNE Center [Center for advanced Studies of Societal Security and Vulnerability, in particular major incidents with (C)hemical, (B)iological, (R)adiological, (N)uclear and (E)xplosive substances], at Umea University in northern Sweden, which is sponsored by the Swedish Defense Ministry (FOI)…

Umea University is deeply involved in joint research with Technion (Israel Institute of Technology), the Haifa-based university that provides state-of-art technology to the Israel Defense Force (IDF) and its intelligence agencies. Several departments, which are involved in joint Israeli research, participate in multidisciplinary studies at Sellstrom’s CBRNE center…

American ambassador to the UN Samantha Power made emphatically clear that the “nerve gas used in Syria was more concentrated than the nerve gas in Iraq.” Her statement should be rephrased as: “Saddam may have trans-shipped U.S.-supplied nerve gas into Syria, but it wasn’t our nerve gas used against Syrian civilians.”

That is the essential point of the Sellstrom report: To take Washington off the hook for being the major supplier of nerve gas precursors, formulations, delivery technology and storage systems to the Middle East, including Israel, Egypt, Libya, Iraq and very possibly Syria (during the Clinton era of good will).

The UN report of chemical weapons on Syria lacks basic credibility due to the duplicitous record of its chief inspector, Ake Sellstrom, who is politically and financially compromised at every level. (Yoichi Shimatsu, The Sellstrom Report: The United Nations’ Syria Inspector Shills for NATO and Israel)

A day before the release of the UN Mission report, another carefully documented report by Mother Agnes Mariam de la Croix and the International Support Team for Mussalaha in Syria (ISTEAMS) was released with minimal media coverage.  (To read the full report in pdf click here large pdf slow download)

Its findings are unequivocal: the videos used by the US and its allies as evidence to blame the Syrian government were staged.

The study says:

From the moment when some families of abducted children contacted us to inform us that they recognized the children among those who are presented in the videos as victims of the Chemical Attacks of East Ghouta, we decided to examine the videos thoroughly…

Our first concern was the fate of the children we see in the footages.  Those angels are always alone in the hands of adult males that seem to be elements of armed gangs. The children that trespassed remain without their families and unidentified all the way until they are wrapped in the white shrouds of the burial. Moreover our study highlights without any doubt that their little bodies were manipulated and disposed with theatrical arrangements to figure in the screening.

If the studied footages were edited and published to exhibit pieces of evidence to accuse the Syrian State of perpetrating the chemical attacks on East Ghouta, our discoveries incriminate the editors and actors of forged facts through a lethal manipulation of unidentified children. (Mother Agnes Mariam de la Croix and the International Support Team for Mussalaha in Syria (ISTEAMS), The Chemical Attacks in East Ghouta Used to Justify a Military Intervention in Syria)

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya who examined the report writes:

The independent ISTEAMS study contradicts the assertions of the Obama Administration and the entire US Intelligence Community […] through simple observations of the video material that has been put forward as evidence by the United States.

The ISTEAMS report does not deny that chemical weapons were used or that innocent Syrians have been killed. What the study does is logically point out through its observations that there is empirical evidence that the sample of videos that the US Intelligence Community has analyzed and nominated as authentic footage has been stage-managed.  This is an important finding, because it refutes the assertions of the representatives of the US Intelligence agencies who testified that the videos they authenticated provide evidence that a chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government took place in East Ghouda. (Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Look With Your Own Eyes: The Videos of the Chemical Attacks in Syria Show Tampered Scenes)

A lot of things do not add up in the footage presented by the US government.

 The same little boy in red is in two different locations

At least nine of these children appear in different footage from different locations

 A little boy that appears in two different videos with two different scenarios

Among a series of important findings, the ISTEAMS report notes that even though the attacks are said to have killed up to 1400 people, mostly children appear in the videos and several corpses are shown in different videos said to have been shot in various locations.

While this report seriously challenges the assertion that the Syrian government was behind the attacks, it was not covered by the Western mainstream media, toeing the imperial line and parroting Washington’s claims, which still lack evidence and credibility.

In addition, some controversy arose pertaining to allegations that the rebels were responsible for the attacks and used chemical weapons provided by Saudi intelligence. Dale Gavlak, the co-author of an article containing these allegations, now wants to dissociate herself from the article and is facing threats. Her career is in jeopardy:

The MintPress article, published on 29th August, through interviews with rebels, family members, and villagers in Eastern Ghouta, alleges that elements within the opposition were responsible for the alleged chemical weapons attack on 21st August, and that those chemical munitions had been supplied through Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan…

Dale is under mounting pressure for writing this article by third parties. She notified MintPress editors and myself on August 30th and 31st via email and phone call, that third parties were placing immense amounts of pressure on her over the article and were threatening to end her career over it. She went on to tell us that she believes this third party was under pressure from the head of the Saudi Intelligence Prince Bandar himself, who is alleged in the article of supplying the rebels with chemical weapons.

On August 30th, Dale asked MintPress to remove her name completely from the byline because she stated that her career and reputation was at risk. She continued to say that these third parties were demanding her to disassociate herself from the article or these parties would end her career. On August 31st, I notified Dale through email that I would add a clarification that she was the writer and researcher for the article and that Yahya [Ababneh] was the reporter on the ground, but did let Gavlak know that we would not remove her name as this would violate the ethics of journalism. (Phil Greaves, Syria: Controversy surrounding MintPress Chemical Weapons Ghouta Report)

The information according to which Saudi intelligence was allegedly implicated in the Ghouta chemical attacks was mentioned by a UN official who wished to remain anonymous:

A senior United Nations official who deals directly with Syrian affairs has told Al-Akhbar that the Syrian government had no involvement in the alleged Ghouta chemical weapons attack: “Of course not, he (President Bashar al-Assad) would be committing suicide.”

When asked who he believed was responsible for the use of chemical munitions in Ghouta, the UN official, who would not permit disclosure of his identity, said:“Saudi intelligence was behind the attacks and unfortunately nobody will dare say that.” The official claims that this information was provided by rebels in Ghouta…

The UN official’s accusations mirror statements made earlier this year by another senior UN figure Carla del Ponte, who last May told Swiss TV in the aftermath of alleged CW attacks in Khan al-Asal, Sheik Maqsood and Saraqeb that there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof,” that rebels had carried out the attack. Del Ponte also observed that UN inspectors had seen no evidence of the Syrian army using chemical weapons, but added that further investigation was necessary. (Sharmine Narwani and Radwan Mortada, Questions Plague UN Syria Report. Who was behind the East Ghouta Chemical Weapons Attack?)

All of the above leads us to believe that this attack was one of the most horrific crimes committed in modern history, a diabolical staged operation which consisted in killing small children, producing fake video footage and photo ops of the corpses, all of which was intended to fabricate a pretext for military intervention under a humanitarian mandate.

The mainstream media which has obfuscated these crimes bear a heavy burden of responsibility. The New York Times has smeared the findings of Mother Agnes and her team, accusing her of “defending the regime” and “playing the Christian card”.  The NYT casually dismisses the evidence that the videos are fake. Read the ISTEAMS Report and then judge for yourself.

The war criminals who designed and launched this diabolical staged operation must face justice.

Procedures in the United Nations Security Council directed against the Syrian government  must be suspended.

We invite our readers to consult the ISTEAMS Report, as well as the following GR articles and video production: Please share these articles  and the ISTEAMS report!

GRTV VIDEO: How the Syrian Chemical Weapons Videos Were Staged By James Corbett, Mother Agnes Mariam, and Prof Michel Chossudovsky, September 19, 2013


The Full ISTeam Report The Chemical Attacks in East Ghouta Used to Justify a Military Intervention in Syria, Mother Agnes Mariam and the International Support Team for Mussalaha in Syria (ISTEAMS), Geneva, 15 September 2013  [pdf slow download]

The Chemical Attacks in East Ghouta Used to Justify a Military Intervention in Syria By Mother Agnes Mariam, September 16, 2013

One Nun Puts the US Intel Community to Shame Over “Stage-Managed” Syria Footage By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, September 24, 2013

Syria: Fabricating Chemical Lies. Who is Behind the East Ghouta Attacks? By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, September 17, 2013

The Sellstrom Report: The United Nations’ Syria Inspector Shills for NATO and Israel By Yoichi Shimatsu, September 18, 2013

The Syria Chemical Weapons Attack: Human Rights Watch is Manipulating the Facts By Richard Lightbown, September 24, 2013

Saudi Arabia’s “Chemical Bandar” behind the Chemical Attacks in Syria? By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, September 06, 2013

Syria: Controversy surrounding MintPress Chemical Weapons Ghouta Report By Phil Greaves, September 22, 2013

 The war criminal barack obama has declared his “outrage” over the 62 deaths associated with the takeover of a Nairobi, Kenya, shopping mall by al-Shabaab fighters.  But the attack on the shopping mall was obama’s fault.  Al Shabaab spokesmen said that the attack on the Nairobi mall was a retaliatory response to the Kenyan troops sent to fight against them in Somalia.  The Kenyan troops, of course, were sent to Somalia as a result of pressure from Washington. 

Just as the outbreak of violence in Mali resulted from the fighters that obama used against Gaddafi moving into Mali, Washington’s violence against Somalia has resulted in the terrorist attack on the Nairobi mall.  

This fact again raises the never asked question:  What is the real agenda of Washington’s “war on terror”?  The western presstitutes never ask this question, nor do western legislative bodies.  

Washington has offered a variety of justifications for its twelve years of wars. One is that

Washington is rooting out terrorism in order to protect Americans from 9/11 type events.  Another is that “dictators” must be overthrown and replaced with “freedom and democracy.”  Still another is false claims of the possession of “weapons of mass destruction” (Iraq) and the use of “weapons of mass destruction” (Syria).  

None of Washington’s claims can withstand the barest scrutiny.  None of the governments that Washington has overthrown and seeks to overthrow are terrorist states.  Indeed, some are not even Islamist governments. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had a secular government, as does Assad’s Syria.

Washington’s explanations for murdering Pakistanis and Yemenis with drones are even more nebulous.  Moreover, using military means to kill citizens of countries with which the US is not at war lacks all legality.

When obama gets on the moral high horse about deaths in Syria or Nairobi, his hypocrisy is astounding. A person would think obama would be ashamed.  The Egyptian military, which is financed with $2 billion annually from Washington, has just overthrown the first elected president in Egypt’s history, banned the political party that Egyptians elected to power, and confiscated the political party’s assets, money, and buildings. 

The Washington sponsored Egyptian military shot down in the streets many more Egyptians protesting the overthrow of their government by a military coup than died in the Nairobi mall. But we hear nothing from Washington or obama about the need to support democracy in Egypt.

When the British Parliament voted down providing cover for obama’s criminal attack on Syria, Parliament created space for Russia’s President Putin to resolve the Syrian situation by obtaining Syrian President Assad’s agreement to join the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and to turn over all Syrian chemical weapons to an international body.  

The war monger obama regime was outraged that Washington’s military attack on Syria had been blocked.  Washington and the Israel Lobby went into full scale demonization of President Putin for orchestrating peace instead of war. The obama regime is trying to block the agreement by insisting on incorporating into the UN resolution an opportunity for attacking Syria if Washington is not convinced that all chemical weapons are turned over.  

The entire world knows that Washington will again lie through its teeth, assert that all the weapons were not turned over and use the wedge that Washington is attempting to force into the UN resolution to start another war.  Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has publicly stated that Washington is trying to blackmail Russia into accepting the potential for military intervention in Syria as part of the agreement.  

 Until the 21st century, Washington carried out its relentless nefarious activities against other peoples and countries under cover and out of sight.  In the 21st century the criminal bush and obama regimes have brazenly demonstrated their disregard for US law, international law, and human rights. 

Hubris and arrogance have run away with the “superpower.”  The US stands reviled by the world. At the UN summit on September 23, the president of Brazil denounced the obama regime for its “breach of international law” revealed by the spy scandal. Bolivian President Evo Morales is filing a lawsuit against the obama regime for “crimes against humanity.”

When the world looks at Washington, it cannot differentiate Washington from the dictatorships that Washington attributes to other countries. The Washington regime has declared that it is above both law and Constitution and possesses the power to detain citizens indefinitely and to murder them without due process of law.  These powers comprise the necessary and sufficient conditions for dictatorship. 

Who will liberate Americans from Washington’s tyranny, overthrow the executive branch dictatorship, and bring freedom and democracy to America?

Shamus Cooke (2) appears to have triggered a discussion in the pages of Counterpunch, inducing France-based, American journalist Ms Johnstone (1) to register a reply to the readers and Mr Cooke(3). Nonetheless it seems to me that there is some useful critical energy to be expended between the edge of the grand precipice and the flowing Colorado below. Despite the predilections of the US government for chemicals, chemo-therapy will not extinguish capitalism and there is no wonder drug to immunise against the “Israel lobby”.

Ms Johnstone is correct that waging opposition to “capitalism” is about or even more futile than waging opposition to Christianity under the rule of the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. We can also see that even then the Reformation did not rid us of the Church or all the viciousness it propagated.

However, I do believe that Americans not only have to confront the named Israel lobby but their own deep ideological affinity with the claim to be the “new Jerusalem” or “new Eden”. There is an interim stage of consciousness required so to speak. Humanitarian interventionism, a reincarnation of Leopold’s Congo mythology, is so pleasing to the Left– esp. the American and pro-American “Left” because it is wholly coherent with the imperial ideology upon which the USA itself is based– regardless of its capitalist cosmology.

If Syria’s Ba’ath nationalism is really some form of Arab capitalism and not derived from socialism as it was defined by its founders, the fact that Syria and countries of its size do not dominate world “markets” or seem to share this aspiration and that we do not find African imperial relics in Europe and North America except as the residue of African slavery ought to mean that there is something about American “salvationism” which transcends the economic system analysis that is so rightly considered only part of the problem.

It seems to me that it would be an enormous leap in American consciousness were the bulk of its citizens to learn that not only the US is entitled to sovereignty and its prerogatives. Nearly every piece I have read about Syria treats the problem as if it were a “special of the day” instead of the slow result of policy going back to 1967!

When Marx and later Lukacs wrote about “commodity fetishism” they may or may not have been talking about jeans and CocaCola. However, the American expectation that their way of life (esp. as mythologised by the Committee on Public Information, aka as Creel Committee, under Woodrow Wilson) is the only way and that fundamental freedoms begin and end with access to US standards of consumption (and obesity) is an even more fundamental attitude in the base support lent by the US population for the most egregious violations of sovereignty, human rights and world peace for which they are willing to pay homage every four years by electing some clown to the pontificate of the Potomac.

There are many who may disagree with the assertion that America itself is a religion armed with the most technologically advanced prosyletisers on the planet. However, not only did Tocqueville but early political exiles to the US, like Carl Schurz and Mathilde Anneke all found that political action was hopelessly hindered by an almost subservient attitude of Americans toward their clergy. Europeans who had suffered for centuries under clerical despotism could not grasp how Americans were willing to trust political authority to “Pfaffen”.

Americanist antipathy toward Roman Catholicism in the late 19th century was not an objection to religious control of politics but to the influence of Southern Europeans, Irish (as Theodore Allen pointed out, North America’s first slaves), and other people’s priests.

Today’s rabid reactions to fundamentalist Islam are not only hypocritical in a country which is still unable to outlaw lynching or prevent bombings of women’s health clinics. Their malignancy exceeds mere bigotry and ignorance. The founder of Wahibism– the Islamic sect favoured by the house of Saud– was born more than 50 years after Cotton Mather, the staunch witch-burner who along with Jonathan Edwards is held to be a model of Anglo-American erudition. Religious freedom in the US was initially defined by a sect of fanatical refugees from the English Civil War imbued with the most intolerant doctrines of the Thirty Years War– with all its carnage.

Israel enjoys support in the US not just because of the “lobby” with its bribes and threats or because Americans imagine that they rescued European Jewry (ironically the much maligned Russians did by defeating Hitler’s Wehrmacht). Israel is supported throughout the US as an ideal, like the US. It is an ideal of white Europeans invading a country far from home, declaring it to be empty and then emptying it of its original inhabitants and proclaiming that it was all “god’s will”. This is a story that every American knows from childhood unless he or she was forced to flea to the US to avoid American terrorism in her or his native country (e.g. Salvador).

Shamus Cooke does not raise this issue– the mentality and ideology that unite even non-religious Americans behind Israel and even earlier behind South Africa (albeit with less enthusiasm). It is the story of the Promised Land, promised to whites and stolen from everyone else.

For those who do not go to church, Auguste Comte developed Positivism. This “church of science” (not to be confused with Scientology) became the religion of the progressive movement. It substituted “experts” for priests. In the US a wave of regulatory policies were adopted while declaring that mass movements by the affected (labor, et al) were unqualified to manage social change. At the end of the 19th century progressivism was the chief ideology of military-technocratic rule in Latin America. In 1945 it became the religious ideology of nominally secular classes in the US. In the end however the result has been the same: to anchor America’s missionary obsessions and transfer authority to a new sacerdotal class– the military-industrial leadership. This sacerdotal class– not unlike the one the dominated Christendom in the Middle Ages– is hopelessly corrupt and dedicated only to its self-preservation.

However Americans– like the Europeans of the Middle Ages–seem quite unable to transcend the absolute belief that beneath all the crime and destitution of their universal church, the salvation to which they believe they in their promised land alone are entitled is the force for good in the world and the motive for their pride.

 Add to this the knee-jerk reaction to the political independence exercised by any country’s leadership in disagreeing with the holy see in Washington and there is something short of overturning capitalism that is worth considering but more extensive than deporting AIPAC operatives.

 On another point, I feel that the oil issue is also misrepresented or misunderstood. US policy needs control over other people’s oil not for its own sake but because it is the benchmark for US dollar supremacy. The USG does not need to physically hold all the world’s oil. However they do need to defend the global demand for dollars. This is done by regulating the world oil markets from the wellhead to the spot market and generating the rest through control of the global drug trade (e.g. Afghanistan and even Kosovo are important for this market).

 Israel is essentially the most powerful US financial, armaments and weapons “offshore”. It has a function not unlike the occupation of the region by the Catholic military orders in the Middle Ages– then it was along with Cyprus and Malta an important nexus for the European Asia trade (at least until the Portuguese established the trans-African sea lanes.

 Add to this the ideological value of a hyper-nationalist state capable of exerting influence over European politics too.

There are a number of points that can be addressed in the case of Israel– instead about the only one is whether despite everything, the last bastion of European (quasi-American) colonialism can retain its ideological legitimacy based on events that transpired over 60 years ago and for which we are told the perpetrators were more than adequately punished. Using this criteria Americans should all be defending Haiti’s sovereignty with fanatical vehemence– but then blacks do not have any sovereign rights whites are obliged to respect.





President Barack Obama said in August that an independent panel will review the United States’ surveillance capabilities in the wake of damaging NSA leaks. One month later, though, that group’s game plan is being called into question.

A steady stream of disclosures credited to former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden have revealed since June previously unreported details about the National Security Agency and the vast surveillance apparatus operated by the US government. Reports of those leaks in the media have made lawmakers on both sides of the aisle question the nation’s intelligence gathering operations in the months since, and politicians and the public alike have asked for reform as a result of Snowden’s disclosures.

Among the most significant results — seemingly, at least — came in early August when Pres. Obama said he was tasking an “independent group to step back and review our capabilities — particularly our surveillance technologies.”

The agency would consider for the White House ways the administration can “maintain the trust of the people,” “make sure that there absolutely is no abuse in terms of how these surveillance technologies are used” and “ask how surveillance impacts our foreign policy, particularly in an age when more and more information is becoming public,” the president said.

However, Stephen Braun wrote for the Associated Press over the weekend that the review board established after that Aug. 9 address is raising almost as many questions as the NSA operations they were put together to investigate.

But with just weeks remaining before its first deadline to report back to the White House, the review panel has effectively been operating as an arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA and all other US spy efforts,” Braun wrote.

This, of course, after the president went on the record to establish a so-called independent review board, only to in turn place DNI James Clapper at its forefront.

Following initial reports that Clapper would guide the panel — aptly named the Director of National Intelligence Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies — the White House was quick to condemn those write-ups as incorrect.

The panel will not report to the DNI. As the DNI’s statement yesterday made clear, the review group will brief its interim findings to the president within 60 days of its establishment, and provide a final report with recommendations no later than December 15 2013,” national security council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told the Guardian last month.

As we announced on Friday, the review group will be made up of independent, outside experts. The DNI’s role is one of facilitation, and the group is not under the direction of or led by the DNI,” Hayden said.

According to Braun though, the group isn’t exactly all that independent. From the AP:

The panel’s advisers work in offices on loan from the DNI. Interview requests and press statements from the review panel are carefully coordinated through the DNI’s press office. James Clapper, the intelligence director, exempted the panel from U.S. rules that require federal committees to conduct their business and their meetings in ways the public can observe. Its final report, when it’s issued, will be submitted for White House approval before the public can read it.”

And as for those independent experts? Braun identified four of its five members as previous staffers in Democratic administrations, including a former Central Intelligence Agency Director and an ex-regulatory czar who served within the Obama White House. Another member, the University of Chicago’s Geoffrey Stone, wrote an op-ed in Huffington Post earlier this year defending the NSAs practices exposed by Snowden and the credibility of court established under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to oversee those operations.

It is important to note, though, that without the existence of a FISA court to which Executive Branch officials are answerable, there is little doubt that the NSA and the FBI would be authorizing all sorts of investigations that would not meet the standards now imposed by the FISA court,” Stone wrote. “In that sense, the existence of the FISA court plays a critical role.”

Before that, Braun wrote, Stone was an informal adviser to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

No one can look at this group and say it’s completely independent,” Sascha Meinrath, director of the Open Technology Institute, told Braun.

Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian writer who first reported on the Snowden leaks, said on Monday that the panel was “a total farce.” And when Tech Dirt’s Mike Masnick wrote about Obama’s Aug. 9 presser, he said, “All in all this seems like a PR scramble by the an administration that realizes it’s on the losing side of the public debate.” Weighing in on the latest news from the AP, Masnick updated his opinion of the panel on Monday to describe it now as “a propaganda committee effectively overseen by James Clapper to talk up how awesome the surveillance state has become.”

The review group’s interim findings will be sent to the president in early October. After the White House reviews them, a final report with recommendations is due to the administration no later than ten days before Christmas.

A leading Yemeni human rights activist has been detained at Gatwick and questioned on his work and political views by UK officials under the Terrorism Act.

Baraa Shiban, a member of Yemen’s National Dialogue – the body tasked with mapping out the country’s democratic future – had been invited to speak at a seminar at respected international think-tank Chatham House (also known as the Royal Institution of International Affairs).

He was detained under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act – recently used to controversial effect in the detention of David Miranda – last night (23 September), and questioned about his views on human rights abuses in Yemen.

When he informed the border agent that he did not think his views on the issue were relevant to security, Mr Shibaan was threatened with being detained for the full nine hours available under the law.

Mr Shibaan also works for legal charity Reprieve as project coordinator in Yemen, and visited the UK without being detained earlier this summer.  In May this year, he gave testimony to a US Congressional hearing on the impact of the covert drone programme in Yemen.

During his questioning, Mr Shibaan was also told that “Your organization has obviously been causing a lot of problems to your country. The relations between your government and the UK are vital for us.”  Reprieve works to support the relatives of civilian victims of drone strikes who are seeking legal redress.  The organisation has recently found evidence showing that the UK supports the US’ programme of covert drone strikes through the provision of communications infrastructure and intelligence.

Mr Shibaan was also asked why he was working for a human rights organisation, and told: “What if your organization did something bad to your government, and you are here because of the bad things your organization has done to your government…I want to know, because the relations between Yemen and the UK are important. I want to know that your organization is not disrupting that.”

Commenting after his release, Baraa Shiban said: “I was stunned when the border agent said I was being held simply because I came from Yemen. It was even more shocking when he spent the entire time asking me about my human rights work and Reprieve, the charity I work for. Is the UK the kind of place that human rights activists are fair game for detention, intimidation, and interrogation?’

Cori Crider, Strategic Director at Reprieve, said: “This is part of a worsening campaign of intimidation of human rights workers going on at the UK border – especially if they are critical of the so-called ‘war on terror’.  If there were any doubt the UK were abusing its counter-terrorism powers to silence critics, this ends it.”

For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8166 / [email protected]

Mr Shiban is speaking to Chatham House’s Yemen Forum tomorrow (25 September).

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There’s something profoundly despicable about a Justice Department that would brazenly violate the First and Fourth Amendments while spying on journalists, then claim to be reassessing such policies after an avalanche of criticism — and then proceed, as it did this week, to gloat that those policies made possible a long prison sentence for a journalistic source.

Welcome to the Obama Justice Department.

While mouthing platitudes about respecting press freedom, the president has overseen methodical actions to undermine it. We should retire understated phrases like “chilling effect.” With the announcement from Obama’s Justice Department on Monday, the thermometer has dropped below freezing.

You could almost hear the slushy flow of public information turning to ice in the triumphant words of the U.S. attorney who led the investigation after being handpicked by Attorney General Eric Holder: “This prosecution demonstrates our deep resolve to hold accountable anyone who would violate their solemn duty to protect our nation’s secrets and to prevent future, potentially devastating leaks by those who would wantonly ignore their obligations to safeguard classified information.”

Translation: This prosecution shows the depth of our contempt for civil liberties. Let this be a lesson to journalists and would-be leakers alike.

Audibly on the chopping block are provisions in the Bill of Rights such as “freedom … of the press” and “no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The Obama administration’s pernicious goal is to normalize circumstances where journalists can’t credibly promise confidentiality, and potential leakers don’t believe they can have it. The broader purpose is to destroy independent journalism — which is to say, actual journalism — which is to say, freedom of the press.

Impacts are crystal clear to just about any journalist who has done reporting that’s much more than stenographic services for official government and corporate sources. When unofficial sources are choked off, not much is left other than the Official Story.

The Official Story is routinely somewhere between very selective and mendacious. A case in point, ironically enough, is the Justice Department’s righteous announcement that the prison term for the leaker of information to The Associated Press reflected the Department’s “deep resolve to hold accountable anyone who would violate their solemn duty to protect our nation’s secrets.”

“Hold accountable anyone”? (Laugh, scream or cry; take your pick.)

Like others before it, the Obama administration has made a frequent practice of leaking classified “secrets” to media outlets — when its calculus is that revealing those secrets will make the administration look good. Of course in those cases the Justice Department doesn’t bother to track down the leakers.

Such extreme hypocrisy in high places has become so normalized that major media outlets often seem completely inured to it.

Hours after the Justice Department’s announcement on Monday that its surveillance of AP phone records had resulted in a lengthy prison sentence, the PBS “NewsHour” did not devote a word to it. Perhaps the program could not find a few seconds to shave off the lengthy beach-ball interview that Judy Woodruff conducted with former President Clinton.

To the top echelons of quasi-journalistic enterprises that are bankrolled by corporate advertisers and underwriters, the disappearance of confidentiality — along with routine violations of the First and Fourth Amendments — might hardly matter. Official sources flood the media zone.

But the New York Times coverage should have given attentive readers indigestion over breakfast Tuesday: “A former F.B.I. agent has agreed to plead guilty to leaking classified information to The Associated Press about a foiled bomb plot in Yemen last year … Federal investigators said they were able to identify the man, Donald Sachtleben, a former bomb technician, as a suspect in the leak case only after secretly obtaining AP reporters’ phone logs, a move that set off an uproar among journalists and members of Congress of both parties when it was disclosed in May.”

The Times added: “Sachtleben … has agreed to serve 43 months in prison for the leak, the Justice Department said. His case is the eighth leak-related prosecution under the Obama administration. Only three such cases were prosecuted under all previous presidents.

How did the Justice Department catch Sachtleben in the first place? By seizing records of calls on more than 20 phone lines used by Associated Press reporters over a two-month period.

This is more than a chilling effect on the First Amendment; it’s an icy wind, threatening to put real freedom of the press into a deep freeze. Journalists — and the rest of us — should respond with outraged opposition.

Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information about the documentary based on the book is at

by Sharmine Narwani and Radwan Mortada

A senior United Nations official who deals directly with Syrian affairs has told Al-Akhbar that the Syrian government had no involvement in the alleged Ghouta chemical weapons attack: “Of course not, he (President Bashar al-Assad) would be committing suicide.”

When asked who he believed was responsible for the use of chemical munitions in Ghouta, the UN official, who would not permit disclosure of his identity, said: “Saudi intelligence was behind the attacks and unfortunately nobody will dare say that.” The official claims that this information was provided by rebels in Ghouta.

A report by the UN Mission to investigate use of chemical weapons (CW) in Ghouta, Syria was released last Monday, but per its mandate, did not assign blame to either the Syrian government or opposition rebels.

Media commentators and officials from several western countries, however, have strongly suggested that the Syrian government is the likely perpetrator of CW attacks in Ghouta and other locations.

But on Sunday, veteran Mideast journalist for The Independent Robert Fisk also reported that “grave doubts are being expressed by the UN and other international organisations in Damascus that the sarin gas missiles were fired by Assad’s army.”

The UN official’s accusations mirror statements made earlier this year by another senior UN figure Carla del Ponte, who last May told Swiss TV in the aftermath of alleged CW attacks in Khan al-Asal, Sheik Maqsood and Saraqeb that there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof,” that rebels had carried out the attack. Del Ponte also observed that UN inspectors had seen no evidence of the Syrian army using chemical weapons, but added that further investigation was necessary.

The UN Inquiry tasked with investigating chemical weapons use in Syria hastily dismissed del Ponte’s comments by saying it had “not reached conclusive findings” as to the use of CWs by any parties.

So why then are we getting these contradictory leaks by top UN officials?

The recently released UN Report on CW use in Syria may provide some clues. While it specifically does not assign blame for the use of CWs to either side, its disclosures and exclusions very clearly favor a rebel narrative of the Ghouta attacks. And that may be prompting these leaks from insiders who have access to a broader view of events.

Startling environmental evidence

The UN investigations focus on three main areas of evidence: environmental sampling, human sampling and munitions forensics.

The most stunning example of the UN’s misrepresentation of facts inside Ghouta is displayed in its findings on environmental samples tested for traces of Sarin nerve gas.

On page 4 of the Report, the UN clearly states that environmental “samples were taken from impact sites and surrounding areas” and that “according to the reports received from the OPCW-designated laboratories, the presence of Sarin, its degradation and/or production by-products were observed in a majority of the samples.”

The UN team gathered environmental samples from two areas in Ghouta: Moadamiyah in West Ghouta, and Ein Tarma and Zamalka in East Ghouta. The Moadamiyah samples were collected on August 26 when the UN team spent a total of two hours in the area. The Ein Tarma and Zamalka samples were collected on August 28 and 29 over a total time period of five and a half hours.

The UN investigators specify those dates in Appendix 6 of the Report.

But in Appendix 7, an entirely different story emerges about the results of environmental testing in Ghouta. This section of the Report is filled with charts that do not specify the towns where environmental samples were collected – just dates, codes assigned to the samples, description of the samples and then the CW testing results from two separate laboratories.

Instead, a closer look at the charts shows a massive discrepancy in lab results from east and west Ghouta. There is not a single environmental sample in Moadamiyah that tested positive for Sarin.

This is a critical piece of information. These samples were taken from “impact sites and surrounding areas” identified by numerous parties, not just random areas in the town. Furthermore, in Moadamiyah, the environmental samples were taken five days after the reported CW attack, whereas in Ein Tarma and Zamalka – where many samples tested positive for Sarin – UN investigators collected those samples seven and eight days post-attack, when degradation of chemical agents could have been more pronounced.

Yet it is in Moadamiyah where alleged victims of a CW attack tested highest for Sarin exposure, with a positive result of 93% and 100% (the discrepancy in those numbers is due to different labs testing the same samples). In Zamalka, the results were 85% and 91%.

It is scientifically improbable that survivors would test that highly for exposure to Sarin without a single trace of environmental evidence testing positive for the chemical agent.

I spoke with Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, former commander of the British military’s chemical defense regiment and CEO at CW specialists, SecureBio Ltd. “I think that is strange,” he admits, when told about the stark discrepancy between human and environmental test results in Moadamiyah.

“It could be significant. Nobody else has brought that point up,” says Bretton-Gordon, who has read the UN Report closely since he actually trains doctors and first-responders in Ghouta via an NGO.

“I think that it is strange that the environmental and human samples don’t match up. This could be because there have been lots of people trampling through the area and moving things. Unless the patients were brought in from other areas. There doesn’t seem another plausible explanation.”

Bretton-Gordon notes that while Sarin’s “toxicity” lasts only between 30-60 minutes when humans are directly exposed, it can remain toxic for many days on clothes (which is why medical workers wear protective gear) and lasts for months, sometimes years in the environment.

Why did the UN not highlight this very troubling result of its own investigations? The data had to be included in the Report since the two samplings – human and environmental – were core evidentiary components of the investigation. But it is buried in the small print of the Report – an inconvenient contradiction that was dismissed by the UN team. If anything, the UN blatantly claims on page 5 of its findings:

“The environmental, chemical and medical samples we have collected provide clear and compelling evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent Sarin were used in Ein Tarma, Moadamiyah and Zamalka in the Ghouta area of Damascus.”

There are several logical conclusions for the lack of environmental evidence and the abundance of human evidence of Sarin exposure in Moadamiyah:

One is that there was no Sarin CW attack in Moadamiyah. There can’t have been – according to this environmental data. A second explanation is that the samples from Moadamiyah were contaminated somehow, even though the human samplings showed no sign of this. This is an unlikely explanation since the UN went to great pains, explained in depth in several sections of the Report, to ensure the sanctity of the evidence collected.

A third explanation, mentioned by Bretton-Gordon, is that patients might have been “brought in from other areas.” All the patients were pre-selected by Ghouta doctors and opposition groups for presentation to the UN teams. And if this is the only plausible explanation for the discrepancy between environmental and human test results, then it suggests that “patients” were “inserted” into Moadamiyah, possibly to create a narrative of a chemical weapons attack that never took place.

This would almost certainly imply that opposition groups were involved in staging events in Ghouta. These towns are in rebel-controlled areas that have been involved in heavy battle with the Syrian government for much of the conflict. There is no army or government presence in these Ghouta areas whatsoever.

Human Testing

The UN team’s selection of survivors in Moadamiyah and Zamalka raises even more questions. Says the Report:

“A leader of the local opposition forces who was deemed prominent in the area to be visited by the Mission, was identified and requested to take ‘custody’ of the Mission. The point of contact within the opposition was used to ensure the security and movement of the Mission, to facilitate the access to the most critical cases/witnesses to be interviewed and sampled by the Mission and to control patients and crowd in order for the Mission to focus to its main activities.”

In short, opposition groups in these entirely rebel-held areas exercised considerable influence over the UN’s movements and access during the entire seven and a half hours spent gathering evidence. The Report continues:

“A prominent local medical doctor was identified. This medical doctor was used to help in preparing for the arrival of the Mission… Concerning the patients, a sufficient number was requested to be presented to the Mission, in order for the Mission to pick a subpopulation for interviews and sampling. Typically a list of screening questions was also circulated to the opposition contacts. This included the queries to help in identification of the most relevant cases.”

To be clear, doctors and medical staff working in rebel-held areas are understood to be sympathetic to the opposition cause. Shelled almost daily by the Syrian army, you will not find pro-government staff manning hospitals in these hotly contested towns. Bretton-Gordon, who trains some of the medical staff in Ghouta, acknowledges that this bias is “one of the weaknesses” of evidence compilation in this area.

“We’ve been helping doctors on the opposition side, so they tend to tell you things they want you to hear.”

The entire population of patients to be examined by the UN team were essentially selected and delivered to the inspection team by the opposition in Ghouta. This, of course, includes the 44% of “survivors” allegedly from Moadamiyah.

In a report on Thursday, American CW expert Dan Kaszeta raised further questions. While concluding that Sarin was used in Ghouta based on “environmental and medical evidence” produced by the UN team, Kaszeta notes that testing only 36 survivors “cannot conceivably be considered a scientifically or statistically accurate sample of the population of affected victims. It would be considered scientifically unsound to draw widespread conclusions based simply on this sample.”

Kaszeta also points out that the survivors’ “exact presentation of signs and symptoms seems skewed from our conventional understanding of nerve agent exposure.” He gives as example the relative lack of Miosis – “the threshold symptom for nerve agent exposure” – in Ghouta patients, which was found in only 15% of those tested compared to 99% of survivors in the 1995 Tokyo Sarin attack.

Other patient indications that appear out of proportion to Kaszeta were those who experienced convulsions (an advanced symptom) but did not concurrently display milder ones like excess salivation, excess tearing or miosis. “That is very strange to me,” says Kaszeta.

“Generally, loss of consciousness is considered to be a very grave sign in nerve agent poisoning, happening shortly before death. How is it 78% of the patients had lost consciousness?” he asks.

“Is it possible that we are looking at exposure to multiple causes of injury? Were some of the examined victims exposed to other things in addition to Sarin? I am not stating that Sarin was not used. It clearly was. My point is that it is either not behaving as we have understood it in the past or that other factors were at work in addition to Sarin.”

Munitions “Evidence”

Although the highest rate of Sarin-exposure was found in Moadamiyah “survivors,” the UN team found no traces of Sarin on the 140mm rocket identified as the source of the alleged CW attack – or in its immediate environment.

Moving to an adjacent apartment building where the initial debris from rocket impact was found: “the Mission was told that the inhabitants of this location were also injured or killed by a ‘gas.’” There was no evidence of Sarin there either.

The Report also notes: “The sites have been well-travelled by other individuals both before and during the investigation. Fragments and other evidence have clearly been handled/moved prior to the arrival of the investigation team.”

That theme continues in both Ein Tarma and Zamalka where UN inspectors observed:

“As with other sites, the locations have been well traveled by other individuals prior to the arrival of the Mission. During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated.”

While Sarin traces were found on munitions in the latter two locations, the UN Report cannot identify the location from which these munitions were fired. The team studied five “impact sites” in total, only two of which provide “sufficient evidence to determine the likely trajectory of the projectiles.”

These two sites are in Moadamiyah (Site 1), where an 140mm M14 artillery rocket was investigated, and in Ein Tarma (Site 4), where a “mystery” 330mm artillery rocket was identified as the source of the CW attack.

The flight path (trajectory) of these munitions provided in the UN Report may be more or less accurate, but less so is the distance they traveled, for which the UN offers no estimates whatsoever. And in a large “range” area criss-crossed by pro-government and pro-opposition areas, both sets of data are critical in determining the source of the alleged attacks.

Maps currently being disseminated by the media that claim to identify the point of origin of the projectiles, are misleading. I spoke with Eliot Higgins, whose Brown Moses blog has kept a running video inventory and analysis of munitions used in the Syrian conflict and who has worked closely with Human Rights Watch (HRW), which produced one of these maps:

“Munitions have a minimum range as well as a maximum range so it gives you a zone of where they can be fired from. Problem with the mystery rocket (in Ein Tarma) is that data doesn’t exist so it’s harder to be sure. You can show the trajectories and if they intersect, it might suggest a common point of origin. While the M14 has a range of just under 10km, the other munition is harder to figure out, there’s a lot of factors, not least the type of fuel. And it’s impossible to know the type of fuel short of finding an unfired one.”

In short, the only one of the two munitions whose range we know is the one from Moadamiyah, which has an estimated range of between 3.8 and 9.8 kilometers, was not found to have traces of Sarin, and is therefore not part of any alleged CW attack.

On the map produced by HRW – which points specifically to the Syrian army’s Republican Guard 104th Brigade base as the likely point of origin – the distance from Moadamiyah to the base is 9.5km. But since this now appears to be a munition used in conventional battle, it can’t even legitimately be used by HRW in their efforts to identify an intersecting point of origin for CWs. It could have come from the military base, but so what?

The HRW map draws another line based on the trajectory of the Ein Tarma munition (the one with Sarin traces) to this Republican Guard base (9.6km), but we have no evidence at all of the range of this rocket. Its large size, however, suggests a range beyond the 9.8km of the smaller projectile which could take it well past the military base into rebel-held territory.

HRW has very simplistically assembled a map that follows the known trajectories of both munitions and marked X at a convenient point of origin that would place blame for CW attacks on the Syrian government.

It doesn’t at all investigate any evidence that the rockets could have come from more than one point of origin, and skirts over the fact that HRW doesn’t even know the distance travelled by either missile. As Higgins says: “the best you can do with the mystery munition is draw a straight line and see where it goes.”

But western media ran with HRW’s extrapolations, without looking at the evidence. “This isn’t conclusive, given the limited data available to the UN team, but it is highly suggestive,” says the HRW report. Not really. The case for culpability will need much tighter evidence than the facile doodling on this HRW map.

CWs were used, but by whom and how?

The discrepancies in the story of the Ghouta CW attacks are vast. Casualty figures range from a more modest 300+ to the more dramatic 1,400+ figures touted by western governments. The UN investigators were not able to confirm any of these numbers – they only saw 80 survivors and tested only 36 of these. They saw none of the dead – neither in graves nor in morgues.

While media headlines tend to blame CW attacks on the Syrian government – and US Secretary of State John Kerry now flat-out states it – on August 21 there existed little motive that would explain why the army would sabotage its military gains and invite foreign intervention for crossing CW “red lines.”

If anything, the more obvious motive would be for retreating rebels to manufacture a CW false flag operation to elicit the kind of western-backed military response needed to alter the balance of force on the ground in favor of oppositionists. Which as we all know, almost happened with a US strike.

Clearly, further investigation is needed to put together all these contradictory pieces of the Ghouta puzzle. And for that you need an impartial team of investigators who have complete access to randomly sampled witnesses, patients, impact areas, their surroundings and beyond. More importantly, you need time to conduct a thorough investigation.

It should be noted here that during the UN team’s visit to Moadamiyah on August 26, unknown snipers in the rebel-held area fired at the UN Mission, further limiting their time in the area for investigation.

This UN Report raises more questions than it answers. The entire population it interviewed – witnesses, patients, doctors – share a bias toward rebels. Almost all were pre-selected by the opposition and presented to the UN team for a rushed investigation. The munitions forensics provide little evidence as to their point of origin, which is critical to determine culpability. The human and environmental testing are inconclusive in that they don’t provide enough information to help us determine what happened – and even suggest tampering and staging. Why would evidence need to be manufactured if this was a chemical weapons attack on a grand scale?

At the end of the day, the UN Report does not tell us who, how or what happened in Ghouta on August 21. As the team prepares to head into Khan al-Asal for further investigations, one hopes that they will learn from these shortcomings and provide the conclusive findings needed to assign blame for war crimes. These missions are not merely an exercise. While the UN itself may not be allowed to point a finger at either side in this conflict, they must produce water-tight forensic conclusions that help the international community reach a decisive verdict based on evidence.

And all these leaks from UN officials will dissipate the moment there is internal confidence that the job is being done properly.

The US Intelligence Community has been put to shame by the dedication and determination of a lone Christian nun. Her modest study of the videos of the Syrian chemical attack shows they were productions involving staged bodies.

Those who take the time to read the report by Mother Agnes and the International Support Team for Mussalaha in Syria (ISTEAMS) will realize that it disgraces the entire US Intelligence Community for endorsing video footage that is clearly dubious and not credible upon careful study by even a layperson.

No one denies that chemical weapons were used. The US federal government and the  mainstream media in the US and countries allied to it have been playing a dirty game of equating the a) rejection of accusations that the Syrian government used chemical weapons with b) an outright denial that chemical weapons were used. The two are deliberately being mixed together to confuse the general public. The question is who used the chemical weapons?


Little boy in red shirt in video from Zamalka (left) is seen with other children in video from Jobar (right). Photo from Mother Agnes report to UN.Little boy in red shirt in video from Zamalka (left) is seen with other children in video from Jobar (right). Photo from Mother Agnes report to UN.


What is the US Intelligence Community?

Before I go any further, it has to be emphasized that the US Intelligence Community is a monstrous apparatus or network that has immense technological resources, mammoth amounts of funding, and massive manpower. It is a collective of all the intelligence bodies of the US government, which is formed by sixteen different intelligence agencies.

Out of the agencies that form the US Intelligence community, one belongs to the US Treasury, one belongs to the US Department of State, two belong to Homeland Security, two belong to the US Department of Justice, one belongs to the US Department of Energy, eight belong to the Pentagon, and finally one of them is the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which is independent from any US government department.


Same footage is used in different videos with different scenarios, according to the report. Photo from Mother Agnes report to UN.Same footage is used in different videos with different scenarios, according to the report. Photo from Mother Agnes report to UN.The Pentagon’s intelligence agencies are the Air Force ISR Agency (AFISRA), Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), Marine Corps IA (MCIA), National Security Agency (NSA), National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA), and Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI).Aside from the non-departmental CIA, the rest of the departmental agencies are the Intelligence Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Intelligence Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Coast Guard Intelligence (CGI), the Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence (OICI), the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A), the US State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), and the US Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI).

 Nonetheless, this gargantuan body could not see what Mother Agnes Mariam has found and submitted to the United Nations.

It is the job of the agencies of the US Intelligence Community to examine these videos and to authenticate them. But they failed either to serve US foreign policy or to show professionalism or both.

Instead they nominated and endorsed a sample of footage from Syria as a means of proving that (1) the chemical weapons were used in the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta and (2) that the Syrian government was responsible for the diabolical attacks.

Dubious Nature of Videos selected by US Intel Community

The US Intelligence Community selected or nominated thirteen videos that the Obama Administration used in their case against the Syrian government. These videos need to be carefully looked at.

The emphasis that US Secretary of State John Kerry put on the videos in his scripted speech that he read out to reporters on August 30, 2013, came across as ingenious. Kerry notably refers to the footage from Syria and constantly uses the words “our own eyes” and “seeing.”  He even asks that the videos be watched by the general public. He should have been taken to task on this, and he was through the study that Mother Agnes has produced.

Undoubtedly there will be those who will dismiss the fact that there is an almost total absence of adult corpses next to the bodies of the children, nor any parents, especially mothers, coming to claim their children.

Where were the parents? From a cultural context, this is strikingly odd. It is highly unlikely that the parents, especially the mothers of all these children, would have left them alone or not rushed to where their bodies were.


At least 9 children in the video of the Press Office of Al Marj Region (right) have been transported from Kafarbatna (left) "out of any medical or humanitarian explanation", the report claims. Photo from Mother Agnes report to UN. At least 9 children in the video of the Press Office of Al Marj Region (right) have been transported from Kafarbatna (left) “out of any medical or humanitarian explanation”, the report claims. Photo from Mother Agnes report to UN.


If the parents were not killed, then where are they? If the parents, especially the mothers (following the gender script of Syrian society), were with their children, then where are their corpses?

In one video where it is stated that all the bodies are dead, we can see that the some of the corpses are being injected with an unknown liquid. Why?

The report also highlights the fact that there have been no public funerals or announcements about all the dead children. This is outside of both cultural and religious norms.

In the footage of one burial, only eight people are buried and three of them are not even covered in white shrouds, which is a compulsory ritual. Were these people murdered by the insurgents and disrespectfully buried without the proper rituals as a sign of disdain?

Moreover, the identities of the dead have consistently been withheld. There is more to say on this and it should be kept in mind.

Mother Agnes also makes a point of indicating that there is virtually an absence of the sound of ambulances and that in the testimonies that are used the individuals talking claim to have smelled the chemical that was used. Sarin gas, however, is odorless, which raises important questions about the testimonies.

Stage-Managed Scenes

Even if one ignores some of the arguments in the Mother Agnes report, there are some observations in the study that are undeniable. These observations will lead anyone to conclude that the scenes in the footage that the US Intelligence Community nominated are stage-managed.

Some of the same bodies were planted or recycled in different scenes and makeshift morgues that were supposed to be in different locations. The same bodies of the same children are spotted in different locations.

There is additional footage that either gives a contradictory impression to that of the videos nominated by the US Intelligence Community for the Obama Administration or shows that children were being arranged and moved around.


A handout image released by the Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network shows bodies of children wrapped in shrouds as Syrian rebels claim they were killed in a toxic gas attack by pro-government forces in eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21, 2013. (AFP/Shaam News Network)A handout image released by the Syrian opposition’s Shaam News Network shows bodies of children wrapped in shrouds as Syrian rebels claim they were killed in a toxic gas attack by pro-government forces in eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21, 2013. (AFP/Shaam News Network)


A Horrible Conclusion 

Many bad things have happened in Syria, including the chemical attack in East Ghouta. Yet there are many questions that have to be answered.

There was a massacre in Latakia on August 4, 2013 that went unreported. The mainstream media in the US and the countries allied to it failed to cover this or casually passed it over, obviously because it was inconvenient to change the agenda in Syria.

The study mentions that the relatives of children that were abducted by the US-supported insurgents have begun to come forward to identify their relatives in the videos. It paints an ominous picture that the bodies of these children were prostituted to open the field in Syria for a foreign military intervention.

Regardless of whatever position one takes on Syria, it is their responsibility to analyze the videos from the alleged chemical attack and pay attention to the observations of Mother Agnes Mariam’s report.


A handout image released by the Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network shows people inspecting bodies of children and adults laying on the ground as Syrian rebels claim they were killed in a toxic gas attack by pro-government forces in eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21, 2013. (AFP/Shaam News Network)A handout image released by the Syrian opposition’s Shaam News Network shows people inspecting bodies of children and adults laying on the ground as Syrian rebels claim they were killed in a toxic gas attack by pro-government forces in eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21, 2013. (AFP/Shaam News Network)

This article was originally published by RT Op-Edge on September 19, 2013.

Merkel’s Germany

September 24th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

On September 23, Der Spiegel headlined “Word From Berlin: Triumph Confirms ‘Era of Merkelism.”

She “won a stunning victory. Conservatives (achieved) the best result in two decades. Merkel is at the zenith of her power.”

Financial Times contributor Wolfgang Munchau headlined “Merkel’s almost total political triumph,” saying:

“Just a few votes shy of an absolute majority was the best conceivable result Angela Merkel could have had.”

“It was an electoral triumph of the kind that are extremely rare in German politics.”

“She has achieved all her electoral goals. She will stay in power – of that there was really never any doubt.”

“But she also secured her other goal – to make it impossible for the three parties of the left to form a coalition against her during the next parliamentary term.”

Germany’s so called left is as pro-business/anti-populist as right of center parties. Munchau didn’t explain. “The CDU will always have a choice of coalition partners,” he said.

“While (he) disagree(s) with almost all her economic policies, (he) cannot hide (his) admiration for her political ruthlessness.”

German newspaper Die Tageszeitung calls her “the worst chancellor in the country’s post-war history.” She’s that and then some. Retaining her “is bad news for Europe.”

According to Berliner Zeitung, major domestic issues have been neglected. “Things can’t stay as they are for another four years.” Expect worse ahead, not better.

She’s more than chancellor and party leader. She heads hard right German politics. She accomplished what no previous German leader achieved on either side of the aisle.

She won a third term. She’s Germany’s longest serving leader since Helmut Kohl’s 16-year tenure. He was chancellor from October 1982 – October 1998.

Merkel’s triumph “puts her on a similar footing with Christian Democratic Union (CDU) heavyweights like Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl, but she won’t have much time to savor it,” said Der Spiegel.

She won 41.5 of Germany’s electorate. She faces tough coalition talks to form a new government. Her current Free Democratic Party (FDP) partner suffered a humiliating defeat.

It lost two-thirds of its supporters. It’s excluded from Bundestag participation. It failed to clear the 5% hurdle to do so.

It’s the first time for the party in post-WW II history. It’s a major hard right setback. Merkel has one of two choices.

Forming a new government requires doing so either with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) or Greens. Ordinary Germans lose out either way.

The five significant parties resemble America’s Republicans and Democrats. Rhetoric alone separates them. Policies they support are largely similar.

They’re pro-business. They’re anti-populist. They prioritize austerity. They’re waging war on ordinary Germans.

They support Obama’s imperial agenda. They have their own delusions of grandeur. They endorse war. They abhor peace. They oppose the interests of most Germans.

Merkelism resembles Thatcherism. Thatcher launched a corporatist revolution. Britain became a cutthroat capitalist laboratory.

She represented Chicago School fundamentalism writ large. She believed markets work best unfettered of rules, regulations, onerous taxes, trade barriers, and human interference.

The best government is none at all, she believed. Whatever it can do, business does better so let it. Public wealth should be in private hands. Profit-making should be unrestrained.

Merkel is her German equivalent. Germans have themselves to blame for reelecting her.

In December 1989, her political career began. She joined East Germany’s Democratic Awakening (DA). She became its press spokesperson.

In August 1990, DA was incorporated into East Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU). After October’s reunification,  it became part of West Germany’s CDU.

Merkel’s job disappeared. It didn’t matter. In December 1990 elections, CDU candidates prevailed. In January 1991, Merkel was appointed minister for women and youth.

Party head Helmut Kohl became her mentor. She called him the “father of German unity.” She allied with hard right party conservatives.

In 1994 elections, Kohl’s government retained power. Merkel was promoted to head the environment ministry. She supported nuclear industry priorities. She endorsed extending the life of aging facilities.

In 1998, Social Democrats and Greens gained power. Merkel lost her ministerial seat. She advanced in CDU ranks. In November, she became general secretary.

Kohl was held responsible for defeat. Internal tensions surfaced. Merkel took full advantage. She wanted Kohl eliminated. She wanted his successor Wolfgang Schaeuble out of the way. He was “honorary president.”

She distanced herself from both leaders. She did so in a Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung commentary. Her former mentor became adversary.

She presented herself as the party official most able to clear out the “Kohl system.” She did so to elevate herself to party leadership.

In early 2000, Schaeuble resigned. He did so after damning information surfaced. He accepted a suitcase full of Deutsche Marks.

Note: on January 1, 1999, euros became Germany’s official currency. Usage began in non-physical form. It included traveller’s checks, electronic transfers, and other banking transactions.

Deutsche Marks and coins continued to be used until January 1, 2002. Changeover to euros lasted until February 28.

The official date on which national currencies stopped being legal tender varied by Eurozone member. Germany dropped its national currency first.

At the same time, it continued being accepted by national central banks for several years or longer. Before the switchover to euros, it was second only to dollars as a major international currency.

In early 2000, Kohl’s resignation followed Schaeuble’s. Merkel prepared for party leadership. She was elected party chairwoman.

She distanced herself from Kohl. He’s often called the “last social democrat.” He refrained from major social spending cuts. He did so fearing popular opposition.

Merkel set her own course. She had major cuts in mind. She prioritizes business-friendly policies. She wants Germany’s welfare state traditions abolished.

In 2002 elections, Edmund Stoiber defeated her. He was Minister President of Bavaria and Christian Social Union (CSU) Chairman.

In September 2005 federal elections, she won her first term as chancellor. On November 22, she assumed office. On September 22, she won a third term.

It’s a long time from now to September 2017. It remains to be seen if she’ll win a fourth. Given the fragility of global economies, odds are it’ll be three terms and out.

Germans may regret ever electing her. Throughout her career, she’s been pro-business, anti-democratic, and anti-populist. She’s aligned with hard right CDU elements.

She spurns popular interests. She represents politics of the rich, well born and powerful. She’s indifferent to public need. She’s against what most Germans support.

She intends more austerity harshness. She favors redistributing wealth to rich elites already with too much. She wants wages unchanged or cut. She wants social Germany destroyed.

She wants ordinary Germans responsible for their own well-being. She wants “market forces” “unleash(ed)” to run things.

She favors doing so at the expense of fairness. Profits matter more than people needs, she believes.

Expect most Germans to face four more tough years ahead. Expect other Eurozone populations to bear her extremism.

Given troubled world economies likely to worsen, expect harder than hard times to follow.

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

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

Visit his blog site at

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

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On 21 August 2013 a series of chemical attacks were perpetrated in the Ghouta suburbs of eastern Damascus. Sources say that between 281 and 1,729 civilians were killed, while Medecins Sans Frontiers reported around 3,600 were injured in the attacks. [1] On the same day UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon instructed the UN Mission already in Syria to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in Khan al-Asal, Sheik Maqsoos and Saraqueb to focus their efforts on the Ghouta allegations. [2]

Before the UN Mission had reported its preliminary findings, Human Rights Watch (HRW) jumped the gun on 10 September with its own report written by Peter Bouckaert, the organisation’s Emergencies Director. [3]

The report admits that HRW did not have physical access to the site and had based its study on Skype interviews with ‘More than 10 witnesses and survivors’ made over a period of two weeks between 22 August and 6 September. These were supplemented by video and photo footage and other data from an unnamed source or sources. It is unclear then, exactly how many exposed survivors were interviewed by HRW or who the other witnesses were.

In compiling the report HRW had also drawn on the technical services of Keith B. Ward Ph.D., an expert on the detection and effects of chemical warfare agents. However the organisation did not disclose that Dr Ward is employed by Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency of the United States government. [4] The HRW investigation was also ‘assisted by arms experts including Nic Jenzen-Jones […] as well as Eliot Higgins […] who collected and analysed photos and videos from the attacks.’ [5]

Mr Jenzen-Jones’s LinkedIn profile does not list any training or experience with armaments, and his only qualifications appear to be ‘certified armourer and ammunition collector’ – which probably relates to the Firearms Amendment (Ammunition control) Act 2012 of the state of New South Wales, Australia. [6] In reports on the story on his own blog ‘The Rogue Adventurer’, Mr Jenzen-Jones relies on data taken uncritically from sources such as the New York Times and even a Los Angeles Times article based on Israeli intelligence [7] Apparently he is not familiar with Israeli falsified reports such as the alleged use of guns by passengers on the Mavi Marmara against Israeli commandos (which remain uncorroborated despite Israeli forces seizing virtually all photographic data from the more than 600 passengers, along with film from security cameras located throughout the ship and Israel’s own constant infra-red surveillance from boats on both sides of the ship and at from least two aircraft). As former CIA director Stansfield Turner is reputed to have said, Mossad excels in PR, and not in intelligence. [8]

HRW’s other expert, Eliot Higgins is an untrained analyst who was recently talked-up into some kind of expert by Matthew Weaver in the Guardian. [9] On his Brown Moses Blog of 28 August 2013 Mr Higgins featured a video sent to him by a source allegedly showing the type of munition linked to the chemical attacks being fired close to Al-Mezzah Airport near Daraya. The video has been filmed at some distance and none of the upwards of 20 men roaming around the site can be clearly seen. An unmarked Mercedes semi-trailer lorry apparently delivers the rocket which is loaded (this is not seen) onto an unmarked white rigid lorry on which the launcher is mounted. The men aimlessly roaming around are mostly wearing army fatigues, although others, including some on the launcher, are in civilian clothes. A number of those in military uniform are wearing red berets. Based solely on this headgear, and the fact that the Syrian Republic Guard as well as the military police are issued with red berets, Mr Higgins is emboldened to state that ‘…this video shows the munition being used by the government forces […].[10]


Stills taken from the video analysed by Eliot Higgins. Mr Higgins has deduced that this is a Syrian Army operation entirely from the red berets worn by some of the personnel. The rocket shown can also carry conventional explosives.

In a previous posting on 26 August, Mr Higgins estimated from shadows that a rocket shown in photographs between Zamalka and Ein Tarma had been fired from north of the site, and he set about trying to locate the launch site with the help of correspondents. Hoping to find the exact location, he speculated that the 155th Brigade missile base was a possible site for the crime. [11] This line of investigation quietly disappeared after the UN Mission reported that the missile they had examined at Zamalka/Ein Tarma was pointing precisely in a bearing of 285 degrees, i.e. nearer west than north. [12]

Meanwhile Mr Bouckaert in his report two weeks later reported that two of his witnesses told HRW that the rockets came from the direction of the Mezzeh Military Airport. [13] These accounts also became inconvenient later when, as we shall see, HRW seized on the azimuths provided by the UN Mission and dashed off on a new wild goose chase. Apparently HRW now considered that nearly 20 per cent of the ‘witnesses and survivors’ it had interviewed were no longer credible regarding the direction of the rockets.

Nevertheless on page 1 of his report Mr Bouckaert felt confident enough to declare

Based on the available evidence, Human Rights Watch finds that Syrian government forces were almost certainly responsible for the August 21 attacks, and that a weapons-grade nerve agent was delivered during the attack using specially designed rocket delivery systems.

The ‘evidence’ produced on p20 of the report amounts to nothing more than supposition. Mr Bouckaert merely states his scepticism that the rebels could have fired surface-to-surface rockets at two different locations in the Damascus suburbs; he asserts that the types of rockets thought to have been used are not reported to be in possession of the opposition nor is there any footage showing that they have mobile launchers suitable; and he states that the large amounts of dangerous nerve agent would require sophisticated techniques beyond the capabilities of the rebels. No actual evidence is cited to show that this weaponry is Syrian Army equipment. On the contrary the Soviet 140 mm rocket referred to on p15 requires a BM-14 rocket launcher, first produced in the late 1940s.

The Syrian Army equipment list produced by Global Security shows none of this obsolete weaponry in stock but instead lists around 300 of the BM-21 launcher which replaced it. The BM-21 launches a 122mm rocket, so the Army would be unable to fire the 140mm rocket that rebels found and the UN Mission inspected at Moadamiyah. [14] [15] Mr Bouckaert might also recall that Israel has a common border to Syria and is known to have stocks of sarin amongst the vast collection of illegal chemical and biological weaponry amassed by the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) at Nes Ziona. [16] YouTube videos also show Syrian rebels in possession of mobile rocket launchers. [17] HRW really did assemble a Mickey Mouse team of researchers when they cobbled together this report.

Nevertheless HRW’s reputation and distribution ensured that their allegation was distributed by agencies such as Associated Press [18] and reported by outlets which included the BBC [19], CBS [20], New York Post [21] and other international media such as the Tasmanian newspaper The Examiner [22] and the Jakarta Post [23]. None of these outlets questioned the veracity of this very serious allegation against the Syrian Army.

On 11 September, a day after the HRW report was published, the International Support Team for Mussalaha in Syria published its unique and important analysis of documentation nominated by US intelligence. [24] Having carefully and thoughtfully analysed the data, including a number of images also published in the Bouckaert report, the study discovered not only widespread manipulation of evidence, but in the tradition of BBC reporting in Syria, [25] they also discovered that photographs of victims in Cairo had been described as victims of a chemical attack in Syria. This preliminary study concludes that there has been gross media manipulation and calls for an independent and unbiased International Commission to identify the children who were killed and try to find the truth of the case. This writer has not seen any HRW document which refers to the ISTEAMS study.

The UN Mission report was published six days after the Bouckaert report on 16 September. This disclosed that the Mission had been allowed a total of only seven-and-a-half hours on-site in the two suburbs which are both located in opposition-controlled areas. During that period they had experienced repeated threats of harm and one actual attack by an unidentified sniper on 26 August. [26] Nevertheless they had collected samples and ‘a considerable amount of information’ along with ‘primary statements from more than fifty exposed survivors including patients, health workers and first-responders.’ In fact the statements had been taken in interviews with nine nurses, seven doctors and 36 survivors. [27] The Mission concluded that there was ‘definitive evidence of exposure to Sarin by a large proportion of the survivors assessed’ [28] and it stated that it had been informed that victims began suffering effects following an artillery barrage on 21 August 2013. All interviews, sampling and documentation followed procedures developed by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the World Health Organisation.

The report states that ‘several surface to surface rockets capable of delivering significant chemical payloads were identified and recorded at the investigated sites’ but only five impact sites in total were investigated by the Mission (presumably because of the time constraints imposed on them by those who controlled the areas).

The UN report is not without its contradictions. In a summary in their Letter of Transmittal the authors wrote ‘In particular, the environmental, chemical and medical samples, we have collected, provide clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were used in Ein Tarma, Moadamiyah and Zamalka…’.

And yet none of the 13 environmental samples taken from Moadamiyah were found to have any traces of sarin, although one of the two laboratories conducting the analyses found degradation products of sarin in four of the thirteen samples while a further sample was found to contain degradation products by the other lab. Although two of the samples were unspecified metal fragments, none of the samples was specifically described as being part of a rocket. [29] Does the discovery of degradation products in 38 per cent of the samples (and only 23 per cent of the tests) along with a complete absence of the chemical agent itself constitute ‘clear and convincing evidence’ that Moadamiyah was attacked by surface-to-surface rockets containing sarin?

Most important however are the two caveats included in the report. On p 18 the inspectors wrote concerning the Moadamiyah site.

The sites have been well travelled by other individuals both before and during the investigation Fragments and other possible evidence have clearly been handled/moved prior to the arrival of the investigation team. [Emphasis added.]

Similar tampering of the evidence was noted at the other site as the report notes on p22

During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated. [Emphasis added]

HRW was quick to seize on the UN report to substantiate its own allegations, although some adjustments were now necessary to get their allegations to dovetail neatly into the report’s findings. On 17 September Josh Lyons used the azimuths cited for the rockets in Appendix 5 of the Mission report  to produce a cross reference which suggested that the military base of the Republican Guard 104th Brigade had been the launch site for the chemical weapons. [30] (Mr Lyons called this ‘Connecting the dots’. By coincidence, when referring to the Sellström Report on 19 September, John Kerry  said ‘But anybody who reads the facts and puts the dots together, which is easy to do, and they made it easy to do, understands what those facts mean.’? [31] ‘Facts’ can mean anything if distorted enough, Mr Kerry.)

Once again no supporting evidence was provided to explain why HRW blames the Syrian Army, and all previous locations suggested for the launch were conveniently forgotten. To recap, Peter Bouckaert reported two witness statements that the rockets came from the direction of the Mezzeh Military Airport (more than 6 kilometres from the Republican Guard base) and HRW’s ‘expert’ Eliot Higgins was convinced that they were fired from north of the target sites.

To make his case Mr Lyons is being dishonest. Referring to unspecified ‘declassified reference guides’ he tells us that the 140mm artillery rocket could have reached Moadamiya, 9.5Km from the Republican Guard’s base. Yet even if a seventy-year old rocket system could indeed fly that far, Mr Lyons is forgetting that the Syrian Army no longer has these outdated systems. It therefore no longer has 140mm rockets, one of which is alleged to have been responsible for part of this crime against humanity. He is also forgetting that no actual chemical agent was found at Moadamiya, so it is premature to start producing cross references from that site. And above all he is deliberately omitting to tell his readers about the caveats written for both target sites by the UN inspectors that clearly and unequivocally suggest that the evidence has been tampered with at both sites which are located in opposition-controlled areas.

None of these inconvenient truths have stopped the HRW juggernaut. On 20 September the Guardian published an article by HRW staffer Sarah Margon promoting both the Bouckaert report and the Lyons’ calculations (apparently unaware of the contradiction between the two). She ended up by calling for an Obama/Kerry commitment to ensure there is ‘accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people’. [32] But of course she was not writing about Fellujah or Gaza or the IIBR at Nes Ziona.


[1]  Wikipedia; Ghouta chemical attacks. (Accessed 23 September 2013)

[2]       Sellström, Åke. et al., 13 September 2013; United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic – Report on the Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in the Ghouta Area of Damascus on 21 August 2013; United Nations; para 15, p3.

[3]       Bouckaert, Peter,  10 September 2013; Attacks on Ghouta, Analysis of Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria; Human Rights Watch.

[4] (Accessed 23 September 2013)

[5]          Attacks on Ghouta; op.cit. pp. 1 and 2.

[6] (Accessed 23 September 2013)

[7] (Accessed 22 September   2013)

[8]          AbuKhalil, As’ad, 7 September 2011; The Mossad in Hollywood Movies; alakhbar English. (Accessed 22 September 2013)

[9]          Weaver, Matthew, 21 March 2013; How Brown Moses exposed Syrian arms trafficking from his front room; The Guardian. (Accessed 21 September 2013)

[10] (Accessed 23 September 2013)

[11]       (Accessed 23 September 2013)

[12]        Sellström, Åke. et al.;  p23.

[13]        Attacks on Ghouta; op.cit., p6.

[14]  (Accessed 23 September 2013)

[15]  (Accessed 23 September 2013)

[16]        Abu-Sitta, Salman; Traces of poison; Al-Ahram 27Feb – 5 March 2003, Issue No. 627.

[17]        For example,,   (h/t timbercrown)

[18] (Accessed 22 September 2013)

[19] (Accessed 22 September 2013)

[20] (Accessed 22 September 2013)

[21] (Accessed 22 September 2013)

[22] (Accessed 22 September 2013)

[23] (Accessed 22 September 2013)


[25]        Lightbown, Richard, 18 June 2012; Syria: Media Lies, Hidden Agendas and Strange Alliances; Global Research.

[26]        Sellström, Åke. et al.;  para 18.

[27]        Sellström, Åke. et al.;  paras. 18, 19 and 21, Appendix 7.

[28]        Sellström, Åke. et al.;  p17.

[29]        Sellström, Åke. et al.;  pp. 24/5 and 27-29.

[30]        Lyons, Josh, 17 September 2013 ; Dispatches : Mapping the Sarin Flight Path; Human Rights Watch. (Accessed 21 September 2013)

[31]        Kerry: U.N. report confirms Assad responsible for chemical attack (Accessed 22 September 2013)

[32]        Margon, Sarah, 20 September 2013; The sarin gas attack is just one Syrian atrocity the ICC should pursue’; The Guardian. (Accessed 22 September 2013)

Richard Lightbown is a researcher and occasional writer on human rights issues, particularly relating to the Middle East.

US Drone Strikes in Pakistan: “Naming the Dead”

September 24th, 2013 by Rachel Oldroyd

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has launched an ambitious new project aiming to identify as many as possible of those killed by CIA drones in Pakistan.

It has launched a dedicated website – – which will list the known names of those reported killed by drones together with as much biographical information as can be gathered.

At launch, the Bureau is publishing in English and Urdu the names of over 550 people – both militants and civilians. This list will grow in the future.

Of the named individuals:

  • 295 are civilians, including 95 children

  • 255 are alleged militants – of whom 74 are classed as senior commanders

  • Just two are women


Homepage image1

Naming the Dead builds on the Bureau’s two-year project tracking drone strikes in Pakistan and the numbers of people reportedly killed. This extensive research has found that at least 2,500 people have reportedly been killed, including at least 400 civilians. But almost nothing is known about the identities of these casualties.

The Obama administration has claimed that drones are a highly precise weapon that target al Qaeda and affiliated groups, while causing almost no civilian harm. But it does not publish its own account of who it believes has been killed. By gaining a clearer understanding of who is dying in drone strikes the Bureau aims to inform the debate around the effectiveness of the US’s use of drones – and around this rapidly evolving weapons system.

Bureau journalists have revisited all the media reports, court documents and other sources from which they compiled the drone strike data. From these sources, the Bureau has identified 568 individuals by name. But an estimated four out of five drone victims are not named in the available sources.

At launch, the Bureau is publishing case studies on 20 individuals, including both civilians and alleged militants.

Over the coming months the Bureau will extend its research to add to the list of names and to add biographical details to more individuals.

The Bureau hopes that the families and friends of those killed in drone strikes will come forward to corroborate, contradict or offer additional details to help build a fuller picture of those killed.

Reporting from Pakistan’s tribal regions is challenging and there are many individuals whose name is the only thing we know of them. Sometimes we only have part of a name.

For others, particularly senior militants, there is more detail available. Bureau journalists have drawn on sources such as sanctions notices, ‘most wanted’ lists, martyrdom statements and jihadi biographies, diplomatic cables, and reporting of past activities.

Casualty recording efforts such as Naming the Dead are an important step towards avoiding future conflicts, says Hamit Dardagan, co-director of the Every Casualty campaign. ‘Casualty recording is a way of recognising the humanity of people who have been killed, and making not just their death but also the manner of their death part of the public record – which is important if one is to prevent these kinds of deaths happening again.’

Christopher Hird managing editor of the Bureau, said: ‘The Bureau’s drones project has played an important part in helping to inform the debate about the use of drones in warfare.  Until now we have concentrated on getting the most reliable numbers for those killed. But in the end this is about people  – men, women and children; civilians and militants. Naming the Dead aims to both put names to these numbers and also to give fuller biographical details of those who have died so that the public and politicians can better understand the complexity of what is happening on the ground in Pakistan.’

Related story: Only one in five of those killed in CIA drone strikes in Pakistan have been named

Physician Dahlia Wasfi’s powerful speech featured in TheParadigmShift 2009 video

Our only apparent solution: the 99% demanding arrests of obvious US War Criminals (video has images of US war-murders)

“We have an obligation to every last victim of this illegal aggression because all of this carnage has been done in our name.

Since World War 2, 90% of the casualties of war are unarmed civilians, one-third of them children….”

“We have an obligation to every last victim of this illegal aggression because all of this carnage has been done in our name. Since World War 2, 90% of the casualties of war are unarmed civilians, one-third of them children. Our victims have done nothing to us. From Palestine to Afghanistan, to Iraq, to Somalia, to wherever our next target may be, their murders are not collateral damage, they are the nature of modern warfare. They don’t hate us because of our freedoms. They hate us because every day we are funding and committing crimes against humanity. The so-called “war on terror” is a cover for our military aggression to gain control of the resources of western Asia.

This is sending the poor of this country to kill the poor of those Muslim countries. This is trading blood for oil. This is genocide. And to most of the world, we are the terrorists. In these times, remaining silent on our responsibility to the world and its future is criminal. And in light of our complicity in the supreme crimes against humanity in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ongoing violations of the U.N. Charter in International Law, how dare any American criticize the actions of legitimate resistance to illegal occupation.

Our so-called enemies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, our other colonies around the world, and our inner cities here at home, are struggling against the oppressive hand of empire, demanding respect for their humanity. They are labeled insurgents or terrorists for resisting rape and pillage by the white establishment, but they are our brothers and sisters in the struggle for justice. The civilians at the other end of our weapons don’t have a choice, but American soldiers have choices. And while there may have been some doubt 5 years ago, today we know the truth. Our soldiers don’t sacrifice for duty-honor-country, they sacrifice for Kellogg Brown & Root.

They don’t fight for America, they fight for their lives and their buddies beside them, because we put them in a war zone. They’re not defending our freedoms, they’re laying the foundation for 14 permanent military bases to defend the freedoms of Exxon Mobil and British Petroleum.

They’re not establishing democracy, they’re establishing the basis for an economic occupation to continue after the military occupation has ended. Iraqi society today, thanks to American “help” is defined by house raids, death squads, check-points, detentions, curfews, blood in the streets, and constant violence. We must dare to speak out in support of the Iraqi people, who resist and endure the horrific existence we brought upon them through our bloodthirsty imperial crusade. We must dare to speak out in support of those American war-resisters, the real military heroes, who uphold their Oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, including those terrorist cells in Washington DC more commonly known as the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches.

Frederick Douglass said:

‘Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are people who want crops without plowing the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both … but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will.’

Every one of us, every one of us must keep demanding, keep fighting, keep thundering, keep plowing, keep speaking, keep struggling until justice is served. NO justice, NO peace.”

In a move that illuminates the class character of the Detroit bankruptcy proceedings, the city’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, is proposing to pay off two banks before all the rest of the city’s creditors, including retired workers who are owed their pensions.

This week Orr’s legal team is appealing to the bankruptcy court to allow the city to pay at least $250 million to UBS and Bank of America immediately, as part of an agreement to “unwind” a complex interest rate swap agreement. The proposal amounts to a payment of the two banks of between 75 and 82 cents on the dollar, far more than Orr is proposing to pay other obligations.

On Monday, US Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes delayed a hearing on the proposal, with city officials requesting more time. Other wealthy bondholders are upset at the deal because it may mean that they get less money on their own claims.

The $250 million payment is for interest incurred and includes a sizable termination fee for a default-swap loan made in 2006 to enable the maintenance of payments to the pension fund. The deal was pushed by the two banks with the claim that interest rates were almost certain to go up. The city agreed to pay a fixed rate of 6.3 percent, while UBS and Bank of America would pay the difference between the actual market rate interest and the agreed upon fixed rate.

The collapse of the economy in 2008-2009 and the response of the government created the opposite situation: interests plummeted, creating a disaster for the city and a boondoggle for UBS and Bank of America. The city has been saddled with the interest debt at well above market rates, exacerbating the financial crisis and making Detroit more vulnerable to the financial predators who now are assailing it.

The Detroit News cites Robert Brooks, a professor of finance at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, who points out that Detroit is among many cities that made “bad bets” on interest rates. “They bought the story line in ’06 that rates were at an all-time low and they should lock this in with a swap. .. making the bet that rates were going to go up.”

Brooks added, “It’s kind of like gamblers ruin —now that I’m underwater, let’s double down.”

Orr’s office says there is no choice but to terminate the swap arrangement because the two banks control access to $15 million a month in casino tax revenue as part of an agreement made in 2009 to avert a much larger payout.

University of Maryland law school financial derivatives expert Michael Greenberger said, “He gave the banks a big, wet sloppy kiss. Why should the banks get 75 to 82 cents on the dollar, but the Detroit workers get 10 cents on the dollar? Whose life is destroyed by this?”

Unwinding the swap with UBS and the Bank of America entails the payment of huge termination fees demanded by the banks. Patrick O’Keefe, CEO of a Detroit-area financial restructuring firm said, “It makes almost no sense to unwind a swap because whatever you pay in a premium has to get factored into what you’re going [sic] pay.” Because the swap arrangements are tied to the duration of the pension bonds which expire in 2029 and 2034, the banks are free to levy large fees in order to end them.

The complex chain of events leading to the forced bankruptcy of the city all involve the operations of financial institutions plundering the assets of Detroit.

The proposal of Orr’s office has nothing to do with freeing funds for “reinvestment in this city to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the citizens,” as Orr testified last week, but rather to cherry-pick the existing revenues to ensure the profits of the largest creditors.

The proposals of the emergency manager to end retiree health care and slash pensions expose the real intentions of the financial dictatorship imposed on the citizens of Detroit.

US and Iran Set to Meet at UN

September 24th, 2013 by Bill Van Auken

The Obama administration confirmed Monday that US Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to meet with his Iranian counterpart Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif this week, the first such high-level contact between the two governments since the 1979 Iranian revolution overthrew the US-backed dictatorship of the Shah.

The meeting, which will take place in conjunction with the opening of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, will include the other members of the so-called P5+1—Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany—the group of countries which have conducted diplomatic negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.

The White House Monday downplayed speculation that President Barack Obama will stage some kind of symbolic encounter with newly-elected Iranian President Hasan Rouhani, both of whom are set to address the opening session of the UN General Assembly today.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Monday that the US was willing to hold talks with Iran, “commensurate with a willingness by Iran to be serious about dealing with its nuclear weapons program.” The Iranian government has consistently denied that there is any such program and insisted that its nuclear activities are dedicated to peaceful purposes. US intelligence estimates have substantiated that Iran has no ongoing nuclear weapons program.

Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes adopted a similar tack, insisting that the draconian sanctions imposed by Washington and its allies was necessary to “prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, but that the Obama administration was also holding “open the door to a diplomatic solution so that we can achieve a resolution to this issue that prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon while allowing them access to peaceful nuclear power consistent with the nonproliferation obligations.”

The absence of any evidence that Iran is conducting anything other than the development of peaceful nuclear technology in full compliance with international treaties has not kept Washington and the US corporate media from presenting a nuclear-armed Iran as an imminent threat—justifying not only economic sanctions that punish its more than 76 million people, but also direct military attack.

Earlier, Rhodes warned, “We’ve always made clear that there’s not an open-ended window for diplomacy,” an implicit threat that if Tehran does not bow to US imperialism’s demands, it can expect military aggression.

The election of Rouhani, who took office last month, was driven in large part by the desire of Iranians to escape the sanctions regime. Sanctions have driven unemployment up sharply, saddled Iran with a nearly 40 percent inflation rate, and cut oil revenues in half. Formerly the second-largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Producing Countries, it has fallen to sixth place. And, while medicine is supposedly exempt from sanctions, threats to banks and shippers for dealing with Iran have effectively cut off imports, leading to widespread shortages and a growing number of deaths.

Before leaving for the UN meeting, Rouhani told reporters in Tehran: “On this trip, I will try to deliver the voice of the oppressed people of Iran to the world, and we should say that sanctions are an illegal and unacceptable path.”

Signaling the attempt by the Iranian bourgeoisie to shift relations with US imperialism and its allies, Mohammad Khatami, who was Iran’s president from 1997 to 2005 and remains a key figure in the “reformist” faction of the Iranian regime, wrote in an op-ed piece for the British daily Guardian Monday that Rouhani was coming to New York with an “agenda for change” providing “an unrivaled and possibly unrepeatable opportunity for Iran, the West, and all local and regional powers.”

He added that Rouhani enjoys “explicit public support” from Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei for reaching “a diplomatic resolution of a number of foreign policy issues with the west, not just the nuclear issue.”

There are clear signs of divisions within the Iranian regime, however. On the eve of Rouhani’s trip to New York, Iran’s politically powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps warned, “Historical experiences make it necessary for the diplomatic apparatus of our country to carefully and skeptically monitor the behavior of White House officials, so that the righteous demands of our nation are recognized and respected by those who favor interaction.”

Nuclear talks between the major world powers and Iran have been stalled for the last eight years, with the last round of negotiations taking place in Kazakhstan in April. As with previous sessions, it broke down as the US and its allies presented ultimatums to Iran to halt uranium enrichment activities that are consistent with the Non-Proliferation Treaty to which it is a signatory, while offering only minimal changes to what is in effect an economic blockade of the country.

A bipartisan group of US Senators addressed letters to Obama Monday, urging no significant change in this policy.

“Iran must show it is serious about reaching a legitimate diplomatic solution accompanied by full and verifiable compliance. Talks cannot be merely a stalling tactic, while Iran continues to move forward with aggressive enrichment of uranium,” Senators Charles Schumer (Democrat from New York) and John McCain (Republican-Arizona) wrote to Obama.

They urged no easing of sanctions. “Now is not the time to let up on this pressure,” Schumer and McCain wrote. “Removal of any existing sanctions must depend on Iran’s halting of its nuclear program. Conversely, the continuation or expansion of its nuclear activities will only lead to more sanctions led by the United States and our friends and allies.”

Similarly, Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Republican Lindsey Graham addressed an open letter to the US president warning that “However, whatever nice words we may hear from Mr. Rouhani, it is Iranian action that matters.”

Earlier this year, Menendez and Graham presented a resolution in the Senate urging Washington to give a green light for an Israeli military strike on Iran and for the US to provide “diplomatic, military and economic support” to the Israeli regime in the event of such an attack.

Their response to Rouhani’s overtures dovetails with that of Israel. Last week, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued a statement dismissing Rouhani’s offers to negotiate. “The true test is not Rouhani’s words, but rather the deeds of the Iranian regime, which continues to aggressively advance its nuclear program while Rouhani is giving interviews,” it said.

Like the unsubstantiated charge that Syria used chemical weapons against its population, the allegations about the Iranian nuclear program have never been anything more than a pretext for aggression against Iran, which is viewed as an obstacle to the imposition of US imperialist hegemony over the oil-rich and strategically critical regions of the Persian Gulf and Central Asia.

Whatever negotiations Washington enters into will be aimed extracting concessions that would further cripple Iran, leaving it more vulnerable to future US military intervention.

North American Integration and the Militarization of the Arctic

September 24th, 2013 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

The Battle for the Arctic is part of a global military agenda of conquest and territorial control. It has been described as a New Cold War between Russia and America. 

Washington’s objective is to secure territorial control, on behalf of the Anglo-American oil giants, over extensive Arctic oil and natural gas reserves. The Arctic region could hold up to 25% of the World’s oil and gas reserves, according to some estimates. (Moscow Times, 3 August 2007). These estimates are corroborated by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS): ”The real possibility exists that you could have another world class petroleum province like the North Sea.” (quoted by, 25 October 2006)

From Washington’s perspective, the battle for the Arctic is part of broader global military agenda.

It is intimately related to the process of North American integration under the Security and Prosperity Partnership Agreement (SPP) and the proposed North American Union (NAU). The SPP envisages, under the auspices of a proposed  “multiservice [North American] Defense Command”, the militarization of a vast territory extending from the Caribbean basin to the Canadian Arctic.

It also bears a relationship to America’s hegemonic objectives in different parts of the World including the Middle East. The underlying economic objective of US military operations is the conquest, privatization and appropriation of the World’s reserves of fossil fuel. The Arctic is no exception. The Arctic is an integral part of the “Battle for Oil”.  It is one of the remaining frontiers of untapped energy reserves.

The Arctic nations (with territories North of the Arctic circle) are Russia, Canada, Denmark, the US, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland. The first three countries (Russia, Canada and Denmark) possess significant territories extending northwards of the Arctic circle. (see Map).

Copyright BBC

Directed against Russia, which is in the process of claiming part of the Arctic shelf, Washington’s Arctic strategy is tied into a broader process of militarization and territorial integration.

UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

The United States has adopted a unilateral approach to Arctic development. It has refused to approve the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which was ratified by both Russia and Canada. A United Nations Committee currently administers the Law of the Sea Convention.

The US transpolar territory is much smaller than that of Russia, Canada and Denmark. US territories bordering the Arctic are limited to the North Alaskan coastline, extending from the Bering straits to the Northeastern Alaskan US-Canadian border. The US has a number of US military bases and installations in Alaska. There are several human settlements on the Northern Slope ( Northern Alaska coastline bordering the Arctic Ocean), including Prudhoe Bay, Barrow and Cape Lisborne. This Northern Slope is rich in oil. It was among the first areas of development of Arctic oil.  The Alaskan pipeline links Prudoe Bay on the North Slope to the port of Valdez in Prince William Sound on the Gulf of Alaska.


Russia, in contrast, has by far the largest border with the Arctic, from the Northwestern city of Murmansk on the Russian-Finnish border, extending over the entire Northern Siberian region, to the Bering Straits, which separate Alaska from the Russian Federation. Murmansk is the largest city north of the Arctic Circle, with a population of more than 400,000 inhabitants. In other words, a large part of the Russian Siberian continental shelf borders the Arctic.

Russia, going back to the Soviet era, had established scientific-military stations on the island of Northern Zemlya as well as in the Francois Joseph archipelago (Franz Josef Land), which is also under Russian jurisdiction. (See map.)  Northern Zemlya was used during the Soviet era for underground nuclear testing.

Russia is now claiming sovereignty (under the International Convention on the Law of the Sea, UNCLOS) over a vast 1,191,000 sq km territory which is part of the Arctic shelf.

This territory claimed by Russia submitted to the UN Committee that administers UNCLOS is said to contain substantial hydrocarbon reserves, on the Arctic seabed:

The 1982 International Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) establishes a 12 mile zone for territorial waters and a larger 200 mile economic zone in which a country has exclusive drilling rights for hydrocarbon and other resources.

Russia claims that the entire swath of Arctic seabed in the triangle that ends at the North Pole belongs to Russia, but the United Nations Committee that administers the Law of the Sea Convention has so far refused to recognize Russia’s claim to the entire Arctic seabed.

In order to legally claim that Russia’s economic zone in the Arctic extends far beyond the 200 mile zone, it is necessary to present viable scientific evidence showing that the Arctic Ocean’s sea shelf to the north of Russian shores is a continuation of the Siberian continental platform. In 2001, Russia submitted documents to the UN commission on the limits of the continental shelf seeking to push Russia’s maritime borders beyond the 200 mile zone. It was rejected.

Now Russian scientists assert there is new evidence that Russia’s northern Arctic region is directly linked to the North Pole via an underwater shelf. Last week a group of Russian geologists returned from a six-week voyage to the Lomonosov Ridge, an underwater shelf in Russia’s remote eastern Arctic Ocean. They claimed the ridge was linked to Russian Federation territory, boosting Russia’s claim over the oil- and gas-rich triangle.

The latest findings are likely to prompt Russia to lodge another bid at the UN to secure its rights over the Arctic sea shelf. If no other power challenges Russia’s claim, it will likely go through unchallenged. (See Vladimir Frolov, Global Research, July 2007)

Russia is basing its claim on the grounds that this portion of the Arctic sea shelf is connected to Russia’s continental shelf, through the 2000 km long underwater Lomonosov ridge. ”According to Russian media, the physical connection to the Russian intercontinental shelf means that the ridge is technically a part of Russia, and therefore open to exploitation.”


The Strategic Role of Canada and Denmark’s Arctic Territories 

After Russia, Canada and Denmark have the largest transpolar territories.

To effectively challenge and encroach upon Russian territorial claims in the Arctic, Washington requires not only the collaboration of Canada and Denmark, but also jurisdiction over their respective Northern territories,  which are considered by Washington as strategic from both a military and economic standpoint.

The US has a military presence in both Canada and Denmark (Greenland). Both countries play an important role in Washington’s Arctic strategy.

Canada’s territory, extends northwards to the Queen Elizabeth archipelago which includes Ellesmere Island bordering onto the Sea of Lincoln, which is part of the Arctic Ocean. Ellesmere Island is part of the Canadian territory of Nunavut.

Alert on Ellesmere Island (located at 82°28′N, 62°30′W) is considered the northernmost human settlement in the world. In practice it operates as a military intelligence station (Canadian Forces Station Alert) is under the jurisdiction of the Canadian military. CFS Alert is 840 km from the North Pole.

The militarization of the Arctic is part of the process of North American integration under the Security and Prosperity Partnership Agreement (SPP). The proposed North American Union (NAU) constitutes a means for the US to extend its sovereignty over Canada’s Arctic territories.

When the creation of US Northern Command was announced in April 2002, Canada accepted the right of the US to deploy US troops on Canadian soil, extending into its Arctic territories:

“U.S. troops could be deployed to Canada and Canadian troops could cross the border into the United States if the continent was attacked by terrorists who do not respect borders, according to an agreement announced by U.S. and Canadian officials.” (Edmunton Sun, 11 September 2002)

In April 2006, Canada formally ratified a renewed North American Aerospace Defense Agreement (NORAD), (“renewed NORAD”), which allows the US Navy and Coast Guard to deploy American war ships in Canadian territorial waters including its Arctic seabed territories. (For further details, see Michel Chossudovsky, Canada’s Sovereignty in Jeopardy: The Militarization of North America, Global Research, August 2007)


Greenland, which is under Danish jurisdiction, constitutes a sizeable landmass bordering the Arctic Ocean.

The Thule Air Force base in Northern Greenland is under the jurisdiction of the US Air Force 821st Air Base Group. It  constitutes the US’s  northernmost military facility (76°32′N, 68°50′W). The military base lies approximately 1118 km north of the Arctic Circle and 1524 km south of the  Terrestrial North Pole. The Thule base is 885 km east of the North Magnetic Pole.

The Thule US Air Force base also “hosts the 12th Space Warning Squadron, a Ballistic Missile Early Warning Site designed to detect and track Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) launched against North America.”

The Thule base links up to NORAD and US Northern Command headquarters at the Peterson Air Force base in Colorado. The Thule base is also “host to Detachment 3 of the 22d Space Operations Squadron, which is part of the 50th Space Wing‘s global satellite control network.”

Denmark is member of NATO, firmly allied with the US. Both Danish and Canadian territory will be used by the US to militarize  the Arctic. Denmark has also been a firm supporter of the Bush administration’s military agenda in the Middle East.

Canada’s Arctic Military Facilities 

Ottawa’s July 2007 decision to establish a military facility in Resolute Bay in the Northwest Passage was not intended to reassert “Canadian sovereignty. In fact quite the opposite. It was established in consultation with Washington. A deep-water port at Nanisivik, on the northern tip of Baffin Island is also envsaged.

The US administration is firmly behind the Canadian government’s decision. The latter does not “reassert Canadian sovereignty”. Quite the opposite. It is a means to eventually establish US territorial control over Canada’s entire Arctic region including its waterways.

Under the renegotiated North American Aerospace Defense Agreement (NORAD), the US military has access to Canada’s domestic territorial waters including Canada’s sea shelf with the Arctic, which coincidentally also provides Washington under the guise of “North American sovereignty” with a justification to challenge Russia in the Arctic.

Peasant Farming, Food Security and Agroecology

September 23rd, 2013 by Grain

 GRAIN | La Vía Campesina | ETC Group

Media release

La Vía Campesina, GRAIN and ETC welcome a new UNCTAD report which states that farming in rich and poor nations alike should shift from monoculture towards greater varieties of crops, reduced use of fertilizers and other inputs, greater support for small-scale farmers, and more locally focused production and consumption of food. More than 60 international experts contributed to the report, launched last week.

UNCTAD’s 2013 Trade and Environment Report (“Wake up before it is too late: make agriculture truly sustainable now for food security in a changing climate”) states that monoculture and industrial farming methods are not providing sufficient affordable food where it is needed, while causing mounting and unsustainable environmental damage.

 This is the line of argument that Vía Campesina, GRAIN and the ETC group have been advocating for over twenty years. They contributed chapters to the UNCTAD report and have now created a joint partnership to advance agroecology and peasant farming as alternatives.

Over the past few years, we have seen a steady flow of high level reports from the UN system and development agencies arguing in favour of small farmers and agroecology. International recognition that this is the way to solve the food and climate crisis is clearly building, but this has not been translated into real action on the ground where peasant farmers increasingly face marginalisation and oppression.

“Long before the release of this report, small farmers around the world were already convinced that we absolutely need a diversified agriculture to guarantee a balanced local food production, the protection of people’s livelihoods and the respect of nature. To achieve this goal, the protection of the huge variety of local seeds and farmers’ rights to use them is paramount. As small farmers, we are struggling to preserve our own indigenous seeds and knowledge of farming systems,” said Elizabeth Mpofu, general coordinator of La Vía Campesina.

Evidence is mounting that the industrial food system is not only failing to feed the world, but also responsible for some of the planet’s most pressing social and environmental crises. “The industrial food system is directly responsible for around half of all global greenhouse gas emissions, as we showed in our contribution to the UNCTAD report,” says Henk Hobbelink of GRAIN. “We cannot solve the climate crisis without confronting the industrial food system and the corporations behind it. We should be turning to peasant based agroecology instead.”

Pat Mooney of the ETC group adds:

“The corporate food chain uses about 70-80% of the world’s arable land to produce just 30-40% of the food we eat. In the process peasant farmers, the real food producers, get thrown off their land and tremendous environmental harm is done. This is clearly not the way to feed the world”

It is time to translate policy documents into real action and governments at all levels (from local authorities to international bodies) are responsible for taking the right decisions in this regard. We call upon the international community to join us in the struggle for food sovereignty, to resist the corporate control of our food system, and to support peasant farmers and other small scale food producers to feed the world.

For more information:

Henk Hobbelink, GRAIN
[email protected]

Pat Mooney, ETC Group
[email protected]

Vía Campesina is the global movement of peasant farmers struggling for food sovereignty. GRAIN and ETC Group are international organisations that fight the industrial food system and support peasant based alternatives. They have joined forces in a partnership to advance peasant based agroecology.

 UNCTAD is the United Nation’s Conference on Trade and Development. The 2013 Trade and Environment Report can be downloaded from:

Endless War and the “Pictures in Our Heads”

September 23rd, 2013 by James F. Tracy

Over ninety years ago political analyst Walter Lippmann noted how the masses overwhelmingly rely on subjective views–“the pictures in our heads,” or what he termed “stereotypes”–to make sense of the world. “The stereotype,” Edward Bernays elaborated, “is the basis of a large part of the work of the public relations counsel.”[1]

These views mirror those of an elite class that Lippmann and Bernays were pleased to serve—an elite that, taken as a whole, now retains several thousand such minds throughout government and the private sector working. These social scientists and public relations technicians proceed under the broadly-held assumption that as more “qualified” parties are enfranchised enact realpolitik, the public must necessarily be condemned to flounder in Plato’s cave.

Along these lines, Australian propaganda researcher Alex Carey observed how among all countries in the world the United States has the greatest tendency for possessing a “Manichean” worldview—one where social and political phenomena are typically perceived as binary opposites of good-evil, sacred-satanic, and so on.  This observation is reaffirmed in more recent research.[2]

Such a belief system is anticipated and encouraged by the carefully-crafted propaganda and disinformation that pervades government pronouncements and corporate news reportage and commentary on both foreign and domestic affairs.

US public opinion is overall against military action against Syria. Yet this attitude obscures the fact that a similar majority doesn’t understand that the Obama administration and its allies have for over two years supported an intense guerrilla war in Syria that has killed close to one hundred thousand inhabitants and displaced over one million.

A New York Times-commissioned public opinion poll reveals that while Americans are skeptical of President Obama’s attempt to sell them a new war, with seventy-two percent wishing to refrain from inflicting “US democracy” on Syria. A subsequent question suggests the American public’s unfamiliarity with the grave situation in that country.

“Based on what you have seen or read,” the poll asks, “do you think the Syrian government probably did or probably did not use chemical weapons against Syrian civilians?” An overwhelming seventy-five percent responded that it “probably did,” ten-percent said that it “probably did not,” and the remaining fifteen-percent had no opinion.[3]

In other words, nine out of ten Americans are unmindful toward the true geopolitical underpinnings of the Syrian crisis apart from White House propaganda and its heavy reverberation via the corporate media.

A Pew Research Center poll offers similar findings, with fifty-three percent replying that there is “clear evidence” that Bashar al-Assad’s government “used chemical weapons against civilians”, versus twenty-three percent responding that there was “not clear” evidence of such, and an amazing twenty-four percent claiming ignorance.[4]

Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry’s position that Assad is guilty of such crimes is based on doubtful evidence that initially included a photograph taken in Iraq in 2003 of a child leaping over piles of shrouded bodies.[5]

On the other hand, the “rebels” operating in Syria have clear chemical weapons capabilities. This was proven in May when members of the Al-Nusra front were caught by Turkish police preparing to deploy two kilograms of sarin gas inside Turkey and Syria.[6]

Yet such observations may be easily obscured or dismissed—particularly for the educated classes–as the guardians of proper thought deem them among the many “anti-American conspiracy theories,”[7] a term that intends to short-circuit any inquiry among those inclined think twice about conflicting information in news reports.

The experts who craft the “war on terror” propaganda recognize how truly effective publicity must be direct and unambiguous. The official narrative rests on the still broadly-held notion that that US and its allies are “the good guys.”

Proclamations concerning the triumph of genuinely independent fact-based analytical reports of the tragic situation in Syria are thus premature. Despite the cracks and fissures in the official “war on terror” narrative initiated by alternative media, it is still more or less accepted by a US populace that the western-backed Al-Qaeda mercenaries operating in Syria are indeed “protesters,” “activists,” and “rebels.”

The effectiveness of such propaganda rests in the fact that such figures are routinely depicted throughout mainstream news outlets wielding machine guns, grenade launchers, and other sophisticated weaponry while they frolic throughout the country.

9/11 and the subsequent brutal and calculated military onslaughts that have unfolded Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and now Syria cannot emerge as prevailingly uncontested historical events without a citizenry relegated to the hinterlands of what passes for today’s civil society—indeed, without a mass man willing to abandon his own reason and embrace the carefully constructed pictures in his head.

This text which now includes the video was updated on September 23, 2013.


[1] Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion, New York: The New Press, 1997 (1922); Edward Bernays, Crystallizing Public Opinion, New York: Ig Publishing (1923), 115.
[2] Alex Carey, Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda Versus Freedom and Liberty, Andrew Lohrey, ed., Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996. See also “Majority of Americans Believe in the Devil–Especially Republicans, Blacks, and Women,” UK Daily Mail, September 20, 2013.
[3]  Mark Landler and Megan Thee-Brenan, “Survey Reveals Scant Backing for Syria Strike,” New York Times, September 10, 2013.
[4] “Public Opinion Runs Against Syrian Air Strikes,” Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, September 3, 2013.
[5] “’CIA Fabricated Evidence to Lure US Into War with Syria,’”, September 9, 2013; Julie Wilson, “Bombshell: Kerry Caught Using Fake Photos to Fuel Syrian War,”, August 30, 2013.
[7] Jon Lee Anderson, “Putin and the Syria Conspiracy Theory Problem,” The New Yorker, September 6, 2013. See also, Jamelle Bouie, “Enough Already: Syria Wasn’t A False Flag Operation,” The Daily Beast, September 10, 2013.



The Hofbräuhauses were packed to capacity this past weekend, as Germans congregated en mass in anticipation, as Bayern Munich joined Borussia Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga, thanks to a 4-0 route over Schalke Saturday evening.

Yes, Germans seem totally uninterested in a number of major issues, like the NSA wiretapping German ministers, or war in Syria, but will talk you under the wooden table at the local Hofbräu over Angela Merkel’s shocking German flag ‘nationalist’ necklace. More on that later.

Elsewhere, as hung over Germans gradually loosened their mortgage grip from their half empty steins Sunday morning, Angela Merkel won her third consecutive term in German elections. Merkel won by an absolute majority, and vowed that she would deliver more “successful years for Germany”.

Once again, she has retained her tiara as the Belle de Jour of Teutonic politics. From Strasbourg  to Berlin, she still evokes subtle excitement and a sexy danger at cocktail parties and economic forums. So what’s her secret, and what makes Ms. Merkel to defacto figurehead of the new Germany?


Angela Merkel became Europe’s most popular leader by telling Germans they don’t need to change (anything), that their energy security was guaranteed, the economy was powerful (at least for car exports) and that they were shielded from the stressful Club Med debt and deficit crisis that has torn southern Europe apart from the wealthy north. No pain, and lots of political gain for Merkel.

But as Mrs. Merkel heads into her third term as Germany’s supreme chancellor, and despite the poll findings there are headwinds for her style of no-worries governance. Warning calls from her previous most-loyal business community are rising, saying she has to move more quickly to confront simmering problems, and must then be able to overturn the ship of state and endanger German prosperity.

Floating high but for how long?

AP reported this week: “We’re living on yesterday’s reserves,” says Dieter Schweer, an executive at the Federation of German Industries, an industry group usually allied with Ms. Merkel’s CDU party.

The problems have no problems being listed. German energy costs are high and will go on rising, unless the Energiewende plan is cut back and its goals pushed further into the future. Infrastructure costs have soared – from roads and water supply to education, health and power grids – but spending has been cut back to fund a consumer prosperity bubble. As a result the country has worn out roads, a power grid system able to black out the country on an increasing basis, gaps in health care and education that continually widen, and other needs – that can only be met by more spending.

Meanwhile, the economy is healthy as measured by Germany’s trade surplus and official jobless totals but is dangerously dependent on car production and exports. Hoped-for new industries linked to the energy transition plan have shrunk, been cut back, or plunged into bankruptcy and company wind-ups as electricity feed-in tariffs and other subsidies were gingerly cut back by Merkel’s government, and competition from China blunted German ambitions to be an export giant in the renewable energy industry. Strip out car making, and Germany has a very unhealthy economy.


Mrs Merkel is however a skilled politician, and she expertly read the German mood during her 8 years in power – to which she has now added another four years as Chancellor. Widely seen as the most powerful politician, with the surest national support in the European Union, she above all, delivered Germans what they want: stability and the status quo.

Merkel knew that the endless circus of “national economic reform”, meaning higher taxes and less public services all across Europe was something Germans had a visceral opposition to. She also spelled out this strategy to her party and its junior coalition partner, the FDP, which ignored her advice, and mired itself in human rights and lifestyle issues – such as de-criminalizing pedophilia. The voters’ sanction was rapid, with the FDP losing voter support in every election held since 2010. In recent weeks the FDP has continued its losing streak, with major defections of leading party members to other parties, such as AFD, or Alternatives For Germany.

Not rocking the boat and floating high on past prosperity has been Merkel’s ticket to power, which she has polished in her frequent party conference speeches and media statements, where she reassures all Germans that she will keep her promise to defend Germany’s prosperous stability amid the eurozone turmoil, and will use her power to prevent the collapse of the euro – despite many Germans dreaming of a return to the Deutschmark. She tells her listeners that “Germany is doing well” but will be stern with her demands for painful overhauls elsewhere in Club Med Europe. In the the event of another round of bailouts for the “poor” south, it’s possible that German voters may begin to drift from their learned love of Euroland.

Perhaps there is something after all, in Merkel’s provocative and subtly exciting black, orange and yellow necklace nationalisté?

Despite opinion polls close to the election showing an erosion of her support, more than two-thirds of Germans approved of her work, with over half say she is the reason why the country is thriving despite the euro crisis, and even voters for opposition parties respond to polls about Merkel by saying she ensures stability. Unfortunately however, after her win this past Sunday, Merkel will herself have to bring in painful reforms. The longer she holds back, the more painful they will be.

One change of German policy is however already clear – and will amplify. Inside the country, its economy is perceived as robust and able to remain strong, because Germany has anchored Europe against falling back into recession, but this policy has its limits. Taxpayers are less willing to continue support for crisis-stricken countries, and despite past and recent spending to support the eurozone, German export markets in Europe, not only in southern Europe, are stagnant or shrinking. This means a change towards helping Germany’s domestic markets, a retreat from the previous “Europeanist” policy.


Alongside a diffuse fear of the future which is spread across the population, Germans are also reassured by Merkel’s continuing, sometimes outspoken refusal to take part in “military adventures” such as the 2011 Libya war, and the attempted military strikes against Syria in 2013.

German economic dependence on exports to its European “internal market” reflected a previous form of economic isolationism, but as Merkel starts a third-term as Chancellor, Germany may progressively move towards another type of isolationism – a retreat from Europe. This dangles the prospect of reheated economic relations with Russia and West Asia.

Fuel and Energy Poverty

Demands for national security, in Germany, were also translated by Merkel as the Energiewende energy plan – but for business and industrial users this leaves them paying about 30% more for a kilowatt-hour of electricity than the 2012 euro-zone average of 11.9 euro cents (15.5 US cents). While some German industries are able to receive major rebates and subisides for electricity, others are not, generating an increasing number of company delocalization plans and a retreat from Germany. The country’s struggling banks have not yet recovered from the 2008 crisis. In some cases decades of “benign neglect” of infrastructures in which Germany investment trailed developed-world averages has caused growing economic pain. The country’s rigid labor laws and a population declining by about 150 000 persons per year due to rapid ageing make for sure and certain economic problems in the future. The national Institute for Economic Research said in an August report that Germany’s impressive-looking financial position “is also a deceptive one.”

The institute’ analysis of under-investment, only in roads and transport infrastructure, ranked this at about 10 billion euros a year, about $13.5 billion. A failure to increase investment in areas like transport, power grids, health and education, the institute said, could reduce Germany’s annual growth by 2017 to 1% or less from present rates near 1.6% per year.

Ms. Merkel has promised the impossible – balanced budgets – but knows that pursuing change more aggressively could undermine the cornerstone of her stability theme, and increase the national mood of isolationism. Making her post-election tasks easier – not more difficult – the rapid erosion, even electoral disappearance of the FDP, and the very limited voter base for AFD means that if she holds coalition talks with the main opposition Social Democrats, her potential for welding a Grand Coalition is high. The SDP has criticized Merkel for moving too slowly on improving infrastructures, education and health, and changing labor laws.

With the Greens and SDP, their aversion to “bold strokes” of the type bludgeoned by the UK’s Mrs Thatcher, which when attempted by Merkel always caused her CDU to lose votes, make it possible for her to launch a little-by-little but real reform process, post-election, if she wins. Mrs. Merkel has cultivated her appeal across traditional party lines, building ties with labor unions, ecology and environment NGOs and womens’ rights associations, her post-Fukushima energy policy – totally abandoning nuclear power – garners her widespread cross party support despite its costs.

Observers should know by now that Germany will certainly not change overnight – but subtle and powerful long-term forces of change will start operating. Summarised in a single comment by Germans polled before the election, cited by newswires, Merkel is seen as “the right woman at the right place and right time” – – because “the others would probably be worse.”

Oh, the lesser of two evils. Not that old chestnut again.

Afghanistan and Iraq: America’s Six Trillion Dollar Wars

September 23rd, 2013 by Global Research News

by Sabir Shah

The decade-long American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would end up costing as much as $6 trillion, the equivalent of $75,000 for every American household, calculates the prestigious Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Remember, when President George Bush’s National Economic Council Director, Lawrence Lindsey, had told the country’s largest newspaper “The Wall Street Journal” that the war would cost between $100 billion and $200 billion, he had found himself under intense fire from his colleagues in the administration who claimed that this was a gross overestimation.

Consequently, Lawrence Lindsey was forced to resign.It is also imperative to recall that the Bush administration had claimed at the very outset that the Iraq war would finance itself out of Iraqi oil revenues, but Washington DC had instead ended up borrowing some $2 trillion to finance the two wars, the bulk of it from foreign lenders.

According to the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government 2013 report, this accounted for roughly 20 per cent of the total amount added to the US national debt between 2001 and 2012.

According to the report, the US “has already paid $260 billion in interest on the war debt,” and future interest payments would amount to trillions of dollars.This Harvard University report has also been carried on its website by the Centre for Research on Globalisation, which is a widely-quoted Montreal-based independent research and media organisation.

In its report under review, the 377-year old Harvard University has viewed that these afore-mentioned wars had not only left the United States heavily indebted, but would also have a profound impact on the federal government’s fiscal and budgetary crises over a protracted period.

The report has attributed the largest share of the trillions of dollars in continuing costs to care and compensation for hundreds of thousands of troops left physically and psychologically damaged by the two wars being discussed here.

The report states:

“The Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, taken together, will be the most expensive wars in US history—totaling somewhere between $4 trillion and $6 trillion. This includes long-term medical care and disability compensation for service members, veterans and families, military replenishment and social and economic costs. The largest portion of that bill is yet to be paid.”

It asserts:

“Another major share of the long-term costs of the wars comes from paying off trillions of dollars in debt incurred as the US government failed to include their cost in annual budgets and simultaneously implemented sweeping tax cuts for the rich. In addition, huge expenditures are being made to replace military equipment used in the two wars. The report also cites improvements in military pay and benefits made in 2004 to counter declining recruitment rates as casualties rose in the Iraq war.”

The authors of this report have warned that the legacy of decisions taken during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars would dominate future federal budgets for decades to come.

According to the Harvard University report, some 1.56 million US troops—56 per cent of all Afghanistan and Iraq veterans—were receiving medical treatment at Veterans Administration facilities and would be granted benefits for the rest of their lives.

It reveals:

“One out of every two veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan has already applied for permanent disability benefits. The official figure of 50,000 American troops “wounded in action” vastly underestimates the real human costs of the two US wars. One-third of returning veterans are being diagnosed with mental health issues—suffering from anxiety, depression, and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”

The report notes that in addition, over a quarter of a million troops have suffered traumatic brain injuries (TBI), which, in many cases, were combined with PTSD, posing greater problems in treatment and recovery.

“Constituting a particularly grim facet of this mental health crisis is the doubling of the suicide rate for US Army personnel, with many who attempted suicide suffering serious injuries,” opine the report authors.

It maintains:

“Overall, the Veterans Administration’s budget has more than doubled over the past decade, from $61.4 billion in 2001 to $140.3 billion in 2013. As a share of the total US budget it has grown from 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent over the same period. Soaring medical costs for veterans is attributable to several factors. Among them is that, thanks to advancements in medical technology and rapid treatment, soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have survived wounds that would have cost their lives in earlier conflicts.”

The Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government report has estimated: “While the US government has already spent $134 billion on medical care and disability benefits for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, this figure will climb by an additional $836 billion over the coming decades.”

It notes that the largest expenditures on health care for World War II veterans took place in the 1980s, roughly four decades after the war, and that spending on medical care and disability payments for Vietnam War veterans was still on the rise.

Here follows the description:

“The most common medical problems suffered by troops returning from the two wars include: diseases of the musculoskeletal system (principally joint and back disorders); mental health disorders; central nervous system and endocrine system disorders; as well as respiratory, digestive, skin and hearing disorders. Overall, some 29 per cent of these troops have been diagnosed with PTSD.”

The report goes on to argue: “Among the most severely wounded are 6,476 soldiers and Marines who have suffered “severe penetrating brain injury,” and another 1,715 who have had one or more limbs amputated. Over 30,000 veterans are listed as suffering 100 percent service-related disabilities, while another 145,000 are listed as 70 to 90 percent disabled.”

It reads: “The worst of these casualties have taken place under the Obama administration as a result of the so-called surge that the Democratic president ordered in Afghanistan.”

It mentions that the Walter Reed Medical Centre, US Army’s flagship hospital at Washington DC, was treating hundreds of recent amputees and severe casualties, adding that this facility had received 100 amputees for treatment during 2010; 170 amputees in 2011; and 107 amputees in 2012.

The report has also stated that the US Marines have suffered an especially high toll.

The report points out: “Massive direct spending on the two imperialist interventions continues. With over 60,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan, it is estimated that the cost of deploying one American soldier for one year in this war amounts to $1 million. These troops continue suffering casualties—including in so-called “green on blue” attacks by Afghan security forces on their ostensible allies. As they are brought home, they will further drive up the costs of medical care and disability compensation. The US is maintaining a vast diplomatic presence in Iraq, including at least 10,000 private contractors providing support in security, IT, logistics, engineering and other occupations; as well as logistics support and payments for leased facilities in Kuwait.”

In its conclusion, the report not only seeks to dispel illusions that ending full-scale wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would produce any kind of “peace dividend” that could help ameliorate conditions of poverty, unemployment and declining living standards for working people in the US itself, but makes it clear that the legacy of decisions made during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts would impose significant long-term costs on the federal government for many years to come.

The past ten days have seen what could be the start of an historic turning point away from endless war in the Middle East.  Public opinion in the United States, in harmony with the majority of people in the world, has clearly rejected U.S. military intervention in Syria.

But for this turn away from war to be complete and lasting, greater awareness is needed of the forces that have been pushing the United States into these wars, and will surely continue to do so until they are clearly and openly rejected.

An American friend who knows Washington well recently told us that “everybody” there knows that, as far as the drive to war with Syria is concerned, it is Israel that directs U.S. policy. Why then, we replied, don’t opponents of war say it out loud, since, if the American public knew that, support for the war would collapse?  Of course, we knew the answer to that question. They are afraid to say all they know, because if you blame the pro-Israel lobby, you are branded an anti-Semite in the media and your career is destroyed.

One who had that experience is James Abourezk, former Senator from South Dakota, who has testified:  “I can tell you from personal experience that, at least in the Congress, the support Israel has in that body is based completely on political fear – fear of defeat by anyone who does not do what Israel wants done. I can also tell you that very few members of Congress–at least when I served there – have any affection for Israel or for its lobby. What they have is contempt, but it is silenced by fear of being found out exactly how they feel. I’ve heard too many cloakroom conversations in which members of the Senate will voice their bitter feelings about how they’re pushed around by the lobby to think otherwise. In private one hears the dislike of Israel and the tactics of the lobby, but not one of them is willing to risk the lobby’s animosity by making their feelings public.”
Abourezk added : “The only exceptions to that rule are the feelings of Jewish members, who, I believe, are sincere in their efforts to keep U.S. money flowing to Israel. But that minority does not a U.S. imperial policy make.”[1]

Since we do not have to run for Congress, we feel free to take a close look at that highly delicate question. First, we’ll review the evidence for the crucial role of the pro-Israel lobby, then we’ll discuss some objections.

For evidence, it should be enough to quote some recent headlines from the American and Israeli press.

First, according to the Times of Israel (not exactly an anti-Zionist rag): “Israel intelligence seen as central to U.S. case against Syria.”[2] (Perhaps the fact that it is “central” also explains why it is so dubious[3].)

Then, in Haaretz[4]: “AIPAC to deploy hundreds of lobbyists to push for Syria action”. Or, in U.S. News and World Report[5]: “Pro-Israel lobby Seeks to Turn Tide on Syria Debate in Congress”. According to Bloomberg[6]: “Adelson New Obama Ally as Jewish Groups Back Syria Strike”. The worst enemies of Obama become his allies, provided he does what “Jewish groups” want. Even rabbis enter the dance: according to the Times of Israel[7], “U.S. rabbis urge Congress to back Obama on Syria”.

The New York Times explained some of the logic behind the pressure: “Administration officials said the influential pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC was already at work pressing for military action against the government of Mr. Assad, fearing that if Syria escapes American retribution for its use of chemical weapons, Iran might be emboldened in the future to attack Israel. … One administration official, who, like others, declined to be identified discussing White House strategy, called AIPAC ‘the 800-pound gorilla in the room,’ and said its allies in Congress had to be saying, ‘If the White House is not capable of enforcing this red line’ against the catastrophic use of chemical weapons, ‘we’re in trouble’.”

Even more interesting, this part of the story was deleted by the New York Times, according to M.J. Rosenberg[8], which is consistent with the fact that the lobby prefers to act discreetly.

Now, to the objections:

There are indeed forces other than the Israel lobby pushing for war.  It is true that some neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia or Turkey also want to destroy Syria, for their own reasons. But they have nowhere near the political influence on the United States of the Israel lobby.  If Saudi princes use their money to try to corrupt a few U.S. politicians, that can easily be denounced as interference by a foreign power in the internal affairs of the United States. But no similar charge can be raised against Israeli influence because of the golden gag rule: any mention of such influence can be immediately denounced as a typical anti-Semitic slur against a nonexistent “Jewish power”.  Referring to the perfectly obvious, public activities of the Israel lobby may even be likened to peddling a “conspiracy theory”.

But many of our friends insist that every war is driven by economic interests. Isn’t this latest war to be waged because big bad capitalists want to exploit Syrian gas, or use Syrian territory for a gas pipeline, or open up the Syrian economy to foreign investments?

There is a widespread tendency, shared by much of the left, especially among people who think of themselves as Marxists (Marx himself was far more nuanced on this issue), to think that wars must be due to cynically rational calculations by capitalists.  If this were so, these wars “for oil” might be seen as “in the national interest”.  But this view sees “capitalism” as a unified actor issuing orders to obedient politicians on the basis of careful calculations.   As Bertrand Russell put it, this putative rationality ignores “the ocean of human folly upon which the fragile barque of human reason insecurely floats”.  Wars have been waged for all kinds of non-economic reasons, such as religion or revenge, or simply to display power.

People who think that capitalists want wars to make profits should spend time observing the board of directors of any big corporation: capitalists need stability, not chaos, and the recent wars only bring more chaos. American capitalists are making fortunes in China and Vietnam now that there is peace between the U.S. and those countries, which was not possible during hostilities. As for the argument that they need wars to loot resources, one may observe that the U.S. is buying oil from Iraq now, and so does China, but China did not have to ruin itself in a costly war.

Like Iraq, Iran or Syria are perfectly willing to sell their resources, and it is the political embargoes imposed by the U.S. that prevent such trade. As for the “war for oil” thesis in the case of Libya, the Guardian recently reported that “Libya is facing its most critical moment since the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi with armed groups blockading oil fields and terminals, choking output to a 10th of normal levels and threatening economic disaster.”[9]As for Iraq, Stephen Sniegoski has shown, in The Transparent Cabal, The Neoconsevative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel, that the war was only due to the neoconservatives and that the oil companies had no desire whatsoever to go to war.  Indeed, there is no evidence of an “oil lobby” sending its agents to urge Members of Congress to vote for war, as AIPAC is doing.

And how does one explain that many of the most determined opponents of war are found on the right of the political spectrum?  Do the Tea Party, Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, Justin Raimundo and, Paul Craig Roberts, among others, fail to see the wonderful profits to be made by capitalists in a devastated Syria?

The fact is that in the post-colonial period, wherever profits can be made through war, they can be made much more reliably in peaceful conditions, and most capitalists seem to have understood that. There is no need to conquer countries in order to purchase their resources, invest in their economies or sell them our products.  Most countries are in fact eager for legitimate trade.

On the other hand, it can be argued that the huge military-industrial complex (MIC) benefits from wars.  Doesn’t the MIC need wars to maintain the lifeblood of military appropriations? Here the matter is complex. The MIC benefits above all from various hyped-up threats of war, most notably the Soviet threat during the Cold War, which kept the credits and contracts flowing through the Pentagon.  But long, botched wars such as in Afghanistan or Iraq tend to give war a bad name, are economically ruinous and lead to questioning the need for the huge U.S. military. The MIC doesn’t need another one in Syria. Many military officers are openly hostile to mounting at attack against Syria.

The interests that profit directly from recent U.S. wars – and not from mere “threats” – are very few. They are above all the giant construction firms, Bechtel, Halliburton and their subsidiaries, which, through their connections with officials such as Dick Cheney, win contracts to build U.S. military bases abroad and sometimes to rebuild infrastructure destroyed by the U.S. Air Force. This amounts to a recycling of American taxpayers’ money, which in no way “profits” the United States, or American capitalism in general; besides, those construction firms are not big compared to major U.S. corporations.  These profiteers could never pose as a “justification” for wars, but are the mere vultures feeding off conflicts.

The basic responsibility for war of the U.S. military-industrial complex is simply that it is there.  And as Madeleine Albright famously said, “what is the use of having that splendid military if we don’t use it?”  In fact, ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union (and indeed arguably ever since the end of World War II), there is no obviously good reason to use it, and it might well be dismantled and resources redirected toward modernizing U.S. infrastructure and other useful and profitable activities.  However, an intellectual industry called “think tanks” has developed in Washington devoted to justifying the perpetuation of the MIC.  It specializes in identifying potential “threats”.  Over the years, these think tanks have increasingly come under the influence of billionaire benefactors of Israel such as Haim Saban (founder of the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution).  Since there are in reality virtually no serious threats to the United States calling for such colossal military strength, alleged “threats to U.S. interests” in the Middle East are invented by adopting supposed threats to Israel as threats to the United States.  Example number one: Iran.

People on the left are not wrong in supposing that Washington would want to defend “American geo-strategic interests”. Those certainly exist, and are a proper object of controversy. But the crucial question here is whether support for Israeli policy aims in the Middle East is among them.  Indeed, there is a sector of the U.S. foreign policy establishment that promotes an aggressive global foreign policy that amounts to a sort of world conquest, with U.S. military bases and military exercises surrounding Russia and China, as if in preparation for some final showdown.  But the fact is that the most active advocates of this aggressive policy are the pro-Israel neoconservatives of the Project for the New American Century that pushed the Bush II presidency into war against Iraq, and now, as the Foreign Policy Initiative, are pushing Obama toward war against Syria.  Their general line is that U.S. and Israeli interests are identical, and that U.S. world domination is good, or even necessary, for Israel. Such close identification with Israel has caused the United States to be intensely hated throughout the Muslim world, which is not good for the United States in the long run.

Perhaps because genuine, material or economic U.S. interests in going to war are so hard to find, the emphasis has shifted in the past decade to alleged “moral” concerns, such as “the responsibility to protect”, packaged with a catchy brand name, “R2P”.  Today, the strongest advocates of going to war are the various humanitarian imperialists or liberal interventionist, who argue on the basis of R2P, or “justice for victims”, or alleged “genocide prevention”.

There is a large overlap between humanitarian interventionism and support for Israel. In France Bernard Kouchner, who first invented and promoted the concept of the “right to intervene”, stated in a recent interview that “Israel is like no other country.  It is the result of the terrifying massacre of the Holocaust.” It is therefore “our duty” to protect it.  Bernard-Henry Lévy prodded the French government to start the war against Libya, making no secret that he considered he was acting as a Jew for the interests of Israel; he is now the foremost and fiercest advocate of bombing Syria.  In both France and the United States, advocates of “humanitarian” intervention justify bombing Syria by referring to the Holocaust in the past and to a hypothetical, and totally unsubstantiated, intention by Iran to risk national suicide by attacking Israel in the future.

In the United States, these concerns of the Israel lobby are given ideological and institutional expression by such influential advisors as Samantha Power, Madeleine Albright and the two Abramowitz’s (Morton the father and Michael the son, in charge of “genocide prevention efforts” at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum).  The argument is used repeatedly that because “we” did not intervene quickly enough against Auschwitz, we have an obligation to intervene militarily to prevent other possible slaughters.

On September 6, the Cleveland Jewish News published a letter from “leading rabbis” urging Congress to support President Obama’s plans to strike Syria. “We write you as descendants of Holocaust survivors and refugees, whose ancestors were gassed to death in concentration camps,” the letter said.  By authorizing bombing raids, the rabbis said, “Congress has the capacity to save thousands of lives”…

Without such dramatization, obscuring the reality of each new crisis with images of the Holocaust, the whole notion that the best way to promote human rights and protect populations is to wage unilateral wars, destroy what is left of the international legal order and spread chaos would be seen for the absurdity it is.  Only the fervor of the champions of Israel enables such emotional arguments to swamp reasonable discussion.

But one may reasonably ask what are the interests of Israel itself in inciting the United States to fight in Syria?  Israelis seem to have frightened themselves into believing that the very existence of another power in the region, namely Iran, amounts to an existential threat.  But the mere fact that a policy is pursued does not mean that it is necessarily in the interests of those who pursue it. That is again ignoring the “ocean of human folly”. Napoleon and Hitler had no interest or desire in bringing Russian troops to Paris or Berlin, but their policies led to precisely that. The emperors of Germany, Austria and Russia had no interest in launching the First World War, since, in the end, they all lost their thrones as a result of the war. But launch it they did. The future is unpredictable, and that is why it is difficult to deduce intentions from consequences.  Israel’s hostile policy toward its neighbors can reasonably be seen as self-defeating in the long run.

Oddly enough, some observers deny the obvious, arguing that Bashar al Assad has allowed Israel to occupy Syrian territory on the Golan Heights and has kept the border quiet (without explaining what else he could have done, given the relationship of forces) and concluding that Israel has no interest in toppling him.  But what matters is that Assad is allied with Hezbollah and with Iran. Israel hates Hezbollah for its successful resistance to Israeli occupation of Lebanon, and sees Iran as the only potential challenge to Israeli military supremacy in the region.

Even so, it is not certain that Israel’s war aim would be to overthrow Assad. A clue to Israel’s strategy is provided by a September 5 article in the New York Times[10]: “Israeli officials have consistently made the case that enforcing Mr. Obama’s narrow ‘red line’ on Syria is essential to halting the nuclear ambitions of Israel’s archenemy, Iran. More quietly, Israelis have increasingly argued that the best outcome for Syria’s two-and-a-half-year-old civil war, at least for the moment, is no outcome. For Jerusalem, the status quo, horrific as it may be from a humanitarian perspective, seems preferable to either a victory by Mr. Assad’s government and his Iranian backers or a strengthening of rebel groups, increasingly dominated by Sunni jihadis.”

“This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win — we’ll settle for a tie,” said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York. “Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.”

So, the real goal of the limited strikes (and the reason why they ought to be limited) would be to send a message to Iran, about its nonexistent nuclear arms program and, in Syria, let both sides “bleed to death”. How nice! Waging a war based on the flimsiest of evidence only to prolong a bloody conflict may not be a very moral endeavor for all those who claim to act out of passion for “our values” and for deep concern over the “suffering of the Syrian people”.

In its zeal to serve what it considers Israel’s interests, AIPAC and its affiliates practice deception concerning the issues at stake. The lobby misrepresents the interests of the United States, and even ignores the long term interests of the Jewish people whom it often claims to represent. It is pure folly for a minority, however powerful and respected, to try to impose an unpopular war on the majority. Since Israel often claims to represent the Jewish people as a whole, if the majority of Americans are forced to pay an unacceptable price for “defending Israel”, sooner or later voices will be raised blaming “the Jews”.  Indeed, this can be seen by a brief look at what already gets written, anonymously of course, on social media, ranging from various conspiracy theories to outright Jew-bashing.

We, who are totally opposed to the notion of collective guilt, wish to avoid such an outcome. Far from being anti-Semitic, we deplore all forms of “identity politics” that ignore the diversity within every human group.  We simply want to be able to say “no” openly to the pro-Israel lobby without being subjected to moral intimidation.  This has nothing to do with Jewish religion or identity or culture: it is entirely political.  We claim our right to refuse to be drawn into somebody else’s war.  We believe that these endless wars are not “good for the Jews” – or for anyone else.  We want to contribute to efforts at mutual understanding, diplomacy, compromise and disarmament. In short, to strengthen “the fragile barque of human reason” adrift on the ocean of human folly.  Otherwise, that folly may drown us all.

For now, the threat of war has been avoided, or at least “postponed”. Let us not forget that Iraq and Libya also gave up their weapons of mass destruction, only to be attacked later. Syria is likely to abandon its chemical weapons, but without any guarantee that the rebels, much less Israel, won’t retain such weapons. The popular mobilization against the war, probably the first one in history to stop a war before it starts, has been intense but may be short-lived.  Those whose war plans have been interrupted can be expected to come up with new maneuvers to regain the initiative.  These past days have given a glimpse of what can be accomplished when people wake up and say no to war.  This must be an inspiration for continued efforts to make diplomacy prevail over bullying, and mutual disarmament over endless war. If people really want peace, it can be possible.

Jean Bricmont teaches physics at the University of Louvain in Belgium. He is author of Humanitarian Imperialism.  He can be reached at [email protected]

Diana Johnstone is author of Fools Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions.  She lives in Paris and can be reached at [email protected]



[3] For a discussion of the “evidence,” see, for example, Gareth Porter: How Intelligence Was to Support an Attack on Syria,


 By Felix Imonti 

Three years has seen the overturn of two government, the deaths of thousands of people and the destruction of much of the Egyptian economy.  In the end, the mobs have changed nothing, except to make their own lives more miserable.

It was a year ago in August of 2012 that the Morsi government approached the International Monetary Fund for a 4.8 billion dollar loan.  That was an increase from the 3.2 billion dollars that the interim military government had sought and that the Muslim Brotherhood members of the parliament had opposed.

Getting the loan was critical.  If Egypt could raise the funds, it would be in a better position to borrow from other sources.  The IMF calculated that Egypt needed at least ten to twelve billion dollars to survive for another year.

First, though, Egypt would have to meet certain standards before a loan could be granted.  The deficit had risen to 8.7 percent of the budget and that would have to be reduced.  Income tax on higher income earners and a higher consumption tax on a variety of goods would have to be imposed.  Bread and energy subsidies that consume a third of the budget needed to be cut sharply.

Mubarak had understood in 1977 that the subsidies were a drain on the national budget and tried to raise prices.  He learned when the mobs when into the streets the lesson that is as true today as it was thirty-six years ago.  A large portion of the Egyptian population views the subsidized items as a right.  40 percent of the population lives below the poverty level and would find their hardship turned into desperation by an increase in prices.  A quarter of the population of 84 million faces some degree of malnutrition and can be brought into the streets without much encouragement.

In December, the mobs were already in the streets to protest Morsi’s usurpation of power as he pushed through his constitutional obsession that was the focus of his government when the taxes and prices were raised.  Instead of abandoning the constitutional conflict in order to resolve an economic crisis, his administration chose to concentrate upon fighting a political war by abandoning the loan.  It was easier for him to defuse one angry mob by canceling the tax increases and the subsidy decreases than it was to appease the mobs opposing his dictatorial rule

He had acquired an economy with structural flaws that would take decades to correct.  Egypt was and remains a rent funded economy that puts the source of wealth beyond the control of the state.  Revenue from the Suez Canal and the Sumed Pipeline, tourist spending, remittances from Egyptians working abroad, and foreign aid support the state.  Before the revolution resulted in the closure of forty-five hundred enterprises and the flight of capital offshore, only 13 percent of foreign earnings came from the export of manufactured goods.

Short of raising fees for use of the Canal or pipeline, that source of income is relatively inflexible.  Tourism was discouraged by news reports of twenty-five riots or demonstrations per day somewhere across the country and a three hundred percent increase in the murder rate.  The civil war in Libya sent most of one and a half million Egyptian workers home to congested cities, inflated the unemployment rate, and cost the countries desperately needed remittance payments.

The one hope came from foreign aid.  Qatar funneled 8 billion dollars to Egypt.  Turkey provided another two billion and Libya added 2 billion more.  Each contribution made is easier to delay settling the loan with the IMF.  It avoided the humiliation of submitting to foreign dictates that threatened to ignite a civil war.

The government was engaged throughout the period in a struggle between the availability of quality bread at an affordable price and the survival of the currency.  Egypt must import fifty percent of its wheat.  Between 2006 and 2011 the price of wheat and fuel rose by 300 percent.  Under usual circumstances, Egypt runs a fifty percent trade deficit that must be offset by the rent sources of income.  Once the disorders began inside and outside of Egypt, the collapsing economy meant that the usual circumstances no longer applied.

Since the start of the Revolution, the Central Bank of Egypt has been engaged in a futile effort to curb the inflation by supporting the exchange rate of the currency.  The Strategy has been to allow for a gradual 3 percent depreciation of the Pound by maintaining a managed float.  That has drained the reserves from 36 billion to 14 billion of which only half was available for international payments.

A million jobs had been lost since the outbreak of the Revolution in January 2011.  Inflation had risen above 10 percent, and foreign reserves had dwindled to a mere two months in funds to finance imports.

These were numbers that the government could not easily conceal from the public.  What the Morsi administration was more interested in hiding was that wheat reserves were down to two months and that the people were on the edge of a famine as well as a currency collapse.

The bulk of the imported wheat comes from Russia that produces a high gluten grain preferred for the making of unleavened pita bread that is a staple of the Egyptian diet.  The Morsi regime found itself at odds with its main food supplier that was concerned about the spread of radical Islamic movements inside of Russia.

The Russian anxiety was made worse by Morsi’s support of the rebel movement in Syria where Moscow was supporting the Al-Assad regime.  In spite of the looming crisis that Egypt was facing, Morsi called on June 15th for a jihad in Syria that assured Russian unwillingness to provide the desperately needed grain.

It was not until shortly after the coup that the United Nations Food & Agricultural Organization announced the social disorders and the abrupt increase in the birth rate threatened a food shortage.  The emergency loans and grants of 12 billion dollars from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE has given Egypt the means to purchase the wheat on the open market, and the Russians have indicated their willingness to sell what wheat is available.  Just in time, the new government has discovered abundant supplies of diesel fuel and butane that will enable the farmers to complete their harvest and to transport the grain to the mills.  The rapidity with which the new administration located the previously scarce fuel reveals that the mismanagement by the Brotherhood of the economy and the negative natural economic forces were made worse by the manipulation by government agencies.

The 6.8 million government employees had a vested interest in bringing down the Brotherhood backed government.  The Brotherhood was advocating the privatization of the state owned industries.  That was threatening the economic interests of the military that controls a third of the economy and the jobs of the government workers.  Morsi was following the same policy that contributed to the mob led coup that enabled the military to remove Mubarak.

Between 1991 and 2009, 382 state companies were sold by the Mubarak administration to private investors for a total of 9.4 billion dollars.  Economic reforms to encourage foreign and domestic investment introduced in 2004 attracted foreign investment that grew the economy in 2008 at an annual rate of 7.2 percent from 4.1 percent.  In spite of the impressive improvement, the overall unemployment rate remained above 9 percent and 25 percent for the youth that comprise a majority of the Egyptian population.  University graduates found that their inferior education did not qualify them for employment and were forced to join the ranks of the unemployed.  Neglect of the agricultural sector sent an influx of rural migrants into the crowded slums of the cities.  The combined hopeless masses formed the powder in the time bomb that exploded in January of 2011.

Removing Hosni Mubarak was the easy part of the coup that the public imagined was a revolution.  Finding a replacement was the harder part especially when the only choice was the Muslim Brotherhood that had been an enemy for sixty years.  It was for the military the possibility of preserving its privileges of a separate state within a state.  Since Morsi was deposed, the military has separated itself still further from the political system by amending its oath of loyalty to exclude any reference to the president.

The Brotherhood gained from the arrangement access to political power for the first time in its eighty-five year history, but assuring that they would be able to keep that power was not a part of the deal.  That was made clear in January 2013. General Abdul Fattah el-Sisi, the defense minister, said in an address to military cadets, “Political, economic, social and security challenges” require united action “by all parties” to avoid “dire consequences that affect the steadiness and stability of the homeland.”

The warning was ignored.  Morsi’s call on June 15th for a jihad in Syria provoked General El-Sisi to declare that the military’s duty is to defend the borders of Egypt.

The next step in dooming the Morsi Administration came on June 17th when seventeen new governors were appointed.  These included eight Islamists, seven of whom belong to the president’s Muslim Brotherhood party. Of all of the appointments, it was the granting of the office to Adel al-Khayat as governor of Luxor that provoked the strongest reaction.

Al-Khayat is a member of the Building and Development party, the political arm of Gamaa Islamiya.  The terrorist organization was responsible for a 1997 attack at Luxor’s Hatshepsut Temple, where 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians were murdered by six members of the group.

While the people of Luxor protested the appointment of a terrorist to the govern ship, the military was lamenting the loss of the destination for retiring military officers.  The office of governor was one of the privileges reserved for their members.

The environment that allowed for another coup that the mobs could label the reclaiming of its revolution was set with the petition circulated by the Tamarod Movement that called for nationwide demonstrations on the anniversary of the Morsi presidency.  The mob bolstered by the support of the army has become addicted to the taste of political blood with the defeat of the Hosni Mubarak regime and the real possibility that Morsi too was fall.  The mob became its own Roman Circus.  Screaming for the destruction of the Brotherhood had nothing to do with solving the real  problems that require massive reforming of the economic and political structures. What the mobs failed to grasp while they were urging the armed forces to oust Morsi was that the military is a major source of the poverty and tyranny.  The generals cannot make those changes without surrendering the deeply entrenched privileges that is a key part of their elite standing.

The privileges of the military take many forms.  Only 8 percent of land is registered.  The remaining 92 percent cannot be counted as part of the national wealth and is not available to the average citizen.  The lack of confirmed ownership means simply that investing in the property is not possible and that holds down the opportunity for people to accumulate wealth.  It does not prevent state businesses or friends of the authorities from using the land that will not appear on any official records.

Government regulations block those without the connections from acquiring within a reasonable period of time and at a reasonable cost something as simple as a telephone.  It is why 9.6 million people are employed in the underground economy where they can escape the burdensome regulations and costs while only 5.9 million are employed by the private sector that is public.  The businesses in the underground economy do not have access to regular sources of financing and are not available to provide tax revenue.

None of this will change so long as the leadership has access to foreign loans and grants.  How long the money will keep flowing remains to be seen.  In Cairo, there is the general view among the leadership that Egypt is simply too important to be allowed to fail.  It was one reason that Morsi thought that he had the advantage bargaining with the IMF and with Washington.  The generals also hold the view that Egypt is entitled to the aid and will in one way or another get it from someone.  Who that someone is really doesn’t matter.

The only real concern is how they will pay for the contributions.  The United States demands little more than the assurance that Israel would not be attacked, but then, the American aid of 1.5 billion dollars is a minor sum that gives little demanding rights.  The Saudis are offering 8 billion with additional funds of 4 billion from close allies; and that gives the Saudis considerably greater demanding rights.  What they will demand is likely to take the Middle East into a new era.

Copyright Felix Inmonti, 2013

Numerous reasons have been given for the sudden reluctance of the USG to fly bombs to Damascus and turn it into a Tripoli or Bagdad. One that has not received much attention was the coming German federal elections. These are over, stability is assured, now the USG can continue on course, even if not at full speed ahead.

Why were the German parliamentary elections important for Mr Obama? Certainly most people in the US have little if any idea where Berlin is, let alone who heads the government there. However the people who form the base of Mr Obama’s government, like that of his predecessor, know very well how important Ms Merkel has been for the pursuit of the two-pronged strategy of finance capital in Europe.

To grasp just how critical Ms Merkel is one needs to rewind the film to 2002. Gerhard Schroeder of the SPD was chancellor and was challenged by Ms Merkel leading the CDU/ CSU, also called the Union because it is an electoral combination of the German federal CDU and the Bavarian CSU party. When the reigning US President Mr George W. Bush solicited the support of allies, Mr Schroeder– whether opportunistically or not– followed the opinion polls that showed the majority of Germans opposed to the Iraq War. He refused to contribute regular German troops to the invasion (sending only small covert units with a whisper). During the 2002 parliamentary election campaign Ms Merkel was seen on television visiting Mr G W Bush in Washington, criticising the position of Schroeder’s government and advocating German military support for the US invasion. It is generally accepted that this open violation of parliamentary protocol (both in Britain and in Germany it is considered unacceptable to publicly criticise the government of the day while abroad) together with her advocacy of a war for which no German support was to be found (except perhaps in the weapons industry) cost Ms Merkel the election.

When Mr Schroeder finally retired to work for oil companies and banks, no surprise since his nickname in Germany was “der Genosse der Bosse” (comrade to the company bosses, as opposed to the workers), the SPD was left without anyone with either charisma or a programme. So the opportunistic SPD – Green coalition was ended in favour of a Grand Coalition which was ultimately led by the CDU after Schroeder’s return to working directly for the “bosses”.

Ms Merkel was a creation of the last years of the Helmut Kohl regime. She was adopted by him as a kind of poor sister from the newly absorbed GDR and replaced the insufficiently subservient vice chancellor Lothar de Maziere, a leftover from the short-lived post-Honnecker GDR government who was part of the government that signed the GDR over to the BRD in return for an absurd currency reform and lots of promises. Ms Merkel learned quickly from Kohl two things quickly: how to eliminate intra-party competitors and how to manipulate the media. She is treated as business-like, motherly (although she has no children), a post-GDR success story (although she was entirely GDR conformist until 1989), steady and uncontroversial (although she has presided over intensified military involvement overseas in violation of German law and privileging of German banks and industry in the ruin of Greece). In short Angela Merkel is coated with a far more advanced version of political teflon than was available in Ronald Reagan’s day.

There is an explanation for this phenomenon too. Since 1989 the German media has been substantially transformed. Under US occupation the Federal Republic (West Germany) was officially well aligned with USG/ NATO policy and the media reflected that. However, the conditions of the competing Germany east of the Elbe still had to be countered. One of these was the official and psychologically very deep aversion to wars and military action. It is a matter of record that Konrad Adenauer introduced the rearmament of Germany in the 1950s at the behest of the USG only by parliamentary tricks– although there was massive opposition to it from Right to Left. The 1980s fight over stationing of Pershing II missiles in Germany was not only opposed by the Left. In 1991 the SPD even tried to appeal against Mr Genscher’s triggering of the war against Yugoslavia by appealing to the Federal Constitutional Court, arguing that the actions violated the German Basic Law forbidding anything but defensive military operations.

By 1989 however the alternative Germany was gone and an enormous market emerged to show just how happy we should all be about the GDR’s demise. A key media instrument emerged: the weekly Focus, published by the Burda Group, with a format that was a carbon copy of US News and World Report. Burda, along with the Springer publishing house in Hamburg, could be considered real “cold warrior publishers”. They worked very closely with the interests of the USG and there is certainly every reason that they received the support which USG agencies are known to have provided and still provide to sympathetic media. In any case Focus became despite enormous losses  (if the accounts are to be believed) an overnight sensation, setting the agenda even for the established “serious” media like Der Spiegel and Die Zeit. It did not take long before the mainline “serious” press had completely shifted from political issues to the self-fulfilment/ consumer interest focus Americans associate with People or Oprah. Only the FAZ, the staid German equivalent of the New York Times, resisted this trend– even rejecting the controversial new German orthography adopted in the 2005.

This new Americanised media landscape pronounced for good three months prior to the actual elections– there were no issues and it would be a boring election campaign– although Ms Merkel’s government had authorised a very controversial deployment of troops to Afghanistan and measures that definitely worsened the condition of wage-earners and unemployed. Unlike in the USA, Germans still tend to vote. Hence it was very clear that the media was erasing the issues which were really controversial– esp. sending German troops abroad– to avoid the loss Merkel suffered when she supported Bush against Schroeder.

One could go into details about the importance of Germany for US Europe/ NATO policy but it should suffice that any uncertainty about how public opinion or public policy in Germany is managed would complicate the US plans for Syria. Germany is also the main force on the Continent for enforcing financial policies desired by the Anglo-American banking cartels, e.g. keeping the EU political management (as opposed to the technical management in Brussels) from interfering with US plans in Euroland. Ms Merkel is not so important for what she does but for what actions she is able to conceal from public debate or examination.

The certainty of a renewed Merkel chancellorship includes reasonable certainty that Anglo-American banks, together with their German allies, will be able to determine fiscal policy on the Continent– with the euro. There will be no threats to the present parasitic processes. Ms Merkel will also continue to conceal the extent of German industrial and military involvement in US imperial wars. Any doubt Ms Merkel aims to conceal can be seen in two major changes in the government during her last term. The Federal President, and former IMF director, Mr Horst Köhler, resigned after he told German journalists in an interview returning from Afghanistan that Germany would have to be willing to use military means to protect its economic interests. Later Ms Merkel’s defense minister was forced to resign, ostensibly because of plagiarism in obtaining his doctorate. Mr zu Guttenberg however had become almost a German Bob Hope with his frequent rallying visits to German troops stationed in Afghanistan– about whom the less said the better.

Now enter Mr Obama with his party (in the widest sense of the word) requiring escalation against Syria. Germany and Russia have a strained but nonetheless strong and dependent relationship to each other. Germany is also closely tied in its relations to Turkey. Although Germany is regularly bludgeoned with the “Holocaust” club to maintain its subordination to Israeli policy, there is no great love for wars on Tel Aviv’s behalf: there are enough people who also are tired of being called Nazis after more than 60 years. In short, launching cruise missiles before 22 September could well have forced Ms Merkel into an open statement supporting or opportunistically opposing the US attacks. A debate about Ms Merkel’s military policy led to her defeat in 2002. If the US had attacked before the election, Ms Merkel would not be able to avoid a public statement and the debate that followed.

Today the election returns are not official but it seems clear– barring some kind of mysteries– that the CDU/ CSU– the Union that Ms Merkel leads as chancellor will have by far the most seats but short of an absolute majority. Whatever government is formed in the next few weeks will not have to debate US military action. However the fact that the Left (Linke) Party won slightly more than the Green Party is probably an indication that had there been a clear issue like “war or no war against Syria”, the Union would have lost with the SPD many more votes. Despite US propaganda for “humanitarian” pretexts, most Germans are still aware of the burden of two world wars for which they have been blamed and which destroyed much of their country. Americans have never known this kind of defeat or destruction (except perhaps Daughters of the Confederacy). It is still possible to find people who oppose deploying German troops abroad– if only to avoid blame or repercussions. The risks to Ms Merkel’s reelection were there– even though the Press did its best not to talk about them.

There is another aspect of this whole seemingly monotonous drama: since Germany is not only a major silent partner in US wars but also a partner in the currency manipulations within the Eurozone, consistent policy in Berlin is important for maintaining the “Goldman Sachs line” in Southern Europe and Brussels. Berlin brings the necessary political power to bear. Since Middle East policy is not only about oil but about the stability of the US dollar as the “oil currency” with which the US is able to subsidise its otherwise moribund economy, Germany’s predictability in Brussels and Athens is just as important for currency speculators and dollar supremacy as the military force it contributes to US war efforts.

The re-election of the Union assures for now that German politics will pose no threats to the transatlantic agenda.

Fear factors: Staging Terrorism for the Cameras

September 23rd, 2013 by Greg Guma

From the start Kristina Berster’s case was handled with an eye for its propaganda value. She gave no statements and just one pre-trial interview, yet US officials and outlets felt free to label her dangerous, capable of virtually anything if released on bail. Even in the hands of expert jailers, they suggested, the risks were real and large.

Initially, most journalists presented the official version without asking many questions. After all, some of the government’s actions did appear to support it. Why else the unique security arrangements, the high bail, a 24-hour guard for the judge, metal detectors, and armed officers on the courthouse roof? But the security was so intense that local reporters eventually began to focus on that. In most of the country the mere threat of terrorism was convincing enough to make any precautions sound reasonable. But once some Vermont journalists directly observed the defendant, a small, fair-haired woman with a mild demeanor and open smile, the security procedures began to look like overkill.

As the coverage began to shift and some reporters reconsidered their early assumptions, the general public also began to give the case a second look. Reports described Berster as a fugitive, an activist, or simply as a West German charged with border violations. Some headlines referred to her on a first name basis. Yesterday’s terrorist was beginning to look like a human being, one who might even be innocent — at least of a terrorism charge.

Favorable coverage, with headlines like “Berster Says She Wanted to Start a New Life Here,” did not mesh well with the scenario mapped out the previous July. But the intelligence community had other ways to reinforce fear and justify their position. On the day Kunstler tried to subpoena FBI Director Webster, for example, a “confidential memorandum” was selectively released by the Burlington Police Department to UPI. New information had been forwarded to the police by the US Marshall, who apparently received it from the Bureau.

The memo warned that two Colombian terrorists were expected to attend the trial, and potentially disrupt it. Security throughout the city was tightened, and experts flew in from New Orleans and New York. The latest “threat” hit the press simultaneously with the Webster subpoena, reinforcing the idea that foreign terrorism loomed over the Green Mountains. But nothing and no one materialized.

That ploy was small potatoes when compared with the “simulation” staged the following week: A live-action terrorist siege, complete with bank robbery, hostages and a SWAT-style police unit called the Threat Management Team. Just as Kristina took the witness stand for her third and final day, the performing “terrorists” made their escape from the Chittenden Bank and fled to the Follett House, an historic building overlooking the city’s waterfront. This photo was taken during the “exercise.”

Local “threat managers” arrived promptly, provoking “fire” from the “terrorists” as bewildered bystanders tried to understand what was happening. Was it real, or had they stumbled on a new action movie in production?

Police fired convincing blanks as the “terrorists” held their hostages in the cupola of the old building. Negotiations between the cops and robbers continued into early afternoon, following the common real-life pattern. The bad guys were ultimately “talked out.” But by this time news of the exercise and attendant media coverage had reached the courtroom.

Judge Coffrin was “fit to be tied,” said a clerk, and warned jurors to avoid all news media that evening – especially TV.

At 6 p.m. Bill Felling, a newsman with the local CBS affiliate, read his account of the siege. The tone was light, but he labeled the event a “terrorist” exercise. The coverage included action-packed footage, made possible by the advance warning provided to the area’s largest TV station.

The previous evening a WCAX reporter had taken a call from Sergeant Kevin Scully, a local specialist in security. Scully provided the tip that the station could get a great story if a camera crew showed up at precisely 10 a.m.

Once Felling finished his report, anchorman Mickey Gallagher turned to the next item – the Berster trial. Juxtaposing a “terrorist incident” and the trial of a “suspected terrorist” was as reasonable as it was tasteless. The local daily newspaper followed suit. The next day the B-section of the Burlington Free Press carried four prominent photos of the “siege” beside two Berster stories. The main head, “Berster Testimony Refuted,” described not only the court action but the impact of the media event.


I no longer needed much to stimulate suspicion by this point. Those sympathetic to the defendant were obviously being watched. There had even been an unsolved break-in at the house being used by the Defense Committee. When I flew to New York to speak about the case or conduct research, the first familiar face in the airport terminal was usually a US Marshall who handled security at the trial.


“What brings you to the city?” I asked as I passed him one day. “Just waiting,” he mumbled.


Many of Berster’s supporters quickly came to believe that the Follett House siege was purposely staged to coincide with the trial. But it might also be an unfortunate coincidence. To find out which, it would be necessary to follow the advice Deep Throat gave Watergate reporter Bob Woodward: “Follow the money.”


The trail began with then-Sergeant Scully, the local cop who turned up whenever activists gathered. He denied what he could, and claimed that the date of the event was determined locally. But that contradicted the normal protocol, in which the US Army Corps of Engineers set the date.


Scully did admit at least one thing: there had been a last-minute change in the timing. Originally, the siege was set for July 20, but was canceled due to “conflicting commitments” of local team members. It was already sounding fishy. Berster had been arrested four days before.


How was the final date selected? Scully claimed that decision was made in August. But Colonel Patrick Dalager, Provost Marshall of the New England Corps of Engineers, remembered it differently. “They scheduled it during the first week in September,” he recalled. As the person who ran the training, he was in a position to know. Dalager was an FBI academy graduate and co-author of the Army’s manual on “terrorism directed against the military.” His basic argument was that local police agencies were the only means of protecting Army Corps projects from vandalism, terrorism, or other kinds of violence.


Dalager was candid about the funding source, although he insisted that the juxtaposition of the exercise and the trial was purely coincidental. The money, he explained, came from the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), which had been funding programs to protect corporate facilities from potential terrorists since the early 1970s. LEAA also managed the computerized storage of intelligence information, helping to end a long tradition of federal non-involvement in local law enforcement.


And so, LEAA, part of the post-COINTEL “terrorist control” network, provided seed money for the siege, enlisting local police to play terrorists for the local press. Meanwhile, the FBI leaked rumors of a possible terrorist attack by South Americans. The casual consumer of news might well assume that the two were related. And if not, the mere threat of violence was enough to justify intensified security measures.

How far did it go? Was the FBI’s terrorist simulation a device to reinforce the anti-nuclear terrorist scenarios being promoted by LEAA and their private sector partners? Was anyone who defended Kristina considered a potential terrorist by association? Did anti-terrorism preparedness include manufacturing threats? That wasn’t possible to prove, but reports of surveillance and infiltration were accumulating across the country.

In any case, Burlington reality was being skewed by the government’s terrorist narrative. Like the scare created by Orson Wells’ War of the Worlds, the local “siege” looked authentic enough for some people to complete a circuit of fear and suspicion. The Berster case was certainly real, the FBI did claim she was a terrorist, and the local media said terrorists were on the way to town. So, why not a violent robbery and hostage taking?

As the list of coincidences grew, the government’s ability to mold mass perceptions looked more formidable than ever. Yet not all the media was playing ball anymore. Immediately after the verdict, one daily paper ran an editorial in support of Kristina’s plea for political asylum. Another printed an ironic cartoon. These breaks with conventional wisdom, despite planted stories and disinformation, reflected a basic change in attitudes. Originally, most newspapers reported news about Kristina Berster as if she was guilty before trial. Now they were telling a different story.

In the editorial cartoon, Berster stood before Judge Coffrin. The caption had the judge saying, “Will the dangerous terrorist – I mean, the defendant – step forward and tell the court why she can’t get a fair trial.” It was an apt satire, but at this stage not enough to counteract months of disinformation.

Greg Guma’s new novel, Dons of Time, will be published in October by Fomite Press. Next in this story, the verdict and the lessons.

This short essay was originally written in Japanese for a local audience soon after the August 15, 2013 commemoration of the end of the Asia-Pacific War. Yuki TanakaOn August 9, 1945, President Truman, who had just returned to Washington from the Potsdam Conference, addressed the American people in a radio report:

The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians. But that attack is only a warning of things to come. If Japan does not surrender, . . . unfortunately, thousands of civilian lives will be lost. . . . Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare. (Emphasis added.)

Here Truman justifies the criminal act of instantly and indiscriminately killing an estimated 70 to 80 thousand citizens, using an atomic bomb with the ironic excuse that it was “to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians.” It is well known in the United States that this justification of the atomic bomb attacks subsequently was further exaggerated (saving the lives of one million), and the myth was invented that the war would not have ended without them; even today, the myth is deeply rooted in the psyche of most Americans. Truman’s explanation that the atomic bombing was a retaliatory attack against the Japanese military’s numerous war crimes, betrayed his complete lack of awareness that the atomic bombing he had ordered was itself one of the gravest war crimes in human history.

For its part, immediately following the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, the Japanese government sent a letter, signed by Foreign Minister Togo Shigenori, through the Swiss government protesting the United States action. In the protest letter, the Japanese government asserted:

[I]t is the fundamental principle of international law in war time that belligerents do not possess unlimited rights regarding the choice of the means of harming the enemy, and that we must not employ arms, projectiles, or material calculated to cause unnecessary suffering. They are each clearly defined by the Annex to the Hague Convention respecting the Law and Customs of War on Land, and by Article 22 and Article 23(e) of the Regulations respecting the Law and Customs of War on Land.

The letter further condemned the United States in these harsh words:

The indiscriminateness and cruelty of the bomb that the US used this time far exceed those of poisonous gases and similar weapons, the use of which is prohibited because of these very qualities. The US has ignored the fundamental principle of international law and humanity and has been widely conducting the indiscriminate bombing of the cities of our Empire, killing many children, women and old people, and burning and destroying shrines, schools, hospitals and private dwellings. Withal, they used a novel bomb, the power of which exceeds any existing weapons and projectiles in its indiscriminateness and cruelty. The use of such a weapon is a new crime against human culture.

Undoubtedly, those who drafted the letter were familiar with international law. The letter sternly condemns not only the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but also the air raids on other cities as indiscriminate mass killings in violation of international law (the Hague Convention). This was, however, the first and only letter of protest that the Japanese government ever issued on the atomic bombings.

On August 15, 1945 Emperor Hirohito stated in his Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the War:

 The enemy has begun to employ a new and cruel bomb with incalculable power to damage and destroy many innocent lives. If we continue to fight, it would not only result in the ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but it would also lead to the total extinction of human civilization. This being the case, I am challenged to know how to save the millions of lives of you my loyal subjects and how to atone myself before the spirits of my heavenly imperial ancestors. This is why I have ordered acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Allied Powers……

I cannot but express my deepest regret to our allied nations of East Asia, who have consistently cooperated with the empire towards the emancipation of East Asia.

In other words, the rescript implied that due to the frighteningly brutal weapon that has been developed, continued war efforts could result not only in the annihilation of the Japanese nation, but also in the destruction of human civilization. He therefore agrees to unconditional surrender. He cannot but express his regret to “our allied nations of East Asia, who have consistently cooperated with the Empire towards the emancipation of East Asia.”

In singling out the atomic bombings as the decisive factor in his decision to surrender, not surprisingly, Hirohito completely ignored the war crimes the Japanese military had committed in its war of aggression across Asia and the Pacific as well as the anti-Japanese resistance that was taking place across Asia. Not only that, he exploited the “A-bomb damage” to indirectly justify the war as a “war to liberate Asia.”

Thus, the Rescript instilled in the people the myth that Japan was forced to surrender by the inhumane atomic bomb and cultivated an exclusively victim mentality; in this way, the “atomic bombings” became a means to conceal not only the war responsibility of the emperor himself and other wartime leaders, but also the responsibility of the Japanese people for a war in the name of the Japanese empire that took tens of millions of lives throughout the Asia-Pacific. Just as President Truman fabricated a myth to cover up the U.S. government’s responsibility for its grave war crimes by stating that he had ordered the A-bomb attacks “to avoid . . . the killing of civilians,” so, too, did the Japanese government use the same A-Bomb attacks to conceal its own war responsibility.

Prince Higashikuni, who on August 16, 1945 was ordered by the emperor to form a new cabinet, stated that wartime Japan’s greatest defect had been its neglect of science and technology. He attributed Japan’s defeat to the enemy nation’s latest science and technology, namely, the atomic bomb. Maeda Tamon, the new cabinet’s education minister, also said at his first press conference: ‘We lost to the enemy’s science. This fact is proven by the one new bomb dropped on Hiroshima’ and ‘the development of science is the task the nation is charged with from now on.’ Thus, the new postwar cabinet, too, disregarded both U.S. war crimes and the multitude of war crimes that Japan had committed in the Asia-Pacific over the preceding fifteen years. It attributed the defeat to the narrow technological factor of science and technology and began enthusiastically to lay the groundwork for the development of science and technology. Within a decade, this would include the “peaceful use of atomic energy.”

In 1955, five hibakusha [A-bomb victims] from Hiroshima and Nagasaki filed a lawsuit against the Japanese government, seeking compensation for their losses. In the “A-bomb trial” (the so-called “Shimoda trial” ), the Japanese government argued as follows:

The use of the atomic bomb hastened Japan’s surrender and consequently prevented belligerent people on both sides from being injured or killed, as could have happened had the war continued. Examined objectively, no one can conclude whether or not the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki violated international law. Moreover, given that an international agreement to ban the use of nuclear weapons is yet to be formulated, we think that it is not possible to hastily define it illegal. ….. From the viewpoint of international law, war is fundamentally a situation in which a country is allowed to exercise all means deemed necessary to cause the enemy to surrender. Since the Middle Ages, according to international law, combatants have been permitted to choose the means of injuring the enemy in order to attain the special purpose of war, subject to certain conditions imposed by international customary law and treaties adapted to the times. (Emphasis added.)

In the “Shimoda trial,” then, the Japanese government made a 180-degree about-face turn from its previous position articulated in its protest letter against the atomic bombings ten years earlier. Suddenly, it essentially embraced the U.S. justification of the atomic bombings. Moreover, the Japanese government fully approved the United States’ indiscriminate killings by the atomic bombings, claiming that in most cases it was permissible to use any method to win a war.

One reason why the Japanese government has been so reluctant to provide relief to the A-bomb victims all these years was Japan’s own policy of accepting without reservation postwar U.S. domination of the world by nuclear weapons and its own dependence on the U.S. nuclear deterrent scheme. With regard to medical research on health effects of radiation exposure, moreover, the Japanese government uncritically accepted the radiation exposure standards created by the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission [ABCC], standards that completely ignored internal radiation exposure, and has severely underestimated the seriousness of radioactive contamination. Such policies have resulted in the government’s policy to downplay the severity of radiation exposure and contamination caused by the Fukushima nuclear disaster as well as its astonishing lack of awareness of the political responsibility that the government and politicians owe the people.

Today, again, Abe Shinzo, Hashimoto Toru, and other politicians are intent on denying Japan’s war responsibility, including the historical facts of Japan’s “war of aggression,” the military “comfort women,” and other Japanese war crimes. How did such an irresponsible state come about?

In my view, its origin lies in the emperor’s Rescript on the Termination of the War, which as discussed earlier, used the “damage from the atomic bombings” to cover up Japan’s own war crimes. Due to this exploitation of people’s suffering, it failed to properly pursue the U.S. and hold it accountable for the crime against humanity that killed many civilians indiscriminately. This left the issue of responsibility ambiguous. Indeed, it avoided raising the question of Japan’s responsibility for its own war crimes, which Japan still conceals. Undeniably, the Japanese government continues to leave the issue of responsibility vague with regard to both aggression and damage.

In other words, because as a nation Japan does not openly recognize the criminality of the many brutal acts it committed against other Asian peoples or its own responsibility for those acts, it cannot expose the significance of similar crimes that the United States perpetrated against the Japanese people. Many in Japan are caught in a vicious cycle: precisely because they do not thoroughly interrogate the criminality of the brutal acts the U.S. committed against them or pursue U.S. responsibility for those acts, they are incapable of considering the pain suffered by the victims (Asian peoples) of their own crimes or the gravity of their responsibility for the crimes.

This lack of an objective attitude is also evident in the failure by both the Japanese government as well as the general populace to recognize the US military atrocities committed in recent wars such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq as criminal conduct. Indeed, the Japanese government is also engaged in evading responsibility by increasingly promoting civilian self-responsibility for various political and social issues for which it should, in principle, be responsible. One of the most recent and typical examples is that neither TEPCO nor the Japanese government is prepared to take full responsibility for the catastrophic nuclear accident at the Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant. By repeatedly claiming that the accident was “sotei-gai” or “beyond our conjecture,” they implied that as a nation all citizens are accountable, thus extricating themselves from sole responsibility.

Ultimately, as a consequence, the Japanese have failed to internalize even a basic awareness of the responsibility of the government and politicians. We citizens have both the right to demand that the government and politicians fulfill their political responsibility and the civic duty to hold them accountable. Some of the gravest consequences of a lack of civic awareness are the nuclear power plant disaster in Fukushima and the Abe Shinzo administration’s destructive policies that confront us. Such polices can be called “self-annihilating policies”: radiation contamination (including the massive amounts of highly radioactive water escaping into the ocean) and nuclear reactor restarts, exports of nuclear power infrastructure and technology, revision of the Constitution, and denial of war responsibility.

In August 1946, a year after the end of the war, the well-known film director Itami Mansaku published a short essay titled “Senso sekininsha no mondai” [The issue of those responsible for the war]. In it, he wrote:

Many people say they were deceived during the last war. No one is yet to step up and say he deceived us. Civilians believe they were deceived by the military and bureaucracy, but those inside the military and bureaucracy will all point to their superiors and say they were deceived by them. I guarantee that those superiors will say they were deceived by their superiors. . . . The crime of those who were deceived lies not just in the fact that they were deceived; the core wrong was the entire nation’s cultural apathy and loss of self-awareness, self-reflections, and responsibility; the people lost their capacity to criticize, ability to think, and convictions, entrusting their whole selves to a blind obedience so completely that they were deceived just like that. . . . A people who are content to say that they were deceived will probably be deceived over and over again. (Emphasis added.)

Unfortunately, Itami was stunningly accurate. Among the postwar cases in which the populace has been repeatedly deceived are the three non-nuclear principles (i.e., the ban on any form of existence of nuclear weapons within Japan) and the nuclear power safety myth (i.e., the impossibility of any nuclear power accident in Japan). Pursuit of the responsibility of “those who deceived” must also involve pursuit of the responsibility of “those who were deceived” for having been deceived. Japan’s socio-political situation which lacks any such popular self-examination is in marked contrast to that of Germany, where widespread and intense debate on the responsibility of the German people for Nazi atrocities and fascism regularly takes place in many parts of the nation. In Japan, on the other hand, the major debate, if it takes place at all, consistently and narrowly focuses on responsibilities of a limited number of military, political and bureaucratic leaders or the emperor.

It follows, then, that on the issues of nuclear power and nuclear weapons, we are radically challenged to confront not only problems of the environment and energy, and those of radiation contamination and relief to its victims; we are also challenged to foster a firm “consciousness of responsibility” in a truly universal sense.

In the words of Tanaka Shozo, a grass-roots environmental protection activist and philosopher, who tenaciously fought against copper pollution at Ashio Mine in Tochigi prefecture more than a century ago:

If the state harms and kills its people, it will destroy the nation itself. A true civilization will not damage mountains and rivers, will not destroy communities and will not kill people.

It would seem that the policies of nuclear power renewal and export that Abe is now promoting are exactly what Tanaka Shozo warned of more than one hundred years ago in reference to Japan’s first environmental disaster.

Japanese governments from the Meiji period on have repeatedly created many situations that have killed people both within Japan and overseas, as a result of “wars of colonial expansion” and “economic development policies.” As citizens, we must vigorously pursue people in authority and make them accountable for their actions.

That is the responsibility and duty of citizens. Japan has ignorantly augmented the use of nuclear power despite our costly experience as the victims of radiation from the atomic bombing, and at the same time has consistently supported the U.S. nuclear strategies. Undoubtedly, such fallacious action is partly due to the negligence of our own responsibility and duty as citizens. We need to closely interrogate our own past activities in this regard, and dramatically change our way of thinking in order to change our behavior when confronting current nuclear problems.

To be effective, the anti-nuclear weapons and power movements must demand and pursue responsibility both from the government and the people; it is not sufficient to simply be guardians of the environment. Our responsibility and duty is to protect human beings, including future generations, as well as all living creatures and the natural environment of this planet.

Yuki Tanaka is Research Professor, Hiroshima Peace Institute, and a coordinator of The Asia-Pacific Journal. He is the author of Yuki Tanaka and Marilyn Young, eds., Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth Century History as well as of Japan’s Comfort Women and Hidden Horrors: Japanese War Crimes in World War II.

As part of an ongoing series of interviews for the radio show “Le Mur a Des Oreilles; conversations for Palestine“, Frank Barat talks to John Pilger, one of the most influential journalists of the last few decades, about the war in Syria, the colonisation of Palestine, the relationship between the corporate media and government propaganda and the actions of a few very brave men, Snowden, Assange and Manning.

FB: Quick question before we start, have you finished working on a new film?

JP: Yes, I’ve almost just finished a new film, which will be premiered at the National Film Theatre here on October 3 and shown on the ITV network in Britain on the December 17. It’s called “Utopia” and  is about Indigenous Australia and a struggle that is the secret of Australia, which long ago embraced an apartheid that often has dared not speak its name.

FB: Let’s start, so Syria is regularly headline news at the moment, what do you make of the corporate media reporting on the issue and as a reporter, do you recognise yourself in this type of journalism?

JP:  No, I don’t recognise myself in the kind of journalism that misrepresents the Middle East as a matter of routine. This isn’t to say that there are not able and some fine journalists at work in the Middle East but we rarely glimpse them in what we call the mainstream, or the corporate media. There is a kind of Kissinger style to a lot of the western reporting, reflecting the way that Henry Kissinger made an art form of hypocrisy and looking the other way while the United States went about its rapacious business, giving an impunity to Israel. If we are to understand the difficulties of the Middle East, their historical roots and how they might be resolved then we must overcome the notion of Israel’s impunity, which the media reinforces. Israel, of course, is at the core of the problem: a colonial state reminiscent of those that were de-colonised with it was beginning; it’s an anachronism and largely an extension of the United States.

FB: Would it be a fair portrayal if I say to you that I can’t really see a difference between corporate media reporting on Syria and Government propaganda? It seems like they are the same sort of arms of the same Institutions in a way.

JP: Most of the mainstream reporting is an extension of what I would call an establishment prevailing view. It’s usually the government speaking with a different voice. Mainstream broadcasters make no secret of the fact that they frame their political and International coverage on the agenda of the political elite: the Westminster class in Britain, the Beltway class in Washington, the Press Gallery in Canberra, and so on.

FB: Talking about journalists such as yourself that we normally call investigative journalists, it seems like it is a dying breed, would you say that people like Snowden and Assange are the new journalists nowadays?

JP: I don’t believe investigative journalists are a dying breed, There is great enthusiasm among young journalists to be real journalists: that is, to investigate as agents of people, not power. There are those in the United States like Jeremy Scahill and Gareth Porter; Gareth Porter who writes only on the Internet, is an outstanding investigative journalist. So we are not dying off; we are always under threat and I suspect we always were: that’s an occupational hazard.

Of course, our most reliable source is the whistleblower. This is where our scoops come from: the truth, in other words. The whistleblower is the equivalent of the conscientious objector in wartime; Bradley Manning played that part with great distinction and courage. Edward Snowden is an exemplar of this and represents many others within the so-called national security establishment. The biggest threat is WikiLeaks because it has provided a secure means by which whistleblowers can make contact and leakers can leak. It is an organisation based on the principle of transparency – as Julian Assange has articulated. One of the most revealing documents leaked by WikiLeaks a few years ago came from the Ministry of Defence in London. It was entitled ‘How to Stop Leaks’: something like that. And of course it was leaked. It described the three major ‘threats’ to the West. The third most worrying threat were Russian spies;, the second most important threat were terrorists; the paramount threat came from investigative journalists. The subtext of this is an aware the public is the greatest threat.

FB: Coming back to the Middle East, you’ve reported on Palestine for many years. How difficult is it to report on Palestine and what do you make of channels such as the BBC calling for impartiality on the issue? Can a journalist be impartial when the situation is so unbalanced on the ground?

JP:  Well, they don’t mean impartial. This word has become Orwellian as in ‘war is peace’. Impartial is partial;, it means propagating a Western point of view, In the coverage of the Middle East, it means understanding that the Israeli point of view is the truth. If you contravene this rule as a BBC reporter, you’re in trouble. I made a film about this in which reporters talked about the intimidation they had experienced: of being terrified of a call from the Israeli Embassy. This is fairly routine at the BBC and BBC reporters have learned to sanitise; they call this ‘being impartial’ or ‘being objective’. The BBC refers to an  Israel-Palestine ‘conflict.’In fact, there is a military occupation, which is almost never reported as such, neither is Israel’s consistently illegal actions reported as lawless. If the law was the criteria for reporting Palestine, the coverage would be entirely different. If morality was the criteria… well that’s off the scale: beyond consideration.

FB: You made a film called “Palestine is still the issue” in 2003, if you had to make one again today, what title would you give it and why?

JP: The first film I made about Palestine was in 1974 and  called “Palestine is still the issue”. The next film I made was in 2002  and called “Palestine is still the issue”. If I make another it will be called “Palestine is still the issue”.

FB: You mentioned words before, for journalists and for propaganda purposes from governments or mainstream media, how important are words? You talked about Orwellian words, it seems they can actually change the meaning of wars, they would call a “massacre” a “pacification”,”ethnic cleansing” becomes “moving borders” etc, can you tell us something about that?

JP: A simple word like ‘war’ is a deception. A war implies there are two sides of more or less equal power facing each other. The word ‘war’ is applied whenever the West threatens to attack Syria or Iran. There is no war. There is the threat of aggression and if the threat is carried through, there is invasion. There was no war when the West attacked Iraq. It was a mostly unopposed invasion. The same thing happened in 1991. I saw the state of the Iraqi army shortly before Iraq was attacked in ‘Desert Storm’’; it was incapable of defending the country. Iraq was defenceless.  The US mostly attacks defenceless countries, because it learned a lesson in Vietnam which, in spite of terrible losses, was able to defend itself. In Vietnam, western reporters used the word ‘involvement’. The US, they said, was ‘involved’ in Vietnam. ‘Involved’ is a useless word that doesn’t really mean anything. In fact, US had invaded South Vietnam, a country it was meant to be defending, at least according to its propagandists. ‘Invasion’ was almost never used.

FB: One of your last film that is called “The war you don’t see”, the people we often don’t see are the people on the ground, the people that are fighting imperialism, fighting for an intervention. Following our interview tonight, we are going to talk to a woman activist from Nablus, a Lady called Beesan Ramadan, what would be your message to people on the ground that are suffering from Western interventions?

JP: I think we all depend on people like that; we draw inspiration from them because they are remarkable. The Palestinians inspire us because they keep going; they don’t give in. The attacks on Palestine have not divided them. Yes, Gaza has been physically divided from the West Bank, the Occupied Territories, but even that has not really succeeded. I remember the spectacle of Palestinian children going to school dressed up in their school uniforms, spic and span, making their way through rubble, often having had disturbed nights and perhaps disturbed themselves by the relentless attacks from the air; and yet there is a sense of purpose about them that is so moving. They’re an inspiration.

So Palestine is still the issue. Until there is justice in Palestine there will be no peace in the region, and in the world beyond.

FB: Thanks John, thanks again.

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is the nation’s second largest civilian employer after WalMart. Although successfully self-funded throughout its long history, it is currently struggling to stay afloat. This is not, as sometimes asserted, because it has been made obsolete by the Internet. In fact the post office has gotten more business from Internet orders than it has lost to electronic email. What has pushed the USPS into insolvency is an oppressive 2006 congressional mandate that it prefund healthcare for its workers 75 years into the future. No other entity, public or private, has the burden of funding multiple generations of employees who have not yet even been born.

The Carper-Coburn bill (S. 1486) is the subject of congressional hearings this week. It threatens to make the situation worse, by eliminating Saturday mail service and door-to-door delivery and laying off more than 100,000 workers over several years.

The Postal Service Modernization Bills brought by Peter DeFazio and Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, would allow the post office to recapitalize itself by diversifying its range of services to meet unmet public needs.

Needs that the post office might diversify into include (1) funding the rebuilding of our crumbling national infrastructure; (2) servicing the massive market of the “unbanked” and “underbanked” who lack access to basic banking services; and (3) providing a safe place to save our money, in the face of Wall Street’s new “bail in” policies for confiscating depositor funds. All these needs could be met at a stroke by some simple legislation authorizing the post office to revive the banking services it efficiently performed in the past.

Funding Infrastructure Tax-free

In a July 2013 article titled “Delivering A National Infrastructure Bank . . . through the Post Office,” Frederic V. Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, addressed the woeful state of US infrastructure. He noted that the idea of forming a national infrastructure bank (NIB) has had bipartisan congressional support over the past six years, with senators from both parties introducing bills for such a bank:

An NIB would provide a means to channel public funds into regional and national projects identified by political and community leaders across the country to keep the economy healthy. It could issue bonds, back public-private partnerships and guarantee long-term, low-interest loans to states and investment groups willing to rebuild our schools, hospitals, airports and energy grids. An NIB with $10 billion in capital could leverage hundreds of billions in investments.

What has blocked these bills is opposition to using tax money for the purpose. But Rolando asks:

[W]hat if we set up the NIB without using taxpayer funds? What if we allowed Americans to open savings accounts in the nation’s post offices and directed those funds into national infrastructure bonds that would earn interest for depositors and fund job-creating projects to replace and modernize our crumbling infrastructure?

A post office bank . . . would not offer commercial loans or mortgages. But it could serve the unbanked and fund infrastructure projects selected by a non-partisan NIB.

The Unbanked and Underbanked: A Massive Untapped Market

The “unbanked” are not a small segment of the population. In a 2011 survey, the unbanked and underbanked included about one in four households.  Without access to conventional financial services, people turn to an expensive alternative banking market of bill-pay, prepaid debit cards, check cashing services, and payday loans.  They pay excessive fees and are susceptible to high-cost predatory lenders.

Globally, postal banks are major contributors to financial inclusion. Catering to this underserved population is a revenue-generator for the post office while saving the underbanked large sums in fees. Worldwide, according to the Universal Postal Union, 1 billion people now use the postal sector for savings and deposit accounts, and more than 1.5 billion take advantage of basic transactional services through the post.According to a Discussion Paper of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs:

The essential characteristic distinguishing postal financial services from the private banking sector is the obligation and capacity of the postal system to serve the entire spectrum of the national population, unlike conventional private banks which allocate their institutional resources to service the sectors of the population they deem most profitable.

Expanding to include postal financial services has been crucial in many countries to maintaining the profitability of their postal network.  Maintaining post offices in some rural or low-income areas can be a losing proposition, so the postal service often cross-subsidizes with other activities to maintain its universal network.  Public postal banks are profitable because their market is large and their costs are low.  The infrastructure is already built and available, advertising costs are minimal, and government-owned banks do not reward their management with extravagant bonuses or commissions that drain profits away.  Profits return to the government and the people.

Wall Street Is No Longer a Safe Place to Keep Our Money

A postal bank could have appeal not just to the unbanked but to savers generally who are concerned about the safety of their deposits. Traditionally, people have deposited their money in banks for three reasons: safety from theft, the convenience of check writing and bill paying, and to earn some interest. Today, not only do our bank deposits earn virtually no interest, but they are not safe from theft – and the prospective thief is Wall Street itself.

The Financial Stability Board (FSB) in Switzerland has mandated that “systemically important” banks come up with “living wills” stating what they would do in the event of insolvency. The template set out by the FSB is for these too-big-to-fail banks to confiscate their creditors’ funds and convert them to bank equity or stock. Legally, “creditors” include the depositors. In fact depositors compose the largest class of creditors of any bank.

In 2009, President Obama agreed along with other G20 leaders to be bound by the regulations imposed by the FSB, giving them the force of law. This agreement should properly have been a treaty, subject to the approval of two-thirds of the Senate; but the deal was sealed on a handshake, ostensibly to prevent another Lehman-style banking collapse. Thus the next time JPMorganChase or Bank of America finds itself on the wrong side of a massive derivatives bet, it can avoid insolvency by recapitalizing itself with our deposits. Both JPM and BOA hold over $1 trillion in deposits and over $70 trillion in derivatives; and with the repeal of Glass-Steagall, the banks have been able to merge these operations. The FDIC deposit insurance fund has only $32 billion in it to cover losses for the entire country.

For guaranteed safety, we need a network of publicly-owned banks devoted solely to taking deposits and providing check-cashing services – no gambling with deposits allowed. The US Post Office can safely and efficiently provide the infrastructure for such a banking network, as it did from 1911 until 1967. The post office is ubiquitous, with branches in every town and community.

A Proven Model

Postal banking systems are also ubiquitous in other countries, where their long record of safe and profitable public banking has proved the viability of the model. The mother of all postal banks was in Great Britain in the 19th century. The leader today is Japan Post Bank (JPB), now the largest depository bank in the world. Not only is it a convenient place for Japanese citizens to save their money, but the government has succeeded in drawing on JPB’s massive deposit base to fund a major portion of the federal budget. Rather than using its deposits to back commercial loans as most banks do, Japan Post invests them in government securities. That means the government is borrowing from its own bank and its own people rather than from foreign bondholders.

That is the basic idea behind the national postal savings and infrastructure bank. The deposits of the nation’s savers can be invested in government securities that are in turn used for rebuilding the nation. It is a win-win-win, providing a way to save the post office while at the same time protecting our deposits and rebuilding our decaying roads and bridges without dipping into taxes. It is also a way to vote with our feet, moving our money out of an increasingly risky and rapacious Wall Street into a network of publicly-owned banks that serves rather than exploits us.

Another Option: Rescind the Prefunding Requirement

Another alternative for putting the USPS in the black, of course, is simply to rescind the healthcare pre-funding requirement that put it in the red. The mandate to fund healthcare 75 years into the future appears so unreasonable as to raise suspicions that the nation’s largest publicly-owned industry has been intentionally targeted for takedown. Why? Is it because competitors want the business, or because private developers want the valuable postal properties that are being systematically sold off to meet its now-crippled the budget?

In a revealing exposé in the September 18th East Bay Express, Peter Byrne provides evidence that C.B. Richard Ellis (CBRE), the company holding the exclusive contract to negotiate sales for the $85 billion postal real estate portfolio, has sold off 52 postal properties for at least $79 million less than their fair market value. Worse, the buyers included its own business partners and shareholders, including Goldman Sachs. CBRE is chaired by Richard C. Blum, the husband of US Senator Dianne Feinstein, a family Byrne says has a history of accessing public pension funds to make private investments (citing here and here).

The post office has been made to look inefficient and obsolete, as if public enterprises are incapable of generating public revenues; yet the postal service has been both self-funding and profitable for over two centuries. If we refuse to allow our government to make money through public enterprises, we will be destined to bear the burden of supporting government with our taxes, while we watch countries such as China, Korea and Japan, which do allow public industries, enjoy the fruits of that profitable and efficient arrangement.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, president 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-plus blog articles are at

Associated Press reporter Dale Gavlak has been threatened over her involvement in a story which exposed how Syrian rebels were responsible for the August 21st chemical weapons attack after being handed the weapons by Saudi intelligence agents.

On August 29th, Mint Press News published an article co-authored by Gavlak which detailed how FSA militants in Ghouta admitted to reporter Yahya Ababneh that they were behind the August 21st chemical weapons incident, which the United States blamed on President Bashar Al-Assad, having mishandled chemical weapons provided to them by Saudi Arabia.

Although Gavlak did not collaborate on the story in her capacity as an AP correspondent, according to Mint Press News executive director Mnar Muhawesh, within 48 hours Gavlak received threats to “end her career” if she didn’t disassociate herself from the article.

The threats came from a third party who was most likely acting on behalf of Saudi Intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan, according to Gavlak. Bandar is named in the article as having ordered the transfer of chemical weapons to Syrian rebels in Ghouta.

Image: Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan

Gavlak has now been “indefinitely suspended” by the Associated Press with no public explanation from the news agency. It appears that the Saudi threats to “end her career” worked.

Gavlak also “confirmed with several colleagues and Jordanian government officials that the Saudis have been supplying rebels with chemical weapons,” according to Muhawesh.

Note that Gavlak was not threatened with a defamation lawsuit on the basis that her story was inaccurate, she was told that her career would be finished. The story’s entire credibility rests on Gavlak being an accredited AP journalist who has also worked for NPR and the BBC, which is why the people behind the threats were so insistent that Gavlak distance herself from the report.

The original Mint Press News article was published just two days before the United States was widely expected to launch cruise missile attacks on Syria, until the White House backed out at the last minute and President Obama announced he would seek congressional authorization.

“On August 30th, Dale asked MintPress to remove her name completely from the byline because she stated that her career and reputation was at risk. She continued to say that these third parties were demanding her to disassociate herself from the article or these parties would end her career,” writes Muhawesh, adding that despite the threats, he decided to keep her name attached to the report.

Gavlak’s colleague Yahya Ababneh, who personally interviewed the rebels in Ghouta, was also threatened.

“Yahya has recently notified me that the Saudi embassy contacted him and threatened to end his career if he did a follow up story on who carried out the most recent chemical weapons attack and demanded that he stop doing media interviews in regards to the subject,” writes Muhawesh.

Dale Gavlak, Yahya Ababneh, and Mint Press News should be applauded for their ethical stance in upholding journalistic integrity by refusing to back down in the face of apparent threats from the habitually corrupt Saudi government.

In revealing the threats, Gavlak and Ababneh have not only thrown a fresh spotlight on the thuggish behavior of governments like Saudi Arabia who are arming Al-Qaeda led rebels in Syria, but have also bolstered the credibility of their original story, which could very well have helped prevent an attack on Syria.

The fact that Saudi Arabia is so desperate for Gavlak to distance herself from the story that it has resorted to underhanded threats, instead of openly denying the veracity of the report, suggests that the original article is indeed accurate and that Saudi Arabia is arming the Syrian rebels with chemical weapons.

It also strongly indicates that the entire basis for US aggression towards Syria, currently playing out in the form of demands for Syria to relinquish its chemical weapons arsenal, is based on the completely fraudulent pretext that Assad ordered the August 21st chemical weapons attack, a premise that has already been discredited by German intelligence findings.

“Necesitamos una organización de Naciones Unidas a la que los cinco miembros permanentes del Consejo de Seguridad no pueda corromper”

La Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS) se ha negado categóricamente, en contra de su propio mandato, a publicar las pruebas que han demostrado en Iraq que el uso de uranio empobrecido y otras armas en Iraq por el ejército estadounidense no solo asesinó a muchos civiles sino que sigue haciéndolo consecuencia de las malformaciones congénitas de los bebés.

El asunto salió por primera a la luz vez en 2004, gracias a un informe especializado de la OMS sobre la salud a de la población civil de Iraq a futuro, como resultado de la utilización de armas cubiertas de uranio empobrecido. Este primer informe se mantuvo en secreto; en realidad la OMS lo suprimió.

El estudio realizado por tres científicos, máximos expertos en radiación, advertía de que tanto los niños como los adultos podrían contraer cáncer después de respirar el polvo contaminado con uranio empobrecido, que es radioactivo y químicamente tóxico [1]. Sin embargo la OMS, que utilizó como un experto asesor en radioactividad al autor principal del estudio, el Dr. Keith Baverstock, impidió su publicación. El Dr. Baverstock declaró que el informe había sido deliberadamente suprimido, aunque la OMS lo negó [2].

Casi nueve años más tarde, un informe sobre cánceres y malformaciones congénitas en Iraq, realizado conjuntamente por la OMS y el Ministerio iraquí de Sanidad, tenía que haber visto la luz en noviembre de 2012. “[…] La publicación se ha retrasado repetidamente y ahora no hay ninguna fecha prevista.”

Hasta el momento, el estudio de la OMS permanece en ‘secreto’. Según Hans von Sponeck, ex coordinador humanitario en Iraq “[…] El gobierno de Estados Unidos quería evitar que la OMS supervisara zonas del sur de Iraq donde el uranio empobrecido se ha utilizado y ha causado graves daños a la salud y supone un peligro para el medio ambiente.” [3]

Esta tragedia en Iraq recuerda a una de las armas químicas que los estadounidenses utilizaron en Vietnam, y al hecho de que Estados Unidos no ha reconocido ni pagado compensación alguna, ni ha dado asistencia médica a los miles de niños deformes nacidos, y que aún siguen naciendo, debido a que el ejército estadounidense utilizó agente naranja por todo el país.

Los millones de litros de este producto que se lanzaron en el Vietnam rural fueron ávidamente manufacturados y vendidos al Pentágono por empresas como Dupont, Monsanto y otras que codiciaban grandes beneficios.

Dado el récord que ostenta Estados Unidos en no reconocer las atrocidades que comete en guerra, lamento advertir a esas madres de Najaf y de otras ciudades y pueblos iraquíes que no intenten traer más niños al mundo porque nunca recibirán ni ayuda ni consuelo. [4]

Necesitamos una organización de Naciones Unidas a la que los cinco miembros permanentes del Consejo de Seguridad no pueda corromper.

IraqSolidaridad, 18 de septiembre de 2013
Globalresearch, 13 de septiembre de 2013

Texto original en inglés disponible aquí

Traducido para IraqSolidaridad por Paloma Valverde

Notas del autor y de IraqSolidaridad

1.- Sobre los últimos informes sobre uranio empobrecido véase Paloma Valverde, “Nuevos informes sobre la contaminación radioactiva en Iraq”, IraqSolidaridad 6 de mayo de 2013. Véase también en IraqSolidaridad “Entrevista con el Dr. Busby”, 5 de enero de 2012

2.- Véase Rob Edwards, WHO ‘Suppressed’ Scientific Study into Depleted Uranium Cancer Fears in Iraq, The Sunday HeraldFebruary 24, 2004)

3.- Citado en Mozhgan Savabieasfahani Rise of Cancers and Birth Defects in Iraq: World Health Organization Refuses to Release DataGlobal Research, July 31, 2013.

4.- Para más información véase Sarah Morrison, “Iraq registra un gran aumento de malformaciones congénitas”, blog de IraqSolidaridad, 14 de octubre de 2012.

Denis Halliday fue Coordinador humanitario de Naciones Unidas en Iraq, con rango de Secretario general, desde el 1 de septiembre de 1997 hasta 1998, cuando dimitió en protesta por las sanciones genocidas aplicadas por Naciones Unidas al pueblo de Iraq. Le sucedió Hans von Sponeck, quien también dimitió de su cargo por las mismas razones.

Rethink 9/11 Canada: Ottawa Mayor Against Free Speech?

September 23rd, 2013 by Craig McKee

Rethink 9/11 ads on Ottawa buses are staying right where they are.

A 2009 Supreme Court of Canada ruling affirms that the content of transit system ads are protected as free expression under section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (The case involved multiple parties, including the Greater Vancouver Transit Authority, British Columbia Transit, the Canadian Federation of Students, and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.)

The Rethink 9/11 campaign, sponsored by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, bypasses the mainstream media and exposes people to the case for 9/11 Truth with the posting of billboards and signs in major cities around the world – on buildings, on top of cabs, in bus shelters, and in subway cars – during the month of September, which coincides with the 12thanniversary of 9/11. Cities involved include New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver, London, and Sydney.

The ads ask the question, “Did you know that a 3rd building fell on 9/11?” They are designed to get people asking questions about the evidence, and specifically about the evidence showing that all three towers in New York City were brought down in controlled demolitions.

Objections to the Ottawa ads, which run until the first week of October, were raised both by Mayor Jim Watson and transit commission chair Diane Deans. While Watson has stated publicly that he believes the ads are protected as free speech, he also believes them to be “disrespectful” of the victims of the 9/11 crimes.

Deans, who plans to ask for a review of the city’s ad policy at the next commission meeting (that was to be today, Sept. 18, but the meeting was cancelled), claims the ads are “insensitive.” She also stated that it is a difficult challenge to balance free speech with what is acceptable to the community.

That prompted this response from Rethink 9/11:

“To Councillor Deans and to all who question our sensitivity and legal right to run the ReThink911 ads, we would like to make clear: the ReThink911 coalition includes 9/11 victims’ family members who want nothing more than an accurate and unbiased accounting of the death of their loved ones. To these surviving family members, seeking the truth is the most profound way to honor their loved ones. Your words ignore their search for truth and cause more pain. With regard to our legal right to run these ads, every statement contained in the ad—with the exception of “The evidence might surprise you”—is factually uncontroversial. If free speech does not protect the right to make factually uncontroversial statements in public, what does it protect? Any effort to remove the ReThink911 ads or curtail free speech on OC Transpo would likely be ruled unconstitutional in a court of law.”

Transit commission member Blair Crew, who is a criminal defence attorney and a civil libertarian, said in an interview that he is not offended by the ads and certainly believes they deserve protection as free speech. (Crew is one of four “citizen” members who are appointed – the rest of the commission is made up of elected councillors.)

“I love the X-Files,” he says. “There’s always the interest in a good conspiracy theory although most of them don’t go anywhere.”

He added that there are “conspiracy theories” about whether the U.S. government knew in advance about the attack on Pearl Harbor and whether it was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Unlike 9/11, he says, these subjects don’t offend people easily because the events happened so long ago.

“It’s only because this one is so much more recent in time, and it affected so many more people, but I don’t see anything in the ads themselves that I find disrespectful, and merely suggesting an alternative theory does not for me do that by itself.”

Crew was the only member of the commission who agreed to be interviewed for this article. All commission members were contacted, including Watson and Deans.

Lawyer Chris Sanderson, who represented the B.C. Civil Liberties Association in the 2009 case, said in an interview that the Supreme Court decision is certainly relevant to the issue of whether Ottawa has the legal right to restrict ads or to have them removed altogether.

“Certainly that decision is relevant to the kinds of rules they can and cannot make to restrict speech,” he said. “When it’s public space, government ought not to be able to control the content of the expression in that space.”

Media reaction to the issue has been muted but still predictably negative. The most hysterical reaction came from the Canadian edition of the Huffington Post, which published an articlestating that the ads had prompted “widespread outrage.” Apparently, their idea of widespread outrage is two people they interviewed and three snarky tweets.

Ted Walter, who is managing the Rethink 9/ 11 campaign, said in an interview that the concerns raised by Watson and Deans are actually helpful for the awareness-raising effort, because they have prompted a dialogue not only about whether these ads should be allowed but also about their content.

“Our job is to shift the discussion onto the substance,” he says.

Walter says that Rethink 9/11 has plans in January to post more ads, this time seeking market saturation in New York, Washington D.C., and Toronto.

A U.S. opinion poll commissioned by Rethink has already found that 46% of those shown video of the destruction of Building 7 believe it came as a result of a controlled demolition. That means that nearly half of those polled do not accept the government’s account of what happened. Walter says the Ottawa controversy has also prompted Rethink 9/11 to embark on a poll of Canadians on the same subject.

Portugal : Passos-portas & Compañía -Un Gobierno afkiano

September 23rd, 2013 by Miguel Urbano Rodrigues

He escrito repetidamente que Portugal está sometido a una dictadura de la burguesía de fachada democrática. Pero en el último año los desmanes de Passos-Portas & Compañía agujerearon la fachada y el rostro hediondo de un gobierno de vocación fascistizante es ahora inocultable.

Contemplado desde fuera, Portugal surje hoy ante el mundo como un país inimaginable. Transcurridas casi cuatro décadas de una Revolución progresista, una banda de enemigos del pueblo, encastillada en el poder, practica una política de terrorismo de estado.

Sus efectos sociales y económicos son devastadores como los de un huracán que arrasa todo a su paso. La víctima es un país y su pueblo.

Invocando al interés nacional, el rigor presupuestario y el respeto por las exigencias de la troika (los señores que representan el protectorado de la Comisión Europea y del FMI), Passos-Portas & Compañía, proclaman que no hay alternativa para su estrategia de saqueo, opresión y vandalismo.

En el Portugal martirizado se comportan como personajes de una pieza de Alfred Jarry o de una novela de Franz Kafka.

Passos-Portas & Compañía repiten de forma machacona  que la mayoría de los portugueses aprueba sus medidas de austeridad y soporta con «coraje» los impuestos, los recortes de salarios y los despidos que desencadenan sobre el pueblo, designados en el discurso oficial por la palabra «sacrificios».

El Primer-ministro y su gente abominan de la separación de poderes inscrita en la Constitución de la República. Protestan ruidosamente cuando el Tribunal Constitucional declara inconstitucionales parcelas de decretos-leyes del gobierno aprobados por la mayoría PSD-CDS en la Asamblea de la República. Critican entonces a los magistrados, acusándoles de no comprender «la difícil situación» del País. En su opinión deberían colaborar con el Gobierno.

Y, sin demora, Passos-Portas & Compañía conciben medidas alternativas a las suprimidas por el Tribunal. En el desarrollo de la alocada política de «austeridad» el Gobierno aprueba leyes que violan derechos y conquistas sociales, promoviendo nuevos recortes salariales y despidos masivos.

Passos & Portas crearon un lenguaje propio para barnizar su ofensiva contra los trabajadores. Palabras como «movilidad» y «recalificación» entraron en el léxico oficial para encubrir robo de salarios y despidos.

La Administración Pública en general, los jubilados, el profesorado y los trabajadores de la Sanidad pública han sido blanco preferencial de la barbarie del Gobierno.

La clase dominante es, hasta ahora, intocable. Passos-Portas & Compañía, devotos de la Finanzas, especialmente de la gran banca nacional, hacen de todo para favorecerla.

La irracionalidad de la política del Gobierno y sus despropósitos son hoy tan transparentes que hasta la señora Lagarde,presidente  del FMI, y Oliver Blanchard,jefe de los economistas de la organizacion, ya reconocieron  que fueron cometidos grandes  errores en Portugal com la imposicion de la austerid.

Es significativo que un soldado de perfil conservador como Vasco Lourenço afirme hoy que el País, «secuestrado por el miedo», es «dirigido por corruptos y por mentirosos, por personas sin ética ni moral».

De estar vivos, el austríaco Friedrich Hayek, padre del neoliberalismo ortodoxo, y el americano Milton Friedman, admirador de Pinochet, reaccionarian con espanto y desilusión, creo, a los desmanes del equipo de Passos Coelho.

Un ministro íntimo del Primero, involucrado en negocios oscuros y que ostentaba un diploma fabricado en una universidad fantasmática, fué forzado a dimitir. Otros miembros del Gobierno comprometidos en los escándalos de los SWAPS y del BPN permanecen en funciones. El festín no tiene fin.

El Primer-ministro es un ignorante que se contempla como salvador de la patria. Se esforzó por proyectar la imagen del estadista serio y austero tal y como él la concibe. El resultado es estraño. Camina como un muñeco articulado, forjó un discurso caótico difícilmente intelegible, cultiva un autoritarismo de matices fascistizantes y cree  ser un reformador incomprendido al que la Historia prestará un día justicia.

Al Presidente de la República tiene gran responsabilidad en el desastre nacional. Avala la política de Passos Coelho & Portas, se identifica con ella y la declara legitimada por una mayoría parlamentaria.

Un sistema mediático controlado por el gran capital colabora con Passos-Portas & Compañía, promoviendo la alienación.

En la televisión, en la prensa escrita y en la radio llueven, es un hecho, críticas al Gobierno y a su política, pero, salvo pocas excepciones (la de Pacheco Pereira merece referencia) inciden sobre lo circunstancial. La mayoría de los columnistas de servicio, formadores de opinión, son políticos del sistema y no lo cuestionan.

El pueblo portugués repudia la política de la banda Passos-Portas & Compañía que está arruinando el País y empobreciendo a millones de personas.

Los nostágicos del fascismo no van más lejos en su sed de autoritarismo porque las Fuerzas Armadas no los acompañarían.

En el último año la respuesta popular a esa política criminal adquirió amplitud, asumiendo características que alarman al Gobierno.

Las protestas, las manifestaciones, las huelgas ya no son acciones aisladas. Adquirieron carácter permanente, en una interligación de las luchas que refleja la adopción de conciencia de las masas y una disponibilidad para el combate de nuevas capas sociales.

Debe ser registrado que el Partido Comunista Portugués -denunció desde el primer día la criminal política capituladora de Passos Coelho & Portas y la complicidad del PS con ella, como signatario del memorándum impuesto por la troika.

Para el incremento de la lucha de masas ha sido particularmente importante la acción desarrollada por la CGTP cuya actual dirección imprimió una nueva dinámica en la implicación de los trabajadores en las batallas políticas en curso, contribuyendo decisivamente a la transformación de la conciencia de clase en una conciencia social.

Es necesario que la contestación al Poder y a su asalto a la razón asuma un carácter torrencial.

Las cosas no pueden continuar como están.

La Historia nos enseña que la disponibilidad de los pueblos para las grandes rupturas sociales maduran lentamente.


Cabe recordar que las Naciones Unidas reconocen el derecho de los pueblos a la rebelión cuando las políticas de gobiernos tiránicos alcanzan un nivel insoportable.

 Miguel Urbano Rodrigues

Vila Nova de Gaia, 16 de septiembre de 2013


¿Cuándo se juzgarán los crímenes israelíes?

September 23rd, 2013 by Ziad Medoukh

Desde el inicio de la ocupación y deportación por parte del ejército israelí, los palestinos han padecido diferentes masacres y crímenes cometidos contra ellos por este ejército, tanto dentro como fuera de Palestina.

Desde 1948 varios crímenes y masacres han causado miles de víctimas al pueblo palestino, la mayoría de ellas niños, mujeres y ancianos, los cuales dieron su sangre en Deir Yassin, Kfer Kassem, Safed, pasando por Jenin y Gaza, sin olvidar Líbano y Jordania.

En estos días los palestinos conmemoran el trigésimo primer aniversario de las masacres de Sabra y Chatila cometidas por el ejército israelí contra los refugiados que se encontraban aislados en estos dos campos de la capital libanesa.

Nuestros pensamientos están con todos estos palestinos asesinados por las fuerzas de ocupación israelíes directa o indirectamente; nuestros pensamientos están puestos en los miles palestinos asesinados en 1982 en los campos de refugiados de Sabra y de Chatila por las milicias libanesas y los soldados israelíes.

Hace ahora 31 años, los días 15,16 y 17 de septiembre de 1982, hubo tres días de terror israelí en unos campos de refugiados palestinos, tres días sin que nadie en nuestro mundo moviera un dedo. Al cabo de esos tres días el mundo se despertó ante la masacre más mortífera de nuestra historia contemporánea: soldados israelíes y milicias libanesas habían penetrado en los dos campos de refugiados palestinos de la capital libanesa, Beirut, para cometer un crimen de guerra, un crimen contra la humanidad.

¡Las víctimas eran palestinos y su única falta era el ser palestinos! Nacieron palestinos, fueron expulsados sus pueblos y ciudades en 1948 para venir a vivir unos años a Líbano mientras esperaban volver a sus lugares de origen en Jaffa, Akka, Haifa y Nazereth. Pero algunos años se convirtieron en más medio siglo. Su falta era haber ofrecido a Palestina y a Líbano unos resistentes, unos militantes, unos activistas y unos revolucionarios que en tres meses habían dado una lección de resistencia al ejército israelí cuando este invadió Líbano en junio de 1982.

En efecto, 88 días de resistencia heroica de algunos centenares de militares palestinos con armas ligeras contra un ejército bien equipado (aviones de guerra, tanques, helicópteros militares, barcos de guerra, soldados, oficiales, etc) y, a pesar del desequilibrio entre ambas fuerzas y de la diferencia de medios, los palestinos (jefes, militares y ciudadanos) resistieron tres meses bajo los bombardeos diarios y bajo los misiles israelíes.

Evidentemente, nunca se han juzgado estos crímenes israelíes y ninguna instancia de la comunidad internacional oficial ha osado criticar o denunciar estas masacres contra civiles; bien al contrario, el ejército israelí ha seguido cometiendo crímenes contra los palestinos en Cisjordania, en Gaza, en los territorios del 1948 y fuera de Palestina.

Hoy el gobierno israelí trata de borrar su pasado criminal mostrando al mundo que está dispuesto a hacer concesiones a los palestinos por medio de unas negociaciones de paz que nunca avanzan. Se han sucedido diferentes gobiernos israelíes y esta política colonial y criminal perdura.

Nosotros no olvidaremos nunca la historia de esta ocupación ni su pasado criminal; todo ello va a permanecer grabado en la memoria de nuestros hijos y de nuestros jóvenes. Nadie olvidará las continuas masacres, los crímenes y las agresiones permanentes contra los palestinos tanto dentro de Palestina como fuera de ella.

Hoy rendimos un emocionado homenaje a nuestros mártires muertos en Líbano, en los campos de refugiados y en todo el mundo, para que Palestina sea libre y ante todo, hacemos una sola pregunta a este mundo que se llama libre: ¿cuándo se juzgarán los crímenes israelíes?


sabra1Il y a 31 ans : les massacres de Sabra et Chatila – Quand les crimes israéliens seront-ils jugés ? 17 septembre 2013

Traducido del francés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

El pueblo contra el gorila de 800 libras de peso

September 23rd, 2013 by Jean Bricmont

Los últimos diez días han sido testigos de lo que podría ser el principio de un momento crucial lejos de las guerras sin fin en Oriente Próximo. En armonía con la mayoría de las personas del mundo, la opinión pública de Estados Unidos ha rechazado claramente la intervención militar estadounidense en Siria.

Pero para que este giro lejos de la guerra sea total y duradero es necesario conocer mejor las fuerzas que han empujado a Estados Unidos a estas guerras y que seguramente seguirán haciéndolo hasta que sean rechazadas clara y abiertamente.

Un amigo estadounidense que conoce bien Washington nos dijo hace poco que ahí “todo el mundo” sabe que en lo que se refiere a la campaña por la guerra en Siria quien dirige la política estadounidense es Israel. Entonces, replicamos, ¿por qué quienes se oponen a la guerra no lo dicen claramente ya que si el público estadounidense lo supiera el apoyo a la guerra se vendría abajo? Por supuesto, sabíamos cuál era la respuesta a esta pregunta. Temen decir todo lo que saben porque uno echa la culpa al lobby proisraelí, los medios de comunicación le califican de antisemita y su carrera está acabada.

Una persona que pasó por esta experiencia es James Abourezk, ex senador de Dakota del Sur, el cual testificó: “Puedo decirle por mi experiencia personal que, al menos en el Congreso [estadounidense], el apoyo que Israel tiene en este organismo se basa completamente en el miedo político, miedo a ser derrotado por cualquiera que no hace lo que Israel quiere que se haga. También puedo decirle que muy pocos miembros del Congreso, al menos cuando yo pertenecía a él, tienen afecto alguno por Israel o por su lobby. Lo que sienten es desprecio, pero lo silencia el miedo a que se sepa lo que realmente sienten. He oído muchas conversaciones de pasillo en las que miembros del Senado expresan su amargura por cómo el lobbyles manda pensar de otra manera. En privado se oye la aversión por Israel y por las tácticas del lobby, pero ninguno de ellos quiere arriesgarse a ganarse la animadversión del lobby haciendo públicos sus sentimientos”. 
Abourezk añadía: “Las únicas excepciones a esta norma son los miembros judíos que, en mi opinión, sin sinceros en sus esfuerzos para que el dinero estadounidense siga fluyendo a Israel. Pero esta minoría no hace una política imperialista estadounidense” [1].

Como no aspiramos a formar parte del Congreso, somos libres de analizar esta extremadamente delicada cuestión. En primer lugar examinaremos las pruebas del papel crucial del lobby proisraelí y después abordaremos algunas objeciones.

Como prueba debería ser suficiente citar algunos de los titulares recientes de la prensa estadounidense e israelí.

En primer lugar, según Times of Israel (que no es exactamente un periodicucho antisionista): “Se considera que la inteligencia israelí es fundamental para los argumentos estadounidenses en contra de Siria” [2] (quizá el hecho de que sea “fundamental” también explica por qué es tan discutible [3] ).

A continuación, en Haaretz [4] : “El AIPAC va a desplegar a cientos de miembros de lobby con el fin de presionar para que se actúe contra Siria”. O bien en U.S. News and World Report [5] : “El lobby proisraelí trata de cambiar la opinión acerca del debate sobre Siria en el Congreso”. SegúnBloomberg  [6] : “Adelson es el nuevo aliado de Obama ya que los grupos judíos respaldan el ataque a Siria”. Los peores enemigos de Obama se convierten en sus aliados siempre que haga lo que quieren los “grupos judíos”. Hasta los rabinos entran en el baile: según Times of Israel [7] , “Los rabinos estadounidenses urgen al Congreso a respaldar a Obama en relación a Siria”.

El New York Times explicaba parte de la lógica que sustenta esta presión: “Altos cargos del gobierno afirmaron que el influyente lobby proisraelí AIPAC ya estaba trabajando para presionar en favor de una acción militar contra el gobierno de Assad, al temer que si Siria se libra de la represalia estadounidense por el uso de armas químicas, en el futuro esto puede envalentonar a Irán para atacar a Israel. […] Un alto cargo del gobierno que, como otros, declinó ser identificado a la hora de discutir la estrategia de la Casa Blanca, llamó al AIPAC ‘el gorila de 800 libras de peso en la habitación’ y afirmó que había que decir a sus aliados en el Congreso que ‘si la Casa Blanca no es capaz de hacer respetar esta línea roja en contra del uso catastrófico de armas químicas, tenemos un problema’”.

Lo que es todavía más interesante es que, según M.J. Rosenberg [8] , el New York Times suprimió esta parte del relato, lo cual es acorde con el hecho de que el lobby prefiere actuar discretamente.

Ahora las objeciones:

Evidentemente, existen otras fuerzas aparte del lobby de Israel que están presionando para que haya guerra. Es cierto que algunos países vecinos como Arabia Saudí o Turquía también quieren destruir Siria por sus propias razones. Pero ni por asomo tienen en Estados Unidos la influencia política que tiene el lobby de Israel. Si los príncipes saudíes utilizan su dinero para tratar de corromper a unos cuantos políticos estadounidenses, esto se puede denunciar fácilmente como una interferencia de un potencia extranjera en los asuntos internos de Estados Unidos. Pero no se pude acusar de lo mismo a la influencia israelí debido a la norma de la mordaza de oro: cualquier mención de semejante influencia se puede denunciar inmediatamente como el típico comentario antisemita en contra de un no existente “poder judío”. En referencia a lo perfectamente obvio, incluso se pueden relacionar las actividades públicas del lobby de Israel con vender una “teoría de la conspiración”.

Pero muchos de nuestros amigos insisten en que lo que mueve cada guerra son los intereses económicos. ¿Acaso no se va a emprender esta última guerra porque unos grandes capitalistas malos quieren explotar el gas sirio o utilizar el territorio sirio para un oleoducto o abrir la economía siria a las inversiones extranjeras ?

Existe una tendencia generalizada y que comparte gran parte de la izquierda, especialmente entre aquellas personas que se consideran marxistas (el propio Marx tenía muchos más matices respecto a esto) a pensar que la guerras se tienen que deber a unos cálculos cínicamente racionales de los capitalistas. Si esto fuera así, se podrían considerar que las guerras“por el petróleo” son “en interés nacional”. Pero este punto de vista considera que el “capitalismo” es un actor unificado que da órdenes a políticos obedientes sobre la base de cálculos cuidadosos. Como afirmaba Bertrand Russell, esta supuesta racionalidad ignora “el océano de locura humana sobre el que flota de forma poco segura el frágil barco de la razón humana”. Las guerras se han emprendido por todo tipo de razones que no son económicas, como la religión o la venganza o, simplemente, mostrar poder.

Las personas que piensan que los capitalistas quieren la guerra para obtener beneficios deberían observar el consejo de dirección de cualquier gran empresa: los capitalistas necesitan estabilidad, no caos y las últimas guerras solo traen más caos. Los capitalistas estadounidenses están haciendo fortuna en China y Vietnam ahora que estos países están en paz con Estados Unidos, lo cual no fue posible mientras duraron las hostilidades. Por lo que se refiere al argumento de que necesitan guerras para saquear riquezas, se puede observar que Estados Unidos ahora compra petróleo a Iraq y lo mismo hace China, pero China no tuvo que arruinarse en una costosa guerra. Al igual que Iraq, Irán o Siria están deseando vender sus riquezas y lo que impide este comercio es el embargo comercial impuesto por Estados Unidos. Por lo que se refiere a la tesis de la “guerra por el petróleo” en el caso de Libia, The Guardian informó recientemente que “Libia se enfrenta al momento más crítico desde el derrocamiento de Muammar Gaddafi con grupos armados que bloquean los campos y terminales de petróleo, bajan la producción a una décima parte de su nivel normal y amenaza con un desastre económico” [9]. En cuanto a Iraq, Stephen Sniegoski ha mostrado en The Transparent Cabal, The Neoconsevative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel que la guerra se debió a los neoconservadores y que las compañías de petróleo no tenían deseo alguno de ir a la guerra. En efecto, no hay pruebas de que un “lobby del petróleo” enviara a sus agentes a urgir a los miembros del Congreso a votar en favor de la guerra, como está haciendo el AIPAC.

Y, ¿cómo se explica que muchas de las personas que más firmemente se oponen a la guerra se encuentren a la derecha del espectro político? ¿Acaso el Tea Party, Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, Justin Raimundo y, Paul Craig Roberts, entre otros, no ven los fantásticos beneficios que lograrán los capitalistas en una Siria devastada?

El hecho es que en el periodo postcolonial ahí donde se puedan obtener beneficios por medio de la guerra se pueden obtener de forma mucho más fiable en condiciones pacíficas y parece que la mayoría de los capitalistas lo han entendido. No es necesario conquistar países para adquirir sus recursos, invertir en sus economías o venderles nuestros productos. De hecho, la mayoría de los países están ansiosos de tener un comercio legitimado.

Por otra parte, se puede argumentar que el descomunal complejo industrial militar (CIM) se beneficia de las guerras. ¿Acaso no necesita guerras para mantener la esencia de las partidas militares? La cuestión es compleja. El CIM se beneficia sobre todos de diferentes tipos de amenazas que se anuncian a bombo y platillo, muy en particular la amenaza soviética durante la Guerra Fría, que mantuvo los créditos y los contratos fluyendo a través del Pentágono. Pero guerras largas y chapuceras, como las de Afganistán o Iraq, suelen dar mala fama a la guerra, son ruinosas económicamente y llevan a poner en tela de juicio la necesidad de un descomunal ejército estadounidense. El CIM no necesita otra guerra en Siria. Muchos oficiales del ejército [estadounidense] se oponen abiertamente a organizar un ataque contra Siria.

Los intereses que se benefician de las recientes guerras estadounidense (y no de las meras “amenazas”) son muy pocos. Están sobre todo las gigantes empresas de la construcción, Bechtel, Halliburton y sus filiales que gracias a sus contactos con altos cargos como Dick Cheney logran contratos para construir bases militares estadounidenses en el extranjero y a veces para reconstruir las infraestructuras destruidas por las fuerzas aéreas estadounidenses. Esto equivale a reciclar el dinero de los contribuyentes estadounidenses, lo que en modo alguno “beneficia” a Estados Unidos o al capitalismo estadounidense en general; además, estas empresas de construcción no son grandes comparadas con las principales empresas estadounidenses. Estos especuladores nunca podrían hacerse pasar como “justificación” para las guerras, sino que son simplemente los buitres que alimentan los conflictos.

La responsabilidad básica de la guerra del CIM estadounidense es simplemente que este complejo está ahí. Y como señaló muy acertadamente Madeleine Albright, “¿de qué sirve tener este espléndido ejército si no se utiliza?”. De hecho, desde que desapareció la Unión Soviética (e incluso se podría decir que desde el final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial) es obvio que no existen buenas razones para utilzarlo y muy bien se podría desmantelar y redirigir sus recursos a modernizar las infraestructuras de Estados Unidos y a otras actividades útiles y beneficiosas. Sin embargo, en Washington se ha desarrollado una industria intelectual denominada “think tank” dedicada a justificar la perpetuación del CIM. Está especializada en identificar “amenazas” potenciales. A lo largo de los años estos think tanks han ido cayendo cada vez más bajo la influencia de millonarios benefactores de Israel, como Haim Saban (fundador del Centro Saban en el Brookings Institution). Puesto que en realidad casi no existen amenazas graves para los Estados Unidos que requieran esta fuerza militar colosal, se han inventado supuestas amenazas a los “intereses de Estados Unidos” en Oriente Próximo por medio de adoptar las supuestas amenazas a Israel como amenazas a Estados Unidos. El primer ejemplo de ello es Irán.

Las personas de izquierdas no se equivocan al suponer que Washington quisiera defender “los intereses geoestratégicos de Estados Unidos”. Sin duda estos intereses existen y son un verdadero motivo de controversia. Pero la cuestión fundamental aquí es si uno de ellos es el apoyo a los objetivos políticos de Israel en Oriente Próximo. En efecto, existe un sector de la clase dirigente de la política exterior estadounidense que promueve una política exterior global agresiva que equivale a una especie de conquista del mundo, con bases militares y ejercicios militares estadounidenses rodeando Rusia y China, como si se estuviera preparando algún tipo de enfrentamiento final. Pero el hecho es que los defensores más activos de esta política agresiva son los neoconservadores proisraelíes del Project for the New American Century [Proyecto para un Nuevo Siglo Estadounidense], que empujaron a la presidencia de Bush II a la guerra contra Iraq y actualmente, como Foreign Policy Initiative [Iniciativa de Política Exterior], están presionando a Obama para que emprenda una guerra contra Siria. Su línea general es que los intereses estadounidenses e israelíes son idénticos y que el dominio estadounidense del mundo es bueno, e incluso necesario, para Israel. Esta estrecha identificación con Israel ha provocado que se odie intensamente a Estados Unidos en todo el mundo musulmán, lo que a largo plazo no es bueno para Estados Unidos.

Quizá porque resultan tan difíciles de encontrar los genuinos intereses materiales económicos estadounidenses en ir a la guerra, en la última década se puso el énfasis en las supuestas preocupaciones “morales”, como la “responsabilidad de proteger”, abreviado en la pegadiza etiqueta de “R2P”. Hoy los más firmes defensores de emprender la guerra son los diferentes imperialistas humanitarios o intervencionistas liberales que basándose en la R2P argumentan la “justicia para las víctimas” o una supuesta “prevención del genocidio”.

El intervencionismo humanitario y el apoyo a Israel se superponen en gran medida. En Francia Bernard Kouchner, que fue la primera persona que inventó y promovió el concepto de “derecho a intervenir”, afirmó en una reciente entrevista que “Israel no es como ningún otro país. Es el resultado de la espeluznante masacre del Holocausto”. Por consiguiente, “tenemos el deber” de protegerlo. Bernard-Henry Lévy instigó al gobierno francés a que emprendiera la guerra contra Libia afirmando abiertamente que él consideraba que estaba actuando como judío en favor de los intereses de Israel; ahora es el más destacado y acérrimo defensor de bombardear Siria. Tanto en Francia como en Estados Unidos los defensores de la intervención “humanitaria” justifican bombardear Siria refiriéndose al Holocausto del pasado y a una hipotética y absolutamente carente de fundamento intención de Irán de arriesgarse a un suicidio nacional al atacar en un futuro a Israel.

En Estados Unidos asesores tan influyentes como Samantha Power, Madeleine Albright y los dos Abramowitz (el padre, Morton, y el hijo, Michae, encargado de “las labores de prevención de genocidios” en el Museo Memorial del Holocausto de Estados Unidos) están dando una expresión ideológica e institucional a estas preocupaciones. El argumento que se utiliza constantemente es que como “nosotros” no intervenimos lo suficientemente rápido en contra de Auschwitz tenemos la obligación moral de intervenir militarmente para evitar otras matanzas posibles.

El pasado 6 de septiembre el Cleveland Jewish News publicó una carta de “destacados rabinos” en la que se urgía al Congreso a apoyar los planes del presidente Obama de atacar a Siria. “Les escribimos como descendientes y refugiados del Holocausto, cuyos antepasados murieron gaseados en los campos de concentración”, afirmaba la carta. Los rabinos afirmaban que “el Congreso tiene la capacidad de salvar miles de vidas” autorizando los bombardeos…

Sin esta dramatización, que oculta la realidad de cada nueva crisis con imágenes del Holocausto, toda la idea de que la mejor manera de promover los derechos humanos y de proteger a las poblaciones es emprender guerras unilaterales, destruir lo que queda del orden legal internacional y difundir el caos se consideraría el absurdo que es. Solo el fervor de los paladines de Israel permite que estos argumentos aneguen una discusión razonable.

Pero sería razonable preguntarse qué interés tiene Israel en incitar a Estados Unidos a luchar contra Siria. Parece que los israelíes se han aterrorizado a sí mismos con la creencia de que la propia existencia de otra potencia en la región, concretamente Irán, equivale a una amenaza existencial. Pero el mero hecho de que se siga una política no significa que sea necesariamente en interés de quienes la siguen. De nuevo esto significa ignorar el “océano de locura humana”. Napoleón y Hitler no tenían interés o intención de llevar las tropas rusas a París o Berlín, pero sus políticas llevaron precisamente a eso. Los emperadores de Alemania, Austria y Rusia no tenían interés en emprender la Primera Guerra Mundial ya que, finalmente, todos ellos perdieron sus tronos a consecuencia de la guerra. Pero la emprendieron. El futuro es impredecible y esta es la razón por la que es difícil deducir intenciones de consecuencias. Sería razonable considerar que a largo plazo es contraproducente la política hostil de Israel hacia sus vecinos.

Por extraño que parezca, algunos observadores niegan lo obvio y argumentan que Bashar al Assad ha permitido a Israel ocupar el territorio sirio de los Altos de Golán y ha mantenido la frontera en paz (sin explicar qué otra cosa podría haber hecho dada la relación de fuerzas), y concluyen que Israel no tiene interés en derrocarlo. Pero lo que importa es que Assad está aliado con Hizbolá y con Irán. Israel odia a Hizbolá por haber logrado resistir a la ocupación israelí de Líbano y considera que Irán es el único reto potencial a la supremacía israelí en la región.

Aún así, no es seguro que el objetivo de la guerra de Israel sea derrocar a Assad. Un artículo publicado el 5 de septiembre en el New York Times[10] proporcionaba la clave de la estrategia de Israel: “Altos cargos israelíes han planteado de forma sistemática que es esencial hacer respetar la estrecha ‘línea roja’ de Obama acerca Siria para detener las ambiciones nucleares del enemigo acérrimo de Israel, Irán. Más discretamente, los israelíes defienden cada vez más que, al menos por el momento, la mejor salida para la guerra civil de dos años y medio en Siria, es que no haya salida. Por muy espantoso que sea el status quo desde una perspectiva humanitaria, para Jerusalén parece preferible o bien a una victoria del gobierno de Assad y sus partidarios iraníes o bien un fortalecimiento de los grupos rebeldes, cada vez más dominados por yihadistas sunníes”.

“Esta es una situación de un partido de eliminatoria en la que se necesita que pierdan ambos equipos, pero al menos no se quiere que uno gane; nos conformaremos con un empate”, afirmó Alon Pinkas, ex cónsul general israelí en Nueva York. “Dejemos que ambos se desangren hasta morir: esto es lo estratégico aquí. Mientras esto dure no existe una amenaza real desde Siria”.

Por lo tanto, el objetivo real de los ataques limitados (y la única razón de que sean limitados) sería enviar un mensaje a Irán acerca de su no existente programa de armas nucleares y, en Siria, dejar que ambos bandos “se desangren hasta morir”. ¡Qué maravilla! Emprender una guerra basándose en las menos sólidas de las pruebas solo para prolongar un conflicto sangriento puede que no sea una empresa muy moral para todas aquellas personas que afirman actuar movidas por la pasión por “nuestros valores” y por la profunda preocupación por “el sufrimiento del pueblo sirio”.

En su celo por servir a lo que considera los intereses de Israel el AIPAC y sus afiliados practican el engaño en lo que se refiere a las cuestiones que hay en juego. El lobby tergiversa los intereses de Estados Unidos e incluso ignora los intereses a largo plazo del pueblo judío al que a menudo afirma representar. Por muy poderosa y respetada que sea una minoría, es una locura para ella tratar de imponer una guerra impopular a una mayoría. Dado que Israel suele afirmar que representa al pueblo judío en su conjunto, si se obliga a la mayoría de los estadounidenses a pagar un precio inaceptable por “defender a Israel”, tarde o temprano se alzarán voces culpando a “los judíos”. De hecho, esto se puede ver echando una ojeada a lo que ya se escribe, por supuesto anónimamente, en los medios sociales, que va desde diferentes teorías conspirativas al ataque declarado a los judíos.

Nosotros, que nos oponemos totalmente a la noción de culpa colectiva, queremos evitar esto. Lejos de ser antisemitas, deploramos toda forma de “identidad política” que ignore la diversidad dentro de cada grupo humano. Simplemente queremos ser capaces de decir “no” abiertamente al lobbyproisraelí sin ser sometidos a la intimidación moral. Esto no tienen nada que ver con la religión, la identidad o la cultura judías: es totalmente político. Reivindicamos nuestro derecho a negarnos a ser arrastrados a la guerra de cualquier otro. Creemos que estas guerras interminables no son “buenas para los judíos” ni para ninguna otra persona. Queremos contribuir a luchar por el entendimiento mutuo, la diplomacia, el compromiso y el desarme. En pocas palabras, fortalecer “la frágil barca de la razón humana” a la deriva en el océano de la locura humana. Si no, esta locura puede ahogarnos a todos nosotros.

Por el momento se ha evitado la amenaza de la guerra o, al menos, “pospuesto”. No olvidemos que Iraq y Libia también renunciaron a sus armas de destrucción masiva solo para ser atacados más tarde. Es probable que Siria abandone sus armas químicas, pero sin ninguna garantía de que los rebeldes y mucho menos Israel no conserven esas armas. La movilización popular en contra de la guerra, probablemente la primera de la historia que ha detenido una guerra antes de que empezara, ha sido intensa pero puede que sea de corta duración. Es de esperar que aquellos cuyos planes de guerra se han visto interrumpidos inventen nuevas maniobras para retomar la iniciativa. Estos últimos días nos han permitido entrever lo que se puede lograr cuando la gente toma conciencia y dice no a la guerra. Esto debe ser una inspiración para la lucha continua por que prevalezca la diplomacia sobre el acoso y el desarme mutuo por encima de las guerras interminables. Si la gente realmente quiere la paz, puede ser posible.


Texto original en inglés :

 Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos


JEAN BRICMONT enseña física en la Universidad de Louvain en Bélgica. Es el autor de Humanitarian Imperialism. Se puede contactar con él en[email protected] 

DIANA JOHNSTONE es autora de Fools Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions. Vive en París y se puede contactar con ella en[email protected]




[3] Para una discusión del “prueba”, véase por ejemplo, Gareth Porter: How Intelligence Was to Support an Attack on Syria, .









En realidad, no sería un gran impacto. En los últimos doce años, por lo menos, los estadounidenses han visto a su país inclinarse poco a poco hacia las  sombras de la ley internacional en el extranjero y sobre los grupos del fascismo en casa. Inexorablemente, el peso de la sobrecarga imperial ya ha mutilado una economía en constante pie de guerra y ha conducido hacia el deterioro continuo de libertades civiles que una vez se dieron por hecho.

En un momento determinado, como algo ‘pintoresco’, los demócratas clamaron horrorizados (lo que resulta ser una burla) cuando uno de los hombres de Bush esbozó una sonrisita socarrona en la Convención de Ginebra. ¡Indignante! Chirriaron los vestigios de una ‘Izquierda’ estadounidense. Ya no más. Mientras los aviones no tripulados se preparan para oscurecer los cielos al igual que una plaga de langostas, las agencias de inteligencia pueden leer todas nuestras comunicaciones incluso cuando las escribimos, y la criminalización general de la disidencia se ha apresurado sin que medie objeción alguna porque, después de todo, el tipo que lo está haciendo tiene una D (demócrata) tras su nombre.

Y ahora, no se escuchó ni siquiera un chillido por parte de los tan llamado ‘progresistas’ en el Congreso mientras un demócrata y su Asesor con falsa labia y al acecho usan los mismos inventos y mentiras para hacernos tragar aún otra guerra, todo prolijamente empaquetado en Rojo, Blanco y Azul, el espectro de la Seguridad Nacional, en pocas palabras, la misma sarta de tonterías de siempre que oíamos antes.

Pero no es lo mismo, esa es la cuestión. Y es una lástima que los tontos en el congreso sean demasiado estúpidos (al parecer, la mayoría de ellos), para verlo. Visto que la demostración de un pensamiento delirante es, al parecer, un requisito para ocupar y preservar un cargo público, una congresista particularmente trastornada, en realidad, dijo a Wolf Blitzer que “decenas” de países están dispuestos a apoyar la agresiva guerra de los Estados Unidos contra Siria, aunque no pudo nombrarlos de improviso. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, en realidad, dijo: “Quiero decir que tenemos y, de los informes que he recibido, que hay decenas de países que van a apoyar a los Estados Unidos, y que se comprometerán con nosotros en acciones militares y, que también, nos respaldarán”.

Bien, entonces. Micronesia venderá grapas y Samoa servirá tragos. El problema es que, dentro de la burbuja del “pensamiento” estadounidense, estas personas creen realmente que movilizar a la ‘comunidad internacional’ es lo mismo que movilizar a una audiencia formada por personas con entradas gratis para asistir a un mal musical una noche entre semana. Es que, para ellos, todo esto es simplemente una farsa cínica. No saben o no les importa que el mundo entero descubra el fraude que es esto. El régimen de Obama está a punto de cometer el error más grande de la historia.

Esto no es hipérbole. Bush tuvo un apoyo mucho mayor al intervenir en Irak, y Saddam tuvo mucho menos apoyo. Su argumento a favor de la guerra, llena de mentiras y “pruebas” inventadas y decisiones de “inteligencia” falseadas, es mucho mejor que la posición actual de los Estados Unidos, o sea, un retrete lleno de puras mentiras para el mundo entero, pero que, de algún modo, huele a rosas para el Congreso estadounidense. El gobierno ha dejado de funcionar como órgano representativo y se encuentra completamente divorciado de los intereses del pueblo estadounidense. ¿No quiere confiar una decisión como esa a un viejo comunista como yo? Tómenlo de un ex Presidente, Jimmy Carter. El mismo Mr. Peanut admitió que ‘no hay democracia efectiva’ actualmente en los Estados Unidos. La arrogancia del Consejo de Guerra de Obama es deslumbrante. Rusia, China e Irán han dado reiteradas advertencias (severas, claras e inequívocas) contra un procedimiento ilegal e imprudente. El mundo está harto de la intransigencia estadounidense. No cambia la situación si una guerra ilegal de agresión es ‘autorizada’ por un obediente Congreso estadounidense. Cero a la izquierda.

No importa lo que suceda de aquí en más, el equilibrio de poderes ya se está desplazando, lejos de los Estados Unidos y sus estados vasallos, hacia BRICS y las naciones del Hemisferio Sur. Aun si el régimen estadounidense no ataca (de por sí una pobre selección de palabras dado que ha estado proporcionando armas y financiando a mercenarios extranjeros en Siria por más de dos años), un mundo demasiado paciente está listo para amordazar al perro rabioso que es Estados Unidos. Las autoridades de China, si bien mantienen, sobretodo, la calma, han manifestado que si un ataque se produce, los demás deberían brindar asistencia para resistir. Es evidente que esto es un disparo de advertencia que debería hacer recapacitar a aquellos estadounidenses que hacen guerras.

Lo que significa es que se justifica que Siria, como un estado soberano, reclame ayuda a sus aliados, lo cual implica Irán y su arsenal de misiles Sunburn rusos o Hezbollah y sus propios misiles C-802 chinos o la misma Rusia con sus misiles S300, S400 y S500. Esta es la verdadera delgada línea roja y Estados Unidos ya la cruzó en Libia. Putin ha dicho que los estadounidenses están actuando como un mono con granada en el Medio Oriente.  Y hablando de animales, vamos a hacerlo claramente, el oso Panda y el Oso polar no se andan con huevadas. Han decidido, y con razón, que Estados Unidos es demasiado peligroso y debe ser detenido. Si Obama ataca con su plan desquiciado y homicida, China, Rusia, Irán y Hezbollah ayudarán a Siria a hundir a algunos destructores estadounidenses enviando a cientos y quizás miles de niños al fondo del Mediterráneo, prácticamente, así lo han dicho. Ellos (no Estados Unidos) tendrán todo el derecho y el derecho internacional para así hacerlo.

Lloren ahora, no después. Y lloren, por lo menos, del mismo modo por los niños, por sus niños que matan y por sus niños a los que matan a cambio.  No salgan corriendo por la bandera o gritando por venganza. No acusen a aquellos de nosotros que gritamos desde los tejados ser antiamericanos o traten de forzarnos a abandonar nuestros principios y unirse al reclamo de la sangre. Esto está mal. Es ilegal. Es tan predecible como prevenible. Incluso algunos “antibélicos” frágiles y poco entusiastas se equivocan cuando dicen que Estados Unidos no puede ser la policía del mundo. Esto no es suficiente: la verdad es que no tenemos autoridad moral para hacer esto y el  mundo entero lo sabe. La camarilla criminal de Washington está tan obsesionada con su grandeza que ha dado vuelta a la historia. En su larga e insidiosa profesión de mentiras y ofuscación, el Mercader de la Muerte, John Kerry, finalmente obtuvo algo inadvertidamente correcto: este *es* nuestro momento Munich. Pero, por supuesto, como era de esperarse, lo entiende todo al revés. Y el nombre de pila de Chamberlain no es Neville, es Vlad. Y que él pueda brindarle a Obama y sus secuaces un Momento Nuremberg.

Daniel Patrick Welch

Texto original en inglés :

Bye, Bye, American Pie: US intransigence in the face of a war-weary world
will mean the end of the country as we know it
, 4 de Abril de 2013

Hassan Rohani is Iran’s new president. On June 14, Iranians elected him democratically. He won a clear first round majority. On August 3, he was inaugurated.

Obama failed to congratulate him. He hasn’t recognized his legitimacy officially. He’s a longtime distinguished leader. He’s held numerous high level positions.

He combines diplomacy, political acumen and scholarship. He’s called the “Diplomat Sheikh” for good reason.

He urges peace and reconciliation. He promises “government of hope and prudence.” He pledged “constructive interaction with the world.”

He faces enormous challenges. US/Israeli imperialism matters most. It’s lawless. It’s belligerent. It’s destructive. It’s unrelenting.

It targets independent governments. It wants Iranian sovereignty destroyed.

Rohani seeks constructive engagement. He said so publicly. He’s a man of his word. He says what he means and means what he says.

He discussed it in a September 19 Washington Post op-ed. A previous article discussed it. He reached out to America and other Western nations. He did so responsibly.

He’s committed to fulfilling his promises to his people, he said. He pledged “constructive engagement” with the world.

Doing so “doesn’t mean relinquishing one’s rights,” he said.

“It means engaging with one’s counterparts, on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect, to address shared concerns and achieve shared objectives.”

Unilateralism is defeatist. It “glorifies brute force. (It) breeds violence.” It fosters “terrorism and extremism.” It prevents peace initiatives.

Rohani’s approach reflects “constructive interaction.” He urged world leaders to pursue “prudent engagement.” He prioritizes “constructive dialogue.” He does so responsibly.

Israel’s going all out to subvert his peace and rapprochement agenda. Doing so reflects longstanding official ruthlessness.

Israeli leaders want all regional rivals removed. They want unchallenged regional dominance. Subversion, targeted assassinations, cyber attacks, and war are commonplace Israeli options.

So is malicious propaganda. Netanyahu responded to Rohani’s election derisively. He did so belligerently.

“We cannot accept anything less than the total cessation of all enrichment of nuclear materials at all levels, removal from Iran of all enriched nuclear material, closure of Iran’s elicit nuclear facilities,” he said.

“Until Iran meets these demands, pressure must be stepped up and Iranian nuclear program must be stopped. Period.”

“Iran must abide by the demands of the international community to stop its nuclear program and cease the dissemination of terror throughout the world.”

Rohani’s “the author of a document,” he said. “You could call it talk and enrich. Talk and continue to enrich uranium. For nuclear weapons.”

“He wrote this in the book. He said that by calming international community, Iran is able to steadily move forward in its nuclear weapons program. We cannot allow Iran to play this game. We cannot let “Rohani ride out the clock.”

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s replicates Netanyahu extremism. “In recent days,” said Ya’alon, “the world has again turned is gaze to Tehran.”

“We are examining the new developments in Iran in light of the elections results, but are also sober about the ambitions of the Iranian regime to obtain nuclear weapons.”

He repeated the canard about Iran seeking Israel’s destruction. It’s nuclear program continues, he said.

“(I)t’s up to Israeli commanders to “prepare (their) subordinates for battle, which may occur at an unknown time, and in unclear circumstances.”

Israel’s only enemies are ones it creates. It’s worst one is itself. Big Lies repeat with disturbing regularity.

Netanyahu’s world class thug. He responded to Rohani’s latest comments. He did so with derision. “Let us not be fooled by the Iranian president’s words of deception,” he said.

“The Iranians are creating media spin in order to keep the centrifuges spinning.”

“The test is not in Rouhani’s words, but in the deeds of the Iranian regime, which continues to vigorously pursue its nuclear program at the same time that Rouhani grants interviews.”

Chemi Shalev is a regular Haaretz contributor. He’s a former Jerusalem Post correspondent/political analyst. He’s a guest US media commentator.

On September 20, he headlined ”Rohani’s charm offensive poses difficult challenge for Netanyahu,” saying:

His “sophistication coupled with America’s disdain for confrontation begs the question: where is Ahmadinejad when we really need him?”

He’s harder to beat up on than his predecessor.

“Call it a charm offensive, seduction sortie, bewitchment blitz or wooing war, one thing is certain: (Rohani’s) all-out public relations onslaught on American hearts and minds poses unprecedented new challenges for (Netanyahu) and other Israeli policymakers.”

He “unleashed (a) salvo of moderate-sounding, peace-hugging statements on NBC and in the Washington Post.”

His main effort comes this week. He’ll address the General Assembly. He’ll do so in New York. He’ll meet one-on-one with world leaders.

He’ll give interviews. He’ll deliver speeches. He’ll make public appearances. He’ll try “convincing America of Iran’s benevolent policies and benign nuclear plans.”

His candor and effectiveness make Israeli, US and other critics sorely miss his predecessor.

“(H)is resemblance to” Tony Award winning “Mandy Patinkin has already (gone) viral” on Facebook.

He has widespread popular appeal. “And the Syria chemical weapons confrontation may have created the worst of times” in terms of confronting Iran effectively.

However things unfold against Syria, “events of the past two weeks have diluted the credibility of an American military threat against Iran.”

Netanyahu insists it essential. He claims he’s ready to go it alone if Washington balks. He never did before. He won’t now.

His bombast wore thin long ago. Israel faces no existential threat. So-called enemies are ones it creates.

Doing so is reckless, irresponsible and dangerous. Netanyahu is his own worst enemy. Attacking Iran assures retaliation most Israelis fear.

It’ll assure widespread destruction, radiological contamination, and large numbers killed or injured. Netanyahu won’t risk it on his own. He wants Washington in the lead.

US war plans were prepared years ago. Obama’s not ready to launch them. Destroying Syria comes first.

“Perhaps the biggest challenge to overcome is that Americans are in a peace-in-our-time kind of mood,” said Shalev.

Neyanyahu heads for New York next week. His mission is selling war. He’ll arrive in the wrong place at the wrong time to do so. It won’t stop him trying anyway.

His belligerent offensive is wearing thin. It remains sinister. It’s disquieting. It threatens world peace.

It includes full-blown efforts to demonize Rohani. He calls efforts to negotiate with him futile. He’s a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” he says.

He’ll have a bomb in six months, he claims. He repeated the Big Lie  numerous times before. He’s done so knowing Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful.

He lies claiming otherwise. So does Obama and other US officials. Falsifying a nuclear threat is red herring cover for longstanding regime change plans.

Last week, Senator Lindsey Graham (R. SC) said he’s drafting legislation authorizing Obama to attack Iran. He urges it if negotiations fail to halt its nuclear program.

He’s doing so knowing its peaceful. He has other fish to fry. He wants the Islamic Republic destroyed. He’s in lockstep with likeminded ideologues.

Obama and Rohani will attend next week’s General Assembly’s session. According to deputy national security adviser for strategic communication Ben Rhodes:

“There have been some positive developments. But those are clearly not sufficient to meet the concerns of the international community with regards to the nuclear program.”

No formal meeting is scheduled. It’s uncertain if one will take place.

“It’s possible that there could be some interaction at different levels, but there’s simply none planned at this moment” Rhodes added.

Perhaps being in the same place at the same time on issues vital to both leaders makes some type interaction irresistible.

If so, it’ll be the first US/Iranian top leadership meeting since Shah era harshness ended. Whether it happens remains to be seen.

Rohani declared an end to “zero-sum” politics. “Gone is the age of blood feuds,” he said. “World leaders are expected (to turn) threats into opportunities.” Handling them diplomatically matters most.

Whatever happens next week requires much more than symbolism, smiles, handshakes and talk. It entails reversing longstanding policy.

It involves what Washington entirely rules out. An uneasy calm before resuming the storm prevails. Tensions again will be stoked.

Pretexts are easy to create. America mastered the art years ago. So did Israel. The Financial Times said Netanhayu “embraced the role of Cassandra.”

He fears Rohani’s diplomatic is “weakening US and European resolve to stop his country’s nuclear program.”

According to Netanyahu, his “goal is reaching a deal” benefitting Iranian policy. He wants one letting him “charge forward quickly towards acquiring a nuclear weapon whenever (he) chooses.”

Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz added:

He’s on a “smiling campaign. If nothing is done, he will smile his way all the way to the bomb.”

Both officials know these type claims are false. They worry about Western leaders softening longstanding anti-Iranian policy.

They’re concerned about lifting sanctions. According to Israeli national security analyst Yoel Guzansky:

“The problem with sanctions is once you lift them, to put them back is very hard.”

In New York, Netanyahu intends going on the warpath. He did so last year. He made a fool of himself before a world audience.

His cartoon bomb went viral. He looked more cartoonish than his prop. One cartoonist showed a picture of Daffy Duck’s head exploding. An observer referred to Bibi’s “Clint Eastwood chair” moment.

Another compared his explosive to what Warner Bros.’ animated character Wile E. Coyote used in Looney Tunes cartoons. A London Guardian commentator said his stunt succeeded but not how he intended.

The New Yorker said “the ridiculous deserves ridicule.” His “graphic, which he apparently made at Kinkos, is so ridiculous.”

The Wall Street Journal compared him to Krushchev’s shoe-banging incident. Perhaps he’ll choose more discreet venom this times.

His “red line” bluster wore thin long ago. What’s at stake is war or peace. George Clemenceau once said “(w)ar is too important to be left to generals.”

In America and Israel, politicians should be excluded from ruling on issues this grave. Nearly always they choose unwisely. Ordinary people are harmed most.

Humanitarian intervention is code language for war on humanity. Responsibility to protect authorizes mass murder and destruction.

Ravaging one country after another is called liberating struggles. Obama and Netanyahu prioritize what demands condemnation.

Propaganda wars precede hot ones. Conflicts and other forms of violence are glorified in the name of peace. Doublespeak mumbo jumbo turns truth on its head.

Big Lies make headlines. They’re repeated ad nauseam. Mainstream media regurgitate them. Misinformation, deceit and distortion substitute for truth and full disclosure.

Syria’s in the eye of the storm. Rohani’s turn awaits. Iran is Washington’s main global bete noire. It’s Israel’s top target. Longstanding regime change plans remain firm.

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

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

Visit his blog site at

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

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

Suicide-Bomb Attack on Christian Church Kills 80 in Pakistan

September 23rd, 2013 by Sampath Perera

Twin suicide-bomb blasts Sunday at a Christian church in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, killed at least 80 people and injured more than 140.

The dead included 34 women and 7 children, reported Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan. Medical officers at the Lady Reading Hospital, where many of the injured are being treated, have warned the death toll will likely rise further as many of the injured are in critical condition.

The attack on the All Saints Anglican Church in the predominantly Christian neighbourhood of Kohati Gate was designed to inflict maximum casualties. It was launched around 11 a.m. as some 600 parishioners were leaving Sunday morning mass and beginning to gather on the lawn outside the church for a free meal.

According to reports, the two bombers gunned down two policemen posted outside the church grounds. One subsequently detonated a bomb strapped to this vest, when confronted by a security guard outside the church. The other proceeded inside, then detonated his bomb. Preliminary investigation suggests at least six kilograms of explosives were used and indicate that the bombs contained ball bearings and other metal objects so as to maximize casualties.

A representative of Jundullah, one of the Sunni fundamentalist militia that make up the Pakistan Taliban, contacted several foreign-based news agencies, including the Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France Presse (AFP), to claim responsibility for the attack.

Identified as Ahmad Marwat, the Jundullah spokesman said the attack had been carried out in retaliation for US drone strikes. “We carried out the suicide bombings at Peshawar church,” Marwat told the AFP, “and will continue to strike foreigners and non-Muslims until drone attacks stop.”

Reuters cited Marwat as saying, “(The Christians) are the enemies of Islam, therefore we target them. We will continue our attacks on non-Muslims on Pakistani land.”

Earlier this month an all-party conference chaired by Pakistan’s newly-elected prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, had agreed to offer the Pakistan Taliban peace talks. But in the wake of Sunday’s bombing, Sharif signaled that the offer of negotiations is being rescinded.

“Such incidents are not conducive of peace talks,” Sharif said while en route to New York to attend the United Nations’ General Assembly. “Unfortunately, because of this, the government is unable to move forward on what it had envisaged, on what it had wished for.”

The Pakistani army, which for decades patronized Sunni fundamentalist militia as a domestic and foreign policy tool, reportedly held a dim view of the government’s offer of negotiations and its opposition hardened after two senior army officers were killed in a roadside bombing near the Afghan border last week. Speaking on September 16, the head of Pakistan’s military, General Ashfaq Kayani, said the Pakistan Taliban should not “take advantage of the military’s support to the political process.” “The army,” he continued, “has the ability and the will to take the fight to the terrorists.”

Sunday’s bomb blasts provoked revulsion and anger across Pakistan.

In Peshwar, outraged residents of the Kohati Gate neighbourhood closed down shops, blocked traffic, and attacked police. According to a report in the Pakistani English-language daily Dawn, relatives of the victims of the bombing smashed windowpanes at the Lady Reading Hospital “in protest against the absence of doctors and paramedics and shortage of beds and medicine.” These shortages and absences had led to the deaths of many of the injured, they charged.

There were also protests mounted by members of Pakistan’s Christian minority in cities across Pakistan, including Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, Hyderabad, Faisalabad and the capital, Islamabad.

The protesters charged the authorities with failing to protect the Christian minority—echoing the complaints of Hazares and other members of the country’s Shia minority, who have been the target of mounting Sunni fundamentalist violence.

The local bishop for Peshawar, Sarfarz Hemphray, told the Associated Press ,“We have been asking authorities to enhance security, but they haven’t paid any heed.”

Representing about two percent of Pakistan’s total population, Christians constitute one of Pakistan’s most economically-deprived groups, with many housed in slum colonies. They have been frequent targets of Pakistan’s reactionary blasphemy laws as well as sectarian violence.

Last March, police failed to come to the defence of the Christian residents of Lahore’s Joseph Colony when it was attacked by a mob of 1,000 people incited by accusations of blasphemy. More than 150 house and two churches were ransacked or destroyed by fire.

While Pakistan’s Christians have been the target of sectarian attacks in the past, Sunday’s bombing was far and away the most deadly ever attack.

It comes, however, within the context of mounting sectarian strife, most of its attributable to the Sunni fundamentalist militias, and widespread ethnic-political violence in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi. According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, in the 18 months between January 2012 and June 2013 there were 203 attacks in Pakistan in which people were targeted because of their religion, resulting in 717 deaths.

The rise of sectarian violence in Pakistan can be traced back to General Zia’s US-backed dictatorship, which, at Washington’s urging, funnelled arms and money to the mujahedeen in Afghanistan, while pursuing, with the help of the Saudi monarchy, an Islamacization policy at home that fuelled sectarian and ethnic strife.

Responding to Sunday’s terrorist atrocity, Imran Khan, whose Pakistan Tahrik-e-Insaf forms the government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said Sunday’s terrorist atrocity was aimed at scuttling the prospective peace negotiations. “Isn’t it strange,” said Khan, “that whenever peace talks are pursued, these attacks take place, and I want to point out that there was also a drone strike today.”

Khan was referring to a US drone strike Sunday that killed six people in North Waziristan.

Sharif is himself expected to raise the issue of drone strikes in his UN address this week. But the Obama administration has repeatedly ignored such protests. Its stated policy is to violate Pakistani sovereignty and summarily execute Pakistanis whenever it is in the “national interest.”

Gunmen assaulted the upscale Westgate mall in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi over the weekend, killing 68 and wounding 200 in an attack claimed by Somalia’s Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabab militia. Kenyan security forces surrounded and repeatedly attacked the gunmen, who took 36 hostages and as of this writing continue to hold out inside sections of the mall.

The Westgate attack came amid an international wave of Taliban or Al Qaeda-linked bombings, including a string of car bombings in southern Yemen Friday and yesterday’s church bombing in northwestern Pakistan. (See: “Suicide-bomb attack on Christian church kills 80 in Pakistan”)

The Nairobi attack began Saturday around noon, when 10 to 15 gunmen armed with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades attacked the mall, one of Nairobi’s main luxury shopping centers, well known to international visitors. Shoppers who escaped said the attackers, including both women and men, shot accurately and seemed highly trained.

While Kenyan forces secured the top floors of the mall Saturday evening, fighting on lower floors continued throughout the weekend. Many people were trapped in the mall until Sunday. Shopper Cecile Ndwiga told the BBC, “the shootout was all over—left and right.”

Several Kenyan soldiers were reportedly killed by grenade fire yesterday while storming the mall’s Nakumatt supermarket.

A Kenyan security official told AFP that Israeli forces had also entered the mall and were “rescuing the hostages and the injured.” Security forces at the mall, which is in part Israeli-owned, were reportedly also receiving assistance from US and British advisors.

Yesterday afternoon, Kenyan army and police forces backed by helicopters began a renewed assault around 4 p.m. Last night there were reports of powerful explosions in Nairobi, as officials announced they were launching a “final assault” on the mall.

Victims killed in the attack included Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor; Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s nephew Mbugua Mwangi and his fiancée, Rosemary Wahito; Peruvian doctor and former UNICEF official Juan Jesús Ortiz; and citizens of South Africa, Britain, France, China, India, South Korea, and Canada. Four US citizens were injured.

A Twitter account belonging to the Al Shabab militia claimed responsibility for the attacks. It claimed the attacks were retribution for the invasion of Somalia by Kenyan troops—supported by the United States, including US drone strikes. This intervention aimed to fight Al Shabab and support Somalia’s corrupt Transitional Federal Government. (See: “US-backed Kenyan forces invade Somalia”)

Before the Twitter account was shut down, it posted several messages, such as: “The attacks are just retribution for the lives of innocent Muslims shelled by Kenyan jets in Lower Jubba and in refugee camps … For long we have waged war against the Kenyans in our land, now it’s time to shift the battleground and take the war on their land.”

It also posted a message blaming the Kenyan government, which it said had “turned a deaf ear to our repeated warnings and continued to massacre innocent Muslims in Somalia.”

Al Shabab military operations spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab told Reuters: “We have been fighting Kenyan forces for two years … If Uhuru wants peace from us, he should withdraw his troops from Somalia.”

UN officials had reportedly warned Kenyan officials of the threat of “attempted large-scale attacks” in Kenya. Last week, Nairobi police broke up a plot in “advanced stages” of planning by terrorists located in the Somali neighborhood of Eastleigh, and armed with grenades, AK-47 assault rifles, and suicide vests stuffed with ball bearings.

Journalists in Nairobi reported the city was in a state of shock at the horrific scale of the killings. With blood supplies running low at the city’s hospitals, thousands of people lined up to donate blood.

Kenyan officials appealed for calm and national unity during the siege of the Westgate mall, six years after inter-ethnic massacres claimed 1,000 lives and displaced 600,000 after the disputed 2007 elections.

Citing the necessity of staying to oversee the Westgate siege, Kenyan officials said Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, who face trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for their role in inciting the 2007 killings, would not attend this week’s UN General Assembly. They were due to speak at the UN, as part of the African Union’s effort to dismiss the ICC charges against them.

“Whereas very important multilateral and bilateral meetings had been planned for President Kenyatta during the week, including a speech to the General Assembly, we very much regret that he cannot be out of the country at the same time as the Deputy President,” Kenya’s Permanent UN Representative Machariah Kamau told UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon.

The horror of the Westgate attack underscores the criminal character of the support offered by the United States government and its allies to Al Qaeda-linked opposition militias in Syria. These forces have carried out hundreds of terrorist attacks in that country, according to US officials, killing large numbers of innocent civilians.

The rise in support from Washington and its allied Persian Gulf sheikhdoms to Al Qaeda-linked forces internationally, first in the 2011 Libya war and now in Syria, has set the stage for more attacks and new, catastrophic “blowback” against civilian targets. Already, on September 11, 2012, Islamist forces in Libya who seized control of portions of Benghazi during the NATO war attacked US installations, killing US diplomat Christopher Stevens.

The rise in Al Qaeda-linked attacks globally comes less than two weeks after the Obama administration, facing deep popular opposition and the threat of a military clash with Iran and Russia, postponed a war with Syria to support Al Qaeda-linked opposition forces. This has led to expectations of talks between the United States, Syria, and Syria’s allies Iran and Russia at the UN. These talks are bitterly opposed by Syria’s Islamist opposition, which faces defeat.

Whether the Kenyan attacks are a response to the postponement of the Syrian war, or an attack driven by local objectives and facilitated by rising international funding and political support for Al Qaeda in the context of the war in Syria, is still unclear. However, US officials are acting on the assumption that Al Qaeda-linked forces may mount further retaliatory attacks aimed at UN talks.

MSNBC reported yesterday that, in response to the Nairobi attack, New York City law enforcement agencies are boosting security in Manhattan ahead of this week’s UN General Assembly meeting.

As the Syria Crises continues with unfolding developments every day, an economic crisis looms.

The US economy is on the verge of sliding in to a severe recession that will eventually lead to a depression.  When?  It is hard to say.  Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced this past Wednesday at a news conference that the Federal Reserve Bank will continue quantitative easing (QE).  In a statement he said:

 “In the Committee’s assessment, the downside risks to growth have diminished, on net, over the past year, reflecting, among other factors, somewhat better economic and financial conditions in Europe and increased confidence on the part of households and firms in the staying power of the U.S. recovery. However, the tightening of financial conditions observed in recent months, if sustained, could slow the pace of improvement in the economy and the labor market. In addition, federal fiscal policy continues to be an important restraint on growth and a source of downside risk”

 The Federal Reserve Bank will continue its asset purchases of 85 billion a month since its forecast seems less optimistic as the economy is heading towards a downturn for the worst.  Reuters reported that the Federal Reserve’s forecast was indeed dire stating that “In fresh quarterly forecasts, the Fed cut its forecast for 2013 economic growth to a 2.0 percent to 2.3 percent range from a June estimate of 2.3 percent to 2.6 percent. The downgrade for 2014 was even sharper”.

The Federal Reserve Bank will decide when to reduce or “Taper” quantitative easing policies pending on the US economic reports they will monitor in the future.  The decision will have consequences on the US and world economy. The Federal Reserve’s projected forecast says that the economy is in decline for 2013 and 2014.  It affects average people who use basic living essentials such as food and gas.  The Federal Reserve Bank’s decision only benefits the top 3% of the population, of course the wealthy 3%.  Marc Faber, a Swiss investor who has appeared on numerous Main Stream Media (MSM) outlets such as Bloomberg News and CNBC and who is the publisher of commented on the Federal Reserve chairman’s statement and said:

 “My view was that they would taper by about $10 billion to $15 billion, but I’m not surprised that they don’t do it for the simple reason that I think we are in QE unlimited. The people at the Fed are professors, academics. They never worked a single life in the business of ordinary people. And they don’t understand that if you print money, it benefits basically a handful of people maybe–not even 5% of the population, 3% of the population,” Faber continued “And when you look today at the market action, OK, stocks are up 1%. Silver is up more than 6%, gold up more than 4%, copper 2.9%, crude oil 2.68%, and so forth. Crude oil, gasoline are things people need, ordinary people buy everyday. Thank you very much, the Fed boosts these items that people need to go to their work, to heat their homes, and so forth and at the same time, asset prices go up, but the majority of people do not own stocks. Only 11% of Americans own directly shares”

The Federal Reserve Bank was created by the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 also known as the Owen-Glass Act to monitor and regulate the banking system by managing the supply of money through purchases and sales of government securities also called Monetary Policy.  It also acts as an institution that oversees the transfer of funds through the banking system.  It was established to provide a “superior currency” or “elastic currency” issued by the Federal Reserve Bank (which is a private bank) that replaces all paper currencies as “notes” from individual private banks based on the quality of their credit.  In perspective, the Federal Reserve is supposed to assure a functional banking system and that the economy remains healthy.  The Federal Reserve is the main central bank, the government’s bank and the regulator of financial institutions.   You can say that the Fed is the money manager of the entire United States population and the world.  It was created by the elites of the banking and corporate dynasty’s according to economist and political theorist Murray N. Rothbard, who was instrumental in the development of modern libertarianism said “The financial elites of this country, notably the Morgan, Rockefeller, and Kuhn, Loeb interests, were responsible for putting through the Federal Reserve System as a governmentally created and sanctioned cartel device to enable the nation’s banks to inflate the money supply in a coordinated fashion, without suffering quick retribution from depositors or noteholders demanding cash. 

What will happen if the Federal Reserve were to stop or even slow down QE? Home mortgages would rise sharply allowing a housing market crash.  Fed Chairman Bernanke admits that he does not want to risk raising interest rates if he stops QE because home mortgages would lead to an increase in home foreclosures.  Bernanke described the Fed’s policy decision “not to taper” or reduce its current bond purchases of $85 Billion to $65 Billion per month until they see an improvement in the economy to what he described as a “precautionary step”.   Bernanke said that a “Tapering” of QE would only occur if the economy improved.  He also said that it will end by Mid-2014 this past June.  Bernanke said:

Well, it’s our intention to try to set policy as appropriate for the economy, as I said earlier. We are somewhat concerned. I won’t overstate it, but we do want to see the effects of higher interest rates on the economy, particularly in mortgage rates on housing. So to the extent that our policy makes conditions–our policy decision today makes conditions just a little bit easier, that’s desirable. We want to make sure that the economy has adequate support and in particular, is less surprising the market or easing policy as it is avoiding a tightening until we can be comfortable that the economy is in fact growing, you know, the way we want it to be growing. So, this was a step–it was a step, a precautionary step if you will. It was a–the intention is to wait a bit longer and to try to get confirming evidence whether to these–to whether or not the economy is, in fact, conforming to this general outlook that we have.

 Euro Pacific Capital’s Peter Schiff wrote an article titled ‘The Taper That Wasn’t’ following Bernanke’s September 18th Speech and said:

But the reality is that the economy will never regain true health as long as the stimulus is being delivered. Despite trillions already administered, the workforce is shrinking, energy usage is down, the trade balance is widening, savings are depleting, inflation is showing up in inconvenient places, debt is up, and real wages are declining. So while QE has succeeded in hiding the truth, it hasn’t accomplished anything of substance. Unfortunately, the Fed is only interested in the headlines.

The US economy and its dollar is rapidly declining.  Bloomberg Business reported the effects of the Fed’s Policy plan on the US dollar after the announcement and stated the following:

 The dollar declined to an almost seven-month low as the Federal Reserve unexpectedly refrained from reducing its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases and will keep pumping money into the economy.

 The U.S. currency fell the most against Brazil’s real and Turkey’s lira among its 16 most-traded peers after Fed policy makers “decided to await more evidence” of economic progress, including holding its interest-rate target at almost zero until the unemployment rate falls below 6.5 percent. A survey of economists conducted by Bloomberg forecast a $5 billion reduction of Treasury purchases. The pound strengthened versus the dollar after Bank of England minutes showed policy makers saw no need for more stimulus.

This will cause gold and silver to rise in price and demand in the coming months and years ahead.  Printing of unlimited US dollars only devalues the currency.  The “elastic currency” is the Fed’s way of controlling inflation so that prices don’t rise in a rapid pace.  The “elastic currency” is controlled by either increasing or decreasing the money supply either to prevent inflation or a recession.

Now is the time to purchase metals, whether gold or silver.  It is a protection vehicle for a fragile US Dollar.  We know many nations in the World including Russia and China are buying tons of gold as they purchase fewer dollars.  But as an individual, gold and silver seems as the safe bet.  Marc Faber predicts a rise in gold prices in an interview with that Looking at the fundamentals, looking at how debt will continue to increase and how central banks will continue their monetization not only in the U.S. but on a worldwide scale, I assume the price of gold will trend higher. Most likely we’ve seen the lows below $1,200.” Faber also said that gold will reach the $1,900 mark but he also admits that he does not know when the price of gold would increase “Eventually we will be over $1,921. The question is, Will it be this year or in five years? That I don’t know. But as I have argued repeatedly, I think that part of your assets should be held in physical gold. I emphasize physical gold.Citigroup analysis Tom Fitzpatrick also said in a King World News interview that “we believe we are back into that track where gold is the hard currency of choice, and we expect for this trend to accelerate going forward.” He also said that silver can go to over $100.

The unlimited printing of the US dollar, a coming war within the Middle East with Syria and possibly Iran and the European economic crises will ignite a gold and silver revolution that will empower sovereign countries and individuals.  Many countries especially in the BRIC nations are turning to gold bullion for trade and national investments as a safe haven instead of the US dollar.  China and Russia have been hoarding gold reserves at a pace parallel to the Federal Reserve printing press.  Silver on the other hand is a metal that has intrinsic value as gold.  Can silver be used to back a particular currency? Yes.  Can it be used for trade? Yes.  From the Byzantine Empire to the Roman Empire to modern times, silver can be used as an international standard for trade and commerce.

During the Spanish empire, a large untapped area of pure silver was discovered in Potosi, Bolivia allowing Spanish Pieces of Eight in conjunction with the newly discovered silver deposits as an international trading currency for more than 400 years.  By 1717, Sir Isaac Newton who was the master of the Royal Mint introduced a new mint that contained both silver and gold allowing Great Britain to enter into a gold standard.   By 1873, Germany adopted the gold standard in collaboration with the new gold coin. The United States converted to a gold currency in the same year, and over the next 35 years, all other nations changed to gold, leaving China, Hong Kong (UK) and Weihaiwei (a city in eastern Shandong province in China) on the silver standard. The silver standard finally came to an end when it was abandoned by China and Hong Kong in 1935.  Silver ingots were the first metal used for trade more than 4,000 years ago.  During Mediterranean trade routes, the Athenian empire used the silver “tetradrachm”, a coin that was used as an international standard.   The history of how Gold and Silver was used as a currency in the past is a glimpse of what the future of precious metals can offer nations and individual investors alike.

Silver can be a investment tool that can help protect your wealth.  This past March, an interview was conducted with Eric Sprott, Chairman of the Canadian based Asset firm, Sprott Inc by Lelde Smit of the Financial News Network.  Sprott was optimistic with the future prospect of silver.  

Lelde Smits: So Eric, how does your outlook for the price of gold compare to your forecasts for the price of silver?

Eric Sprott: Well as you know I happen to believe that this is the decade for silver, and why do I say that? Because I see what people are doing with their money in terms of investing in silver, and silver used to trade at a 16:1 ratio to gold – it trades at a 55:1 ratio to gold, but I see lots of buying in the silver market visa vie the gold market.

 Silver’s a very, very small market and I think silver will triple the performance of gold this decade. And, we’re seeing part of it already, of course we did get up to $50 and then we faded again. But I think silver will re-assert itself – I’m an optimist for gold – but I think silver is the place to be.

People all over the world are not waiting any longer to purchase gold or silver.  Recently in China more than 10,000 people were waiting in line to purchase gold in case of any economic downturn in the Chinese economy or in its currency.  Gold is a good way to protect your wealth from any economic uncertainty.  Indonesia also witnessed a demand in the purchasing of gold jewelry as gold prices fell.  According to Bloomberg News Gold jewelry demand in Indonesia is set to expand to a four-year high as consumers in Southeast Asia’s biggest buyer join India to China in increasing purchases as prices slump and the middle class expands” the report also said that the “Consumption of necklaces, bracelets and rings will probably climb to 40 metric tons this year, according to Iskandar Husin, secretary-general of the Indonesian Goldsmiths and Jewelers Association. That’s a 30 percent increase from 30.8 tons in 2012, and the most since 41 tons in 2009, data from the London-based World Gold Council show.”  China and Indonesia is just a couple of examples on how the demand for precious metals has increased over the years whether because gold prices have fallen or by economic uncertainty. It will further increase the demand for precious metals since the Federal Reserve Bank recent decision “not to taper” QE.  The Fed knows that this is a disastrous policy for the US economy.

The US government also knows that the economy is heading for a collapse.  Is this why they want a war with Syria?  Is it to distract the American people from the real economic situation they will face in the future?  Marc Faber did say that “The endgame is a total collapse, but from a higher diving board. The Fed will continue to print and if the stock market goes down 10%, they will print even more. And they don’t know anything else to do. And quite frankly, they have boxed themselves into a corner where they are now kind of desperate.”   Reuters’ interviewed investor Jim Rogers who resides in Singapore said on August 28th that “I own oil, I own gold, I own things like that if there is going to be a war … they’re [going to] go much, much higher.” And that “Stocks are [going to] go down … commodities are [going to] go up.” In another interview by Trends Researcher Gerald Celente predicts that “It will be worse than the panic of ’08.  It will be deeper.  It will be more painful because they will not be able to pull off the stimulus game again.”  Celente says that “We are going into the Greatest Depression, but they will try to boost it in some way, and that’s when gold and silver prices will skyrocket.”  Celente also predicts war in the Middle East “When all else fails, they will take us to war.  We are seeing war drums beating louder and louder throughout the Middle East as the Middle East is collapsing.” 

The Fed’s decision to continue its $85 Billion in bond purchases is a step towards economic uncertainties for the US economy and the value of its dollar that would have an impact on the world’s economy.  Countries and individuals are purchasing precious metals preferably gold and silver to protect themselves from economic downturn.

That is why the US and its allies want a war, because their economy is in trouble.  Washington’s only real economy is the Military-Industrial Complex and Wall Street’s financial schemes including the Federal Reserve Bank who continues to print money out of thin air.  My suggestion is to prepare now, while gold and silver is still relatively affordable.  Because once any economic indicator that suggests that the US economy is not getting any better or an outbreak of a war in the Middle East, both gold and silver will increase in price as with everything else including food, liquor and gas.         

The contempt with which “liberated” Afghans are treated by the British Ministry of Defence has been revealed in figures obtained by the (London) Independent (23rd September 2013.)

“ ‘Fatality claims’ include the deaths of Afghan civilians in botched air-strikes, crossfire and road accidents involving British forces” – in an invasion into which the British, as ever, trotted obediently after their Washington masters.

A fortnight short of twelve years later, they are still mired in this “graveyard of empires” killing subsistence farmers, rural and city dwellers, husbands, wives, children and entire families – by Drone, gun, crossfire or “our convoy owns the roads” arrogance.

The families of 185 men, women and children killed by British forces actions, have been paid “barely £3,000 each.” However, where there are those “accidentally injured by British forces” – which can and does include the “accidental” loss of both legs, or arms, the average payment is: “at an average of £1,750 a time.”

The Ministry of Defence told the Independent that all claims were regarded as having: “no lower priority than UK Armed Forces personnel.”

The MOD has a near unbroken record of being “economical with the truth”, to coin the memorable phrase of Sir Robert Armstrong, a former Principle private Secretary to the Prime Minister (1970-1975) of his testimony in the 1986 “Spycatcher” trial.

In the British government, nothing changes, it seems. For injured UK service personnel, pressure groups point out that the average payment was £73,000. So much for Afghan lives having “no lower priority …”

“It has been clear all along that compensation payments for harm to Afghan civilians have been low, inconsistent and ad hoc,” said Heather Barr, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch in Afghanistan.

 “Afghan families often rely on one or two members to support a large extended family. Should the civilian killed be such a breadwinner, £3,000 would do no more than hold off destitution for the family for a year or two.”

The figures of the dead and injured paid paltry compensation, can surely be only the tip of the iceberg of real numbers, given the years of, and ongoing carnage.They anyway only cover from 2007 to the present.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) states that 1,319 Afghan civilians were killed and 2,533 injured in the first six months of 2013 – twenty three per cent more than in the same period last year, quotes the Independent. There has also been a: “ disproportionate loss of civilian life and injury” from pro-government forces, trained by, and fighting, of course, on the side of the US and UK.

Whilst the majority of deaths and casualties: “ were caused by improvised explosive devices, suicide bombings and ‘complex attacks’,  ‘pro-government forces’ – including Afghan army and police, and international troops – were blamed for nine per cent of the casualties, while twelve per cent were unattributed and resulted from ground engagements between pro-government forces and ‘anti-government elements.’ “

Again, the army and police are trained by the Americans and British, who, as a still occupying force – however it is dressed up by more “economy with the truth”, civilian deaths and casualties are their absolute ultimate responsibility.

In any case, all excess deaths are entirely as a result of their invasion, thus the insulting and paltry sums they occasionally and reluctantly pay out are an even further shameful disgrace.

The UNAMA Report: “also recorded fifteen civilian deaths and seven injuries in seven” Drone attacks which: “appeared to target anti-government elements.” Attacks on human beings designated “an enemy” from a cowardly computer player, in a warm office thousands of miles away.

All considered, humanity and criminality has plummeted to a historic low.

With all of the 24/7 righteous indignation about weapons of mass destruction in Syria and call for ‘compliance with international norms’, the mainstream media barely mentioned this week’s UN vote on whether or not Israel should enter the international community by allowing nuclear weapons inspectors to see what its been hiding for decades now – a full-blown nuclear weapons program.

Hiding a military nuclear arsenal is no small feat. What this latest US-led lobbying effort in the UN demonstrates clearly, is that the State of Israel, shielded by its chief backers the United States, Great Britain and France, maintains its own set of rules outside of international laws and norms.

One might ask the question: does Israel plan to use its nukes on any other countries? If not, why does it need to maintain them, and in secret?

Along with the US, Israel has already threatened to attack Iran on the basis that Iran might, one day, build a nuclear weapon. Both the US and Israel say this would be a “pre-emptive strike” - just in case Iran might attack Israel at some point in the future, even though Iran, unlike Israel, has no history of aggression against any of its regional neighbors. In fact, the State of Israel was founded upon unwarranted aggression, terrorist bombings and ethnic cleaning programs targeting native Palestinian Arabs who previously lived within its ever-expanding borders.

This is the definition of a triple standard,

Daily Sheeple reported:

“Of the 94 countries that voted on the resolution to force Israel to join the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, 51 voted against the proposal. Interestingly ALL the Middle Eastern States were in favor of Israel joining, with the United States, Britain and the European nations forming the majority that voted against it”…

Copyright 21st Century Wire 2013

Farmers, Food, Justice and the Agrarian Question

September 23rd, 2013 by Socialist Project

by A. Haroon Akram-Lodhi

As activists and scholar-practitioners from around the world gathered in New Haven, Connecticut last weekend at the Food Sovereignty conference to debate the future of the world food system, it is obvious that the planet faces a systemic global subsistence crisis: almost a billion people chronically malnourished, another billion people always unsure from where their next meal will come, 500 million that are clinically obese, and 1.5 billion people that are overweight. In my recently-published Hungry for Change: Farmers, Food Justice and the Agrarian Question (Fernwood, 2013), I explain how the creation, structure and operation of the capitalist world food system is marginalizing family farmers around the world. I also show how, on the margins of that crisis, an alternative future is not only being envisioned but is being built by mass movements of people. Hungry for Change.

In the contemporary global capitalist food regime, entitlements to food require money, a fundamental historical change of recent provenance that sustains the insecurity of contemporary access to food because the rural poor need money that they do not have. Yet money and markets in access to food have been around for time immemorial: what is now different? The difference is that family farmers and small-scale peasants now live and work in an economic system that compels them to make certain decisions and when they fail to meet the dictates of that system they are forced to quit.

The Agrarian Question

That economic system is capitalism, and in the last three centuries it has transformed food provisioning and farm production. To understand how capitalism has changed farming and agriculture, the ‘agrarian question,’ first introduced by Karl Marx in volume 1 of Das Kapital, needs to be tackled: whether or not, and if so, how, capital and capitalist relations of production are or are not transforming agriculture. This transformation occurs by dispossessing farmers through outright displacement from the land or through the advent of marked differences in rural wealth arising from the everyday workings of highly imperfect markets.

How Did Capitalism Transform Agriculture?

This transformation began to be engineered in the developing capitalist countries through colonialism. Small-scale peasant farmers around the world were drawn into the world’s first global food regime, which reconfigured rural landscapes and farming systems to produce large quantities of food for export in rigged imperialist markets. This created food-based deprivation in developing capitalist colonies because peasant farmers needed money to pay colonial taxes and therefore had to sell their crops rather than consume them themselves. Peasants resisted their incorporation into the global food regime, and the story of this resistance can be told through the peasant wars of the 20th century, which sought to overthrow emerging capitalist social structures by introducing pro-poor redistributive land and agrarian reform.

Yet the socialist and capitalist land reform programs that were introduced around the world to quash peasant militancy failed to meet the aspirations of the peasantry, and indeed often increased the control of land by the rural ruling classes. As a consequence, the processes by which capitalist markets and capitalism were transforming farming and agriculture to the detriment of the peasantry was in fact broadly accelerated in many places and spaces.

This anti-peasant bias was reinforced by ‘Green Revolution’ agricultural technologies that were designed to increase farm productivity per unit of land. These technologies were developed in the 1940s, applied in the 1950s and 1960s, and resulted in dramatic increases in farm yields between the mid-1960s and early 1980s. However, the Green Revolution did not alleviate the increasing insecurity of peasant livelihoods. No: reinforced by externally-mandated processes of economic ‘adjustment’ the Green Revolution contributed to the ongoing and deepening differences in wealth and inequality evident across developing capitalist countries as capitalist relations of production spread through agriculture and peasant populations, increasingly displaced from their land, were forced to migrate into urban slums. More recent efforts to use transgenic biotechnologies to bring about a ‘gene revolution’ are doing the same: further deepening entrenched rural inequality and sustaining the ongoing capitalist transformation of agriculture.

The predatory capitalist state has been deeply complicit in this process, facilitating the establishment of a global capitalist food regime that has undermined peasant and family farming in many countries, to the benefit of the large-scale capitalist farms and industrial agriculture that has consolidated its dominant position in the world food system over the last 75 years. The United States in particular has used its hegemonic position to suture together a contemporary global capitalist food regime that has dispossessed, through displacement and differentiation, small-scale farmers around the world, organizing and configuring a global capitalist food regime that is dominated by transnational agro-food capital, most particularly supermarkets. Transnational agro-food capital has transformed societies in order to construct export-oriented agricultures, but in ways that deepen the global subsistence crisis and create a ‘relative surplus population’ in the ‘planet of slums.’

Is There a Route Out of the Global Subsistence Crisis?

Two contrasting visions of a way out of the global subsistence crisis are currently on offer: namely the continued deepening of capitalism in agriculture advocated by the World Bank, or food sovereignty, which is advocated by the largest social movement in the world, the global peasant movement La Via Campesina. The World Bank’s vision reiterates and indeed accelerates the very processes that created the global subsistence crisis; while it can be suggested that behind food sovereignty lies the dilemma of market imperatives, which as it stands are not tackled by the global movement for food sovereignty.

So the struggle for food sovereignty needs to be reinforced on a broader scale; fundamental changes to global farming and agriculture are needed to tame capitalist markets and construct a people- and community-centered, climate-friendly, local and sustainable food system that is not subservient to the law of value and which produces abundant, nutritious, culturally appropriate and tasty food using low impact agroecological principles that work to conserve the environment. An alternative food regime is possible, and answering the agrarian question of our times and eliminating the global subsistence crisis is possible, and now; but it will require transcending capitalist social relations in farming and agriculture and instead uniting diverse food movements around an agrarian alternative that, in meeting the need for food justice, meets the aspirations of global consumers, family farmers and peasants. It will require agrarian sovereignty. •

Haroon Akram-Lodhi teaches agrarian political economy and political ecology at Trent University in Peterborough, Canada. More information about his work can be found at

 More information on Hungry for Change: Farmers, Food Justice and the Agrarian Question can be found at

The blind sectarian rampage, which has been waging a war on worship mosques, churches and religious shrines have become a modern Arab trade mark phenomenon, since what the western media called from the start the “Arab Spring” overwhelmed the Arab streets.

The sectarian rampage is sweeping away in its rage cultural treasures of archeology and history, hitting hard at the very foundations of the Arab and Islamic identity of the region, but more importantly tormenting the souls of the Arab Muslim and Christian believers who helplessly watch the safe havens of their places of worship being desecrated, looted, bombed, leveled to the ground and turned instead into traps of death and monuments of destruction by the “suicide bombers” who are shouting “God Is Great.”

The only regional precedent for the destruction of worship places on such a scale was the destruction of some one thousand mosques since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. A research by Israeli professor Ayal Banbanetchi, Rapaport noted that after 1948, only 160 mosques remained in the area. In the following years, this number shrank to 40, meaning that 120 were destroyed. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip documented the names and locations of 47 mosques that were destroyed completely and 107 others partially damaged by Israeli bombing during the “Operation Cast Lead” in 2008.

May be because those crimes went unpunished the western public opinion turns a blind eye to the new Arab phenomenon.

Most likely, the leaders of the Israeli fundamentalist Jewish “Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful Movement” are watching closely and wondering whether the current destruction of mosques by the Muslims themselves would be enough justification to carry out the movement’s public threats to build the “third temple” on the debris of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, in Jerusalem.

It is noteworthy that this destructive phenomenon was an integral part of the “Arab Spring,” which so far has ousted two presidents in Egypt and three others in Tunisia, Yemen and Libya, but successfully contained in the Moroccan and Jordanian monarchies.

However containment has been so far unsuccessful in the Kingdom of Bahrain, where the ongoing anti-government mass protests still rage uncontainable to the extent that the tiny island kingdom was forced to invite a Saudi Arabian contingent of the GCC’s “Peninsula Shield Force” to move in for help. Nonetheless, opposition sources and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights reported “documented” attacks by “the ruling regime” on 37 Shiite mosques, destroying 27 of them, some one thousand years old.

Islamist Copy of Christian Inquisition

The “Arab Spring” was optimistically named after a season in nature during which life is reborn and was supposed to promise a renewal of the stagnant political, social and economic life in the Arab world, but unfortunately it turned instead into a sectarian season of killing, death and destruction by counterrevolution forces nurtured financially, logistically, militarily and politically by the most conservative among the Arab ruling regimes in the Arabian Peninsula and their U.S. – led western sponsors and backers.

The sectarian cleansing in Iraq and Syria committed by the exclusionist sectarian zealots has become an Islamist modern copy of the European Christian inquisition in the Middle Ages, with the difference that the old European one was more systematic and organized by the Vatican institution and its allied states while it is perpetrated by uncontrolled sporadic and shadowy gangs of terror in the modern Arab case.

The fact that this horrible phenomenon came into life only with the U.S. – led invasion then occupation of Iraq in 2003 and exacerbated with the on – record U.S. campaign for a “regime change” in Syria could only be interpreted as an outcome of a premeditated policy to divide and rule in the Arab world.

On last August 24, the Maronite patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai’e told the Vatican Radio: “There is a plan to destroy the Arab world for political and economic interests and boost inter-confessional conflict between Sunnis and Shiites,” adding, “We are seeing the total destruction of what Christians managed to build in 1,400 years” in terms of peaceful cohabitation and coexistence with Muslims.

This interpretation is vindicated, for example, by the fact that both the sectarian ruling antagonists, who were brought to power in Iraq by the invading U.S. army, and the al-Qaida –linked protagonists, whose presence in Iraq coincided with the U.S. occupation of the country and who are waging a sectarian war of terror to remove them from power, were both U.S. – made warriors, the first as the “democratic opposition” to the national “dictatorship” of late Saddam Hussein and the second as the “freedom fighters” against the military occupation of Afghanistan by the former Soviet Union “empire of evil,” according to the U.S. propaganda terminology.

In Iraq, the AFP on last May 20 reported that a “war on mosques” still “rages.” Seven years earlier the bombing of the dome of the Shiite Al Askari Mosque in Samarra, or the Golden Mosque, was followed by attacks on more than 200 Sunni mosques within two days according to the UN mission in the country. This is indeed a sectarian civil war, but its seeds were sown during the U.S. “Operation Phantom Fury” in 2004 on what Iraqis call “the city of mosques” of Fallujah, where scores of mosques were destroyed completely or damaged by the Americans.

Singling out Plight of Christians Misleading

Misleadingly or otherwise, the mainstream western media is singling out the plight of Arab Christians in this blind rampage, although their plight is incomparable to that of their Muslim compatriots neither in numbers and magnitude of the phenomenon nor in the resulting human, social, political, cultural and material losses.

Writing in the Gulf News on this September 11, Dr. Joseph A. Kechichian said “it was impossible to separate the fate of Arab Christians from their Muslim brethren, a term used here in the sense of fellow citizens not necessarily brotherhood. Indeed, when Iraqi, Egyptian and now Syrian churches were/are destroyed, it is necessary to also note that Sunni and Shiite mosques were and are shelled on a regular basis.”

In Iraq for example more than sixty churches were attacked since the U.S. invasion in 2003, but more than four hundred Muslim mosques were targeted. An estimate of two thirds of Iraq’s 1.5 million Christians have been forced to flee the country, but four million Iraqi Muslims became refugees abroad and a few millions more were internally displaced as the result of mass sectarian cleansing campaigns. Patriarch al-Rai’e accused the international community of “total silence” over Iraq.

However, proportionally Arab Christians are now a threatened species. Writing in Foreign Affairs on this September 13, Reza Aslan expected “no significant Christian presence in the Middle East in another generation or two” because “What we are witnessing is nothing less than a regional religious cleansing that will soon prove to be a historic disaster for Christians and Muslims alike.”

On this September 16 in the town of Mezda south of Tripoli, the tomb and minaret of Sheikh Ahmad al-Sunni mosque were bombed, a cemetery was dug up. In the capital, Tripoli, itself explosives were detonated by remote control late last March inside the Muslim Sufi ancient shrine of Sidi Mohammed al-Andalosi. These “incidents” were the latest sectarian rampage. Last year, The New York Times reported on August 25 the bulldozing of a mosque containing Sufi Muslim graves “in broad daylight” in the “center” of the Libyan capital. A mosque library was set on fire a day earlier. Scores of similar assaults since the “revolution” toppled the Muammar Gaddafi regime late in 2011, including one against the tomb of 15th-century Muslim scholar Abdel Salam al-Asmar, led UNESCO to urge an “end to attacks on Libyan Sufi mosques.” UNESCO’s Director General Irina Bokova warned the attacks “must be halted if Libya society is to complete its transition to democracy.”

In January this year, the “revolutionary” government of Tunisia announced an “emergency” plan to protect the Sufi mausoleums from similar sectarian vandalism, including against two of the best known Sufi shrines of Saida Manoubia and Sidi Abdel Aziz. UNESCO’s appeal to “Tunisian authorities to take urgent measures to protect the heritage sites, which represent the country’s cultural and historical wealth” did not stop the sectarian rampage. In February this year The Union of Sufi Brotherhoods in Tunisia reported at least thirty-four shrines were attacked since the revolution forced former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali into exile in Saudi Arabia in 2011; the number is higher according to other reports and the attacks continue.

In Egypt, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had called the recent attacks on mosques and churches “unacceptable.” As recently as August 14, supporters of the first elected Egyptian president and the Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammad Morsi, who was removed from power on July 3rd, occupied Delga, a remote town of 120,000 people in Minya province in central Egypt, in a wave of retaliation attacks on dozens of police stations, manpowered mostly by Muslim Egyptians, and at least 42 Christian churches, of which 37 were burnt and looted.

British The Guardian on September 16 reported: “According to Christians in Delga, huge mobs carrying machetes and firearms then attacked dozens of Coptic properties, including the 1,600-year-old monastery of the Virgin Mary and St Abraam,” torched three of the five churches in the town, looting everything, killing some Coptic compatriots, forcing scores of Christian families to escape the town, and those who remained were forced to pay “protection money.” After more than two months, authorities recaptured the town last week ending their ordeal.

Delga’s story was not the latest nor the longest, ugliest or largest of the blind sectarian atrocities; to look for these, observers will find plenty of ongoing daily manifestations of these atrocities in Iraq and Syria where they are still raging at large, and where the control of authorities could be the guess of anybody for the unforeseeable future, threatening to spill over to the neighboring Arab countries of Lebanon and Jordan as well as to the non-Arab and NATO member Turkey.

The Cradle of Diversity and Coexistence

The political degradation of the “Arab Spring” into a sectarian counterrevolution is best illustrated in Syria. The former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in a recent UPI report described the current conflict in the country as a “Sunni confessional revolution” against a ruling regime supported by other religious minorities. Kissinger was not accurate. The majority of the Sunni Muslims in the major cities of Damascus and Aleppo, which together are the home of half the population, are against the sectarian “revolution” led by al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood, which are not considered representatives of mainstream Islam or Muslims.

On last August 30 UNESCO warned that a rich cultural heritage was being devastated by the conflict now in its third year, from Aleppo’s Umayyad Mosque to the Crac des Chevaliers castle dating from the 13th century Crusades.

The BBC on last April 23 quoted the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of the church of Antioch, Gregorios III Laham, as saying recently that more than 1,000 Christians had been killed, “entire villages… cleared of their Christian inhabitants”, and more than 40 churches and Christian centres damaged or destroyed. He reported that 450,000 of Syria’s two million Christians have been displaced.

However the magnitude of the plight of the Arab Syrian Christians should be seen within the context of the wider disaster that befell the Muslim majority as a whole. More than one hundred thousand Syrians are reported killed so far, hundreds of “Sunni” mosques targeted, one third of the more than 23 million Syrians, overwhelmingly Muslims of all sects, are now either refugees abroad or internally displaced. It’s a national disaster and not only a Christian one.

The Catholic Pope Francis declared September 7 a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria worldwide and his declaration was received positively among other Christian churches as well as among the mainstream Arab Muslim public opinion.

Two days ahead of “the day,” Islamist sectarian counterrevolutionaries of Al Qaida-linked rebels, especially Jabhat Al Nusra and the more extremist Ahrar Al Sham, targeted what Wadie el-Khazen, chairman of the Maronite General Council, described as “the most important Christian stronghold in Syria and the Middle East,” namely the Syrian town of Maloula, which “retained its Aramaic heritage since Christ spoke Aramaic” and holds many of the oldest monasteries and churches, including Mar Thecla that predates the Council of Nicea in 325 AD. Shouting “God is Great,” they declared they “won the city of the Crusaders,” which became a “ghost town” within hours.

It was a clear retaliation message to Pope Francis for not blessing their ongoing sectarian counterrevolution.

Longer before the Americans of the “new world” started to pose as the apostles who lecture and preach them, Syria has been the oldest cradle of religious and ethnic diversity and coexistence. Therefore the sectarian counterrevolution is now fighting in Syria its bloodiest battle, the result of which will make or break its rising tide for a long time to come.

 Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. He contributed this article to Contact him at: [email protected].

The United States Opposes Democracy Worldwide

September 23rd, 2013 by Global Research News

by Andy Piascik

Virtually alone among nations of the world, the United States refuses to recognize the election of Nicolas Maduro as president of Venezuela. This, unfortunately, has become the norm in international affairs: the U.S. standing alone, or occasionally with Israel, Saudia Arabia or Great Britain. Like a bully in a schoolyard, the U.S. whines, demanding that it get its way or else.

Or else. In this case, Or else could turn ominous for the people of Venezuela. They remember all too well that the U.S. instigated a coup that temporarily deposed the late Hugo Chavez, Maduro’s predecessor, in 2002. In the eleven years since, Washington has continued to fund opponents of the revolution and foment strikes, demonstrations and general unrest.          

Such interference is the pattern of U.S. foreign policy. Profits of investors are preeminent and any person or movement seeking to take control of resources for the popular good is branded an enemy and treated as such. The following examples are just the tip of the imperial iceberg:

Iran, 1953: The CIA helped overthrow the popular anti-monarchist Mohammad Mossadegh,  largely because he nationalized Iran’s vast oil resources, and replaced him with the Shah. Oil reserves were returned to Western control and 26 years of despotic rule followed;

Guatemala, 1954: The U.S. overthrew the democratically elected Jacobo Arbenz and soon turned Guatemala into killing fields. Earlier this year, former dictator Efrain Rios Montt was convicted of genocide by a Guatemalan court. Those in the U.S. who made the killing possible and profited most from it, however, remain at large;  

Vietnam, 1950’s: After the Geneva accords of 1954 set up elections to unify Vietnam, the U.S. spent the ensuing years making sure no elections were held, knowing Ho Chi Minh would win in a landslide. Twenty years later, after American forces had killed four million people and destroyed three countries, the Vietnamese drove the U.S. out anyway;

Congo, 1961: Three months after Patrice Lumumba became the first democratically elected Prime Minister of the newly-independent Congo, the U.S. helped overthrow his government (he was executed by his captors several months later).  Soon thereafter began the murderous reign of Mobutu Sese Soku, who also embezzled billions of dollars, much of it “aid” from U.S. taxpayers, though successive American presidents were happy to look the other way because he ensured Western business elites easy access to the Congo’s vast resources;

Brazil, 1964: Reformer Joao Goulart had been president for three years when the military, with U.S. support, overthrew his government. Fifteen years of despotic rule followed, as all traces of democracy vanished amidst an orgy of torture and killing; 

 Indonesia, 1965: One of the bloodiest episodes in recent history began with a Washington backed and armed coup that resulted in the killing of approximately one million peasants and the installation of the dictator Suharto. Ten years later, Suharto invaded East Timor, again with crucial U.S. support (and weapons) and wiped out 30% of the Timorese population;

Dominican Republic, 1965: Shortly after the CIA assassinated long-time dictator and American puppet Rafael Trujillo because his act had gotten too extreme, Juan Bosch became president in the nation’s first free election in 38 years. Five months later, U.S. backed generals ousted Bosch, and a groundswell of popular support for his reinstatement was snuffed out by a U.S. invasion. Another Washington puppet, Joaquin Balaguer, became president in a fraudulent election that took place with 40,000 American soldiers occupying the tiny nation and participating in the murder of Bosch supporters;

Chile, 1973: Much as it has done in Venezuela in recent years, the U.S. began funding oppositionists and fomenting strife as soon as Salvador Allende was elected president in 1970. With additional help from the U.S., the Chilean military overthrew and murdered Allende in 1973 and the long reign of fascist Augusto Pinochet began;

Haiti, 1990-2004: In a country that suffered one agony after another under U.S. playmates Papa Doc and Baby Doc Duvalier, a popular upsurge led by the Lavalas party swept Jean Bertrand Aristide into office in 1990. A coup three years later by generals close to drug cartels begat brutal repression until Washington allowed Aristide to return on the condition he implement harsh austerity measures. When he chose instead to push the widely supported program of Lavalas, the Clinton administration whisked Aristide out of the country at gunpoint. Haiti has been ruled by heirs of the Duvalier tradition since. 

 One dramatic change in the last 50 years is the consistent opposition of the American public to such interventions. This was perhaps best illustrated in the 1980’s when U.S. solidarity movements undoubtedly prevented greater bloodshed in South Africa, El Salvador, Nicaragua and possibly other places. One striking feature were the thousands who travelled to work  alongside Nicaraguan peasants as well as to serve as a human shield, knowing the U.S. backed contras were less likely to murder Americans. The intelligentsia here, if it ever reported this remarkable phenomenon, surely prefers to forget; people in Nicaragua and the rest of Latin America, not to mention the Washington planners of contra terror, most definitely  have not.

 Nicolas Maduro is not the issue. Hugo Chavez was never the issue and none of the individuals mentioned above were ever the issue.

What was, and is, the issue is the effort of a galvanized populace to wrest control of their economic life from U.S. investors and the local stooges who do their dirty work. That is something the Super Rich here cannot abide, and all preventive measures are on the table, including war, unspeakable atrocities, even genocide. By remaining ever vigilant and supporting those throughout the hemisphere (indeed, the world) who work to create a new day, we can perhaps block further U.S. interference in Venezuela, not to mention Colombia, Bolivia, Mexico, Honduras and oh so many other places. 

 Bridgeport native Andy Piascik is a long-time activist and award-winning author who has written for Z Magazine, The Indypendent, Counterpunch and many other publications and websites. He can be reached at [email protected].

 Copyright Any Piascik, 2013

 New Revelations Are Breaking Every Day

Revelations about the breathtaking scope of government spying are coming so fast that it’s time for an updated roundup:

  • NSA whistleblowers say that the NSA collects all of our conversations word-for-word
  • The NSA not only shares our information with other American agencies, it also gives personal, sensitive unfiltered information on Americans’ to Israel and other foreign countries
  • While the government initially claimed that mass surveillance on Americans prevented more than 50 terror attacks, the NSA’s deputy director John Inglis walked that position back all the way to saying that – at the mostone (1) plot might have been disrupted by the bulk phone records collection alone. In other words, the NSA can’t prove that stopped any terror attacks. The government greatly exaggerated an alleged recent terror plot for political purposes (and promoted the fearmongering of serial liars). The argument that recent terror warnings show that NSA spying is necessary is so weak that American counter-terrorism experts have slammed it as “crazy pants”
  • Harvard law school professor – and director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University – (Yochai Benkler)  says:

“We have learned that in pursuit of its bureaucratic mission to obtain signals intelligence in a pervasively networked world, the NSA has mounted a systematic campaign against the foundations of American power: constitutional checks and balances, technological leadership, and market entrepreneurship. The NSA scandal is no longer about privacy, or a particular violation of constitutional or legislative obligations. The American body politic is suffering a severe case of auto-immune disease: our defense system is attacking other critical systems of our body“.

  • The feds are considering prosecuting the owner of a private email company – who shut down his business rather than turning over records to the NSA – for refusing to fork over the information and keep quiet. This is a little like trying to throw someone in jail because he’s died and is no longer paying taxes
  • Whistleblowers on illegal spying have no “legal” way to get the information out
  • Mass spying . Indeed, the Pentagon now sees the collection of “big data” as a “national security threat” … but the NSA is the biggest data collector on the planet, and thus provides a tempting mother lode of information for foreign hackers
  • IT and security professionals are quite concerned about government spying

“We collect this information for many important reasons: for one, it could provide the United States and our allies early warning of international financial crises which could negatively impact the global economy. It also could provide insight into other countries’ economic policy or behavior which could affect global markets.”

  • A huge majority of Americans wants the director of intelligence – Clapper – prosecuted for perjury One of the chairs of the 9/11 Commission agrees
  • The NSA feels contempt and scorn for the American people.  For example, Spiegel notes:

“The authors of the [NSA slides] draw a comparison with “1984,” … revealing the agency’s current view of smartphones and their users. “Who knew in 1984 that this would be Big Brother …” the authors ask, in reference to a photo of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. And commenting on photos of enthusiastic Apple customers and iPhone users, the NSA writes: “… and the zombies would be paying customers?

  • A Congressman noted that – even if a mass surveillance program is started for good purposes – it will inevitably turn into a witch hunt
  • There are indications that the spy agencies aren’t just passively gathering information, but are actively using it in mischievous ways