Nefarious Fallouts of Iran Sanctions

August 5th, 2013 by Ali Fathollah-Nejad

The article demonstrates that on various grounds (socio-economic, politico-diplomatic, geopolitical and geo-economic) that the sanctions regime against Iran has been counterproductive. Crucially for Western policymakers and contrary to officially stated goals, the rapid escalation of economic sanctions during the past few years has been accompanied by the expansion of Iran’s nuclear program. The article concludes by urging the sanctions imposers to prepare the political and institutional grounds for meaningful sanctions relief – a prospect the bulk of Iranians wish for and their new President Hassan Rohani is predestined to deliver if the West reciprocates with goodwill.

Iran’s new President Hassan Rohani has promised to ease the tensions surrounding the international relations of his country. In line with the will of the majority of Iranians, the issue of economic sanctions – weighing heavily on the latter’s day-to-day life – will be a key to that end.

In general, the purpose of sanctions is to force a political opponent to do what she would not do otherwise. In the case of the sanctions imposed on Iran – during the course of what is commonly but simplistically referred to as the “nuclear crisis” – the stated goal has been to force a reversal of Tehran’s nuclear calculus toward slowing down or even halting its nuclear program. This goal has clearly not been met. Instead this period has witnessed ever more crippling sanctions – a form of “structural violence” exerted upon an entire country and its people.

On the politico-diplomatic level: Hardening the fronts

 Economic sanctions are one of the most preferred instruments of Western foreign policy. The immediate Western reaction to the Syrian crisis is the most recent evidence of this. In the Iranian case, sanctions have been an integral part of the transatlantic strategy pursued against Tehran, code-named “coercive diplomacy” in Diplomatic Studies. There, sanctions are usually presented as a quasi-peaceful means and as such inherently part of a purely diplomatic approach geared towards avoiding a military confrontation. However, as the Iraqi case demonstrates, sanctions are the last step before military action. In other words, “smart sanctions” are likely to be succeeded by “smart bombs.”

Apart from this worst-case scenario, sanctions have not proven to facilitate the resolution of conflicts; on the contrary, they rather tend to harden the opposing fronts. Frequently, opposing sides view sanctions through fundamentally different prisms. In this case, while the West conceives of sanctions in a cost–benefit framework – the heavier the costs imposed on the targeted country by way of sanctions, the more willing the sanctioned state will be to offer concessions. Iran on its part sees them as a means of illegitimate pressure against which she ought to resist. This explains why in the last couple of years the escalation of sanctions was accompanied by that of the nuclear program. For example, in 2006 – before the Iran sanctions were elevated to an undoubtedly crippling dimension by the United States and the European Union – Iran had a thousand centrifuges; the number today is much more than tenfold. This reality of the nuclear dynamics in the wake of sanctions remains largely ignored in Western capitals.

Moreover, it should be stressed that policymakers in the West have so far devoted much more time and energy to identifying which new set of sanctions to impose rather than to committedly and creatively finding a diplomatic solution of the decade-old stalemate.

On the socio-economic level: Widening the power gap between the state and society

The popular rhetoric of sanctions incorrectly characterizes the nature of the socio-economic effects imposed on the target country. Contrary to what is commonly claimed, sanctions actually weaken the lower and middle classes, particularly affecting the most vulnerable in society – workerswomen and the youth. As a result, the power gap between the state and society widens. All this, as a matter of fact, actually dampens the prospect of popular uprising. A person struggling for economic survival barely has the luxury of engaging as a citoyen in the struggle for democracy. This explains the firm renunciation of sanctions by Iran’s civil society – voices that the West has largely chosen to ignore.

In political-economic terms, sanctions have largely paralyzed Iran’s civilian economy while state and semi-state economic entities – especially those associated with the Revolutionary Guards – have been able to benefit inter alia by monopolizing imports of various goods via “black channels.” State resources have buoyed those companies that have access to them, leaving others to drown in the tide of rising costs. Sanctions have also prompted enormous growth in the volume of bilateral trade between Iran and China (still about $ 40 billion according to the Iran–China Chamber of Commerce and Industries which is closely related to the regime) – to the detriment of producers and jobs in Iran. The reality of sanctions is that they have cemented the politico-economic power configuration in Iran.

On the geopolitical and geo-economic levels: Putting a brake on Iran’s development

Sanctions produce far-reaching effects at the geopolitical and geo-economic levels. Corresponding with the implicit geopolitical rationale for sanctions – that if you cannot control or influence a country, you will resort to weakening it – these restrictions have indeed stunted Iran’s development trajectory. This inflicted damage has not, however, produced the ultimate goal of reversing Iran’s nuclear and regional policies and has in fact damaged Western interests by boosting the clout of countries like China, Russia, and other regional states.

In the wake of the U.S.-pressured withdrawal of the Europeans from the Iranian market, Iran was virtually handed over to China on a silver plate – something Beijing is indeed quite appreciative of. China’s economic presence in Iran can be witnessed all across the board: from the construction of the Tehran Metro to the exploration of Persian Gulf oil and gas fields.

Iran’s technocrats – a prime victim of the sanctions – observe this development with great concern. Among other things, they have seen that a healthy competition between different foreign competitors is sorely missing, and that the lack of high-tech (formerly delivered by the West) has reduced the quality of domestic production. All of this has a negative impact (mid- and long-term) on Iran’s economic and technological development. If the situation remains unchanged, such damage can hardly be compensated. As another case in point, the sale of Iranian oil to large customers such as China or India has turned into barter – a de facto “junk for oil” program has emerged. In addition, during the past couple of years China has been given preferential rates by Iran for its oil imports.  

Finally, some of Iran’s neighboring countries also benefit from the sanctions. Most significantly, due to the energy sanctions against Iran, Russia can safeguard its quasi-monopoly on Europe’s energy supply – a strategic interest held by Moscow which is unlikely to be reversed easily. To a much lesser degree but still noteworthy, Turkey – which has turned into the sole land trade corridor reaching Iran from the West – has seen its profits in its dealings with Iran risen sharply. Not surprisingly, its business press has been cheering the Iran sanctions as providing Ankara with a competitive trade advantage. Also off the radar, Qatar which in the Persian Gulf is sharing the world’s largest gas field with Iran, has been able to exploit South Pars much more rapidly than Iran given the latter’s lack of access to advanced technologies. This has resulted in a tremendous gap of revenues between the two countries of many several billion dollars.


Ultimately, the policy of sanctions is counter-productive on multiple levels, most sensitively on diplomatic and socio-economic grounds. The sanctions – whether called “crippling” or “targeted” – disproportionately affect the civilian population. “Smart sanctions” are very much an oxymoron as “smart bombs” which allegedly function in surgical precision. And like their military counterparts, “targeted sanctions” inflict extensive “collateral damage.”

Despite the political need to seriously reconsider sanctions as a tool for a judicious and solution-oriented foreign policy, there are many political and institutional barriers to overcome before the extremely dense web of Iran sanctions can be dissolved – which remains not only a huge political challenge but also a moral one. The first step in this direction will be the sober realization among policymakers that while sanctions do have effects, these are not the ones officially proclaimed or desired – neither in socio-economic terms nor in the sphere of Realpolitik when it comes to altering Tehran’s nuclear calculation. Leaving the sanctions against Iran in place advances the specter of an Iraqization of Iran – with all its adverse effects internally (destruction of society) as well as externally (war and destabilization of an already too fragile regional balance).

To pave the way for a new chapter in Iran’s relations with the West, Rohani has already proved his wisdom by his choice of foreign minister. Mohammad-Javad Zarif, Iran’s former ambassador to the UN, has already been labeled as “Tehran’s leading connoisseur of the U.S. political elite”. All this undoubtedly presents the most suited prerequisite towards the aim of alleviating the multi-level liability that sanctions constitute. But at the end, it is the responsibility of those who have imposed the sanctions to initiate the process of their removal. The ball is now in the West’s court. It would truly be the “height of irresponsibility” if one missed this opportunity offered by the Iranian people who have already paid dearly for an utterly miscalculated transatlantic “coercive diplomacy.”

This article is based on a talk the author gave at the first-ever expert conference on Iran sanctions to have taken place in Europe. Organized by the Paris Academy of Geopolitics (PAG) at the French Senate on 3 June 2013, the conference assembled legal and economic experts as well as three former European ambassadors to Iran and former UN Secretary General Boutros-Ghali. The passages on Iran’s new President Hassan Rohani have been added in retrospect.
This article has been originally published by the New York-based World Policy Institute, and republished by the Moscow-based Oriental Review. A version of this article has been published in its French original on Le Huffington Post (France and Canadian Quebec editions), (Canada) and in the current issue of the PAG journal Géostratégiques. A German version will appear in the upcoming issue of the Vienna-based international-politics journal International: Die Zeitschrift für internationale Politik.

Hutton started sitting 1st August 2003 in a modern attachment to the neo-medieval Royal Courts of Justice with IT facilities on hand.  He sat alone.  His sonorous voice suggested authority, but he had no coronial experience.  He probably did not know there are four chambers in the human heart but he did know about death and blood. 

He was defence counsel for the Ministry of Defence (1) but not listed (2), at the Widgery Inquiry into the shooting to death by paratroopers of unarmed Irish republican marchers 30th January 1972 – ‘Bloody Sunday’.  It is interesting to note that Widgery was invited to lead a 1921 type  judicial inquiry the day after the shooting.  But it was a quick whitewash with buckets of red added.

This is a reminder of how a coroner might speak –

“The city’s coroner, retired British Army Major Hubert O’Neill, issued a statement on 21 August 1973, at the completion of the inquest into the 14 people killed.  He declared: This Sunday became known as Bloody Sunday and bloody it was. It was quite unnecessary. It strikes me that the Army ran amok that day and shot without thinking what they were doing. They were shooting innocent people. These people may have been taking part in a march that was banned but that does not justify the troops coming in and firing live rounds indiscriminately. I would say without hesitation that it was sheer, unadulterated murder. It was murder.” (3)

The Saville inquiry was set up in 1998; it sat for 12 years.  On 15 June 2010 Cameron told both Houses  ”What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong.”  Major O’Neill, Her Majesty’s coroner, had given the same verdict at a tiny fraction of the time and cost with expedition.

 Hutton (4) called about 100 witnesses from the two paramedics and Ms Holmes the searcher who found the corpse, down to Blair, Campbell and Hoon.  About one third were from the ‘intelligence’ department concerned with defending the UK by the subversion of other nations and by illegal war.  Another third were people who had some personal connection with Dr Kelly and the remainder were civilian authorities.  That no oath was taken was fortunate for some because there was no risk of imprisonment for lying.  It was all very plummy; ‘Yes my Lord, no my Lord, three bags full my Lord’.  The aim was to bury the truth six foot deep beneath spadefuls of words.  Many answers were left in mid air and many questions went unasked.  The author was not there but the transcripts convey the surreal.

‘Only one half day of twenty-one days spent sitting was to do with the forensic medical aspects’ (Michael Powers QC BSc MB BS FFFLM).  There was no one in the court with any forensic knowledge who could examine Dr Hunt the forensic pathologist, or Dr Allan the forensic toxicologist, in any depth  Added to that, the examination of witnesses was generally ‘kid glove’.  Questions there were plenty and often superfluous for the key witnesses like Mrs Janice Kelly and daughter Rachel.  They were expected to remember the many times when dark clouds might have crossed his face; the subtext was the possibility that he might have been thinking of ending his life.  But that did not come across strongly; there was no exaggeration of that possibility in question or answer.  There was a rehearsed quality to the evidence of mother and daughter, especially given the remembered detail.

 So the well oiled gears of an ad hoc inquiry were engaged.  Ad hoc; for one particular purpose or situation only.  Chambers Dictionary.  Purpose certain.

Rachel Kelly gave evidence after her mother and Sara Pape, her father’s half sister, on the morning of the 1st of September.  As with her mother Janice, she was in a separate room or building.  There was an audio link between her and the court and there was a still picture of her on a video screen in the court.  Was it possible for the audio link to be interrupted if it was thought necessary? (see below)  Why was the questioning of Janice and Rachel Kelly done like this?  One could presume it was to cause them less distress but distress was not evident in the transcript.  Eye to eye contact and all human expression is necessary for the fullest understanding.

Rachel Kelly’s evidence

However, Rachel’s evidence is of the greatest interest.  She says her father was very fond of the Iraqi people. (5) **  This extract and the author’s comments were one of several made to the Attorney General when a group of doctors were pleading for the AG to facilitate an inquest.(6)  The short first part outlines why the AG should have withdrawn from any consideration of a second inquest given his conflict of interest; he had voted for the Iraq ‘war’.

 The following part is to do with two trips by Dr Kelly to the Middle East.  The first was out on the 19th of May, and back the next day.  He had some trouble with his visa before take off from Heathrow.  On arrival in Kuwait airport (which was probably under the command of Polish forces) he was arrested, searched, his cell ‘phone taken and he was then confined to an hotel.  To use Rachel’s words he was deported the next day.  He always had a minder, who had been a navigation officer in the RAF.  Did he have a minder then?  A ‘phone call from Heathrow to the MoD about the visa ‘problem’ of this man with top security clearance should have resolved it in minutes.  What was behind this unpleasant nonsense?  Did someone not want Kelly to see what the coalition of the willing had been up to in Iraq?  No questions were posed about this in the Hutton Inquiry.

The second trip was from 5th June to the 11th June 2003.  He was put up in very poor accommodation.  The coalition had found two wheeled structures in the Iraq desert which they thought were for the production of germs.  A large amount of propaganda flowed from this with aerial pictures etc.  Dr Kelly said –

“They are not mobile germ warfare laboratories. You could not use them for making biological weapons. They do not even look like them. They are exactly what the Iraqis said they were – facilities for the production of hydrogen gas to fill balloons.” (7) 

In fact BAe had sold them to Iraq for this purpose and no doubt at exorbitant cost.

Dr Kelly’s clear words dismissing these ‘mobile germ warfare laboratories’ should be seen in context.  Little has been made of them.  Millions in the UK knew that the coalition had seized pretexts from thin air in the preceding months to justify its bombardment and invasion of Iraq.  In short, they knew or could sense those in the sofa cabinet were psychopaths to whom black was white, and white was black.  When the war crime was well embedded like the reporters, there was even greater public antagonism to the massive and inhuman action.  Stories were circulating that there were no WMDs to be found.  Imagine the reaction in the cabinet and within the war machine when Kelly’s contradiction flew back.  Nothing could have been less welcome to those bent on demolishing Iraq.  He was lying at Harrowdown Hill 5 weeks later.

 This is an appropriate context to consider what he might have known about the weapons and methods being used in Iraq.  His wife spoke of seven computers in his study.  He was sometimes given a new laptop for a new assignment.  It was said his ‘computer’ connections were encrypted.  It is likely he received reports from the ‘battlefield’.  He was looked to for advice about protection from WMDs although concerns about those in the UK troops soon disappeared when the suits could not be worn in the heat.

The author strongly believes that a neutron shell, or similar, was the cause of the terrible incineration of the arms of Ali Abbas and the burning of his trunk to a depth of one inch.  His pregnant mother, his father and ten relatives were incinerated in the same house. (7 – beware images)   If the author is right, and there is some supporting evidence apart from analysis of the images, Kelly would probably have known.  His expertise extended across the black spectrum from germ to chemical to nuclear weapons.

114 “ We know your father went on the 7th and 8th July to RAF Honington, which is over East Anglia way. Did you know he was going to do that?

RAF Honington was the base for the Joint Chemical, Biological, Radiation and Nuclear Regiment that was active from 1-04-1999 to 16-12-2011 Joint British Army and RAF.

Simply put, Kelly knew the works.  Was this civil, thoughtful and highly intelligent man about to step out of line?  If there was a hint of that, and his response to the twin machines was more than that, what would the sofa chums and all those in step at the MoD, FCO and MI6 be ‘thinking’.  It was a critical time for that supreme war crime.

**  There was a story on the www.  Dr Kelly and two graduate friends from their Oxford college met up on the eve of the millenium.  They buried a time capsule.  Dr Kelly’s inclusion was an Iraqi army cap badge.

Explanatory Note regarding the transcript of Rachel Kelly’s examination

There are two ‘unmatched’ breaks in the transcript of Rachel’s examination:-

104  Obviously he had not been out there since 1998 and although he had followed the progress of the war the actual reality of going to Iraq made quite an impact on him, and he was disappointed he did not see any actual real Iraqis, as he put it. He was very fond of the Iraqi people and he was actually …………….  all the personnel there had to stay on the airfield, I think, for security reasons.

 105  In general conversation really. Certainly Tom Mangold, as a family we were all aware of him. I was aware that when he had been out to ……………..(inaudible) he had lunch with Julie Flint
Your father had told you about this?   Yes, he would just mention it in passing. He often told me. I would actually book to go out myself and we would sometimes share where we had both been and
restaurants we had been to, and he just commented he had been to lunch with this lady who I knew to be a journalist.  To which country?  (Ms Flint appears to have political in addition to journalistic functions.)






 5. link can no longer be found



The above text was revised and updated on August 5, 2013

For almost two centuries American government, though always imperfect, was also a model for the world of limited government, having evolved a system of restraints on executive power through its constitutional arrangement of checks and balances.

Since 9/11 however, constitutional American government has been overshadowed by a series of emergency measures to fight terrorism. The latter have mushroomed in size and budget, while traditional government has been shrunk.

As a result we have today what the journalist Dana Priest has called

two governments: the one its citizens were familiar with, operated more or less in the open: the other a parallel top secret government whose parts had mushroomed in less than a decade into a gigantic, sprawling universe of its own, visible to only a carefully vetted cadre – and its entirety…visible only to God.[1]

More and more, it is becoming common to say that America, like Turkey before it, now has what Marc Ambinder and John Tirman have called a deep state behind the public one.[2] And this parallel government is guided in surveillance matters by its own Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISA court, which according to the New York Times “has quietly become almost a parallel Supreme Court.”[3] Thanks largely to Edward Snowden, it is now clear that the FISA Court has permitted this deep state to expand surveillance beyond the tiny number of known and suspected Islamic terrorists, to any incipient protest movement that might challenge the policies of the American war machine.

Americans have by and large not questioned this parallel government, accepting that sacrifices of traditional rights and traditional transparency are necessary to keep us safe from al Qaeda attacks. However secret power is unchecked power, and experience of the last century has only reinforced the truth of Lord Acton’s famous dictum that unchecked power always corrupts. It is time to consider the extent to which American secret agencies have developed a symbiotic relationship with the forces they are supposed to be fighting – and have even on occasion intervened to let al-Qaeda terrorists proceed with their plots.

“Intervened to let al-Qaeda terrorists proceed with their plots”? These words as I write them make me wonder yet again, as I so often do, if I am not losing my marbles, and proving myself to be no more than a zany “conspiracy theorist.” Yet I have to remind myself that my claim is not one coming from theory, but from certain undisputed facts, about incidents that are true even though they have been systematically suppressed or under-reported in the American mainstream media.

Worse, I am describing a phenomenon that occurred not just once, but consistently, almost predictably. We shall see that, among the al-Qaeda terrorists who were first protected and then continued their activities were

 1) Ali Mohamed, identified in the 9/11 Commission Report (p. 68) as the leader of the 1998 Nairobi Embassy bombing;

2) Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Osama bin Laden’s close friend and financier while in the Philippines of Ramzi Yousef (principle architect of the first WTC attack) and his uncle Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (next)

3) Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, identified in the 9/11 Commission Report (p. 145) as “the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks.”

4) Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. two of the alleged 9/11 hijackers, whose presence in the United States was concealed from the FBI by CIA officers for months before 9/11.[4]

 It might sound from these three citations that the 9/11 Commission marked a new stage in the U.S. treatment of these terrorists, and that the Report now exposed those terrorists who in the past had been protected. On the contrary, a principal purpose of my essay is to show that

1) one purpose of protecting these individuals had been to protect a valued intelligence connection (the “Al-Qaeda connection” if you will);

2) one major intention in the 9/11 Commission Report was to continue protecting this connection;

3) those on the 9/11 Commission staff who were charged with this protection included at least one commission member (Jamie Gorelick), one staff member (Dietrich Snell) and one important witness (Patrick Fitzgerald) who earlier had figured among the terrorists’ protectors.

In the course of writing this essay, I came to another disturbing conclusion I had not anticipated. This is that a central feature of the protection has been to defend the 9/11 Commission’s false picture of al-Qaeda as an example of non-state terrorism, at odds with not just the CIA but also the royal families of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In reality, as I shall show, royal family protection from Qatar and Saudi Arabia (concealed by the 9/11 Commission) was repeatedly given to key figures like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged “principal architect of the 9/11 attacks.”

This finding totally undermines the claim that the wars fought by America in Asia since 9/11 have been part of a global “war on terror.” On the contrary, the result of the wars has been to establish a permanent U.S. military presence in the oil- and gas-rich regions of Central Asia, in alliance with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Pakistan – the principal backers of the jihadi terrorist networks the U.S. been supposedly fighting. Meanwhile the most authentic opponents in the region of these Sunni jihadi terrorists – the governments of Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Iran – have found themselves overthrown (in the case of Iraq and Libya) subverted with U.S. support (in the case of Syria), or sanctioned and threatened as part of an “axis of evil” (in the case of Iran). We should not forget that, just one day after 9/11, “Rumsfeld was talking about broadening the objectives of our response and ‘getting Iraq.’”[5]

The protection to terrorists described in this essay, in other words, has been sustained partly in order to support the false ideology that has underlain U.S. Asian wars for more than a decade. And the blame cannot be assigned all to the Saudis. Two months before 9/11, FBI counter-terrorism expert John O’Neill described to the French journalist Jean-Charles Brisard America’s “impotence” in getting help from Saudi Arabia concerning terrorist networks. The reason? In Brisard’s paraphrase, “Just one: the petroleum interests.”[6] Former CIA officer Robert Baer voiced a similar complaint in complained about the lobbying influence of “the Foreign Oil Companies Group, a cover for a cartel of major petroleum companies doing business in the Caspian. . . . The deeper I got, the more Caspian oil money I found sloshing around Washington.”[7]

The decade of protection for terrorists demonstrates the power of this extra dimension to the American deep state: the dark forces in our society responsible for protecting terrorists, over and above the parallel government institutionalized on and after 9/11.[8] Although I cannot securely define these dark forces, I hope to demonstrate that they are related to the black hole at the heart of the complex U.S-Saudi connection, a complex that involves the oil majors like Exxon, the military domination of oil and gas movements from the Persian Gulf and Central Asia, offsetting arms sales, Saudi investments in major U.S. corporations like Citibank and the Carlyle Group, and above all the ultimate United States dependency on Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and OPEC, for the defense of the petrodollar.[9]

 This deeper dimension of the deep state, behind its institutional manifestation in our parallel government, is a far greater threat than foreign terrorism to the preservation of U.S. democracy.

 The FBI’s Intervention with the RCMP to Release Ali Mohamed, 1993

Let me begin this essay with the FBI’s instruction in 1993 to the Canadian RCMP to release the al-Qaeda organizer Mohamed Ali, who then proceeded to Nairobi in the same year to begin planning the U.S. Embassy bombing of 1998.

 In early 1993 a wanted Egyptian terrorist named Essam Hafez Marzouk, a close ally of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, arrived at Canada’s Vancouver Airport and was promptly detained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). A second terrorist named Mohamed Ali, “the primary U.S. intelligence agent for Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden,” came from California to the airport to meet him; and, not finding him, made the mistake of asking about his friend at the Vancouver airport customs office. As a result the RCMP interrogated Mohamed Ali for two days, but finally released him, even though Ali had clearly come in order to smugle a wanted terrorist into the United States.[10]

If the RCMP had detained Mohamed Ali, who was much bigger game than the first terrorist, hundreds of lives might have been saved. After being released, Ali went on to Nairobi, Kenya. There in December 1993 he and his team photographed the U.S. Embassy, and then delivered the photos to Osama bin Laden in Khartoum, leading to the Embassy bombing of 1998.[11] Ali later told an FBI agent that at some point he also trained al Qaeda terrorists in how to hijack airplanes using box cutters.[12]

The RCMP release of Ali Mohamed was unjustified, clearly had historic consequences, and may have contributed to 9/11. Yet the release was done for a bureaucratic reason: Ali Mohamed gave the RCMP the phone number of an FBI agent, John Zent, in the San Francisco FBI office, and told them, “If they called that number, the agent on the other end of the line would vouch for him.” As Ali had predicted, Zent ordered his release.[13]

Ali Mohamed was an important double agent, of major interest to more important U.S. authorities than Zent. Although Mohamed was at last arrested in September 1998 for his role in the Nairobi Embassy bombing, the USG still had not sentenced him in 2006; and he may still not have gone to jail.[14]

The story of his release in Vancouver and its consequences is another example of the dangers of working with double agents. One can never be sure if the agent is working for his movement, for his agency, or – perhaps most likely – for increasing his own power along with that of both his movement and his agency, by increasing violence in the world.[15]

 Ali Mohamed’s Release as a Deep Event Ignored by the U.S. Media

Mohamed’s release in Vancouver was a deep event, by which I mean an event predictably suppressed in the media and still not fully understandable. A whole chapter in my book The Road to 9/11 was not enough to describe Mohamed’s intricate relationships at various times with the CIA, U.S. Special Forces at Fort Bragg, the murder of Jewish extremist Meir Kahane, and finally the cover-up of 9/11 perpetrated by the 9/11 Commission and their witness, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (Mohamed’s former prosecutor).[16]

The deep event is also an example of deep politics, a mixture of intrigue and suppression involving not just a part of the U.S. Government, but also the governing media. To this day (according to a 2013 search of Lexis Nexis) the Vancouver release incident, well covered in Canada’s leading newspaper The Toronto Globe and Mail (December 22, 2001), has never been mentioned in any major American newspaper.

More disturbingly, it is not hinted at the otherwise well-informed books and articles about Ali Mohamed by Steven Emerson, Peter Bergen, and Lawrence Wright.[17] Nor is there any surviving mention of it in the best insider’s book about the FBI and Ali Mohamed, The Black Banners, by former FBI agent Ali Soufan (a book that was itself heavily and inexcusably censored by the CIA, after being cleared for publication by the FBI).[18] Since first publishing this paragraph, I have noticed that former CIA office Michael Scheuer also faults both Steve Coll and Lawrence Wright for their “whole-hog acceptance of the Saudi narrative” that minimizes U.S.-Saudi differences.[19]

There is no doubt of the FBI’s responsibility for Mohamed’s release, It (along with other FBI anomalies in handling Mohamed) is frankly acknowledged in a Pentagon Internet article on Mohamed:

In early 1993, Mohamed was detained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) at the Vancouver, Canada, airport. He had come to the airport to meet an Egyptian who had arrived from Damascus but was found to be carrying two forged Saudi passports. When Mohamed was about to be arrested as well, he told the RCMP he was collaborating with the FBI and gave them a name and phone number to call to confirm this. The RCMP made the call and Mohamed was released immediately at the request of the FBI. When the FBI subsequently questioned Mohamed about this incident, he offered information about a ring in California that was selling counterfeit documents to smugglers of illegal aliens. This is the earliest hard evidence that is publicly available of Mohamed being an FBI informant.[20]

Contrast this official candor about the FBI responsibility for Mohamed’s release with the suppression of it in a much longer account of Mohamed (3200 words) by Benjamin Weiner and James Risen in the New York Times:

 [In 1993] he was stopped by the border authorities in Canada, while traveling in the company of a suspected associate of Mr. bin Laden’s who was trying to enter the United States using false documents.

Soon after, Mr. Mohamed was questioned by the F.B.I., which had learned of his ties to Mr. bin Laden. Apparently in an attempt to fend off the investigators, Mr. Mohamed offered information about a ring in California that was selling counterfeit documents to smugglers of illegal aliens.[21]

 A long Wall Street Journal account massages the facts even more evasively:

At about the same time [1993], the elusive Mr. Mohamed popped up again on the FBI radar screen with information that underscored the emerging bin Laden threat. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police questioned Mr. Mohamed in the spring of 1993 after his identification was discovered on another Arab man trying to enter the U.S. from Vancouver — a man Mr. Mohamed identified as someone who had helped him move Mr. bin Laden to Sudan. The FBI located Mr. Mohamed near San Francisco in 1993, where he volunteered the earliest insider description of al Qaeda that is publicly known.[22]

 In 1998, after the Embassy bombings, Mohamed was finally arrested. In the ensuing trial an FBI Agent, Daniel Coleman, entered a court affidavit (approved by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald) which summarized the Vancouver incident as follows: 

In 1993, MOHAMED advised the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (“RCMP”) that he had provided intelligence and counter-intelligence training in Afghanistan to a particular individual…. MOHAMED admitted that he had travelled to Vancouver, Canada, in the spring of 1993 to facilitate the entry of that individual into the United States…. MOHAMED further admitted that he and the individual had transported Osama bin Laden from Afghanistan to the Sudan in 1991…. MOHAMED told the RCMP that he was in the process of applying for a job as an FBI interpreter and did not want this incident to jeopardize the application. (In fact, MOHAMED then had such an application pending though he was never hired as a translator.)[23]

 Like the American media, this FBI affidavit suppressed the fact that Mohamed, an admitted ally of Osama bin Laden caught red-handed with another known terrorist, was released on orders from the FBI.

The Two Levels of American History: Official History and Deep History

 The whole episode illustrates what has become all too common in recent American history, the way in which secret bureaucratic policies can take priority over the public interest, even to the point of leading to mass murder (since it contributed at a minimum to the 1998 Embassy bombings, if not also 9/11). It is also an example of what I mean by the two levels of history in America, We can refer to them as those historical facts officially acknowledged, and those facts officially suppressed; or alternatively as those facts fit to be mentioned in the governing media, and those suppressed by the same media. This leads in turn to two levels of historical narrative: official or archival history, which ignores or marginalizes deep events, and a second level – called deep history by its practitioners or “conspiracy theory” by its critics – which incorporates them. The method of deep political research is to recover deep events from this second level.

 This activity sets deep political research at odds with the governing media, but not, I believe with the national interest. Speaking personally as an ex-diplomat, I should state clearly that the national interest does occasionally require secrets, at least for a time. Kissinger’s trip to China, for example, which led to a normalization of U.S.-Chinese relations, probably required secrecy (at least at the time) in order to succeed.

When insiders and the governing media collaborate in the keeping of a secret, as in the case of the FBI-ordered release of Mohamed, they probably persuade themselves that they are protecting, not just the FBI, but national security. However national security in this case was conspicuously not served by the subsequent embassy bombings, let alone by 9/11.

 In the glaring gap between these two levels of history is a third level — that of the privileged books about Mohamed – privileged in the sense that they have access to sources denied to others — that give important but selective parts of the truth. This selectivity is not necessarily culpable; it may for example be due to pressure from lawyers representing Saudi millionaires (a pressure I have yielded to myself).[24] But cumulatively it is misleading.

I owe a considerable debt in particular to Lawrence Wright’s book, The Looming Tower, which helped expose many problems and limitations in the official account of 9/11. But I see now in retrospect that I, like many others, have been delayed by its selectivity on many matters (including for example Mohamed’s RCMP release) from developing a less warped understanding of the truth.

The Longer History of FBI and USG Protection for Ali Mohamed

Why did John Zent vouchsafe for Mohamed in 1993, so that the RCMP released him. The explanation of Peter Lance, the best chronicler of the FBI’s culpability in both the first and second WTC attacks, is that Zent did so because Mohamed was already working as his personal informant, “feeding Zent ‘intelligence’ on Mexican smugglers who were moving illegal immigrants into the United States from the South.”[25] (FBI agent Cloonan confirms that Mohamed had been working as a local FBI informant since 1992.[26]) Elsewhere Lance describes Zent as “trusting and distracted,” so that he failed to realize Mohamed’s importance.[27]

But the FBI’s protection of Ali Mohamed did not begin with Zent. It dated back at least to 1989, when (according to the Pentagon Security bio)

While serving in the Army at Fort Bragg, he traveled on weekends to Jersey City, NJ, and to Connecticut to train other Islamic fundamentalists in surveillance, weapons and explosives. … Telephone records show that while at Fort Bragg and later, Mohamed maintained a very close and active relationship with the Office of Services [Makhtab-al-Khidimat] of the Mujihadeen, in Brooklyn, which at that time was recruiting volunteers and soliciting funds for the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan. This was the main recruitment center for the network that, after the Soviets left Afghanistan, became known as al-Qaida….

The FBI observed and photographed Mohamed giving weapons training to a group of New York area residents during four successive weekends in July 1989. They drove from the Farouq Mosque in Brooklyn to a shooting range in Calverton, Long Island, and they fired AK-47 assault rifles, semiautomatic handguns and revolvers during what appeared to be training sessions. For reasons that are unknown, the FBI then ceased its surveillance of the group.[28]

 (Similarly in 1993 an FBI supervisor would again abruptly close down surveillance of another group from the al-Kifah Center at a militant training camp in Pennsylvania.)[29]

In the subsequent trial of Mohamed’s trainees and others for bombing the World Trade Center, the defense attorney, Roger Stavis, established that Mohamed was giving the al-Kifah trainees “courses on how to make bombs, how to use guns, how to make Molotov cocktails.” He showed the court that a training manual seized in Nosair’s apartment “showed how to make explosives and some kind of improvised weapons and explosives.”[30]

So why would the FBI, having discovered terrorist training, then cease its surveillance? Here the Wall Street Journal has what I am sure is the right answer: the FBI ceased surveillance because they somehow determined that the men were training “to help the mujahedeen fighting the Soviet puppet government in Afghanistan.”[31] (Note that the mujahedeen were no longer fighting the Soviet army itself, which had been withdrawn from Afghanistan as of March 1989.)

 Al-Kifah, Ali Mohamed, the Flow of Arabs to Afghanistan

Afghanistan is indeed the obvious explanation for the FBI’s terminating its videotaping of jihadists from the Brooklyn Al-Kifah Refugee Center. Incorporated officially in 1987 as “Afghan Refugee Services, Inc.,” the Al-Kifah Center “was the recruitment hub for U.S.-based Muslims seeking to fight the Soviets. As many as two hundred fighters were funneled through the center to Afghanistan.”[32] More importantly, it was

 a branch of the Office of Services [Makhtab-al-Khidimat]. the Pakistan-based organization that Osama bin Laden helped finance and lead and would later become al Qaeda. In fact, it was Mustafa Shalabi, an Egyptian who founded and ran the center, whom bin Laden called in 1991 when he needed help moving to Sudan.[33]

As we shall see, the Makhtab, created in 1984 to organize Saudi financial support to the foreign “Arab Afghans” in the jihad, was part of a project that had the fullest support of the Saudi, Egyptian, and U.S. Governments. And Ali Mohamed, although he remained in the US Army Reserves until August 1994, was clearly an important trainer in that project, both in Afghanistan and in America.

 A privileged account of Mohamed’s career by Peter Bergen, in Holy Wars, Inc., claims that

Ali Mohamed…was an indispensable player in al-Qaeda…. At some point in the early eighties he proffered his services as an informant to the CIA, the first of his several attempts to work for the U.S. government. The Agency was in contact with him for a few weeks but broke off relations after determining he was “unreliable.” That would turn out to be a masterful understatement, as Mohamed was already a member of Egypt’s terrorist Jihad group. After being discharged from the Egyptian Army in 1984, Mohamed [took] a job in the counterterrorism department of Egyptair. The following year he moved to the United States,[34]

 Bergen’s most serious omission here is that Mohamed, though he was on the State Department’s visa watch list, had been admitted to the U.S. in 1984 “on a visa-waiver program that was sponsored by the agency [i.e. CIA] itself, one designed to shield valuable assets or those who have performed valuable services for the country.”[35] This should be enough to question the CIA’s account that it found Mohamed “unreliable.” (Later, one of Mohamed’s officers at Fort Bragg was also convinced that Mohamed was “sponsored” by a U.S. intelligence service, “I assumed the CIA.”)[36] In addition Bergen omits that, before Mohamed’s brief stint as a formal CIA agent, he had been selected out of the Egyptian army in 1981 for a leadership training at Fort Bragg – an important point to which we shall return.[37]

 The FBI’s Cover-Up of Ali Mohamed in the Kahane Murder

 The CIA may have wanted to think that the Al-Kifah training was only for Afghanistan. But the blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the mentor of the Center whom the CIA brought to America in 1990, was preaching for the killing of Jews and also for the destruction of the West.[38] His preachings guided Mohamed’s Makhtab trainees: as a first step, in November 1990, three of them conspired to kill Meir Kahane, the founder of the Jewish Defense League.

Kahane’s actual killer, El Sayyid Nosair, was detained by accident almost immediately, and by luck the police soon found his two coconspirators, Mahmoud Abouhalima and Mohammed Salameh, waiting at Nosair’s house. Also at the house, according to John Miller,

were training manuals from the Army Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg [where Ali Mohamed at the time was a training officer]. There were copies of teletypes that had been routed to the Secretary of the Army and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[39]

 And the Pentagon bio, with yet another gentle dig at the FBI, identifies the documents as Mohamed’s:

 In a search of Nosair’s home, the police found U.S. Army training manuals, videotaped talks that Mohamed delivered at the JFK Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, operational plans for joint coalition exercises conducted in Egypt, and other materials marked Classified or Top Secret. These documents belonged to Mohamed, who often stayed in New Jersey with Nosair. The documents did not surface during Nosair’s 1991 trial for the Kahane murder. It is not known if the FBI investigated Mohamed in connection with these documents.

Yet only hours after the killing, Joseph Borelli, the chief of NYPD detectives, pronounced Nosair a “lone deranged gunman.”[40]A more extended account of his remarks in the New York Times actually alluded to Mohamed, though not by name, and minimized the significance of the links to terrorism in a detailed account of the Nosair home cache:

 The files contained articles about firearms and explosives apparently culled from magazines, like Soldier of Fortune, appealing to would-be mercenaries. But the police said the handwritten papers, translated by an Arabic-speaking officer, appeared to be minor correspondence and did not mention terrorism or outline any plan to kill the militant Jewish leader who had called for the removal of all Arabs from Israel.

 “There was nothing [at Nosair’s house] that would stir your  imagination,” Chief Borelli said….  A joint anti-terrorist task force     of New York City police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation  has been set up to look into any possible international links to the slaying, the official said, but so far has not turned up anything.

“Nothing has transpired that changes our opinion that he acted alone,” Chief Borrelli told a news conference yesterday  afternoon.[41]

 Later an FBI spokesman said the FBI also believed “that Mr. Nosair had acted alone in shooting Rabbi Kahane.” “The bottom line is that we can’t connect anyone else to the Kahane shooting,” an FBI agent said.[42]

 Blaming the New York County District Attorney, Robert Morgenthau, the FBI later claimed that the evidence retrieved from Nosair’s home was not processed for two or three years.[43] But Robert Friedman suggests that the FBI were not just lying to the public, but also to Morgenthau (who had just helped expose and bring down the CIA-favored Muslim bank BCCI).

According to other sources familiar with the case, the FBI told District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau that Nosair was a lone gunman, not part of a broader conspiracy; the prosecution took this position at trial and lost, only convicting Nosair of gun charges. Morgenthau speculated the CIA may have encouraged the FBI not to pursue any other leads, these sources say. ‘The FBI lied to me,’ Morgenthau has told colleagues. ‘They’re supposed to untangle terrorist connections, but they can’t be trusted to do the job.’[44]

Using evidence from the Nosair trial transcript, Peter Lance confirms the tension between Morgenthau’s office, which wanted to pursue Nosair’s international terrorist connections, and the FBI, which insisted on trying Nosair alone.[45]

The FBI’s Protection of Ali Mohamed in the 1993 WTC Bombing

In thus limiting the case, the police and the FBI were in effect protecting, not just Ali Mohamed, but also Nosair’s two Arab coconspirators, Mahmoud Abouhalima and Mohammed Salameh, in the murder of a U.S. citizen. The two were thus left free to kill again on February 26, 1993, one month after the FBI secured Mohamed’s release in Vancouver. Both Abouhalima and Salameh were ultimately convicted in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, along with another Mohamed trainee, Nidal Ayyad.

To quote the Pentagon bio yet again,

In February 1993, the terrorist cell that Mohamed had trained exploded a truck bomb under the World Trade Center that killed six and injured about 1,000 persons. The perpetrators of this bombing included people Mohamed had trained, and Mohamed had been in close contact with the cell during the period leading up to the bombing [i.e. including January 1993, the month of Mohamed’s detention and release in Vancouver]. Mohamed’s name appeared on a list of 118 potential un-indicted co-conspirators that was prepared by federal prosecutors.

Ali Mohamed was again listed as one of 172 unindicted co-conspirators in the follow-up “Landmarks” case, which convicted Sheikh Rahman and others of plotting to blow up the United Nations, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, and the George Washington Bridge.[46] The two cases were closely related, as much of the evidence for the Landmarks case came from an informant, Emad Salem, whom the FBI had first planted among the WTC plotters. But the prosecutors’ awareness of Ali Mohamed’s involvement must be contrasted with the intelligence failure at the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center: according to Steve Coll, the CTC “immediately established a seven-day, twenty-four hour task force to collect intelligence about the World Trade Center bombing…but nothing of substance came in.”[47]

 In the WTC bombing case, the FBI moved swiftly to bring the Al-Kifah plotters to trial one month later, in March. Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, a DIA officer, later said that

we [i.e. DIA] were surprised how quickly they’d [i.e. FBI] made the arrests after the first World Trade Center bombing. Only later did we find out that the FBI had been watching some of these people for months prior to both incidents [i.e. both the 1993 WTC bombing and 9/11].[48]

 Shaffer’s claim that the FBI had been watching some of the plotters is abundantly corroborated, e.g. by Steve Coll in Ghost Wars.[49]

The U.S., Egyptian, and Saudi Backing for the Makhtab Network

 What was being protected here by the FBI? One obvious answer is an extension of Lance’s explanation for Zent’s behavior: that Mohamed had  already been a domestic FBI informant since 1992. However I entirely agree with New York County District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, who suspected that a much larger asset was being protected, the Saudi-sponsored network which we now know was the Makhtab-i-Khidimat, by this time already evolving into Al-Qaeda.

On the day the FBI arrested four Arabs for the World Trade Centre bombing, saying it had all of the suspects, Morgenthau’s ears pricked up. He didn’t believe the four were ‘self-starters,’ and speculated that there was probably a larger network as well as a foreign sponsor. He also had a hunch that the suspects would lead back to Sheikh Abdel Rahman. But he worried [correctly] that the dots might not be connected because the U.S. government was protecting the sheikh for his help in Afghanistan.[50]

This “larger network” of the Makhtab, although created in 1984, consolidated an assistance program that had been launched by the U.S. Government much earlier, at almost the beginning of the Afghan war itself.

In January 1980, Brzezinski visited Egypt to mobilize support for the jihad. Within weeks of his visit, Sadat authorized Egypt’s full participation, giving permission for the U.S. Air Force to use Egypt as a base…and recruiting, training, and arming Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood activists for battle…. Not only were they packaged and shipped to Afghanistan, but [by the end of 1980] they received expert training from U.S. Special Forces.[51]

U.S. military trainers had in fact already been in Egypt since at least 1978 (the year of the Israel-Egypt Camp David peace accords), training Sadat’s elite praetorian guard, of which Mohamed Ali was at the time a member. At first the training was handled by a “private” firm, J.J. Cappucci and Associates, owned by former CIA officers Ed Wilson and Theodore Shackley. But after Brzezinski’s visit in 1980, the contract was taken over by the CIA.[52]

In 1981 Ali Mohamed was selected out of the U.S.-trained praetorian guard for four months of Special Forces training at Fort Bragg: “Working alongside Green Berets, he learned unconventional warfare, counterinsurgency operations, and how to command elite soldiers on difficult missions.”[53] The leadership aspect of this training almost certainly means that Mohamed was part of the Pentagon’s Professional military education (PME) program for future leaders; and that he was being trained to transmit to Egypt the kind of Afghanistan-related skills that he later provided to Al-Kifah on Long Island in 1989.

Mohamed was thus in America when some of his fellow guard members, responding to a fatwa or religious order from Muslim Brotherhood member Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, assassinated Sadat in October 1981. The assassination only accelerated the export to Afghanistan of Muslim Brotherhood members accused of the murder. These included two of Mohamed’s eventual close associates, Sheikh Abdel Rahman and Rahman’s then friend Ayman al-Zawahiri, to whom Mohamed swore a bayat or oath of allegiance in 1984, after his return to Egypt.[54]

The Al-Kifah Target in 1993: Not Afghanistan but Bosnia

Morgenthau’s suspicions about Afghanistan in 1993 were very pertinent, but also somewhat anachronistic; by 1993, under its new director James Woolsey, the CIA had lost interest in Afghanistan. The new interim president of Afghanistan, Mojaddedi, under pressure from Washington, announced that the Arab Afghans should leave. Pakistan followed suit, closed the offices of all mujahedin in its country, and ordered the deportation of all Arab Afghans.[55]

But the Al-Kifah support network had new targets in mind elsewhere.

After 1991 the Brooklyn center was focused chiefly on training people for jihad in Bosnia, and at least two sources allege that Ali Mohamed himself visited Bosnia in 1992 (when he also returned to Afghanistan).[56]

 Al-Kifah’s English-language newsletter Al-Hussam (The Sword) also began publishing regular updates on jihad action in Bosnia….Under the control of the minions of Shaykh Omar Abdel Rahman, the newsletter aggressively incited sympathetic Muslims to join the jihad in Bosnia and Afghanistan themselves….The Al-Kifah Bosnian branch office in Zagreb, Croatia, housed in a modern, two-story building, was evidently in close communication with the organizational headquarters in New York. The deputy director of the Zagreb office, Hassan Hakim, admitted to receiving all orders and funding directly from the main United States office of Al-Kifah on Atlantic Avenue controlled by Shaykh Omar Abdel Rahman.[57]

One of Ali Mohamed’s trainees at al-Kifah, Rodney Hampton-El, assisted in this support program, recruiting warriors from U.S. Army bases like Fort Belvoir, and also training them to be fighters in New Jersey.[58] In 1995 Hampton-El was tried and convicted for his role (along with al-Kifah leader Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman) in the plot to blow up New York landmarks. At the trial Hampton-El testified how he was personally given thousands of dollars for this project by Saudi Prince Faisal in the Washington Saudi Embassy.[59] (In addition, “Saudi intelligence has contributed to Sheikh Rahman’s legal-defence fund, according to Mohammed al-Khilewi, the former first secretary to the Saudi mission at the U.N.)”[60]

Al-Kifah, Al-Qaeda, Tajikistan, and Drugs

Meanwhile the ISI had not lost interest in bin Laden’s Arabs, but began to recruit them with bin Laden’s support for battle in new areas, notably Kashmir.[61] Bin Laden in the same period began to dispatch his jihadis into areas of the former Soviet Union, notably to the infant Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) in Tajikistan.

 The outbreak of Islamist violence in Tajikistan…moved bin Laden to send a limited number of Al-Qaeda cadre to support Tajik Islamist forces, among them his close associate Wali Khan Amin Shah [an Uzbek later working in the Philippines with Ramzi Yousuf and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] and the soon-to-be-famous mujahid, Ibn Khattab. In addition, bin Laden, even after his 1991 move to Sudan, continued to run training camps in Afghanistan, where he welcomed the chance to train Tajiks, Uzbeks, Uighurs, and Chechens.[62]

In an al-Qaeda document captured in Iraq, bin Laden wrote

with the grace of Allah, we were successful in cooperating with our brothers in Tajikistan in various fields including training. We were able train a good number of them, arm them and deliver them to Tajikistan. Moreover, Allah facilitated to us delivering weapons and ammunition to them; we pray that Allah grants us all victory[63]

Many other accounts report that the delivery of arms and ammunition was facilitated by the involvement of the IMU and bin Laden in the massive flow of heroin from Afghanistan into the former Soviet Union. According to Ahmed Rashid,

 Much of the I.M.U.’s financing came from the lucrative opium trade through Afghanistan. Ralf Mutschke, the assistant director of Interpol’s Criminal Intelligence Directorate, estimated that sixty per cent of Afghan opium exports were moving through Central Asia and that the “I.M.U. may be responsible for seventy per cent of the total amount of heroin and opium transiting through the area.”[64]

Among the experts confirming the IMU-al-Qaeda-drug connection is Gretchen Peters,

The opium trade… supported the global ambitions of Osama bin Laden…. There was … evidence that bin Laden served as middleman between the Taliban and Arab drug smugglers…. With Mullah Omar’s approval, bin Laden hijacked the state-run Ariana Airlines, turning it into a narco-terror charter service… according to former U.S. and Afghan officials…. One U.S. intelligence report seen by the author described a smuggling route snaking up through Afghanistan’s northwest provinces if Baghdis, Faryab, and Jowzan into Turkmenistan. It was being used as of mid-2004 by “extremists associated with the Taliban, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and al-Qaeda,” the report said. Traffickers would move “both heroin and terrorists” along the route and “then onwards into other countries in Central Asia,” the CIA document said.[65]

 It has been widely reported that in the early 1990s, as US financial support dwindled and bin Laden’s finances were being rapidly exhausted in Sudan, his new involvement with the IMU and later the Taliban involved al-Qaeda also in the growing Afghan heroin traffic. Peters saw a CIA document confirming this.[66] Yet the 9/11 Report, in contorted language, denied this, as did a Staff Report:

 No persuasive evidence exists that al Qaeda relied on the drug trade as an important source of revenue, had any substantial involvement with conflict diamonds, or was financially sponsored by any foreign government.[67]

 This surprising claim was at odds with the views of many U.S. intelligence operatives. It also contradicted the official position of the British government, which told its Parliament in 2001,

 Usama Bin Laden and Al Qaida have been based in Afghanistan since 1996, but have a network of operations throughout the world. The network includes training camps, warehouses, communication facilities and commercial operations able to raise significant sums of money to support its activity. That activity includes substantial exploitation of the illegal drugs trade from Afghanistan.[68]

And there were allegations that the Brooklyn Al-Kifah Center, as well as bin Laden, was involved in drug trafficking.Back in 1993, the New York Times reported that, according to investigators, “Some of the 11 men charged in the [Day of Terror] plot to bomb New York City targets are also suspected of trafficking in drugs.”[69] Mujahid Abdulqaadir Menepta, a Muslim suspect in both the 9/11 case and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, was linked by telephone numbers on his cell phones to ongoing criminal investigations, involving “organized crime, drugs, and money laundering.”[70] And Raed Hijazi, an al Qaeda terrorist arrested in Jordan in 1999, had previously become an FBI informant in order to avoid drug charges.[71]

 Was the U.S. Protection of the Al-Kifah Center Intended to Help Export Jihadis?

There is also no treatment in the 9/11 Report, and almost none elsewhere, of the allegations from Steven Emerson that by 1987, the Al-Kifah Center Al-Farooq Mosque in Brooklyn “had become a center for counterfeiting tens of thousands of dollars.”[72] Similarly there has been no government follow-up of the allegation by Yossef Bodansky, citing FBI informant Emad Salem, that one of the Al-Kifah cell leaders (Siddiq Ibrahim Siddig Ali)

had offered to sell a million dollars [of counterfeit currency] for $150,000, well below market value. … Quantities of counterfeit $100 bills were later found at the apartment of Sheikh Umar Abdel-Rahman.[73]

J.M. Berger goes further, reporting from court testimony: “In order to support Al Kifah’s operations,” Mustafa Shalabi, the head of the Al-Kifah Center until his murder in 1991, “employed a number of for-profit criminal enterprises, including gunrunning, arson for hire, and a counterfeiting ring set up in the basement of the jihad office.”[74] Yet the 9/11 Report is silent about these serious charges, which U.S. prosecutors at the time did not pursue.

Why this official reticence? The answer may lie in the fact that by 1996 bin Laden was “supporting Islamists in Lebanon, Bosnia, Kashmir, Tajikistan, and Chechnya.”[75] And in step with bin Laden, the al-Kifah Center was also supporting jihad after 1992 “in Afghanistan, Bosnia, the Philippines, Egypt, Algeria, Kashmir, Palestine, and elsewhere.”[76]

 But bin Laden and Al-Kifah were not acting on their own, they were supporting projects, especially in Tajikistan (1993-95) and then Chechnya (after 1995), where their principal ally, Ibn al-Khattab (Thamir Saleh Abdullah Al-Suwailem) also enjoyed high-level support in Saudi Arabia.[77]

Khattab enjoyed a certain amount of logistical and financial support from Saudi Arabia. Saudi sheikhs declared the Chechen resistance a legitimate jihad, and private Saudi donors sent money to Khattab and his Chechen colleagues. As late as 1996, mujahidin wounded in Chechnya were sent to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment, a practice paid for by charities and tolerated by the state.[78]

Ali Soufan adds that America also supported this jihad: by 1996, “the United States had been on the side of Muslims in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya.”[79]

By protecting the Al-Kifah Center and its associates (including Mohamed) and not prosecuting them for their crimes (including murder), the U.S. Government was in effect keeping open a channel whereby those in America who wished to wage jihad were helped to wage jihad in other countries, not here. (After the arrest of Sheikh Rahman in 1993 the Al Kifah closed itself down. But we shall see that an allied institution, Sphinx Trading, continued to be protected, even after the FBI knew it had helped one of the alleged 9/11 hijackers prepare for 9/11.)

Was all this protection intended to keep just such a channel open? It was certainly an intentional result of the protection and support for the Makhtab al-Khidimat in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Supportfor the Makhtab, and Later for Al Qaeda

The Saudis, like the Egyptians, had domestic reasons for wishing to export as many Muslim Brotherhood members to possible death in Afghanistan, Bosnia, or anywhere else. Until 1979 Saudi Arabia had provided a home to Brotherhood members fleeing persecution in countries like Syria and Egypt, where some of them had tried to assassinate the Saudis’ political enemy Gamel Abdel Nasser. But in 1979 radical Wahhabis, condemning the ruling Saudi family as corrupt infidels, seized the Grand Mosque at Mecca and defended it for weeks.[80] Profoundly shaken, the Saudi family used its foundations, like the World Muslim League (WML), to subsidize the emigration of political Islamists, above all to the new jihad in Afghanistan which opened one month later against the Soviet Union.[81]

In Afghanistan both Rahman and al-Zawahiri worked with the Makhtab al Khidamat that had been created in 1984 by two other members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestinian Abdullah Azzam and the Saudi Osama bin Laden.[82] All that the 9/11 Commission Report has to say about the Makhtab’s financing is that “Bin Laden and his comrades had their own sources of support and training, and they received little or no assistance from the United States” (p. 56). But the Pakistani author Ahmed Rashid makes clear the support coming from the Saudi royal family, including Prince Turki (the head of Saudi intelligence), and also royal creations like the World Muslim League:

Bin Laden, although not a royal, was close enough to the royals and certainly wealthy enough to lead the Saudi contingent. Bin Laden, Prince Turki and General [Hameed] Gul [the head of the Pakistani ISI] were to become firm friends and allies in a common cause. The center for the Arab-Afghans was the offices of the World Muslim League and the Muslim Brotherhood in Peshawar which was run by Abdullah Azam. Saudi funds flowed to Azam and the Makhtab al Khidamat or Services Center which he created in 1984 to service the new recruits and receive donations from Islamic charities. Donations from Saudi Intelligence, the Saudi Red Crescent, the World Muslim League and private donations from Saudi princes and mosques were channeled through the Makhtab. A decade later the Makhtab would emerge at the center of a web of radical organizations that helped carry out the World Trade Center bombing [in 1993] and the bombings of US Embassies in Africa in 1998.[83]

Former Ambassador Peter Tomsen has described how the evolution of the Makhtab into al-Qaeda was accomplished with support from the offices of royally ordained organizations like the World Muslim League (WML) and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY):

Bin Laden’s brother-in-law, Mohammad Jamal Khalifa, headed the Muslim World League office in Peshawar during the mid-1980s. In 1988, he moved to Manila and opened a branch office of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth. He made the charity a front for bin Laden’s terrorist operations in the Philippines and Asia. Al Qaeda operatives, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, and his nephew Ramzi Yusuf [master bomb-maker of the 1993 WTC bombing], traveled to Manila in the early 1990s to help Khalifa strengthen al-Qaeda networks in Southeast Asia and plan terrorist attacks in the region.[84]

 There are many other examples of WML and WAMY connections to Al-Qaeda.  For example Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, a signatory of Osama bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa to kill Jews and Americans, was invited in 1996 to the 34th WML Congress in Mecca and also spoke there to WAMY.[85] Yet there are only minimal references to Maulana Fazlur Rehman in the western (as opposed to the Asian) media, and none (according to a Lexis Nexis search in July 2013) linking him to the WML or WAMY.

The FBI’s hands-off attitude towards WAMY in America may help explain its protection of Ali Mohamed. According to former federal prosecutor John Loftus and others, there was a block in force in the 1980s against antiterrorism actions that might embarrass the Saudis.[86] This block explains for example the protection enjoyed by the chair of WAMY in Virginia, Osama bin Laden’s nephew Abdullah bin Laden. The FBI opened an investigation of Abdullah bin Laden in February 1996, calling WAMY “a suspected terrorist organization,” but the investigation was closed down six months later.[87]

How and Why Did a Passportless Osama Leave Saudi Arabia?

None of the official or privileged sources on Ali Mohamed has linked him to Saudi intelligence activities. But there is at least one such link, his trip, as described in the Coleman FBI affidavit, when he “travelled to Afghanistan to escort Usama bin Laden from Afghanistan to the Sudan.”[88] The FBI affidavit presents this, without explanation, as an act in furtherance of an al-Qaeda “murder conspiracy.” But Osama’s move to Sudan was synchronized with a simultaneous investment in Sudan by his bin Laden brothers, including an airport construction project that was largely subsidized by the Saudi royal family.[89]

A great deal of confusion surrounds the circumstances of bin Laden’s displacement in 1991-92, from Saudi Arabia via Pakistan and perhaps Afghanistan) to the Sudan. But in these conflicted accounts one fact is not contested: bin Laden’s trip was initially arranged by someone in the royal family.[90] Steven Coll in Ghost Wars reports that this person was Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki, who blamed it on pressure from the U.S:

 Peter Tomsen and other emissaries from Washington discussed the rising Islamist threat with [Saudi intelligence chief] Prince Turki in the summer of 1991…. At some of the meetings between Turki and the CIA, Osama bin Laden’s name came up explicitly. The CIA continued to pick up reporting that he was funding radicals such as Hekmatyar in Afghanistan…. “His family has disowned him,” Turki assured the Americans about bin Laden. Every effort had been made to persuade bin Laden to stop protesting against the Saudi royal family. These efforts had failed, Turki conceded, and the kingdom was now prepared to take sterner measures…. Bin Laden learned of this when Saudi police arrived at his cushion-strewn, modestly furnished compound in Jeddah to announce that he would have to leave the kingdom. According to an account later provided to the CIA by a source in Saudi intelligence, the officer assigned to carry out the expulsion assured bin Laden that this was being done for his own good. The officer blamed the Americans. The U.S. government was planning to kill him, he told bin Laden, by this account, so the royal family would get him out of the kingdom for his own protection. The escort put bin Laden on a plane out of Saudi Arabia.[91]

 Coll’s magistral but privileged book appeared in February 2004. Six months later the 9/11 Commission Report published a quite different account, implying that by 1991 the Saudi government was estranged from bin Laden:

The Saudi government… undertook to silence Bin Laden by, among other things, taking away his passport. With help from a dissident member of the royal family, he managed to get out of the country under the pretext of attending an Islamic gathering in Pakistan in April 1991.[92]

 Lawrence Wright claims that the prince returning Osama’s passport was Interior Minister Prince Naif, after bin Laden persuaded him he was needed in Peshawar “in order to help mediate the civil war among the mujahideen.”[93] Prince Naif, the most anti-American of the senior Saudi royals, gave back bin Laden’s passport on one condition, that he “sign a pledge that he would not interfere with the politics of South Arabia or any Arab country.”[94]

The “Islamic gathering” is almost certainly a reference to the on-going negotiations in Peshawar which eventually produced the Saudi-backed Peshawar Accord (finalized in April 1992) to end the Afghan Civil War. By several well-informed accounts, Bin Laden did play an important part in these negotiations, in furtherance (I would argue) of Prince Tuki’s own policies. Like Sheikh Rahman before him in 1990, bin Laden tried, vainly, to negotiate a truce between the warring mujahideen leaders, Massoud and Hekmatyar. In these negotiations (according to Peter Tomsen, who was there), Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda were all united in seeking the same objective: a united Sunni army that (in opposition to American appeals for Shia representation) that could retake Kabul by force.[95]

Thus I believe it is quite clear that bin Laden, in his mediation attempts to bring Hekmatyar into the Peshawar consensus, was acting in line with official Saudi and Pakistani interests. Others disagree. Without documentation, the author of the Frontline biography of bin Laden asserts,

Contrary to what is always reiterated bin Laden has never had official relations with the Saudi regime or the royal family. All his contacts would happen through his brothers.[96] …. Specifically he had no relation with Turki al-Faisal head of Saudi intelligence. He used to be very suspicious of his role in Afghanistan and once had open confrontation with him in 1991 and accused him of being the reason of the fight between Afghan factions.[97]

 Michael Scheuer, once head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, endorsed this claim, and reinforced it with the testimony of Sa’ad al-Faqih (a critic of the Saudi royal family who has been accused by the U.S. Treasury of being affiliated with al-Qaeda) that, “after the Soviets withdrew ‘Saudi intelligence [officers] were actually increasing the gap between Afghani factions to keep them fighting.’”[98]

But this claim if true must have beenafter Kabul fell to the jihadis in 1992, when Massoud, backed by the favored Saudi client Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, began to fight Hekmatyar, the favored client of Pakistan’s ISI. Before this time the U.S. State Department’s Afghan policy was to promote a broad-based opposition to the rump Communist government in Kabul, while “side-lining the extremists,” including both Hekmatyar and Sayyaf.[99]

Pakistan’s ISI in the same period clearly wanted a strong rebel alliance united behind Hekmatyar, and both the CIA and the Saudis continued to support them. As Barnett Rubin reports, “During this period, political ‘unity’ of some sort among the mujahidin groups was a major goal of U.S.-Pakistani-Saudi policy.”[100]And in 1990-91, as Washington cut its allocation for the CIA’s covert Afghan program by 60 percent, Prince Turki more than made up for the shortfall by increased contributions from Saudi Arabia.[101]

 I conclude that bin Laden’s mediation efforts in Peshawar in 1991 were in accordance with Prince Turki’s preferences, just as did Ali Mohamed, in organizing bin Laden’s subsequent move from Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Sudan. As Steve Coll reports, the break between bin Laden and the Saudi royal family did not become serious until 1993, after the involvement of bin Laden’s ally Sheikh Rahman in the first WTC bombing.[102]

Meanwhile Saudi royal support for this web of radical organizations, in which Ali Mohamed was a central organizer and trainer, continued until at least 1995, well after the WTC bombing of 1993. Anthony Summers reports that Turki may have personally renewed a deal with bin Laden as late as 1998:

In sworn statements after 9/11, former Taliban intelligence chief Mohammed Khaksar said that in 1998 the prince sealed a deal under which bin Laden undertook not to attack Saudi targets. In return, Saudi Arabia would provide funds and material assistance to the Taliban…. Saudi businesses, meanwhile, would ensure that money also flowed directly to bin Laden. Turki would deny after 9/11 that any such deal was done with bin Laden. One account has it, however, that he himself met with bin Laden – his old protégé from the days of the anti-Soviet jihad – during the exchanges that led to the deal.[103]

 In 1991 the Soviet troops had been out of Kabul for two years; and, as former US Ambassador Tomsen has reported, the CIA’s objective of a Pakistan-backed military overthrow in Kabul was at odds with the official U.S. policy of support for “a political settlement restoring Afghanistan’s independence.”[104] Ambassador Tomsen himself told the CIA Station Chief in Islamabad (Bill) that, by endorsing Pakistan’s  military attack on Kabul,

he was violating fundamental U.S. policy precepts agreed to in Washington by his own agency. American policy was to cut Hekmatyar off, not build him up. Bill looked at me impassively as I spoke. I assumed his superiors in Langley had approved the offensive. The U.S. government was conducting two diametrically opposed Afghan policies.[105]

Steve Coll agrees that “By early 1991, the Afghan policies pursued by the State Department and the CIA were in open competition with each other…. The CIA…continued to collaborate with Pakistani military intelligence on a separate military track that mainly promoted Hekmatyar and other Islamist commanders.”[106]

 This conflict between the State Department and CIA was far from unprecedented. In particular it recalled the CIA-State conflict in Laos in 1959-60, which led to a tragic war in Laos, and eventually Vietnam.[107]  Just as oil companies had a stake in that conflict, so too in 1990-92 the CIA was thinking not just of Afghanistan but of the oil resources of Central Asia, where some of the al-Kifah-trained “Arab Afghans” were about to focus their attention.

The State Department in Afghanistan represented the will of the National Security Council and the public state. The CIA, on the other hand, was not “rogue” (as has sometimes been suggested), it was pursuing the goals of oil companies and their financial backers – or what I have called the deep state — in preparing for a launch into the former Soviet republics of central Asia.

In 1991 the leaders of Central Asia “began to hold talks with Western oil companies, on the back of ongoing negotiations between Kazakhstan and the US company Chevron.”[108]  The first Bush Administration actively supported the plans of U.S. oil companies to contract for exploiting the resources of the Caspian region, and also for a pipeline not controlled by Moscow that could bring the oil and gas production out to the west.

In the same year 1991, Richard Secord, Heinie Aderholt, and Ed Dearborn, three veterans of U.S. operations in Laos, and later of Oliver North’s operations with the Contras, turned up in Baku under the cover of an oil company, MEGA Oil.[109]  This was at a time when the first Bush administration had expressed its support for an oil pipeline stretching from Azerbaijan across the Caucasus to Turkey.[110]  MEGA never did find oil, but did contribute materially to the removal of Azerbaijan from the sphere of post-Soviet Russian influence.

 As MEGA operatives in Azerbaijan, Secord, Aderholt, Dearborn, and their men engaged in military training, passed “brown bags filled with cash” to members of the government, and above all set up an airline on the model of Air America which soon was picking up hundreds of mujahedin mercenaries in Afghanistan.[111]  (Secord and Aderholt claim to have left Azerbaijan before the mujahedin arrived.)

 Meanwhile, Hekmatyar, who at the time was still allied with bin Laden, was “observed recruiting Afghan mercenaries [i.e. Arab Afghans] to fight in Azerbaijan against Armenia and its Russian allies.”[112]Hekmatyar was a notorious drug trafficker; and, at this time, heroin flooded from Afghanistan through Baku into Chechnya, Russia, and even North America.[113]

 Bin Laden, Ali Mohamed, and the Saudi Royal Family

By attempting to  negotiate Hekmatyar’s reconciliation with the other Peshawar commanders, bin Laden in 1991 was clearly an important part of this CIA effort. So, a year earlier, had been the blind Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman:

 In 1990, after the assassination of Abdullah Azzam, Abd al-Rahman was invited to Peshawar, where his host was Khalid al-Islambouli, brother of one of the assassins of Sadat…. On this trip, reportedly paid for by the CIA, Abd al-Rahman preached to the Afghans about the necessity of unity to overthrow the Kabul regime.[114]

This presumably was shortly before Sheikh Abdul Rahman, even though he was on a State Department terrorist watch list after being imprisoned for the murder of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, was issued a multiple-entry U.S. visa in 1990 “by a CIA officer working undercover in the consular section of the American embassy in Sudan.”[115] This was the same CIA-sponsored program that six years earlier had admitted Ali Mohamed, “a visa-waiver program that was … designed to shield valuable assets or those who have performed valuable services for the country.”[116]

And Ali Mohamed himself was, according to the New York Times, part of the CIA’s plan for a military solution: “In the fall of 1992, Mr. Mohamed returned to fight in Afghanistan, training rebel commanders in military tactics, United States officials said.”[117] Before this, Mohamed had been charged with the major task of moving bin Laden, his four wives, and his seventeen children from Afghanistan to Sudan. The task was a major one, for Osama moved with his assistants, “a stable of Arabian horses, and bulldozers.”[118]

 The Turki-bin Laden connection, which was cemented by Turki’s chief of staff and bin Laden’s teacher Ahmed Badeeb, may have been renewed as late as 1998:

In sworn statements after 9/11, former Taliban intelligence chief Mohammed Khaksar said that in 1998 the prince sealed a deal under which bin Laden undertook not to attack Saudi targets. In return, Saudi Arabia would provide funds and material assistance to the Taliban…. Saudi businesses, meanwhile, would ensure that money also flowed directly to bin Laden. Turki would deny after 0/11 that any such deal was done with bin Laden. One account has it, however, that he himself met with bin Laden – his old protégé from the days of the anti-Soviet jihad – during the exchanges that led to the deal.[119]

 Bin Laden’s move to the Sudan in 1991-92, the move organized by Ali Mohamed, appears to have been done in collaboration with his family. There is hotly contested evidence that Osama participated with his brothers in the construction of the Port Sudan airport, a project underwritten with funds from the Saudi royal family.[120] According to Lawrence Wright, “the Saudi Bnladen Group got the contract to build an airport in Port Sudan, which brought Osama frequently into the country to oversee the construction. He finally moved to Khartoum in 1992….”[121]

Not contested, but largely overlooked, is the evidence of how bin Laden financed his move, through investing $50 million in the Sudanese al-Shama Islamic bank – a bank that also had support from both the bin Laden family and also the Saudi royal family. As the Chicago Tribune reported in November 2001,

According to a 1996 State Department report on bin Laden’s finances, bin Laden co-founded the Al Shamal bank with a group of wealthy Sudanese and capitalized it with $50 million of his inherited fortune…..[122]

According to public records, among the investors in the Al Shamal Islamic Bank is a Geneva-based financial services conglomerate headed by Prince Mohamed al-Faisal al-Saud, [brother of Prince Turki], son of the late King [Faisal al-]Saud and a cousin [i.e. nephew] of the current Saudi monarch, King Fahd.

The Al Shamal bank, which opened for business in 1990, admits that Osama bin Laden held three accounts there between 1992 and 1997, when he used Sudan as his base of operations before fleeing to Afghanistan. But the bank insists in a written statement that bin Laden “was never a founder or a shareholder of Al Shamal Islamic Bank.”

Told of the bank’s statement, the State Department official replied that “we stand by” the assertion that bin Laden put $50 million into the bank.

The Al Shamal bank does acknowledge that among its five “main founders” and principal shareholders is another Khartoum bank, the Faisal Islamic Bank of Sudan. According to public records, 19 percent of the Faisal Islamic Bank is owned by the Dar Al-Maal Al-Islami Trust, headed by Saudi Prince [Mohammed al-Faisal] al-Saud.

 (The Dar Al-Mal Al-Islami or DMI Trust, “based in the Bahamas and with its operations center in Geneva,” was one of a spate of banks, mostly dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, that were set up with western guidance and assistance – in DMI’s case the assistance came from Price Waterhouse and eventually Harvard University.[123] DMI was one of the two main banks which, according to Jane’s Intelligence Review, had been funding the Makhtab and also the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), of which more below.)[124]

 The $3.5 billion DMI Trust, whose slogan is “Allah is the purveyor of success,” was founded 20 years ago to foster the spread of Islamic banking across the Muslim world. Its 12-member board of directors includes Haydar Mohamed Binladen, according to a DMI spokesman, a half-brother of Osama bin Laden…..

Though small, the Al Shamal Islamic Bank enabled bin Laden to move money quickly from one country to another through its correspondent relationships with some of the world’s major banks, several of which have been suspended since Sept. 11.

The Al Shamal bank was identified as one of bin Laden’s principal financial entities during the trial earlier this year of four Al Qaeda operatives convicted in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.[125]

 One might have expected this early and revealing insight into bin Laden’s finances to have been developed in the spate of privileged bin Laden and al Qaeda books that appeared in the years after 2001. In fact I have located only one brief inconsequential reference, in Steve Coll’s The Bin Ladens: “Osama had reorganized his personal banking at the Al-Shamal Bank in Khartoum, but his accounts gradually dried up.”[126]

There is of course no mention of the al-Shamal Bank in the 9/11 Commission Report.

 Federal Protection for Osama bin Laden’s Brother-in-Law, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa

 It seems clear that the 1980s official USG block against antiterrorism actions that might embarrass the Saudis was still in force in America in 1995. We see this in the extraordinary federal protection extended to Mohamed Jamal Khalifa, Osama bin Laden’s best friend and brother-in-law.

 On December 16, 1994, the San Francisco FBI arrested Khalifa in Morgan Hills (not far from Ali Mohamed’s home). Khalifa’s business card had been discovered in a search one year earlier of Sheikh Rahman’s residence, after which he had been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Landmarks case. Soon afterwards, a State Department cable described him as

 a known financier of terrorist operations and an officer of an Islamic NGO in the Philippines that is a known Hamas front. He is under indictment in Jordan in connection with a series of cinema bombings earlier this year.[127]

 Khalifa, in other words, was like Ali Mohamed involved in terrorist operations on an international level. He was an important source of information and talked freely to the FBI agents who arrested him. In his possession they found “documents that connected Islamic terrorist manuals to the International Islamic Relief Organization, the group that he had headed in the Philippines.”[128] And in his notebook they found evidence linking him directly to Ramzi Yousef, who at the time was the FBI’s most-wanted terrorist for his role in the 1993 WTC bombing.

 But as Peter Lance narrates, “The Feds never got a chance to question him.” Instead, in January 1995, a decision was made by Secretary of State Warren Christopher and supported by Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick to whisk Khalifa from the United States to Jordan for trial, where he was soon “acquitted of terrorism charges and allowed to move to Saudi Arabia.”[129]There “Saudi officials greeted him at the airport.”[130]

 “I remember people at CIA who were ripshit at the time” over the decision, says Jacob L. Boesen, an Energy Department analyst then working at the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center. “Not even speaking in retrospect, but contemporaneous with what the intelligence community knew about bin Laden, Khalifa’s deportation was unreal.”[131]

 Even more unreal was the decision of a court in a civil case to return to Khalifa before his deportation the contents of his luggage, including his notebook and other computer files.[132]

I believe that Peter Lance, after all his meticulous scholarship, failed to identify who was really being protected by this evasive measure. He writes that Khalifa, from 1983 to 1991, “had been trusted by al Qaeda with running the Philippines branch of the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), one of their key NGOs.”[133]

 But the IIRO was in the hands of a far greater power than al Qaeda, which in any case did not exist in 1983. It was a charitable organization that had been authorized in 1979 by Saudi royal decree, as an affiliate of another key institution of the royal family, the Muslim World League (MWL).[134] According to former CIA officer Robert Baer, the IIRO has been run “with an iron hand” by Prince Salman ibn Abdul-Aziz al Saud (the brother of Saudi King Abdullah), who “personally approved all important appointments and spending.”[135]

The creation date of 1979 reflects the important shift in that year of the Saudi royal family’s attitude towards the political Islamism of the Muslim Brotherhood or Ikhwan (of which Mohammed Jamal Khalifa was a senior member). As already noted, 1979 was the year radical Wahhabis, seized the Grand Mosque at Mecca. In response, the Saudi family foundations like the IIRO, to subsidize the emigration of the Muslim Brotherhood.[136]

 Thus Khalifa’s status in the IIRO was not anomalous. Besides the bombings in Jordan, the IIRO has also been linked to support of terrorists in the Philippines,[137] India,[138] Indonesia,[139] Canada,[140] Albania, Chechnya, Kenya,[141] and other countries, notably Bosnia.[142] In particular Khalifa personally has been accused of financing the Philippine terrorist group Abu Sayyaf (which in 1993 had kidnapped an American Bible translator).[143] Yet “The U.S. government has not designated Khalifa as a financial supporter of terrorism.”[144]

 Federal Protection for Al-Qaeda Plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

The Saudi royal protection for Jamal Khalifa was more than matched by the Qatari royal protection of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), Ramzi Yousuf’s uncle and co-conspirator in the Philippines. The 9/11 Commission, who judged KSM to be “the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks,” made a muted acknowledgment of this Qatari protection of him:

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — Yousef’s uncle, then located in Qatar — was a fellow plotter of Yousef’s in the Manila air plot and had also wired him some money prior to the Trade Center bombing. The U.S. Attorney obtained an indictment against KSM in January 1996, but an official in the government of Qatar probably warned him about it. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed evaded capture (and stayed at large to play a central part in the 9/11 attacks).[145]

 From other sources, notably Robert Baer who was then a CIA officer in Qatar, we learn that the “official” was Sheikh Abdallah bin Khalid bin Hamad al-Thani, the Qatari minister of the Interior and the brother of then Qatari Emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalid al-Thani.[146] According to ABC News,

Mohammed is believed to have fled Qatar with a passport provided by that country’s government. He is also believed to have been given a home in Qatar as well as a job at the Department of Public Water Works. Officials also said bin Laden himself visited Abdallah bin Khalid al-Thani in Qatar between the years of 1996 and 2000.[147]

In Triple Cross, Peter Lance, who does not mention KSM’s escape from Qatar, focuses instead on the way that, later in the same year, federal prosecutors kept his name out of the trial of Ramzi Yousuf in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing:

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mike Garcia and Dietrich Snell presented a riveting, evidence case… and characterized the material retrieved from Ramzi’s Toshiba laptop as ‘the most devastating evidence of all.”…. While Yousuf’s Toshiba laptop… contained the full details of the plot later executed on 9/11, not a word of that scenario was mentioned during trial. …. Most surprising, during the entire summer-long trial, the name of the fourth Bojinka conspirator, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed…was mentioned by name only once, in reference to a letter found in [Yousuf’s apartment].[148]

Lance repeatedly suggests that U.S. prosecutors in New York, and particularly Dietrich Snell, were responsible for minimizing the role of Khalid Sheikh Mohamed and other shortcomings, because they were seeking “to hide the full truth behind the Justice Department’s failures.”[149] But the matter of KSM’s escape in 1996, like the release of Jamal Khalifa, was sensitive at a much higher level than that of prosecutors. It was a was a matter that reached back into the black hole that is represented by the ultimate United States dependency on Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and OPEC, for the defense of the petrodollar.

In other words, the suppression of KSM’s name was not surprising at all. On the contrary, it was totally consistent with one of the most sensitive and controversial features of the 9/11 story: the much-discussed fact that before CIA two counterterrorist officers protected two of the alleged hijackers from detection and surveillance by the FBI.

 Federal Protection for Alleged 9/11 Hijackers

 Morgenthau’s hypothesis that the CIA was protecting Saudi criminal assets received further corroboration in the wake of 9/11. There is now evidence, much of it systematically suppressed by the 9/11 Commission, that before 9/11 CIA officers Richard Blee and Tom Wilshire inside the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit, along with FBI agents Dina Corsi et al., were protecting from investigation and arrest two of the eventual alleged hijackers on 9/11, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi — much as the FBI had protected Ali Mohamed from arrest in 1993.

There are also indications that al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi, like Hampton-El before them, may have been receiving funds indirectly from the Saudi Embassy in Washington:

“[B]etween 1998 and 2002, up to US$73,000 in cashier cheques was funneled by [Saudi Ambassador Prince] Bandar’s wife Haifa – who once described the elder Bushes as like “my mother and father” – to two Californian families known to have bankrolled al-Midhar and al-Hazmi. … Princess Haifa sent regular monthly payments of between $2,000 and $3,500 to Majeda Dweikat, wife of Osama Basnan, believed by various investigators to be a spy for the Saudi government. Many of the cheques were signed over to Manal Bajadr, wife of Omar al-Bayoumi, himself suspected of covertly working for the kingdom. The Basnans, the al-Bayoumis and the two 9/11 hijackers once shared the same apartment block in San Diego. It was al-Bayoumi who greeted the killers when they first arrived in America, and provided them, among other assistance, with an apartment and social security cards. He even helped the men enroll at flight schools in Florida.”[150]

The Report of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 (pp. 173-77), though very heavily redacted at this point, supplies corroborating information, including a report that Basnan had once hosted a party for the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdul Rahman. In other words, the Congressional investigation found indications that the same protection extended to those protected in the crimes of 1993, were protected again in 9/11.

The 9/11 Commission Report, overruling FBI reports, simplydenied that Saudi embassy money had supported the two hijackers.[151] It recognized that there had been an intelligence failure with respect to the al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi, but treated it as an accident that might not have occurred “if more resources had been applied.”[152]  This explanation, however, has since been rejected by 9/11 Commission Chairman Tom Kean. Asked if the failure to deal appropriately with al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi could have been a simple mistake, Kean replied:

Oh, it wasn’t careless oversight.  It was purposeful.  No question about that .…  The conclusion that we came to was that in the DNA of these organizations was secrecy.  And secrecy to the point of ya don’t share it with anybody.[153]

 In 2011 an important book by Kevin Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, demonstrated conclusively that the withholding was purposive, and sustained over a period of eighteen months.[154] This interference and manipulation became particularly blatant and controversial in the days before 9/11; it led one FBI agent, Steve Bongardt, to predict accurately on August 29, less than two weeks before 9/11, that “someday someone will die.”\[155]

Before reading Fenton’s book, I was satisfied with Lawrence Wright’s speculations that the CIA may have wanted to recruit the two Saudis; and that “The CIA may also have been protecting an overseas operation [possibly in conjunction with Saudi Arabia] and was afraid that the F.B.I. would expose it.”[156] However I am now persuaded that Lawrence Wright’s explanation, that the CIA was protecting a covert operation, may explain the beginnings of the withholding in January 2000, but cannot explain its renewal in the days just before 9/11.

 Fenton analyzes a list of thirty-five different occasions where the two alleged hijackers were protected in this fashion, from January 2000 to about September 5, 2001, less than a week before the hijackings.[157] In his analysis, the incidents fall into two main groups. In the earlier incidents he sees an intention “to cover a CIA operation that was already in progress.”[158] However after “the system was blinking red” in the summer of 2001, and the CIA expected an imminent attack, Fenton can see no other explanation than that “the purpose of withholding the information had become to allow the attacks to go forward.”[159]

In support of Fenton’s conclusion, there is evidence (not mentioned by him) indicating that in mid-2001 the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center (CTC), who were the chief suppliers of the CIA protection, believed an al Qaeda attack was imminent, and that al-Mihdhar was important to it. On August 15, CIA Counterterrorism Chief Cofer Black told a secret Pentagon conference, “We’re going to be struck soon…. Many Americans are going to die, and it could be in the U.S.”[160] Three weeks earlier, CTC Deputy Chief Tom Wilshire had written that ““When the next big op is carried out…Khallad [bin Attash] will be at or near the top ….Khalid Midhar should be very high interest.”[161] Yet Wilshire (like his superior, Richard Blee), instead of expediting to the FBI the transmission of his knowledge about al-Mihdhar, did the opposite: he

 not only failed to tell anyone else involved in the hunt [for Al-Mihdhar] that Almihdhar would likely soon be a participant in a major al-Qaeda attack inside the US, but also supported a dubious procedure which meant that the FBI was only able to focus a fraction of the resources it had on the hunt.[162]

 Fenton’s serious allegation has to be considered in the light of the earlier instances of protection we have surveyed:

 1) the protection given to Salameh and Abouhalima in the 1990 Kahane murder, leaving them free to participate in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing;

2) the failure for two or three years to process Ali Mohamed’s documents seized in 1990, which could have prevented the 1993 World Trade Center bombing;

3) the release of Ali Mohamed from RCMP detention in 1993, leaving him free to participate in the 1998 Nairobi Embassy bombing;

4) the treatment of Ali Mohamed as an “unindicted coconspirator” in the 1993 WTC bombing case and Landmarks case, leaving him free to participate in the 1998 Nairobi Embassy bombing.

 There are other indicators that these events were part of a single long-term cover-up, one that is still ongoing. One of the connectors is Sheikh Abdul Rahman’s Al–Salaam Mosque in Jersey City, visited by Ali Mohamed and his trainees in 1989, and allegedly frequented by two of the alleged 9/11 hijackers (Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi) in 2000-01.[163]

 Next door to the Mosque in Jersey City was the Sphinx Trading Company, whose incorporator and director, Waleed Abouel Nour, was like Ali Mohamed listed as an unindicted coconspirator in the 1995 Landmarks conspiracy case. (The New York Times later reported that the FBI had identified Nour as a terrorist.)[164]

At minimum, two Ali Mohamed-trained members of the New York cell — El Sayyid Nosair and Siddig Ali Siddig — are confirmed to have kept mailboxes at Sphinx Trading during the 1990s, as did the blind Sheikh himself.

A decade later, the mailboxes were still being used by al Qaeda-linked terrorists.

Testifying in a sealed proceeding in 2002, a New Jersey policeman said the FBI told him that “several of the hijackers involved in the September 11th event also had mailboxes at that location.”

Police searched the office of a New Jersey businessman [Mohamed el-Atriss] whose name appeared on the Sphinx Trading Co. incorporation papers and found the names and phone numbers of several hijackers among his papers. The businessman eventually admitted having sold fake identification cards to two of the hijackers.[165] [One of the fake IDs was given to Khalid Al-Mihdhar.][166]

This important inquiry into the infrastructure of the Ali Mohamed connection was quickly shut down by the FBI:

 The police officer testified in 2002 that the FBI had shut down the New Jersey police investigation of these connections, without explanation but amid unconfirmed rumors (reported by the New York Times) that the businessman was himself an FBI informant. All terrorism charges against the businessman were eventually dropped.[167]

 The Saudi-American Petroleum Complex and the Defense of the Petrodollar

This on-going cover-up of a terrorist infrastructure spanning a decade is mirrored by the censorship of the Joint Inquiry findings about Osama Basnan, involved in the pass-through of Saudi Embassy funds to al-Mihdhar, and earlier the host of a party for Sheikh Abdul Rahman. One factor enabling the cover-up is the over-arching and little-understood U.S.-Saudi relationship, to understand which we must also consider the context of petrodollars, OPEC and the major oil companies.

 The export of Saudi oil, paid for by all customers in U.S. dollars, and in the U.S. case largely offset by the export of U.S. arms to Saudi Arabia, is a major underpinning of America’s petrodollar economy. As I have documented elsewhere, its current strength is supported by OPEC’s requirement (secured by a secret agreement in the 1970s between the US and Saudi Arabia) that all OPEC oil sales be denominated in dollars.[168] $600 billion of the Saudi dollar earnings have been reinvested abroad, most of it in U.S. corporations like Citibank (where the two largest shareholders are members of the Saudi Royal family).[169]

This fusion of U.S. and Saudi governing interests is as much political as economic. The first oil price hike of 1972-73, arranged by Nixon with the King of Saudi Arabia and the Shah of Iran, helped pay to arm Iran and Saudi Arabia as U.S. proxies in the region, following the withdrawal of British troops from the region in 1971.[170] The oil price hikes of 1979-80, on the other hand, were assuredly not the intention of President Carter, a political victim of the increases. They have however been credibly attributed to the work of oil majors like BP, possibly acting in collusion with Republicans; and had the result of helping to elect Ronald Reagan (as well as Margaret Thatcher in England).[171]

I am suggesting that there is a high-level fusion of interests between the U.S. and Saudi governments, oil companies and banks (not to mention facilitating alliances like the Carlyle Group) which the CIA tends to represent continuously, and not just ad hoc for the sake of any one particular goal. The on-going protection given through the years to criminals like Salameh, Ali Mohamed, al-Mihdhar, and al-Hazmi should be seen as symptoms of this high-level fusion of interests. Needless to add, the 99 percent of ordinary American people, having as a result now suffered a series of recurring attacks (the first World Trade Center bombing, the 1998 Embassy bombings, possibly even 9/11 itself) have been losers from this arrangement.

I am confident that the mystery of USG protection to terrorists can be traced in part to this “roof” of inscrutable governmental, financial, and corporate relationships between the United States and Saudi Arabia. There is a “black hole” at the center of this roof in which the interests of governments, petrodollar banks, and multinational oil companies, are all inscrutably mixed.


[1]Dana Priest and William Arkin, Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State (New York: Little Brown, 2011), 52.

[2] E.g. Marc Ambinder and D.G. Grady, Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry (New York: Wiley, 2013); John Tirman, “The Quiet Coup: No, Not Egypt. Here,” HuffingtonPost, July 9, 2013,

[3] Erich Lichtblau, “In Secret, Court Vastly Broadens Powers of N.S.A.,” New York Times, July 6, 2013.

[4] In addition there are unproven allegations that the United States granted a green card to Ayman al Zawahiri, identified in the 9/11 Commission Report (p. 57) as “the most important Egyptian in bin Laden’s circle” (p. 57), and since 2011 the leader of al-Qaeda (Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, The War On Truth: 9/11, Disinformation And The Anatomy Of Terrorism [Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press, 2005], 46). It is not contested that “Foreign trial transcripts and U.S. court records confirmed that Zawahiri had previously flown to America, once in the early 1990s, and again in 1994…. Ali Mohamed, bin-Laden’s American-trained military adviser, served as Zawahiri’s host during the 1994 American fundraising campaign” (Jayna Davis, The third terrorist: the Middle East connection to the Oklahoma City bombing [Nashville, TN: WND Books, 2004], 318-19).

[5] Richard Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror(New York: Free Press, 2004), 30.

[6] Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquié, Ben Laden: la vérité interdite(Paris: Denoël, 2001), 14.

[7] Robert Baer, See No Evil: the true story of a ground soldier in the CIA’s war on terrorism (New York : Crown Publishers, 2002), 243-44; discussion in Peter Dale Scott, Drugs, oil, and war: the United States in Afghanistan, Colombia, and Indochina (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003). 28-31; The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 170-72.

[8] Cf. my enlargement of the concept of an American deep state beyond parallel government in Peter Dale Scott, American War Machine (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010), 20-23; Peter Dale Scott, “The ‘Deep State’ behind U.S. democracy,” VoltaireNet, April 6, 2011,; etc.

[9] All of America’s military engagements since 1950 have involved defense of the petrodollar system. See Peter Dale Scott, “The Libyan War, American Power and the Decline of the Petrodollar System,” Asian-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, April 27, 2011,

[10] Peter Lance, Triple Cross: How bin Laden’s Master Spy Penetrated the CIA, the Green Berets, and the FBI — and Why Patrick Fitzgerald Failed to Stop Him(New York: Regan/ HarperCollins, 2006), 120-25. Cf. Toronto Globe and Mail, November 22, 2001; Tim Weiner, Enemies: a history of the FBI (New York: Random House, 2012), 397.

[11]Ali H. Soufan, The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda (New York: Norton, 2011), 75-77.

[12] Lance, Triple Cross, 373. Cf. J.M. Berger, “Paving the Road to 9/11,” Intelwire, “Ali Mohamed was the utility player who created al Qaeda’s terrorist infrastructure in the United States — a series of connections, ideas, techniques and specific tools used by the [9/11] plot’s hijackers and masterminds….  Mohamed described teaching al Qaeda terrorists how to smuggle box cutters onto airplanes.”

[13] Lance, Triple Cross, 123-24.

[14]Soufan, The Black Banners, 561. The testimony of former FBI agents like Ali Soufan that Mohamed was not incarcerated has been challenged in a curious book by Special Forces veteran Pete Blaber, The Mission, The Men, and Me: Lessons from a Former Delta Force Commander (New York: Berkley Trade, 2010). Blaber claims to have interviewed Mohamed in a prison cell, after reading Mohamed’s perceptive document on how to track down Osama bin Laden. Blaber argues strenuously that Mohamed was not a double agent, but fails to deal with any of the countervailing evidence (such as the RCMP release).

[15]“D.E.A. Deployed Mumbai Plotter Despite Warning,” New York Times, November 8, 2009; cf. Peter Dale Scott, American War Machine (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010), 246-47.  Cf. The Globe and Mail (Canada), May 26, 2011: “FBI thought Mumbai massacre plotter worked for them, court told.”Another much simpler domestic example of this puzzle is Richard Aoki, the FBI informant who in the 1960s supplied the Black Panthers in Oakland with arms (Seth Rosenfeld, Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power [New York: Macmillan, 2012], 418-24, etc.).

[16] Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 151-60. For a summary, see Peter Dale Scott, “Bosnia, Kosovo, and Now Libya: The Human Costs of Washington’s On-Going Collusion with Terrorists,” Asian-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, July 29, 2011,

[17] Steven Emerson, American jihad: the terrorists living among us (New York: Free Press, 2002), 57-58; Peter L. Bergen, Holy war, Inc.: inside the secret world of Osama bin Laden(New York: Free Press, 2001), 135;Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (New York: Knopf, 2006), 181-82. Wright gives a detailed summary of John Zent’s ensuing interview with Mohamed in May 1993, but says not a word about Zent’s intervention with the RCMP. To my knowledge the only privileged book to do so is Tim Weiner, Enemies: a history of the FBI(New York: Random House, 2012), 397: “He explained that he was working for the FBI and he offered the telephone number of his Bureau contact in San Francisco. The Canadians released Mohamed after the agent vouched for him.” Weiner’s relative candor came in 2012, long after this FBI scandal had already been publicized by Lance and other authors, including myself.

[18] Cf. Washington Post, June 1, 2012: “Soufan’s case was unusual because he never worked for the CIA. The PRB’s [Publications Review Board’s] authority [i.e. legal authority] is grounded in the secrecy agreements signed by agency employees that require them to submit any material prepared for public disclosure ‘either during my employment . . . or at anytime thereafter.’” In other words, the CIA’s PRB had no legal right to censor Soufan’s book, but did so anyway – an example of the blurring of past bureaucratic distinctions in today’s shadow state.

[19] Michael Scheuer, Osama bin Laden (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 218n.

[20] “Ali Mohamed Case,” Defense Human Resources Activity (DHRA), Department of Defense,; citing the Toronto Globe and Mail.

[21] Benjamin Weiner and James Risen, “The Masking of a Militant: A special report; A Soldier’s Shadowy Trail In U.S. and in the Mideast,” New York Times, December 1, 1998. This embarrassing exercise in damage control cannot be found on Lexis Nexis.

[22] Peter Waldman, Gerald F. Seib, Jerry Markon, Christopher Cooper, “Sergeant Served U.S. Army and bin Laden, Showing Failings in FBI’s Terror Policing,” Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2001.

[23]Daniel Coleman, Affidavit, Sealed Complaint, United States of America v Ali Abdelseoud Mohamed, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, September 1998 (obtained by, p.7, In fact Mohamed had been an FBI informant since at least 1992 (see below).

[24] I had no choice but to remove certain relevant material from The Road to 9/11. As British and American lawyers pointed out to me, my sources had already retracted their statements before me.

[25] Lance, Triple Cross, 125. Cf. Steven Emerson, “Osama bin Laden’s Special Operations Man,” Journal of Counterterrorism and Security International,

September 1, 1998, a seemingly bizarre twist, while in California, Mohammed volunteered to provide information to the FBI on a smuggling operations involving Mexicans and other aliens not connected to terrorist groups. Within time, officials say, the relationship allowed Mohammed to divert the FBI’s attention away from looking at his real role in terrorism into examining the information he gave them about other smuggling.” But it could not have diverted the FBI’s attention for very long. By May 1993, five months later, Mohamed had described to Zent in some detail his activities with Obama and al-Qaeda (Wright, Looming Tower, 181-82; Berger, Ali Mohamed, 31-32).

[26] Lance, Triple Cross, 95. Cf. Tim Weiner, Enemies, 397.

[27] Lance, Triple Cross, 99. Similarly Tim Weiner writes that the FBI agents handling Mohamed “did not comprehend him” (Weiner, Enemies: a history of the FBI, 397).

[28] “Ali Mohamed Case,” Defense Human Resources Activity (DHRA), Department of Defense,, emphasis added.

[29] John Miller, Michael Stone, Chris Mitchell, The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot, and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It (New York: Hyperion, 2002), 90-91.

[30] U.S. vs. Omar Abdel Rahman et al., September 11, 1995; quoted in Berger, Ali Mohamed, 210; cf. Lance, Triple Cross, 48.

[31] “Sergeant Served U.S. Army and bin Laden,” Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2001: “At the time, the FBI wrote them off as harmless zealots, fired up to help the mujahedeen fighting the Soviet puppet government in Afghanistan.”

[32] Bergen, Holy War, Inc., 134. The al-Kifah Center (al-Kifah means “the struggle”) was “known informally as ‘the jihad office.’… There was no problem finding volunteers, who might stay in Afghanistan up to three months at a time…. The volunteers joined the forces of the Hezb-I-Islami (Party of Islam), led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar” (Stephen Franklin, “Slain Muslim Had Link To Radical Cleric,”Chicago Tribune, July 11, 1993,

[33] Mitchell D. Silber, The Al Qaeda Factor: Plots Against the West (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), 169-70.

[34] Peter Bergen, Holy Wars, Inc., 130-31.

[35]Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (New York: Knopf, 2006), 180; citing Boston Globe, February 3, 1995; cf. Robert Friedman, “The CIA’s Jihad,” New Yorker, March 17, 1995;Paul L. Williams, Al Qaeda: brotherhood of terror ([Parsippany, NJ?]: Alpha, 2002), 117.

[36]Lance Williams and Erik McCormick, “Al Qaeda terrorist worked with FBI,”San Francisco Chronicle, November 4, 2001.

[37] “Ali Mohamed Case,” Pentagon,, Cf. Emerson, “Osama bin Laden’s Special Operations Man:”He had been in the United States earlier that decade, having graduated as a captain from a Special Forces Officers School at Fort Bragg in 1981 in a program for visiting military officials from foreign countries.”

[38] Robert Friedman, “The CIA and the Sheik,” Village Voice, March 30, 1993;  Evan Kohlmann, Al-Qaida’s Jihad in Europe (New York: Berg, 2004), 26.

[39] John Miller, Michael Stone, Chris Mitchell, The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot, and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It (New York: Hyperion, 2002), 44. Cf. J.M. Berger, Jihad Joe: Americans who go to war in the name of Islam, (Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, 2011), 44: “The stash included military training manuals and documents given to Nosair by Sergeant Ali Mohamed, the jihadist mole at Fort Bragg.”

[40]Newsday, November 8, 1990.

[41]New York Times, November 8, 1990.

[42]New York Times, December 16, 1990. As before, it is instructive to compare the Pentagon’s version of the training given by Mohamed (“surveillance, weapons and explosives”) with that in the long article about Mohamed in the New York Times: “Mr. Mohamed met the local Muslims at an apartment in Jersey City, and taught them survival techniques, map reading and how to recognize tanks and other Soviet weapons, according to testimony by one of his students at Mr. Nosair’s 1995 Federal trial” (Weiner and Risen, “The Masking of a Militant: A special report,” New York Times, December 01, 1998; cf. Berger, Ali Mohamed, ).

[43]TV journalist John Miller, a former New York deputy police commissioner who would later become the FBI’s Assistant Director for Public Affairs, reported in The Cell (44) that the disputed evidence from Nosair’s home was withheld from NYPD officer Edward Morris, who prepared the NYPD case against Nosair: “On the third say after the shooting, while Norris was out to lunch, the FBI removed Nosair’s 16 boxes of files from Norris’s squad room. Unfortunately the evidence was about to enter a black hole. The FBI now says it turned the files the evidence was about to enter a black hole. The FBI now says it turned the files over to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, after it was decided, following a series of meetings and phone calls, that the local prosecutor and the NYPD would have exclusive jurisdiction over the murder case. The Manhattan DA’s office won’t comment on what was done with the files before Nosair’s trail, though Norris was never informed they were available. But this much is certain: The bulk of the material remained untranslated and unread for nearly three years.” [This last sentence is hard to reconcile with the detailed description given at the time by Borelli.]

[44] Friedman, “The CIA’s Jihad.”

[45] Lance, Triple Cross, 58-62.

[46] For the list, see Lance, Triple Cross, 574-75.

[47] Steve Coll, Ghost wars: the secret history of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet invasion to September 10, 2001 (New York: Penguin Press, 2004), 251.

[48] Quoted in Peter Lance, Triple Cross, 383.

[49] Steve Coll, Ghost Wars, 255; “Since 1989 the FBI had been running paid informants inside circles of Islamic radicals in New York and New Jersey. In 1990, the FBI carted away forty-seven boxes of documents and training manuals from the home of El Sayyid Nosair.” Cf. Lance, Triple Cross, 73-75, etc.

[50] Robert Friedman, “The CIA’s Jihad,” New Yorker, March 17, 1995.

[51] Robert Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game: how the United States helped unleash fundamentalist Islam (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2003), 274-75; quoting Jiohn Cooley, Unholy Wars (London: Pluto Press, 1999), 31-32: “By the end of 1980, U.S. military trainers were sent to Egypt to impart the skills of the U.S. Special Forces to those Egyptians who would, in turn, pass on the training to the Egyptian volunteers flying to the aid of the mujahideen in Afghanistan.”

[52] Joseph J. Trento, Prelude to terror: the rogue CIA and the legacy of America’s private intelligence network (New York: Carrol and Graf, 2005), 150, 247.

[54] Lance, Triple Cross, 194 (oath).

[55]  Scott, Road to 9/11, 161-62; citing Guardian (London), January 7, 1993; Evan F. Kohlmann, Al-Qaida’s Jihad in Europe: The Afghan-Bosnian Network (Oxford and New York: Berg Publishers, 2004), 16.

[56] Ferrukh Mir, Half Truth (, 2011), 163-64: “In 1992, Ali Mohamed, a double agent and ex-US Special Forces office with close ties to Al-Kifah, led a group of US militants who were all ex-US soldiers to train and fight in Bosnia. Abu Obadiah Yahiya, an ex-US Marine and security chief at the Brooklyn branch, lead [sic] a second group of US militants to fight in Bosnia.” Cf. Mark Huband, Trading Secrets: spies and intelligence in an age of terror(New York: I.B. Tauris, 2013), 112; “Mohamed – using the nom-de-guerre Abu ‘Abdallah – travelled to Bosnia as part of a team which trained and armed Muslim fighters there until June 1993, when he travelled on to Khartoum and was asked by bin Laden to set up the al-Qaeda cell in Nairobi, Kenya.”

[57] Evan Kohlmann, Al-Qaida’s Jihad in Europe (New York: Berg, 2004), 39-41; citing Steve Coll and Steve LeVine, “Global Network Provides Money, Haven,” Washington Post, August 3, 1993. Bin Laden also gave money to the Third World Relief Agency to buy weapons for Bosnian fighters (Anonymous [Michael Scheuer], Through our enemies’ eyes: Osama bin Laden, radical Islam, and the future of America [Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, Inc., 2006], 151).

[58]Scott, Road to 9/11, 149-50; Kohlmann, Al-Qaida’s Jihad in Europe, 45, 73-75.

[59]Scott, Road to 9/11, 149; Kohlmann, Al-Qaida’s Jihad in Europe, 73. I have been unable to identify this Prince Faisal securely. He is perhaps Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who frequently visited the United States in connection with his horsebreeding interests in Kentucky. In 2003 Gerald Posner claimed that Faisal’s older brother and business partner Ahmed bin Salman had had ties to al-Qaeda and advance knowledge of 9/11 (Gerald Posner, Why America slept: the failure to prevent 9/11 [New York: Random House, 2003]), 202. Cf. Anthony Summers and Robbyn Day, The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Bin Laden (New York: Ballantine Books, 2011), 405-07, 419, 563-64.

[60] Friedman, “The CIA’s Jihad.” About this time, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in 2013 the leader of al Qaeda, came without difficulty to America to raise funds in Silicon Valley, where he was hosted by Ali Mohamed (Lawrence Wright, New Yorker: “Zawahiri decided to look for money in the world center of venture capitalism-Silicon Valley. He had been to America once before, in 1989, when he paid a recruiting visit to the mujahideen’s Services Bureau branch office in Brooklyn. According to the F.B.I., he returned in the spring of 1993, this time to Santa Clara, California, where he was greeted by Ali Mohamed, the double agent.”)

[61] Bruce O. Riedel, The Search for Al Qaeda: Its Leadership, Ideology, and Future (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2008), 43: “Osama also worked with ISI in the creation of a key Kashmiri jihadist group in the late 1980s, the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba.” Cf. Yossef Bodansky, Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America (Rocklin, CA: Forum, 2001), 320.

[62] Michael Scheuer, “Central Asia in Al-Qaeda’s Vision of the Anti-American Jihad, 1979-2006,” China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly (2006), 3. 

[64] Ahmed Rashid, “They’re Only Sleeping: Why militant Islamicists in Central Asia aren’t going to go away,” New Yorker, January 14, 2002,; cf. Ahmed Rashid, Jihad(New Haven:Yale UP, 2002), 165; Svante Cornell, “Narcotics, Radicalism and Security in Central Asia: The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan,” Uppsala University, December 2004, 19: “Bolot Januzakov, Head of the Kyrgyz Security Council, asserted in 2000 that the IMU controlled the majority, perhaps up to 70%, of the heroin entering Kyrgyzstan.”

[65] Gretchen Peters, Seeds of Terror: How Heroin Is Bankrolling the Taliban and Al Qaeda (New York: Macmillan, 2009), 69, 87, 89, 132-33.

[66] Peters, Seeds of Terror, 132-33.

[67] 9/11 Commission, “Monograph on Terrorist Financing: Staff Report to the Commission,” 7. Cf. 9/11 Commission Report, 171: “Al Qaeda has been alleged to have used a variety of illegitimate means, particularly drug trafficking and conflict diamonds, to finance itself…. While the drug trade was a source of income for the Taliban, it did not serve the same purpose for al Qaeda.” Yhe footnote to this sentence (p. 499) adds: “No evidence indicates any such involvement in drug trafficking, and none of the detained al Qaeda operatives has indicated that this was a method of fund-raising.”

[68]Evidence Presented to the British Parliament, 4th October 2001,” Los Angeles Times, October 4, 2001. Cf. New York Times, October 4, 2001. For further documentation, see Peter Dale Scott, Drugs, Oil, and War, 32, 36.

[69]New York Times, 7/20/93. Cf. J. R. de Szigethy, “Crime Scene — World Trade Center,”, September 2004: “The murders [from the 1993 WTC bombing] were the result of a plot by members of an organized crime syndicate involved in drug trafficking.”

[70]Jayna Davis, The Third Terrorist: The Middle East Connection to the Oklahoma City Bombing (Nashville: WND Books/Thomas Nelson, 2004), 303.

[71]Boston Herald, 10/17/01; cf. 9/11 Report, 175.

[72] Steven Emerson, American jihad: the terrorists living among us (New York: Free Press, 2002), 28.

[73] Yossef Bodansky, Terror! The Inside Story of the Terrorist Conspiracy in America (New York: S.P.I. Books, 1994), 166. Similarly Gerald Posner notes “rumors that [Mustafa] Shalabi [the head of the al-Kifah Center until he was murdered in February 1991] … might be involved in counterfeiting” (Posner, Why America slept, 8).

[74] Berger, Jihad Joe, 37; citing USA v. Rahman, S5 93 Cr. 181, court transcript, April 3, 1995.

[75] Scheuer, Through Our Enemies’ Eyes, 151.

[76] Emerson, American jihad, 28.

[77] Bin Laden’s and al-Qaeda’s proximity to Khattab is both asserted and disputed at high levels. See Robert W. Schaefer, The insurgency in Chechnya and the North Caucasus: from gazavat to jihad (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Security International, 2011), 165-66.

[78]Thomas Hegghammer.Jihad in Saudi Arabia : violence and pan-Islamism since  1979 (Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2010), 56.

[79] Soufan, Black Banners, 62. Jeremy Scahill also writes of Special Operations veterans in Blackwater with previous “experience in Chechnya” (Jeremy Scahill, Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield [New York: Nation Books, 2013], 408.).

[80] Yaroslav Trofimov, The Siege of Mecca: The 1979 Uprising at Islam’s Holiest Shrine (New York: Anchor, 2008).

[81] Tomsen, The Wars of Afghanistan, 179-82, 195-99.

[82] Steve Coll, Ghost wars: the secret history of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet invasion to September 10, 2001 (New York: Penguin Press, 2004), 155. For Azzam’s and OBL’s Muslim Brotherhood memberships, see Steve Coll, The Bin Ladens: an Arabian family in the American century (New York: Penguin Press, 2008), 148, 253.

[83] Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (New Haven: Yale UP, 2001), 131. Cf. Steven A. Yetiv, The Petroleum Triangle: Oil, Globalization, and Terror (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011), 65.

[84] Peter Tomsen, The Wars of Afghanistan: messianic terrorism, tribal conflicts, and the failures of great powers (New York: PublicAffairs, 2011), 198.

[85] Scott, Road to 9/11, 171; citing Rajeev Sharma, Pak Proxy War (New Delhi: Kaveri Books, 2002), 145-46.

[86] Cf. John J. Loftus ,  “What Congress Does Not Know about Enron and 9/11,” May 2003, “The … block order, in force since the 1980’s, was against any investigation that would embarrass the Saudi Royal family. Originally, it was designed to conceal Saudi support for Muslim extremists fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan and Chechnya, but it went too far. Oliver North noted in his autobiography, that every time he tried to do something about terrorism links in the Middle East, he was told to stop because it might embarrass the Saudis. This block remains in place.”

[87] Scott, Road to 9/11, 172; citing Greg Palast and David Pallister, “Intelligence: FBI Claims Bin Laden InquiryWas Frustrated,” Guardian, November 7, 2001,

[88] Coleman affidavit, 2; in Berger, Ali Mohamed, 26.

[89] Coll, The Bin Ladens, 399-401.

[90] For a summary of some of the conflicting accounts, see Anthony Summers and Robbyn Day, The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Bin Laden (New York: Ballantine Books, 2011), 215-16.

[91] Coll, Ghost Wars, 231. In 2001 Peter Bergen had claimed that bin Laden “used his family connections with King Fahd to convince the [Saudi] government that he needed to leave the country to sort out some business matters in Pakistan. Arriving there in April 1991, he then sent a letter to his family telling them that he would not be able to return home. After some months in Afghanistan he arrived in Sudan” (Bergen, Holy Wars, Inc., 81-82).

[92]9/11 Commission Report, 57. In the December 2004 paperback edition of Ghost Wars (231-32), Coll adjusted his account to reconcile with the 9/11 Report. He replaced his sentence, “The escort put bin Laden on a plane out of Saudi Arabia,” with two new ones: “Two associates of bin Laden later offered a different version while under interrogation. They said a dissident member of the royal family helped him leave the country by arranging for bin Laden to attend an Islamic conference in Pakistan during the spring of 1991.” The “Islamic conference” is almost certainly a reference to the negotiations in Peshawar which produced the Saudi-backed Peshawar Accord (finalized in April 1992) to end the Afghan Civil War. Bin Laden did play a part in these negotiations. Like Sheikh Rahman before him, he tried, vainly, to negotiate a truce between the warring mujahideen leaders, Massoud and Hekmatyar (Wright, Looming Tower, 161; Roy Gutman. How We Missed the Story: Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban and the Hijacking of Afghanistan [Washington DC., Endowment of the United States Institute of Peace,2008], 34).

[93] Steve Coll also suggests that the “interior ministry” (headed by Prince) supplied bin Laden  with “a one-time exit visa to travel to Pakistan to liquidate investments there” (Coll, The Bin Ladens, 381). Both motives may have been present in bin Laden’s mind, but his capacity to serve as a mediator may have been more influential in persuading the Saudis to arrange for his departure.

[94] Wright, Looming Tower, 161. For Naif (or Nayef) as anti-American, see Coll, Ghost Wars, 399; Coll, The Bin Ladens, 437, 626n.

[95] Tomsen, Wars of Afghanistan, 485: “Al-Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood extremists, and Prince Turki’s General Intelligence Directorate supported the ISI’s extremist-centered Afghan strategy.”

[96] Against this odd claim cf. e.g. Wright, Looming Tower, 154: “The minister of the interior, Prince Naif, … summoned bin Laden to his office…. Bin Laden had reported to Naif…many times during the Afghan jihad.” As noted above, Ahmed Rashid claims that bin Laden and Prince Turki became “firm friends and allies” in the same cause (Taliban, 131).

[97] “A Biography of Osama bin Laden,” Frontline, PBS,

[98] Anonymous [Michael Scheuer], Through our enemies’ eyes: Osama bin Laden, radical Islam, and the future of America (Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, Inc., 2006), 131.

[99] Coll, Ghost Wars, 207.

[100] Barnett R. Rubin, Afghanistan in the Post-Cold war Era (New York: Oxford UP, 2013), 86.

[101] Coll, Ghost Wars, 215-16.

[102] Coll, The Bin Ladens, 403-05.

[103] Summers, The Eleventh Day, 393: “Citing a U.S. intelligence source, the author Simon Reeve reported as much in 1999 – well before it became an issue after 9/11.” It is not contested that when bin Laden exited Sudan in 1996, his plane stopped in Qatar. “At the airport in Doha, Qatar’s capital, government officials boarded the plane and greeted bin Laden warmly” (Coll, Ghost Wars, 325).

[104] Peter Tomsen, The Wars of Afghanistan: messianic terrorism, tribal conflicts, and the failures of great powers (New York: PublicAffairs, 2011), 337.

[105] Tomsen, The Wars of Afghanistan, 406-07.

[106] Steve Coll, Ghost wars: the secret history of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet invasion to September 10, 2001 (New York: Penguin Press, 2004), 225.

[107] Scott, American War Machine, 94-105; Peter Dale Scott, The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War (Ipswich MA: Mary Ferrell Foundation Press, 2008), 98-103.

[108]Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (New Haven: Yale UP, 2001), 145.

[109]Thomas Goltz, Azerbaijan Diary: A Rogue Reporter’s Adventures in an Oil-Rich, War-Torn, Post-Soviet Republic (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1999), 272-75. Cf. Mark Irkali, Tengiz Kodrarian and Cali Ruchala, “God Save the Shah,” Sobaka Magazine, May 22, 2003, . A fourth operative in MEGA Oil, Gary Best, was also a veteran of North’s Contra support effort. For more on General Secord’s and Major Aderholt’s role as part of Ted Shackley’s team of off-loaded CIA assets and capabilities, see Jonathan Marshall, Peter Dale Scott, and Jane Hunter, The Iran-Contra Connection: Secret Teams and Covert Operations in the Reagan Era (Boston: South End Press, 1987), 26-30, 36-42, 197-98.

[110]It was also a time when Congress, under pressure from Armenian voters, had banned all military aid to Azerbaijan (under Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act). This ban, reminiscent of the Congressional ban on aid to the Contras in the 1980s, ended after 9/11. “In the interest of national security, and to help in `enhancing global energy security’ during this War on Terror, Congress granted President Bush the right to waive Section 907 in the aftermath of September 11th. It was necessary, Secretary of State Colin Powell told Congress, to `enable Azerbaijan to counter terrorist organizations’” (Irkali, Kodrarian and Ruchala, “God Save the Shah,” Sobaka Magazine, May 22, 2003).

[111]Goltz, Azerbaijan Diary, 272-75; Peter Dale Scott, Drugs, Oil, and War (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003), 7. As part of the airline operation, Azeri pilots were trained in Texas. Dearborn had previously helped Secord advise and train the fledgling Contra air force (Marshall, Scott, and Hunter, The Iran-Contra Connection, 197). These important developments were barely noticed in the U.S. press, but a Washington Post article did belatedly note that a group of American men who wore “big cowboy hats and big cowboy boots” had arrived in Azerbaijan as military trainers for its army, followed in 1993 by “more than 1,000 guerrilla fighters from Afghanistan’s radical prime minister, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.” (Washington Post, 4/21/94) Richard Secord was allegedly attempting also to sell Israeli arms, with the assistance of Israeli agent David Kimche, another associate of Oliver North. See Scott, Drugs, Oil, and War, 7, 8, 20. Whether the Americans were aware of it or not, the al Qaeda presence in Baku soon expanded to include assistance for moving jihadis onwards into Dagestan and Chechnya.

[112]Cooley, Unholy Wars, 180; Scott, Drugs, Oil, and War, 7. These important developments were barely noticed in the U.S. press, but a Washington Post article did belatedly note that a group of American men who wore “big cowboy hats and big cowboy boots” had arrived in Azerbaijan as military trainers for its army, followed in 1993 by “more than 1,000 guerrilla fighters from Afghanistan’s radical prime minister, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.” (Washington Post, April 21, 1994). The Azeri “Afghan Brigade” was formally dissolved in 1994, after which it focused more on sabotage and terrorism (Cooley, Unholy Wars, 181),

[113]As the 9/11Commission Report notes (58), the bin Laden organization established an NGO in Baku, which became a base for terrorism elsewhere. It also became a transshipment point for Afghan heroin to the Chechen mafia, whose branches “extended not only to the London arms market, but also throughout continental Europe and North America (Cooley, Unholy Wars, 176).

[114] Rubin, Afghanistan from the Cold War, 86.

[115] Peter L. Bergen, Holy War, Inc.: inside the secret world of Osama bin Laden (New York: Free Press, 2001), 67. Cf. Ali Soufan, Black Banners, 565 (murder of Anwar Sadat, watch list); Berger, Jihad Joe, 24 (watch list).

[116]Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (New York: Knopf, 2006), 180; cf. Paul L. Williams, Al Qaeda: brotherhood of terror ([Parsippany, NJ?]: Alpha, 2002), 117.

[117]  “A Soldier’s Shadowy Trail In U.S. and in the Mideast,” New York Times, December 1, 1998,

[118] Phil Karber, Fear and faith in paradise: exploring conflict and religion in the Middle East (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2012), ZZ; cf. Wright, Looming Tower, 164-65.

[119] Summers, The Eleventh Day, 393: “Citing a U.S. intelligence source, the author Simon Reeve reported as much in 1999 – well before it became an issue after 9/11.”

[120] Coll, The Bin Ladens, 399-401. Cf. Geoffrey Wawro, Quicksand: America’s pursuit of power in the Middle East (New York: Penguin Press, 2010), ZZ: “Osama mixed business and religion. He committed to build an airport at Port Sudan;” Karber, Fear and faith in paradise, ZZ: “Bin Laden promised the people of Sudan an airport at Port Sudan.”

[121] Wright, Looming Tower, 165.

[122] The text of the State Department paper of August 14, 1996, “State Department Issues Factsheet on Bin Ladin,” is reproduced in Brisard and Dasquié, Ben Laden: la vérité interdite, 257-58.

[123] Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game, 180-81.

[124]Jane’s Intelligence Review, August 1, 2001; quoted in Scott, Road to 9/11, 356.

[125]John Crewdson, “Swiss Officials Freeze Bank Accounts Linked to Supporters of Terrorist Groups.” Chicago Tribune, November 3, 2001,–growing-expediency-in-dealing-with-khartoums-terrorist-connections-november-5-2001/. Cf. Ahmed, War on Truth, 98; Financial Times, November 29 2001, : “A US State Department report in 1996 and a French investigation into the bank separately concur that bin Laden invested $50m in the bank on his arrival in Sudan in 1991, an allegation Mr Ismail [of the bank] denies.” Cf. also Brisard, Ben Laden: La Verité Interdite, 119-21, 308-10, etc.

[126] Coll, The Bin Ladens, 413. There is a brief reference to the State Department White Paper in Bergen, Holy Wars, Inc. (2001), 83: “Bin Laden…sank $50 million of his own money into the Al-Shamal Islamic Bank in Khartoum” (cf. 264n). The controversial author Yossef Bodansky links both the Faisal Islamic Bank and the Al-Shamal Bank to significant jihad activities, as well as possible drug trafficking (Yossef Bodansky, Bin Laden: the man who declared war on America (Rocklin, CA: Forum, 2001), 42-43.

[127] Lance, Triple Cross, 157-59, citing State Department Cable 1994STATE335575.

[128] Steve A. Yetiv, The petroleum triangle: oil, globalization, and terror (Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 2011), 114-15.

[129] Zachary Abuza, Militant Islam in Southeast Asia: Crucible of Terror (Boulder, CO:Lynne Rienner, 2003), 108. At ease in Saudi Arabia, Khalifa became a misleading source, rather than a topic of inquiry, in privileged bin Laden books like Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower (112-13, 450).

[130] Anonymous [Michael  Scheuer], Through our enemies’ eyes, 151.

[131] Lance, Triple Cross, 161, citing personal interview.

[132] Lance, Triple Cross, 162.

[133] Lance, Triple Cross, 157-58.

[134] Khalifa also “headed the Muslim World League office in Peshawar in the 1980s. In 1988, he moved to Manila and opened a branch office of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth [an allied royal creation]” (Tomsen, The Wars of Afghanistan, 198).

[135] Robert Baer, Sleeping with the Devil (New York: Crown, 2003), 167, 140.

[136] Tomsen, The Wars of Afghanistan, 179-82, 195-99.

[137] Abuza, Militant Islam in Southeast Asia, 93.

[138] Baer, Sleeping with the Devil, 69; Aaron Mannes, Profiles In Terror: The Guide To Middle East Terrorist Organizations(Lanham, MD: Rowman  & Littlefield, 2004), 41.

[139] Kumar Ramakrishna (ed.), After Bali: The Threat of Terrorism in Southeast Asia (Singapore: Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, 2003), 139.

[140] Wesley J. L. Anderson, Disrupting Threat Finances: Utilization of Financial Information to Disrupt Terrorist Organizations in the Twenty-First Century (S.l.: BiblioScholar, 2012), 14.

[141] Girma Yohannes Iyassu Menelik, Europe: The future Battleground of Islamic Terrorism, 95.

[142] Kohlmann, Al-Qaida’s Jihad in Europe, 41-42. Before being captured in Pakistan, Ramzi Yousuf was being sheltered by his maternal uncle Zahid al-Shaikh, a principal with Mercy International (Lance, 1000 Years for Revenge, 189). Mercy International was another Islamic NGO involved in recruiting “international volunteers” for the war in Bosnia (Richard Labévière, Dollars For Terror: The United States and Islam (New York: Algora, 2000), 151.

[143] Larry Niksch, Abu Sayyaf: Target of Philippine-U. S. Anti-Terrorism Cooperation (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 2007), CRS-4.

[144] Peter L. Bergen, The Osama Bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of Al Qaeda’s Leader (New York: Free Press, 2006), 444.

[145] 9/11 Commission Report, 73; citing Joint Inquiry Report (classified version), 324-28. Cf. pp. 146, 148: “In 1992, KSM… moved his family to Qatar at the suggestion of the former minister of Islamic affairs of Qatar, Sheikh Abdallah…, In January 1996, well aware that U.S. authorities were chasing him, he left Qatar for good.”

[146] Robert Baer, Sleeping with the Devil, 18-19, 194-96. Baer heard from another member of the al-Thani family, former police chief Hamad bin Jasim bin Hamad al-Thani, that when KSM came from the Philippines, Abdallah bin Khalid gave him 20 blank Qatari passports. Later, “As soon as the FBI showed up in Doha” in 1996, the emir ordered Abdallah to move KSM out of his apartment to his beach estate, and eventually out of the country (pp. 195-96).

[147] Brian Ross and David Scott, “Al Qaeda Ally? Member of Qatari Royal Family Helped Senior Al Qaeda Official Get Away,”, February 7, 2003,

[148] Lance, Triple Cross, 253; emphasis in original. Lance does discuss the role of Qatar’s Sheikh Abdullah in helping KSM to escape the FBI (Cover up: what the government is still hiding about the war on terror [New York: Regan Books, 2004], 168-69).

[149] Lance, Triple Cross, 342.

[150] Anthony Summers and Robbyn Day, The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Bin Laden (New York: Ballantine Books, 2011), 410-15, 559-62; Former Senator Bob Graham, Keys to the Kingdom, 131-32; cf. David B Ottaway, The king’s messenger:Prince Bandar bin Sultan and America’s tangled relationship with Saudi Arabia (New York: Walker & Company, 2008), 198-99.

[151] 9/11 Commission, ”Appendix A: The Financing of the 9/11 Plot, Staff Report, Terrorist Financing, 1.“Despite persistent public speculation, there is no evidence that the hijackers who initially settled in San Diego, Mihdhar and Hazmi, received funding from Saudi citizens Omar al Bayoumi and Osama Bassnan, or that Saudi Princess Haifa al Faisal provided any funds to the hijackers either directly or indirectly. A number of internal FBI documents state without reservation that Bayoumi paid rent on behalf of Mihdhar and Hazmi, a claim reflecting the initial view of some FBI agents. More thorough investigation, however, has determined that Bayoumi did not pay rent or provide any funding to the hijackers.”

[152]9/11 Commission Report, 266-72 (272).

[153]Rory O’Connor and Ray Nowosielski, “Who Is Rich Blee?”, September 21, 2111,; Rory O’Connor and Ray Nowosielski, “Insiders voice doubts about CIA’s 9/11 story,” Salon, October 14, 2111, O’Connor and Nowosielski add corroboration from former Counterterrorism Chief Richard Clarke. “Clarke said he assumed that ‘there was a high-level decision in the CIA ordering people not to share that information.’ When asked who might have issued such an order, he replied, ‘I would think it would have been made by the director,” referring to Tenet — although he added that Tenet and others would never admit to the truth today “even if you waterboarded them.’

[154]Kevin Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots (Walterville, OR: TrineDay, 2011); cf. Peter Dale Scott, ZZ, in James R Gourley, ed., The 9/11 Toronto Report: International Hearings on the Events of September 11, 2001 (Seattle, WA: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012). According to Fenton (pp. 72-79), the post-9/11 cover-up of Wilshire’s behavior was principally the work of one person, Barbara Grewe, who worked first on the Justice Department Inspector General’s investigation of Wilshire’s behavior, then was transferred to two successive positions with the 9/11 Commission’s staff.

[155]9/11 Commission Report, 259, 271; Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (New York: Knopf, 2006), 352–54; Peter Dale Scott, American War Machine (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010), 203.

[156]Lawrence Wright, “The Agent,” New Yorker, July 10 and 17, 2006, 68; cf. Wright, Looming Tower, 339-44; discussion in Peter Dale Scott, The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War (Ipswich MA: Mary Ferrell Foundation Press, 2008), 355, 388-89.

[157]Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 383-86.

[158]Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 48. Cf. Lawrence Wright, “The Agent,” New Yorker, July 10 and 17, 2006, 68; quoted approvingly in Peter Dale Scott, American War Machine, 399.

[159]Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 371, cf. 95.

[160] Quoted in Jeremy Scahill, Dirty Wars, 21.

[161] Tom Wilshire, July 23, 2001, in “United States v. Zacarias Moussaoui (No. 01-455), Substitution for the Testimony of ‘John.’” U.S. Court for the District of Alexandria, July 31, 2006; quoted in Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 274, 401.

[162]Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 276.

[163] Berger, Ali Mohamed, 17; citing Wayne Parry, “Mysterious pair in custody perplexes federal investigators,” Associated Press, November 11, 2001; Falasten M. Abdeljabbar, “Neighborhood tired of suspicions and fear,” The Jersey Journal,  December 18, 2001.

[164]Robert Hanley and Jonathan Miller, “4 Transcripts Are Released In Case Tied to 9/11 Hijackers,” New York Times, June 25, 2003.

[165] Berger, Ali Mohamed, 18; citing John Kifner, “Kahane Suspect Is a Muslim With a Series of Addresses,” New York Times, November 7, 1990; Transcript, Sealed Bail Hearing, US v. El-Atriss, November 19, 2002. The transcripts were unsealed after a lawsuit by several organizations including the New York Times and the Washington Post.

[166]Wayne Parry, “September 11 Fake ID Suspect Flees U.S.,” Associated Press, July 31, 2003,

[167] Berger, Ali Mohamed, 18; citing Robert Hanley and Jonathan Miller, “4 Transcripts Are Released In Case Tied to 9/11 Hijackers,” New York Times, June 25, 2003; Wayne Parry, “Judge releases transcripts in Sept. 11 fake IDs case,” Associated Press, June 24, 2003. The New York Times story is worth quoting further: “*Mr. Atriss was a co-founder of a Jersey City check-cashing company, Sphinx Trading Company, that had bank accounts with millions of dollars and had as a co-owner Waleed Abouel Nour, whom the F.B.I. had identified as a terrorist.That business was at the same location, on Kennedy Boulevard, used as a mailing address by several of the hijackers and earlier by Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, whose followers were convicted of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.”

[168] Peter Dale Scott, Drugs, Oil, and War, 53. Cf. David E. Spiro, The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony: Petrodollar Recycling and International Markets (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1999), x: “In 1974 [Treasury Secretary William] Simon negotiated a secret deal so the Saudi central bank could buy U.S. Treasury securities outside of the normal auction. A few years later, Treasury Secretary Michael Blumenthal cut a secret deal with the Saudis so that OPEC would continue to price oil in dollars. These deals were secret because the United States had promised other industrialized democracies that it would not pursue such unilateral policies.

[169] See e.g. Michael Quint, “Saudi Prince Becomes Citicorp’s Top Stockholder.” New York Times, February 22, 1991.

[170] Andrew Scott Cooper, The Oil Kings: How the U.S., Iran, and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011), 275, etc.; Scott, Road to 9/11, 33-34.

[171]F. William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New  World Order (London: Pluto Press, 2004), 173; Andrew Gavin Marshall, “The Imperial Anatomy of Al-Qaeda. The CIA’s Drug-Running Terrorists and the ‘Arc of Crisis.’” Global Research, September 4, 2010, Cf. Scott, Road to 9/11, 86-89.

Recent events indicate that the Obama administration has stepped up its strategy of “regime change” against the left-of-center governments in Latin America, promoting conflict in ways not seen since the military coup that Washington supported in Venezuela in 2002. The most high-profile example is in Venezuela itself, during the past week. As this goes to press, Washington has grown increasingly isolated in its efforts to destabilize the newly elected government of Nicolas Maduro.

But Venezuela is not the only country to fall prey to Washington’s efforts to reverse the electoral results of the past 15 years in Latin America. It is now clear that last year’s ouster of President Fernando Lugo of Paraguay was also aided and abetted by the United States government. In a brilliant investigative work for Agência Pública, journalist Natalia Viana shows that the Obama administration funded the principal actors involved in the “parliamentary coup” against Lugo. Washington then helped organize international support for coup.

The U.S. role in Paraguay is similar to its role in the military overthrow of democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras in 2009, where Washington hijacked the Organization of American States (OAS) and used it to fight the efforts of South American governments who wanted to restore democracy. Zelaya later testified that Washington was also involved in the coup itself.

In Venezuela this past week, Washington could not hijack the OAS but only its Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, who supported the White House (and Venezuela opposition) demand for a “100 percent recount.” But Insulza had to back down, as did Spain, the United States’ only other significant ally in this nefarious enterprise – because they had no support.

The demand for a “recount” in Venezuela is absurd, since there has already been a recount of the paper ballots for a random sample of 54 percent of the voting machines. The machine totals were compared with a hand count of the paper ballots in front of witnesses from all sides. Statistically, there is no practical difference between this enormous audit that has already happened, and the 100 percent audit that the opposition is demanding. Jimmy Carter called Venezuela’s electoral system “the best in the world,” and there is no doubt about the accuracy of the vote count,even among many in the Venezuelan opposition.

It is good to see Lula denouncing the U.S. for its interference and Dilma joining the rest of South America to defend Venezuela’s right to a free elections. But it is not just Venezuela and the weaker democracies that are threatened by the United States. As reported in the pages of this newspaper, in 2005, the U.S. government funded and organized efforts to change the laws in Brazil in order to weaken the Workers’ Party. This information was discovered in U.S. government documents obtained under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. Most likely Washington has done much more in Brazil that remains secret.

It is clear that Washington did not see the mildly reformist Fernando Lugo as threatening or even radical. It’s just that he was too friendly with the other left governments. The Obama administration, like that of President Bush, does not accept that the region has changed. Their goal is to get rid of all of the left-of-center governments, partly because they tend to be more independent from Washington. Brazil, too, must be vigilant in the face of this threat to the region.

Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. He is also president of Just Foreign Policy.

Fake Washington Terror Threat

August 4th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

They’re in various forms. They repeat with disturbing regularity. America’s war on terror targets Islam. At issue is duplicitous scaremongering. It advances Washington’s imperium.

Wars of aggression follow. False arrests target innocent victims. Terror threats repeat. They’re strategically timed. They change the subject. They divert attention.

They fool most Americans. They do so most of the time. Here we go again. The mainstream media march in lockstep. They regurgitate Big Lies.

On August 2, The New York Times headlined “Qaeda Messages Prompt US Terror Warning,” saying:

“The United States intercepted electronic communications this week among senior operatives of Al Qaeda, in which the terrorists discussed attacks against American interests in the Middle East and North Africa, American officials said Friday.”

“The intercepts and a subsequent analysis of them by American intelligence agencies prompted the United States to issue an unusual global travel alert to American citizens on Friday, warning of the potential for terrorist attacks by operatives of Al Qaeda and their associates beginning Sunday through the end of August.

Fact check

Al Qaeda’s a longstanding US asset. It’s used strategically as enemy and ally. Terror threats are fabricated. Bin Ladin was used as “Enemy Number One” years after he died.

Obama didn’t kill him. He was seriously ill with kidney disease. He had other illnesses. In December 2001, he died naturally. The Pakistan Observer reported it. So did BBC and Fox News.

In July 2002, The New York Times said he’s been dead for “almost six months.” He was “buried in the mountains of southeast Afghanistan.”

On August 1, 2013, The State Department headlined “Temporary Post Closures and Worldwide Travel Alert.” It’s like previous ones. They’re fake.

“The following posts normally open on Sunday will be closed” on August 3 and 4, 2013. It’s because of “increased security concerns.”

“For further information, please click on the links below. A Worldwide Travel Alert has also been issued.”

US Embassy Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

US Embassy Algiers, Algeria

US Embassy Amman, Jordan

US Embassy Baghdad, Iraq

US Consulate Basrah, Iraq

US Embassy Cairo, Egypt

US Consulate Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

US Embassy Djibouti, Djibouti

US Embassy Dhaka, Bangladesh

US Embassy Doha, Qatar

US Consulate Dubai, United Arab Emirates

US Consulate Erbil, Iraq

US Consulate Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

US Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan

US Embassy Khartoum, Sudan

US Embassy Kuwait City, Kuwait

US Embassy Manama, Bahrain

US Embassy Muscat, Oman

US Embassy Nouakchott, Mauritania

US Embassy Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

US Embassy Sana’a, Yemen

US Embassy Tripoli, Libya

According to an unnamed senior American official,”more than the usual chatter” was intercepted. Specifics were omitted. There are none. They don’t exist.

They come at Ramadan’s close. They followed Russia granting Snowden asylum. They came three days after fake Israeli/Palestinian peace talks began.

They’re during worsening economic crisis conditions. They affect growing millions. They’re when Washington threatens escalated war on Syria.

They’re at the same time administration officials try justifying institutionalized global spying. Meta-data mining is standard practice. NSA monitors everyone it targets all the time everywhere.

Russell Tice is a former Office of Naval Intelligence/Defense Intelligence Agency/NSA analyst. His career spanned 20 years.

In December 2005, he accused NSA and DIA of unconstitutionally wiretapping US citizens. He got national attention, saying:

“Everyone at NSA knew what they were doing was illegal, because it’s drilled into our heads over and over that it’s against NSA policy, that you do not do that. The choice is to speak out and get fired.”

On August 1, he was interviewed on PBS’ News Hour. He said NSA collects “everything.” It accumulates content “word for word, everything of every domestic communication in this country.”

Every phone call, email, and other personal communication is gathered and stored. Nothing escapes its scrutiny. It lies claiming otherwise. Meta-data collection is official policy. It’s longstanding. It’s done with technological ease.

Earlier he said NSA “targets, sucks-in, stores and analyzes illegally obtained content from the masses in the United States.”

Elected officials are monitored. So are federal judges. Candidate Obama’s phone was tapped. His private emails were read.

Public awareness grows. Fearmongering diverts attention. False flags shift attention from what matters. Administration officials take full advantage.

On August 2, Russia Today headlined “US issues global travel alert over al-Qaeda attack threat,” saying:

It “warn(ed) US citizens about the ‘continued potential for terrorist attacks’ in the Middle East and North Africa.”

It comes weeks ahead of the 12th 9/11 anniversary. It’s also the Benghazi, Libya first anniversary.

The travel alert remains throughout August. The State Department “alert(ed) US citizens to the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa and possibly occurring and emanating from the Arabian Peninsula.”

“Current information suggest that al-Qaeda and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorists attacks booth in the region and beyond and they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August.”

Americans were warned about potential dangers on subways, air travel, railways, ships, other forms of public transportation, and prime tourist sites.

The mainstream media regurgitate fearmongering. They do it ad nauseam. On August 3, CNN headlined ”US issues global travel alert, to close embassies due to al Qaeda threat.”

Embassy closings and travel alert warning remain in place. Britain and Germany said they’ll “close their embassies in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, on Sunday and Monday. The UK Foreign Office said it was a precautionary measure.”

An unnamed US senior official in Yemen called the threat there “much worse than it has (been) in a long time.”

According to other unnamed US officials:

“Various Western targets – not just those tied to the United States -are under threat.”

Former US ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill said:

“There have been incidents where they’ve closed down a number of embassies in the Middle East because the information is not specific enough to say that ‘embassy X’ got to be closed as opposed to other embassies.”

“But I think this, closing all of these embassies in the Middle East to North Africa, is in fact unprecedented. At least, I didn’t see this during my career.”

Unsubstantiated fearmongering lacks credibility. The usual “experts” hype it. US broadcasters and cable channels feature them. So do major broadsheets.

Notable past terror attacks were false flags. Perhaps Obama has another one in mind. Perhaps multiple ones. Maybe something major.

Last April’s Boston Marathon bombing was a black ops scheme. It was state-sponsored terrorism. Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were set up. They were innocent patsies.

They had nothing to do with it. Police murdered Tamerlan in cold blood. Dzhokhar faces longterm hard time.

The FBI bears responsibility for US terror plots. So does CIA. It’s longstanding policy. Post-9/11, it escalated.

Bush declared war on terrorism. Obama continues what he began. Washington needs enemies. When none exist, they’re invented.

Muslims are America’s target of choice. Innocent victims are entrapped. Doing so lets FBI operatives claim fabricated war on terror victories.

It lets NSA officials saying spying uncovers plots before they hatch. It lets America get away with murder. It does so on a global scale.

Lies, damn lies, and repeated lies facilitate state sponsored terrorism. It remains ongoing. Lots more is planned. America’s waging war on humanity. It’s longstanding US policy.

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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The Revival of Japanese Militarism

August 4th, 2013 by Peter Symonds

The right-wing government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took a further step towards rearmament and the revival of Japanese militarism with the release of a Defence Ministry report last week that for the first time proposed that Japan acquire offensive strike capabilities.

Since winning office last December, Abe has moved rapidly to implement his platform of building “a strong Japan” with “a strong military”. His Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government has expanded defence spending for the first time in a decade and has continued to fuel tensions with China over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islets in the East China Sea. A defence white paper released last month for the first time focussed on China, rather than North Korea, as the main “threat”.

The rise of Japanese militarism has been deliberately encouraged by the Obama administration as part of its “pivot to Asia”, aimed at encircling China militarily. Washington has repeatedly called on Tokyo to play a greater “strategic role” and backed the previous Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) government in its standoff with China over the disputed islands last year. Abe is now exploiting the “pivot” to expand the Japanese military and end the constraints imposed by the so-called “pacifist” clause of the country’s post-World War II Constitution.

Although still justified as “self-defence”, last week’s report called for “comprehensive abilities” to counter ballistic missile attacks that would necessarily include air force and missile capabilities able to strike at enemy missile bases. Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera suggested that the Japanese military could carry out pre-emptive attacks if Japan was under threat. To boost “island defence”, the report also proposed the creation of a Marine-style force capable of amphibious landings.

In the name of “defence”, the LDP government is preparing to create offensive military capabilities to aggressively prosecute the strategic interests of Japanese imperialism, either in league with US imperialism or on its own. Abe, who is known for his right-wing nationalist views, has made no secret of his determination to amend the Constitution to express “Japanese-ness” and “traditional values”—code words for the wartime military regime of the 1930s and 1940s, its symbols and record of brutality and aggression.

Deeply frustrated by widespread public opposition to constitutional change and the revival of Japanese militarism, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso told the right-wing extremist Japan Institute for National Fundamentals on Monday that the government should learn from the German Nazi regime. “We should proceed quietly. One day, people realised that the Weimar Constitution had changed to the Nazi Constitution. No one had noticed. Why don’t we learn from that approach?”

While he later “retracted” the remark, Aso unquestionably meant what he said. The LDP represents the dominant sections of the Japanese ruling class, which have always regarded the post-war Constitution and parliamentary democracy as impediments to its interests. Amid the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, the government, like its counterparts internationally, is aggressively turning to shift the burden onto its rivals abroad, including by military means, and onto the working class at home.

Aso’s comments are a sharp warning of the anti-democratic methods that the Abe government will use to ram through constitutional change. The LDP released a proposed draft constitution in April that not only neutralises the present “pacifist clause”, but undermines basic democratic rights by deleting references to constitutional “rights” and imposing “duties” towards the state, creating the conditions for emergency rule and reinstalling the emperor to his pre-war position as head of state.

The rapid move to the right by the Abe government is a desperate attempt to restore Japan’s position as the dominant imperialist power in Asia after two decades of economic stagnation and the rise of China to overtake Japan as the world’s second largest economy. The turn to militarism is paralleled by Abe’s economic agenda, or “Abenomics”, based on devaluing the yen to undermine its trade rivals, especially China and South Korea, and the imposition of savage austerity measures on working people.

The policies of the Abe government echo the response of the Japanese bourgeoisie to the 1929 Wall Street crash and the onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s. As Japanese exports collapsed and economic growth plummeted, the military, backed by the emperor, sought to overcome the crisis by rearming, invading Manchuria in 1931 and China as a whole in 1937—moves that collided with the interests of US imperialism and led to war in 1941.

The rise of militarism was accompanied by the savage repression of any opposition in the working class. The assassination of Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi in May 1932 by right-wing extremists—junior naval officers and army cadets—marked the end of already stunted parliamentary democracy and the emergence of a regime dominated by the military, which abolished remaining democratic rights and ultimately subordinated all parties and organisations to the state.

The restabilisation of Japanese capitalism after World War II under the US occupation depended on the crushing of the resurgent working class, above all through the betrayals of the Japanese Communist Party (JCP). The post-war constitution drawn up by the American occupiers was designed to appease widespread public hostility to the war-time militarist regime and to ensure that Japan would not return to war against the US. But the LDP, which ruled Japan almost continuously from 1955 to 2009, never broke from the militarist past and has long harboured ambitions to restore wartime “traditions”.

The deep-seated hostility of the Japanese working class to war, militarism and authoritarian forms of rule finds no expression in the political establishment, including the Stalinist Japanese Communist Party, which is mired in nationalism. As in the 1930s, governments in Japan and around the world are seeking to extricate themselves from the global economic crisis through policies that will end in war, austerity and dictatorship.

The US economy added 162,000 net jobs in July, the Labor Department reported Friday, the worst jobs figure in four months. The jobs total was lower than economists’ projections and well below the number needed to have an impact on mass unemployment.

The report underscored the fact that, five years after the 2008 financial crash, the US remains mired in a deep economic slump. Over the past four months, the US economy averaged only 173,000 new jobs per month, even though the working-age population is growing by a monthly average of 184,000.

The official unemployment rate dropped by 0.2 percent in July to 7.4 percent, mainly because 240,000 people left the labor force.

The US has recovered only about six million of the 8.5 million jobs lost during the 2008-2009 recession. Since the official end of the recession in June of 2009, the working-age population has increased by six million, meaning the gain in jobs relative to population growth has been essentially zero.

The share of the US population that is employed remained at 58.7 percent in July, largely unchanged from what it has been since 2009 and down from 62.7 percent in December 2007. The labor force participation rate, meanwhile, dropped 0.1 percent to 63.4 percent, near its lowest level in decades.

The number of people working part-time for economic reasons last month was 8.2 million, up by 19,000 from June, and the total number of people who are either unemployed or under-employed was 22 million.

Of the jobs created last month, the majority were low-wage and part-time positions, mainly in sectors such as food service and home health care. “Over the last four months, we’ve created 4.2 part-time jobs for every one full-time job. That trend is not going in a good direction,” Burt White of LPL Financial told CNBC.

The food service sector added 38,400 jobs last month. The typical food preparation worker receives $9.18 per hour, or $19,100 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private education and health services added 13,600 jobs, including 3,900 in home health care services, mostly consisting of home health care aids who have a median pay of $9.70 per hour.

The Federal government shed 2,000 jobs, while state government lost 3,000. This was in addition to the furlough of hundreds of thousands of federal government employees as a result of the “sequester” budget cuts, resulting in lost pay of up to 20 percent of annual salary.

The jobs report comes after the Commerce Department on Wednesday reported that the economy grew at a rate of only 1.7 percent in the second quarter of this year. At the same time, the government downgraded its estimate of economic growth for the first quarter to a rate of 1.1 percent.

Over the past three quarters, the US economy has grown at an annualized rate of only 0.96 percent. These figures shatter the government’s claims of an economic “recovery” and show that the US economy is deteriorating, along with the economies of Europe, Asia and most of Latin America.

The US is today able to achieve a growth rate only one-sixth of the post-World War II average. In the past, a US growth rate of 3 percent or 4 percent was considered modest, anything under 3 percent was considered weak, and a growth rate below 2 percent was deemed to be disastrous.

In the face of this crisis, the Obama administration and the ruling class as a whole have no policies to offer for serious economic growth or job-creation. Their response is to intensify the assault on the working class. Obama’s so-called “jobs” program consists entirely of tax cuts and subsidies for business and incentives to slash the wages and benefits of workers—in the name of increasing US “competitiveness” and convincing transnational companies to shift jobs from foreign cheap labor havens to take advantage of near-poverty wages in the US.

This is combined with austerity policies that further depress economic growth.

In his latest speech on the economy Tuesday in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Obama proposed cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent, with a 25 percent rate for manufacturers, while calling on the government to “partner with the private sector” to provide infrastructure, social services and education—code words for privatization and spending cuts.

This is under conditions where the Obama administration has rejected any federal assistance to the city of Detroit, which declared bankruptcy on July 18. State and city officials, representing the demands of the banks and major bondholders, are seeking to use the bankruptcy to slash the retirement benefits of 20,000 city workers and privatize the city’s assets, including the world-famous collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Meanwhile, the US Federal Reserve Board made clear in its latest statement this week that it will continue its $85 billion-per month money-printing operation and near-zero interest rate policy for the foreseeable future. The contrast could not be more stark: virtually unlimited funds are made available to finance the enrichment of the financial elite, while there is “no money” to pay the legally-mandated pensions of Detroit workers.

These vast cash handouts have driven an ongoing stock market rally. Despite the poor jobs figures, both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 index set new records Friday for the second consecutive day.

The profits of the biggest US banks continued to swell in the second quarter of this year. Last month, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, among the largest US banks, announced record quarterly profits. JPMorgan made $6.1 billion in the second quarter, up 32 percent from a year ago, while Wells Fargo took in $5.27 billion, up 20 percent.

JPMorgan Chase is expected to make $25 billion in profits this year, equivalent to the gross domestic product of Afghanistan, a country with a population of 30 million.

According to an analysis conducted by Equilar Inc. for the Wall Street Journal, the CEOs of 200 US companies with revenues over $1 billion saw their pay swell by 16 percent in 2012, with the average hitting $15.1 million.

Facing protracted economic decline and crisis, the US ruling class is implementing a systematic policy of boosting the profits of major corporations and the wealth of the super-rich through the impoverishment of the majority of the population.

The Presumed Innocence of Capitalism and Lac-Mégantic

August 4th, 2013 by Harry Glasbeek

“If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who creates the darkness.” — Monseigneur Bienvenu in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables

It is always the same. First the shock and horror, then the anger. A terrible environmental disaster inflicted by Beyond Petroleum in the Gulf of Mexico; a horrendous explosion at Union Carbide’s Bhopal plant; a mine disaster, burying people at Westray in Nova Scotia; a factory building collapsing in Bangladesh; a train’s cargo exploding and incinerating people and the city of Lac-Mégantic.

Each time there are the same questions:

Why was anyone allowed to engage in this activity,  given its known risks? Why, more specifically, were people with poor reputations in respect of safety and/or people with little experience allowed to run these risky activities? Why did governments not have better laws and regulations? Why did governments not have better monitoring and policing of such laws and regulations they had enacted? How dared the leaders of these risk-creating entities try to blame their hapless underlings? How could they be so cavalier, so callous, so arrogant? Who was to pay for the compensation? Should anyone go to jail?

The reasons for the shock and anger are obvious: the burned bodies, destroyed lives and livelihoods, ravaged environments, disrupted communities, misery all round. And each time, sombre-looking politicians and policy-makers walk around the sites, solemnly promise to learn from the event, assuring the stunned public that they will not let it happen again, that heads will roll if legal justice demands it.

Civilized Political Economy?

Each time people are shocked and horrified because they believe that they live under a regime of a mature and civilized political economy. They have been told that for-profit entrepreneurs care about their health and safety; they are taught that their elected governments will force entrepreneurs to put health and safety and environments ahead of profit-maximization.

They want to believe all of this because their daily lives would be miserable if they thought that their food was unsafe, that most products they use are unchecked for dangers, that there are hundreds and thousands of untested toxic substances used in profit-making activities and released into their environments, that their physical recreational activities are largely unmonitored and unregulated, that their workplaces are high hazard zones. They are gulled into believing that everyone, profit-chasers and governments, cares about them because, at any one time, there is a high decibel vociferous debate, usually dominated by apparently respectable profit-seekers and their professional think-tanks, about how unnecessary government regulations impede the creation of wealth while, at the same time, they fail to protect society.

An impression is left that there is a great deal of supervision and monitoring. It looks to all the world that it is not the lack of regulation by governments, but its excesses, that impoverish and endanger us. Thus it is that, when a Lac-Mégantic occurs, everyone is surprised that it could happen at all: surely something has gone wrong with the otherwise satisfactory operations of profit-seekers and/or the well-established government oversight over profit-making?

But, the only thing that is special about a Lac-Mégantic is the sudden manner in which a huge amount of harm is inflicted. The infliction of harms is a daily event; but it is experienced as atomized, isolated events, unworthy of news coverage. We hardly notice the steady dripping of blood, the innumerable illnesses, serious and minor, daily deaths and incremental deterioration of our physical environments. We are systematically desensitized to the catastrophic dimensions of the injuries that regulated profit-seekers inflict. This is an amazing triumph for harm-inflicting profiteers. To illustrate:

While the trauma of a Westray, understandably and rightly, demands everyone’s attention, the 26 miners who died in one spectacular explosion are but a tiny fragment of the number of workers injured and killed every day. In Canada, roughly one thousand people are killed on the job each and every year, nearly 5 every working day; 10,000 die earlier than they might have because of occupationally related illnesses each and every year. World-wide, 2 million people die at work every single year; 260 million more are injured while at work. And, yearly, 160 million are afflicted by job-related illnesses. The number of deaths and illnesses attributable to environmental pollution and degradation are equally staggering; product contamination, unsafe vehicles, equipment, drugs and pharmaceuticals, all exact huge tolls.

Sadly, then, Lac-Mégantic is but an eye-catching example of a common phenomenon. It is but a vivid example of the routine operation of competitive capitalism, our supposedly well-regulated competitive form of capitalism. There should be no sense of surprise. Anger, yes, surprise, no. The key to this parlous state of affairs is the fact that our regulatory laws and standards are intended to legitimate a harm-causing, risk-shifting system. Regulatory law works on a set of assumptions:

  1. Productive activities create material welfare;
  2. All productive activities entail risks;
  3. Productive activities create the most material welfare if they are undertaken privately for selfish motives;
  4. Productive activities should be promoted and facilitated by governments and their agencies;
  5. Any materialized risks may harm the producers, the consumers and users of the goods and services produced and the general environment;
  6. Promoting and facilitating governments and their agencies should ensure, as much as possible, that the wealth generated by any productive activity outweighs the harms it inflicts. They are to engage in a cost-benefit analysis.

This framework assumes that private actors chasing profits are engaged in virtuous activities and that they are virtuous. All want to produce welfare; no one wants to do harm. Thus when risks materialize, we should compensate the victims and educate all concerned about that particular risk and, if necessary, enact laws and standards to ensure that appropriate precautions be taken to avert or diminish the materialization of this and similar risks. The enforcement of those standards may well require imposing sanctions on those producers who violate them but we should not think of them as anti-social wrongdoers. After all, we should be grateful that they are voluntarily engaging in the virtuous activity of contributing to the general welfare. Only in extremis should we think of them as moral lepers, as criminals.

The logic of this assumed state of play means that

  1. Its cost-benefit approach does not require that all risks be eliminated. A price has to be paid for the general good, a price to be paid by workers, consumers, users, communities and their natural environments.
  2. It legitimates a certain amount of acceptable harm, a certain amount of bleeding and illness, a certain number of deaths, a certain amount of environmental despoliation. We are told that, in our desire for welfare, we must, and are assumed to be, willing to sacrifice bodies, lives and our ecology. The assumptions of our regulatory theory embody the crass social Darwinism of John D. Rockefeller, who wrote:

    “The American Beauty Rose can be produced in the splendor and fragrance which bring cheer to its beholder only by sacrificing the early buds which grow up around it. This is not an evil tendency in business. It is merely the working-out of a law of Nature and a law of God.”

    The harms inflicted by the entrepreneurial class initiating productive activities are designed into them, either by not setting standards at all or by having some rules balancing benefit against what is deemed to be an acceptable level of harm.

This is why we are not shocked by the daily atomized materializations of risks built into the productive processes. We expect a certain kind and amount of damage. What we do not know in advance is who the victims will be or the full extent of the harm they will suffer. It is only when a Westray or a Lac-Mégantic occurs that we ask questions and they are all about whether there was anything peculiar about the circumstances: were there defensible rules balancing benefit against harm in place? were they satisfactorily monitored and enforced or were the governmental regulators too lax? was the particular entrepreneur not virtuous, a rotten apple in the barrel of goodness, who flouted perfectly acceptable rules?

Cost-Benefit Analyses

The questions about whether the existing regulations were satisfactory ones are not questions about the validity of the cost-benefit analysis that gives life to these kind of regulations, but rather about the difficulties that inhere in setting an appropriate and acceptable level of harm. And the questions about regulators arise because we realize they have an unenviable task.

The cost-benefit analyses required involves calibrating incommensurables. There is the cost of putting in a preventive system which theoretically can be calculated in dollars and cents, although the asymmetry of information means that, in practice, regulators have to rely on data provided by entrepreneurs who have an incentive to exaggerate the expense to put in, say, a new ventilation system, and to be less than forthcoming about exactly how much profits they have to earn to be willing to stay in business. On the other side of the equation, it is hard to measure the benefit bestowed by any one productive activity and even harder to measure the cost of the economic losses suffered by the victims of a materialized risk. This difficulty is compounded by our total inability to measure the pain, suffering or the emotional and psychic losses of such victims. The design of regulations is always going to be contested and their legitimacy easily contestable, making for great enforcement difficulties. These difficulties are compounded by the complexity and dimensions of the problems of drafting these kinds of regulations.

There are innumerable productive activities out there, all to be welcomed, to be sure, but they are so many and so varied, that regulators have to rely on information provided to them. There is no incentive for entrepreneurs, other than their assumed virtue, to establish that their particular enterprise presents risks and/or that they should spend money to avert them. Governments depend on their own instincts and, to some extent, on academic research (this is notoriously under-resourced) but, mostly, on the accumulated experience of harms suffered in the past. Hurt and killed workers, consumers, users, and visible environmental degradation are the main sources of information for regulators charged with balancing the supposed benefits of productive activities against the harms they inflict.

We get new safety standards when the harms inflicted by for-profit activities become too great, too politically embarrassing to accept. If one worker loses a hand in a machine, it is an accident; if ten workers lose a hand using the same machine, it is a cluster; if 100 lose their hand to this machine, we get a regulation requiring that a guard be put on the machine. This is the history of our Factory Acts and the regulations now attached to our contemporary omnibus health and safety legislation. And, it is the story of Lac-Mégantic. The media already carry stories as to how railways are saying that they will revise their own safety rules in expectation of a barrage of regulatory activity by governments that now have the bodies, destroyed property and polluted air and water of Lac-Mégantic piled on their doorsteps. The rail operators hope that the optics of sincere concern will minimize the extent and expense of the inevitable regulations to come. (Toronto Star, 19 and 20 July).

When the regulators have information about the potential for injuries to people, their property or the environment, they consult with the entrepreneurs whose initiatives create the potential harms but whose initiatives they do not want to inhibit. Thus, after the Lac-Mégantic disaster, we learned that federal rules already provided that trains left unattended must have sufficient handbrakes applied to prevent movement and that the operators of the trains must ensure that this has been done. But, in promulgating this standard, the government had entered into an agreement with the regulatees, the train operators, and the definition of what had to be done to comply with the requirement of ‘sufficiency’ is still kept secret. (Toronto Star, 19 July, 2013). This imposition of a public duty was privately arranged. Regulators rely on, and trust, the people they regulate.

The cost-benefit analyses begin with the notion that virtuous actors must not be discouraged from engaging in virtuous activities. And the premise of the virtue of enterprise means that the field in which regulations will be crafted is seriously tilted in favour of allowing the benefit of production to be hyped and the risks and potential adverse impacts to be minimized. The starting point is that the materials used, the equipment deployed, the technologies employed, the mode of operation, are not to be questioned by outsiders, lest efficiency is impaired, unless there is clear evidence that the harms they might cause are likely to occur and, should they do so, be grave.

The starting point, then, is that entrepreneurs and their choices are entitled to the presumption of innocence.

Asbestos, lead, mercury, iso-cyenates, DDT, vinyl chloride, thalidomide, fracking, nuclear power plants, off-shore oil drilling, unsupervised cooltan mining by desperate people in Africa, peddling infant formula in poor countries without proper precautions, and so on, are all presumed innocent.

Unlike the racially different-looking people who are profiled, harassed, questioned when standing on bus stops, driving a car, walking in a fancy neighbourhood, and sometimes shot for being the wrong person in the wrong place;

Unlike Mohamed Harkat who was arrested pursuant to the National Security Act ten years ago on suspicion of being a sleeper agent. He was never convicted of such an offence and has, just now, been given mild relief from the restraints put on him. He was under house arrest for 7 years and had to wear a tracking bracelet at all times, a prisoner in his home. He now may have a mobile telephone, but must still allow the border police to get access to his record of communications kept by his server; he now may have a home computer, but it, too, is subject to monthly inspections. He may even travel outside the Ottawa area where he resides, but he must give the border agency his itinerary and five days’ notice;

Unlike the ‘militants’ killed by drones or any of the people on what the press call the ‘kill lists’ kept by the U.S. and NATO. None of those people are ever charged with an offence, let alone convicted of one;

Unlike all of us, as the Edward Snowden revelations told us. The dragnet nature of surveillance by NSA and PRISM is posited, not on the belief that those surveyed have done anything warranting action, but that they might do so. If we are not necessarily presumed to be guilty, we are certainly not assumed to be virtuous, unlike those who invest for profit and unlike the substances, equipment, technology and processes they use.

Entrepreneurs Are Capitalists

The assumptions about the virtuous nature of our private wealth generation regime and the attendant presumption of innocence mean that the regulatory balancing and bargaining takes place on a tilted field, tilted in favour of the so-called virtuous producers, guaranteeing that we will suffer more Westrays and Lac-Mégantics and thousands and thousands of unkind, hurtful, atomized cuts and harms. What is wrong with the assumed framework is that it assumes capitalism away.

This piece has persistently referred to capitalists as entrepreneurs wedded to profits because this is the characterization regulatory relies on to work its magic. It permits the treatment of profit-maximization to be portrayed as one undertaken for the public’s well-being. But, these benign-sounding entrepreneurs are capitalists and they do not care about the public’s welfare; only their own.

Capital and capitalists should not be seen as virtuous, as entitled to start with the presumption of innocence. Capitalists are out to maximize profits. They decide how much to invest, for what reason, for how long, where it is to be invested, what kind of equipment and resources and technologies will be used, how many workers and what kind of a labour force will be recruited, and so forth. This is called business planning. But, it is planning to enable them to become rich, it is planning that aims at the private accumulation of socially produced wealth. They are to do this by out-competing their rivals. Competition is the driver of the system. In recent times, this elemental force, competition, appears to have intensified, pushing capitalists to greater and greater extremes.

Capitalists need to, and want to, reduce the costs of production. They do this by forcing workers to compete with each other; unemployment is not such a bad thing; the increasing capacity to outsource work is a marvelous thing; they drive down wages and benefits by any means at hand, including the development of new technologies and innovative processes that allow them to displace human beings. They also reduce their costs to improve their profits, of course, by externalizing the costs of production, that is, by making others pay these costs. This includes the harms inflicted by the productive processes and the goods and services they produce. Injured and hurt workers and their dependents, consumers, users, and the environment in which we all live are to pay the price.

Inasmuch as regulations are imposed to protect workers and to internalize some of those production costs otherwise shifted to non-profit seekers, they are unwelcome. They are to be resisted. And capitalists do. They threaten to withhold their capital if regulators threaten them. They ask for ‘no or, at worst, reasonable’ regulation. It follows that a bargaining regime that lets these exploiters help set the limits on their exploitation is bound to fail. Capitalists will gild the lily when they tell the regulators about the risks and the precautions they are taking; they will prevaricate when they declare how high the costs of compliance will be; they will violate the standards set if this is likely to yield a profit, especially if they think they will not be caught and, if caught, not be punished very severely.

The obvious fact that capitalism and capitalists do not care a whit about the public welfare, should put some doubt in regulators’ minds about the virtue of ‘entrepreneurs.’ Yet, it does not.

Lying and cheating are built into a legal regulatory framework that pretends that it merely has to address the problems of productive activities engaged in by virtuous actors for virtuous reason. The frailty of this assumption is further demonstrated by the fact that regulatory theory ignores evidence all around us: in their drive to accumulate, capitalists will produce literally anything that sells, from food, to medicine, to tobacco, to alcohol, to guns, to body parts, to anything at all. The obvious fact that capitalism and capitalists do not care a whit about the public welfare, should put some doubt in regulators’ minds about the virtue of ‘entrepreneurs.’ Yet, it does not. The ugly drive to make everything saleable has no logical limits in capitalism, corroding our values and cultures. Capitalists are self-interested, uncaring, anti-social actors, not worthy of presumptions in their favour.

Capitalism and capitalists are not virtuous. The system is criminogenic.

So, while it is true that all productive activities entail risks, they are not the same risks for the same people or locales if the aim of production is not set by the competitive model to maximize profits by reducing costs. If people’s needs were the object of production, the safety of the workers doing the producing, that of the consumers and users of the goods and services produced, the maintenance of a healthy environment would be front and centre in what is now called business planning. More, it would make perfect sense to have all these people whose needs were most likely to affected, participate directly in the planning and in the decision-making about what risks to accept and about what needs they wanted to satisfy, rather than have them participate by bleeding and dying. Productive activities would still entail risks, but risks more democratically accepted and acceptable.

Until we make the points about the toxic and fraught nature of our regulatory framework and the radical changes this demands, the bleeding, the dying, the illnesses, the degraded environment will continue, and likely get worse.

Lac-Mégantic should make us angry. Let our anger be informed anger. Let us not go down the path of looking for reform to a regulatory system that is designed to fail us. •

Harry Glasbeek is a Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto. His most recent book is Wealth by Stealth: Corporate Crime, Corporate Law and the Perversion of Democracy. This article is also published at Climate and Capitalism.

North Korea, a Land of Human Achievement, Love and Joy

August 4th, 2013 by Andre Vltchek

As the plane – Russian-built Tupolev-204 – was taking off from Pyongyang Airport, I felt nothing, absolutely nothing. The morning fog was at first covering the runway, and then it began to lift. The engines roared. Right after the takeoff I could clearly distinguish green fields, neat villages and ribbons of ample and lazy rivers below the wing. It was undeniably a beautiful sight: melancholic, poetic, and truly dramatic. And yet I felt numb. I was feeling nothing, absolutely nothing.

Overhead monitors were beaming endless images of one parade after another, of endless celebrations and bombastic concerts. The volume was up, women and men on the screen were singing enthusiastically, soldiers were marching; roaring jets and helicopters were penetrating the blue sky. The conductor was waving his hands. The standing crowd was applauding. Emotions were brought to an absolute extreme; watering the eyes of the people, and omnipresent pride on their faces.

Suddenly I felt empty, scared of something.

After seeing more than 150 countries, all over the world, after covering wars and conflicts, some of unimaginable intensity and brutality, I was suddenly longing for some rest, even for total silence.

60 years ago North Korea won the war. But some 4 million people died many of them, civilians. Maybe it was more than 4 million, nobody knows exactly. The capital city Pyongyang was totally leveled to the ground. I did not want to hear loud music and long speeches. I wanted to pay tribute to those who lost their lives, by sitting quietly by the river covered by mist, listening to the tall grass. But during my 8 days in North Korea, I had very few moments of silence, almost no opportunity to reflect.

What have I seen in those 8 days in DPRK – in North Korea? I saw an enormous futuristic city, Pyongyang, the capital, built from the ashes. I saw enormous theatres and stadiums, a metro system deep below the ground (public transportation doubling as nuclear shelter, in case the city came under attack). I saw trolley buses and double-decker buses, wide avenues, unimaginably ample sidewalks, roller-skating rinks and playgrounds for children.

Statues and monuments were everywhere. The size of some boulevards and buildings were simply overwhelming. For more than a decade I lived in Manhattan, but this was very different grandeur. New York was growing towards the sky, while Pyongyang consisted of tremendous open spaces and massive eclectic buildings.

Outside the capital I saw green fields, and farmers walking home deep in the countryside. Clearly, there was no malnutrition among children, and despite the embargo, everyone was decently dressed.

I saw packed squares, with tens of thousands of people shouting slogans from the top of their lungs. I saw thousands of women in colorful traditional dresses waving their flags and ribbons, cheering when the command was given, welcoming us – international delegates. Marching next to me for peace, was a former US Attorney General, Ramsey Clark, and at my other side, the leader of one of the Indian Communist Parties. There were human rights lawyers from the United States and from all over the world, Turkish revolutionaries, and, for hard to understand reasons, several heads of the Ugandan military.

But I did not come here to march. I came here to film and to photograph, to see the faces of local people, to read what was written on those faces, to feel, to sense, and to try to understand.

Instead of loud cheers, I came to listen to the whispers, hoping to catch understated facial expressions, tiny signs of fear, of joy, of love and even of existentialist confusion.

The West, its policy makers and mass media, succeeded in creating an image of a dehumanized North Korea. They did it by blurring the faces. For decades North Koreans were being portrayed as inhabitants of some monstrous hermit empire where men, women and children all look alike, dress the same, behave like robots, never smile and do not look into each other’s eyes.

Before I came here, before I agreed to come, I explained to the organizers that I was not interested in all those elaborate fireworks and packed stadiums. I wanted to see a mom taking her child to school. I was longing to capture the faces of lovers at dusk, sitting side by side on some remote bench, whispering to each other those urgent words, those pledges that make life worth living; the same words, the same pledges, uttered all over the world.

Paradoxically, I was discouraged to do so. Instead I was asked to march. From a storyteller and a man who is used to document the world, I was converted into a delegate. And whenever the crowd spotted me, it cheered, and then I felt embarrassed, I was longing desperately to become invisible, or to at least find some hiding place. Not because I was doing something wrong, but simply because I was unaccustomed to such naked outbursts of enthusiasm directed at me.

And so I marched, for peace and for the re-unification of the Korean nation. And while I marched, I kept filming and photographing. It must have looked awkward, I have to admit: a delegate who was filming a bunch of women who were dressed in their colorful traditional dresses, cheering him with their paper ribbons, and shouting at top of their lungs.

I soon discovered that I was fighting for every glimpse of reality, of common life. Instead I had been fed with an extravaganza.

I was taken to those stadiums with 100,000 people, where children change positions of their boards periodically, and the entire side of the tribune suddenly becomes like some colorful, living storyboard. I was witnessing huge events, with thousands of dancers, with fireworks and multiple bands.

Yet what impressed me the most was an ancient and tiny stone bridge in Kaesong City, near the Demilitarized Zone. And the scene around the bridge: a tiny girl, perhaps three years old, her sock torn, crying, while her mother caressed her hair in the most tender, warmest way imaginable.

My hosts, they did not seem to understand. I explained to them, again and again, but my words sounded too foreign to them.

As far as they were concerned, I was just ‘some famous writer, filmmaker, and journalist’. They needed me to show great support for their revolution, and deep reverence for their suffering during the Western onslaught more than 60 years ago.

Naturally I felt reverence and grief, but that was all that I was expected to feel. I felt much more.

But I fell in love, instantly with the North Korean countryside, and the faces of North Korean farmers and city dwellers. These were pure faces, honest and expressive. What could I do? Love is subjective; it is irrational. The exaggerated greenery of the fields, children playing at the roadside, soldiers returning home to their villages for a short home-leave, women facing the sun at dusk: it was overwhelming; love at first sight, as I said.

I was photographing through the windshield; I was annoying the organizers, demanding that they stop in the middle of the road.

Then on July 26 I met, together with Ramsey Clark and few other delegates, Mr.Yang Hyong Sob, the Vice President of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Committee. He looked like a very kind man, and I was given a chance to exchange some ideas with him. I explained that the best way to combat Western propaganda is to show to the world the faces of North Korean people.

“It is their common tactic”, I said. “They portray people of China, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Serbia, as heartless, as if they were some plastic androids. Then, subconsciously, compassion for the people of those nations vanishes from the hearts of the Western public. Suddenly it is fine to starve them, to bomb them, to murder thousands, even millions of those androids. But once the faces are shown, the Western public gets confused; many refuse to support mass murder.“

The Vice-President nodded. He smiled at me. As we were leaving, he locked me in a bear hug, and said simply “Please come back!”

But even after that meaningful exchange, I was still marching. And the simplest images were continuously out of my reach. “For this trip only, as we are celebrating the 60th Anniversary”, I was told. But I lived for now and now, I wanted to work.

I saw the Demilitarized zone, DMZ, and the South Korean border post at Panmunjom. Twice in the past I had visited the same place, only from the opposite side. The DMZ is supposed to be the most fortified border in the world, as the two Koreas are still technically at war. The two armies are grudgingly facing each other, armed to the teeth, while the US forces are holed up somewhere underground on the southern side.

Yet The DMZ is like some eye of the storm, sitting in between all those nukes, tanks and rocket launchers, quietly and pristinely. Rivers are lazily flowing, and farmers are growing ginseng, arguably the best in the world.

I endured endless security measures, and at the end I was facing the empty South Korean visitor’s terrace. There were obviously expectations of some hostilities on both sides of the line, and no ‘ordinary’ visitors were allowed to travel here.

It was all a big mess, and a never-ending drama. A divided nation; millions of deaths. I saw it all in the city of Sinchon. The tunnels where the US troops massacred thousands of civilians during the war, old veterans and survivors of the massacres spoke; recalling those gruesome events.

In 1950, at the beginning of the war, the city of Sinch’ŏn was the site of a massacre of civilians by occupying U.S forces. The number of civilians killed over the 52-day period was allegedly over 35,000 people, the equivalent of a quarter of the city’s population at the time.

It all looked chillingly familiar. I used to photograph the craters left behind after the carpet bombings of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Brutality, brutality, brutality… Millions of faceless victims burned alive by napalm, ‘bomb-lets’ that explode decades later when children or water buffaloes are playing on the fields.

Ramsey Clark spoke about the horrors of the past, and about the brutality of the US actions. An old man, one of the survivors of the mass killings of civilians in the tunnels, spoke about horrors he witnessed as a child. The artwork in the local museum depicted the brutal torture and rape of Korean women by US troops, their bodies mutilated; with nipples penetrated by metal hooks.

In the West, the topic remains almost totally taboo. One of the greatest journalists of the 20th century, Wilfred Burchett, even lost his citizenship and became ‘an enemy of the Australian people’, partially because he dared to describe the suffering of the North Korean people, a few years after he had described the aftermath of Hiroshima bombing in his 1945 iconic report, “I Write This As a Warning To the World”.

The brass band begins to play yet another military tune. I zoom on an old lady, her chest decorated with medals. As I get ready to press the shutter, two large tears begin rolling down her cheeks. And suddenly I realize that I cannot photograph her. I really cannot. Her face is all wrinkled, and yet it is both youthful and endlessly tender. Here is my face, I think, the face I was looking for all those days. And yet I cannot even press the shutter of my Leica.

Then something squeezes my throat and I have to search in my equipment bag for some tissue, as my glasses get foggy, and for a short time I cannot see anything at all. I sob loudly, just once. Nobody can hear, because of the loud playing of the band.

Later I get closer to her, and I bow, and she reciprocated. We make our separate peace in the middle of the boiling-hot main square. I am suddenly happy to be here. We have both lost something. She lost more. I was certain she lost at least half of her loved-ones in the carnage of those bygone years. I lost something too: I lost all respect and belonging, to the culture that is still ruling the world; the culture that was once mine, but a culture that is still robbing people of their faces, and then burns their bodies with napalm and flames.

It is the 60th Anniversary of Victory Day in the DPRK. An anniversary marked by tears, grey hair, tremendous fireworks, parades, and by the memories of fire.

That evening, after returning to the capital, I finally made it to the river. It was covered by a gentle but impenetrable fog. There were two lovers sitting by the shore, motionless, in silent embrace. The woman’s hair was gently falling on her lover’s shoulder. He was holding her hand, reverently. I was going to lift my big professional camera, but then I stopped, abruptly, all of a sudden too afraid that what my eyes were seeing or my brain imagining, would not be reflected in the viewfinder.

André Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker, and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His critically acclaimed political revolutionary novel Point of No Return is now re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and market-fundamentalism is called Indonesia: The Archipelago of Fear. He just completed a feature documentary Rwanda Gambit about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website. Read other articles by Andre.

“What in the world is happening to America?”

The control freaks are out of control. Once upon a time America was “the land of the free”, but now it has become “the land of the bureaucrats”, and these bureaucrats are absolutely obsessed with watching, tracking, monitoring and controlling virtually everything that you do.

Last month, I wrote about how the Obama administration forced a small-time magician out in Missouri to submit a 32 page disaster plan for the little rabbit that he uses in his magic shows for kids. A lot of people thought that story was quite humorous, but the examples in this article are not so funny. In recent days we have learned that the government is monitoring just about everything that we do on the Internet, and we have also learned that a couple of innocent Google searches can result in armed government agents pounding on your front door. If you do not believe this, read on…

Thanks to Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian, we now know about XKeyscore, an NSA program that collects “nearly everything that a user does on the Internet”…

A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

According to the documents that Greenwald has been given, NSA agents can use XKeyscore to continually intercept and analyze “an individual’s internet activity”…

XKeyscore, the documents boast, is the NSA’s “widest reaching” system developing intelligence from computer networks – what the agency calls Digital Network Intelligence (DNI). One presentation claims the program covers “nearly everything a typical user does on the internet”, including the content of emails, websites visited and searches, as well as their metadata.

Analysts can also use XKeyscore and other NSA systems to obtain ongoing “real-time” interception of an individual’s internet activity.

So if you type “the wrong thing” into a search engine, the feds could literally show up on your doorstep. One married couple up in New York recently found this out the hard way…

Michele Catalano was looking for information online about pressure cookers. Her husband, in the same time frame, was Googling backpacks. Wednesday morning, six men from a joint terrorism task force showed up at their house to see if they were terrorists. Which begs the question: How’d the government know what they were Googling?

Yes, exactly how did the government know what they were putting into Google?

Sadly, I think that we all know the answer to that question.

And when the agents got to their home, they didn’t realize their mistake and leave. Instead, they peppered the couple with questions. The following is how Michele Catalano described the experience…

[T]hey were peppering my husband with questions. Where is he from? Where are his parents from? They asked about me, where was I, where do I work, where do my parents live. Do you have any bombs, they asked. Do you own a pressure cooker? My husband said no, but we have a rice cooker. Can you make a bomb with that? My husband said no, my wife uses it to make quinoa. What the hell is quinoa, they asked. …

Have you ever looked up how to make a pressure cooker bomb? My husband, ever the oppositional kind, asked them if they themselves weren’t curious as to how a pressure cooker bomb works, if they ever looked it up. Two of them admitted they did.

Is this really what America is going to be like from now on?

We type the wrong thing into Google and the secret police come knocking on our doors?

Where will all of this end?

In Saudi Arabia, one man that set up a website that the authorities did not like was recently sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes…

The editor of a Saudi Arabian social website has been sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes for founding an Internet forum that violates Islamic values and propagates liberal thought, Saudi media reported on Tuesday.

Raif Badawi, who started the ‘Free Saudi Liberals’ website to discuss the role of religion in Saudi Arabia, has been held since June 2012 on charges of cyber crime and disobeying his father – a crime in the conservative kingdom and top U.S. ally.

That may sound extreme, but we are heading down a similar path. People are going to start becoming afraid to express themselves on the Internet out of fear that they will get a visit from armed goons just like the Catalanos did.

This is not what America is supposed to be like. We are supposed to be a nation that respects privacy, liberty and freedom. Instead, our nation is rapidly being transformed into a heavily armed police state surveillance grid that is a paradise for control freaks.

And it is not just the Internet that we all need to be worried about. An article by Lee Bellinger described some more ways that “the police state” is expanding…

Grants to local governments for “FBI Mobile,” a portable biometric data collection system first deployed by the military to create IDs for urban-war-zone residents.

Covert naked-body scanners for checking out the general public on U.S. streets, a product being developed by Rapiscan Systems.

A fleet of roving backscatter scanning vans for expansion to all forms of ground travel.

Military-developed, next-generation Taser systems capable of stunning and incapacitating large numbers of protesters.

Active Denial System (ADS) “Pain Ray” for use here at home.

Shockwave Area Denial System, which can taser citizens within 100-meter ranges.

Laser Blinding Dazzler system, which causes temporary blindness in protestors.

Mass-deployed sedatives to incapacitate crowds.

Screaming Microwave system and ear-splitting noise machines for crowd control throughout the U.S.

For even more on this, please see my previous article entitled “10 Ways That The Iron Grip Of The Big Brother Prison Grid Is Tightening On All Of Our Lives”.

In this type of an environment, even a helpless baby deer becomes a national security threat…

“It was like a SWAT team. Nine DNR agents and four deputy sheriffs, and they were all armed to the teeth,” animal shelter employee Ray Schulze told WISN-TV.

Two weeks ago, Schulze was working in the barn at the Society of St. Francis in Kenosha, Wis., when a swarm of squad cars screeched up and officers scrambled onto the property with a search warrant.

Were they hunting down an armed robber or escaped prisoner? Conducting a drug raid?

Incredibly, they were gunning for a 2-week-old baby fawn. Can you guess what happened to the 2-week-old baby deer?  They killed it – just like they are killing our liberties and our freedoms.

What in the world is happening to America?

I welcome this symposium’s call for replacing the armistice agreement with a peace treaty. Such a development would substantially reduce tensions in Northeast Asia and create an environment conducive to improving inter-Korean relations.By any human evaluation, the time for a peace treaty is long overdue.

The United States not only has the central role to play in the peace treaty process, it also presents the greatest challenge to its achievement. Although a peace treaty would serve the interests of the peoples of Northeast Asia, it has little or no intrinsic value for U.S. leaders. From their standpoint,a peace treaty has value only as a carrot to be dangled before North Korea in order to encourage denuclearization. Indeed, from the standpoint of U.S. geopolitical interests, there are certain advantages in maintaining a state of tension on the Korean Peninsula, as long as events can be controlled.

No progress can be made toward a peace treaty unless negotiations take place, and U.S. and South Korean leaders present a consistent message, saying that talks cannot take place unless North Korea first begins to denuclearize. In essence, this is a way of ruling out dialogue altogether. It is difficult to see what North Korea would have to gain from talks in which it must first meet American end objectives before discussion could even proceed on what, if anything, the United States might be willing to offer in return.

The United States and South Korea demand the unilateral implementation by North Korea of its obligations under the Joint Agreement of September 2005 as the precondition for talks. Meanwhile, the U.S. has not executed its obligations under the agreement, the most important of which is the promise to take steps to normalize relations.

Indeed, the United States undermined the agreement within days of its signing. The U.S. Treasury Department instructed American banks to sever relations with Banco Delta Asia, an institution in which North Korea held accounts that it used in foreign commerce. The Treasury Department sent letters to banks across the world, warning them not to conduct business with the bank, an action which resulted in a run on reserves and a freeze on North Korean accounts.

Those accounts were eventually unfrozen as North Korea’s condition for joining the next stage of Six-Party talks. Since that time, however,relations have only gotten worse.No meaningful dialogue has taken place since Obama took office, and the U.S. continues to pile more sanctions upon North Korea. The U.S. has sanctioned and pressured other nations to sanction North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank, that nation’s primary conduit for financing foreign trade. This was followed by sanctions on the Daedong Credit Bank, and the U.S. has promised to squeeze North Korea through further sanctions.

We are at an impasse. The Obama Administration will not talk with North Korea until it starts to denuclearize without getting anything in return. From the North Korean perspective, it cannot dismantle its nuclear program as long as the U.S. maintains a hostile policy. Clearly, a step-by-step approach is called for, but that option is off the table.

With talks on denuclearization seemingly blocked, the prospect of a peace treaty is even less encouraging.

In the present circumstances it appears that there are only two possible paths to the United States signing a peace treaty or agreeing to the establishment of a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.A peace treaty could be included as one of the steps in a negotiated denuclearization process arrived at in Six-Party talks, assuming that a way can be found to end the Obama Administration’s refusal to negotiate.

The other path is if sanctions succeed in bringing about the collapse of North Korea, and peace is established on U.S. terms.

It is important to note thatthe inclusion of the promise of a peace treaty in a denuclearization agreement is no guarantee of its actual implementation.

One of the motifs in the Six-Party talks was that the U.S. front-loaded obligations on North Korea while committing only to discuss issues after those steps had been implemented. When the United States agreed to later discussion of issues of concern to North Korea, this did not necessarily mean that it would ultimately agree to their implementation.

One former South Korean negotiator recalled how his American counterparts asked his delegation to present a tough front, in order to make U.S. offers  to North Korea appear more attractive in contrast. In subsequent discussions with American officials, the South Korean negotiator discovered that the commitment to carry out those offers was lacking. “How could I guarantee that my side would be a bad and tough cop, when the other side cannot be counted on to be a reliably good cop?” he wondered. (1)

Similarly, just two weeks after the United States signed the September 2005 Joint Agreement, which obligated it to take steps to normalize relations with North Korea, U.S. negotiator Christopher Hill spoke before Congress. Normalization of relations, he explained, would be “subject to resolution of our longstanding concerns. By this I meant that as a necessary part of the process leading to normalization, we must discuss important issues, including human rights, biological and chemical weapons, ballistic missile programs, proliferation of conventional weapons, terrorism and other illicit activities.” North Korea “would have to commit to international standards across the board, and then prove its intentions.” (2) In other words, even if North Korea were to fully denuclearize, relations would still not move toward normalization. North Korea would only be faced with a host of additional demands.

It can be expected that a peace treaty would face the same barriers.The United States could promise to discuss the subject after denuclearization and then when the time comes, use other issues to justify the refusal to sign a treaty. Even if a treaty is implemented one day, a peace treaty is not the same thing as normalization of relations. Aside from regime change, there is no conceivable scenario in which the United States would agree to normalization of relations. If the North Korean economy does not offer a welcoming environment for U.S. investors, then U.S. policy will not change. Cuba is a relevant example of a nation at peace with the U.S., yet subject to unrelenting U.S. hostility.

If, despite all obstacles, a peace treaty is signed one day, it is unlikely to alter the U.S.-South Korean military alliance.American policymakers are already implementing plans to change the alliance in ways that are unrelated to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, and that process will continue regardless of any agreement that may be reached with North Korea.

There is something of a precedent. More than two decades after German reunification and the end of the Cold War, U.S. military forces remain stationed in Germany and NATO has transformed itself from an ostensibly defensive organization into one that conducts offensive out-of-area operations.

American officials have made it plain that the U.S.-South Korean military alliance should serve a broader purpose beyond the Korean Peninsula. They point to South Korea’s supportingrole in Iraq and Afghanistan as models for the future of the alliance, and suggest that deeper involvement in U.S. operations is expected in the future. According to the Center for U.S.-Korea Policy, “The crafters of the alliance must constantly push themselves to forge areas of common cooperation that increasingly define the alliance outside of a peninsular context.” (3)

If South Korea is going to participate more fully in U.S. interventions, then an important component of the expanded alliance is to ensure the interoperability of weaponry, and along these lines South Korea is in the process of modernizing its arsenal. As the Brookings Institution points out, an upgrade in military technology “will facilitate future cooperation” and the “lack of these capabilities” results in “the inability for South Korea to fully participate as an equal partner on U.S.-led international efforts.” (4)

South Korea will have to work with NATO if it is going to increase its participation in U.S. interventions. Ithas joined NATO’s Individual Partnership Cooperation Program, which promotes “practical cooperation in a number of joint priority areas,” including what is euphemistically called “multinational peacesupport operations.” (5)

The agreement that South Korea signed with NATO has not been made public, but it is reasonable to suppose that its contents are similar to the Australia-NATO agreement.That agreement specifies that the partnership “aims to support NATO’s strategic objectives…by enhancing support for NATO’s operations and missions.” (6)

Various policy institutes in Washington are working together with U.S. officials to outline the future of the alliance. A survey of government officials and policy analysts ranked the Center for Strategic and International Studies as the most important American think tank in the area of security and international affairs.(7) Like most such institutes, its board is comprised primarily of former government officials who have considerable influence on the formation of policy.

As the Center puts it, “the time is ripe to establish a considerably more comprehensive alliance,” and “an exclusive focus on peninsular security is a luxury South Korea can no longer afford.” Among other things, it says,a restructured alliance would “serve as a visible constraint” against the Chinese. (8)

The key component in a restructured alliance is “strategic flexibility,” in which U.S. forces stationed in South Korea can freely intervene anywhere in Asia. Plans are in place for the U.S. 8th Army to bedesignated as a field army by 2017. That would allow it to command other U.S. and multinational forces, and its role would no longer be confined solely to the defense of South Korea. Itsmission will become global. (9)

Whether or not a peace treaty is signed, the U.S. military has no intention of leaving the Korean Peninsula.The U.S. military presence in the region is a guarantee forAmerican economic interests, helping to ensure the free flow of capital. A forward-based military presence combined with the soft power of free trade agreements ensures economic liberalization and, as the Foreign Policy Initiative explains,“increase[s] the access of American businesses and investors to foreign markets.” (10)

South Korea has an important role to play, as the Center for U.S. Korea Policy suggests: “Korea’s overseas engagements can promote U.S. geopolitical interests in key countries and regions.”(11)

President Obama has vowed that the United States “will play a larger and long-term role in shaping” Asia and its future, adding, “Our enduring interests in the region demand our enduring presence in the region.”

U.S. officials have no motivation to sign a peace treaty; it is not in their interests. A certain level of tension provides political cover for the broader purposes behind the U.S. military presence, and North Korea is the pretext for encircling China with an anti-ballistic missile system.

However, South Korea’s geostrategic importance to the U.S. means that if the expression of popular will is strong enough, it may be difficult to ignore. In the years ahead, if a more progressive government comes to power in South Korea, the United States may not be able toexcludea peace treaty from a denuclearization settlement, nor indeed to say no to engagement in the first place.

American policymakers are keenly aware of South Korea’s history of popular democracy. The Center for a New American Security complains that one of the main challenges to reconfiguring the U.S.-South Korea relationship into a global interventionist alliance is what it terms “populist fervor in Korea.”The threat of street demonstrations must be overcome, it argues, in order to push through plans for a more global role for the alliance.(13)

It is that Korean democratic spirit that has the potential of compelling the U.S. to pay heed, to put a peace treaty on the agenda, and to give that treaty substance so that it does not become an empty gesture. Although the U.S. is unlikely to normalize relations with North Korea, a peace treaty would significantly improve the prospects of normalization of relations between the two Koreas. It may prove impossible to dislodge the U.S. military from the Korean Peninsula or to block it from using Korea as a launch pad for interventions elsewhere in Asia, but popular resistance can certainly block South Korea from joining those interventions. These would be meaningful victories.


(1) James L. Schoff and Yaron Eisenberg, “Peace Regime Building on the Korean Peninsula: What Next?”, Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, May 2009.

(2) “The Six-Party Talks and the North Korean Nuclear Issue: Old Wine in New Bottles?”, Hearing Before the Committee on International Relations, House of Representatives, October 6, 2005.

(3) Scott Snyder, “Strengthening the U.S.-ROK Alliance,” Center for U.S.-Korea Policy, The Asia Foundation, February 2009.

(4) “Opportunities for U.S.-ROK Alliance Cooperation: New Issues on the Agenda,” The Brookings Institution, Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies, October 8, 2009.

(5) “NATO and the Republic of Korea Sign a New Partnership Programme,” North Atlantic Treaty Organization, September 20, 2012.

(6) “Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme between Australia and NATO,” February 21, 2013.

(7) “2012 Global Go To Think Tanks Report and Policy Advice,” Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, International Relations Program, University of Pennsylvania, January 28, 2013.

(8) Scott Snyder, “Pursuing a Comprehensive Vision for the U.S.-South Korea Alliance,” Center for Strategic and International Studies,” April 2009.

(9) Ashley Rowland, “U.S. Army in South Korea Begins Transformation of Forces,” Stars and Stripes, August 25, 2010.

(10) “Securing U.S. Interests and Values in the Asia-Pacific,” The Foreign Policy Initiative, The Asia-Pacific Strategy Working Group, June 4, 2013.

(11) Scott Snyder, “Strengthening the U.S.-ROK Alliance,” Center for U.S.-Korea Policy, The Asia Foundation, February 2009.

(12) Press Release, “Remarks by President Obama to the Australian Parliament,” The White House Office of the Press Secretary, November 17, 2011.

(13) Kurt M. Campbell, Victor D. Cha, Lindsey Ford, Kazuyo Kato, Nirav Patel, Randy Schriver, Vikram J. Singh, “Going Global: The Future of the U.S.-South Korea Alliance,” Center for a New American Security, February 2009.

While magazines and TV chains report about the lives and love affairs of movie actors and actresses, football players and other celebrities, the Chief of the Kayapo tribe heard the worst news of his entire life: Mrs. Dilma, the president of Brazil, has given her approval for the construction of an enormous hydroelectric central (the world’s third largest one).

This means the death sentence for ALL the tribes living at the shores of the river because the barrage will flood more or less 988,421 acres of the forest. More than 40 000 natives will have to find other living surroundings where they will be able to survive. The destruction of the natural habitat, the deforestation and the disappearance of several species of plants and animals will be a fait accompli.

We know that a simple image is the equivalent of a thousand words, it shows the price to be paid for the “quality of life” of our so-called “modern comforts.” There is no space in the world anymore for those who live differently. Everything has to be smoothed away, that everyone, in the name of globalization must lose his and her identity and way of living.

“No one knows the true cost of the Belo Monte Dam. What is clear is that Belo Monte will be one of the largest, most devastating infrastructure projects ever built in the Amazon. As its costs rocket above all previous estimates and the full extent of its impacts across a broad swath of the Amazon become more evident, it grows clearer than ever that Brazil doesn’t need Belo Monte, and that the project will bring destruction – not development – to a unique region.

Recent technical studies concerning Brazil’s electricity sector demonstrate viable opportunities to implement new energy efficiency standards and adopt energy alternatives with low socio-environmental and financial costs when compared with hydroelectric dams.  However, the Brazilian government has shown itself unwilling to debate its highly flawed energy model that aims to sacrifice the last remaining wild rivers of the Amazon…

The sheer enormity of the project means that an area of more than 1,500 square kilometers would be devastated.

 Brazil could meet its growing needs for electricity through less harmful energy alternatives and through the implementation of robust energy efficiency programs.

Brazilian citizens would continue to pay among the highest energy tariffs in the developing world in exchange for electricity from one the most inefficient dam in the country’s history.

Scientific studies, such as those by leading climate change scientist Philip Fearnside of the Amazon Research Institute INPA, have shown that greenhouse gas emissions from large dam reservoirs in the Brazilian Amazon can be equal to or higher than the same amount of electricity produced by coal burning power plants.32 Brazil is currently the world’s 4th largest emitter of carbon due to its emissions from deforestation in the Amazon, and while the government has adopted significant emission reduction targets, the recent rise in deforestation rates and the proposed dam expansion plans in the Amazon could stymie these efforts.”

Thank you in the name of life, nature and biodiversity.

Amidst a series of dramatic events in recent weeks, the Palestinian strife of living under Israeli occupation for close to half a century has once again entered global media attention. Contributing to the headlines were two new Israeli announcements of Jewish-only settlement construction in the peripheries of East Jerusalem.

The first- obfuscated by the fanfare of the United States Presidential elections- involving the announcement of 1,200 new Jewish-only housing units in Ramot and P’sgat Zeev, at the north end of the municipal boundary; and the second- ‘in response’ to the Palestinian bid for statehood recognition at the United Nations, involving the announcement of 3,000 new settlement units in unspecified locations throughout East Jerusalem, as well as the zoning and planning approval of the highly-contested area of E1 east of the city and adjacent to the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim.

A snapshot of the typical West Bank landscape of Miri land, where nature is ordered along stone-wall agricultural terraces and olive trees continue to grow where they have been for centuries. The deterioration of this Miri land across villages like Battir (shown here) threatens to render the historical vernacular of the Palestinian landscape extinct

Unilaterally Established Jurisdiction Through Urbanization

Following these announcements, the world’s attention was again drawn to the outright brazen geopolitical manipulations taking place ‘on the ground’ by Israel, outside of the peace negotiations, through unilateral settlement construction. Yet, more than simply highlighting Israel’s consumption of occupied land, the announcements underscored what has for decades been the less recognized political agency of architecture and urban design in the trajectory of this conflict. At the core of the Israeli occupation stands a fixation on the de-facto power that rapid urban development – the logic of “facts of the ground” – affords settler-colonialism in its quest for territorial gain. Urbanism has become a tactical form of war by other means.

As the development of fortified, ethnically-exclusive Jewish enclaves spreads across this contested landscape, it has invariably contributed to the marginalization of long-standing Palestinian agrarian practices and traditions. Those farmers still determined to cultivate their land do so under great duress, navigating permit, travel, and checkpoint restrictions, as well as struggling with water access and frequent attacks from armed Israeli settlers. Palestinian society’s strong rural and nomadic roots therefore remain constantly threatened and their futures in the region overwhelmingly uncertain. With individuals and organizations striving to preserve and reinforce such traditions, landscape, too, has been thrust into the political arena.

The relevance of olive cultivation to Palestinian land ownership and economic fortuity means that olive trees are preserved at all costs. Here, rather than being cut down, an olive tree is integrated into a concrete wall which is securing a private Palestinian residence in the West Bank city of Hebron

The annual Palestinian Olive Harvest has become perhaps the most notable of these politicized agrarian practices. As such, it offers insights into the vastly-overlooked political agency of nature and landscape. Having always been central to Palestinian society and the economy of the West Bank, in recent decades the olive harvest has also become a way for Palestinians to affirm their land ownership under occupation vis-a-vis the provisions of the Ottoman Land Law, which recognizes cultivation as a means of maintaining property title. This dual role of the olive harvest, however, places a substantial amount of pressure on olive cultivation. Olive orchards have also frequently been targeted and destroyed by Israeli settlers aiming to limit Palestinian land access. With roughly one quarter of the gross agricultural income in the Occupied Territories coming from the cultivation of some 12 million olive trees, and with olive groves occupying roughly 45% of Palestinian agricultural land, the stakes for a successful high-yield harvest impact not only the Palestinian economy, but also the West Bank’s prospective territorial boundaries.

Using the olive harvest as precedent, there is an opportunity to further explore new forms of politically-linked Palestinian agricultural amplification. These new forms could also alleviate the burden currently placed solely on olive cultivation. Shifting from an emphasis on land conservation to one of land activation and reclamation, a tactical approach could amplify the Palestinian agricultural sector while promoting new avenues for local economic stimulation. To be considered fully, the examination of the reassertion of Palestinian territorial rights on undeveloped West Bank land would need to be linked with the further examination of the continued imposition of the Oslo Accords some thirteen years after their expiration. It would also require in-depth scrutiny of the legitimacy of the occupation and the ongoing Peace Process- not to mention a multitude of other related historic, religious and political concerns. My own contribution here, therefore, is not towards the particular intricacies of the legality of the occupation or Oslo Accords, or to the current legitimacy and efficacy of the protracted Peace Process as it relates to territorial claims and land access. Instead, my aim is to conceive of the instrumentality of architecture, landscape and nature as overlooked political participants in the occupation’s processes while working within the constraints of its highly spatialized, militarized, and ethnically-divided framework.

Map of the various closed military areas in the West Bank

Harnessing Potential from the Residual: Considering the ‘Militarized Spatial By-Products’ of the West Bank

How might urban designers, architects and landscape architects devise ways of not only resisting damage to nature and agriculture amidst the disastrous environmental impacts of the occupation, but furthermore reconstitute agriculture and nature in a way which enlists them as agents of territorial re-appropriation within their broader political context? To begin addressing this question, I would like to make the case for considering the strategic political utilization of overlooked areas within the West Bank’s militarized landscape.

Attention to the territorial aspects of this conflict has long been focused on Jerusalem and the West Bank’s most geographically-strategic sites and resource-rich locations, particularly those – such as E1- in the periphery of East Jerusalem and along the fertile and water-rich spine of the mountain region near to the ‘Green Line’. While the political desirability of these most strategic sites and their relationship to natural resources is by now widely accepted, what has yet to be properly recognized in comparison is the great degree of opportunity simultaneously lying dormant in the West Bank’s least desirable sites: in its overlooked and forgotten areas of contamination, illicit solid waste dumping and demolition ruin; in its barricaded closed military zones and live firing areas, as well as in its multitude of off-limits settler security buffer spaces. These overlooked spaces collectively form what I have called ‘militarized spatial by-products.’

Map of nature reserve closed areas located in the West Bank and their overlap with IDF closed military areas

The Production of ‘Militarized Spatial By-Products’

Studying the West Bank’s processes of settler-colonial urbanization, it becomes apparent that the surge in fortified development associated with such processes cannot take place without the simultaneous production of a correlated body of ‘by-product’ space: those areas which serve as security buffer zones and places of territorial delineation disassociating the Israeli settlements religiously, ethnically, infrastructurally, and legalistically from their Palestinian context. The overall impact on the territory of these separation spaces is the presence of vast quantities of de-activated, under-utilized and banal land. Within the occupation’s framework, these frozen by-product areas are not merely underappreciated and less valuable real-estate, but rather something more fundamentally systemic to the settler-colonial process; they are territories which are actively generated by the occupation’s highly-secured urbanizing practices. Here, the term ‘by-product’ requires clarification since it may initially infer Israeli abandonment or undesirability with regards to such lands and their ultimate use. In many instances, however, the boundaries of security buffer zones and closed military areas have been intentionally exaggerated so that they may serve the tacit dual-purpose of securing undeveloped land away from Palestinian use, therefore safeguarding it for future Israeli settlement expansion. Therefore, it should be clear that when I refer to ‘spatial by-products’, the emphasis is on the relationship between fortified urban development and its adjacent underutilized areas in their present form, rather than on the legitimacy of Israel’s land classifications or on these land’s ultimate potential for future settlement use.

These ‘militarized spatial by-products’ can more broadly be seen as akin to what American urbanist Alan Berger has described as ‘Drosscapes’ and what French landscape architect Gilles Clement has termed the ‘Third Landscape’. Such spaces are the inevitable outcome of rapid development taking place across large sprawling areas, appearing as ‘remnants’ to development’s expansionist tendencies. In the context of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, these spaces emerge not merely as ‘remnants’, but more as frozen frontiers resting dormant within the restrictive conditions of land access and land use under military rule.

As designers struggling to operate within the overwhelming constraints of the current status quo, we have an opportunity to ask what unforeseen prospects exist in such networks of by-product spaces. How might they be enlisted from the ground up? As liminal areas devoid of development, these spaces have an unprecedented potential to push the political agency of landscape in the West Bank. Many such areas are exempt from the immediate threat of urban development (such as the sides of by-pass roads) and therefore vary greatly in terms of their potentiality from the prime undeveloped lands of their adjacency. Put differently, the residual ceases to be only that which separates fortified enclaves from one another, but itself becomes a unique and crucial territorial space for consideration and use.

Typical Target Areas for Extraterritorial Appropriation in Closed Military Areas of the West Bank

Typical Target Areas for Extraterritorial Appropriation in Closed Military Areas of the West Bank

Typical Target Areas for Extraterritorial Appropriation in Closed Military Areas of the West Bank

Yet, how do we relate this discussion of ‘spatial by-products’ to the problem of apprehending their use in highly militarized and confined contexts? Those entering into such an arena are immediately confronted with the task of establishing how much they will operate within the existing biased legal framework and how much they will respect its unilaterally-imposed territorial boundaries. With specific regards to utilizing landscape and nature, here I would argue for an approach which is malleable, flexible and ‘soft’ in nature. Taking into account the volatility of the landscape, such an approach employs a design methodology comprised of a network of interconnected spatial tactics operating in a responsive and indeterminate fashion which recognizes, yet simultaneously subverts and diminishes the current ‘on-the-ground’ restrictive boundary conditions. The designer is pressed to operate as agent and double-agent, at time working within- while simultaneously compromising the unilaterally imposed legal restrictions. The power of this soft form of design lies in its ability to operate in a manner which is non-linear; which can augment its performance and resilience in unpredictable situations because it is not fixed or static. The enlistment of nature further works to harness the complex adaptability of living ecologies- something absent in conventional means of more-permanent construction.

Extraterritorial wildflower growth on bypass road 55

Using this ‘soft’ approach to design, I have begun exploring a series of theoretical spatial design tactics which first unpack the specific degree to which landscape and nature are implicated in the occupation’s land claiming processes and then extract, harness, and manipulate the political potency of nature and landscapes in overlooked sites, to inform a strategy towards Palestinian territorial re-activation. Shown here is a brief overview and sampling of one such propositional design. The tactical approach suggests a certain reinterpretation and loosening of our conventional conceptions of jurisdictional control within the West Bank’s politically volatile climate. And with it, the introduction of a new fissure through which to begin thinking critically about the potentials for ‘ground-up’ re-activation of militarized spatial by-products.

More broadly, these designs operate on a number of levels, decidedly residing in the tension between sincere pragmatic proposals for grass-roots agricultural amplification, and broader, more complex and symbolic statements aiming to elucidate the spatial restrictions facing West Bank Palestinians (something more closely aligned to political art and landscape installations). In line with the latter, these designs have aimed to use landscape and nature to underscore the madness of the ongoing protraction of the military occupation and to stress the inevitability of Israeli military reprisals to the point of their absurdity, potentially leading to restrictions on insect flight routes and the culling of a nation’s own protected wildflowers for ‘security reasons’. Accordingly, subverting the West Bank’s military laws and highlighting the impossibility of Israel’s vehement attempts at ethnic separation becomes equally as important as the provision of agricultural re-activation, economic fortuity and territorial reclamation through these designs.

The proposed extraterritorial wildflower growth for apiary feeding occurs on the lands surrounding a West Bank settlement

Cultivation Capsules are used as a projectile in order to plant wildflowers being used for Apiary feeding into closed military areas

Design Tactic 1: Extraterritorial Appropriation

In the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Israeli ‘closed military areas’ confine vast amounts of prime agricultural and grazing land -over 40% of the total West Bank- away from Palestinian use. The tactical design of Extraterritorial Appropriation therefore, seeks to introduce another layer of meaning and function to these highly restricted closed areas through the exploitation of their residual and neglected spaces.

Extraterritorially planted wildflowers turn large swaths of previously unusable lands into honey bee feeding grounds, which in turn re-activate Palestinian apiaries and contribute to the stimulation of the local Palestinian economy. By using ‘cultivation capsules’ as a proxy form of agricultural planting and honey bees as proxy agents for their cultivation, trespassing restrictions are obviated. Such planting resists military destruction by enlisting Israel’s own environmental protection laws (issued by the ‘Israeli Nature Reserves Authority’ and the ‘Israeli Society for the Protection of Nature’) which prohibit the uprooting of native protected plant species.

The proposed process of apiary re-invigoration moves beyond its role, contributing to economic stimulation and social cohesion to re-enforce the biodiversity of this scarred military landscape and symbolically reinstate a Palestinian claim to lands which have been unilaterally-seized as a result of the occupation. The simultaneous blooming of thousands of wildflowers in the West Bank’s derelict closed military zones is further intended to produce a rapidly legible visual register, rendering visible the spatial contours of Israel’s occupation and broadcasting the underlying confining conditions of Palestinian land access and use hidden within.

Map of extraterritorial wildflower growth and apiary management in the West Bank’s Bethlehem region

Propagation of wildflower growth across the West Bank over time

Suzanne Harris-Brandts received her M.Arch from the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture under the supervision of Lola Sheppard where her thesis work investigated the role of architecture and landscape in the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories. In 2010 and 2011 she was an ‘architect in residence’ at Decolonizing Architecture (DA/AR) in Beit Sahour, Palestine. Her work has been exhibited with Architecture for Humanity and was featured at Cambridge Galleries in the exhibition “Landscapes of Resistance: The Marshall Islands + Occupied Palestinian Territories”. Her work was also published in the book ‘[bracket] Goes Soft’ (2012) and will be forthcoming in an article for ‘Shift: Process”. She is currently an Assistant Adjunct Professor at the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture.

End Notes

Associated Press in Jerusalem. “Israel pushes forward with 1,200 homes in East Jerusalem settlements.” The Guardian. 06 November 2012

Peace Now. “11 thousand units in one week – the government’s settlement offensive.” 05 December 2012.

The Ottoman Land Law of 1858 remains in place in the West Bank due to the continuation of Jordanian law under the terms of military occupation. Structuring land ownership around the premise of effective agricultural cultivation, the Land Law enabled farmers cultivating land for ten consecutive years to be granted title. The farmers were further obligated to pay taxes on their new property. Land not cultivated for a period of three consecutive years, however, could be returned to the state, thus alleviating its owner of any tax burden. The law was never intended to be a tool for state seizure on the grounds of poor agricultural production. However, the Israeli government has since also reconceived of this law and took to utilizing it as a means of legally-obfuscated annexation of occupied land.

Aside from reinforcing territorial legitimization, olive cultivation in the West Bank provides employment and income to approximately 100,000 Palestinian families who cultivate the olives for their oil. A 2010 Oxfam report found that ‘in a good year, the olive oil sector contributes over $100 million income annually to some of the poorest communities.’ See: Oxfam. The road to olive farming: Challenges to developing the economy of olive oil in the West Bank (2010): 5, accessed November 22, 2011, and; UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. “Olive Harvest Factsheet” (October 2011):1, accessed November 22, 2011

The Oslo Accords were produced as interim agreements and as such were slated to expire and be replaced by new mutually-negotiated agreements five years after their original imposition in 1995. Instead, to-date they remain de-facto in place as spatial divisions across the West Bank.

See Berger, Alan. “Drosscape: Wasting Land in Urban America.” New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2006.; and; Clement, Gilles. “Manifeste du Tiers-Paysage.” Editions Sujet/Objet, 2003.

18%, 10%, 10%, 7% & 1% respectively, as per the UN OCHA report “Restricting Space: The Planning Regime Applied by Israel in Area C of the West Bank.” (December 2009)

I was in Seoul during the July 27 commemorations of the 60th anniversary of the armistice agreement that brought an end to the fighting in the Korean War, one of the most brutal conflicts of the 20th century. My visit was hosted by the Unified Progressive Party, a coalition of peace, labor and civil liberties activists that holds six seats in South Korea’s National Assembly.

On July 26, its Progressive Policy Institute sponsored an international symposium on “concluding a peace treaty on the Korean peninsula,” with participation from activists and writers from South Korea, Japan and China as well as the United States and Canada. I was proud to be among the three Americans invited to the event. The others were Gregory Elich, a foreign policy analyst affiliated, as I am, with the Korea Policy Institute (see his Counterpunch article on North Korea) and Hyun Lee, a Korean-American activist with the community organization Nodotul in New York City (she produces radio shows for Asia Pacific Forum on WBAI.)

I want to thank the organizers of the symposium, particularly Kyoung-Soon Park, the vice president of the institute, and Je-Jun Soo of the Korean Alliance for Progressive Movements. While I wait for The Nation to post my article about the symposium, here’s a report on my visit – my first to Seoul since August 2001.

The highlight was a trip to the DMZ, the border area which I first saw as a boy in 1961, The day I was there it was extremely hot and humid, but hundreds of people came out to mourn Korea’s division and express their hopes for a unified and peaceful future. That day our delegation also participated in two demonstrations in downtown Seoul. In the afternoon, we marched and rallied for peace in front of the Yongsan Garrison, the huge U.S. military headquarters in Seoul (where I went to 4th grade in a U.S. Department of Defense school). In a speech that was well-received by the audience (I channeled John Lennon with “Power to the People, Right on!”) I spoke out against U.S. policy and for a peace agreement. You can see parts of my speech at about 2:15 in this clip.

That evening, about 25,000 people – including a few Americans – attended a very moving and colorful rally at the main Seoul Plaza to protest South Korea’s intelligence agency’s intervention in domestic politics, a major issue in South Korea today (sound familiar?). One of the speakers was a housewife who created a website on politics critical of the South Korean government. She has sued the KCIA (which has been renamed the National Intelligence Agency) for its sleazy tactic of using social media to viciously undermine opposition voices.

At one point, she received postings with pictures of her 10 year-old daughter threatening her with rape and worse. These abusive tactics have become a powerful issue, and the people are fighting back.

The other highlight was a tour, led by our Korean hosts, of two important symbols of South Korea’s path from a Japanese colony to a democratic nation – albeit with lingering signs of authoritarianism.

They were the Seodaemun Prison, where the Japanese colonial authorities held Korean independence fighters and South Korea’s postwar military governments imprisoned democratic activists; and the War & Women’s Human Rights Museum, a tribute to the sex slaves (known in Asia as “comfort women”) kidnapped and imprisoned by the Japanese Army during World War II. Many of the exhibits and photos at the prison were difficult to see, particularly those showing the Japanese use of water torture – a practice that the U.S. government and the CIA shamefully adopted during the “war on terror.”

The women’s museum includes incredibly realistic animation of the experiences of the sex slaves at Japanese military bases scattered around the Pacific (the victims also included women from the Philippines and Holland). It was tremendously inspiring to see the photos and testimony of the brave Korean women who came forward to tell the stories of the comfort women in the 1980s, when the veil was first lifted on this terrible story of human trafficking.

It’s unbelievable and shocking that the Japanese government continues to deny these crimes, and that prominent politicians there downplay and even ridicule the accounts of those who suffered. (click here for an excellent historical analysis of these museums).


Before describing the details of my visit and the reasons so many of us believe a peace treaty is critical to peace in Korea, it’s important to remember the horror of the Korean War. I lived in South Korea from 1959 to 1961, when my father was working for a church relief organization, and I have strong memories of its impact on the south – hills denuded of trees, thousands of widows and orphans, vivid stories of families fleeing the fighting and split by the division, a polarized and repressed society. Here’s what David Carter, a British journalist and historian in Korea, wrote about the war in 2010 in Contemporary Review:

[The Korean War] was a total disaster for the entire Korean peninsula. The historian Bruce Cumings has described the effects in shocking and gruesome detail: the entire country was a “smouldering ruin,” hardly a building was left standing anywhere, and the capital, Seoul, presented a nightmarish landscape with hollow shells of buildings as far as the eye could see…Cities everywhere, including also the northern capital of Pyongyang, were piles of rubble and ashes.

People were living in tunnels, caves and makeshift shacks: they had to start rebuilding their lives using only the refuse of war. In the War Memorial Museum in Seoul you can walk between life-size dioramas of cityscapes wasted by the war, which make it difficult to re-enter the normal world outside with an easy conscience. About a tenth, three million, of the entire population of Korea at the outbreak of the war, had been wounded, killed, or were missing; ten million Koreans were wandering around disorientated, separated from other members of their families.Virtually all industry, North and South, had been destroyed, dams had been blasted and the already devastated landscape inundated.

The gruesome toll of the dead includes three million Koreans, 186,000 Chinese and 38,000 Americans (as I report in The Nation this week, President Obama had the audacity and arrogance to call the war a “victory,” reviving a right-wing trope that has long been discredited by historians).

And in their generally terrible reporting on North Korea, U.S. journalists rarely mention the incredible destruction wrought on the North by the U.S. terror bombing campaign – click here and here for two well-documented accounts of these actions, which left North Korea, quite literally, in cinders.


Today, of course, Korea remains bitterly divided, and the clouds of war are still present. North Korea, which is committed to a military-first policy known as “song-gun,” has built and tested several nuclear weapons, and the U.S. and South Korea regularly hold massive military exercises where they practice nuclear strikes on the North and even stage mock run-throughs of regime change. As I wrote in Salon during the most recent “North Korea Crisis” in April, the Obama administration’s refusal to negotiate with North Korea at any level has exacerbated the situation. At the symposium, the dire situation was summarized by Jung-Hee Lee, a lawyer and feminist activist and chairperson of the UPP who ran for president in 2012:

Sixty years have passed since the armistice agreement was signed by Korea is still at war. The two military drills, so called Foal Eagle and Key Resolve, that were carried out in the spring of this year pushed the Korean peninsula into a serious nuclear crisis. A large number of nuclear weapons such as the U.S. nuclear-capable B-52 and B-2, and nuclear aircraft carrier Nimitz were deployed on and around the Korean Peninsula. North Korea forward-deployed its missiles as well. As such, the potential for military confrontation has reached its climax. We could learn from these experiences that peace cannot be attained in an unstable environment under the armistice agreement. We need to declare an end to the war and conclude a peace treaty on the Korean Peninsula immediately. Our challenge is to create a stable peace system now.

One of the best things about the conference was the participation by a large group of Japanese peace activists. They were there in part to protest the role of the Japanese government, the most conservative since World War II, in the ongoing tensions in Korea and particularly in the U.S. military buildup in Asia.

Hottori Ryoichi, who was until last year a member of the Japanese House of Representatives from Osaka, offered a withering critique of Japanese policy. He started out by reminding the audience what the Korean War meant to Japan – primarily that it was “not possible without the Japanese military bases” controlled by the United States, and that Japanese sales of vehicles and munitions to U.S. forces in Korea helped revive the postwar Japanese economy. “That ‘special demand’ from the Korean War was only made

possible by the Korean peoples’ blood,” he said. Hattori denounced Shinzo Abe’s new LDP government. In Japan, which is desperately seeking to change Japan’s peace constitution so it can participate in America’s global wars (and, not suprisingly, join the lucrative export of weapons).

“The Abe government is not even conservative; it’s an ultra-rightwing regime,” he said. “Overturning Abe would directly contribute to peace. His followers want to revive the Emperor’s Army.” He added that “to abandon the peace constitution would be unforgiveable to people around the world.” (Later, Byung-Ryul Min, a member of the UPP’s supreme council, declared that “the logic of Japan in 1941 was not that different from today’s ruling conservatives.”)

“A new era of the Cold War has come upon us,” added Watanabe Kenji, the chairperson of the Japan-Korea Peoples’ Solidarity National Network and a historian on Japanese militarism. He described how Japan is trying to “revise and distort history” with false accounts of the comfort women and by claiming “ownership” of islands claimed by Korea and China. He slammed recent joint military exercises held by the U.S. and South Korea as “provocations themselves,” and noted that the 1953 armistice agreement stipulated that, within three months, all foreign forces were supposed to be withdrawn. “The Korean War must end to achieve a permanent peace in Korean and Northeast Asia,” he concluded. “We now have a vicious cycle were no one trusts the other parties. We must give North Korea assurances against military provocations.” Other Japanese speakers linked the struggle against militarism to the ongoing battles to remove U.S. forces from Okinawa and stop South Korea from constructing a naval base in the southern island of Jeju (a movement recently joined by movie director Oliver Stone).


The strongest arguments for end to the war came from the Koreans themselves. Je Jun Joo of the Korean Alliance and a key figure in the movement against the Korea-U.S. Trade Agreement, summed up the costs of the war build-up to the Korean economy.

The defense budget of South Korea this year is about 35 trillion won (about $35 billion), which is about 15 percent of the whole countrys’ budget for a year…If the salaries of South Korea’s 600,000 soldiers were included in the budget, defense spending would easily place South Korea in the top five of the world. What we should also know is the fact that the ratio of importing foreign weapons is dramatically getting higher. In 2011, it exceeded one-third of the defense budget and was close to 30 percent of the arms exported by the United States. It is so clear who makes profits from the situation on the Korean peninsula.

Joo also offered a sobering overview of the military exercises that North Korea claims its nuclear deterrence is aimed at.

These exercises, also known as “Team Spirit,” “Ulchi Focus Lens,” “Key Resolve,” and “Ulchi Freedom Guardian,” have taken place for decades to practice attacking North Korea. And about 50,000 to 200,000 forces are currently mobilized for these exercises. On top of this, South Korea and the United States have established operational plans including “destroying the North Korean structure,” “North Korea leader assassination operations,” and “preemptive attack against North Korea’s major facilities,” OPLAN 5027 (Total War), OPLAN 50230 (psychological warfare against North Korea). As you can see, it same hard to realize such ideas as “mutual equality,” “realizing peace,” or “solving the problem by having conversations,” in this peninsula.

That, of course, is a direct shot at the Obama administration, which defends its Asia policies, including its massive shift of military resources to the Pacific, as a giant peace-keeping operation. Koreans at the conference and in general are already fed up with Obama’s hardline policies towards the North and his warm embrace of South Korea’s conservative presidents, including the current leader, Park Geun-hye, the daughter of the former dictator Park Chung Hee, and Lee Myung Bak, the right-wing Hyundai executive who preceded her and under whose reign tensions with the North rose to record levels (to their disgust, Obama, who got along famously with Lee, once called him “his favorite president.”)

In their minds, one of the most important steps to peace would be the dismantling of the U.S.-Korean Joint Command, led by a U.S. general. As I said in my speech to the conference, South Korea is the only country in the world in which a foreign general is in command of its army at times of war.  The UPP and much of the popular movement also want to see the withdrawal of the 28,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea. “Voters here have to make that decision to drive U.S. forces out of Korea,” said Park, the institute’s vice president. During the demonstration at Yongsan, the crowds chanted for U.S. troops to get out. Such open displays of antipathy towards the American military would have been unheard of during South Korea’s dictatorial past, which lasted from 1945 to 1988.

Another demand is a return to the more conciliatory policies that dominated during the presidencies of Kim Dae Jung and Roh Moo Hyun, roughly from 1998 to 2006.  During that time, extensive agreements were made with North Korea (then led by the first hereditary dictator, Kim Jong Ill) on cultural, sports, education and political exchanges. Major projects included a railway linking North and South (it was even blessed by George Bush in a 2003 visit), and a joint industrial zone established in Kaesong, just north of the DMZ (the same one that North Korea shut down in April and has been the subject of recent negotiations between Seoul and Pyongyang).

I heard stories of the fruits of this rapprochement from my friends, including a specialist in nano-technology who was involved in joint seminars organized by top North and South Korean universities. One UPP activist told me how, on one trip, he was even allowed to drive his own car through the checkpoints at the DMZ all the way to Pyongyang. Looking at the border today, that seemed like a faraway dream. Min of the UPP, which has extensive political ties in Japan and China, laid out in detail some of the political exchanges that took place during the “Sunshine policy” years. His contact in North Korea, he said, was not Kim Jong Il’s ruling (in the absolute sense) communist party, but the North Korean Social Democratic Party.

The UPP, he said, had working group-level talks with the North Korean Social Democrats in 2004, then “made an official visit to Pyongyang and had an official meeting among delegations from both sides between August 22 to 27, 2005. The second bipartisan talks were held between November 15 to 19, 2008. The working group contacts were in progress until 2009. Unfortunately, the current inter-Korean relation is at an impasse and is blocking further inter-party exchanges.” As one friend of mine put it, “when Lee Myung Bak came into office, everything stopped.”

As Gregory Elich pointed out, South Korea’s rightward turn is a blessing for the Pentagon and the U.S. national security elite. “South Korea’s geostrategic importance to the U.S. means that if the expression of popular will is strong enough, it may be difficult to ignore,” he said. “In the years ahead, if a more progressive government comes to power in South Korea, the United States may not be able to exclude a peace treaty from a denuclearization settlement, nor indeed to say no to engagement in the first place.”


Elich quoted from a disgusting report published by the Center for a New American Security, the corporate/contractor-funded think-tank of Washington’s global counterinsurgency warriors. It complained bitterly about the South Korean left and its ability to mobilize thousands of people in the movement against the U.S.-South Korean military alliance. A key “challenge for the [military] alliance,” the paper states, “relates to managing populist fervor in Korea.” (coming from Bush and Obama foreign policy hacks Victor Cha and Kurt Campbell, that’s not surprising; but the report is truly astonishing in its triumphalism and complete arrogance towards the Korean people – read it here).

My take on Korea and its relationship with the United States is very much along the lines expressed at the symposium. In my speech, I was extremely critical of Obama’s policies, but also focused on the failure of the U.S. press to report either objectively or accurately about Korea, North and South. But I reserved much of my critique to the U.S. left – of which I am a part. It seems to me that after the Vietnam War, which the left fiercely opposed, American progressives basically forgot about Asia. Worse, progressives have, with rare exceptions (Oliver Stone, Code Pink), treated the South Korean movement for democracy with disdain and even contempt. Here’s part of what I said:

Unfortunately, many Americans who should be our allies in building peace in Korea have adopted Cold War thinking as well. This is especially true of the press, which – as I’ve said – always portrays North Korea as the evil instigator and rarely mentions how U.S. policies, including threats to use nuclear weapons against the DPRK, have contributed to the tensions. But it’s also true of progressives as well.

Many of you fought against the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement known as KORUS. You correctly saw KORUS as a treaty that will make it easier for capital to move across borders and hurt the interests of workers, unions, farmers and consumers. This view is shared by many U.S. trade unionists as well. But the organization that led the fight against KORUS and is in the forefront of the fight against TPP seized on only one issue: the Kaesong Free Trade Zone (that, ironically, is about to reopen).

In its literature and campaigns, this U.S. organization argued that Kaesong is a “slave labor” camp that will finance North Korea’s acquisition of nuclear weapons, and therefore its inclusion in KORUS had to be opposed. This Cold War, simplistic view put this organization and many U.S. trade unions to the right of the most extreme elements of the Republican Party and far to the right even of the Korean conservative presidents Lee and Park. Worse, it completely denies South Korea’s sovereign right to reduce tensions and build economic ties with North Korea on its own terms. With “friends” like this, you do not need enemies.

I would encourage progressive Americans to heed my words and find out for yourselves what South Koreans have to say about North Korea, their hopes for a more democratic society, and the U.S. role in their country. We should assist our counterparts in South Korea pressure the Obama administration to change its policies away from war and towards peace. As a singer at one of the protests sang – inspiring my own quotations from John Lennon – “Imagine.” Imagine a less militaristic America. Imagine a North Korea without nukes and a South Korea without foreign troops on its soil (yes, we’re the only ones). Imagine a peaceful Korea. Imagine an eventually united Korea. It could be done.

Although official vote totals in the July 31 election are still coming in, the people of Zimbabwe voted overwhelmingly to reelect President Robert Mugabe to another five-year term. Mugabe’s party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), also won the parliamentary election in a landslide, making gains and solidifying their majority. Despite claims by Mugabe’s opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), that the elections were rigged, monitors from the African Union called the elections “peaceful, orderly, free and fair.”

Mugabe’s victory is a mandate for the ZANU-PF manifesto, which calls for over $1.8 trillion in idle mining assets and $7.3 billion in foreign-owned assets to be turned over to Zimbabweans. Voters similarly favor the ZANU-PF plan for “education for all,” “housing for all,” and gender equality “through laws, empowerment programs and promotion of women in sectors and positions previously held by men only,” according to the ZANU-PF 2013 election manifesto.

This is the third and latest defeat of MDC candidate Tsvangirai, who ran against Mugabe for President in 2002 and 2008. Although Tsvangirai led the 2008 presidential election, he failed to garner a majority vote and lost decisively in the runoff to Mugabe. Wikileaks cables from 2010 revealed collaboration between Tsvangirai with his MDC party and the U.S. Tsvangirai called on the Western countries to toughen the economic sanctions on his own country and people after he lost the election. Since that time, more and more Zimbabweans disapprove of the MDC in opinion polls.

In February 2013, Zimbabweans approved a new constitution, ending a power-sharing deal between ZANU-PF and the MDC. A decisive election victory for ZANU-PF provides a mandate and curbs outsider meddling in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe.

Indigenization Program central to election

Zimbabwe’s election comes at a time of profound revolutionary changes in the nation. In May 2012, ZANU-PF announced the implementation of the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Program, to transfer ownership of the major national industries to Zimbabweans and workers. According to the ZANU-PF’s election manifesto, called “Taking Back the Economy,” the indigenization “seeks to enforce the transfer to local entities of at least 51% controlling equity in all existing foreign owned businesses.” The aim is to “create dignified employment especially for the youth, distribute wealth amongst citizens more equitably, cause a general improvement in the quality of life of every Zimbabwean and bring about sustainable national development which is homegrown.”

ZANU-PF’s campaign focused on strengthening the nation’s land reform – which redistributed more than 7 million hectares of land, mostly to African peasants and farmworkers – and deepening the indigenization policies. In a preface to the manifesto, Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace, write, “The essence of ZANU-PF’s ideology is to economically empower the indigenous people of Zimbabwe by enabling them to fully own their country’s God-given natural resources and the means of production to unlock or create value from those resources.”

Indigenization policies already distributed more than 120 mining companies to black Zimbabweans, organized into employee ownership trusts. These trusts allow working people in Zimbabwe to share in their nation’s resources, rather than Western companies taking profits out of Zimbabwe. ZANU-PF also aims to transition the current stock exchange into an indigenized market owned by Zimbabweans called the Harare Stock Exchange. They claim that shares will be distributed to at least 500,000 people in the first year, with the greatest beneficiaries being women, youth, and disabled people.

Zimbabwe’s struggle against colonialism and imperialism

ZANU-PF’s victory demonstrates the continued importance of Zimbabwe’s revolutionary history. British Imperialists, led by infamous mass murderer Cecil Rhodes and his British South Africa Company, invaded and colonized Zimbabwe around 1880. Rhodes named the country after himself as white colonists seized the best land. With most of the land and the government in white hands, the whites ruled the country despite never being more than 4.3% of the population. In 1966, Zimbabweans waged a 13-year liberation war against white minority rule that ended the racist Ian Smith regime in 1980.

Mugabe’s continued popularity and re-election as President comes from his leadership during the liberation war, called the ‘Second Chimurenga’ by Zimbabweans. Influenced by the Chinese communist revolutionary Mao Zedong, Mugabe founded ZANU along with other black revolutionaries in Zimbabwe. Ian Smith imprisoned Mugabe for more than a decade, and then he was elected President of ZANU in 1974 shortly before his release.

After winning majority rule, most black Zimbabweans remained dispossessed and poor while white colonizers kept the best farmland. After a series of austerity measures forced upon Zimbabwe by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the people of Zimbabwe began occupying large farms and taking control of their own resources in 2000. Almost 75% of the beneficiaries of the land reform were poor peasants, former farmworkers and urban workers – many of whom were women – making it one of the most progressive land reforms in the history of Africa.

By stripping wealthy whites of their land and political power, Zimbabwe angered the U.S. and Britain, who responded with economic sanctions that sent Zimbabwe down a destructive path of hyperinflation and economic turmoil. However, with new investment from socialist countries like the People’s Republic of China, Zimbabwe’s economy began to recover, with their gross domestic product growing by 11% in 2011 alone.

Unemployment remains a persistent struggle in Zimbabwe, caused by the continued sanctions placed on Zimbabwe by the U.S. and Britain. However, ZANU-PF designed the indigenization program to create dignified jobs for Zimbabwean workers and allow them greater ownership of the nation’s resources.

At 89, Mugabe is the oldest African head of state, and constitutionally this will be his final term as president. ZANU-PF spent the past five years, after the 2008 election, holding party cadre schools to train activists to continue the revolution. With a new victory on the horizon, the days ahead shine bright for Zimbabweans.

In a letter pressing Russia not to grant asylum to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Attorney General Eric Holder made the highly disingenuous promise that Snowden will not be tortured if he is returned to the United States.

“I can report that the United States is prepared to provide to the Russian government the following assurances regarding the treatment Mr. Snowden would face upon return to the United States,” Holder wrote Alexander Vladimirovich Konovalov, the Russian minister of justice, on July 23. “First, the United States would not seek the death penalty for Mr. Snowden should he return to the United States.” In addition, “Mr. Snowden will not be tortured. Torture is unlawful in the United States.” Holder continued, “We believe these assurances eliminate these asserted grounds for Mr. Snowden’s claim that he should be treated as a refugee or granted asylum, temporary or otherwise.”

The fact that the U.S. attorney general needs to send a letter to a foreign government assuring them that an American citizen will not be killed or tortured in his own country seems damning enough on its face. But in fact, Holder’s pledge is by most standards untrue. It relies on a conveniently narrow definition of torture, which precludes forms of extreme psychological and physical abuse that are deemed torturous by the United Nations and a host of human rights groups, but not by the United States government. Chief among these is prolonged solitary confinement.

Snowden faces charges of “willful communication of classified communications to an unauthorized recipient” and “unauthorized communication of national-defense information.” Never mind the fact that most of the information was leaked long ago to journalists like James Bamford. Snowden need only look to the treatment of others accused of national security breaches to see what would surely await him in the United States.

Bradley Manning was subjected to more than nine months of pre-trial solitary confinement, some of it naked in a bare cell. Suspects held in the civilian, rather than military, justice systems fared, if anything, worse than Manning, who was eventually removed from solitary. Muslims accused of relatively minor national security-related offenses have spent years in pre-trial solitary under “Special Administrative Measures” (SAMS) which bar all communication with the outside world. Finally, driven mad by isolation and convinced that they cannot get a fair trial, they are pressured to take pleas with sentences ranging 30 years and up, likely to be served indefinite solitary confinement.

In all probability, if the Russians give up Snowden, he will be brought back to American soil and immediately placed in solitary confinement under SAMS. Once he is convicted–which seems virtually guaranteed–he will continue to be held in solitary, for “national security” reasons or perhaps purportedly for his own safety. He could well end up at ADX, the infamous federal supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, the most state-of-the-art isolation facility in the world, where individuals live in 23- to 24-hour solitary in small concrete cells. His attorneys can then argue for such things as permission to exercise outdoors in a kennel run, perhaps without his legs being shackled and hands manacled, or to visit a family member through a glass barrier.

Snowden might be driven to some of the crazy and desperate behaviors demonstrated by other residents of ADX after years of extreme isolation and sensory deprivation. According to a current lawsuit, “Prisoners interminably wail, scream and bang on the walls of their cells. Some mutilate their bodies with razors, shards of glass, writing utensils and whatever other objects they can obtain. Some swallow razor blades, nail clippers, parts of radios and televisions, broken glass and other dangerous objects.”One man held at ADX, who had no prior history of mental illness or self-harm, has both cut himself extensively and bitten off both his pinky fingers. Suicide attempts are common.

And all this while he is not being tortured.

Duplicitous Committee of Inquiry on Syria

August 3rd, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

In September 2011, Paulo Pinheiro was appointed Chairman of a three-member International Commission of Inquiry for Syria (COI).

Its mandate is investigating human rights abuses. It’s an imperial tool. Pinheiro abhors peace. He turns truth on its head. His reports bear testimony to his bias. He points fingers the wrong way.

He blames Assad for Western-backed terrorist crimes. He does so consistently. On July 30, Syria’s permanent UN envoy Bashar al-Jaafari addressed the General Assembly, saying:

“The Commission of Inquiry on Syria is still deliberately blowing things out of proportion when displaying its findings, also fully disregarding or downplaying core issues.”

”There are blood-curdling scenes that flagrantly contravene the Syrians’ dignity and human rights regarding the crimes of the armed terrorist groups, ranging from eating human flesh, cutting throats, mutilating bodies, beheadings on sectarian and confessional grounds, throwing bodies from rooftops to committing hundreds of suicide bombings using car bombs in populated areas, recruiting children, abducting and slaughtering clergymen, assassinating scholars in mosques, issuing instigative fatwas on ‘sexual jihad,’ killing children on the charges of infidelity, robbing factories and transporting them to Turkey.”

Pinheiro and COI members largely ignore them. Evidence is overwhelming. Syrians demand better. They’re sacrificed to advance America’s imperium.

Pinheiro, other COI members, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, Complicit NATO allies, Israel, and rogue Arab despots are involved.

According to Jaafari:

“How could the international community allow the Saudi, Qatari and Turkish regimes to sponsor fundamentalist terrorism publicly?”

“And how could Western governments which had suffered from terrorism accept to sponsor and support that terrorism?”

”Saudi Arabia’s latest feat in Ramadan was the purchase of Israeli arms worth USD 50 millions to be shipped to the armed terrorist groups in Syria which we hope will be the last one during Ramadan.”

”No sooner was an agreement announced between the Syrian government and the United Nations than the armed terrorist groups entered Khan al-Assal and committed a massacre against civilians and soldiers there to eliminate the witnesses who could have testified against the ones who used chemical weapons there.”

“Massacre of Khan al-Asal has been committed to kill the witnesses who would testify in front of the general secretariat committee on the identity of who has used the chemical weapon in Khan al-Asal.”

Syria rejects COI reports. It does so for good reason. They’re “politicized, non-objective and non-professional,” said Jaafari.

“Syria is not a political regime – as some like to say. Syria is a state, government, people, institutions and national army; this is the true Syria a founding member of the international organization.”

Pinheiro lacks credibility. His reports favors “al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra and other armed terrorist groups.”

On July 29, the UN News Centre headlined “Syria: Head of independent UN panel appeals to Member States to end relentless carnage.”

Pinheiro said crimes in Syria “shock the conscience.” He wrongfully blames Assad. He’s done it for nearly two years. He absolves Western-sponsored death squad killers.

His words ring hollow, saying:

“We cannot continue to recite a litany of violations and abuses to little effect either on the warring parties inside Syria or those walking along the corridors of power.”

“It is not enough to be appalled. There is an obligation to do what you must to bring this war to a close. This will require the international community not only to recognize, but also to demand, a diplomatic solution.”

“It is time to do what you must to bring Syria to a just and lasting peace.”

It’s as simple as Washington calling off its dogs. Syria is America’s war. It was planned years ago. Obama launched it. He can end it.

He’s got other ideas in mind. He wants another imperial trophy. He’s ravaging Syria to get it. He bears fully responsibility for mass killing and destruction.

He’s got lots more blood on his hands. He remains unaccountable.

COI members issued 10 reports and updates. Pinheiro told General Assembly members that civilians “come under sustained unlawful attacks.”

He omitted saying Western-sponsored death squads are responsible.

“This war is a chronicle of missed opportunities on the part of influential States and the international community,” he added.

It’s time “for the international community to act decisively.” It’s time for Pinheiro to come clean. He’s an imperial tool. He lacks credibility.

So does the UN Human Rights Council. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay suppresses truth.

She supports imperial lawlessness. She did so earlier at ICC. She was one of its judges. She absolves major power crimes. She’s always done it. Supporting wrong over right advances her career.

She blames victims for perpetrator crimes. So does Pinheiro. They’re waging war on Syria. They’re paid to lie. They’ve done it throughout the conflict.

They share responsibility for thousands of lives lost. They’re unaccountable for complicity in crimes of war and against humanity.

They support regime change. They spurn international law doing so. Syrians alone may choose who’ll lead them.

Other countries, UN agencies, and appointed commissions have no say. They prevent peace. They’re partnered with Washington’s war to destroy Syria.

Doing so threatens the entire region. It’s the cross millions throughout the Middle East bear. It’s the curse of oil and gas. It’s about replacing independent governments with pro-Western puppet ones.

It’s continued mass killing and destruction. It’s the American way. It’s always been that way. It’s worst than ever now.

A Final Comment

On July 31, London’s Telegraph headlined ”West’s main aid group for Syrian rebels collapses into disarray,” saying:

It “failed to channel any substantial aid to fighters on the ground and is ‘struggling to keep the lights on.’ ”

A previous article discussed it. The Western-sponsored Syrian National Coalition lacks legitimacy. It lacks effective leadership.

It’s an artificial construct. It operates extrajudicially. It’s a rogue outlaw gang. It can’t shoot straight. There’s nothing civil about Syria’s conflict. It’s proxy US aggression.

According to the Telegraph, “the Syrian Support Group (SSG) has been riven by internal divisions and struggled to raise funds.”

It spent fruitless months trying “to make millions of dollars from Syrian oil.” According to a staff member, it “lost sight of its core mission.”

It’s not about “liberating” Syria. It’s the money stupid. It’s “obsessed” with cashing in big. Britain’s Foreign Office “demanded the group repay thousands of pounds from a grant.”

It did so after learning it was “improperly spent.” According to SSG whistleblower David Falt, “the group turned its efforts (to) pursuing large and controversial oil deals under the leadership of Brian Sayers, a former NATO official.”

“Brian and some others were obsessed with the oil. The idea they could raise hundreds of millions from the sale of the oil came to dominate the work of the SSG to the point no real attention was paid to the nature of the conflict,” said Falt.

Efforts to cash in failed. According to SSG president Mazen Asbashi:

“There were early preliminary discussions but they were never pursued in any serious way.”

“The oil-related issues are complex and our organisation is focused on facilitating non-lethal support to the Syrian Military Council.”

Sayers and insurgent Gen. Selim Idris supported oil deals. They sought Western support for attacks to control oilfields.

Idris didn’t return Telegraph calls. Walid Saffour is London-based Syrian opposition’s political representative.

He told the Telegraph lack of funds forced him out of his office. “The Foreign Office said it was not currently providing (him) support.”

According to an SSG board member, it’s “struggling to keep the lights on.” Perhaps it’ll collapse altogether. It would be a fitting end to an extrajudicial rogue operation.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@[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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Are double-tap strikes being sanctioned to kill high value targets such as Yahya al-Libi?

Additional reporting by Mushtaq Yusufzai

A field investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in Pakistan’s tribal areas appears to confirm that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) last year briefly revived the controversial tactic of deliberately targeting rescuers at the scene of a previous drone strike. The tactic has previously been labelled a possible war crime by two UN investigators.

The Bureau’s new study focused mainly on strikes around a single village in North Waziristan – attacks that were aimed at one of al Qaeda’s few remaining senior figures, Yahya al-Libi. He was finally killed by a CIA drone strike on June 4 2012.

The Bureau’s field researcher found five double-tap strikes took place in mid-2012, one of which also struck a mosque

Congressional aides have previously been reported as describing to the Los Angeles Times reviewing a CIA video showing Yahya al-Libi alone being killed. But the Bureau’s field research appears to confirm what others reported at the time – that al-Libi’s death was part of a sequence of strikes on the same location that killed up to 16 people.

If correct, that would indicate that Congressional aides were not shown crucial additional video material.

The CIA has robustly rejected the charge. Spokesman Edward Price told the Bureau: ‘The CIA takes its commitment to Congressional oversight with the utmost seriousness. The Agency provides accurate and timely information consistent with our obligation to the oversight Committees. Any accusation alleging otherwise is baseless.’

Tactic revived

The Bureau first broke the story of the CIA’s deliberate targeting of rescuers in a February 2012 investigation for the Sunday Times. It found evidence of 11 attacks on rescuers - so-called ‘double-tap’ strikes – in Pakistan’s tribal areas between 2009 and 2011, along with a drone strike deliberately targeting a funeral, causing mass casualties.

Reports of these controversial tactics ended by July 2011. But credible news reports emerged a year later indicating that double-tap strikes had been revived.

International media including the BBCCNN and news agency AFP variously reported that rescuers had been targeted on five occasions between May 24 and July 23 2012, with a mosqueand prayers for the dead also reportedly bombed.

The Bureau commissioned a report into the alleged attacks from Mushtaq Yusufzai, a respected journalist based in Peshawar, who reports regularly for NBC and for local paper The News.

Over a period of months, Yusufzai – who has extensive government, Taliban and civilian contacts throughout Waziristan – built up a detailed understanding of the attacks through his sources.

Related article – Interview: ‘Ask the wrong people about drone deaths and you can be killed’

His findings indicate that five double-tap strikes did indeed take place again in mid-2012, one of which also struck a mosque. In total 53 people were killed in these attacks with 57 injured, the report suggests.

Yusufzai could find no evidence to support media claims that rescuers had been targeted on two further occasions.

No confirmed civilian deaths were reported by local communities in any of the strikes. A woman and three children were reportedly injured in one of the attacks. Yusufzai says: ‘It is possible some civilians were killed, but we don’t know’.

However a parallel investigation by legal charity Reprieve reports that eight civilians died in a double-tap strike on July 6 2012 (see below), with the possibility of further civilian deaths in a July 23 attack.

Islamabad-based lawyer Shahzad Akbar says Reprieve’s findings are based on interviews with villagers from affected areas.

‘On both occasions [in July] our independent investigation showed a high number of civilians who were rescuers were killed in the strikes,’ says Akbar.

While some 2012 double-tap strikes appear to have been aimed at al Qaeda’s Yahya al-Libi, Reprieve believes both July attacks were focused on killing another senior militant, Sadiq Noor.

Noor is deputy to militant leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur. Both men are long-time targets for the CIA because of their support for the Taliban’s Afghan insurgency. Noor had falsely been reported killed on at least two previous occasions. It is not known whether he survived either of the strikes.

Summary of the Bureau’s new findings
The Bureau’s field research finds that – as widely reported at the time – on May 24 2012 a CIA-controlled armed drone hit a mosque in the village of Hasukhel in North Waziristan, killing some worshippers. Six further people were killed in a second drone strike shortly afterwards as they took part in rescue work, according to Yusufzai’s sources.

On June 3 2012, two Taliban commanders and their men were targeted as they visited the village of Gangi Khel in South Waziristan to attend funeral prayers for a relative killed in an earlier drone strike. Despite reports that the two commanders were killed, the Bureau’s research finds both men survived and there were no fatalities.

An attack on June 4 2012 ultimately killed al Qaeda second-in-command Yahya al-Libi. Despite US claims that al-Libi alone died, Bureau research appears to corroborate multiple accounts indicating that at least 16 people, all alleged militants, died in a series of missile strikes. This reportedly included the deliberate targeting of rescuers. Congressional oversight committee staffers reportedly told the LA Times they had seen video showing only al-Libi’s death. They may have been unaware of additional strikes. The CIA told the Bureau it ‘provides accurate and timely information consistent with our obligation to the oversight Committees. Any accusation alleging otherwise is baseless.’

Related article – Get the Data: The return of double-tap drone strikes

On July 6 2012, a group of alleged militants were targeted and killed as they ate dinner with local tribesmen. Another nearby mixed group who were praying were not attacked. After waiting 30 minutes rescue work began. CIA drones then returned, killing 12 others including three brothers. Legal charity Reprieve reports eyewitnesses as identifying eight civilians killed in the attack, who it names as Salay Khan; Mir Jahan Gul; Allah Mir Khan; Noor Bhadshah Khan; Mir Gull Jan; Batkai Jan; Gallop Haji Jan and Gull Saeed Khan.

An initial attack on a house in Dre Nishtar in the Shawal valley on July 23 2012 killed five alleged militants. Local villagers refused to assist in aid work because they feared a fresh attack. Alleged militants involved in the rescue were then targeted in a second strike, with a further seven killed and eight injured. Reprieve believes civilians may also have died in this attack, and is continuing to investigate.

No evidence could be found for a claimed attack on rescuers on May 28 2012. Instead, Yusufzai’s sources said two separate linked strikes took place. An initial 4am attack failed to destroy a truck. The vehicle was pursued and destroyed 10 minutes later as it passed through Hasukhel village, killing seven alleged militants. Four civilians including three children were also injured when a nearby house was damaged.

Similarly, the Bureau can find no evidence to support a claimed double-tap attack on June 14 2012 in Miranshah. Instead, one individual died on the building’s roof, in what Yusufzai’s sources describe as a highly precise attack causing minimal structural damage.

Related article – CIA tactics in Pakistan include targeting rescuers and funerals

Special rules?

The rescuer strikes examined by Yusufzai all appear to have been aimed at very senior militants – so-called High Value Targets. Under international humanitarian law, the greater the threat a target represents, and the more imminent that threat is deemed to be, the greater the leeway for targeting. The Bureau’s findings suggest that strikes on rescuers are still permitted in certain circumstances, such as in the pursuit of a high value target such as Yahya al-Libi.

The Bureau’s original investigation into the deliberate targeting of rescuers found that a significant number of civilians had been reported killed, alongside Taliban rescuers.

It was the presence of civilians amid groups of rescuers which meant the US may have committed war crimes, according to the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions. Christof Heyns noted in June 2012:

If civilian ‘rescuers’ are indeed being intentionally targeted, there is no doubt about the law: those strikes are a war crime.

Heyns’ colleague Ben Emmerson QC, UN special rapporteur on torture, also told reporters in October 2012: ‘The Bureau has alleged that since President Obama took office at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims and more than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. Christof Heyns… has described such attacks, if they prove to have happened, as war crimes. I would endorse that view.’

The Bureau understands that Emmerson’s ongoing UN investigation into drone strikes is likely to engage with the issue of targeting first responders.

Bureau field researcher Mushtaq Yusufzai notes that civilians now rarely appear to take part in rescue operations, and are often prevented from doing so by militants. They also fear further CIA attacks, he says.

As Bureau field researcher Mushtaq Yusufzai notes, civilians now rarely appear to take part in rescue operations’

Sarah Knuckey is an international lawyer at the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, based at New York University’s School of Law. An adviser to UN rapporteur Christof Heyns, Knuckey also co-authored the 2012 reportLiving Under Drones, which gathered substantial testimony in Pakistan about strikes on rescuers.

‘The threat of the “double tap” reportedly deters not only the spontaneous humanitarian instinct of neighbours and bystanders in the immediate vicinity of strikes, but also professional humanitarian workers providing emergency medical relief to the wounded,’ the report noted.

Commenting on the Bureau’s latest findings, Knuckey says civilians cannot be targeted under the laws of war.

But she adds: ‘Secondary strikes are not necessarily unlawful. If, for example, secondary strikes are carried out on additional military targets who come to the area of a first strike, the strikes might comply with the laws of war. And the Bureau’s findings of no evidence of civilian harm from the 2012 strikes they investigated suggest that proper precautions in attack may have been taken for those strikes.

‘The key question around the legality of secondary strikes is: On what basis is the US making the assessment that the ‘rescuers’ are legitimate military targets? Is the US assuming that anyone coming to a second strike is also a militant, or does it have – for each rescuer – intelligence on that person’s militant status? If secondary strikes take place within 10-20 minutes of a first strike, is that sufficient time to determine militancy?’

Shahzad Akbar copyright Chris Woods

‘Our own independent investigation showed a high number of civilian rescuers were killed’ says Reprieve’s Shahzad Akbar (Photo: Chris Woods)

Stark contrast

The US has not generally responded to the issue of double-tap strikes. But three months after the 2012 attacks, a senior diplomat denied that civilian rescuers were ever ‘deliberately’ targeted by the CIA.

A group of US peace activists visiting Pakistan in October 2012 were told by acting US ambassador Richard E Hoagland: ’For at least the last several years that I have been here in Pakistan and more intimately associated with the knowledge of this [drone campaign], there was never any deliberate strikes against civilian rescuers.’

The US Senate and House intelligence committees are charged with overseeing the CIA’s drone targeted killing project. But there is an unexplained disparity between an account of what committee members were shown by the CIA on a particular strike, and what other sources report.

Is the US assuming that anyone coming to a second strike is also a militant, or does it have – for each rescuer – intelligence on that person’s militant status?’
Sarah Knuckey, New York University

Yahya al-Libi, al Qaeda’s second-in-command, was killed by the CIA on June 4 2012 in a strike on the village of Hassokhel in North Waziristan.

Almost all media reports at the time placed the death toll at 15-18. Sources including the Washington Post said rescuers were targeted and killed at the scene.

But the US has consistently denied this. ‘American officials said that Mr Libi was the only person who died in the attack, although others were present in the compound,’ the New York Times noted.

In July 2012, the Los Angeles Times published a detailed account of the workings of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. According to reporter Ken Dilanian, staffers from both committees visit CIA headquarters once a month, where they watch video and review other evidence relating to drone strikes.

‘The BBC and other news organisations quoted local officials saying that 15 “suspected militants” were killed in the June 4 Pakistan strike that killed al Libi,’ Dilanian reports. ‘But the [CIA] video shows that he alone was killed, congressional aides say.’

Related article – Is Congressional oversight tough enough on drones?

The Bureau’s findings are in stark contrast, appearing to confirm original news reports that rescuers were indeed targeted at the time and that many more died.

According to Yusufzai’s sources, an initial 4am attack on a small house in the village of Hassokhel killed five. A dozen people ‘including Arabs, Turkmen and local tribesmen’ then started rescue work.

But as they were removing bodies, the CIA’s drones reportedly struck again – killing 10 more, including Yahya al-Libi, ‘who was observing the rescue operation when he too came under missile attack,’ the source said.

Neither the House nor Senate intelligence committees were prepared to comment on the disparity between these reports.

The Bureau approached the CIA for comment on the latest sequence of rescuer strikes. While declining to comment on most questions, spokesman Edward Price robustly denied the suggestion that the oversight committees may have been misled.

Anyone Who Says the Government Only Spies On Metadata Is Sadly Mistaken

PBS interviewed NSA whistleblowers William Binney and Russell Tice this week.

Binney is the NSA’s former director of global digital data, and a 32-year NSA veteran widely regarded as a “legend” within the agency.  Tice helped the NSA spy with satellites for 20 years.

Binney and Tice confirmed that the NSA is recording every word of every phone call made within the United States:

[PBS INTERVIEWER] JUDY WOODRUFF:   Both Binney and Tice suspect that today, the NSA is doing more than just collecting metadata on calls made in the U.S. They both point to this CNN interview by former FBI counterterrorism agent Tim Clemente days after the Boston Marathon bombing. Clemente was asked if the government had a way to get the recordings of the calls between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his wife.

TIM CLEMENTE, former FBI counterterrorism agent: On the national security side of the house, in the federal government, you know, we have assets. There are lots of assets at our disposal throughout the intelligence community and also not just domestically, but overseas. Those assets allow us to gain information, intelligence on things that we can’t use ordinarily in a criminal investigation.

All digital communications are — there’s a way to look at digital communications in the past. And I can’t go into detail of how that’s done or what’s done. But I can tell you that no digital communication is secure.

JUDY WOODRUFF:   Tice says after he saw this interview on television, he called some former workmates at the NSA.

RUSSELL TICE: Well, two months ago, I contacted some colleagues at NSA. We had a little meeting, and the question came up, was NSA collecting everything now? Because we kind of figured that was the goal all along. And the answer came back. It was, yes, they are collecting everything, contents word for word, everything of every domestic communication in this country.

JUDY WOODRUFF:   Both of you know what the government says is that we’re collecting this — we’re collecting the number of phone calls that are made, the e-mails, but we’re not listening to them.

WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, I don’t believe that for a minute. OK?

I mean, that’s why they had to build Bluffdale, that facility in Utah with that massive amount of storage that could store all these recordings and all the data being passed along the fiberoptic networks of the world. I mean, you could store 100 years of the world’s communications here. That’s for content storage. That’s not for metadata.

Metadata if you were doing it and putting it into the systems we built, you could do it in a 12-by-20-foot room for the world. That’s all the space you need. You don’t need 100,000 square feet of space that they have at Bluffdale to do that. You need that kind of storage for content.

JUDY WOODRUFF:   So, what does that say, Russell Tice, about what the government — you’re saying — your understanding is of what the government does once these conversations take place, is it your understanding they’re recorded and kept?

RUSSELL TICE: Yes, digitized and recorded and archived in a facility that is now online. And they’re kind of fibbing about that as well, because Bluffdale is online right now.

And that’s where the information is going. Now, as far as being able to have an analyst look at all that, that’s impossible, of course. And I think, semantically, they’re trying to say that their definition of collection is having literally a physical analyst look or listen, which would be disingenuous.


Slate confirms that the NSA is playing word games:

Collect. If an intelligence official says that the NSA isn’t “collecting” a certain kind of information, what has he actually said? Not very much, it turns out. One of the NSA’sfoundational documents states that “collection” occurs not when the government acquires information but when the government “selects” or “tasks” that information for “subsequent processing.” Thus it becomes possible for the government to acquire great reams of information while denying that it is “collecting” anything at all.

Indeed, the government is spying on just about everything we do.

Since Edward Snowden leaked documents detailing the NSA’s sweeping surveillance programs, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was forced to admit that part of his congressional testimony was “erroneous.” Here are six claims about NSA surveillance that have been undermined by recent disclosures.
Read the full story:


James Clapper, Senate Intelligence Committee, March 12, 2013…

Gen. Keith Alexander, DEFCON, July 27, 2012…

Gen. Keith Alexander, American Enterprise Institute, July 9, 2012…

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Senate floor, May 23, 2011…

President Obama on the Charlie Rose Show, June 16, 2013…


Document designed by Erin Standley, from the Noun Project…

Microphone designed by Erin Standley, from the Noun Project…

Music composed and performed by Bensound…

Bubbling sound by MattJ99…

Kerry Boosts Egyptian Military Dictatorship

August 3rd, 2013 by Patrick Martin

US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed Thursday that the Egyptian military was “restoring democracy” when it overthrew the country’s elected president, Mohamed Mursi, in a July 3 military coup.

Speaking in Pakistan—another country where the US has backed military dictators who overthrew elected governments—Kerry told a television interview program, “The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people, all of whom were afraid of a descendance into chaos, into violence.”

He continued, “And the military did not take over, to the best of our judgment so–so far. There’s a civilian government. In effect, they were restoring democracy.”

This claim was so brazenly false that his Pakistani television interviewer was compelled to ask whether the military had restored democracy “by killing people on the roads?”

Kerry’s comments are in line with the decision by the Obama administration not to call the overthrow of an elected president a coup, in order to avoid triggering legal requirements for a cutoff of the $1.3 billion annual US subsidy to the Egyptian military.

The Muslim Brotherhood denounced Kerry’s statement, with spokesman Gehad el-Haddad asking if Kerry would endorse the overthrow of President Obama by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel if large protests took place in the United States.

Kerry’s remarks appear to have taken the White House by surprise. An official told the Wall Street Journal, “He [Kerry] did not stick to the script.”

While in fact backing the military junta, the administration has sought to maintain an official posture of neutrality between it and the Muslim Brotherhood and Mursi, with whom it worked closely during the year that Mursi was in power. Washington fears the social consequences of an escalation of the military’s crackdown against the Brotherhood, which is continuing to carry out demonstrations despite the killing of scores of its supporters and imprisonment of hundreds more.

The US is also seeking to balance between conflicting alliances in the region. Turkey and Qatar, two of Washington’s closest allies in the war for regime-change in Syria and the campaign of sanctions and provocations against Iran, are closely aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Moreover, by openly equating the military junta with democracy and ignoring its bloody repression against unarmed protesters, Kerry has further exposed the fraud of Washington’s pretenses of support for democracy and concern for the protection of civilians. He has demonstrated the hypocrisy of the claims that the US intervened in Libya and is seeking the overthrow of Assad in Syria out of humanitarian and democratic considerations.

Meanwhile, US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns has returned to Cairo for his second visit since the coup. Egyptian officials said Burns would meet with both the military-backed government of interim President Adly Mansour and representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood. There was no confirmation of this by the Brotherhood, whose leaders refused to meet with Burns during his previous visit.

In a further show of support for the junta, the Obama administration confirmed Wednesday that it has decided to go ahead with the biennial military exercises in Egypt called Operation Bright Star. These have been conducted since 1981, except for 2011, when the mobilization was cancelled in the midst of the political turmoil that followed the ouster of the Mubarak dictatorship.

Operation Bright Star, set for mid-September, is one of the largest military exercises in the world, with as many as 90,000 troops from 11 countries participating. This year’s exercise serves as both a tacit endorsement of the Egyptian military overturn and a dress rehearsal for a US military intervention in Syria.

Also on Wednesday, the Senate voted by 86 to 13 to back the Obama administration’s refusal to cut off aid to Egypt, with a large majority of senators of both parties declaring that US national security interests required ignoring the legal requirement that aid be terminated to any regime resulting from a military seizure of power.

The claim that the Egyptian military did not “take over” on July 3 is cynical and absurd, given that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), headed by General Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi, named a new interim president to replace Mursi and effectively dictates the decisions of its civilian puppet.

Al-Sisi himself holds the posts of deputy prime minister and defense minister, in addition to his role as the chief of staff and head of SCAF, demonstrating who exercises real power in the new regime.

Mursi has been held incommunicado by the military for a month. The crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and Mursi’s Freedom and Justice Party, its political arm, continues unabated. On July 31, the prime minister appointed by Mursi, Hashim Qandil, was sentenced to a year in prison on charges stemming from a lawsuit over the privatization of the Tanta Flax and Oils Company.

Whatever the merits of the suit brought by employees of the company, the conviction and sentencing had a clear political purpose.

Mursi himself faces much more serious charges that could bring the death penalty. He is being investigated on murder and conspiracy charges in connection with a raid on an Egyptian prison that freed him and other Brotherhood leaders in 2011. Essentially, he would be charged with escaping from a prison term ordered by the Mubarak dictatorship and continued under the military junta that replaced Mubarak in February 2011.

Prosecutors have brought charges against the Muslim Brotherhood’s supreme guide, Mohammed Badie, and two other top officials, deputy guide Khairat al-Shater and senior leader Rashad Bayoum, for a June incident in which anti-Islamist protesters were killed outside the group’s headquarters in Cairo.

As crowds gathered Friday in pro-Mursi protests in Cairo, riot police fired tear gas and sought to disperse the gatherings, while officials threatened to break up the two major encampments of Brotherhood supporters in the capital.

Information Minister Dorreya Sharaf el-Din announced on Wednesday that the military-backed government has ordered police to set up cordons around the pro-Mursi protests, claiming they were an “unacceptable threat” to national security.

Amid escalating denunciations and threats against both Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency (NSA) contractor-turned whistle-blower, and Russia, which granted Snowden temporary asylum on Thursday, the Obama administration on Friday issued a “global travel alert,” closing US embassies in Tripoli, Cairo, Tel Aviv, Baghdad, Riyadh and Doha based on supposed threats of Al Qaeda attacks.

In total, 22 embassies and consulates are to be closed, and a terror alert has been issued covering the entire Middle East. Official statements have asserted that a contact from Yemen—a country that has been under bombardment from US drones for years—gave information raising the possibility of terror attacks against US embassies.

All three major television networks led their evening news reports with the government’s claims, reporting them uncritically despite the lack of any substantiation or any specific purported threats. Terrorism “experts” were trundled out in the usual fashion to stoke up public alarm.

None of the government’s claims should be taken for good coin. They follow more evidence of broad popular support for Snowden, whom the Obama administration is witch-hunting and targeting for prosecution—or worse—for leaking details of secret surveillance programs that invade the privacy and violate the rights of every American and millions more people around the world.

On Thursday, a Quinnipiac poll was released showing that 55 percent of Americans believe Snowden is a whistle-blower, versus only 34 percent who buy the government line that he is a spy or traitor. Weeks of official statements from Obama, top intelligence officials and politicians of both parties claiming that the spying operations are needed to combat terror threats have obviously fallen flat with the public. There is every reason to believe that Friday’s terror scare was launched in an attempt to sow disorientation and dissipate opposition to the illegal and unconstitutional spying programs.

The Obama administration has threatened to cancel a planned meeting between Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow following the upcoming G20 summit in St. Petersburg. This would be one form of retaliation for Moscow’s granting of temporary asylum to Snowden.

Russia’s decision to allow Snowden to leave the Moscow airport to which he had been confined for over a month and settle in Russia for at least a year provoked furious denunciations from the American political establishment. “Obviously this is not a positive development,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Thursday. “We are evaluating the utility of a summit.”

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York called Snowden a “coward” and denounced Russia for “stabbing us in the back.” Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said Snowden was a “traitor to our country.”

“Any time our president is seen to be disrespected, it’s not good,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said in an interview. “Our foreign policy is not working. This is an example of it not working.”

Lon Snowden, father of Edward, told CBS in regard to the asylum decision, “It’s the honourable thing to do, and as not just a citizen of the United States, but a global citizen of this planet, an occupant of the Earth, I am so thankful for what they have done for my son.”

“As you know, he is receiving threats from the United States government every day,” said Anatoly Kucherena, the Russian lawyer who facilitated Snowden’s asylum request. “The situation is heating up.”

“The personal safety issue is a very serious one for him,” Kucherena added. Security concerns will constrain Snowden’s movement, according to Kucherena, who said that he “can’t go for a walk on Red Square or go fishing.”

Friday’s terror alert comes in the midst of a public relations campaign by the administration to portray the spying programs as legal and carefully monitored by Congress. This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing to take testimony from top officials of the NSA and the Justice Department concerning the programs. Amid talk of the need for “transparency” and “accountability” from some of the senators on the committee, the hearing only underscored the absence of any serious or principled opposition in Congress and the complicity of both parties, the Congress and the courts in the buildup of the apparatus of a police state.

Congress was fully informed about the NSA programs for years before theGuardian published Snowden’s leaked documents. Democratic Senators Mark Udall of Colorado and Ron Wyden of Oregon have been trumpeted as adversaries of the NSA surveillance and defenders of civil liberties. In fact, they make no serious challenge to either the programs or the spy agencies that carry them out.

Their supposed opposition is two-faced and cowardly. Neither of them even voted against the confirmation this week of a former Bush Justice Department official and supporter of torture and the NSA spying programs as the new Federal Bureau of Investigation director.

They propose token measures to provide a fig leaf of legality and constitutionality to programs that directly violate the Bill of Rights. In a recent meeting between congressional would-be opponents of surveillance and President Obama, Wyden proposed the addition of a “privacy and civil liberties advocate” to the secret court that reviews surveillance requests.

He claims to oppose NSA programs that collect the records of all US telephone calls, but adds caveats that would allow the government to continue to shred the Fourth Amendment’s ban on warrantless searches and seizures. “I am open, for example, on areas like these emergency authorities to make sure that our government is in a position to get information needed to protect the public,” Wyden said after the meeting with Obama.

Neither Wyden nor any of the other congressional “critics” of the spying programs defend Snowden or other whistle-blowers who have exposed US government crimes, such as Bradley Manning and Julian Assange.

Meanwhile, virtually every day brings new revelations of pervasive spying programs. A CNET report released Friday stated that the FBI has been pressuring telecommunications providers to install “port reader software” that enables real-time interception of internet metadata, including IP addresses, e-mail addresses, identities of Facebook correspondents, and sites visited by government surveillance agencies. As CNET wrote: “The US government is quietly pressuring telecommunications providers to install eavesdropping technology deep inside companies’ internal networks to facilitate surveillance efforts.”

It may not have reached the level of fevered expectation unleashed by that famous handshake between Israeli and Palestinian leaders on the White House lawn in 1993, but the sense of hope inspired by the long-awaited revival of peace talks is both tangible and deeply misplaced.

The talks, which it was agreed this week will begin in earnest in the region in mid-August, are taking place not because either Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, or the Palestnian president, Mahmoud Abbas, believe a deal is in reach. The two sides are talking each to avoid being blamed for embarrassing John Kerry, the US secretary of state.

The mistaken mood of “change is in the air” was illustrated last week by a much-touted poll showing that 55 per cent of Israelis would vote for an agreement if presented with it, with 25 per cent opposed. Overlooked was the fact that many more Israelis – 70 per cent – believe an agreement cannot be reached, while 60 per cent say the reason is that Netanyahu will never partition the land.

Palestinians are no more sanguine. A recent poll revealed a measly 8 per cent had any degree of trust in the US as mediator.

But if ordinary Israelis and Palestinians are either despondent or uninterested, their leaders and many observers are talking up the chances of a breakthrough.

In part, this optimism is underpinned by the European Union’s unexpected and largely symbolic decision recently to penalise the settlements. From next year, the EU is supposed to deny funding to Israeli institutions in the occupied territories.

This is a bitter pill for Israel to swallow, and it is already seeking to punish Europe. Last weekend it emerged that the Israeli military was denying EU staff access to Gaza, and blocking European projects in Area C, the nearly two-thirds of the West Bank exclusively controlled by Israel.

But while Europe’s move has infuriated Israel, it looks suspiciously like it paved Netanyahu’s way to the negotiating table.

Israel and its supporters have long cultivated the idea that strong-arm tactics, such as boycotts and sanctions, only serve to push the Israeli public and politicians further to the right. This has been the US and Europe’s rationale for treating Israel with kid gloves since the Oslo process began two decades ago.

And yet the EU’s anti-settlement initiative suggests the opposite to be true. Both Netanyahu and Abbas hurried into the talks in the wake of the EU announcement – and for much the same reason.

For Netanyahu, Europe’s move was a stick he wielded to frighten into compliance those to his right in the government. He could argue persuasively that continuing Israeli intransigence on talks would only intensify the country’s isolation – the substance of his opaque references to “Israel’s strategic interests”.

Israel has much more to fear from the Palestinians outside the confines of a bogus peace process. There is the threat of the Palestinians building the momentum for further sanctions from bodies like the EU, or of their again taking their case for statehood to the United Nations, or of their referral of Israel to the International Criminal Court at the Hague for war crimes.

For Abbas, the same EU decision was a carrot used to disarm critics who have been warning that the revival of futile negotiations will damage the Palestinian national cause. Claiming the Europeans had forced Israel on to the backfoot, Abbas could argue that the moment had finally arrived to negotiate.

Uncharacteristically, the US has not appeared overly troubled by Israel’s patent displeasure at the sudden stiffening of EU resolve. Or as a senior US official told the Israeli media: “The Europeans are giving us the time and allowing us to try and get the talks going.”

But while the US, Europe, Netanyahu and even Abbas will gain some breathing space from months of empty talk about peace, there is no sign that the pressure bringing Israel to the table will continue once it is seated.

The most worrying indication that the US is heading down the same failed path is the announcement of Martin Indyk’s return as mediator. Indyk, a long-time Israel lobbyist, has been intimately tied to previous diplomatic failures.

In addition, the negotiators themselves are the same compromised figures who have been down this route before. The Palestine Papers, leaked by Al-Jazeera in 2011, revealed that in earlier talks Palestinian negotiatior Saeb Erekat had dared to give away far more than observers had ever imagined possible, while even these generous concessions had failed to satisfy Israel’s Tzipi Livni.

There is also something puzzling about a peace process driven by a nine-month timetable rather than the logic of the negotiations. A possible motivation for the White House’s desire to drag out the talks was suggested by an official on Wednesday: the US desperately wants to avoid the “train wreck” of the Palestinians returning to the UN.

Another barometer for judging the chances of a breakthrough are the relaxed smiles of Netanyahu’s far-right ministers, who are clearly undisturbed by thoughts that the settlements are in imminent jeopardy.

In fact, quite the reverse. Israel has announced it will build 1,000 settler homes over the coming months, in addition to continuing private construction. A train line linking the settlements to Israeli towns, making them even more accessible and attractive, has also been unveiled.

Regarding the peace process, Kerry has previously warned that there is “a year, a year-and-a-half, or two years and it’s over”. But what would “over” actually entail?

For one thing, someone will have to be blamed and all past evidence suggests that the someone in question will be the Palestinians. For another, Netanyahu will be able to argue that, just as Kerry feared, the peace process is dead. No Palestinian leadership, he will claim, will ever be capable of making peace.

That may prove a tempting moment for Israel to carry out the much-longed-for annexation of Area C, the bulk of the West Bank and the site of the settlements. With as few as 100,000 Palestinians left in Area C after decades of ethnic cleansing, Israel can offer them citizenship without threatening the state’s hallowed Jewishness.

Not only would such a move satisfy Netanyahu’s hunger for more Palestinian land, but it would solve another problem, this time for Europe and the US. They would no longer have to fret about boycotting the settlements; annexation would mean there were no more settlements to oppose.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books).  His new website is

A version of this article first appeared in The National, Abu Dhabi.

“Lawless State”: America Discredited

August 2nd, 2013 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

As Washington loses its grip on the world, defied by Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and now Russia, the US government resorts to public temper tantrums. The constant demonstration of childishness on the part of the White House and Congress embarrasses every American. 
Washington’s latest outburst of childish behavior is a response to the Russian Immigration Service granting US whistleblower Edward Snowden asylum in Russia for one year while his request for permanent asylum is considered.
Washington, having turned the US into a lawless state, no longer has any conception of legal procedure. Law is whatever serves Washington. As Washington sees it, law is nothing but Washington’s will. Any person or country that interferes with Washington’s will is behaving unlawfully. 
Because Obama, like Bush before him, routinely disobeys US law and the US Constitution, the White House actually thinks that Russian President Putin should disobey Russian and international law, overturn the Russian Immigration Service’s asylum decision, and hand over Snowden to Washington.  
Washington expected Russia to hand over Snowden simply because Washington demanded it. Like a two-year old, Washington cannot conceive that its demands don’t take precedence over international law and the internal legal procedures of every country. How dare Russia stand up for law against “the indispensable nation.”
The White House spokesman, who is so unimpressive that I cannot remember his/her
name/gender, declared that the White House moron might punish Putin by not going to visit him in Moscow next month.  I doubt Putin cares whether the WH moron shows up.
The WH moron’s term of office is close to an end, but Putin, unless the CIA assassinates him, will be there for another decade. Moreover, every Russian leader has learned that a US president’s word means nothing. Clinton, the two Bushes and the current WH moron violated every agreement that Reagan made with Gorbachev. Why would the president of Russia, a nation ruled by law, want to meet with a tyrant?
Not to be outdone by the WH in childish behavior, members of the House and Senate added their two-bits to America’s embarrassment. Congressional morons “reacted furiously,” according to news reports, and warned “of serious repercussions in US-Russian relations.” Here we have another extraordinary demonstration of Washington’s hubris. Only Russia has to worry about repercussions in the relationship.  Washington doesn’t have to worry. His Imperial Majesty will simply deny Putin an audience.
Congress seems unaware of its schizophrenia. On the one hand Congress is outraged about the National Stasi Agency’s illegal and unconstitutional spying–especially on Congress–and is attempting to defund the Stasi Agency’s surveillance program. The amendment to the military spending bill by Justin Amash, a Republican from Michigan, almost passed. The amendment was barely defeated by votes purchased by the spy industry. 
On the other hand, despite its outrage over being spied upon, Congress wants the scalp of the brave hero, Edward Snowden, who informed them that they were being spied upon. Here we have a demonstration of the historical stupidity of government–shoot the messenger.  
Only a few right-wing crazies believe that universal surveillance of every American is necessary to US security. The National Stasi Agency will fight hard and blackmail every member of the House and Senate, but the blackmail itself will lead to the National Stasi Agency’s wings being clipped, or so we can hope. If it is not done soon, the Stasi Agency will have time to organize a false flag event that will terrify the sheeple and bring an end to the attempts to rein in the rogue agency.
The United States is on the verge of economic collapse. The alleged “superpower,” a bankrupt entity, was unable after 8 years of efforts to occupy Iraq and had to give up.  After 11 years the “superpower” has been defeated in Afghanistan by a few thousand lightly armed Taliban, and is now running for cover with its tail between its legs.
Washington compensates for its military impotency by committing war crimes against civilians. The US military is a great killer of women, children, village elders, and aid workers. All the mighty “superpower” can do is to lob missiles shot from pilotless drones into farm houses, mud huts, schools, and medical centers.
The schizophrenic denizens of Washington have made Americans a hated people. Those with the foresight to know to escape from the growing tyranny also know that wherever they might seek refuge, they will be seen as vermin from the most hated nation and subjected to being scapegoated as spies and evil influences, and at risk of being decimated in reprisals against Washington’s latest atrocity.
Washington has destroyed the prospects of Americans both at home and abroad.


Snowden’s Asylum and Double Standards

August 2nd, 2013 by FAIR

By Peter Hart

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum by Russia, which has generated coverage focusing on the U.S. outrage at Russia’s decision. “Defiant Russia Grants Snowden Year’s Asylum” is the headline at the New York Times (8/2/13), where readers were told of the “risk of a breach in relations with the United States” and that the Russian move “infuriated American officials.”

usat-snowdenThe Washington Post reported (8/2/13) that Russia’s decision “opened a fresh wound in Moscow’s battered relations with the United States.” And USA Today‘s cover, as shown at the right, read “Welcome, Comrade Snowden”– Russia’s decision was a “snub.”

But journalism that wanted to take a more independent look at issues like who is granted asylum by a given country, or how countries refused to extradite those wanted on serious charges, might consider cases where the United States has protected suspected criminals–people who have caused actual harm in the world.

As Dan Beeton pointed out (CEPR Blog,  (7/11/13) one might consider the U.S. government’s ongoing refusal to extradite Bolivia’s former president Gonzalo (“Goni”) Sánchez de Lozada for serious human rights crimes related to the shooting of protesters in 2003. Goni lives comfortably just outside Washington, D.C. in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and as a member emeritus of the Inter-American Dialogue is close to Washington foreign policy circles. The worst allegations that pundits have leveled at Snowden are that his leaks could endanger Americans – allegations for which there is no evidence. The case against Goni, however, is serious: he is believed to be responsible for ordering the military to attack protesters, resulting in the shooting deaths of over 67 and injury to over 400.

Or, Beeton points out,

The U.S. continues to shelter Luis Posada Carriles, a convicted (and admitted) murderer and terrorist believed by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies to be responsible for blowing up a Cuban airliner in 1976, killing 73 people, including the entire Cuban fencing team. Posada surfaced in the U.S. in 2005; he was tried on immigration charges several years later, but was acquitted and has been allowed to stay in the U.S. since.

The New York Times mentioned some of this history at the bottom of a July 12 piece– saying that “Washington’s push for extradition has poked at a sore spot for several countries that have sought the extradition of people wanted by their justice systems.” The Times mentioned Carriles, and also noted that Ecuador has been unable to extradite two bankers who were “at the center of a huge Ecuadorean financial scandal in the 1990s.”

It’s not as if those are the only examples, of course. Haitian death squad leader and CIA informant Emmanuel “Toto” Constant was living in New York City while authorities back home wanted to try him for his role in scores of deaths, rapes and torture.

We’d be having a more interesting–and honest–discussion about Snowden’s asylum if journalists could try to see this issue from the perspective of those outside the United States.

Newly published recollections by the former French ambassador to Iran suggest that Iran was not running a covert nuclear weapons programme that it then decided to halt in late 2003, as concluded by U.S. intelligence in 2007.

Ambassador Francois Nicoullaud recounted conversations with high-ranking Iranian officials indicating that Tehran’s then nuclear policy chief – and now president-elect – Hassan Rouhani did not know what research projects relating to nuclear weapons had been carried out over the years.

The conversations described by Nicoullaud in a Jul. 26 New York Times op-ed also portray Rouhani as having difficulty getting individual researchers to comply with an order to halt all research related to nuclear weapons.

The picture of Iranian nuclear policy in 2003 drawn by Nicoullaud is different from the one in the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which concluded that Iran had halted “its nuclear weapons program”. That conclusion implied that Iranian government leadership had organised a programme of research and development aimed at producing a nuclear weapon.

Nicoullaud recalled that a high-ranking Iranian official confided to him in late October 2003 that Rouhani had just “issued a general circular asking all Iranian departments and agencies, civilian and military, to report in detail about their past and ongoing nuclear activities.”

The conversation came immediately after Rouhani had concluded an agreement with the foreign ministers of the UK, France and Germany on Oct. 21, 2003, Nicoullaud recalled.

The same official explained that “the main difficulty Rouhani and his team were encountering was learning exactly what was happening in a system as secretive as Iran’s,” wrote Nicoullaud.

A few weeks after, the French ambassador learned from a second official, whom he described as “a close friend of Rouhani”, that Rouhani’s nuclear policy team had issued instructions to halt projects relating to nuclear weapons.

The Iranian official said the team was “having a hard time”, because, “[p]eople resist their instructions,” according to Nicoullaud. The official remarked that it was difficult to “convince researchers to abruptly terminate projects they had been conducting for years”.

In an e-mail to IPS, Nicoullaud said he did not believe the Iranian government had ever approved a nuclear weapons programme. “The first challenge for Rouhani when he took hold of the nuclear,” said Nicoullaud, “must have been to get a clear picture of what was going on in Iran in the nuclear field.”

Rouhani had been the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) since 1989 and would not only have known about but would have been involved in any government decision to establish a nuclear weapons programme.

“I guess that most people, [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei included, were surprised by the extent of the activities,” Nicoullaud told IPS.

Nicoullaud’s recollections are consistent with published evidence that nuclear weapons-related research projects had begun without any government authorisation.

Despite an Iranian policy that ruled out nuclear weapons, many Iranian officials believed that a nuclear weapons “capability” would confer benefits on Iran without actually having nuclear weapons.

But the meaning of such a capability was the subject of ongoing debate. Nasser Hadian, a well-connected Tehran University political scientist, wrote in late 2003 about two schools of thought on the option of having a “nuclear weapons capability” but not the weapons themselves. One definition of that option was that Iran should have only the capability to produce fuel for nuclear reactors, Hadian explained, while the other called for Iran to have “all the necessary elements and capabilities for producing weapons”.

That debate had evidently not been officially resolved by a government decision before Rouhani’s appointment. And in the absence of a clear statement of policy, figures associated with research centres with military and defence ministry ties began in the latter of the 1990s to create their own nuclear weapons-related research projects without the knowledge of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC).

Such projects were apparently begun during a period when the Supreme National Security Council was not exercising tight control over the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI), the Ministry of Defence or the military industrial complex controlled by Defence Industries Organisation related to nuclear weapons.

By the mid-1990s, AEOI was already taking advantage of the lax supervision of its operations to take actions that had significant policy implications without authorisation from the SNSC.

Seyed Hossein Mousavian, then the spokesman for Iran’s nuclear negotiating team, recalls in his memoirs that in January 2004, Rouhani revealed to him that AEOI had not informed the SNSC about a policy-relevant matter as important as the purchase of the P2 centrifuge designs from the A. Q. Khan network in 1995. AEOI officials had misled him, Rohani said, by claiming that “they had found some information about P2 centrifuges on the Internet and are studying it!”

When Rouhani was named to take over as nuclear policy coordinator in early October 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was demanding a full accounting by Iran of all of its nuclear activities. Rouhani’s circular to all civilian and military offices about nuclear work came soon after he had promised the IAEA that Iran would change its policy to one of full cooperation with the IAEA.

At the same time, Rouhani moved to tighten up the policy loophole that had allowed various entities to start weapons-related nuclear research.

Rouhani anticipated resistance from the bureaucratic entities that had nuclear weapons-related research projects from the beginning. He recalled in a later interview that he had told President Mohammad Khatami that he expected that there would be problems in carrying out the new nuclear policy, including “sabotage”.

The sequence of events surrounding Rouhani’s new nuclear policy indicates that he used Khamenei’s public posture that nuclear weapons were forbidden according to Islamic law to ensure compliance with the ban on such research projects.

Around the same time that Rouhani ordered the bureaucracy to report on its nuclear-related activities and to stop any research on military applications of nuclear power in late October, Khamenei gave a speech in which he said, “In contrast to the propaganda of our enemies, fundamentally we are against any production of weapons of mass destruction in any form.”

Three days later, Rouhani told students at Shahrud Industrial University that Khamenei considered nuclear weapons as religiously illegal.

That same week, in an interview with San Francisco Chronicle correspondent Robert Collier, Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of the conservative newspaper Kayhan and an adviser to Khamenei, alluded to tensions between the Rouhani team and those researchers who were not responding to or resisting the Rouhani circular.

Khamenei was forcing those working on such projects to “admit that it is forbidden under Islam”, Shariatmadari said. He also suggested that the researchers resisting the ban had been working “clandestinely”.

After the U.S. intelligence community concluded in November 2007 estimate that Iran had halted a “nuclear weapons program”, a U.S. intelligence official said key pieces of evidence were intercepted communications from at least one senior military officer and others expressing dismay in 2007 that nuclear weapons-related work had been shut down in 2003.

But U.S. intelligence officials said nothing about what kind of work was being shut down, and revealed no further evidence that it was a “nuclear weapons program” under the control of the government.

Nicoullaud’s recollections suggest that the 2007 estimate glossed over a crucial distinction between an Iranian “nuclear weapons program” and research projects that had not been authorised or coordinated by the Iranian regime.

Nicoullaud told IPS he believes the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which controls Iran’s ballistic missile programme, was also carrying out a clandestine nuclear weapons programme. The IRGC’s own ministry had been merged, however, with the old Ministry of Defence to form a new ministry in 1989, which implies that any such clandestine programme would have necessarily involved a wider military conspiracy.

Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

4 Out of 5 Americans Face Joblessness, Poverty

August 2nd, 2013 by Washington's Blog

Associated Press reports that around 80 percent of all Americans deal with joblessness, near poverty, or reliance on welfare at some point in their lives.

AP notes that inequality is going through the roof:

An increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor and loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs [are the likely] reasons for the trend.


The risks of poverty also have been increasing in recent decades, particularly among people ages 35-55, coinciding with widening income inequality.

Washington may pay lip service to reducing inequality. But – as we will show below – bad government policy is largely responsible.

The Hard Facts of Inequality

who’s-who’s of prominent economists in government and academia have all said that runaway inequality can cause financial crises.

Extreme inequality helped cause the Great Depression, the current financial crisis … and the fall of the Roman Empire.

But inequality in America today is actually twice as bad as in ancient Rome , worse than it was in inTsarist RussiaGilded Age America, modern Egypt, Tunisia or Yemen, many banana republics in Latin America, and worse than experienced by slaves in 1774 colonial America.

Inequality has grown steadily worse:

Aevrage Household income before taxes.

Gini ratio

It is worse under Obama than under Bush.

A recent study shows that the richest Americans captured more than 100% of all recent income gains. And see this.

There are 2 economies: one for the rich, and the other for everyone else.

Alan Greenspan said:

Our problem basically is that we have a very distorted economy, in the sense that there has been a significant recovery in our limited area of the economy amongst high-income individuals…


They are fundamentally two separate types of economies.

Why is Inequality Going Through the Roof?

The world’s top economic leaders have said for years that inequality is spiraling out of control and needs to be reduced. Why is inequality soaring even though world economic leaders have talked for years about the urgent need to reduce it?

Because they’re saying one thing but doing something very different. And both mainstream Democrats and mainstream Republicans are using smoke and mirrors to hide what’s really going on.

And it’s not surprising … Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says that inequality is caused by the use of money to shape government policies to benefit those with money. As Wikipedia notes:

A better explainer of growing inequality, according to Stiglitz, is the use of political power generated by wealth by certain groups to shape government policies financially beneficial to them. This process, known to economists as rent-seeking, brings income not from creation of wealth but from “grabbing a larger share of the wealth that would otherwise have been produced without their effort”[59]

Rent seeking is often thought to be the province of societies with weak institutions and weak rule of law, but Stiglitz believes there is no shortage of it in developed societies such as the United States. Examples of rent seeking leading to inequality include

  • the obtaining of public resources by “rent-collectors” at below market prices (such asgranting public land to railroads, or selling mineral resources for a nominal price in the US),
  • selling services and products to the public at above market prices (medicare drug benefit in the US that prohibits government from negotiating prices of drugs with the drug companies, costing the US government an estimated $50 billion or more per year),
  • securing government tolerance of monopoly power (The richest person in the world in 2011, Carlos Slim, controlled Mexico’s newly privatized telecommunication industry).

(Background herehere and here.)

Stiglitz says:

One big part of the reason we have so much inequality is that the top 1 percent want it that way. The most obvious example involves tax policy …. Monopolies and near monopolies have always been a source of economic power—from John D. Rockefeller at the beginning of the last century to Bill Gates at the end. Lax enforcement of anti-trust laws, especially during Republican administrations, has been a godsend to the top 1 percent. Much of today’s inequality is due to manipulation of the financial system, enabled by changes in the rules that have been bought and paid for by the financial industry itself—one of its best investments ever. The government lent money to financial institutions at close to 0 percent interest and provided generous bailouts on favorable terms when all else failed. Regulators turned a blind eye to a lack of transparency and to conflicts of interest.


Wealth begets power, which begets more wealth …. Virtually all U.S. senators, and most of the representatives in the House, are members of the top 1 percent when they arrive, are kept in office by money from the top 1 percent, and know that if they serve the top 1 percent well they will be rewarded by the top 1 percent when they leave office. By and large, the key executive-branch policymakers on trade and economic policy also come from the top 1 percent. When pharmaceutical companies receive a trillion-dollar gift—through legislation prohibiting the government, the largest buyer of drugs, from bargaining over price—it should not come as cause for wonder. It should not make jaws drop that a tax bill cannot emerge from Congress unless big tax cuts are put in place for the wealthy. Given the power of the top 1 percent, this is the way you would expect the system to work.

Bloomberg reports:

The financial industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars every election cycle on campaign donations and lobbying, much of which is aimed at maintaining the subsidy [to the banks by the public]. The result is a bloated financial sector and recurring credit gluts.

Indeed, the big banks literally own the Federal Reserve. And they own Washington D.C. politicians, lock stock and barrel. See this, thisthis and this.

Two leading IMF officials, the former Vice President of the Dallas Federal Reserve, and the the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Moody’s chief economist and many others have all said that the United States is controlled by an “oligarchy” or “oligopoly”, and the big banks and giant financial institutions are key players in that oligarchy.

Economics professor Randall Wray writes:

Thieves … took over the whole economy and the political system lock, stock, and barrel.

No wonder the government has saved the big banks at taxpayer expense, chosen the banks over the little guy, and 

No wonder crony capitalism has gotten even worse under Obama.

No wonder Obama is prosecuting fewer financial crimes than Bush, or his father or Ronald Reagan.

No wonder:

All of the monetary and economic policy of the last 3 years has helped the wealthiest and penalized everyone else. See thisthis and this.


Economist Steve Keen says:

“This is the biggest transfer of wealth in history”, as the giant banks have handed their toxic debts from fraudulent activities to the countries and their people.

Stiglitz said in 2009 that Geithner’s toxic asset plan “amounts to robbery of the American people”.

And economist Dean Baker said in 2009 that the true purpose of the bank rescue plans is “a massive redistribution of wealth to the bank shareholders and their top executives”.

Quantitative easing doesn’t help Main Street or the average American. It only helps big banks, giant corporations, and big investors. And by causing food and gas prices skyrocket, it takes a bigger bite out of the little guy’s paycheck, and thus makes the poor even poorer.

As I noted in March 2009:

The bailout money is just going to line the pockets of the wealthy, instead of helping to stabilize the economy or even the companies receiving the bailouts:

  • A lot of the bailout money is going to the failing companies’ shareholders
  • Indeed, a leading progressive economist says that the true purpose of the bank rescue plans is “a massive redistribution of wealth to the bank shareholders and their top executives”
  • The Treasury Department encouraged banks to use the bailout money to buy their competitors, and pushed through an amendment to the tax laws which rewards mergers in the banking industry (this has caused a lot of companies to bite off more than they can chew, destabilizing the acquiring companies)

As I wrote in 2008:

The game of capitalism only continues as long as everyone has some money to play with. If the government and corporations take everyone’s money, the game ends.The fed and Treasury are not giving more chips to those who need them: the American consumer. Instead, they are giving chips to the 800-pound gorillas at the poker table, such as Wall Street investment banks. Indeed, a good chunk of the money used by surviving mammoth players to buy the failing behemoths actually comes from the Fed.

Government Policy Is Increasing Inequality

Without the government’s creation of the too big to fail banks (they’ve gotten much bigger under Obama), the Fed’s intervention in interest rates and the markets (most of the quantitative easing has occurred under Obama), and government-created moral hazard emboldening casino-style speculation (there’s now more moral hazard than ever before) … things wouldn’t have gotten nearly as bad.

Goosing the Stock Market

Moreover, the Fed has more or less admitted that it is putting almost all of its efforts into boosting the stock market.

Robert Reich has noted:

Some cheerleaders say rising stock prices make consumers feel wealthier and therefore readier to spend. But to the extent most Americans have any assets at all their net worth is mostly in their homes, and those homes are still worth less than they were in 2007. The “wealth effect” is relevant mainly to the richest 10 percent of Americans, most of whose net worth is in stocks and bonds.

AP writes:

The recovery has been the weakest and most lopsided of any since the 1930s.After previous recessions, people in all income groups tended to benefit. This time, ordinary Americans are struggling with job insecurity, too much debt and pay raises that haven’t kept up with prices at the grocery store and gas station. The economy’s meager gains are going mostly to the wealthiest.

Workers’ wages and benefits make up 57.5 percent of the economy, an all-time low. Until the mid-2000s, that figure had been remarkably stable — about 64 percent through boom and bust alike.

David Rosenberg points out:

The “labor share of national income has fallen to its lower level in modern history … some recovery it has been – a recovery in which labor’s share of the spoils has declined to unprecedented levels.”

The above-quoted AP article further notes:

Stock market gains go disproportionately to the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans, who own more than 80 percent of outstanding stock, according to an analysis by Edward Wolff, an economist at Bard College.

Indeed, as I reported in 2010:

As of 2007, the bottom 50% of the U.S. population owned only one-half of one percent of all stocks, bonds and mutual funds in the U.S. On the other hand, the top 1% owned owned 50.9%.***

(Of course, the divergence between the wealthiest and the rest has only increased since 2007.)

Professor G. William Domhoff demonstrated that the richest 10% own 98.5% of all financial securities, and that:

The top 10% have 80% to 90% of stocks, bonds, trust funds, and business equity, and over 75% of non-home real estate. Since financial wealth is what counts as far as the control of income-producing assets, we can say that just 10% of the people own the United States of America.

As Tyler Durden notes:

In today’s edition of Bloomberg Brief, the firm’s economist Richard Yamarone looks at one of the more unpleasant consequences of Federal monetary policy: the increasing schism in wealth distribution between the wealthiest percentile and everyone else. … “To the extent that Federal Reserve policy is driving equity prices higher, it is also likely widening the gap between the haves and the have-nots….The disparity between the net worth of those on the top rung of the income ladder and those on lower rungs has been growing. According to the latest data from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, the total wealth of the top 10 percent income bracket is larger in 2009 than it was in 1995. Those further down have on average barely made any gains. It is likely that data for 2010 and 2011 will reveal an even higher percentage going to the top earners, given recent increases in stocks.” Alas, this is nothing new, and merely confirms speculation that the Fed is arguably the most efficient wealth redistibution, or rather focusing, mechanism available to the status quo. This is best summarized in the chart below comparing net worth by income distribution for various percentiles among the population, based on the Fed’s own data. In short: the richest 20% have gotten richer in the past 14 years, entirely at the expense of everyone else.


Lastly, nowhere is the schism more evident, at least in market terms, than in the performance of retail stocks:

Saks chairman Steve Sadove recently remarked, “I’ve been saying for several years now the single biggest determinant of our business overall, is how’s the stock market doing.” Privately-owned Neiman- Marcus reported “In New York City, business at Bergdorf Goodman continues to be extremely strong.”

In contrast, retail giant Wal-Mart talks of its “busiest hours” coming at midnight when food stamps are activated and consumers proceed through the check-outs lines with baby formula, diapers, and other groceries. Wal-Mart has posted a decline in same-store sales for eight consecutive quarters.

Indeed, as CNN Money pointed out in 2011, “Wal-Mart’s core shoppers are running out of money much faster than a year ago …” This trend has only gotten worse: The wealthy are doing great … but common folks can no longer afford to shop even at Wal-MartSears, JC Penney or other low-price stores.

Durden also notes:

Another indication of the increasing polarity of US society is the disparity among consumer confidence cohorts by income as shown below, and summarized as follows: “The increase in equity prices has raised consumer spirits, particularly among higher-income consumers. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence index for all income levels bottomed in February/March of 2009. The recovery since then has been notable across the board, but nowhere as much as for those making $50,000 or more.”


When a country’s finance sector becomes too large finance, inequality rises. As Wikipedia notes:

[Economics professor] Jamie Galbraith argues that countries with larger financial sectors have greater inequality, and the link is not an accident.[66][67]

Government policy has been encouraging the growth of the financial sector for decades:

(Economist Steve Keen has also shown that “a sustainable level of bank profits appears to be about 1% of GDP”, and that higher bank profits leads to a ponzi economy and a depression).

Unemployment and Underemployment

A major source if inequality is unemployment, underemployment and low wages.

Government policy has created these conditions. And the pretend populist Obama – who talks non-stop about the importance of job-creation – actually doesn’t mind such conditions at all.

The“jobless recovery” that the Bush and Obama governments have engineered is a redistribution of wealth from the little guy to the big boys.

The New York Times notes:

Economists at Northeastern University have found that the current economic recovery in the United States has been unusually skewed in favor of corporate profits and against increased wages for workers.

In their newly released study, the Northeastern economists found that since the recovery began in June 2009 following a deep 18-month recession, “corporate profits captured 88 percent of the growth in real national income while aggregate wages and salaries accounted for only slightly more than 1 percent” of that growth.

The study, “The ‘Jobless and Wageless Recovery’ From the Great Recession of 2007-2009,” said it was “unprecedented” for American workers to receive such a tiny share of national income growth during a recovery.


The share of income growth going to employee compensation was far lower than in the four other economic recoveries that have occurred over the last three decades, the study found.

Obama apologists say Obama has created jobs. But the number of people who have given up and dropped out of the labor force has skyrocketed under Obama (and see this).

And the jobs that have been created have been low-wage jobs.

For example, the New York Times noted in 2011:

The median pay for top executives at 200 big companies last year was $10.8 million. That works out to a 23 percent gain from 2009.


Most ordinary Americans aren’t getting raises anywhere close to those of these chief executives. Many aren’t getting raises at all — or even regular paychecks. Unemployment is still stuck at more than 9 percent.


“What is of more concern to shareholders is that it looks like C.E.O. pay is recovering faster than company fortunes,” says Paul Hodgson, chief communications officer for GovernanceMetrics International, a ratings and research firm.

According to a report released by GovernanceMetrics in June, the good times for chief executives just keep getting better. Many executives received stock options that were granted in 2008 and 2009, when the stock market was sinking.

Now that the market has recovered from its lows of the financial crisis, many executives are sitting on windfall profits, at least on paper. In addition, cash bonuses for the highest-paid C.E.O.’s are at three times prerecession levels, the report said.


The average American worker was taking home $752 a week in late 2010, up a mere 0.5 percent from a year earlier. After inflation, workers were actually making less.

AP pointed out that the average worker is not doing so well:

Unemployment has never been so high — 9.1 percent — this long after any recession since World War II. At the same point after the previous three recessions, unemployment averaged just 6.8 percent.

– The average worker’s hourly wages, after accounting for inflation, were 1.6 percent lower in May than a year earlier. Rising gasoline and food prices have devoured any pay raises for most Americans.

– The jobs that are being created pay less than the ones that vanished in the recession. Higher-paying jobs in the private sector, the ones that pay roughly $19 to $31 an hour, made up 40 percent of the jobs lost from January 2008 to February 2010 but only 27 percent of the jobs created since then.

Alan Greenspan noted:

Large banks, who are doing much better and large corporations, whom you point out and everyone is pointing out, are in excellent shape. The rest of the economy, small business, small banks, and a very significant amount of the labour force, which is in tragic unemployment, long-term unemployment – that is pulling the economy apart.

Money Being Sucked Out of the U.S. Economy … But Big Bucks Are Being Made Abroad

Part of the widening gap is due to the fact that most American companies’ profits are driven by foreign sales and foreign workers. As AP noted in 2010:

Corporate profits are up. Stock prices are up. So why isn’t anyone hiring?

Actually, many American companies are — just maybe not in your town. They’re hiring overseas, where sales are surging and the pipeline of orders is fat.


The trend helps explain why unemployment remains high in the United States, edging up to 9.8% last month, even though companies are performing well: All but 4% of the top 500 U.S. corporations reported profits this year, and the stock market is close to its highest point since the 2008 financial meltdown.

But the jobs are going elsewhere. The Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank, says American companies have created 1.4 million jobs overseas this year, compared with less than 1 million in the U.S. The additional 1.4 million jobs would have lowered the U.S. unemployment rate to 8.9%, says Robert Scott, the institute’s senior international economist.

“There’s a huge difference between what is good for American companies versus what is good for the American economy,” says Scott.


Many of the products being made overseas aren’t coming back to the United States. Demand has grown dramatically this year in emerging markets like India, China and Brazil.

Government policy has accelerated the growing inequality. It has encouraged American companies to move their facilities, resources and paychecks abroad. And some of the biggest companies in America have a negative tax rate … that is, not only do they pay no taxes, but they actually get tax refunds.

And a large percentage of the bailouts went to foreign banks (and see this). And so did a huge portion of the money from quantitative easing. More here and here.

Capital Gains and Dividends

According to a study by a researcher at the U.S. Congressional Research Service:

The largest contributor to increasing income inequality…was changes in income from capital gains and dividends.

Business Insider explains:

Drastic income inequality growth in the United States is largely derived from changes in the way the U.S. government taxes income from capital gains and dividends, according to a new study by Thomas Hungerford of the non-partisan Congressional Research Service.

Essentially, what Democrats have been saying about income inequality — that it’s in a large part due to favorable taxation and deduction policies for high income Americans — is largely right


The study … conclusively found that the wealthy benefitted from low tax rates on investment income, which in turn caused their wealth to grow faster.

Essentially, taxing capital gains as ordinary income would make the playing field more fair, and reduce over time income inequality.

Joseph Stiglitz noted in 2011:

Lowering tax rates on capital gains, which is how the rich receive a large portion of their income, has given the wealthiest Americans close to a free ride.

Indeed, the Tax Policy center reports that the top 1% took home 71% of all capital gains in 2012.

Ronald Reagan’s budget director, assistant secretary of treasury, and domestic policy director all say that the Bush tax cuts were a huge mistake. See this and this.

Postscript: You might assume that conservatives don’t worry about rampant inequality … but that’ amyth.

Tony Blair: Libya, Lockerbie, Arms and Betrayals.

August 2nd, 2013 by Felicity Arbuthnot

The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men.” (Samuel Adams, 1722-1803, letter 1775.)

This will surely have you falling down with surprise. According to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act and obtained by the (UK) Sunday Telegraph, the August 2009 release from Scotland’s Barlinnie jail of Libyan Abdelbaset al- Megrahi, accused of the bombing of  Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988, hinged on an oil and arms deal, allegedly brokered by roving war monger (sorry, roving “Peace Ambassador”) Tony Blair.

At this point it should be said that anyone who has read John Ashton and Ian Ferguson’s meticulous “Cover up of Convenience” (i) on the Lockerbie tragedy could only regard Mr al-Meghrahi’s conviction as between very unsafe and very questionable.

The British Labour Party, which Blair headed for ten years, until 27th June 2007, have always insisted that the release had no connection with commercial deals. After leaving Downing Street, Blair visited Libya some six times.

On 8th June 2008, the then British Ambassador to Libya, Sir Vincent Fean, sent Tony Blair’s private office a thirteen hundred word briefing on the UK’s eagerness to do business with Libya, according to the Telegraph. (ii) Blair flew to Tripoli to meet Colonel Quaddafi, just two days later, June 10th. Quaddafi paid: Blair, always lavish with other’s money had requested, and was granted, the Colonel’s private jet for the journey.

Sir Vincent’s “key objective” was for: “Libya to invest its £80 billion sovereign wealth through the City of London”, according to the Telegraph, which also cites the Ambassador writing of the UK being : “privately critical of then President George Bush for ‘shooting the US in the foot’ by continuing to put a block on Libyan assets in America, in the process scuppering business deals.” Britain however, was voraciously scrambling to fill the fiscal gap.

Unlike the US and UK who abandon or drone to death their own citizens who are in trouble, or even accused of it, Libya’s Administration had stood by their man and seemed to be prepared to do even unpalatable deals to free him and had long been pressuring the UK to release al-Megrahi.

In May 2007, a month before he left Downing Street, Blair had made his second visit to Libya, meeting Colonel Quaddafi and his Prime Minister Al Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi in then beautiful and now near ruined city of Sirte.

Surely coincidentally, on this trip, a deal was seemingly thrashed out, including prisoner transfer, just before British Petrolium (BP) announced their approximate £454 million investment to prospect for £13billion worth of oil in Libya.

Also, states the Telegraph report: “At that meeting, according to Sir Vincent’s email, Mr Blair and Mr Al Baghdadi agreed that Libya would buy a missile defence system from MBDA – a weapons manufacturer part-owned by Britains’s  BAE Systems.” This seemed to (also) hinge on a Memorandum of Understanding for a Prisoner Transfer Agreement: “which the Libyans believed would pave the way for al-Megrahi’s release.” Various sources state that the arms deal was worth £400 million, and up to two thousand jobs in the UK. Sir Vincent referred to the arms deal as a “legacy issue.” Blair’s “legacy”, as ever, synonymous with destruction.

Ironically, it was Blair who credited himself with persuading Colonel Quaddafi to abandon and destroy his weapons programmes  after his visit to the country in March 2004 (placing that Judas kiss  the Colonel’s cheek) as a step to Libya returning to the fold of the duplicitous “international community.” With friends like Blair, enemies are a redundancy.

When Blair returned to Libya in June 2008, the Telegraph contends that the British Government, then under Gordon Brown, Blair’s former Chancellor of the Exchequer (who left the national coffers near empty) used the opportunity: “ to press the case for the arms deal to be sealed. At the time, Britain was on the brink of an economic and banking crisis – and Libya, though the Libyan Investment Authority – had billions of pounds in reserves.”

Saif al-Islam, Quaddafi’s son, expressed the concern over the arms deal being voiced from within the Libyan military, given their close ties to the “Russian defence equipment camp.”

An earlier discovery by the Sunday Telegraph shows, in letters and emails, that Blair held hitherto undisclosed talks with the Colonel in April 2009, four months before al-Megrahi’s release. (iii)

Again he was flown at the expense of the Colonel, in his private jet: “In both 2008 and 2009, documents show Mr Blair negotiated to fly to the Libyan capitol … in a jet provided by Quaddafi.” Blair’s Office denies the claims, saying they were transported in a Libyan government ‘plane.

By the time of the 2009 visit: “Libya was threatening to cut all business links if al-Megrahi stayed in a British jail.” Blair seemingly attempted to pour oil on troubled waters by bringing American billionaire, Tim Collins to that meeting to advise Quaddafi on building the beach resorts he was planning, on the Libyan coast.

Further adding to the murk, a spokesperson for Collins stated:“Tim was asked to go by Tony Blair in his position as a trustee of Mr Blair’s US faith foundation. Tim had no intention of doing any business with Quaddafi.”

However: “Sources in Libya said Quaddafi had discussed with Mr Collins opening beach resorts along the Libyan coast, but that Mr Collins had dismissed the idea because the Libyans would not sanction the sale of alcohol or gambling at the resorts.

Blair’s spokesperson said of the visit: “ … Tony Blair has never had any role, either formal or informal, paid or unpaid, with the Libyan Investment Authority or the Government of Libya and he has no commercial relationship with any Libyan company or entity.” A Blair first, seemingly, given the impression that he never touches down anywhere without emerging with a lucrative contract or a large cheque.

However, Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Libya, is quoted as saying : “Mr Blair is clearly using his Downing Street contacts to further his business interests.”

In a further coincidence, the Prisoner Transfer agreement for Mr al-Megrahi was signed the day before Blair’s 2009 visit.

When al-Megrahi, who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, was released in August 2009, the British media and politicians were outraged. Scotland had done a deal and was benefiting financially from Libya. The latest revelations prove Scotland did no financial deals. When Mr al-Megrahi failed to die, politicians and media were even more outraged. They were a shaming spectacle.

Mental mind set can be a huge force in prolonging life in even the most serious cancer patients. No doubt in al-Megrahi’s case, being back in a home and with a family he loved contributed to his extra time. He survived long enough to see his country destroyed by the devious forces the West embodies – and at which Blair excels.  Megrahi died in September 2012.

Incidentally, Ambassador Fean reportedly “expressed relief” at al-Megrahi’s release: “He noted that a refusal of Megrahi’s request could have had disastrous implications for British interests in Libya. ‘They could have cut us off at the knees.”

Quaddafi, however, never signed the arms deal.

Footnote: The 2004 visit by Blair was arranged by Saif al Islam, who Blair seemingly knew well and had allegedly even offered suggestions on his PhD thesis when Saif was studying at the London School of Economics.

In September last year Saif al-Islam’s lady friend of six years, appealed, passionately, to Blair to intervene to save the life of his now captured, maimed and death penalty-facing friend: “The two are old friends – it is time that Mr Blair returned some loyalty. Mr Blair is a man of God – as a Christian he has a moral duty to help a friend in need”, she has commented. (v)

Seemingly there has been no response from Blair’s office. Further, an extensive search for a comment on the appalling death of Colonel Quaddafi – his former host and private ‘plane provider – and the demise of  much of his family from this “Peace Envoy” and “man of God”, has come up with absolutely nothing.

To mangle a quote: Beware of British offering deals.








Israeli Referendum Measure Blocks Land for Peace

August 2nd, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

Netanyahu heads Israel’s worst government in history. It’s hardline. It’s extremist. It’s fascist. It spurns Palestinian rights. It deplores peace. It enforces occupation harshness.

On August 1, Haaretz headlined “Bill requiring referendum on ceding land passes first Knesset reading.”

Doing so lacks legitimacy. Israelis have no legal authority. Palestinians alone may vote up or down on issues relating to their land.

Israelis have no right to decide for them. Territorial residents have sole authority. A previous article explained. Netanyahu called enactment essential, saying:

“Any agreement, if it is achieved in negotiations, will be brought as a referendum.”

“It is important that every citizen will directly vote on fateful decisions like these that determine the future of the state.”

Doing so effectively blocks land for peace. Netanyahu and other hardliners want all parts of Judea and Samaria Judaized. They want Jerusalem as Israel’s exclusive capital. They want Palestinians denied all rights.

The referendum law puts another nail in the peace process. It was already dead on arrival. Claims otherwise ring hollow.

The measure requires referendum approval on ceding territory. Doing so assures Palestinians won’t get areas Israel wants. They include resource rich and other valued parts.

East Jerusalem, Golan, and pre-1967 territory are excluded. Netanyahu, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, and other hardliners endorsed it.

Israel’s High Court will address current referendum law. “Critics say the current law contradicts four Basic Laws.”


They include the 1958 Basic Law on the Knesset and 1992 Basic Law on the Government. They do so by improperly letting referendum authority countermand fundamental Israeli law.

Israel has no constitution. Basic Laws substitute. “Referendum law as a Basic Law would need 61 of the Knesset’s 120 MKs to be revoked.”

Preliminary voting occurred before parliament recessed at week’s end. Second and third readings will follow. Knesset hardliners want the measure toughened. They oppose land swaps.

Many want Greater Israel Judaized. They want apartheid and then some. They want Palestinians denied all rights.

They want stiffer police state laws. They approve state terror. They enact racist laws. The Prawar Plan passed its first reading. It targets 40,000 Palestinian Bedouins.

If enacted, they’ll be ethnically cleansed. They’ll be displaced from their homes. Their villages will be destroyed.

They’ll lose their land, property and historical rights. Exclusive Jewish development will replace them. Its happening across the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Free expression in Israel is threatened. Independent NGOs are targeted. Advocacy for right over wrong is endangered. Israel wants critics silenced.

At issue is wanting Israeli war criminals tried in international courts, supporting BDS activism, denying Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish democratic state, and/or resisting occupation harshness.

According the the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Palestinians and Israeli Arab citizens “face entrenched discrimination in all fields of life.”

Racist hate is virulent. Arabs are considered a fifth column and demographic threat. They’re treated like subhumans.

They’re denied fundamental rights. They’re victimized by racial profiling. They’re treated like aliens on their own land.

Glaring socioeconomic differences exist between Jews and Arabs “with regard to land, urban planning, housing, infrastructure, economic development,” education, healthcare, and other life essentials.

Institutionalized racism makes peace impossible. Proposed Knesset legislation aims to limit or eliminate Arab party representation.

It raises the electoral threshold from 2 to 4%. Doing so effectively eliminates small Arab parties. A Knesset panel approved the bill. Doing so reinforces Jewish exclusivity.

“Governance legislation” goes back to Knesset committees. Amendments may be added. Second and third readings will follow. Enactment seems likely.

Legislative and numerous other examples are important. They show the enormous cross Palestinians bear. They’re unwanted. They’re denied fundamental rights. They’re viciously persecuted.

Peace for our time is more illusion than reality. It’s perhaps the greatest hoax in modern times.

Separately, Shin Bet summoned political activists for “warning conversations.” They’re unrelated to criminal activity. They’re about silencing dissent.

Sin Bets intimidates. It threatens. It warns activists against participating in “disturbances of the peace.” Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) attorneys Lila Margalit and Karen Tamir petitioned Israel’s High Court.

They did so for injunctive relief. They want intimidating “warning conversations” prohibited. They exceed Shin Bet’s authority. They violate fundamental Israeli and international laws.

They include free expression, the right to dignity, privacy, equity, due process and judicial fairness.

According to ACRI, “Shin Bet tap(s) citizens’ phones (with approval of the Prime Minister) and use(s) communications metadata without judicial oversight.”

“In a democratic society, political activity does not constitute a ‘security threat’ that justifies the intervention of an organization like the Shin Bet.”

“Any concerns about violations of the law during political protests should be addressed by the police within the confines of the regular criminal law.”

ACRI’s petition cites a section from Shin Bet’s 2012 Annual Summary. Under the heading “Radical Right and Left,” Shin Bet obtains information lawlessly. State authorities use it illegitimately. Doing so contributes to Israel’s delegitimization.

According to Margalit:

“Calling political activists in for friendly conversations over a cup of tea with undercover Shin Bet agents is not a practice that characterizes a democratic regime.”

“The Shin Bet, entrusted to deal with serious security threats, possesses far-reaching powers, some of which are very problematic.”

“It is intolerable for civil protest or political activism – even if it involves disruptions of the peace – to be classified as a security threat.”

“The policy of calling in activists for warnings violates the constitutional rights not just of the activists actually called in, but also of all those individuals who refrain from political involvement as a result.”

Israel’s a racist police state. It threatens world peace and security. It’s a global menace. It partners with Washington’s worst crimes. It supports the worst regional despots.

It seeks regional domination. It’s waging war on Palestine. It’s a major weapons producer. It’s the world’s sixth largest arms exporter. Since 2008, sales increased 74%.

In 2012, exports totaled $7.5 billion. Most were aerial defense systems, missiles, other high-tech equipment, and sophisticated state terror instruments.

Israeli technology is valued. It drives economic growth. It does so destructively. It terrorizes Palestinians. It destroys hope for peace.

Israel’s a warrior state. It’s a modern day Sparta. It deplores peace. It menaces humanity. It lives by the sword. Doing so risks perishing by it.

A Final Comment

AP’s Matthew Lee continues to challenge State Department spokespersons. Few do. He does. On July 30, excerpts from his Q & A with Jennifer Psaki went as follows:

ML: So what do you mean when you say that the next meeting is going to be to begin the formal process?

JP: Well, Matt, I apologize if I caused – any confusion. Today was the beginning of the formal process.

ML: Okay.

JP: The agreement just a few weeks ago was to move forward on final status negotiations.

ML: Okay. So -

JP: That’s exactly what they did today. It’s only natural that the first part of the discussion would be on putting a work plan together and making plans for the months ahead.

ML: Okay. So they did put a work plan together.

JP: That was the goal of today, yes.

ML: And so they succeeded in that?

JP: I will defer to our officials who will be briefing you later on more specifics.

ML: Okay. All right. Will they be able to offer us more specifics, or will they say it’s a secret?

JP: I will. We’ll discuss after the briefing.

ML: Okay. Then, you also said that the Secretary’s comments about him being the only person who would comment, quickly followed by him saying he would never comment – (laughter) – so I’m not sure if that was very helpful at all that you said the point was that, ‘Don’t believe everything you read or every rumor that you hear.’

I’m assuming that that’s going to go for your comments and the Secretary’s comments claims that progress is being made when there is absolutely no evidence that any progress is being made. Is that correct?

JP: Well, Matt – we’ll let the final results – we’ll let you judge the final results. Our goal here is to move to a final agreement.

And obviously, we know – or the Secretary strongly believes, as do both parties, that in order to do that, we need to give the process the room and the space to make progress.

ML: Right. Okay. There was a lot of complaining upstairs about cynics and people who are skeptics and how they shouldn’t be.

I’m assuming that you agree with all that, and I particularly want to point out that last line that (Israeli) Justice Minister (Tzipi) Livni said: ‘I believe that history is not made by cynics. It is made by realists who are not afraid to dream.’

You don’t think that the dreamer – you think the dreamers are realists?

I’m serious. I want to know what you think – why you think that all of the skepticism and all of the cynicism is misplaced.

JP: Because they’re here today. You heard all parties speak about how they’re committed to taking this process seriously and pursuing it in the weeks and months ahead…

The Secretary has spoken a bit about how, in order to make progress and hopefully achieve a successful outcome, you need to take a different approach.

And part of that is certainly keeping the negotiations and the discussions quiet…

ML: Sorry. Taking a new approach is keeping everything quiet? That’s been an approach that’s been used every time going back to 1999, keeping everything secret.

That’s not a new approach. The attempt to keep it quiet is not a new approach.

But since you raised this idea of the fact that people who are up there and are being involved have done this again, I wanted to go back to yesterday’s announcement of Ambassador (Martin) Indyk and the Secretary’s quotation from the Coleridge poem that is in the preface.

Is the Secretary aware of the three lines that follow the line that he read?

JP: I’m sure you’re going to provide them to all of us right now.

ML: Well, the first line, which he did read, is: ‘If men could learn from history, what lessons would it teach us!’ That’s where he ended.

But the line goes on: ‘But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern, which shines only on the waves behind us,’ which doesn’t really lead – is not particularly an optimistic comment.

Was he aware of the rest of the lines from that stanza? (Laughter.)

JP: He’s been pretty busy.

ML: So no?

JP: I’m not sure how much time for a poetry reading he’s had in the last couple of days.

Lee’s AP report added:

“Despite words of encouragement, deep skepticism about the prospects for success surrounded the initial discussions.”

“Despite the presence of so many people whose past experience does not include success, Kerry and other officials voiced cautious optimism about the resumption of talks which he painstakingly negotiated during six months of shuttle diplomacy that began with Obama’s own trip to Israel in March.”

“Previous attempts to get talks started have foundered on Israel’s continued construction of Jewish settlements on land claimed by the Palestinians and Palestinian attempts to win international recognition as a sovereign state in the absence of a peace deal.

Actual negotiations have died because the two sides have been unable to compromise on the most serious disagreements between them: borders, the status of Jerusalem, refugees and security.

“With a US-imposed gag order on revealing any details about the substance or framework of the talks, gauging progress will be difficult.”

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. 

This week’s installment of the Global Research New Hour marks the first of a five part series highlighting research into the World Trade Center attacks and the need for a renewed investigation.



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From September 8 to September 11, 2011, a gathering of researchers, experts and activists converged on the campus of Ryerson University in Toronto to review what was then the most up to date information with regard to the ten year old tragedy.

Throughout the four day event, speakers challenged the views that the attacks were carried out by an outside enemy and that they were successful because of US intelligence failures. The visiting speakers from around the world would point to evidence that the Twin Towers were deliberately brought down using explosives. They would discuss the term ‘conspiracy theory’ and the consequent attempts to marginalize critics of the official story in mainstream media and culture. Crucially, they would make the case for a re-opening of an independent investigation into the attacks.

Does 9/11 still matter?

The 9/11 attacks took place just under twelve years ago. They were carried out under the watch of a different administration in Washington. The world has moved on. What is the point of continuing to reveal the truth about 9/11?

When hijacked airplanes flew into the Twin Towers causing them to collapse, or so the public was led to believe, the administration of then US President George W. Bush announced that the US and in fact the civilized world were under threat from a fanatical terrorist network known as Al Qaeda. The US and its partners would need to reformulate their domestic and foreign policies in order to subdue the terrorist menace in our midst. Fear that an international network of criminal extremists were so dastardly and cunning that they could catch the $40 billion military-intelligence apparatus of the United States completely off guard made it easier to convince its citizens to dispense with many of the freedoms and liberties celebrated by Americans as pillars of their democracy.

Ordinary Americans would be persuaded to subsidize with their tax dollars, and the lives of their sons and daughters in uniform, the military operations taking place in the Middle East, North Africa and abroad in the name of fighting terrorism.

The legend of this menacing outside enemy furnishes the justification for all these draconian measures. If there is to be any measure of success in resisting the allure of expensive and destructive wars, unlawful detentions, and boundless surveillance, it is crucial that the legend of 9/11 which underpins the Global War on Terrorism be carefully examined.

These conversations are excerpted from the DVD “The Toronto Hearing on 9/11: Uncovering Ten Years of Deception” (available to order from Global Research). Part One features three presenters who all spoke on September 8, the first day of the hearings.

Lance deHaven-Smith is a Professor in the Reubin O’D. Askew School of Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University. A former President of the Florida Political Science Association, he is the author, co-author, or editor of 15 books on topics ranging from religion and political philosophy to Florida government and politics. He is the author of Conspiracy Theory in America published last April by University of Texas Press. In his September 8 talk, he addressed what he called ‘State Crimes Against Democracy’ (SCADs).

David Ray Griffin is a retired Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Theology from the Claremont School of Theology in Claremont California. He has written or contributed to twelve books on the topic of the 9/11 attacks including his most recent – 9/11 Ten Years Later: When State Crimes Against Democracy Succeed. He spoke on Day One of the Toronto Hearings on the topic of ‘The Inadequacies of the 9/11 Commission Report.’

Kevin Ryan is a chemist and Laboratory Manager and was the site manager for Environmental Health Laboratories, a division of Underwriters Laboratories, before he was fired in 2004 for publicly questioning the report drafted by the National Institute on Standards and Technology (NIST) on their World Trade Center collapse investigation. He has continued to research the World Trade Center attacks and works as co-editor of the on-line Journal of 911 Studies. In his September 8 presentation, he discusses his assessment of the inadequacies of NIST’s 9/11 investigation.

Efforts are afoot to bring greater awareness of the flaws in the official 9/11 story to a broader public audience this September through a grassroots advertising campaign. For more information, visit
Also be sure to check out Global Research’s complete on-line dossier on 9/11.



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Press For Truth and The International Center for 9/11 Studies Present:

The Toronto Hearings on 9/11: Uncovering Ten Years of Deception



Click here to view the TRAILER on GlobalResearchTV

Produced by:
Steven Davies
Dan Dicks
Bryan Law

An over 5 hour DVD, with comprehensive coverage of the 4 day Toronto Hearings from September 2011.

Featuring expert witness testimony from:

David Ray Griffin
Richard Gage
David Chandler
Michel Chossudovsky
Kevin Ryan
Niels Harrit
Barbara Honegger
Peter Dale Scott
Graeme MacQueen
Jonathan Cole
Cynthia McKinney
…and many more!

The Global Research News Hour, hosted by Michael Welch, airs on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg Thursdays at 10am CDT. The programme is now broadcast weekly (Monday, 5-6pm ET) by the Progressive Radio Network in the US, and is available for download on the Global Research website.

Avendo fallito in Siria, gli USA puntano su Hezbollah

August 2nd, 2013 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Dopo che Hezbollah è intervenuto in Siria, subito delle analisi sono iniziate a circolare, indicando che gli iraniani avevano ordinato ai loro partner libanesi d’intervenire in sostegno del governo di Damasco nell’ambito di una nuova ondata iraniana in Siria. Questa presa di posizione rifiuta di ammettere che Hezbollah sia uno dei principali obiettivi della guerra in Siria o di riconoscere che Hezbollah interviene in Siria sulla base dei propri interessi di sicurezza e contro l’attacco in corso alle città libanesi sul confine siriano-libanese. Hezbollah è stato letteralmente trascinato nella guerra e le stesse forze che cercano di rovesciare il governo siriano già preparavano la politica del rischio calcolato per un attacco contro il Libano, attraverso una serie di false affermazioni contro Hezbollah e di misure che avevano lo scopo d’istigare la lotta contro esso in Libano. A seguito dell’intervento di Hezbollah in Siria, il governo degli Stati Uniti ha iniziato a imporre contro il partito libanese sanzioni finanziarie. Quattro uomini d’affari libanesi nei Paesi dell’Africa occidentale di Repubblica della Costa d’Avorio (Costa d’Avorio), Repubblica del Gambia, Repubblica del Senegal e Repubblica della Sierra Leone sarebbero stati accusati di essere ambasciatori informali gli Hezbollah e quindi gli USA li hanno sanzionati. In sincronia con Washington, i regimi dei petro-sceiccati arabi del Golfo Persico di Qatar, Arabia Saudita ed Emirati Arabi Uniti avrebbero iniziato a chiudere le aziende di cittadini libanesi, revocandone la residenza per poi espellerli.

Nonostante l’espulsione pregiudizievole dei cittadini libanesi, non necessariamente si tratta di una nuova politica dei regimi arabi del Golfo Persico, vi è la nuova prerogativa legata al conflitto nel Levante. Mentre le agenzie di stampa come la Reuters sostengono che “le espulsioni illustrano come la guerra in Siria incoraggia la diffusione oltre i confini e nella regione delle antiche tensioni tra sunniti e sciiti”, la verità è un’altra. Queste narrazioni camuffano e mirano a nascondere la vera natura politica del conflitto, attraverso un certo tipo di spiegazioni artificiose che affermano che i sunniti e gli sciiti sono nemici mortali naturali. Il carattere sciita di Hezbollah è irriverente. Gli Stati Uniti e i loro alleati cercano di stringere un cappio intorno a Hezbollah e ad escluderlo dalle potenziali fonti dei finanziamenti che riceve, direttamente o indirettamente, tramite donazioni o rimesse in Libano.

L’UE ha fornito copertura giuridica a una rinnovata aggressione israeliana contro il Libano?

Il 25 luglio 2013 l’Unione europea ha aggiunto l’ala militare di Hezbollah alla sua lista delle organizzazioni terroristiche. La decisione dell’Unione europea è il risultato di un compromesso che avrebbe dovuto porre fine alla forte pressione da parte dei governi degli Stati Uniti e d’Israele. In questi sforzi, Israele e Stati Uniti sono stati aiutati dal sostegno dei governi di Gran Bretagna e Paesi Bassi. Anche se la decisione dell’Unione europea ufficialmente si basa sull’accusa non provata che Hezbollah sia responsabile di un attentato in Bulgaria a un autobus di turisti israeliani, il vero motivo è stato l’intervento indipendente di Hezbollah in Siria. L’Unione europea avrebbe potuto mettere nella lista nera Hezbollah molto prima, se riteneva le accuse di terrorismo giustificate. Anche il governo bulgaro l’ha rifiutata e rifiuta di piegarsi alle richieste di Tel Aviv che la Bulgaria indichi Hezbollah quale colpevole. Vale la pena notare che l’inserimento nella lista nera dell’ala militare di Hezbollah da parte dell’UE soddisfa parzialmente Stati Uniti e Israele. Dal momento che nulla si sa realmente dell’ala militare di Hezbollah, poco può essere fatto praticamente. Il modo con cui l’UE ha messo Hezbollah nella lista nera potenzialmente lascia la porta aperta ad una posizione flessibile dei membri dell’Unione Europea e della Commissione europea. Eppure, è una spada a doppio taglio. La decisione dell’UE, tuttavia, potrebbe essere utilizzata come arma politica, giuridica ed economica contro il Libano e Hezbollah, quando necessario.

In risposta all’azione dell’Unione europea, i leader di Hezbollah in Libano hanno detto che l’Unione europea è ormai complice di eventuali futuri crimini d’Israele contro il Libano. Secondo Hassan Nasrallah, il segretario generale di Hezbollah, gli Stati membri dell’Unione europea saranno responsabili di un futuro attacco israeliano contro il Libano, perché hanno dato copertura legale ad Israele per il suo prossimo attacco al Libano. Ciò significa che se gli israeliani attaccheranno Libano, sosterranno che combattono il terrorismo internazionale. Indubbiamente Tel Aviv tirerà fuori la decisione del 2013 dell’UE e ne parlerà incessantemente nella sua propaganda come mezzo per convincere l’opinione pubblica internazionale che Israele combatte Hezbollahnell’ambito della lotta al terrorismo.

Gonfiare la propaganda nella guerra mediatica

Reuters ha preso l’insolita iniziativa di pubblicare un articolo il 21 luglio 2013, fondamentalmente un pezzo speculativo dal titolo “All’interno: Facendo affidamento sull’Iran, la Siria di Assad rischia l’irrilevanza”. La dichiarazione di apertura è la seguente: “Il sostegno militare dell’Iran e del suo alleato sciita Hezbollah ha dato al presidente siriano Bashar al-Assad nuovo slancio nella sua lotta contro i ribelli intenti a cacciarlo, ma a un prezzo.” L’articolo di Reuters arriva a suggerire quanto segue: “Assad ora rischia di perdere gran parte della sua autonomia da Teheran e di diventare una pedina in una grande guerra settaria tra musulmani sunniti e sciiti che non può finire, anche se  costretto a dimettersi, dicono esperti militari e diplomatici nella regione.” Business Insider s’associa alla posizione di Reuters, scrivendo il 24 luglio 2013 che “il presidente siriano Bashar al-Assad è stato costretto gradualmente a cedere il potere in Iran per sostenere il suo regime durante il conflitto in corso in Siria”. Gli argomenti di cui sopra sono parte della propaganda standard che inizia a circolare nei media mainstream che servono l’agenda estera di Washington. L’obiettivo è naturalizzare l’idea che l’odio settario esiste tra i musulmani.

La propaganda include anche suggerimenti fabbricati ed esagerati secondo cui la popolarità di Hezbollah è diminuita a livello regionale e anche tra i suoi elettori libanesi nella comunità sciita.  Per esempio, Voce dell’America ha scritto così il 25 luglio 2013: “le famiglie di centinaia di combattenti di Hezbollah uccisi nella recente battaglia per Qusayr, si meravigliano del perché i loro cari siano morti combattendo altri arabi invece d’Israele”. Anche in precedenza un altro articolo della Reuters riportava, il 5 luglio 2013: “Molti libanesi vedono nel sostegno del leader di Hezbollah Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah ad Assad, contro l’insurrezione a maggioranza sunnita della Siria, un errore di calcolo che trascina il Libano nel pantano siriano, esacerbando i combattimenti in Libano e approfondendo le derive settarie sunnita-sciita della regione.” Gli attacchi missilistici sul Libano da parte dei ribelli in Siria e la destinazione delle rimesse dei libanesi sono anche parte di questa propaganda. In tutta ciò, il successo dell’esercito siriano è stato deliberatamente minimizzato. Invece l’enfasi viene posta su Iran, Hezbollahe i gruppi di volontari dall’Iraq, che vincono la guerra per il governo siriano. Ad esempio, AFP ha scritto: “Per  raggiungere questo obiettivo, l’esercito [siriano] è sostenuto dai miliziani locali che operano in città e villaggi, e che sono stati addestrati alla guerra urbana per diversi mesi dall’Iran e dalla Russia, secondo esperti e fonti vicine alle forze di sicurezza siriane.” Questo aspetto della propaganda è in realtà vecchia ed è stata utilizzata per spiegare perché il governo siriano non è crollato, come gli Stati Uniti ed i loro alleati hanno erroneamente predetto.

Ci sono anche altri esempi. Il Washington Post avrebbe riferito il 1 giugno 2013, che “la tecnologia sofisticata della Russia e dell’Iran ha dato alle truppe governative siriane nuovi vantaggi nel monitorare e distruggere i loro nemici, aiutandoli a consolidare le vittorie in battaglia contro i ribelli, secondo funzionari e analisti dell’intelligence del Medio Oriente.” Aggiungendo inoltre: “La tecnologia comprende l’incremento dei droni da ricognizione fabbricazione iraniana e, in alcuni settori, dei sistemi anti-mortaio simili a quelli utilizzati [dal Pentagono] per rintracciare la fonte dei tiri di mortaio, hanno detto funzionari ed esperti. Unità militari siriane fanno anche maggiore uso delle apparecchiature da ricognizione per raccogliere informazioni sulle posizioni dei ribelli, e dei dispositivi di disturbo per bloccare le comunicazioni dei ribelli, hanno detto.” La Fox News Network seguirebbe l’esempio segnalando che “le truppe siriane ora utilizzano tecnologie e tattiche sofisticate” provenienti da Iran e Russia. John Bolton, l’assai impopolare ex-ambasciatore degli Stati Uniti alle Nazioni Unite, voleva pesare sul conflitto siriano dicendo a Fox News che “negli ultimi mesi mi sembrano esserci pochi dubbi, ma l’Iran e la Russia hanno intensificato quantità e qualità dell’assistenza che forniscono, con telecomunicazioni e capacità di puntamento più sofisticate, più assistenza finanziaria e arruolando Hezbollah”, durante un’intervista del 2 giugno con Eric Shawn.

Forse l’aspetto peggiore di questa propaganda utilizzata per la fabbricazione di una falsa immagine degli eventi in Siria, è sostenere che il governo siriano e i suoi alleati vogliono dividere la Siria in diversi Stati settari. The Guardian pretenderebbe perfino, in un articolo di Martin Chulov e Mona Mahmood del 22 luglio 2013, che il governo siriano abbia avvicinato “l’ex ministro degli Esteri israeliano, Avigdor Lieberman, alla fine dell’anno scorso [nel 2012] con una richiesta affinché Israele non si opponesse ai tentativi di formare uno Stato alawita, che avrebbe comportato lo spostamento di alcune comunità sfollate nell’area delle alture del Golan”. Lo stesso articolo scrive: “’Ci sono stati esempi evidenti di pulizia confessionale in diverse aree ad Homs’, ha detto l’attivista locale, Abu Rami. ‘La pulizia confessionale è parte di un importante piano sciita iraniano, evidente attraverso il coinvolgimento di Hezbollah e delle milizie iraniane. Ed è anche parte del piano per uno Stato alawita personale di Assad.’” La situazione è l’esatto contrario, in realtà, gli israeliani e i loro alleati vogliono dividere la Siria in un mosaico di staterelli. Questi obiettivi sono ora disonestamente e fantasiosamente attribuiti al governo siriano, quale suo obiettivo.

I colloqui di pace israelo-palestinesi sono legati ai piani di guerra israelo-statunitensi?

Mentre alcuni hanno descritto i nuovi colloqui di pace israelo-palestinesi sponsorizzati come  concessione israeliana o scambio con gli Stati Uniti per la loro pressione che ha costretto l’UE a mettere nella lista nera l’ala militare di Hezbollah, la questione ha bisogno di un attento esame. I colloqui israelo-palestinesi sono stati decisi per motivi che sono in realtà legati alle relazioni pubbliche e alla diplomazia internazionale. L’Autorità palestinese è moralmente in bancarotta, e partecipa ai colloqui di pace perché le è stato ordinato. Nonostante la copertura fornita dalla promessa israeliana di liberare un gran numero di prigionieri palestinesi detenuti nelle prigioni israeliane, il governo israeliano non farà alcuna grande concessione. Il calendario dei colloqui di pace israelo-palestinesi è legato all’agenda degli Stati Uniti ed israeliana nel Levante. L’annuncio del rinnovo dei colloqui tra gli israeliani e la corrotta Autorità palestinese, entra in stretta sintonia con la decisione dell’Unione europea di elencare l’ala militare di Hezbollah come organizzazione terroristica. Ora che Hezbollah sostiene apertamente il governo siriano, gli Stati Uniti e Israele potrebbero programmare di attaccare, in un modo o nell’altro. Un altro conflitto israeliano con il Libano, in particolare sotto forma di guerra, incontrerebbe la grande indignazione internazionale e avrebbe un costo elevato per l’immagine internazionale d’Israele, già a brandelli. Tale guerra israeliana contro il Libano sarebbe un disastro per le pubbliche relazioni di Tel Aviv. Questo è il motivo per cui i rinnovati colloqui con i palestinesi potrebbero forse essere un mezzo per ritrarre Israele sotto una luce positiva, prima che venga coinvolto in un nuovo conflitto con il Libano o in eventuali nuove avventure regionali.

Indipendentemente dalle intenzioni dietro i colloqui israelo-palestinesi, Hezbollah viene innegabilmente preso di mira dagli Stati Uniti e dai loro alleati. Prenderlo a bersaglio non significa necessariamente una terza guerra israeliana contro il Libano. Alimentando il fuoco del settarismo in Libano con l’intenzione d’iniziare una guerra civile, potrebbe essere la principale e migliore opzione israelo-statunitense… L’attacco terroristico contro il quartiere di Bir al-Abed, nella profonda roccaforte di Hezbollah nel sobborgo meridionale di Beirut, Dahiyeh, e il sostegno segreto a gruppi violenti, come quello dello sceicco Ahmed al-Assir di Sidone, che ha combattuto l’esercito libanese, sono tutti parte della strategia per stringere il cappio intorno ad Hezbollah incendiando la sua base. Le sanzioni degli Stati Uniti, il soffocamento delle rimesse verso il Libano e la demonizzazione di Hezbollahdesignandone l’ala militare come organizzazione terroristica, fanno parte di questa campagna. Altre mosse verranno. Scrivendo per Fox News il 23 luglio 2013, Claudia Rosett e Benjamin Weinthal retoricamente si chiedevano, come suggerisce il titolo del loro articolo, “Dove sono le sanzioni delle Nazioni Unite verso Hezbollah?


Strategic Culture Foundation 30.07.2013

Traduzione di Alessandro Lattanzio.

La amenaza de guerra nuclear: ¿Corea del Norte o EE.UU.?

August 2nd, 2013 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Cuando los medios occidentales presentan el programa de armas nucleares de Corea del Norte como una amenaza para la Seguridad Global, no reconocen que EE.UU. ha estado amenazando a Corea del Norte con un ataque nuclear desde hace más de medio siglo.

El 27 de julio de 2013, Día del Armisticio, los coreanos del Norte y del Sur conmemorarán el fin de la guerra de Corea (1950-53). Sin conocimiento del público en general, EE.UU. había considerado el uso de armas nucleares contra Corea del Norte al comienzo de la Guerra de Corea en 1950. Inmediatamente después de la guerra, EE.UU. desplegó armas nucleares en Corea del Sur para utilizarlas de modo preventivo contra la República Democrática Popular de Corea (DPRK) en violación del Acuerdo de Armisticio de julio de 1953.

Video en inglés


La “Doctrina de Hiroshima” aplicada a Corea del Norte

La doctrina nuclear de EE.UU. aplicada a Corea fue establecida según los bombardeos de Hiroshima y Nagasaki en agosto de 1945, que fueron dirigidos en gran parte contra civiles.

El objetivo estratégico de un ataque nuclear según la “doctrina de Hiroshima” era provocar un “evento produciendo masivas víctimas” causando decenas de miles de muertes. El objetivo era aterrorizar a toda la nación, como medio de conquista militar. Los objetivos militares no constituían el principal objetivo: la noción de “daño colateral” fue utilizada como justificación para el asesinato masivo de civiles, bajo la pretensión oficial de que Hiroshima era una “base militar” y que los civiles no fueron el objetivo.

En las palabras del presidente Harry Truman:

“Hemos descubierto la bomba más terrible en la historia del mundo… Esta arma será utilizada contra Japón… La utilizaremos de maneras que objetivos militares y soldados y marineros sean el objetivo y no mujeres y niños. Incluso si los japoneses son salvajes, implacables, despiadados y fanáticos, nosotros como líderes del mundo por el bienestar común no podemos lanzar esa terrible bomba sobre la antigua capital o la nueva… El objetivo será puramente militar… Parece ser la cosa más terrible jamás descubierta, pero puede ser convertida en la más útil.” (Presidente Harry S. Truman, Diary, 25 de julio de 1945)

“El mundo notará que la primera bomba atómica fue lanzada contra Hiroshima, una base militar. Fue porque deseamos evitar, en este primer ataque, en la medida de lo posible, la muerte de civiles…” (Presidente Harry S. Truman en un discurso por la radio a la nación, 9 de agosto de 1945.)

[Nota: la primera bomba atómica fue arrojada sobre Hiroshima el 6 de agosto de 1945; la segunda, sobre Nagasaki, el 9 de agosto, el mismo día del discurso de Truman por radio a la nación]

Nadie dentro de los niveles superiores del gobierno y las fuerzas armadas de EE.UU. creía que Hiroshima era una base militar. Truman mentía a sí mismo y al público estadounidense. Hasta hoy, el uso de armas nucleares contra Japón es justificado como un coste necesario para terminar la guerra y, a fin de cuentas, “salvar vidas”.

Armas nucleares estadounidenses almacenadas y desplegadas en Corea del Sur

Solo unos pocos años después del fin de la Guerra de Corea, EE.UU. inició el despliegue de ojivas nucleares en Corea del Sur. Este despliegue en Uijongbu y Anyang-Ni ya había sido considerado en 1956.

Vale la pena señalar que la decisión de EE.UU. de llevar ojivas nucleares a Corea del Sur constituía una violación flagrante del Párrafo 13(d) del Acuerdo de Armisticio que prohibía que las facciones en guerra introdujeran nuevas armas a Corea.

El verdadero despliegue de ojivas nucleares comenzó en enero de 1958, cuatro años y medio después del fin de la Guerra de Corea, “con la introducción de cinco sistemas de armas nucleares: el misil tierra-tierra Honest John, el misil de crucero Matador, la mina terrestre nuclear Munición de Demolición Atómica (ADM), y el cañón de 280-mm y el cañón sin retroceso de 203 mm.” (Vea The nuclear information project: US Nuclear Weapons in Korea)

El proyectil Davy Crockett fue desplegado en Corea del Sur entre julio de 1962 y junio de 1968. La ojiva tenía rendimientos selectivos de hasta 0,25 kilotones. El proyectil pesaba solo 34,5 kilos. Bombas nucleares para cazabombarderos llegaron en marzo de 1958, seguidas por tres sistemas de misiles tierra-tierra (Lacrosse, Davy Crockett, y Sergeant) entre julio de 1960 y septiembre de 1963. El misil antiaéreo y tierra-tierra de doble misión Nike Hercules llegó en enero de 1961, y finalmente el cañón sin retroceso de 155-mm llegó en octubre de 1964. En el clímax de este aumento, cerca de 950 ojivas fueron desplegadas en Corea del Sur.

Cuatro de los tipos de armas solo siguieron estando desplegados durante unos pocos años, mientras los demás permanecieron durante décadas. El cañón sin retroceso de 203 mm se quedó hasta fines de 1991, la única arma que fue desplegada durante todo el período de 33 años de despliegue de armas nucleares de EE.UU. en Corea del Sur. Las otras armas que se quedaron hasta el fin fueron las bombas lanzadas desde el aire (diferentes tipos de bombas fueron desplegadas durante años, terminando con la B61), y la artillería nuclear de obuses de 155 mm. (Ibíd.).

El despliegue de armas nucleares de EE.UU. en Corea del Sur duró oficialmente durante 33 años. El despliegue tenía como objetivos a Corea del Norte así como China y la Unión Soviética.

Al mismo tiempo y en coordinación con el despliegue de ojivas nucleares en Corea del Sur, dicho país había iniciado su propio programa de armas nucleares a principios de los años setenta. La historia oficial es que EE.UU. ejerció presión sobre Seúl para que abandonara su programa de armas nucleares y “firmara el Tratado de No-Proliferación de Armas Nucleares (TNP) en abril de 1975 antes de que hubiera producido algún material fisible”.

(Daniel A. Pinkston, “South Korea’s Nuclear Experiments,” CNS Research Story, 9 de noviembre de 2004, .]

La iniciativa nuclear de Corea del Sur (ROK) tuvo lugar desde el comienzo a principios de los años setenta bajo la supervisión de EE.UU. y fue desarrollada como un componente del despliegue estadounidense de armas nucleares, a fin de amenazar a Corea del Norte.

Además, aunque este programa terminó oficialmente en 1978, EE.UU. promovió experticia científica así como el entrenamiento de los militares de la ROK en el uso de armas nucleares. Y considérese lo siguiente: Bajo el acuerdo CFC ROK-EE.UU., todas las unidades operacionales de la ROK están bajo comando conjunto encabezado por un general estadounidense. Esto significa que todas las instalaciones y bases militares establecidas por las fuerzas armadas coreanas son de facto instalaciones comunes. Existe un total de 27 instalaciones militares de EE.UU. en la ROK. (Vea “Lista de instalaciones del Ejército de EE.UU. en Corea del Sur – Wikipedia)

 ”LGM-30G Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile” (ICBM) (L) y “LG-118A Peacekeeper missile”®. (AFP Foto/US DoD)

La planificación de ataques nucleares contra Corea del Norte desde EE.UU. continental y desde submarinos estratégicos estadounidenses

Según fuentes militares, la remoción de armas nucleares estadounidenses de Corea del Sur fue iniciada a mediados de los años setenta. Fue completada en 1991:

El almacenamiento de armas nucleares en la base aérea Osan fue desactivado a fines de 1977. Esta reducción continuó durante los años siguientes y llevó a que la cantidad de armas nucleares en Corea del Sur haya bajado de unas 540 en 1976 a aproximadamente 150 obuses de artillería y bombas en 1985. Cuando tuvo lugar la Iniciativa Nuclear Presidencial en 1991, seguía habiendo 100 ojivas, todas las cuales habían sido retiradas en diciembre de 1991. (Proyecto de información nuclear: retirada de armas nucleares estadounidenses de Corea del Sur)

Según declaraciones oficiales, EE.UU. retiro sus armas nucleares de Corea del Sur en diciembre de 1991.

Esta retirada de Corea no modificó de ninguna manera la amenaza de guerra nuclear de EE.UU. dirigida contra la DPRK. Al contrario: fue asociada a cambios en la estrategia militar de EE.UU. respecto al despliegue de ojivas nucleares. Grandes ciudades norcoreanas debían ser el objetivo de ojivas nucleares desde instalaciones en EE.UU. continental y desde submarinos estratégicos estadounidenses (SSBN) en lugar de instalaciones militares en Corea del Sur.

Después del retiro de las armas nucleares estadounidenses de Corea del Sur en diciembre de 1991, l 4º Fighter Wing en la Base Seymour Johnson de la Fuerza Aérea, ha sido encargado de la planificación de ataques nucleares contra Corea del Norte. Desde entonces, la planificación de ataques contra Corea del Norte con armas nucleares no estratégicas ha sido la responsabilidad de unidades basadas en EE.UU. continental. …

“Simulamos librar una guerra en Corea, utilizando un escenario coreano. … El escenario… simuló una decisión de la Autoridad Nacional de Comando sobre la consideración del uso de armas nucleares…. Identificamos aviones, tripulaciones y cargadores [de armas] para cargar armas nucleares tácticas en nuestros aviones….

Con una capacidad de atacar objetivos en menos de 15 minutos, el misil balístico Trident D5 lanzado desde el mar es un “sistema crítico de misión” para las Fuerzas de EE.UU. en Corea.

Misiles balísticos en submarinos y bombarderos de largo alcance

Además de bombas no estratégicas lanzadas desde el aire, misiles balísticos lanzados desde el mar a bordo de submarinos estratégicos de la clase Ohio (SSBN) que patrullan en el Pacífico también parecen tener una misión contra Corea del Norte. Un informe del Inspector General del Departamento de Defensa de 1998 mencionó el sistema Trident como “sistema crítico de misión” identificado por el Comando Pacífico de EE.UU. y por Fuerzas de EE.UU. en Corea como “de importancia particular”.

Aunque la misión primordial del sistema Trident se dirige contra objetivos en Rusia y China, un misil D5 lanzado en un vuelo de baja trayectoria suministra una capacidad de ataque de incomparable rapidez (12-13 minutos) contra objetivos a tiempo crítico en Corea del Norte. Ningún otro sistema de armas estadounidense puede conseguir que una ojiva llegue a su objetivo con semejante rapidez. Dos-tres SSBN están en “alerta dura” en el Pacífico en cualquier momento dado, poniendo en riesgo objetivos rusos, chinos y norcoreanos desde áreas de patrulla designadas.

También se puede asignar un papel de ataque nuclear contra Corea del Norte a bombarderos estratégicos de largo alcance aunque se conocen pocos detalles específicos. Un mapa de la Fuerza Aérea sugiere un papel de ataque para B-2 contra Corea del Norte. Como portador designado de la bomba de penetración del suelo B61-11, el B-2 es un fuerte candidato para potenciales misiones de ataque nuclear contra instalaciones norcoreanas a gran profundidad subterránea.

Como portador designado de la bomba nuclear de penetración bajo tierra B61-11 [con una capacidad explosiva entre un tercio y seis veces del de una bomba de Hiroshima] y un posible futuro Penetrador Nuclear Robusto, el bombardero stealth B-2 podría tener un papel importante contra objetivos en Corea del Norte. Recientes actualizaciones permiten la planificación de una nueva misión de ataque nuclear con B-2 en menos de 8 horas. (Ibíd.)

“Aunque el gobierno de Corea del Sur confirmó en su momento la retirada, las afirmaciones de EE.UU. no fueron tan claras. Como resultado, rumores persistieron durante mucho tiempo –particularmente en Corea del Norte y del Sur– de que armas nucleares permanecieron en Corea del Sur. Sin embargo el retiro fue confirmado por el Comando Pacífico en 1998 en una porción desclasificada de la Historia del Comando CINCPAC para 1991.” (The nuclear information project: withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from South Korea)

El Estudio de la Postura Nuclear 2001 del gobierno de Bush: Guerra Nuclear Preventiva

El gobierno de Bush estableció en el Estudio de la Postura Nuclear 2001 el perfil de una nueva doctrina de guerra nuclear “preventiva” posterior al 11-S, es decir que armas nucleares podrían ser utilizadas como instrumento de “autodefensa” contra Estados no nucleares.

“Requerimientos para capacidades de ataque nuclear estadounidense” dirigido contra Corea del Norte fueron establecidos como parte de una misión de Ataque Global bajo el control de la Jefatura del Comando Estratégico de EE.UU. en Omaha Nebraska, el así llamado CONPLAN 8022, que iba dirigido contra una serie de “Estados canallas” incluyendo a Corea del Norte así como China y Rusia.

El 18 de noviembre de 2005, el nuevo comando de Ataque Espacial y Global empezó a funcionar en STRATCOM después de pasar una prueba en un ejercicio de guerra nuclear que incluía a Corea del Norte.

La actual planificación de ataque nuclear estadounidense contra Corea del Norte parece servir tres objetivos: El primero es un rol de disuasión tradicional vagamente definido con el propósito de influenciar la conducta norcoreana antes de hostilidades.

Este papel fue ampliado en algo por el Estudio de la Postura Nuclear de 2001 para que no solo disuadiera sino también influyera a Corea del Norte contra la busca de armas de destrucción masiva.

Por qué, después de cinco décadas de enfrentar a Corea del Norte con armas nucleares, el gobierno de Bush cree que capacidades nucleares adicionales disuadirán de alguna manera a Corea del Norte de la busca de armas de destrucción masiva [programa de armas nucleares] es un misterio. (Ibíd.)

¿Quién es la amenaza? ¿Corea del Norte o EE.UU.?

Hay que subrayar la asimetría de las capacidades de armas nucleares entre EE.UU. y la DPRK. Según (abril de 2013) EE.UU.: “posee 5.113 ojivas nucleares, incluyendo armas tácticas, estratégicas y no desplegadas”

Según la última declaración oficial New START, de las más de 5.113 armas nucleares, “EE.UU. despliega 1.654 ojivas nucleares estratégica en 792 ICBM, SLBM y bombarderos estratégicos desplegados… ( abril de 2013).

En contraste, la DPRK, según la misma fuente:

“ha separado suficiente plutonio para aproximadamente 4-8 ojivas nucleares. Corea del Norte presentó en 2010 una instalación de centrífuga, pero su capacidad de producir uranio altamente enriquecido para armas sigue siendo poco clara”.

Según la opinión de expertos:

“no existe evidencia de que Corea del Norte tenga los medios de lanzar un misil con un arma nuclear a EE.UU. o a cualquier otro país. Hasta ahora, ha producido varias bombas atómicas y las ha probado, pero carece del combustible y la tecnología para miniaturizar una bomba atómica y colocarla en un misil”. (North Korea: What’s really happening –, 5 de abril de 2013)

Según Siegried Hecker, uno de los científicos nucleares más destacados de EE.UU.:

“A pesar de sus recientes amenazas, Corea del Norte todavía no tiene un gran arsenal nuclear porque carece de materiales fisibles y tiene poca experiencia en pruebas nucleares”. (Ibíd.)

La amenaza de guerra nuclear no proviene de la DPRK sino de EE.UU. y sus aliados.

La República Democrática Popular de Corea, víctima tácita de la agresión militar estadounidense, ha sido incesantemente presentada como una nación belicista, una amenaza para la Patria Estadounidense y una “amenaza para la paz mundial”. Esas acusaciones estilizadas se han convertido en parte de un consenso mediático.

Mientras tanto, Washington está implementando una renovación por 32.000 millones de dólares de sus armas nucleares estratégicas y modernizando sus armas nucleares tácticas, que según una decisión del Senado en 2002 “no son dañinas para la población civil circundante”.

Esas continuas amenazas y acciones de agresión latente dirigidas contra la DPRK también deben ser vistas como parte de una agenda militar estadounidense más amplia en el Este de Asia, dirigida contra China y Rusia.

Es importante que la gente en todo el mundo, en EE.UU. y los países occidentales, llegue a comprender que EE.UU., y no Corea del Norte o Irán, representa una amenaza para la seguridad global.


Traducido para Rebelión por Germán Leyens

Michel Chossudovsky es escritor, profesor emérito de Economía en la Universidad de Ottawa, fundador y director del Centro de Investigación sobre la Globalización (CRG), Montreal y editor de la web Es autor de The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003) y de America’s “War on Terrorism”(2005). Su más reciente libro es Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War (2011). También es colaborador de la Encyclopaedia Britannica. Sus escritos se han publicado en más de 20 idiomas.

vi·cious [vish-uhs] adjective. 1. addicted to or characterized by vice; grossly immoral; depraved; profligate. 2. given or readily disposed to evil. 3. reprehensible; blameworthy; wrong: a vicious deception. 4. spiteful; malicious: a vicious attack.

1% “leaders” in government, economics, and corporate media saturate the 99% in vicious criminal policies; perhaps 100 of critical importance. These crimes are “emperor has no clothes” obvious upon inspection, and only continue from official propaganda of diminishing credibility.

The 99% can end these Orwellian crimes through command of objective facts and demand for arrests of obvious criminals. The basic facts for justice under law seem easiest in three areas:

  • War Crimes 
  • Fraudulently creating perpetual and increasing debt while calling it “money” 
  • “Covering” these crimes through corporate media lies
  • Unlawful wars: US armed attacks, invasions, and occupations of foreign lands are unlawful Wars of Aggression. Two treaties, the Kellogg-Briand Pact and UN Charter, make armed attacks on another nation unlawful unless in response to armed attack by that nation’s government. It’s icing on the legal cake that all “reasons” given for war to Americans, our military, and the world are now disclosed by our own official documents as known to be false as they were told. Moreover, such US wars have killed 20-30 million since WW2All of our families sacrificed through two world wars: if there’s one law that Americans should know as least as well as rules of their favorite sport, it’s war law.
  • Fraud is the crime of misrepresentation that causes harm. The US bankster economy uses fraud to transfer trillions annually from We the People to them. This criminal “1%” represent our “debt-supply” as a “money supply,” represent bank debt that they made out of nothing as “loans,” and represent escalating government debts as having no solutions except our austerity rather than presenting obvious solutions in money and through public banking. This fraud costs Americans increasing work for less pay (if they can get work), increasing debt, inflation, deprivation of public services, and a transfer of wealth to a criminal-colluding 1% that hide ~$20 to $30 trillion in protected tax havens. About one million children die from preventable poverty every month from “developed” nations’ reneged promises for annual investment equal to one-half of one percent of this tax-free wealth for about ten years. Ending poverty reduces population growth in all historical cases, and according to the CIA is the best way to end terrorism. For “leaders” to withhold this option is fraud from people with legal fiduciary responsibility for comprehensively accurate information to those they represent.
  • Corporate media lies: You recognize the objective facts prove that these crimes from US Presidents and “leadership” of both parties in Congress are only possible because they’re “covered” by corporate media to lie for the worst crimes imaginable for a nation to commit. They do so relentlessly and increasingly. In case you consider state-level “leadership” of our Left and Right arms of fascism any better, they lie and hoard literal billions and trillions in surplus taxpayer accounts while demanding our austerity. This is what the CAFR scam is about.

From my work with both political parties’ “leaderships” since 1980, I assert that Earth’s inhabitants will never be free in creativity, progress, or love with this enormity of viciousness that only increases. 

Although we say the above points often, I don’t see much else to say beyond helping to make the choice clear between competent American citizenship that recognizes and ends obvious crimes, versus thoughtless obedience to criminal “leadership” that annually kills millions, harms billions, and loots trillions.

American officials routinely deny that Obama’s “pivot to Asia” is aimed at preparing for war against China. However, in comments this week reported on the Foreign Policy web site, General Herbert Carlisle, chief of US Air Force operations in the Pacific, outlined a far-reaching build-up of American war planes and personnel throughout Asia.

The four-star general told reporters in Washington on July 29 that the US Air Force would dispatch “fighters, tankers, and at some point in the future, maybe bombers on a rotational basis” to bases in northern Australia. He indicated that the “rotations” would begin next year to Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Darwin before moving to RAAF Base Tindal, several hundred kilometres south.

The US Air Force has already flown training missions into RAAF Base Darwin, with a B-52 arriving from Guam last August. Longer stays are now being prepared, in line with the US Marine “rotational presence” in Darwin that will reach 1,150 next year. By 2016, a fully-equipped 2,500-strong Marine Air Ground Task Force will operate from Darwin on six-month rotations.

According to the Navy Times on July 31, US warships and sailors will also be using Darwin more frequently as part of Marine training exercises. Over recent weeks, US naval warships, including the George Washington aircraft carrier strike group, have been taking part in the largest ever joint US-Australian Talisman Sabre war games in the eastern state of Queensland. [link to article]

Foreign Policy reported: “This is just the start of the Air Force’s plan to expand its presence in Asia, according to Carlisle. In addition to the Australian deployments, the Air Force will be sending jets to Changi East air base in Singapore, Korat air base in Thailand, a site in India, and possibly bases at Kubi Point and Puerto Princesa in the Philippines and airfields in Indonesia and Malaysia.”

The US military already has large permanent bases close to China—in Japan, South Korea and Guam. The plans outlined by Carlisle involve a major expansion of the US Air Force into countries in South East Asia, where it has had little or no presence since the end of the Vietnam War. In the case of India, the US military has not previously had access to its military bases.

Foreign Policy noted that the US Marines were “also refurbishing old World War II airfields on Pacific Islands. These bare-bones strips, like the one on Tinian, would be used by American forces in case their main bases are targeted by Chinese ballistic missiles.” The Tinian base in the North Marianas is being built nominally as a live firing range and training area. During World War II, the US Air Force used the Tinian, Guam and Saipan bases for devastating air raids on the Japanese mainland.

In a particularly revealing remark, Carlisle likened the US Air Force build up in Asia to the Cold War in Europe. “Back in the late great days of the Cold War,” he said, “we had a thing called Checkered Flag: We rotated almost every CONUS [Continental United States] unit to Europe. Every two years, every unit would go and work out of a collateral operating base in Europe. We’re turning to that in the Pacific.”

Carlisle did not explicitly name the “enemy” of the new Cold War-style deployment, but he accused China of “aggressive, assertive behaviour”. In fact, Obama’s “pivot” has encouraged key Asian allies such as Japan and the Philippines to more forcefully pursue their maritime disputes with China, leading to a rapid rise in regional tensions, which the US has in turn exploited to justify its expanded military presence.

The general declared that the Air Force would rotate its “most capable platforms” into the Pacific, including F-22 Raptors, F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and B-2 stealth bombers. He pointed out that the first permanent overseas base for the F-35 would be in Asia.

Carlisle’s remarks are in line with US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel’s announcement in December that 60 percent of the US Air Force overseas-based war planes and personnel would be stationed in the Indo-Pacific region by 2020. His predecessor, Leon Panetta, had already announced the “rebalancing” of 60 percent of US naval assets to the region over the same period.

Speaking in Singapore last Saturday, US Vice President Joe Biden reiterated Washington’s determination to remain the dominant power in South East Asia. “I state without apology that we are a Pacific power. America is a Pacific resident power and we will remain so,” he said. Biden was addressing sailors on the US Navy’s littoral combat ship USS Freedom, which is based in Singapore.

There is no explanation for the massive US military build-up underway throughout the Indo-Pacific region other than the preparations for war against China. Biden declared in Singapore that “our mere presence” was “the basis upon which stability in the region is built”. The opposite is true. Obama’s “pivot” over the past four years has profoundly destabilised the region, raising tensions and dangerously inflaming flashpoints such as the Korean Peninsula.

The Obama administration is engaged in an offensive against potential rival China on all fronts—diplomatic, economic and strategic—in a bid to maintain US regional and global dominance. The Pentagon has drawn up detailed war plans, known as AirSea Battle, that would involve a massive missile and air assault on China’s missile sites, military bases and command centres. This strategy is complemented by plans for an economic blockade of China by severing its shipping routes through South East Asia, on which it depends for imports of energy and minerals from Africa and the Middle East.

The build-up of American air force and naval assets, the restructuring of existing US bases in North East Asia and the establishment of new basing arrangements with Australia and throughout South East Asia are all part of these preparations.

The bankruptcy of Detroit is being widely cited in the media as a model for the use of unelected officials and bankruptcy courts to rip up agreements and impose sweeping cuts on the pensions and health benefits of public employees, not only in Detroit, but in cities across the United States.

The Obama administration has rejected any federal aid to ameliorate the financial crisis of Detroit and counter the effort of state and city officials, fronting for the banks and bondholders, to use bankruptcy to gut workers’ benefits. This makes it clear that the Detroit bankruptcy is part of a broader nationwide policy that is being coordinated by the White House.

The attack on public workers is increasingly accompanied by claims that the crisis of Detroit demonstrates the unviability of democratic procedures, including elections. The financial collapse of the former center of global auto production is not, according to multiple commentators, an expression of the decay of American capitalism, but rather of a “failure of governance,” which can be reversed only by more authoritarian forms of rule and more direct political control by the banks and corporations.

The ruling class is well aware that its economic policies will provoke mass social opposition. It is preparing to meet this threat by means of repression and violence.

The current issue of Time magazine features a front-page photo of Detroit’s Renaissance Center with the headline “Is Your City Next?” The magazine notes that the bankruptcy of Detroit “will bring many changes in the way local governments function and cities grow.”

It continues: “While the broader re-rating of municipal debt that’s very likely to happen down the pike would increase borrowing costs and reduce the amount of money all cities can raise through bond issuance, it might also prompt many to shift their growth models, rein in unsustainable labor costs and partner in more innovative ways with the private sector…”

The same theme is taken up by the British Economist, which writes that Detroit is a “flashing warning light on America’s fiscal dashboard,” and adds that “many other state and city governments across America have made impossible-to-keep promises to do with pensions and health care.”

Financial Times commentator John Dizard writes that the gutting of workers’ benefits at the state and local level will become the model for the dismantling of Social Security. “The Supreme Court has already ruled that social security benefits, unlike Treasury bills and bonds, are not full faith and credit obligations of the federal government,” he writes. “Constitutional lawyers already know this; soon members of the public will as well.”

That such attacks cannot be imposed by democratic means is the subject of a growing number of commentaries. The Financial Times writes: “Think of it this way: what are the chances that the contestants in the next congressional or presidential elections would ask the voters to decide if pension and health care promises made by governments are super-priority debts? Because that is what ‘Detroit’ is all about.”

The authoritarian message obliquely hinted at in such commentaries is stated in blunt and savage terms by right-wing columnist George Will in an op-ed piece published Wednesday in the Washington Post entitled, “Detroit’s death by democracy.”

Will compares government employee unions to parasitic ichneumon fly larva that gnaw the inside of the caterpillars they infest. In his venomous hatred of the working class, he falsely equates the unions with the workers. In reality, the unions have been working hand in glove with corporations and the government for nearly four decades to impose wage cuts and concessions on the working class in Detroit and across the country. They have made clear that they are more than willing to collaborate in slashing pensions, asking only that their flow of income from union dues be assured.

Will unabashedly blames the people of Detroit for the attacks that have been leveled against them. He denounces the “myth” that deindustrialization undermined the city’s economy. “Detroit… died of democracy,” he writes, indicting the people for electing corrupt and incompetent officials.

In fact, Detroit’s crisis is an expression of the crisis and decay of American capitalism, which has been marked by the dismantling of manufacturing on the one hand, and the proliferation of financial parasitism, plundering and outright criminality on the other. Between 1972 and 2007, Detroit lost 80 percent of its manufacturing and tens of thousands of decent-paying jobs.

And while unlimited funds are made available to bail out the banks and protect the wealth of the richest one percent, the universal claim is that there is “no money” for jobs, pensions, health care or education.

Will personifies the intersection of the economic crisis and definite class interests. He is the embodiment of a highly privileged and wealthy social layer that supports the complete impoverishment of the working class and the imposition of dictatorship to accomplish it.

“At the decline of capitalism,” wrote Leon Trotsky, “the bourgeoisie is forced to resort to methods of civil war against the proletariat to protect its right of exploitation.”

Hence the erection of the infrastructure of a police state, in the form of massive and illegal surveillance programs, the militarization of police forces, the policy of extralegal drone assassinations, and the persecution of those who expose government secrets and crimes such as Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden and Julian Assange.

This is what the capitalist system has to offer: mass poverty, ever-greater inequality, and dictatorship. The only force that can oppose these attacks is the working class, fighting as a politically conscious and united force on the basis of a socialist program.

The Israeli government is planning the largest single attempt at the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians since the 1948 Nakba.

The Begin-Prawer Plan, which is the name of the law calling for the mass relocation of the Bedouin, passed its first reading in the Israeli Knesset on Wednesday, June 23. If the law is fully passed and implemented, it will mean the destruction of up to 40 Bedouin villages. Over the ruins of these villages, the Jewish National Fund—an Israeli para-statal organization with a charitable branch in Canada—will plant forests and help to establish Jewish-only settlements as part of its four billion dollar campaign: Blueprint Negev

The Prawer Plan aims to:

· * confiscate around 210,000 acres of land in the Naqab (Negev) desert
· * expel over 30,000 Palestinian Bedouins
· * demolish about 40 unrecognized villages
· * confine the Arab Palestinian Bedouins who are 30% of the Naqab in to 1% of the land

Repeatedly, the Israeli government has refused to listen to the strongest possible opposition from the Bedouin community and their attempt to propose alternative plans. Instead, the government has chosen forced transfer.

These Bedouin Israelis are already the poorest sector of the population, many of whom live in villages “unrecognised” by the Israeli government and who are denied basic services such as electricity, schools and healthcare.

At the same time, Israel is planning to evict about 1,000 Palestinians from their homes and villages in the South Hebron Hills in the West Bank to make way for a military shooting range — yet another gross violation of international law. Palestinians have lived in these villages for centuries.

Scott Weinstein of Independent Jewish Voices-Canada denounced the Prawer Plan in the strongest terms: ‘This proposed forced transfer of thousands of Palestinian Bedouin from their ancestral homes constitutes ethnic cleansing on a massive scale. It is a grievous crime enacted against an indigenous population for the purpose of  judaizing the Negev. IJV-Canada calls on the government of Canada to denounce this criminal act in the strongest possible terms. To pressure Israel to obey international law, we urge people throughout the world to intensify the boycott of Israel, both economic and cultural. ’

Bruce Katz of Palestinian and Jewish Unity commented:

‘ To transfer the Bedouin by force off their ancestral lands for the purpose announced by Netanyahu more than a year ago of creating a Jewish majority in the Negev reeks of the kind of vicious racism to which Jews themselves were subjected in Europe not so long ago. It is ‘Lebensraum’ Israeli-Style. Will the Harper government which crows about supporting democracy in the world, denounce it?’

It is to be noted that ninety-one Canadian authors, including Margaret Atwood, John Ralston-Saul and Michael Ondaatje, sent a letter to Canadian and Israeli governments calling on them “to halt immediately and permanently the eviction of about 1000 Palestinians from their homes … in order to clear land for an Israeli army firing zone…. Evicting them would violate international law and cause extreme hardship.’’

For information:

Scott Weinstein (514) 803-4264   (English)

Bruce Katz         (514) 582-1642   (français)

This summer the world will pause to commemorate the 68th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Most Americans are still supportive of Truman’s decision despite overwhelming historical evidence the bomb had “nothing to do with the end of the war,” in the words of Major General Curtis E. LeMay.

Americans suffer from a misinformation campaign initially perpetrated by the Truman administration and carried on to this day by high school textbooks that continue to tell the story as if Hiroshima and Nagasaki were indispensible in ending the war and saving countless American lives. The historical record is clear, however.  As President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.”

There is no hint of controversy regarding the decision to drop the bomb in the majority of texts in use in American classrooms and many textbooks contain blatant historical inaccuracies, but the greatest purveyor of historical mistruth is the U.S. Army’s  Leadership, Education and Training (LET 3) Custom Edition for Army JROTC. JROTC is the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. More than a half million American high school students are enrolled in JROTC classes nationwide.

JROTC students do more than march in uniform on the football field.  They study government (The unit on constitutional law is entitled “You the People”), and they study a “history” of sorts.    The JROTC treatment of Truman’s decision to drop the bomb is riddled with falsehoods and leaves students convinced that destroying those cities was the right thing to do.

Thanks to policymakers and military leaders of the era who have subsequently told their stories, we know today what transpired. We can also thank Professor Gar Alperovitz of the University of Maryland for a stellar academic career dedicated to analyzing American policy in this regard. Quite simply, President Truman dropped those bombs on a defeated Japan to tell the Russians and the world to back off. We had two bombs and we were going to use them.  In a typically cavalier fashion, Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., Commander, U.S. Third Fleet remarked, “It was a mistake to ever drop [the bomb]. . .they had this toy and they wanted to try it out, so they dropped it. .”

Today we know:

·         The bombs weren’t needed to win the war. Every top U.S. military leader of the era has since stated that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were militarily insignificant.

·         The idea that dropping the bombs saved a million American lives is completely fabricated.  The war against Japan could have been “won” without additional loss of life.

·         The Japanese had been trying to surrender for months.  They simply wanted to guarantee their emperor’s safety, a desire the Americans eventually allowed.

·         The Japanese would have unconditionally given up without the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki when the Soviet Union entered the war.

·         The bombing was not so much the last military chapter of the Second World War as it was the first Chapter of the Cold War.

The authors of the JROTC course book grapple with the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan within the context of an ethical case study where students discuss ethical choices and consequences inherent in a series of historical events. Rather than presenting an unbiased version of events, the discussion is tainted by a strong preference toward bombing Japan, complete with falsehoods and inexcusable omissions.

The JROTC text packages all the most prevalent misperceptions regarding Truman’s decision into one outrageous historical account. The U.S. Army is teaching high school students that using atomic weaponry was necessary to forestall a costly invasion of the Japanese mainland that would have cost a million American lives. The text leaves the impression that the Japanese military in mid-1945 was extraordinarily powerful and that the Japanese were fanatical in their resolve to resist. The text also perpetrates the falsehood that the top brass supported the bombing when in fact all of the top brass subsequently came out to object to its use. Finally, and perhaps most egregiously, the Army’s version of events distorts the complex geostrategic mix involving the Soviets.

The Army text leaves out Japanese attempts to surrender. The book makes no mention of the prior agreements to bring the Soviets into the war against Japan or the Soviet declaration of war on August 8th. The JROTC text fails to recognize that Japanese power quickly disintegrated during the first 6 months of 1945, especially after the US firebombing campaign destroyed 180 square miles of 67 cities, killing more than 300,000 people, figures that exclude the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The book doesn’t describe absolute American control of Japanese skies in the summer of 1945.

Consider the following selections from Leadership, Education and Training 3:

“The Soviet Union had not participated in the Pacific campaign, choosing to remain neutral with Japan while fighting for survival against Germany. Truman was in Potsdam meeting with Churchill, trying to enlist the aide of Stalin, when he learned of the atomic test at Trinity.”

At face value this is true, but this statement represents the totality of the Army’s discussion of the Soviet role.  The JROTC text minimizes the importance of the Soviets while elevating the significance of the atomic bombings in bringing about Japan’s surrender. The Soviets are portrayed as being weak but it was Stalin’s decision to enter the war and the Red Army’s assault on Manchuria on August 9th and subsequent rapid advance through weak Japanese defenses that caused the Japanese to immediately sue for peace.

Truman and his trusted advisor, Secretary of State James Byrnes,  both believed the bomb would keep the Russians in line in Eastern Europe.  Dropping the bomb launched the Cold War. It wasn’t necessary to end World War II.

During the Tehran Conference in 1943 Stalin agreed that the Soviet Union would enter the war against Japan after Hitler was defeated.  In 1945 at the Yalta Conference Stalin agreed to enter the War with Japan within three months of the end of the war in Europe. The Soviet invasion began on August 8, 1945, precisely three months after the German surrender on May 8th. The start of the invasion fell between the atomic bombings of Hiroshima, on August 6, and Nagasaki, on August 9.  In the words of Air Force General Claire Chennault: “Russia’s entry into the Japanese war was the decisive factor in speeding its end and would have been so even if no atomic bombs had been dropped.”  An examination of the Japanese historical record confirms this point.  It is reprehensible for the Army to omit a more thorough discussion of the pivotal role of the Soviet Union in bringing about an end to the war.

“Truman was troubled by the mounting casualties in the Pacific as Allied forces drew nearer the Japanese home islands. Driven by the Bushido warrior code, the Japanese were prepared to resist to the last, and more willing to die than surrender.”

Truman knew a week before Potsdam that Japan’s emperorhad intervened to attempt to end the war and there were several attempts at peace before this.  Japan was prepared to surrender, provided that it could retain its emperor but Truman had two bombs and he was determined to use them to fire a kind of a shot across the bow to the Soviets as post-war Europe was taking shape. General Douglas MacArthur understood it this way. ”The war might have ended weeks earlier, he said, if the United States had agreed, as it later did anyway, to the retention of the institution of the emperor.”

Colonel Charles Bonesteel, Chief of the War Department Operations Division Policy,  poignantly described the situation in the summer of 1945, “The poor damn Japanese were putting feelers out by the ton so to speak — through Russia.”

 “The Joint Chiefs told Truman to expect over 1,000,000 American casualties and even larger number of Japanese dead in the pending attack on the home islands.”

This is false. There’s no record of the Joint Chiefs of Staff formally studying the decision and they never made an official recommendation to the President, according to Alperovitz. Additionally, the Joint Chiefs never claimed to be involved.  The claim of 1 million casualties as a result of an (unnecessary) American invasion is a complete fabrication.  It originated from a 1947 Harper’s article by Secretary of War Stimson.  Stimson invented the number.  It is not based on a shred of historical evidence.

For his part, President Truman randomly selected the number of American lives ostensibly saved as a result of dropping the bomb.  He said it would “save thousands of American lives.” He later remarked, “It occurred to me that a quarter of a million of the flower of our young manhood was worth a couple of Japanese cities, and I still think they were and are.”  He also said, “I thought 200,000 of our young men would be saved by making that decision.”

The Japanese position was hopeless by the summer of 1945. They were trying to surrender because they were defeated. According to Brigadier Gen. Carter W. Clarke,“We brought them down to an abject surrender through the accelerated sinking of their merchant marine and hunger alone, and when we didn’t need to do it, and we knew we didn’t need to do it, and they knew that we knew we didn’t need to do it, we used them as an experiment for two atomic bombs.”   Commanding General of the U.S. Army Air Forces, Henry H. “Hap” Arnold looked at the situation from the air, “The Japanese position was hopeless even before the first atomic bomb fell, because the Japanese had lost control of their own air.”

“By August 1945, the United States had two nuclear bombs in its arsenal. On August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Over 140,000 Japanese were killed in the blast, and an uncounted number died from the lingering effects of radiation. On August 9, 1945, a second atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. The next day, August 10, 1945, Japan indicated its willingness to surrender.” 

Japan had been indicating its “willingness to surrender” for some time before the bombs were dropped.  The Japanese finally acceded to allied surrender terms because the Soviets had invaded Manchuria the day before.

Every top American military leader was revolted by Truman’s decision to drop the bomb. They couldn’t see its military necessity. It is incomprehensible that the today’s Army feels compelled to contradict its greatest leaders who understood the role of the military in relation to its political superiors.  Commander of the U.S. Army Strategic Air Force, General Carl Spaatz understood the separation.He said,”The dropping of the atomic bomb was done by a military man under military orders. We’re supposed to carry out orders and not question them.  “That was purely a political decision. [It] wasn’t a military decision..”

Top Naval officers joined in the chorus. Admiral William D. Leahy, the President’s Chief of Staff said, “The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.”

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet echoed the sentiments of his colleagues, “The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace… The atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military standpoint, in the defeat of Japan.”

“Truman appointed a committee to evaluate using the atomic bomb. The committee examined many options, including a demonstration in Tokyo Bay, but Los Alamos was uncertain the device would detonate. Rather than lose a valuable war asset, and to emphasize its destructive power, the committee recommended dropping the atomic bomb on a city.”

Secretary of State James Byrnes, Truman’s personal representative on the Interim Committee, was the most influential member of the committee and steered policy in the direction of using the new weapon without warning on a Japanese city.  It was Byrnes who saw the bomb as a promising way to keep the Soviets in line in the post-war era.

Impressionable high school juniors are on the receiving end of this despicable propaganda. It is astonishing how easily the Army’s authors dismiss a quarter-million lives.

The discussion of the decision to drop the bomb in the JROTC text ends with the following:

“When thinking of ethical decisions that affected U.S. and world history, try to imagine how history would have been changed if the Atomic bomb had not been dropped on Japan during World War II. Would the war have continued much longer?  Would the U.S. have been attacked again by the Japanese, as they had been at Pearl Harbor the year before?  Because the Soviet Union had declared war on Japan on August 8th, do you think that thousands of Soviet and U.S. soldiers would have lost their lives?”

Based on the information contained in the JROTC text, it is “clear” to American high school students that the war would have dragged on indefinitely if we hadn’t dropped the bomb. We had to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki to keep the Japanese from attacking America as they did in 1944, and we had to do this to save American and Soviet lives!

JROTC lessons are developed and taught by Senior Army Instructors (SAIs) and Assistant Instructors (IAs). Although SAI’s have college degrees, they are typically not state-certified teachers.  AIs must be retired from the Army and may be hired with a high school diploma provided they earn an associate’s degree within five years. AIs are the only unsupervised non-professionals allowed to instruct students in classrooms in most states across the country.

Public school officials rarely exercise control over the curricular content of the JROTC program or the professional qualifications of its instructors. It’s time they did.

Pat Elder [email protected] is the Director of the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy,  an organization that works to prohibit the automatic release of student information to military recruiting services gathered through the administration of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) in high schools across the country.

Events seem to have come full circle. Riots have come to Turkey: precisely to that Turkey which had been pointed at as the moderate, democratic and Sunni Islamist model for the new post-revolution Arab regimes. Precisely to that Turkey which had appeared to many observers as the main forerunner, and at the same time the winner, of the Arab revolts. The events of the last months show how all countries and local forces involved have been in reality more object than subject of the regional turmoil, and that – at least by now – no one in the Mediterranean can claim the title of winner of the revolts.

This was not the perception of the Turkish case, at least until the beginning of 2012. In all the Arab world, political movements ideologically close to the AKP were moving forward towards power: in Egypt and Tunisia, in particular, they had come to power clearly winning the elections. The Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan started a tour in those countries where the revolts had been successful, receiving a triumphal welcome and convenient agreements for his country everywhere. When the revolt blew up in nearby Syria, Erdoğan dumped president al-ʾAsad in a few weeks and presented himself as the major supporter of the opposition, which seemed like it would be able to overthrow the regime with the same quickness as had happened in Egypt and Tunisia.

A couple of years on from these events the situation seems to be less rosy for Ankara. The relationships with post-revolution governments of North Africa are quite good, but a clear and strong political axis with Turkey at its centre seems not to have been created by now. In Syria the regime proved itself far more resilient to what had been foreseen and, after strong resistance, and at this very moment is leading various attacks that could be decisive. On the contrary, the Turkish border area seems to have destabilized because of the traffic of weapons and armed personnel at the border and the worsening of already quarrelsome Kurdish relations, promoted precisely by the actual autonomy that Kurds have gained in Syria. In the end, massive and violent revolts have blown up in Istanbul, spreading then to many Turkish cities, ruining the democratic image of Turkey in the world at best, and threatening the survival of the government and of civic coexistance in the Anatolian country at worst.

Actually already during the “triumphal” year of 2011 Turkish conduct gave the impression of being very much tied to the contingent nature of events and dependent on elements over which it had no control. Ankara has neither foreseen nor fomented revolts: until the day before the beginning of disorder it maintained very good relationships with governments in power. Initially when the revolt blew up in Libya, Erdoğan – who has a good relationship with al-Qaddāfī too and probably understands that the nature of the conflict is more that of a tribal struggle than that of a popular revolution – is prudent, apparently more favourable to the government than to the rebels. Things change when Great Britain and France accelerate matters overriding German hostility and American hesitation and towing Italy along too, with one of our many diplomatic turnarounds. The Tripoli regime was winning against Cyrenaic rebels as long as the conflict remained domestic. When the crisis internationalizes, with all the near and most interested powers (Russia and China, on the contrary, pull themselves out of it with a compliant abstention at the UN) sided against al-Qaddāfī, his destiny is decided. Ankara understands this rapidly and joins the coalition.

Libyan experience surely affects Erdoğan and his Foreign Minister Davutoğlu, influencing them when it comes to facing Syrian events. During the past years the AKP government has busily worked to mend the relationship with Syria: Erdoğan and al-ʾAsad show a certain harmony in public. But when a revolt takes place, Turks bet on the defeat of the regime. Very likely they wager on the repetition of the Libyan scenario, with the intervention of at least some NATO countries united in a coalition with Gulf Emirates to support rebels. So as not to leave the initiative again to Paris and London, this time Erdoğan proceeds first and proves himself rapidly as the main patron of the rebels and the most eloquent supporter of the necessity for an external intervention in their favour.

But there is something wrong in this equation. The revolt in Syria does not look like that in Egypt or Tunisia, where an overwhelming majority of the population rises up against the oppressor. In Syria the tribal element is stronger and this places the Syrian crisis closer to the Libyan one (which, not by chance, would not have been decided in the rebels’ favour without external intervention). The dichotomy “secular” government/Islamist opposition is well present in Syria too, as well as in Egypt and Tunisia, but in the eastern country it only sharpens sectarian conflict. Afraid of the Sunni extremism of some rebel fringes (which gain growing importance progressively as the conflict goes on), Alawites and Christians unite in favour of the regime, which is seen as a guarantee of community coexistence – or as a pure and simple guarantee of the survival of these minority communities.

What matters more is that the mood has changed internationally, too. Moscow, burnt by the Libyan experience (where, despite its compliance at the UN, it did not have sufficient say in the development of the crisis), concerned for the fate of orthodox Syrians, and above all for that of its naval base of Ṭarṭūs and the orders that Damascus guarantees to the Russian weapon industry, is less willing to support western plans. Moreover al-ʾAsad’s regime is not completely isolated like Mubārak’s or bin ‘Alī’s or even al-Qaddāfī’s ones: it has a strong ally in Iran and the favour of the Shiite parts in nearby Iraq and Lebanon. If the countries of the Gulf, inspired by the Afghan scenario, send jihadists to Syria, and if Turkey supplies with weapons the so called rebels “Free Syrian Army”, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Ḥizbu ‘llāh give instead their support to governmental forces.

The Western attitude has also significantly changed. If divisions had already arisen in the Libyan case, they are even greater faced with the Syrian crisis. The perception of the tumult in the Arab world has changed. When confronted with the rising of Islamist political forces in the countries touched by revolutions, when confronted with the growing importance of Sunni extremism among Syrian revolt lines, substantial parts of public opinion and of the western ruling class show fear and open hostility towards advancements in progress. The USA does not hesitate in including groups of Syrian rebels in the terrorist groups list, while the European Union imposes a ban on the supply of weapons to Syrian factions. This ban has expired only now and from August on France and Great Britain – countries most favourable to the revolt – may start openly to supply weapons to Syrian rebels. But this happens at the moment when the revolt seems to have lost its impetus and risks even final defeat. The fact that this debacle is caused or not by the use of chemical weapons by governmental forces is irrelevant. And this not only because allegations about the use of forbidden weapons concern rebels too, but above all because this accusation against the Damascus regime has not succeeded in budging public opinion and moving along diplomatic efforts, as happened on the contrary with successful pretexts for intervention, such as “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq or “aerial bombardments of demonstrations” in Libya. A western military intervention on the rebels side could, with all probability, reverse the outcome of the conflict (exactly as happened in Libya), but the chance that this will happen seems to dwindle with the passing of months. Also because even the Libyan example has proved how difficult it is to manage the subsequent destabilization which, in that case, has spread to Mali and threatens Niger and Algeria too, forcing France into a second military intervention.

In the meantime, the “Islamist wave” has had a setback not only in Syria. Great and violent protest demonstrations against Islamist governments have taken place, at different times, in Tunisia and Egypt. Now in Turkey. To tell the truth, it is unlikely that Turkish revolts will have a different outcome to that of Tunisian and Egyptian ones, i.e. the return to normality – unless unlikely events happen, such as a military coup d’état. Nevertheless they show a divided society, a part of which – a minority though large – not resigned to the historic passage from “secular” authoritarian regimes to “Islamic” democratic regimes. Precisely the fact that in Turkey, Egypt or Tunisia an “Islamic republic” with its own peculiarities was not born, as in Iran, is the reason for disorder and conflicts. They are present surely in Iran too, but they are more concealed there because the regime, exquisitely native and Islamic, has marginalized, or completely excluded, from the system the most radical counterpropositions (not to mention the last electoral process just finished, in which only “centrist” candidates have taken part, reformists as well as “deviationists” having been excluded). Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia have instead political regimes which are shaped on the western model, but unlike western countries they have an intrinsic social and ideological dichotomy far more pronounced. Conflicts in these countries – but also other not Muslim countries could be mentioned: see for example Venezuela – are too important to be solved in the peaceful game of representative democracy. Each involved faction considers the other as a deadly enemy, and its proposals as disastrous in themselves. Experiences of dictatorships and oppressive regimes confirm these convictions in the minds of the citizens of all factions. Applying a political system created for cohesive societies to divided ones can only cause instability.

In conclusion, a remark on the way the Turkish revolts have been received by the European public cannot be spared. This same public was infatuated at the beginning by the Arab revolts, described as the uprising of secular young people, modern and democratic, against retrograde and repressive regimes. Becoming aware of the presence of an Islamist majority in the revolutionary process, the prevalent image in the West switched rapidly from the elegiac “Arab spring” to the pejorative “Islamic winter”. The people, the ideas and the dynamics in the Arab countries had not changed, only the western perception had changed. At the beginning the rebels had been described as identical in every sense to us (or, better to say, to the image we have of ourselves). When their difference and peculiarity were realized, the reaction turned to one of rejection and closure, as if western public opinion can feel sympathy for other people’s causes only insofar as they and their causes are identical to us and ours. Turkish riots have awakened idealist and a little bit naïve western observers from their disillusion. Finally, those who take to the street are truly secular and “modern” (in fact post-modern) like them. On the government side there are, this time, Islamists. A golden opportunity to purify themselves of the presumed mistake of 2011, and finally support a revolt in which it is possible to identify themselves completely.

Unfortunately, the western view continues to be too simplistic (there are always the “good guys” against the “bad guys”) and too ethnocentric (those who look like us are “good”, those who look less like us are “bad”). Erdoğan’s government is at the least paternalistic, maybe authoritarian too. The AKP is an Islamic-inspired party, even though “moderate”. But Erdoğan’s government was democratically elected and probably still benefits from the consensus of at least half of the population. The most politicized (and representative) protesters – without considering now the good environmentalists of Gezi Park or young people who are afraid they will not be able to give public displays of affection anymore – refer to that opposition which is laic but for decades has based its power – when it is in power or in opposition – on the military which used coups d’état and arbitrary detentions or detentions for crimes of opinion. It is the same political faction which, in the name of its nationalism (the alternative proposal to the Islamism of the AKP), conducted the bloody persecutions of Kurds, or imprisoned those who did not show sufficient deference towards the Turkish nation and its father Mustafa Kemal. It is the same political party which sees proposals like the possibility, for women who want, to wear the veil everywhere as provocative and an attempt to “re-Islamize” the country. Continuing to interpret facts that take place in other countries using one’s own political and cultural categories is the best way to be mistaken, always and everywhere. And in recent years Western countries have really made many mistakes in reading Mediterranean riots.

The riots, the domestic conflicts, the instability of Arab countries and now of Turkey too match up well with the difficulties that the Mediterranean countries of Europe are going through. If our Muslim neighbours have to face domestic divisions and riots, sometimes other-directed, Italy, Spain, Greece (Portugal could be added as well) grope in an economic crisis apparently without a way out, also because they have subcontracted their economic and financial policy to the powers of Northern Europe. Great things are happening in the Mediterranean – for better and for worse – but in each of them it is difficult to identify an inner subject which is acting with full creating force, instead of being overwhelmed by events, and trying, with more or less ability, to control them as far as possible. The sea is stormy and our boat is at the mercy of waves and winds which blow from afar. The Mediterranean reveals itself more and more as a geopolitical periphery, while the centres of power have relocated further West, further North or further East. But in any case far away from here.

Translated from Italian by Giulia Renna.

La situación social en China : Perspectivas y desafíos

August 2nd, 2013 by Marc Vandepitte

1. La industrialización no es ningún placer


El presente en China cambia y se acelera sin cesar. Un europeo tendría que vivir cuatrocientos años para vivir un cambio tan radical” 

Yu Hua, novelista i


Entre la realidad y lo que se percibe suele haber un gran abismo. Este es sin lugar a dudas el caso de China. Lo menos que se puede decir de este país es que tiene un grave problema de imagen en Occidente. Cuando los medios tradicionales hablan de la situación social el China son todo excepto elogiosos. Los temas favoritos son las catástrofes, desde los accidentes de ferrocarril hasta los edificios que se desmoronan, o incluso todo tipo de escándalos, como las intoxicaciones alimentarias y los accidentes mineros, las asombrosas condiciones de trabajo, los enormes problemas medioambientales, la agitación social, los abortos obligatorios, un bebé encontrado en las cañerías de un WC, etc.

La información en el mundo capitalista busca lo sensacionalista y con frecuencia se concentra en todo lo negativo. También otros países, sobre todo del Sur, suelen estar presentes en sus días malos. Pero en el caso de China, al contrario de India, por ejemplo, domina la denigración y es sistemática, cuando no está organizada.

La industrialización en Europa occidental ha sido un proceso brutal y muy radical. En China concierne a cinco veces más seres humanos y se trata de un proceso que se desarrolla cuatro veces más rápido. ii Por consiguiente, esta fiebre de modernización no puede sino provocar unos problemas y retos gigantescos. Sería poco sagaz negarlo, incluso minimizarlo. Por ejemplo, la desorganización psíquica y existencial exige un fuerte tributo a consecuencia de esta turbulencia histórica. Según la prestigiosa revista médica británica The Lancet, un chino de cada ocho padece una enfermedad mental. iii La tasa de suicidios en China es una de las más altas del mundo. iv

Pero es necesario situar las cosas en una perspectiva correcta a la luz de nuestra propia industrialización o de la actual modernización a la que se asiste en el resto del tercer mundo y de los problemas que le acompañan. Eso es lo que vamos a hacer en la primera parte de nuestro artículo. En la segunda nos detendremos en tres retos importantes.

2. La situación global (en proporciones reales)

Muchos países en vías de desarrollo llegarían al asesinato para poder afrontar los problemas de China”

The Financial Times v


2.1 Grandes diferencias

China es un Estado nación, aunque de hecho es un país con las proporciones y la diversidad de un gran continente. Tiene tantos habitantes como Europa occidental, Europa del Este, los países árabes, Rusia y Asia Central juntos. Por otra parte, presenta las mismas diferencias en el plano del nivel de vida que las naciones anteriormente citadas. En las provincias costeras los habitantes disponen de unos ingresos medios comparables a los de Rumanía. Algunas regiones se sitúan incluso cerca de los de Bélgica o de Francia. En el centro del país la gente tiene un nivel de vida comparable al de Albania y en el oeste que, sin embargo, cuenta con una población de 200 millones de habitantes, este nivel desciende hasta el de Egipto. vi En China a veces también es posible remontar cien años en el tiempo en una distancia de cien kilómetros. Por no hablar de las más de cincuenta etnias y de las decenas de lenguas del país.

Por lo tanto, China es todo excepto un país homogéneo, de hecho es un conjunto de territorios muy diferentes unos de otros. Del mismo modo que no existe el eurasiático tampoco existe verdaderamente “el” chino tipo, con lo que estaría completamente fuera de lugar querer generalizar.

2.2 Tercer mundo

En China existen regiones que muy bien se podrían comparar con los países ricos. Pero si consideramos el país en su conjunto, continúa siendo un país del tercer mundo. Se utilizan tres criterios para clasificar a un país en esta categoría: el Índice de Desarrollo Humano (IDH), el PNB por habitante y el salario medio. Los tres criterios no dejan lugar a dudas: China sigue siendo un país “en vías de desarrollo”.

Si se examina el IDH el país ocupa el puesto 104 de la clasificación mundial (de 186 países). Es un puesto claramente más alto que África, pero sigue estando por debajo de América Latina. Por lo que se refiere al PNB por habitante, se sitúa en el puesto 91. El PNB por habitante en Francia es ocho veces más elevado que el de China vii y el salario medio es casi nueve veces más elevado. viii

Por consiguiente, no tiene sentido comparar China con los países del norte. Sin embargo, es lo que ocurre constantemente. Se considera China con una mirada europea y sus prestaciones se miden con el rasero de las de los países ricos. Es como si se compararan las prestaciones deportivas de un aficionado con las de un atleta profesional de alto nivel. Si se quiere comparar China, se debe hacer con países comparables, es decir, con países del Sur. Es lo que vamos a hacer en el párrafo siguiente.

2.3 Comparación con países comparables

Para evaluar la situación social de China recurrimos a varios criterios que son indicativos de un desarrollo social mínimo: la vivienda, las infraestructuras y, más particularmente, la electricidad, la violencia, la seguridad alimentaria, el alfabetismo, la mortalidad infantil, la pobreza, el empleo y la situación de los niños y de las mujeres.


Una de las plagas más sorprendentes de los países del Sur son sus gigantescos barrios de chabolas. En ciudades como Manila, Mumbai, Lagos, Buenos Aires y muchas otras, millones y millones de personas viven hacinadas en condiciones indignas. En China no existe el menor rastro de ello. Es el resultado del sistema hukou, del que se ha hablado mucho. ix Se calcula que entre 2005 y 2015 un tercio de los chinos ocuparán una vivienda nueva. Equivale casi a toda la población de Europa x .


Sin electricidad no hay frigorífico, luz, ventilador, televisión, lavadora ni otros aparatos domésticos. Sin embargo, aproximadamente un 27% de las personas de los países en vías de desarrollo tienen que prescindir de este equipamiento elemental. En China es solo el 0,6%. xi


La mayoría de los países del Sur están infestados por una elevada tasa de violencia. China presenta unas estadísticas excelentes en este aspecto. Los países ricos tienen dos veces más homicidios por habitante que China. En Asia hay cuatro o seis veces más y en América Latina incluso veinte veces más. xii La imagen es similar en el caso de la cantidad de periodistas asesinados. Con estas cifras más vale ser modestos en Europa. xiii


Seguridad alimentaria

En China un 5,5 % de la población sigue haciendo frente a la desnutrición. Esta cantidad disminuye progresivamente. En India, en cambio, es el 24% de la población. En estos últimos años incluso ha aumentado la cantidad de personas que padecen hambre, casi una quinta parte. xiv

Mortalidad infantil, analfabetismo y pobreza

La mortalidad infantil es quizá el mejor indicador del desarrollo social de un país puesto que en él se reúnen una serie de factores: atención sanitaria, alimentación y agua potable, tasa de escolarización de la madre, vivienda, higiene. China sale claramente mejor parada en este plano. En Pakistán mueren cinco veces más niños y en India 3,5 veces más. xv En India el analfabetismo es seis veces más elevado y en Pakistán, siete veces. El porcentaje de pobreza extrema es aproximadamente dos veces más elevado en Pakistán y tres veces en India. xvi


Las condiciones de trabajo en China están lejos de ser ideales y más particularmente para los 150 millones de inmigrantes internos. Pero de nuevo es conveniente medir esta cuestión con el rasero de la situación en la región y en otros países del tercer mundo.

Para los trabajadores el trabajo informal es una gran plaga, si no la peor. No ofrece la menor seguridad jurídica ni seguridad social, aunque ofrece sin lugar a dudas unos ingresos particularmente bajos e inciertos. En este aspecto China está claramente mejor favorecida que los países de la región. xvii Además, conviene añadir que el trabajo informal en China es en muchos casos un trabajo semiformal, con una cierta forma de seguridad jurídica y de seguridad social. xviii

El objetivo este año es cerrar convenios colectivos de trabajo (CCT) en el 80% de las empresas en las que está presente un sindicato. xix Existe representación sindical en la mayoría de las grandes empresas así como en aquellas que tienen capital extranjero. A escala mundial solo el 15% de las y los trabajadores se benefician de un CCT. xx

Hasta hace poco China pasaba por ser un país con salarios muy bajos. Esta época ha pasado. En 2009 el salario mínimo en China era aproximadamente el doble que el de India.xxi El salario medio chino era cuatro veces más elevado que en Vietnam, tres veces más elevado que en Filipinas, dos veces más elevado que en Indonesia y una vez y media más que en Tailandia. xxii


En China no se encuentran esas nubes de niñas y niños mendigos que constituyen un componente del paisaje de las calles en muchas ciudades del tercer mundo. Prácticamente se ha eliminado el trabajo infantil. En este aspecto la Organización Mundial del Trabajo (OIT) destaca a China y Brasil como países modelo. xxiii Esto contrasta de forma sorprendente con India donde 17 millones de niños no se libran del trabajo y 1,2 millones de la prostitución. xxiv


Un trabajo decente en la existencia no lo es todo, pero para las mujeres a menudo es una condición básica para la emancipación y la autonomía financiera. En China el 70% de las mujeres tiene empleo o busca uno; en India solo son una cuarta parte. El 81% de las mujeres tituladas en China tiene trabajo, mientras que en India solo es el 34%. xxv En el resto de Asia la situación apenas difiere de la de India. xxvi

2.4 Evolución

Esta es la situación en este momento. Pero en el caso de China esta situación evoluciona a la velocidad del rayo. En primer lugar, en el plano de la economía. Un crecimiento anual del 10% significa que se duplica cada dos años y, por lo tanto, una multiplicación por 4 al cabo de 14 años, por 8 al cabo de 21 años y por 16 al cabo de 28 años. Entre 1980 y 2015 el PNB por habitante en Brasil habrá crecido aproximadamente un 50%, en India un 300% y en China un… 1850%. xxvii

Al principio de la revolución china el país era uno de los más pobres y más atrasados del planeta. El PNB por habitante era la mitad del de África negra y una sexta parte del de América Latina. Con estas cifras ante los ojos no es difícil entender por qué “hacerse rico” constituye semejante obsesión para los chinos. Realmente viene de muy atrás. Sesenta años más tarde esta situación ha cambiado considerablemente. Hoy China se sitúa a nivel de América Latina y ha dejado atrás a África.


En muchos países el crecimiento económico no se traduce en una disminución (proporcional) de la pobreza. Sin embargo, este es el caso en China. Las diferencias con otros países del BRIC saltan a la vista. xxviii

En estos últimos veinte años hemos asistido a nivel mundial a una fuerte disminución de la pobreza extrema (1,25 dólar). Sin embargo, esto se ha debido en gran parte a los esfuerzos de China en este ámbito. xxix En cualquier caso, semejante disminución masiva de la pobreza, como es el caso de China, no tenía precedentes en la historia del mundo.

Esta fuerte regresión de la pobreza proviene sobre todo del aumento de los salarios. Por el momento el salario en China se duplica cada seis años. xxx Ningún otro país propone unas prestaciones similares. China se ha entregado a perder su estatuto de país con salarios bajos a un ritmo rápido. Una buena ilustración de ello es la evolución de los salarios en China en comparación con los de México. xxxi Lo que más impresiona es la velocidad a la que se produce, combinada con la cantidad particularmente elevada de trabajadoras y trabajadores concernidos.

Por lo tanto, no hay que sorprenderse de que la cantidad de los ingresos medios en China haya aumentado enormemente. En veinte años al menos 800 millones de chinos han pasado a la categoría de “ingresos medios” (2-13 dólares). Esto equivale aproximadamente a toda la población del África negra y es cuatro veces más que en India. xxxii

Sin duda el chino medio no ha alcanzado todavía nuestro nivel de vida. Pero dado este ritmo de crecimiento es solo cuestión de tiempo e incluso no habrá que esperar mucho. Si extrapolamos el crecimiento del PNB por habitante durante el periodo 1970-2004, los chinos nos habrán alcanzado de aquí a 25 años. xxxiii En efecto, en ese momento China ya no será un país del tercer mundo. Debido a la crisis actual incluso se llegará antes a esta situación. A la inversa, la “ralentización del crecimiento” de la economía china a un 7% por año podría alargar este lapso de tiempo una decena de años.

El aumento acelerado del PNB por habitante en China también ha ido acompañado de un aumento rápido de su Índice de Desarrollo Humano (IDH). Este índice mide los progresos sociales de un país. En los últimos treinta años el aumento del IDH de China ha sido el más elevado de todo el mundo y tres veces superior a la media mundial. xxxiv

China va a alcanzar antes de lo previsto los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio. Esto es lo que dice un informe de la ONU al respecto: “Globalmente China ha registrado un progreso importante hacia la realización de los Objetivos del Milenio. Se han alcanzado o superado la mayoría de estos objetivos con siete años de anticipación. Se trata de la pobreza, el hambre, el analfabetismo y la mortalidad infantil. China también está en vías de reducir la mortalidad de las parturientas y de tener bajo control el VIH, el sida y la tuberculosis, con la esperanza muy real de alcanzar en 2015 los ODM (Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio)”. xxxv

3. Retos importantes


Una de las peores amenaza para nuestro bienestar en el siglo XXI reside en el fracaso de China y no en su éxito”

Ian Bremmer xxxvi


3.1 Creciente agitación social

No se puede negar que en China la agitación social crece rápidamente o, cuanto menos, sus signos. En 2002 hubo aproximadamente 40.000 manifestaciones o conflictos sociales. En 2010 ya hubo 180.000. xxxvii Solo en el delta del río de las Perlas (provincia de Guandong) hay 10.000 conflictos al año. xxxviii Las razones de estos conflictos son muy diversas: malas condiciones laborales, contaminación del medio ambiente, corrupción, migrantes internos a los que no se paga o que se les paga con retraso, campesinos que pierden sus tierras o que reciben unas indemnizaciones demasiado escasas, etc.

Como hemos visto más arriba, el grupo de ingresos medios ha conocido un aumento excepcional. Este grupo alimenta las mayores esperanzas, plantea más reivindicaciones que hace no mucho tiempo y también se perfila de manera más afirmativa. Además, los nuevos medios de comunicación sociales favorecen la cantidad cada vez mayor de manifestaciones. Los intentos de censurar estos medios sociales tienen éxito solo parcialmente.

Sin embargo, resulta sorprendente que estas manifestaciones sean generalmente espontáneas y que siempre conciernan a problemas locales, a excepción de los arrebatos de cólera nacionalista contra Japón. xxxix En otras palabras, no se dirigen contra las autoridades de Beijing ni atentan contra la legitimidad del Partido Comunista y de la dirección nacional. Sondeos de opinión hechos en varias naciones demuestran que tanto la satisfacción de la población como la confianza en el gobierno superan con mucho (y continúan haciéndolo) la media mundial. xl


La cantidad cada vez mayor de protestas de calle no es tanto una amenaza para el orden, sino que incluso se puede percibir más bien como un signo de normalización. The Economist destaca lacónicamente lo siguiente: “[Las protestas] casi siempre están suscitadas por quejas locales y no por la antipatía hacia el poder del Partido. Con esta agitación en ciertos aspectos China parece asemejarse claramente más a un país desarrollado normal que a un sistema controlado de forma estricta que era hasta principios de la década de 1990. En las ciudades chinas cada vez son más frecuentes las protestas a pequeña escala. Hace solo unos años unos cuadros obsesionados por el orden las habrían percibido con repugnancia”. xli

Con todo, las autoridades todavía reaccionan regularmente de forma exagerada ante la agitación social y las manifestaciones de protesta. Por ejemplo, con ocasión de la Primavera Árabe en 2011. Por modesta que fuera, cada manifestación se sofocó en ciernes por medio de un importante despliegue de fuerza. xlii Este nerviosismo encaja muy bien con la muy extendida y culturalmente profunda repulsión por los cambios rápidos y el hecho de que estos se asocien a la aparición del caos y de desordenes graves. Los cambios sociales radicales en el curso de los cincuenta años que precedieron a la llegada de los comunistas al poder y durante el periodo de Mao (el Gran Salto Adelante y la Revolución Cultural) fueron traumatizantes y no se percibieron como un progreso. Del mismo modo, los acontecimientos de Tien Anmen en 1989 dejaron profundas huellas. xliii

Los conflictos en los centros de trabajo son de otro orden y a largo plazo constituyen una amenaza mayor. En el pasado los sindicatos eran poco más que una correa de transmisión de la dirección de la empresa y del Partido. Mientras las autoridades eran el empleador puede que esta situación no fuera perfecta, pero al menos era controlable. Ahora que una cantidad cada vez mayor de empresas está en manos privadas y que la lógica del beneficio también ha conquistado a las empresas públicas, esta situación ya no es controlable. Han estallado conflictos sociales y huelgas al margen del sindicato oficial e incluso en su contra. Es una situación peligrosa. Tanto el Partido como el sindicato oficial lo han comprendido muy bien. En el futuro el sindicato debe adquirir más autonomía y poder defender los intereses de los y las trabajadoras sin injerencias desde arriba. Actualmente se están probando experiencias con elecciones directas de los dirigentes sindicales designados por las y los trabajadores. Esto ocurrió por primera vez en mayo de 2012 en una filial de Panasonic y también en la empresa Foxcom en febrero de 2013. Se trataba de un grupo de 1,2 millón de trabajadores y trabajadoras. xliv El futuro nos dirá si estas experiencias van lo bastante lejos como para asegurar en el futuro la paz social en el propio seno de las empresas.

3.2 El abismo entre ricos y pobre

Otro aspecto sorprendente de la fiebre china de modernización reside en el ahondamiento del abismo entre ricos y pobres. Las persona que habitan las provincias costeras ganan más del doble que las del interior del país y el consumo de un campesino representa menos de una cuarta parte de lo que consume una persona que habita en una ciudad.xlv El siguiente gráfico muestra la evolución de estos últimos veinte años. xlvi

El abismo no ha dejado de aumentar entre 1990 y 2010. Pero (y se trata de un gran “pero”) al contrario de lo que ocurre en la mayoría de los países, el enriquecimiento de los unos no se hace a costa de los otros. En China toda la población se beneficia del crecimiento de la prosperidad, aunque no sea de forma igual. En estos últimos treinta años los ingresos reales de los campesinos se han más que quintuplicado. xlvii Esto es simple y llanamente espectacular y los 2.500 millones de campesinos de los países en vías de desarrollo solo pueden soñar con ello.

Generalmente se utiliza el coeficiente Gini para cifrar este abismo. Pero la cuestión es ante todo saber si verdaderamente es adecuado este coeficiente. En general los países más grandes tienen un coeficiente Gini más elevado debido a su mayor diversidad de riquezas naturales y en el plano de la accesibilidad al mercado mundial. Los países más heterogéneos étnicamente también tienen un coeficiente más elevado que los países homogéneos. Además, generalmente los países de ingresos bajos y medios también tienen un coeficiente más elevado que los países con ingresos elevados. xlviii También difiere de un país a otro la manera cómo se calcula el coeficiente. Oficialmente el coeficiente de China es de 0,48 y el de India de 0,33. Pero el de China mide la desigualdad en el plano de los ingresos , mientras que el de India concierne al consumo . Si el coeficiente de India se calculara de la misma manera que el de China se llegaría a 0,54, un poco más alto que China y cercano al de Brasil. xlix Bélgica tiene un coeficiente de 0,26 y Francia de 0,29. Pero cuando se tienen en cuenta todos los ingresos, es decir, se suman los de las fortunas y del capital, estos coeficientes aumentan y pasan respectivamente a 0,41 y 0,43. l En otras palabras, el coeficiente Gini es poco fiable para hacer la comparación entre países, aunque es útil para examinar la evolución de un mismo país. li

El creciente abismo es sobre todo el resultado de un dato: la productividad en la industria y en el sector de los servicios ha aumentado mucho más rápidamente que en la agricultura. No es una ley económica de hierro, sino una opción política de las autoridades chinas, aunque de hecho apenas hayan tenido opción. En estos últimos treinta años se ha necesitado una tasa de crecimiento del 10% para crear anualmente al menos 10 millones de empleos. Si la productividad en la agricultura hubiera aumentado al mismo ritmo que en la industria, por si fuera poco también habría habido cada año varios millones de campesinos de más. Para ayudar a encontrar empleo a este ejército de reserva habría hecho falta un crecimiento de quizá el 15%, lo que era y sigue siendo casi imposible. Por consiguiente, si la productividad de la agricultura hubiera aumentado tan rápidamente como la de la industria, quizá habríamos conocido el mayor éxodo rural de la historia del mundo, con todas las consecuencias nefastas que esto habría provocado. Estamos hablando potencialmente de varios cientos de millones de personas. Por otra parte, para evitar este éxodo rural se concede (provisionalmente) a los migrantes internos menos derechos, como la seguridad social y la enseñanza.

De forma más general, sin duda esto tiene relación con lo que se denomina la hipótesis de Kuznets, que afirma que la desigualdad de ingresos de un país aumenta durante la industrialización y a continuación disminuye de nuevo. lii En todo caso, esta hipótesis parece ser en gran parte exacta para toda la región de Asia del Este. En el siguiente gráfico se ve de izquierda a derecha el aumento del PNB por habitante y de abajo a arriba el aumento de la desigualdad según el índice de Theil liii (el círculo pequeño es la posición del año 1990 y el triángulo pequeño la del año 2002.) En la fase inicial se aprecia para todos los países de la región una subida simultánea de ambos parámetros. Una vez que se ha alcanzado determinado PNB por habitante, la desigualdad parece estancarse o descender en dirección de Corea del Sur, que tiene un avance importante sobre el resto de la región. También hay que observar que todos los países tienen un aumento más o menos igual de la desigualdad si se compara con su crecimiento económico (mismo ángulo de inclinación) y que en este aspecto China no tiene, en otras palabras, nada de excepción.

Estos datos parecen apoyar la hipótesis de Kuznets. De ser exacta podemos esperar que en un futuro próximo finalmente se pueda reducir el abismo en China. En efecto, hay unos síntomas que lo demuestran. En estos dos últimos años y por primera vez desde hace décadas los ingresos rurales han aumentado más rápidamente que los de las ciudades liv y desde 2008 el coeficiente Gini a empezado a disminuir ligeramente. lv

Lo que también es notable es que la cada vez mayor desigualdad en China no es una razón de descontento importante. Muchos chinos (72%) consideran que este abismo en su país es demasiado grande; un 89% incluso considera que constituye un “problema importante”. En Estados Unidos un 65% de las personas considera que el abismo es demasiado grande y en Europa del Este se trata de entre el 85 y el 95% de las personas. Pero sin duda en China hay una tolerancia mayor respecto a esta desigualdad o, cuanto menos, sus causas se ven de manera diferente que nosotros. Si se hace un sondeo sobre las causas de la desigualdad social, en los países occidentales se oye decir que es una consecuencia de la injusticia, de la corrupción o de la deshonestidad. En China, en cambio, esta desigualdad se achaca más bien al hecho de que no se trabaja lo suficientemente duro, a la falta de talento o a la educación recibida. lvi Según Whyte, de la Universidad de Harvard, “es un error pensar que las crecientes diferencias de ingresos constituyen la causa principal, incluso la central, del descontento de la población china”. Más bien habría que buscar en el ámbito del abuso de poder y del funcionamiento deficiente del aparato judicial. lvii

El hecho de que el poder adquisitivo de la población dé saltos hacia delante debe de ser sin duda una razón importante por la que se tolera el abismo de los ingresos. Más arriba hemos visto que el abismo no aparece en detrimento de los más pobres porque no se deja a nadie al margen. Entre 2001 y 2012 los ingresos reales en China han aumentado un 350%. lviii Esta cifra es incomparablemente superior a la de los demás países de la región (véase gráfico). lix Esto es algo que no engendra inmediatamente un sentimiento de dolor.

El abismo es sobre todo un problema en el plano ideológico. Sin lugar a dudas el socialismo significa la erradicación de la miseria y de la pobreza, y la realización de un bienestar material suficiente. Pero los valores fundamentales del socialismo son la justicia social, la igualdad y la solidaridad. Estos valores no puede ser compatibles con la riqueza excepcional de una élite por una parte y, por otra, con que todavía haya 160 millones de chinos que siguen teniendo que arreglárselas con menos de 1,25 dólares al día.lx De este modo se vacía el concepto de socialismo de su contenido sustancial y se hace el juego de la despolitización tanto de los miembros del Partido como del chino medio.lxi

3.3 La corrupción

La corrupción está muy extendida en China. Solo en estos últimos cinco años se ha sancionado a 660.000 miembros del Partido por no respetar las reglas. lxii La corrupción está siempre al acecho cuando, por una parte, grandes cantidades de dinero se ponen a circular y, por otra, hay pocas reglas y las instituciones no están adaptadas para controlarse las unas a las otras. lxiii Este ha sido el caso en China con las reformas, a partir de 1978. Por otra parte, el “guanxi” favorece la corrupción. lxiv

La corrupción es despreciable en el plano moral pero en el plano económico también puede ser funcional. Es indudable que la corrupción “con características chinas” ha contribuido a las altas cifras de crecimiento en estos últimos treinta años. lxv

Contrariamente a lo que se suele pensar la corrupción en China no ha seguido aumentando en estos últimos años y tampoco es tan excepcionalmente alta. lxvi Según el Índice de Percepción de la Corrupción, China ocupa el puesto 80, esto es, 11 puestos por encima de su clasificación según el PNB por habitante y 24 por encima de su clasificación según el Índice de Desarrollo Humano. lxvii En todo caso, no se puede comparar la corrupción en China con la “cleptocracia estereotípica” de gran cantidad de países del tercer mundo en los que se tolera la corrupción y está sistemáticamente organizada, al tiempo que es nefasta para el desarrollo económico. lxviii Del mismo modo, en China las sanciones contra la corrupción son mucho más elevadas que en Occidente. Incluso se puede condenar a pena de muerte a cuadros superiores. La crisis financiera en Occidente ha sido provocada en parte por la actitud irresponsable e incluso criminal de banqueros y traders , y ello con la complicidad y el apoyo de políticos de primera fila. Hasta el momento ninguna de estas personas ha sido condenada ni encarcelada, lxix algo que resulta impensable en China.

Todo esto no quiere decir necesariamente que no sea un problema grave. La corrupción de los funcionarios y de los miembros del Partido refuerza el sentimiento de injusticia y de abuso de poder. Mina la legitimidad del Partido y del gobierno, sobre todo si se trata de personajes con una posición alta. En el gráfico se ve que los chinos perciben la corrupción como uno de los principales problemas de su país. lxx Solo una cuarta parte de los chinos cree que la dirección dice la verdad. lxxi Los miembros del Partido están demasiado motivados por unos intereses oportunistas y demasiado poco animados por motivaciones ideológicas. En el Partido falta “espíritu” y mientras esto ocurra no se logrará controlar la corrupción. lxxii

Pero el problema va mucho más lejos. Con el fin de asegurar el desarrollo acelerado de las fuerzas productivas China ha abierto de par en par su economía y ha introducido en ella importantes relaciones de mercado, aunque se haya hecho bajo un estricto control político. Este control es de naturaleza múltiple y va mucho más lejos de lo que se admite generalmente. lxxiii Mientras los intereses económicos sigan sometidos a las prioridades políticas y sociales, China podrá continuar su búsqueda en dirección del socialismo. lxxivPero si la corrupción empieza a erosionar toda forma de control, entonces el Partido Comunista puede olvidar su vía socialista y tarde o temprano será invadido por la clase capitalista. Entonces se sumirá con toda seguridad en una “perestroika con características chinas”. La lucha contra la corrupción es, en este sentido, una cuestión de vida o muerte.

La dirección política es muy consciente de ello. En el informe de Hu Jintao para el XVIII Congreso se puede leer: “La lucha contra la corrupción y la promoción de la integridad política es una cuestión importante para la gente y que le preocupa mucho”. Si no se consigue contener la corrupción, esto puede “llegar a ser fatal para el Partido”. Todos aquellas personas que han infringido la disciplina del Partido y las leyes del Estado “deben ser llevadas sin perdón ante la justicia”, sea cual sea su posición jerárquica. lxxv En junio de 2013 el presidente Xi recomendó a sus camaradas del Partido adherirse de nuevo a la famosa “línea de masas” lxxvi y romper con el formalismo, la burocracia, el hedonismo y el sentido de la extravagancia. Según varios observadores, esta campaña es mucho más radical que las campañas en contra de la corrupción de sus predecesores Hu Jintao y Jiang Zemin. lxxvii También aquí el futuro nos dirá si han ido lo suficientemente lejos.

4. Algunas conclusiones

La creciente agitación social, el abismo entre ricos y pobres, y la corrupción son problemas graves pero no sin esperanza. A corto plazo no constituyen una amenaza vital para el sistema chino. Pero más a largo plazo podrían, no obstante, minar la viabilidad del proyecto socialista. Refuerzan el vacío ideológico y la despolitización. Después minan también la legitimidad y la hegemonía del partido. Además, ambas están erosionadas por la falta de participación, el abuso de poder y un funcionamiento defectuoso de la justicia. lxxviii Por consiguiente, hay mucho trabajo que hacer. Pero no puede ser de otra manera teniendo en cuenta la gigantesca convulsión de la sociedad china.

China dispone de tres bazas importantes para abordar estos retos. La primera consiste en el hecho de que los problemas se reconozcan y citen explícitamente. La debilidades y las cuestiones problemáticas no se silencian ni se adornan. No es evidente, sin embargo es muy importante porque es una condición para abordar efectivamente los puntos dolorosos. Por ejemplo, con ocasión del XVIII Congreso se revisaron uno tras otro los principales problemas del país. lxxix Esto es algo completamente diferente del alarde buenas noticias al que estamos acostumbrados en Occidente.

Una segunda baza es la capacidad de reaccionar. Fancis Fukuyama, poco sospechoso de simpatizar con la izquierda o con China, afirma al respecto. “La principal fuerza del sistema político chino es su capacidad de tomar rápidamente decisiones importantes y complejas, y también de aplicarlas relativamente bien, al menos en el dominio de la economía política. China se adapta rápidamente tomado decisiones difíciles y aplicándolas eficazmente. lxxx La capacidad de acción de China supone un contraste sorprendente con las discusiones y callejones sin salida interminables a los que se asiste en Estados Unidos cuando se trata de aprobar el presupuesto o con la Unión Europa cuando aborda la crisis del euro o incluso con el letargo y a la falta de cohesión del gobierno indio estos últimos años”. lxxxi

Una tercera baza es el propio Partido Comunista. Todo aparato político es el resultado de un proceso histórico y si se ha desarrollado orgánicamente a partir de circunstancias concretas. Las raíces de la actual estructura de China están en la lucha contra la ocupación del país , contra el Guomindang reaccionario y contra la espantosa miseria en la que estaba sumido el país. El Partido Comunista ocupó el primer plano de esta lucha como órgano dirigente del país y se impuso la tarea de sacar al país del subdesarrollo, de garantizar su soberanía y de luchar por una sociedad humana, socialista. Se pueden tener diferentes puntos de vista a propósito de este sistema político, pero en todo caso este ha demostrado su eficacia. El conocido escritor Mahbubani escribió a este respecto: “Lejos de ser un sistema dictatorial arbitrario, el Partido Comunista Chino sin duda ha logrado crear un sistema vinculado a unas reglas, fuerte y duradero, en absoluto frágil y vulnerable. Lo que todavía impresiona más es que este sistema vinculado a unas reglas sin duda ha puesto en evidencia a los mejores dirigentes que China haya podido producir nunca”. lxxxii


Traducido del francés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos



i The Financial Times, 9-10 de abril de 2005, p. W3.

ii Tomamos 1870 como año de partida en Europa occidental y 1980 para China. Medimos la rapidez del proceso de industrialización según el crecimiento del PNB por habitante. Las cifras se han calculado sobre la base de: Maddison A., Phases du développement du capitalisme, Utrecht, 1982, pp. 20-21, y UNDP, Human Development Report 2005, p. 233 en 267.

iii .

iv Se trata de 22 por 100.000 habitantes . Sin embargo, esto no es excepcional a la luz de sus ricos vecinos. En Japón se encuentra la misma cifra y en Corea del Sur la cifra es mucho más alta : 32 por 100.000.

v The Financial Times, 16 de marzo de 2008, p. 9.


vii Si el PNB se expresa en $ PPA, es 4,3 veces más alto .

viii Los salarios se expresan según las tasas de cambio. Según el poder adquisitivo real, el salario en Francia es 4,4 veces más alto. OIT,

ix El sistema hukou (sistema de registro) consiste en que desde su nacimiento cada persona en China está catalogada como ciudadana o campesina. Un habitante con un hukouciudadano se puede beneficiar de servicios sociales urbanos y un habitante del campo dispone de un trozo de tierra con el que puede lograr unos ingresos. The Financial Timesseñala al respecto: “China ha sabido evitar los barrios de chabolas, que constituyen una plaga en muchas ciudades de los países del tercer mundo, aplicando un sistema estricto de autorizaciones de estancia conocidas con el nombre de hukou. Es lo que hace que para las personas originarias de las regiones rurales sea difícil instalarse permanentemente en las ciudades”, The Financial Times, 4 de agosto de 2010, p. 7.

x The Economist, 12 de marzo de 2005, p. 60.

xi UNDP, Human Development Report 2013, Nueva York 2013, p. 187 en 189;

xii UNDP, Human Development Report 2013, pp. 174-177.

xiii Solo faltan las cifras del año 2007.

xiv Basado en el índice del hambre. Este tiene en cuenta la desnutrición, la insuficiencia ponderal y la mortalidad infantil., p. 49.

xv UNDP, Human Development Report 2013, p p. 167-8.

xvi Analfabetismo: UNDP, Human Development Report 2013, pp. 145-146; cantidad de personas en la pobreza extrema: UNDP, Human Development Report 2013, pp. 160-161 y

xvii Se trata aquí de un trabajo informal en los sectores no agrícolas .

xviii Cfr.



xxi ILO (OIT), Global Wage Report 2008/09, Ginebra, 2008, p. 87.

xxii The Economist, 4 de septiembre de 2010, p. 54.

xxiii, p. 15.



xxvi—dgreports/—dcomm/documents/publication/wcms_195447.pdf, p. 57.

xxvii The Financial Times , Special Report: The New Brazil, 29 de junio de 2010, p. 11.

xxviii UNDP, Human Development Report 2013, p. 26.

xxix UNDP, Human Development Report 2013, p. 96;;


xxxi The Economist, 24 de noviembre de 2012, Special Report: Mexico, p. 5.

xxxii The Economist, 14 de febrero de 2009, Special report: Middle classes, pp. 4 y 9; .

xxxiii Grafico original proveniente de The Financial Times, 12 de octubre de 2005, p. 13; yo mismo he hecho la extrapolación gráfica. Esta concuerda con una extrapolación aritmética.

xxxiv UNDP, Human Development Report 2013, p p. 149-151. Aquí se trata del IDH que comprende el PNB por habitante. El informe no refleja la evolución del IDH fuera de los ingresos.

xxxv United Nations System in China & Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, China’s Progress Towards the Millennium Development Goals. 2008 Report,Beijing 2008, p. 15.

xxxvi Citado en The Financial Times, 9 de abril de 2012, p. 6.

xxxvii The Financial Times, 18 de agosto de 2011, p. 2.


xxxix The Economist, 17 de diciembre de 2005, pp. 57-58.

xl Barómetro de la confianza:

Pew: .

xli The Economist, 1 de octubre de 2005, pp. 52-53.

xlii The Economist, 28 de mayo de 2011, pp. 53-54.

xliii Porter R., «From Mao to Market. China Reconfigured», Londres, 2011, pp. 182-183; Zheng Yongnian, «The Chinese Communist Party as Organizational Emperor», Londres, 2010, p. 138.

xliv The Financial Times, 4 de febrero de 2013, p. 3.

xlv The Economist, 16 de junio de 2012, p.57; The Financial Times, 18 de diciembre de 2009, p. 11.

xlvi The Financial Times, 20 de diciembre de 2006, p. 11; The Economist, 9 de julio de 2011; Naughton B., «The Chinese Economy. Transitions and Growth», Londres, 2007, p. 133;, p. 27; .

xlvii, p. 2; , p. 5.

xlviii Naughton B., op. cit., pp. 217-218.

xlix The Economist, Special Report on World economy, 13 de octubre de 2012, p. 8.

l, p. 36.

li Cf. Amin S., «China 2013»,

lii Véase por ejemplo

liii, p. 64.

liv The Financial Times, 12 de septiembre de 2012, p. 2.

lv Se trata de un descenso de 0,491 a 0,474.

lvi, p. 12;

lvii The Economist, 16 de junio de 2012, p. 57.

lviii The Financial Times, 7 de febrero de 2013, p. 9.

lix The Financial Times, 16 de febrero de 2011, p. 3.


lxi Amin S., art. cit.


lxiii Lampton D., «The Three Faces of Chinese Power», Berkeley, 2008, p. 236.

lxiv Guanxi significa literalmente “relación” o “conexión”. Es un concepto fundamental en la sociedad china. Se trata de un vínculo personal entre dos personas y en el que existe una especie de obligación mutua de hacerse mutuamente un favor o servicio en caso de necesidad. Las dos personas no tienen que tener necesariamente el mismo estatuto social. En un sentido más amplio es una red de contactos a la que en caso de necesidad puede acudir una persona o por medio de la cual puede ejercer influencia en nombre de cualquier otra persona. El concepto de “guanxi” es muy importante en el mundo de los negocios.

lxv Porter R., op. cit., p. 189.

lxvi Wedemann A., Double Paradox: Rapid Growth and Rising Corruption in China, Nueva York, 2012 .


lxviii Wedemann A., op. cit.

lxix The Economist, 4 de mayo de 2013, p.63.


lxxi De nuevo es casi el doble del mundo (13%), pero en todo caso es relativamente poco. Esto no se traduce en una desconfianza total del gobierno ya que estamos en el 71%. (Véase más arriba)

lxxii Xie Chuntao, (réd.), «Why and how the CPC works in China», Beijing, 2011, p. 204 ; Shambaugh D., «China’s Communist Party», Berkeley, 2009, p. 167.

lxxiii Véase por ejemplo Hsueh R., «China’s Regulatory State. A New Strategy for Globalization», Ithaca, 2011.

lxxiv Cf. Arrighi G., Adam Smith in Beijing. Lineages of the Twenty-Firs Century, Londres, 2007, p. 332.


lxxvi La línea de masas es un concepto del que Mao se sirvió durante la Revolución Cultural. Entre otras cosas, equivale a adherirse a las ideas de las personas ordinarias y al mundo en el que viven; también es la facultad de poder escuchar sus voces, de comprender sus necesidades urgentes y también de aprender en contacto con ellas.

lxxvii The Financial Times, 21 de junio de 2013, p.2.

lxxviii Cf. Shambaugh D., «China’s Communist Party», Berkeley, 2009, p. 167; Wang Hui, «Depoliticized politics, multiple components of hegemony, and the eclipse of the Sixties»,; Zheng Yongnian, op. cit., pp. 173ss.

lxxix Vandepitte M., «Que peut-on attendre de la Chine pour les prochaines années ?»

lxxx The Financial Times, 18 de enero de 2011, p.9.

lxxxi Para India, véase por ejmplo Guha R., «India. De geschiedenis van de grootste democratie ter wereld», Amsterdam, 2007, pp. 762ss; Elliott J., «India’s lethargy»,

lxxxii Mahbubani K., «Is China’s slowdown just western wishful thinking?»,

Rebelión ha publicado este artículo con el permiso del autor mediante una licencia de Creative Commons, respetando su libertad para publicarlo en otras fuentes.

El autor, Jerome Duval, del Comité para la Anulación de la Deuda del Tercer Mundo, explica el aumento de la venta de armas ’ligeras’.

En el mes de junio de 2013, Brasil experimenta las mayores movilizaciones desde las de 1992 contra la corrupción del Gobierno del expresidente Fernando Collor de Mello (éste dimitiría al final de su juicio político ante el Senado el 29 de diciembre de 1992). Desencadenado en Porto Alegre, desde finales de marzo de este año por la iniciativa del Movimiento Passe Livre contra la subida de las tarifas de los transportes públicos, el movimiento se ha extendido por todo el país.

Este acontecimiento político mayor recuerda al ‘Caracazo’, la gran revuelta popular contra las medidas de austeridad impuestas en Venezuela en 1989. Aunque en una época y en un contexto diferentes, los mismos síntomas perduran. La población no quiere más restricción presupuestaria que afecta directamente a su vida cotidiana cuando el país despilfarra miles de millones. En este caso, en la organización de la Copa Confederaciones y la Copa del Mundo de fútbol en 2014 en Brasil, cuyo presupuesto oficial alcanzó los 15.000 millones de dólares a finales de 2012, de los que el 85% corre a cargo del Estado brasileño. Construcción y renovación de estadios, infraestructura y acondicionamiento de aeropuertos… En junio de 2013, alrededor de 11.000 millones de euros habían sido ya engullidos. Cantidades astronómicas de dinero público son desperdiciados en cada edición de este mega-acontecimiento. En el país en el que el fútbol es el ‘deporte rey’, la mayor parte del pueblo no tendrá medios para comprar los billetes para ir al estadio pero sí pagará la factura.

Pujando al alza, en junio de 2013, el ministro de Deportes ruso, Vitali Moutko, indicaba que el presupuesto destinado a la organización de la Copa del Mundo de 2018 en Rusia había pasado de 15.000 a 21.000 millones de euros. Para mayor beneficio de los vendedores de armas y profesionales de la seguridad, industriales de la construcción (habilitación de estadios e infraestructuras) u otras grandes multinacionales de la hostelería, nada debe impedir el buen desarrollo de la Copa del Mundo de fútbol que concentra la atención de la casi totalidad de los medios del planeta.

Gases lacrimógenos. Disturbios en las calles de Estambul, 2013. / GUILLAUME DARRIBAU

El negocio de la venta de armas

Brasil es el cuarto exportador de armas ligeras tras EE UU, Italia y Alemania. Está por delante de Rusia, Israel o Francia (Small Arms Survey, Ginebra). En Brasil, el importe de las exportaciones de armas ligeras se ha triplicado en cinco años, ha pasado de 109,6 millones en 2005 a 321,6 millones de dólares (USD) en 2010. Un sector que va bien, de cara a la preparación de la Copa del Mundo de Fútbol en 2014 y su presupuesto en seguridad. En efecto, tras haber adquirido, a través de la empresa brasileña Condor, por 1,5 millones de reales (en torno a 500.000 euros), en armas denominadas “ligeras” en abril de 2012 (500 granadas pimienta GM 102, más de 1.125 granadas explosivas y luminosas, 700 granadas lacrimógenas GL 310 – que fueron utilizadas en Turquía…), el Gobierno brasileño ha comprado por alrededor de 49 millones de reales (unos 16,5 millones de euros) material a la misma sociedad para la seguridad de la Copa del Mundo de Fútbol y sus preparativos.

La empresa Condor de Rio de Janeiro (Nova Iguaçú) fabrica todo tipo de granadas lacrimógenas que después exporta a unos cuarenta países. Condor, como otras multinacionales armamentísticas, expone sus armas en el salón de armamento Eurosatory cerca de París. Entre sus productos encontramos la GL 310 “Ballerina” (bailarina, en castellano), que rebota de manera aleatoria cuando toca el suelo dispersando gas lacrimógeno; la “Seven Bang”, que produce siete explosiones de fuerte intensidad; la GL-311, que provoca una fuerte detonación asociada al efecto del gas; el proyectil de largo alcance GL-202… Aunque la empresa Condor niega exportar a Bahrein (pero sí reconoce enviar su material a los Emiratos Árabes Unidos que han echado una mano a la represión en Bahrein), el gas brasileño empleado para reprimir la rebelión pro-democrática en ese reino contendría sustancias químicas altamente nocivas. Zeinab al-Khawaja, activista participante en el levantamiento pro-democrático en Bahrein, ya lo ha denunciado en la prensa brasileña.

Las armas químicas de ‘Condor’ matan en Turquía

Los proyectiles de gas lacrimógeno de la empresa Condor (además de las armas de Defense Technology o NonLethal Technologies provenientes de EE UU) han sido utilizadas para reprimir a los manifestantes de la plaza Taksim, y por toda Turquía, desde el inicio del movimiento a finales de mayo. Amnistía Internacional y seis organizaciones turcas de médicos han denunciado la violencia de la represión policial y el uso abusivo de granadas lacrimógenas como “armas químicas”. Estas armas han hecho perder la vista a numerosos manifestantes y han matado a varios ciudadanos como consecuencia de su exposición al gas o por el choque del proyectil. Abdullah Cömert, de 22 años, fue asesinado en Hatay por el impacto de una granada lacrimógena en la cabeza el 3 de junio de 2013; Irfan Tuna falleció en Ankara el 6 de junio por una crisis cardíaca comoresultado de una sobreexposición al gas. “El gas lacrimógeno habría sido utilizado en espacios cerrados y la policía habría hecho igualmente un uso abusivo de pelotas de goma“, indicó la Alta Comisionada de Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos, Navi Pillay, el 18 de junio de 2013.

Según los últimos balances, tras cerca de tres semanas de movilización, la represión policial en Turquía ha provocado al menos seis muertos y cerca de 7.500 heridos, 59 de los cuales, graves. Según la Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, las fuerzas de policía efectuaron 3.224 detenciones hasta el 19 de junio de 2013. Después de haber utilizado cerca de 130.000 granadas lacrimógenas en 20 días de manifestaciones, Turquía debe hacer frente al agotamiento de existencias e intenta aprovisionar 100.000 granadas lacrimógenas y 60 tanques con cañones de agua.

La campaña internacional Facing Tear Gas lanzada a principios de 2012 por la organización War Resisters League en EE UU denuncia el gas lacrimógeno como un arma de guerra, una herramienta de represión y de tortura contra los pueblos que luchan por una democracia real.

Represión masiva contra los pueblos que aspiran a un mejor reparto de las riquezas para mayor beneficio de los vendedores de armas.

Los recientes muertos por disparos de granada lacrimógena, Ali Jawad al-Sheikh (adolescente de 14 años asesinado el 31 de agosto de 2011 en Bahrein), Mustafa Tamini (joven de 28 años, asesinado en diciembre de 2011 en Cisjordania) y Dimitris Kotzaridis (obrero de 53 años, muerto ante el Parlamento griego por la asfixia provocada por gases lacrimógenos en 2011) no parecen haber perturbado este complejo militar-industrial en plena expansión.

En medio de las revoluciones árabes, las empresas de armas estadounidenses han exportado unas 21 toneladas de municiones, el equivalente a cerca de 40.000 unidades de gas lacrimógeno. Más recientemente, Egipto y Túnez han aumentado sus compras de material “anti-disturbios”, mientras negocian con el FMI un nuevo plan de endeudamiento acompañado de un severo programa de austeridad. ¿Un repentino temor a nuevos “motines FMI”?

En 2013, el ministro de Interior egipcio encargó 140.000 cartuchos de gas lacrimógeno a EEUU. Según el instituto de Estocolmo Sipri, “las importaciones [de armas convencionales] de los estados del Norte de África aumentaron un 350 por ciento entre 2003-2007 y 2008-2012″. En España, mientras que el Gobierno de Rajoy recorta en casi todas las partidas presupuestarias y reduce la del Ministerio del Interior un 6,3%, los gastos en nuevas inversiones y renovación de “material antidisturbios y equipamientos específicos de protección y defensa” pasan de 173.670 euros en 2012 a más de tres millones en 2013.

Pero…  ¿De dónde viene la violencia?

Para justificar las exportaciones de granadas lacrimógenas estadounidenses a Egipto, el portavoz del Departamento de Estado de EEUU, Patrick Ventrell, alabó las bondades de este gas químico afirmando que “salva vidas y protege la propiedad”. No es el caso de Cleonice Vieira de Moraes, mujer de 54 años, que sucumbió el 21 de junio de 2013 después de haber inhalado gas lacrimógeno durante una manifestación en Belém (Brasil).

Estos mismos argumentos falaces son utilizados por Condor, empresa cuyo nombre trae a la memoria un siniestro recuerdo: El de la famosa operación del mismo nombre, verdadero terrorismo de Estado, responsable de una campaña de asesinatos políticos orquestada por la CIA y los servicios secretos de las dictaduras del Cono Sur (Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Brasil, Paraguay y Uruguay) desde mediados de los años 1970.

En plena crisis capitalista, el discurso de la seguridad antiterrorista (o anti “violentos”) tiene buena prensa y las armas de represión mal llamadas “ligeras” o “no letales”, experimentan más crecimiento que austeridad.

Jérome Duval 

Original :

Brésil lacrymogèeneProtestations au Brésil : Lacrymogène, arme chimique de répression massive, 25 de Junio de 2013

Traducción :


Lacrimogeni come arma chimica di repressione di massa

August 1st, 2013 by Jérôme Duval

In questo giugno 2013, il Brasile sta conoscendo le più grandi mobilitazioni da quelle del 1992 dirette contro la corruzione del governo dell’ex presidente Fernando Collor de Mello (costui sarà costretto a dimettersi il 29 dicembre 1992 alla fine del suo processo politico di fronte al Senato). Scattato a Porto Alegre alla fine di marzo su iniziativa del Movimento Passe Livre contro l’aumento delle tariffe dei trasporti pubblici, il movimento si è esteso a tutto il paese.

Nel paese del “calcio-re”, la maggioranza delle persone non avrà i mezzi per acquistare i biglietti per andare allo stadio, ma dovrà pagare l’aumento dei trasporti.

Questi straordinari sommovimenti politici fanno ricordare il Caracazo, la grande rivolta popolare contro le misure di austerità imposte in Venezuela nel 1989. Anche se in un momento e in un contesto diverso, perdurano gli stessi sintomi. La popolazione non sopporta più i tagli di bilancio che influenzano direttamente la vita quotidiana, quando le classi dirigenti e benestanti del paese stanno scialacquando dei miliardi. A questo riguardo, l’organizzazione della Confederations Cup e della Coppa del Mondo di calcio del 2014 in Brasile presenta un bilancio ufficiale che ha già raggiunto 15 miliardi di dollari alla fine del 2012, e l’85% di questo bilancio è a carico del governo brasiliano.
Costruzione e ristrutturazione di stadi, di infrastrutture e di sistemazione di aeroporti … Al giugno 2013, circa 11 miliardi di euro erano già stati inghiottiti. Somme astronomiche di denaro pubblico sono state riversate nell’organizzazione di questi mega eventi. Per puntualizzare le generali maggiorazioni di spesa, nel giugno 2013, il ministro russo dello Sport Vitaly Mutko ha indicato che il bilancio dedicato all’organizzazione della Coppa del Mondo 2018 in Russia è già passato da 15 a 21 miliardi di euro. (1 )
Per il grande vantaggio dei trafficanti di armi e dei professionisti della sicurezza, degli industriali nel campo delle costruzioni (sistemazione degli stadi e delle infrastrutture) e delle multinazionali delle grandi catene alberghiere, nulla deve impedire il regolare svolgimento della Coppa del mondo di calcio che concentra l’attenzione della quasi totalità dei media del pianeta.
Il Brasile è il quarto più grande esportatore di armi leggere dopo gli Stati Uniti, Italia e Germania. Ha battuto la Russia, Israele e Francia (Small Arms Survey – Indagine sistematica sulle armi leggere, Ginevra).
In Brasile, l’ammontare delle esportazioni di armi leggere è triplicato in cinque anni, è passato dai 109,6 milioni nel 2005 ai 321,6 milioni di dollari $ nel 2010.
Il settore delle armi leggere è in pieno sviluppo proprio in concomitanza della preparazione della Coppa del Mondo di calcio del 2014, e visto il budget relativo destinato alla sicurezza.
Infatti, dopo essersi procurato nel mese di aprile del 2012 armi “leggere” dalla società brasilianaCondor per 1,5 milioni di real (circa 500.000 euro) (500 granate al pepe GM 102, più di 1125 granate esplosive e luminose, 700 granate lacrimogene GL 310 – che sono state utilizzate anche in Turchia …), il governo brasiliano ha acquistato per circa 49 milioni di real (circa 16,5 milioni di euro) altro materiale dalla stessa società, per garantire la sicurezza della Coppa del mondo di calcio e i suoi preparativi. (2)
La società Condor di Rio de Janeiro (Nova Iguaçu) produce tutti i tipi di granate a gas lacrimogeni, che esporta poi in una quarantina di paesi. La Condor, come altre multinazionali degli armamenti, espone le sue armi alla fiera degli armamenti Eurosatory nei pressi di Parigi.
Tra le sue produzioni troviamo la GL310 “Ballerina”, che rimbalza in modo casuale quando tocca il suolo diffondendo il gas lacrimogeno, la “Seven Bang” che genera sette detonazioni di forte intensità, la GL-311 che provoca una forte denotazione associata agli effetti del gas, e infine il proiettile a lunga gittata GL202. Benché l’impresa Condor neghi di esportare nel Bahrein (ma conferma di esportare i suoi prodotti negli Emirati Arabi Uniti,… che hanno poi dato manforte alla repressione in Bahrein), il gas brasiliano utilizzato per sedare la rivolta contro il regime, in favore della democrazia, conterrebbe sostanze chimiche altamente dannose.
Zeinab al-Khawaja, un’attivista che ha partecipato alla rivolta per la democrazia in Bahrein, ha denunciato tutto questo sulla stampa brasiliana (3).

Le armi chimiche della Condor colpiscono anche in Turchia

Proiettili a gas lacrimogeno della società Condor (in aggiunta ad armi di “tecnologia di difesa” o di “tecnologia non letale” di provenienza statunitense) sono stati utilizzati per sedare i manifestanti in piazza Taksim, e in tante altre parti della Turchia, dall’inizio del movimento di protesta di fine maggio. Amnesty International e sei organizzazioni di medici turchi hanno denunciato la violenza della repressione poliziesca e l’uso improprio e illegale di candelotti a gas lacrimogeni come “armi chimiche”. Queste armi hanno fatto perdere la vista a numerosi manifestanti e hanno causato il decesso di diverse persone in seguito alla loro esposizione ai gas o per l’impatto del proiettile. (4)
Il 3 giugno 2013, Abdullah Cömert, 22 anni, è stato ucciso a Hatay per l’impatto di una granata lacrimogena alla testa; Irfan Tuna è deceduto ad Ankara, il 6 giugno, per un attacco cardiaco provocato da una eccessiva esposizione ai gas. “I gas lacrimogeni sono stati utilizzati in spazi chiusi e la polizia avrebbe anche fatto uso illegale di proiettili di gomma”, ha dichiarato Navi Pillay, l’Alto Commissario delle Nazioni Unite per i diritti dell’uomo, il 18 giugno 2013. (5)
Secondo gli ultimi rapporti, dopo circa tre settimane di mobilitazione, la repressione poliziesca in Turchia ha causato la morte di almeno sei persone e quasi 7.500 feriti, di cui 59 feriti gravi. Secondo la Fondazione per i Diritti Umani di Turchia, al 19 giugno 2013 le forze di polizia hanno effettuato 3.224 arresti. Dopo aver utilizzato quasi 130.000 granate lacrimogene in 20 giorni di proteste, la Turchia si trova ora ad affrontare una carenza nelle scorte di questi proiettili e cerca di approvvigionarsi ancora per 100.000 granate lacrimogene e di 60 mezzi corazzati dotati di cannoni ad acqua. (6)

Frammento di granata a gas CS di fabbricazione statunitense sparata dalla polizia sui manifestanti a Tunisi il 9 aprile 2012. La polizia tunisina continua imperturbabile ad attingere alle sue riserve di “gas lacrimogeni” apparentemente inesauribili, per utilizzarli contro tutti i partecipanti alle rivolte, dopo il 14 gennaio 2011, come era usa fare nei periodi precedenti. Recentemente si è potuto notare l’uso di granate fabbricate nel…1986 (Nota diTlaxcala)

La campagna internazionale Facing Tear Gas, contro i gas lacrimogeni, lanciata all’inizio del 2012 dall’organizzazione War Resisters League – Lega degli oppositori alla guerra (7) negli Stati Uniti denuncia i gas lacrimogeni come arma di guerra, uno strumento di repressione e di tortura contro i popoli che lottano per una effettiva democrazia. (8)

Repressione violenta contro i popoli, che aspirano ad una più giusta ripartizione delle ricchezze, a tutto vantaggio dei grandi profitti dei venditori di armi 

Decessi avvenuti qualche tempo fa, causati dai colpi di granate lacrimogene, Ali Jawad al-Sheikh (un ragazzo di 14 anni assassinato il 31 agosto 2011 in Bahrein), Mustafa Tamimi (28 anni, assassinato nel dicembre 2011 in Cisgiordania) e Dimitris Kotzaridis (lavoratore di 53 anni, morto davanti al Parlamento greco per soffocamento provocato dai gas lacrimogeni nel 2011) non hanno perturbato per nulla il complesso militar-industriale in piena espansione. Nel bel mezzo delle rivoluzioni arabe, le società di armamenti statunitensi hanno esportato qualcosa come 21 tonnellate di munizioni, pari a quasi 40.000 unità di gas lacrimogeno. Più di recente, l’Egitto e la Tunisia hanno potenziato i loro acquisti di materiali “anti-sommossa”, nel momento in cui questi paesi negoziano con il Fondo Monetario Internazionale (FMI) un nuovo piano di indebitamenti accompagnato da un severo programma di austerità. Un improvviso timore di nuove “sommosse contro il FMI”?
Nel 2013, il ministro degli Interni egiziano ha ordinato agli Stati Uniti 140.000 cartucce di gas lacrimogeni. Secondo l’Istituto di Stoccolma SIPRI, “le importazioni [di armi convenzionali] da parte di Stati nord-africani sono aumentate del 350% tra i periodi 2003-2007 e 2008-2012.” (9)
In Spagna, mentre il governo Rajoy effettua tagli in quasi tutte le voci di bilancio e diminuisce perfino il bilancio del Ministero dell’Interno del 6,3%, le spese per nuovi investimenti e rinnovamento di “attrezzature anti-sommossa e dispositivi specifici di protezione e difesa” passano da 173.670 euro nel 2012 a oltre 3 milioni di euro nel 2013. (10)

Ma di fatto, da dove proviene la violenza?

Per giustificare le esportazioni di granate a gas lacrimogeni dagli Stati Uniti verso l’Egitto, il portavoce del Dipartimento di Stato degli Stati Uniti, Patrick Ventrell, ha elogiato i meriti di questo gas chimico CS, affermando che “salva vite umane e protegge la proprietà privata”. (11)
Tuttavia, questo non è stato il caso di Cleonice Vieira de Moraes, donna di 54 anni, che è deceduta il 21 giugno 2013 dopo aver inalato gas lacrimogeno durante una manifestazione a Belém, in Brasile.
Questi medesimi argomenti fallaci vengono utilizzati dalla società Condor, impresa il cui nome richiama un ricordo triste: quello della famosa operazione dallo stesso nome, vero e proprio terrorismo di Stato, responsabile di una campagna di assassini politici orchestrata dalla CIA e dai servizi segreti delle dittature del Cono Sud (Cile, Argentina, Bolivia, Brasile, Paraguay e Uruguay) alla metà degli anni 1970. In piena crisi capitalista, il discorso sicuritario anti.terrorismo (o anti “casseurs”, manifestanti teppisti fracassa-tutto) riceve tanta buona stampa, e le armi di repressione definite molto impropriamente “armi leggere”, o “non letali”, conoscono più crescita di commerci che austerità.
Traduzione di Curzio Bettio
(1) La Russia rivede al rialzo il bilancio, L’Équipe, 11 giugno 2013…
(2) Bruno Fonseca e Natalia Viana, 5 giugno 2013, “Bomba brasileira na pele turca”,…, traduzione in spagnolo: “Il Brasile esporta gas lacrimogeno per la repressione in Turchia”,…
(3) “Alcuni ritengono che il gas lacrimogeno dal Brasile contenga diverse sostanze chimiche. Sicuramente vi è un tipo di ingrediente che, in qualche caso, provoca nelle persone gravi ustioni alla bocca e al sistema respiratorio e altri gravi sintomi. Non abbiamo sicurezze sulla composizione, ma queste reazioni sono veramente spaventose. Questo è un gas ben peggiore del gas lacrimogeno statunitense”, così ha dichiarato al giornale brasiliano O Globo l’attivista per i diritti umani Zeinab al-Khawaja.…. Fonte originale O Globo, 9 gennaio 2012,…
(4) “Turchia. Ricorso scandaloso ad una forza eccessiva da parte della polizia a Istanbul”, Amnesty International, 1/06/2013:… e “Turchia: l’uso illegale di gas lacrimogeni viene stigmatizzato, RFI, 21 giugno 2013:…
(6) Informazione pubblicata dal giornale turco “Milliyet”, e ripresa da diversi media.
(7) War Resisters League,
(8) Facing Tear Gas :
(9) “La Cina scalza la Gran Bretagna dalla quinta posizione mondiale fra i più grandi esportatori di armi”, afferma in un comunicato stampa il SIPRI, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 18 marzo 2013,…
(10) “Aumenta un 1.780% el gasto en material antidisturbios y protección”, El Mundo, 5 novembre 2012,…
(11) “Quando questi prodotti vengono usati in modo opportuno, possono salvare vite e proteggere la proprietà privata”, ha affermato il portavoce del Dipartimento di Stato USA Patrick Ventrell.
“L’Egitto importa dagli Stati Uniti gas lacrimogeni per contrastare i manifestanti che si battono per la democrazia”, World Tribune, 26 febbraio 2013.…

A hard-hitting investigative report recently published by a prominent German newspaper has uncovered some shocking details about the tactics being used by chemical giant Monsanto in assuming control of global agriculture. According to this thorough analysis, Monsanto appears to be aggressively targeting independent researchers, scientists, activists, and others opposed to genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) by utilizing the vast resources and manpower of both the United States federal government and the American military-industrial complex

The report, which recently appeared in the July 13 print edition of Suddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), explains in rigorous detail how both individuals and groups opposed to GMOs and other chemical-based crop technologies have been threatened, hacked, slandered and terrorized for daring to digress from the pro-GMO status quo. On numerous documented occasions, pertinent information about the dangers of GMOs or lack of GMO safety data has been effectively blocked from timely release by mysterious forces that many say are the chemical industry in disguise.

“A conspicuously large number of Monsanto critics report regular attacks by professional hackers,” explains an English-translated snippet from the SZ report. “There are (Monsanto) ties with the U.S. secret services, the U.S. military, with very hard operating private security companies and of course, with the U.S. government.”

A telling example of this was when the European environmental group Friends of the Earth (FOTE), together with the German Environmental and Nature Protection Association (BUND), was targeted prior to releasing a damning study on the health-damaging effects of glyphosate, the primary active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. A mysterious virus infected the computer of the study’s main organizer just days before publishing, which threatened to delay several important press releases.

The distinguished GMO truth website has also been relentlessly targeted with “cyber attacks” since at least 2007, a disturbing trend that the site’s main editor is convinced originates from the biotechnology industry. As we reported back in 2012, some of the strongest attacks against the site came just weeks and days before the historic Proposition 37 vote in California, which would have mandated GMO labeling at the retail level.

Monsanto’s targeting activities made possible through corporate takeover of federal government

As it turns out, Monsanto has many close friends within the ranks of the U.S. federal government these days. Scores of key government positions, in fact, are now held by former Monsanto executives, a strategic move that has given the multinational corporation exclusive access to the types of resources necessary to carry out cyber attacks against its opponents on a massive scale.

Monsanto’s own executives have even admitted in years past that so-called cyber “warfare” is necessary for the purpose of protecting its own economic interests both domestically and abroad.

“Imagine the internet as a weapon, sitting on a table,” former Monsanto Head of Public Relations Jay Byrne is quoted as saying back in 2001. “Either you use it or your opponent does, but somebody’s going to get killed.”

These are powerful words, and ones that ring increasingly true as reports continue to emerge about Monsanto’s intimidatory tactics against foreign governments that refuse its offerings. Confidential documents recently made public through Wikileaks, for instance, revealed a plan by government officials to “retaliate” against nations that refused to accept GMOs, even when the people of those nations wanted nothing to do with the technology.

All the sordid details of the U.S. government’s collusion activities with the biotechnology industry are available in the full, English-translated SZ report, which you can read here

No país em que o futebol é o ’desporto rei’, a maior parte do povo não terá meios para comprar bilhetes para ir ao estádio mas pagará a fatura. Mas, a empresa Condor do Rio de Janeiro fabrica todo o tipo de granadas lacrimogéneas e exporta para quarenta países. Repressão massiva contra os povos que aspiram a uma melhor partilha das riquezas para maior benefício dos vendedores de armas.

No mês de junho de 2013, o Brasil teve as maiores mobilizações desde as de 1992 contra a corrupção do Governo do ex-presidente Fernando Collor de Mello (que se demitiria no final do seu julgamento político diante do Senado a 29 de dezembro de 1992). Desencadeado em Porto Alegre desde finais de março pela iniciativa do Movimento Passe Livre contra a subida das tarifas dos transportes públicos, o movimento estendeu-se a todo o país.

No país em que o futebol é o ’desporto rei’, a maior parte do povo não terá meios para comprar bilhetes para ir ao estádio mas pagará a fatura

Este acontecimento político recorda o ’Caracazo’, a grande revolta popular contra as medidas de austeridade impostas na Venezuela em 1989. Ainda que numa época e num contexto diferentes, os mesmos sintomas perduram. A população não quer mais restrição orçamental que afeta diretamente a sua vida quotidiana quando o país espatifa milhares de milhões. Neste caso, a organização da Taça das Confederações e o Campeonato do Mundo de futebol em 2014 no Brasil, cujo orçamento oficial atingiu os 15.000 milhões de dólares no final de 2012, dos quais 85% estão a cargo do Estado brasileiro. Construção e renovação de estádios, infraestrutura e acondicionamento de aeroportos… Em junho de 2013, já tinham sido gastos cerca de 11.000 milhões de euros. Quantidades astronómicas de dinheiro público são desperdiçadas em cada edição deste mega-acontecimento.No país em que o futebol é o ’desporto rei’, a maior parte do povo não terá meios para comprar bilhetes para ir ao estádio mas pagará a fatura.

Em junho de 2013, o ministro de Desportos russo, Vitali Moutko, apontando para cima, indicava que o orçamento destinado à organização do Campeonato do Mundo de 2018 na Rússia tinha passado de 15.000 para 21.000 milhões de euros |1|. Para maior benefício dos vendedores de armas e profissionais da segurança, industriais da construção (habilitação de estádios e infraestruturas) ou outras grandes multinacionais da hotelaria, nada deve impedir o bom desenvolvimento do Campeonato do Mundo de futebol que concentra a atenção da quase totalidade dos média do planeta.

O Brasil é o quarto exportador de armas ligeiras depois de EUA, Itália e Alemanha. Está à frente de Rússia, Israel ou França (Small Arms Survey, Genebra). No Brasil, o custo das exportações de armas ligeiras triplicou em cinco anos, passando de 109,6 milhões em 2005 para 321,6 milhões de dólares em 2010. Um setor que vai bem, tendo em vista a preparação do Campeonato do Mundo de Futebol em 2014 e o seu orçamento em segurança. De facto, depois de ter adquirido, através da empresa brasileira Condor, por 1,5 milhões de reais (cerca de 500.000 euros), armas denominadas “ligeiras” em abril de 2012 (500 granadas de gás pimenta GM 102, mais de 1.125 granadas explosivas e luminosas, 700 granadas lacrimogéneas GL 310 – que foram utilizadas na Turquia…), o Governo brasileiro comprou cerca de 49 milhões de reais (aproximadamente 16,5 milhões de euros) de material à mesma sociedade para a segurança do Campeonato do Mundo de Futebol e dos seus preparativos |2|.

A empresa Condor do Rio de Janeiro (Nova Iguaçu) fabrica todo o tipo de granadas lacrimogéneas que depois exporta para quarenta países. Condor, como outras multinacionais do armamento, expõe as suas armas no salão de armamento Eurosatory, perto de Paris. Entre os seus produtos encontramos a GL 310 “Ballerina” (bailarina, em castelhano), que ressalta de maneira aleatória quando bate no solo dispersando gás lacrimogéneo; a “Seven Bang”, que produz sete explosões de forte intensidade; a GL-311, que provoca uma forte detonação associada ao efeito do gás; o projétil de longo alcance GL-202… Ainda que a empresa Condor negue que exporta para o Bahrein (mas reconhece que envia o seu material para os Emiratos Árabes Unidos que têm dado uma mão à repressão no Bahrein), o gás brasileiro empregado para reprimir a rebelião pró-democrática nesse reino conterá substâncias químicas altamente nocivas. Zeinab a o-Khawaja, ativista participante no levantamento pró-democrático no Bahrein, já o denunciou na imprensa brasileira |3|.

As armas químicas da Condor matam na Turquia

Os projéteis de gás lacrimogéneo da empresa Condor (além das armas de Defense Technology ou NonLethal Technologies provenientes de EUA) têm sido utilizados para reprimir os manifestantes da praça Taksim, e por toda a Turquia, desde o início do movimento nos finais de maio. A Amnistia Internacional e seis organizações turcas de médicos denunciaram a violência da repressão policial e o uso abusivo de granadas lacrimogéneas como “armas químicas”. Estas armas têm provocado a perda de vista a numerosos manifestantes e têm matado vários cidadãos como consequência da sua exposição ao gás ou pelo choque do projétil |4|. Abdullah Cömert, de 22 anos, foi assassinado em Hatay pelo impacto de uma granada lacrimogénea na cabeça a 3 de junho de 2013; Irfan Tuna faleceu em Ancara a 6 de junho de uma crise cardíaca como resultado de uma sobre-exposição ao gás. “O gás lacrimogéneo terá sido utilizado em espaços fechados e a polícia terá feito igualmente um uso abusivo de balas de borracha”, indicou a Alta Comissária das Nações Unidas para os Direitos Humanos, Navi Pillay, a 18 de junho de 2013 |5|. Segundo os últimos balanços, depois de perto de três semanas de mobilização, a repressão policial na Turquia provocou pelo menos seis mortos e cerca de 7.500 feridos, 59 dos quais, graves. Segundo a Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, as forças policiais efetuaram 3.224 detenções até 19 de junho de 2013. Após ter utilizado cerca de 130.000 granadas lacrimogéneas em 20 dias de manifestações, a Turquia deve fazer frente ao esgotamento de stocks e tenta abastecer-se com 100.000 granadas lacrimogéneas e 60 tanques com canhões de água |6|.

A campanha internacional Facing Tear Gas lançada em princípios de 2012 pela organização War Resisters League |7| nos EUA denuncia o gás lacrimogéneo como um arma de guerra, uma ferramenta de repressão e de tortura contra os povos que lutam por uma democracia real |8|.

Repressão massiva contra os povos que aspiram a uma melhor partilha das riquezas para maior benefício dos vendedores de armas

Os recentes mortos por disparos de granada lacrimogénea, Ali Jawad a o-Sheikh (adolescente de 14 anos, assassinado a 31 de agosto de 2011 no Bahrein), Mustafa Tamini (jovem de 28 anos, assassinado em dezembro de 2011 na Cisjordânia) e Dimitris Kotzaridis (operário de 53 anos, morto diante do Parlamento grego por asfixia provocada por gases lacrimogéneos em 2011) não parecem ter perturbado este complexo militar-industrial em plena expansão.

No meio das revoluções árabes, as empresas de armas norte-americanas exportaram 21 toneladas de munições, o equivalente a cerca de 40.000 unidades de gás lacrimogéneo. Mais recentemente, Egito e Tunísia aumentaram as suas compras de material “anti-distúrbios”, enquanto negociam com o FMI um novo plano de endividamento acompanhado de um severo programa de austeridade. Um repentino temor a novos “motins FMI”?

Em 2013, o ministro do Interior egípcio encomendou 140.000 cartuchos de gás lacrimogéneo aos EUA. Segundo o instituto de Estocolmo Sipri, “as importações [de armas convencionais] dos estados do Norte de África aumentaram em 350 por cento entre 2003-2007 e 2008-2012″ |9|. Em Espanha, enquanto o Governo de Rajoy corta em quase todas as parcelas orçamentais e reduz a do Ministério do Interior em 6,3%, as despesas em novos investimentos e renovação de “material anti-distúrbios e equipamentos específicos de proteção e defesa” passam de 173.670 euros em 2012 para mais de três milhões em 2013. |10|

Mas… De onde vem a violência?

Para justificar as exportações de granadas lacrimogéneas norte-americanas para o Egito, o porta-voz do Departamento de Estado dos EUA, Patrick Ventrell, elogiou as bondades deste gás químico afirmando que “salva vidas e protege a propriedade” |11|. Não é o caso de Cleonice Vieira de Moraes, mulher de 54 anos, que sucumbiu a 21 de junho de 2013 após ter inalado gás lacrimogéneo durante uma manifestação em Belém (Brasil).

Estes mesmos argumentos falaciosos são utilizados pela Condor, empresa cujo nome traz à memória uma sinistra lembrança: O da famosa operação do mesmo nome, verdadeiro terrorismo de Estado, responsável por uma campanha de assassinatos políticos orquestrada pela CIA e pelos serviços secretos das ditaduras do Cone Sul (Chile, Argentina, Bolívia, Brasil, Paraguai e Uruguai) desde meados dos anos 1970.

Em plena crise capitalista, o discurso da segurança antiterrorista (ou anti “violentos”) tem boa imprensa e as armas de repressão mal chamadas de “ligeiras” ou “não letais”, experimentam mais crescimento que austeridade.

Jerome Duval

Original em francés :

Brésil lacrymogèeneProtestations au Brésil : Lacrymogène, arme chimique de répression massive, 25 de Junho de 2013

Traduzido por Carlos Santos para


|1| “La Russie revoit à la hausse le budget”, L’Équipe, 11 de junho de 2013.…

|2| Bruno Fonseca e Natalia Viana, 5 de junho de 2013, “Bomba brasileira na pele turca”,…

|3| O Globo, 9/01/2012:… “Some people think that the tear gas from Brazil had more chemical substances. There is some kind of ingredient that, in some cases, makes people foam at the mouth and have other symptoms. We are not sure about its composition, but these reactions have been very frightening. It’s much worse than American tear gas” said the human rights activist Zeinab al-Khawaja to Brazil’s paper O Globo.…

|4| Turquie. Recours scandaleux à une force excessive par la police à Istanbul, Amnesty International, 1/06/2013:… et Turquie: l’usage abusif des gaz lacrymogènes pointé du doigt, RFI, 21 de junho de 2013:…

|5| Pillay rappelle au Gouvernement turc qu’il est responsable des actions de la police face aux manifestants:…

|6| Informação publicada pelo diário turco ’Milliyet’.

|7| War Resisters League:

|8| Facing Tear Gas:

|9| China replaces UK as world’s fifth largest arms exporter, says SIPRI, nota de prensa, 18 de marzo 2013, Stockholm International Peace Reserch Institute,…

|10| “Aumenta 1.780% a despesa em material anti-distúrbios e proteção”, El Mundo, 5 de novembro de 2012,…

|11| “When used appropriately these products can save lives and protect property” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said. Egypt imports tear gas from U.S. to battle pro-democracy protestors, World Tribune, 26 de febrero de 2013.…

Arab liberals and GCC-sponsored ‘intellectuals’ and media pundits could not contain their delight this past week as they all went into jubilant throes of rapture over the EU’s acquiescence to American pressure to black-list the Lebanese Resistance Group Hezbollah (or its Armed Wing as it were) as a terrorist organization.

Full-blown joy was in no short supply as Gulf funded newspapers and media outlets went into celebratory overdrive, practically sharing a “moment of great relief” with the one entity that, in a word-association game, elicits “terrorism” for the majority of the people in this region: Israel.

Of course the reactionary monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Counsel have themselves designated the Lebanese Shiite party as a terrorist organization last month, fashioning measures and sanctions to target the party’s (non-existent) interests in the Gulf, these measures will most probably translate into wholesale arbitrary expulsions and random terminations of residency permits of Lebanese expats earning their livelihoods in these Sheikhdoms, especially those with the “wrong” religious affiliation.

Saudi Arabia has been spearheading a vigorous anti-Hezbollah screed ever since the assassination of their favorite Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Al Hariri, with blatant secterian incitement and torrents of weaponized religious Fatwas as staples in the Kingdom’s armory, but for a country whose main exports include religious fanatics of the Al-Qaida variety along with crude oil; labeling the Lebanese party as a terrorist organization takes their hypocrisy to a whole new cosmic level.

Ultimately, the EU’s decision to ban the “Military Wing” of the Lebanese Resistance as a “terrorist organization” will most probably have minimal effects on the Party’s political (and yes military) activities, but one has to wonder; what criteria were used to lump the Lebanese party in the same crowd with Al-Qaeda and its ilk? What constitutes as “terrorism” and what does not?

What if Hezbollah swapped its arsenal of “primitive” missiles and Katyushas for a bunch of drones and F-16s? What if the young men of the Lebanese resistance decided to pick up remote joystick terrorism instead of putting their lives at stake by being on the front lines defending their own towns and villages? Would they then still be considered terrorists?

What if Hezbollah took a leaf out of the CIA’s playbook on how to “humanely” treat prisoners of war? What if they pulled a Guantanamo, or a Bagram or an Abu Ghraib on Israeli captives, where water-boarding and sexual humiliations are matters of course? Would it be considered terrorism then or just standard operating procedures? Harsh Interrogation Techniques perhaps?

What if Hezbollah conducted a massive illegal surveillance and private online data collection crusade not only on its own fellow Lebanese citizens but on the entire world population, wouldn’t it be considered a parasitic terrorist entity then? Nah. That would be just too obvious for the EU.

Imagine the uproar if Hezbollah ran large scale bogus vaccination programs in other sovereign states only to illegally and forcibly obtain DNA samples from local residents (including children) on their obsessive manhunt for a “wanted” fugitive, wouldn’t hot-headed Eurocentrics trip over themselves to deem that a form of terrorism? How about spying on UN officials and diplomats -including the Secretary General himself-, hacking their E-mail addresses, collecting fingerprints and stealing their credit card numbers? Wouldn’t that instantly earn them a pariah status by the self righteous EU?

What if Hezbollah had an arsenal of more than 250 nuclear warheads? What if Hezbollah carpet-bombed Tel Aviv with cluster munitions and white phosphorous shells to kingdom come? Would that constitute as terrorism or just a preemptive “self-defense” routine?

What if Hezbollah leader Hassan Nassarallah clumsily mounted an air craft carrier with a giant “Mission Accomplished” banner attached to it after his “Military Wing” had illegally invaded, pillaged, occupied and decimated a sovereign country and looted its oil and natural resources leaving nothing but biological plagues and radioactive dust in their soil and water, under some trumped up weapons-of-mass-destruction pretext no less? Would the corporate world consider him a hero and hail him like he was the Second Coming?

What if Nassarallah followed the “fine example” of the double-tongued Barack Obama and fashioned a secret “Kill List” of his own -which included minors and civilians- for impulsive targeted drone annihilation and extrajudical assassinations? Would he then receive a Nobel Peace Prize for that? How about if he rendezvoused with Israeli war criminals on the White House lawn to sign a humiliating peace treaty with the Zionist entity? I’d wager he would be then declared the Time’s “Man of the Year”.

Imagine if the Lebanese resistance movement employed gut wrenching force-feeding and coercion against their hunger-striking political detainees as a matter of course by shoving tubes up their hemorrhaging noses and down into their bellies, would that make them less terrorists and more civilized and liberal?

What if Hezbollah fighters took machetes to their victim’s chests and cannibalized their remains and internal organs while smiling through their blood soaked teeth to the camera, would they then be considered bona fide “Freedom Fighters” deserving of western support and millions of dollars of military “non-lethal” aid? What if Hezbollah fighters staged photo-ops and smooched with hardcore right-wing Zionists of the John McCain and Joe Lieberman variety, would they be praised as moderate peace-loving democrats and true models for upright humanity?

What if Hezbollah resorted to car bombings, booby-trapped micro vans and suicide attacks in heavily populated civilian neighborhoods just like those head chopping, throat slitting FSA darlings of the West? Would it be elevated to the pantheons of “legitimate” Arab Spring, GCC-sponsored rebel movements?

Why can’t Hezbollah leaders take their cue from those feuding Gulf States’ Sheikhs and Emirs whom are gluttons for anything American and Western? Why can’t they just play good hosts to a gigantic American military base in South Lebanon? This sure would get their name yanked off of that list of terrorist organizations.

Can’t they just forsake their Turbans and traditional Thobes for million-dollar suits and silk neckties? What if Hezbollah leaders were white men with green eyes, and spoke with perfect, unaccented English? Would the EU still slap that “terrorism” label on a legitimate resistance movement?

Shouldn’t we all be grateful that we have the European Union to tell us what constitutes as terrorism and what does not?

Ahmad Barqawi, a Jordanian freelance columnist & writer based in Amman, he has done several studies, statistical analysis and researches on economic and social development in Jordan.

By Keane Bhatt

 On the evening of December 4, 1982, President Ronald Reagan informed reporters assembled at an Air Force base in Honduras that he had just engaged in a “useful exchange of ideas” with Efraín Rios Montt. The Guatemalan military general was the most recent in a succession of U.S.-backed dictators who had been governing the country since the CIA first toppled its democratically elected president, Jacobo Arbenz, in 1954.

Reagan: "I know that President Rios Montt is a man of great personal integrity and commitment."

“I know that President Rios Montt is a man of great personal integrity and commitment,” Reagan continued. “I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice. My administration will do all it can to support his progressive efforts.” In a question-and-answer period, Reagan also shrugged off accusations of human rights violations committed by Rios Montt and his military: “Frankly I’m inclined to believe they’ve been getting a bum rap,” he declared.

Just two days later, on the evening of December 6, a 20-member team of Kaibil forces—elite Guatemalan commandos—initiated a military operation that decimated the inhabitants of the remote village of Dos Erres in the Petén region. The murder count of over 250 only hints at the savagery: In a matter of hours, the Kaibiles raped children (ProPublica, 3/25/12), forced miscarriages by jumping on pregnant women’s abdomens (Inter-American Court of Human Rights Judgment, 11/24/09) and flung at least 67 children down a well to their deaths (Seattle Times, 8/10/11), among other atrocities.

Dos Erres was just one of over 600 towns to be ravaged by the military in a scorched-earth campaign by Rios Montt during his brief 17-month tenure. Like his predecessor Gen. Lucas García, he presided over a strategy to defeat the country’s leftist insurgency while also destroying its “civilian support mechanisms,” according to national-security documents unearthed by investigative journalist Robert Parry at the Reagan Library (Consortium News, 5/11/13).

Given Reagan’s collaboration with and defense of Rios Montt, along with a Guatemalan judge’s finding of “sufficient evidence tying Rios Montt to the Las Dos Erres massacre” (Reuters, 5/21/12), one would expect an acclaimed public radio show to make this obvious connection in the course of an hour-long episode titled “What Happened at Dos Erres?” (This American Life, 5/25/12).

This American Life’s host Ira Glass, who along with his producers received a Peabody Award for the episode, seemed to indicate that he would indeed contextualize the atrocity for his 1.8 million listeners early in the program, as he boasted of his expertise on the issues:

OK, before we dive into this story, just a quick history review. Now, I myself was the kind of insufferable, politically correct person who was obsessed with Latin America back in the 1980s. I called Nicaragua “Neek-ar-ah-wah,” and actually went to Nicaragua for a month during the fifth anniversary of the Sandinista revolution. I traveled in Guatemala during the civil war. You, however, might be what we call a normal person and didn’t do any of that.

But Glass’s history review for “normal people” was scrubbed of any mention whatsoever of the overwhelming U.S. involvement in crimes against humanity in Guatemala.

 Publicly available evidence of that involvement, however, is abundant: As was reported at the time, Reagan persisted in providing material support to Rios Montt despite a congressionally enforced ban (New York Times, 12/19/82). Over two years, the United States supplied roughly $15 million in equipment and vehicles to the military while coordinating additional assistance and training through proxies like Israel and Taiwan; the CIA also retained top Guatemalan military commanders as paid assets (New York Times, 5/16/13).

Former U.S.-backed Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt was sentenced on May 10 to 80 years in prison after being found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity.

U.S. Green Beret Jesse Garcia, who had arrived in the country months before the Dos Erres massacre, was authorized to teach Guatemalan military cadets “anything our Army has,” including, according to investigative reporter Allan Nairn (Washington Post, 10/21/82), “ambushes, surveillance, combat arms, artillery, armor, patrolling, demolition and helicopter assault tactics.” In short, Garcia provided expertise in “how to destroy towns.”

Kaibil sergeant Pedro Pimentel, sentenced in 2012 to 6,060 years in prison for his role at Dos Erres (Guardian, 3/13/12), was invited to serve as an instructor at the School of the Americas, the U.S. military’s infamous training center for Latin American security forces, immediately after the 1982 massacre. The School had trained Rios Montt in 1950, and would in 1985 train Guatemala’s current president Otto Pérez Molina, who, as a Kaibil, likely committed atrocities himself (ProPublica, 5/25/12; SOA Watch; Democracy Now, 4/19/13).

But not once were the words “Reagan,” “Arbenz,” “School of the Americas” or “CIA” ever uttered in This American Life’s portrayal of Dos Erres. Rather than convey the reality—that the United States actively engaged in decades of state terror in Guatemala (Extra!, 5/1/99), or that the Kaibiles were armed and trained by the U.S. and its allies—Glass instead framed the U.S. government as a negligent bystander whose sin was solely a reluctance to speak out.

“Embassy officials heard lots of reports about the army massacring whole villages throughout Guatemala, which they dismissed,” said Glass—until, “at the urging of the State Department back in Washington,” they went to “see for themselves if the stories were true.” This American Life’s harshest indictment against the U.S. is that, despite years of repeated massacres after Dos Erres, “the U.S. knew about it but stood by.”

Some might argue that the show, which puts great emphasis on personal narratives, is justified in excluding political context from its 60-minute episode on the massacre. But This American Life, in promoting its false contention that the U.S. simply “stood by,” disregarded its own media partner ProPublica’s reporting of U.S. collaboration with Kaibiles at the School of the Americas (5/25/12).

Reached by phone, one of Glass’s in-studio interviewees—Kate Doyle of the National Security Archives—said she and Glass had had a wide-ranging discussion in which she highlighted the active U.S. role in Guatemala’s conflict. The show ultimately aired a greatly shortened segment with Doyle, which excluded that content.

With remarkable continuity, some months later This American Life (1/4/13) moved from Guatemala to Honduras, airing a half-hour segment titled “Some Like It Dot.” The episode explored the concept of charter cities—swaths of land to be ceded to international investors and developed into autonomous cities, with their own police forces, taxes, labor codes, trade rules and legal systems. The show’s hosts enthusiastically conveyed the idea as a solution to Honduran “corruption and chaos and violence.”

Not once did This American Life mention the 2009 overthrow of the country’s left-leaning, democratically elected leader, President Manuel Zelaya, which opened the floodgates to an enormous upsurge in that corruption, chaos and violence (Nation, 5/22/12). Nor did the program note that its interviewee, Octavio Sánchez, the leading Honduran advocate for charter cities, had actually championed the coup d’etat against Zelaya in a Christian Science Monitor op-ed (7/2/09). Instead, This American Life portrayed Sánchez, current president Porfirio Lobo’s chief of staff, as the country’s idealistic “national dreamer.”

This American Life also excluded any reference to the fact that after appointing Sánchez, Honduras’s post-coup leader Lobo designated Juan Carlos “El Tigre” Bonilla, accused of past ties to death squads (AP, 7/1/12), as the national chief of police. And, naturally, the show’s breathlessly favorable treatment of charter cities avoided the 2012 death-squad-style murder of human rights lawyer Antonio Trejo, Honduras’ most prominent charter-cities opponent (NACLA, 2/19/13).

Echoing presidential discourse of three decades prior, Barack Obama lavished Lobo with praise after meeting with him in October 2011. Thanks to the “strong commitment to democracy and leadership by President Lobo,” said Obama—referring to a head of state who had assumed power through repressive, sham elections held under a coup regime—“what we’ve been seeing is a restoration of democratic practices and a commitment to reconciliation that gives us great hope.”

Like Reagan, Obama avoided the fact that his ally had presided over the routine killings of civilians by state security forces trained and financed with millions of U.S.-taxpayer dollars (NACLA, 5/8/13).

By ignoring decades of high-level U.S. involvement—from Reagan to Obama—in the activities of Central America’s most brutal regimes, This American Life leaves its millions of listeners unaware of both the past and present effects of U.S. power. If Glass still conceives of his show as a way to “provide a perspective on this country that you couldn’t get elsewhere,” he could begin by informing U.S. listeners of their relationship to seemingly far-flung and senseless violence abroad (DePauw University News and Media Page, 4/15/02).

In leaving its listenership untroubled by the grim realities of U.S. foreign policy, This American Life may well be engaged in captivating storytelling—but it shouldn’t be mistaken for good journalism.

Keane Bhatt is an activist in Washington, D.C., for social justice and community development. His blog for NACLA, Manufacturing Contempt, takes a critical look at corporate media’s portrayal of the hemisphere.

The Egyptian army, issued a stern ultimatum, on July 1, 2013, which was ostensibly a stark warning to both, Morsi, the first democratically elected president of Eygpt – who represents the Muslim Brotherhood MB – and on the other side the Tamarod Movement and the National Salvation Front – which is a loose coalition of secular parties. However, in reality, it was nothing short of a thinly veiled threat to, Morsi, stressing that, unless he conceded a significant portion of his powers within 48 hours, the army would oust him. Although the army overthrew, Morsi, on Jul. 3, nevertheless its ruthless crackdown – which caused the death of over 100 MB followers on July.27 – since then, has bolstered the MB and dramatically escalated its increasingly defiant protests.

While, it is incontestable that Qatar – headed by its previous Emir, Hamed bin Khalifa Al Thani and his Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Hamed Bin Jassim, – was at the forefront of unequivocally backing the popular uprisings that swept the region, however, the bulk of its support went to propping up the MB.

The Saudi regime, by contrast, gave its emphatic support to tyrannical regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain. The Saudi king made frantic efforts to forestall the pervasion of the uprising to Saudi Arabia, by offering billions of dollars in benefits, strictly prohibiting protests, rewarding the Wahhabi Salafi religious establishment and, most ominously, instructing the Saudi army to invade and occupy Bahrain.

What is indisputable is the pivotal role played by the radical and regressive Wahhabi Salafi religious establishment in giving religious legitimacy to the Saudi regime, which in turn provides it with the vital funding to propagate and export its violent ideology. According to the Wahhabi ideology it is strictly forbidden to oppose the ruler. Thus, in the Saudi regime’s eyes the MB’s explicit endorsement of political Islam – which underlines explicitly that legitimacy to rule stems only from democratic elections – is undoubtedly an existential threat to the very legitimacy of the Saudi King’s absolute power. To make matters even worse, Qatar has enthusiastically embraced and even offered citizenship to the influential and highly controversial spiritual leader of the MB, Yusuf Al Qaradawi.

As the protest in Syria, became increasingly militarised, the Qataris ramped up their full-blown support to the MB. However, the Saudi regime – which has consistently considered the Syrian regime, since the days of the late, Hafiz Al Assad, Bashar’s father, a major thorn in its side and an irreplaceable strategic ally to its principal adversary Iran – moved swiftly to shore up the armed insurgents, by utilising its intelligence service’s – whose instrumental role in establishing and funding Jabhat Al Nusra JN was highlighted in an online intelligence review released in Paris in, Jan. 2013 –  huge influence and leverage – on, not only Sunni tribal leaders in Western Iraq,  but also Saudi members  of Al Qaida in Iraq AQI, who according to an NBC report in, Jun. 2005, formed  a majority ( 55 % ) of the suicide bombers and foreign fighters converging on Iraq – to convince AQI that its principal battlefield must be Syria and its ultimate goal should be deposing Bashar Al Assad Alawite regime, since its overthrow would break the back-bone of the Iraqi Shia-led government and inevitably loosen Iran’s grip on Iraq.

Creating a new branch of Al Qaida in Syria under the new label of JN, which was not yet designated a terrorist organisation, was, not only an unmissable lifeline to AQI – which was on the back foot, in 2011 – but also, it provided Saudi Arabia and Qatar with a window of opportunity to bolster AQI and JN – under the perfect pretext of supporting democracy in Syria – to destabilise both countries. So AQI scrambled to send Abu Mohammed Al Jolani, in, Jul. 2011, to form JN, while, Aymen Al Zawahri, the overall leader of Al Qaida, instructed all of his fighters in, Feb, 2012, to converge on Syria. The New York Times reported, on, Oct. 14. 2012, that most of the weapons shipped by Saudi Arabia and Qatar are going to hard-line jihadist in Syria. Thus, explaining how JN swiftly turned into the best armed group in Syria. It also reported on, Feb. 29, 2013, that Saudi Arabia has dramatically stepped up support for the rebels by financing a large purchase of weapons from Croatia.

However, its article on, Apr. 27, 2013, was – even though indirectly – far more scathing about, Saudi and Qatari, arming and funding, by asserting ominously, that nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force.

The Guardian, meanwhile, reported on, Jun. 22, 2012, that Saudi Arabia is in the process of paying salaries to Syrian rebels. But, in a rare admission, by a well informed  source – in an article, on, Apr. 13, 2013, in Al Arabia, a mouth-piece of the Saudi regime – confirming the purchase and shipment of Croatian weapons to Syrian rebels, and acknowledging that appointing, Bander Bin Sultan, in, Jul. 2012, as intelligence chief was to ratchet up Saudi Arabia’s faltering efforts in Syria. Even more revealing, however, was the assertion that, Bander, was firmly behind the steering wheel, so the Qataris must have been told to take a back seat. In essence, all this funding, arming, and paying salaries to militants by Saudi Arabia and Qatar have, not only turned JN – which according to Abu Baker Al Baghdadi’s, head of AQI, declaration in early, Apr. 2013, is merely an extension of AQI  – Salafi Wahhabi group into the most ruthless and potent force among the opposition groups, but also dramatically reinvigorated AQI.

Without a doubt, the recapture of the strategic city of Qusair, in early, Jun. 2013 by the Syrian army backed up by its Lebanese allies ,Hezbollah, marked a major turning point in the Syrian conflict, prompting, Obama’s, startling decision on, Jun. 13, 2013, to arm the rebels. This was followed menacingly; by Saudi Arabia’s king sudden return from his holiday. Last time he returned to invade and occupy Bahrain. This time, he was back to assume his new role as the undisputed leader of the Arab World after the U.S. verdict: Saudi Arabia not Qatar, must lead the Arab World. Thus, Qatar’s Emir, was pushed, by the U.S. on, Jun. 25, 2013, to abdicate power to his son, Tamim Bin Hamed.

And, in stark contrast to what many experts predicted, the new Qatari foreign policy has increasingly been shifting towards toeing the Saudi line or keeping a low profile. This has been manifested by the following: First, Qatar’s new Emir, made it abundantly clear, in his first speech, that Qatar would respect all political directions and fiercely rejected sectarianisms. Second, the highly conspicuous absence of any mention of the Syrian crisis. Third, and far more significant, replacing, Hamed Bin Jassim, who was Prime Minster and Foreign Minster by, Abdallah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa, who has been appointed PM and Interior Minster, reflecting an inward looking policy. Fourth, the appointment of, Khalid Al Atiyah, who has far less clout, since he is not a member of the royal family. Fifth, the new Emir swiftly congratulated the interim Egyptian president, Adly Mansour, who was appointed by the  Egyptian army. This was in stark contrast to the Fatwa issued on, Jul. 6, 2013, by, Al Qaradawi., who openly called on the Egyptian people to defy the army and back up, Morsi.

Even though, Egypt’s MB was the first casualty of Saudi Arabia’s uncontested leadership of the Arab World, nonetheless, hot on its heels came the dramatic take over of the leadership of the Syrian National Coalition – which the Qataris, had been fighting viciously to retain – by the Saudis candidate, Ahmed Jerba, on Jul. 6, 2013, which was swiftly followed by the resignation of the Qatari backed interim PM, Gassan Hetto. Soon afterwards, came the closure of the Taliban’s political office in Doha. And, most recently, protest erupted in Tunisia against the Ennada party – which is Tunisia’s MB – accusing it of assassinating a prominent secular politician.

The principal reasons behind the U.S decisive verdict were the following: First, the high degree of confusion amongst its allies in the Middle East, which gave the Syrian regime the edge. Second, the sheer arrogance and recklessness of the Qatari leadership. Third, the hope that the Saudis would learn from the lesson taught to the Qataris. Fourth, having the Qataris in the back seat, would give the U.S. added leverage over the Saudis. Fifth, pushing the Qatari Emir to abdicate to his son sends an unmistakable message to the Saudi king. Sixth, the U.S. increasing worry about Saudi Arabia’s weakening internal front, especially after its patently deceitful myth of being the guardian of Sunni Islam has unraveled, largely due to the Saudi regime’s full-blown support to tyrannical regimes against the Sunnis in these countries. Seventh, giving the U.S. the golden opportunity to point the finger of blame at the previous Qatari leadership if a new 9/11 – similar to the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi – took place, rather than blame Saudi Arabia or indeed itself for allowing the Saudis to send anti-aircraft missiles to Syrian rebels.

As part of the Saudi regime’s strenuous attempts to stave off an internal uprising, it has relentlessly been seeking to ignite a regional sectarian war to demonstrate to its increasingly disenfranchised people that it is heavily engaged in combating an existential threat from the Shia, namely Iran.

But, with the Saudis leading the Arab world, the risk of such a war has never been higher. Indeed, if such a war erupts, both sides of sectarian divide would undoubtedly blame the U.S. It is, therefore, high time for the U.S. to promptly start off by acknowledging that its unwavering support to Saudi Arabia – where the vast majority (15 out of 19) of the 9 / 11 suicide bombers, never mind, the mastermind, Osama Bin Laden, came from – has played a major role in turning the war on terror into an irrefutably the most successful enterprise for its promotion and undeniably vaulting Al Qaida into prominence through countless new countries. Then it is imperative for the U.S. – if it genuinely strives to halt the menacingly fast-spreading avalanche of extremist Wahhabi Salafi ideology and avoid an all out confrontation with an increasingly radicalised Muslim world – to forestall Saudi Arabia’s relentless export of its hard-line Salafi Wahhabi ideology and extremist jihadist fighters, by putting immense pressure on the Saudis, to push them to expand the protection for oil deal into protection for oil, concrete political reform and democratic change deal.

Bradley Manning’s conviction is more conclusive evidence that the US government is illegitimate.
It did not take place in a real court with a real jury. The military officer who served as a “judge” was not impartial.  Manning was convicted for obeying the US Military Code and doing his sworn duty to report war crimes.  There is no difference between Manning’s “conviction” and the “conviction” of Bukharin as a capitalist spy. Both trials were political trials.
The absurdity and injustice of these two convictions tells you all you need to know about the governments behind the convictions. The governments are tyrannical. Imagine the US government accusing Manning of aiding the enemy when the US government itself is supporting al Qaeda’s attempt to overthrow the Syrian government!  And Bloomberg reports that al Qaeda backers in Afghanistan are receiving US military contracts!  
Americans are a gullible people.  They do not understand that the “justice system” is corrupted. Prosecutors and judges have no interest in innocence or guilt. For them conviction alone is the mark of career success. The more people a prosecutor can put in prison, the more successful his career. The more judges bend justice to serve the success of the government’s case, the greater the probability of promotion to higher judicial office.  American “justice” has degenerated. Willingness to corrupt the law has become the highest qualification for appointment to a judgeship or as a US Attorney.
If Manning had been permitted a real trial, possibly jurors might have weighed the evidence.  Did Manning obey the Military Code or disobey it? Did Manning serve the public interest or harm it? But, of course, nothing relevant was part of the trial. In American courts today, exculpatory evidence is not allowed into the courtroom.
If a poor person steals a loaf of bread, the government can turn the case into an act of terrorist sabotage. That’s more or less what the government did to Bradley Manning.

Hiding Economic Depression With Spin

August 1st, 2013 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Time is running out for the US economy and the American people.  The financial press and economic commentators, with few exceptions, do a good job of keeping this fact from the public.

Consider for example the spin put on the “advance estimate” of the real GDP growth rate for the second quarter announced on July 31. The annual rate of 1.7 percent real GDP growth for the second quarter of 2013 was presented optimistically as an acceleration in real GDP from the first quarter’s 1.1 percent growth rate.  However, the reason for the “acceleration” in growth is that the first quarter’s estimate was revised down from 1.8 percent to 1.1 percent. The second quarter GDP growth rate is also subject to revised estimates.  Most likely, the final number will be lower.

Consider also that the reason that real GDP is positive is that nominal GDP is deflated with an understated measure of inflation. The measure of inflation has been manipulated in order to deny Social Security recipients cost of living adjustments. Statistician John Williams ( reports that if deflated by previous official methodology, GDP growth has been negative since the downturn in 2007.  In other words, the “recovery” is just another government hoax.

Another failure of the financial press and economic commentators is the interpretation of the Federal Reserve’s policy of Quantitative Easing. The Fed is said to be keeping interest rates low in order to stimulate business investment and the housing market.  This explanation is nothing but cover for the real purpose of QE, which is to drive up and keep high the debt related derivatives on the books of the banks too big too fail. Low interest rates pull up the prices of all debt instruments, and the higher prices raise the values on the banks’ balance sheets, making the banks look more solvent or less insolvent.

The Fed has continued QE for years, despite the policy’s failure to revive the economy, in order to hold the banks’ collapse at bay in the hopes that the banks would succeed in boosting their earnings sufficiently to get out of trouble.  

The Fed’s QE policy has been costly for important areas of the economy.  Retirees have

been denied interest income.  This has reduced consumer expenditures and, thereby, GDP growth, and it has forced retirees to draw down their savings in order to pay their bills.

The Fed’s QE policy has also jeopardized the US dollar because of the several-fold increase in the number of dollars over the last few years.  In order to support bond prices, the Fed has created 1,000 billion new dollars annually over the last several years. The supply of dollars has out grown the demand for dollars, putting the dollar’s exchange value under pressure.  To protect the dollar from QE, the Fed and its dependent bullion banks have engaged in ruthless shorting of gold in order to suppress the price of gold.  The rapidly rising gold price indicated falling confidence in the dollar, and the Fed feared that this lack of confidence would spread into the currency markets.

By printing dollars to support the banks, the Fed has created a bond market bubble, a stock market bubble, and a dollar bubble. If the Fed stops printing money, not only will the banks’ balance sheets take a hit, but so will the bond, stock, and real estate markets.  Wealth would be wiped out. No one could any longer pretend that there is an economic recovery.

The impact on the dollar is less clear. On the one hand, curtailment of the dollar’s rapid increase in supply would help the currency. On the other hand, the drop in values of dollar-denominated assets, such as stocks, bonds, and real estate could cause the demand for dollars to decrease.  Foreigners for example who sell dollar-based assets might also convert their dollar proceeds into their domestic currencies.

The failures of the financial press require the explanation that I have provided of QE, the bubble economy, and the manipulated measures of real GDP, inflation, and unemployment.  However, although these explanations are necessary, they are themselves a diversion.

The real reason that the US economy cannot recover is that it has been moved offshore. Millions of US manufacturing and tradable professional service jobs such as software engineering have been moved to China, India and other countries where wages and salaries are a fraction of those in the US.  Using “free trade” as a cloak, corporations have turned labor costs into a profits center.  The drop in labor costs raises profits, which are then distributed to executives as “performance bonuses” and to shareholders as capital gains. The impact on US employment can be seen from the BLS monthly payroll jobs data and from the declining US labor force participation rate. The participation rate is not falling because consumer incomes are rising and fewer family members are needed in the work force. The rate is falling  because discouraged workers have given up looking for employment and have left the work force.

The use of foreign labor in place of US labor is beneficial to executives and shareholders in the short-run, but it is detrimental in the longer-run.  The long-run effect is to destroy the US consumer market.