America Is Running the World’s Largest Terrorist Operation

April 22nd, 2014 by Washington's Blog

Chomsky: “Obama Is Running The Biggest Terrorist Operation That Exists”

Leading liberal Noam Chomsky  said yesterday:

The Obama administration is dedicated to increasing terrorism. In fact, it’s doing it all over the world.  Obama is running the biggest terrorist operation that exists, maybe in history:  the drone assassination campaigns, which are just part of it [...] All of these operations, they are terror operations.

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People hate the country that’s just terrorizing them.  That’s not a surprise. Just consider the way we react to acts of terror. That’s the way other people react to [American] acts of terror.

Chomsky is right.  Experts agrees that indiscriminate drone strikes are war crimes (more here and here).

The U.S. is not only killing people whose identity it doesn’t even know (more), but it is also  killing children.  And it is using the justifiably-vilified Al Qaeda tactic of killing people attending funerals of those killed – and targeting people attempting to rescue people who have been injured by – our previous strikes.

Chomsky has previously extensively documented U.S. terrorism.  As Wikipedia notes:

Chomsky and Herman observed that terror was concentrated in the U.S. sphere of influence in the Third World, and documented terror carried out by U.S. client states in Latin America. They observed that of ten Latin American countries that had death squads, all were U.S. client states.

***

They concluded that the global rise in state terror was a result of U.S. foreign policy.

***

In 1991, a book edited by Alexander L. George [the Graham H. Stuart Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Stanford University] also argued that other Western powers sponsored terror in Third World countries. It concluded that the U.S. and its allies were the main supporters of terrorism throughout the world.

Indeed, the U.S. has created death squads in Latin America, Iraq and Syria.

The director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan – Lt. General William Odom - noted:

Because the United States itself has a long record of supporting terrorists and using terrorist tactics, the slogans of today’s war on terrorism merely makes the United States look hypocritical to the rest of the world.

Odom also said:

By any measure the US has long used terrorism. In ‘78-79 the Senate was trying to pass a law against international terrorism – in every version they produced, the lawyers said the US would be in violation.

(audio here).

The Washington Post reported in 2010:

The United States has long been an exporter of terrorism, according to a secret CIA analysis released Wednesday by the Web site WikiLeaks.

The head and special agent in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office said that most terror attacks are committed by our CIA and FBI.

Some in the American military have intentionally tried to “out-terrorize the terrorists”.

As Truthout notes:

Both [specialists Ethan McCord and Josh Stieber] say they saw their mission as a plan to “out-terrorize the terrorists,” in order to make the general populace more afraid of the Americans than they were of insurgent groups.

In the interview with [Scott] Horton, Horton pressed Stieber:

“… a fellow veteran of yours from the same battalion has said that you guys had a standard operating procedure, SOP, that said – and I guess this is a reaction to some EFP attacks on y’all’s Humvees and stuff that killed some guys – that from now on if a roadside bomb goes off, IED goes off, everyone who survives the attack get out and fire in all directions at anybody who happens to be nearby … that this was actually an order from above. Is that correct? Can you, you know, verify that?

Stieber answered:

“Yeah, it was an order that came from Kauzlarich himself, and it had the philosophy that, you know, as Finkel does describe in the book, that we were under pretty constant threat, and what he leaves out is the response to that threat. But the philosophy was that if each time one of these roadside bombs went off where you don’t know who set it … the way we were told to respond was to open fire on anyone in the area, with the philosophy that that would intimidate them, to be proactive in stopping people from making these bombs …”

Terrorism is defined as:

The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.

So McCord and Stieber are correct: this constitutes terrorism by American forces in Iraq.

The U.S. has been directly supporting Al Qaeda and other terrorists and providing them arms, money and logistical support in Syria, Libya, Mali, Bosnia, Chechnya, Iran, and many other countries … both before and after 9/11. And see this.

Torture – which the U.S. has liberally used during the last 10 years – has long been recognized as a form of terrorism.

Wikipedia notes:

Worldwide, 74% of countries that used torture on an administrative basis were U.S. client states, receiving military and other support to retain power.

Some Specific Examples …

The CIA admits that it hired Iranians in the 1950′s to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its democratically-elected prime minister.

The former Italian Prime Minister, an Italian judge, and the former head of Italian counterintelligence admit that NATO, with the help of the Pentagon and CIA, carried out terror bombings in Italy and other European countries in the 1950s and blamed the communists, in order to rally people’s support for their governments in Europe in their fight against communism.

As one participant in this formerly-secret program stated: “You had to attack civilians, people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the state to ask for greater security” (and see this)(Italy and other European countries subject to the terror campaign had joined NATO before the bombings occurred).

As admitted by the U.S. government, recently declassified documents show that in the 1960′s, the American Joint Chiefs of Staff signed off on a plan to blow up AMERICAN airplanes (using an elaborate plan involving the switching of airplanes), and also to commit terrorist acts on American soil, and then to blame it on the Cubans in order to justify an invasion of Cuba. See the following ABC news report; the official documents; and watch this interview with the former Washington Investigative Producer for ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.

Nine months earlier, a false flag attack was discussed in order to justify an invasion of the Dominican Republic. Specifically, according to official State Department records, Under Secretary of State Chester Bowles wrote on June 3, 1961:

The Vice President [Lyndon Johnson], [Attorney General] Bob Kennedy, Secretary [of Defense Robert] McNamara, Dick Goodwin [who was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs], [head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] General Lemnitzer, Wyn Coerr, and Ted Achilles were here. Bob McNamara and Lemnitzer stated that under the terms of the contingency paper, they were required to be prepared to move into the island on short order if required to do so, and this, in their opinion, called for substantially more troops that we had in the area. After some discussion we considered two more aircraft carriers, some destroyers, and 12,000 marines should be moved into a position some one hundred miles off the Dominican Republic shore…

The tone of the meeting was deeply disturbing. Bob Kennedy was clearly looking for an excuse to move in on the island. At one point he suggested, apparently seriously, that we might have to blow up the Consulate to provide the rationale.

His general approach, vigorously supported by Dick Goodwin, was that this was a bad government, that there was a strong chance that it might team up with Castro, and that it should be destroyed–with an excuse if possible, without one if necessary.

Rather to my surprise, Bob McNamara seemed to support this view …

The entire spirit of this meeting was profoundly distressing and worrisome, and I left at 8:00 p.m. with a feeling that this spirit which I had seen demonstrated on this occasion and others at the White House by those so close to the President constitutes a further danger of half-cocked action by people with almost no foreign policy experience, who are interested in action for action’s sake, and the devil take the highmost …

[At a subsequent meeting], Bob McNamara went along with their general view that our problem was not to prepare against an overt act by the Dominican Republic but rather to find an excuse for going into the country and upsetting it.

Department of Justice lawyer John Yoo suggested in 2005 that the US should go on the offensive against al-Qaeda, having “our intelligence agencies create a false terrorist organization. It could have its own websites, recruitment centers, training camps, and fundraising operations. It could launch fake terrorist operations and claim credit for real terrorist strikes, helping to sow confusion within al-Qaeda’s ranks, causing operatives to doubt others’ identities and to question the validity of communications.”

As Chris Floyd and many others have noted, this plan has gone live.

United Press International reported in June 2005:

U.S. intelligence officers are reporting that some of the insurgents in Iraq are using recent-model Beretta 92 pistols, but the pistols seem to have had their serial numbers erased. The numbers do not appear to have been physically removed; the pistols seem to have come off a production line without any serial numbers. Analysts suggest the lack of serial numbers indicates that the weapons were intended for intelligence operations or terrorist cells with substantial government backing. Analysts speculate that these guns are probably from either Mossad or the CIA. Analysts speculate that agent provocateurs may be using the untraceable weapons even as U.S. authorities use insurgent attacks against civilians as evidence of the illegitimacy of the resistance.

And there is substantial additional evidence of hanky panky in Iraq.

American Sailors Exposed to Fukushima Radiation

April 22nd, 2014 by Karen Charman

This article was first published by WhoWhatWhy.

“You always hurt the one you love, the one you shouldn’t hurt at all”

If there’s any truth to that pop standard’s message, then America must surely love its heroes. Because, much as we lionize those who stare death in the face so that the rest of us may live peacefully, once the spotlight shifts away from the heroes of each war or disaster, as often as not our government officials callously toss those heroes aside.

The list is long and dates from the Bonus Army of jobless World War I veterans attacked in 1932 by the Washington, DC, police for demanding compensation for wartime service, to the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who suffered neglect and shoddy conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as recently as 2007. There are plenty of stops in between: The Vietnam vets never properly compensated for exposure to Agent Orange; Gulf War veterans who waited 17 years for Congress to acknowledge the reality of Gulf War Syndrome; and the 9/11 responders who waited eight years for whatever the budget cutters in Washington were willing, in their generosity, to dispense.

This sorry list is about to grow with the addition of scores of U.S. sailors who went on an idealistic mission three years ago to help the Japanese cope with the destruction from the strongest earthquake in the country’s history—the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent 50-foot tsunami on March 11, 2011 that turned much of the northeastern coast of Japan into rubble and swamped the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The combined events knocked out all electricity to the plant, and within five hours, the first of three reactors that ultimately did so began melting down.

At least 79 of those sailors now suffer serious health effects consistent with radiation exposure. Some of the sailors have filed a class action lawsuit  against the Japanese power company, accusing it of hiding what it knew about the escaping radiation and seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, as well as $1 billion for a fund to cover their medical monitoring and treatment. Some of them also blame the U.S. Navy, which denies that its sailors were exposed to harmful levels of radiation.

They Came Out Cooked

Paul Garner, the lead attorney on the case, told WhoWhatWhy that a much larger group of military personnel were exposed to radiation, and he expects the number signing on to the lawsuit to rise as more people develop symptoms. He reeled off a long list of alarming health complaints among the nearly 100 former Operation Tomodachi participants he’s interviewed. So far, about half have developed cancer—of the brain, eye, testes, thyroid, or blood (leukemia). “These kids were first responders,” Garner says. “They went in happily doing a humanitarian mission, and they came out cooked.”

Radiation Déjà vu

The situation these sailors find themselves in is all too familiar in the annals of the nuclear age. Over the past 75 years, claims of harm by many people exposed to radiation through no fault of their own have been officially downplayed or denied. For example: Victims of fallout from atom bomb testing, workers routinely exposed at a nuclear weapons facilitypeople living near one, and those caught downwind of reactor meltdowns at nuclear power plants, as in the 1979 Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania and the 1986 Chernobyl reactor explosion.

The U.S. Department of Defense claims to have calculated “whole-body and thyroid radiation doses” for nearly 75,000 DOD-affiliated individuals who were on or near the mainland of Japan during the period from March 12, 2011 to May 11, 2011. Its determination: “Your whole-body and thyroid radiation dose estimates are well below levels associated with adverse medical conditions.”

Official Estimates Don’t Compute

A DOD report lays out how the Navy reached its conclusions about the doses that 17,000-plus sailors received. But according to nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, a former industry vice president who blew the whistle for radiation safety violations at his former employer, Nuclear Energy Services, as with the previous accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, nobody knows how much radiation has been released from Fukushima—because most of the radiation monitors did not survive the accidents. That means assumptions rather than real data were used to calculate the total amount of radiation released—resulting in estimates that Gundersen believes are much too low.

Another outside expert charges the Navy’s reconstructed doses are meaningless. Robert Alvarez, a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and former deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Energy, who has spent several years auditing radiation dose reconstructions on ailing U.S. nuclear weapons workers, says the only way to get an accurate internal and external dose on any individual is to take continual measurements throughout the time they are exposed. People must wear special monitoring equipment and undergo a regular regime of monitoring. This is especially important in trying to assess the health effects from a multiple meltdown situation with large explosions involving reactor cores, as occurred at Fukushima.

Alvarez says that based on the illnesses that Operation Tomodachi participants are reporting, the real radiation doses were likely very large. “We’re hearing the same kinds of complaints that I was hearing from the people exposed to fallout from the bomb testing program—the metallic taste in the mouth, loss of hair, and sudden and unexpected illnesses,” he says. Symptoms like that indicate “tissue-destructive doses.”

A February 2014 report by Kyle Cleveland, an American sociologist at Temple University in Japan, affirms Alvarez’s assessment. The report includes a transcribed telephone conversation Cleveland received from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, which reveals that monitors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan picked up radiation levels 30 times higher than normal out at sea 100 miles from the reactors. The nuclear expert quoted in the transcript was surprised to detect anything at that distance and says radiation levels were high enough to damage people’s thyroids after ten hours of exposure.

If the Navy’s questionable dismissal of radiation exposure is troubling, the actions of the Tokyo Electric Power Company are even more so. The Japanese Diet (Japan’s parliament) tasked an independent commission, known officially as the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, with figuring out what caused the multiple meltdown.

The report, released in 2012, is damning in its conclusions. Unlike the U.S. Navy, the Commission characterizes Fukushima as a “severe accident that ultimately emitted an enormous amount of radioactive material into the environment.”

Scrubbing the Deck in the Danger Zone

Meanwhile, heroes like Lindsay Cooper live with the consequences of that accident. Cooper spent nearly two months on the flight deck of the Reagan, repeatedly exposed to radiation plumes from the destroyed reactors. On arriving in Japan just off the coast before dawn on March 12, 2011, Cooper confronted a surreal scene. “You couldn’t even really tell there was an ocean,” she told WhoWhatWhy. “It was a sea of wood.”

Photo left: Lindsay Cooper

After ship commanders became aware of the first radiation plume to hit the ship, they limited the number of people allowed on the flight deck where radiation exposure was highest. Consequently, sailors whose work required them to be on deck spent even longer periods of time at risk. The only protection from radiation they received were rubber boots that went over their regular boots. Judy Goodwin, who served with Cooper on that deck, says the sailors were assured they were not being exposed to anything dangerous and that the decontamination procedures they were subjected to were “simply precautionary.”

Photo right: Judy Goodwin

After two or three weeks, Cooper says, people started getting sick. She witnessed crewmembers running and vomiting over the side of the flight deck, because they couldn’t wait in the long lines to go through decontamination before being allowed to get to the bathroom.

Nearly three years later, Cooper, 24, suffers from a severely dysfunctional menstrual cycle, a problem that began about a month after she arrived in Japan. She also regularly gains 40 to 50 pounds over the course of a month and then loses it. Veterans Administration doctors attribute her severe problems to nothing other than “stress.”

After Goodwin, 26, was discharged from the Navy in late 2011, she lost 30 pounds and had to have her gallbladder removed, because, her doctor told her, it just stopped working. She also has problems with her liver. The Veterans Administration has denied her claim for disability based on radiation exposure, because it says there isn’t enough proof.

National VA spokesperson Gina Jackson told WhoWhatWhy she couldn’t comment on either of these cases without privacy waivers from the two sailors. But generally speaking, each vet’s claims are evaluated individually, and if their medical problem is determined to have been caused by their military service, they are awarded disability.

Despite repeated requests, neither Cooper nor Goodwin has been given access to their Navy medical files. Cooper did receive a “purged” file that contains records from her boot camp training—but nothing about her tour on the Reagan.

An Odd Constellation of Symptoms

Navy ensign Steve Simmons, now 36, headed the department that processed the paperwork documenting the flight of any aircraft on or off the ship. His office and sleeping quarters were located just below the entrance to the flight deck. Once the mission ended and restrictions to the flight deck were lifted, he worked out on an exposed weather deck, and tried to get up to the flight deck at least twice a day.

Photo left: Steve Simmons

It wasn’t until the previously fit and healthy sailor started having bizarre health problems that he would think about the radiation exposure again. He has experienced an unexplained blackout, a persistent fever of 102.9℉, swollen lymph nodes, unusual sun sensitivity that landed him in the emergency room with third degree burns, and loss of balance and the strength in his legs. Now confined to a wheelchair and with bladder dysfunction, he has to insert a catheter into his urethra every four hours to empty his urine.

None of the military doctors attribute his maladies to radiation exposure. In fact, he says, they seemed to go out of their way to deny any connection. He’s not buying the Navy’s insistence that the maximum amount of radiation these sailors were exposed to was “less than 25 percent of the annual radiation exposure to a member of the U.S. public from natural sources of background radiation, such as the sun, rocks and soil.”

“If that’s truly the case,” Simmons asks, “why are they classifying Fukushima as either the worst nuclear disaster in history or the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl? How is it possible that there was absolutely no threat to human life? Why are there scientists out there saying that the land in that area is going to be uninhabitable for hundreds of years?”

Navy spokesman Lt. Greg Raelson says the Navy’s conclusions about the impact of Fukushima are based on the tri-service Dose Assessment and Registry Working Group, a peer-reviewed report, which determined that “the highest whole body dose to any crewmember is much lower than levels of radiation exposure associated with the occurrence of long-term health effects.”

Referencing the National Academy of Science’s Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) reports, he says many studies that examined the time between radiation exposure and the development of an effect, such as cancer, take much longer to show up—typically two years in the case of non-solid cancers like leukemia and at least ten years for solid malignancies, like thyroid cancer. “There is no indication that radiation exposure to U.S. personnel supporting Operation Tomodachi presented any risks greater than [what is] normally accepted during everyday life,” he said.

From Fitness Instructor to Near Invalid

When the earthquake hit, Mike Sebourn was the senior chief mechanic in the helicopter squadron at the Navy’s Atsugi air base in Japan. At the time, he was also a fitness instructor, strong and healthy. But a few weeks after the disaster, he began having nosebleeds and migraines. They went away, but four months later, he discovered he could lift only 60 percent of what he could lift previously.

Photo right: Mike Sebourn

Sebourn had been in charge of decontaminating helicopters that were coming back after flying relief missions through radioactive plumes. The Navy didn’t prepare him for the job, he told WhoWhatWhy. What normally would have been a two-year course in radiation remediation was distilled down to two days. The course contained no discussion on the health risks involved, however, they were assured that their exposures would be monitored and noted in their military files.

Lt. Raelson was not able to comment on Sebourn’s description of his radiation remediation training, because he said he could not verify what training Sebourn did or did not receive.

After the relief missions ended, Sebourn said, he didn’t use much protective gear at all because radiation readings they got off the skin of the aircraft weren’t high enough to warrant it. However, he now believes he continued to be exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, mainly from hot components inside the aircraft. Sebourn, 39, now suffers from extreme loss of muscle mass and deterioration in the strength of his muscles on the right side of his body.

Because of his escalating physical problems, he changed his military status from enlisted to commissioned officer on the promise that he and his family would be redeployed to the U.S. But his officer’s orders kept him in Japan, so he decided to leave the Navy.

“After giving them 17 years of my life and putting the needs of the Navy before everything else—before my family and myself—I have no retirement, no medical benefits, nothing,” he said. As a result of his medical problems, Sebourn has received a 60 percent disability rating, which entitles him to a modest monthly stipend. He also receives GI benefits and is using that for school, training to be a network systems administrator. Despite his Navy job as a designated radiation decontamination officer, he says there is no mention of radiation exposure in his military medical file.

What Did the U.S. Navy Know?

Whether the plaintiffs succeed in holding the Japanese utility liable, the case raises important questions about the role and responsibility of the U.S. Navy:

   Why did the U.S. Navy insist from the beginning that it was safe for its troops to remain in the vicinity of three reactor meltdowns?
   After having gone to the trouble of setting up a medical registry to track radiation-related illnesses—the Operation Tomodachi Registry—why did the U.S. Department of Defense decide not to monitor the health of the nearly 75,000 DOD-affiliated citizens—military personnel and their family members—who were in or near Japan during and after the Fukushima meltdowns?
   Why is there no mention of radiation exposure in many of the sailors’ military medical files, even those people specifically assigned jobs involving radiation decontamination?
   Why, given the mounting evidence of illnesses known to be triggered by radiation exposure, is radiation dismissed as a possible cause?

In response to the first question, Lt. Raelson denies that Operation Tomodachi personnel were close enough to the three melting Fukushima reactors to have been exposed to dangerous levels of radiation: “Specifically, all ships were kept at least 100 miles away from the Fukushima reactors, and aircraft supporting disaster relief flights were kept at an appropriate distance from the reactors.”

Furthermore, he says the Navy’s ships and aircraft were fully equipped to “reduce, eliminate, and control radioactive contamination” and did so. Potentially contaminated personnel—flight crews, those “who approached the area around Fukushima Daiichi,” those carrying out decontamination, and others—were carefully monitored with “sensitive whole body dosimeters” and, if necessary, decontaminated.

As to why the government scrapped plans to monitor the health of the U.S. citizens and family members who were in or around Japan during the early days of the triple meltdown, Lt. Col. Cathy Wilkinson, a spokesperson for the U.S Department of Defense, which runs the registry, told WhoWhatWhy that as far as she knows, the registry was only ever intended to document the exposures of the DoD-affiliated population in Japan. “This gives you the baseline—yes, you were there, it’s your official documentation of your estimated exposure,” she said. Beyond that, individuals are responsible for obtaining their own healthcare.

Regarding documentation of radiation exposure, Lt. Raelson said: “The Naval Dosimetry Center (NDC) maintains long-term records of occupational exposure to ionizing radiation derived from TLDs and other dosimeters. Any service member can request his or her dose history in writing from NDC.”

In answer to why radiation was dismissed as a possible cause to illnesses known to be triggered by radiation exposure that sailors are now reporting, he reiterated that the tri-service Dose Assessment and Registry Working Group studied the available data and concluded that no crewmember was exposed to anything higher than what they would ordinarily receive as inhabitants of planet Earth: “For perspective, the worst-case radiation exposure for a crewmember on USS Ronald Reagan is less than 25 percent of the annual radiation exposure to a member of the U.S. public from natural sources of background radiation, such as the sun, rocks, and soil.”

Legal Remedy Sought

Meanwhile, the only remedy available to Cooper, Goodwin, Sebourn, Simmons, and the others is to sue the Japanese operator of the nuclear plant, TEPCO. Lead attorney for the class action suit, Paul Garner, believes he will be able to prove that TEPCO knew on the first day of the accident that the plant was spewing deadly radiation, but concealed that information from the world. He also expresses confidence he will be able to prove that if the military had been aware of the radiation levels, it would not have sent or kept U.S. troops in harm’s way.

Photo left: TEPCO executives bow in apology

But Judge Janis L. Sammartino, who is hearing the case in San Diego, has set a high bar, ruling in November 2013 that the plaintiffs must show:

…not only that TEPCO misrepresented the condition of the FNPP [Fukushima nuclear power plant] and the risk to soldiers operating near the damaged facility, but also that TEPCO’s allegedly wrongful conduct, as opposed to other factors, caused the commanding officers of the Reagan “(1) to move the strike force and associated personnel into an area of dangerous radiation exposure; (2) to do so without undertaking radiation testing and research; and (3) to fail to order the necessary precautions, such as locking down the Reagan and supplying radiation monitoring.…”

And further:

At a minimum, Plaintiffs must show that, but for TEPCO’s allegedly wrongful conduct, the military would not have deployed personnel near the FNPP or would have taken additional measures to protect service members from radiation exposure. Thus, Plaintiffs’ success inevitably hinges on the conclusion that the military’s precautions were inadequate or unreasonable and that had it not been for TEPCO’s misstatements, military commanders would have adopted a different course of action.

Reason for Navy Cover-up?

Because U.S. military personnel are prevented from suing the government, their only recourse is to go after TEPCO. But given the interests involved, the outcome for the Operation Tomodachi victims remains very much in doubt. Robert Alvarez, the nuclear investigator and former DOE deputy assistant secretary, points out that about a quarter of a million U.S. soldiers were subjected to open air nuclear weapons testing in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

“If you use the treatment of atomic veterans who were involved in atmospheric testing as a benchmark, the government did everything it could to downplay the hazards, because from the military perspective, the mission is all important,” he says.

“Right now, the United States government and Japan are closing ranks because of their nuclear-related relationships,” he says. Although Japan’s 54 power-generating nuclear reactors are currently offline, the country still has the third largest number of nuclear reactors in the world.

But more important, Alvarez says, is the “extraordinary co-dependence” with Japan on nuclear-energy-related matters. “Because the U.S. has lost much of its capability in designing and building reactors, we have to depend on the Japanese and the French if we’re going to build any reactors or fabricate fuel or do anything to service the existing reactor fleet,” he explained. “We’re dependent on companies that are now owned by Japan and France.”

The case of the ill Operation Tomodachi veterans shines a spotlight on the intersection of competing interests between victims of radiation exposure, the nuclear power industry, and the U.S. government and its unwavering commitment to nuclear technology for both military and civilian use.

So far, by denying the harm from the radiation U.S. military personnel were exposed to as they helped Japan clean up after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011—a position that supports the Japanese government and nuclear industry—the U.S. government is doing what it has almost always done: protect nuclear interests rather than its victims.

As the number of ill Operation Tomodachi veterans climbs, it remains to be seen whether their sacrifice will be acknowledged or if they, like so many others, will be left to fend for themselves.

IMAGE: Navy Comes Through

IMAGE: Lindsay Cooper

IMAGE:  Steve Simmons

IMAGE:  Mike Sebourn

IMAGE: TEPCO bows

IMAGE:  Join the Navy

The New York Times has run a relentless campaign of lies and distortions backing US policy in Ukraine. This has included portraying the opposition in eastern Ukraine to the pro-Western regime in Kiev as proof of an aggressive Russian intervention threatening Ukraine, Eastern Europe and the world.

The newspaper’s article Monday, “Photos Link Masked Men in Eastern Ukraine to Russia,” purports to provide definitive proof that Russian spies are active in eastern Ukraine and manipulating events there.

The article begins: “For two weeks, the mysteriously well-armed, professional gunmen known as ‘green men’ have seized Ukrainian government sites in town after town, igniting a brush fire of separatist unrest across eastern Ukraine. Strenuous denials from the Kremlin have closely followed each accusation by Ukrainian officials that the world was witnessing a stealthy invasion by Russian forces.

“Now, photographs and descriptions from eastern Ukraine endorsed by the Obama administration on Sunday suggest that many of the green men are indeed Russian military and intelligence forces—equipped in the same fashion as Russian special operations troops involved in annexing the Crimea region in February.”

There may or may not be Russian agents in Ukraine, a question the World Socialist Web Site is not in a position to answer. However, even if the Timesarticle proved its charge that Russian spies are active in Ukraine—which, as we will see, it does not—the reader would have a right to ask: So what?

CIA Director John Brennan went to Kiev a week ago, though he sought to hide his visit from the public, as the Western-backed regime in Kiev prepared its crackdown on the eastern Ukraine protests. British intelligence has admitted that its agents are combing east Ukraine. Why is the dispatching of spies to Ukraine by Russia more threatening than the appearance of MI6 or of Brennan, who has played a leading role in running a global network of torture camps and a program of drone murder?

Leaving these questions unasked and unanswered, the Times can write a fear-mongering piece covering up both the imperialist interests driving US policy and the hypocrisy of the American position. Washington and its European allies installed an unelected, anti-Russian government in Kiev by backing a putsch in February spearheaded by the fascist Right Sector militia. During the protests leading up to the putsch, US officials boasted that they had spent $5 billion on building up Ukrainian opposition groups.

Unsurprisingly, given that the protests were led by fascist groups based in western Ukraine against pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, whose political base was in the east, this led to opposition to the new regime in eastern Ukraine.

The US regime-change plan in Ukraine was part of a broader policy decision to isolate Russia and treat it as a “pariah state,” as the Times reported on Sunday—a designation previously reserved for countries targeted for US subversion or military attack such as Iraq, Libya, North Korea and Iran. This information is critical to enable the reader decide for himself whether it is Moscow or Washington, abetted by the New York Times, that is driving the Ukraine crisis.

The Times ignores all of these issues, focusing obsessively on the threat it claims Russian spies pose to Ukraine. Its approach to presenting the issue is indistinguishable from that of a state propaganda agency. It uncritically repeats, as “news,” talking points from the military and the Obama administration, largely gleaned from Kiev’s intelligence agencies, providing none of the political context necessary for readers to independently evaluate the claims of the generals and spies it quotes.

The Times extensively quotes General Philip M. Breedlove, the top military commander of NATO, who has pushed for a hard line against Russia in the crisis.

Breedlove argues that pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine “exhibit telltale military training and equipment,” including Russian Army issue, which is not gear “that civilians would be likely to be able to get their hands on in large numbers.” The Times writes that “General Breedlove conceded that such points, taken alone, might not prove much, ‘but taken in the aggregate, the story is clear.’”

Breedlove’s most significant comment is his admission that his own arguments do not prove anything. It is, of course, conceivable that the protests are driven by Russian army units that have infiltrated east Ukraine, even after Kiev sealed its border with Russia, somehow escaping detection by US spy satellites and electronic monitoring. The Russian army is hardly the only possible source of militarily trained manpower in east Ukraine, however. Units of Ukraine’s Berkut riot police and elements of its army, which has Russian-issue gear, have defected to the protesters.

Breedlove adds, “It’s hard to fathom that groups of armed men in masks suddenly sprang forward from the population in eastern Ukraine and systematically began to occupy government facilities.”

This comment unintentionally underscores the Times’ boundless hypocrisy and the absurdity of its own presentation of the US-backed protests in Kiev that led up to the putsch. Only a few months ago, the newspaper depicted the groups of masked and armed fascist goons from Right Sector who stormed state buildings as the spearhead of a spontaneous popular uprising for democracy.

The heart of the Times’ article is its presentation of photos and transcripts of audio recordings collected by Ukrainian intelligence that supposedly show the role of Russian forces in eastern Ukraine. What rapidly becomes clear, examining the paltry materials presented by the Times, is that they provide no hard proof of any of the newspaper’s claims.

The dossier of photos, the Times writes, “features pictures taken in eastern Ukraine of unidentified gunmen and an earlier photograph of what looks like the same men, appearing in a group shot of a Russian military unit in Russia.”

Examining the grainy, low-resolution photos published by the Times, one can only conclude that eastern Ukrainian protesters wear similar helmets, ski masks, and—occasionally—beards as do Russian soldiers. Like Breedlove’s arguments, the photos prove nothing to anyone who approaches the far-right Kiev regime’s claims with an ounce of skepticism. A Reddit user who examined the pictures released by the Ukrainian regime and the lower-resolution versions used by the New York Times concluded that the men in the Russian and east Ukrainian units are in fact different people (click here for the Reddit thread). This further raises the question of whether the Times was a party to a falsification of data, in order to prove a claim for which it has no evidence. It published images without doing the same level of fact-checking that was able to be carried out by someone with a few google searches.

In a comment posted to the paper’s site, one of the many disgruntled readers of the Times article wrote: “These photos look as convincing as the satellite footage of Iraq’s WMD [weapons of mass destruction] that CIA presented just before the invasion.”

This footage, of course, proved nothing, as Iraq had no WMD. The Iraq war was then launched based on lies which the Times aggressively promoted.

Finally, the Times presents a YouTube clip of a cell phone call between “Strelok” (whom Ukrainian intelligence claims is an alias for an ethnic Russian active in the protests, Igor Strelkov) and his anonymous Russian superior. The two reportedly discuss how to hold territory and how to discuss the armed protesters’ political positions with Russian media.

Since the release of this YouTube clip several days ago, a political analyst named Alexander Boroday has come forward and identified himself as the person on the phone with Strelok. He says he is a counselor for the pro-Russian government in Crimea and denies working for Russian intelligence. The Times, remarkably, does not report these developments to its readers.

It is conceivable that the Kremlin is running through Boroday a major operation on the scale of the US-backed Right Sector operation in Kiev. However, the Times offers no proof whatsoever to support such speculation.

One final point regarding the Times’ alleged evidence. The Russian government and media have intercepted and published damning material on the role of US and European imperialism in Ukraine, involving publicly known, high-level officials.

During the Kiev protests, they recorded US State Department official Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt plotting to install now-Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk in power in Kiev. They later intercepted communications between EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Latvian officials, discussing the fact that protesters in Kiev were shot not by Yanukovych’s forces, but by pro-Western forces.

Notwithstanding the massive electronic surveillance program it runs through the National Security Agency, the US government has manifestly been unable to discover material of even vaguely comparable significance.

The Times’ supposed proof of Russian intervention in eastern Ukraine is a red herring. Its immediate political purpose is indicated in the article itself. TheTimes writes: “The question of Russia’s role in eastern Ukraine has a critical bearing on the agreement reached Thursday in Geneva among Russian, Ukrainian, American and European diplomats to ease the crisis. American officials have said that Russia would be held responsible for ensuring that the Ukrainian government buildings were vacated, and that it could face new sanctions if the terms were not met.”

Washington has no interest in defusing the crisis. It entered into the Geneva agreement in bad faith, intending to use Russia’s supposed violation of the agreement to justify further sanctions and stepped up military provocations. By supposedly publishing “proof” that the protests in the east are manipulated by Russia, the Times is supplying the US government with propaganda to claim that the failure of the protesters to disband is Moscow’s doing, which is to become the pretext for further escalating the crisis.

Obama’s Tour to Reinforce “Pivot to Asia”

April 22nd, 2014 by Peter Symonds

Amid the on-going confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, President Barack Obama arrives in Japan tomorrow on the first leg of a tour of Asia that will also take in South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines. Obama’s overriding aim is to signal his intention to press ahead with the “pivot to Asia,” which seeks to ensure US hegemony throughout the region.

Last October, Obama cancelled his trip to Asia, including his attendance at two key Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summits, citing the government shutdown in Washington. His decision to proceed with the current tour, despite the escalating Ukraine crisis, is intended to reassure American allies that the US remains committed to its diplomatic offensive and military build-up in Asia against China.

Obama’s trip follows those by Vice President Joe Biden in December, Secretary of State John Kerry in February and Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel earlier this month, all of which deliberately intensified regional tensions with China. Biden’s trip coincided with Washington’s provocative response to Beijing’s declaration of an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea—the Pentagon dispatched nuclear capable B-52 bombers unannounced into the zone.

During Hagel’s trip to Japan then China, the defence secretary drew a direct parallel between Russia’s annexation of the Crimea, in response to the fascist-led coup in Kiev engineered by the US, and China’s territorial disputes in the South China and East China Seas with its neighbours, including Japan and the Philippines. While the US claims to be neutral in these maritime disputes, Hagel nevertheless accused Beijing of attempting to “violate territorial integrity” by force. Standing next to his Chinese counterpart, Hagel reaffirmed that the US was “fully committed” to its military alliances with Japan and the Philippines—in other words, would wage war against China should fighting break out.

Obama will land in Tokyo for the first full state reception for a US president since that of Clinton more than a decade ago. During the course of three days, Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will undoubtedly declare their complete commitment to the post-war security treaty between the two countries. The Obama administration has since 2009 pushed Japan to take a more aggressive stance in its dispute with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, boost its military and ease constitutional and legal restrictions on the operations of its armed forces.

As the US seeks to reassert its dominant position in the Indo-Pacific, especially over China, tensions have begun to emerge in the alliance with Japan. Both countries are mired in a worsening economic crisis and are seeking to extricate themselves at the expense of their rivals. At this stage, the right-wing Abe government remains supportive of the US “pivot” but is exploiting the opportunity to remilitarise and mount its own diplomatic offensive in South East Asia, to prosecute Japanese strategic and economic interests, which do not always coincide with the US agenda.

Since taking office in December 2012, Abe has increased the Japanese military budget for the first time in a decade, established a US-style national security council, re-oriented military strategy to the country’s southern island chain opposite the Chinese mainland, and begun to revive the reactionary traditions of Japanese militarism. In just over a year, Abe has personally visited all 10 ASEAN members, and boosted security relations with them, particularly the Philippines.

The Financial Times yesterday commented: “It has been a rocky year for the US-Japan relationship, the bedrock of Asia’s security and the region’s half-century-long economic rise. Irritants range from stalled trade talks to the habit of senior Japanese leaders of dredging up wartime history.”

Obama is expected to put the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) high on the agenda for talks with Abe. An agreement on the TPP, which Washington regards as the means for reasserting American economic supremacy in Asia, was meant to be finalised by the end of last year but became bogged down, especially by disagreements between the US and Japan over agriculture and the auto industry.

Washington Post opinion piece by former US national security adviser Tom Donilon highlighted the TPP’s central role as “the most important trade deal under negotiation today.” It would enforce US demands across the board, from trade and investment to intellectual property rights and corporate law. “A deal would solidify US leadership in Asia and, together with the negotiations over a free trade pact in Europe, put the United States at the centre of a great project: writing the rules that will govern the global economy for the next century,” Donilon stated.

On the eve of Obama’s visit, Abe again aggravated regional tensions over historical issues, by sending a religious offering on Monday to the Yasukuni Shrine to Japan’s war dead. Today, senior cabinet minister Yoshitaka Shindo further fueled the debate by heading a group of 147 lawmakers to visit the same notorious shrine. In December, Abe provoked protests from China and South Korea by making a personal visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, which is a symbol of Japanese militarism. His visit gave the green light for a growing campaign in the media, by figures like Naoki Hyakuta, appointed by Abe to the board of the NHK public broadcaster, to whitewash the atrocities carried out by the Japanese military such as the Nanjing massacre.

The US State Department cautiously expressed its “disappointment” with Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine. In part, the Obama administration is concerned that relations between its two allies in North East Asia—Japan and South Korea—have effectively broken down. South Korean President Park Geun-hye, installed in February last year, has refused to meet with Abe, citing suggestions that Japan would revise its apology for the treatment of “comfort women,” including many South Koreans, who were forced to work in military brothels in the 1930s and 1940s. Obama was forced to act as mediator last month, bringing Abe and Park together for the first time, on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in The Hague.

More fundamentally, however, the tensions between the US and Japan reflect a widening gap between the interests of the two imperialist powers. TheFinancial Times commented: “Underlying these frictions is the question of how committed the two nations are to a partnership that looks like the remnant of a bygone era, forged when the US was the unchallenged regional power after the Pacific war.”

While Abe is not about to make a break with Washington, he has described his agenda as “escaping the post-war regime”—that is, a post-war order in which Japan relied on the US militarily in Asia and was prepared to play the role of loyal subordinate. The “post-war regime” was only established after a full-scale war, in which millions died, between the US and Japan over who was to dominate Asia, particularly China.

Obama’s aim in Tokyo will be to ensure continued US hegemony in every area—from the TPP’s economic agenda to the marshalling of Japanese rearmament to the interests of US imperialism in Asia.

The election of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 had permanent consequences for U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. major oil companies, which before the election were facing criminal charges for their cartel arrangements, instead were freed to continue their activities, until “In some of the faraway countries where it did business.… Exxon’s sway over local politics and security was greater than that of the United States embassy.”1 Parallel to this was a radical escalation in 1953 of CIA covert operations. Major plots to overthrow the governments of Iran and Guatemala, both of which had been turned down by Truman and his Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, now proceeded, redefining America’s relationship to the third world.2

The key to this important change was not Eisenhower but the Dulles brothers, formerly both partners in the firm Sullivan and Cromwell, which for years had represented the oil cartel:

As long as his brother, John Foster Dulles, was Secretary of State, [CIA Director] Allen Dulles had no need to chafe under political “control.”…. An adventurous director… whose brother held the second highest office in the administration… was able to act almost at will as he was shielded from any unpleasant consequences.3

The 1952 Republican campaign, for which John Foster Dulles was partly responsible, successfully attacked Truman’s supposed weakness in dealing with the alleged treason of two of his civil servants, Treasury assistant secretary Harry Dexter White, and State Department official Alger Hiss. In fact neither White nor Hiss was ever convicted of treason; nor were they ever proven to have committed it. But both men’s careers had been ruined by the sensational charges brought against them in 1948 by a freshman congressman, Richard Nixon, in the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).

An Overview of This Essay

It has long been known that Nixon, in his interrogation of White and Hiss, was being fed information by FBI agents acting with the approval of J. Edgar Hoover. This essay will argue that Nixon also received assistance from the Dulles brothers, especially in a key meeting between the three men on August 11, 1948, five days before White’s untimely and disputed death.

At stake in the meeting was the Republican campaign of 1948, the first campaign, ultimately unsuccessful, in which “the GOP dubbed the Democrats ‘the party of treason.’”4 But deeper issues were also at stake. As we shall see, Harry Dexter White, backed by Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, had his own candidates for treasonable behavior: above all Allen Dulles’s friend and former OSS agent, Thomas McKittrick, the American wartime president of the Bank of International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland.5

The BIS had handled Nazi looted gold when other banks had refused to do so, and at the war’s end McKittrick was “arranging deals with Nazi industrialists to guarantee their profits after the war was over.”6 In contrast, the Morgenthau-White Plan for postwar Germany called for the country to be deindustrialized and the power of the German cartels to be broken. The pre-war banking system linking American bankers to those who had backed Hitler was also to be demolished: the meeting of Allies at Bretton Woods in July 1944, organized largely by White, had passed a resolution calling for the dissolution of the BIS “at the earliest possible moment.”

A version of the Morgenthau-White Plan was approved by Truman in May 1945 as JCS (Joint Chiefs of Staff policy) 1067, which directed the U.S. forces of occupation in Germany to “…take no steps looking toward the economic rehabilitation of Germany.”7

But both McKittrick and Allen Dulles had a quite antithetical vision for Germany – that its economy should indeed be rehabilitated, and eventually made the underpinning for a more united Western Europe.

Thus “Dulles and others began to campaign against…JCS 1067,” and for its replacement by what later came to be known as the Marshall Plan.8

On one level this was a conflict between powerful individuals: White in Washington (Morgenthau soon retired), versus the banker McKittrick and the lawyer Allen Dulles, both of whom returned after World War II to Wall Street. But it was also an institutional conflict between Washington and Wall Street, because each center was initially united behind conflicting visions for the future of Germany, and also for the future of the pre-war international banking system uniting Germany and America – at the heart of which was the BIS. Another way to say this is that it was a contest between the conflicting visions of the state (Washington) and the deep state (Wall Street).

In this contest, as in many others at this time, Washington lost, and Wall Street won.9

The Dulles brothers and their allies, who argued that Germany must be rebuilt as rapidly as possible as a bulwark against the Soviet Union, triumphed over Morgenthau and White. The BIS returned the looted Nazi gold, and the calls for its dissolution faded away.10

There are various reasons for Wall Street’s victory. Prominent among these were the death of Roosevelt and his replacement by Truman with his conservative Secretary of State James Byrnes. Perhaps even more important was the brutish behavior of Stalin in eastern Europe, and the revelation (thanks to the 1946 defection of a Soviet code clerk in Ottawa), that Moscow had a robust network of spies in the west. These and other factors soon made Washington agree to the replacement of JCS 1067 by the Marshall Plan (which perhaps would have been better called the Dulles Plan).

But there were deeper aspects to the conflict. The Dulles brothers were determined to destroy, not just a plan for Germany which they disliked, but the Democratic New Deal by which the party under first Roosevelt and then Truman had restricted the traditional freedoms of Wall Street, and were now threatening to break up the oil cartel. Here the Republicans had their eyes on Harry Dexter White in particular.

The reason then given for this, and still believed by some intelligent people, was that White was a spy.11 But as we shall see, there are also those who believe that the evidence for this is very debatable. We shall consider the suggestion of Anthony Summers and others that Allen Dulles and the CIA, as early as July 1948, were the source of the furor over the alleged treason of first White, and then (after White’s death in August 1948) a far less prominent substitute figure, Alger Hiss.12

Summers suggests that Allen Dulles, even while still a Wall Street lawyer, may have had access to a secret weapon not available to a mere Treasury assistant secretary like White – the VENONA record of deciphered Soviet communications.

VENONA, Harry Dexter White, and Alger Hiss

Many on the left have referred to the post-war prosecutions of Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs as “show trials,” alleging that their underlying purpose was not to determine guilt or innocence, but to influence public opinion by publicizing a guilt already determined, as a warning against dissent. But the spy scare of the 1940s was at least partly genuine, based largely on evidence from the newly translated VENONA record of Soviet transmissions. It is certain that VENONA intercepts helped identify and convict spies such as Judith Coplon, even though, for security reasons, these intercepts were not introduced at their trials.13

VENONA evidence also was used to raise suspicions about two other suspects, senior Treasury official Harry Dexter White and Alger Hiss. However the VENONA evidence against these two men is still fiercely debated. And the campaign against both men was not powered by security concerns alone. In part at least also it was a by-product of a deeper conflict over the future of America — between Wall Street (represented by the Dulles brothers) and the remnants of the New Deal (represented by White, a principal architect of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.)

Image: The Bank of International Settlements HQ in Basel

The Dulles brothers, as lawyers at Sullivan and Cromwell, had played key roles in the inter-war western financing and refinancing of German debt. A primary bank in these transactions was the British merchant bank J. Henry Schröder and its American subsidiary the J. Henry Schroder Banking Corporation, where Allen Dulles served as director and his brother as attorney. A web of international banking connections was created between the wars; and much of this web “was connected to the BIS [Bank of International Settlements], via the Dulles brothers and their friends on Wall Street and in London and Germany.”14

Roosevelt New dealers like Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau and his assistant White intended to dismantle this complex network with German banks and corporations after World War II: in particular, they “loathed the BIS, seeing it, correctly, as a channel for the perpetuation of Nazi economic interests in the United States.”15 Their principal target was the wartime BIS president Thomas McKittrick (formerly of the Boston banking firm Lee, Higginson)– rightly so, in the opinion of Adam Lebor, who writes that “many of the things that McKittrick was doing, such as gold and foreign exchange deals with the Reichsbank after Pearl Harbor, were treasonable.” Lebor adds that McKittrick, a personal friend of Allen Dulles, came to New York and hired an attorney “to persuade the Treasury to unblock the BIS’s funds. His choice was never in doubt: John Foster Dulles.”16

Image: Thomas McKittrick, American Head of the Swiss-based Bank for International Settlements

In July 1944, at Bretton Woods, Morgenthau and White led the American delegation at the conference which successfully established the International Monetary Fund, where White eventually became the executive director and U.S. representative. With the IMF at the center of the new international system, the two men also

wanted the BIS to be abolished. On July 10, 1944, they seemed about to get their wish. Wilhelm Keilhau, of the Norwegian delegation, introduced a motion to liquidate the BIS…. No delegation spoke publicly in defense of the BIS. But behind the scenes its defenders – sections of the State Department, Wall Street, the Bank of England… went into action…. Eventually a new Norwegian-Dutch resolution calling for the liquidation of the bank at “the earliest possible moment” was finally agreed.17

Image: The 1944 Bretton Woods Conference

The Morgenthau-White opposition to the BIS was consistent with their support of the Morgenthau Plan, endorsed by Roosevelt and Churchill at Quebec, which called for the partial deindustrialization of Germany. Though this extreme proposal was soon modified, Truman in May 1945 approved JCS (Joint Chiefs of Staff policy) 1067, which directed the U.S. forces of occupation in Germany to “…take no steps looking toward the economic rehabilitation of Germany or designed to maintain or strengthen the German economy.”18

But both McKittrick and Allen Dulles had a quite antithetical vision for Germany – that its economy should indeed be restored, strengthened, and eventually made the underpinning for a more united Western Europe. We know from an OSS communication to Allen Dulles that, even before the end of the war, McKittrick as president of the BIS “had already concluded an agreement [with German industrialists!] to ‘preserve the industrial substance of the Reich.’”19

Thus “Dulles and others began to campaign against…JCS 1067,” and for its replacement by what later came to be known as the Marshall Plan.20 By mid-1947 the remnants of Morgenthau’s deindustrialization program

had been so watered down by General Lucius Clay, the American commander of occupation forces, that it was meaningless…. Washington’s JSC Directive 1779, passed in the summer of 1947, institutionalized this change in policy. German industry would be rebuilt; its steel mills and forges would once again be the powerhouse of Europe.21

Who Was Guilty of Treason? McKittrick or White?

The plans of White and other New Dealers for post-war Germany and the BIS had thus been decisively defeated by 1948. Only in the Clinton era, more than half a century later, did some Americans’ mistrust of the BIS and McKittrick become known. At a minimum,

McKittrick was suspected by Allied authorities of helping Axis countries acquire funds the U.S. government had tried to freeze. He maintained that the BIS was neutral and that no looted gold was held by the BIS. The U.S. Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency, had found evidence that McKittrick had collaborated with the Nazis. A report given to President Bill Clinton alleged that the Axis powers had virtually taken over the BIS.22

John Loftus and Marcus Aarons go much further, accusing Allen Dulles and McKittrick together of having conspired to move Nazi looted gold in the post-war era to Argentina.23 A more cautious account is given by James Calvin Baker, implicating the BIS under McKittrick’s wartime tenure, but not Dulles:

After the war, McKittrick was appointed to a high-level position at Chase Manhattan [sic, i.e. Chase National] Bank…. And for nearly 50 years, the operations involving the the BIS and Swiss banks and looted assets by the Nazis were hidden in classified documents…. The U.S. Treasury Department [under White] tracked Nazi gold as it moved in and out of the BIS. Several of these transactions were found to have occurred between the BIS and major Swiss banks. From these Swiss banks, money was used by the Nazis to purchase war materiel or was wired to accounts in Spain, Argentina, and he Middle East.24

But Wall Street rallied to protect McKittrick, offering him positions at first the Chase National Bank, and then, at the invitation of Averell Harriman, to administer what became the Marshall Plan. Harriman also appointed an advisory committee consisting of Owen Young, a principal author of the pre-war German debt arrangements, “and of course Allen Dulles, who saw the Marshall Plan as the means of dealing the death blow to the spread of Communism in Western Europe.”25

One of the things that saved McKittrick and the BIS was the spy scare of the 1940s, which rightly or wrongly implicated White. Undoubtedly real spies were discovered, some of them thanks to deciphered VENONA intercepts, but others were the victims of hysteria.

Was White one of these victims? White died before he could be indicted, and the charges against him are still disputed in America.26 Undoubtedly White shared information with officials of the Soviet Union, which was then an ally; but the weight of evidence is that he was neither a Communist Party member nor securely under Soviet control. Chambers himself said of White, “His motives always baffled me.”27

Image: Harry Dexter White, Architect of the Post-War International Monetary Fund

What is certain is that VENONA transcripts were used to persuade US officials that White was a Soviet spy – ending his career. It is clear too that hysteria also played a role. John Loftus and Mark Aarons claim that the Dulles brothers helped foment this hysteria, and Richard Nixon “became Allen Dulles’s mouthpiece in Congress.”28 Anthony Summers charges in addition that Nixon was fed secrets by the CIA as early as July 1948, before Allen Dulles joined the organization he had helped create.29

Nixon, Voorhis, and the BIS

Loftus and Aarons date this secret collaboration between Allen Dulles and Nixon back to 1945.

According to several of our sources among the ‘old spies,’ Richard Nixon’s political career began in 1945, when he was the navy officer temporarily assigned to review . . . captured Nazi documents. Allen Dulles allegedly told him to keep quiet about what he had seen and, in return, arranged to finance the young man’s first congressional campaign against [incumbent Congressman] Jerry Voorhis.30

Although Loftus and Aarons do not mention it, Voorhis was the principal ally and spokesman in Congress of Morgenthau and White’s charges against the Bank of International Settlements, having called for an investigation of the BIS in 1943.31 Dulles would therefore unquestionably have had another motive to see Voorhis defeated.

Voorhis himself wrote in an unpublished 1947 book manuscript that he had a lot of documentation “which would have shown how the [1946] Nixon campaign was a creature of big Eastern financial interests,” including “the major oil companies.” And a representative of Standard Oil, a company (represented by Sullivan and Cromwell) whose shady government dealings Voorhis had exposed, was present at the meeting which selected Nixon as a candidate.32

Nixon and the Dulles Brothers, August 11, 1948 – and Harry Dexter White

Most accounts of Nixon’s career point to an important meeting between Nixon and John Foster Dulles at the latter’s Republican Party headquarters in the Roosevelt Hotel on August 11, 1948, a meeting attended also by Allen Dulles and Douglas Dillon of Dillon Read, “one of the banking firms that [had] financed Hitler.”33 The conventional account is that Nixon approached the Dulleses with the proceedings from the House Un-American Affairs Committee (HUAC) on which he sat.34 Virtually all accounts say that their discussion concerned Alger Hiss.

Image: John Foster Dulles, Vice-President Richard Nixon, and the Shah of Iran

It is probable however that when Nixon met with the Dulles brothers on August 11, 1948, the most urgent matter discussed was not Hiss, but the man then principally targeted by HUAC’s investigation – Harry Dexter White.

White had been the main focus of HUAC attention in 1948, both when Elizabeth Bentley had testified on July 31, and Whittaker Chambers on August 3. White and Lauchlin Currie, Bentley’s two principal targets (together with William Donovan’s law partner Duncan Lee), were due to testify in reply on August 13 (two days after the Dulles-Nixon meeting), along with Alger Hiss’s brother Donald. All three men would deny Bentley’s charges in their entirety, including Bentley’s charge (corroborated by Chambers) that White had “placed Communists in government posts to influence policy.”35

Chambers of course would be vindicated by Hiss’s ultimate conviction, twice, on perjury charges. But the main importance of Hiss at the Dulles-Nixon meeting on August 11, 1948, was as a challenge to the credibility of Chambers, a witness against the far more important target of White.36 One of the two men, either Hiss or Chambers, was apparently guilty of perjury. And Truman’s Justice Department was in the process of preparing a perjury indictment against Chambers, a key witness against White.37

Image: Alger Hiss After His Conviction on Perjury Charges

Matters would change five days later. On August 16, three days after his stressful HUAC testimony, White died, after suffering two swift heart attacks. It was then that Hiss became by default HUAC’s principal target (and the key to Thomas Dewey’s presidential ambitions in the same year).

I mention all this because of the suggestion of many authors that, in post-war Washington, either White had to be discredited, or a number of those involved in the Wall Street-Berlin financial axis, including not just Thomas McKittrick but possibly also Prescott Bush (and perhaps even Bush’s lawyer Allen Dulles), risked being indicted. As Glen Yeadon and John Hawkins write,

White…was arguably one of the government’s most important postwar economists. However, due to his liberal economic policies, as well as his relentless pursuit of the financial dealings of large corporations with the Nazis, he had to be removed.38

Death did remove White on August 16, 1948, five days after the Dulles-Nixon meeting on August 11. But whereas most accounts say White died of a heart attack (e.g. Black, Richard M. Nixon, 118), the well-informed journalist Willard Edwards reported in 1949 that White’s cause of death, after being admitted to hospital with a heart attack, was in fact an overdose of digitalis.39

Summers charges that in August 1948, as the HUAC investigation of Alger Hiss

faltered in the face of Hiss’s denials, Nixon received confirmation that Hiss had indeed known Chambers. It came, according to CIA sources, from Allen Dulles. Dulles, who had had a run-in with Hiss years earlier, was at this time in close contact with his former chief, Donovan, and was likely to be privy to whatever the OSS had learned about Hiss.40

And Summers asks whether a secret weapon used by the Dulleses and Nixon against White and Hiss was a tendentious interpretation of material which existed about White and Hiss in the then secret VENONA transcripts of deciphered Soviet cable traffic:

A fascinating question, still unresolved, is whether Nixon’s secret sources – J. Edgar Hoover, Allen Dulles, or other OSS/CIA contacts – were aware by 1948 of the deciphered VENONA messages – and of the ALES cable in particular [of March 30, 1945]– that seem to point to Hiss’s guilt.41

He argues suggestively that “Allen Dulles may well have learned” of the VENONA evidence; and “if as reported he briefed Nixon on the case – then therein may perhaps lie the explanation for Nixon’s confidence in his pursuit of Hiss.”42 This theory would also explain why Nixon, backed by Hoover, relied on allegations that now look extremely dubious – the most dubious of all (and yet the most persuasive at the time) being the so-called Pumpkin Papers.

Image: Richard Nixon in a Moment of Triumph

The grand jury convened to indict Chambers was persuaded in December 1948 by Nixon, in an extraordinary performance by a Congressman, to indict Hiss instead. Nixon did so by the controversial act of giving the grand jury copies of films from the “Pumpkin Papers.”

Nixon had been warned by a fellow Congressman that the film belonged to the House and should not be given to the grand jury.

But Nixon, as he later wrote in his book ”Six Crises,” saw the film as crucial evidence of Hiss’s guilt, was convinced the Justice Department was not taking the investigation seriously and feared that the grand jury might seek to indict Chambers for perjury instead of Hiss.43

It is clear that in the case of the Rosenbergs the VENONA evidence played a key role in their identification and prosecution.44 Because, for national security reasons, it could not be revealed at their trial that the Soviets’ code had been broken, substitute evidence, some of it unconvincing, was used to obtain conviction. The result was to subject the U.S. justice system to a bifurcation of knowledge, between the public evidence presented in open courts, and a deeper history known only to those cleared for the secrets of the deep state.

Something like this bifurcation appears to have occurred also in the still disputed cases against first Harry Dexter White and then Alger Hiss.

Image: “ALES” in the VENONA Files — Was This Alger Hiss?

Nixon, Hiss, and the Pumpkin Papers

What is clear is that judicial process in the Hiss case was overridden and predetermined by Nixon’s election-year persecution of Hiss in the media. In an essentially favorable biography of Nixon, Conrad Black concedes that “Nixon attacked Hiss however he could, having conducted a press assault after he had sworn under oath to maintain confidentiality about HUAC’s executive session proceedings.”45 Speaking to his White House staff on July 1, 1971, and contemplating a similar strategy against the leakers of the Pentagon Papers, Nixon himself recalled:

We won the Hiss case in the papers. We did. I had to leak stuff all over the place. …. It was won in the papers. We have to develop now a program, a program for leaking out information. We’re destroying these people in the papers.46

 

And in 1948 the newspapers eventually took seriously, as mainstream historians like Stephen Ambrose have continued to take seriously, the “Pumpkin Papers” — five microfilm47 rolls planted in an outdoor pumpkin by Whittaker Chambers, where they were retrieved by investigators the next day. Two of these rolls contained classified State Department cables on economic relations with Germany, and on Sino-Japanese affairs.48Three more were withheld for decades: according to Nixon, “the State Department still felt…that publication…would be injurious to the national security.” In response to a FOIA suit, Alger Hiss in 1975

was allowed to examine the three withheld rolls of microfilm. Two were from the U.S. Navy Department and contained instructions on how to use fire extinguishers, life rafts, and chest parachutes; the third roll was blank.49

It would seem that “national security” had been invoked to protect, not the film, but the reputation of those like Nixon who exploited it.50

The Pumpkin Papers, in other words, amounted to far less than what the press and the public believed. But the Pumpkin Papers were a media coup at the time, thanks to an elaborate stratagem, designed to keep the papers in the hands of HUAC and out of the hands of Truman’s hostile Justice Department. The stratagem, designed with the approval of Hoover, was the work of Nixon, HUAC Chief Investigator Robert Stripling, and an almost forgotten mastermind of the Pumpkin Papers scenario: Washington journalist Bert Andrews of the New York Herald Tribune.51

On December 1, 1948, UP carried a wire story, stating, “The Justice Department investigation [of Hiss and Chambers] is about to die for lack of evidence…. Unless something new turned up soon, officials said, there would be little use going to grand jury … to see if there were grounds for a perjury charge against either man.”52 That same night, Stephen Ambrose writes, Stripling and Nixon drove out to Chambers’ Westminster farm and heard from Chambers that he had “another bombshell.”

You keep that second bombshell,” Nixon said. Don’t give it to anybody except the committee. Why he did not issue a subpoena then and there on Chambers for the remaining documents [the Pumpkin Papers] is another of the many mysteries in the case. In any event, he did not — he and Stripling drove back empty-handed…. Back in Washington, Nixon phoned Bert Andrews [who told him] “get hold of Bob Stripling. Tell him to serve a blanket subpoena on Chambers to produce anything and everything he still has in his possession.53

A pro-Nixon biography summarizes the consequences:

The next evening, in a cloak-and-dagger scene that fired the national imagination, an agent of the Committee served a subpoena on the ex-Communist; Chambers led him in darkness to a pumpkin in his garden, and from the pumpkin he drew five rolls of microfilm containing photostatic copies of confidential and secret documents stolen from the State Department. A New York Grand Jury, on the verge of indicting Whittaker Chambers for perjury, reversed itself when Nixon rushed to New York and testified that it must have been Hiss who lied in saying he had not turned official documents over to Chambers.54

This account fails to mention that, as a conservative website now concedes, the pumpkin was one Chambers “had hollowed out the night before” – i.e. the night of Nixon’s visit.55

Image: The Hollowed-Out Pumpkin at Whittaker Chambers’ Farm

What also fired the national imagination were the dramatic photos of Nixon, who had left on a sea voyage, returning “in theatrical fashion, transferring from his liner to a coast guard seaplane, then flying to Florida to be met by a posse of reporters.”56 This is the answer to Ambrose’s mystery of why the subpoena was not served by Nixon on December 1, nor the microfilm rolls simply taken.

The Chamber-Hiss controversy…was once again front-page news. … Reporters and photographers swarmed to Westminster. Even staid dailies ran pictures with arrows indicating the pumpkin patch. And there was the microfilm. Its contents remained secret and under twenty-four hour guard…. However [Stripling] did let Bert Andrews read some of the documents.57

In all of this Nixon was coached by Andrews “on how to handle the Hiss-Chambers confrontation.”58 David Halberstam adds that

By this time Andrews was not just a reporter covering a story, he was friend adviser, press officer, and reporter for Nixon…. He had steadied Nixon and advised him, and kept him advised of other developments in the case through his sources in the White House…. Andrews proved to be an invaluable connection and friend. He not only helped brief the younger, rawer Nixon on strategy, he helped legitimize him with other reporters.59

Press reaction to the Pumpkin Papers at the time was rather mixed, with many liberal journalists still inclined to favor the well-spoken Hiss over the young upstart Nixon. But that support waned after Hiss’s conviction in 1950, possibly influenced by Russia’s successful test of an atom bomb. Public criticism of the “Pumpkin Papers” drama – or farce – became closely restricted to Hiss’s waning supporters, especially after the convictions of the Rosenbergs during the Korean War, when the choice presented to everyone was now whether to side with the government, or the Communist enemy.

By 1968 the columnist Drew Pearson was a maverick in his unpopular reproof of the US press for having “glossed over the fact that the pumpkin papers had been planted there as a phony but sensational plot so [Nixon] could discover them and make headlines.”60 But I believe Pearson’s salty reproof to have been justified.

Press coverage of the “Pumpkin Papers” in 1948 was intense, because the public was aroused by legitimate concerns much wider than the fate of Alger Hiss. One larger issue – how much the U.S. should commit to supporting Chiang Kai-shek – aroused a narrower segment of U.S. public opinion than another: how Roosevelt and Churchill could at Yalta in 1945 have ratified the delivery of Catholic eastern Europe into the hands of Stalin.

Hiss had accompanied Roosevelt and his Secretary of State Edward Stettinius to Yalta. Few today would ascribe to the “falsely claimed” charge by Senator McCarthy “that Hiss had been integrally involved in drafting the Yalta agreements.”61 But at the time the possibility of treason by White and Hiss was an unresolved question, exploited vigorously by Republican campaign manager Herbert Brownell in his unsuccessful 1948 campaign to elect Governor Thomas Dewey, and his successful campaign in 1952 to elect Eisenhower. It thus helped make John Foster Dulles Secretary of State, and Allen Dulles Director of Central Intelligence.

The two brothers promptly illustrated their break with Truman’s foreign policy by approving what Truman had rejected, the use of CIA resources to rescue the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now BP) from nationalization by Iran. The gates had been opened to four decades in which the resources of the American deep state would be used to defend U.S. corporate interests abroad by crushing local governments that had been democratically elected — from Guatemala in 1954 to Panama in 1989.62

The claims against White and Hiss continued for years to feed the phobic hysteria we remember as McCarthyism. And unfortunately they continue to the present.63

On the institutional level the results of the Washington-Wall Street conflict, initially at least, were less depressing. Germany was reconstructed as the strongest economy of western Europe; however Nazism did not seriously revive. The era of private banking influence, as symbolized by the BIS, was also restored, but within a new framework which also incorporated the public institutions of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

For a quarter century, until it ended under Nixon in 1971, the Bretton Woods system largely worked, and the BIS functioned as part of its infrastructure. America prospered; and there were signs of a healthy reduction in income disparity, not just in America, but also in the Third World. Discussing the researches of the economist Thomas Piketty into the reduced income inequality of that era, Richard Brinkman has written, “The immediate period after WWII, from 1950 to 1973, has come to be called the Golden Age…. a close approximation to the best that in practice can be obtained from a capitalist economy.”64

Thanks to the Vietnam War and other factors, America went off the gold standard in 1971. Since then the dollar has been sustained by a system of high petroleum prices, highly profitable to the oil cartel, for which increasingly impoverished third world countries are forced to pay in dollars.

That is another story, too complex to be told here. But a major factor in the eventual collapse of the Bretton Woods system was the success of the Dulles brothers in freeing Wall Street and the oil majors from the restraints of law.

Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of Drugs Oil and WarThe Road to 9/11, and The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War. His most recent prose book is American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection and the Road to Afghanistan. His website, which contains a wealth of his writings, is here.

Recommended citation: Peter Dale Scott, “The Dulles Brothers, Harry Dexter White, Alger Hiss, and the Fate of the Private Pre-War International Banking System” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 16, No. 3, April 21, 2014.

Notes

1 Steve Coll, Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power (New York: Penguin Press, 2012), 19-20.

2 Bryce Wood, The Dismantling of the Good Neighbor Policy (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985), 159: “In writing to Truman on 3 May 1961 about the Bay of Pigs fiasco, Acheson said: Why we ever engaged in this asinine Cuban adventure, I cannot imagine. Before I left [the department] it was mentioned to me and I told my informants how you and I had turned down similar suggestions for Iran and Guatemala and why I thought this Cuban idea had been put aside, as it should have been” [citing Dean Acheson, Among friends: personal letters of Dean Acheson, ed, David S. McLellan and David C. Acheson (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1980), 159].

3 Tom Wicker, New York Times, April 29, 2966.

4 Paul S. Boyer et al., The Enduring Vision: a history of the American people, Volume II (Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath and Co., 1995), 812.

5 Some in Washington wished to indict other Wall Street figures for wartime collaboration with Nazi Germany. Among those investigated were Herbert Walker and his son-in-law Prescott Bush (father of George H.W. Bush), for their role in representing the American interests of Fritz Thyssen, the German mogul who financed Hitler. According to John Loftus, Allen Dulles may also have been involved: “If the investigators realized that the US intelligence chief in postwar Germany, Allen Dulles, was also the Rotterdam bank’s lawyer, they might have asked some very interesting questions. They did not know that Thyssen was Dulles’ client as well. Nor did they ever realize that it was Allen Dulles’s other client, Baron Kurt Von Schroeder who was the Nazi trustee for the Thyssen companies which now claimed to be owned by the Dutch. The Rotterdam Bank was at the heart of Dulles’ cloaking scheme, and he guarded its secrets jealously” (John Loftus, “How the Bush Family Made Its Fortune from the Nazis,”Tetrahedron.org, September 27, 2000; cf. John Loftus and Mark Aarons, The Secret War Against the Jews New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994], 358-60).

6 Adam LeBor, “Meet the American Banker Who Helped Hitler Loot Jewish Gold—While Spying for the OSS,” Tablet: A New Read on Jewish Life, August 30, 2013,

7 Frank W. Thackeray, ed., Events that Changed Germany (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2004), 170. For text of JCS 1067, see here.

8 James Srodes, Allen Dulles: master of spies (Washington: Regnery, 2009), 373.) For a relatively dispassionate account of Allen Dulles’s wartime opposition to Roosevelt’s intentions to de-industrialize Germany, see e.g. Stuart Eizenstat, co-

ordinator, “U.S. and Allied Efforts To Recover and Restore Gold and Other Assets Stolen or Hidden by Germany During World War,” 37:

“Dulles looked forward to a postwar settlement that envisioned the United States working closely with European business and banking circles to reshape Western and Central Europe according to American interests.” See also Stuart Eizenstat, Imperfect Justice: Looted Assets, Slave Labor, and the Unfinished Business of World War II (Jackson, TN: PublicAffairs, 2009).

9 Two other relevant examples: Truman in 1945 terminated General Donovan’s plans to convert OSS into a peacetime CIA; but two years later he was persuaded to accept a plan, drafted largely by Allen Dulles, for just such a CIA. In 1948 Defense Secretary James Forrestal preferred that funds for the anti-Communist parties in the 1948 Italian election should be raised privately, and the hat was passed at the elite Brook Club in New York. But Allen Dulles, still just a lawyer, persuaded the CIA to take over the funding program.

10 Adam LeBor, “Meet the American Banker Who Helped Hitler Loot Jewish Gold—While Spying for the OSS,” Tablet: A New Read on Jewish Life, August 30, 2013.

11 Eric Rauchway, “How the Soviets saved capitalism,” TLS: The Times Literary Supplement, April 5, 2013.

12 Anthony Summers with Robbyn Swan, The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon(New York: Viking, 2000), 63.

13 “On February 8, 1951, about a month before the scheduled start of the trial, the Joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy met in secret session in Washington to discuss the Rosenberg prosecution… The main purpose of the meeting was to determine what classified information could be made public at the trial” (Curt Gentry, J. Edgar Hoover: the man and the secrets [New York: Norton, 1991], 421)

14 Adam Lebor, Tower of Basel: the shadowy history of the secret bank that runs the world (New York: Public Affairs, 2013), 17. Cf. p. 37: “The Standard Oil-IG Farben agreement set the pattern for a series of powerful cartels. John Foster Dulles carried out much of the pioneering legal work for these.”

15 Lebor, Tower of Basel, 95. White was the principal author of the so-called Morgenthau Plan to deindustrialize Germany. At the same time, White “tried without success [against Morgenthau] to soften the plan by allowing Germany to rebuild the industries in the Ruhr under international supervision” (James M. Boughton, “The Case against Harry Dexter White: Still Not Proven” [IMF Working Paper WP/00/149, 2000], 12.) This fact challenges one of the common claims against White: that he wished to weaken Germany in order to please the USSR.

16 Lebor, Tower of Basel, 96.

17 Lebor, Tower of Basel, 121-22, 124. Cf. Benn Steil, The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the making of a new world order (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013); James Calvin Baker, Bank for International Settlements: Evolution and Evaluation (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002), 7: “During World War II, some attempts were made to abolish the BIS, so the Federal Reserve delayed joining the Board. After the war, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank were established at the Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, conference to form agencies to facilitate the finance and development operations of the United Nations. U.S. officials believed the BIS operations might be co-opted by these new agencies. However, the United States position on this matter was mellowed by the belief that the BIS might be able to perform beneficial operations with the IMF especially and, perhaps, with the World Bank.”

18 Frank W. Thackeray, ed., Events that Changed Germany (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2004), 170. For text of JCS 1067, see here.

19 Lebor, Tower of Basel, 120.

20 James Srodes, Allen Dulles: master of spies (Washington: Regnery, 2009), 373.) For a relatively dispassionate account of Allen Dulles’s wartime opposition to Roosevelt’s intentions to de-industrialize Germany, see e.g. Stuart Eizenstat, co-

ordinator, “U.S. and Allied Efforts To Recover and Restore Gold and Other Assets Stolen or Hidden by Germany During World War,” 37:

“Dulles looked forward to a postwar settlement that envisioned the United States working closely with European business and banking circles to reshape Western and Central Europe according to American interests.” See also Stuart Eizenstat, Imperfect Justice: Looted Assets, Slave Labor, and the Unfinished Business of World War II (Jackson, TN: PublicAffairs, 2009).

21 Lebor, Tower of Basel, 138.

22 James Calvin Baker, The Bank for International Settlements: Evolution and Evaluation (Westport, CT: 2002), 203. Cf. John Singleton, Central Banking in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 149: “In 1948 the BIS agreed to return 3,740 kg of looted gold to the original owners. After this concession, the US assets of the BIS, which had been frozen during the war, were unblocked.”

23 Loftus and Aarons, The Secret War Against the Jews, 109-13. Citing testimony from a former naval intelligence officer, Daniel Harkins, they claim that some of the funds were cycled through the post-war “World Commerce Corporation, with Allen Dulles, naturally, as their lawyer” (110). Cf. Mark Aarons and John Loftus, Unholy Trinity: The Vatican, The Nazis, and The Swiss Banks (New York: St. Martin’s/ Griffin, 1998), 278-79. I discuss their claims in American War Machine, 54-56.

24 Baker, Bank for International Settlements, 203.

25 Lebor, Tower of Basel, 140.

26 For the case against White, see e.g. John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), 125-26, 139. For rebuttal, see e.g. James M. Boughton, “The Case against Harry Dexter White: Still Not Proven,” IMF Working Paper WP/00/149, 2000, 1:”Evaluation of that [VENONA and other new] evidence in the context of White’s career and worldview casts doubt on the case against him and provides the basis for a more benign explanation.”

27 Whittaker Chambers, Witness (New York: Random House, 1952], 431; discussion in David Chambers (Whittaker Chambers’ grandson), “The Baffling Harry White,” History News Network, May 21, 2012.

28 John Loftus and Mark Aarons, The Secret War Against the Jews, 222; citing “Confidential interviews, former agents, U.S. CIC; former officers, U.S. MIS; former officers and agents, SSU, CIG, and OPC” (557n17).

29 Anthony Summers with Robbyn Swan, The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon(New York: Viking, 2000), 63.

30 Loftus and Aarons, The Secret War Against the Jews, 221.

31 On March 26, 1943, Congressman Jerry Voorhis introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives calling for an investigation of the Bank for International Settlements, including “the reasons why an American retains the position as president of this Bank” (John Spritzler The people as enemy: the leaders’ hidden agenda in World War Two [Montreal: Black Rose Books, 2003], 97; cf. Lebor, Tower of Basel, 97).

32 Summers, The Arrogance of Power, 46-47. With limited evidence, Russell Baker also suspects that Prescott Bush, another prominent member of the BIS German-American financial complex, may have flown to California and participated in the Nixon campaign (Family of secrets: the Bush dynasty, the powerful forces that put it in the White House, and what their influence means for America New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2009], 162-164).

33 Loftus and Aarons, The Secret War Against the Jews, 156. Dillon Read had handled 29 percent of the Wall Street financing of German reparations (Antony C. Sutton, Wall Street and the rise of Hitler[Seal Beach, CA: '76 Press, 1976], 29).

34 Conrad Black, Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full (New York: PublicAffairs, 2007), 113.

35 Lewis Hartshorn, Alger Hiss, Whittaker Chambers and the Case That Ignited McCarthyism, 42. Today almost no one believes this. The accepted charges against White are that he shared information, and possibly passed documents, that reached the Soviet Union.

36 The sensational charges against Hiss, such as that he was the architect of betrayal at Yalta, would come later.

37 G. Edward White, Alger Hiss’s Looking-glass Wars: The Covert Life of a Soviet Spy

(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 62.

38 Glen Yeadon and John Hawkins, The Nazi Hydra in America (Joshua Tree, CA: Progressive Press, 2008), 195; cf. 193-94, 273-74, 368-70, etc.

39 Willard Edwards, “Hiss spy paper linked to late treasury aid,” Chicago Daily Tribune, November 29, 1949, 1-2. The doctor who signed White’s death certificate (and who was not present when White died) later denied that digitalis was a factor. More recently the right-wing author John Koster has charged (with no evidence other than a contemporary movie which White might have seen) that White overdosed on digitalis in order to commit suicide (John P. Koster, Operation Snow: how a Soviet mole in FDR’s White House triggered Pearl Harbor Washington: Regnery Publishing, 2012], 204-05).

40 Summers, The Arrogance of Power, 63; citing Peter Grose, Gentleman spy: the life of Allen Dulles(Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994), 297n (run-in).

41 Summers, The Arrogance of Power, 78. An anti-Hiss author has implied the opposite, suggesting from an annotation in the file that the identification of ALES as Hiss was made much later, in 1969 (White, Alger Hiss’s looking-glass wars, 225). But a partially declassified FBI memo from 1950, viewable on line here, makes it clear that by then the FBI was already investigating the possibility that Hiss was ALES, who had reportedly flown to Moscow after the Yalta conference (“The Alger Hiss Story: Venona and the Russian Files”).

42 Summers, Arrogance of Power, 78.

43 Benjamin Weiser, “Nixon Lobbied Grand Jury to Indict Hiss in Espionage Case, Transcripts Reveal,”New York Times, October 12, 1999: “Judge Peter K. Leisure of Federal District Court in Manhattan, who ordered the release after reviewing detailed summaries of the transcripts, had ruled that an exception to traditional grand jury secrecy should be made for the archive.

“‘The court finds the public has a significant interest in disclosure of Nixon’s testimony,’ Judge Leisure wrote. ‘Grand jury testimony by a Congressional official allegedly attempting to influence a grand jury’s charging decisions is of inherent and substantial historical importance.’”

44 Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel, The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America’s Traitors (Washington: Regnery, 2000), 233-34.

45 Conrad Black, Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full (New York: PublicAffairs, 2007), 122.

46 “President Nixon Remembers the Alger Hiss Case: Selected References from the Nixon Tapes,”Stanley I. Kutler (ed.), Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes (New York: Free Press, 1997), 7.

47 In addition, the materials produced by Chambers “included a long letter in Harry White’s own handwriting” (Haynes and Klehr, Venona: decoding Soviet espionage in America, 139).

48 Black, Richard M. Nixon, 131. My on-line investigations have failed to find a more detailed description of these cables. Black’s account should however be enough to establish that, if the microfilms did in fact come from Hiss, then Hiss was not, as many believe, the “ALES” of VENONA cable traffic, whose work was described as “obtaining military information only” (see facsimile reproduced in Summers,Arrogance of Power, 493).

49 Gentry, J. Edgar Hoover, 362n; quoting from Richard Nixon, The Memoirs of Richard Nixon (New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1978), 69. The five rolls are now deposited in the National Archives (Record Group 60.3.5), Black was in error when he claimed that the withheld rolls contained “Navy Department secret files” (Black, Richard M. Nixon, 130); the Navy files were publicly available.

50 This impression is corroborated by the odd fact that the records of the long-defunct HUAC committee “were sealed, in 1976 [under Ford], for an additional fifty years” (Summers, Arrogance of Power, 77).

51 At the time Andrews “vowed that he could make Nixon president” (Tim Weiner, Enemies: a history of the FBI [New York: Random House, 2012], 476n).

52 We now know that on December 3 the Justice Department notified the FBI that an indictment of Chambers [for perjury] was contemplated (Athan Theoharis, Chasing spies: how the FBI failed in counterintelligence but promoted the politics of McCarthyism in the Cold War years [Chicago : Ivan R. Dee, 2002], 115; citing Allen Weinstein, Perjury: the Hiss-Chambers case New York : Random House, 1997], 271). Not surprising, since by this time Chambers was a self-admitted perjurer!

53 Stephen E. Ambrose, Nixon: The Education of a Politician 1913-1962, 128 (emphasis in original); Robert O. Blanchard, ed., Congress and the news media (New York, Hastings House, 1974), 305.

54 Gary Allen, Nixon: The Man Behind the Mask (Boston, Western Islands, 1971].

55 “Alger Hiss,” emphasis added. The brevity of the storage in the pumpkin (not known at the time) is also conceded by John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr: “The film had actually been in the pumpkin only since that morning…. Chambers explained later that he had briefly hidden the film in the pumpkin because he had feared that agents from Hiss’s defense team would steal it” (John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Early Cold War spies: the espionage trials that shaped American politics [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006], 108).

56 Summers, The Arrogance of Power, 69. The day before leaving, Nixon reportedly told the House doorkeeper, William Miller, “’I’m going to get on a steamship, and you will be reading about it/ I am going out to sea, and they are going to send for me. You will understand when I get back.’… Coast Guard logs also reportedly suggest that arrangements for Nixon’s return had been made even before his ship left harbor in New York, which would confirm suspicion that the trip was a charade to ensure maximum publicity.” (loc. cit., 70; citing William Miller, Fishbait: The Memoirs of the Congressional Doorkeeper Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1977], 41-).

57 Sam Tanenhaus, Whittaker Chambers: A Biography (New York: Random House, 1997), 305.

58 Donald A. Ritchie, Reporting from Washington: The History of the Washington Press Corps (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 75. Ritchie, like many other authors, writes that Nixon (and Stripling) went out to the pumpkin field accompanied by Bert Andrews (Donald A. Ritchie, Reporting from Washington: The History of the Washington Press Corps New York: Oxford University Press, 2005], 75). Ritchie and the rest are probably relying on the badly edited posthumous memoir of Andrews, ed. Peter Andrews, A tragedy of history; a journalist’s confidential role in the Hiss-Chambers case (Washington: Robert. B. Luce, 1962]. Cf. U.S. State Department, History of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security of the United States, 56: On December 2, 1948, Andrews joined Nixon on a trip to Chambers’ farm near Westminster, Maryland.” But on December 2, Nixon was already beginning his preplanned sea voyage.

59 David Halberstam, The Powers That Be (New York: Knopf, 1979), 260.

60 Drew Pearson, Toledo Blade, August 4, 1968. Pearson added, “Thanks in part to Bert Andrews of the New York Herald Tribune, Mr. Nixon’s mentor, the headlines helped catapult Mr. Nixon into the Senate.”

61 Sheldon Anderson, Condemned to repeat it: “lessons of history” and the making of U.S. Cold War containment policy (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2008), 95.

One who still blames the Yalta handover on Hiss (and on Harry Hopkins, another alleged Soviet agent) is Christina Shelton, in Alger Hiss: Why He Chose Treason (New York: Simon & Schuster, Threshold Editions, 2012), 121-22.

62 The J. Henry Schröder & Co. Bank and J. Henry Schroder Banking Corporation (Schrobanco, the firm of which Allen Dulles had been an officer) had a financial stake in all three of Allen Dulles’ major CIA covert operations. Schröder had financed the creation of Anglo-Persian (later Anglo-Iranian) oil: thus Frank Cyril Tiarks was a partner both in J. Henry Schröder & Co., and also in the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (1917-1948). (He was also a member of the Ribbentrop-inspired Anglo-German Fellowshipand of the British Union of Fascists.) Schrobanco had a stake in the International Railways of Central America, a firm developed in conjunction with what became United Fruit in order to ship out United Fruit’s bananas in Guatemala. Both Schröders and Schrobanco were heavily invested in Cuban sugar; and M.E. Rionda, president of Cuba Cane Corporation, was a member of Schrobanco’s board.

63 The surrender at Yalta of Eastern Europe to Soviet domination is still blamed on Hiss (and on Harry Hopkins, another alleged Soviet agent) by retired DIA intelligence analyst Christina Shelton, in Alger Hiss: Why He Chose Treason (New York: Simon & Schuster, Threshold Editions, 2012), 121-22. Cf. Ann Coulter, Treason: liberal treachery from the cold war to the war on terrorism (New York: Crown Forum, 2003).

64 Richard Brinkman, Corporate Pharaohs: A Vicious Circle of Globalization (Xlibris Corp, 2013.), 234.

 by Mehmet Erman Erol

Autonomy, occupation, self-management… these long-forgotten terms are back in Turkey since late 2012-early 2013. There have been several factory occupations since last year. The most prominent ones are, among others, Kazova, Greif, Zentiva, Feniş, Moda Socks Factory, Renault, and Şişecam Topkapı workplace occupations. Although both mainstream media and the trade union bureaucracy try to undermine their significance, recent struggles of the workers necessitate greater scrutiny in the wider political-economic context of Turkey; so the meaning of the occupation as well.

Antonio Gramsci once wrote that “hegemony is born in the factory.” Therefore, occupations of factories/workplaces, taking control of the means of production and widening of this strategy would be a very crucial step for a counter-hegemonic struggle, especially in an era when the trade unions are in crisis worldwide.

Kazova textile workers organizing a march through the community.

And the labouring classes of the world have this tradition of occupation since the early 20th century. It indeed proved to be a very effective strategy as, for example, it eliminates mediations required by labour legislation; prevents scabbing as nobody can step in; and it prevents a possible lockout. The control of the workplace makes the workers stay ahead of the game, and the employers would be in an anxious position as they have the means of production inside.

In the West, factory occupations reemerged during and after the 2007-2008 financial crisis. From U.S. to France, and from Britain to Spain, workers occupied their workplaces against the subversive effects of the crisis of the ruling classes, and had some gains and defeats.

Turkey represents an interesting and a different case, however. The Turkish Prime Minister argued that the global financial crisis would pass at a tangent to Turkey, and Turkey would overcome the crisis with the minimum damage, although it proved to be a false argument later. Nevertheless, Turkey was represented as a shining example with its growing economy and democratic reforms that accompany this “economic miracle,” which could be a model for the insubordinate people in the Arab world.

Class Matters

Things developed differently, however. In the post-2011 elections era, the AKP government’s protracted neoliberal authoritarian rule reached unbearable levels. In May-June 2013, Gezi Uprising reflected the anger and discontent of the masses throughout Turkey. The mainstream analyses, however, still portrayed the movement as a ‘middle-class’ uprising, mainly related to ‘lifestyle-cum-cultural’ discontent of the people. There is certainly an element of truth here. However, both the class composition of the people who took part in the uprising and the profile of the protesters killed by police brutality (mainly students and workers), and the demands of the people (mainly against neoliberal authoritarian practices of the state) necessitates us to think beyond such “middle-class” explanations, to grasp the lineages of the uprising.

Moreover, in economic terms, the Turkish economy has recently been presented as a fragile economy. Hence, the two pillars of Turkey, i.e. an ‘advanced’ democracy and sound economy proved to be an illusion. Earlier growth and stability heavily relied on the conjuncture of the pre-crisis bubbling world economy, and, the precarious and overly-exploitative labour regime in Turkey which accompanied deunionization in the progressive unions and reunionization in the pro-government unions. The current labour legislation also has extremely devastating effects on the unions and the means that they could use. The National Employment Strategy which was declared in 2012 by the government envisages further flexibilization and insecurity in the labour market.

Against this background, it should have not been a surprise to witness a spontaneously rising radicalization and mobilization of the labourers in the factories in Turkey. Moreover, the history of the labour movement in Turkey shows us that these kind of actions have an important place in the pre-1980 era. Most prominent was the 1968 Derby factory occupation which ended up in victory; and the demands of the workers were met through struggle. Remembering this legacy would certainly frustrate the capital and the state. As it was put by an Argentinian occupant worker some ten years ago: “They are afraid of us, because we have shown that, if we can manage a factory, we can also manage a country.” This explains the police repression against the workers in the recent occupations, especially in the Kazova and Greif cases, in which numerous workers were arrested.

As of now, the struggle of Greif workers is still continuing, both against the state apparatuses, and the trade union bureaucracy. The workers are members of DISK (Revolutionary Workers’ Union Confederation), which is supposed to be one of the progressive union confederations. Although the DISK administration supported the workers to some extent, Greif workers are constantly reflecting their discontent about the stance of their union, DİSK Tekstil. Their spontaneous and autonomous initiative cascaded their struggle, not the union.

Some other occupations which were mentioned above ended up with a victory; i.e. in Zentiva, Moda Socks Factory and Şişecam Topkapı. The demands of the workers were met to a great extent. The Kazova occupation, on the other hand, represents the most interesting case. The workers started to manage the factory on their own, continued production, and even opened a shop and a cultural centre. The DİH (Revolutionary Workers Movement) supported their struggle from the very beginning, and helped them to manage the workplace.

The occupations are certainly not the only means of struggle for the workers. However, considering the anti-labour sentiments and legislation, accompanied by a very weak trade union movement, we should not be surprised to see more autonomous worker movements and workplace occupations in Turkey. This would also be a challenge to the conformist trade unions. The deep unrest of the working-class against privatization, precariousness, informality and low-wages would lead them to re-radicalize, which would combine with the crisis of the economy and the crisis of authoritarian state form.

Mehmet Erman Erol, Ph.D. Candidate in Politics at the University of York, UK.

Note:  By the time I finished writing this piece, I have learnt that another workplace has been occupied by workers, against the decision to privatize, in Muğla province.

Setting the Stage for War With Pakistan

April 22nd, 2014 by Tony Cartalucci

Attempts to paint Pakistan as a dangerous enemy of the West and a prime candidate for military intervention has been made once again by those in the Western media. ABC News, in an article titled, “‘Double dealing’: How Pakistan hid Osama Bin Laden from the U.S. and fueled the war in Afghanistan,” claims that:

What if the United States has been waging the wrong war against the wrong enemy for the last 13 years in Afghanistan?

Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Carlotta Gall, who spent more than a decade covering Afghanistan since 2001, concludes just that in her new book, “The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014.”

Gall told “On the Radar” that Pakistan – not Afghanistan – has been the United States’ real enemy.

And while Gall’s “book” might be easily dismissed as irrelevant warmongering, it echoes a narrative that was crafted by some of the most notorious policy makers in the US and promoted widely in 2011 across the Western media. This included the BBC’s documentary, “Secret Pakistan,” from which it appears Gall is deriving her premise.  

Unraveling the Propaganda
The documentary “Secret Pakistan” can be summed up with two very telling quotes. The first is from Sherard Cowper-Coles, a British diplomat who served as the Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2009-2010, before that as ambassador to Israel and Saudi Arabia, and now the international business development director of British defense contractor BAE Systems. He claims during the BBC documentary that (44:00):

“…the real military threat is the Taliban – a serious insurgency that’s got nothing to do with Bin Laden. Bin Laden, in operational terms, is utterly spectacularly irrelevant.”

Quite clearly this contradicts the “war on terror” narrative peddled to Western audiences for over a decade and instead suggests that current US, British and NATO operation in Afghanistan has more to do with Western interests in the region than fighting the alleged perpetrators of the September 11, 2001 attack on Washington and New York City.
The next important quote comes toward the end of the documentary where former CIA officer and current fellow at the corporate-funded think-tank, Brookings Institution, Bruce Riedel (57:35) claims:

“…there is probably no worst nightmare for America, for Europe, for the world in the 21st century than a Pakistan that is out of control, under the influence of extremist Islamist forces armed with nuclear weapons.”

This comment, however, is not as straight forward or as truthful as Cowper-Coles’. However, if one realizes that this destabilization Riedel is hinting at is actually the work of the US and NATO done as a pretext to intervene more directly in Pakistan, then it becomes truly telling – and we see the BBC documentary, along with Gall’s recent book, as yet more examples of a corporate-media conjured casus belli.

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War With Pakistan

Afghanistan was never the final destination for the many empires in human history that found themselves mired there. The United States and its axis partners are no different. Just as it was a strategic springboard for the Greeks, British, and Russians to project their power beyond, the US sees Afghanistan in a similar light, with neighboring Iran, Pakistan, and China in particular mind.  

The most overt example comes in the form of nearly a decade of deadly US drone attacks carried out in Pakistani territory. These attacks have led to over 3,000 killed, a quarter of which have been civilians, and constitutes an act of war no other nation on Earth would tolerate. While the US claims these operations are “anti-terror” in nature, they appear to be instead a component among a much greater campaign to undermine and destabilize Pakistan politically.

Other components include the direct US support of separatists in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. Baluchi terrorists straddle the Iranian-Pakistani border and have long been considered by the West as armed proxies of great utility.

In a 2006 report by the corporate-financier funded think tank Carnegie Endowment for International Peace titled, “Pakistan: The Resurgence of Baluch Nationalism,” violence starting as early as 2004-2005 is described. According to the report, 20% of Pakistan’s mineral and energy resources reside in the sparsely populated province. On page 4 of the report, the prospect of using the Baluchi rebels against both Islamabad and Tehran is proposed. 
In Seymour Hersh’s 2008 article, “Preparing the Battlefield,” US support of Baluchi groups operating against Tehran is reported as already ongoing. As already mentioned, in Brookings Institution’s “Which Path to Persia?” the subject of arming and sending Baluchi insurgents against Tehran is also discussed in great depth.

The 2006 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report makes special note of the fact that above all, the Baluchistan province serves as a transit zone for a potential Iranian-India-Turkmenistan natural gas pipeline as well as a port, Gwadar, that serves as a logistical hub for Afghanistan, Central Asia’s landlocked nations as well as a port for the Chinese.

The report notes that the port was primarily constructed with Chinese capital and labor with the intention of it serving as a Chinese naval station “to protect Beijing’s oil supply from the Middle East and to counter the US presence in Central Asia.” This point in particular, regarding China, was described in extricating detail in the 2006 Strategic Studies Institute’s report “String of Pearls: Meeting the Challenge of China’s Rising Power across the Asian Littoral.” Throughout the report means to co-opt and contain China’s influence throughout the region are discussed.

More recently, longtime proponent of a Baluchi insurgency in Pakistan, Selig Harrison of the corporate-funded Center for International Policy, has published two pieces regarding the “liberation” of Baluchistan itself.

Harrison’s February 2011 piece, “Free Baluchistan,” calls to “aid the 6 million Baluch insurgents fighting for independence from Pakistan in the face of growing ISI repression.” He continues by explaining the various merits of such meddling by stating:

“Pakistan has given China a base at Gwadar in the heart of Baluch territory. So an independent Baluchistan would serve U.S. strategic interests in addition to the immediate goal of countering Islamist forces.”

Harrison would follow up his frank call to carve up Pakistan by addressing the issue of Chinese-Pakistani relations in a March 2011 piece titled, “The Chinese Cozy Up to the Pakistanis.” He begins by stating, 

“China’s expanding reach is a natural and acceptable accompaniment of its growing power—but only up to a point. ”

He then reiterates his call for extraterritorial meddling in Pakistan by saying:

“to counter what China is doing in Pakistan, the United States should play hardball by supporting the movement for an independent Baluchistan along the Arabian Sea and working with Baluch insurgents to oust the Chinese from their budding naval base at Gwadar. Beijing wants its inroads into Gilgit and Baltistan to be the first step on its way to an Arabian Sea outlet at Gwadar.”

Clearly, US geopolitical policy makers have put much time and effort into the destabilization of Pakistan, using NATO’s presence in neighboring Afghanistan as a means of executing it. With China’s containment becoming an increasing obsession among US policy makers, understanding how Pakistan’s destabilization plays a role in such containment is essential in assessing how far the US is willing to go in South Asia. With NATO troops slated to begin permanently pulling out of Afghanistan, Gall’s attempt to dust off a narrative that will give those NATO troops a new mandate to linger on in the region may be a tentative first step in attempting to sell a confrontation with Pakistan to Western audiences.

There is also the possibility that Gall is simply using recycled news  from 2011 onward to sell her book – capitalizing on a geopolitical campaign that has long since unraveled for a West increasingly showing signs of irreversible and accelerating decline. However, it is essential to understand where Gall’s narrative is being drawn from, the deception it constitutes, and the purpose for that deception within the context of the West’s plans against both Pakistan and on a larger scale, for the encirclement and containment of China. Understanding such deceptions inoculates the Western public against another costly and protracted conflict that will benefit neither themselves nor the Pakistani people.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

Opportunities for the West to hurt the Russian economy are limited, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday. Europe cannot stop buying Russian gas without inflicting pain on itself, and if the US tries to lower oil prices, the dollar will suffer.

If the West tries to damage Russia’s influence in the world energy market, efforts will likely backfire, the Russian President said during his twelfth annual televised question and answer session.

To really influence the world oil market a country would need to increase production and cut prices, which currently only Saudi Arabia could afford, Putin said.

The president added he didn’t expect Saudi Arabia, which has “very kind relations” with Russia, will choose to cut prices, that could also damage its own economy.

If world oil production increases, the price could go down to about $85 per barrel. “For us the price fall from $90 to $85 per barrel isn’t critical,” Putin said, adding that for Saudi Arabia it would be more sensitive.

Also the President said that being an OPEC member, Saudi Arabia would need to coordinate its action with the organization, which “is very complicated.”

Meanwhile, Russia supplies about a third of Europe’s energy needs, said Putin. Finland, for example, is close to Russia economically, as it receives 70 percent of its gas from Russia.

“Can Europe stop buying Russian gas? I think it’s impossible…Will they make themselves bleed? That’s hard to imagine,” the Russian president said.

Since oil is sold internationally on global markets cutting the price would mean lower dollar circulation, diminishing its value in the global currency market.

“If prices decrease in the global market, the emerging shale industry will die,” Putin said.

The US shale industry has boosted domestic production, but President said that the so-called “shale revolution” was expensive and not quick to come.

Russia’s economy largely relies on energy. In 2013 more than 50 percent of the national budget was funded by gas and oil revenues. The main revenue comes from oil, as last year, oil revenues reached $191 billion, and gas $28 billion.

“Oil and gas revenues are a big contribution to the Russian budget, a big part for us when we decide on our government programs, and of course, meeting our social obligations,” the president said.

Obama: “Remaking the Middle East”: The American Gulag

April 22nd, 2014 by Prof. James Petras

During the beginning of his first term in office President Obama promised “to remake the Middle East into a region of prosperity and freedom”. Six years later the reality is totally the contrary: the Middle East is ruled by despotic regimes whose jails are overflowing with political prisoners.  The vast majority of pro-democracy activists who have been incarcerated, have been subject to harsh torture and are serving long prison sentences.  The rulers lack legitimacy, having seized power and maintained their rule through a centralized police state and military repression.Direct  US military and CIA intervention, massive shipments of arms,military  bases, training missions and Special Forces are decisive in the construction of the  Gulag chain from North Africa to the Gulf States.

We will proceed by documenting the scale and scope of political repression in each US backed police state.  We will then describe the scale and scope of US military aid buttressing the “remaking of the Middle East” into a chain of political prisons run by and for the US Empire.

The countries and regimes include Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Yemen, Jordan and Turkey . . . all of which promote and defend US imperial interests against the pro-democracy majority, represented by their independent social-political movements.

Egypt:  Strategic Vassal State

A longtime vassal state and the largest Arab country in the Middle East, Egypt’s current military dictatorship, product of a coup in July 2013, launched a savage wave of repression

subsequent to seizing power. According to the Egyptian Center for Social and Economic Rights, between July and December 2013, 21,317 pro-democracy demonstrators were arrested.  As of April 2014, over 16,000 political prisoners are incarcerated.  Most have been tortured.  The summary trials, by kangaroo courts, have resulted in death sentences for hundreds and long prison terms for most.  The Obama regime has refused to call the military’s overthrow of the democratically elected Morsi government a coup in order to continue providing military aid to the junta.In exchange the military dictatorship continues to back the Israeli blockade of Gaza and support US military operations throughout the Middle East.

Israel:  The Region’s Biggest Jailer

Israel, whose supporters in the US dub it the “only democracy in the Middle East”, is in fact the largest jailer in the region.

According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselm, between 1967 and December 2012, 800,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned at some point, over 20% of the population. Over 100,000 have been  held in “administrative detention” without charges or trial.  Almost all have been tortured and brutalized.  Currently Israel has 4,881 political prisoners in jail.  What makes the Jewish state God’s chosen… premier jailer, however, is the holding of 1.82 million Palestinians living in Gaza in a virtual open air prison. Israel restricts travel, trade, fishing, building , manufacturing and farming through air, sea and ground policing and blockades.  In addition, 2.7 million Palestinians in the Occupied Territories (West Bank) are surrounded by prison-like walls, subject to daily military incursions, arbitrary arrests and violent assaults by the Israeli armed forces and Jewish vigilante settlers engaged in perpetual dispossession of Palestinian inhabitants.

Saudi Arabia:  Absolutist Monarchy

According to President Obama’s ‘remaking of Middle East’ Saudi Arabia stands as Washington’s “staunchest ally in the Arab world”.  As a loyal vassal state, its jails overflow with pro-democracy dissidents incarcerated for seeking free elections, civil liberties and an end to misogynist policies.  According to the Islamic Human Rights Commission the Saudis are holding 30,000 political prisoners, most arbitrarily detained without charges or trial.

The Saudi dictatorship plays a major role bankrolling police state regimes throughout the region.  They have poured $15 billion into the coffers of the Egyptian junta subsequent to the military coup, as a reward for its massive bloody purge of elected officials and their pro-democracy supporters.  Saudi Arabia plays a big role in sustaining Washington’s dominance, by financing and arming ‘jailer-regimes’ in Pakistan, Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt.

Bahrain:  Small Country – Many Jails

According to the local respected Center for Human Rights, Bahrain has the dubious distinction of being the “top country globally in the number of political prisoners per capita”.  According to the Economist (4/2/14) Bahrain has 4,000 political prisoners out of a population of 750,000.  According to the Pentagon, Bahrain’s absolutist dictatorship plays a vital role in providing the US with air and maritime bases, for attacking Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.  The majority of pro-democracy dissidents are jailed for seeking to end vassalage , autocracy, and servility to US imperial interest and the Saudi dictatorship.

Iraq:  Abu Ghraib with Arab Characters

Beginning with the US invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 and continuing under its proxy vassal Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens have been tortured, jailed and murdered.  Iraq’s ruling junta, has continued to rely on US military and Special Forces and to engage in the same kinds of military and police ‘sweeps’ which eviscerate any democratic pretensions. Al-Maliki relies on special branches of his secret police, the notorious Brigade 56, to assault opposition communities and dissident strongholds. Both the Shi’a  regime and Sunni opposition engage in ongoing terror-warfare.  Both have served as close collaborators with Washington at different moments.

The weekly death toll runs in the hundreds.  The Al-Maliki regime has taken over the torture centers (including Abu Ghraib), techniques and jails previously headed and run by the US and have retained US ‘Special Forces’ advisers, overseeing the round-up of human rights critics, trade unionists and democratic dissidents.

Yemen:A  Joint US-Saudi Satellite

Yemen has been ruled by US-Saudi client dictators for decades.  The autocratic rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh was accompanied by the jailing and torture of thousands of pro-democracy activists, secular and religious, as well as serving as a clandestine torture center for political dissidents kidnapped and transported by the CIA under its  so-called “rendition” program.  In 2011 despite prolonged and violent repression by the US backed Saleh regime, a mass rebellion exploded threatening the existence of the state and its ties to the US and Saudi regimes.  In order to preserve their dominance and ties to the military, Washington and Saudi orchestrated a ‘reshuffle’ of the regime: rigged elections were held and one Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi, a loyal crony of Saleh and servant of Washington, took power.  Hadi continued where Saleh left off:  kidnapping, torturing, killing pro-democracy protestors… Washington chose to call Hadi’s rule “a transition to democracy”.  According to the Yemen Times (4/5/14) over 3,000 political prisoners fill the Yemen prisons.  “Jailhouse democracy” serves to consolidate the US military presence in the Arabian Peninsula.

Jordan:  A Client Police State of Longstanding Duration

For over a half century, three generations of reigning Jordanian absolutist monarchs have been on the CIA payroll and have served US interests in the Middle East.  Jordan’s vassal rulers savage Arab nationalists and Palestinian resistance movements; signed off on a so-called “peace agreement” with Israel to repress any cross-border support for Palestine; provide military bases in support of US, Saudi and EU training, arming and financing of mercenaries invading Syria.

The corrupt monarchy and its crony oligarchy oversee an economy perpetually dependent on foreign subsidies to keep it afloat: unemployment is running over 25% and half the population is subsisting in poverty.  The regime has jailed thousands of peaceful protestors.  According to a recent  Amnesty International Report (Jordan 2013), King Abdullah’s dictatorship “has detained thousands without charges”.  The jailhouse monarchy plays a central role in buttressing US empire-building in the Middle East and facilitating Israeli land grabbing in Palestine.

Turkey:  NATO Bulwark and Jailhouse Democracy

Under the reign of the self-styled “Justice and Development Party” led by Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey has evolved into a major military operational base for the NATO backed invasion of Syria.  Erdoğan has had his differences with the US; especially Turkey’s cooling relations with Israel over the latters’ seizure of a Turkish ship in international waters and the slaughter of nine unarmed Turkish humanitarian activists.  But as Turkey has turned toward greater dependence on international capital flows and integration into NATO’s international wars, Erdoğan has become more authoritarian.  Facing large scale public challenges to his arbitrary privatization of public spaces and dispossession of households in working class neighborhoods, Erdoğan launched a purge of civil society ,class based movements and  state institutions.  In the face of large scale pro-democracy demonstrations in the summer of 2013, Erdoğan launched a savage assault on the dissidents.  According to human rights groups over 5,000 were arrested and 8,000 were injured during the Gezi Park protests.

Earlier Erdoğan established “Special Authorized Courts” which organized political show trials based on falsified evidence which facilitated the arrest and imprisonment of hundreds of military officers, party activists, trade unionists, human rights lawyers and journalists, particularly those critical of his support for the war against Syria.  Despite conciliatory rhetoric, Erdogan’s jails contain several thousand Kurdish dissidents, including electoral activists and legislators (Global Views 10/17/12).

While Erdoğan has served as an able and loyal Islamist anchor against popular democratic and nationalist movements in the Middle East, his pursuit of greater Turkish influence in the region, has led the US to deepen its political ties with the more submissive and pro-Washington , pro-Israel Gulenist movement embedded in the state apparatus ,business and education.  The latter has adopted a permeationist-strategy: purging adversaries in its  quiet march to power from within the state.  The US still relies on Erdoğan’s “jailhouse democracy” to repress anti-imperialist movements in Turkey; to serve as a military anchor for the war against Syria; to back sanctions against Iran and to support the pro-NATO Maliki regime in Iraq.

The Middle East Gulag and US Military Aid

The police state regimes and the long-term authoritarian political culture in the Arab world is a product of long-term US military support for despotic rulers.  The absence of democracy is a necessary condition for expanding and advancing the US imperial military presence in the region.

A small army of US Islamophobic academics, “experts”, journalists and media pundits totally ignore the role of the US in promoting, sustaining and strengthening the ruling dictators and repressing the profoundly democratic mass movements which have erupted over a prolonged period of time.  Spearheaded by long-time pro-Israel Middle East scribes and scholars, in Ivy League universities, these propagandists, claim that Arab dictatorships are a product of “Islamic culture”,or  the “authoritarian personality of Arabs” in search of a ‘strongman’ to guide and rule them.  Ignoring or distorting the history of working class struggles, pro-democracy protests and affirmations, in all of the major Arab countries, these scholars justify the US ties to the dictatorships as “realistic policies” given the “available options”.

Wherever real democracy begins to emerge, where political rights begin to be exercised, Washington provokes coups and intervenes to bolster the repressive apparatus of the state (Bahrain 2011-14, Yemen 2011 to 2014, Egypt 2013, Jordan 2012 among numerous other cases). While the bulk of the Middle East “experts” blame the Arab citizens for authoritarian rule, they completely ignore and cover-up Israel’s racist majority which solidly backs the incarceration and torture of hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy Palestinians.

To understand the Middle East gulag requires a discussion of US ‘aid policy’ which is central to sustaining the ‘jailhouse regimes’.

US Aid to Egypt:  Billions for Dictators

The Egyptian police state anchors the US ‘arc of empire’ from North Africa to the Middle East.  Egypt has been actively engaged in destabilizing Libya, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria and collaborating with Israel’s dispossession of Palestinians.  The Mubarak dictatorship received $2 billion dollars a year from Washington – nearly $65 billion for its imperial services.  US aid strengthened its capacity to jail, and torture pro-democracy and trade union activists.  Washington continued its military support of dictatorial rule after the military coup against Egypt’s first democratically elected government, to the tune of $1.55 billion dollars for 2014 .

Despite “expressions of concern” over the murder of thousands of pro-democracy protestors by the new military strongman General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, there was no cut in funding for so-called “counter-terrorism” and “security”.  To continue funding the dictatorship under US Congressional legislation, Washington refused to characterize the violent seizure of power as a coup . . . referring to it as a “transition to democracy”.  The key role of Egypt in US foreign policy is to protect Israel’s ‘eastern flank’. US aid to Egypt is product of the pressure and influence of the Zionist power configuration in Congress and the White House:  US aid is conditioned on Egypt’s ‘policing’ of the Gaza border, ensuring that Israel’s blockade is effective.  The White House supports Cairo’s repression of the majority of nationalist, anti-colonial Egyptians opposed to Tel Aviv’s dispossession of the Palestinians.  Insofar as Israel’s interests’define US Middle East policy, Washington’s financing of Egypt’s jailhouse dictatorship is in accord with Zionist Washington’s strategy.

Israel:  The US “Pivot” in the Middle East

Most independent and knowledgeable experts agree that US Middle East policy is largely dictated by a multitude of Zionist loyalists occupying key policymaking positions in Treasury, State Department, the Pentagon and Commerce as well as Congressional dominance by the Presidents of the 52 Major American Jewish Organizations and their 171,000 full time paid activists.  While there is some truth in what some critics cite as the divergence of the ‘real’ US ‘national interest’ from Israel’s colonial ambitions, the fact is that US leaders in Washington perceive a convergence between imperial dominance and Israeli militarism.  In point of fact a submissive Egypt serves wider US imperial and Israeli colonial interests.

Israel’s war on Lebanon against the anti-imperialist Hezbollah movement served US efforts to install a docile client as well as Israeli’s effort to destroy a partisan of Palestinian self-determination.  Washington’s divergence with Israel over Israel’s dispossession of all Palestine does run counter to Washington’s interest in a Palestinian mini-state run by neo-colonial Arab officials.  As a result of Zionist influence, Israel is the biggest per-capita US aid recipient in the world, despite having a higher standard of living than 60% of US citizens.  Between 1985-2014, Israel received over $100 billion dollars, of which 70% was military, including the most advance high technology weaponry.  Israel ,the country which has the world record for political prisoners and military attacks on its neighbors over the past forty years, holds the record for US military aid.  Israel as the premier ‘jailhouse democracy’ is a key link in the chain of gulags extending from North Africa to the Gulf States.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia competes with Israel as an incarceration center of pro-democracy dissidents; the Saudi’s recycle hundreds of billions of petro-rents through Wall Street, enriching local Saudi despots and overseas pro-Israel investment bankers.  The Saudi-US-Israeli convergence is more than incidental.  They share military interests in warring against pro-independence, pro-democracy Arab movements throughout the Middle East. Saudi houses the major US military base and the biggest intelligence operations in the Gulf.  It backed the US invasion of Iraq.  It finances thousands of Islamic mercenaries in the US-NATO proxy war against Syria.  It invaded Bahrain to smash the pro-democracy movement.  It intervenes with Washington in support of the Yemen police state.  It is the biggest and most lucrative market for the US military-industrial complex.  US military sales between 1951 – 2006 totaled $80 billion.  In October 2010 it signed off on a $60.5 billion purchase of US arms and services.

Bahrain:  A US Aircraft Carrier called a Country

Bahrain serves as the naval base for the US Fifth fleet – and an operative base for attacking Iran.  It has been servicing the occupation of Afghanistan and US control of oil shipping routes.  The Al-Khalifa dictatorship is extremely isolated, highly unpopular and faces constant pressure from the pro-democracy majority.  To bolster their vassal rulers, Washington has increased its military sales to the tiny statelet from $400 million between 1993-2000 to $1.4 billion in the subsequent decade.  Washington has increased its sales and military training program in direct proportion to the growth of democratic discontent, resulting in the geometrical growth of political prisoners.

Iraq:  War, Occupation,and the Killing Fields of a Jailhouse Democracy

The US invasion and occupation of Iraq led to the slaughter of nearly 1.5 million Iraqis (mostly civilians, non-combatants) at a cost of $1.5 trillion dollars and 4,801 US military deaths.  In 2006 the US engineered ‘elections’ led to the installation of the Maliki regime, buttressed by US arms, mercenaries, advisers and bases.  According to a recent study for the Congressional Research Office (February 2014), by Kenneth Kilzman, there are 16,000 US military personnel and “contractors” currently in Iraq.  Over 3,500 US military contractors in the Office of Security Cooperation bolster the corrupt Maliki police state.  The jailhouse democracy has been supplied with US missiles and drones and over $10 billion dollars in military assistance :this includes $2.5 billion in aid and $7.9 billion sales between 2005 – 2013.  For 2014 -2015 Malaki has requested $15 billion in weapons, including 36 US F-16 combat aircraft and scores of Apache attack helicopters.  In 2013 the Malaki regime registered 8,000 political deaths resulting from its internal war.

Iraq is a crucial center for US control of oil, the Gulf and as a launch pad to attack Iran.  While Maliki makes ‘gestures’ toward Iran, its role as an advanced link in the US imperial gulag defines its real ‘function’ in the Gulf region.

Yemen:  The Desert Military Outpost for the American Gulag

Yemen is a costly military outpost for Saudi despotism and US power on the Arabian Peninsula.  According to a study, Yemen: Background and US Relations by Jeremy Sharp for the Congressional Research Service (2014), the US has supplied $1.3 billion in military aid to Yemen between 2009-2014.  Saudi Arabia donated $3.2 billion in 2012 to bolster the Saleh dictatorship in the face of a mass popular anti-dictatorial uprising.  Washington engineered a transfer of power from Saleh to “President” Hadi and ensured his continuity by doubling military aid to keep the jails full and the resistance in check. According to the New York Times (6/31/13) Hadi was “a carry-over of dictator Saleh”.  The continuity of a jailhouse democracy in Yemen is a crucial link between the Egypt-Israel-Jordan axis and the Saudi-Bahrain imperial gulag.

Jordan:  Eternal Vassal and Mendicant Monarchy

Jordan’s despotic monarchy has been on the US payroll for over a half century.  Recently it has served as a torture center for kidnapped victims seized by US Special Forces engaged in the “rendition” program.  Jordan has collaborated with Israel in assaulting and arresting Palestinians in Jordan engaged in the freedom struggle.  Currently Jordan along with Turkey serves as a training and weapons depot for NATO backed mercenary terrorists invading Syria.  For its collaboration with Israel, Washington and NATO, the corrupt jailhouse monarchy receives large scale long-term military and economic aid.  The monarchy and its extended network of cronies, jailers and family, skim tens of millions of dollars in foreign aid, laundered in overseas accounts in London, Switzerland, Dubai and New York.  According to a Congressional Research Service Report (January 27, 2014), US aid to the Jordanian royal dictatorship amounts to $660 million per year.  An additional $150 million for military aid was channeled to the regime with the onset of the NATO intervention in Syria.  The fund was directed to build-up the infrastructure around the Jordan-Syria border.  In addition, Jordan serves as a major conduit for arms to terrorists attacking Syria: $340 million destined for “overseas contingencies” probably is channeled through Amman to arm the terrorists invading Syria.  In October 2012, Jordan signed agreements with the US allowing a large contingent of Special Forces to establish airfields and bases to supply and train terrorists.

Turkey:  A Loyal Vassal State with Regional Ambitions

As the southern military bulwark of NATO, on Russia’s frontier, Turkey has been on the US payroll for over 66 years.  According to a recent study by James Zanotti Turkey – US Defense Co-Operation:  Prospects and Challenges (Congressional Research Service, April 8, 2011) in exchange for bolstering the military power of Turkey’s “jailhouse democracy”, the US secured a major military presence including a huge air base in Incirlik a major operational center housing 1,800 US military personnel.  Turkey collaborated with the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and supported the NATO bombing of Libya.  Today Turkey is the most important military operational center for jihadist terrorists invading Syria. Despite President Erdoğan’s periodic demagogic nationalist bombast, the US empire builders continue to have access to Turkish bases and transport corridors for its wars, occupations and interventions in the Middle East and  South and Central Asia.  In exchange the US has stationed missile defense systems and vastly increased arms sales, so-called “security assistance”. Between 2006 – 2009 US military sales exceeded $22 billion dollars.  In 2013-14, tensions between Turkey and the US increased as Erdoğan moved to purge the state of the Gulenists, a US backed fifth column, which permeated the Turkish state and used its position to support closer collaboration with Israel and US military interests.

Conclusion

The expansion of the US Empire throughout North Africa and the Middle East has been built around arming and financing vassal states to serve as military outposts of the empire.  These vassal regimes, ruled by dictatorial monarchies, and authoritarian military and civilian rulers, rely on force and violence to sustain their rule.  The US has supplied the weapons, advisers, and financing allowing them to rule.  The US arc of imperial military bases stretching from Egypt through Israel, Turkey, Jordan, Yemen, Iraq , Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, is protected by a chain of prison camps containing tens of thousands of political prisoners.

The US engagement, its pervasive presence throughout the region, is accompanied by a chain of jailhouse democracies and dictatorships.  Contrary to liberal and conservative policy pundits and academics, US policy for over 50 years has actively sought out, installed and protected bloody tyrants who have pillaged the public treasury, concentrated wealth, surrendered sovereignty and underdeveloped their economies.

Pro-Israel academics at  prestigious US universities have systematically distorted the structural bases of violence, authoritarianism and corruption in the Islamic world:  blaming the victims, the Turkish and Arab people, and ignoring the role of US empire builders in financing and arming the authoritarian civilian and military rulers and absolutist monarchies and their corrupt military, judicial and police officials.

Contrary to the mendacious tomes published by the prestigious University presses and written mostly by highly respected pro-Israel political propagandists, the remaking of the Middle East depends on the strength of the democratic currents in Islamic society.  They are found in the student movements, among the trade unionists and unemployed, the nationalist intellectuals and Islamic and secular forces who oppose the US Empire for very practical and obvious reasons.  Along with Israel the US is the main organizer of the vast chain of political prison camps that destroy the most creative and dynamic forces in the region.  Greater Arab vassalage provokes the periodic explosion of a vibrant democratic culture and movement; unfortunately it also results in  greater US military aid and presence.  The real clash of civilizations is between the democratic aspirations of the Eastern popular classes and the deeply embedded authoritarianism of Euro-American- Israeli  imperialism

Reports indicate that the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) is expanding its operations on the continent. A series of naval maneuvers and exercises are currently taking place in West Africa.

AFRICOM was formed in 2008 by the George W. Bush administration and has been expanded and enhanced under Barack Obama. A series of navy operations known as Obangame Express is now in its fourth year with additional European, African and at least one South American state, Brazil, involved.

The Pentagon’s Obangame Express 2014 brings in more navies while military build-up continues.

These operations are allegedly designed to strengthen the security capacity of Africa states in West Africa. Over the last several years there have been numerous reports of “piracy” off the coast of West Africa where greater oil exports into the U.S. are endangered.

The official German news agency reported that

“More than 30 warships from 20 countries are engaged in major maneuvers along the West African cost. In addition to 11 West African nations, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands as well as Denmark, Turkey, Brazil and the United States have dispatched ships, making the training maneuver one of Africa’s largest.” (DW, April 18)

This same article continued noting that

“Of the non-African participants, Germany has dispatched the most vessels: one frigate, one corvette and two supply vessels with more than 400 military personnel. The ships and their crews are located outside the Nigerian port of Lagos where they are waiting for the sea phase of the military maneuver to begin on Saturday.” (DW, April 18)

Nigeria is the largest exporter of oil in Africa to the U.S. Intelligence and military ties between Washington and Abuja are growing while France and other European states work in partnership with the Pentagon.

Nigerian Oil and Internal Security

The government of Nigeria is currently battling an underground military and religious group known as Boko Haram which has carried out a series of brutal attacks in the north of the country, Africa’s most populous. Over the last five years since the military and police assault on Boko Haram which killed its then leader, the group has claimed responsibility and been blamed for the kidnapping of civilians, the bombing of government buildings and churches.

During the week of April 14, two high-profile attacks were carried out. A bus stop in the political capital of Abuju was bombed resulted in the deaths of over 70 people. Later in the week, 129 school girls were kidnapped from a boarding school near the Sambisa forest in the north.

Although some of the girls have reportedly escaped from their abductors, many remain unaccounted for at the time of this writing. The parents of the children along with opposition politicians are blaming the government for not developing an adequate security apparatus to protect Nigerians from such attacks.

Immediately the regime of President Goodluck Jonathan blamed the Boko Haram group for the bomb attack and kidnappings. The U.S. has pledged to Nigeria to assist the country in its counter-insurgency operations against Boko Haram.

Even the German news agency reports that

“It’s also no coincidence that the Gulf of Guinea is the site of the exercise and that Nigeria, one of Africa’s largest oil exporters, is heavily involved. The country, which is hosting this year’s maneuver, is providing many military facilities and warships.” (DW, April 18)

Ground Troops Build-up in Horn of Africa

In Djibouti, which houses the only known permanent base of AFRICOM on the continent, is undergoing a $750 million upgrade. There are currently thousands of Pentagon troops stationed at Camp Lemonnier in the Horn of Africa nation.

In neighboring Somalia, and off its coast, U.S. imperialism supported by the EU is maintaining a 22,000 African Union Mission (AMISOM) inland. Offshore both U.S. and EU Naval Forces (EUFOR) have flotillas of warships in the Gulf of Aden under the guise of fighting “piracy” like in the Gulf of Guinea on the other side of the continent.

On the ground in Somalia, the Al-Shabaab Islamic resistance movement has been battling the U.S. and EU-backed forces of AMISOM for five years. Despite claims that the group has been forced out of the capital of Mogadishu, it is still capable of carrying out large-scale operations in the city where on April 21 a cabinet official was assassinated in a bomb attack.

According to Army Times,

“Those threats in the region have helped transform the U.S. military’s Camp Lemonnier along the East African coast of Djibouti from a ramshackle outpost of a few hundred troops a decade ago into a hub of operations for AFRICOM and home to several thousand U.S. troops. And beyond the gates of Lemonnier, ‘throughout the rest of the area, there are small pockets of temporarily placed organizations and people,’ says AFRICOM Commander Army General David Rodriguez said.” (April 16)

The presence of these Pentagon troops along with Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives, are also utilized to pressurize other states in the region even those who are considered allies of Washington. In South Sudan, which has undergone internal conflict within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) party since Dec. 15, the White House has attempted to dictate the terms of the negotiations aimed at reaching a lasting peace accord.

Uganda, another close ally of Washington, has several thousand troops deployed in South Sudan assisting the Juba government in repressing and eradicating the oppositional threat from the followers of the ousted Vice President Reik Machar. President Salva Kiir has criticized both the U.S. and the United Nations mission in South Sudan for what he describes as the unwarranted interference in the country’s internal affairs.

It was successive U.S. administrations which supported and encouraged the partitioning of the Republic of Sudan, formerly Africa’s largest geographic nation-state. Nonetheless, the current fighting has brought the world’s newest nation to the brink of collapse.

If South Sudan completely implodes politically, it will constitute a monumental failure in U.S. foreign policy towards Africa. Consequently, the Obama administration is quite concerned about developments inside the country.

South Sudan is also major producer of oil and U.S. petroleum interests want to further exploit the natural resources of the country.

With these interests involved from the Gulf of Guinea to the Gulf of Aden there will of course be additional deployments and aggressive military operations conducted on the continent.

Opposing the Shifting Focus of Washington’s Militarist Policies in Africa

There are no consistent efforts on the part of the anti-war and anti-imperialist movements based in the West in regard to the Pentagon and CIA build-up in Africa. Although AFRICOM is running rampant throughout the region in the aftermath of the support for surrogate forces in the Horn of Africa and the destabilization, blanket bombing and overthrow of the Libyan government in 2011, most people are not aware of the long term dangers posed by the imperialist military forces.

This presence in Africa has not brought about stability but only more internal strife and economic exploitation. In Mali, where the U.S. had extensive influence in the military apparatus of the state, those same elements which were trained by the Pentagon staged a coup against the government in March 2012, resulting in the worsening of a northern insurgency and the intervention of French troops that remain in the country.

The United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC) has issued statements in opposition to the war against Libya and the French intervention in Mali. At the Left Forum held at Pace University in June 2013, UNAC hosted a panel on “The War Against Africa” which enjoyed a standing-room-only audience.

Again this year at the Left Forum being held at John Jay University, UNAC will host another panel on the U.S. war drive looking at various geo-political regions including Ukraine as well as Africa. These efforts must be multiplied throughout the U.S. in order to provide the necessary political education needed to mount a struggle against imperialism in Africa and throughout the world.

Are the majority of people benefitting from investments and profits?

Despite claims that Africa is experiencing one of the highest growth rates in the world, growing class divisions and higher consumer prices are having disproportionate impacts on working people and the poor. Countries that are the focus of these reports of phenomenal growth such as Nigeria and Ghana are undergoing internal crises related to the rising cost of living and the need to expand government spending on infrastructural development.

Nigeria has recently been designated as the largest economy in Africa outstripping the Republic of South Africa, yet some analysts warn that these interpretations of economic data may be misleading. Meanwhile workers, farmers, women and youth are escalating their demands for access to wealth and resources.

Nonetheless, several alarming reports surfaced during April that would indicate that the changing economic landscape in various regions of Africa is more complex than periodic news stories would suggest. What lies behind these problems and how will they be addressed by African governments in the coming period?

The Duality of the African Media Image

There are two seemingly contradictory portrayals of developments in contemporary Africa. Civil wars in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Republic of South Sudan over the last several months reinforce the perception within the western media that Africa is incapable of resolving its own internal affairs.

The fighting in the CAR and the Republic of South Sudan has its roots within the legacy of colonialism under France and Britain. With the United States becoming the dominant imperialist power since the conclusion of World War II its interests must always be evaluated in analyzing both foreign and domestic policies of independent African states.

Nonetheless, both of these states have substantial natural and mineral resources that are of profound interest to the U.S., the European Union states as well as Canada, a major investor in mining in Africa. However, when the internal political and military conflicts within the CAR and South Sudan are discussed by the corporate media, the interests of the western imperialist states are never taken into consideration.

Internal military conflicts and political crises in the CAR and South Sudan provide a rationale for the intervention of the U.S. and other imperialist states. In the CAR, France is attempting to continue its long-held policy of dominating the economic and social character of its former colonies. The U.S. as the leading neo-colonial world power cannot allow other rival imperialists to gain the initiatives in Africa as well as other regions of the world.

Meanwhile a counter-narrative has surfaced in relationship to phenomenal economic growth on the continent. The states which have been designated as having the most rapid expansion are largely producers of oil and natural gas.

In fact there have been huge findings of oil and natural gas throughout Africa and off its shores for several years. In Ghana, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Algeria, Tanzania, Somalia, Mozambique, Kenya, Uganda and other states there has been a major push to exploit the energy sector.

The investment by western transnational corporations along with the People’s Republic of China and the EU has made a significant difference in the living standards within various African states. Revenues generated from foreign investment and trade has brought about a rise in income and household wealth and at the same time the emergence of a new national bourgeoisie which deals in financial speculation, technology transfers and the importation and distribution of consumer goods.

Nevertheless, there are problems within these societies which stem directly from the broader economic crisis within the capitalist world. The volatility of the stock market, the instability of national currencies and the problems of rising poverty and structural unemployment are also plaguing Africa during the second decade of the 21st century.

For example in Ghana, a recent report on the declining value of the cedi, the national currency, indicates that there are continuing unresolved issues that must be addressed in the so-called “emerging economies.” A public forum on the issue demonstrated the degree to which there is concern about these developments.

The Ghana Broadcasting Corporation reported that “The forum was on the theme: ‘The Bank of Ghana’s Response to the Cedi Crisis: An interim Review and Way Forward’. Dr. Nii Noi Ashong, the Deputy Rector of Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), said high economic growth rates in Ghana since 2009 had brought in its wake an increase in economic activity and a corresponding higher demand for imports.” (GBC, April 21)

This same analyst went on to say that

“Ghana’s investment requirements far exceeded the levels of domestic savings needed to finance them and in such an environment, current account deficits are natural occurrences which put pressure on the domestic currency to depreciate…. Dr. Ashong therefore urged the Bank of Ghana to aim at reasonably high holdings of international reserves to cushion the nation against any potential pressures that might arise from operating liberalized open capital accounts.”

However, such a policy would place an even higher burden on the public sector of the economy. Money held to shore-up the national currency could very well hamper much needed investments into education, healthcare, the acquisition of technology and other essential needs to transform the country into a self-reliant state.

In response to these debates about the character of the burgeoning economic difficulties in Ghana, Mr. Samuel Kweku Doughan, the Central Regional Secretary of the Council of Labor, emphasizes that the government needs a cohesive and consistent national development policy.

Doughan point out that

“the trend where every government worked according to its own manifesto thereby neglecting the previous government’s efforts irrespective of their importance was doing the country a disservice, hence the need for the plan. The official was speaking at a meeting of the Cape Coast Metropolitan Council of Labor in Cape Coast to address issues ahead of May Day which will be celebrated under the theme “Ghana’s Economy: A Concern For All.” (GBC, April 21)

This same report went on to note that

“Mr. Doughan said the fall in the value of the cedi, 14 percent inflation and removal of subsidy on fuel had made living conditions unbearable and that the average Ghanaian was going through hardship. He said unemployment had resulted in the formation of the Unemployed Graduate Association and urged the government to create jobs for the teeming unemployed youth.”

If economic growth does not necessarily translate into tangible gains for workers, farmers and youth, then the criteria for determining what actually constitutes growth must be examined. The situation in Ghana is not unique and is being replicated in various states across the continent.

In Nigeria, which is said now to have outperformed South Africa in regard to growth and the overall volume of the national economy, there are serious unresolved problems associated with the distribution of wealth and the improvement of the living conditions of the masses. An internal conflict in the north of the oil-rich country has created a security situation that does bode well for economic development.

During the same week that the announcement was made that Nigeria had become Africa’s largest economy, the political capital of Abuja was hit by a bomb attacks at a bus stop that killed dozens of innocent civilians. The following day, over 125 school girls were kidnapped allegedly by the Boko Haram sect that claimed responsibility for the attack in Abuja as well as hundreds of other similar operations which have killed and maimed thousands since 2009.

Ejike Okupa wrote in the African Executive with respect to the Nigerian national economy that

“Here are three basic aspects of economic development: job creation, stabilized interest rate and stable currency. A major fluctuation in any of the three factors makes an economy stand on a faulty foundation — quicksand. That is why Nigeria’s Naira is weak currency — it has lost tremendous value and Nigeria’s banks cannot afford to make loans on amortizing schedule.” (April 16)

This same writer went on to say

“Nigeria does not have economic development; but mainly a transaction economy that is fuelled by consumption of imported goods and reliance on foreign goodwill to achieve its basic needs. If more than 75 percent of what Nigeria needs to survive as a nation is imported, can such a country be considered as growing and developing?”

The Financial Times reported that

“Millions of people in emerging markets have over the past 30 years moved from poverty into the consuming middle classes. But with growth slowing, their fates are now one of the biggest challenges confronting governments.” (April 16)

Also according to the Financial Times, “The African Development Bank estimates that Africa’s middle class, that numbered 115 million in 1980, has grown to 326 million in the past three and a half decades. But less than 14 per cent – about 44 million – have firmly achieved that status, earning $10-$20 a day.”

Which Way Forward for African Political Economy?

These questions will be intensely debated over the next period with the looming potential of another major downturn in the world capitalist economy. This uncertainty is a direct by-product of a class system where the interests of the rich dominate the priorities of the state.

Under socialism, the wealth generated by African resources and trade would be primarily re-invested in the society through the funding of agricultural production, housing construction, healthcare programs, public education, environmental improvements and infrastructural projects to develop roads, utility services and public transport. Without these fundamental building blocks real economic development cannot be achieved.

When African states pattern their economic policies on those being carried out by the imperialist countries, genuine growth which leads to sustainable development, will remain elusive. Most states within Western Europe and North America have instituted austerity measures in the face of a declining labor participation rate and the failure to address class divisions which are becoming more pronounced.

At a time when there should be an increase in social spending within these capitalist states, their governments are pursuing a strategy that increases poverty and exploitation. Africa must reject this response to the ravages of modern-day capitalism and break with the policies of neo-colonialism and move rapidly towards unity and continental socialism.

As the US, EU and Britain huff and puff in barrel loads of clichés: “red lines” are “crossed”, “sovereignty and territorial integrity” has been “violated”, they stand “shoulder to shoulder” with their Neo-Nazi counterparts in the interim puppet government.

They are “resolute” against “Russian aggression”, and will not “stand idly by”, sanity seems in short supply.

US Secretary of State, John Kerry representing a country which makes Genghis Khan look like a wimp when it comes to illegal invasions, still retains the prize for jaw dropper of the decade: “You just don’t, in the 21st century, behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext”, he pontificated on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

On the thirteenth anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq and the total destruction of it’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity”, by America and Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron has scuttled off to Brussels for a meeting of European Union Ministers to agree on a “robust response” to Russia – which has fired not a shot, invaded no one and threatened nothing except to respond  that if sanctions were imposed on Russia they might consider a trading response. Fair enough, surely?

The government of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea called a referendum, distinctly disturbed by the threat by Kiev’s US proxy government that the Russian language was to have no status, and Jews and blacks would not be tolerated.

Stop Fascism: Participate in the Referendum

A fraction under 97% voted to cede to Russia, with a turnout of over 80% – an electoral enthusiasm of which Western governments could only dream.

As much of the main stream media and the usual politicians thundered of voting under pressure or even at gunpoint, one hundred and thirty five international observers from twenty three countries said, consistently, they saw no pressure of any sort, and they had “not registered any violations of voting rules.”(1)

President Putin also points out the double standards: “Our Western partners created the Kosovo precedent with their own hands. In a situation absolutely the same as the one in Crimea they recognized Kosovo’s secession from Serbia legitimate while arguing that no permission from a country’s central authority for a unilateral declaration of independence is necessary”, further reminding that the UN International Court of Justice agreed to those arguments.

“It’s beyond double standards. It’s a kind of baffling, primitive and blatant cynicism. One can’t just twist things to fit interests, to call something white on one day and black on the next one.”

Clearly referring the threats and onslaughts on sovereign nations of recent years, he added, on being accused of violating international law: “Well’ it’s good that they at least recalled that there is international law … Better late than never”, commenting with some validity, that his nation’s stance on Crimea was in no way similar.

And there is that ill used (by the usual suspects) “Responsibility to Protect”, defined as including: “crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and their incitement”, precisely what the bunch that has taken over the government in Kiev has threatened, with the Jewish community in Kiev feeling so besieged that:  “Ukrainian Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman, called on Kiev’s Jews to leave the city and even the country if possible …”

The UN definition of Responsibility to Protect also stipulates that States have a responsibility to “encourage and assist” in fulfilling responsibility in protection of those threatened and at risk. Russia has arguably done as requested by its former State and neighbour and as laid out by the UN. Yes, of course there is self interest, with NATO encroaching ever closer and the country’s Black Sea Fleet based in Crimea and NATO countries, the US and UK planning military exercises with Ukraine – but Russia’s actions have been a model of peaceable, threat free strategy.

President Putin expressed the all admirably:

“Russia is an independent and active participant of international relations. Just like any nation it has national interests that must be taken into consideration and respected.”

He laid out the double standards:

“In the practical application of policies, our Western partners – the United States first and foremost – prefer to be guided not by international law, but by the right of strength. They believe in their exceptionalism, that they (can) decide on the fate of the world, that they are always right.”

Law was disregarded in Yugoslavia in 1999, bombed by NATO with no UN mandate, Afghanistan, Iraq. Perversion of the UN Resolution on Libya, which was for a no fly zone, not bombing the country in to submission – a tragic, shameful travesty with the horror of the murder of the country’s Leader, most of his family, over which Hillary Clinton laughed as she said: “We came, we saw, he died.” Clinton of course, has now called Putin “Hitler.”

The “coloured revolutions” in Europe and the Arab world were simply more of the same by other means, Putin stated, but in: “Ukraine the West crossed a red line”, with Russia’s wish for dialogue and compromise ignored.

The red line was in that: “The coup-imposed authorities in Kiev voiced their desire to join NATO, and such a move would pose an imminent threat to Russia.”(2.)

Meanwhile, escaped from the American asylum, Vice President Joe Biden said that the U.S. stands resolutely with Baltic States in support of the Ukrainian people against Russian aggression. “Russia cannot escape the fact that the world is changing and rejecting outright their behavior”, Biden said, after meeting Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and Latvian President Andris Berzins. What aggression exactly?

However, as ever, the all is more complex:

“Current international law combines two contradictory principles: a government’s territorial integrity on the one hand, and a nation’s right to self-determination on the other, according Maxim Bratersky of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.”

The West recognized Kosovo’s independence from Serbia in 2008, based the principle of right to self-determination. “Kosovo is a mirror image of the current situation in Crimea”, says Bratersky:

“In sending troops into Kosovo, NATO did not allow the Serbs to intervene in the referendum. The UN did not give NATO’s forces a mandate to send troops into Kosovo.” He also points out that South Sudan ceded from Sudan in 2011 (with world leaders or their Ambassadors attending the celebrations.) East Timor became independent of Indonesia, both endorsed by the UN. Mutual agreement ruled, as with Crimea and the Russian Federation.

In 1997, the British returned Hong Kong to Chinese jurisdiction.

“But on the whole, the system of international law does not function. The side that has the most bayonets wins,” Bratersky states. “Kosovo is a vivid example of this.”(3)

In trade and energy supplies, Russia has a lot of bayonets and the coffers of the EU and US are woefully low.

David Cameron has grand plans to “celebrate” the centenary of the start of World War 1 this year, he still seems hell bent on celebrating it by starting World War 111.

As this is finished, in response to the US placing travel bans on Russian politicians and public figures, rather than engaging in a diplomatic exchange of views, Russia has: “announced sanctions against several advisers to President Obama as well as a number of lawmakers, including House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid – retaliation after President Obama announced economic sanctions against Russia.

The sanctions ban Boehner, Reid, and Senators Mary Landrieu, Daniel Coats, Robert Menendez, John McCain, as well as Obama advisers Caroline Atkinson, Daniel Pfeiffer, and Benjamin Rhodes from entering Russia.” (4)

Someone please chuck that Obama Nobel Peace Prize into the Potomac.

Notes

1. http://www.globalresearch.ca/crimean-referendum-at-gunpoint-is-a-myth-international-observers/5373767

2. http://rt.com/news/putin-address-parliament-crimea-562/

3.http://rbth.com/international/2014/03/09/kosovo_and_ukraine_3495.html

4.http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/03/20/reacting-to-sanctions-russians-ban-reid-boehner-and-7-other-lawmakers/

On April 19, Kiev putschists pledged no Easter weekend Eastern Ukraine attacks. They promised “suspension of the active phase of the anti-terrorism operation” to defuse crisis conditions.

A state security service (SBU) spokeswoman said suspension was “linked to the implementation of the Geneva agreement and the Easter holidays.”

Putschist Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia added:

“The anti-terrorist operation was put on hold for the Easter time, and we will be not using force against them at this moment.”

A day earlier, he said “more concrete actions” will follow next week if activists don’t stop resisting. He demands unconditional surrender.

Protesters remain firm. They want their fundamental rights respected. They want local autonomy. They want real democracy.

They reject Kiev putschists. They’re illegitimate. They demand they resign.

At the same time, earlier deployed neo-Nazi Right Sector thugs attacked Slavyansk activists.

Reports indicate six killed – four residents and two gunmen. Rossiya-24 TV said:

“Three residents of Slavyansk were shot dead by unidentified gunmen who attacked a block-post in the north of the town. Another person was wounded and is in hospital in critical condition.”

“Several cars drove up to the block-post and then those inside the cars open fire. Self-defense fighters promptly arrived at the scene and returned the fire, killing two attackers.”

Activists seized two cars. Evidence inside was incriminating. It included Right Sector paramilitary emblems, military uniforms, a machine gun, other weapons, plastids, smoke pellets, US-made night vision devices and aerial photograph maps.

According to RT International, 26 local residents manned the checkpoint attacked. They were unarmed. They had bats alone for protection.

“As (they) ran from the checkpoint, a group of 20 protesters with firearms were called from their camp in the city,” said RT.

“They opened fire on the attackers, killing two of them and sending the rest running, according to a Life News report.”

Casualties may rise. Gunmen retreated to a nearby forest. Hunting for them continues.

They may have planned attacking an activist-held TV tower, said RT. It’s encircled on maps found in their cars.

Separately, other gunmen attacked residents in central Slavyansk. Two injuries were reported. Both victims are hospitalized.

In response to Saturday’s violence, activist leaders ordered a midnight to 6AM curfew.

On April 17, Russian, US, EU and Ukrainian foreign ministers met in Geneva. Discussion focused on deescalating Ukrainian crisis conditions.

joint document was agreed on. It’s meaningless. It’s not worth the paper it’s written on. It calls for all sides to end “violence, intimidation or provocative actions.”

It condemns “all expressions of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including anti-semitism.”

It “calls for an immediate commencement of a broad national dialogue which must be inclusive, transparent and accountable.”

It stresses doing so “within the framework of the constitutional process, which must be inclusive and accountable.”

Ukrainians alone must resolve things. They must do it without foreign interference.

US-led Ukrainian collusion assures doing things their way. Expect Eastern Ukrainian freedom fighters to respond accordingly. They have every right to do so.

Successfully implementing four-party agreement terms depends on real constitutional reform representing vital interests of all Ukrainians equitably, fairly and democratically.

Chances for doing so are virtually NIL! I bears repeating. The agreement isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. It was dead on arrival.

Kiev putschists violated terms straightaway. They acted with full US support. Obama’s new friends represent the worst of societal misfits. They have no legitimacy whatever.

They rule lawlessly. They tolerate no opposition. It’s targeted for elimination. Their Eastern Ukrainian aggression continues. It includes cold-blooded murder.

Calling it an “anti-terrorist” operation doesn’t wash. Ukrainian terrorism is entirely state-sponsored. Neo-Nazi thugs operate as expected.

Further escalation is likely. Perhaps civil war. Maybe spilling conflict cross-border. Perhaps involving Moscow and Washington.

Great conflicts begin this way. Perhaps the unthinkable will follow. US hegemonic ambitions risk it. Obama may be damn fool enough to pursue what responsible leaders wouldn’t dare.

America’s rage for war, its formidable weapons, and reckless ambitions makes anything possible.

In May 2000, the Pentagon’s Joint Vision 2020 called for “full spectrum dominance” over all land, surface and sub-surface sea, air, space, electromagnetic spectrum and information systems with enough overwhelming power to fight and win global wars against any adversary.

It asserted the right to use nuclear weapons preemptively. So did Bush’s December 2001 Nuclear Policy Review. His 2002 and 2006 National Security Strategies reaffirmed it.

Bush and Obama administrations violated 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) provisions. The 1972 ABM Treaty was abandoned.

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty provisions are ignored. So are the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention and Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. It prohibits additions to current stockpiles.

International laws, treaties, conventions, standards and norms don’t matter. Washington rules alone apply. Might v. right reflects them.

So-called proactive, anticipatory self-defense, first-strike preemption asserts America’s right to use all weapons in its arsenal. At issue is achieving unchallenged global dominance.

Obama’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review was old wine in new bottles. Policy remains unchanged. Washington “reserves the right” to do whatever it pleases.

Stop Nato editor Rick Rozoff if one of many distinguished contributors to a forthcoming Clarity Press book. It’s titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks Global War.”

Ukraine’s geopolitical importance in US-led NATO’s drive East is significant, says Rozoff. Co-opting it into the Atlantic Alliance ensures encroaching on Russia’s “entire Western flank.”

It’ll do so from “the Arctic Ocean and Barents Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south with NATO air bases, naval docking facilities, firing ranges, aircraft, radar installations, interceptor missiles, armored vehicles and troops.”

Rozoff calls Ukraine “the decisive linchpin” in US-led NATO plans to establish “a military cordon sanitaire.”

Achieving it assures cutting off Russia from Europe. Isolating and weakening it at the same time.

In December 2008, “NATO initiated its Annual National Program with Ukraine,” said Rozoff. The same year, Washington “launched the United States-Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership.”

Founding document objectives stated in part:

“Deepening Ukraine’s integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions is a mutual priority.”

“We plan to undertake a program of enhanced security cooperation intended to increase Ukrainian capabilities and to strengthen Ukraine’s candidacy for NATO membership.

“Guided by the April 3, 2008 Bucharest Summit Declaration of the NATO North Atlantic Council and the April 4, 2008 Joint Statement of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, which affirmed that Ukraine will become a member of NATO.”

“Recognizing the persistence of threats to global peace and stability, the United States and Ukraine intend to expand the scope of their ongoing programs of cooperation and assistance on defense and security issues to defeat these threats and to promote peace and stability.”

“A defense and security cooperation partnership between the United States and Ukraine is of benefit to both nations and the region.”

With US-installed putschists ruling Ukraine, Washington is hell bent on transforming it into a “gargantuan” Pentagon-run NATO “forward base.”

It’s part of America’s “inexorable” longstanding drive East. Doing so more than ever threatens world peace.

It hangs by a thread. The slightest miscalculation risks anything. All bets are off given this risky scenario.

“Flashpoint in Ukraine” includes much more incisive analysis like Rozoff’s. Other distinguished contributors assure it.

Content is special. It’s polar opposite mainstream Big Lies. It’s required reading to know what’s ongoing, the threat it poses, and what’s likely ahead.

On April 19, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov highlighted the threat. US-led NATO’s further encroachment “one more step towards the Russian border” changes things entirely, he said.

“(T)he entire European security architecture (will need) to be overhauled,” he stressed. Further NATO enlargement poses a serious threat.

It remains a belligerent/aggressive military alliance. “Russia will have to take serious measures to ensure its own security,” said Peskov.

A potential East/West confrontation looms. Reckless US policy risks it. Today is the most perilous time in world history. The worst of all possible outcomes remains possible.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

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

Students walk near a geiger counter, measuring a radiation level of 0.12 microsievert per hour, at Omika Elementary School, located about 21 km (13 miles) from the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, in Minamisoma, Fukushima prefecture.(Reuters / Toru Hanai)

Katsutaka Idogawa, former mayor of Futaba, a town near the disabled Fukushima nuclear plant, is warning his country that radiation contamination is affecting Japan’s greatest treasure – its children.

Asked about government plans to relocate the people of Fatuba to the city of Iwaki, inside the Fukushima prefecture, Idogawa criticized the move as a “violation of human rights.”

Compared with Chernobyl, radiation levels around Fukushima “are four times higher,” he told RT’s Sophie Shevardnadze, adding that “it’s too early for people to come back to Fukushima prefecture.”

“It is by no means safe, no matter what the government says.”

Idogawa alleges that the government has started programs to return people to their towns despite the danger of radiation.

“Fukushima Prefecture has launched the Come Home campaign. In many cases, evacuees are forced to return. [the former mayor produced a map of Fukushima Prefecture that showed that air contamination decreased a little, but soil contamination remains the same.]“ 

Screenshot from RT video Screenshot from RT video

According to Idogawa there are about two million people residing in the prefecture who are reporting “all sorts of medical issues,” but the government insists these conditions are unrelated to the Fukushima accident. Idogawa wants their denial in writing.

“I demanded that the authorities substantiate their claim in writing but they ignored my request.”

Once again, Idogawa alludes to the nuclear tragedy that hit Ukraine on April 26, 1986, pleading that the Japanese people “never forget Chernobyl.” Yet few people seem to be heeding the former government official’s warning.

“They believe what the government says, while in reality radiation is still there. This is killing children. They die of heart conditions, asthma, leukemia, thyroiditis… Lots of kids are extremely exhausted after school; others are simply unable to attend PE classes. But the authorities still hide the truth from us, and I don’t know why. Don’t they have children of their own? It hurts so much to know they can’t protect our children.

“They say Fukushima Prefecture is safe, and that’s why nobody’s working to evacuate children, move them elsewhere. We’re not even allowed to discuss this.”

The former mayor found it ironic that when discussing the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled for 2020, Prime Minister Abe frequently mentions the Japanese word, “omotenashi,” which literally means that you should “treat people with an open heart.”

In Idogawa’s opinion, the same treatment does not apply equally to the people most intimately connected with Fukushima: the workers involved in the cleanup operations.

“Their equipment was getting worse; preparation was getting worse. So people had to think about their safety first. That’s why those who understood the real danger of radiation began to quit. Now we have unprofessional people working there.

Reuters / Chris MeyersReuters / Chris Meyers

They don’t really understand what they’re doing. That’s the kind of people who use the wrong pump, who make mistakes like that.

“I’m really ashamed for my country, but I have to speak the truth for the sake of keeping our planet clean in the future.

Idogawa then made some parallels with one of the most tragic events in the history of Japan: the use of atomic bombs on the industrial cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States at the end of World War II.

“The authorities lied to everyone (about the effects of the atomic bombings)…They hid the truth. That’s the situation we are living in. It’s not just Fukushima. Japan has some dark history. This is a sort of a sacrifice to the past.”

When pressed on the details of a United Nations report that says there have been no radiation-related deaths or acute diseases observed among the workers and general public, Idogawa dismisses it as“completely false,” before providing some of his own experiences at the height of the crisis.

“When I was mayor, I knew many people who died from heart attacks, and then there were many people in Fukushima who died suddenly, even among young people. It’s a real shame that the authorities hide the truth from the whole world, from the UN. We need to admit that actually many people are dying. We are not allowed to say that but TEPCO employees also are dying. But they keep mum about it.”

When asked to provide solid figures on the actual number of people who died under such circumstances, Idogawa refrained, saying “it’s not just one or two people. We’re talking about ten to twenty people who died this way.”

Asked about other options that Japan has for providing energy sources to its 126 million people, he responded that despite having many rivers, the government neglects to promote hydro energy.

Why? Because it’s not “profitable for big companies!”

Idogawa goes on to provide a blueprint for fulfilling Japan’s energy needs that sounds surprisingly simple.

“We can provide electricity for a large number of people even with limited investment, without taxes. Just use gravity, and we may have so much energy that there’ll be no need for nuclear plants anymore.”

Premonitions of disaster

Even before the massive failure at the Fukushima nuclear power plant on March 11, 2011, the day northeastern Japan was hit by an earthquake-triggered tsunami that caused the meltdown of three of the plant’s six nuclear reactors, Idogawa knew the facility was dangerous.

“I asked them about potential accidents at a nuclear power plant, pretending I didn’t know anything about it, and it turned out they were unable to answer many of my questions,” he said. “Frankly, that’s when it first crossed my mind that their management didn’t have a contingency plan. It was then that I realized the facility could be dangerous.”

The former mayor, who happened to be in a nearby town on the day the tsunami struck, recalled driving back to Futaba upon news of the earthquake. Only later did he discover how close he came to losing his life in the approaching tsunami.
“I managed to get there before the bigger tsunami came. It was only later that I realized that I escaped the water… I got lucky. The tsunami came after I drove off that road and up the mountains.”

Members of the media and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) employees wearing protective suits and masks walk toward the No. 1 reactor building at the tsunami-crippled TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture March 10, 2014.(Reuters / Toru Hanai)Members of the media and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) employees wearing protective suits and masks walk toward the No. 1 reactor building at the tsunami-crippled TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture March 10, 2014.(Reuters / Toru Hanai)

Questions regarding the nuclear power plant dominated his thoughts on the 30-minute drive home. “I just kept thinking, ‘If it’s that strong, what will happen to the power plant? What if the reactor is damaged? What if the water leaks? What will the city do? What am I to do as mayor?’”

Once in his office, Idogawa looked out the window and was confronted by what he described as “a terrifying sight.”
“Usually you couldn’t see the sea from there, but that time I could see it just 300-500m away,” he said.

It was at that point that the mayor realized that the nuclear power plant had probably suffered some sort of damage. After spending the night watching news reports on television, the only source of information since even mobile phones were not working, Idogawa announced an emergency evacuation early the next morning. Not all of the residents, however, heard the emergency broadcast.

“Later, I learned that not all Futaba residents heard my announcement. I feel guilty about that…I found out that the Fukushima prefecture hadn’t given me all the information in a timely fashion. And now the government isn’t taking any steps to ensure people’s safety from radiation, and isn’t monitoring the implementation of evacuation procedures.”

Beyond nuclear energy

Katsutaka Idogawa believes a transformation to a cleaner, safer form of energy source for Japan would require a willingness to change the country’s laws.

“There are many laws in Japan, perhaps too many. There are laws about rivers and the ways they’re used. We could change laws regarding agricultural water use and start using rivers to produce electricity. Changing just this law alone will allow us to produce a lot of energy.”

All of this could be accomplished “without contaminating our planet.”

However, such bold proposals do not “appeal to big companies, because you don’t need big investments, you don’t need to build big power plants. It’s not that profitable for investors, for capitalists.”

But for the former mayor of a devastated Japanese town, lost to nuclear radiation, Idogawa senses a sea change forming in public opinion.

The Japanese people are beginning to “realize that we need to avert nuclear disasters, so 60-70 percent of the population is in favor of using natural energy.”

“It took us a long time, but one day we’ll follow the example of Europe, of Germany.”

Caterpillar – one of the world’s largest maker of construction and mining equipment – used a subsidiary in Switzerland to avoid paying $2.4 billion in taxes over a period of 13 years, according to a new U.S. Senate report titled ‘Caterpillar’s Offshore Tax Strategy.’

In 2013, Illinois-based Caterpillar reported that 62.2 percent of its pretax income of $55.7 billion was earned outside the U.S., but the new investigation raises the question of whether some of that foreign income should have been reported and taxed at home.

The report was issued as part of a Senate Subcommittee investigation to highlight different methods of tax avoidance used various U.S. companies like Apple, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft among others. A 2014 report by Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy revealed that many corporations actually pay far less than the legal rate of 35 percent of profits – in fact many pay nothing at all, because of the many tax loopholes and special breaks that they exploit.

“Caterpillar Inc. is a member of the corporate profit shifting club that has transferred billions of dollars offshore to avoid paying U.S. taxes,” said U.S. Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the subcommittee that produced the report.

Until the year 2000, 85 percent of Caterpillar sales were conducted from the company headquarters in Illinois with the rest made by foreign subsidiaries. With the help of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), an international tax consulting firm, Caterpillar set up a subsidiary named CSARL in Geneva in 1999 to handle sales for replacement parts, allowing Caterpillar to reduce its U.S. tax bill by an estimated $300 million each year. However, out of 8,300 employees “employed” by CSARL, 4,900 were in the U.S. and only 65 were physically employed in Switzerland.

All told, Caterpillar paid PwC $55 million for helping it transfer $8 billion of profits to CSARL between 1999 and 2012, according to the Senate report, following the reorganization in 1998.

In January 2007, two company tax specialists sent a series of internal emails to senior management to warn them that the Swiss activity “lacked economic substance and had no business purpose other than tax avoidance.”

For example Daniel Schlicksup, former global tax strategy manager, sent an email in January 2007 to the company’s ethics officers noting that approximately $1 billion in profits from a U.S. division had been incorrectly attributed to CSARL. A year later, Schlicksup sent another email to Robin Beran, the head of the Caterpillar’s tax department, requesting that the matter be discussed with the board.

“With all due respect, the business substance issue related to the CSARL Parts Distribution is the pink elephant issue worth a Billion dollars on the balance sheet. . . I have been asking for more than a year if we have memos with proper facts and analysis,” wrote Schlicksup.

Instead of responding to his requests, company management transferred Schlicksup to a different division. On June 12, 2009, Schlicksup filed a whistleblower lawsuit against Caterpillar alleging that the company had improperly attributed at least $5.6 billion of profits from the sales of spare parts to a unit in Geneva. The company settled the lawsuit out of court in 2012.

The company is well known for playing hardball to reduce its tax exposure. For example, in March 2011, a leaked letter from Doug Oberhelman, the Caterpillar CEO, to the state of Illinois revealed that the company was threatening to close its operations in the state unless the company was awarded tax breaks, noting that the company finance department had calculated that  helped the company reduce its effective tax rate to the “lowest in the Dow 30” in 2012.

Julie Lagacy, a vice president in the Caterpillar’s finance services division, defended the company at a Senate hearing, chaired by Levin, earlier this month. “Our average effective tax rate is 29 percent, ” she said. “That’s one of the highest for a multinational manufacturing company – 3 percentage points higher than the average effective rate for U.S. corporations.

Beran, who also testified at the hearing, complained that the company was being unfairly targeted by the federal government. “We are under continuous examination,” he said. “The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) literally sits right outside my office.”

Not all the legislators were upset with Caterpillar. Rand Paul, a Republican senator from Kentucky, defended Caterpillar. “I think rather than having an inquisition we should probably bring Caterpillar here and give them an award,” he said, “They’ve been in business for over 100 years. It’s not easy to stay in business.”

Companies like Caterpillar constitute a powerful lobby against changes to the tax code, donating generously to politicians on all sides of the political spectrum. So it is not surprising that a proposed reform bill – the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act – sponsored by Levin – has stalled in the Senate.

The Dow Jones Index is the Greatest of All Ponzi Schemes

April 21st, 2014 by Washington's Blog

by Wim Grommen

Wim Grommen was a teacher in mathematics and physics for eight years at secondary schools. The last twenty years he trained programmers in Oracle-software. He worked almost five years as trainer for Oracle and the last 18 years as trainer for Transfer Solutions in the Netherlands.

The last 15 years he studied transitions, social transformation processes, the S-curve and transitions in relation to market indices. Articles about these topics have been published in various magazines / sites in The Netherlands and Belgium.

The paper “The present crisis, a pattern: current problems associated with the end of the third industrial revolution” was accepted for an International Symposium in Valencia: The Economic Crisis: Time for a paradigm shift, Towards a systems approach.

On January 25 2013, during the symposium in Valencia he presented his paper to scientists.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) Index – the oldest stock exchange in the U.S. and most influential in the world – consists of 30 companies and has an extremely interesting and distressing history regarding its beginnings, transformation and structural development which has all the trappings of what is commonly referred to as pyramid or Ponzi scheme.

The Dow Index was first published in 1896 when it consisted of just 12 constituents and was a simple price average index in which the sum total value of the shares of the 12 constituents were simply divided by 12. As such those shares with the highest prices had the greatest influence on the movements of the index as a whole. In 1916 the Dow 12 became the Dow 20 with four companies being removed from the original twelve and twelve new companies being added. In October, 1928 the Dow 20 became the Dow 30 but the calculation of the index was changed to be the sum of the value of the shares of the 30 constituents divided by what is known as the Dow Divisor.

While the inclusion of the Dow Divisor may have seemed totally straightforward it was – and still is – anything but! Why so? Because every time the number of, or specific constituent, companies change in the index any comparison of the new index value with the old index value is impossible to make with any validity whatsoever. It is like comparing the taste of a cocktail of fruits when the number of different fruits and their distinctive flavours – keep changing. Let me explain the aforementioned as it relates to the Dow.

Companies Go Through 5 Transition Phases

On one hand, generally speaking, the companies that are removed from the index are in either the stabilization or degeneration transition phases of which there are five, namely:

1. the pre-development phase in which the present status does not visibly change.

2. the take-off phase in which the process of change starts because of changes to the system

3. the acceleration phase in which visible structural changes – social, cultural, economical, ecological, institutional – influence each other

4. the stabilization phase in which the speed of sociological change slows down and a new dynamic is achieved through learning.

5. the degeneration phase in which costs rise because of over-capacity leading to the producing company finally withdrawing from the market.

The Dow Index is a Pyramid Scheme

On the other hand, companies in the take-off or acceleration phase are added to the index. This greatly increases the chances that the index will always continue to advance rather than decline. In fact, the manner in which the Dow index is maintained actually creates a kind of pyramid scheme! All goes well as long as companies are added that are in their take-off or acceleration phase in place of companies in their stabilization or degeneration phase.

The False Appreciation of the Dow Explained

On October 1st, 1928, when the Dow was enlarged to 30 constituents, the calculation formula for the index was changed to take into account the fact that the shares of companies in the Index split on occasion. It was determined that, to allow the value of the Index to remain constant, the sum total of the share values of the 30 constituent companies would be divided by 16.67 ( called the Dow Divisor) as opposed to the previous 30.

On October 1st, 1928 the sum value of the shares of the 30 constituents of the Dow 30 was $3,984 which was then divided by 16.67 rather than 30 thereby generating an index value of 239 (3984 divided by 16.67) instead of 132.8 (3984 divided by 30) representing an increase of 80% overnight!! This action had the affect of putting dramatically more importance on the absolute dollar changes of those shares with the greatest price changes. But it didn’t stop there!

On September, 1929 the Dow divisor was adjusted yet again. This time it was reduced even further down to 10.47 as a way of better accounting for the change in the deletion and addition of constituents back in October, 1928 which, in effect, increased the October 1st, 1928 index value to 380.5 from the original 132.8 for a paper increase of 186.5%!!! From September, 1929 onwards (at least for a while) this “adjustment” had the affect – and I repeat myself – of putting even that much more importance on the absolute dollar changes of those shares with the greatest changes.

How the Dow Divisor Contributed to the Crash of ‘29

From the above analyses/explanation it is evident that the dramatic “adjustments” to the Dow Divisor (coupled with the addition/deletion of constituent companies according to which transition phase they were in) were major contributors to the dramatic increase in the Dow from 1920 until October 1929 and the following dramatic decrease in the Dow 30 from then until 1932 notwithstanding the economic conditions of the time as well.

Exponential Rise in the Dow 30 is Revealed

The 1980s and ‘90s saw a continuation of the undermining of the true value of the Dow 30. Yes – you guessed correctly –further “adjustments” in the Dow Divisor kept coming and coming! As the set of constituents of the Dow changed over the years (almost all of them) and many shares were split the Dow Divisor kept changing. By 1985 it was only 1.116 and today it is only 0.132129493. Indeed, a rise of $1 in share value of the 30 constituents actually results in 8.446 more index points than in 1985 (1.116 divided by 0.132129493). Had it not been for this dramatic decrease in the Dow Divisor the Nov.3/10 Dow 30 index value of 12,215 (sum total of the current prices of the 30 constituent shares of $1481.85 divided by 0.132129493) would only be 1327.82 ($1481.85 divided by 1.116) in 1985 terms. Were we still using the original formula the Dow 30 would actually be only 49.395 ($1481.85 divided by 30)!

The crucial questions today are:

1. Is the current underlying economy strong enough to keep the Dow 30 at its present level?

2. Will the 30 constituents of the Dow remain robust or evolve into the stabilization and degeneration phases?

3. Will there be enough new companies to act as new “up-lifters” of the Dow?

4. When will the Dow Divisor change – yet again??

The Dow 30 is the Greatest of All Ponzi Schemes

I call on the financial community to take a critical look at the Dow Divisor. If it is retained societies will continue to be deceived with every new transition from one phase to another and the greatest of all Ponzi schemes will have major financial consequences for every investor.

A version of this article, entitled “Beurskrach 1929, mysterie ontrafeld?”, was first published in Dutch in the January 2010 issue of “Technische en Kwantitatieve Analyse” magazine which is a monthly publication of Beleggers Belangen  (Investment Interests) in the Netherlands and on several sites there including: Beurskrach 1929 mysterie ontrafeld? op Historiek.net (English version Stock Market Crash 1929, Mystery Unraveled?

Wim Grommen is a guest contributor to http://www.FinancialArticleSummariesToday.com, “A site/sight for sore eyes and inquisitive minds”, and www.munKNEE.com, “It’s all about MONEY” of which Lorimer Wilson is editor.

Amid the crackdown on pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine being carried out by his Western-backed regime, Ukraine’s acting prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, called for a military buildup against Russia in an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” program Sunday. He advocated measures, including US military aid to his government, that pose the risk of a direct clash between nuclear-armed powers.

This aggressive and provocative policy, centered on the standoff in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian protesters and the military and fascist paramilitary forces of the unelected regime in Kiev, is inflaming tensions throughout Europe. Late Saturday and early Sunday, pro-regime forces attacked armed pro-Russian protesters who had set up roadblocks outside Slavyansk, killing at least one protester. A number of pro-regime fascists were also killed or wounded.

One of the pro-regime fighters killed in Slavyansk carried a badge of the fascist Right Sector militia, which led the February putsch that installed the current regime in Kiev.

“The personal belongings of a militant killed in the skirmish included a Right Sector badge number 20,” said Vyachaslav Ponomarev, the leader of Slavyansk’s pro-Russian forces. “Badge number one is held by [Right Sector leader Dmytro] Yarosh.”

A week ago, Yarosh called for the “total mobilization” of the Right Sector fascists to crush opposition to the Kiev regime.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was “enraged” by the attack in Slavyansk. “It is surprising,” it wrote, “that the tragedy occurred after the signing on April 17 in Geneva of the final statement of the four-sided meeting of representatives of Russia, the USA, EU and Ukraine, which calls for refraining from any violent actions, intimidation, or provocations. The Russian side insists on the strict fulfillment by the Ukrainian side of its commitments concerning the de-escalation of the situation in southeast Ukraine.”

In fact—as the blank check given by the US-puppet regime in Kiev to the Right Sector makes clear—Kiev and its Western backers are ignoring the Geneva statement. Instead, they are pressing ahead with a reckless policy of militarily encircling Russia.

On “Meet the Press,” Yatsenyuk called for a military escalation against Russia. “It’s crystal clear that Russia is the threat, the threat to the globe, and the threat to the European Union and the real threat to Ukraine,” he said. “[Russian President Vladimir] Putin has a dream to restore the Soviet Union,” Yatsenyuk continued, “and every day he goes further and further. And God knows where the final destination is.”

Pressed by NBC’s David Gregory to ask the Western powers to send weapons to bolster his regime’s armed forces, Yatsenyuk asked for help rebuilding Ukraine’s economy and military.

Yatsenyuk’s comments were a political travesty. The threat to world peace comes not from Russia, but from the aggressive policy pursued by Washington and Berlin and their European allies.

The program of the capitalist oligarchy around Putin is not to restore the forms of state ownership that existed under the USSR, or to reunify the 15 former Soviet republics under its control. Rather, the Kremlin is desperately seeking to find a viable defense posture as NATO and the United States deploy their armed forces ever further to the east and closer to Russia’s post-Soviet borders.

The US has already sent millions of dollars in equipment to the Ukrainian army, as part of a broader military buildup by the NATO powers throughout Eastern Europe aimed at Russia. US and NATO officials have sent forces to the Baltic states, Poland, Romania and the Black Sea, despite warnings—including from within Western governments—that further escalation could provoke war with Russia.

Over the weekend, British media reported that the head of the MI6 intelligence agency briefed British Prime Minister David Cameron to the effect that Western military action in Ukraine could spiral into “all-out war with Russia.” He told Cameron that Putin would not “stand idly by” if the West intervened to back the Kiev regime.

“The basic message is that it’s not worth starting World War Three over Ukraine,” a senior British government source told the Mirror regarding the briefing.

British MI6 agents and Defense Intelligence Staff are apparently traveling throughout Ukraine, spying, in particular, on pro-Russian cities in eastern Ukraine. These agents on the ground, the Mirror reported, “warn that the crisis could turn into a violent civil war, with much of eastern Ukraine declaring independence and effectively joining Russia.”

The misgivings of British agents combing Ukraine notwithstanding, NATO is stoking up the conflict, adopting aggressive policies against Russia in ways previously reserved for defenseless ex-colonial countries targeted for US attack and regime change.

Surveying US policy towards Russia, the New York Times wrote on Sunday: “Just as the United States resolved in the aftermath of World War II to counter the Soviet Union and its global ambitions, Mr. Obama is focused on isolating President Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia by cutting off its economic and political ties to the outside world, limiting its expansionist ambitions in its own neighborhood and effectively making it a pariah state.”

Sections of the US State Department are pressing for an even harsher policy, the newspaper noted, and say they are “privately worrying that Mr. Obama has come across as weak.”

These remarks point to the explosive conflicts unleashed by the decision of the leading NATO powers to back the Kiev putsch and provoke a conflict with Russia. As rival armies face off in Eastern Europe in ways unseen since the Nazi Wehrmacht fought the Soviet Red Army during World War II, Washington is serving notice that it considers the Kremlin, like the Iraqi and Libyan regimes before it, a “pariah,” and will treat it accordingly.

The fate of the heads of state of previous “pariah” regimes gives some indication of the concerns now facing Putin and top officials in Russia. Saddam Hussein was hanged after a show trial in US-occupied Iraq; Libyan ruler Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was tortured and extrajudicially murdered in the bombed-out ruins of his hometown, Sirte.

The most obvious difference, however, is that Russia is a more substantial power, which can threaten military retaliation with conventional forces and a nuclear arsenal capable of annihilating the planet. This underscores the depths of the crisis of world imperialism and the immensely reckless character of US-European policy.

While Putin stressed in his television appearance Saturday that he saw “nothing to prevent us from normalizing relations” with the NATO powers, top Russian officials have made clear that Russia is preparing a more forceful response should NATO continue to escalate the crisis.

On Friday, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitri Peskov said that the imposition of crippling economic sanctions on Russia planned by Washington and the European powers was “absolutely unacceptable.” He warned, “We can mobilize our whole society if someone starts driving Russia into a corner.”

Appearing on Russian television Saturday, Peskov said that any further enlargement of NATO to include countries further to the east would pose a serious threat to Russia. “One more step towards the Russian border,” he said, would cause “the entire European security architecture to be overhauled.”

“NATO cannot stop being a military organization,” Peskov noted, adding, “Russia will have to take measures to ensure its own security.”

American drone missile attacks and air strikes killed more than three dozen people in southern Yemen over the weekend. The carnage coincided with press reports that the Obama administration is moving to ship advanced weapons to “rebel” groups fighting the Assad government in Syria.

Washington is waging a nonstop campaign of political and media vilification of Russia for its alleged intervention in Ukraine—where a handful of people have died—even as it intensifies its decades-long military intervention in the Middle East, where US wars and US-instigated civil wars have killed millions.

The death tolls are well known: more than one million in Iraq (1990-1991, 2003-2011); approaching 200,000 in Syria (2011-2014); well over 100,000 in Afghanistan (2001-2014); over 50,000 in Libya (2011); thousands in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Niger, Mali and other countries hit by US drone missile strikes. These figures do not even take into account the thousands killed by US-backed Israeli violence in Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza during the same period.

The first American drone missile strike to target Yemen in 2014 killed at least 13 people on Saturday, according to the US-allied Yemeni government. The missile hit a vehicle traveling in the Sawmaa area of al-Bayda province, blasting the car and propelling it 20 meters, while destroying a passing car as well.

The country’s Supreme Security Council described the attack as an air strike carried out by the Yemeni armed forces, the usual cover story for a missile fired by an American-controlled drone. The Obama administration did not publicly acknowledge the attack, its normal practice for drone missile operations conducted by the CIA.

A second round of attacks, carried out on Sunday, killed another 25 people in al-Mahfad, Abyan province, also in southern Yemen, according to Reuters. The news service cited local tribal sources reporting that “unmanned drone aircraft had been circling the target areas beforehand” and that “at least three separate strikes had taken place after dawn prayers.”

Again, the Yemeni government claimed that it had carried out the air strikes, purportedly because “terrorist elements were planning to target vital civilian and military installations,” the same self-defense rhetoric used to disguise the previous day’s US attacks.

Yemeni and US government sources invariably claim that those killed in drone missile strikes are “terrorists” and “militants” of Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula, the local affiliate of the Islamic fundamentalist group founded by Osama bin Laden and now headed by Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The drone strikes came only two weeks after a federal district judge dismissed a damages lawsuit against US government officials over the killing of three US citizens in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki, his son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, and Samir Khan, all incinerated by US cruise missiles in 2011.

The judge ruled that US officials could not be found personally liable for violations of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the US Constitution, even violations as extreme as execution, without trial or judicial hearing of any kind. She also ruled that there was “no available remedy under US law for this claim.” In other words, US officials and military operatives cannot be sued for acting under orders from President Obama, while the president is himself also immune from being sued.

On Saturday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Obama administration has begun to funnel advanced American antitank missiles to Syrian “rebels.” The story was initially reported last week by the British journal Jane’s Defence Weekly and also subsequently confirmed by the Washington Post .

The Journal said that the shipment of TOW antitank missiles by the US and Saudi Arabia, the first provision of such advanced weapons since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, was “a pilot program that could lead to larger flows of sophisticated weaponry.” The newspaper attributed the shift in policy by the Obama administration to “recent regime gains on the battlefield.”

The Assad regime has successfully cleared the Qalamoun region along the Syria-Lebanon border, severing a key rebel supply line, and last week launched an offensive against remaining “rebel” strongholds in Homs, the country’s third-largest city and a heavily contested battleground in the civil war.

The Journal quoted a spokesman for a “rebel” group called Harakat Hazm to the effect that “The first step is showing that we can effectively use the TOWs, and hopefully the second one will be using antiaircraft missiles.”

The Post reported that the Pentagon has shipped TOW missiles to both Turkey and the Persian Gulf states in recent years, and late last year sent 15,000 to Saudi Arabia.

The White House has to this point blocked the shipment of antiaircraft missiles by US client regimes in the Persian Gulf out of concern that these weapons could be used by Washington’s radical Islamist allies in Syria against civilian airliners elsewhere. But in the run-up to last month’s visit by Obama to Saudi Arabia, the administration apparently began to shift its position.

The Journal observed, “After the visit, senior administration officials said the two countries were collaborating more closely on material support for the rebels and the Central Intelligence Agency was looking at ways to expand its limited arming and training program based in Jordan.”

The US escalation in the various Middle East battlefields is just as reckless as its conduct in Ukraine. It also exposes the fraud of the so-called “war on terrorism.” In Syria, one of the most powerful “rebel” groups is the al-Nusra Front, which has publicly sworn allegiance to Al Qaeda and Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The Obama administration is targeting Islamic fundamentalists in Yemen for drone missile strikes in the name of the struggle against Al Qaeda, while providing antitank weapons for groups allied with similar jihadist elements in Syria.

A soldier pushes the bulldozer into the flames of the burn pit. Photo: Sgt. Abel Trevino. Used under Creative Commons license.

KBR and Halliburton – two major U.S. military contractors – can be sued for the health impacts of trash incineration on U.S. soldiers who served in the war in Iraq, according to a new court decision that allows a series of 57 lawsuits against the companies to go forward.

The two companies have been paid some $40 billion for services provided to troops serving in the U.S. War on Terror throughout Central Asia and the Middle East in countries ranging from Afghanistan and Iraq to Kuwait and Uzbekistan. (Most of the contracts were implemented by KBR which was a subsidiary of Halliburton until 2007 when it was spun off into a separate company)

Under the Logistics Civilian Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) contract, KBR and Halliburton operated ten acre wide burn pits 24 hours a day on U.S. military bases throughout Iraq until the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act officially banned them. They were used to incinerate “plastics, batteries, appliances, medicine, dead animals, and even human body parts.” Government contractors, troops and Iraqi civilians allege that they were exposed to toxic carcinogens and chemicals by breathing the pit’s fumes and dust.

Last February Judge Roger Titus in Maryland threw out the lawsuits, after he agreed with the two companies that their work should be immune from prosecution since they were working for the U.S. government.

But in March, a panel of three judges in Richmond, Virginia, over-ruled Titus. KBR was entitled to immunity “only if it adhered to the terms of the contract with the government,” Judge Henry F. Floyd wrote. “Accordingly, we hold that the district court erred in finding that KBR was entitled to derivative sovereign immunity at this time and vacate the court’s decision.”

The court order is a breakthrough for the plaintiffs who have claimed in a consolidated lawsuit that KBR “violated military directives in its performance of waste disposal and water treatment services.”

“We’re confident that further discovery will show that KBR acted outside the control of the military, ” Susan Burke, the lead lawyer for the soldiers, told Bloomberg in a telephone interview.

A representative for KBR, however, expressed “disappointment” in the ruling.

The rise in health-related concerns – asthma, chronic bronchitis and Lou Gehrig’s disease - among returning soldiers led Tom Bishop and Carol Shea-Porter, two Democratic members of Congress, to successfully lobby their fellow legislators to agree to a ban on the waste-burning practice in 2010.

About the same time, the U.S. Department of Defense authorized the Institute of Medicine, a non-profit arm of the National Academy of Sciences, to research links between the operation of open air-pits and health damages in 2010. 

One of the follow-up reports found no definite link between the overall chemical exposure and long-lasting health problems but did find that five or more of the chemicals that were emitted at one of the bases studied caused “cancer, liver toxicity, respiratory toxicity and morbidity, neurological effects, blood effects…cardiovascular toxicity and morbidity, and reproductive toxicity.” 

Another study by Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an environmental toxologist at the University of Michigan found a 15 time higher rate of birth defects, health abnormalities and multiple cancers among newborns in Basra and Fallujah than before the start of the war.

Iraq is poisoned. Thirty-five million Iraqis wake up every morning to a living nightmare of childhood cancers, adult cancers and birth defects. Familial cancers, cluster cancers and multiple cancers in the same individual have become frequent in Iraq,” wrote Savabieasfahani in a paper co-authored by Al-Sabbak, Sadik Ali, O.Savabi, G. Savabi and Dastgiri in Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. “We suspect that the population is chronically exposed to an environmental agent. ”

Meanwhile, KBR and Halliburton continue to battle multiple other lawsuits stemming from their LOGCAP contracts. Several military veterans have sued KBR for health-related problems resulting from exposure to a carcinogen, hexavalent chromium, at a water treatment facility in Iraq. Another lawsuit, brought by a soldier’s mother, alleges KBRresponsible for the death of her son who was electrocuted while taking a shower at an Army base.

The Neo-Liberal Deception and the New World Order

April 21st, 2014 by Lionel Reynolds

Beginning in earnest in the late Seventies, a sustained and pervasive ideological attack was mounted against the role of the State in managing economic affairs. The terms of the attack ranged from ethical and philosophical arguments about individual liberty and property rights to more pragmatic arguments about the supposed economic advantages of private ownership, deregulation of capital and flattened fiscal regimes. Alternative visions of the role of the State were marginalised and discounted as either economically misguided or politically totalitarian.

The emerging consensus became known as Neo-Liberalism, or Economic Rationalism. It had its intellectual progenitors – Adam Smith, the Austrian and Chicago Schools, Ayn Rand; its political trail-blazers – Pinochet, Thatcher and Reagan, and its demons – Socialists, Marxists and Keynesians. When the Berlin Wall came down, and the ‘evil empire’ collapsed, it seemed that the ideological battle had been won – the deprived masses of the Socialist bloc had overthrown their Orwellian masters and would readily embrace the new credo. Ahead lay a brave, new, unipolar world in which largely unregulated markets would constitute the bedrock of a free, dynamic and innovative global economic order in which social wealth would be maximised.

In due course, after some initial resistance, the centre-left caved in to the Neo-Liberal gospel, especially in the Anglosphere, always the geopolitical fulcrum of the Neo-Liberal order. By the mid 90′s the centre-left in the UK, USA and Australia were committed to an economic program that was virtually indistinguishable from the Reagan/Thatcher platform of the previous decade, all be it dressed up in a more progressive social liberalism.
The reason that so many ‘social-democrats’ and ‘socialists’ embraced the Neo-Liberal revolution is that they came to accept its core claim that not only is capitalism the most effective way of generating wealth but that, contrary to now supposedly outmoded Keynesian and socialist views, it is also the best way of actually spreading the benefits of that wealth as widely as possible.

There are no losers – everyone’s a winner. The view is that governments don’t create wealth – they just spend it on coercing people and distorting market mechanisms that would otherwise produce greater social utility. By extracting the State from economic activity and allowing a more lightly regulated capitalism to structure production, distribution, exchange and finance, everyone is actually better off. The market mechanism can even play a positive role in improving social services like health and education, and providing essential infrastructure like transport, communications and energy – all with minimal regulatory regimes.

Under cover of this ideological offensive, the entire post-war Bretton-Woods economic order was dismantled. Capital controls were removed, public assets and infrastructure privatised and markets deregulated. Manufacturing and back-office functions were offshored. Organised labour was suppressed by legislation and by exporting traditional unionised industries to low-cost non-unionised labour markets. In addition to the huge profits to be made from deploying capital to low-wage economies, this also made it possible for capital to significantly increase the rate of surplus value extraction in the developed economies. The monetary value of what labour was making began to grow much more quickly than the monetary wage cost of the labour itself. Now that most consumer goods – for example clothing, electronic goods and household items – were produced cheaply in low-cost markets, the living costs of the developed economy worker were kept low, alleviating pressure on wages. It was a win/win for capital.

Consequently, for 40 years real wages in the developed world have been virtually stagnant – especially in the USA. In fact, income as a share of GDP has been in steady decline in many developed economies. Labour was producing more commodities than it had the monetary means to purchase, because an increasing share of the monetised value of commodities was being realised as capital, not wages. Inequality between capital and labour was further exacerbated by huge cuts in marginal tax rates and corporate taxes.

This is where the financial system stepped in to eliminate potential under-consumption. By leveraging capital sourced from expanding corporate profits and the personal wealth of the super-rich, the banks began to sell huge quantities of lucrative debt to the working class, enabling the latter to buy back the product of its own labour and keep capital accumulation ticking over.

Credit controls were relaxed leading to massive asset bubbles in property and consumer spending, which in turn spawned a parasitic, multi-trillion dollar shadow banking economy of ‘collateralised debt obligations’ (CDO’s) – tranched securities built from bundles of debt. These in turn spawned another equally large market in ‘credit default swaps’ (CDS’s) in which entities offered to ‘insure’ securities, even though the ‘insurance-buyer’ was often not even the owner of the reference assets, and the ‘insurance provider’ was not able to underwrite the debt ‘insured’. It wasn’t actually called ‘insurance’, so it didn’t fall under any insurance regulatory regime. In fact, most of the trade in CDO’s and CDS’s was wholly unregulated, taking place ‘over the counter’ rather than in organised exchanges.

As if the bankers were not getting rich enough from buying and selling consumer and property debt, they also branched out into buying and selling student debt – a new concept for most of Europe, which had previously operated under the assumption that tertiary education should be publically funded.

The property asset bubble, limitless personal credit lines, and the market in low cost consumer goods kept the developed world working class largely integated into the capitalist order. Real wages were stagnant and labour was being deprived of an increasing share of the value it created, but as long as property values were rising and credit card limits expanding there was always a source of liquidity to make up the difference. If you didn’t own a property, the answer was to work harder and longer and borrow the money to buy one – to ‘get on the property ladder’.

In 2007/8, the massive Ponzi scheme collapsed. Trillions of dollars were wiped off the market. The immediate cause of the collapse was over-leveraged household debt. Working class homebuyers in the USA began to foreclose. They had been sold mortgages on ‘teaser’ interest rates by brokers making a living flipping mortgages to CDO funds. The homeowners on teaser rates couldn’t actually afford the mortgage repayments at the market rate – they were relying on property values increasing so they could refinance once the teaser rate expired. As foreclosures spread, property values actually dropped, leading to more foreclosures, leading to further drops.

Suddenly, trillions of dollars of CDO’s began to lose value across the board as debts went toxic, debt repayment flows dried up and asset values collapsed. When large numbers of CDO holders tried to cash in their CDS’s the underwritten cash sums simply didn’t exist – the money wasn’t there. Exit AIG, the largest insurance company in the world. Banks stopped lending to each other because they all knew how heavily leveraged they were, and they all knew that the leveraged debt was going toxic. The financial system was deadlocked.

It then became clear that when the Neo-Liberals said that government interference in the economy is a bad thing, what they really meant to say is that it is a bad thing when it is for the benefit of labour. It turns out that it is in fact a very good thing when it is done in order to save the capitalist system from falling on its own sword. That would appear to be the only explanation for what followed – the biggest government bail out in modern economic history. All the money that hadn’t been available for manufacturing, for healthcare, for education, for infrastructure – suddenly became available to save the banking system.

The Federal Reserve, Bank of England and European Central Bank have, in the last 6 years, created trillions of dollars and handed them straight to the bankers. The process is called quantitative easing. The central banks create money via a digital book entry, and then use the money to purchase commercial paper from the banking sector – typically government and corporate bonds, but also CDO’s. This does two things. Firstly, it means that governments and corporations can raise credit cheaply, because the buyer of the debt knows they can flip it to the central bank and earn a return. This keeps interest rates low. Secondly, it injects liquidity into the banking system and keeps the business cycle going.

In the meantime, it’s austerity for the rest of us, as costs are driven down to encourage business investment and governments cut back on social programs in order to finance their ever growing debts.

It will be recalled that the ‘useful idiots’ of Neo-Liberalism – the centre-left that abandoned not just socialism but any semblance of Keynesianism – bought into the idea that privatisation, deregulation and flattened fiscal regimes were all consistent with traditional centre-left values of economic justice and equity. As it happens, there is overwhelming evidence that they were completely wrong.

In January of this year, Oxfam published a briefing paper called ‘Working for the Few’ ( http://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/bp-working-for-few-political-capture-economic-inequality-200114-en.pdf ). The paper was released to coincide with the 2014 World Economic Forum at Davos, the premier public social event for self-respecting members of the global elite. The paper is based on the tactical idea that the World Economic Forum is part of the solution, which rather flies in the face of the commonplace historical observation that, with some notable individual exceptions, the rich and powerful are not given to fundamentally questioning the structures that support their wealth and power.

Having said that, the report is a stunning indictment of the Neo-Liberal deception.

In the opening executive summary the reader is informed that:

  • Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.
  • The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.
  • The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.
  • Seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years.
  • The richest one percent increased their share of income in 24 out of 26 countries for which we have data between 1980 and 2012.
  • In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.

In the ‘People’s Republic’ of China, now firmly established as an integral component of the world capitalist order, supplying cheap consumer goods to the US/EU economies and using its massive US dollar foreign exchange reserves to help bankroll the US/NATO war machine, the report states that the richest 1% have more than doubled their share of national income since 1980.

The report reveals the stunning fact that 18.5 trillion dollars – a sum greater than total US GDP, is held unrecorded and offshore in tax havens – the lion’s share held in a network of current and former British possessions – Hong Kong, The Cayman Islands, Singapore, Jersey, Bermuda and Guernsey.

As for the distribution of wealth, 10% of the global population control 86% of total global assets, whilst the bottom 70% control just 3%.

Regarding the increased rate of surplus value extraction from developed economy labour, and its relationship to the offshoring of manufacturing and anti-union leglislation, the report explains that:

A report from the International Labour Organization (ILO) shows that between 1989 and 2005, union density (a measure of the membership of trade unions which represents union membership in relation to the total labor force) mostly declined in countries for which data are available, and that union density is negatively correlated with income inequality. Power relations between owners of capital and workers have changed dramatically in the past three decades in many countries, mostly as economies have moved from manufacturing to services, and as globalization has allowed for outsourcing of jobs. This is reflected in the decreasing share of income going to labor: over the past three decades, wages, salaries and benefits represent a smaller share of national income in nearly all ILO member countries.

There is, however, one region that is bucking the trend and that just happens to be the region of the world in which significant elements have bucked the trend to Neo-Liberalism and are turning to the Left – Latin America. The report explains that:

growth of tax revenues in Latin America has been the fastest in the world, and this growth has translated to higher spending to reduce inequality. For instance, between 2002 and 2011, income inequality dropped in 14 of the 17 countries where there is comparable data.During this period, approximately 50 million people moved into the middle class, meaning that for the first time ever, more people in the region belong to the middle class than are living in poverty.

The report continues:

By some estimates, social spending as a percentage of GDP across Latin American countries increased by 66 percent over the past twenty years. The impact is noticeable, given that not long ago the region had among the lowest public spending levels in the world. Increased spending on health and education has had the greatest impact on inequality reduction.

The report concludes with a set of recommendations, including:

• Stronger regulation of markets;
• Curbing the power of the rich to influence political processes and policies that best suit their interests.
• Cracking down on financial secrecy and tax dodging;
• Redistributive transfers; and strengthening of social protection schemes;
• Investment in universal access to free healthcare and education;
• Progressive taxation;
• Strengthening wage floors and worker rights;

This is, of course, the complete opposite of the Neo-Liberal prescriptions that have seduced significant elements of the so-called ‘left’ for the last 20 years.

The fact is that ‘we’ allowed the global super-rich to screw us, and then we bailed them out when the system that made them rich was in danger of collapsing. They got richer and richer, while we were bought off with the illusion of increasing wealth, when the reality is that we have been getting a declining share of the wealth we actually produce.

For years we have been told there was no money for social programs, and that our children had to pay to go to university, while trillions were spent on USA/NATO imperial wars and capitalist banker bailouts, and further trillions were hidden away in largely British-connected tax havens.

We should all be very angry with the Neo-Liberals

Social Justice Unionism Seeks to Build Labor And Student Movements

Earlier this month at the Labor Notes Conference, rank and file labor leaders announced for the first time the creation of the Network for Social Justice Unionism (NSJU), a new infrastructure that unionists concerned with advancing social justice beyond the workplace hope to use to organize for a shift in the way the labor movement operates.

The NSJU seeks to encourage the creation of social justice caucuses in union locals across the nation and to establish working relationships between those caucuses to be able to support each other’s struggles. Together, these caucuses hope to create an movement inside of organized labor that pushes union leaders across the country to do more to see that union power benefits not just workers themselves, but also the communities that unions are embedded in and rely upon.

Plans for the NSJU have been in the works for over a year, and NSJU members are optimistic that their work will not only be enthusiastically received by workers and social justice activists, but that it could eventually transform and revitalize an aging labor movement. The NSJU effort has its roots in recent struggles for change led by teachers, but seeks to encourage workers of all kinds to commit to lending their knowledge, resources, and influence to other ongoing struggles for justice beyond their workplaces.

NSJU co-founder Michelle Gunderson is a member of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) who helped start the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE). She sat down to talk about the creation and purpose of the Network for Social Justice Unionism and the potential of its work.

Talk about the Network for Social Justice Unionism. Where did it come from?

It came from a definition. What does it mean to be a social justice unionist? What that means, in my mind, is that we hold workers’ rights in the same plane and in the same balance as students’ rights and community rights. We don’t hold our needs above students’.  I will fight to the death for the right of a teacher to have good compensation and job security and due process as much as I will for my students to have text books or proper health care and the things that they need to do well.

The Network for Social Justice Unionism started from the Caucus of Rank and File Educators and Labor Notes thinking together, and we believe that social justice unionism is actually going to be what saves unionism as a movement. We are the antithesis of the union thug. We are the people who aren’t out for ourselves who aren’t only about our work and our jobs. And we also are very much in favor of democratic union process.

That isn’t always true in our unions and it scares leadership at times, but without it we’re not going to get new members especially in right to work states and in places like Milwaukee where you have to opt in to your union. We have to decide to use the structure and the power that’s already there. It’s a good structure and there’s a lot of power, but we have to be using it for our students and workers alike

Is the NSJU a response to some of the failures of labor? What are some of the things that the labor movement needs to work on the most?

Social justice unionism is about activating membership to actually do something, not just call the union when they have a problem. And it’s about a lot more than contracts. So the NSJU is taking what used to be called the business model of unionism – where the union was only involved with things that involved work and your 8 hour day – and taking it to the broader political and social realm.

Social justice unionists realize that we don’t live in vacuums and that our students live in a huge context. We can’t’ teach unless our students are well, we can’t teach unless our students have resources. And we can’t teach if there’s inequity in our schools and we have to fight those things.

Teachers as unionists are also changing. The National Education Association (NEA), for a long time, called itself a “professional organization” and shied away from being thought of as a union. We changed that narrative in CORE, and we changed it as social justice unionists.

We’re willing to be militant about workers rights, and we also don’t feel the need to separate ourselves as “professionals” from other workers. I’m as much a sister to an electrician as I am to a pediatrician, and I think that’s a shift in thought. Absolutely, I do want to be treated professionally and honored for my educational status and for what I bring to this world, but I don’t separate myself from my janitor at all.

What do you hope to accomplish with the new Network for Social Justice Unionism?

We can’t make the change we need to see today without political change, and in both the NEA and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), you have to have a certain amount of momentum before you can change those organizations. So we are hoping for caucus work around the country that can win union elections, especially the election in Los Angeles – the second largest local in the country.

Social justice unionists have to win union elections so we can push leadership to then become political and not always be just a rubber stamp for the Democratic Party. I can’t speak for all social justice unionists, but I know for myself that whatever party is in power, I need to be able to push them to the left.

I used to think that if a local was working well and doing well by its members, it didn’t need a social justice caucus. But I’ve changed my mind – I’ve had a shift in thinking. We in CORE have become the conscience of the CTU; we’ve become the eyes and ears of our union. Now I think every local needs a social justice caucus.

What do social justice caucuses do that is different from the rest of the union?

First of all, for the union to make good decisions, there are constitutions and bylaws in place for good reason. We shouldn’t make decisions quickly and arbitrarily.

But a caucus can move very quickly – we just have to call a meeting and get it done. We don’t have to go through a committee process and have a resolution.

Many times in a union as large as CTU with 30,000 members, if you want change or you want something to happen, it’s like turning an air craft carrier around. But if we have to respond quickly to something or we want something that’s more radical than our union can participate in, such as the boycott of the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT), that’s what the caucus is for.

We recently had teachers from CORE who were boycotting the ISAT state test. If the union backed that, they would actually be promoting an action that goes against Illinois school code. The CTU can’t be put in that position, but a caucus can. So a social justice caucus can be a militant arm. And “militancy” is not a scary word.

Why should militancy not be a scary word? What is it?

I think we got brainwashed in the ’60s to believe that militancy meant people who create molotov cocktails or bombs or people who harm others.

Militancy, in my mind, is when people are willing to put their bodies on the line, are willing to do acts of civil disobedience that don’t harm others, but not willing to roll over and play dead for the bosses, for politicians, or for their union bosses. I look to militancy for change.

Given NSJU’s roots in teacher unions, do you see any special intersections or relationship between social justice unionism and student activists who are working on social justice issues on their campuses or in their schools? What do you think that interaction should look like?

One of the most exciting things that has happened is that many higher education unions want to become part of our group. So what I see here is that when you start wanting democracy for yourself, and when you actually experience it, you want it for your students as well.

Both university and community college faculty members have already reached out to us about getting involved. We’re unionizing higher education faculties at a great rate. Once the professors start experiencing union democracy in their own lives, they’re going to want it for their students too. I think it’s going to be a genesis.

From the beginning, CORE always involved students, so I think the model has always been in place that youth will be involved.

How does CORE involve students?

Well for one thing, they can become members if they want to be – associate members, that is. The only members with voting rights have to be CTU members, and that makes sense. Students pay $20, and I think that barely covers the cost of what we take care of.

Even at the conference last year, we invited leaders from Students United for Public Education, a national network of student education activists, and other student activists attend from around the country because they need to see what we’re doing – to either accept, reject, or model after us.

I think that the interests [of students and teachers] are so convergent that we can’t exist without each other. We need to be going through this together.

If there were to be a more structured or ongoing relationship between student activism and teacher activism, what do you think the first priority for should be for that collaboration?

Educational equity, especially parity in resources. And testing – the bias in testing, how testing controls education. It just has to be approached, and I think that that’s a major point.

I also think that political action is something that we share in common as well. Adults need to recognize the political lives of youth and do what they can to support it.

The potential of the NSJU and the rise of social justice unionism is vast, and especially as the student unionism movement spreads to campuses in the US, it holds great potential to provide genuine venues for the labor movement to earn the respect and participation of the rising Millennial generation. NSJU is only getting started, and will remain an organization – and potentially, a movement – for radicals to keep an eye on.

Roshan Bliss is a student organizer, inclusivity & anti-oppression trainer, and democratic process specialist with a passion for empowering young people to defend their futures and democratize their schools. Bliss, a former occupy activist, serves as Assistant Secretary of Education for Higher Education for the Green Shadow Cabinet.

 

The latest meeting of the ministers of finance and central bank governors of the G20 countries took place April 10-11, 2014 in Washington. A key issue was the reform of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The International Monetary Fund: A Long and Difficult Life

2014 marks 70 years since the Bretton-Woods Conference, at which the main parameters of the post-war world currency and financial system were defined and the decision to create the International Monetary Fund was made. The most important elements of this system were fixed exchange rates for the currencies of participant countries, the pegging of all currencies to gold (gold parity), and the free convertibility of dollars to gold by the U.S. Treasury for the monetary authorities of other countries. The Fund’s main function was defined as extending credit to member countries if they have a deficit balance of payments and there is a danger that the currency’s exchange rate could deviate from the established fixed rate and from gold parity.

The IMF survived a serious crisis in the 1970s when the Bretton-Woods system collapsed. It all began August 15, 1971, when U.S. President R. Nixon announced that the U.S. Treasury was terminating the convertibility of dollars to gold. The final dismantling of the system occurred at the Jamaica Conference in 1976, when amendments were made to the IMF Charter. From that time on, floating exchange rates were enacted and the pegging of the dollar and other currencies to gold was terminated.

Of course, it wasn’t clear what the IMF was going to do in these new circumstances. After all, now it was no longer necessary to support payment balances using credit from the Fund. There were even proposals to close the Fund. However, in the 1980s the IMF found its niche. It became the main tool for implementing the so-called Washington Consensus – a set of principles for financial globalization and economic liberalization. The Fund began to extend credit in exchange for political and social concessions from the countries obtaining loans (privatization of state property, liberalization of capital movement, state nonintervention in the economy, etc.). Currently the IMF includes 188 countries, and 2500 people from 133 countries work there.

The Need to Reform the Fund

Over the course of many decades, the United States has had a «controlling interest» in the IMF. The number of votes each participant country has is determined by its share in the capital. 15% of the votes are needed to block any decision at Fund meetings. The number of votes held by the U.S. has always been substantially higher than this threshold figure. And in order to push through the decisions it needed, the U.S. had no particular trouble in recruiting Great Britain and France, which after the war held the second and third largest shares in the Fund’s capital, to its side. Periodically the shares of countries in the capital and their votes were adjusted in accordance with changes in the countries’ positions in the world economy. Sometimes the decision was made to increase the Fund’s capital, but such adjustments did not hinder the United States from maintaining a «controlling interest» and using the Fund as a tool of its global policy.

The test of the Fund’s ability to resolve complex problems connected with maintaining the stability of the international currency system was the world financial crisis of 2007-2009. The Fund was not equal to the challenge, to put it mildly. First, the crisis revealed the insufficiency of the Fund’s equity capital. Second, it was the countries of the periphery of world capitalism that were deprived of their fair share during the crisis; this was to a great degree because such countries did not have enough votes for the adoption of the decisions they needed. Since then, the largest of the countries which considered themselves «deprived» have begun to actively use the mechanism of G20 meetings in order to spur the process of IMF reform. The main movers of this process are the BRICS countries.

The G20 meeting in Seoul in 2010 played a special role. There an agreement was reached on the fourteenth and latest review of countries’ quotas in the Fund’s capital. But besides this, two strategic decisions were made: to develop a new, fairer formula for determining quotas; and to double the Fund’s capital from 238.4 billion SDRs to 476.8 SDRs (Special Drawing Rights, a non-cash monetary unit issued by the IMF). It was expected that in 2012 the new quotas based on the 14th review would be put into effect, and by January 2014 the new formula would be developed. A 15th review of quotas based on the new formula was planned for January 2014.

As a result of the 14th quota review, over 6% of quotas were to be redistributed from developed countries to developing ones. If the 14th review is put into effect, China’s quota will become the third largest among IMF member states, and Brazil, India, China and Russia will be among the fund’s 10 largest stockholders.

The U.S. Blocks Reform of the Fund

Four years have passed since the adoption of the decision in Seoul, but the decisions remain purely on paper. The process is being blocked by the main «stockholder» in the IMF, the U.S. With a quota of 17.69% of SDRs and 16.75% of votes, which gives it veto power with regard to key decisions of the fund requiring an 85% majority of the votes, the U.S. has not yet ratified the quota review. Washington is worried that the IMF might get out from under its control in the near future. After all, the 15th quota review is just around the corner, and it is supposed to be based on a new formula which will most likely take the interests of the countries of the periphery of world capitalism into account more fully. The U.S., on the other hand, will have to contribute about 60 billion dollars to replenish the IMF’s capital if it is ratified.

The previous meeting of G20 finance ministers and bank governors took place in Sydney in February 2014. By then it had become clear to everyone that the IMF has no money. Russian finance minister A. Siluanov said so publicly. At that time the following appeared on the site of the Russian Ministry of Finance: «…Currently the IMF has practically exhausted its own resources, and the fund’s existing programs are essentially financed through General Arrangements to Borrow». This means that the Fund extends credit not on the basis of its own capital, but on the basis of re-lending resources it receives from individual member countries. But such resources may be offered to the Fund on very specific conditions (say, to give loans to a specific country for specific purposes). And re-lending means that the interest on the loans for the end recipients will be substantially higher than that which the IMF charges when lending from its own capital. In Sydney the question of what kind of assistance the IMF can give to Ukraine was discussed. In the opinion of the majority of meeting participants – none. The most recent negotiations on the possibility of the International Monetary Fund offering a multibillion dollar loan to the current regime in Kiev were simply a charade. Both parties in the negotiations are nearly bankrupt.

In Sydney the G20 finance ministers spent a lot of time trying to convince the U.S. to resolve the issue of ratifying the 2010 decisions. The communiqué from the meeting stated: «Our highest priority remains ratifying the 2010 reforms, and we urge the US to do so before our next meeting in April». Alas, these urgings were not heeded by Washington.

The IMF Is Doomed. What Now?

Through their inaction on the issue of reforming the IMF, the United States first and foremost is discrediting itself. And second, the Fund. Third, the G20. The Fund’s reputation is plummeting especially fast considering that in recent years China has been giving «third world» countries loans similar in size to those offered by the IMF and the IBRD. But Beijing, unlike the IMF, does not set political conditions in the spirit of the Washington Consensus.

According to the Rand Corporation, in 2001 the total volume of aid promised by China to foreign partners equaled 1.7 billion dollars. A decade later this figure had reached 190 billion dollars. The total volume of aid promised over 10 years was around 800 billion dollars, and the aid given was over 70 billion. The difference is explained by the fact that preparations for the projects in which the Chinese participate take an average of six years. Among recipient regions, Latin America occupies first place, followed by Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and Eastern Europe. The largest aid recipient is Pakistan (89 billion dollars). Among the purposes for which money is allocated, extraction and processing of natural resources predominate (42 percent), followed by infrastructure projects (40 percent) and humanitarian aid (18 percent). All assistance is divided into concessional loans, interest-free loans and direct non-refundable grants. The first category is provided by state banks, while the other two go directly through the budget of the PRC. The overwhelming majority of recipients of Chinese assistance are unable to obtain loans on the open market. However, the average interest rate on concessional loans is only 2.3% per annum, which is significantly lower than on the IMF’s stabilization loans.

If the decisions of the G20 and the IMF have not been being implemented for four years, that is a serious blow to the reputation of these international organizations. Incidentally, this is not the first time that the U.S. has blocked the reform of the Fund. A glaring example is the decision on the 13th quota review, made by the Fund in 2001. The U.S. dragged out its ratification until 2009; only at the very height of the financial crisis did Congress confirm it. The majority of Western European countries, although they ratified the 2010 review, were secretly pleased by Washington’s inaction, as the enactment of the 14th review would have resulted in a decrease in their share of votes.

Many American congressmen believe that they have more important matters than returning to the issue of reforming the IMF. If one is to believe their statements, the next time this issue will be heard in Congress will only be in November 2014. However, many IMF member countries are running out of patience. Especially China, which has provided its own funds many times to the Fund on the basis of General Arrangements to Borrow. There are not that many options for getting out of the dead end.

Some believe that a kind of revolution could soon occur in the IMF: a decision on reforming the fund will have to be made without U.S. participation… But formally the Fund’s charter in the form it has had since the Jamaica Conference in 1976 will not permit this. Such a revolution will in fact mean not a reformation of the IMF, but the creation of a new organization with a new charter on its foundation – and without the U.S.

There is one more possible option. It is already fairly well worked out and has every chance of success. This is the Currency Pool (Currency Reserves Pool) and the Development Bank of the BRICS countries. The main decision to create these organizations was made at the meeting of BRICS countries on the eve of the G20 summit in St. Petersburg in September 2013. The BRICS Currency Pool and Development Bank will have capitalization of 100 billion dollars each. Operation is planned to start in 2015. Currently such questions as the schedule of capital formation, the shares (quotas) of individual countries, and the location of the headquarters of both organizations are being decided. These international organizations of the BRICS countries could become crystallization points which attract other countries to themselves. Who knows: maybe in time they could become financial organization which could replace the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

As we can see, in both options for getting out of the current dead end, the International Monetary Fund has no place in the new world financial order.

Financial G20 Members Decisive

Part of the communiqué published after the meeting of the G20 finance ministers in Washington April 10-11, 2014 was devoted to reform of the IMF. «We are deeply disappointed with the continued delay in progressing the IMF quota and governance reforms agreed to in 2010», states the document. «We reaffirm the importance of the IMF as a quota based institution. The implementation of the 2010 reforms remains our highest priority and we urge the US to ratify these reforms at the earliest opportunity», the statement reads. «If the 2010 reforms are not ratified by year-end, we will call on the IMF to build on its existing work and develop options for next steps and we will work with the IMFC (the International Monetary and Financial Committee, a structure within the International Monetary Fund – V. K.) to schedule a discussion of these options», the G20 document emphasizes.

Behind the scenes, Russian Minister of Finance A. Siluanov commented on the decisions of the financial summit in Washington as follows: «It was decided that if this year amendments in the IMF Charter are not ratified, then at the end of this year other alternative mechanisms will be proposed which would take into account the increased share of emerging markets in the world economy». He recalled that today the IMF operates on the principles of using borrowed funds, where the opinions of countries which have increased their share in the world economy are not fully taken into account. «Other measures for taking countries’ interests into account in questions of the fund’s policy will be proposed», he concluded. By all appearances, the reform of the IMF could be a «quiet revolution».

Bolivia’s New Mining Law

April 21st, 2014 by Kirsten Francescone

Recent protests surrounding the New Mining Law by the cooperative sector in Bolivia climaxed to dangerous levels.  The approval of the law was stalled when legislators modified the project in the Legislative Assembly. They claimed that an article allowing cooperatives to sign third-party contracts with private or foreign capital was unconstitutional and removed it. The cooperative sector responded with national blockades resulting in the deaths of two cooperative day-labourers as well as approximately 50 others injured.

Now, with the national debate that has surfaced, it was publically revealed that in practice, this had already been occurring and that there were over 40 cooperative-company joint contracts in existence.

The boiling point was reached when president Evo Morales appeared publically yesterday claiming that the contracts were “anti-national” and that those involved in the signing of these contracts should be “tried for treason.” A national inquiry has been called by the Mining Ministry to examine each contract.

This is particularly important for silver producing giant Coeur Mines’ 100 per cent owned subsidiary Empresa Minera Manquiri (EMM) which operates in the Cerro Rico de Potosi (San Bartolome operation) in Bolivia. According to EMM’s Environmental Assessment Report in 2004 and recent company reports, Manquiri has 7 contracts signed with the cooperative sector, resulting in a questioning of its legitimacy as a company in Bolivia.

Coeur Mining’s reaction to all of this has been silent. As a publically listed company on the TSX and NYSE, the company has minimal requirements to fulfill (less in Canada) as an obligation to its shareholders. That being said, no shareholder notices have been filed to date. As we will see later, there are other potentially more dangerous risks that they are taking which make this case a ticking time bomb.

How did Coeur Mining end up in Bolivia?

Coeur Mining, when they invested into the San Bartolome operation through their subsidiary Empresa Minera Manquiri (EMM) was well aware of the risks that this operation held for their investment. Previous World Bank study completed by Melvin Bernstein during the neoliberal government’s privatization attempts claimed that the single most significant obstacle interfering with privatization would be the incoherency of cooperative and state owned mining concessions throughout the mountain.[1]

In the 1990s, Asarco Inc. acquired the rights and began explorations in three areas (Santa Rita, Diablo, and Huacajchi) in the Cerro Rico. In 1996, Asarco Inc. was purchased by Coeur D’Alene, thus transferring the rights to those three areas to Coeur. The other half of their operation, includes the ex-COMCO Processing Plant which was purchased from COMSUR[2] when Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada fled the country in 2003. Other work areas are included in Third-Party Lease Contracts that the company has with seven Mining Cooperatives.

Cerro Rico mountain. [Photo Source: Author]

Presently Coeur through its subsidiary EMM is situated among the top transnational producers of Silver in Bolivia accounting for 22.27 per cent of the national production for 2012, coming in second behind Japanese Giant Sumitomo.[3]

What Does Coeur’s San Bartolome Operation Look Like in Bolivia?

First it is imperative that we understand what the Cerro Rico is and what it looks like in order to understand what EMM’s impact and role is in Bolivia. The Cerro Rico (Rich Mountain) was one of the most important Spanish colonial mines during the conquest. Its silver production fueled the origins of the rise of European capitalism.

The Cerro Rico, historically conic in shape, has now begun to deteriorate from the extensive, and lately largely unorganized exploitation. During its re-privatization after the neoliberal Supreme Decree 21060, it was deemed “not profitable” by the government and thus the majority of its Comibol rights were signed over to the cooperative sector through Lease Agreements. Despite its five-century old extraction, Cerro Rico still houses riches within and on top of its towering flanks. Its economic pre-assessment indicate a potential 400 million tons of mineral to be extracted at “relatively low cost” to the company who would be willing to invest despite the political ownership mess of the mountain.[4]

As a result of this richness and the boom in international prices nowadays approximately 40 cooperatives operate in the Cerro Rico alongside Coeur, with a labour force that is estimated at an upwards of 22,000 miners in 2008.[5] Coeur maintains their labour force to a mere 350, but identifies that the key to “maintaining stability” in a conflict prone area such as the Cerro Rico has been through forging partnerships and providing employment opportunities (contracted) to cooperative miners.[6]

The political mess that Bernstein referred to in 1987[7] has worsened over the years with the increase in the number and size of cooperatives. Cooperatives work independently between each other and often work groups or cuadrillas work independently as well which means that one work group in the interior mine could be dynamiting, whilst another, unaware, works in the blast zone. The mines themselves look like rat holes weaving in and out of a cheese-like mountain and the actual working conditions are appalling which makes Coeur Mining’s presence there all the more questionable.

Musol, a women’s organization from Potosi calculated that 14 cooperative miner wives from the Cerro Rico are widowed each month.[8] The minimal news coverage of mining deaths that makes it into the regional paper El Potosi often highlights how young near teenage miners fall to their death. Other studies reveal the politics and difficulties to obtaining a national statistic, which could accurately capture the number of bodies that are swallowed by Bolivian mines each year.[9]

EMM extracts its silver dore in a non-traditional way. Given its lengthy history of rapid exploitation, the Cerro Rico has acidic dumps referred to as pallacos and sucos.[10] Since these dumps are flanking both sides of the peak of the mountain in small, loose hills, the rock is collected, loaded into trucks, and then transported to the grinder and mills. According to the company, this moving of materials does not further damage the already crumbling mountain, and they see their work as a “clean-up” and thus environmental-favour to Potosi.

The Economics and Labour

EMM entered into production at San Bartolome in 2008 with a production of 2.9 million ounces of silver. In 2009 (just 1 year after entering into production) earned a $6.3-million net-profit on its operations in Bolivia. Despite the recent “decline” in silver prices, after just five years of production (2008-2012), Coeur identifies a $201-million net profit from San Bartolome.[11]

These sky-high profits come from the obviously low extraction and processing costs at San Bartolome. Economic Assessments completed by Asarco in 1999[12] claimed excellent profitability and low-extraction costs since only recollection was necessary, highlighting the areas where mineral concentration was higher.

And so what makes San Bartolome production cheap?

First, the make-up of the deposits, which we have previously discussed, are on-surface deposits, meaning no interior mine work is necessary, little investment was needed for infrastructure, and fixed capital costs such as heavy equipment were also low.[13]

Second, it is unclear exactly what the negotiation was between Compañía Minera Don Mario (subsidiary of COMSUR) and Coeur D’Alene Mines in order to determine the degree to which Coeur D’Alene received a deal for the plant and contracts. Bolivian Investigator Andres Soliz Rada has identified numerous irregularities that occurred both with the acquisition of mining rights and with the illegal extraction and treatment of mineral by Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada’s companies in Cerro Rico. This fact went unchallenged when Coeur acquired the Rights and negotiated with Comibol later on in their early history.[14]

Finally, despite the fact that Bolivia does house the only unionized workers under the Coeur mother company, the number of unionized workers are few, with staff, technicians and workers totaling a meager 344 employees.[15] The company is successfully tercerizing their labour obligations to the precarious cooperative sector workers who work side-by-side Manquiri salaried workers (loading and unloading mineral) but on a contract-basis.[16] On a superficial level one can only imagine the tension and conflict that are visibilized when the ruptures of experience between salaried unionized workers and contracted peons are revealed as the 22,000 cooperative miners struggle to extract every last drop of mineral from the mountain. The reality of that mountain is the real “mess” that investigators and technicians alike have identified, years of concessions atop concessions, atop concessions. Cooperatives and private enterprise all working alongside and on top of each other, maximizing the tensions and dangers of daily labour.

According to the EMM’s Environmental Assessment Report that was completed in 2004, of the seven cooperatives that have contracts with the company, there is a combined labour force of 3,523 cooperative partners and 3,381 salaried peons which amounts to a total of nearly 7,000 cooperative miners.[17] It is important to note that those cooperative miners would not be entitled to the Collective Bargaining Rights, Industrial Labour Protections, Insurance or Health and Pension coverage as their salaried unionized brothers are. Instead they receive a day wage for their dangerous work. The extremely high concentration of miners in the mountain, along with high mineral prices and low-employment opportunities in other sectors suggests that Coeur through EMM benefits from the risk and economic precarity of having a union surrounded by a precarious cooperatives and their peons. The effect is two-fold, Coeur is able to keep their salaried workers wages and conditions minimal because of the extensive extra-labourforce and cooperatives work however they are asked and at whatever pay level because there are no alternatives.

Barriers to EMM Success

Production has been falling over the past years in San Bartolome. According to their annual reports, the decline in production is due to both decreasing mineral grades, and the barriers that the Bolivian government has set up which have stalled production. In 2013, despite the fact that the company milled more ore than previous years of operation, their total silver produced was only slightly higher due to dropping grades.

Interestingly enough, in these annual reports the company has really only been semi-transparent with their shareholders as to some of the reasons for this decline in grade.

Due to the rapid deterioration of the Cerro Rico and the worsening working conditions, the Civic Committee of Potosi pressured the government into action. On October 8th, 2004 Carlos Mesa approved Supreme Decree 22787 which specifically regulated mining activities in the Cerro Rico and included a paralyzation of all sub-terrain work above 4.400m. EMM’s work was not suspended by this decree because its work is on the surface. That changed, however, when the Comibol Board of Directors resolved (Resolution #4218/2009) to modify this decree suspending all work above the quota. For a brief period of time Manquiri removed its equipment (as ordered by Comibol) from the areas above 4.400m, and work was suspended.

However, surfacing Wikileaks documents reveal that EMM, in particular its president Humberto Rada, was busy dialoging with both government officials and cooperatives to get the restrictions lifted.[18] The American embassy even assured EMM that it was prepared to “intervene” if necessary to see that the suspension did not affect the San Bartolome operations.[19]

This political pressuring worked and the suspension proved only temporary, as EMM was quick to lobby its cooperative partners to try and make headway. Starting in 2010, the government began giving in to cooperative partners of EMM and to date three of their cooperative partners successfully lobbied the government to receive an exploitation allowance. These agreements enable EMM (through their third-party lease contracts with cooperatives) to resume their business as usual in three designated areas above the 4.400m quota. EMM claims that their extraction does not damage the structural integrity of the mountain and that this will soon be confirmed by government reports. Their hope is that restrictions will be lifted so they can expand into full production capacity once more, moving back into their work areas.

It is clear, however, that the damage that was done and continues to be done to the Cerro Rico is staggering. The Civic Committee of Potosi has been protesting against the deterioration of the mountain since before 2004. According to a presentation given by SERGEOTECMIN (The Geological and Technical Mining Service of Bolivia) there are various “High Risk” zones prone to collapse and cave-ins (see photo below), which provide great risk to miners and operators.[20] The minimal news coverage of mining deaths that does make it into the regional paper, El Potosi, often highlights how young near teenage miners fall to their death.

High-risk zones on Cerro Rico mountain. [Photo Source: SERGEOTECMIN (2011)]

But what does the quota mean in terms of economic feasibility? According to the economic feasibility study completed by Asarco in the 90s, the richest mineral concentrations in the pallacos and sucus are encountered above the 4.400m quota.[21] And according to Bernstein, the collection of these tailings in general is much more economical when accessed from above the dumps rather than below them.[22] According to the Technical Report San Bartolome completed by Coeur in 2013, the Huacajchi Deposit is the richest to be followed by Diablo and then Santa Rita.[23] The suspension of work areas clearly has had some impact on the economic feasibility of the project, and despite “mild warnings” from Coeur in their most recent Annual Reports (see Annual Reports Coeur D’Alene 2010-2013), they lightly warn “possible re-evaluation of reserves” in the event that work becomes suspended again.

Keep Calm and Keep Quiet

On March 14, 2013, Gilberto Mirabal, the Chief Operator of the Potosi Regional Office of Comibol announced that there were 12 cooperatives working above the paralyzed 4.400m limit. Despite the fact that Coeur was being semi-transparent to its shareholders, the Bolivian general public was unaware that it had signed contracts with cooperatives that were continuing to work above the quota.

Once Mirabal announced that 13 cooperatives were still working above the quota, the people of Potosi were furious. And when the list of the 13 cooperatives still continuing to work above the quota was revealed, four of those cooperatives also appeared on EMM’s list of partner cooperatives. EMM had succeeded in mobilizing (or at least not discouraging) four of their partner cooperatives to continue to work.

In the Technical Report for San Bartolome published in 2013, it is revealed that another cooperative Cooperativa Reserva Fiscal was granted permission from the government (after lengthy negotiations) to work above the quota in the Huacajchi and Huacajchi Sur zones, areas particularily high in mineral concentration. The map (below) shows the overlap of the “high-risk” zones as they were determined by SERGEOTECMIN with the areas highlighted by Coeur in the San Bartolome technical reports as being work areas. The red-hashed grid areas are the “high-risk zones.” It is clear that a large portion of the area above 4.400m is “high-risk” with a large portion of that area being indirectly worked by EMM.

Manquiri Risk Zones and Work Zones.

Despite both Coeur and the cooperative partners being aware of the potential risks and dangers of operating above the quota in these zones, operations continued. It can be speculated that, as many Bolivian scholars have argued, since prices have increased significantly, many cooperative partners are able to contract out their labour to peons, especially in the case of the Cerro Rico. Based on the previous Musol statistic, we can estimate,[24] 168 peon miners die every year in the mountain. If we multiply that number by six, the number of years San Bartolome has been operating, we get a very modest estimate of 1008 deaths, over three times their present official workforce in Bolivia. The fact that Coeur is not only selective but also silent on this issue suggests that they, desperate to make profit margin milestones, knowingly put their own workers, as well as those without social security, benefits and pensions, at risk.

The Politics of it All

The following was extracted from a communication sent December 9th, 2009 from U.S. Embassy in La Paz to the U.S. Department of State as an update on paralysation of work in Cerro Rico[25]:

“Otherwise, Manquiri has a relatively normal relationship with the cooperatives. There are daily complaints and minor issues to be dealt with considering they are working on overlapping territory, but Manquiri works hard to keep things cordial.

“Manquiri has hired the cooperatives to conduct hauling services. The cooperatives run the trucks that bring the rock/dirt down the mountain to the Manquiri processing plant. In addition, in all of the space below 4400m, Manquiri has a joint venture with the state mining company COMIBOL and with the cooperatives. Manquiri has the rights for surface mining, while the cooperatives get a percentage of their royalties (4 per cent is split between COMIBOL and the cooperatives) and have the rights for internal mining on the same land.

“Despite the political trouble, Manquiri continues its operations and hopes that things will be sorted out. Since Manquiri officials in La Paz believe the restriction on mining activity was a political move, they hope now that national activity was a political move. They hope now that national elections are over they will be able to make progress with the new government. It is agreed by many in Potosi that the cooperative miners are likely doing more physical and environmental damage to the area than Manquiri, but are given amnesty due to their political power.”

And so we have come full circle. The political implications for the economic “feasibility” of the Coeur Mining operation in San Bartolome are many. With the growing national concern about the cooperative sector in general at its all time high, the government is finding itself caught between protecting State interests, appeasing the cooperative sector and protecting private capital. Since popular knowledge of these third-party contracts was minimal before the treatment of the law in the legislature this point has been the one that has enabled a turn away from the cooperative sector as the main focus of national debate and has enabled the “silent observers,” transnational companies, to be dragged back into popular discussion.

One has to question what Coeur has to gain from the New Mining Law and what they have to lose. If growing discontent continues against the cooperative sector, and Morales fulfills the statement he made this week, then Coeur can rest assured that those contracts will be revised and that, regardless if the government opts to change or modify them, the Bolivian people will unlikely stand by and allow transnational companies to continue profiting from the extraction of raw materials, at the expense of many of the country’s youth. The decision to continue to approve the law against the will of the cooperative sector will not only be a loss for the cooperatives themselves, but Coeur Mining as well. Public response to the idea that transnationals can sign contracts with cooperatives has been less than positive, and the “powerful political allies”[26] that Coeur touts as risk-mitigation may actually prove to be less powerful and less organized than they suspect.

It is clear in most case studies that transnational capital does not hold affinity or compromise to any country, especially those providing it with its raw materials. Wikileaks communications between the U.S. Embassy and U.S. State department reveal the primacy of profit over all:

“As Manquiri told us months ago, they will continue to operate and be profitable as long as the rules of the game don’t change further. If this suspension in activity becomes permanent Manquiri will likely get what they can out of the lower levels and then cut their losses and leave.”

Manquiri will cut their losses and leave if things get too ‘risky’ but I suspect things are already risky enough for a lot of shareholders, and definitely for the Bolivian miners that engage in “risk” each day they set foot into a mine in the Cerro Rico. Is Manquiri prepared to reveal the terms and conditions of these contracts they signed with cooperatives? Will the Civic Committee of Potosi permit their future operation when these terms are revealed? How much longer will cooperatives work alongside the salaried plant workers of EMM? How much longer will the peons continue to allow their over-weight partner bosses earn off their labour?

One certainty in this particular case of third-party partnerships is that the way out is not not exactly clear, nor is it certain it will not end without conflict and turmoil. The government has been attempting to paralyze activities in general in the area, and has moved to the partial relocation of some cooperatives from the mountain to nearby deposits that can be more “safely” worked. Thus so far any attempts to paralyze their operations have been met with marches and protests from the FEDECOMIN-POTOSI, the federation of cooperative miners and the individual cooperatives, and they aren’t the only ones.

In a recent study completed by research institute Labour in 2011, the economic impacts of the mining industry on the city of Potosi were calculated. The authors estimate that 40 per cent of the Economically Active population in Potosi is directly and indirectly dependent on the mining industry. They calculate a series of first and second round economic impacts from the complete paralyzing of mining activities in the Cerro Rico amounting to about $450-million in the first year following complete stoppage. The lives of people who live in Potosi are completely shaped and affected by the mining industry and have been for centuries. These contracts have a lot more wrapped up in them than one might suspect, and for Coeur Mining, the thin ice on which they are perched, just got a whole lot thinner. •

Kirsten Francescone is a graduate student at Carleton University, Ottawa.

This paper is part of a larger investigation to be presented at CALACS Annual Congress 2014.

Notes:

1. Whitney & Whitney. 1989. “Preliminary Economic Evaluation of the silver-tin production of Cerro Rico, Potosí.” Solicited by the UN Department of Technical Development.

2. The COMCO processing plant was financed in part by the World Bank in 1987, and in 1991, the Civic Group of Potosi revealed that Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada used his political influence to not only obtain the loan but to then get rights to 32 of the mines in the mountain to exploit and process. It has been claimed that COMSUR paid little to no royalities on the mineral extracted during a period of 4-5 years. Soliz, Andres. 1996. La fortuna del Presidente. (La Tarde Informativa: La Paz)

 3. Data extracted from personal compiling of Ministry of Mining Data production/company 2012.

4. Whitney & Whitney. 1989. “Preliminary Economic Evaluation of the silver-tin production of Cerro Rico, Potosí.“ Solicited by the UN Department of Technical Development.

 5. Francescone, Kirsten and Vladimir Diaz. 2012. “Las Cooperativas Mineras: Entre socios, patrones y peones.” Petropress, 30.

6. Coeur D´Alene. 2013. Presentation: “Reducing Operational Risk through Strategic Alliances: San Bartolomé, Bolivia.” Coeur D´Alene CSR

7. Bernstein as cited in Whitney & Whitney, 1989.

 8. See: “Mineria deja 14 viudas cada mes en Cerro Rico de Potosi,” El Potosi.

9. Francescone & Diaz, 2012.

10. Pallacos and Sucus are the dumps of product from previous colonial and early 20th century exploitation that are rich with mineral.

11. Data extracted from personal compilation of financial information from Coeur Mining Annual Reports 2007-2013.

12. The report was solicited by the Asarco Inc. Company to determine feasibility. See: Bartos, Paul (2000). The pallacos of Cerro Rico de Potosí: A New Deposit Type. Economic Geology, 95.

 13. See Technical Report, San Bartolome, 2006. Coeur D’Alene Mines.

 14. See: Soliz Rada.

15. 2013 Annual Report, Coeur Mines.

16. Coeur D´Alene. 2013. CSR Presentation.

17. This number is surely now greater due to the significant increase the country has seen in mining cooperatives with the increase of mineral prices over the past few years.

18. See: Suspension of Mining Activity on Cerro Rico, Wikileaks Cable #09LAPAZ1477_a. Accessed online: wikileaks.org/cable/2009/10/09LAPAZ1477.html.

19. Ibid.

20. See: SERGEOTECMIN 2011. Diagnostico para sistemas de sostenimiento macizos rocosos en sectores de riesgo geológico en el Cerro Rico de Potosí.

21. Bartos 2000.

22. Whitley & Whitley, 1989.

23. See Technical Report: San Bartolome. 2013. Coeur Mines, pages: 30-31.

24. This obviously does not include the young adolescents and adults that may not be married and who are the majority of peons working the mountain.

25. Wikileaks. Bolivia Mining: Update on Cerro Rico. Accessed online: wikileaks.org/cable/2009/12/09LAPAZ1593.html.

26. Humberto Rada, President of EMM in an interview that was revealed through Wikileaks claimed that the EMM was working very hard to strengthen their political ties to the “powerful constituency.” (Bolivia: U.S. Mines maintain low profile, interview with Humberto Rada. Cable # 08LAPAZ2170_a)

Nuclear Warfare in the “New Cold War”

April 21st, 2014 by James Corbett

As the world’s attention turns to events in eastern Europe, rising tensions between the world’s nuclear superpowers is once again raising the specter of the cold war.

The Obama administration has simply reaffirmed and even extended the existing US nuclear policy allowing for a first-strike, offensive nuclear war against its enemies.

And just as in the cold war, this conflict, too, brings with it the prospect of nuclear warfare.

This is the GRTV Backgrounder on Global Research TV.

TRANSCRIPT

This is James Corbett of corbettreport.com reporting for Global Research TV in downtown Hiroshima, Japan in the Peace Memorial Park in front of the A-bomb dome that marks the hypocenter of the blast that tore through this city 69 years ago, claiming tens of thousands of lives in the blink of an eye and tens of thousands more through the ravages of radiation poisoning in the days, weeks, months and years that followed.

The Peace Park is a place of prayer and vigil, a place for quiet contemplation of the horrors of nuclear warfare, the silence punctuated only by the peals of the Peace Bell rung by those wishing for the abolition of nuclear warfare. But now, despite the best wishes of those here in the Peace Park and countless others around the world, the specter of nuclear warfare once again hangs over the globe.

Last month’s nuclear security summit at the Hague saw the usual politicians spouting the usual platitudes about the need to reduce the threat of nuclear warfare.

But this was far from your average nuclear security summit. Tensions in Ukraine between Russia and the NATO powers provided a dramatic subtext to the meeting, with the G7 powers meeting behind the scenes to suspend Russia from the G8 and make the boldest steps yet in what is already being dubbed the “New Cold War.” And just as in the original cold war, the threat of nuclear warfare between the great powers is the unspoken fear raised by the conflict.

In line with the rising geopolitical friction, stories have begun to emerge that both sides have heightened their levels of nuclear readiness. NATO, for its part, has continued build-up of its European “missile shield.” In February, the USS Donald Cook arrived at port in Rota, Spain to begin its deployment as part of the so-called Ballistic Missile Defense plan. It is the first of four advanced destroyers that the US is deploying as part of the shield, which they say is aimed at defending the continent from the theoretical future threat from a theoretically nuclear-armed Iran.

That these destroyers, and NATO’s missile shield in general, is being deployed to counter a threat from Iran is not believed outside of narrow America-centric propagandistic circles, however.

In truth, the term “missile defense” is a misnomer, as it is a universally acknowledged tenet of nuclear warfare doctrine that advanced missile defense systems are integral to “escalation dominance,” or the ability to engage in warfare at any level of violence, including nuclear warfare. And the threat that NATO envisions does not come from Iran, a nation that has never been shown to be pursuing nuclear weapons, let alone actually possessing them, but Russia, still the world’s second nuclear superpower.

This was made explicit in the last round of Russia-NATO missile shield consultations, started in Lisbon in 2010 and now officially suspended by the Pentagon in the wake of recent developments in Ukraine. The consultations, launched on the premise that the two sides could work together on countering any supposed threat from outside Europe, had been deadlocked for years after Washington stonewalled Moscow’s demands for a legal guarantee that their strike forces would not target Russia’s deterrence capabilities.

Meanwhile, Russia, for its part, is also ramping up the nuclear posturing. According to a new study by the Federation of American Scientists, Moscow deployed 25 new strategic nuclear launchers in the past six months, bringing its total of deployed launchers to 498 with 1512 associated nuclear warheads. And just last Thursday, the Russian military held a massive three-day nuclear exercise involving 10,000 soldiers in its Strategic Missile Forces.

These developments seem light years removed from the feelgood rhetoric about nuclear disarmament that the UN Security Council was spouting at the beginning of the Obama presidency.

This rhetoric, of course, was always just that: rhetoric. The US government has never seriously considered giving up its nuclear stockpile, or even renouncing a first-use nuclear doctrine.

As Dr. Yuki Tanaka of Hiroshima University explains, the Obama administration has not simply continued the aggressive Bush-era stance on America’s nuclear arsenal, but actually extended it.

In reality, the Obama administration has simply reaffirmed and even extended the existing US nuclear policy allowing for a first-strike, offensive nuclear war against its enemies.

In its 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, the US government admitted that it reserves the right to wage a first-strike offensive nuclear war, although it hoped to work toward the goal of one day setting policies to restrict nuclear deployment to defensive situations. The Obama administration’s 2013 Nuclear Employment Strategy document only reaffirms this:

“The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review established the Administration’s goal to set conditions that would allow the United States to safely adopt a policy of making deterrence of nuclear attack the sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons. Although we cannot  adopt such a policy today, the new guidance re-iterates the intention to work towards that goal over time.”

Increasing the risk is the development and deployment in recent years of a greater number of so-called “tactical nuclear weapons,” supposedly designed for battlefield use to focus a nuclear attack on a pinpoint target. The B61-11 nuclear bunker buster, for example, has been envisioned as one weapon that could be deployed in a future attack on Iran’s underground nuclear facilities. As the Union of Concerned Scientists pointed out in 2005, however, such a strike would invariably cause an uncontrollable radioactive fallout that could lead to millions of deaths throughout the region.

The threat of nuclear warfare is not limited to the Middle Eastern or Eastern European theatres. The situation in East Asia, with nuclear-armed North Korea backed by nuclear-armed China increasingly coming into conflict with South Korea and its nuclear-armed US military backers. As Professor Michel Chossudovsky of the Centre for Research on Globalization explained last year in a speech in Korea commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Korean armistice, the situation is exacerbated by the nuclear posture of the world global superpower, the United States.

As tensions continue to rise, and as the policies allowing for the use of so-called “tactical” nuclear weapons continue to be hardwired into place, the goal of the abolition of nuclear warfare seems as far away today as it ever has. And for the citizens of Hiroshima, Japan, the dream of a nuclear-free world remains just that: a dream, unrealized, in a fitful and restless sleep, punctuated only by the solemn admonition of the Peace Bell, “Never again! Never again!”

For Global Research TV, this is James Corbett.

 This is NYT’s headline of 20 April 2014:

In Cold War Echo, Obama Strategy Writes Off Putin”  Followed by:

“President Obama is focused on isolating Russia by cutting off its economic and political ties to the outside world, limiting its expansionist ambitions and effectively making it a pariah state.

Even as the crisis in Ukraine continues to defy easy resolution, President Obama and his national security team are looking beyond the immediate conflict to forge a new long-term approach to Russia that applies an updated version of the Cold War strategy of containment.

Just as the United States resolved in the aftermath of World War II to counter the Soviet Union and its global ambitions, Mr. Obama is focused on isolating President Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia by cutting off its economic and political ties to the outside world, limiting its expansionist ambitions in its own neighborhood and effectively making it a pariah state.

Mr. Obama has concluded that even if there is a resolution to the current standoff over Crimea and eastern Ukraine, he will never have a constructive relationship with Mr. Putin, aides said. As a result, Mr. Obama will spend his final two and a half years in office trying to minimize the disruption Mr. Putin can cause, preserve whatever marginal cooperation can be saved and otherwise ignore the master of the Kremlin in favor of other foreign policy areas where progress remains possible.”

On 17 April Secretary of State Kerry traveled with all the fanfare of an envoy by an emperor without clothes to Geneva, to hold four-way talks with Russia, Europe and representatives of the illegal Nazi Government of Ukraine – to decide the future of the Ukraine.

Kerry’s allure was that of his predecessor Hillary Clinton, when she exclaimed laughing about Gaddafi’s lynching, “we came, we saw and he died…”.

In Kerry’s mind, Russia was a mere figure at the table, good to enhance the American propaganda machine. Kerry would support any elusive agreement, so that the presstitute media could again denigrate Putin for his ‘concessions’, adding that he had avoided further sanctions (sic) for now – and later ‘punish Russia, because the non-agreement could not be implemented.

Disinformation and outright lies! As the credibility gap is widening and people in Europe and even in the US are increasingly seeking alternative news media  to find out the truth, the lies are becoming progressively more brazen.

The American-European public has been drilled for decades by the corporate lie-media that the world must dance to the canons of the United States of America. It’s normal that Washington must mingle everywhere, that Obama – or whoever else is the corporate puppet in office – calls the shots, that the eternal warrior has the last word – on just about everything and everywhere.

What business does the US have in Ukraine, in Syria, in Iran – and wherever they put their bloody hands?

Well the wind is changing. Increasingly people in Europe and even in America are watching, listening to and reading alternative news sources.

While John Kerry’s showed-off in Geneva with his ridiculously conceited threats, President Putin broadcast a four-hour televised Q&A session, where people from all over Russia and even from of the Russian Federate States could call in with questions and comments. Most of them were referring to Ukraine and Crimea. Mr. Putin answered them frankly, without teleprompter – no pre-conceived replies.

Mr. Putin uses facts when he refers to the ‘Kiev Nazi government’ as an illegal mob put in place with the help of Washington and its European puppets, fomenting unrest and killing in the streets. The 5 billion dollar investment for ‘regime change’ in Ukraine, at that time a sovereign country – Ms. Nuland’s admission – is not reported in the western media. No wonder, Mr. Putin’s rating at home is way above the steadily faltering popularity of Obama and his European cronies.

Since WWII, Washington has been sowing unrest and death around the world – death in the millions, all for reasons of expansion, of global hegemony – Korea, Vietnam, Argentina, Chile, Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Central Africa, Venezuela, Thailand, Syria – and now Ukraine — to name just a few. Some of these countries were subdued by direct US military / NATO action. In others, Washington’s Assassin-in-Chief is fighting ‘proxy’ wars, using personally approved drone killings and other willing allies, like Hollande and Cameron, to do the dirty work – meaning murdering tens of thousands of people to achieve ‘regime change’, to further the emperors global dominance – dominance over resources, people and their economies.

When it doesn’t work in a first go, there is temporary media respite, so people may forget; just to be picked up again later by the presstitute corporate information outlets to give global brainwashing no rest. – To the point, where the constant US meddling in other countries’ affairs has become an order of the day and an order of value for the Western world. It is not only accepted – it has become the norm.

In recent history it started with the artificially created Cold War, where the world was made to believe that the Soviet Union – the country that has suffered the most under WWII, with an infrastructure largely destroyed and losing more than 25 million people, was a nuclear threat to the US and to the world; that they had superior nuclear fire power than the west, including the US.

This justified an unprecedented arms race of the US which at the same time discouraged Europe from building up their own military forces, but rather ‘include’ them into the newly created (1949) North Atlantic Treaty Organization – known as NATO.Europe was lured into believing that they didn’t need to re-arm, as NATO was there to defend them from whatever evil might come – meaning from the east, the Soviet Union.

They all bought it, except for Charles deGaulle. He knew it was a mistake trusting the Americans and pulled his country out of NATO in 1966. De Gaullesaw the US history and its twisted agenda for world dominance. His policy was to keep France as an independent sovereign country, to be ready on its own. Hence, in France, a nuclear power,a NATO base was no longer allowed – until the neoliberal, CIA agent, President Nicolas Sarkozy, nicknamed “Sarkozy the American”, reversed de Gaulle’s decision. In 2009, 43 years after de Gaulle kicked NATO out of France, Sarkozy opened the door for NATO to re-enter France.

For the Pentagon, a Europe with no serious army was like a hidden treasure. The US economy hopping from war to war for sheer survival – after WWII followed Korea, then Vietnam – needed a long-term commitment to conflict. The Cold War flourished with massive propaganda at tremendous cost to the point where the Western public fully believed that the Soviet Union was indeed a danger. In fact, most of the people still believe it today.

 In the meantime, the war machine NATO keeps running under the pretext of ‘the war on terror’ – an eternal threat, demanding a never-ending escalation of military power. The bought corporate media makes sure that the public at large wants that never-ending war on terror to keep them safe. Terror is anything or anybody that doesn’t submit to the empire’s dictate. 

When the Soviet Union collapsed, Russia entered an agreement with the West, foremost the United States, that NATO would not advance beyond where it was at that time, in other words at the eastern border of West-Germany. Since then, in total disregard and disrespect for the treaty, NATO today has moved eastwards into East Germany (now of course unified with West Germany), the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and several new countries that emerged from the former Yugoslavia – which was also destroyed by a Washington instigated sectarian war. At that time, Clinton, another assassin-in-chief, was leading the war scepter – of course, also in the name of humanity.

As to advancing NATO ever closer to the Russian borders with French support, here is what Sarkozy the American said in a NATO Summit a year earlier,in April 2008 in Bucharest. He exclaimed,

“We need NATO and a European Defense. We need the United States and the United States needs strong allies. For France this opens the door for a transformation of her relations with NATO……. We’ve got the same values; we are friends.”

He added, “On Afghanistan …We have to win. We are committed for a long time until victory. There’s no other solution”. Continuing, “It is with pleasure that France today welcomes Croatia and Albania into the [NATO] Alliance.”

Eventually he said — “On Georgia and Ukraine, we don’t accept any veto by anyone. These two countries are destined to join NATO.” Note the year – 2008. 

The corporate mass media, all financed with mickey-mouse dollars, printed at will, achieved from the 1960’s onward an American- European mindset that serves Washington today to continue demonizing Russia and its President, Vladimir Putin, with the objective for the West to invade Ukraine with its western destructive, debt-ridden financial system and put NATO at  Moscow’s doorstep.

Mr. Putin’s non-aggression, diplomacy and international statesmanship is certain to attract more support than do the ever twisted fork-tongued lies of Washington’s Nobel Peace Prize winning warrior.

Besides, Russia has a huge economic leverage on the west, particularly on the US. In addition to supplying 50% of Europe’s energy, Russia and its allies, China and the other BRICS and associates could destroy the dollar by a click of the mouse. Russia and China have already declared they will trade hydrocarbons in the future in their own local currencies, a measure already being carried out for general trading among the BRICS and associates. In addition, the BRICS are preparing to issue a new currency, an alternative to the dollar, and an international monetary transfer system that will bypass the notorious privately owned BIS – Bank for International Settlement, under which all international payments have to transit through US banks.

 ‘Times they are a-changing…’ according to Bob Dylan– and he is right.

On March 13, 2013, my client, an Iraqi single mother and refugee now living in Jordan, filed a class action lawsuit against George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz in a federal court in California.

 She alleges that these six defendants planned and waged the Iraq War in violation of international law by waging a “war of aggression,” as defined by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, more than sixty years ago. (The current complaint can be found here). 

At the Nuremberg Trials, American chief prosecutor and associate justice of the US Supreme Court Robert H. Jackson focused his prosecution on the planning and execution of the various wars committed by the Third Reich. Jackson aimed to show that German leaders committed “crimes against peace,” and specifically, that they “planned, prepared, initiated wars of aggression, which were also wars in violation of international treaties, agreements, or assurances.”

For Jackson, the Nuremberg Trials were a high watermark of legalism. In his report regarding the negotiations of the treaty that would set up the Nuremberg Tribunal, Jackson wrote that the Tribunal “ushers international law into a new era where it is in accord with the common sense of mankind that a war of deliberate and unprovoked attack deserves universal condemnation and its authors condign penalties.” He concluded, “all who have shared in this work have been united and inspired in the belief that at long last the law is now unequivocal in classifying armed aggression as an international crime instead of a national right.”

The Nuremberg Tribunal agreed with Jackson. In its famous judgment in 1946, the Tribunal wrote,

“War is essentially an evil thing . . . to initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

The case against Bush is based on the conduct of members of the administration prior to coming into office as well as conduct taking place on and after 9/11. Years before their appointment to the Bush Administration, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz were vocal advocates of a militant neoconservative ideology that called for the United States to use its armed forces in the Middle East and elsewhere.

They openly chronicled their desire for aggressive wars through a non-profit called The Project for the New American Century (or PNAC). In 1998, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz would personally sign a letter to then-President Clinton, urging the president to implement a “strategy for removing Saddam’s regime from power,” which included a “willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing.”

On 9/11, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz openly pressed for the United States to invade Iraq, even though intelligence at the time confirmed that it was al Qaeda, and not Saddam, that was responsible. Richard Clarke, former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism, famously told President Bush that attacking Iraq for 9/11 would be like invading Mexico after Pearl Harbor.

We now know that the Bush Administration began a concerted effort to scare and mislead the American public in order to obtain support for the Iraq War. As alleged in the complaint, this included the famous phrase that “the smoking gun could not be a mushroom cloud,” which was used repeatedly by Administration officials on news shows as a way of equating non-action with the vaporization of a United States city. The Administration used bogus and false intelligence to make the case for weapons of mass destruction, and also falsely linked al Qaeda to Iraq, despite the fact that there has never been any evidence of any operational linkages between the two. These were not simple mistakes: this was an intentional campaign by Administration officials to use faulty data to garner support for a war.

The crime of aggression was completed when these officials failed to secure proper authorization for the war. So concerned with their invasion, the Administration dismissed any need for a formal Security Council mandate. Today, Kofi Annan, an official Dutch inquiry, the Costa Rican Supreme Court, a former law lord from the House of Lords (Lord Steyn) and a former chief prosecutor from the Nuremberg Trials (Benjamin Ferencz) have all concluded the Iraq War was illegal under international law.

After months of briefing, the Northern District of California will issue its order any day as to whether it will recognize the crime of aggression, and whether my client may pursue a civil case against the Bush-era defendants based on that crime. In August of last year, the Obama Department of Justice requested that the district court immunize Bush and his high officials from civil charges on the basis that they were acting “within the scope of their authority.” This issue also remains pending before the court, but it should be noted that both Nuremberg, as well as the more recent Pinochet decision, reject the idea of immunity for leaders when they step outside the appropriate scope of their authority.

We need your support and attention to this case. We cannot let the crime of aggression disappear into history; indeed, even the International Criminal Court has now provided its own definition for aggression, with jurisdiction for this crime being enabled after 2017. We must affirm Jackson’s belief that, “law is not only to govern the conduct of little men, but that even rulers are, as Lord Chief Justice Coke put it to King James, under God and the law.”

For most of the post-war period, this notion — that leaders must be held accountable for their decisions to go to war — has gathered dust. This must change, or else the legacy of Nuremberg, and its foundation for the post-war international legal regime, will be tossed aside in favor of the state of anarchic international relations that led to the Second World War itself. It is time to fulfill Jackson’s dream of a global order governed by law, not war. And it is time for accountability over the Iraq War and for the millions of people who lost their lives or who were affected by it.

Inder Comar is counsel of record for Sundus Shaker Saleh in her case against members of the Bush Administration. The case is Saleh v. Bush, Case No. 3:13-cv-1124 JST (N.D. Cal. March 13, 2013). The firm is providing case updates at witnessiraq.com and is representing Saleh pro bono.

Donetsk “Letter To Jews” Found To Be A Forgery

April 20th, 2014 by Tyler Durden

In the days before the Geneva “de-escalation” conference (and coincidentally, days after the secret visit of CIA director Brennan to Kiev), the top story across western media was the “undisputed” proof that east-Ukraine, populated by “terrorist separatists”, is preparing to unleash a neo-nazi wave against local Jews, when a leaflet was unveiled, beckoning the Jewish population to register and declare their assets.

The USA Today promptly reported (joined by CBS and CNN): “Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city’s Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee “or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated,” reported Ynet News, Israel’s largest news website, and Ukraine’s Donbass news agency.”

Consequences for non-compliance will result in citizenship being revoked “and you will be forced outside the country with a confiscation of property,” it said. A registration fee of $50 would be required, it said.

Odd because as the same USA Today further reported, “Olga Reznikova, 32, a Jewish resident of Donetsk, told Ynet she never experienced anti-Semitism in the city until she saw this leaflet.”

Perversely, even the local Jewish community issued a statement saying the leaflet distribution “smells like a provocation.” The chief rabbi of nearby Dnipropetrovsk, Shmuel Kaminezki said, “Everything must be done to catch them.”

So the bottom line, namely that this was merely a provocation designed to generate a knee jerk emotional response from the west and paint the pro-Russia militia as neo-nazis and generally, as fascists (even though it was the ultra nationalist Right Sector that was instrumental in the overthrow of the Yanukovich government) was clear to most – even the population that was seemingly being targeted.

But not to John Kerry. “Secretary of State John Kerry said the language of the leaflets “is beyond unacceptable” and condemned whomever is responsible.”

“In the year 2014, after all of the miles traveled and all of the journey of history, this is not just intolerable — it’s grotesque,” he said. “And any of the people who engage in these kinds of activities — from whatever party or whatever ideology or whatever place they crawl out of — there is no place for that.”

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt called the leaflets “the real deal.” But the man whose name appears on the leaflets, Denis Pushilin, identified as chairman of “Donetsk’s temporary government,” said he was not responsible.

“The real deal”… with the small exception that they were forged, in everything from the photoshopped stamp, to the fact that the person who allegedly signed the leaflets, Denis Pushilin – the Chair of the recently created Donetsk republic – explicitly stated he had nothing to do with this attempt to rile up anti-semitic sentiment in Donetsk.

Of course, with the CIA operating freely in Kiev, and having been rather instrumental in the establishment of the current political regime (as it did in the US-foreign policy “success stories” of Libya and Egypt), one can be sure that the provocations will only get more grotesque, surreal and most likely, violent from this point onward.

More details on the forgery in the clip below:

There is no greater natural resource on this earth than water. As the sustenance of all life, water keeps every living and breathing organism, every plant, every animal and every human being on this planet alive. In the same way that without air to breathe, without water we humans cannot sustain life for more than a few days.

Due to global warming, widespread drought and increasingly polluted water systems, the projected availability of clean freshwater in years to come to meet the rising demands of a growing global population is among the most daunting human challenges of this century. By 2015 a 17% increase in global water demand is projected just for increasing agriculturally produced food. By the same year 2025, the growing global population will increase water consumption needs by a whopping 40%. While oil played the keenly critical role during the twentieth century, water is being deemed the most valued precious natural resource of the twenty-first century.

As such, several years ago the United Nations declared access to clean drinking water a universal human right. Conversely, willfully denying it is considered a serious human rights violation that denies life itself. And any calculated decision denying people their universal right to life is nothing short of a murderous, shameful crime against humanity.

Despite the human air pollution that has long been dirtying our lungs, while also causing global warming, climate change and increasing catastrophic natural disasters, not to mention the growing global health hazard for us humans, the very thought of making clean air a precious commodity that can opportunistically be packaged and sold by the same corporations that have been ruining our air, that very notion would instantly be criticized, scorned and ridiculed.

Yet that is exactly what has been happening for the last thirty years now all over this planet with the earth’s preciously dwindling freshwater drinking supply. The World Bank has been financing global privatization of the earth’s water supply making clean water that is so necessary for survival an unaffordable private commodity for the poorest people on earth to even access. They are literally dying of thirst and disease because of greedy psychopathic corporate profiteers once again placing theft and greed over human welfare and life itself.

But then that is the globalist agenda – thinning the human herd down from near seven billion currently to as low as just half a billion. That means 13 out of 14 of us alive today according to their diabolical oligarch plan simply must die within the next few years. And what better way to rapidly kill off the human population than taking full ownership and control over the earth’s limited diminishing water supply.

More people on this planet are dying presently from waterborne disease from dirty water than are dying from all wars and violence worldwide combined. Every hour 240 babies die from unsafe water. 1.5 million children under five years of age die every year from cholera and typhoid fever due to unsanitary water conditions. These incredibly sad, alarming facts illustrate just how significant and critical a clean freshwater supply is to staying alive on this planet. Taking control over the earth’s clean water supply is achieved by turning water into a privately owned commodity that only the largest corporations and banks control. Simply making water unaffordable and thereby inaccessible to the poorest people on the planet is one extremely effective, albeit most sinister way to reduce the so called overpopulation problem.

Three primary ways that the human population decreases significantly every year is death caused by starvation and malnutrition (including lack of drinkable water) at between seven to eight millionpeople, diseases that kill between two to three million (with mounting threats of infectious diseases becoming pandemics) and upwards of near a half million dying each year from war.

Behind closed doors oligarchic globalists periodically meet and discuss what is best for humanity and the planet according to them and their megalomaniacal self-interests. For many years now this all important topic of water privatization and control as a convenient and most effective means of addressing the overpopulation problem has been regularly tabled for discussion… along with related topics like geo-engineering, GMO’s, vaccines, overuse of antibiotics, planned wars over oil and water, devising global policies designed to increase political destabilization, poverty and undermine economies, nuclear radiation and a host of other means for culling the human population.

Time Magazine reported how the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been financing research at the University of North Carolina among 78 others to develop ultrasound infertility contraception techniques to sterilize male sperm. At a 2010 TED conference Bill Gates spoke openly of depopulating the total of 6.8 billion people living on earth by up to “10 to 15%” using both of his heavily funded vaccine and contraception programs that will render much of the global population infertile. Meanwhile, billionaire Ted Turner went even further, offering his public opinion to decrease the world population by 70% down to “two billion.” It too is on tape.

Calls to begin sterilizing the human population began surfacing back in the mid-1970’s with Henry Kissinger as former Secretary of State and high ranking Bilderberg member in his declassified National Security Council document (1974) entitled “The Implications of World-wide PopulationGrowth on the Security and External Interests of the United States.” This document emphasized highest priority given to implementing birth control programs targeting thirteen Third World nations mostly in South America. Extraordinary resources were allocated through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) pushing the carrot stick of additional financial aid to countries willing to enact sterilization and depopulation programs.

More overt evidence of the callous contempt that globalist oligarchs have toward us 99%-ers is captured in a statement written by Prince Phillip, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband in the forward of his book, “I must confess that I am tempted to ask for reincarnation as a particularly deadly virus” to reduce the human population. It seems readily discernable that an explicit globalist agenda for a New World Order openly propagated with repeated references by President Goerge Bush senior includes depopulation through various means, water control through privatization just one of many in the power elite’s arsenal.

Humans have been dying from lack of clean water for a long time now and will only continue dying at an even greater frequency if the plan to privatize water continues to unfold unchecked and without opposition. Fortunately forces have been mobilizing to combat water privatization. Just last week on the heels of the World Bank annual convening in Washington DC for several days ofconferencing, an international coalition of anti-privatization water rights groups from India and America sent a formal message calling on the World Bank to end its destructive practice of privatizing water around the world under the guise of developmental progress. The Bank’s DC meetings had been touting lies and disinformation in an attempt to paint a glowing report showcasing the so called efficacy and successes that turning water rights over to the private sector have accomplished in recent years. The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) as the planet’s largest funding source for water privatization provides loans and financing to Third World nations for private water management companies to take charge of municipal, regional and national water rights.

The director of a global advocacy group called Corporate Accountability International, Shayda Naficy, pointed out that 75% of expenses for running a water utility company should go to infrastructure. In nation after nation private companies have placed the priority of making a profit over the need to invest in necessary infrastructure to connect and adequately service water customers. In efforts to maximize cost efficiency as well as profits, water prices invariably go up and fast become out of reach for poorest customers. Cutting off the water supply to thousands of low income families unable to pay for their rising costs has become the all too frequent inevitable result. The World Bank’s 34 percent failure rate for all private water and sewerage contracts between 2000 and 2010 far surpasses its single digit failure rates in the telecommunications, energy and transportation industries.

Critics maintain that the public sector is far more accountable to its public constituents than private sector businesses that only answer to its board of directors to show sufficient profits. Corruption becomes commonplace. Additionally, a conflict of interest exists when the IFC acts as both a money lender and consultant to foreign municipalities in assigning no bid contracts to favored private water utility companies.

To best illustrate typical scenarios where water privatization is either not working or already proved a failure deserve close examination. The good news is that in recent years people in various parts of the world have been mobilizing successful efforts and campaigns to stop water privatization in their own backyards. Presently in a number of regions in India, citizens are banding together to confront and fight the myriad of problems with water privatization in their country.

Recently in Nagpur, central India’s largest city where the country’s first municipal partnership with a private utility company is being played out, major tensions have erupted. Three years ago the city signed a 25-year contract with Veolia Water to supply the city of 2.7 million residents with 24 hour-7-days a week water service. Instead unforeseen delays driving up prices manyfold along with unfair water distribution and frequent service breakdowns have led to widespread angry protests in the streets and charges of corruption. City officials point to a series of serious contract violations. Again cutting corners by refusing to invest in the needed infrastructure appears to be the primary cause for this failed project. The Corporate Accountability International’s 2012 report called “Shutting the Spigot on Private Water: The Case for the World Bank to Divest” cites a number of similar cases where privatization has proven ineffective.

Bold and empowered citizens in Bolivia in the year 2000 made headlines around the globe when they were victorious in kicking out privatized water there in the form of the Bechtel, the fifth largest private corporation on the planet. Impassioned protestors in Bolivia’s third-largest city managed to oppose Bechtel’s increasing prices and demanded that the company abandon its hold on their city’s municipal water supply, eventually driving the powerful scandalous giant out of the country. Though big business efforts to buy and control water rights in many Latin American nations have each had their turn in nations like Equator and Brazil, only Chile water services are privatized. Ultimately local residents virtually everywhere privatization has attempted to take hold has been met with such strong resistance from consumers who realize their private utility company has failed miserably in delivering quality service at affordable prices.

The story is always the same. That is why advocacy groups like Corporate Accountability International is proactively working toward educating governments and citizens worldwide to ensure water remains under the public domain. The exhaustive and expensive legal process of ending long term contracts and successfully removing privatized foreign corporations once established in a city, state or country is formidable. It is obviously in the best interests of people around the world to ensure privatization of their water supply never gets a local foothold in the first place.

Nestlé corporation’s marketing campaign targeted wealthy Pakistanis in Lahore, and its brand of bottled water ‘Pure Life’ became a status symbol for the rich. To bottle its product, Nestlé busily dried up local underground springs that subsequently caused the village poor unable to buy the bottled water stolen from their springs to end up consuming contaminated water. Nestlé went on to extracting water from two deep wells in Bhati Dilwan village, forcing them to turn to bottled water. A similar story emerged from Nigeria where a single bottled water exceeds the average daily income of a Nigerian citizen. Nestlé is notorious for draining local water supplies used to bottle its water brands, then charge unaffordable prices to the local population whose clean water supply was stolen from them.

Corporate Watch released a report exposing some of the unethical and illegal practices that Nestlé has long been committing around the globe, completely disregarding public health concerns while destroying natural environments to ensure huge annual profits of $35 billion just from water bottle sales alone. In Brazil’s Serra da Mantiqueira region where the groundwater is rich in mineral content containing medicinal properties, over-pumping has depleted its valuable water resources and caused permanent damage to the natural environment. and long-term damage.

Nestlé has also allegedly been involved in human trafficking of child slave labor. A BBC investigative report claimed that “hundreds of thousands of children in Mali, Burkina Faso and Togo were being purchased from their destitute parents and shipped to the Ivory Coast to be sold as slaves to cocoa farms.” Yet Nestlé likely bought the cocoa from the Ivory Coast and Ghana knowing it was produced using child slaves.

Finally, Nestlé owns or leases fifty spring sites throughout America. Nestlé controls a third of the domestic market for bottled water in the US. The company is notorious for unlawful extraction of spring water while engaging in price-gouging and reeking havoc in numerous communities. An example of the trouble Nestlé typically causes is Colorado where 80% of the citizens of Aurora were opposed to Nestlé’s presence, fully aware of the company’s terrible reputation for damaging communities and natural environments. Yet the city council voted in favor 7 to 4 to let the devastation begin and over the next decade Nestlé extracted 650 million gallons of precious Arkansas River valley water that went into its Arrowhead Springs brand of bottled water. For years the embattled townspeople of Aurora fought to rid the company predator from destroying their precious aquifers. Additionally, the plastic non-biodegradable bottles are major pollutants that stay toxically intact for a full millennium.

The cumulative grave effects of privatizing water as a global commodity are appalling. The underprivileged residents of Jakarta, Manila and Nairobi pay 5 to 10 times more for water than those living in high-income areas of those same cities. People living in the Third World slums even pay more for water than upscale New Yorkers and Londoners. This kind of unfairness and inequity is obscene. Women in places in Africa where privatized water is beyond their limit walk miles to obtain dirty water from rivers and then too often die along with their children from contamination and disease. Asian farmers are losing their livelihoods if they are unable to receive state funded irrigation. The human suffering caused globally by wealthy private corporations from North America and Europe exploiting people from Third World nations for pure profit is nothing less than pure psychopathic evil.

Taking on global privatization of water for the well being and greater good of the people is but an example of the monumental work that needs to be done. Only if informed, caring and committed human beings collectively come together worldwide to take a global stand against this gravest of life and death issues facing humanity can this oligarch agenda be stopped dead in its tracks. As global human rights activists it is up to us to end the global corporate malevolence and malfeasance from further damaging and afflicting our planet like never before. With the recent formal finding that Americans no longer live in a democracy but an oligarchy, as if we did not already painfully know, it becomes even more “formally” imperative now that we as ordinary citizens of the world take the vested interest in preserving life on our only planet before it becomes too late. It is high time we take back our planet once and for all from the oligarchic corporatocracy bent on insidiously making our earthly home increasingly uninhabitable for all life forms.

Mass extinction of plant and animal species that have thrived on this planet for millions of years is silently, invisibly taking place every single day right before our eyes. At ever-perilous stake now is our own human species as well as all living species inhabiting this earth, suffering at the hands of national governments that have corruptly co-opted with the banking cabal-owned transnational corporations and for too many decades been systematically destroying the richly diverse natural ecosystems of all earthly life forms on an unprecedented scale.

Since governmental co-opting with global fortune 500 corporations has been polluting and poisoning the earth’s skies, its waters, food sources and seeds for so long, global theft and destruction has us humans and all life forms teetering now on the brink of complete self-annihilation and extinction, human-induced for the first time on a massive never before seen scale. It is time to hold the oligarchy in the form of corporations responsible for all the damage they have reeked on this earth. No more grotesque “Abama-nations” of bank and Wall Street bailouts at taxpayer expense. Since the 99% in debt to the hilt have been squeezed dry, while the 1% have made this planet nearly unlivable as the only ones filthily richly profiting from their plundering this earth, the transnationals are the sole entities with the financial capital and means to clean up the very mess they created. It is only fair then that after an entire century of mucking the planet up at our expense, that they now need to finally be held accountable for repairing the destruction they directly caused and obscenely profited from.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former Army officer. His written manuscript based on his military experience examines leadership and national security issues and can be consulted at http://www.redredsea.net/westpointhagopian/After the military, Joachim earned a masters degree in psychology and became a licensed therapist working in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now focuses on writing. 

Recent spills in West Virginia and North Carolina cast a spotlight on toxic hazards in our midst. But as bad as they are, these acute incidents pale in scope compared to the chronic flow of hazardous chemicals coursing through our lives each day with little notice and minimal regulation.

new report by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Toxics Across America, tallies billions of pounds of chemicals in the American marketplace that are known or strongly suspected to cause increasingly common disorders, including certain cancers, developmental disabilities and infertility.

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While it’s no secret that modern society consumes huge amounts of chemicals, many of them dangerous, it is surprisingly difficult to get a handle on the actual numbers. And under current law it’s harder still to find out where and how these substances are used, though we know enough to establish that a sizeable share of them end up in one form or another in the places where we live and work.

The new report looks at 120 chemicals that have been identified by multiple federal, state and international officials as known or suspected health hazards. Using the latest—albeit limited—data collected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the report identifies which of these chemicals are in commerce in the U.S.; in what amounts they are being made; which companies are producing or importing them; where they are being produced or imported; and how they are being used. An interactive online map accompanying the report lets the user access the report’s data and search by chemical, by company, by state and by site location.

 

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An image of the interactive, searchable map of the U.S., showing sites of production or import of the MTS List chemicals. One additional site in Hawaii is not shown. The dot colors reflect the number of MTS List chemicals reported at each site. Click on image to access the map.

 

Among the findings:

  • At least 81 of the chemicals on the list are produced or imported to the U.S. annually in amounts of 1 million pounds or more.
  • At least 14 chemicals exceed 1 billion pounds produced or imported annually, including carcinogens such as formaldehyde and benzene, and the endocrine disruptor bisphenol A—or BPA.
  • More than 90 chemicals on the list are found in consumer and commercial products. At least eight chemicals are used in children’s products.

The interactive map shows these chemicals are produced or imported in all parts of the country, in 45 states as well as the Virgin Islands. Companies with sites in Texas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York reported producing or importing at least 40 listed chemicals.

While the report shows how deeply toxic chemicals are embedded in U.S. commerce, the chemicals identified represent just part of the story. Companies making or importing up to 12-and-a-half tons of a chemical at a given site do not need to report at all. Others claim their chemical data is confidential business information, masking it from public disclosure. The EPA only collects the data every four years, and chemical companies often don’t know and aren’t required to find out where or how the chemicals they make are being used.

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Most Americans assume that somebody is regulating these chemicals to make sure we’re safe.  In fact, thanks to gaping loopholes in federal law, officials are virtually powerless to limit even chemicals—such as those featured in the report—we know or have good reason to suspect are dangerous. Because none of us has the power to avoid them on our own, we need stronger safeguards that protect us from the biggest risks and give companies that use these chemicals a reason to look for better alternatives.

The good news is that Congress is working on bipartisan legislation that—if done right—would require greater evidence of safety for both chemicals already in use and new chemicals before they enter the market.  And by driving development of and access to more chemical safety data, it would give not only government but also product makers and consumers much more of the information they need to identify and avoid dangerous chemicals, and strengthen incentives to develop safer alternatives.

The mainstream U.S. news media is flooding the American people with one-sided propaganda on Ukraine, rewriting the narrative to leave out the key role of neo-Nazis and insisting on a “group think” that exceeds even the misguided consensus on Iraq’s WMD.

After the Feb. 22 coup in Ukraine – spearheaded by neo-Nazi militias – European and U.S. diplomats pushed for a quick formation of a new government out of fear that otherwise these far-right ultra-nationalists would be left in total control, one of those diplomats told me.

The comment again underscores the inconvenient truth of what happened in Ukraine: neo-Nazis were at the forefront of the Kiev coup that ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych, a reality that the U.S. government and news media have been relentlessly trying to cover up.

Although real-time reports from the scene in February chronicled armed and organized militias associated with the neo-Nazi Svoboda party and the Right Sektor attacking police with firebombs and light weapons, that information soon became a threat to the Western propaganda theme that Yanukovych fled simply because peaceful protesters occupied the Maidan square.

So, the more troubling history soon disappeared into the memory hole, dismissed as “Russian propaganda.” The focus of the biased U.S. news media is now on the anti-Kiev militants in the Russian-ethnic areas of eastern Ukraine who have rejected the authority of the coup regime and are insisting on regional autonomy.

The new drumbeat in the U.S. press is that those militants must disarm in line with last week’s agreement in Geneva involving the United States, European Union, Russia and the “transitional” Ukrainian government. As for those inconvenient neo-Nazi militias, they have been incorporated into a paramilitary “National Guard” and deployed to the east to conduct an “anti-terrorist” campaign against the eastern Ukrainian protesters, ethnic Russians whom the neo-Nazis despise.

The new role for the neo-Nazi militias was announced last week by Andriy Parubiy, head of the Ukrainian National Security Council, who declared on Twitter, “Reserve unit of National Guard formed #Maidan Self-defense volunteers was sent to the front line this morning.”

Parubiy is himself a well-known neo-Nazi, who founded the Social-National Party of Ukraine in 1991. The party blended radical Ukrainian nationalism with neo-Nazi symbols. Parubiy also formed a paramilitary spinoff, the Patriots of Ukraine, and defended the awarding of the title, “Hero of Ukraine,” to World War II Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, whose own paramilitary forces exterminated thousands of Jews and Poles in pursuit of a racially pure Ukraine.

In the hasty structuring of the post-coup government in February, part of the compromise with the ascendant neo-Nazis was to give them control of four ministries, including Parubiy in the key position heading national security. To give him loyal and motivated forces to strike at the pro-Russian east, he incorporated many of the storm troopers from his Maidan force into the National Guard.

Leaving Out the History

Yet, how is Parubiy described in the U.S. mainstream media? On Sunday, Washington Post correspondent Kathy Lally, who has been one of the most biased journalists covering the Ukraine crisis, wrote a front-page article about the state of Ukraine’s military in which she relied on Parubiy for a key part of her story.

Lally simply identified him as “secretary of the National Security and Defense Council,” without explaining Parubiy’s extreme-right politics or the illegitimate way that he got his position. Lally then let him assert that Russia is “intent on making the government fail and seeing it replaced by one deferring to Moscow.”

But Lally is far from alone in representing the deeply prejudiced “group think” of the U.S. press corps regarding Ukraine. Often the only way that American readers can get any sense of the key role played by the neo-Nazis is in the repeated denials of that reality.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof returned to his family’s ancestral home in Karapchiv in western Ukraine to interview some of its residents and present their views as the true voice of the people.

“To understand why Ukrainians are risking war with Russia to try to pluck themselves from Moscow’s grip, I came to this village where my father grew up,” he wrote. “Even here in the village, Ukrainians watch Russian television and loathe the propaganda portraying them as neo-Nazi thugs rampaging against Russian speakers.

“’If you listen to them, we all carry assault rifles; we’re all beating people,’ Ilya Moskal, a history teacher, said contemptuously.”

Of course, Moskal’s description is hyperbole. The Russian media is not making those claims, although it has noted, for instance, that the neo-Nazi militias – now reformulated as “National Guard” units – did kill three eastern Ukrainian protesters last week, deaths announced by the Kiev government.

But Kristof doesn’t stop there in his nostalgia for his father’s old home town, which he depicts as a noble place where everyone loves the music of Taylor Swift and dreams of their place in a prosperous Europe – if only President Barack Obama would send them weapons to kill Russians (or go “bear-hunting” as Kristof cutely wrote in a previous column).

On Sunday, Kristof wrote: “For people with such fondness for American culture, there is disappointment that President Obama hasn’t embraced Ukraine more firmly.”

Source of Ukraine’s Ills

Kristof also blamed Ukraine’s economic woes on Russia when a more honest explanation would be that the free-market “shock therapy” that Western advisers imposed on Ukraine after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 allowed a dozen or so well-connected “oligarchs” to plunder the country’s wealth and amass near total economic and political control. They are the principal reason for Ukraine’s pervasive corruption and poverty.

But Kristof appears to be readying his New York Times readers to support the violent crushing of the popular resistance in eastern Ukraine, which was President Yanukovych’s political base. Kristof is a renowned R2Per, urging a “responsibility to protect” civilians from government force, but his sense of responsibility appears to be highly selective, fitting with his favored geopolitical priorities.

More broadly, the U.S. news media’s hiding of Ukraine’s neo-Nazis has become a near obsession, indeed, done in greater uniformity across the mainstream press and even much of the blogosphere than the misguided consensus on Iraq’s WMD in 2002-03 that led to the disastrous Iraq War.

From a purely news point of view, you might think the inclusion of Nazis in a European government for the first time since World War II might make for a good story. But that would go against the preferred American narrative that the protesters in the Maidan were peaceful and idealistic – and that they were set upon by the evil Yanukovych who simply fled because he could no longer withstand their moral pressure.

Left out of this narrative is that Yanukovych signed an agreement on Feb. 21 brokered by three European governments in which he agreed to reduce his powers, accept early elections to vote him out of office, and – most fatefully – pull back the police. It was then that the neo-Nazi militias, from western Ukraine and organized in 100-man brigades, attacked the few remaining police, seized government buildings and sent Yanukovych and many of his officials fleeing for their lives.

As I was told by one of the Western diplomats involved in the aftermath, there was an urgency to cobble together some interim government because otherwise the neo-Nazis would have been left in total control. He said the various parties in parliament moved expeditiously to impeach Yanukovych (though constitutional procedures weren’t followed) and replace him with an interim president and government.

To placate the neo-Nazis, they were given control of four ministries, including the appointment of Parubiy to handle national security and make the neo-Nazi militias part of the official government security apparatus as National Guard.

But that history has been whisked away from information that the mainstream U.S. news media makes available to the American people, all the better to lead them into a new Cold War. [For more on this U.S. propaganda, see “Ukraine. Through the US ‘Looking Glass.’”]

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

Illustrative photo of an interrogation room (Photo by Shutterstock.com)

In Israel there is something called the Prevention of Infiltration Law, which prohibits citizens from traveling to a list of so-called “enemy states.” The law is little known and almost never enforced. In fact, it is common and widely accepted practice for Israeli businesspeople and journalists with additional citizenship to travel to “enemy” countries using their alternate passports. Some journalists, like Channel 2′s Itay Anghel, are famous for having used alternate passports to report from places like Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and, most recently, Syria. They are regarded as intrepid reporters who bring valuable insight to Israeli news consumers.

I only learned about the law’s existence when the police accused me, during an interrogation that took place in November 2007, of having violated it when I traveled to Beirut, where I reported for Israel’s Channel 10 one year after the July 2006 war.

It is not pleasant to be interrogated by the police. At the time I felt angry and also vulnerable, because I was a freelancer without the protection of familial ties in Israel. But in retrospect the interrogation itself was not really traumatic. Two plainclothes detectives, who I suppose were low level Shin Bet officers, gave me coffee and asked me some not particularly intelligent questions for three hours or so, while one of them painstakingly pecked out my responses on a computer keyboard, using his two index fingers. A couple of weeks after the interrogation one of the officers informed Israel Radio that I was under investigation, which was the lead story for a few hours or maybe a day. At the shuk, the guy I bought peppers and tomatoes from yelled that I was a troublemaker who had endangered the state’s security. So I bought my vegetables from another seller, the story eventually died and I heard nothing further from the authorities.

Going into the interrogation, I did not understand why I had been singled out. But about an hour into the questions, one of the officers showed me a letter from Danny Seaman, then director of the Government Press Office. He had sent the police a DVD recording of my Channel 10 report, together with a letter outlining the Law Against Infiltration. A year earlier, I had filed a formal complaint against Seaman with the Civil Service Commission. I accused him of using threatening and abusive language against me, and of pursuing personal vendettas against qualified journalists by withholding their press credentials. That is how I came to understand that this law against infiltration had been dusted off and was being used indirectly by a senior civil servant who was pursuing a vendetta against me.

Flags and masks of Lebanese politicians at a Beirut shop, 2007 (Lisa Goldman)

Flags and masks of Lebanese politicians at a Beirut shop, 2007 (Lisa Goldman)

This week, a 24 year-old Palestinian-Arab citizen of Israel named Majd Kayyal was accused of breaking the same law. Like me, Kayyal traveled to Beirut. He attended a journalism conference sponsored by As-Safir, a veteran Lebanese publication for which he is a contributing writer. But unlike me, Kayyal did not receive a summons to visit the police station four months after his trip. He was not given coffee and questioned for a few hours in a well lit room with an open window, before being allowed to return home. Kayyal was arrested immediately upon landing. He spent five days in a windowless cell, without a bed, the overhead light kept on ’round the clock so that he would lose his sense of time. He was interrogated aggressively and not allowed to see his lawyer. He was accused of having made contact with enemy agents, and with having violated the Law to Prevent Infiltration, but his lawyers were not allowed to be present during the initial court hearing. And a judge granted the Shin Bet’s request for a gag order, so the media did not report on the arrest either.

Today (Thursday), Kayyal was released on bail. The charge of contact with an enemy agent was dropped, but he is still accused of having violated the Law to Prevent Infiltration. In other words, a law that is not enforced at all against prominent, male Jewish Israeli journalists and only used slightly to intimidate a female Jewish freelancer who is an immigrant without any real connections, is enforced to the fullest, cruelest extent against a native-born Israeli citizen who happens to be a Palestinian Arab.

Kayyal is a political activist. He participated in one of the attempts to break the Israeli army’s blockade of Gaza by boat. He is the editor of the website for Adalah, a NGO that works to protect the legal rights of Arab minority citizens of Israel. Last week he traveled openly to Beirut, writing about his trip in Arabic for the website Jadaliyya. In other word he pissed off the security establishment, which dislikes dissent in general — but particularly dissent from Arabs. And because Kayyal’s activism and his ethnicity frighten those who regard “Arab Israelis” as a potential fifth column, most Israeli Jews will accept the Shin Bet’s claim that he represents a security risk, despite the lack of evidence to support this claim. They will turn a blind eye to the fact that Kayyal was denied his legal right to see an attorney. They will somehow justify his having been thrown into a windowless cell and interrogated for five days, even though the only law he is accused of breaking is the one Jewish Israelis violate with impunity, on a regular basis. They will forget that he is a citizen, who is supposed to have the same rights as they. Because in Israel, not all citizens are created equal.

Every Israeli high school graduate knows what happened in 20th century Europe when laws were enforced selectively based on a citizen’s ethnicity or religion. They know this is wrong and anti-democratic. But somehow when it comes to current events in their own country, they can’t connect the dots.

Moscow is outraged by the armed incident that occurred Saturday night in Slavyansk in which innocent civilians died as a result of an attack by Right Sector militants, the Russian Foreign Ministry says. “The Russian side is enraged by the militant provocation which is an indication of the reluctance of the authorities in Kiev to bridle and disarm nationalists and extremists,” a ministry statement says.

“It is surprising that the tragedy occurred after the signing on April 17 in Geneva of the final statement of the four-sided meeting of representatives of Russia, the USA, EU and Ukraine which calls for refraining from any violent actions, intimidation or provocations. The Russian side insists on the strict fulfillment by the Ukrainian side of its commitments concerning the de-escalation the situation in southeast Ukraine,” the ministry says, Interfax reports.

“The Eastern ceasefire was violated in Slavyansk on April 20. As a result of an armed attack by the so-called Right Sector innocent civilians died. Local residents seized the vehicles of the attackers in which they discovered arms, aerial maps of the area and Right Sector paraphernalia,” the statement says.

Geneva agreements on Ukraine should be immediately implemented – Lavrov to Kerry by phone

Lavrov drew attention to the necessity for immediate and complete implementation by the Ukrainian authorities of the Geneva communique which assumes in particular non-violence and the launch of a nationwide dialogue on a new constitution involving major political factions and regions, the statement said.

Following the results of the talk the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that Sergei Lavrov urged the Kiev authorities to implement the provisions of the agreement, RIA reports.

US Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the Geneva communique on Ukraine in a telephone talk with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov early Saturday and stressed the coming days would pivotal for its implementation, the US State Department announced.

Kerry “made clear that the next few days would be a pivotal period for all sides to implement the statement’s provisions, particularly that all illegal armed groups must be disarmed and all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners,” the statement reads.

The two diplomats agreed to keep up cooperation to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine and continue discussions on possible international assistance to the crisis-torn country. The telephone conversation between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the US Secretary of State John Kerry was initiated by the American side, the announcement at the Russian Foreign Ministry page on Facebook says.

John Kerry also held phone talks with Ukrainian acting Prime Minister John Kerry and hailed Kiev’s important steps over the last 24 hours aimed at implementing the agreement.

The four-party meeting that took place Thursday in Geneva ended with an agreement on a series of immediate steps aimed at de-escalation of tensions in Ukraine including the disarmament of irregular militant groups and a dialogue on constitutional reforms.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the most important result of the meeting was that all sides agreed the crisis in Ukraine should be resolved by Ukrainians themselves.

Patriarch Kirill calls for praying for Ukraine in these Easter days

Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill has urged all Christians of the Russian Orthodox Church to pray hard for peace in Ukraine in these Easter days, Itar-Tass reports.

“Today, we should pray for the people of Russia and Ukraine in particular; let’s pray that peace be restored in the minds and hearts of our brothers and sisters in blood and faith and that the lost ties and cooperation which we all need so much also be restored,” the head of the Russian Orthodox Church said in his Easter message.

The patriarch said that the Russian Orthodox Church like all Christianity in general united people irrespective of national, cultural and state borders because the light of Christ’s teaching enlightened everybody.

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church stressed the creative nature of Christ’s creed. “Let the joy of this holiday give us more strength and inspires us to new good deeds; let it give us courage and strength so that we stay calm and self-restrained amid the rough sea of our life,” Patriarch Kirill said, urging Orthodox Christians to share the joy and Easter mood with everybody who “needs our attention and support.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin attended the Easter service at the Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

At the end of the Easter morning service, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill exchanged triple kisses with Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Medvedev and his wife Svetlana, as well as Sergei Sobyanin and gave them decorative Easter eggs as gifts.

The Russian leaders also extended their Easter greetings to the patriarch and left the Christ the Saviour’s Cathedral.

Vandana Shiva on Earth Democracy

April 20th, 2014 by Michael Welch

On this special holiday edition of the Global Research News Hour, we salute the 44th annual Earth Day with a speech given in Winnipeg recently by outspoken anti-globalization author, environmental activist, and eco-feminist Dr. Vandana Shiva.

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Born in Dehradun India in the foothills of the Himalaya, Shiva got her training at the University of Western Ontario in Canada as a physicist. In 1982, she shifted her focus to inter-disciplinary research in science, technology and environmental policy and moved back to India. Dr. Shiva is the founder of Navdanya, a participatory research initiative dedicated to the preservation of native crop species, the rejuvenation of indigenous culture and knowledge, and to support and direction for environmental activism. She is the author of more than 20 books including Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis; Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply; Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace; and Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development.

She is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades including the 1993 Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) and the 2010 Sydney Peace Prize.

On March 29, 2014, Dr. Shiva spoke at the North Centennial Community Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada at the invitation of a local collective known as Power House Producers in association with the Women’s and Gender Studies Students Association, and the University of Winnipeg’s Womyn’s Centre. Her speech followed a so-called Feast of forgotten foods which highlighted a meal prepared by local activists with organic ingredients all provided by local farmers for an audience of about a hundred people. Preceding the talk was an announcement about a Bill moving through the Canadian House of Commons known as Bill C-18, the Agricultural Growth Act which critics argue undermines traditional farm practices by ensuring the intellectual property rights over new varieties of seeds to the plant breeders that generate them and force farmers to pay a royalty to them when crops from those seeds go to market.

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The Global Research News Hour, hosted by Michael Welch, airs on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg Fridays at 1pm CDT. The programme is also broadcast weekly (Monday, 5-6pm ET) by the Progressive Radio Network in the US, and is available for download on the Global Research website.

 

Enquanto a estratégia EUA/OTAN tenha com a crise ucraniana provocado uma confrontação Ocidente/Oriente que leva a Europa de volta a uma situação em muitos aspectos semelhante a do tempo da guerra fria, os dados publicados ontem pela SIPRI confirmam que a despesa militar mundial ( com cálculo líquido inflaçionário para permitir comparação através de diversos períodos) voltou ao nível do tempo da guerra fria; depois de ter diminuido entre 1991 e 1998, ela aumentou a um nível superior aquele do último período da confrontação Ocidente/Oriente. Os dados, a respeito de 2013, mostram que se gasta no mundo num objetivo militar 3,3 milhões de dólares por minuto, 198 milhões de dólares por hora, quase 4,8 bilhões de dólares por dia, o que equivale a 1747 bilhões de dólares por ano.

A despesa militar mundial é na verdade mais elevada do que a calculada pelo SIPRI de quando fazendo a soma dos orçamentos da defesa de vários países: a esses orçamentos se juntam diversas outras despesas de carácter militar, inclusive as que se apresentam dentro de outros capítulos do orçamento desses países. Nos Estados Unidos, a despesa para as armas nucleares (23 bilhões de dólares anuais) não está inscrita abaixo do Departamento de Defesa, mas abaixo do Departamento de Energia; a despesa dos militares em reforma (cerca de 170 bilhões anuais) está inscrita abaixo do Departamento das Aposentadorias; as despesas para ajudas militares e econômicas a aliados estratégicamente importantes (cerca de 50 bilhões anuais) estão inscritas no orçamento do Departamento do Estado e de alguns outros. No orçamento federal, 97 bilhões anuais são alocados para um ”fundo unificado da Defesa, do Departamento do Estado e da USAID”, fundo esse destinado para operações além-mar (Overseas contingency operation). Outros 40 bilhões anuais são despendidos para a ”segurança da pátria”. Finalmente ainda se tem a despesa secreta dos serviços secretos, onde a única sifra ”não classificada” (1,6 bilhões anuais) não é mais que o pico do icebergue. Juntando-se esse, e os outros postos acima mencionados, ao orçamento oficial do Pentágono (640 bilhões em 2013), a despesa militar dos Estados Unidos chega a quase 1 trilhão (1000 bilhões) de dólares anuais. Isso significa que cerca de um dólar em quatro, do orçamento federal, é despendido com um objetivo militar.

Mesmo contando-se sómente com as sifras do SIPRI, as quais dão o total de 640 bilhões de dólares, os Estados Unidos se manteriam claramente a frente da classificação dos 15 países tendo a maior despesa militar do mundo. Os que seguem os Estados Unidos nessa classificação seriam, como para em 2012, a China e a Rússia, com uma despesa avaliada respectivamente em 188 e 88 bilhões de dólares em 2013. A ordem dessa classificação foi mudada sómente na parte restante da classificação. A Arábia Saudita passou em relação a 2012, do sétimo ao quarto lugar. Depois dessa vem a França no quinto lugar, a Grã Bretanha no sexto, a Alemanha (que avançou do nono ao sétimo lugar), o Japão, a Índia, a Coréia do Sul, a Itália (com uma despesa avaliada em 32,7 bilhões de dólares em 2013), o Brasil, a Austrália, a Turquia, e os Emirados Árabes Unidos. As despesas desses 15 países representam 80% da despesa militar mundial.

Os dados do SIPRI põe em evidência grandes aumentos dos orçamentos militares de vários outros países, especialmente daqueles nos quais os Estados Unidos exercem sua influência. Na Europa do Leste, o orçamento militar da Ucrânia aumentou de 16% em relação a 2012. Na África, em um ano, Gana aumentou seu orçamento de 129%, a Angola de 36% enquanto o Congo (Rep. Dem.) o aumentou de 34%. No Oriente Médio os orçamentos militares do Iraque e Barém aumentaram cerca de 27%. Na Ásia o orçamento militar do Afeganistão aumentou de 77% em relação a 2012 e o da Fillipina de 17%. Na América do Sul os orçamentos militares do Paraguai e Honduras aumentaram em um ano 33% e 22%, respectivamente.

A despesa militar dá impulso a um novo curso de armamentos que, conduzida pelos grandes poderes ocidentais tem um efeito de tracção numa escala mundial. Não se trata aqui dos F-35, sobre os quais se concentram hoje em dia a atenção da mídia, mas de vários outros sistemas de armas, todos também de alto custo, mas pouco conhecidos. A seis meses atrás foi lançado pelos Estados Unidos o super porta-aviões Gerald Ford (o primeiro de uma série), O navio de guerra mais caro que já se construiu, chegando a 14 bilhões de dólares. Graças a novos tipos de catapultas, os 75 aviões (dos quais o custo deverá juntar-se ao do navio) poderão efetuar mais 25% de ataques, do que os aviões atualmente embarcados no porta-aviões Nimitz. No próximo 4 de julho será lançado na Inglaterra o super porta-aviões HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Rainha Elizabete, de 65.000 toneladas (o que significa o triplo da atual classe Invincible – Invencível), o qual será seguido de uma unidade de navios gêmeos, por um custo de 12 bilhões de dólares, mais o custo dos aviões neles embarcados; os F-35, que poderão chegar do hangar ao ponto de decolagem em 60 segundos. Esse porta-aviões, anuncia a Marinha Real, poderá também ”do mar projetar o poder aéreo a qualquer momento, e de todos os lugares do mundo, onde quer que isso seja necessário”.

O império continua tendo capacidade de ataque.

Manlio Dinucci

Artigo original  : 

Edição de terça-feira 15 de abril de 2014 de il manifesto

http://ilmanifesto.it/spesa-militare-numeri-da-guerra-fredda

Tradução Anna Malm, artigospoliticos.wordpress.com, para Mondialisation.ca

Notas de Marie-Ange Patrizio, tradutora do italiano ao francês:

O leitor interessado poderá relatar as sifras de despesa de 2013 de cada um dos 15 primeiros países da classificação feita pelo SIPRI (mesmo sem as correções indicadas pelo autor) ao número de habitantes dos respectivos países; poderia-se também comparar a despesa militar per capita, ou seja por pessoas residentes, da China (com cerca de 1.347 bilhões de habitantes) com a Arábia Saudita (quase 30 milhões), ou com Barém (oficialmente com 1, 231 milhões de habitantes, depois dos massacres das manifestações de sua ”primavera”, em 2011).

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_des_pays_par_population

Por lógica compare-se depois a despesa militar por habitante com a despesa anunciada para a educação e a saúde, enfim com todos os postos que entram no que se denomina como índice de desenvolvimento humano. Depois compare-se esses com os daqueles das ”ditaduras” como Cuba e Síria, que apesar dos embargos que os castigam muito severamente, mantém nessa classificação os primeiros lugares, desde cinquenta anos para Cuba, e uma dezena de anos, para a Síria.

 

It’s now official: our political leaders are still drunk on 20th century booze.

Egged on by a clique of hereditary banking families, politicos always seem keen to push us into the latest war, only they are not altogether sure why they are actually doing it now. The plans they inherited are based on an old and aging set of principles which may, or may no longer apply to the 21st century world. This disconnect is a real problem, and it’s becoming visible as we speak.

All signs currently point towards the transition towards their plan for a One World Order, but expect a bumpy road ahead…

Geopolitical Harbingers

Certainly by the closing decades of the 19th century, geopolitical theory was splitting into two camps: Global Seaborne Hegemon theory of US admiral Albert Thayer Mahan, and Pan-Asian Landward Hegemon theory championed by British academic and director of the London School of Economics, Sir Halford Mackinder. In both cases however, whether the coming single global superpower attained that status by sea wars, land wars, military or political – economic conflict was certain, as the power blocs collided and the seats of global power shifted. In both cases, throughout land areas and seas regions – pivot or shatterbelt zones, blue water seas or oceans – all would remain disputed.

Two large examples of their influence are the fact that Mackinder’s theories were adopted during Nazi Germany’s disastrous attempt to invade and conquer the Russian heartland, while Thayer Mahan’s enduring theories have a present and current major influence on China’s expanding military naval strategy as it moves to secure sea lanes for global commodities and energy supplies, along with its  modern aircraft carriers and anti-ship missile arsenals.

1-Global-Elite-Puppets-NWO
The New Inquiry (TNI), a non-profit group of academics, writers and historians in the US pursues a standing program of publications that analyze and comment the underlying theses of geopoliticians – of chaos and change.

One key critical example was the 1930′s era of the Great Depression and ‘the failure of capitalism’, overlain by a veneer of only-apparent stability. Historians published by TNI, and political economists exploring the causes and optimal conditions for World War II, say the 1930′s were the harbinger of the post-World War I ‘Old Order’ shifting to a ‘New Order’. Orthodox history accepts that further global conflict was effectively terminate with the first (and only one to date) use of atomic weapons in 1945.

Groups like TNI bolster the thesis that the current global situation, and the domestic political-economic situations in the former global hegemons, including the G7 countries and Russia, are now inherently unstable. No stability will be possible until there is the emergence of some kind of New Order. In that perspective, the gathering global crisis is symbolized and made concrete by the following: the Ukraine crisis, the enduring Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the growing and real threats to (and by) the continuing existence of NATO and the European Union, the post-2008 global finance, banking and economic crisis and other harbingers such as rapidly-growing instability of the pan-Islamic world. All are vastly significant.

This is because they fundamentally and firstly underline the collapse of 20th century ideology as a defacto driving force in geopolitics. Previous mega-change on the global geopolitical chessboard has always featured, usually at an intense level, a ‘clash of ideologies’. One major example in the current political world is Samuel Huntington’s supposed (but easily contested) “Clash of Civilizations” paradigm. In this paradigm, Islam, like some other major world religions, faces a potent set of life-sapping threats. The Vatican and its Catholic church is fighting to remain relevant as the dominant spiritual influencer in a globalised and spiritually fragmented digital society, while the appeal of “hardcore Islam” ideologies such as Hanbalism, dating from 850 AD, or Wahabism dating from the mid-18th century, can be seen as an ideological attempt at clutching straws in the wind, with survival dependent on rigid command and control socioeconomic structures designed to stave off social development. On the flip side, Judeo-Christian and Zionist-Christian centric ideologies are projected in order to confront and stave off the spread of Islamic social reforms.


VLAD’S NEIGHBORHOOD: NATO and the EU moving eastward to surround Russia (photo Global Clarity).

In the 21st century, this key role of ideology is not the game-changer though. The decline of orthodox ideologies underlines the critical role of chaos in the process of change. Neither Huntington, nor any serious historian would signal the presence of ideological dictatorships in today’s world. Yes, aspects of this Old World paradigm still exist, but on the whole, there is a much more sombre and threatening mass confusion of the elites, rank political incompetence, and constant prevarication – playing for time when time is all but counted and nearly up – ironically, pushing the geopolitical clock back to the power-politics of World War I.

Old Order Somnambulism

Taking only the Ukraine crisis as an example, this can be instantly analyzed as a Mackinder-type geopolitical and hegemonic attempt by western Europe (EU and NATO) to push eastward, and with Russia pushing back westward – resulting in armed conflict after the economic sanctions “warm-up” or interlude.

Most astonishingly however, is that today’s version of this ‘geopolitical instinct’, which in its current “eastern Europe pivot country” context dates back to the 15th century – 500 years ago – and has no really evident or clear logic involved in it. It is the purely instinctive action of political sleepwalkers who find themselves in power in the 21st century. Today’s political leaders lost – because now the ideological crutches are gone. Still, think tanks who appeared like mushrooms in Washington during the post-WWII scene continue to churn out reams of papers and foreign policy fantasy, taking stabs at the past, and future. Politicians, who a general empty vessels when it comes to academic concepts and philosophical maxims, remain lost and at the mercy of whatever last week’s idea was.

The West’s nudging of the situation in the Ukraine is a prime example of this. Provocation has been heaped on escalation. What were the leaders of the Western powers thinking? Certainly, they are not thinking that the European Union is a neo-Christian empire with a God-willed mission to march eastward, except on paper and in theory. Why the EU stubbornly refuses to accept and admit Muslim majority Turkey to the Union, is an unanswered question. Doesn’t the EU want to extend its footprint into the Middle East and Asia? Is the EU a Christian Union, like Charlemagne’s empire? There are sound reasons for and against this, but we still wonder why.

The Political Disconnect

There is a disconnect which has taken place in North America and in Europe, between the words and ideas of the political classes and the general public. With the ideological rallying points gone from the scene, politicians have no hook to catch public support. An attempt to frame ‘humanitarian intervention’ as a type of trendy, social media-esque replacement ideology was abused early by politicians and thus, has worn thin quickly. How, or why the Ukraine crisis has any meaning at all to average Americans, outside of Washington, is another question – but with no answer at all.

To be sure and certain, Russia has little in the way of concrete economic gains on offer from extending westward into Ukraine, but logic has a very small role in the high-level process of geopolitical change, in this current case. Russia’s chessboard moves were forced ones, just as America’s hand would be forced should the same scenario take place somewhere in North America – action, reaction. Again, we are forced to shift back to the 1914-era to find applicable models. Historians still debating the causes of World War I, not II, mostly agree that this war started through a constant and confused, cacaphonic interplay among political deciders and heads of state unable to understand what was happening. This was a permanent disconnect with the real world – one that could only end in tragedy.

This is where we are today. Some think tanks, like the Project for a New American Century, or the Foreign Policy Initiative, believe that the west can still ‘manage the chaos’, and are egging on political leaders to give it a try. The results are not always favourable, and lessons are rarely learned.

From a historical perspective, today’s political elite – especially in Europe – looks back on 1914 heads of state with disdain. They go on to imagine that the 1914 war ended “nearly a century of relative stability and peace in Europe”, terminated by hapless, out of touch, and stupid leaders. World War I, to be sure and certain was firstly triggered in the Balkans – where the current action still is, but secondly, had much less meaning or reason than World War II, which had a huge ideological component to it.

Since the 1990′s, and accelerating, the political elites of today have on one hand, accepted or welcomed the collapse of ideologies, but on the other hand have multiplied, not reduced, the geographical focus regions and the political-economic motives for conflict.

The US rampage in Muslim majority countries since 2001 is one baleful example. This was an unmotivated, supposedly pre-emptive geopolitical lunge. Islam was demonized, and became diabolic. This was the foundation for the neoconservative, short-term Hunnington-style, ‘clash of civilizations’.

Betraying what can be called “a lurking sense of shame and fear of revenge”, the western cult of ‘national security’ was then ramped up to giddy heights in North American and European countries, as an animated pseudo-ideology, or neo-doctrine, but in no way – despite how much US and British government inflate its purpose, does it hide the real and complete absence of ideology.

Based completely on fear and coersion, the neo-doctrine of the national security cult, needs a constant fresh new enemies and repackaging of old ones, in order to remain inflated and appear relevant. Following the Ukraine crisis, Russian cyber-criminals “undermining the West” could be added to Islamic computer programmer devils threatening the Western economy and its security, and Chinese industrial spies but to be sure, all this is only a playact. It can only be an interlude before the real affirmative action comes – which is usually a military one.

World War ‘Reset

Historians also seem to agree that World War I was not only overdue and inevitable when it broke out, but vastly accelerated global geopolitical changes that had become certain, and were awaiting their trigger moment. The Middle East of today, we can note, is essentially a Treaty of Versailles map-making exercise, with a post-World War I date stamp of the 1920s.

Massive changes in the region, and the world since World War I only serve to intensify the unreality of what we face today in this region, symbolized and made concrete by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Almost endless proof has been given, and continues to be given that heads of state toying with a “just and lasting solution” to this conflict are disconnected with reality. They can be called hapless, or stupid but still no progress is ever made. The endless ballad of US and European officials to Jerusalem and Arab capitals has in global geopolitical terms, been downsized to its real significance… of almost nothing.

For the new global economic powers of Asia, including China and India, as well as Japan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has no meaning, and the east has no genuine interest. It is a relic feature of the Old World Order. It is an old Western ritual of previous, but now lost, geopolitical reach and power. Israelis and their Zionist American sponsors have a few desperate plays to try and make the Israeli-Palestinian relevant to the east – like attacking Iran. The logic behind it is insane and it would require some deception to pull off for sure, but it’s a loser in the end because it’s based on relic thinking. Gradually, the world at large is realising what was obvious to some all along – that Israel has never intended to let go of any land it has absorbed and has only increased its land holdings throughout the farcical “peace process”. Israel had adopted an old US ideology called “manifest destiny” and has used it consistently since 1947. But it’s a very outdated ideology and does not compute with the globalised geopolitical chessboard of the 21st century. When the world eventually realises the scale of Israel’s folly, we might see a window of opportunity open for reform there.

On a global scale, the dangers of this strange and possibly unique global context of instinctive geopolitical urgings, devoid of all ideology but if necessary ending in war, with no external logic or rationale such as potential economic gains, are hard to exaggerate.

Ideological Vacuum – Geopolitical Impasse

The current context thrusts us back to a 1914-era framework and process of geopolitical change, dominated by ‘power politics’ but with the massive difference being that today we have tail-end ideologies counting down and out, unlike the 1914-era with its rising, up-and-coming ideological conflicts. For some historians, including the most-quoted historian of Italian fascism, Renzo de Felice, World War I was the scene-setter for the later ideology-based war of 1939-1945. More important on this analytic basis, World War I was ultimately groundless, but it did help to create the ideological bases necessary for the “real war of civilizations”, World War II.

Today’s greatest danger is probably this: we are dealing with post-ideological and post-rational political mindsets dominated by shortsighted radical pragmatists, who seem able to reset and respond to semi-instinctive geopolitical groping of the types described by Mahan and Mackinder. The difference is that, today, the political elites do not have, or need a rational base or logical explanation, nor definition of what they want to achieve, nor can they articulate their motivations and aspirations.

There is however, an emerging paradigm which seems to excite western controllers which may be a clue to a coming ideology – and that is the rise of the post-modern ‘technocrat’ – who is backed by an accelerating technological and automated industrial and social grid. One visit to the Davos Summit and you’ll see it, packaged as ‘the cutting edge of everything’. The backbone of the post-modern technocracy is definitely a multinational corporate one, a duller, microchip-driven, post-modern continuation of 20th century fascist success nightmares. The technocracy hasn’t fully matured yet, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Much as the exact causes of World War I are still disputed and debated today – 100 years later. The current geopolitical process of change from Old Order to New Order is likely to become a future debating ground for historians and political scientists too. What we can conclude at present is that among the convergent drivers of change, we have the “Death of Ideologies” thrusting political leaders and heads of state into permanent confusion. By default, this enables instinctive age-old gropings in order to make their final decisions.

We therefore have a “stochastic model” for global change, where pure chance can easily play a major role – and we will all have to live with the results.

The Algerian Presidential Elections

April 19th, 2014 by Samir Amin

Algeria and Egypt share much in common inherited from Boumedienne and Nasser’s time. These two similar national popular projects of industrialisation and modernisation achieved important positive social progress, but were unable to move beyond their limits and thus opened the way to reversal.

Reactionary political Islam took advantage of the social disaster produced  by the submission of post Boumedienne and post Nasser regimes to the neo liberal recipes. Yet in the two countries this sad false alternative was defeated, at least for the time being.Nevertheless there are major differences between the two countries which ought to be mentioned.

The Algerian pre-colonial society had been thoroughly disintegrated by the onslaught of the French colonisation; and the political power of its former aristocratic ruling class plainly removed. The result was that Algeria became a plebeian societywhose citizens aspire to equalityto an extent unknown elsewhere in the Arab countries. The Algerian liberation war further reinforced these exceptional aspirations. In this respect the historical travel of Algeria differs from other. In Egypt modernisation was constructed from the very beginning, in the time of Mohammad Ali Pacha, by the Egyptian ruling class which unwrapped into an aristocratic bourgeoisie, albeit accepting later its submission to the Imperial British and later US order.

In Algeria the “Islamic Salvation Front” revealed its criminal face throughout the civil war that it initiated by its own decision. It was defeated by the Army and the State with the support of the people. The Algerian State, under President Bouteflika, also defeated the project of establishing in the Western Sahara of a so called Islamic “State” (named “Sahelistan”)  atthe expense of Algeria, Mali and Niger. This “emirate”, on the pattern of the Gulf States, would have monopolised the oil, uranium and other mineral wealth and aligned on the US pattern of globalisation.

Chadli Benjedid who succeeded to Boumedienne had proceeded along the same extreme policies as those of Sadat and Mubarak : unlimited privatisations, personal involvement of top officers in the plunder of State property, dismantlement of the national control of oil, uncontrolled opening to transnationals, corruption. The Islamic Front intended to pursue these policies, but to the exclusive benefit of its “emirs”, just like Morsi did.

But in Algeria after the civil war, with Bouteflika, these policies were partly corrected with steps taken to restore State control over the economy and in particular oil, including re-nationalisations, along with concessions to the democratic and social demands and the rights of the Amazighs far more actual than elsewhere in the Arab region.

Therefore no surprise that Algeria offers signs of a stronger capacity to resist imperialist global order than many other countries. The Algerian ruling class is certainly divided and ambiguous; but national aspiration is still alive among many of its leaders, in contrast with, for instance, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan, where the local bourgeoisie is entirely aligned and submitting to global imperialism. For all these reasons Algeria is a potential enemy that the West intends to destroy, if not through an Islamic regime (which was defeated), at least through the manipulation of the legitimate democratic demands, eventually the secession of the Sahara and the Kabyle region.

The election of Bouteflika is no surprise. In spite of his age and health, a majority supports his plan for recovery and certainly rejects a come-back of the Islamists. Moreover his election gives time to settle the internal conflicts among the ruling classes and avoid chaos. But the people voted with no enthusiasm; they expect more than what has been achieved.

The future of Algeria remains unsettled. A consolidation of an independent policy associated with social progress, which is the condition for its success, implies, as elsewhere in today’s world, significant advances in the democratisation of the society. Whether this challenge is understood and taken up by the political forces both supporting the regime or fighting it remains uncertain.

The Boston Marathon Bombing’s “Constructed Reality”

April 19th, 2014 by Prof. James F. Tracy

“The only feeling that anyone can have about an event he does not experience is the feeling aroused by his mental image of that event … For it is clear enough that under certain conditions men respond as powerfully to fictions as they do to realities.” Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion, 1922.

The careful coordination of information and visual representations governs the mass mind. The conditions for such are accentuated in times of perceived crisis. For a relatively brief period following the Boston Marathon bombing two sets of photographs emerged that actually depicted what appeared to have taken place at “ground zero,” where the first explosive device detonated. Each series of photos strongly suggests the execution of a mass casualty exercise.

The first set of photographs was taken by amateur sports photographer Benjamin Thorndike, whose employment as a financial advisor at FOC Partners on Boylston provided him with an ideal position. The second set was taken by graphic designer Aaron Tang, whose office is several doors down Boylston Street from FOC. In fact, Tang’s photos are especially revealing as they chronicle the unusual law enforcement and first responder reactions to the incident.

While Tang’s photos and personage are almost entirely absent from corporate news reportage and commentary, Thorndike and a handful of his more than two dozen photos receive sporadic consideration in the short-lived news cycle preceding 5:00PM on April 18, when the FBI revealed images of Tamarlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the vicinity of the finish line.

The federal government and its major media appendages would then employ this dubious evidence vis-á-vis the Tsarnaevs’ non-American otherness to essentially indict the brothers in the court of public opinion. The spectre of Muslim terrorism–an important propaganda element of the “war on terror”–further legitimated the declaration of martial law in the greater Boston area, culminating in the extrajudicial killing of Tamarlan and the near-murder (so far as the public is lead to believe) of Dzhokhar.

The Boston bombing’s “forgotten” photographs are worthy of further consideration as they suggest the ways in which major news media operate in a de facto censorial fashion with the federal government to highlight certain phenomena while simultaneously rendering important artifacts down the memory hole. The images’ misuse or sheer absence arguably contributed to a major tragedy and miscarriage of justice.

Thorndike’s credentials alongside his bird’s eye perspective of America’s most horrendous terrorist attack since September 11 are of tremendous significance. With this in mind one would think major media would have been clamoring to disseminate his eyewitness account and series of photographs worldwide. Indeed, following the event Mr. Thorndike made himself readily available to the media for interviews.

Although the Associated Press circulating a select few of Thorndike’s photos, LexisNexis and Start Page web searches for “Ben Thorndike” and “Boston Marathon bombing” between the dates April 15, 2013 to May 15, 2013 reveal photo credits in only three US print publications within two weeks of the incident–the New York Daily News (April 17) the Boston Globe (April 18) and the New York Times (April 27)[1] each of which used the photo below; one European paper, the Scottish Express, also used the photos in two pieces.[2] The Globe was the sole outlet to publish remarks from Thorndike extending beyond a soundbite.[3]

As for broadcast outlets, the same search for transcripts reveals only four stories referencing Thorndike, none of which extend beyond a reference or brief interview excerpt. CNN published seven of Thorndike’s photos on its website, yet referenced them only once in subsequent broadcasts.[4]

Mr. Thorndike asserts that he was at his office building on Boylston almost directly above where the first explosion erupted on April 15, 2013. “Almost momentarily when I got there, directly in front of me, right in my sight-line, the explosion went off,” he said. “Just out of reflex, I had the camera on, had it in sports mode, which means I can shoot rapid-fire.” As CBS Boston reported,

“Thorndike shot a sequence of 25 photos right after the blast that shows injured and stunned victims on the ground below. But it was the behavior of one man — seen running from the scene — that prompted Thorndike to contact the FBI.”

“His reflex is to sprint away that really caught my eye [sic]” Thorndike recalls. “Everyone else in the photo is stunned, shocked and frozen,” he said. “It’s either someone who is badly burned, panicked and running, or they’re running for another reason.”[5]

The important fact overlooked, however, that the observed man is running with all limbs intact from the epicenter of a harrowing blast and its purportedly lethal wave of shrapnel.

Thorndike turned the photos over to FBI investigators, who repeatedly interviewed him concerning what he observed. The FBI was tight-lipped concerning the investigation, and what some media termed the “running away man” depicted in the photographs who remains unidentified.

Thorndike’s photographs of what transpired at “ground zero” of the Boston Marathon bombing event contrast sharply with the widely-circulated video footage from the Boston Globe, where the videographer appears to purposely arch the camera away from alleged bombing victims and activity on the sidewalk.

Although more than 260 individuals supposedly suffered injuries as a result of the bombings,[6] the high resolution photographs of both Thorndike and Tang indicate no more than three-to-four dozen persons in the immediate vicinity of the initial explosion, most of whom remain mobile in the immediate aftermath and are soon eclipsed in number by law enforcement and medical responders.

According to the CBS Boston report, “Thorndike and his co-workers fled soon after the photos were taken.” This is perhaps an unusual observation since journalists given that within seconds of the detonations the Boston Police locked down surrounding buildings in order to strictly control media access to the unfolding event. [See, for example, video here at 0:07-2:24].[7] CBS also curiously reports, “All the other bay windows in the office were blown out except the one where Thorndike stood.”[8]

img_8722

{Photo Credit: Benjamin Thorndike]

In terms of broadcast, with the exception of the more detailed interview highlighted above by CBS Boston, the novice photographer is given a soundbite on ABC and NBC newscasts, as the photos are presented and lightly touched upon.[9] For example, like Thorndike, NBC’s Pete Williams similarly references the man emerging from the center of the initial blast. “[Y]ou can see the impact of the blast has partially ripped his clothes away,” Williams remarks.[10]

Thorndike’s photos are also brought up twice on one specific CNN program by the cable channel’s “law enforcement analyst” Mike Brooks, who explains how the visual evidence from a typical crime investigation is handled. “What [federal law enforcement] have done,” Brooks remarks, is that

they will take this picture, any video that is along that route, and they will try to put together a timeline. Going back before, during and after and what they’ll do is they’ll take this video, and they will send it to Quantico. The FBI lab at Quantico has an engineering section. I have used them on a number of my cases to help enhance video and the technology has increased so much, you know, over the years–”[11]

What the FBI in fact proceeded to do with the assistance of major media was almost the exact opposite–focusing on the Tsarnaevs to the exclusion of all other agents and phenomena–and foregrounding these images alongside those of purported evidence and the injured to forthrightly incriminate the Tsarnaevs. The overall effect of this gross manipulation was evident in the jubilation exhibited by Boston residents upon Tamarlan’s murder and Dzhokhar’s capture; mass ecstasy eerily akin to the effect of a public lynching.

Events such as momentous political assassinations, the Tonkin Gulf, Oklahoma City, and 9/11 have suggested that government-corporate manipulation of the public for broader political ends is not difficult to achieve. Control over an event and the select use of stimuli elicits certain desired responses. This is particularly the case in a society that exercises almost unquestioning allegiance toward what Erich Fromm termed “anonymous authority.” The Boston Marathon bombing event suggests the end result of this blind faith; how such finely tuned stagecraft can mobilize a mass mentality to the degree that it misinterprets the implementation of martial law as a genuine representation of a public will.

Notes:

[1] Bev Ford, Greg B. Smith, and Larry McShane, “Police Narrow in on Two Suspects in Boston Marathon Bombing,” New York Daily News, April 17, 2013; Brian MacQuarrie, “Spectator’s Picture [sic] of Scene Draws Attention,” Boston Globe, April 18, 2013; Katharinie Q. Steelye and Ian Lovett, “After Attack, Suspects Returned to Routines, Raising No Suspicions,” New York Times, April 28, 2013.

[2] “Boston Terror Link to N-bomb at Olympics,” Scottish Express, April 21, 2013; “Did Hamza [sic] Inspire Boston Bombers?” Scottish Express, April 28, 2013.

[3] Sera Congi, “Photographer Discusses Images of Boston Marathon Bombing Blast,” CBS WBZ TV Boston, April 17, 2013.

[4] “After the Explosion: Moment by Moment,” CNN, April 17, 2013.

[4] Congi, “Photographer Discusses Images of Boston Marathon Bombing Blast.”

[5] Ibid.

[6] James F. Tracy, “The Boston Marathon Bombing’s Inflated Injury Tallies,” Global Research, May 11, 2013.

[7] PlasmaBurns, “Heroes Are Scripted – Boston Lies,” YouTube, January 11, 2014.

[8] Congi, “Photographer Discusses Images of Boston Marathon Bombing Blast.”

[9] Brian Williams, Anne Thompson, et al., “NBC News for April 16, 2013,” NBC; “Images of Bomb and Torn Backpack, Pressure Cooker with Ball Bearings,” ABC News Transcript, April 17, 2013; Anderson Cooper, Tom Fuentes, et al., “Reports On Bombing Arrest; Justice Department: No Arrest Made,” CNN, April 17, 2013; Mark Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, et al., “NBC News for April 17, 2013.”

[10] Lauer, Guthrie, et al., “NBC News for April 17, 2013.”

[11] Cooper, Fuentes, et al., “Reports On Bombing Arrest; Justice Department: No Arrest Made,” CNN, April 17, 2013.

War Creates Massive Debt and Makes the Banks Rich

April 19th, 2014 by Washington's Blog

Bankers are often the driving force behind war.

After all, the banking system is founded upon the counter-intuitive but indisputable fact that banks create loans first, and then create deposits later.

In other words, virtually all money is actually created as debt. For example, in a hearing held on September 30, 1941 in the House Committee on Banking and Currency, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve (Mariner S. Eccles) said:

That is what our money system is. If there were no debts in our money system, there wouldn’t be any money.

And Robert H. Hemphill, Credit Manager of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, said:

If all the bank loans were paid, no one could have a bank deposit, and there would not be a dollar of coin or currency in circulation. This is a staggering thought. We are completely dependent on the commercial Banks. Someone has to borrow every dollar we have in circulation, cash or credit. If the Banks create ample synthetic money we are prosperous; if not, we starve. We are absolutely without a permanent money system. When one gets a complete grasp of the picture, the tragic absurdity of our hopeless position is almost incredible, but there it is. It is the most important subject intelligent persons can investigate and reflect upon. It is so important that our present civilization may collapse unless it becomes widely understood and the defects remedied very soon.

Debt (from the borrower’s perspective) owed to banks is profit and income from the bank’s perspective.  In other words, banks are in the business of creating more debt … i.e. finding more people who want to borrow larger sums.

Debt is so central to our banking system. Indeed, Federal Reserve chairman Greenspan was so worriedthat the U.S. would pay off it’s debt, that he suggested tax cuts for the wealthy to increase the debt.

What does this have to do with war?

War is the most efficient debt-creation machine.   For starters, wars are very expensive.

For example, Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz estimated in 2008 that the Iraq war could cost America up to $5 trillion dollars.  And a new study by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies says the Iraq war costs could exceed $6 trillion, when interest payments to the banks are taken into account.

This is nothing new … but has been going on for thousands of years. As a Cambridge University Press treatise on ancient Athens notes:

Financing wars is expensive business, and the scope for initiative was regularly extended by borrowing.

So wars have been a huge – and regular – way for banks to create debt for kings and presidents who want to try to expand their empires.

War is also good for banks because a lot of material, equipment, buildings and infrastructure get destroyed in war.    So countries go into massive debt to finance war, and then borrow a ton more to rebuild.

The advent of central banks hasn’t changed this formula.   Specifically, the big banks (“primary dealers”) loan money to the Fed, and charge interest for the loan.

So when a nation like the U.S. gets into a war, the Fed pumps out money for the war effort based upon loans from the primary dealers, who make a killing in interest payments from the Fed.

A Russian Internet news site Iskra (“Spark”) based in Zaporozhye, eastern Ukraine,  reported on March 7, that  “Ukraine’s gold reserves had been hastily airlifted to the United States from Borispol Airport east of Kiev”.

This alleged airlift and confiscation of Ukraine’s gold reserves by the New York Federal Reserve has not been confirmed by the Western media.

According to Iskra News:

At 2 a.m. this morning [March 7] an unmarked transport plane was on the runway at Borispol Airport (right) [east of Kiev]. According to airport staff, before the plane came to the airport, four trucks and two Volkswagen minibuses arrived, all the truck license plates missing.

Сегодня ночью из Fifteen people in black uniforms, masks, and body armor stepped out, some armed with machine guns. They loaded the plane with more than 40 heavy boxes.

After that a mysterious man arrived and entered the plane.

All loading was done in a hurry.

The plane took off on an emergency basis.

Those who saw this mysterious special operation immediately notified the airport officials, who told the callers not to meddle in other people’s affairs.

Later a returned call from a senior official of the former Ministry of Revenue reported that tonight, on the orders of one of the new leaders of Ukraine, the United States had taken custody of all the gold reserves in Ukraine.” Сегодня ночью из “Борисполя” в США страртовал самолёт с золотым запасом Украины,  iskra-news.info. Zaporozhye, Ukraine, March 7, 2014, translated from Russian by the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc (GATA), emphasis added)

Following this disclosure, GATA’s Secretary Treasurer Chris Powell requested the New Federal Reserve and the US State Department to indicate whether the NY Fed had “taken custody” of Ukraine’s Gold.

A spokesman for the New York Fed said simply: “Any inquiry regarding gold accounts should be directed to the account holder. You may want to contact the National Bank of Ukraine to discuss this report.”

GATA’s similar inquiry of last night to the U.S. State Department has not yet prompted any reply.

Last night GATA called this issue to the attention of about 30 mainstream financial journalists and newsletter writers in the admittedly bizarre hope that they might pose the question as well.

1) The first rule of mainstream financial journalism and particularly financial journalism about gold is never to put a specific critical question about the monetary metal to any of the primary participants in the gold market, central banks. That is, nearly all gold market reporting is, by design, irrelevant distraction at best, disinformation at worst.

2) The true location and disposition of national gold reserves are secrets far more sensitive than the location and disposition of nuclear weapons. Chris Powell, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.

While the unconfirmed report regarding Ukraine’s gold reserves has not been the object of coverage by the mainstream financial news, the story was nonetheless picked up by the Shanghai Metals Market at  Metal.com. which states, quoting a report from the Ukrainian government, that Ukraine’s gold reserves had been “moved on an aircraft from … Kiev to the United States… in 40 sealed boxes” loaded on an unidentified aircraft.

The unconfirmed source quoted by Metal.com, says that the operation to airlift Ukraine’s gold had been ordered by the acting Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk with a view to safe-keeping Ukraine’s gold reserves at the NY Fed, against a possible Russian invasion which could lead to the confiscation of Ukraine’s gold reserves.

On March 10, kingworldnews, a prominent online financial blog site published an incisive interview with William Kaye, a Hong Kong based hedge fund manager at Pacific Group Ltd. who had previously worked for Goldman Sachs in mergers and acquisitions.  ‎

The Spoils of War and Regime Change

Of significance in this interview with William Kaye is the analogy between Ukraine, Iraq and Libya. Lest we forget, both Iraq and Libya had their gold reserves confiscated by the US. According to Kaye,  the destination was the New York Fed.

The National Bank of Ukraine (Central Bank) estimated Ukraine’s gold reserves in February to be worth 1.8 billion dollars. According to William Kaye: “That would amount to a very nice down payment to the $5 billion that Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland boasted that the United States has already spent in their efforts to destabilize Ukraine, and put in place their own unelected  government.(KingsWorldNews  emphasis added). Kaye also confirmed in the interview that Washington was behind the appointment of the new head of the National  Bank of Ukraine (NBU) Stepan Kubiv:

“This would have been his first major decision to transport that gold out of Ukraine to the United States. …Ukraine will … very likely never see that gold again.” (Read Complete interview at KingsWorldNews, March 10, 2014, emphasis added)

Acting prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused the Yanukovych government of having stolen Ukraine’s gold reserves.  This statement was made on February 27th, less than week prior to the report on the alleged airlifting of Ukraine’s gold to the  New York, which is yet to be confirmed.

When discussing the Ukraine-Crimea “crisis” it might be hygienic for Americans, including their political class, think-tank pundits, and talking heads, to recall two striking moments in “the dawn’s early light” of the U. S. Empire: in 1903, in the wake of the Spanish-American War, under President Theodore Roosevelt America seized control of the southern part of Guantanamo Bay by way of a Cuban-American Treaty which recognizes Cuba’s ultimate sovereignty over this base; a year after the Bolshevik Revolution, in 1918, President Woodrow Wilson dispatched 5,000 U. S. troops to Arkhangelsk in Northern Russia to participate in the Allied intervention in Russia’s Civil  War, which raised the curtain on the First Cold War.  Incidentally, in 1903 there was no Fidel Castro in Havana and in 1918 no Joseph Stalin in the Kremlin.

It might also be salutary to note that this standoff on Ukraine-Crimea is taking place in the unending afterglow of the Second Cold War and at a time when the sun is beginning to set on the American Empire as a new international system of multiple great powers emerges.

Of course, empires have ways of not only rising and thriving but of declining and expiring.  It is one of Edward Gibbon’s insightful and challenging questions about the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that is of particular relevance today.  Gibbon eventually concluded that while the causes for Rome’s decline and ruin were being successfully probed and explicated, there remained the great puzzle as to why “it had subsisted for so long.”  Indeed, the internal and external causes for this persistence are many and complex.  But one aspect deserves special attention: the reliance on violence and war to slow down and delay the inevitable.  In modern and contemporary times the European empires kept fighting not only among themselves, but also against the “new-caught, sullen peoples, half-devil and half-child,” once these dared to resist and eventually rise up against their imperial-colonial overlords.  After 1945 in India and Kenya; in Indochina and Algeria; in Iran and Suez; in Congo.  Needless to say, to this day the still-vigorous

U. S. empire and the fallen European empires lock arms in efforts to save what can be saved in the ex-colonial lands throughout the Greater Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

There is no denying that America’s uniquely informal empire, without settler colonies, expanded headlong across the globe during and following World War Two.  It did so thanks to having been spared the enormous and horrid loss of life, material devastation, and economic ruin which befell all the other major belligerents, Allied and Axis.  To boot, America’s mushrooming “military-industrial complex” overnight fired the Pax Americana’s momentarily unique martial, economic, and soft power.

By now the peculiar American Empire is past its apogee.  Its economic, fiscal, social, civic, and cultural sinews are seriously fraying.  At the same time the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) and Iran are claiming their place in the concert of world powers in which, for a good while, one and all will play by the rules of a new-model mercantilism in a globalizing soit-disant “free market” capitalist economy.

America’s splendid era of overseas “boots on the ground” and “regime change” is beginning to draw to a close.  Even in the hegemonic sphere decreed by the Monroe Doctrine there is a world of difference between yesteryear’s and today’s interventions.  In the not so distant good old times the U. S. horned in rather nakedly in Guatemala (1954), Cuba (1962), Dominican Republic (1965), Chile (1973), Nicaragua (1980s), Grenada (1983), Bolivia (1986), Panama (1989), and Haiti (2004), almost invariably without enthroning and empowering more democratic and socially progressive “regimes.”  Presently Washington may be said to tread with considerably greater caution as it uses a panoply of crypto NGO-type agencies and agents in Venezuela.  It does so because in every domain, except the military, the empire is not only vastly overextended but also because over the last few years left-leaning governments/“regimes” have emerged in five Latin American nations which most likely will become every less economically and diplomatically dependent on and fearful of the U. S.

Though largely subliminal, the greater the sense and fear of imperial decay and decline, the greater the national hubris and arrogance of power which cuts across party lines.  To be sure, the tone and vocabulary in which neo-conservatives and right-of-center conservatives keep trumpeting America’s self-styled historically unique exceptionalism, grandeur, and indispensability is shriller than that of left-of-center “liberals” who, in the fray, tend to be afraid of their own shadow.  Actually, Winston Churchill’s position and rhetoric is emblematic of conservatives and their fellow travelers in the epoch of the West’s imperial decline which overlapped with the rise and fall of the Soviet Union and Communism.  Churchill was a fiery anti-Soviet and anti-Communist of the very first hour and became a discreet admirer of Mussolini and Franco before, in 1942, proclaiming loud and clear: “I have not become the King’s First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire.”  By then Churchill had also long since become the chief crier of the ideologically fired “appeasement” mantra which was of one piece with his landmark “Iron Curtain” speech of March 1946.  Needless to say, never a word about London and Paris, in the run-up to Munich, having willfully ignored or refused Moscow’s offer to collaborate on the Czech (Sudeten) issue.  Nor did Churchill and his aficionados ever concede that the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact (Nazi-Soviet Pact) of August 1939 was sealed a year after the Munich Pact, and that both were equally infamous ideologically informed geopolitical and military chess moves.

To be sure, Stalin was an unspeakably cruel tyrant.  But it was Hitler’s Nazi Germany that invaded and laid waste Soviet Russia through the corridor of Central and Eastern Europe, and it was the Red Army, not the armies of the Western allies, which at horrendous cost broke the spinal cord of the Wehrmacht.  If the major nations of the European Union today hesitate to impose full-press economic sanctions on Moscow for its defiance on Crimea and Ukraine it is not only because of their likely disproportionate boomerang effect on them.  The Western Powers, in particular Germany, have a Continental rather than Transatlantic recollection and narrative of Europe’s Second Thirty Years Crisis and War followed by the American-driven and –financed unrelenting Cold War against the “evil empire”—practically to this day.

During the reign of Nikita Khrushchev and Mikhail Gorbachev NATO, founded in 1949 and essentially led and financed by the U. S., inexorably pushed right up to or against Russia’s borders.  This became most barefaced following 1989 to 1991, when Gorbachev freed the “captive nations” and signed on to the reunification of Germany.  Between 1999 and 2009 all the liberated Eastern European countries—former Warsaw Pact members—bordering on Russia as well as three former Soviet republics were integrated into NATO, to eventually account for easily one-third of the 28 member nations of this North Atlantic military alliance.  Alone Finland opted for a disarmed neutrality within first the Soviet and then post-Soviet Russian sphere.  Almost overnight Finland was traduced not only for “appeasing” its neighboring nuclear superpower but also for being a dangerous role model for the rest of Europe and the then so-called Third World.  Indeed, during the perpetual Cold War, in most of the “free world” the term and concept “Finlandization” became a cuss word well-nigh on a par with Communism, all the more so because it was embraced by those critics of the Cold War zealots who advocated a “third way” or “non-alignment.”  All along, NATO, to wit Washington, intensely eyed both Georgia and Ukraine.

By March 2, 2014, the U. S. Department of State released a “statement on the situation in Ukraine by the North Atlantic Council” in which it declared that “Ukraine is a valued partner for NATO and a founding member of the Partnership for Peace . . . [and that] NATO Allies will continue to support Ukrainian sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and the right of the Ukrainian people to determine their own future, without outside interference.”  The State Department also stressed that “in addition to its traditional defense of Allied nations, NATO leads the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and has ongoing missions in the Balkans and the Mediterranean; it also conducts extensive training exercises and offers security support to partners around the globe, including the European Union in particular but also the United Nations and the African Union.”

Within a matter of days following Putin’s monitory move NATO, notably President Obama, countered in kind: a guided-missile destroyer crossed the Bosphoros into the Black Sea for naval exercises with the Romanian and Bulgarian navies; additional F-15 fighter jets were dispatched to reinforce NATO patrol missions being flown over the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; and a squadron of F-16 fighter bombers and a fulsome company of “boots on the ground” was hastened to Poland.   Of course, theses deployments and reinforcements ostensibly were ordered at the urging of these NATO allies along Russia’s borders, all of whose “regimes” between the wars, and especially during the 1930s, had not exactly been paragons of democracy and because of their Russo-cum-anti-Communist phobia had moved closer to Nazi Germany.  And once Hitler’s legions crashed into Russia through the borderlands not insignificant sectors of their political and civil societies were not exactly innocent by-standers or collaborators in Operation Barbarossa and the Judeocide.

To be sure, Secretary of State John Kerry, the Obama administration’s chief finger wagger, merely denounced Putin’s deployment in and around Ukraine-Crimea as an “act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of pretext.”  For good measure he added, however, that “you just do not invade another country,” and he did so at a time there was nothing illegal about Putin’s move.  But Hillary Clinton, Kerry’s predecessor, and most likely repeat candidate for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency, rather than outright demonize Putin as an unreconstructed KGB operative or a mini-Stalin went straight for the kill: “Now if this sounds familiar. . . it is like Hitler did back in the ‘30s.”  Presently, as if to defang criticism of her verbal thrust, Clinton averred that “I just want people to have a little historic perspective,” so that they should learn from the Nazis’ tactics in the run-up to World War II.

As for Republican Senator John McCain, defeated by Barack Obama for the Presidency in 2008, he was on the same wavelength, in that he charged that his erstwhile rival’s “feckless” foreign policy practically invited Putin’s aggressive move, with the unspoken implication that President Obama was a latter-day Neville Chamberlain, the avatar of appeasement.

But ultimately it was Republican Senator Lindsey Graham who said out loud what was being whispered in so many corridors of the foreign policy establishment and on so many editorial boards of the mainline media.  He advocated “creating a democratic noose around Putin’s Russia.”  To this end Graham called for preparing the ground to make Georgia and Moldova members of NATO.  Graham also advocated upgrading the military capability of the most “threatened” NATO members along Russia’s borders, along with an expansion of radar and missile defense systems.  In short, he would “fly the NATO flag as strongly as I could around Putin”—in keeping with NATO’s policy since
1990.  Assuming different roles, while Senator Graham kept up the hawkish drumbeat on the Hill and in the media Senator McCain hastened to Kiev to affirm the “other” America’s resolve, competence, and muscle as over the fecklessness of President Obama and his foreign-policy team.  He went to Ukraine’s capital a first time in December, and the second time, in mid-March 2014, as head of a bipartisan delegation of eight like-minded Senators.

On Kiev’s Maidan Square, or Independence Square, McCain not only mingled with and addressed the crowd of ardent anti-Russian nationalists, not a few of them neo-fascists, but also consorted with Victoria Nuland, U. S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.  Too much has been made of her revealing or unfortunate “fuck the EU” expletive in her tapped phone conversation with the local U. S. Ambassador Geoffrey Ryatt and her distribution of sweets on Maidan Square.   What really matters is that Nuland is a consummate insider of Washington’s imperial foreign policy establishment in that she served in the Clinton and Bush administrations before coming on board the Obama administration, having close relations with Hillary Clinton.

Besides, she is married to Robert Kagan, a wizard of geopolitics who though generally viewed as a sworn neo-conservative is every bit as much at home as his spouse among mainline Republicans and Democrats.  He was a foreign-policy advisor to John McCain and Mitt Romney during their presidential runs, respectively in 2008 and 2012, before President Obama let on that he embraced some of the main arguments in The World America Made (2012), Kagan’s latest book.  In it he spells out ways to preserve the empire by way of controlling with some twelve naval task forces built around unsurpassable nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, its expanding Mare Nostrum in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean.

As a disciple of Alfred Thayer Mahan, quite naturally Kagan earned his spurs and his entrée to the inner circles of the makers and shakers of foreign and military policy by spending years at the Carnegie Endowment and Brookings Institution.   That was before, in 1997, he became a co-founder, with William Kristol, of the neo-conservative Project for the New American Century, committed to the promotion of America’s “global leadership” in pursuit of its national security and interests.  A few years later, after this think tank expired, Kagan and Kristol began to play a leading role in the Foreign Policy Initiative, its lineal ideological descendant.

But the point is not that Victoria Nuland’s demarche in Maidan Square may have been unduly influenced by her husband’s writings and political engagements.  Indeed, on the Ukrainian question, she is more likely to have been attentive to Zbigniew Brzezinski, another highly visible geopolitician who, however, has been swimming exclusively in Democratic waters ever since 1960, when he advised John F. Kennedy during his presidential campaign and then became national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter.  Heavily fixed on Eurasia, Brzezinski is more likely to stand on Clausewitz’s rather than Mahan’s shoulders.  But both Kagan and Brzezinski are red-blooded imperial Americans.  In 1997, in his The Great Chessboard Brzezinski argued that “the struggle for global primacy [would] continue to be played” on the Eurasian “chessboard,” and that as a “new and important space on [this] chessboard . . . Ukraine was a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia.”  Indeed, “if Moscow regains control over Ukraine, with its [then] 52 million people and major resources, as well as access to the Black Sea,” Russia would “automatically again regain the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia.”  The unwritten script of Brzezinski, one of Obama’s foreign policy advisors: intensify the West’s—America’s—efforts, by means fair and foul, to detach Ukraine from the Russian sphere of influence, including especially the Black Sea Peninsula with its access to the Eastern Mediterranean via the Aegean Sea.

Presently rather than focus on the geopolitical springs and objectives of Russia’s “aggression” against Ukraine-Crimea Brzezinski turned the spotlight on the nefarious intentions and methods of Putin’s move on the Great Chessboard.  To permit Putin to have his way in Ukraine-Crimea would be “similar to the two phases of Hitler’s seizure of Sudetenland after Munich in 1938 and the final occupation of Prague and Czechoslovakia in early 1938.”  Incontrovertibly “much depends on how clearly the West conveys to the dictator in the Kremlin—a partially comical imitation of Mussolini and a more menacing reminder of Hitler—that NATO cannot be passive if war erupts in Europe.”  For should Ukraine be “crushed with the West simply watching the new freedom and security of Romania, Poland, and the three Baltic republics would also be threatened.”  Having resuscitated the domino theory, Brzezinski urged the West to “promptly recognize the current government of Ukraine legitimate” and assure it “privately . . . that the Ukrainian army can count on immediate and direct Western aid so as to enhance its defense capabilities.”  At the same time “NATO forces . . . should be put on alert [and] high readiness for some immediate airlift to Europe of U. S. airborne units would be politically and militarily meaningful.”  And as an afterthought Brzezinski suggested that along with “such efforts to avoid miscalculations that could lead to war” the West should reaffirm its “desire for a peaceful accommodation . . . [and] reassure Russia that it is not seeking to draw Ukraine into NATO or turn it against Russia.”  Indeed, mirabile dictu, Brzezinski, like Henry Kissinger, his fellow geopolitician with a cold-war imperial mindset, adumbrated a form of Finlandization of Ukraine—but, needless to say, not of the other eastern border states—without, however, letting on that actually Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, had recently made some such proposal.

Of course, the likes of Kagan, Brzezinski, and Kissinger keep mum about America’s inimitable hand in the “regime change” in Kiev which resulted in a government in which the ultra-nationalists and neo-fascists, who had been in the front lines on Maidan Square, are well represented.

Since critics of America’s subversive interventions tend to be dismissed as knee-jerk left-liberals wired to exaggerate their dark anti-democratic side it might help to listen to a voice which on this issue can hardly be suspect.  Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League and renowned inquisitor of anti-Semitism, concedes that “there is no doubt that Ukraine, like Croatia, was one of those places where local militias played a key role in the murder of thousands of Jews during World War II.”  And anti-Semitism “having by no means disappeared from Ukraine . . . in recent months there have been a number of anti-Semitic incidents and there are at least two parties in Ukraine, Svoboda and Right Sector, that have within them some extreme nationalists and anti-Semites.”

But having said that, Foxman insists that it is “pure demagoguery and an effort to rationalize criminal behavior on the part of Russia to invoke the anti-Semitism ogre into the struggle in Ukraine, . . . for it is fair to say that there was more anti-Semitism manifest in the worldwide Occupy Wall Street movement than we have seen so far in the revolution taking place in Ukraine.”  To be sure, Putin “plays the anti-Semitism card” much as he plays that of Moscow rushing to “protect ethnic Russians from alleged extremist Ukrainians.”  Even at that, however, “it is, of course, reprehensible to suggest that Putin’s policies in Ukraine are anything akin to Nazi policies during World War II.”  But then Foxman hastens to stress that it “is not absurd to evoke Hitler’s lie” about the plight of the Sudeten Germans as comparable to “exactly” what “Putin is saying and doing in Crimea” and therefore needs to be “condemned . . . as forcefully . . . as the world should have condemned the German move into the Sudetenland.”

Abraham Foxman’s tortured stance is consonant with that of American and Israeli hardliners who mean to contain and roll back a resurgent great-power Russia, as much in Syria and Iran as in its “near abroad” in Europe and Asia.

As if listening to Brzezinski and McCain, Washington is building up its forces in the Baltic states, especially Poland, with a view to give additional bite to sanctions.  But this old-style intervention will cut little ice unless fully concerted, militarily and economically, with NATO’s weighty members, which seems unlikely.  Of course, America has drones and weapons of mass destruction—but so does Russia.

In any case, for unreconstructed imperials, and for AIPAC, the crux of the matter is not Russia’s European “near abroad” but its reemergence in the Greater Middle East, presently in Syria and Iran, and this at a time when, according to Kagan, the Persian Gulf was paling in strategic and economic importance compared to the Asia-Pacific region where China is an awakening sleeping giant that even now is the globe’s second largest economy—over half the size of the U. S. economy—and the unreal third largest holder of America’s public debt—by far the largest foreign holder of U. S. Treasury bonds.

In sum, the unregenerate U. S. empire means to actively contain both Russia and China in the true-and-tried modus operandi, starting along and over Russia’s European “near abroad” and the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait connecting the South China Sea to the East China Sea.

Because of ever growing budgetary constraints Washington has long since complained about its major NATO partners dragging their financial and military feet.  This fiscal squeeze will intensify exponentially with the pivoting to the Pacific which demands steeply rising “defense” expenditures unlikely to be shared by a NATO-like Asia-Pacific alliance.  Although most likely there will be a cutback in bases in the Atlantic world, Europe, and the Middle East, with the geographic realignment of America’s global basing the money thus saved will be spent many times over on the reinforcement and expansion of an unrivaled fleet of a dozen task forces built around nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.   After all, the Pacific and Indian oceans combined being easily more than twice the size of the Atlantic and though, according to Kagan, China is not quite yet an “existential threat” it is “developing one or two aircraft carriers, . . . anti-ship ballistic missiles . . . and submarines.”  Even now there are some flashpoints comparable to Crimea, Baltic, Syria, and Iran: the dustup between Japan and China over control of the sea lanes and the air space over the potentially oil-rich South China Sea; and the Sino-Japanese face-off over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.  Whereas it is all but normal for Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, and South Korea to have tensions, even conflictual relations, with China and North Korea, it is something radically different for the United States to NATOize them in the pursuit of its own imperial interest in the furthest reaches of its now contested Mare Nostrum.

The Pacific-Asian pivot will, of course, further overstretch the empire in a time of spiraling fiscal and budgetary constraints which reflect America’s smoldering systemic economic straits and social crisis, generative of growing political dysfunction and dissension.  To be sure, rare and powerless are those in political and academic society who question the GLORIA PRO NATIONE: America the greatest, exceptional, necessary, and do-good nation determined to maintain the world’s strongest and up-to-date military and cyber power.

And therein lies the rub.  The U.S.A. accounts for close to 40% of the world’s military expenditures, compared to some 10% by China and 5.5% by Russia.  The Aerospace and Defense Industry contributes close to 3% oi GDP and is the single largest positive contributor to the nation’s balance of trade.  America’s three largest arms companies—Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing—are the world’s largest, employing some 400,000 hands, and all but corner the world’s market in their “products.”  Of late defense contracting firms have grown by leaps and bounds in a nation-empire increasingly loathe to deploy conventional boots on the ground.  These corporate contractors provide an ever greater ratio of contract support field personnel, many of them armed, over regular army personnel.  Eventually, in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom private contract and regular military personnel were practically on a par.

This hasty evocation of the tip of America’s military iceberg is but a reminder of President Dwight Eisenhower’s forewarning, in 1961, of an “immense military establishment” in lockstep with “a large arms industry. . . [acquiring] unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought,” injurious to democracy.  At the time Ike could hardly have imagined the gargantuan growth and political weight of this military-industrial complex or the emergence, within it, of a corporate-contract mercenary army.

The formidable oligarchy of arms makers and merchants at the heart of the military-industrial complex fields a vast army of lobbyists in Washington.  In recent years the arms lobby, writ large, spent countless millions during successive election cycles, its contributions being all but equally divided between Democrats and Republicans.  And this redoubtable octopus-like “third house” is not about to sign on to substantial cuts in military spending, all the less so since it moves in sync with other hefty defense-related lobbies, such as oil, which is not likely to support the down-sizing of America’s navy which, incidentally, is far and away the largest plying, nay patrolling, the world’s oceans—trade routes.

There is, of course, a considerable work force, including white-collar employees, that earns its daily bread in the bloated “defense” sector.  It does so in an economy whose industrial/manufacturing sectors are shrinking, considerably because of outsourcing, most of it overseas.   This twisted or peculiar federal budget and free-market economy not only spawn unemployment and underemployment but breed growing popular doubt about the material and psychic benefits of empire.

In 1967, when Martin Luther King, Jr., broke his silence on the war in Vietnam, he spoke directly to the interpenetration of domestic and foreign policy in that conflict.  He considered this war an imperialist intervention in far-distant Southeast Asia at the expense of the “Great Society” which President Johnson, who escalated this war, proposed to foster at home.  After lamenting the terrible sacrifice of life on both sides, King predicated that “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” He even intimated that “there is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent . . . the richest and most powerful nation in the world . . . from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war.”

Almost 50 years later President Obama and his staff, as well as nearly all Democratic and Republican Senators and Representatives, policy wonks and pundits, remain confirmed and unquestioning imperials.  Should any of them read Gibbon they would pay no mind to his hunch that “the decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness” which by blowback corroded the polity, society, and culture that carried it.  Of course today, with no barbarians at the gates, there is no need for legions of ground forces so that the bankrupting “defense” budget is for a military of airplanes, ships, missiles, drones, cyber-weapons, and weapons of mass destruction.  Si vis pacem para bellum—against whom and for which objectives?

In the midst of the Ukraine “crisis” President Obama flew to The Hague for the third meeting of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) chartered in 2010 to prevent nuclear terrorism around the world.  The NSS was Obama’s idea and project, spelled out in an official statement issued by the White House Press Secretary on the eve of its founding meeting in April 2010 in Washington.  This statement stressed that “over 2,000 tons of plutonium and highly enriched uranium exist in dozens of countries” and that there have been “18 documented cases of theft or loss of highly enriched uranium or plutonium.”  But above all :”we know that al-Qaeda, and possibly other terrorist or criminal groups, are seeking nuclear weapons—as well as the materials and expertise needed to make them.”  But the U. S., not being “the only country that would suffer from nuclear terrorism” and unable to “prevent it on its own,” the NSS means to “highlight the global threat” and take the urgently necessary preventive measures.

Conceived and established in the aftermath of 9/11, by the latest count the NSS rallies 83 nations bent on collaborating to head off this scourge by reducing the amount of vulnerable nuclear material worldwide and tightening security of all nuclear materials and radioactive sources in their respective countries.  At The Hague, with a myriad of journalists covering the event, some 20 heads of state and government and some 5,000 delegates took stock of advances made thus far in this arduous mission and swore to press on.  But there was a last minute dissonance.  Sergey Lavrov, the Foreign Minister of Russia, and Yi Jinping, the President of China, along with 18 other chief delegates, refused to sign a declaration calling on member nations to admit inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to check on their measures to rein in the menace of nuclear terrorism.

Inevitably the standoff over Ukraine-Crimea dimmed, even overshadowed, the hoped-for éclat of the Nuclear Security Summit.  President Obama’s mind was centered on an ad hoc session of the G 8  in the Dutch capital; a visit to NATO Headquarters in Brussels; an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican, in Rome; and a hastily improvised meeting with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh.  Except for his visit with the Holy Father, from which he may have hoped to draw a touch of grace and indulgence, in his other meetings the President reasserted and proclaimed that America was and meant to remain what Hubert Védrine, a former French Foreign Minister, called the world’s sole “hyperpower.”  The Ukraine-Crimea imbroglio merely gave this profession and affirmation a greater exigency.

It is ironical that the scheduled Nuclear Security Summit was the curtain-raiser for the President’s double-quick imperial round of improvised meetings in the dawn of what Paul Bracken, another embedded and experienced geopolitician, avers to be The Second Nuclear Age (2012), this one in a multipolar rather than bipolar world.  Actually Bracken merely masterfully theorized what had long since become the guiding idea and practice throughout the foreign policy-cum-military establishment.  Or, as Molière’s Monsieur Jourdain would put it, for many years the members of this establishment had been “speaking prose without even knowing it.”

The negotiated elimination or radical reduction of nuclear weapons is completely off the agenda.  It is dismissed as a quixotic ideal in a world of nine nuclear powers: U. S., Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea—and Israel.  It was on Obama’s watch that the U. S. and post-Soviet Russia agreed that neither would deploy more than roughly 1,500 warheads, down from many times that number.  But now, with Russia’s reemergence as a great power and China’s prodigious forced-draft renascence, in a multipolar world the U. S. seems bent on keeping a considerable nuclear superiority over both.  Whereas most likely Washington and Moscow are in the throes of “modernizing” their nuclear arsenals and delivery capabilities, in this sphere China is only beginning to play catch-up.

Standing tall on America’s as yet unsurpassed military and economic might, Obama managed to convince his partners in the G 8, the conspicuous but listless economic forum of the world’s leading economies, to suspend, not to say expel, Russia for Putin’s transgression in Ukraine-Crimea.  Most likely, however, they agreed to make this largely symbolic gesture so as to avoid signing on to ever-stiffer sanctions on Moscow.  With this American-orchestrated charade the remaining G 7 only further pointed up the prepossession of their exclusive club from which they cavalierly shut out the BRICS.

The decline of the American Empire, like that of all empires, promises to be at once gradual and relative.  As for the causes of this decline, they are inextricably internal / domestic and external / foreign. There is no separating the refractory budgetary deficit and its attendant swelling political and social dissension from the irreducible military budget necessary to face down rival empires.  Clearly, to borrow Chalmers Johnson’s inspired conceptually informed phrase, the “empire of bases,” with a network of well over 600 bases in probably over 100 countries, rather than fall overnight from omnipotence to impotence risks becoming increasingly erratic and intermittently violent in “defense” of the forever hallowed exceptional “nation.”

As yet there is no significant let-up in the pretension to remain first among would-be equals on the seas, in the air, in cyberspace, and in cyber-surveillance.  And the heft of the military muscle for this supererogation is provided by a thriving defense industry in an economy plagued by deep-rooted unemployment and a society racked by a crying income and wealth inequality, growing poverty, creeping socio-cultural anomie, and humongous systemic political corruption.  Notwithstanding the ravings of the imperial “Knownothings” these conditions will sap domestic support for an unreconstructed interventionist foreign and military policy.  They will also hollow out America’s soft power by corroding the aura of the democratic, salvific, and capitalist City on the Hill.

Whereas the Soviet Union and communism were the polymorphic arch-enemy during the First Nuclear Age terrorism and Islamism bid well to take its place during the Second Nuclear Age.  It would appear that the threat and use of nuclear weapons will be even less useful though hardly any less demonic today than yesterday.  Sub specie aeternitatis the cry of the terrorist attack on New York’s World Trade Center and Boston’s Marathon was a bagatelle compared to the fury of the nuclear bombardment of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.  It is, of course, commendable that so many nations now seek to prevent “nuclear terrorism” by way of the Nuclear Security Summit.  However, there being no fail-safe systems of access control this endeavor is bound to be stillborn without a simultaneously resolute drive to radically reduce or liquidate the world’s staggering stock of nuclear weapons and weapons-grade nuclear materials.  After all, the greater that stock the greater the opportunity and temptation for a terrorist, criminal, or whistle-blower to pass the Rubicon.

According to informed estimates presently there are well over 20,000 nuclear bombs on this planet, with America and Russia between them home to over 90% of them.  No less formidable are the vast global stockpiles of enriched uranium and plutonium.

In September 2009 Obama adjured the U. N. Security Council that “new strategies and new approaches” were needed to face a “proliferation” of an unprecedented “scope and complexity,” in that “just one nuclear weapon exploded in a city—be it New York or Moscow, Tokyo or Beijing, London or Paris—could kill hundreds of thousands of people.”  Hereafter it was not uncommon for Washington insiders to avow that they considered a domestic nuclear strike with an unthinkable dirty bomb a greater and more imminent security risk than a prosaic nuclear attack by Russia.  All this while the Nuclear Security Summit was treading water and the Pentagon continues to upgrade America’s nuclear arsenal and delivery capabilities—with chemical weapons as a backstop.  With the cutback of conventional military capabilities nuclear arms are not about to be mothballed.

Indeed, with this in mind the overreaction to Russia’s move in Ukraine-Crimea is disquieting.  From the start the Obama administration unconscionably exaggerated and demonized Moscow’s—Putin’s—objectives and methods while proclaiming Washington’s consummate innocence in the unfolding imbroglio.   Almost overnight, even before the overblown charge that Moscow was massing troops along Ukraine’s borders and more generally in Russia’s European “near abroad” NATO—i. e., Washington—began to ostentatiously send advanced military equipment to the Baltic counties and Poland.   By April 4, 2014, the foreign ministers of the 28 member nations of NATO met in Brussels with a view to strengthen the military muscle and cooperation not only in the aforementioned countries but also in Moldova, Romania, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.  In addition NATO air patrols would be stepped up while anti-missile batteries would be deployed in Poland and Romania.  Apparently the emergency NATO summit also considered large-scale joint military exercises and the establishment of NATO military bases close to Russia’s borders which, according to Le Figaro, France’s conservative daily, would be “a demonstration of force which the Allies had themselves foregone during the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union.”  Would tactical nuclear weapons and nuclear-capable aircraft—or nuclear-capable drones—be deployed on these bases?

To what end?  In preparation of a conventional war of the trenches, Guderian-type armored operations or a total war of Operation Barbarossa variety?   Of course, this being post Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there must be a backup or contingency plan for nuclear sword play, with both sides, should reciprocal deterrence fail, confident in their first and second strike capabilities.  Not only Washington but Moscow knows that in 1945 the ultimate reason for using the absolute weapon was transparently geopolitical rather than purely military.

With the weight of the unregenerate imperials in the White House, Pentagon, Congress, the “third house,” and the think tanks there is the risk that this U. S.- masterminded NATO “operation freedom in Russia’s European “near abroad” will spin out of control, also because the American Knownothings are bound to have their Russian counterparts.

In this game of chicken on the edge of the nuclear cliff the U. S. cannot claim the moral and legal high ground since it was President Truman and his inner circle of advisors who unleashed the scourge of nuclear warfare, and with time there was neither an official nor a popular gesture of atonement for this wanton and excessive military excess.  And this despite FDR and Truman Chief of Staff Admiral William Leahy confessing that “in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages,” an observation possibly anticipated by General Eisenhower’s plaint to Secretary of War Stimson of his “grave misgivings” and belief that “dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary and… our country should avoid shocking world opinion…”   Is there a filiation between this cri de coeur and the forewarning about the toxicity of the “military industrial complex” in President Eisenhower’s farewell address?

This is a time for a national debate and a citizen-initiated referendum on whether or not the U. S. should adopt unilateral nuclear disarmament.  It might be a salutary and exemplary exercise in participatory democracy.

Arno J. Mayer is emeritus professor of history at Princeton University. He is the author of The Furies: Violence and Terror in the French and Russian Revolutions and Plowshares Into Swords: From Zionism to Israel (Verso).

A letter urging the Jews of Donetsk to get registered, which the US Secretary of State cited in Geneva, is a fake says a man whose signature appears on the communication.

Following the four-side meeting on the Ukrainian crisis in Geneva on Wednesday, John Kerry lashed out at a letter that was allegedly sent to Jewish citizens in Ukraine’s eastern town of Donetsk, asking them to register and report all their property, or be stripped of citizenship and face expulsion.

In year 2014, after all of the miles traveled in all the journey of history, this is not just intolerable, it’s grotesque… beyond unacceptable,” he stated.

Images of the letter have been circulating online.


The letter was stamped and signed by Denis Pushilin, who was identified on it as the “People’s Governor.”

However, Pushilin denied he had anything to do with the letter, claiming it was a fake.

There are similar letters not only addressed to Jews, but also to businessmen, foreign students, people of certain other occupations,” he told RT. “This is actually a fake, and not a good one. There’s a sign “People’s Governor”. First of all, no one calls me by that title, no one elected me. Secondly, the stamp is the former mayor’s. Everything’s photoshopped.”

Pushilin added that sensible people can only take what the authors of this “letter” were trying to say with humor. The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic “is multinational,” he said. “We get along perfectly well here with everyone. And there aren’t any conflicts on national grounds, that’s for sure.

Although the letter’s authenticity is questionable, the fact that it was mentioned by a top US official has quickly sent the “Letter to Jews” story viral. It struck a very sensitive chord with audiences worldwide and cast a grave shadow over anti-government protesters in Donetsk.

The “letter” story also went ballistic on Reddit. However, its authenticity was seriously questioned and the social network community concluded the document is “almost certainly fake.”

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian MP who has visited the turbulent region, Boris Kolesnikov of the Party of Regions, has urged that information coming from Ukraine should be double-checked.

He believes that Ukrainian law enforcement agencies aren’t being totally honest when they describe the people participating in the protests and claim there are Russian servicemen among them.

Kolesnikov specifically referred to a video which earlier appeared online. In it a man in a military uniform told police officers, who switched sides in the city of Gorlovka and joined protesters, that he was Russian lieutenant-colonel from Simpheropol, Crimea. The man was later identified by Gorlovka residents as the former director of a local cemetery.

Officially, I’ve only seen one Russian serviceman,” Kolesnikov said. “The next day he appeared to be the ex-director of the Gorlovka cemetery, fired 2 years ago for selling 38 fences, stealing a monument and extorting money from old women for new graves. There are Interior Ministry and intelligence services in the country, which should give us truthful information.”

He added it was quite obvious that the protesters in Donetsk did not represent any danger to civilians and called for negotiations with the activists. These talks would explain Kiev’s position and that the government is ready to make amendments to the constitution.

The US appears to be relying on information from Kiev, while ignoring alternative points of view. And so it seems that a top US official picked up and railed about a letter of questionable authenticity.

Earlier in April, spokesperson for the US Department of State, Jen Psaki, said that protest events in eastern Ukraine “appeared to be a carefully orchestrated campaign with Russian support.

She was then asked if the department was only relying on Kiev in its assessment of the situation, or was using some independent sources.

Well, of course we remain very closely in touch with the Ukrainian Government, and that’s who we work closely with, and of course, they are on the ground, so their information is often very relevant and current,” was the reply.

John Kerry denounced it, saying:

“During the past couple of days Jews in one of the cities were sent letters that they should declare themselves as Jews. The letter also contained threats.”

“By 2014, after all the lessons that history has presented to us, it is not just unacceptable. It is – absurd. This is – beyond acceptability.”

“People involved in this kind of activity on both sides need to understand that there is no place for this.”

The story went viral. Mainstream media feature it. The New York Times headlined “Demands That Jews Register in Eastern Ukraine Are Denounced, and Denied.

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) national director Abraham Foxman hypes anti-Semitism hysteria. He supports Jewish supremacy over Arabs. The Times quoted him saying:

“We have seen a series of cynical and politically manipulative uses and accusations of anti-Semitism in Ukraine over the past year.”

“The perpetrators and their targets are opposing politicians and political movements, but the true victims are the Jewish communities.”

“We strongly condemn the anti-Semitic content, but also all attempts to use anti-Semitism for political purposes.”

ADL’s international affairs director Michael Salberg said Russia or one of its splinter groups distributed the leaflet.

He accused Moscow of cynically exploiting anti-Semitism. “The message is a message to all the people that is we’re going to exert our power over you,” he said.

“Jews are the default scapegoat throughout history for despots to send a message to the general public: Don’t step out of line.”

The Washington Post headlined “What we know about the “grotesque” leaflet handed out to Jews in Donetsk.”

It’s written in Russian. It has Russia’s national symbol on it. It includes an alleged Donetsk People’s Republic of Donetsk insignia.

It calls for Jews over 16 to register before May 3. It demands a detailed list of property they own. Failure to comply means citizenship revocation, deportation and assets seized, it said.

The leaflet reads as follows:

“Dear Ukraine citizens of Jewish nationality.

Due to the fact that the leaders of the Jewish community of Ukraine supported (Nazi era allied) Bendery Junta and oppose the pro-Slavic People’s Republic of Donetsk, (it) decided that all citizens of Jewish descent, over 16 years of age and residing within the republic’s territory are required to report to the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building and register.”

“ID and passport are required to register your Jewish religion, religious documents of family members, as well as documents establishing the rights to all real estate property that belongs to you, including vehicles.”

“Evasion of registration will result in citizenship revoke and you will be forced outside the country with a confiscation of property.”

Jews were ordered to pay $50 to register. “(W)ho is behind the leaflet,” asked WaPo? “That’s not exactly clear,” it said. It looks authentic, WaPo suggested.

“And who received the leaflet,” it added? “Again, this isn’t exactly clear.” Allegedly it was distributed by “masked men wearing military uniforms and carrying a Russian flag Tuesday.”

“So, what is going on,” WaPo asked? It urged caution. At the same time it said:

“It certainly seems possible that the flier was the work of pro-Russia separatists, working with or without the support or knowledge of” People’s Republic of Donetsk Governor Denis Pushilin.

He denounced it. He called it fake. More on his comments below.

“Whatever actually happened, there is one clear takeaway here,” said WaPo.

“With both sides accusing the other of being ‘Nazis,’ and accusing the other of anti-Semitism, Eastern Ukraine’s Jewish community is having an especially tough time during the Ukrainian crisis.”

Ukrainian Jews nationwide have one thing alone to fear. They’re targeted. They’re endangered. Neo-Nazi putschists threaten them.

Right Sector leader Dmitry Yarosh openly boasts about “killing Jews and Russians till I die.” Mainstream media ignore his threat.

USA Today headlined “Leaflet tells Jews to register in East Ukraine,” saying:

“World leaders and Jewish groups condemned a leaflet handed out in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk in which Jews were told to ‘register’ with the pro-Russian militants who have taken over a government office in an attempt to make Ukraine part of Russia, according to Ukrainian and Israeli media.”

US Ukraine ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt lied calling the leaflet “the real deal.”

Zionist Organization of America president Morton Klein said:

“This is a frightening new development in the anti-Jewish movement that is gaining traction around the world.”

Donetsk People’s Republic Governor Denis Pushilin allegedly signed it. His spokesman Alexander Maltsev denied it. “This has nothing to do with us,” he said.

“It is a provocation.” Pushilin called it fake, saying:

“There are similar letters not only addressed to Jews, but also to businessmen, foreign students, people of certain other occupations.”

“This is actually a fake, and not a good one. There’s a sign ‘People’s Governor.”

First of all, no one calls me by that title. No one elected me.

“Secondly, the stamp is the former mayor’s. Everything’s photoshopped.”

RT International said the leaflet directed to Jews appears “fake.” Former ruling Party of Regions parliamentarian Boris Kolesnikov visited Eastern Ukraine.

He urged carefully checking this type information. Its authenticity is suspect. He said Ukrainian law enforcement official aren’t honest.

They lied claiming Russian servicemen involvement in protests. No evidence whatever suggests it. He cited a video. It appeared online.

It features a man dressed in military attire. He addressed anti-Kiev city of Gorlovka police officers. He claimed Simpheropol, Crimean Russian Lt. Col. credentials.

He lied. He was recognized. Local residents said he’s a former local cemetery director. According to Kolesnikov, he was “fired two years ago for selling 38 fences, stealing a monument, and extorting money from old women for new graves.”

“There are Interior Ministry and intelligence services in the country, which should give us truthful information,” he added.

Donetsk activists threaten no one, he stressed. Misinformation buries truth. Putschists spread it. Washington officials hype it.

In early April, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki lied saying Eastern Ukrainian protests “appeared to be a carefully orchestrated campaign with Russian support.”

Asked if the State Department assesses conditions based on Kiev information, she added:

“Well, of course we remain very closely in touch with the Ukrainian Government, and that’s who we work closely with, and of course, they are on the ground, so their information is often very relevant and current.”

Propaganda wars rage. Washington’s dirty hands bear full responsibility. Obama’s “new friends” share it.

Plundering Ukraine is planned. Controlling its resources. Exploiting its people ruthlessly.

Incorporating Ukraine into NATO. Deploying nuclear armed missiles on Russia’s borders. Targeting its heartland. Doing the unthinkable.

Risking global conflict. It bears repeating. The worst of all possible outcomes may follow.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

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

How the West Gassed Thousands to Death in Damascus

April 19th, 2014 by Tony Cartalucci

The bombshell report by Pulitzer Prize-winning veteran journalist Seymour Hersh titled, “The Red Line and the Rat Line,” contains many shocking revelations for those following the West’s version of reality regarding the Syrian conflict. It particularly sheds new light on the August 2013 chemical attack that left over a thousand dead (US estimates) and thousands more affected.

It reveals that not only was the Syrian government not behind the attack, but that it was a false flag operation designed specifically to serve as an impetus for Western military intervention.  It also reveals that the West’s desire to intervene in the wake of the chemical attack was not to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons as was stated to the public, but instead was intended to completely destroy the Syrian military and save its militant proxies who were already well on their way to losing the war.

However, for all the revelations it contains, it provides only a glimpse into the greater conspiracy the West has been engaged in, grossly understating the unfolding truth of the West’s role behind the devastating conflict that is consuming Syria. To understand the entire picture, one must examine Hersh’s work stretching back as far as 2007.

Hersh’s Syrian Trilogy  

Taken alone, Hersh’s latest report is damning. Taken together with two previous pieces, spanning a total of 7 years of analysis and investigative journalism, Hersh’s work paints a picture of a West engaged in a diabolical, premeditated conspiracy to mire Syria in a sectarian bloodbath for the purpose of achieving regime change in Damascus and undermining neighboring Iran. It becomes clear upon reading Hersh’s work, that the chemical attack in Damascus was not only perpetrated by the West, but was done to trigger a greater war on top of the carnage the West has already intentionally sown.

Hersh’s first piece published in the New Yorker in March 2007 titled, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” reveals that the current conflict in Syria was in fact first engineered during the Bush administration. It states in no uncertain terms that (emphasis added):

“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”

The same report would reveal that the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel had already begun funding Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood to begin preparations for the impending conflict, and that analysts within the US intelligence community foresaw a humanitarian catastrophe in the making, spurred by the arming of large groups of sectarian extremists.

Hersh’s second piece would come in the aftermath of the August 2013 chemical attack in Damascus. Published in December of 2013, Hersh’s piece titled, “Whose Sarin?” stated (emphasis added):

Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.

The lengthy report goes on in detail, covering the manner in which Western leaders intentionally manipulated or even outright fabricated intelligence to justify military intervention in Syria – eerily similar to the lies told to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the escalation of the war in Vietnam after the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

The report also reveals that Al Nusra, Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, was identified by US intelligence agencies long ago for possessing chemical weapons. These are the same terrorists Hersh warned about in his 2007 article, and mentioned again as being at the center of Western designs in his most recent piece.

 The West’s Coverup…  

In an attempt to counter Hersh’s report in 2013, the Western media conducted a smear campaign against him and his work. It centered around “weapons expert” Eliot Higgins – an unemployed blogger with no military training who watches YouTube videos – coupled with the commentary of Dan Kaszeta, an expert-for-hire who currently heads the security contractor firm, “Strongpoint Security.”

The entirety of their argument was not who, but how the attack was carried out, proving nothing beyond the fact that the false flag operation was executed very convincingly. Higgins, in a post published by Foreign Policy arrogantly titled, “Sy Hersh’s Chemical Misfire,” claims (emphasis added):

I asked chemical weapons specialist Dan Kaszeta for his opinion on that. He compared the possibility of Jabhat al-Nusra using chemical weapons to another terrorist attack involving sarin: the 1996 gassing of the Tokyo subway by the Aum Shinrikyo cult.

“The 1994 to 1996 Japanese experience tells us that even a very large and sophisticated effort comprising many millions of dollars, a dedicated large facility, and a lot of skilled labor results only in liters of sarin, not tons,” Kaszeta said. “Even if the Aug. 21 attack is limited to the eight Volcano rockets that we seem to be talking about, we’re looking at an industrial effort two orders of magnitude larger than the Aum Shinrikyo effort. This is a nontrivial and very costly undertaking, and I highly doubt whether any of the possible nonstate actors involved here have the factory to have produced it. Where is this factory? Where is the waste stream? Where are the dozens of skilled people — not just one al Qaeda member — needed to produce this amount of material?”

Of course, to call Al Nusra a nonstate actor is entirely untruthful. Al Nusra and other extremist networks inside of Syria have had the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel’s backing since at least as early as 2007. Since 2011, Qatar and Turkey have also played immense roles in supporting Al Nusra – with NATO-member Turkey providing them sanctuary and even logistical support.

Higgins and his “expert” ask where the factories, waste streams, and skilled people are – the answer is somewhere within one of the many axis nations supporting Al Nusra. They have the capacity to both manufacturer the gas and transport it into Syria – or conversely – provide Al Nusra with the supplies and personal to do it inside of Syria.

And this, in fact, is precisely what Hersh proves in his latest article, not through YouTube videos and paid-for commentary from security contractors, but from sources within the US government itself.

Hersh beings his latest piece, “The Red Line and the Rat Line,” by quoting US defense officials who claimed (emphasis added):

For months there had been acute concern among senior military leaders and the intelligence community about the role in the war of Syria’s neighbours, especially Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups. ‘We knew there were some in the Turkish government,’ a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, ‘who believed they could get Assad’s nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.’

Hersh also reports that (emphasis added):

‘Previous IC [intelligence community] focus had been almost entirely on Syrian CW [chemical weapons] stockpiles; now we see ANF [Al Nusrah Front] attempting to make its own CW … Al-Nusrah Front’s relative freedom of operation within Syria leads us to assess the group’s CW aspirations will be difficult to disrupt in the future.’ The paper drew on classified intelligence from numerous agencies: ‘Turkey and Saudi-based chemical facilitators,’ it said, ‘were attempting to obtain sarin precursors in bulk, tens of kilograms, likely for the anticipated large scale production effort in Syria.’

Turkey and Saudi-based chemical facilitators constitute the “the factories, waste streams, and skilled people” used to enable Al Nusra to carry out the attack. Hersh’s report also reveals that training had been given to Al Nusra in the handling of chemical agents by Turkey:

‘The MIT [Turkey's  national intelligence agency] was running the political liaison with the rebels, and the Gendarmerie handled military logistics, on-the-scene advice and training – including training in chemical warfare,’ the former intelligence official said.

Hersh’s Immense Work is Still Incomplete 

But this is only part of the story. While Hersh lcaims Turkey was training terrorists on Syria’s northern borders to carry out the attack, it has been revealed that the United States itself was too, as well as training Saudi-backed terrorists staging in Jordan to the south of Syria. CNN’s December 2012 report titled, “Sources: U.S. helping underwrite Syrian rebel training on securing chemical weapons,” stated that:

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

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

Though Hersh’s article suggests that the chemical attack was a false flag operation carried out by terrorists from Turkey with Turkish backing, it is just as likely, if not more so keeping in mind logistical considerations, that terrorists out of Jordan with US-Saudi backing carried out the attack instead.

Washington’s initial eagerness and expediency to launch a war against Syria may have been blunted by resistance within the US Department of Defense as suggested by Hersh, but was certainly laid to rest by an utter lack of public confidence, with the proposed war with Syria perceived as the most unpopular conflict in US history. Slate’s “Least Popular War Ever?” stated:

As Secretary of State John Kerry made the Obama administration’s most forceful statement yet on Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds just 9 percent of Americans supporting intervention in Syria, with about 60 percent opposed.

Hersh also reveals that not only was the US eager to militarily intervene based on flawed and fabricated intelligence, but that it was eagerly expanding the scope of its intervention – from disarming Syria of its chemical stockpiles, to decimating all of Syria’s military – to give the militants it was backing an upper-hand in a conflict they were sorely losing. Hersh’s report states:

It [US target list in Syria] became huge.’ The new target list was meant to ‘completely eradicate any military capabilities Assad had’, the former intelligence official said. The core targets included electric power grids, oil and gas depots, all known logistic and weapons depots, all known command and control facilities, and all known military and intelligence buildings. 

If Turkey Carried Out the Damascus Attack, America Helped…  

Turkey has been a NATO member since 1952 – and its involvement in Syria has most certainly not been unilateral. Its role in handing weapons, funding, and support to militants along the Turkish-Syrian border has been admittedly augmented by US CIA officers. In June of 2012, the New York Times in an article titled, “C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition,” claimed:

A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers.

The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the officials said.

The C.I.A. officers have been in southern Turkey for several weeks, in part to help keep weapons out of the hands of fighters allied with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, one senior American official said.

The New York Times in their March 2013 article titled, “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With C.I.A. Aid,” admits that:

With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders.

The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.

A June 2013 LA Times article titled, “U.S. has secretly provided arms training to Syria rebels since 2012,” admitted:

CIA agents and special operations troops have trained the rebels in anti-tank and antiaircraft weaponry in Jordan and Turkey. 

The LA Times continued:

 CIA operatives and U.S. special operations troops have been secretly training Syrian rebels with anti-tank and antiaircraft weapons since late last year, months before President Obama approved plans to begin directly arming them, according to U.S. officials and rebel commanders. 

The covert U.S. training at bases in Jordan and Turkey, along with Obama’s decision this month to supply arms and ammunition to the rebels, has raised hope among the beleaguered Syrian opposition that Washington ultimately will provide heavier weapons as well. So far, the rebels say they lack the weapons they need to regain the offensive in the country’s bitter civil war. 

If Turkey aided and abetted terrorists in carrying out a false-flag chemical weapons attack in Damascus, it is inconceivable that the US CIA did not know about it, and very unlikely they did not participate, however indirectly.

Ultimately, Hersh’s work is incomplete, and leaves the impression that Turkey went rogue, carrying out an attack to bring an unwilling US into a war they did not desire. In reality, to this day, the United States is still openly backing and arming militants it itself has designated as terrorist organizations, providing them with increasingly deadly armaments that will perpeuate the bloodbath they themselves, on record, began engineering as early as 2007.

What Hersh’s work reveals, however immense, is but one of several grotesque tentacles breaking the surface of very murky waters beneath which lurks a leviathan of state-sponsored terrorism that is responsible for the gassing of thousands, and the deaths of tens of thousands within and along Syria’s borders, and a region now teetering on the edge of a much larger and more costly war. It illustrates how the world is run by “the bad guys” who perpetrate crimes against humanity not only with absolute impunity, but with so-called international agencies covering up their tracks.

The United Nations is expected to be utterly silent over these revelations, while it continues to disingenuously wring its hands over a humanitarian crisis the West is both intentionally creating and then leveraging for geopolitical gain. What the world is left with is the need for a “non-international” response – one multipolar in nature, with Syria’s allies assisting in anti-terror operations and humanitarian relief conducted through Damascus. It may fall short of what could be accomplish if and when the nations of the West decide to genuinely commit to peace in Syria, but it is a far better alternative to capitulating to the West’s now naked conspiracy against the Syrian people.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

Canada Joins NATO Build-Up Against Russia

April 19th, 2014 by Keith Jones

Canada is deploying six F-16 fighter jets to Eastern Europe in support of the war threats against Russia made by the US, Germany and NATO, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Thursday.

Harper also said that Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) will strengthen their participation in NATO’s command structure by sending a score of additional CAF officers to work at NATO’s European headquarters in Mons, Belgium.

And he suggested that further CAF deployments may be announced in the near future and additional sanctions imposed on Russian businesses and officials in coordination with the US and the European Union.

Harper and his Conservative government, to enthusiastic applause from the opposition parties and Canada’s corporate media, have been making bellicose anti-Russian statements for weeks.

Turning reality on its head, they have lauded the US- and German-instigated, fascist-spearheaded coup that overthrew Ukraine’s elected president as a “democratic revolution,” and they have accused Russia of “aggression” and “imperialism,” when it is the western powers that have aggressively intervened in the Ukraine to install a pro-western client regime, knowing full that the Ukraine’s subordination to US and German imperialism constitutes an existential threat to Russia.

The CAF fighters, pilots and support staff will be based in Lask, Poland. They will participate in the stepped-up NATO patrols over the Baltic Sea and Eastern Europe that were a key element in the expanded NATO presence in Eastern Europe announced Wednesday by NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Dressed up as a “reassurance package” for the states bordering Russia that have been incorporated into NATO over the past two decades, the NATO deployment to Eastern Europe is an act of aggression, meant to shore up the coup-installed ultra-rightwing government in Kyiv and threaten and prepare for war with Russia.

Flanked by CAF head General Tom Lawson, Harper indicated the deployment is open ended and is only the first salvo in a major shift in Canada’s military-strategic posture

Russian “expansionism “and “militarism” are, claimed Harper, “a long-term, serious threat to global peace and security.”

Media reports indicate that the Harper government is now considering overturning the 2005 decision of its Liberal predecessor not to participate in the US’s anti-ballistic missile shield. While presented as a defensive measure, the US’s anti-ballistic missile defence program is aimed at enabling Washington to wage “winnable” nuclear war.

Canada’s government may also now give a green light to an increased NATO presence in the Arctic.

Within the G-7 and NATO, Harper and his Conservative government have been working side-by-side with the US in pressing the European powers to take an even more aggressive stance against Russia.

Last Monday, Harper appeared alongside the ambassadors to Canada of the Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Georgia and the Czech Republic to promote fresh lies about the events in the Ukraine. He denounced the opposition in the majority Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine to the coup-installed, ultra-nationalist government in Kyiv as “strictly the work of Russian provocateurs sent by the Putin regime.”

He then cynically and hypocritically invoked international law. “It should be a great concern to all of us,” declared Harper, “when a major power acts in a way that is so clearly aggressive, militaristic and imperialistic.”

This from a prime minister who pressed for Canada to participate in the illegal 2003 US invasion of Iraq on trumped-up claims of weapons of mass destruction, has boasted that Canada is Israel’s staunchest ally and will “go through fire and water” to support the Zionist state, has deployed the CAF in support of US wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Libya, and has vehemently defended the Communications Security Establishment Canada’s (CSEC) leading role in the US National Security Agency’s global spying operations.

At his Monday press conference, Harper announced that Foreign Minister John Baird will visit the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Latvia and Estonia next week. While in Warsaw, Baird and his Polish interlocutors are to announce further steps in support of Ukraine’s pro-western government. Canada is strongly supportive of an IMF restructuring program that will further impoverish the Ukraine population, shut down large parts of the country’s Russian-oriented manufacturing and heavy industry sectors, and pave the way for Germany and its EU partners to profitably exploit Ukraine’s plentiful natural resources and large low-wage workforce.

On Tuesday, Ottawa further announced that Canada would boycott this week’s Arctic Council meeting in Moscow. This action was of more than symbolic significance. Canada and Russia have competing territorial claims over the resource-rich Arctic seabed—claims Harper has aggressively asserted. Last year, he rejected the Arctic seabed claim that Canadian diplomats and scientific experts had drafted for submission to the UN as too modest and ordered it be rewritten.

The Canadian media explains the Harper government’s obtrusive intervention in the Ukraine crisis by referring to the large Ukrainian-Canadian population.

This is poppycock.

To be sure, over the past two decades Canada’s government, under the Liberals and Conservatives alike, has sought to leverage the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and its large network of ultranationalist organizations—many of them open admirers of Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera and his Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. Canada has lavished aid on pro-western “civil society groups” in the Ukraine with the aim of detaching it from Russian economic and geopolitical influence—long a key strategic objective of US imperialism.

Driving Ottawa’s intervention in the Ukraine and aggressive anti-Russian stance are the predatory interests of Canada’s ruling elite.

Fearing both its own relative economic decline—Canada’s share of world trade has fallen to some 2.5 percent—and that of its longtime strategic partner to the south, the Canadian bourgeoisie calculates that it can best assert its global interests by tightening its partnership with Washington and Wall Street. This includes Canadian imperialism supporting and participating in the US’s attempt to use its military might as a means of offsetting its loss of economic dominance.

Since 1999, when Canada played a leading role in the US-led NATO war on Yugoslavia, the Canadian Armed Forces have participated in a series of US-led wars and regime-change operations. These include the twelve-year-long invasion and counterinsurgency mission in Afghanistan, during the course of which 40,000 Canadian troops were deployed to Afghanistan, the 2004 ouster of Haiti’s elected president, and the 2011 war on Libya.

By the beginning of this decade, Canada’s military spending in real, not just nominal, terms was higher than at any time since the end of the Second World War.

And last week the Ottawa Citizen reported that the Canadian military has developed multiple scenarios for military operations in Syria.

Canada has also signaled its strong support for the US “pivot to Asia,” Washington’s drive to isolate and militarily encircle China. Like the US-German intervention in the Ukraine, the “pivot to Asia” is a highly destabilizing campaign of aggression that threatens to trigger a military conflagration with incalculable consequences for humanity.

Crisis in Ukraine: US Prepares to Send Troops to Poland

April 19th, 2014 by Johannes Stern

The Washington Post reported Friday that Poland and the United States would announce next week the deployment of US ground troops to Poland as part of an expansion of NATO military forces in Central and Eastern Europe, in response to the crisis in Ukraine.

According to the Post, Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak, visiting the newspaper after meeting with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at the Pentagon, said, “the decision has been made on a political level and that military planners are working out details.” The article continued: “There will also be intensified cooperation in air defense, special forces, cyberdefense and other areas. Poland will play a leading regional role, ‘under US patronage,’ he said.”

The report makes clear that the US entered into the Geneva agreement with Russia, purportedly to “deescalate tensions” in Ukraine, in bad faith, intending to use Russia’s supposed breach of the deal as justification for expanded sanctions and a further aggressive buildup of US and NATO forces in Eastern Europe aimed at encircling and strangling Russia.

The dispatch of US troops to Poland is a reckless and provocative move that heightens the very real danger not only of civil war in Ukraine, but of war by the US, Germany and NATO against Russia, a nuclear power. It underscores the fact that the crisis in Ukraine was deliberately provoked by Washington to create the pretext for a political, economic, diplomatic and military offensive against Russia that had long been in the planning.

There is no sign that the Geneva agreement will have any impact on antigovernment demonstrators in eastern Ukraine who have seized buildings and declared vehement opposition to the right-wing, ultranationalist regime in Kiev. That government was installed last February in a putsch orchestrated by Washington and Berlin.

The demonstrators in the east of Ukraine have dismissed the joint statement issued Thursday by the United States, the European Union, Ukraine and Russia calling for an end to protests and occupations.

On Friday, demonstrations continued in eastern Ukrainian cities where activists have seized buildings. In the far eastern city of Lugansk, a militia member named Andrei declared that his group had no plans to give up, declaring, “Everything on the ground is the same as it was yesterday and the day before and the day before that. We’re not leaving.”

In Donetsk, the region’s industrial center, with a population of nearly 1 million, a sign on the barricades summed up the mood amongst broad layers of the residents who are deeply hostile to imperialist meddling in Ukraine. It read: “Bloodthirsty America. Despicable Europe. Leave Ukraine alone.”

Some protesters denounced Russia’s decision to sign a document with the Western powers calling for an end to the antigovernment actions. Activists stressed that they would not leave seized government buildings or disarm until the interim government in Kiev resigned and fascistic groups such as Right Sector, which played a key role in the February 22 putsch against the democratically elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, gave up their weapons and ended their own occupations in the west of the country.

Denis Pushilin, the leader of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic,” declared that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who attended the Geneva talks, “did not sign anything for us, he signed on behalf of the Russian Federation.” Alexei, a protester in Slavyansk, told Reuters that Russian President Vladimir Putin was losing support. Referring to Putin as “Vova,” he said, “It turns out Vova doesn’t love us as much as we thought.”

These comments underscore the lying character of the propaganda pumped out by Western governments and media claiming that the protesters in eastern Ukraine are Russian soldiers or agents whose actions are dictated by Moscow. It is increasingly clear that the protests are an expression of popular opposition to the Western-backed regime in Kiev, which includes open fascists, anti-Semites and anti-Russian chauvinists and has pledged to impose brutal austerity measures against the working class.

While Russia is seeking to strike a deal with Washington and the EU, the regime in Kiev and its imperialist backers are seizing on the Geneva talks to provide a further pretext for mobilizing military forces against antigovernment protesters in eastern Ukraine and expanding NATO’s militarily presence in Eastern Europe to threaten Russia itself.

The ink on the joint statement—declaring that “all sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation, or provocative actions”—was not yet dry when Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia said the government’s so-called “antiterrorist operation” against pro-Russian protesters would continue. He cynically added that its intensity would “depend on the practical implementation” of the agreement.

The spokeswoman of the Ukrainian Secret Service (SBU), Marina Ostapenko, said the “antiterror operation” would continue “as long as terrorists remain in our country.” She added: “In line with the Easter holidays and the Geneva agreements, operations are now in an inactive phase. Headquarters is working and re-planning is underway.”

The Ukrainian government and its allies in Washington and Berlin see the Geneva agreement as providing a brief pause during which they can reorganize and intensify the military operation that was planned last weekend, when CIA Director John Brennan stole into Kiev for talks with the regime. The operation began Tuesday with the assault on the Kramatorsk military airfield, but came to a halt when the Ukrainian army confronted popular resistance and soldiers refused to attack and some went over to the side of the demonstrators.

The Pentagon provocatively announced plans to send more aid to the Ukrainian army. “This will be items like water purification, uniforms, medical supplies and the kinds of things that can help them sustain themselves in the field,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, told CNN.

Washington’s increased military support for Kiev is part of a NATO buildup in Eastern Europe aimed at encircling Russia. On Wednesday, the German government announced plans to send at least one warship and six Eurofighter combat planes to Eastern Europe. A flotilla of five mine detectors headed by the German ship “Elbe” is due to depart to the Baltic Sea.

Also on Wednesday, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced a massive NATO escalation in Eastern Europe.

Washington plans to cite the continuation of the protests in eastern Ukraine to claim that Moscow has violated the Geneva agreement, supposedly justifying the imposition of harsher economic sanctions against Russia and an even aggressive deployment of military forces. US Secretary of State John Kerry said, “the responsibility will lie with those who have organized” the groups protesting in the east of the country—a reference to Russia. He added: “If there is not progress over the course of these next days and we don’t see a movement in the right direction, then there will be additional sanctions, additional costs as a consequence.”

President Barack Obama took the same line at a news conference on Thursday. “I don’t think we can be sure of anything at this point,” he said, and added that the US and its allies had to “be prepared to potentially respond to what continues to be efforts of interference by the Russians in eastern and southern Ukraine.”

Echoing Washington’s position, Right Sector spokesman Artem Skoropadsky declared that he saw the Geneva agreement as being directed only at pro-Russian protesters in the east. He claimed that Right Sector did not “have any illegal weapons, and so the call to disarm will not apply to us.” He added that “the vanguard of the Ukrainian revolution should not be compared to outright gangsters.”

War Is Good for Us, Dumb New Book Claims

April 19th, 2014 by David Swanson

Ian Morris has stuck his dog’s ear in his mouth, snapped a selfie, and proclaimed “Man Bites Dog.” His new book War: What Is It Good For? Conflict and Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots is intended to prove that war is good for children and other living things.  It actually proves that defenders of war are growing desperate for arguments.

Morris maintains that the only way to make peace is to make large societies, and the only way to make large societies is through war. Ultimately, he believes, the only way to protect peace is through a single global policeman.  Once you’ve made peace, he believes, prosperity follows.  And from that prosperity flows happiness.  Therefore, war creates happiness.  But the one thing you must never stop engaging in if you hope to have peace, prosperity, and joy is — you guessed it — war.

This thesis becomes an excuse for hundreds of pages of a sort of Monty Python history of the technologies of war, not to mention the evolution of chimpanzees, and various even less relevant excursions.  These pages are packed with bad history and guesswork, and I’m greatly tempted to get caught up in the details.  But none of it has much impact on the book’s conclusions.  All of Morris’s history, accurate and otherwise, is put to mythological use.  He’s telling a simplistic story about where safety and happiness originated, and advocating highly destructive misery-inducing behavior as a result.

When small, medium, and large societies have been and are peaceful, Morris ignores them.  There are lots of ways todefine peaceful, but none of them put the leading war maker at the top, and none of them place at the top only nations that could be imagined to fall under a Pax Americana.

When societies have been enlarged peacefully, as in the formation of the European Union, Morris applauds (he thinks the E.U. earned its peace prize, and no doubt all the more so for its extensive war making as deputy globocop) but he just skips over the fact that war wasn’t used in the E.U.’s formation.  (He avoids the United Nations entirely.)

When the globocop brings death and destruction and disorder to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, or Yemen, Morris sticks his fingers in his ears and hums.  “Interstate wars” he informs us (like most of his other claims, without any footnotes) have “almost disappeared.”  Well isn’t that great news?!  (Morris grotesquely minimizes Iraqi deaths from the recent [nonexistent?] war, and of course supplies no footnote.)

In a culture that has long waged wars, it has been possible to say that wars bring courage, wars bring heroism, wars bring slaves, wars bring cultural exchange. One could have asserted at various points that wars were the only way to a great many ends, not just large societies that reduce small-scale murders.  Barely a century ago William James was worried there was no way to build character without war, and defenders of war were advertising it as good for its participants in a much more direct way than Morris has been reduced to.  Has war been the means of building empires and nations? Sure, but that neither means that empires are the only way to peace, nor that war was the only nation-building tool available, nor that we must keep waging wars in an age in which we aren’t forming empires or nations any longer.  That ancient pyramids may have been built by slaves hardly makes slavery the best or only way to preserve the pyramids.

Tying something good, such as ending slavery in the United States, to a war, such as the U.S. Civil War, doesn’t make war the only way to end slavery.  In fact, most nations that ended slavery did so without a war.  Much less is continuing to wage wars the only possible way (or even a useful way at all) to hold off the restoration of slavery or to complete its eradication.  And, by the way, a great many societies that Morris credits with making progress through war also had slavery, monarchy, women-as-property, environmental destruction, and worship of religions now defunct.  Were those institutions also necessary for peace and prosperity, or are they irrelevant to it, or did we overcome some of them through peaceful means?  Morris, at one point, acknowledges that slavery (not just war) generated European wealth, later crediting the industrial revolution as well — the godfather of which, in his mind, was no doubt peace created by war.  (What did you expect, the Spanish Inquisition?)

The tools of nonviolence that have achieved so much in the past century are never encountered in Morris’ book, so no comparison with war is offered.  Nonviolent revolutions have tended to dismember empires or alter the leadership of a nation that remains the same size, so Morris must not view them as useful tools, even when they produce more free and prosperous societies.  But it’s not clear Morris can recognize those when he sees them.  Morris claims that in the past 30 years “we” (he seems to mean in the United States, but could mean the world, it’s not totally clear) have become “safer and richer than ever.”

Morris brags about U.S. murder rates falling, and yet dozens of nations from every continent have lower murder rates than the U.S.  Nor do larger nations tend to have lower murder rates than smaller nations.  Morris holds up Denmark as a model, but never looks at Denmark’s society, its distribution of wealth, its social supports.  Morris claims the whole world is growing more equal in wealth.

Back here in reality, historians of the Middle Ages say that our age has the greater disparities — disparities that are growing within the United States in particular, but globally as well.  Oxfam reports that the richest 85 people in the world have more money than the poorest 3.5 billion.  That is the peace that Morris swears is not a wasteland.  The United States ranks third in average wealth but 27th in median wealth.  Yet, somehow Morris believes the United States can lead the way to “Denmark” and that Denmark itself can only be Denmark because of how many people the United States kills in “productive wars” (even though they have “almost disappeared”).  Morris writes these scraps of wisdom from Silicon Valley, where he says he sees nothing but wealth, yet where people with nowhere to sleep but in a car may soon be banned from doing so.

We’re also safer, Morris thinks, because he sees no climate emergency worth worrying about.  He’s quite openly in favor of wars for oil, yet never notices oil’s effects until the end of the book when he takes a moment to brush such concerns aside.

We’re also safer, Morris tells us, because there are no longer enough nukes in the world to kill us all.  Has he never heard of nuclear famine?  Does he not understand the growing risks of proliferating nuclear weapons and energy?  Two nations have thousands of nukes ready to launch in an instant, every one of them many times more powerful than the two nuclear bombs dropped thus far; and one of those nations is prodding the other one with a stick in Ukraine, resulting in more, not less, violence in the beneficiary of such expansionism.  Meanwhile the officials overseeing U.S. nukes keep getting caught cheating on tests or shipping nukes across the country unguarded, and generally view nuclear weapons oversight as the lowest most dead-end career track.  This makes us safer?

Morris hypes lies about Iran pursuing nuclear weapons.  He opens the book with a tale of a near nuclear holocaust (one of many he could have chosen). And yet, somehow disarmament isn’t on the agenda, at least not with the priority given to maintaining or increasing war spending.  Not to worry, he assures us, “missile defense” actually works, or might someday, so that’ll protect us — although he parenthetically admits it won’t.  The point is it’s warlike, and war is good, because war spreads peace.  That’s the role the U.S. must play for the good of all: policeman of the world.  Morris, while clearly a huge fan of Barack Obama, believes that all recent U.S. presidents should have a Nobel Peace Prize.  Never does Morris comment on the fact that the rest of the world sees the United States as the greatest threat to world peace.

Morris admits that the United States is encircling China with weapons, but he describes in sinister tones China’s response of building weaponry that will only serve a function near China’s own shores, not as defensive or unimperialistic, but at “asymmetrical” — and we all know what that means: unfair!  China might make it hard for the globocop to wage war on and around China.  This Morris sees as the looming danger.  The solution, he thinks, is for the United States to keep its militaristic edge (never mind that its military makes China’s look like a child’s toy).  More drone killing is not only good but also (and this sort of nonsense always makes you wonder why its advocate bothers advocating) inevitable.  Of course, the United States won’t start a war against China, says Morris, because launching wars hurts a nation’s reputation so severely.  (You can see how badly the U.S. reputation has suffered in Morris’ eyes following its latest string of wars.)

And yet, what lies on the horizon, almost inevitably, Morris contends, is World War III.

There’s nothing you can do about it.  Don’t bother working for peace, Morris says.  But a solution may arrive nonetheless.  If we can go on dumping our money into wars for just one more century, or maybe more, proliferating weapons, destroying the environment, losing our liberties in the model land of the free, then — if we’re really lucky — the computer programmers of Silicon Valley will save us, or some of us, or something, by . . . wait for it . . . hooking us up to computers so that our minds all meld together.

Morris may be more confident than I that the result of this computerized rapture will be worldwide empathy rather than revulsion.  But then, he’s had longer to get used to living with the way he thinks.

On Wednesday night the crisis in the Ukraine became deadly, with 3 anti-coup rebels killed by National Guards in the Black Sea port city of Mariupol. The next day, in Geneva, the USA, Russia, EU and Ukraine reached an ‘agreement’ after just a few hours of negotiations. 

The text starts as follows:

“All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions. The participants strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including anti-Semitism.” Full text

How can the coup government keep a straight face and add its signature to this statement?

This is a regime that placed a fascist in charge of National Security. After the coup Andriy Parubiy was appointed secretary (the operational head) of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine. Between 1998-2004 he was the leader of the Patriots of Ukraine, the paramilitary wing of what would go on to become the Svoboda party. In 2012, the British Sun newspaper exposed this groups involvement in training football hooligans. The group was offloaded by Svoboda in 2004 as part of the ‘Orange Revolution’ revamp of the Ukrainian fascist movement. This is a classic ruse by neo-nazi and fascist groups when they garner sufficient support to hold out the possibility of some form of power. The hair is grown out, the football hooligan element pushed to one side, the rhetoric and symbolism is ‘refreshed’ and ‘updated’ to reflect the new found ‘respectability’ of the movement. Prior to 2004, Svoboda was an out and out neo-nazi group – called the ‘Social National Party’. It had a modified ‘runic symbol’ as its party logo, restricted membership to ethnic Ukrainians, and actively recruited football hooligans and skinheads.

The current operational head of Ukrainian National Security was the co-founder of this nazi party and the leader of its paramilitary wing. It has three members in the government. If the government was serious about the Geneva agreement it would kick out the fascists. The reason it hasn’t is because they are a critical part of the regime’s support base.

The Geneva Text continues:

“All illegal armed groups must be disarmed; all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners; all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated.

Amnesty will be granted to protestors and to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrendered weapons, with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes.

It was agreed that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission should play a leading role in assisting Ukrainian authorities and local communities in the immediate implementation of these de-escalation measures wherever they are needed most, beginning in the coming days. The U.S., E.U. and Russia commit to support this mission, including by providing monitors.”

The intention here is to disarm the Eastern rebels – the supposedly Russian ‘terrorists’ and ‘special forces’ that carried out a series of occupations and raids last week in South Eastern Ukraine. Three of these rebels were killed in an attack on the National Guard base in the Black Sea port city of Mariupol the night before the Geneva talks. AP reported that 63 of the rebels were detained and that 38 were later released. At time of writing this article, it is unknown how many of the remaining 25 are ‘Russian special forces’. The only rebel named in the AP report was identified as a ’40 year old business man from Donetsk’

(http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_306481/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=PrQIkBmS)

But what about the Maidan activists? What about the many organised groups of armed nationalists and fascists who took to the street, fought the Berkut and pushed the Yanukovych regime out – despite the February 21st agreement that had been signed by all the main opposition parties? Will they be disarmed? Probably not, because they are <em>being co-opted into the de jure legal coercive apparatus of the Ukrainian State.

On Tuesday last week, as the military offensive against the Eastern rebellion took shape, Andriy Parubiy, the fascist that the neo-liberal Yatsenyuk regime chose to do its dirty work, declared on Twitter:

“Reserve unit of National Guard formed #Maidan Self-defense volunteers was sent to the front line this morning.”

A revamped Ukrainian National Guard was announced in mid-March, and as commentators observed at the time, and Parubiy’s tweet confirms, this was essentially a move to incorporate the Maidan activists into the security/military structures of the State.

In addition, as recently as last Monday, Interior Minister Avakov announced the creation of special police divisions to preserve public order. Up to 12,000 members are to be recruited. How many of these will be Russian speakers from the East who are opposed to the coup regime? ( http://rt.com/news/ukraine-bounty-payouts-protesters-156/)

It is the anti-regime groups that are to be disarmed. The Maidan pro-regime groups are to be given uniforms.

The text then states:

“The announced constitutional process will be inclusive, transparent and accountable. It will include the immediate establishment of a broad national dialogue, with outreach to all of Ukraine’s regions and political constituencies, and allow for the consideration of public comments and proposed amendments.”

This is the section of the agreement that supposedly speaks to the demand of the Russians and the rebels for greater autonomy from Kiev.

According to the BBC report (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-27072351):

“Russia has pushed for federalization of Ukraine – giving the country’s regions more power outside the central government, with the apparent aim of keeping the heavily Russian-speaking eastern regions within Moscow’s sphere of influence. Although the talks’ final document doesn’t specify federalization, it does speak of a “constitutional process (that) will be inclusive, transparent and accountable,” effectively meaning that federalization will remain a top issue.”

In fact the agreements wording is so general it is difficult to see how it could have any impact at all on federalisation.

The federalisation issue is simple – who decides? Does the whole of Ukraine decide whether any part of the Ukraine can have devolved powers, or does just the region in question decide? For example, does the Donbas region decide on whether it wants devolved powers, or does the whole of the Ukraine have to decide first whether the Donbas region has a right to even decide for itself. The regime has been framing the federal issue in terms of the latter approach. The agreement will have no impact on the resolution of this issue. The wording is extremely general and consistent with a number of conflicting approaches. It is designed to defuse the situation – not solve the problem.

In the meantime, in Brussels this week, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen stated that the imperialist bloc would increase its presence in Eastern Europe, flying more sorties over the Baltic region and deploying allied warships to the Baltic and Eastern Mediterranean. General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, raised the possibility of more ground forces at some stage.

The Geneva agreement changes nothing. The USA/EU/NATO will not accept any resolution of the Ukraine crisis that does not include the Ukraine being integrated into the USA/EU/NATO geopolitical space. They have been working for this outcome for 20 years, have spent $5 billion on it, and have caused a regional crisis with possible global implications in order to achieve it.

 They are determined they will not walk away empty handed.

Lionel Reynolds is an independent analyst and maintains the www.dispatchesfromempire.com blog.

 

Overland Park, a city of fewer than 200,000 in the heartland of the U.S. just south of Kansas City, is an unlikely setting for a terrorist attack. But on April 13, Frazier Glenn Cross, aka Frazier Glenn Miller, brought terror to Overland Park. With the intention to “kill him some Jews,” Miller, former Grand Dragon of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and FBI informant showed up with weapons in hand at a Jewish community center and a retirement home and murdered three Christians whom he mistook as Jewish.

 While the authorities needed “more investigation” regarding Miller’s motive, the national media made the obvious connection characterizing the attack as a hate crime. But neither the media nor the authorities dared to call it what it was – a terrorist attack.

 For Miller, there was no ambiguity. Shouting “Heil Hitler” from the back of a police car, his intentions, and motivations were made clear. His was a political act with a political meaning that at its core was meant to not just intimidate, but terrorize a whole community. Strangely, however, when it comes to acts carried out by the racist, radical right, the media and state authorities seem loath to characterize them as acts of terror. The reluctance to identify the domestic terrorist threat from the radical right is also seen in the U.S. Congress.

In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a report on the growing threat of white supremacist extremist groups and their close connections with military personnel. The DHS report was based on data and analysis from an FBI report prepared under the Bush Administration in July of 2008 titled “White Supremacist Recruitment of Military Personnel since 9/11.” In that report, the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division found that white supremacist organizations were pushing their followers to join the military and enter either the Special Forces or the infantry, in order to gain the necessary skills to prepare them for the “coming race war.” As a result, the report found that:

“…military experience is found throughout the white supremacist extremist movement as the result of recruitment campaigns by extremist groups and self-recruitment by veterans sympathetic to white supremacist causes.”

And what was the response from Congress? Incredibly, the right wing in Congress alleged that the report was a partisan attack on them and as a consequence were able to have the report rescinded and wiped away from the DHS website – and out of the public’s awareness.

Burying the DHS report did not result in the elimination of the very real threat posed by the more violent wing of the radical right, a threat being played out by extremist forces throughout Europe, as well as the U.S.

The attack launched by F. Glen Miller should not have been unexpected. This individual has been around, and on law enforcement radar, for quite some time. He was at the infamous Klan attack in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1979 that resulted in the deaths of five anti-racist activists and has a long history with some of the most dangerous right-wing elements in the U.S.

 The real question that a reasonable person might ask and that the media and certainly state authorities would want to answer is, how many more of these individuals might be out there? And there are other questions – why is it that national state authorities fail to characterize acts like the Kansas shootings as domestic terrorism, and does that failure represent a conceptual inability to “see” the threat of radicalized white supremacists or a cynical political decision to downplay the existence of domestic terrorists?

 The rise of the racist, radical right is not a figment of the imagination, or a partisan political attack. When they show up at anti-Obama rallies with guns in hand or when they attack Jewish schools or gun down African Americans while wearing the uniforms of the police, all of us must recognize the very real threat that we face today in this period of intense anger, scapegoating, confusion and manipulation.

We all have a stake in the defeat of white supremacy in all of its expressions. If we fail to engage in the hard struggle to strip away the pretenses of whiteness and its distorted worldview, and prepare people for the ultimate reality that they are going to have to give up most of the privileges of being white and living at the center of the empire, the crazed terror attack carried out by the neo-Nazi in Kansas will be only a harbinger of what is to come.

Ajamu Baraka is a human rights activist and organizer. Baraka serves as Public Intervenor for Human Rights on the Democracy Branch of the Green Shadow Cabinet and is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report. He can be reached atwww.AjamuBaraka.com

World events permitting, I am going to take a few days off.

Many of you write to me asking for financial advice or for explanations of the pros and cons of different investments. I don’t give financial advice and cannot answer such a large number of individual inquiries.  However, I can call to your attention two books that provide different views from those available in the financial media. The Aftershock Investor by David Wiedemer, Robert A. Wiedemer, and Cindy S. Spitzer (John Wiley & Sons, 2014) explains the vulnerabilities of each kind of investment. The Money Bubble by James Turk and John Rubino (DollarCollapse Press, 2013) explains the possible consequences of the current economic policies. Both books are directed at a general audience and are readable.
As I have reported on several occasions, the US government pays foreign rulers to do Washington’s bidding. There is no such thing as an independent government in the UK, Europe or Japan. On top of all the other evidence, it has now come to light that the US Agency for International Development has a large slush fund “where millions are paid to political figures in foreign countries.” http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38253.htm
If you have four hours, watch President Putin’s amazing open press conference with the Russia people and then try to imagine an American or European leader capable of such a feat. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38254.htm  The Russians have a real leader. We have two-bit punks.
The Los Angeles Times has acquired its own Judith Miller. His name is Sergei L. Loiko.  An incompetent Obama regime has botched its takeover of Ukraine with its Kiev coup. The White House Fool is embarrassed that so many Ukrainians prefer to be part of Russia than part of Washington’s stooge “freedom and democracy” government in Kiev.  The prostitute American and European media have thrown the propaganda into overdrive, demonizing Russia and President Putin, in order to cover up Washington’s blunder.
The latest deception cooked up by Washington or by the anti-semitic neo-nazi Right Sector in western Ukraine consists of leaflets falsely issued under the name of one of the leaders of Russian secessionists in eastern Ukraine. The leaflet calls for Jews to sign a registration and list their property.  However, no such registration office exists. Washington’s ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt who assisted Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland in orchestrating the overthrow of the elected Ukrainian government and installing Washington’s stooges, declared the leaflets to be “the real deal.”  But the Jewish community is suspicious and has issued a statement that the leaflet “smells like a provocation.” Jewish residents of the Russian territories that Soviet leaders added to the Ukraine Soviet Republic say that anti-semitism has not been a feature of their lives in the Russian speaking areas. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/04/17/jews-ordered-to-register-in-east-ukraine/7816951/   See also:
Washington and the prostitute media are purveyors of misinformation. Remember, Washington and its media prostitutes told you that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was a threat to America. Washington and its media prostitutes told you that Syria’s President Assad used chemical weapons against his own people. Washington and its media prostitutes told you that “we are not spying on you.” Remember, the New York Times sat on the first leak from a top NSA official that Americans were being illegally spied upon for one year until George W. Bush was safely reelected.  
A government that relies on propaganda cannot be believed about anything. Americans misinformed by a prostitute media are in no position to protect the US Constitution and their liberty. Misinformed, they become tyranny’s allies and their own worst enemy.  

 

After an argument about a leave denied, Specialist Ivan Lopez pulled out a .45-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun and began a shooting spree at Fort Hood, America’s biggest stateside base, that left three soldiers dead and 16 wounded.  When he did so, he also pulled America’s fading wars out of the closet.  This time, a Fort Hood mass killing, the second in four and a half years, was committed by a man who was neither a religious nor a political “extremist.”  He seems to have been merely one of America’s injured and troubled veterans who now number in the hundreds of thousands.

Some 2.6 million men and women have been dispatched, often repeatedly, to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and according to a recent survey of veterans of those wars conducted by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly one-third say that their mental health is worse than it was before they left, and nearly half say the same of their physical condition.  Almost half say they give way to sudden outbursts of anger.  Only 12% of the surveyed veterans claim they are now “better” mentally or physically than they were before they went to war.

The media coverage that followed Lopez’s rampage was, of course, 24/7 and there was much discussion of PTSD, the all-purpose (if little understood) label now used to explain just about anything unpleasant that happens to or is caused by current or former military men and women. Amid the barrage of coverage, however, something was missing: evidence that has been in plain sight for years of how the violence of America’s distant wars comes back to haunt the “homeland” as the troops return.  In that context, Lopez’s killings, while on a scale not often matched, are one more marker on a bloody trail of death that leads from Iraq and Afghanistan into the American heartland, to bases and backyards nationwide.  It’s a story with a body count that should not be ignored.

War Comes Home

During the last 12 years, many veterans who had grown “worse” while at war could be found on and around bases here at home, waiting to be deployed again, and sometimes doing serious damage to themselves and others.  The organization Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) has campaigned for years for a soldier’s “right to heal” between deployments.  Next month it will release its own report on a common practice at Fort Hood of sending damaged and heavily medicated soldiers back to combat zones against both doctors’ orders and official base regulations. Such soldiers can’t be expected to survive in great shape.

Immediately after the Lopez rampage, President Obama spoke of those soldiers who have served multiple tours in the wars and “need to feel safe” on their home base. But what the president called “that sense of safety… broken once again” at Fort Hood has, in fact, already been shattered again and again on bases and in towns across post-9/11 America — ever since misused, misled, and mistreated soldiers began bringing war home with them.

Since 2002, soldiers and veterans have been committing murder individually and in groups, killing wives, girlfriends, children, fellow soldiers, friends, acquaintances, complete strangers, and — in appalling numbers — themselves. Most of these killings haven’t been on a mass scale, but they add up, even if no one is doing the math.  To date, they have never been fully counted.

The first veterans of the war in Afghanistan returned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 2002.  In quick succession, four of them murdered their wives, after which three of the killers took their own lives. When a New York Times reporter asked a Special Forces officer to comment on these events, he replied: “S.F.’s don’t like to talk about emotional stuff.  We are Type A people who just blow things like that off, like yesterday’s news.”

Indeed, much of the media and much of the country has done just that.  While individual murders committed by “our nation’s heroes” on the “home front” have been reported by media close to the scene, most such killings never make the national news, and many become invisible even locally when reported only as routine murders with no mention of the apparently insignificant fact that the killer was a veteran.  Only when these crimes cluster around a military base do diligent local reporters seem to put the pieces of the bigger picture together.

By 2005, Fort Bragg had already counted its tenth such “domestic violence” fatality, while on the West coast, the Seattle Weekly had tallied the death toll among active-duty troops and veterans in western Washington state at seven homicides and three suicides.  “Five wives, a girlfriend, and one child were slain; four other children lost one or both parents to death or imprisonment. Three servicemen committed suicide — two of them after killing their wife or girlfriend.  Four soldiers were sent to prison.  One awaited trial.”

In January 2008, the New York Times tried for the first time to tally a nationwide count of such crimes.  It found “121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war.” It listed headlines drawn from smaller local newspapers:  Lakewood, Washington, “Family Blames Iraq After Son Kills Wife”; Pierre, South Dakota, “Soldier Charged With Murder Testifies About Postwar Stress”; Colorado Springs, Colorado, “Iraq War Vets Suspected in Two Slayings, Crime Ring.”

The Times found that about a third of the murder victims were wives, girlfriends, children, or other relatives of the killer, but significantly, a quarter of the victims were fellow soldiers.  The rest were acquaintances or strangers.  At that time, three quarters of the homicidal soldiers were still in the military.  The number of killings then represented a nearly 90% increase in homicides committed by active duty personnel and veterans in the six years since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.  Yet after tracing this “cross-country trail of death and heartbreak,” the Times noted that its research had probably uncovered only “the minimum number of such cases.”  One month later, it found “more than 150 cases of fatal domestic violence or [fatal] child abuse in the United States involving service members and new veterans.”

More cases were already on the way. After the Fourth Brigade Combat team of Fort Carson, Colorado, returned from Iraq later in 2008, nine of its members were charged with homicide, while “charges of domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault” at the base rose sharply. Three of the murder victims were wives or girlfriends; four were fellow soldiers (all men); and two were strangers, chosen at random.

Back at Fort Bragg and the nearby Marine base at Camp Lejeune, military men murdered four military women in a nine-month span between December 2007 and September 2008.  By that time, retired Army Colonel Ann Wright had identified at least 15 highly suspicious deaths of women soldiers in the war zones that had been officially termed “non-combat related” or “suicide.” She raised a question that has never been answered: “Is there an Army cover-up of rape and murder of women soldiers?”  The murders that took place near (but not on) Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune, all investigated and prosecuted by civilian authorities, raised another question: Were some soldiers bringing home not only the generic violence of war, but also specific crimes they had rehearsed abroad?

Stuck in Combat Mode

While this sort of post-combat-zone combat at home has rarely made it into the national news, the killings haven’t stopped.  They have, in fact, continued, month by month, year after year, generally reported only by local media.  Many of the murders suggest that the killers still felt as if they were on some kind of private mission in “enemy territory,” and that they themselves were men who had, in distant combat zones, gotten the hang of killing — and the habit. For example, Benjamin Colton Barnes, a 24-year-old Army veteran, went to a party in Seattle in 2012 and got into a gunfight that left four people wounded.  He then fled to Mount Rainier National Park where he shot and killed a park ranger (the mother of two small children) and fired on others before escaping into snow-covered mountains where he drowned in a stream.

Barnes, an Iraq veteran, had reportedly experienced a rough transition to stateside life, having been discharged from the Army in 2009 for misconduct after being arrested for drunk driving and carrying a weapon. (He also threatened his wife with a knife.) He was one of more than 20,000 troubled Army and Marine veterans the military discarded between 2008 and 2012 with “other-than-honorable” discharges and no benefits, health care, or help.

Faced with the expensive prospect of providing long-term care for these most fragile of veterans, the military chose instead to dump them.  Barnes was booted out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington, which by 2010 had surpassed Fort Hood, Fort Bragg, and Fort Carson in violence and suicide to become the military’s “most troubled” home base.

Some homicidal soldiers work together, perhaps recreating at home that famous fraternal feeling of the military “band of brothers.” In 2012, in Laredo, Texas, federal agents posing as leaders of a Mexican drug cartel arrested Lieutenant Kevin Corley and Sergeant Samuel Walker — both from Fort Carson’s notorious Fourth Brigade Combat team — and two other soldiers in their private hit squad who had offered their services to kill members of rival cartels. “Wet work,” soldiers call it, and they’re trained to do it so well that real Mexican drug cartels have indeed been hiring ambitious vets from Fort Bliss, Texas, and probably other bases in the borderlands, to take out selected Mexican and American targets at $5,000 a pop.

Such soldiers seem never to get out of combat mode.  Boston psychiatrist Jonathan Shay, well known for his work with troubled veterans of the Vietnam War, points out that the skills drilled into the combat soldier — cunning, deceit, strength, quickness, stealth, a repertoire of killing techniques, and the suppression of compassion and guilt — equip him perfectly for a life of crime. “I’ll put it as bluntly as I can,” Shay writes in Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming, “Combat service per se smooths the way into criminal careers afterward in civilian life.”  During the last decade, when the Pentagon relaxed standards to fill the ranks, some enterprising members of at least 53 different American gangs jumpstarted their criminal careers by enlisting, training, and serving in war zones to perfect their specialized skill sets.

Some veterans have gone on to become domestic terrorists, like Desert Storm veteran Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168 people in the Oklahoma federal building in 1995, or mass murderers like Wade Michael Page, the Army veteran and uber-racist who killed six worshippers at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in August 2012. Page had first been introduced to the ideology of white supremacy at age 20, three years after he joined the Army, when he fell in with a neo-Nazi hate group at Fort Bragg.  That was in 1995, the year three paratroopers from Fort Bragg murdered two black local residents, a man and a woman, to earn their neo-Nazi spider-web tattoos.

An unknown number of such killers just walk away, like Army Private (and former West Point cadet) Isaac Aguigui, who was finally convicted last month in a Georgia criminal court of murdering his pregnant wife, Sergeant Deirdre Wetzker Aguigui, an Army linguist, three years ago. Although Deirdre Aguigui’s handcuffed body had revealed multiple blows and signs of struggle, the military medical examiner failed to “detect an anatomic cause of death” — a failure convenient for both the Army, which didn’t have to investigate further, and Isaac Aguigui, who collected a half-million dollars in military death benefits and life insurance to finance a war of his own.

In 2012, Georgia authorities charged Aguigui and three combat veterans from Fort Stewart with the execution-style murders of former Private Michael Roark, 19, and his girlfriend Tiffany York, 17.  The trial in a civilian criminal court revealed that Aguigui (who was never deployed) had assembled his own private militia of troubled combat vets called FEAR (Forever Enduring, Always Ready), and was plotting to take over Fort Stewart by seizing the munitions control point.  Among his other plans for his force were killing unnamed officials with car bombs, blowing up a fountain in Savannah, poisoning the apple crop in Aguigui’s home state of Washington, and joining other unspecified private militia groups around the country in a plot to assassinate President Obama and take control of the United States government.  Last year, the Georgia court convicted Aguigui in the case of the FEAR executions and sentenced him to life.  Only then did a civilian medical examiner determine that he had first murdered his wife.

The Rule of Law

The routine drills of basic training and the catastrophic events of war damage many soldiers in ways that appear darkly ironic when they return home to traumatize or kill their partners, their children, their fellow soldiers, or random strangers in a town or on a base.  But again to get the stories we must rely upon scrupulous local journalists. The Austin American-Statesman, for example, reports that, since 2003, in the area around Fort Hood in central Texas, nearly 10% of those involved in shooting incidents with the police were military veterans or active-duty service members. In four separate confrontations since last December, the police shot and killed two recently returned veterans and wounded a third, while one police officer was killed.  A fourth veteran survived a shootout unscathed.

Such tragic encounters prompted state and city officials in Texas to develop a special Veterans Tactical Response Program to train police in handling troubled military types.  Some of the standard techniques Texas police use to intimidate and overcome suspects — shouting, throwing “flashbangs” (grenades), or even firing warning shots — backfire when the suspect is a veteran in crisis, armed, and highly trained in reflexive fire.  The average civilian lawman is no match for an angry combat grunt from, as the president put it at Fort Hood, “the greatest Army that the world has ever known.”  On the other hand, a brain-injured vet who needs time to respond to orders or reply to questions may get manhandled, flattened, tasered, bludgeoned, or worse by overly aggressive police officers before he has time to say a word.

Here’s another ironic twist. For the past decade, military recruiters have made a big selling point of the “veterans preference” policy in the hiring practices of civilian police departments.  The prospect of a lifetime career in law enforcement after a single tour of military duty tempts many wavering teenagers to sign on the line. But the vets who are finally discharged from service and don the uniform of a civilian police department are no longer the boys who went away.

In Texas today, 37% of the police in Austin, the state capitol, are ex-military, and in smaller cities and towns in the vicinity of Fort Hood, that figure rises above the 50% mark.  Everybody knows that veterans need jobs, and in theory they might be very good at handling troubled soldiers in crisis, but they come to the job already trained for and very good at war.  When they meet the next Ivan Lopez, they make a potentially combustible combo.

Most of America’s military men and women don’t want to be “stigmatized” by association with the violent soldiers mentioned here.  Neither do the ex-military personnel who now, as members of civilian police forces, do periodic battle with violent vets in Texas and across the country.  The new Washington Post-Kaiser survey reveals that most veterans are proud of their military service, if not altogether happy with their homecoming.  Almost half of them think that American civilians, like the citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan, don’t genuinely “respect” them, and more than half feel disconnected from American life.  They believe they have better moral and ethical values than their fellow citizens, a virtue trumpeted by the Pentagon and presidents alike.  Sixty percent say they are more patriotic than civilians. Seventy percent say that civilians fail absolutely to understand them.  And almost 90% of veterans say that in a heartbeat they would re-up to fight again.

Americans on the “home front” were never mobilized by their leaders and they have generally not come to grips with the wars fought in their name. Here, however, is another irony: neither, it turns out, have most of America’s military men and women. Like their civilian counterparts, many of whom are all too ready to deploy those soldiers again to intervene in countries they can’t even find on a map, a significant number of veterans evidently have yet to unpack and examine the wars they brought home in their baggage — and in too many grim cases, they, their loved ones, their fellow soldiers, and sometimes random strangers are paying the price.

Ann Jones, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of Kabul in Winter, among other books, and most recently They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America’s Wars — The Untold Story, a Dispatch Books project (Haymarket, 2013).

President Obama, through his U.S. Solicitor General, arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court, has now stated that lying in political campaigns isn’t merely protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech, but that it is an especially protected form of speech, which must not be hindered by any state government, such as by the state of Ohio. Ohio has outlawed such intentional deception of voters, and has established heavy criminal penalties against it, when it can be proven. The idea behind this law is that any democracy in which lying in political campaigns isn’t penalized by severe penalties, won’t remain a democracy much longer, but will instead descend into a kleptocracy: theft of elections themselves (via lies), so that they become just nominal “elections,” which are controlled by whatever aristocrats can put up the most money, to lie the most effectively, to the biggest number of voters: lying-contests.

It’s an important Supreme Court case. As Constitutional lawyer Lyle Denniston has noted, in his Argument preview: Attack ads and the First Amendment: “In all of the history of the First Amendment, the Court has never ruled that false statements are totally without protection under the Constitution.” However, this Supreme Court will have an opportunity to do that here, in the case SBA List v. Dreihaus; or else, to do the exact opposite — to open wide (even wider than they now are) the floodgates to political lies.

Public opinion (e.g., this), and the President of the United States (via his Solicitor General, to be discussed here below), seem to favor opening the floodgates. If that were to happen, then the recently unleashed outpouring of sheer corporate and billionaire cash (via the Citizens United decision, and the more recent McCutcheon decision) into political contests, will become even more unrestrained by (and disconnected from) any consideration of the truthfulness (or not) of this “free speech,” so that the U.S. public will naturally be inundated by torrents, not only of aristocratic money pouring over public opinions, but of outright and provable lies financed by the richest aristocrats, polluting and poisoning those torrents, which will drench voters’ minds, and will thus poison political outcomes (which is why that money is spent — to do precisely this).

U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verilli Jr., in this case, SBA List v. Dreihauswrote to the U.S. Supreme Court, defending political liars’ rights:

This case does not require the Court to determine precisely when an alleged chilling of speech [by the threat of being prosecuted for lying in a political campaign] constitutes hardship [being suffered by that liar], because it presents that issue in a unique election-related context that makes the hardship to petitioners [the liars] particularly clear. Petitioners [the liars] have sufficiently alleged that a credible threat of prosecution will chill them from engaging in [deceptive] speech relating to elections for public office, the very type of speech to which the First Amendment ‘has its fullest and most urgent application.’ Eu v. San Francisco Cnty. Democratic Cent. Comm., 489 U.S. 214, 223 (1989) (quoting Monitor Patriot Co. v. Roy, 401 U.S. 265, 272 (1971)). As petitioners explain (Br. 40), under Ohio law, candidates who are the subject of such [lying] speech can try to silence it by complaining to the [Electoral] Commission and thereby tying up the speaker [the liar] in administrative litigation during the short window of time in which the electoral speech [that person’s lie] would be most effective [at deceiving voters].4

The court of appeals largely disregarded these considerations in favor of focusing on evidence suggesting that the Commission proceedings [the investigation into the lie] did not actually deter [the liar] SBA List from disseminating its message [its lie]. Pet. App. 17a-18a. The court correctly recognized that evidence of how agency action [the investigation into that alleged lie] has affected a plaintiff’s conduct is an important factor in the hardship analysis. In this case, however, SBA List’s particular reaction to the Commission proceedings during the 2010 election cycle does not eliminate the objectively credible threat of prosecution that petitioners [SBA List] face if they engage in similar [lying] speech in future election cycles.

When Obama’s mouthpiece there, Verilli, quoted the phrase that’s quoted in “the First Amendment ‘has its fullest and most urgent application’,” in relation to this particular case and context, he was actually quoting from a case in which the court was saying in regard to “California’s prohibition on primary [party] endorsements by the official governing bodies of political parties,” that (as that ruling said), “Indeed, the First Amendment ‘has its fullest and most urgent application’ to speech uttered during a campaign for political office.” That statement didn’t refer at all to lying in political campaigns. However, this is the type of cheap shot that the President’s lawyer must take, in order to argue that lying is “the very type of speech to which the First Amendment ‘has its fullest and most urgent application.’’” He must lie in order to defend political lying as being protected by the U.S. Constitution.

I have earlier argued that President Obama lied with exceptional skill in order to win the White House – and I say this as a Democrat who is opposed to conservatives (supporters of lies) of all parties, including the Democratic Party. So: Obama is really defending here his own practices, which won him the White House. This conservative “Democrat” is so gifted a politician that he could probably have won it with no lies at all, but he took the easy path, and now he is defending it as a matter of alleged Constitutional principle.

He’s on the same side in this as the overt Republicans are. For example, the friend-of-court brief on behalf of the Koch brothers’ Cato Institute and their comedian P.J. O’Rourke, argued in this case that, “No one should be concerned that false political statements won’t be subjected to careful examination” (perhaps by historians, after the liar has been elected and long-since collected his reward, and the honest politician has sunk into obscurity). It’s a race to the bottom they want, and conservative Democrats want it just as much as Republicans do. Cato/O’Rourke then went on to say: “A prohibition on lying devalues the truth. ‘How can you develop a reputation as a straight shooter if lying is not an option?’” In other words: We must allow deception of voters, because otherwise all politics would be honest — and that would be bad (for crooks like them, because politics then wouldn’t continue to be a lying-contest: the type where any real ‘straight shooter’ can’t have even any realistic chance at all of winning). Champion liars want to continue maintaining their advantage, not to yield it; and any law that’s enforced against political liars will remove their existing huge political advantage. Conservatives would still have most aristocratic money on their side, but no longer an unrestrained freedom to spread lies financed by that cash-advantage that they naturally enjoy.

With Obama arguing on the Republican side, and the Republicans arguing on the Republican side, how will the Republican U.S. Supreme Court rule on this matter? Let’s guess.

It could be the final nail in the coffin of democracy in America: the official full implementation of aristocracy, plutocracy, oligarchy, crony capitalism, or whatever else one would call it. Maybe “fake democracy”? Oh, I forgot: we’re already there. But this would take us much farther there.

If the reader wants to know how deeply the public has already been duped, just check out, for starters (besides that piece where I earlier argued that President Obama lied with exceptional skill in order to win the White House), these:

Ukraine: Is Obama Channeling Cheney?

The Nazis Even Hitler Was Afraid Of

Ukrainian Neo-Nazis Declare that Power Comes Out of the Barrels of their Guns

Privatization Is A Ramp For Corruption, and Insouciance Is a Ramp for War

And the Ukraine matter is just the tip of the lying iceberg here, several other portions of which I’ve covered extensively at Huffington Post and elsewhere.

Lying in politics is toxic to democracy. It’s destroying not only this country, but the entire world. Obama wants to protect it, just like he protected the banksters from prosecution.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Ukrainian Secretary for National Security Andriy Parubiy.

As the post-coup regime in Ukraine sends troops and paramilitaries to crack down on ethnic Russian protesters in the east, the U.S. news media continues to feed the American public a steady dose of anti-Russian propaganda, often wrapped in accusations of “Russian propaganda.”

The acting president of the coup regime in Kiev announces that he is ordering an “anti-terrorist” operation against pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine, while his national security chief says he has dispatched right-wing ultranationalist fighters who spearheaded the Feb. 22 coup that ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych.

On Tuesday, Andriy Parubiy, head of the Ukrainian National Security Council, went on Twitter to declare, “Reserve unit of National Guard formed #Maidan Self-defense volunteers was sent to the front line this morning.” Parubiy was referring to the neo-Nazi militias that provided the organized muscle that overthrew Yanukovych, forcing him to flee for his life. Some of these militias have since been incorporated into security forces as “National Guard.”

Parubiy himself is a well-known neo-Nazi, who founded the Social-National Party of Ukraine in 1991. The party blended radical Ukrainian nationalism with neo-Nazi symbols. Parubiy also formed a paramilitary spinoff, the Patriots of Ukraine, and defended the awarding of the title, “Hero of Ukraine,” to World War II Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, whose own paramilitary forces exterminated thousands of Jews and Poles in pursuit of a racially pure Ukraine.

During the months of protests aimed at overthrowing Yanukovych, Parubiy became the commandant of “Euromaidan,” the name for the Kiev uprising, and – after the Feb. 22 coup – Parubiy was one of four far-right Ukrainian nationalists given control of a ministry, i.e. national security.

But the U.S. press has played down his role because his neo-Nazism conflicts with Official Washington’s narrative that the neo-Nazis played little or no role in the “revolution.” References to neo-Nazis in the “interim government” are dismissed as “Russian propaganda.”

Yet there Parubiy was on Tuesday bragging that some of his neo-Nazi storm troopers – renamed “National Guard” – were now being sicced on rebellious eastern Ukraine as part of the Kiev government’s “anti-terrorist” operation.

The post-coup President Oleksandr Turchynov also warned that Ukraine was confronting a “colossal danger,” but he insisted that the suppression of the pro-Russian protesters would be treated as an “anti-terrorist” operation and not as a “civil war.” Everyone should understand by now that “anti-terror” suggests extrajudicial killings, torture and “counter-terror.”

Yet, with much of the Ukrainian military of dubious loyalty to the coup regime, the dispatch of the neo-Nazi militias from western Ukraine’s Right Sektor and Svoboda parties represents a significant development. Not only do the Ukrainian neo-Nazis consider the ethnic Russians an alien presence, but these right-wing militias are organized to wage street fighting as they did in the February uprising.

Historically, right-wing paramilitaries have played crucial roles in “counter-terror” campaigns around the world. In Central America in the 1980s, for instance, right-wing “death squads” did much of the dirty work for U.S.-backed military regimes as they crushed social protests and guerrilla movements.

The merging of the concept of “anti-terrorism” with right-wing paramilitaries represents a potentially frightening development for the people of eastern Ukraine. And much of this information – about Turchynov’s comments and Parubiy’s tweet – can be found in a New York Times’ dispatch from Ukraine.

Whose Propaganda?

However, on the Times’ front page on Wednesday was a bizarre story by David M. Herszenhorn accusing the Russian government of engaging in a propaganda war by making many of the same points that you could find – albeit without the useful context about Parubiy’s neo-Nazi background – in the same newspaper.

In the article entitled “Russia Is Quick To Bend Truth About Ukraine,” Herszenhorn mocked Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev for making a Facebook posting that “was bleak and full of dread,” including noting that “blood has been spilled in Ukraine again” and adding that “the threat of civil war looms.”

The Times article continued, “He [Medvedev] pleaded with Ukrainians to decide their own future ‘without usurpers, nationalists and bandits, without tanks or armored vehicles – and without secret visits by the C.I.A. director.’ And so began another day of bluster and hyperbole, of the misinformation, exaggerations, conspiracy theories, overheated rhetoric and, occasionally, outright lies about the political crisis in Ukraine that have emanated from the highest echelons of the Kremlin and reverberated on state-controlled Russian television, hour after hour, day after day, week after week.”

This argumentative “news” story spilled from the front page to the top half of an inside page, but Herszenhorn never managed to mention that there was nothing false in what Medvedev said. Indeed, it was the much-maligned Russian press that first reported the secret visit of CIA Director John Brennan to Kiev.

Though the White House has since confirmed that report, Herszenhorn cites Medvedev’s reference to it in the context of “misinformation” and “conspiracy theories.” Nowhere in the long article does the Times inform its readers that, yes, the CIA director did make a secret visit to Ukraine last weekend. Presumably, that reality has now disappeared into the great memory hole along with the on-ground reporting from Feb. 22 about the key role of the neo-Nazi militias.

The neo-Nazis themselves have pretty much disappeared from Official Washington’s narrative, which now usually recounts the coup as simply a case of months of protests followed by Yanukovych’s decision to flee. Only occasionally, often buried deep in news articles with the context removed, can you find admissions of how the neo-Nazis spearheaded the coup.

A Wounded Extremist

For instance, on April 6, the New York Times published a human-interest profile of a Ukrainian named Yuri Marchuk who was wounded in clashes around Kiev’s Maidan square in February. You have to read far into the story to learn that Marchuk was a Svoboda leader from Lviv, which – if you did your own research – you would discover is a neo-Nazi stronghold where Ukrainian nationalists hold torch-light parades in honor of Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera.

Without providing that context, the Times does mention that Lviv militants plundered a government weapons depot and dispatched 600 militants a day to do battle in Kiev. Marchuk also described how these well-organized militants, consisting of paramilitary brigades of 100 fighters each, launched the fateful attack against the police on Feb. 20, the battle where Marchuk was wounded and where the death toll suddenly spiked into scores of protesters and about a dozen police.

Marchuk later said he visited his comrades at the occupied City Hall. What the Times doesn’t mention is that City Hall was festooned with Nazi banners and even a Confederate battle flag as a tribute to white supremacy.

The Times touched on the inconvenient truth of the neo-Nazis again on April 12 in an articleabout the mysterious death of neo-Nazi leader Oleksandr Muzychko, who was killed during a shootout with police on March 24. The article quoted a local Right Sektor leader, Roman Koval, explaining the crucial role of his organization in carrying out the anti-Yanukovych coup.

“Ukraine’s February revolution, said Mr. Koval, would never have happened without Right Sector and other militant groups,” the Times wrote. Yet, that reality – though actually reported in the New York Times – has now become “Russian propaganda,” according to the New York Times.

This upside-down American narrative also ignores the well-documented interference of prominent U.S. officials in stirring up the protesters in Kiev, which is located in the western part of Ukraine and is thus more anti-Russian than eastern Ukraine where many ethnic Russians live and where Yanukovych had his political base.

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland was a cheerleader for the uprising, reminding Ukrainian business leaders that the United States had invested $5 billion in their “European aspirations,” discussing who should replace Yanukovych (her choice, Arseniy Yatsenyuk became the new prime minister), and literally passing out cookies to the protesters in the Maidan. (Nuland is married to neoconservative superstar Robert Kagan, a founder of the Project for the New American Century.)

During the protests, neocon Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, took the stage with leaders of Svoboda – surrounded by banners honoring Stepan Bandera – and urged on the protesters. Even before the demonstrations began, prominent neocon Carl Gershman, president of the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy, had dubbed Ukraine “the biggest prize.” [For more details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “What’s the Matter with John Kerry?”]

Indeed, in my four-plus decades in journalism, I have never seen a more thoroughly biased and misleading performance by the major U.S. news media. Even during the days of Ronald Reagan – when much of the government’s modern propaganda structure was created – there was more independence in major news outlets. There were media stampedes off the reality cliff during George H.W. Bush’s Persian Gulf War and George W. Bush’s Iraq War, both of which were marked by demonstrably false claims that were readily swallowed by the big U.S. news outlets.

But there is something utterly Orwellian in the current coverage of the Ukraine crisis, including accusing others of “propaganda” when their accounts – though surely not perfect – are much more honest and more accurate than what the U.S. press corps has been producing.

There’s also the added risk that this latest failure by the U.S. press corps is occurring on the border of Russia, a nuclear-armed state that – along with the United States – could exterminate all life on the planet. The biased U.S. news coverage is now feeding into political demands to send U.S. military aid to Ukraine’s coup regime.

The casualness of this propaganda – as it spreads across the U.S. media spectrum from Fox News to MSNBC, from the Washington Post to the New York Times – is not just wretched journalism but it is reckless malfeasance jeopardizing the lives of many Ukrainians and the future of the planet.

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

Thousands marched in the streets of Port-au-Prince on Apr. 15 to demand that President Michel Martelly step down. The day before, 50 protestors picketed outside the military headquarters of the 9,000-soldier occupation force, the United Nations Mission to Stabilize Haiti or MINUSTAH, demanding that the troops leave Haiti by the May 28, 2014 deadline set by the Haitian Senate one year ago. And on Apr. 16, hundreds of peasants on the southern island of Ile à Vache (Cow Island) are planning to march against the police occupation of their communities, as well as a government plan to evict them and turn their island into a tourist resort.

This is just a small sampling of the growing daily protests around Haiti which has many questioning whether Martelly will be able to serve out his five year term without resigning.

The flames of rebellion around Haiti were fanned this week by Martelly himself when he declared in the southern city of Aux Cayes: “I’m going to announce some bad news… We have been doing so much work around the country, that the state coffers don’t have a penny.”

Despite unmistakable signs of massive government corruption since Martelly came to power in May 2011, the announcement came as a shock to the Haitian people. Former President René Préval left about $1.5 billion in the treasury when he stepped down, according to former Sen. Jean Hector Anacasis.

On Apr. 2, the government reshuffled and, ironically, expanded to 43 ministers and secretaries of state. This makes it larger than the government cabinets, for example, in France (16), the United States (23), and Venezuela (29).

Furthermore, according to Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles, the Martelly government has burned through about $3 billion in funds provided to Haiti through its PetroCaribe Accord with Venezuela, under which the Haitian state puts 40% of the money paid for about 20,000 barrels of Caracas-provided oil a day into a special discretionary fund. The oil revenues must be paid back to Venezuela in 25 years at 1% interest.

Earlier this year, the Haitian government announced that 94% of funding for projects it has undertaken comes from the PetroCaribe fund.

Meanwhile, President Martelly has illegally taxed (i.e. without Parliamentary approval) millions of international money transfers to Haiti at $1.50 each and international phone calls to and from Haiti at five cents a minute, which has generated hundreds of millions over the past three years. But the press and public don’t know exactly how much is in this highly resented mountain of collected fees because it has never been clearly accounted for. (Government officials once trumpeted that it was being spent on education, but with angry unpaid teachers and unschooled students in the streets every week, they now admit it wasn’t spent on that.)

Martelly also drastically hiked fees on passports and other government documents that Haitians must procure, generating more bitterness but also revenue which has only disappeared into a black hole.

“If Martelly now says the state coffers are empty, what did he do with what was in there?” asked Mirlande Manigat, the Secretary General of the Assembly of Progressive National Democrats (RNDP), who lost the Washington-rigged Mar. 20, 2011 run-off election to Martelly. “The public must demand a clear accounting.”

Economist Camille Chalmers of the Haitian Platform to Advocate Alternative Development (PAPDA) called Martelly’s remarks “totally irresponsible” and predicted they are the precursor to “a chaotic situation which suggests that the government cannot meet its obligations.” The desperate plight of Haiti’s hungry masses is likely to deepen, Chalmers said, especially in the arid Northwest which is already in the grips of a severe food shortage.

“President Martelly has all but admitted that he had been stealing money from the Haitian treasury and that now the public coffers have no more money,” said Biron Odigé, a leader of the Patriotic Forces for Respect of the Constitution (FOPARK), which called for the Apr. 15 march along with the Patriotic Democratic Movement (MOPOD). “There are no funds to do anything in the country. So today, our conviction is reinforced. More people in this mobilization are becoming conscious of the struggle being waged today. There is no alternative: Martelly must step down.”

Oxygène David, a leader of the Dessalines Coordination (KOD), a new party named after Haiti’s founding father, said that elections now announced for Oct. 26 are impossible under Martelly and the UN military occupation.

“Martelly has proven that he is too corrupt to run a government, to hold Carnaval, or especially to organize an election,” David said. “But he is just the hand connected to the imperialist arm, which is MINUSTAH. Ricardo Seitenfus, the former OAS [Organization of American States] Ambassador has made it clear that Washington and its allies, working through the OAS and UN, put Martelly in power. They will do the same thing again in any future elections they oversee. Therefore, if Haiti is to move forward and hold free, fair, and sovereign elections, both Martelly and MINUSTAH must go.”

Since Apr. 7, KOD has been holding a demonstration outside the MINUSTAH’s base at the Port-au-Prince airport every Monday morning. It is part of a larger coalition effort to mobilize international pressure to force the UN’s withdrawal from Haiti.

On Ile à Vache, the government has not backed down in the face of massive popular protests there since January. Following an interview he gave to Haïti Liberté last month, Kénold Alexis, a leader of the Organization of Ile à Vache Peasants (KOPI), came home from teaching in the island’s school on Mar. 27 to find his home had been ransacked by agents of the Haitian Police’s Motorized Intervention Brigade (BIM). Over 100 heavily-armed BIM agents now terrorize the 17-square-mile island, which used to have only two police officers.

“After the raid, I found that I was missing $4,000 Haitian (US$446) from where I had hidden it,” Alexis told Haïti Liberté. “My wife found she was also missing $2,500 Haitian (US$279).”

Last week, Haitian authorities issued an arrest warrant for Alexis because of his mobilizing against a May 10, 2013 government decree declaring the island of “public utility,” i.e. to be turned into hotels, golf courses, and casinos. Delegations from Port-au-Prince and other parts of Haiti are traveling to Ile à Vache to march in solidarity with the island’s 14,000 eviction-threatened residents in their demonstration planned for Apr. 16.

“If Haiti were a building, flames would be popping out from every window right now,” said Henriot Dorcent, another KOD leader. “Corruption, repression, impunity, and arrogance are coalescing to create a perfect storm which may well send Martelly packing, despite his well-honed art of buying off people. The next few months, as the economic and political scissors close, will prove decisive one way or the other.”

More than two-thirds of the pollen that honeybees collect from European fields is contaminated by a cocktail of up to 17 different toxic pesticides. These are the shocking findings of a new study released yesterday.

In addition to pesticides-related chemicals, the report also identifies substances used in insecticides, acaricides, fungicides and herbicides, produced by agrochemical companies like Bayer, Syngenta and BASF. To mark the release of the report and protest against the chemical industry’s role in bee decline, more than 20 activists unfurled a giant banner outside the headquarters of Bayer, in Germany.

The study, The Bees’ Burden: An analysis of pesticide residues in comb pollen (beebread) and trapped pollen from honey bees, is the largest of its kind, comprising more than 100 samples from 12 European countries. In total 53 different chemicals were detected.

The study is a snapshot of the toxicity of Europe’s current agricultural system. It demonstrates the high concentrations and wide range of fungicides found in pollen collected around vineyards in Italy, the widespread use of bee-killing insecticides in pollen from rape fields in Poland, the detection of DDE—a derivative of DDT—a pesticide banned decades ago, and the frequent detection of the insect nerve-poison Thiacloprid, a neonicotinoid, in many samples from Germany.

“This study on contaminated pollen reveals the unbearable burden of bees and other vital pollinators,” said Matthias Wüthrich, a Greenpeace ecological farming campaigner. “Bees are exposed to a cocktail of toxic pesticides. This is yet more proof that there is something fundamentally wrong in the current agricultural model which is based on the intensive use of toxic pesticides, large-scale monocultures and corporate control of farming by a few companies like Bayer, Syngenta & Co. It shows the need for a fundamental shift towards ecological farming.”

The report confirms the findings of a recent study carried out by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). In its study, EFSA acknowledges vast knowledge gaps related to the health of bees and pollinators, including on the effects of chemical “cocktails,” and calls on the EU and national governments to fill this gap with further scientific investigation.

 

In light of its findings on pollen contamination and following EFSA’s recommendations, Greenpeace calls on the European Commission and policy-makers across Europe to:

  • Extend the scope of restrictions already imposed on the use of certain pesticides harmful to bees, namely clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and fipronil, so that their use is completely banned.
  • Fully ban all other pesticides harmful to bees and other pollinators (including chlorpyrifos, cypermethrin and deltamethrin).
  • Set ambitious Europe-wide action plans to better assess pesticide impacts on pollinators and reduce their use.
  • Encourage research and development of non-chemical alternatives to pest management and promote the widespread implementation of ecological farming practices on the ground.

Kiev Declares War – Ukrainian Soldiers Refuse to Fight

April 18th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

Western media headlined it. The New York Times said “Ukraine Push Against Rebels Grinds to a Halt.” Things “unraveled in disarray.”

An “entire contingent of 21 armored vehicles…surrendered or pull(ed) back…It was a glaring humiliation for the new government in Kiev. (Events) underscored (its) weakness.”

The Wall Street Journal said “Ukraine’s Efforts to Regain Control of East Sputter.” Locals “halted army columns.”

“The faltering ‘antiterrorist’ operation, launched a day earlier, leaves the government looking increasingly powerless in the face of separatists who are holding government buildings in as many as 10 cities close to the Russian border.”

“The stumbling start underscored difficulties faced by the new government…(It) leaves Kiev with narrowing options.”

“(M)uster(ing) more force…risk(s) further undermining its already shaky legitimacy in the east, as residents accuse it of sending soldiers against unarmed civilians.”

BBC headlined “Ukraine crisis: Armored vehicle(s) ‘rebranded as Russian.”

Russian flags were hoisted. Weapons were surrendered. Soldiers joined locals.

One resident asked: “Why did you come to our land? Why are you driving over our fields? We are peaceful people! And we just want our demands to be respected!”

Reuters said “pro-Moscow separatists took control of some of their armored vehicles and crowds surrounded another column, forcing the troops to hand over the pins from their rifles and retreat.”

Other reports highlighted elite Ukrainian units defecting. They refused to attack unarmed civilians.

Ukrainian forces were lied to. They were ordered to wage an “anti-terrorism operation.” One soldier perhaps spoke for others saying:

They were told “Russian invaders who have taken the local population hostage are waging war at us.” Orders said “free Donbas from occupants.”

“This morning, we started our attack, but the picture we saw (in Slavyansk and Kramatorsk) turned out to be completely different.”

“We saw in front of us a crowd of locals, mostly adults, women and men.”

“They explained to us that there are no occupants here and there is no one to fight. Instead, they gave us food and talked to us.”

Dozens of soldiers vowed “not to follow orders and shoot at these people.” Some sided with residents. Others stayed neutral.

APCs hoisted Russian flags. Elite units refused to obey orders. They fraternized with residents. They surrendered their weapons.

Following negotiations in Slavyansk, around 300 Ukrainian soldiers refused to fight. They agreed to go home. Locals cheered.

Mainstream media lied. They didn’t seize armored vehicles and weapons. Soldiers switched sides peacefully. A Slavyansk activist said:

“…Ukrainian troops arrived here flying a Russian flag. (T)hey have taken the side of the people.”

Photos showed women and children climbing atop APCs. They fraternized with soldiers. In Pchyolkino village, similar scenes occurred.

Ukrainian troops were exhausted. According to one soldier:

“They’ve had us running around for about two months now. We’re being sent to one city, then to the next. We cannot even wash, or eat normally or rest.”

Others complained about media propaganda. “(F)ake information is spread.” Doing so “creat(es) unnecessary tension.”

Soldiers found “no (local) aggression.” Peaceful locals weren’t threatening.

State-controlled Ukrainian media lied saying soldiers will “never surrender.”

Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (UDAR) leader Vitali Kitschko allies with illegitimate fascist putschists.

He lied claiming Eastern Ukrainian pro-Russian supports get “300 to 500 dollars a day.” Funds come “from abroad,” he said. Moscow sends them, he added.

No evidence whatever suggests it. State-controlled Ukrainian media featured his comments.

Separately, they claimed they claimed Russian “shock troops” massed on Ukraine’s border near Chernihiv, Sumy and Kharkov.

Ukrainian Center of Military and Political Studies head Dmytro Tymchuk lied, saying:

They consist of “airborne forces and special groups of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of the Russian Federation.” They’re “battalion” sized tactical groups.

Another report said “(s)abotage and terrorist groups and local extremists have seized several armored vehicles of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in Kramatorsk, Donetsk region.”

“In the center of the town the column was blocked by locals, including representatives of Russian subversive and terrorist groups.”

So far, one exception proved the rule. Mariupol-based soldiers attacked unarmed civilians.

Illegitimate putschist interior ministry head Arsen Avakov lied. He called them “armed militant.” Three deaths were reported. Over a dozen others were injured.

Protesters approached the base peacefully. They posed no threat. They urged soldiers to support their struggle. They refused.

They fired on defenseless civilians. Whether this type incident repeats remains to be seen. So far, Kiev’s offensive failed.

Illegitimate putschist president Okeksandr Turchynov ordered Ukraine’s 25th separate airborne brigade “disestablished.”

It “showed cowardice and surrendered (its) arms,” he said. Its members “will stand trial,” he added. Kiev’s prosecutor-general was told to prepare charges.

Illegitimate putschist prime minister Arseny Yatsenyuk lied accusing Moscow of “exporting terrorism.”

“The Russian government must immediately call off its intelligence-diversionary groups, condemn the terrorists and demand that they free the buildings,” he said.

Eastern Ukrainian activists aren’t terrorists. “Who are you at war with,” they asked soldiers? “With which terrorists?” Local residents are peaceful. They threaten no one.

One perhaps spoke for others, saying:

“Today, Ukrainian troops sided with the people. (T)roops sent to our city to suppress ‘terrorism’ ” found none.

“We do not see any terrorism in our city. This means they have been sent to fight with peaceful civilians, with women and children…to fire at those women and elderly people who have gathered on the city’s square.”

“Before we had chance to talk with the boys, we had to feed them. It is because they threw those boys at us like kittens, to fire at us, but forgot to even provide them with food.”

One soldier called himself a 25th paratrooper division member. “We are all boys who won’t shoot our own people, he said.

Kathrin Hille is Financial Times Beijing correspondent. She shills for power. She headlined “Putin: Russia’s great propagandist,” saying:

He “annex(ed) Crimea.” On March 18, he “lashed out against a ‘fifth column’ of ‘national traitors’ enlisted by the West to subvert Russia.”

“He vowed to respond forcefully.” Hille called Russia’s “imperfect democratic institutions under severe threat.”

“Since the Crimea annexation, there have been frequent moves that symbolise a Soviet revival,” she claimed.

No evidence whatever suggests it. Invented misinformation substitutes for hard facts. Russian democracy shames America’s sham process.

Putin enjoys overwhelming popular support. Polls at times shows it tops 80%. Major Western leaders are scorned.

Hille didn’t explain. She claims “Putin is tightening his grip.”

“The Russian government is determined to control the internet as part of its quest to tighten the noose around free speech.”

Voice of Russia, RT International, RIAN, and other Russian media shame their Western counterparts.

They feature real news, information and analysis. Don’t expect Hille to explain.

She lied claiming “Putin brought almost all traditional media either directly under state ownership or into a position where they could be indirectly controlled…”

Western media feature Russia bashing. Putin is public enemy number one. He defends Russian sovereignty. He does so responsibly.

He opposes lawless US imperialism. He says what everyone needs to hear.

A separate article discusses his April 17 annual televised Q & A session. He holds them with ordinary Russians.

In 2013, it ran a record four hours, 48 minutes. No Western leader matches him. Rare US events are carefully scripted.

Regime supporters alone participate. They do so by invitation. Questions and answers resemble a love fest. Propaganda substitutes for straight talk.

Ongoing events are worrisome. Kiev wants direct NATO intervention. Putschist grip on power is weak without it.

Eastern resistance shows its vulnerability. So do military units refusing to fight. London’s Guardian said “large chunks of the east (are) in open revolt.”

“Ukraine is rapidly vanishing as a sovereign state. Its army is falling apart.”

“What was meant to be a show of strength” turned into a fiasco. Kiev declared war.

It did so on Washington’s orders. Soldiers refused to fight. It remains to be seen what follows.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

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

The primary reason CIA boss John Brennan went to Kyiv on Sunday was not to talk about intelligence sharing as the establishment media has reported. This was the paper thin cover story floated by Rep. Mike Rogers, the out-going chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. It is propaganda.

Brennan went to Ukraine to work on logistics for the next phase of the crisis – a proxy war against Russia similar to the successful one in Afghanistan that defeated the Soviet Union.

THe CIA, of course, denies this, and also denies it made the trip to spur the coup onward and upward to victory, a dim prospect at best due to the fact so many Ukrainians are less than thrilled about being ruled by ultra-nationalists and Right Sector brownshirts. Even Ukrainian soldiers are less not pumped up about attacking their fellow countrymen: they have surrendered to unarmed activists in Donetsk and Sloviansk.

“The claim that Director Brennan encouraged Ukrainian authorities to conduct tactical operations inside Ukraine is completely false. Like other senior U.S. officials, Director Brennan strongly believes that a diplomatic solution is the only way to resolve the crisis between Russia and Ukraine,” said aCIA spokesperson in a statement.

The Pentagon has officially announced it will provide the regime with “non-lethal aid.” The Obama administration is playing the same game in Syria while behind the scenes encouraging Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to send in boatloads of cash, arms, and, most importantly, fanatical al-Qaeda and al-Nusra mercenaries willing to slaughter unarmed civilians and even Christian priests.

“The pull of getting involved in proxy wars is intoxicatingly strong for an obvious reason: proxies do all the work,” writes John Glaser. “Just provide surrogates cash and guns and voilà! The devil, as always, is in the details. Proxy wars are usually waged secretly and thus represent U.S. foreign policy that the American people (and indeed most of the U.S. government itself) has no say in. They usually involve supporting unscrupulous groups of people that often end up committing serious crimes (although, it’s by proxy so U.S. officials typically wiggle out of any responsibility).”

The CIA’s track record provides ample evidence this is precisely why Brennan personally traveled to Kyiv and rubbed elbows with the coup leaders. Since its inception, the agency has undermined, subverted, masterminded and directly orchestrated the overthrow of dozens of countries.

The Soviet Union fell for it in Afghanistan, but will it fall for it in Ukraine? The $6 billion Afghan operation beginning in 1979, the largest operation by the CIA to date, was designed to “humiliate the Soviets by arming anyone who would fight against them. The agency funneled cash and weapons to over a dozen guerrilla groups, many of whom had been staging raids from Pakistan years before the Soviet invasion,” writes Mark Zepezauer.

The operation also created a subset of new terrorists and phantom terrorists who are with us today and are routinely exploited as the war on manufactured terror drags on, likely forever, as promised, or until the bottom falls out in the United States financially.

Taking into consideration the CIA’s penchant for supporting the worst sort of sadists and fanatics, we can expect the covert proxy war now brewing below the surface in Ukraine, in Europe proper, to be excessively brutal.

It is doubtful Russia, recalling the humiliating defeat in Afghanistan, will merely sit idle on the sidelines and twiddle its thumbs.

Addendum

Leaflets ordering Jews to register in Donetsk are more than likely part of a CIA operation or one launched by the real anti-Semites in Kyiv (who are primarily members of Svoboda and Right Sector). This is an obvious disinformation campaign designed to dovetail with Kerry’s handshaking photo op with Lavrov in Geneva.

It has also provided one of the coup architects, Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine (the CIA notoriously uses embassies as staging platforms for coups), to make remarks customized for the establishment media, now plastering the obviously bogus story all over CNN and the rest of the corporate alphabet media.

The pro-Russian side has denounced the leaflets as brazenly obvious fakes. Jason Ditz writes:

The leadership of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk insist the official looking leaflets are fakes, and the signature of one of their leaders a forgery, designed to discredit the protest movement. The putative Jew registration service simply doesn’t exist, and Ukrainian Jews who show up at the government building expecting to have to pay a $50 “registration fee” are wasting their time.

So absurd and transparent is the story, Ditz could not restrain his sarcasm:

Lord knows following through on whether or not urban legends are true isn’t done in the US, which is why all the top stories in US papers today are either Jew registration that’s not happening, or a handful of kids in Tokyo wearing zentai, because that’s sure to be the new fad nationwide.

Photo: Saif al-Islam

The Libyan state this week began a mass trial, the focus of which are two of deposed leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s sons, his heir apparent Saif al-Islam, and Saadi, who was recently extradited from Niger where he had sought refuge from the US-led war in 2011.

Also facing trial are 36 top officials, including Gaddafi’s intelligence chief and right hand man Abdullah al-Senussi, deported from Mauretania in 2012, former Prime Ministers al-Baghdadi al-Mahmudi and Bouzid Dorda, and a former foreign minister Abdul Ati al-Obeidi.

They all face charges relating to their alleged role in suppressing the pro-Islamist movement in Benghazi that was utilised by NATO in order to topple Gaddafi.

What is underway has all the hallmarks of another lynching, sanctioned by a kangaroo court, like that of the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in 2006.

The trial is being held in al-Hadba prison in Tripoli. Angry scenes broke out when the authorities told the defendants’ families, journalists, lawyers and members of the public that the trial would not be open to the public. This was despite the fact that earlier, Libya’s justice minister Salah al-Merghani had insisted “I will not allow any crazy stuff, I will make sure it meets international standards … that is why we are having open trials.”

Eventually, a handful of international journalists, United Nations observers and family members were allowed in, after surrendering their cell phones.

Only 23 of the 38 defendants were present inside the court, and they were held inside the black iron cages. Gaddafi’s sons were absent. Saif al-Islam has been held by militias in Zintan who have refused to hand him over to the authorities in Tripoli without “proper rewards.”

A court has ruled that he can be tried via a video-link to his prison in Zintan. But in the event, the Zintan militia group holding him failed to produce him for the court hearing. Seven other defendants who are being held in Misrata demanded the same right to appear by video-link. A further nine, including Saadi Gaddafi, did not appear, without any reasons being given.

The defendants have been denied access to lawyers. Hanan Salah, Libya researcher in the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch said that “Many of those on trial did not have a lawyer from the beginning—a cornerstone of a fair trial.”

He also said that “We have had many cases where the defendants’ lawyers were not allowed to review evidence and get access to court documents in the pre-trial phase (the pre-trial chamber) …” and that “In some other unrelated cases, judges and lawyers were harassed and there are allegations of forced confessions.”

Al-Senussi told the court he had only just got a lawyer to defend him against charges of murder, torture, kidnapping, false imprisonment, embezzlement and incitement to rape. The former intelligence official, looking thin and markedly different from that during his period in office, told the trial judge in a shaky voice, “Five days ago I signed a paper with a defence lawyer.”

After an hour, the judges adjourned the case until 27 April. They ruled that defence lawyers could examine, but not take away with them, copies of the evidence against their clients.

The mass trial exposes the chicanery and utter criminality of the Western powers. It stems from the charges of war crimes issued against Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi by the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the behest of the US, Britain and France in 2011.

Such claims were entirely hypocritical and ignored the thousands of criminal air sorties by the NATO powers on Tripoli and other locations with civilian populations. It was a crude attempt to bolster the illegal regime-change campaign being waged by the American, British and French governments.

After the gruesome murder of Gaddafi, and the capture of Saif al-Islam and al-Senussi by Libyan militias, it soon became clear that the western powers did not want to risk a repeat of the five-year trial of former Yugoslav ruler Slobodan Milosevic, whose self-defence exposed their bogus claims of “humanitarian intervention” in the Balkans in the 1990s.

A long drawn out trial in The Hague would reveal embarrassing details about the intimate relations between the Gaddafi regime and the Western powers between 2004 and 2011, when the dictator was brought in from the cold and Libya became open for business. Al-Senussi would undoubtedly testify on Washington and London’s global torture network, while Saif al Islam might call former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other former associates as witnesses.

The spectacle of Blair acting as a witness in The Hague for crimes against humanity threatened to trigger an international outcry for Blair to be prosecuted on similar charges for his role in the illegal invasion of Iraq.

With the ICC indictment having served its purpose, the NATO powers and their proxies in Libya were determined not to transfer the two captives to The Hague. Instead, they sought to get around the legal obligation to hand over the two men by mounting a trial in Libya which the ICC would rubber stamp.

The trial takes place under conditions of complete lawlessness, without even the semblance of a functioning political and legal system, and in which the US-installed state is on the point of disintegration and all-out civil war. Rival right-wing terrorist militias promoted by the US, the European powers and the Gulf States, have plundered the country for their own enrichment.

The oil transnationals have stopped production due to the chronic instability and a number of the major international airlines have stopped flights to Tripoli, under the control of a Zintan militia, after rockets hit the runway last month.

According to Nouri Abu Sahmain, the speaker of parliament, Libya faces bankruptcy due to the blockade of the oil facilities in the eastern province of Cyrenaica by militias since last July, and more recently the cutting of one of Libya’s last remaining pipelines in the west of the country.

This has led the government to reach an agreement with the rebels’ leader, Ibrahim Jathran, who controls the eastern terminals, to end the blockade in return for dropping all charges against the rebels and paying their salaries.

Such is the chaos that on Sunday, interim Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni resigned following an attack on his family by one of Libya’s militia groups. Details of the attack are sketchy but it was believed to have occurred on the road to the airport in Tripoli, where there are nightly skirmishes between rival militias. The former defence minister was only appointed a few weeks ago following the Islamist-dominated Congress’ sacking of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.

Zeidan, who subsequently fled to Germany, has called for direct foreign intervention in the country, telling CNN, “Any means to have security will be accepted in Libya. We should have forces that are part of the United Nations, regional or Middle Eastern troops.”

It is far from clear how Congress, which faces opposition from the oil-rich Cyrenaica province in the east and Fezzan in the south that seek autonomy within a federal state, will be able to find enough legislators to agree on a new prime minister. All but 76 have withdrawn from the 200-member Congress, which sought to extend its mandate which expired in February until the end of the year.

The aim was to allow time for the 60-member Constituent Assembly to approve a new constitution to be drafted by a committee, representing each of Libya’s three provinces. But barely 500,000 of the 3.4 million electorate turned out to vote for the Constituent Assembly on February 20. While Congress has now agreed to hold parliamentary elections this summer, without waiting for the new constitution, this leaves Libya without a functioning parliament.

Though Moscow distanced itself from protests in eastern Ukraine at talks in Geneva, US and European officials signaled yesterday that they would continue to ratchet up tensions with Russia amid continuing moves by the regime in Kiev to mobilize its armed forces against pro-Russian protesters.

The joint communiqué issued in Geneva by the United States, the European Union (EU), Ukraine and Russia called for an end to protests and building occupations in eastern Ukraine. Buildings currently occupied by protesters were to be returned to the control of the US puppet regime in Kiev installed by a fascist-led putsch in February.

The statement declared: “All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation, or provocative actions. The participants strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism, and religious intolerance, including anti-Semitism. All illegal armed groups must be disarmed; all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners; all illegally occupied streets, squares, and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated.”

The communiqué called for international monitors to oversee “de-escalation measures” and pledged to grant amnesty to protesters for non-capital crimes.

Despite Moscow’s decision to sign a document calling for an end to the pro-Russian protests, Western officials indicated they would maintain and intensify economic and military pressure on Moscow. At a press conference shortly after the Geneva talks ended, US President Barack Obama said the United States and its European allies would continue to prepare new economic sanctions against Russia.

He had discussed sanctions in a telephone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel before giving the press conference. The two leaders agreed to enact further sanctions if Russia did not de-escalate the situation “in short order,” according to a White House statement.

“My hope is we do actually see follow-through over the next several days, but I don’t think, given past performance, that we can count on that, and we have to be prepared to potentially respond to what continue to be efforts of interference by the Russians in eastern and southern Ukraine,” Obama declared.

He repeated unsubstantiated US charges that the Kremlin has massed thousands of troops along the border with eastern Ukraine, accusing Russia of sowing “disruption and chaos.”

Obama’s denunciations of Russia for “interfering” in Ukraine continue the brazen lies and distortions that have characterized the statements of US and European officials, amplified by the media, since the onset of the crisis in Ukraine. Anyone who has been following the events knows that it is Washington, Berlin and the European Union that provoked the crisis by orchestrating the overthrow of the elected, pro-Russian government of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych—interfering in the affairs of Ukraine by carrying out a putsch and utilizing fascist parties and militia as their shock troops.

As the Geneva talks were ongoing, the Obama administration provocatively declared that it would step up aid to the armed forces of the Kiev regime, in line with a continuing NATO escalation in Eastern Europe announced the day before by NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the increased aid after talks with his Polish counterpart, Tomasz Siemoniak, on boosting the NATO military presence throughout Eastern Europe. He said Washington would ship medical supplies, power generators, helmets and other equipment to the Ukrainian army.

Washington’s military support for Kiev is part of a continuing build-up across the region, aimed at encircling Russia. Hagel announced a new “air defense cooperative” between the United States, Poland, Romania and the Baltic states. It will see stepped-up deployments of US warplanes and missiles to Eastern Europe and of US warships to the Baltic and eastern Mediterranean Seas.

The Kiev regime also implemented a ban on travel by Russian males aged 16 to 60 into Ukraine. The Ukrainian State Border Guard Service told the Russian news service RIA-Novosti, “These temporary measures apply, primarily, to healthy males who could somehow influence the situation in eastern Ukraine.”

The Russian airline Aeroflot, which received early notification of the policy, warned: “Ukrainian females aged 20-35 years who are registered as residents of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol will be allowed to enter Ukraine only after special verification.”

Yesterday’s events undermine US and European claims that the Ukrainian crisis is due to an offensive by the Kremlin to conquer Ukraine by orchestrating protests in eastern Ukraine. In fact, the Kremlin is pulling back from the protests despite continuing threats and provocations from the West, even as the anti-Kiev protesters in eastern Ukraine succeed in blunting the first wave of military units sent from Kiev to attack them.

Eastern Ukrainian civilians have blocked armed convoys sent from Kiev, and pro-Russian activists have commandeered several Ukrainian armored vehicles whose drivers refused orders to attack civilians. The wider popular opposition to the Western-backed regime in Kiev and the refusal of soldiers to fire on Ukrainian civilians in recent days is acknowledged even in Western media.

“Ukrainian troops found themselves operating in often-hostile territory, while militants proclaiming loyalty to Russia were welcomed by cheering residents as defenders,” the W all Street Journal wrote on Thursday. “The Ukrainian army also appeared in bad shape. Some of the soldiers blocked by civilians were reservists with rusty vehicles, who eagerly accepted the food and water offered to them.”

The Kiev regime has pledged to try soldiers who refused to fire on the population for “cowardice.”

More broadly, these events expose the lies and hypocrisy underlying the entire Western intervention in Ukraine. The unelected regime in Kiev that emerged from pro-EU protests and the February 22 fascist-led putsch is not a new dawn for democracy, but an authoritarian regime trying to mount a bloody crackdown on widespread popular opposition. It is not the victim of Russian aggression, but the tool of an aggressive policy by the Western imperialist powers aimed at encircling and weakening Russia.

Despite the outcome of the Geneva talks and the initial failure of the Kiev regime to drown the protests in blood, the situation in eastern Ukraine is still teetering on the verge of a civil war that threatens to escalate into a conflagration drawing in Kiev, Moscow, and the NATO powers.

Deadly fighting broke out in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol yesterday after an attack on a Ukrainian army base by a group of some 300 fighters. Three of the assailants were killed, thirteen wounded, and 63 captured, but some of the Ukrainian soldiers also surrendered.

“The 25thAirborne Brigade, whose soldiers showed cowardice and laid down weapons, will be disbanded,” interim Ukraine President Oleksandr Turchynov said. “Guilty soldiers will stand before the court.”

Armed protesters are still in control of the city of Slavyansk, which forces loyal to the Kiev regime attacked earlier this week. Pro-Russian protesters continue to control state buildings in ten major cities in eastern Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed the extremely tense situation, responding to a question in a prime-time interview on Russian television yesterday.

“The people in the eastern regions have started arming themselves,” Putin said. “And instead of realizing that something isn’t right in the Ukrainian state and moving toward a dialog, [the Kiev government] began threatening more force and even moved in tanks and planes against the peaceful population. This is yet another very serious crime of Ukraine’s current rulers.”

Noting that the Russian parliament had given him authorization to send troops into eastern Ukraine to protect ethnic Russians from attack, Putin added: “I really hope I won’t be forced to use that right.”

by Daria Chernyshova

The recent visit of CIA Director John Brennan to Ukraine was likely an attempt to initiate the use of force against pro-federalization protests, Brandon Turbeville, an American international affairs expert, told RIA Novosti.

“It’s clear that the CIA director’s presence in Kiev is much more than mere coincidence,” Turbeville said.

“Despite the denials by the White House, it seems that Brennan’s visit was an attempt to, at the very least, express support for a violent crackdown on pro-Russian protesters and militants in Eastern Ukraine. It is more likely, however, that Brennan’s trip was an attempt to formulate, encourage and initiate that use of force,” he added.

CIA Director John Brennan

CIA Director John Brennan visited Ukraine over the weekend, information that was confirmed by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Monday, after being reported by media on Sunday.

Over the same weekend, Kiev authorities cracked down on pro-federalization protests in eastern Ukraine. Regime troops advanced toward a number of cities in eastern Ukraine Tuesday to attack the protesters.

“Brennan’s appearance in Kiev just before the announcement of a violent crackdown in eastern Ukraine is just too timely to assume that it is a coincidence,” Turbeville said.

“Brennan, who has been actively involved in arming insurgents in Libya, Syria and Venezuela, has a reputation for using thuggish tactics in pursuit of CIA goals,” Wayne Madsen, an American investigative journalist told RIA Novosti.

“The reported presence of Greystone mercenaries in Ukraine is typical of the CIA using shadowy front companies with murky interconnecting relationships to carry out agency operations,” Madsen said.

Sreeram Chaulia, Professor and Dean at the Jindal School of International Affairs, believes the CIA director traveled to Kiev with promises of large sums of money “to create new special units and squads that can help in crushing the people’s uprisings in eastern Ukraine.”

“He must have gone in person rather than leave it to the local CIA station chief so as to give hope to the Ukrainian security agencies that a new Western-dominated reordering of the state is underway, and that they should hence stop being ambivalent about Russia,” Chaulia told RIA Novosti.

Chaulia said the visit was a US attempt to make Ukraine “more confrontational and aggressive toward Russia by showing a high level of Western commitment for counter-intelligence and sabotage.”

Several American organizations are known to be involved in meddling in domestic affairs of other countries, including staging revolutions. In Ukraine, the US held a series of so-called TechCamps over the past two years to train social activists. Similar workshops are regularly held in other states and often coincide with epicenters of revolutions and unrest.

“The involvement of organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy and the International Republican Institute should not be overlooked either, since John McCain, who is heavily involved with the IRI even went so far as to travel to Ukraine to express support for the neo-Nazis and fascists who were in the process of seizing power,” Turbeville said.

Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland has said the US spent $5 billion over the past 20 years to build up so-called pro-democracy forces in Ukraine and that Washington was ready to financially support Kiev if it implements necessary political reforms.

America has Become a Police State

April 18th, 2014 by Kourosh Ziabari

In the far past, I used to look skeptically at those who believed and maintained that the United States is moving in the direction of becoming a rogue, police state. After all, nearly every single American media outlet propagates this belief that the United States is a “beacon of freedom”, and many people around the globe tend to accept it. Moreover, every year, thousands of people from different parts of the world immigrate to the States in search of a better and more prosperous life, having believed in the hidden power of this beacon of freedom in revolutionizing their lives. But now, I’ve come to the understanding that this is not the whole story, and even those who wishfully move to America to realize their dreams, find after a while that their hopes were in vain.

It may be the case that the United States is a plural society, where people from different races, languages, nationalities and religions live and have learned to get along with each other. It’s also true that the American citizens enjoy a relative level of economic welfare provided to them by the government. But does this mean that social freedoms, civil liberties and human rights are protected and enshrined by the U.S. government equally for all the citizens living in the States, regardless of their faith, color, religion and nationality? The answer is a big NO.

It’s been a long time, at least since the deadly 9/11 attacks, that the U.S. government has embarked on a mission of militarizing the American society and suppressing the voices that challenge its hegemony and the military-industrial complex that pushes the White House to more and more wars and conflicts in different parts of the world. The U.S. government, either deliberately, or under the pressure of the multinational corporations and the interest lobbies, has stridden on a path that propels it to warmongering, bullying and law-breaking. The decisions made by the U.S. government in the years following the 9/11 attacks bespeak of a growing restriction of the social freedoms and unwarrantable violation of the essential human rights of the American people and other nationals living in the United States.

The persecution of Muslims under the pretext that they were the Muslims who attacked the twin towers of the World Trade Center on 9/11, and that they pose a serious threat to the U.S. national security is one of several instances showing that the United States is no longer a liberal and normal society which treats its citizens on equal footing and honorably. The American Muslims, which comprise a 3-million-strong community in the United States, have occasionally reported that they were subject to different types of harassment, unlawful searches and seizures, extrajudicial detention, espionage plots and entrapments.

 Khalifah al-Akili, a 34-year-old American Muslims from the Pittsburg area recounted in March 2012 the story of his being unintentionally involved in an entrapment case schemed by the FBI counterterrorism executives who wanted to lay the groundwork for arresting him, which they finally did. He was approached by a seemingly fellow Muslims while saying prayers in the district mosque. The so-called Muslim fellow called Shareef had offered to undertake the expenses for al-Akili to open a restaurant in a nearby district, and in return, he should have bought a rifle. Al-Akili refused to buy the gun, which he had considered a wrongdoing. Then Shareef tried several times to arrange a meeting between Al-Akili and someone introduced as Mohammed. Again he refused; but as soon as he obtained a phone number for Mohammed, he searched it on the web, and to his utmost surprise, found out that the number belonged to someone called Shahed Hussain, an undercover FBI operative. He called Hussain and asked him whether he worked with the FBI. Hussain hung up on him, and then disappeared from the district a few days later, leaving the home he owned there vacant.

An important report by the Mother Jones magazine and the Investigative Reporting Program in 2011 examined the prosecution of more than 500 defendants in terrorism-related cases in the United States. The report showed that “nearly half the prosecutions involved the use of informants,” motivated by money or “the need to work off criminal or immigration violations.” Moreover, “sting operations resulted in prosecutions against 158 defendants. Of that, 49 defendants participated in plots led by an agent provocateur — an FBI operative instigating terrorist action.” So, according to the report, “With three exceptions, all of the high-profile domestic terror plots of the last decade were actually FBI stings.”

Hence, it can be inferred that making efforts to portray Muslims as criminals or embroiling them in terrorist activities with the aim of demonizing and criminalizing them is a routine modus operandi of the U.S. government and military, intelligence apparatus. But this is not the entire story. The detention of Muslim citizens on baseless charges and without due judicial course, the destruction of mosques and preventing Muslim women from wearing headscarves are other examples of how the U.S. police state is treating the Muslims in a discriminatory manner. Many civil rights organizations in the United States have warned in the recent months against the intensification of furtive intelligence operations against the Muslims and espionage plots in the mosques and Muslim communities.

Muslims in the United States complain that they are not free to practice their religious rituals in public. They are repeatedly scorned and insulted and like the African-Americans who bear the brunt of being demoralized and derogated upon by the whites, the Muslims have become accustomed to being offended and called terrorists in the public sphere.

On September 9, 2011, the prominent Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy wrote an article in The Guardian and explained her plight as a Muslim living in the post-9/11 America. She said that after getting divorced from her American husband following the 9/11 attacks, she remained in the States and started a battle to defend her religion against those who intended to portray it a wicked and dangerous faith: “Ironically, he [her husband] now lives in Asia and I’ve stayed in the U.S. I stayed to fight. To say that’s not my Islam. To yell Muslims weren’t invented on 9/11. Those planes crashing again and again into the towers were the first introduction to Islam and Muslims for too many Americans but we – American Muslims – are sick and tired of explaining. None of those men was an American Muslim and we’re done explaining and apologizing. Enough.”

In her article, she narrates the “challenge” of being a Muslim in the post-9/11 America. She writes that President George Bush did everything he could to punish the Muslims for the crime they had not committed: “military trials for civilians, secret prisons, the detention of hundreds of Muslim men without charge, the torture and harsh interrogation of detainees and the invasions of two Muslim-majority countries.

“And the latest stain on the US civil liberties record: an Associated Press expose in August on ways the CIA and the NYPD are combining forces to spy on Muslims in New York City. The thought that someone could be following me to my favorite book shops or night clubs is as pathetic and sinister as when the Mubarak regime tapped my phone and had me followed when I lived in Egypt,” she added.

But as it can be easily guessed, they’re not only the Muslims who fall prey to the bigotry and prejudice of the U.S. police state. The U.S. government has taken a hard line on all of its citizens, not simply the Muslims or the non-American immigrants. In this light, the whistleblowers who remove the lid from the atrocities and crimes of the U.S. military and intelligence apparatus have come under the onslaught of the U.S. government, and aside from people such as Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning whose stories have made the headlines, there are audacious freedom fighters like John Kiriakou, who have not only been illegally arrested and sentenced to long terms in prison, but were and are being unlawfully tortured and finding their dignity and esteem being trampled underfoot.

 One of these whistleblowers is John Kiriakou, a former CIA analyst and case officer and senior investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who revealed that the United States government has authorized the use of brutal torture methods in the prisons for getting confession from the culprits. In a 2007 interview with the ABC News, John said that CIA was torturing prisoners and that this torture was official US government policy. Kiriakou was the first U.S. official who admitted that the Central Intelligence Agency has used the torturing method of waterboarding against the suspects kept at Guantanamo bay detention facility and other underground prisons maintained by the United States. On January 25, 2013, Kiriakou was sentenced to 30 months in prison, and his term began on February 28. There are conflicting reports that John Kiriakou, himself a former CIA employee, was tortured while being kept in jail.

In recent years, a growing number of authors, intellectuals, activists and even politicians in the United States who are concerned about the future of their country have been constantly warning that the United States is becoming a police state, and that the prospects of democracy and freedom in this country seems alarming and indeterminate.

John W. Whitehead, the President of The Rutherford Institute has extensively researched on and documented the evidence and cases which substantiate the idea that the United States is no longer a democratic and free society, but a rogue state. He has even written a book exclusively on this topic, entitled “A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State.”

“With each tragic shooting that is shrugged off or covered up, each piece of legislation passed that criminalizes otherwise legal activities, every surveillance drone that takes to the skies, every phone call, email or text that is spied on, and every transaction that is monitored, the government’s stranglehold over our lives grows stronger,” writes Whitehead in an article for The Blaze magazine published on November 5, 2013.

He narrates the heartrending story of the 13-year-old Andy Lopez, a Santa Rosa teen who was shot dead by two sheriffs as they suspected him to be carrying an illegal assault weapon directed at them, while what was in his hands was a toy BB gun he had just shopped.

Whitehead says that according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, every year around 400 to 500 innocent civilians are killed by the U.S. police in such foolish confrontations. He also notes that the U.S. government has allocated unnecessarily excessive budgets to the local police departments in the different states and equipped them with advanced military warfare and even unmanned drones. He notes that the military budget of the United States exceeds that of the next 10 countries combined, and this is what singles out the United States as a country that has an unusual voraciousness for warmongering and militarism.

 Militarism, expansionism and tyranny have become the hallmarks of the American civilization, and this is really sorrowful for a country whose leaders call a beacon of freedom. If we rely on Hollywood, Fox News and CNN to tell us what the United States is and what it is not, we will unquestionably come to believe that it’s the most flawless, progressive, advancing and democratic empire of the world in which injustice and inequality are totally irrelevant. But let’s open our eyes to find out what’s really happening behind the scenes and what the mainstream, corporate media don’t tell us about the emerging police state.

­Kourosh Ziabari is an Iranian journalist and media correspondent. He has interviewed more than 250 prominent world leaders, politicians, diplomats, academicians, public intellectuals, scientists, Nobel Prize laureates, authors, journalists and activists. His writings regularly appear on Tehran Times.