Changing the Face of War: U.S. Militarizing Space

December 11th, 2012 by Robert Bridge

Zaitsev said that America’s push to militarize space may include the use of both nuclear and conventional weapons, which could have dangerous and dramatic implications for future warfare.“The United States, as well as some other leading powers, is attempting to gain supremacy in [space],” Zaitsev explained. “This will enable their aerospace operations at the very beginning of a war to initiate strikes on strategic facilities throughout the [targeted] country.”

The United States is moving toward the militarization of space and this will change the face of war in the near future, an academician with the Russian Academy of Engineering Sciences has warned.

Judging by recent developments, the idea of formidable space weapons prowling the last frontier is no longer limited to the realm of science fiction.

The US has published tactical guidelines over the past three years on the use of force in outer space, while systems that may be used as orbiting weapons are undergoing rigorous test flights, said Yuri Zaitsev, Academic Advisor with the Russian Academy of Engineering Sciences.

In a security document released in October, the US Department of Defense (DoD) said that its space-related activities are designed to “maintain and enhance the national security advantages afforded by the use of outer space.”

Among its numerous stated objectives, the DoD report said it is US policy to “proactively seek opportunities to cooperate with allies and selected international partners in developing space architectures and in designing, acquiring, and operating military space systems.”

Zaitsev said that America’s push to militarize space may include the use of both nuclear and conventional weapons, which could have dangerous and dramatic implications for future warfare.

“The United States, as well as some other leading powers, is attempting to gain supremacy in [space],” Zaitsev explained. “This will enable their aerospace operations at the very beginning of a war to initiate strikes on strategic facilities throughout the [targeted] country.”

During this year’s UN General Assembly, the US conspicuously refused to support a resolution to halt the militarization of space.

In a vote on a resolution titled ‘Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space,’ 169 member-states, including the Russian Federation, voted in favor of the draft resolution stating, “[The] exploration and use of space…hall be for peaceful purposes…carried out for the benefit and in the interest of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development.”

Only the United States and Israel abstained from voting on the document, rendering it effectively toothless.

Washington’s refusal to cede control of space likely stems from its increasing reliance on space-based systems: An estimated 90 percent of the US Military reportedly uses or depends on space-based systems.

The Russian academic referred the shock over China’s successful targeted destruction of an old orbiting weather satellite in 2007.

“The Americans were frightened by the Chinese tests of anti-satellite weapons,” Zaitsev said. “It is quite possible that the US may soon initiate negotiations on anti-satellite systems.”

Zaitsev also said that the United States and its allies may attempt to regulate space activity to its advantage.

“The United States and the European Union are working out a draft code of conduct in outer space,” he said. “This document may regulate space activity in the interests of the United States and its allies and may discriminate [against] other states, including Russia.”

“Russia and China are unlikely to sign this document, which means military confrontation in outer space will intensify,” Zaitsev warned.

 

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عموميات

وأخيرا، أعلنت أوتاوا رأيها بشكل فاصل. لقد قاطعت ايران وتبنت رؤية مانوية للعالم، بل بُوشـَوية(1). فقد أعلن وزير الخارجية الكندية، جون بيرد، أنه تم استدعاء جميع الموظفين الدبلماسيين الكنديين، وأن جميع الدبلوماسيين الإيرانيين في كندا قد تلقوا امرا بمغادرة البلاد في أجل مدته خمسة أيام.
وكما اوضحنا في “إلياذة السابع من سبتمبر”(2)، فإن الطريقة التي طور بها السيد بيرد تصريحه اقل تناسبا بكثير.
 لم يتحدث كوزير، ولكن كأخيل ذي القدمين السريعتين. كان عليه ان يكون المتحدث الرسمي باسم غضب هيفايستوس(3)، وأن يتكلم بنبرة ملحمية فخيمة وجافة، كما لو أنه يتوجه بذلك الى  فويبيس أبولو أمام أسوار طروادة (4).
والحال هذه، فقد كان للسيد بيرد داع بسيط جدا وواضح جدا للغضب والدفاع عنه: السلام العالمي، وكان عرضه اكثرما يمكن ان نقراه من خلط. يبقى اضافة أن أسباب غضب أوتاوا على طهران كثيرة، وحال الامور التي ترتب عليها أن قول ذلك هي كما يلي:
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Israel Defeated at the United Nations

December 10th, 2012 by Jack A. Smith

The UN General Assembly has delivered two major defeats to Israel in the last two weeks. The governments of the U.S. and Israel are furious.

On Nov. 29, UN member states voted  138-9 with 41 abstentions to advance Palestine’s status from a non-member “observer entity” to non-member “observer state.” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas brought the statehood issue to the world body arguing that a “yes” vote was the “last chance to save the two-state solution.”

On Dec. 3 the General Assembly voted 174-6 with 6 abstentions to insist nuclear-armed Israel join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. To do so would oblige the right wing Netanyahu regime to permit the International Atomic Energy Agency  to periodically inspect Israel’s nuclear arsenal to determine if it is in compliance with treaty obligations. (The six “no” voters were the  U.S., Israel, Canada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau.)

Had these votes been taken in the more powerful Security Council they would have failed due to a veto by the Obama Administration. So far Washington has vetoed over 40 resolutions critical of Israel’s actions toward the Palestinians and its neighbors. At other times the simple threat of an American veto was sufficient to quash efforts to condemn Israel for what amounted to war crimes.

In presenting his resolution Abbas adopted a moderate tone: “We did not come here seeking to delegitimize a state established years ago, and that is Israel. Rather we came to affirm the legitimacy of a state that must now achieve its independence and that is Palestine.” He also declared that  “the moment has come for the world to say clearly: enough of aggression, enough of settlements and occupation.”

The General Assembly recognizes Palestine as a UN observer state, which is an important accomplishment, but it is not a state in fact. Netanyahu and his ultra-right coalition partners are determined to torpedo the possibility of conducting honest negotiations leading to two separate states. At the moment there is one Jewish State (as it describes itself) with a generally unequal minority of Palestinian citizens, and two attached Palestinian colonies or reservations — the West Bank and Gaza.

The designation “UN non-member observer state” left Washington fuming and Tel Aviv apoplectic and vengeful.

“Today’s unfortunate and counterproductive resolution places further obstacles in the path for peace,” commented American Ambassador Susan Rice. Netanyahu charged: “This is a meaningless resolution that won’t change anything on the ground.” He then repeated the excuse that a Palestinian state is impossible until Israel’s security is ensured — a circumstance that may never materialize as long as the country is controlled by far right, right and center right governments devoted to exacerbating the insecurities of the people.

Although the matter wasn’t publicly addressed, perhaps the main U.S.-Israeli objection to the ruling is that as an “observer state” the Palestinians will have standing with the International Criminal Court. As such it will be possible to launch legal proceedings against Israel for various infractions including war crimes under international law.

As usual after any affront (such as the UN vote), the Israeli government retaliated. Just after the observer state vote, the New York Times reported:

“Israel is moving forward with development of Jewish settlements in a contentious area east of Jerusalem, defying the United States by advancing a project that has long been condemned by Washington as effectively dooming any prospect of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” The action would limit access to the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem from Jerusalem

Secretary of State Clinton, in a Washington speech after Israel’s settlement announcement, declared that “These activities set back the cause of a negotiated peace.” At the same time she criticized the UN vote on Palestine’s observer state status and said: “America has Israel’s back, and this month we proved it again.”

The General Assembly’s chastisement of Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons and delivery systems came a few days later. It is an open secret that Israel possesses about 200 such weapons, but does not admit to having any. Backed by the U.S. it has refused to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), and brushed aside the UN new vote.

The nuclear resolution also included support for a conference to ban nuclear weapons from the Middle East. According to the Associated Press: “All the Arab nations and Iran had planned to attend the conference in mid-December in Helsinki, Finland, but the United States announced on Nov. 23 that it wouldn’t take place, citing political turmoil in the region and Iran’s defiant stance on nonproliferation. Iran and some Arab nations countered that the real reason for the cancellation was Israel’s refusal to attend.”

The U.S. opposes the call for a nuclear–free Middle East because it wants Israel to continue functioning as its nuclear surrogate in the Middle East. Possession of the ultimate weapon also  makes Israel the military superpower of the entire region, a designation at thundering odds with its continual pose as an insecure, vulnerable state.

President Obama, backed forcefully by Netanyahu, has imposed ever-increasing economic and trade sanctions on Iran because it allegedly seeks to build a nuclear weapon — a charge refuted by U.S intelligence agencies which state Iran gave up any nuclear ambitions several years ago. The Tehran government denies it is making a bomb and there is no proof to substantiate the U.S.-Israeli claims.

Ironically, Iran is a member of the NPT, allows periodic inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency,  and has been calling for a ban on nuclear weapons in the Middle East for years.

Washington could eliminate the “danger” of an Iranian weapon by supporting a regional ban — which is backed by the entire Arab League as well as Iran. But the real point is regime change in Iran. The nuclear issue provides a justification for killer sanctions and threats of war — actions intended to create sufficient economic and social crises to topple the government and perhaps create such havoc a pro-American or neutral regime might take over.

All of this could end — the plight of the Palestinian people, the harmful sanctions against Iran and its people, nuclear weapons in the Middle East, the invasions and forced changes in regime— if the American people finally bring to power a peace-minded and non-imperialist progressive or left president and party. Until then, what you see (and what is concealed or fabricated for public consumption) is what you get.

Libya and Beyond: Obama Turned Out Worse Than Bush

December 10th, 2012 by Dan Glazebrook

US Secretly Pushing for Islamic Fascist Regime in Egypt

December 10th, 2012 by F. William Engdahl

El proyecto de compra de aviones cazas F-35 por el actual Gobierno conservador de Canadá está creando una gran indignación entre la población. Para los canadienses este gasto militar es injustificado en pleno periodo de recortes y medidas de austeridad.

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Thierry Meyssan replies to the questions of the Serbien news magazine Geopolitika.

He reviews his interpretation of September 11, the events in Syria, and the current situation in Serbia.

Geopolitika: Mr. Meyssan, you gained fame worldwide when you published the bookThe Big Lie”, which calls into question the official version of the U.S. authorities about the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. Your book has encouraged other intellectuals to express their doubts about this tragic event. Could you briefly tell our readers what really happened on September 11, what hit or exploded in the Pentagon building: was it a plane that crashed or something else? What happened with the planes that crashed into the twin towers, especially with the third building next to the towers? What is the deeper context of the attack, which has had a global impact and has changed the world?

Thierry Meyssan: It is astonishing that the world press has echoed the official version, on the one hand because it is absurd and on the other hand because it fails to explain events.

The idea that a fanatic, based in a cave in Afghanistan, and twenty individuals, armed with box cutters, could have destroyed the World Trade Center and hit the Pentagon before the most powerful army in the world had time to react, is not even worthy of a comic-book plot . The more a story is grotesquely illogical, the less western journalists ask questions.

Moreover, the official version fails to account for stock market speculation on companies affected by the attacks, for the fire in the White House Annex, or the collapse of the third tower of the World Trade Center in the afternoon. None of these events are even mentioned in the final report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry.

Fundamentally, we never talk about the only important thing that day: after the attack on the World Trade Center, the continuity of government plan was illegally activated. There is a procedure in case of nuclear war. In the case of the annihilation of civilian authorities, an alternative military government takes over. Around 10:30 am, the plan was activated even though the civil authorities still had the ability to exercise their responsibilities. Power fell into the hands of the military who returned it to civilian authorities at around 4:30 pm. During this period, the commandos picked up almost all members of Congress and government members to get them to safety in nuclear shelters. So there was a military coup for a few hours, just long enough for the putschistes to impose their political line: a permanent state of emergency within and global imperialism without.

On September 13, the Patriot Act was tabled in the Senate. It wasn’t an act, but a thick anti-terrorist code written secretly in the preceding two to three years. On September 15, President Bush endorsed the plan of the “world matrix” establishing a comprehensive system of abductions, secret prisons, torture and murder. At the same meeting, it approved a plan for successive attacks from Afghanistan to Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Iran. You can see that half of the program has already been completed.

These attacks, the coup and the ensuing crimes were organized by what should be called “the deep state” (in the sense of the expression used to describe the secret military power in Turkey or Algeria ). These events were designed by a very closed group: the Straussians, that is to say, the disciples of the philosopher Leo Strauss.

These are the same people who led the U.S. Congress to rearm in 1995, and who organized the dismemberment of Yugoslavia. We must remember, for example, that Alija Itzetbegovic had as policy advisor Richard Perle, as military adviser Osama bin Laden, and as media advisor Bernard-Henri Lévy.

Geopolitika: Your book and the anti-American attitude you have freely expressed on your independent Voltaire network, have been the source of problems you have had personally with the administration of former French President, Nicolas Sarkozy. Could you tell us a little more? Indeed, in the article you wrote about Mr. Sarkozy, entitled “Operation Sarkozy: how the CIA placed one of its agents at the presidency of the French Republic” you posted sensitive information that reminded us of politic-criminal thrilleurs.

Thierry Meyssan: I’m not anti-American. I am an anti-imperialist and I think the people of the United States are also victims of their leadership’s policies.

Regarding Nicolas Sarkozy, I revealed that he had been raised during his teenage years in New York, by Ambassador Frank Wisner Jr. This character is one of the most important cadres of the CIA, which was founded by his father Frank Wisner Sr. It follows that the career of Nicolas Sarkozy has been entirely shaped by the CIA. It is therefore no wonder that, having become President of the French Republic, he defended the interests of Washington and not those of the French.

Serbs are familiar with Frank Wisner Jr.: it was he who, as a special representative of the President of the United States, organized the unilateral independence of Kosovo.

I explained all this in detail during a speech at the Eurasian Media Forum (Kazakhstan) and I was asked to develop it in an article for Odnako (Russia). It turns out that, by a quirk of timing, it was published during the war in Georgia, when Sarkozy was in Moscow. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin put the magazine on the table before starting their discussion. This obviously did not improve my relationship with Sarkozy.

Geopolitika: Mr. Meyssan, what is the current situation in Syria, the situation on the front and the situation in the Syrian society? Are Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as Western countries who want to violently topple the political system of President Bashar Assad, close to fulfilling their goal?

Thierry Meyssan: Of the 23 million Syrians about two to two and a half million support armed groups trying to destabilize the country and weaken his army. They took control of several cities and vast rural areas. In no case will these armed groups be able to overthrow the regime.

The plan provided that the initial Western terrorist actions would create a cycle of provocation / repression justifying international intervention on the model of the KLA terrorism and repression by Slobodan Milosevic, followed by the NATO intervention. By the way it has been attested to that fighting groups in Syria were trained in terrorism by members of the KLA on Kosovo.

This plan failed because Vladimir Putin’s Russia is not that of Boris Yeltsin. Moscow and Beijing have interdicted NATO intervention and since then the situation has stagnated.

Geopolitika: What do the United States, France, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar hope to accomplish by toppling President al-Assad?

Thierry Meyssan: Each member state of the coalition has its own interest in this war and believes it can be satisfied, even though these interests are sometimes contradictory.

At the political level, there is the desire to break the “Axis of Resistance to Zionism” (Iran-Iraq-Syria-Hezbollah-Palestine). There is also the desire to continue the “remodeling of the broader Middle East.”

But the most important issues are economic: huge reserves of natural gas have been discovered in the south-eastern Mediterranean. The center of this deposit is near Homs in Syria (more precisely, à Qara).

Geopolitika: Could you tell us a bit more about the rebellion of Al Qaeda in Syria, whose relations with the United States are contradictory to say the least, if you look at their actions on the ground? You said in an interview that the relationship between Abdelhakim Belhadj and NATO were almost institutionalized. For whom is Al-Qaeda really waging war?

Thierry Meyssan: Al-Qaeda was originally nothing but the name of a database, a computer file, listing the names of the Arab mujahideen sent to fight in Afghanistan against the Soviets. By extension, Al-Qaeda refers to the jihadist milieu in which these mercenaries were recruited. Then Al-Qaeda designated fighters around bin Laden and by extension, all groups in the world who claim bin Laden’s ideology.

According to the times and the needs, this movement has been more or less populated. During the first war in Afghanistan, the war in Bosnia and Chechnya wars, these mercenaries were “freedom fighters” as they fought against the Slavs. Then, during the second war in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq, they were “terrorists” because they were attacking the GI’s. After the official death of bin Laden, they have again become “freedom fighters” during the wars in Libya and Syria because they are fighting alongside NATO.

In reality, these mercenaries have always been controlled by the Sudeiris’ clan, the pro-US and arch-reactionary faction of the Saudi Royal Family, and more specifically by Prince Bandar bin Sultan. The latter, whom George Bush Sr. has always presented as his “adopted son” (that is to say, as an intelligent boy he would have liked to have fathered) has ceased to act on behalf of the CIA. Even when Al-Qaida GIs fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, it was still in the best interest of the United States because it could justify their military presence.

It turns out that in recent years, Libyans have become the majority in Al-Qaeda. NATO naturally used them to overthrow the regime of Muammar al-Gaddafi. Once this was done, they named the number two organization, Abdelhakim Belhaj, military governor of Tripoli, although he is wanted by Spanish justice for his alleged responsibility for the Madrid bombings. Subsequently, they transferred his men to fight in Syria. For their transport, the CIA used the resources of the High Commissioner for Refugees thanks to Ian Martin, Special Representative of Ban Ki-Moon in Libya. The so-called refugees were taken to Turkey to camps which served as a rear base from which to attack Syria. Access to these camps was forbidden to Turkish parliamentarians and the press.

Ian Martin is also known to your readers: he was Secretary General of Amnesty International, and representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Geopolitika: Syria is the location not only of a civil war, but also the site of a media war and of manipulations. We ask you as a direct witness, someone who has been on the ground, what really happened in Homs and Hula?

Thierry Meyssan: I am not a direct witness to what happened in Houla. However, I’ve served as a trusted third party in negotiations between the Syrian and French authorities during the siege of the Islamic Emirate of Baba Amr. Jihadists were entrenched in this area of Homs from which they had expelled infidels (Christians) and heretics (Shiites). In fact, only forty Sunni families were left behind amongst about 3,000 fighters. The latter had introduced sharia, and a “revolutionary court” sentenced more than 150 to have their throats publicly slit.

This self-proclaimed Emirate was secretly managed by French officers. Syrian authorities wanted to avoid a direct assault and so they negotiated with the French authorities for the insurgents to surrender. Ultimately, the French were able to leave the city by night and fled to Lebanon, while loyalist forces entered the Emirate and the fighters surrendered. A bloodbath was avoided, there were less than 50 killed during the operation.

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Geopolitika: Apart from the Alawites, Christians are also targeted in Syria. Could you tell us a bit more about the persecution of Christians in this country and why the so-called Western civilization, whose roots are Christian, shows no solidarity with fellow believers?

Thierry Meyssan: The jihadists pick on those who are closest to them: first the progressive Sunni and Shia (including Alawites) and only then followed by Christians. Generally, they torture and kill only a few Christians. On the other hand, they systematically expell them and steal their possessions. In the region near the border with northern Lebanon, the Free Syrian Army gave the Christians a week to flee. We witnessed a brutal exodus of 80,000 people. Those who did not flee in time were massacred.

Christianity was founded by Saint Paul in Damascus. Syrian communities predate those of the West. They have retained their ancient rites and their extremely strong faith. Most are Orthodox. Those who are attached to Rome have retained their ancestral rites. During the Crusades, the Christians of the East fought with other Arabs against the soldiers sent by the Pope. Today, they are fighting with their countrymen against jihadists sent by NATO.

Geopolitika: Can we expect an attack on Iran next year, and in the event of a military intervention, what would be the role of Israel? Is attacking nuclear installations the real goal of Tel Aviv, or is Israel pushed into this adventure by a globalist structure, interested in a wide destabilization of international relations?

Thierry Meyssan: It happens that Iran carries a Revolution. This is the only large country that offers an alternative model of social organization to the American Way of Life. The Iranians are a mystical people and they are persistent. They taught the art of resistance to the Arabs and they oppose Zionist projects, not only in the region but in the world.

That said, despite its bluster, Israel is unable to attack Iran. And the United States have given up on attack. Iran is a country of 75 million people where everyone aspires to die for their country. While the Israeli army is composed of young people whose experience is limited to persecuting Palestinians, and the U.S. military is composed of unemployed people who do not intend to die for a medal of misery.

Geopolitika: How do you see the role of Russia in the Syrian conflict and how do you see the role of the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, who is widely demonized by the Western media?

Thierry Meyssan: The demonization of President Putin by the Western press is the homage of vice to virtue. Having uplifteded his country, Vladimir Putin intends to return it to its place in international relations. He has based its strategy on controlling what should be the main source of energy in the twenty-first century: gas. Already Gazprom has become the foremost global gas company and Rosneft the foremost for oil. He obviously did not intend to allow the United States to get its hands on Syrian gas, nor let Iran use its own gas without control. Therefore, he had to intervene in Syria and forge an alliance with Iran.

In addition, Russia is becoming the main guarantor of international law, while Westerners presume, through self-righteous pseudo-morality, to violate the sovereignty of nations. So do not fear Russian power, because it serves Justice and Peace.

Last June, Sergey Lavrov brokered a peace plan in Geneva. It was postponed unilaterally by the United States, but should ultimately be implemented by Barack Obama during his second term. It provides for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force, mainly composed of CSTO troops. In addition, it allows the continuation in power of Bashar al-Assad if the Syrian people decide through the ballot box.

Geopolitika: What do you think of the situation in Serbia and difficult path traveled by Serbia in the past two decades?

Thierry Meyssan: Serbia has been exhausted by the series of wars which it has had to face, particularly the conquest of Kosovo by NATO. It is indeed a war of conquest since it concludes by the amputation of the country and the recognition by NATO of the unilateral independence of Camp Bondsteel, that is to say of a NATO base.

A majority of Serbs thought they needed to be closer to the European Union. This ignores the fact that the European Union is the civil side of one piece of which NATO is the military flip side. Historically the EU was created under secret clauses of the Marshall Plan, it has preceded NATO, but it is nonetheless part of the same project of Anglo-Saxon domination.

It may be that the euro crisis will lead to a breakup of the European Union. In this case states like Greece and Serbia will spontaneously move to Russia with whom they share many cultural elements and the same demand for justice.

Geopolitika: It is suggested, in a more or less direct manner, that Serbia renounce Kosovo in order to enter the European Union. You have vast experience in international relations, and we sincerely ask you if you can give advice on what actions Serbs should take in terms of domestic and foreign policy?

Thierry Meyssan: I have no advice to give to anyone. For my part I regret that some states have recognized the conquest of Kosovo by NATO. Since then, Kosovo has mostly become the hub for the distribution of drugs in Europe cultivated in Afghanistan under the vigilant protection of U.S. troops. No people have won anything from this independence and certainly not the Kosovars who are now enslaved by a mafia.

Geopolitika: There existed between France and Serbia a strong alliance that lost its meaning when France took part in the bombing of Serbia in 1999 within the framework of NATO. However, in France and in Serbia, there are still people who have not forgotten “friendship through arms” of the First World War, and who think we should give new life to these broken cultural relations. Do you share this view?

Thierry Meyssan: You know that one of my friends, with whom I wrote Pentagate on the Pentagon attack on September 11 with a missile and not a ghost plane, is commander Pierre-Henri Bunel. He was arrested during the war by NATO for spying for Serbia. Subsequently, he was returned to France, which tried and sentenced him to two years in prison instead of life. This verdict shows that in fact he acted on the orders of his superiors.

France, a NATO member, was forced to participate in the attack on Serbia. But it did so dragging its feet secretly helping Serbia more often than bombing her.

Today, France is in an even worse situation. It is governed by an elite which, to protect its economic achievements, has placed itself at the service of Washington and Tel Aviv. I hope my compatriots, who have a long revolutionary history, will eventually remove these corrupt elites from power. And at the same time that Serbia regains effective independence. Thus our two peoples will find each other spontaneously.

Geopolitika: Thank you very much for your time.<:ver_imprimer:> <:recommander:recommander:> Facebook Twitter Delicious Seenthis Digg RSS

Thierry MeyssanThierry Meyssan French intellectual, founder and chairman of Voltaire Network and the Axis for Peace Conference. Professor of International Relations at the Centre for Strategic Studies in Damascus. His columns specializing in international relations feature in daily newspapers and weekly magazines in Arabic, Spanish and Russian. His last two books published in English : 9/11 the Big Lie and Pentagate.

Ever since the 1990s, and especially since the Kosovo war in 1999, anyone who opposes armed interventions by Western powers and NATO has to confront what may be called an anti-anti-war left (including its far left segment). In Europe, and notably in France, this anti-anti-war left is made up of the mainstream of social democracy, the Green parties and most of the radical left. The anti-anti-war left does not come out openly in favor of Western military interventions and even criticizes them at times (but usually only for their tactics or alleged motivations – the West is supporting a just cause, but clumsily and for oil or for geo-strategic reasons).

But most of its energy is spent issuing “warnings” against the supposed dangerous drift of that part of the left that remains firmly opposed to such interventions. It calls upon us to show solidarity with the “victims” against “dictators who kill their own people”, and not to give in to knee-jerk anti-imperialism, anti-Americanism, or anti-Zionism, and above all not to end up on the same side as the far right. After the Kosovo Albanians in 1999, we have been told that “we” must protect Afghan women, Iraqi Kurds and more recently the people of Libya and of Syria.

It cannot be denied that the anti-anti-war left has been extremely effective. The Iraq war, which was sold to the public as a fight against an imaginary threat, did indeed arouse a fleeting opposition, but there has been very little opposition on the left to interventions presented as “humanitarian”, such as the bombing of Yugoslavia to detach the province of Kosovo, the bombing of Libya to get rid of Gaddafi, or the current intervention in Syria. Any objections to the revival of imperialism or in favor of peaceful means of dealing with such conflicts have simply been brushed aside by invocations of “R2P”, the right or responsibility to protect, or the duty to come to the aid of a people in danger.

The fundamental ambiguity of the anti-anti-war left lies in the question as to who are the “we” who are supposed to intervene and protect. One might ask the Western left, social movements or human rights organizations the same question Stalin addressed to the Vatican, “How many divisions do you have?” As a matter of fact, all the conflicts in which “we” are supposed to intervene are armed conflicts. Intervening means intervening militarily and for that, one needs the appropriate military means. It is perfectly obvious that the Western left does not possess those means. It could call on European armies to intervene, instead of the United States, but they have never done so without massive support from the United States. So in reality the actual message of the anti-anti-war left is: “Please, oh Americans, make war not love!” Better still, inasmuch as since their debacle in Afghanistan and in Iraq, the Americans are leery of sending in ground troops, the message amounts to nothing other than asking the U.S. Air Force to go bomb countries where human rights violations are reported to be taking place.

Of course, anyone is free to claim that human rights should henceforth be entrusted to the good will of the U.S. government, its bombers, its missile launchers and its drones. But it is important to realize that that is the concrete meaning of all those appeals for “solidarity” and “support” to rebel or secessionist movements involved in armed struggles. Those movements have no need of slogans shouted during “demonstrations of solidarity” in Brussels or in Paris, and that is not what they are asking for. They want to get heavy weapons and see their enemies bombed.

The anti-anti-war left, if it were honest, should be frank about this choice, and openly call on the United States to go bomb wherever human rights are violated; but then it should accept the consequences. In fact, the political and military class that is supposed to save the populations “massacred by their dictators” is the same one that waged the Vietnam war, that imposed sanctions and wars on Iraq, that imposes arbitrary sanctions on Cuba, Iran and any other country that meets with their disfavor, that provides massive unquestioning support to Israel, which uses every means including coups d’état to oppose social reformers in Latin America, from Arbenz to Chavez by way of Allende, Goulart and others, and which shamelessly exploits workers and resources the world over. One must be quite starry-eyed to see in that political and military class the instrument of salvation of “victims”, but that is in practice exactly what the anti-anti-war left is advocating, because, given the relationship of forces in the world, there is no other military force able to impose its will.

Of course, the U.S. government is scarcely aware of the existence of the anti-anti-war left. The United States decides whether or not to wage war according to the chances of succeeding and to their own assessment of their strategic, political and economic interests. And once a war is begun, they want to win at all costs. It makes no sense to ask them to carry out only good interventions, against genuine villains, using gentle methods that spare civilians and innocent bystanders.

For example, those who call for “saving Afghan women” are in fact calling on the United States to intervene and, among other things, bomb Afghan civilians and shoot drones at Pakistan. It makes no sense to ask them to protect but not to bomb, because armies function by shooting and bombing.[1]

A favorite theme of the anti-anti-war left is to accuse those who reject military intervention of “supporting the dictator”, meaning the leader of the currently targeted country. The problem is that every war is justified by a massive propaganda effort which is based on demonizing the enemy, especially the enemy leader. Effectively opposing that propaganda requires contextualizing the crimes attributed to the enemy and comparing them to those of the side we are supposed to support. That task is necessary but risky; the slightest mistake will be endlessly used against us, whereas all the lies of the pro-war propaganda are soon forgotten.

Already, during the First World War, Bertrand Russell and British pacifists were accused of “supporting the enemy”. But if they denounced Allied propaganda, it was not out of love for the German Kaiser, but in the cause of peace. The anti-anti-war left loves to denounce the “double standards” of coherent pacifists who criticize the crimes of their own side more sharply than those attributed to the enemy of the moment (Milosevic, Gaddafi, Assad, and so on), but this is only the necessary result of a deliberate and legitimate choice: to counter the war propaganda of our own media and political leaders (in the West), propaganda which is based on constant demonization of the enemy under attack accompanied by idealization of the attacker.

The anti-anti-war left has no influence on American policy, but that doesn’t mean that it has no effect. Its insidious rhetoric has served to neutralize any peace or anti-war movement. It has also made it impossible for any European country to take such an independent position as France took under De Gaulle, or even Chirac, or as Sweden did with Olof Palme. Today such a position would be instantly attacked by the anti-anti-war left, which is echoed by European media, as “support to dictators”, another “Munich”, or “the crime of indifference”.

What the anti-anti-war left has managed to accomplish is to destroy the sovereignty of Europeans in regard to the United States and to eliminate any independent left position concerning war and imperialism. It has also led most of the European left to adopt positions in total contradiction with those of the Latin American left and to consider as adversaries countries such as China and Russia which seek to defend international law, as indeed they should.

When the media announce that a massacre is imminent, we hear at times that action is “urgent” to save the alleged future victims, and time cannot be lost making sure of the facts. This may be true when a building is on fire in one’s own neighborhood, but such urgency regarding other countries ignores the manipulation of information and just plain error and confusion that dominate foreign news coverage. Whatever the political crisis abroad, the instant “we must do something” reflex brushes aside serious reflection on the left as to what might be done instead of military intervention. What sort of independent investigation could be carried out to understand the causes of conflict and potential solutions? What can be the role of diplomacy? The prevailing images of immaculate rebels, dear to the left from its romanticizing of past conflicts, especially the Spanish Civil War, blocks reflection. It blocks realistic assessment of the relationship of forces as well as the causes of armed rebellion in the world today, very different from the 1930s, favorite source of the cherished legends of the Western left.

What is also remarkable is that most of the anti-anti-war left shares a general condemnation of the revolutions of the past, because they led to Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot etc. But now that the revolutionaries are (Western backed) Islamists, we are supposed to believe that everything will turn out fine. What about “drawing the lesson from the past” that violent revolutions are not necessarily the best or the only way to achieve social change?

An alternative policy would take a 180° turn away from the one currently advocated by the anti-anti-war left. Instead of calling for more and more interventions, we should demand of our governments the strict respect for international law, non-interference in the internal affairs of other States and cooperation instead of confrontation. Non-interference means not only military non-intervention. It applies also to diplomatic and economic actions: no unilateral sanctions, no threats during negotiations, and equal treatment of all States. Instead of constantly “denouncing” the leaders of countries such as Russia, China, Iran, Cuba for violating human rights, something the anti-anti-war left loves to do, we should listen to what they have to say, dialogue with them, and help our fellow citizens understand the different ways of thinking in the world, including the criticisms that other countries can make of our way of doing things. Cultivating such mutual understanding could in the long run be the best way to improve “human rights” everywhere.

This would not bring instant solutions to human rights abuses or political conflicts in countries such as Libya or Syria. But what does? The policy of interference increases tensions and militarization in the world. The countries that feel targeted by that policy, and they are numerous, defend themselves however they can. The demonization campaigns prevent peaceful relations between peoples, cultural exchanges between citizens and, indirectly, the flourishing of the very liberal ideas that the advocates of interference claim to be promoting. Once the anti-anti-war left abandoned any alternative program, it in fact gave up the possibility of having the slightest influence over world affairs. It does not in reality “help the victims” as it claims. Except for destroying all resistance here to imperialism and war, it does nothing. The only ones who are really doing anything are in fact the succeeding U.S. administrations. Counting on them to care for the well-being of the world’s peoples is an attitude of total hopelessness. This hopelessness is an aspect of the way most of the Left reacted to the “fall of communism”, by embracing the policies that were the exact opposite of those of the communists, particularly in international affairs, where opposition to imperialism and the defense of national sovereignty have increasingly been demonized as “leftovers from Stalinism”.

Interventionism and European construction are both right-wing policies. One of them is linked to the American drive for world hegemony. The other is the framework supporting neoliberal economic policies and destruction of social protection. Paradoxically, both have been largely justified by “left-wing” ideas : human rights, internationalism, anti-racism and anti-nationalism. In both cases, a left that lost its way after the fall of the Soviet bloc has grasped at salvation by clinging to a “generous, humanitarian” discourse, which totally lacks any realistic analysis of the relationship of forces in the world. With such a left, the right hardly needs any ideology of its own; it can make do with human rights.

Nevertheless, both those policies, interventionism and European construction, are today in a dead end. U.S. imperialism is faced with huge difficulties, both economic and diplomatic. Its intervention policy has managed to unite much of the world against the United States. Scarcely anyone believes any more in “another” Europe, a social Europe, and the real existing European Union (the only one possible) does not arouse much enthusiasm among working people. Of course, those failures currently benefit solely the right and the far right, only because most of the left has stopped defending peace, international law and national sovereignty, as the precondition of democracy.

JEAN BRICMONT teaches physics at the University of Louvain in Belgium. He is a member of the Executive Committee of The BRussells Tribunal. He is author of Humanitarian Imperialism. He can be reached at [email protected].

[1] On the occasion of the recent NATO summit in Chicago, Amnesty International launched a campaign of posters calling on NATO to “keep up the progress” on behalf of women in Afghanistan, without explaining, or even raising the question as to how a military organization was supposed to accomplish such an objective.

Those of you who have been following my austerity diaries over the past year will know that I have recently emphasized the pall of depression that hangs over the island as austerity and economic disaster take their toll on the well being of the people here.

The consequent stress, anxiety, and sheer shock of watching your life chances and well being dissolve as jobs evaporate, incomes shrink or disappear, and prices of everyday essentials remorselessly rise along with new punitive and regressive taxes have been painful to record.

Anyone with any shred of humanity, even if they still have a reasonable income such as myself, can never escape from the hurt and distress that is all around them. All of my friends and neighbours are facing difficulties and hardship. It is literally heart breaking to see this human catastrophe unfolding before your eyes: to see families split and smashed as more and more of the younger and middle aged men in particular, leave their homes and families in search of work and income. In the past month I have seen at least four men depart for the Congo (to work on the building of a new airport there) and there is much talk now of the opportunities for work in southern Africa as people realize that the traditional destinations for migrating Greeks in Europe and the USA can not be relied upon to provide much needed waged work.

Increasing numbers of small businesses which managed to withstand 5 years of economic decline are now failing with increasing rapidity. Stelios, an accountant who lives in Ambelos, told me last weekend that in the past month alone he has been wrapping up the affairs of 9 companies ( out of his portfolio of 160 businesses) and he expects this number to accelerate over the coming months. And it is no better in the public sector where the latest ‘deal’ with the troika spells the end for thousands of teachers, doctors and municipal workers. Giannis, a qualified teacher with 3 degrees (!) told me yesterday that he has absolutely no hope of finding a teaching job now, especially as the government is committed to closing small village schools and moving the children into schools in the main towns of the island.

Just how are these children going to get to these schools on an island with virtually no public transport system and with petrol costs so high that their parents have no chance to meet the daily costs of transport? The social consequences of such a policy are not even on the agenda of the state. For the teachers ‘fortunate’ enough to hold on to their jobs, the government has not only slashed their wages ( a starting salary for a new teacher is now around 600 euros a month) but is arguing that they should be expected to work in the schools for 40 hours a week with no allowance made for class preparation, marking and so forth.

The misery, at least on Samos, has been compounded by the absence of the kinds of resistance and solidarities of survival that have been evident and emerging in the main cities such as Athens , Thessaloniki and Patras. Instead so much of the despair and anger felt on Samos has remained locked inside individual families and households which as the sociologist Panagiotis Sotiris observed can feed social cannibalism and the rise of the fascist Golden Dawn party. This is what he wrote:

“It is well known that fascist movements are always fuelled by despair and insecurity, especially individualized despair. Unless broad segments of society regain some form of collective confidence in the ability to change their lives, through struggle, collective fight and solidarity, one can expect the continuous rise of fascists. The simple promise of a Left government cannot lead to such a collective confidence. If we cannot show that collective struggle can make sure that no household will be without electricity, no person without some access to medical care, no child without school lunch, if we do not manage to actually resist aspects of the austerity measures, if we do not show that solidarity between Greek and immigrant workers is the best way to make neighborhoods safer, then the appeal of the Golden Dawn, with all its over-publicized acts of “solidarity only for Greeks,” will continue to rise. Golden Dawn is trying to build the forms of its own reactionary hegemony in segments of the subaltern classes; the Left has not the luxury of simply waiting for governmental power as a “ripe fruit.”

(‘The Greek Left and the Rise of the Neo-Fascist Golden Dawn’ http://www.socialistproject.ca/bullet/731.php#continue)

This is just one segment from his article which I cannot recommend highly enough. So much of what he says resonates so strongly with my own experiences on Samos .

 A new beginning

 As 2012 comes to an end however we are, at last, beginning to see the kind of collective actions emerging on the island which many of us dreamt about but wondered if or when they would emerge. Although many of these initiatives are at their very earliest stages their impact for many of us has been electrifying and energizing. We have a new spring to our steps.

 I have to take care not to let my own sense of optimism exaggerate what is happening. After all, as I said above the overall context of austerity remains dire and continues to wreak havoc on the lives of many here, and there is plenty of evidence which points to a Greek state which is growing ever more authoritarian and vicious in its response to popular resistance.

 So what is happening? We are now seeing on the island the formation of alternative, collective systems of survival where people are trading not on the basis of cash but on the basis of skills sharing and co-operative working. Local trading systems are now up and running both in Karlovassi and Pythagorio. Friends in the south of the island are now harvesting olives in return for oil and wood. Barter systems are emerging. The owner of one of the biggest hotels in Karlovassi was telling me only the other day that he confidently expected to see such activities become increasingly common place on the island as people traded their garden surpluses (chickens, vegetables, etc) for goods and services they could not otherwise secure as they had no cash. Then there is the group of women who are beginning to create a network of artisanal food producers (makers of marmalades, wines, oil, honey and other bee products etc) with a view to both island consumption as well as further afield. These women are well aware of the natural treasures of the island and how we can both develop and sustain them to contribute to a sustainable future not based on plunder and exploitation. Samos produces for example honey which has been assessed in Holland as being of the highest possible quality. There is a growing awareness that there are many outside Greece who motivated by solidarity are wanting such products. Furthermore these kinds of activities are forging new relationships between people which are not based on family and kinship networks and which militate against the kind of individualized despair which is such a problem here.

Then there have been more explicit political developments which are breaking from the crushing shackles of left sectarianism which has so blighted Greece since the Civil War. In Samos this is best illustrated by the Anti Fascist/Racist group led by students from the University of the Aegean in Karlovassi. Formed in the Autumn, initially to protest against the march of Golden Dawn through the streets of Samos town, it has subsequently organized a march and meeting to mark the uprising of Athens Polytechnic on November 17th 1973 which was so significant in the overthrow of the Junta, and has subsequently organized an extraordinarily well-attended event on Palestine as well as a film and discussion evening to commemorate the murder by the police of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos in December 2008. All of these events have been characterised by a new atmosphere of openness, excitement, and indeed joy and laughter that you never found in meetings organized by any of the left parties, and especially the Greek communist party KKE.

These developments ripple well beyond any particular event. It encouraged, for example, a north African friend to spend 2 days working for free to the clear the land of a neighbour who admitted to voting and supporting Golden Dawn. Instead of reviling and rejecting him, which Mohammed knew would simply push him deeper into Golden Dawn’s embrace this simple act of solidarity was far more effective in changing his friend’s view. After all sweating and labouring together, sharing a beer and jokes is far more effective than any political denunciation.

I am feeling more positive than for many months. So are many others. We are not under any illusion that this is no more than a start, but it does feel like the beginning of something promising.

Action and reaction

At the same time the authorities on the island are not standing still either. Last week saw 15 of us attending the court in Samos town to give solidarity to a member of the Human Rights group here who was being prosecuted by the state for “false reporting to the authorities”. It really is an extraordinary act of attempted state intimidation for an action which involved the group sending a collective letter to the minister simply enquiring about a particular group of refugees who had landed on the island. The following is taken from the statement issued by the human rights group on the island:

“[Our] letter was communicated to other humanitarian organizations as well as the Police Headquarters of Vathi town in Samos . The authorities not only refused to answer our questions concerning the treatment of the detained refugees, but they also forwarded our letter to the prosecutor, asking him to press charges against the member of our movement who had sent the letter in question for alleged defamation and false statements.

Subsequently, the Prosecutor ordered a preliminary examination, in the context of which all Board members of the Movement were asked to testify about this jointly drafted document. Even though the allegations of the Hellenic Police against our Movement were proven unsubstantiated, the judicial authorities nonetheless pressed criminal charges against the specific member of our Movement who had sent the document and ordered her referral for trial on 6/12/2012 on grounds of “false reporting to the authorities”.

We ask ourselves a reasonable question: since when does a document addressed to the authorities, in particular a request for clarification which authorities are legally obliged to answer, constitute a “lie”?”

(The full text can be found at, http://www.reinform.nl/solidarity-to-refugees/)

Chris Jones. Now living on Samos Island Greece after leaving England 5 years ago. His Samos Diary is published on ZNet: http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/Chris%20Jones. With Michael Lavalette he wrote ‘Voices from the West Bank’ published by Bookmarks, London , September 2011.

Who Bombed ex-Israeli Spy Ben-Menashe’s House?

December 10th, 2012 by Robert Parry

Exclusive: Montreal police may hope to just nail the “torch,” the culprit who hurled a fire-bomb into the home of ex-Israeli spy Ari Ben-Menashe. But to solve the mystery, they may have to delve into Ben-Menashe’s complex intelligence ties, including his hostile relations with his old superiors in Israel.

Montreal police are providing few details about their investigation into last Sunday night’s fire-bombing of an upscale home belonging to ex-Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe, as authorities sift through both the evidence collected from the ashes and the wide array of possible suspects.

Indeed, when I spoke with a police spokesman on Friday, all he offered was an outdated statement from Monday about the city assessing the risk of the gutted structure before collecting evidence. However, by Friday, the building had been taken down; the arson squad had scoured the wreckage for residue of the bomb’s accelerant; Ben-Menashe had been allowed to pick through the ashes looking for any personal items that might have survived; and the wreckage had been hauled away in dumpsters.

Ex-Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe standing before the wreckage of his destroyed home in Montreal on Dec. 5, 2012. (Photo by Robert Parry)

This past week in interviews with me as he worked to rebuild his life, Ben-Menashe, 61, was reluctant to finger any specific suspect, but suggested that the attack may have originated with the Israeli government, which has viewed its former intelligence officer over the past two decades as something between an irritant and a threat.

And, it appears that Ben-Menashe has risen again on the Israeli government’s list of concerns. If the bomb had not dramatically disrupted his life on Sunday night, he was planning to fly to Washington on Monday and accompany a senior Israeli intelligence figure to an interview with me.

The bombing not only prevented Ben-Menashe from making the trip, but he said it unnerved the other intelligence official who concluded that the attack was meant as a message from Israeli authorities to stay silent about the historical events that he was expected to discuss.

The fire also destroyed many of Ben-Menashe’s documents, his home computer and his personal records, including his old and current passports which provided something of a chronology of his decades traveling the globe.

So, if the Israelis were behind the attack, they would have accomplished many of their goals: intimidating Ben-Menashe, shutting down possible new disclosures of Israeli misconduct from the other intelligence veteran, and destroying records that would have helped Ben-Menashe prove whatever statements he might make.

An Almost Vanunu

In May 1991, Israel made a stab at capturing their rogue agent when Ben-Menashe was scheduled to fly from Australia to Washington to provide testimony to the U.S. Congress about national security scandals that implicated top Israeli officials and senior Republicans, including then-President George H.W. Bush.

Shortly before Ben-Menashe’s trip, a U.S. intelligence source tipped me off to a plan in which U.S. authorities would deny Ben-Menashe entrance at Los Angeles and then put him aboard a flight to Israel where he would have stood trial for exposing state secrets.

After getting the tip, I contacted congressional investigators who planned to question Ben-Menashe. One later called me back and said the Bush-41 administration was balking at giving a guarantee of safe passage for Ben-Menashe to Washington. It was suggested that I contact him and recommend that he delay his flight, which I did.

When I reached him in Australia, he was just about to leave for the airport, but agreed to postpone his flight until he got an all-clear from the congressional investigators, who finally received a promise from the Bush-41 administration that they would not deport Ben-Menashe to Israel. Ben-Menashe then flew to Washington.

Years later, Ben-Menashe told me that an old friend in Israeli intelligence confirmed the existence of the plan to deport him to Israel (much as was done to whistleblower Mordecai Vanunu in 1986 after he exposed the existence of Israel’s secret nuclear arsenal). Ben-Menashe said his old intelligence friend also relayed that there was active consideration of a back-up plan to simply kill Ben-Menashe as an enemy of the state.

Instead, Israel settled on a public relations campaign to destroy Ben-Menashe’s credibility by providing derogatory information to American journalists with close ties to Israeli intelligence. That campaign proved remarkably effective even as many of Ben-Menashe’s factual claims checked out or at least were not disproven. [For details, see Robert Parry’s America’s Stolen Narrative.]

Ben-Menashe also could be his own worst enemy, often compounding his media problem by treating journalists in a high-handed manner, either due to his suspicions of them or his arrogance.

In the 1990s, Ben-Menashe gradually rebuilt his life in Canada, marrying a Canadian woman and becoming a citizen. But he also surrounded his far-flung business activities in secrecy and got involved with some controversial international figures, such as Zimbabwe’s leader Robert Mugabe.

In recent years, Ben-Menashe has conducted his international consulting business at Dicksen and Madson in a wide variety of global hotspots, including conflict zones such as Mali, Sudan and Congo. He also has maintained ties to various intelligence services which are eager to receive his briefings about areas where traditional diplomats and even spies are hesitant to go.

Because of those complex business dealings and the international intrigue that has surrounded them, the Israeli government is only one of many possible suspects in last Sunday’s fire-bombing. Any number of Ben-Menashe’s enemies might have had motive to fire-bomb his house and send him fleeing into the night.

Ari Ben-Menashe gazing upon the wreckage of his house in Montreal on Dec. 6, 2012. (Photo by Robert Parry)

A Top Israeli Agent

During the 1980s, Ben-Menashe was something of a star intelligence officer for Israel assigned to a special unit of Israeli military intelligence. An Iraqi Jew born in Iran and an emigre to Israel as a teenager, Ben-Menashe was a young operative who assisted in rebuilding Israel’s strategic ties to Iran after the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Traveling the world, Ben-Menashe brokered Israeli-sponsored arms sales to Iran during its war with Iraq in the 1980s and handled sensitive assignments including efforts to counter U.S.-supported military shipments to Iraq. He turned up as a shadowy figure on the fringes of the Iran-Contra scandal, which is where I first heard about him as I was covering that story for the Associated Press and Newsweek.

But I never could track him down – until late 1989 when he was arrested in the United States on charges of selling military aircraft to Iran. Confined to the federal prison in Lower Manhattan, he consented to an interview and I flew from Washington to New York to speak with him.

During that prison interview, Ben-Menashe offered me startling new information about the Iran-Contra scandal, which I thought that I knew quite well. However, my first task was to verify who this brash Israeli was. Initially, the Israeli government dismissed him as an “impostor.” However, I was able to obtain official Israeli letters of reference describing his decade-long work for the External Relations Department of the Israel Defence Forces.

Confronted with that evidence, Israeli officials changed their story, admitting that Ben-Menashe indeed had worked for a branch of the IDF’s military intelligence but labeling him “a low-level translator.” But the letters described Ben-Menashe’s service in “key positions” and said he handled “complex and sensitive assignments.”

Despite this evidence – that Israeli officials had first lied and then retreated to a new cover story – the Bush-41 administration and the Israeli government managed to galvanize friendly journalists who went out of their way to discredit Ben-Menashe as a compulsive liar. [For details about one of the key denouncers of Ben-Menashe, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Unmasking October Surprise ‘Debunker’”.]

In fall 1990, Ben-Menashe convinced a New York jury that he indeed had been working on official Israeli business in his transactions with Iran and he was acquitted of all charges. After that, Ben-Menashe continued to provide testimony about secret dealings involving Republicans and the Israeli government. He gave information to investigative journalist Seymour Hersh about Israel’s top-secret nuclear program and identified British media mogul Robert Maxwell as an Israeli spy.

Perhaps Ben-Menashe’s most controversial claim was that he and other Israeli intelligence officers had assisted the Republicans in brokering a deal with Iran’s Islamic regime of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1980 to hold 52 American hostages until after the U.S. election to ensure President Jimmy Carter’s defeat. As a result of this so-called October Surprise caper, the hostages were not released until Jan. 20, 1981, immediately after Ronald Reagan was sworn in as U.S. President, Ben-Menashe said.

Yet, if the American public ever came to believe that the Israeli government had manipulated the outcome of a U.S. presidential election – to put in a favored candidate – that could have severely damaged Israel’s crucial alliance with the United States. So, for both the Israelis and the Republicans, the goal of destroying or silencing Ben-Menashe became an important priority.

After achieving success in marginalizing Ben-Menashe by 1993 – at least in the eyes of the Washington Establishment — the Israelis seemed to view him as a declining threat, best left alone. He was able to pick up the pieces of his life, creating a second act as an international political consultant and businessman arranging sales of grain.

But his renewed efforts to finally prove the truthfulness of his earlier claims, especially regarding the October Surprise charges, may have suddenly elevated him again on Israel’s threat chart.

Though the Montreal police are understandably hesitant to climb down the rabbit hole into Ben-Menashe’s mysterious world of espionage and historical mysteries, they may ultimately have no choice.

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).

Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities

December 10th, 2012 by David Swanson

PREAMBLE

Whereas the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not self-enforcing,

Whereas statement of the inherent dignity and of the equal and supposedly inalienable rights of all members of the human family achieves little without a struggle against greed, injustice, tyranny, and war,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights could not have resulted in the barbarous acts that have outraged the conscience of humankind without the cowardice, laziness, apathy, and blind obedience of well-meaning but unengaged spectators,

Whereas proclaiming as the highest aspiration of the common people the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want doesn’t actually produce such a world,

Whereas nonviolent rebellion against tyranny and oppression must be a first resort rather than a last, and must be our constant companion into the future if justice and peace are to be achieved and maintained,

Whereas governments do not reliably conduct themselves humanely toward other nations’ governments or peoples unless compelled to do so by their own people and the people of the world,

Whereas a common understanding of human rights and freedoms is false if it omits the eternal vigilance, struggle, and sacrifice necessary to create and maintain them,

Now, Therefore we proclaim THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RESPONSIBILITIES as a common standard of practice for all people, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by energetic use of creative nonviolence to promote the actual observance of what have never been but indeed should be made universal, equal, and inalienable rights and freedoms,

Article 1.

  • Human beings are born into every variety and degree of freedom and oppression, privilege and poverty, peace and war.  All have a responsibility to work for the betterment of the condition of those around them and those less well off.

Article 2.

  • Everyone is obligated to work at building understanding and equality across lines of race, color, sex, ethnicity, sexual-orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, and birth or other status.  Everyone is obligated to actively reject the privileging of or discriminating against any such group, whether their own or others’, with no exceptions created by the presence of or participation in war.

Article 3.

  • Everyone has the responsibility to help organize and take part in resistance to any violation of anyone’s right to life, liberty or security of person, whether that violation impacts a single individual or a large number, but in particular including resistance to war of any kind.

Article 4.

  • Everyone has a responsibility to work for the swift elimination of slavery and servitude in all their forms.

Article 5.

  • Everyone has a responsibility to expose any instance of torture or of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or of any conspiracy to facilitate such acts, and a responsibility to work to end these practices and to prosecute those responsible in a fair and open court of law.

Article 6.

  • Everyone has a responsibility to work and to sacrifice something of their own comfort to ensure that every other human being is afforded equal recognition as a person before the law.

Article 7.

  • All are obliged to actively oppose any discrimination in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.

  • Everyone has the responsibility to insist upon, for themselves and all others, an effective remedy by the competent local, national, or international tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 9.

  • Everyone has a responsibility to treat the arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile, of anyone else as though it were that of themselves or a loved one.

Article 10.

  • Everyone has a responsibility to understand and require for every human being the right to full equality and to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of their rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against them.

Article 11.

  • (1) Everyone is obligated to ensure for anyone charged with a penal offense the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which they have had all the guarantees necessary for their defense.
  • (2) Everyone is obligated to ensure that no one shall be held guilty of any penal offense on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offense, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed, and that no heavier penalty shall be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offense was committed.

Article 12.

  • All are responsible for not taking part in and for working to eliminate and to legally prohibit any arbitrary interference with anyone’s privacy, family, home or correspondence, or attacks upon their honor and reputation.

Article 13.

  • (1) Everyone has the responsibility to protect everyone’s freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
  • (2) Everyone has the responsibility to protect everyone’s right to leave any country, including their own, and to return to their country.

Article 14.

  • Everyone has the responsibility to protect for all the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution but not from prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes.

Article 15.

  • Everyone has the responsibility to protect for all the right to a nationality and the right to change that nationality.

Article 16.

  • All are obliged to protect the right of free and fully consenting adults to marry.

Article 17.

  • All are obliged to defend the right of all others to own property.

Article 18.

  • Everyone has the responsibility to protect freedom of thought for all.

Article 19.

  • Every human being has a duty to help communicate to others to the greatest extent possible information about injustice and war, and information about nonviolent efforts to achieve justice and peace.  This duty includes a responsibility to work for the creation of meaningful freedom of the press in which the communication of neither current events nor history is dominated or controlled by any privileged group within a society.

Article 20.

  • Everyone has the responsibility to frequently exercise or attempt nonviolently to exercise the right to peaceful assembly and association in opposition to injustice or war, and in support of the rights listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 21.

  • Everyone has the responsibility to work for the creation and maintenance of democratic and/or representative government uncorrupted by bribery of any form, by an unfree press, or by arbitrary restrictions on participation as electoral candidates or voters.

Article 22.

  • Everyone has a responsibility to struggle nonviolently to alter the political and economic world so as to increase the opportunity for every human being to live, learn, and work in dignity with security from fear and want.

Article 23.

  • Everyone has the responsibility to work with others to ensure the protection of one and all to a free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work, to protection against unemployment, to the freedom to join a trade union and to strike, to equal pay for equal work, and to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for themselves and their family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

Article 24.

  • Everyone has the responsibility to work not only at their primary career but also for the betterment of society and the establishment of the rights listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 25.

  • Everyone has the responsibility to work for a more just and less wasteful distribution of resources to ensure that one’s own and all future generations can provide every single human being, including every child, a standard of living adequate for health and well-being, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age, or other lack of livelihood.

Article 26.

  • Everyone has the responsibility to assist in the education of themselves and others and to work toward the provision of free, high-quality education, including education in civil responsibilities and the history of social change through people’s movements, education directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, education that promotes understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and education that furthers the creation and maintenance of peace.

Article 27.

  • Everyone has the responsibility to defend and exercise the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits, and the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which they are the author.

Article 28.

  • Everyone has the responsibility to organize, agitate, sacrifice, and struggle nonviolently and strategically for sustainable environmental practices, demilitarization, the development of democratic and representative structures of government, and the realization of the rights found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Egypt Opposition Blasts Morsi for Withdrawing Edict

December 10th, 2012 by Jason Ditz

With his profile soaring in the wake of a successful Gaza ceasefire, President Mohamed Morsi issued an edict declaring himself to have limitless power until a new constitution was put in place.

What followed were weeks of protests from a growing collection of opposition blocs, and a seemingly happy ending when Morsi yesterday withdrew the edict. Bizarrely, opposition leadership, apparently encouraged by their ability to draw a crowd, condemned Morsi for doing exactly what they have demanded, saying it was unacceptable, and calling for yet more protests.

At least they’re hoping for more protests. The average person on the street knew why “all-power president” was a bad thing. Wrapping their heads around the new claim that the withdrawal is also somehow bad is confusing many, leaving a lot of the opposition’s support unsure whether they’re protesting anymore, or why.

Opposition leaders say that withdrawing the edict is a trick attempted to distract from the “real goals,” and say the public needs to continue to protest against “a president who ignores his people.

A lot of the opposition leaders are objecting to the referendum next weekend on the constitution, but there’s nowhere near unity on opposing it, and there seems a good bet the vote could pass. Some of them are hoping the protests could force a delay or cancellation of the vote, but this is at best peripherally related to the fight over Morsi in the first place, and with a lot of demonstrators not opposed to the referendum as such, keeping rallies in the streets is going to take some doing.

National Security Archive Freedom of Information Case to Receive Full Hearing

For more information contact:
Tom Blanton or Nate Jones- 202/994-7000 or [email protected]

Washington, D.C., December 7, 2012 – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit yesterday rejected the CIA’s attempt to shortcut the National Security Archive’s lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the last still-secret history of the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.

With the ruling, the Archive has moved a step closer to compelling openness for the only remaining unreleased volume of a draft history of the Bay of Pigs operation, written by a CIA staff historian in the 1980s. One volume of the five-volume history reached the public through the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board’s action in the 1990s; and the Archive filed its FOIA lawsuit for the remaining volumes in April 2011, on the 50 th anniversary of the failed CIA-sponsored invasion of Cuba.

The CIA released three volumes as a result of the FOIA lawsuit, but withheld the final volume by invoking a statutory exemption to the FOIA that protects “predecisional” and “deliberative” agency documents. Judge Gladys Kessler of the U.S. District Court sided with the CIA, explaining that the Agency could withhold this “predecisional” draft because it “does not want to discourage disagreement… among its historians.”

The Houston, a supply ship for the CIA’s invasion force, was sunk by Cuban T-33s on the morning of April 17, 1961 (CIA photo)

The Archive appealed to the D.C. Circuit, and the CIA then filed a motion for summary affirmance – in effect asking the court to decide in its favor without full briefing or oral argument. In opposing the CIA’s motion, the Archive received strong support from more than a dozen organizations representing tens of thousands of historians, archivists, political scientists, educators and researchers around the world, who warned that the CIA’s position could create a “chilling effect on access to historical materials.”

On Thursday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the CIA’s motion, agreeing with the Archive and its supporters that the case merits the court’s full consideration, and set a briefing schedule through March 2013 for the lawsuit to continue.

“The CIA told the courts that a decades-old draft history should stay secret because it would ‘confuse the public’ and make CIA historians less candid,” remarked Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive. “In fact, that policy would put off limits half of what’s in our country’s National Archives, and the only confused people would be government itself, unable to learn from its own mistakes because the history was locked under Maxwell Smart’s Cone of Silence.”

Allon Kedem and Cliff Sloan of the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, and Flom represent the Archive in this case as part of the firm’s pro bono publico commitment. Veteran FOIA litigator David Sobel represented the Archive in the first stages of the case and won the release of three volumes of the history. The director of the Archive’s Cuba Documentation Project, Peter Kornbluh, wrote and filed the original Freedom of Information Act request in the case.

“Shadow Statistics”: More Phony Employment Numbers

December 10th, 2012 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Statistician John Williams (shadowstats.com) calls the government’s latest jobs and unemployment reports “nonsense numbers.”

There are a number of ongoing problems with the released numbers. For example, the concurrent-seasonal factor adjustments are unstable. The birth-death model adds non-existent jobs each month that are then taken out in the annual downward benchmark revisions. Williams calculates that the job overstatement through November averages 45,000 monthly. In other words, employment gains during 2012 have been overstated by about 500,000 jobs. Another problem is that each month’s jobs number is boosted by downside revision of the previous month’s jobs number. Williams reports that the 146,000 new jobs reported for November “was after a significant downside revision to October’s reporting. Net of prior-period revisions, November’s seasonally-adjusted monthly gain was 97,000.”

Even if we believe the government that 146,000 new jobs materialized during November, that is the amount necessary to stay even with population growth and therefore could not be responsible for reducing the unemployment rate from 7.9% to 7.7%. The reduction is due to how the unemployed are counted.

The 7.7% rate is known as the “headline rate.” It is the rate you hear in the news. Its official designation is U.3.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has another official unemployment rate known as U.6.

The difference is that U.3 does not include discouraged workers who are not currently actively seeking a job. (A discouraged worker is a person who has given up looking for a job because there are no jobs to be found.) The U.6 measure includes workers who have been discouraged for less than one year. The U.6 rate of unemployment is 14.4%, about double the headline rate.

The U.6 rate does not include long-term discouraged workers, those who have been discouraged for more than one year. John Williams estimates this rate and reports the actual rate of unemployment (known as SGS) in November to be 22.9%.

In other words, the headline rate of unemployment is one-third the actual rate.

The drop in the November headline rate of unemployment from 7.9 to 7.7 is due to a 20.4% increase in the number of short-term discouraged workers in November. In other words, unemployed people rolled out of the U.3 measure into the U.6 measure.

Similarly, a number of short-term discouraged workers roll out of the U.6 measure into John Williams’ measure that includes all of the unemployed. Williams reports that “with the continual rollover, the flow of headline workers continues into the short-term discouraged workers (U.6), and from U.6 into long term discouraged worker status (a ShadowStats.com measure), at what has been an accelerating pace. The aggregate November data show an increasing rate of individuals dropping out of the headline (U.3) labor force.” In other words, the headline rate of unemployment can drop even though the unemployed are having a harder time finding jobs.

The U.S. government simply lowers the unemployment rate by not counting all of the unemployed. We owe this innovation to the Clinton administration. In 1994 the Clinton administration redefined “discouraged workers” and limited this group to those who are discouraged for less than one year. Those discouraged for more than one year are no longer considered to be in the labor force and ceased to be counted as unemployed.

If the U.S. government will mislead the public about unemployment, it will also mislead about Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, Lebanon, Palestine, Russia, China, and 9/11. The government fits its story to its agenda.

A government that wants to cut the social safety net doesn’t want you to know that the unemployment rate is 22.9%. A government that wants to cut the social safety net when between one-fifth and one-fourth of the work force is out of work looks hard-hearted, mean-spirited, and foolish. But if the government reports only one-third of the unemployed and presents that rate as falling, then the government can present its cuts as prudent to avoid falling over a “fiscal cliff.”

If the “free and democratic” Americans cannot even find out what the unemployment rate is, how do they expect to find out about anything?

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following.

Syrian “rebel” militia groups established a new unified command last Friday in talks in Turkey, attended by officials from the US, Britain, France, the Gulf States and Jordan. Around 500 delegates elected a 30-member Supreme Military Council and a chief of staff.

The US and its allies pushed for the revamping of the military command, as they previously had with the anti-Assad political leadership, in order to tighten their control over opposition forces in preparation for a more aggressive intervention into Syria.

Mustafa Sabbagh, general secretary of the Syrian National Coalition, the “rebel” front handpicked by Washington, told the Associated Press that the new command “will be exclusively responsible for receiving military aid”.

The British-based Times reported over the weekend that “the US is launching a covert operation to send arms to Syrian rebels for the first time.” These shipments feature stockpiles of weapons seized from the Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi, including anti-aircraft missiles demanded by anti-Assad militias.

“They [the rebels] have entered the suburbs of Damascus and have surrounded its airport. US State Department officials are in regular contact with rebel field commanders, talking to them on Skype for hours every day. The commanders have repeatedly pressed for more weapons,” the Times stated.

Over the weekend, Syrian National Coalition spokesman Yasser Tabbara called on the major Western powers to supply advanced anti-aircraft weaponry to enforce a “no-fly zone”. He was supported by Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah.

The composition of the new military leadership exposes the reactionary character of the Syrian opposition, dominated by Islamists, lacking any popular base and reliant on the major powers.

A conference delegate told Reuters that two-thirds of the 30-member command has links to the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist organisations. The body also includes Syrian military defectors, but Brigadier Mustafa al-Sheikh, a leading officer who opposes the Muslim Brotherhood, was sidelined.

The Syrian rebels and their imperialist backers have attempted to keep their distance from the Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat Al-Nusra, which was not invited to participate. While Washington has touted the possibility of blacklisting the organisation, it is unlikely to do so because of its major hand in the fighting. Al-Nusra reportedly played a key role in the seizure of a military command centre in Aleppo on Sunday.

Preparations to supply greater military aid to the Syrian opposition have been accompanied by a propaganda campaign about the danger of the Assad regime using chemical weapons. British Foreign Secretary William Hague last Saturday claimed to have seen “some evidence” of Syrian chemical weapons preparations, but provided no details. Reiterating comments made last week by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he warned that the use of chemical weapons would be “a major change in the situation”.

The international press has for the most part uncritically parroted these claims. But veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk and Channel Four News journalist Alex Thompson pointed out the obvious parallel to the false claims about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, used to justify the illegal US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Writing in the Independent, Fisk debunked allegations that Assad’s father, Hafez al-Assad, had used chemical weapons to suppress a Sunni uprising in Hama in 1982—a conflict on which Fisk had reported. Thompson warned that “weapons of mass destruction could become weapons of mass deception,” noting that the same “media who … brought us the Baghdad WMD story” is uncritically reporting on the “Damascus chemical weapons threat.”

On Saturday, the Syrian regime once again denied that it would use chemical weapons if it had them, and also warned that Al-Nusra had seized control of a chemicals company near Safira, east of Aleppo. Clinton had expressed concern that chemical weapons could fall into the hands of “one of the many groups that are operating within Syria”—providing another potential pretext for US intervention.

Likewise, Israel is using “chemical weapons” to justify its own operations against the Syrian government. According to the Sunday Times, Israel has initiated a “secret war” to track chemical and biological weapons in Syria. The article pointed to a report in the Atlantic last week that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had sent Mossad agents to Jordan twice to seek its support for coordinated military attacks on alleged chemical weapons facilities in Syria—a request that Amman has turned down to date.

The Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, warned on Sunday that a transfer of chemical weapons from Syria to the Lebanese militia Hezbollah would be a “game changer”. His comment points to the danger of the civil war in Syria sparking broader conflicts in the Middle East, and being used as the pretext for new wars, including an attack on Iran.

The conflict in Syria has already spilled over into the northern city of Tripoli in Lebanon, with clashes over the past week between Sunni Muslims and Shiite Alawites, who support the Assad regime, resulting in 19 deaths and the wounding of many others.

Syrian “rebels” announced last Friday that Damascus International Airport and the roads leading to it were legitimate military targets. In practice, this has led to indiscriminate attacks on civilians in the general vicinity of the airport. In parts of Jaramana, a predominantly Christian town near a major road to the airport, snipers are reportedly firing on any moving vehicle and launching rocket-propelled grenades into civilian areas.

The Telegraph reported that while fighting had reached Damascus, the rebels had little support in the capital and other major urban centres. Ahmed, a Sunni coach driver, told the newspaper: “We are scared of both sides. If this were a true popular revolution I would support it. But then I saw that the Muslim Brotherhood leads the FSA [Free Syrian Army], and no one wants that.” Mohammed, who fought with the “rebels” in Aleppo before becoming disillusioned, said: “It was dominated by foreign fighters and they wanted an Islamic state.”

The US and its allies in Europe and the Gulf States are due to hold a meeting of the so-called Friends of Syria group on Wednesday in Morocco. The gathering will further fuel the fighting in Syria, with all aspects of the imperialist intervention in Syria, including the provision of more advanced weaponry, coming up for discussion.

The “Fiscal Cliff” and the Dismantling of Medicare

December 10th, 2012 by Kate Randall

It is becoming increasingly clear that any deal reached in the negotiations in Washington over the “fiscal cliff” will include a major expansion of means testing for Medicare, the federal health insurance program for seniors and the disabled. The introduction of increased fees based on income will signify Medicare’s transformation from a universal health care program for the elderly into a poverty program, the first step in its being starved of funds and ultimately dismantled. 

In the ongoing deficit-reduction talks, leading congressional Democrats have suggested that they are open to means testing, beginning with the raising of premiums for higher-income beneficiaries. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the senior senator from President Obama’s home state and the second most powerful Democrat in the Senate, said Thursday that means testing for Medicare is “certainly consistent with the Democratic message that those who are better off in our country should be willing to pay a little more.” 

Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (Democrat of Montana) last week called the idea “somewhat attractive,” while Congressional Black Caucus chairman Emanuel Cleaver (Democrat of Missouri) suggested that means testing would be a good way to cut spending for Medicare, supposedly without reducing benefits. 

President Obama has already given his stamp of approval. During the 2011 debt-ceiling negotiations, he proposed raising Medicare premiums for wealthy seniors. He commented in July 2011, “You can envision a situation where, for somebody in my position, having to pay a little bit more on premiums or co-pays or things like that would be appropriate.”

 

On its face, the proposal that higher-income seniors “pay a little more” for Medicare may seem reasonable. Some means testing has already been introduced into the program. Since 2007, higher income people on Medicare have paid higher premiums for outpatient doctor visits. 

But there is nothing egalitarian about moves to make means testing an essential part of Medicare. A fundamental structural change, it is the thin edge of the wedge for undermining the program, which is why supporters of Medicare have opposed such proposals, previously the province of sections of the Republican right. 

It is being promoted now by both parties as part of a frontal assault on all that remains of the social reforms enacted in the 1930s and 1960s. In the name of reducing the deficit and the national debt, and on the basis of the lie that “there is no money” for social programs, the American ruling class and both of its parties are carrying out a social counterrevolution. 

The same Democratic hypocrites who are pushing for means testing for seniors, supposedly in the name of “fairness,” propose at most a token one or two percent rise in income tax rates for the richest 2 percent of Americans—under conditions of unprecedented and increasing social inequality. Even this pathetic measure is to be quickly reversed by a “comprehensive tax reform” that will slash rates for corporations and the rich.

 

Medicare was established in 1965 as an amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935, providing health insurance for people 65 and older, regardless of income or medical history. People pay into Medicare their entire working lives based on the assumption that they will have secure health coverage when they retire. The program is mostly funded through payroll taxes on employers and workers, levied equally. 

Before Medicare, an estimated half of older adults had no health insurance, due to lower incomes and poverty among seniors and the higher premiums charged by private insurers for this age group. Medicare has sharply reduced the poverty rate and helped extend the life expectancy of retirees. This will now be reversed by a financial aristocracy that has no use for elderly people who cannot be directly exploited for profit. 

Who is to set the parameters for determining who is sufficiently wealthy to pay more for health care? And once rates are raised for one section of the population, the way will be cleared not only to hike payments for more people, but also to gut their benefits. 

The attack on Medicare is, moreover, a prelude to means testing for Social Security, the New Deal program that established universal retirement benefits. 

In the fiscal cliff negotiations, Obama and politicians of both big business parties claim there is “no money” for Medicare and other social programs even as the bailout of the banks continues and trillions are spent on the military and war. Four years after the onset of the recession, the corporate-financial elite is amassing record profits and wealth while the vast majority of the population is growing poorer. 

It is highly significant that the assault on Medicare and other core social programs is being carried out under a Democratic administration. This is the culmination of a decades-long process by which the Democrats—always a capitalist party—have repudiated their past social reform policy, which served as the basis of their working class support. 

The Democratic Party today rests on major sections of the corporate and financial elite along with upper-middle class layers, including the most privileged sections of blacks and other minorities, the trade union bureaucracy, and the milieu of the ex-left. The Obama presidency is the end product of a process by which the Democratic Party, based on the politics of race and gender, has turned openly and viciously against the working class. 

Social reforms such as Medicare and Social Security were not granted as gifts from on high. They were wrenched from the ruling class as a result of great working class struggles in which workers died at the hands of police and company thugs and faced off against federal troops. 

These pivotal struggles included general strikes that paralyzed entire cities in 1934, the sit-down strikes that established the industrial unions later in the 1930s, and the mass strike wave that followed World War II. Together with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Medicare was enacted in the context of the tumult of the civil rights and anti-war struggles, militant labor battles and ghetto rebellions of the 1960s. 

The great limitation of these earlier struggles was the failure to establish a mass, politically independent movement of the working class, based on the fight for socialism. The working class remained tied politically to the Democratic Party as a result of the right-wing perspective of the trade union bureaucracy and its political allies. Today, these conditions are breaking down as it becomes clearer to millions of people that both big-business parties represent the interests of the ruling elite. 

The defense of Medicare and other social programs, and the securing of the basic social rights of the working class—the right to a good-paying job, health care, decent housing, education, a secure retirement—depends upon the building of a new political movement of the working class, independent of and opposed to the two-party system, to put an end to the stranglehold of the financial parasites over society and reorganize economic life on the basis of social need, not private profit.

ANKARA: Around 600 foreign troops are expected to accompany six Patriot missile systems to be deployed in Turkey to reinforce the NATO member country’s air defense and calm its fears of coming under a possible missile attack from neighboring Syria, local newspaper Today’s Zaman reported Sunday.

The surface-to-air batteries, able to intercept ballistic missiles, are expected to be transported to Turkey by sea within four or five weeks, and will be sited in Turkish military bases, according to the report.

A team of NATO experts recently visited Turkey to survey the possible sites for the deployment, and have submitted their report to Ankara and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).

The team reportedly surveyed sites in the provinces of Elazig, Malatya, Diyarbakir, Batman, Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, Adana, Mersin and Kahramanmaras, said the report.

The United States, Germany and the Netherlands, the only three NATO nations with the most modern type of Patriots, have all agreed to send missiles to protect their ally.

Germany and the Netherlands have each said they will send two Patriot batteries with multiple missile launchers.

Although it is still not certain, the United States is also expected to send two Patriot systems to Turkey, increasing the number of batteries to be deployed in Turkey to six.

Each battery to be sent to Turkey reportedly has four to six missile launchers and each launcher has the capacity of launching 16 missiles.

Russia Will not Allow Repetition of “Libya Scenario” in Syria

December 10th, 2012 by Global Research News

MOSCOW: Russia will not allow a repetition of the Libyan scenario in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday.

“We’ll not allow the Libyan experience to be reproduced in Syria.

Unfortunately our Western partners have departed from the Geneva accords and are seeking the departure of [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad,” Lavrov said, adding Russia was not clinging to any individual leaders in Syria.

Russia and China vetoed a Western-backed UN resolution on Syria on July 19 over fears that it would lead to foreign military intervention in the Middle East country.

The resolution was tied to Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which would have provided for the use of force to put an end to the rapidly escalating conflict.

Russia says it has no special interest in seeing Assad remain in power, but that the “Syrian people” should decide his fate.

A number of Western countries have been trying to persuade Moscow to support a resolution effectively authorizing a military operation, but Russia has repeatedly insisted that the Western drive for a stronger crackdown on Syria is preparation for a “Libyan scenario.”

In Libya, rebels ousted and killed…Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011 after a months-long military standoff in which they received assistance from NATO forces. Russia did not use its veto power in the UN Security Council to block the intervention in Libya that was started under the pretext of protecting civilians there.

Lavrov also said Russia was not holding any talks on the fate of embattled Assad.

Meanwhile, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said the Syrian leadership had assured Russia there was no danger of the spread of chemical weapons in the Middle East country.

“The Syrian government is assuring us that it will not allow their spread [chemical weapons]. We hope that this will be so,” Patrushev said.

He was echoed by Lavrov, who said Russia is more concerned that the chemical weapons could fall into hands of Assad’s opponents, whose ranks allegedly include al-Qaida affiliates. Official Damascus said on Saturday that the insurgents have taken control of a chemical factory in Aleppo, which could be used to manufacture chemical weapons, AFP reported.

This week, Ontario’s teachers, education workers and students will be turning up the heat on the Liberal minority government and Bill 115, which imposes a concessionary bargaining agenda on teachers’ unions and the school boards, and allows the cabinet to change tentative agreements and stop strikes without even legislative oversight.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has given notice that it will begin a series of one-day district-wide strikes in every public school board district before Christmas, beginning Monday December 10 in the Avon-Maitland and North East Districts. This will affect small Ontario towns and regions surrounding Stratford, Timmins, Kirkland Lake, and Kapuskasing.

On the same day, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) will be implementing what is by far its most coordinated work-to-rule campaign. All volunteer activities and extracurriculars will end, and teachers will show up 15 minutes before classes start and leave 15 minutes after classes end. This latter work-to-rule action is based on the 1990 Education Act, Regulation 298, Section 3.7 and Section 20(d).

And, for the first time since late September, a series of high school walkouts are being planned for Monday in York Region, London, and elsewhere. This will be the second wave of walkouts since late September when over thirty high schools and even elementary schools witnessed student actions against Bill 115.

The Journey to December 10

The road to ETFO’s strike action and OSSTF’s province-wide work-to-rule has been a long, complicated one. Passed in September, Bill 115 has predictably prolonged, complicated and escalated the labour conflict in Ontario, whereas free collective bargaining may have mitigated the effects and probability of labour conflict altogether. However, the unpopular Liberal minority government is committed to saving $2-billion in labour costs to reduce a $15-billion deficit (after reducing corporate taxes from 14 to 11.5 per cent since 2009). The Liberals are now embroiled in a leadership contest after Dalton McGuinty decided to abandon what looks like a sinking ship and prorogue the legislature at the same time.

The weakness of the government is only matched by the disunity and confusion of the teachers’ unions. Back in July, OECTA’s (Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association) leadership signed a concession-laden Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ontario government without consultation or ratification from the membership. OSSTF, ETFO and CUPE rightfully denounced the OECTA leadership and the MOU. The government then used the MOU as a framework for the concessions imposed on all other teachers and education workers through Bill 115, even though the school boards, not the government, bargain with the unions. Even the associations representing all of Ontario’s school boards protested Bill 115′s interference in collective bargaining.

Since OSSTF and ETFO members delivered extremely high strike votes in late September and early October, there has been a significant divergence in their approaches to resisting Bill 115.

Gearing up for rotating one-day district-wide strikes, ETFO held an online vote in late November to authorize a province-wide one-day strike if Bill 115 is used to shut down strikes or impose a collective agreement. Members delivered that mandate with 92 percent support. The day after ETFO announced it would begin rotating strikes, Minister of Education Lauren Broten announced she would not stop them with Bill 115.

The OSSTF’s strategy has been confusing, to say the least. In late September, members withdrew from extracurricular and other voluntary activities at their own discretion through a unorganized work-to-rule campaign. It was not coordinated or condoned by the union leadership because of legitimate fears of financial and legal reprisals from the government. Lacking coordination, this work-to-rule action was highly uneven in its application across the province, and thus highly ineffective.

Yet, OSSTF sanctioned a similarly uneven piecemeal work-to-rule campaign in early November which applied only to particular districts. To add to the confusion, both the media and the unions have been unclear in calling these actions what they are: “work-to-rule.” The union-sanctioned actions in early November were called “strike actions” in OSSTF statements on their website and to the media. Strike is a word reserved for the full withdrawal of labour, whereas work-to-rule describes doing the bare minimum required by the collective agreement, to put pressure on employers who routinely rely on large amounts of unpaid work and overwork. The amount of hours put in by teachers and other education workers outside of class hours is commonly quite high.

The inability of the unions to provide substantial clarity to the public and membership regarding its province-wide strategy and goals is glaring. This was reflected in a public opinion poll taken on November 27 and 28. It found that while 44 per cent of Ontarians supported the teachers, compared to 39 against, 47 per cent believed the teachers’ actions were ineffective versus 39 who believed they were effective.

With OSSTF now implementing strict province-wide work-to-rule, ETFO initiating one-day district-wide strikes, and students preparing to walk out again, the struggle against Bill 115 has no doubt reached a new level. United actions will provide the unions and their members a new opportunity to restate their aims and provide a clear explanation of how they see their campaign unfolding.

Inside the Unions

The prolonged campaign against Bill 115 has allowed differences of opinion to mature and manifest themselves within the unions while also highlighting the differences between sections of the membership and their elected union leaders. This is most evident in OSSTF where members in York Region and Niagara voted down tentative agreements on November 26, followed by a No vote in Hamilton-Wentworth on November 30.

Prior to the November 26 York Region vote, a letter was circulated by email, Twitter and Facebook by an OSSTF member calling for a no vote against tentative agreements that accepted the framework imposed by Bill 115. It articulated the mood of a section of the membership upset with the tentative agreements:

“As members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) in the York Region and Upper Grand school boards prepare to vote on tentative agreements this week, many of their colleagues in other boards are urging them to vote ‘no.’

“‘90% voted to strike a while back,’ reads an anonymous flyer being circulated among teachers in York Region. ‘90% of us need to vote no to ratification.’

“While details of the tentative agreements have not been officially released, individual teachers, furious over the agreements, have been circulating over the internet details that reveal massive concessions, if not complete surrender to government demands.”

Speaking of the earlier OECTA deal with the government, the letter goes on to say

“At the time, the OECTA leadership was vilified by teachers across the province – including by teachers within OECTA – for selling out members. Now, however, OSSTF seems to have accepted the same logic of surrender, and OECTA leadership is gloating.”

Within a day of the York Region and Niagara votes, OSSTF suspended all bargaining and ratification votes and called a December 3 meeting of all lead bargaining officials. It is out of this December 3 meeting that the province-wide work-to-rule campaign has emerged. It’s clear that the No votes in York, Niagara and Hamilton-Wentworth compelled the OSSTF leadership to regroup and finally decide to implement a province-wide work-to-rule strategy.

However, the November 27 OSSTF Bargaining Bulletin, signed by President Ken Coran, reveals a worrying mindset amongst the OSSTF leadership. The letter strongly implies that the union’s court challenge to Bill 115 will be prioritized over “No” votes, strike action and other forms of civil disobedience. Coran explicitly states that:

“While events post Bill 115 such as holding strike votes, engaging in strikes against the employer and reaching tentative settlements may be referred to as the court proceedings progress, holding ratification votes in and of themselves will not be a deciding factor.”

He goes on to say,

“The law remains unchanged and the sweeping and unprecedented powers it accorded the Minister remain the primary basis for our challenge. It is also important to acknowledge that our attack against Bill 115 is complex and will likely be a lengthy process.”

While Coran concludes his letter claiming that the union will “explore all avenues” to repeal Bill 115, this letter gives the distinct impression that the union leadership is committed to pursuing a court challenge while discouraging “no” votes in tentative settlements.

The court challenge is of course necessary, but its complexity and length cannot be understated. When the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) was hit with authoritarian bills in 2002, the union quickly launched a court challenge. It wasn’t until 2011 that the bills were deemed partially unconstitutional. BCTF is now taking the BC Liberal government to court again over another bill passed in March to impose a contract and stop a strike.

Toronto students rally against Bill 115.

If Ontario teachers are facing such a lengthy process, and “No” votes are unworthy of endorsement, then what exactly is the OSSTF leadership suggesting the membership do in the present to combat Bill 115? As the dissident OSSTF member said above, “OSSTF seems to have accepted the same logic of surrender.”

Thankfully, it appears that the “No” votes have derailed this approach for the time being, allowing the OSSTF membership to exercise a degree of control over the union’s direction toward a more convincing form of opposition. ETFO’s decision to launch strike actions is also likely placing the OSSTF leadership in a position where they can’t back down because of membership pressure and the example set by ETFO. In addition, the student walkouts will encourage and inspire education workers to keep up the fight.

Strategic Decisions

The situation brings into focus some major strategic decisions facing the movement against Bill 115. Minister of Education Lauren Broten has already announced she will not seek to stop the one-day ETFO strikes. She has also rejected some of the OSSTF tentative agreements on the grounds that they don’t conform to Bill 115′s framework. Broten is essentially upping the ante, daring the unions to go all-out to defeat Bill 115 through sustained strike action, legal or not. The question is, are union members and their leaders ready to defy any invocation of Bill 115 to stop a strike?

The political front also remains unclear because the situation appears unfavourable for the labour movement. The 1999 marriage between the teachers’ unions and the Liberals has collapsed, and a frightening anti-union slash-and-burn Tory government appears in the waiting as they hover around 35 per cent in the polls.

Meanwhile, the Ontario NDP continues to float around 30 per cent support, its highest level since the early days of 1990-95 NDP government of Bob Rae. Ontario voters and teachers’ unions have started to shed their aversion to the NDP, as demonstrated by the NDP’s spectacular Waterloo by-election victory on September 5 (denying McGuinty his majority). The NDP has also stated its opposition to Bill 115, but it has not prioritized or publicized the issue.

A reasonable and clear approach to the political front would be for the teachers’ unions to support the NDP on the condition that when they form government they must immediately repeal Bill 115. This would avoid the unnecessarily messy matter of trying to win the teachers’ unions to endorse the NDP wholesale or join it like other unions.

That said, waiting for an election, which could be called any time, has the same demobilizing and diversionary effect as a court challenge. It can’t be a substitute for workplace action which is where the membership gains experience, forges a culture of solidarity, and can put immediate pressure on the government. And, if coordinated effectively like the recent Chicago teachers’ strike, actions involving the membership could mobilize public support – namely parents and young people – against Bill 115 and austerity in general. Workplace action ought to be seen as complimentary and reinforcing of any electoral and legal challenge to Bill 115. Teachers would be in a far more stronger position vis-à-vis the NDP and placing Bill 115 at the centre of an election if they are in the midst of some form of sustained province-wide job action. In other words, if Bill 115 is going to be defeated at the polls, it means ensuring that the election campaign would be about workers’ rights, democratic rights and defence of public services. In this context, the Liberals will be very weak and the Tories on the defensive. •

Doug Nesbitt is president of his union local, PSAC 901, representing Queen’s University Teaching Assistants, Teaching Fellows and Post-Doctoral Fellows. His views here do not necessarily represent those of his union. He is co-editor of Rankandfile.ca where this article first appeared.

The following text by Professor Francis A. Boyle was presented at the Puerto Rican Summit Conference on Human Rights, University of the Sacred Heart,San Juan, Puerto Rico, December 7-10, 2012

Historically this latest eruption of American militarism at the start of the 21st Century is akin to that of America opening the 20th Century by means of the U.S.-instigated Spanish-American War in 1898. Then the Republican administration of President William McKinley stole their colonial empire from Spain in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines; inflicted a near genocidal war against the Filipino people; while at the same time illegally annexing the Kingdom of Hawaii and subjecting the Native Hawaiian people (who call themselves the Kanaka Maoli) to near genocidal conditions. Additionally, McKinley’s military and colonial expansion into the Pacific was also designed to secure America’s economic exploitation of China pursuant to the euphemistic rubric of the “open door” policy. But over the next four decades America’s aggressive presence, policies, and practices in the so-called “Pacific” Ocean would ineluctably pave the way for Japan’s attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 194l, and thus America’s precipitation into the ongoing Second World War. Today a century later the serial imperial aggressions launched and menaced by the neoconservative Republican Bush Junior administration and the neoliberal Democratic Obama administration are now threatening to set off World War III.

By shamelessly exploiting the terrible tragedy of 11 September 2001, the Bush Junior administration set forth to steal a hydrocarbon empire from the Muslim states and peoples living in Central Asia and the Middle East and Africa under the bogus pretexts of (1) fighting a war against “international terrorism” or “Islamic fundamentalism”; and/or (2) eliminating weapons of mass destruction; and/or (3) the promotion of democracy; and/or (4) self-styled humanitarian intervention/responsibility to protect (R2P). Only this time the geopolitical stakes are infinitely greater than they were a century ago: control and domination of the world’s hydrocarbon resources and thus the very fundaments and energizers of the global economic system – oil and gas. The Bush Junior/ Obama administrations have already targeted the remaining hydrocarbon reserves of Africa, Latin America (e.g., the Pentagon’s reactivization of the U.S. Fourth Fleet in 2008), and Southeast Asia for further conquest or domination, together with the strategic choke-points at sea and on land required for their transportation. Today the U.S. Fourth Fleet threatens Cuba, Venezuela, and Ecuador for sure.

Toward accomplishing that first objective, in 2007 the neoconservative Bush Junior administration announced the establishment of the U.S. Pentagon’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) in order to better control, dominate, steal, and exploit both the natural resources and the variegated peoples of the continent of Africa, the very cradle of our human species. In 2011 Libya then proved to be the first victim of AFRICOM under the neoliberal Obama administration, thus demonstrating the truly bi-partisan and non-partisan nature of U.S. imperial foreign policy decision-making. Let us put aside as beyond the scope of this paper the American conquest, extermination, and ethnic cleansing of the Indians from off the face of the continent of North America. Since America’s instigation of the Spanish-American War in 1898, U.S. foreign policy decision-making has been alternatively conducted by reactionary imperialists, conservative imperialists, and liberal imperialists for the past 115 years and counting.

This world-girdling burst of U.S. imperialism at the start of humankind’s new millennium is what my teacher, mentor, and friend the late, great Professor Hans Morgenthau denominated “unlimited imperialism” in his seminal book Politics Among Nations 52-53 (4th ed. 1968):

The outstanding historic examples of unlimited imperialism are the expansionist policies of Alexander the Great, Rome, the Arabs in the seventh and eighth centuries, Napoleon I, and Hitler. They all have in common an urge toward expansion which knows no rational limits, feeds on its own successes and, if not stopped by a superior force, will go on to the confines of the political world. This urge will not be satisfied so long as there remains anywhere a possible object of domination–a politically organized group of men which by its very independence challenges the conqueror’s lust for power. It is, as we shall see, exactly the lack of moderation, the aspiration to conquer all that lends itself to conquest, characteristic of unlimited imperialism, which in the past has been the undoing of the imperialistic policies of this kind….

The factual circumstances surrounding the outbreaks of both the First World War and the Second World War currently hover like the Sword of Damocles over the heads of all humanity.

Since September 11, 2001, it is the Unlimited Imperialists à la Alexander, Napoleon, and Hitler who have been in charge of conducting American foreign policy decision-making. After September 11, 2001 the people of the world have witnessed successive governments in the United States that have demonstrated little respect for fundamental considerations of international law, human rights, or the United States Constitution. Instead, the world has watched a comprehensive and malicious assault upon the integrity of the international and domestic legal orders by groups of men and women who are thoroughly Hobbist and Machiavellian in their perception of international relations and in their conduct of both foreign affairs and American domestic policy. Even more seriously, in many instances specific components of the U.S. government’s foreign policies constitute ongoing criminal activity under well recognized principles of both international law and United States domestic law, and in particular the Nuremberg Charter, the Nuremberg Judgment, and the Nuremberg Principles, as well as the Pentagon’s own U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10 on The Law of Land Warfare, which applies to the President himself as Commander-in-Chief of United States Armed Forces under Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution.

Depending on the substantive issues involved, these international and domestic crimes typically include but are not limited to the Nuremberg offences of “crimes against peace”—e.g., Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, and perhaps their longstanding threatened war of aggression against Iran. Their criminal responsibility also concerns “crimes against humanity” and war crimes as well as grave breaches of the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the 1907 Hague Regulations on land warfare: torture, enforced disappearances, assassinations, murders, kidnappings, extraordinary renditions, “shock and awe,” depleted uranium, white phosphorous, cluster bombs, drone strikes, etc. Furthermore, various officials of the United States government have committed numerous inchoate crimes incidental to these substantive offences that under the Nuremberg Charter, Judgment, and Principles as well as U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10 (1956) are international crimes in their own right: planning, and preparation, solicitation, incitement, conspiracy, complicity, attempt, aiding and abetting. Of course the terrible irony of today’s situation is that over six decades ago at Nuremberg the U.S. government participated in the prosecution, punishment, and execution of Nazi government officials for committing some of the same types of heinous international crimes that these officials of the United States government currently inflict upon people all over the world. To be sure, I personally oppose the imposition of capital punishment upon any human being for any reason no matter how monstrous their crimes, whether they be Saddam Hussein, Bush Junior, Tony Blair, or Barack Obama.

According to basic principles of international criminal law set forth in paragraph 501 of U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10, all high level civilian officials and military officers in the U.S. government who either knew or should have known that soldiers or civilians under their control (such as the C.I.A. or mercenary contractors), committed or were about to commit international crimes and failed to take the measures necessary to stop them, or to punish them, or both, are likewise personally responsible for the commission of international crimes. This category of officialdom who actually knew or should have known of the commission of these international crimes under their jurisdiction and failed to do anything about them include at the very top of America’s criminal chain-of-command the President, the Vice-President, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, Director of National Intelligence, the C.I.A. Director, National Security Advisor and the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff along with the appropriate Regional Commanders-in-Chiefs, especially for U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM).

These U.S. government officials and their immediate subordinates are responsible for the commission of crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and war crimes as specified by the Nuremberg Charter, Judgment, and Principles as well as by U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10 of 1956. Today in international legal terms, the United States government itself should now be viewed as constituting an ongoing criminal conspiracy under international criminal law in violation of the Nuremberg Charter, the Nuremberg Judgment, and the Nuremberg Principles, because of its formulation and undertaking of serial wars of aggression, crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and war crimes that are legally akin to those perpetrated by the former Nazi regime in Germany. As a consequence, American citizens possess the basic right under international law and the United States domestic law, including the U.S. Constitution, to engage in acts of civil resistance designed to prevent, impede, thwart, or terminate ongoing criminal activities perpetrated by U.S. government officials in their conduct of foreign affairs policies and military operations purported to relate to defense and counter-terrorism.

For that very reason, large numbers of American citizens have decided to act on their own cognizance by means of civil resistance in order to demand that the U.S. government adhere to basic principles of international law, of U.S. domestic law, and of the U.S. Constitution in its conduct of foreign affairs and military operations. Mistakenly, however, such actions have been defined to constitute classic instances of “civil disobedience” as historically practiced in the United States. And the conventional status quo admonition by the U.S. power elite and its sycophantic news media for those who knowingly engage in “civil disobedience” has always been that they must meekly accept their punishment for having performed a prima facie breach of the positive laws as a demonstration of their good faith and moral commitment. Nothing could be further from the truth! Today’s civil resisters are the sheriffs! The U.S. government officials are the outlaws!

Here I would like to suggest a different way of thinking about civil resistance activities that are specifically designed to thwart, prevent, or impede ongoing criminal activity by officials of the U.S. government under well‑recognized principles of international and U.S. domestic law. Such civil resistance activities represent the last constitutional avenue open to the American people to preserve their democratic form of government with its historical commitment to the rule of law and human rights. Civil resistance is the last hope America has to prevent the U.S. government from moving even farther down the path of lawless violence in Africa, the Middle East, Southwest Asia, military interventionism into Latin America, and nuclear confrontation with Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, Russia, and China.

Such measures of “civil resistance” must not be confused with, and indeed must be carefully distinguished from, acts of “civil disobedience” as traditionally defined. In today’s civil resistance cases, what we witness are American citizens attempting to prevent the ongoing commission of international and domestic crimes under well-recognized principles of international law and U.S. domestic law. This is a phenomenon essentially different from the classic civil disobedience cases of the 1950s and 1960s where incredibly courageous African Americans and their supporters were conscientiously violating domestic laws for the express purpose of changing them. By contrast, today’s civil resisters are acting for the express purpose of upholding the rule of law, the U.S. Constitution, human rights, and international law. Applying the term “civil disobedience” to such civil resistors mistakenly presumes their guilt and thus perversely exonerates the U.S. government criminals.

Civil resistors disobeyed nothing, but to the contrary obeyed international law and the United States Constitution. By contrast, U.S. government officials disobeyed fundamental principles of international law as well as U.S. criminal law and thus committed international crimes and U.S. domestic crimes as well as impeachable violations of the United States Constitution. The civil resistors are the sheriffs enforcing international law, U.S. criminal law and the U.S. Constitution against the criminals working for the U.S. government!

Today the American people must reaffirm their commitment to the Nuremberg Charter, Judgment, and Principles by holding their government officials fully accountable under international law and U.S. domestic law for the commission of such grievous international and domestic crimes. They must not permit any aspect of their foreign affairs and defense policies to be conducted by acknowledged “war criminals” according to the U.S. government’s own official definition of that term as set forth in U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10 (1956), the U.S. War Crimes Act, and the Geneva Conventions. The American people must insist upon the impeachment, dismissal, resignation, indictment, conviction, and long-term incarceration of all U.S. government officials guilty of such heinous international and domestic crimes. That is precisely what American civil resisters are doing today!

This same right of civil resistance extends pari passu to all citizens of the world community of states. Everyone around the world has both the right and the duty under international law to resist ongoing criminal activities perpetrated by the U.S. government and its nefarious foreign accomplices in allied governments such as Britain, the other NATO states, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Georgia, Puerto Rico, etc. If not so restrained, the U.S. government could very well precipitate a Third World War. Here in Puerto Rico we saw the stunning example of the most courageous civil resistors against Yankee Imperialism on Vieques.

The future of American foreign policy and the peace of the world lie in the hands of American citizens and the peoples of the world—not the bureaucrats, legislators, judges, lobbyist, think-tanks, professors, and self-styled experts who inhibit Washington, D.C., New York City, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Civil resistance is the way to go! This is our Nuremberg Moment now!

Thank you.

 

Egypt and Argentina: The Right-Left Alliance

December 10th, 2012 by Prof. James Petras

Once again world public opinion faces a most bizarre political event:  an alliance between political forces on the extreme Right and the Left, including collaboration between NATO regimes and Marxist sects.  The apparent ‘unity of opposites’ is a response to alleged policy and institutional changes made by center-left and center-right regimes, which adversely affect both economic and political elites as well as the popular sectors.        

The circumstances, under which this unholy alliance takes place, vary according to the type of regime, its policies and the class orientation of the opposition.  The best way to analyze the left-right alliance is to examine the cases of Egypt and Argentina.

Egypt:  The Alliance between Mubarak-Appointed Judges, Secular Liberals, Leftist Intellectuals and Disenchanted Workers

To understand the alliance between the corrupt remnants of the Mubarak state apparatus and their former political victims from the center-left and secular-right, it is essential to examine the political context, which has evolved since the overthrow of the Mubarak dictatorship in February 2011.

While Islamist and secular democratic forces played a major role in mobilizing millions of Egyptians in ousting the hated US-Israeli client, Hosni Mubarak, it was the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and their fundamentalist rivals, the Salafis, who won the majority of votes in the subsequent elections and formed the first democratically-elected government in Egypt.[i]  In the beginning, the Muslim Brotherhood was forced to share power with the ‘transitional military junta’, which had seized power immediately after the ouster of Mubarak. Subsequently President Mohamed Morsi, from the Muslim Brotherhood, convoked elections to a constituent assembly and nominated a commission to write a new constitution.  This was backed by a majority of the newly-elected Egyptian parliament. Reflecting the Muslim Brotherhood’s electoral victory, the constitutional commission was dominated by its supporters.  Many secular liberals and leftists rejected their minority status in the process.

Aside from his work on the constitutional front, Morsi negotiated a financial loan package of $4.5 billion with the IMF, $5 billion from the EU and an additional one billion dollars in US aid.  These aid agreements were conditional on President Morsi implementing ‘free market’ policies, including an ‘open-door’ to foreign investment, ending food and fuel price subsidies to the poor and maintaining the humiliating Mubarak-era treaty with Israel, which included Egypt’s participation in the brutal blockade of Gaza.

While the despised US-Israel-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak may have been ousted from power and a new democratically-elected legislature had taken office (temporarily) along with President Morsi, Mubarak supporters continued to dominate key positions in the ministries, the entire judiciary, military and police.  Thus powerfully ensconced, the Mubarak elite strove in every way to undermine emerging democratic institutions and processes.  The Minister of Defense, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, shielded the police officials and paramilitary forces responsible for the jailing, torture and murder of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators.  Mubarak-appointed judges arbitrarily disqualified legislative and presidential candidates, invalidated democratic elections and even ordered the closing of parliament.  They then moved to outlaw the elected constituent assembly and the commission set-up to draft the new Egyptian constitution.

In other words, Mubarakites, embedded in the state apparatus, were engaged in an institutional coup d’etat to retain power, destabilize and paralyze the democratically-elected Morsi regime and create political disorder, propitious for a return to their dictatorial rule.

It was the Mubarak-appointed judges’ power-grab that eliminated the separation of powers by imposing arbitrary judicial decisions and powers over and above the hard-won electoral rights of Egyptian citizens and their elected legislature.  The judges’ self-proclaimed assumption of legislative and executive supremacy was a direct assault on the integrity of the emerging democratic process.

When President Morsi finally moved to counter the Mubarak-allied judges’ dismissal of legitimately-elected bodies by assuming temporary emergency powers, these judges and their cheerleaders in the Western media accused him of subverting democracy and violating the ‘independence’ of the judiciary.  The Western ‘liberal’ outcry at Morsi’s so-called ‘power grab’ is laughable given the fact that they ignored the naked ‘power grab’ of the judges when they dismissed Egypt’s parliament, its free elections and the writing of its new constitution under the leadership of Egypt’s new president.  These cries of ‘democracy’ ring hollow from a judiciary, which had shamelessly legalized countless murder, tortures and dictatorial acts committed by Mubarak for over 30 years.

The judges’ democratic posturing and cries of injustice were accompanied by theatrical walkouts and protests aimed at mobilizing public opinion.  Apart from a few thousand die-hard Mubarak holdovers, these judges managed to attract very little support, until secular liberals, leftists , trade unionists and sectors of the unemployed decided to intervene and try to win in the streets what they lost at the ballot box.

The popular protests, in contrast to the judges’ defense of Mubarak-era privilege and their blatant power grab, was based on Morsi’s failure to tackle the problems of growing unemployment and plummeting income, as well as his acceptance of IMF demands to end public subsidies for the poor.  The secular-liberals joined forces with Mubarak-era judges in their clamor against ‘authoritarianism’ and pushed their own secular agenda against the Islamist tendencies in the regime and in the drawing up of the constitution. Pro-democracy youth sought to exploit the legislative vacuum created when the right-wing judges dismissed the parliament and put forward a vague notion of ‘alternative democracy’ … presumably one which would exclude the votes of the Islamist majority.   The trade unions, which had led numerous strikes after the fall of Mubarak and remain a force among factory workers, joined the protests against Morsi, rejecting his embrace of the corporate elite.  Even some Islamist groups, disgusted with Morsi’s accommodation with Israel and the US, also joined took to the streets.

The US and the EU took advantage of the judges’ protest to step in and warn Morsi to abide to a ‘power sharing’ agreement with the Mubarak officials and the military or lose financial aid.

Washington has been playing a clever ‘two track policy’:  They support Morsi when he implements a neo-liberal ‘free market’ domestic agenda using the Muslim Brotherhood networks to contain and limit popular protest among Egypt’s poor while threatening US aid if he vacillates on Mubarak-era agreements with Israel to starve Gaza.  The White House insists that Morsi continue supplying cheap gas to Tel Aviv, as well as backing ongoing and future NATO wars against Syria and Iran.  But the US and EU also want to keep the old reliable Mubarak power centers in place as a check and veto on Morsi in case a powerful anti-Zionist, populist urban movement pressures his regime to backtrack on the IMF program and the hated treaty with Israel.

The constitution, presented by the commission, is a compromise between Islamists, neo-liberals and democratic electoralists.  This constitution undermines the judges’ power grab and allows the Morsi government to prosecute or fire the corrupt Mubarak-era officials; it guarantees the primacy of private, including foreign, property; it privileges Islamic law and provides ‘space’ and possibilities for Islamist leaders to restrict the rights of Egyptian women and religious minorities, notably the Coptic Christians.

A democratic vote on the constitutional referendum will test the strength of the pro and anti-government forces.  A boycott by secular, liberal and populist-democratic forces will only demonstrate their weakness and strengthen the reactionary coup-makers embedded among the Mubarak-era officials in judiciary, police, military and civilian bureaucracy.

The Left and democratic-secular movements and leaders have formed an opportunistic, de-facto alliance with the Mubarak elite:  a marriage of ‘the police club’ with its former victims, ‘the clubbed democrats’ of the recent past.  The progressives overlook the danger of the judges’ creeping coup, in their blind effort to undermine the Muslim Brotherhood and the Morsi regime:  It’s one thing to oppose Morsi’s reactionary agenda and the anti-popular votes of a reactionary legislature; it’s something totally different to promote the ouster of a democratically-elected legislature by hold-over judges pushing for the return of despotism. Undermining the democratic process will not only adversely affect President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood but also the democratic opposition.  The prime beneficiaries will be the rightwing forces encrusted in the State.

The anti-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators, who are the clear losers in democratic elections and a minority in the country, burned and trashed the offices and meeting places of the Brotherhood and assaulted their supporters in the worst traditions of the Mubarak era.  The self-styled ‘pro-democracy’ activists’ assaults on the Presidential palace and their rejection of Morsi’s call for dialogue has opened the way for the return of military rule.  The military command’s thinly veiled threat was evident in their pronouncement that they would intervene with force to maintain order and protect the public if violence continues.  The coincidence of prolonged street disorder and assaults on electoral politics with military overtures to take power have a distinct smell of a barnyard confabulation.  The right-left alliance makes it difficult to decipher whether the violence is a staged provocation to bring the military back to power or an expression of leftist rage at their electoral impotence.

For strategic, pragmatic and principled reasons, the Left should have denounced the Mubarak-appointed judges the moment they outlawed the elected legislature.  The Left should have demanded the ouster of these judges and military leaders and combined their demands with a campaign against Morsi’s ties with the imperial West and Israel and a repudiation of the IMF program.  By backing these corrupt judges, progressives gained the short-term support of the Western media and governments while strengthening their strategic enemy.

Argentina:  The Right-Left Alliance

President Cristina Fernandez is representative of the center-left regimes, which predominate in Latin America today.  Her recent resounding electoral victory[ii] is a product of the popular uprisings (2001-2003), the social reforms and independent foreign policy pursued by her predecessor (and husband) Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007) and several popular reforms implemented under her Presidency.

But like all center-left regimes, President Fernandez (2008-2012) has combined conservative, neo-liberal and populist progressive policies .  On the one hand, Fernandez has encouraged foreign mining companies to exploit the Argentina’s great mineral resources, charging very low royalty payments and imposing very few environmental restraints, while, on the other hand, she nationalized the abusive Spanish multinational oil company, Repsol, for non-compliance with its contract.

The government has substantially increased the minimum wage, including for farm workers, while opening up the country to overseas land speculators and investors to buy millions of acres of farmland.  The government has allowed highly toxic-chemicals to be sprayed on fields next to rural communities while increasing corporate taxes and controls over agro-export earnings.  The government passed legislation to restrict monopoly ownership of the mass media promising to expand media licensing to local communities and diverse social groups, while doing little to limit the power of big agro-export firms.  President Fernandez has supported Latin American integration (excluding the US) and welcomed radical President Chavez as a valuable partner in trade and investment and diversified markets.  At the same time Argentina has grown increasingly dependent on a narrow range of agro-mineral (‘primary goods’) exports to the detriment of domestic manufacturing.  Presidents Fernandez and Kirchner encouraged trade union activity and, until recently, supported hefty increases in wage, pension and medical benefits, drastically reducing poverty levels – but they did so while maintaining the wealth, land, profits and dividends of the capitalist class.

The Argentine President was able to support both the economic elites and the working class as long as commodity prices and international demand remained high.  However, with the economic slowdown in Asia and decline in commodity prices and therefore state revenue, the President is being squeezed from both sides. By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the elite attacked the government more ferociously, led by the big and medium-size landowners and exporters.  They demanded the government revoke its increase in export taxes and currency controls.  The upper-middle and the affluent middle class of Buenos Aires, backed by supporters of the previous military dictatorship, organized mass marches and demonstrations to protest a medley of government policies, including limits on dollar purchases, inflation and inaction amidst rising crime rates.

Around the same time, conservative and radical leftist trade unionists organized a general strike – ostensibly because wage increases had failed to keep up with ‘real’ rates of inflation (double the ‘official rate’ – so they claimed).  The major media monopoly, Clarin, organized a virulent systematic propaganda campaign trumpeting the demands of the economic elite, fabricating stories of government corruption and refusing to comply with the new government legislation in hopes of staving off the dismantling of its huge media monopoly.

The US and EU increased pressure on Argentina by excluding it from international capital markets, questioning its credibility, downgrading its ratings and promoting a virulently hostile anti-Fernandez mass media campaign in the financial press.

The destabilization campaign has been orchestrated by the same economic elites who supported the brutal seven-year military dictatorship during which an estimated 30,000 Argentines were murdered by the juntas.  Elite opposition is rooted in reactionary social and economic demands, i.e. lower taxes on exports, deregulation of the dollar market, their monopoly of the mass media and a reversal of popular social legislation.

The ‘left opposition’ includes a variety of movements including Marxist grouplets and trade unions who demand salary increases commensurate with ‘real inflation’ as well as environmentalist demanding tighter controls over agro-chemical pollution, GM seeds and destructive mining operations.  Many of these demands have legitimacy, however some of the Marxist and leftist groups have been participating in protests and strikes convoked by the rightwing parties and economic elites designed to destabilize and overthrow the government.  Few if any have joined with the government to denounce the blatant US-EU credit squeeze and imperial offensive against Fernandez.

This de-facto Right-Left alliance on the streets is led by the most rancid, authoritarian and neo-liberal elites who ultimately will be the prime beneficiary if the Fernandez regime is destabilized and toppled.  By joining general strikes organized by the far-Right, the left claims to be ‘furthering the interests of the workers’ and ‘acting independently’ of the economic elite.  However, their activities take place at the same time and same location as the hordes of wealthy upper middle class protestors clamoring for the ouster of the democratically elected center-left regime.  The left grouplets maintain that they are in favor of building a ‘workers state’ as they march abreast with the rich and militarists.  Objectively, their capacity to catalyze a revolution is nil and the real outcome of their ‘opportunism’ will be a victory for the agro-export elite – mass media monopolies – US-EU alliance.  The ‘leftist’ workers protest is mere window dressing for the destabilization of a social-liberal democracy and will help return a far-right regime to power!

The majority of the workers, pensioners and trade unionists reject any participation in the bosses’ general strikes – even as they voice their legitimate demands for better pay and the indexing of wage rates to the real inflation rate.  However they join with the government in rejecting the international creditor demands and US judicial rulings favoring Wall Street speculators over Argentina’s social interests.  Nevertheless, the left-right protest resonates with many rank and file employees, especially when export revenues decline and the Fernandez regime lacks the funds to maintain the social spending of the past decade.

The political challenge for the consequential Left is to defend democracy against this opportunist ‘Left’-Right onslaught while defending workers’ interests in the face of a decaying center-left regime bent on pursuing its contradictory program.

Conclusion:  The Dilemmas of Capitalist Democracies

The capitalist democracies of Egypt and Argentina face similar Left-Right alliances, even though they differ sharply in their socio-economic trajectory and social bases of support.  Both Argentina and Egypt have emerged from brutal dictatorships in recent years:  Argentine democracy is nearly 30 years old while Egyptian democracy is less than a year old.  Argentine democracy, like Egypt, has been confronting powerful authoritarian institutions leftover from the dictatorial period.  These are entrenched especially in three areas:  the military and police, the judiciary and among sectors of the capitalist class.  They all benefited from the special privileges granted by the dictators.

In Argentina, over the past decade, Presidents Kirchner and Fernandez succeeded in purging the state apparatus of criminals, murderers and torturers among the military, police and judiciary.  In Egypt, the Morsi regime, in its short time in office, hesitated at first, but then moved forward replacing some Mubarak military commanders and promising to investigate and prosecute those Mubarak-appointed officials involved in the killing and torture of pro-democracy demonstrators.  The Egyptian reactionaries struck back: Mubarak-appointed judges denied the legality of the democratically elected legislature and constituent assembly. In Argentina, powerful agrarian interests and the rightwing mass media conglomerate, which had backed the dictatorships, struck back as the government moved to end the corporate media monopoly and tax concessions to the agro-export elite.  The conflict between the dictatorial right and the democratic center-left in Argentina and the conflict between the Mubarak judiciary and the Islamist neo-liberal elected regime is partially obscured by the active involvement of leftists, secular liberals and other ostensibly ‘pro-democracy’ forces on the side of the Right.

Why has ‘the left’ crossed the line, joining forces with the anti-democratic right?

Their opportunism arises primarily from the fact that they did so poorly in the elections and do not see any role for themselves as an electoral opposition.  By joining with the rightwing protests, the left and secular liberals mistakenly imagine they can revive their faltering support.

Secondly, the Left senses the economic and social vulnerability of the elected regimes because of the global and local crises, exacerbated by declining export revenues.  They hope to attach their political demands to those of the upper and middle class protestors who have been mobilized by the Far Right.

Thirdly, by joining forces with the Right, allied with the US and EU, the leftist protestors hope to gain international (imperial) support, recognition, respectability and legitimacy … temporarily.  Of course if the Right succeeds, the Left will be marginalized and discarded as ‘useful idiots’.

The imperial threats to cut off credits, loans and markets to both regimes should logically have led to a united front – a tactical alliance – between the Left and the embattled regime, especially in the case of Argentina.  In the case of Egypt, secular liberals and leftists should have joined with the Morsi regime to oust the remnants of the brutal Mubarak regime.  They should have supported the elected legislature, even while challenging Morsi’s pacts with the IMF, the US, EU and Israel.  Instead, secular liberals appear to agree with the regime in its reactionary socio-economic policies.  Worse, by joining with the reactionary judges in totally rejecting the referendum vote on the new constitution, the Left missed an opportunity to mobilize and challenge the regime and educate the public about its specific reactionary clauses.

By opposing the progressive democratic process as well as the regime, the Left has opened the door for the Right to return.  By forcing incumbent presidents to ‘make a deal’ or compromise with the elite, the left is further isolating themselves.  Both Morsi and Fernandez are vulnerable to leftist pressure and, over time, popular and class-based movements could find themselves in a position to pose a real alternative…. if they clearly and honestly reject the authoritarian and imperialist right.  By joining in opportunist alliances to score some small victories today, they foreclose any possible role in the near future of forming progressive democratic leftist governments.  By burning government offices and destroying the electoral offices of the Muslim Brotherhood, the self-styled ‘democrats’ are creating the basis for the seizure of state power by the military.­­­­­­­­­


[i] In the parliamentary elections the two major Islamist parties polled over 27 million votes (18 million for the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi), the liberal-left opposition received approximately 7.5 million votes and the Mubarac-era parties got 2 million.  The Islamist parties totaled about two-thirds of the electorate, which translated into the same proportion of elected legislators (358 out of 508).  The liberal-left parties received slightly over 26% of the vote and the Mubarak parties got about 8%.  The anti-Morsi rioters are a clear and decisive minority and their violent assault on the governming regime is, by any measure, an attempt to impose minority rule, denying and marginalizing the nearly 18 million voters who elected the Morsi Government and Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Congress.

[ii] Cristina Fernandez was first elected in October 2007 with 45.3% of the vote, a 22% lead over her nearest rival.  In the most recent elections in October 2011, she was re-elected with 54.1% of the vote, a 37.3% margin over her nearest competitor.

Preemptive Strike on Syria Looms

December 10th, 2012 by Stephen Lendman

Washington planned war on Syria years ago. Only its timing and methodology remained to be decided.

US administrations want all independent governments replaced by pro-Western puppet regimes. War is the bottom line option when other methods fail.

Washington’s proxy war on Syria raged since winter 2011. Full-scale intervention looms. Pretexts are easy to invent when none exist.

Fabricating a chemical weapons threat appears the option of choice. Iraq WMD 2.0 hype headlined enough convinces most people of a nonexistent danger.

Full-scale war could erupt anytime. Washington positioned a powerful fighting force off Syria’s coast. British and French warships joined it. Offensive Patriot missiles are being placed in Turkey on Syria’s border.

On December 8, Today’s Zaman headlined “Six Patriot batteries, 600 foreign troops to be deployed in Turkey.”

They’ll be positioned within weeks. Perhaps around yearend or early 2013. Washington, Germany and the Netherlands are involved. Deploying them is for offense, not defense.

Except for Israel’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons arsenal, Turkey is the region’s most powerful military. It’s one of the world’s largest fighting forces.

It needs no protection from Syria or other regional states. Damascus, of course, has no reason or intention to attack Turkey. Doing so would be suicide.

Alleging the possibility is falsified hype. Doing so escalates tensions. It advances the ball toward full-scale US-led NATO intervention.

On December 8, The Hill headlined “Report: DOD drafting plans to strike Syrian chemical weapons targets,” saying:

Plans are being readied to preemptively attack. Doing so is “prompted by concerns over (Syria’s) chemical weapon stockpiles.”

“Recent US intelligence showed Assad’s forces outfitting air-to-ground bombs with sarin gas at two airfields in Syria, according to CNN.”

Pentagon officials are assessing their strategic options. According to an unnamed DOD source:

“The more information and intelligence you have, the more clarity you can bring to options you may decide to use. You would expect new information like this to drive an update of options.”

Everything is on the table. Implied is full-scale intervention looms.

On December 9, Voice of Russia (VoR) interviewed Carnegie Moscow Center director Dmitry Trenin.

He thinks Washington considers two ways to oust Assad: politically by recognizing and supporting Syrian opposition elements and/or direct intervention.

Deploying Patriot missiles is an aggressive step. They afford no-fly zone cover over border areas. They also provide safe haven protection for miles within them.

A “liberated enclave can be created in the north of Syria and that enclave could become the (liberated) territory (to) host a provisional government or (an area) where they would be able to form a government,” said Trenin.

Doing so “change(s) things on the ground pretty seriously.” Ousting Assad forcibly would follow. Obama won’t tolerate stalemate much longer.

It’s very possible or likely he’ll preemptively target alleged chemical weapon sites. Doing so “would constitute direct military intervention.”

Trenin thinks Obama perhaps decided to do so. Libya 2.0 may follow. He calls what’s ongoing and forthcoming a “really-really grim picture.”

Direct intervention may be nearer than he envisions. VoR said oriental studies expert Boris Dolgov thinks Syrian opposition forces “might get hold of (chemical weapons), use them in small quantities, and put the blame on government troops.”

Doing so “would serve as a good pretext for the US to intervene.”

Institute of Strategic Studies and Analysis expert Sergei Demidenko said Ankara put itself in the position of “(v)ictory or death. It is set on supporting militants for the purpose of overthrowing the Syrian regime. It’s a great mistake.”

Publicly, Russia holds out hope for diplomacy. Privately it knows that full-scale war looms. How it plans react remains unclear.

It has much to lose by inaction. Putin at times shows resolve. He sharply criticizes US imperialism. It’s time for him to step up to the plate assertively. Words without follow-through ring hollow. His moment of truth is now.

On December 8, Mossad-connected DEBKAfile (DF) headlined “Assad’s last warning to rebels before using chemical weapons. West, Israel on high preparedness.”

Without evidence or logic, it claims Assad may “resort to chemical warfare.” Saying so is falsified inflammatory hype.

Opposition forces captured an Al Safira “chloride factory.” It’s east of Aleppo.

“This is a codename for the Syrian army’s biggest chemical weapons store and base, which also houses Syrian Scud D missiles armed with chemical warheads adjusted to fire at Israel.”

DF provided no proof. It also claimed Assad’s warning to “rebels” not to use chemical weapons gives him “justif(ation) to use them himself.”

Again, no evidence whatever suggests it. Claiming it escalates tensions. Full-scale war approaches.

Longtime Middle East analyst Robert Fisk is no Assad supporter. On December 8, he headlined “Bashar al-Assad, Syria, and the truth about chemical weapons.”

His father Hafez “was brutal but never used chemical weapons.” What regional army used them first, he asked? Not Saddam. In 1917, Britain under General Allen by used them against Turkish forces.

He omitted Winston Churchill (in 1919) advocating poison gas use against “uncivilized” Iraqis. Its WW I use caused 100,000 deaths and 900,000 injuries.

Fisk stopped short of explaining that Israel uses various forms of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. So does America. It’s longstanding policy in both countries. So is targeting civilians. They’re treated like combatants.

Both countries test new weapons in real time. It’s evident from what type injuries show up. Doctors find what they never saw before.

Bashar has no intention of using chemical or other illegal weapons. “Washington is playing the same gas-chanty all over again,” said Fisk.

“(Over) the past week, all the pseudo-experts who couldn’t find Syria on the map have been warning us again of the mustard gas, chemical agents, biological agents that Syria might possess – and might use.”

“And the sources,” asked Fisk? “The same fantasy specialists (who) insisted that Saddam had” WMDs: “unnamed military intelligence sources (UMIS).”

Fisk omitted falsified media reports, commentaries and analysis. Instead of real news and information, official hype is regurgitated. It’s repeated ad nauseam.

Viewers get it on television. Readers see screaming headlines and misinformation. Fabricated accounts substitute for truth and full disclosure. Media scoundrels advance the ball for war.

They follow the same pattern against all US targets. They march in lockstep with America’s imperial policy. They ignore premeditated slaughter and mass destruction.

Syrians face what Washington inflicted on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and numerous other countries. Imperial wars aren’t pretty. America wages them no holds barred.

On December 9, Haaretz headlined “Sunday Times: Israel has waged ‘secret war’ to track Syria WMD(s),” saying:

Unnamed Israeli sources claim Assad repositioned chemical weapons over the past week.

“Israel has deployed spotters across the border to monitor the movement of Syria’s non-conventional arms cache.”

Washington “and its allies are weighing military options to secure Syria’s chemical and biological weapons, US officials said last week.”

Attacking Syria has nothing to do with Assad’s weapons. Earlier falsified reports claimed he planned using chemical agents against opposition forces in Homs and other areas.

Claims were made about gas masks distributed to Syrian forces. Evidence wasn’t presented to prove it. Nothing now suggests Assad threatens anyone.

On December 9, the Syrian Free Press headlined “Who Defends Its Own People, and Is Bastion of Resistance and Reference Point for Arab People, Will Never Use Chemical Weapons Against Them.”

Syria’s Foreign and Expatriates Ministry addressed two identical letters to Moroccan Security Council chairman Mohamed Loulichki and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. It states in part:

“The US administration has consistently worked over the past year to launch a campaign of allegations on the possibility that Syria could use chemical weapons during the current crisis.”

Syria “will not use chemical weapons, if it possesses any, whatever the circumstances because it is defending its people against terrorism supported by known countries, above all is the USA.”

“What raises concerns regarding this news circulated by the media is our serious fear that some of countries backing terrorism and terrorists might provide the armed terrorist groups with chemical weapons and claim that it was the Syrian government which did use the weapons.”

Turkey’s Yurt newspaper was cited. It said Al Qaeda elements are producing chemical weapons in a laboratory near Gaziantep, Turkey.

They threaten to use them. Yurt also reported online video showing terrorists making poison gas. Allegedly chemical materials supplied by a Turkish company are being used.

“Those countries launching the campaign against Syria had better follow up on that act and hold those terrorists and the parties which helped them get the chemical materials to account,” the Ministry added.

It acknowledged that opposition fighters took over a facility containing “tons of poisonous chlorine.” At issue is weaponizing it against Syrians and blaming Assad.

In late 2003, Syria submitted a draft Security Council resolution. It urged a nuclear, chemical and biological-free region. Washington and Western allies blocked it.

On November 23, America unilaterally cancelled a planned mid-December nuclear conference. It was aimed at establishing a nuclear-free region. Doing so supported Israel. Netanyahu refused to attend.

Israel is the region’s only nuclear power. It won’t relinquish its arsenal or let other regional states develop their own. It doesn’t acknowledge its weapons or permit inspections.

It hasn’t signed NPT. It’s a nuclear outlaw. It’s partnered with Washington’s campaign to oust Assad. It continues relentlessly.

In late November, longtime Middle East analyst Patrick Seale wrote about Syria’s agony. A “prominent Arab” told him that “Syria, as we know it, is finished!”

He called losing Syria’s regional role a “major casualty.” Since WW II, it “played a pivotal role in Arab politics….It used to be said that there can be no war without Egypt and no peace without Syria.”

Since 1948, it’s led “resistance to Israel.” If Syria collapses, “a new regional configuration of power is likely to emerge in which Islamists of various stripes seem destined to play a bigger role.”

Seale may be saying be careful what you wish for. Things may not turn out as planned. It remains to be seen what’s ahead and what follows.

Dmitry Trenin is right. What’s likely appears “really, really grim.”

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

His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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

 

The US military is facing fresh questions over its targeting policy in Afghanistan after a senior army officer suggested that troops were on the lookout for “children with potential hostile intent”.

In October, the U.S. launched an airstrike in Afghanistan that killed three children – ages 8, 10, and 12 -while they were gathering firewood (or by some accounts, dung to burn as fuel).

In comments which legal experts and campaigners described as “deeply troubling”, army Lt Col Marion Carrington told the Marine Corp Times that children, as well as “military-age males”, had been identified as a potential threat because some were being used by the Taliban to assist in attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.

The children’s relatives and local tribal elders had confirmed at the time that they were not Taliban recruits and were not planting any roadside bombs.

This comes as The UK government has been asked to launch a probe into the death of four Afghan boys allegedly shot dead by UK soldiers. The MoD claimed the boys were ‘Taliban targets,’ while witnesses said they were shot in their home while drinking tea.

The UK Ministry of Defense confirmed it received a letter from a law firm writing on behalf of one of the victims’ brothers, which outlined the allegations and called for an investigation.

The letter alleges that a group of British soldiers entered into a village in Afghanistan’s Helmand province on October 18 and shot dead Fazel Mohammed, 18, Naik Mohammed, 16, Mohammed Tayeb, 14, and Ahmed Shah, 12. Witnesses said the boys were gunned down at close range as they sat and drank tea in a family home.

Afghans have become increasingly outraged at the seemingly endless number of deadly assaults by US-led forces in Afghanistan over the past months and have held many protest rallies to protest against the killings.

In the latest incident at least seven civilians have been killed in an overnight attack carried out by US-led troops in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar.

Ahmad-Zia Abdulzai, the spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar, said on Friday that the raid had taken place in the province’s southern district of Khogyani.

Mr. Abdulzai further added the foreign troops had also arrested seven Afghans and injured one more during the attack, which was faced with Afghan resistance.

Meanwhile ISAF officials following a statement said, “An Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation in search of a Taliban leader who has been involved in multiple attacks against Afghan and coalition forces and is involved in the transport of insurgent fighters in the region.”

The source further added, “As the security force approached the leader’s suspected location, several armed insurgents attacked the combined force with small-arms fire and grenades. The security force returned fire, killing three armed insurgents.”

“No civilians were harmed in the exchange. As a result of the operation, the security force seized multiple weapons, ammunition and numerous grenades”, ISAF confirmed.

Raising Money for Killers

December 9th, 2012 by Stephen Lendman

Imagine holding a fundraiser for murder, destruction and military occupation.

On December 6, Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF) held their annual gala in Los Angeles. Guests annually include high-ranking Israeli military and government officials. Well-known Americans attend.

The event raises millions of dollars annually for Israeli militarism, belligerence, and cold-blooded murder. It’s shocking that anyone would contribute to what they should condemn.

FIDF says the “job” of IDF killers “is to look after Israel. Ours is to look after them.”

Doing so is complicity with decades of crimes of war, against humanity, and genocide.

“Marching Onward with the Soldier,” says FIDF. It was founded in 1981. It’s headquartered in New York. It operates 14 regional US offices. Panama hosts another.

Major General (Res.) Yitzhak Gershon is national director and CEO. He’s “always been proud of being Israel’s soldier,” he said, “whether (on active duty) or in” America as FIDF national director.

“The bond between the community in America and the soldiers in Israel is extraordinary and powerful. It has changed the lives and created opportunities for thousands of IDF soldiers.”

“Together, we continue to carry out the utmost important mission of providing for the soldiers who fight relentlessly to defend the Jewish homeland.”

Gershon served 32 years in Israel’s army. He remains unaccountable for enormous amounts of blood on his hands. He was involved in two premeditated wars on Lebanon.

He served as IDF West Bank forces head. He was also Israeli Home Front Commander.

He helped murder and injure hundreds of Palestinian men, women, children and infants during five weeks of Operation Defensive Shield slaughter. During the second Intifada, it raged relentlessly from March 29 – May 3, 2002.

Fifty-five children died. IDF soldiers randomly shot civilians trying to by food and other essentials. Mines were laid in civilian areas. They killed seven children. Four others were injured.

On April 23, Asad Orsan lost both arms and legs. Twelve-year old Saed al-Wahshi suffered severe burns and shrapnel wounds over his entire body.

Palestinian neighborhoods were bombed and shelled. Homes were bulldozed with residents inside them. They perished beneath the rubble.

Soldiers shot children going to and returning from school. Many schools closed because violence was so intense. Injured Palestinians were prevented from getting healthcare in time. Deaths resulted.

Dozens of children were arrested, detained, beaten, isolated and terrorized. They were denied contact with families and legal help. Thousands of Palestinian men and women were treated the same way.

Three mothers lost newborns. They were forced to give birth at checkpoints. Their babies perished. Many other war crimes were committed. Gershon was actively involved.

B’Tselem reported what happened, saying:

“The IDF tried to prevent information about Palestinian suffering from reaching the Israeli public and the outside world by barring the media from most of the areas where troops operated.”

“Israeli television, radio, and newspaper reporters talked about exchanges of gunfire and the movement of armored personnel carriers, but did not mention the hardships of the civilian population.”

“It was no accident that civilians, caught in the middle of the fighting around their homes, suffered grave harm. Those who decided to use massive military force inside cities, villages, and refugee camps surely knew what the consequences would be.”

B’Tselem’s report presented graphic evidence of horrendous crimes of war and against humanity. They occurred numerous times earlier. They repeated during Israel’s 2006 Lebanon war, Cast Lead, Pillar of Cloud, and many other Israeli attacks on civilians.

Gershon and others like him are proud to have served. They have much to answer for. So do FIDF supporters contributing funds to Israel’s war machine.

During Pillar of Cloud slaughter and mass destruction, FIDF said the following:

Its members “worked around the clock to ensure the IDF’s hardworking soldiers were taken care of.”

“Whether it was by sending packages of snacks and much-needed clothing or by sending a ‘Break from the Battlefield’ package including an LCD TV screen and board games, soldiers were able to uphold hygiene and were kept entertained in their few moments off from the battlefield and during the difficult task of keeping Israel safe under fire.”

It’s hard imagining such callous support for premeditated slaughter and mass destruction.

On December 8, 2011, Barbara Streisand performed at FIDF’s fundraiser. She shamed herself in the process.

The December 6, 2012 event was billed as “Making a Difference.” Cheryl and Haim Saban served as co-chairs. Haim is an Israeli/American billionaire media mogul. Cheryl helps donate his money to unworthy causes.

Stevie Wonder was scheduled to perform. Plans at times change. He cancelled after agreeing to be part of what he should have condemned straightaway.

His spokesperson said performing would violate his status as a UN “Messenger of Peace.” FIDF organizers had no comment. Nor did Wonder’s Creative Artists Agency.

He was pressured to pull out. A petition urging he cancel got over 4,000 signatures in short order. It said:

“You were arrested in 1985 protesting South African Apartheid. Now we ask you: please remember that apartheid is apartheid, whether it comes from White Afrikaner settlers of South Africa or from Jewish Israelis in Israel.”

“Desmond Tutu has recognized that Israel’s Apartheid is worse than South Africa’s. Will you stand with us against apartheid and cancel your performance at the IDF fundraiser.”

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation launched a separate petition. It urged Wonder to “please continue your legacy of speaking out for the oppressed.”

“Please be a ‘full-time lover’ of justice by standing on the right side of history and canceling your performance for the Israeli army.”

“Today, the Israeli army is enforcing a system that South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has deemed even worse than Apartheid in South Africa.”

“Fifteen years ago this week, Nelson Mandela said himself: ‘we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians….’ “

“Three years ago, you were designated a Messenger of Peace by the UN. November 29th, one week before your scheduled performance, is the United Nations International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.”

“Please be that messenger of peace by refusing to entertain or fundraise for a military that continues to systematically oppress an entire population.”

The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott (USACBI) called for a social media campaign to pressure Wonder to do the right thing.

In May 1998, he performed at a gala commemorating Israel’s 50th anniversary. He sold his soul doing it. Pulling out Thursday at best redeemed him partially.

He has miles to go for full redemption. He’s a noted singer/songwriter. He’s been performing for four decades. He’s world famous.

Millions everywhere know him. He’s able to use his persona constructively. It’s time to give back for what success gave him.

Doing so is priceless. No amount of money, fame, or awards gotten matches it. Doing the right thing is its own reward.

During South Africa’s apartheid years, he turned down a lucrative offer to perform. One of his songs is titled “It’s Wrong (Apartheid).” Some of the lyrics say:

“You know apartheid’s wrong, wrong

Like slavery was wrong, wrong

Like the holocaust was wrong, wrong

Apartheid is wrong, wrong, wrong.”

Desmond Tutu and other noted figures call Israeli apartheid worse than anything South Africa experienced. It’s much worse and nearly longer lasting.

Wonder joined the ranks of other celebrities against Israeli occupation and apartheid. They include Dustin Hoffman, Carlos Santana, Elvis Costello, Jon Bon Jovi, Gil-Scott Heron, Annie Lenox, Meg Ryan, Lady Smith Black Mambazo, and Daniel Barenboim.

In May 2011, he breached Israel’s Gaza blockade. With him came 36 European musicians. They performed a brief solidarity concert. Barenboim spoke briefly, saying.

“I am an Israeli. I am also a Palestinian.” Israel’s blockade “is a very, very major mistake.” He also called the occupation wrong.

Ahead of Thursday’s fundraiser, Palestinian supporters gathered outside the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza venue. Events included a press conference, protests, a mock funeral for Pillar of Cloud victims, and a rally.

Speakers included:

  • Los Angeles National Lawyers Guild executive director, Jim Lafferty;
  • US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation steering committee member, Shakeel Syed;
  • Palestine Children’s Relief Fund representative, Huda Bayaa; and
  • Israeli General Matti Peled’s son, Miko. His book is titled, “The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine.” Ahead of the event, he said:

“I served in the (Israeli army). My father was a general in the during the 1967 war.”

The IDF “today is one of the best armed and best financed terror organizations in the world. (It’s) responsible for the death of countless innocent Palestinians.”

Global BDS activism and other supportive Palestinian initiatives are vital. They’re also effective. Fundraising should support them. Momentum is building.

Palestine one day will be free. Liberating struggles take time. Apartheid South Africa collapsed. So will Israel’s repressive occupation. What can’t go on forever, won’t.

 

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

His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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

 

Global Research Editor’s Note

We bring to the attention of Global Research readers the following news excerpt from hamsayeh.net regarding the delivery of Russian Iskander missiles to Syria in response to the deployment of US Patriot missiles in Turkey. 

*     *     *

by Reza Kahlili

Hours after NATO agreed on Tuesday to send Patriot missiles to Turkey because of the crisis in Syria, Russia delivered its first shipment of Iskander missiles to Syria.

The superior Iskander can travel at hypersonic speed of over 1.3 miles per second (Mach 6-7) and has a range of over 280 miles with pinpoint accuracy of destroying targets with its 1,500-pound warhead, a nightmare for any missile defense system.

According to Mashregh, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard media outlet, Russia had warned Turkey not to escalate the situation, but with Turkey’s request for Patriot missiles, it delivered its first shipment of Iskanders to Syria.

Reporting today, Mashregh said the handover occurred when Russian naval logistic vessels docked at Tartus in Syria.

The Iskandar is a surface-to-surface missile that no missile defense system can trace or destroy, Mashregh said. Russia had earlier threatened that should America put its missile defense system in Poland, it would retaliate by placing its Iskander missiles at Kaliningrad, its Baltic Sea port.

Russia’s delivery of Iskanders to Bashar Assad’s embattled regime clearly shows that the security and stability of Syria remains Russia’s red line, Mashregh said. It is unknown how many of these missiles have been delivered but the numbers given are sufficient to destroy any Patriot missiles in Turkey, it said.

 

Protests spread throughout Egypt against Islamist dictatorshipJohannes Stern, December 09, 2012

Mass protests against the ruling Islamist Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and US-backed President Mohamed Mursi’s assertion of dictatorial powers spread throughout Egypt yesterday.

Hundreds of thousands of workers and youth defied a protest ban in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, and marched to the Ittihadeya Presidential Palace. Protesters broke through barbed wire barricades and concrete walls erected by the army in the streets leading to the palace. They chanted “Oh army, oh army, you are the right hand of the Brotherhood, you are cowards”, “Down with military rule”, and “Down, down Mohamed Mursi.”

Thwarting Mursi’s attempt to crush further protests at his palace, protesters passed through rows of soldiers and tanks stationed around the building. They surrounded the palace, chanting: “Revolution is back again.” In scenes recalling the early days of the Egyptian Revolution and the initial working-class uprising against President Hosni Mubarak, demonstrators climbed on tanks and sprayed slogans on armored vehicles.

Hundreds of protesters marched to the Heliopolis Court, demanding the release of workers and youth detained since the brutal crackdown on Wednesday night, when the MB’s Islamist militias arrested and tortured protesters in collaboration with the police.

As protests swelled in Heliopolis, hundreds of thousands also gathered on Tahrir Square, the iconic center of the Egyptian revolution in downtown Cairo. Chanting slogans against Mursi and the MB, workers and youth shut down traffic in and out of the square and erected barricades at its entrances.

Protests took place in all major cities and regions throughout the country.

In the coastal metropolis of Alexandria, thousands marched from al-Qaed Ibrahim Mosque on the corniche towards Sidi Gaber in the north of the city, where the headquarters of the Northern Military Region of the Egyptian Army is located. Responding to the violent crackdown in Cairo, protesters chanted: “The regime has lost its legitimacy, they killed our brothers and sisters at the presidential palace.”

Later in the evening, Al-Ahram’s Arabic web site reported that hundreds of demonstrators stormed the MB’s governorate headquarters, angry at the killing of other protesters by what they called “armed militias affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood.”

In Zagazig, Mursi’s hometown in the east of the Nile Delta, protesters gathered in front of Mursi’s house, throwing rocks at the building. Security forces fired tear gas canisters into the crowd. Protesters also attacked the headquarters of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the political arm of the MB.

In upper Egypt, thousands of protesters marched in the streets of Assiut, chanting slogans against the MB and Mursi.

Anti-MB protests across the country dwarfed a pro-MB gathering at the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, which was attended by around 50,000 people.

The MB responded with more threats of violence. Friday night the Arabic web site of the state-owned Al-Ahram daily reported, “President Mohamed Mursi will issue a decree and task the armed forces to maintain security and protect vital installations of the state” until a constitution is adopted and elections are held. Article III of the new decree reportedly reestablishes the military’s power to arrest civilians and try them in military courts.

With the decree, which is to be published in the official Gazette and take effect the day following its publication, Mursi and the Egyptian military are declaring emergency law and preparing for mass repression after two weeks of nationwide protests and strikes.

As the Egyptian masses’ hatred of Mursi explodes, the working class is moving more and more to the forefront of the movement.

In the industrial city of Mahalla al-Kubra in the Nile Delta, thousands of workers and youth cut railways and blocked the entrances of the city. According to media reports, protesters stormed the city council and declared the city “independent” from the “Muslim Brotherhood state.” They announced plans to elect a “revolutionary council” to organize the city’s affairs.

The home of one of the biggest textile mills in the Middle East, Mahalla has a long history of militant working-class struggles. In 2006, a mass strike by the textile workers triggered a wave of strikes against free-market reforms and for better wages and living conditions. In April 2008, rising food prices sparked an uprising in Mahalla in which workers demanded the downfall of dictator Hosni Mubarak. In 2011, Mahalla workers played an important role in the mass strike wave that brought down Mubarak on February 11.

The renewed explosion of mass struggles came one day after Mursi gave a defiant speech on state TV. Recalling the speeches of Mubarak before he was ousted, Mursi denounced protesters as “infiltrators” who “will not escape punishment.” He also vowed to maintain the November 22 presidential decree by which he claimed all legislative, judicial, constitutional and executive powers.

As during last year’s uprising against Mubarak, Washington is backing its Egyptian stooge regime. The White House issued a statement saying that President Barack Obama “welcomed President Mursi’s call for a dialogue with the opposition, but stressed that such a dialogue should occur without preconditions.” The statement continued: “The president noted that the United States has also urged opposition leaders to join in this dialogue without preconditions.”

Protesters mocked Mursi as a tool of US imperialism. The British Guardian reported that one protester carried a placard reading: “Obama, your bitch is our dictator.”

Mohamed ElBaradei, the leader of the National Salvation Front (NSF), the main umbrella group of the Egyptian bourgeois opposition, consisting of various liberal and pseudo-left parties, gave an interview on the private satellite channel ON TV in which he asked workers and youth to stop their protests. He stressed the importance of finding a way “for all to live together” through a “representative constitution and parliament,” and said this could not happen if protests continued.

Shortly after ElBaradei’s speech, Egyptian Vice-President Mahmoud Mekki read a presidential statement announcing that Mursi would consider postponing the referendum on the constitution drafted last week by the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly. Mursi had set the referendum for December 15.

Japanese Election Mired in Nationalism and Militarism

December 9th, 2012 by Peter Symonds

The campaign in Japan for the December 16 election has marked a sharp turn to nationalism and militarism across the political establishment, directed especially against China. The rightward shift in Japanese politics is a warning of the dangers facing the working class as a consequence of the worsening breakdown of global capitalism.

Two issues signal the turn: the dispute with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, and calls for constitutional change to remove or modify Japan’s so-called pacifist clause.

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) deliberately inflamed tensions with China by “nationalising” the disputed islands in September. The result has been a dangerous stand-off between Japanese and Chinese maritime vessels, which the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the right-wing Japan Restoration Party (JRP) propose to exacerbate by building permanent structures on the islands.

LDP leader Shinzo Abe, known for his right-wing nationalist views, has focussed on the defence of all of Japan’s claimed territories as the means of pressing for constitutional change to transform the “Self Defence Forces” into a regular military force able to participate in “collective self-defence”. The “pacifist” clause has acted as an impediment to participation in the US-led wars of aggression in the Middle East and thus to the interests of Japanese imperialism.

JRP leader Shintaro Ishihara calls for the complete scrapping of the “occupation” constitution, drawn up by the US following the end of World War II, and has suggested that Japan consider building its own nuclear weapons. While warning of the dangers of “anti-foreignism and adventurism” and advocating “responsible defence”, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has previously argued for amendments to ensure the constitutionality of the military.

These proposals are accompanied by a concerted effort to revive Japanese militarism and deny the terrible crimes of Japanese imperialism in its wars throughout Asia in the 1930s and 1940s. Abe signalled his agenda by visiting the notorious Yasukuni Shrine to Japan’s war dead and calling for a wholesale revision of the “unjust” perception of Japan’s wartime history. While not as blatant in his advocacy, Noda previously defended a Yasukuni Shrine visit made by Junichiro Koizumi, when he was prime minister between 2001 and 2006.

The Obama administration has purposely encouraged these militarist tendencies in Japan as part of an aggressive US drive to undermine China’s influence in the Asia Pacific region. Washington was instrumental in forcing the mid-2010 resignation of DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama, who advocated a foreign policy more independent of the US and closer ties with China. His replacement as prime minister, Naoto Kan, quickly affirmed support for the US alliance and engaged in a major diplomatic row with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in September 2010.

More fundamentally, however, the turn by the Japanese ruling class to nationalism and militarism is a product of the country’s deepening economic and political crisis. Japan’s trade surplus has turned to deficit amid a slowdown in China, recession in much of Europe and uncertainty in the US. After two decades of economic stagnation, the economy is again heading for recession, with a 3.5 percent contraction in the third quarter.

The historic weakness of Japanese capitalism—it has always been heavily dependent on imports of raw materials and export markets—has been underlined by last year’s earthquake and tsunami “triple disaster” that forced the closure of much of its nuclear industry. Imports of oil and gas, as substitute energy sources, have been major contributors to the trade deficit.

For the Japanese bourgeoisie, the turn to militarism is a desperate attempt to shore up its position as the dominant imperialist power in Asia. That is threatened by the rise of China, which eclipsed Japan last year to become the world’s second largest economy. The whipping up of nationalism is also directed against the working class, in preparation for the next government—whichever parties form it—to impose austerity measures to address the country’s huge public debt.

The present crisis of Japanese capitalism has deep historic resonances. The brief period known as the Taisho democracy in the early 1920s soon gave way to a right-wing nationalist agenda of militarism and repression against the working class. The Peace Preservation Law of 1925 outlawed all parties advocating socialism and paved the way for the suppression of strikes and protests.

The vulnerability of the Japanese economy was graphically exposed after the 1929 Wall Street crash and the onset of worldwide depression. Japanese exports halved overnight, fuelling desperation in ruling circles and a drive to rearm and overcome the crisis through colonial conquests, above all in China. The military, backed by the emperor, assumed political dominance, initiating the invasion of Manchuria in 1931 and China as a whole in 1937. The militarist regime’s plans for a Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere collided with the interests of US imperialism, ultimately leading to the Pacific War in 1941.

The restabilisation of Japanese capitalism after World War II under the aegis of the US depended on the crushing of a resurgent working class that was hostile to Japanese militarism, war and deprivation. The chief political responsibility for the defeat of the working class movement rested with the Japanese Communist Party, which subordinated workers to the American occupation, claiming the US intervention was carrying out the democratic revolution in Japan.

In reality, Japan’s post-war democracy has always been stunted. Relying on the US alliance that set the framework for economic expansion, the LDP held power almost continuously from its founding in 1955 to 2009. The party never broke from Japan’s militarist past and included figures like Abe’s grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, a member of the prewar cabinet, who became prime minister in 1957. LDP governments only very reluctantly issued limited formal apologies for Japan’s war crimes.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the end of the Cold War and the re-emergence of great power rivalries precipitated a restructuring of Japanese politics as the ruling class sought to fashion a political instrument to prosecute its economic and strategic interests in an increasingly unstable world. The eruption of the global financial crisis in 2008 has added to the urgency felt in ruling circles. What is being fashioned in the 2012 election is a revival of the reactionary ideology and methods of the 1930s in a 21st century form, to meet the current requirements of Japanese imperialism.

The longstanding and deep-seated opposition of the working class to Japanese militarism, which brought only war, economic hardship and repression, finds no avenue for expression. Rather there is a profound alienation from all political parties, including the Japanese Communist Party, which is mired in nationalism and part of the political establishment. A genuine revolutionary party must be built as a section of the International Committee of the Fourth International to unify Japanese workers with their class brothers and sisters internationally to put an end to the bankrupt capitalist system that has nothing to offer but war and austerity.

Peter Symonds

I recently wrote a post which recounted two episodes in Israeli history in which the IDF resorted to biological warfare against its Arab enemies.  In one case, Moshe Dayan brought home tubes containing typhus to be used in poisoning the water supply of the Jordanian Legion (which instead infected the Israeli leader’s son, Assi with the disease); and another, in which Palmach infiltrators attempted to poison Gaza’s water supply, but were caught and executed.

In the course of my post, I referred to Israel’s highly advanced chemical and biological warfare unit in Ness Ziona, which is known to produce weapons used in poisoning or assassinating Mossad targets (among other things).  But I didn’t know that this highly secretive facility was founded by Israel’s fourth president, Ephraim Katzir.  Avner Cohen, the leading Israeli historian of his nation’s WMD programs, wrote a paper in 2002 in which he recounted a highly reluctant interview that Katzir gave to Hadashot journalist, Sara Leibovich-Dar, in which he dissembled his way through a self-serving account of the WMD program he created.  Here is Cohen’s account, which quotes the original article (the initials “BW” refer to biological weapons):

In 1993, in an extraordinary, “reluctant” interview with journalist Sara Leibovitz-Dar of the Israeli newspaper Hadashot, Ephraim Katachalsky (who later took the Hebrew surname Katzir) and Alexander Keynan explained the circumstances that led to the establishment of HEMED BEIT.

Katachalsky stressed the historical context. It was only two years after a group of Holocaust survivors had sought his assistance to avenge the Nazi genocide of the Jews through a mass poisoning of reservoirs in Germany’s largest cities. Moreover, as a matter of historical context, every major combatant state in World War II had a BW program.

Reflecting almost 45 years later on the rationale behind the founding of HEMED BEIT, Katzir noted the following:

“I was involved in HEMED BEIT from the beginning. We planned various activities, to get a sense what CBW is and how could we build a potential [in this area] should there be a need for such a potential. We needed to know how to defend [against such weapons]. . . . I thought that we ought to know what was going on in this field. We knew that in the surrounding countries others were also developing BW. [We believed that] scientists should contribute to the strengthening of the State of Israel.”

In fact, this retrospective account is inaccurate and self-serving. No evidence suggests that in 1948 any of the surrounding Arab countries were developing BW, and HEMED BEIT was probably not created for defensive purposes.

ephraim katzir

In fact, Katzir’s defense of his work reminds me of the arguments advanced by anti-Soviet Cold Warrior Edward Teller defending development of the hydrogen bomb and other American WMD.  The arguments also aren’t far removed from arguments advanced today by Israeli generals to defend their use of weapons and tactics banned (or at least condemned) by international law including white phosphorus, cluster munitions and DIME.

But what’s especially important about Katzir’s role is that he, a biophysicist engaged in scientific research of highly dubious moral or utilitarian purpose (a view supported by the nominal IDF commander of Hemed Beit at the time of its founding, who wanted nothing to do with it for this reason), became Israel’s president.  It is common knowledge that Israel’s prime ministers have blood on their hands from Yitzhak Shamir to Menachem Begin to Ariel Sharon; and that they could, at one point in their careers, have been called terrorists.  But this involvement of the highest levels of Israeli leadership with chemical and biological weapons is much less well-known.  It would be as if Edward Teller had become president of the United States and his political position somehow vindicated the fact that he used science in order to both advance American strategic dominance in the world and introduce WMD that could kill half the human race (or more).

Leibovich-Dar also delved into other incidents in which Israel used biological weapons against its enemies.  Until I read this, I had no idea that the IDF had actually poisoned the water supplies of many Palestinian villages in 1948, the largest of whom was Acre, in which a typhus epidemic raged in the days before Israel conquered it in 1948.  This was a campaign not only to panic inhabitants into leaving, it was meant to prevent them from returning.  In this sense, the use of biological weapons was a tool of the Nakba, a way to guarantee that expelled Palestinians could not return to their native villages and re-populate them.

Cohen discovered research by a Dutch journalist that proves that Ness Ziona had an important scientific component devoted to the study of nerve gas toxins.  It also specialized in chemical agents that could incapacitate individuals for periods of time.  Such weapons were used regularly by the Mossad when it kidnapped and transported individuals from Adolph Eichmann to Mordecai Vanunu to Israelis who spied for the enemy, back to Israel for trial.  It was used as recently as 2011, when Mossad agents incapacitated Dirar Abusisi after kidnapping him in Ukraine and shipping him on a plane in a coffin to Israel.

The Israeli historian also notes that an El Al plane crashed on take-off from Holland’s Schiphol Airport in 1993.  In 1998, then PM Bibi Netanyahu acknowledged the plane had been carrying “a chemical component” of sarin gas.  He lied in claiming it was being imported to test gas masks.  In fact, tons of various chemical agents used to produce sarin were in the plane’s cargo and destined for Ness Ziona to be used in its chemical warfare experiments.  The plane completely burned on impact and the surrounding residents suffered massive and damaging health impacts for years afterward.  It’s inconceivable that Israel was never held to account for this horrific accident, which further illustrates the grave danger such chemical weapons programs pose to the unsuspecting world.  There have been at least four major accidents at Ness Ziona in period from 1987-2002 which killed at least four people.

Cohen notes tellingly that Israel has refused to ratify either the Chemical Weapons or Biological Weapons Conventions.  The U.S., he writes, maintains a list of 12 nations which have offensive chemical or biological weapons programs.  None of the twelve include Israel, but two nations are unnamed.  I’ll let you be the judge of their identities.

In light of the clamor among western nations against Syria’s alleged preparation of chemical weapons for use by the Assad regime against rebel fighters (remember too, the 1991 uproar about Saddam Hussein arming his SCUDs with chemical weapons?), it’s important to keep in mind that Israel has even more sophisticated capabilities and has used them in the past (not just in the 1948 incidents mentioned above, but also in the assassinations of Khaled Meshal, Mahmoud al-Mabouh, and possibly Yasser Arafat, for example).  For that reason alone, and because Israel has willingly used other banned weapons, it’s critical to monitor its potential use of chemical or biological weapons.

Iran is a case in point.  Israel has many targets, both facilities and individuals, it would want to eliminate.  There may be a temptation to use such agents in the event of an Israeli attack on Iran.  Israel would probably never use chemical or biological weapons as indiscriminately as putting them on missiles.  But it might use them in more highly targeted and less traceable ways.

There is another important dimension of Leivovich-Dar’s article that Cohen emphasizes.  No one wanted to talk about Israel’s use of biological weapons.  Cohen notes that all the archives involving Hemed Beit are permanently sealed and few, if any Israeli historians have clamored for it to be opened.  The Israeli journalist expands further on this:

“Everybody who had something to do with those activities prefers today to keep silent…What was done then, with deep conviction and zealotry, is nowadays concealed with shame.  Among the living, most preferred to keep silent, meetings were cancelled at the last moment, phones were hung up when people understood what was involved. ‘Not everything we did in those days requires discussion,’ said Ephraim Katzir.”

Luckily we have historians and journalists who think otherwise.

Katzir was an unwilling interviewee.  After the article was submitted to the IDF censor, they refused to allow its publication.  Only after an appeal to a special censorship appeals panel was the article approved.  In other words, Israel’s military powers that be didn’t want the public to know about Ness Ziona, about Israel’s chemical weapons capabilities, and they didn’t want the public to know about Katzir’s scientific role in developing WMD.

Students of the Holocaust often talk about how much the German people knew about the Holocaust while it was happening.  In the case of Israel’s WMD programs, a similar dynamic is in play.  Israelis (including many journalists and academics who would ordinarily be expected to delve into such issues) shy away from delicate national security issues.  There are clearly many moral quandaries that they represent, but it is all subsumed under security, as if existential matters trump matters of morality.  That allows Israelis to abandon the subject to their “betters,” the generals and politicians who manage it all for them.  It’s a Faustian bargain, but one that has held since the earliest days of the State.

While educated adults obviously don’t believe the 2012 prophesy, many children are terrified, and NASA reports that some are contemplating suicide.  So please spread this as a Public Service Announcement.

Many people are talking about the Mayan 2012 prophecy.

But few know what the Mayan priests actually said about 2012. In reality, Mayan elders say something very different from what you might have heard.

For example, Wakatel Utiw – leader of the National Council of Elders Mayas, Xinca and Garifuna (the Xinca and Garifuna are non-Mayan tribes in Central America), Day Keeper of the Mayan Calendar, and 13th generation Quiche Mayan Spiritual Leader -  says that the end of the Maya calendar has nothing to do with the end of the world.

He also explains that December 21, 2012 might not even be the end of this cycle of the calendar:

Contrary to popular belief the living elders of the Maya do not agree that December 21, 2012 is the end of their calendar. A new “Sun” represents the beginning of a new Long Count cycle in the calendar system of approximately 5,200 years, which they say may not happen for many years.

And see this.

(A brand new film called “Shift of the Ages” tells the Mayans’ beliefs in detail … and gives their true warnings.)

Similarly, Tz’utujil Mayan elder Tata Pedro Cruz says that the world will not end in 2012:

Mayan elder and priest Carlos Barrios – who has extensively studied the Mayan calendars – says:

Anthropologists visit the temple sites and read the inscriptions and make up stories about the Maya, but they do not read the signs correctly. It’s just their imagination. Other people write about prophecy in the name of the Maya. They say that the world will end in December 2012. The Mayan elders are angry with this. The world will not end. It will be transformed.”

Leonzo Barreno – a Guatemalan native who was trained by Mayan elders to read the ancient calendars – says says the ‘apocalypse’ concept is a false interpretation of the Long Count calendar, that the Mayan elders taught him that December 21 this year simply marks the start of a new calendar:

‘There are two sides to the story,’ he told CBC. ‘The one that we know is this apocalyptic meaning that has been given to the Long Count.

‘The other side of the story is the Mayan side, which you rarely see on media articles, because they never interview my own people.’

‘For them it’s a joyous event, not an apocalyptic event. What is coming is the end of a calendar and the beginning of a new one.

Ricardo Cajas – president of the Collective of Native Organizations of Colectivo de Organizaciones Indígenas de Guatemala – said the date did not represent an end of humanity or fulfillment of the catastrophic prophecies, but that the new cycle “supposes changes in human consciousness.” (Translation).

Pedro Celestino Yac Noj – a Mayan sage living in Cuba – says:

The 21st is for giving thanks and gratitude and the 22nd welcomes the new cycle, a new dawn.

Rather than being the end of the world, Mayan priest Jose Manrique Esquive believes that 2012 may bring a transition to a better time for humankind.

And AP noted in 2009:

Apolinario Chile Pixtun is tired of being bombarded with frantic questions about the Mayan calendar supposedly “running out” on Dec. 21, 2012. After all, it’s not the end of the world.

Definitely not, the Mayan Indian elder insists.

Chile Pixtun, a Guatemalan, says the doomsday theories spring from Western, not Mayan ideas.

And if you don’t believe what the current Mayan leaders say, please remember that archaeologists recently found a cache of ancient Mayan calendars which goes thousands of years past 2012. And see this.

Note: The Mayan elders do make prophetic warnings, but it has nothing to do with 2012. Specifically, they warn that we need to rein in war or pollution or we will destroy ourselves.

Given that numerous end of the world prophecies have come and gone without incident, and that the Pope has declared that – due to a miscalculation – we are currently in AD 2016, not 2012 – it is smart to take all date-specific predictions with a spoonful of cynicism.

If Russia is more supportive of the West in terms of its pursuit of dominance on the global stage or takes the initiative to shrink its nuclear weapons pool, it wins Western praise. The US Senate approved on Thursday the Magnitsky Act against Russia, with US President Barack Obama expected to sign the bill by the end of this year. It paves the way for Russian officials accused of human rights violations to be slapped with visa bans and have their assets in the US frozen.Moscow says the bill will force it to pass retaliatory legislation accordingly.

The bill is named after Sergei Magnitsky, who the Western media claim was an anti-corruption lawyer punished by Russia for tax evasion. He was jailed after uncovering bureaucratic fraud totaling $230 million. He was reportedly severely beaten while in jail, and died in 2009.

His death caused quite a stir both in Russia and other countries. Russia consequently investigated Magnitsky’s death, with the Kremlin labeling it “a tragedy,” yet a “Russian affair.”

Magnitsky’s death sparked controversy in Russia and drove a wedge between Russia and the West. Every country makes mistakes, and deaths in custody occur worldwide. Magnitsky’s case became a global affair due to sensationalizing by the Western media.

Russia has witnessed profound democratic reform since adopting the competitive presidential election model of the West, but the country under President Vladimir Putin’s leadership has never curried favor with the West.

On the contrary, the West views modern day Russia as suffering a hangover of the Soviet model that warrants criticism.

Putin, who was democratically voted into power, is still seen as a “dictator.” The country’s strides toward democracy, however, have received no acknowledgement from the West.

It seems that there is no real connection between the West’s view on Russia and Moscow’s actual democratic efforts. Public opinion on Russia is largely framed in regards to relations between Russia and the West. If Russia is more supportive of the West in terms of its pursuit of dominance on the global stage or takes the initiative to shrink its nuclear weapons pool, it wins Western praise.

Russians don’t want to see their country split again in its democratic era, while Putin still tries to maintain domestic cohesion. “Political strongmen” like Putin arise in Russia periodically, as people in the country pin their hopes to someone who embodies a sense of security and political authority. On the basis of this, Russia and the West can never become a “family.”

In the 1990s, Russia tried to make inroads with the West, although today it is criticized by the latter for being a “czardom.”

This offers a valuable lesson for China. The difference between China’s political system and that of the West’s is far greater; it’s too idealistic for China to expect praise from the West.

NATO Intervention in Syria Imminent?

December 9th, 2012 by Stephen Lendman

On December 7, Voice of Russia (VoR) headlined: “Iraq 2.0, another false-flag invasion rated XXX,” saying:

“The US and NATO are set to invade Syria, something many of us have been warning about for a while now. It has been obvious that they have been looking for a pretext and that pretext has already been injected into the public debate.”

VoR cited fabricated claims about threatening chemical weapons. The media hype them. Sarin nerve gas was mentioned. Reports claimed Assad readied it in bombs. No evidence whatever was cited.

They’re ready to go but haven’t been loaded on planes, said an unnamed US official. Pentagon spokesman George Little said “any consideration of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime would be unacceptable.”

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said:

“I think there is no question that we remain very concerned, very concerned that as the opposition advances, in particular on Damascus, that the regime might very well consider the use of chemical weapons. The intelligence that we have causes serious concerns that this is being considered.”

“The president of the United States has made very clear there will be consequences, there will be consequences if the Assad regime makes a terrible mistake by using these chemical weapons on their own people.”

On December 7, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad was unequivocal, saying:

“Syria stresses again, for the 10th, the 100th time, that if we had such weapons, they would not be used against our people. We would not commit suicide.”

The alleged Syrian chemical weapons threat replicates bogus allegations about Saddam’s nonexistent WMDs. It’s similar to falsified claims about Gaddafi, the Taliban, and numerous other invented US enemies.

Big Lies launch wars. In “The Art of War,” Sun Tzu said “All war is based on deception.” It’s true now like in ancient times. Instant global communications, super-weapons, and scoundrel media complicity make today’s threat especially ominous.

Washington’s rage for war threatens humanity. Peace doesn’t have a chance. Media scoundrels hype false threats. Repeated ad nauseam, people believe them.

No matter how many previous times they were fooled, they buy the Big Lie again. It happens every time. They’re being set up again now.

Administration, congressional, and Pentagon officials are preparing the public for more war. Falsified headlines hype nonexistent threats. Humanity hangs in the balance. Where this ends, who knows.

In early December, UN officials said they’re recalling all non-essential Syrian staff. Growing conflict dangers were cited. Perhaps advance word of imminent NATO intervention was gotten.

On December 6, CNN cited a Pentagon spokesman Little saying Washington updated its military options for potentially striking Syria. “We are prepared for a full range of contingencies,” said Little.

He added that US forces have all the firepower needed in the region for full-scale war if ordered. A previous article said Washington positioned considerable military strength off Syria’s coast.

It includes 10,000 combat troops, 70 fighter-bombers, 17 or more warships (including the USS Eisenhower and Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group), heavy armaments, offensive Patriot missiles, Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System readiness, and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) capability.

It suggests US-led NATO intervention could happen any time. More than ever it looks imminent.

On December 7, Syria Deeply headlined “EXCLUSIVE: US Trains Rebel Brigades to Secure Chemical Weapons,” saying:

Washington and NATO allies “hired contractors” to train opposition Syrian mercenaries. Four unnamed diplomats, including a US official, said exercises are ongoing in Turkey and Jordan.

At issue is whether Washington plans a false flag chemical attack as pretext for full-scale US-led NATO intervention. Syria Deeply stopped short of suggesting it.

Obama and Clinton said using them crosses a “red line.” Washington would respond.

On December 7, Hillary Clinton urged all parties involved to make a “concerted push” to resolve the Syrian conflict. Perhaps imminent intervention was hinted.

France’s Le Figero said French military advisers met with opposition fighters inside Syria. So have US and UK elements. At issue is assessing operational capabilities of different groups and choosing which ones get weapons.

On December 4, NATO foreign ministers met in Brussels. They expressed solidarity with Turkey. They agreed to deter any potential threat Ankara faces. There’s none, but they suggested otherwise.

On December 6, Germany’s Suddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) headlined:

“Nato-Führung erwägt militärische Intervention in Syrien (NATO leadership is considering military intervention in Syria).”

Multiple sources told SZ that NATO Secretary-General Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance can’t “stick its head in the sand.” NATO is prepared to intervene in Syria if ordered.

Earlier Rasmussen said NATO had no intention of doing so. He lied. Perhaps it’s been planned all along.

SZ said Rasmussen is supported by Washington, Britain and Turkey. The Pentagon will suggest ways to implement a no-fly zone.

Rasmussen asked what would NATO do if Syria uses chemical weapons? What if Iran blocks the Strait of Hormuz? Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Poland discount a chemical weapons threat.

Russia told NATO members to take inflammatory threats with a grain of salt. Previous ones proved false. This time isn’t different.

SZ said NATO foreign ministers failed to reach common ground. It’s unlikely to matter. Washington, Britain, Turkey, Rasmussen, and apparently France favor intervention. No combination of other countries can stop them.

On December 7, Mossad-connected DEBKAfile headlined “Paris: NATO-Arab Syria intervention imminent,” saying:

“Sources close to the French Defense Ministry” said intervention “is due to begin shortly with the participation of the US, France, Britain, Turkey, Jordan and other anti-Assad Arab nations.”

France deployed the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle in the Mediterranean. Combat marines are on board. Britain has at least five warships nearby. They’ve joined Washington’s battle group.

In November, British and French forces “performed landing-and-capture exercises against fortified locations on the coast and mountains of Albania as practice for potential operations against similar terrain in Syria, where the Alawite Mountains loom over the coastal towns of Latakia and Tartus.”

“French sources told Le Point magazine that the NATO mission for Syria, including the UK and the US, would be modeled on the Western intervention in Libya in 2011.”

 ”It would combine an aerial blitz with ground action by special forces for destroying Assad’s chemical weapons stocks, his air force and his air defense systems.”

 Apparently winds of war reached gale force. Expect full-scale intervention any time. It could come before or right after Christmas and New Year’s.

A previous article called today perhaps the most perilous time in world history. Daily events should scare everyone.

Possible regional or global war looms. Disastrous consequences could follow. Obama may head humanity into the abyss. Perhaps there’s no way to stop him.

It’s vital for anti-war activists to challenge what’s too potentially catastrophic to tolerate. The risks are far too great to stay sidelined.

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

 His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

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

 Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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

Destroying Libya: A War for “Human Rights”?

December 9th, 2012 by Maximilian Forte

The war in Libya never happened. At least that is what one might think, considering the dearth of serious analysis and critical reflection in Canada since our participation in NATO’s bombardment campaign ended a year ago. Yet in Libya, in many ways the war is still happening. If we (we as in all the federal political parties) thought we could bomb a country into democracy and respect for human rights, we were worse than just naïve. We were guilty of hiding our motivations, and guilty of ignoring the consequences of our actions.

How the war was sold to the public needs to be revisited lest we treat war as merely a temporary spectacle of no consequence. We were told that Muammar Gaddafi threatened mass atrocities, even “genocide,” against Benghazi. We were told that he fueled his troops with Viagra, so they could go on a systematic spree of mass rape. We were told that he used the air force against unarmed, peaceful protesters. We were told that he imported African mercenaries to butcher his opposition. And we were told that our military intervention would save lives and was designed to protect civilians.

The problem is that none of that was true.

This was instead a series of “incubator baby” stories on steroids: exaggerate and repeat such fabrications often enough and some of it might seep into public “consciousness” as if it were fact.

We were also told that if we failed to act in “stopping” Gaddafi, that it would make us complicit and responsible for allowing his atrocities to happen. Failure to act, makes us responsible for the actions of others. Yet when we did act, we refused to be held accountable for our own actions. This “logic” is the kind of moral dualism that interventionists swear by. No one else is allowed to kill civilians: that’s our prerogative.

NATO member states, such as Canada, and their chief spokesmen never failed to label every armed action against Libyan forces as “protecting civilians.” What NATO’s “protection” actually involved should alarm and upset everyone.

On numerous occasions, NATO refused to protect innocent civilians and knowingly let them die. This was the case with over 1,500 African refugees who died at sea, fleeing Libya, while in close proximity to NATO vessels that monitored all traffic and blockaded Libya’s ports, with some vessels coming into direct contact. The European Council, the Italian government, Amnesty International, and a report by Goldsmiths all faulted NATO for violating international law in ignoring the pleas for help of refugees that were adrift and dying. This is a serious crime under international law. No one has been held accountable.

On other occasions, NATO jets and drones specifically and knowingly targeted civilians. These were the findings of both an Independent Civil Society Mission to Libya and even Amnesty International. In a case that occurred in Sirte on September 15, 2011, NATO missiles struck and killed 47 civilian rescuers. This is what is now referred to as “double tapping,” an established U.S. practice that was shockingly documented in the “Collateral Murder” video from Iraq and by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Civilian men coming to the aid of those who have been attacked have been redefined by the U.S. government as not being civilian, merely for being able-bodied men of combat age.

In other cases, NATO along with their allies on the ground, the Libyan insurgents that we illegally armed, announced phony ceasefires to allow civilians to leave targeted cities (yes, we targeted cities, and we demolished them too: e.g. Sirte). This was merely to allow the resupply of the insurgents, and NATO in some cases did not cease its bombardments. Nor were the aerial attacks as “precise” and “surgical” as was claimed (language we choose to make us sound like healthcare providers).

Our intervention not only prolonged and escalated Libya’s conflict, it enabled mass atrocities by the insurgents we supported. Mass detentions, abductions, torture, racist lynching, and the ethnic cleansing of whole towns have resulted. Never under Gaddafi had such widespread atrocities been reported. Yet we would not be accountable. Indeed, we don’t even like to talk about such matters.

We acted to bring about regime change. We specifically targeted Gaddafi and his family for assassination. And then, like Hillary Clinton, some of us gloated.

We make others suffer, so we can fancy ourselves as nurses bearing a cure. Benghazi was “saved,” but only so that Sirte could be reduced to rubble—jaw-dropping destruction that had many visitors draw parallels with Stalingrad and Grozny. We claimed this was for “human rights,” but our actions tell the opposite story. We did this to destroy independent African integration efforts, to return Africa to its proper place as our foreign reservation, with its petroleum, minerals, and construction contracts placed in our hands. You might not like to read such things, but that is no excuse for the absolute silence on Libya, and what we did there. Lest we forget.

Maximilian Forte is an associate professor of anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University, where he teaches courses on the anthropology of politics and “the new imperialism.” He is also a founding member of Anthropologists for Justice and Peace. His latest book is Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa, published by Baraka Books.

Syria will never use chemical weapons against its own people, Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired US Army Colonel who was Chief of Staff to Colin Powell told RT. Instead, the reality is that US is “preparing the ground to intervene in Syria.”

­An act which would lead to a conflict “that would take at least a decade to settle – and there aren’t going to be too many victors at the end of that decade, just losers,” Wilkerson says, as Washington’s ultimate aim is to overthrow the Iranian leadership.

Simultaneously, some members of Congress are talking about “impeachment” of the US president for not consulting Congress before involving the country in conflicts.

RT: You were Colin Powell’s chief of staff when the decision was made to invade Iraq. In 2003, Powell made a speech that laid out the case for that war. Let’s take a listen to what he said. You helped prepare that speech, and have since described it as the biggest mistake of your life. Why?

Lawrence Wilkerson: Primarily because we – to the American people, to the international community and of course to the members of the US Security Council – presented that speech… it was not accurate, it was not true, it was not valid. We did not know that, but it was not just an intelligence failure. It was also the massive politicization of intelligence by the leadership in Washington.

RT: We’re currently seeing very similar rhetoric in the US in relation to Syria. Will it end in war again?

LW: I would be highly skeptical of any of the intelligence rendered by the $140-billion-plus US intelligence community as to weapons of mass destruction in possession of another country. Period.

RT: Syria is not signed up the chemical weapons convention, one of the seven countries that isn’t. Does that suggest perhaps that it has a reason to get signed up to it, and it does have chemical weapons?

LW: Well I’m not violating any confidence or any great prohibition in the intelligence community to tell you that we have known for years, years that Syria has chemical weapons stockpiles, just like Iraq had chemical weapons stockpiles for a while. But the fact that President Assad will be moving them around and preparing for use against his own citizens within his own territory, I frankly find preposterous.

RT: Why is it then that the US really wants to pursue this, and is using it for various reasons, not just to justify only rhetoric, but perhaps a serious talk of a military invasion?

LW: Well, Syria’s question was just addressed by one of your previous commentators, and that is, why in the world would we put Patriot batteries on the Turkish border adhesively to protect Turkey with the largest and the most powerful army in the region, indeed one of the most powerful in the world? Turkey needs no protection by us against that sort of thing, and it would be utterly stupid for Assad to attack Turkey in that way. So why are we doing those things that look like they’re not connected to the reality, unless the reality is that we’re preparing the ground to intervene in Syria.

RT: What would be the implications if the US were to intervene in Syria? Some are saying that the fallout will be far more dramatic that what we saw in Iraq – would you agree with that?

LW: I think, if we were to intervene in a substantial way, that is to say if we were to put the troops on the ground, marines, soldiers and so forth; and we were to do in Syria what we began to do in 2003 in Iraq, I think those people are absolutely right. I think it will even be even worse than Iraq. I think, again, it will be as a backdoor into Iran, which as you know is the real threat that we have been putting out there for years now.

And I think we’re looking into Syria and Iran being a combination that we would then take on – and you’re talking about a conflict that becomes regional and maybe even wider, because we’ve got Russia, we’ve got China, we’ve got other players; as I’ve just mentioned, the Turks. We’ve got a significant interest in that region if Iran and Syria are seriously threatened by the US invasion. And I think, you’re looking at a configuration that would take at least a decade to settle and there aren’t going to be too many victors at the end of that decade – just losers.

RT: Can it actually afford to get involved, and is there an appetite among the American people for yet another military conflict?

LW: Absolutely not, but I’m meeting with several congressman at the end of the week, and that is next week, and we’re going to talk about this very thing. For example about Libya, the way the Libyan operation was conducted without the consultation with the US Congress at all. There are some congressman that are so concerned about this that they’re mentioning words like impeachment and so worth, because you’re not supposed to take the American country to war without the permission of the Congress, the Constitution pretty much says that.

And yet we’re on this track where executives start wars on their own will, and I think this is the kind of thing that is really dangerous for this republic. Iran will give this a different patina, though, because you have a Congress that is really itching to go to war with Iran. So, I think you’re looking at a combination here – not just Syria, and ultimately the target is Iran.

RT: What is the answer then for Syria? Isn’t some intervention justified on humanitarian grounds? In fact, that justification was given for the intervention in Libya. In fact many say that is what brought the conflict to an end, disposed of colonel Gaddafi and ended the loss of innocent lives. Can you apply the same to Syria?

LW: Well, I would differ with that resolution in Libya. Libya still has enormous problems. We have a disconcerted Mali. We have the government being overthrown in Mali, we have Al -Qaeda operating in the North of Mali – all of that is partially a result of what we did in Libya. So, I would be very hesitant to classify Libya as a success. Syria and Iran would be classified even less as a success in my view. What you would have there, a I said, is a long-term occupation, increasing insurgency, increasing civil war-like fighting and so worth.

The answer in Syria, I think, as lamentable as the casualties are, is to let the Syrians settle the situation for the Syrians. There are a lot of Iranians on the ground fighting with Assad’s forces, advising with Assad’s forces. And since that is taking place, it makes better sense for us to take on Syria because we’re going to encounter the Iranians in Syria if we go into Syria. But this is not the time to be doing this.

RT: Do you think rebels could dispose of Assad?

LW: I think Assad’s days are numbered. I don’t know what those days are, I did not think he would last through 2012, and he is apparently going to do that. He may hang on to several factions in Syria that are powerful and still with him, but I still think the best resolution for Syria is a resolution brought about by the majority of the Syrian people.

If they can get their act together to the point where the opposition, as it were, to Assad is sodded enough, it has enough good leadership to topple him, than that is what should happen. But there should be no outside assistance, and that goes for Iran too. Iran should get its people out of Syria and let Syria handle its problems by itself.

When NATO forces intervened in Libya last year to help oust Muammar Qaddafi, military planners were aware that one of the greatest battles of the conflict would not be military, but ideological: justifying the legitimacy of their actions to both Libyans and the wider international audience.

NATO’s “strategic communications” framework for the operation informed officials that “Managing the information domain will be critical to NATO’s efforts being understood – and ultimately supported – by the audiences.”

In order to ensure this support, NATO must “use of the full range of information and communication capabilities” to help unify their message and “manage and shape perceptions, to counter potential misinformation and to build public support.”

For international audiences, this meant conveying NATO’s commitment, legitimacy and resolve and being prepared to counter criticisms of its military policies.

If asked about civilian casualties, the framework recommends NATO spokespeople provide “Clear messaging on NATO doing its utmost to carefully target only air related military objectives and avoid civilian casualties.”

If asked about NATO’s credibility in the Arab world, the framework recommends emphasizing the operation’s “legal basis and recognition by the International Community, including Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council” while maintaining that “NATO is acting legally and in support of the Libyan people.”

An example of a psychological operations leaflet dropped over Libya by NATO forces during Operation Unified Protector.

For audiences within Libya, strategic communications involved the production of media to influence Qaddafi loyalists to leave their weapons and cease killing civilians.

Leaflets found in Tripoli around August 2011 advised Libyan forces that “many officers and soldiers have chosen to stand against Gaddafi’s orders and refrain from fighting against innocent civilians.”

One side of the leaflet, which bore NATO’s logo, encouraged soldiers to “join these men for a prosperous, peaceful future for Libya” while the opposite side displayed a photo of a Predator drone alongside a tank with a crosshair over it. Amateur radio enthusiasts in Europe and the U.S. were able to listen to NATO broadcasts encouraging Libyan forces to abandon their vehicles and cease fighting.  “NATO does not want to kill you,” says a voice inone of the broadcasts, “but if you continue to operate, move, maintain or remain with military equipment of any sort, you will be targeted for destruction.”

Understanding StratCom

A collection of documents recently obtained and published by Public Intelligence provides a complete guide to NATO’s training process for “strategic communications” activities, including public diplomacy, public affairs, information operations and psychological operations. The documents, compiled for participants in a NATO training summit, describe the doctrine behind strategic communications and provide practical examples of their use in a number of recent conflicts from Libya to Afghanistan. These activities are designed to contribute “positively and directly in achieving the successful implementation of NATO operations, missions, and activities” as well as “influence the perceptions, attitudes and behaviour of target audiences . . . with the goal of achieving political or military objectives”. NATO’sStrategic Communications Policy explains the aim of these operations:

Today’s information environment, characterized by a 24/7 news cycle, the rise of social networking sites, and the interconnectedness of audiences in and beyond NATO nations territory, directly affects how NATO actions are perceived by key audiences. That perception is always relevant to, and can have a direct effect on the success of NATO operations and policies. NATO must use various channels, including the traditional media, internet-based media and public engagement, to build awareness, understanding, and support for its decisions and operations.

 

NATO’s Military Concept for Strategic Communications states that “the vision is to put Strategic Communications at the heart of all levels of military policy, planning and execution” as it is “not an adjunct activity, but should be inherent in the planning and conduct of all military operations and activities.”

Strategic communications at the political level encompasses both public diplomacy and public affairs, functions designed to communicate facts and information to the public while maintaining credibility. According to NATO’s Allied Command Operations Directive on Public Affairs, “Public support for NATO’s missions and tasks follows from public understanding of how the Alliance makes a difference to international peace and security.” If viewed from an effects-based perspective, the directive states that “enhancing support for the Alliance by maintaining credibility is the effect for the [public affairs] function.” NATO’s Public Diplomacy Strategy for 2010-2011 states the primary goal of communication efforts should be conveying “the values and principles that NATO stands for, first and foremost the principle of Allied solidarity, will feature prominently in NATO’s communication and outreach efforts, in particular towards the young generation.”

A diagram depicting the relationships between various components of NATO’s strategic communications efforts.

At the military level, strategic communications encompasses everything from psychological operations to electronic warfare. Deception operations, computer network operations and even engagement with local leaders all fall under the category of information operations, one of the broadest areas of strategic communications.

NATO’s Bilateral Strategic Command Information Operations Reference Book describes information operations as being increasingly important in modern operations due to the “the complex challenges of the global security environment” which “require consideration and integration of the information factor throughout all processes – analysis, planning, execution and assessment.” Due to the importance of the overall information environment in determining the outcome of a conflict, it is necessary that “all decision-makers at all times appropriately understand the (possible) effects of their actions in the information environment; it is not just about deliberate activity using information through means of communication, it is the combination of words and deeds that delivers the ultimate effect.”

NATO’s documentation on strategic communications acknowledges the increasingly important role that information and perception play in determining the effects of military action. “The employment of any element of power projection, particularly the military element, has always had a psychological dimension,” according to NATO’s 2003 Psychological Operations Policy. This psychological impact is nothing new, but has increasingly broad implications due to the prevalence of modern technology and social media:

 

PSYOPS have been used throughout history to influence attitudes and behaviours of people, leaders and key communicators. The dense and ubiquitous nature of today’s global information environment, coupled with NATO’s involvement in non-Article 5 Crisis Response Operations, have dramatically increased the demand and importance of effective PSYOPS. In today’s Information Age, NATO can expect to operate for an extended period of time in an area where sophisticated, indigenous media compete for influence over the perceptions of local audiences. The organisation, state, or entity more able to effectively influence the understanding of a crisis or conflict, especially managing the perceptions of particular target audiences, will likely be the most successful. PSYOPS are conducted to convey selected information and indicators to governments, organisations, groups and individuals, with the aim of influencing their emotions, attitudes, motives, perceptions, reasoning and ultimately their behaviour and decisions.

 

To achieve the desired outcome, strategic communications are integrated directly into NATO’s comprehensive planning process, defining goals and strategies for the various influence activities to be conducted in support of an operation. Strategic communications frameworks for the operation are developed by a working group at NATO headquarters ensuring all aspects of communication, from the diplomatic level to the military information operations on the ground, are coordinated within a unified narrative. After reviewing “NATO strategic and military strategic objectives and effects” NATO’sComprehensive Planning Directive instructs military planners to “assess the impact of military actions on the information environment” and “develop narratives, themes and master messages for different audiences.”

 

Based on their understanding of the different perspectives and biases of the different audiences, StratCom should develop an over-arching, resonating narrative, upon which themes and master messages can be based. StratCom must then refine the themes and master messages depending on the strategic conditions, taking into account target audience receptiveness, susceptibility and vulnerability to different historical, social, cultural, and religious references.

 

The directive also recommends that planners “identify and establish required mechanisms to address issues of strategic and/or political importance” such as civilian casualties to protect against the “rapid loss of NATO’s credibility in the theatre and perhaps even within the wider international community.”  This may require the involvement of “other international actors, opinion formers and elites” who can be “integrated into this approach through a coordinated engagement strategy at all levels within the wider local, regional and international public to promote support for NATO actions.”

Framing Conflicts

Examining NATO’s strategic communications frameworks for several recent conflicts provides concrete examples of the organization’s efforts to construct and maintain narratives favorable to their military and political objectives.

The frameworks, which are signed by NATO’s Secretary General and sent to diplomatic representatives of allied countries involved in the conflict, detail a core message and various supportive themes designed to promote the narrative advanced by NATO.

For example, the 2011strategic communications framework for Afghanistan emphasizes the themes of resolve and momentum to “maintain Afghan and international support for the continuation of the mission.” The strategic communications framework for NATO’s intervention in Libya emphasizes legitimacy, that NATO is “operating under a clear international legal mandate, in coordination with the Contact Group on Libya, and with broad regional support”, while managing expectations and emphasizing the humanitarian assistance being provided.

Spokespeople play a central role in implementing the strategic communications framework by reinforcing the narratives decided on by NATO officials and countering misinformation. A training presentation for instructing NATO spokespeople in Afghanistan describes how to “control your media environment” by advancing “commercial” messages that support the strategic communications objectives for the conflict.

The presentation lists cosmetic issues for spokespeople, like posture and controlling hand gestures, and even provides bridging phrases such as “First let me say . . .” or “The key issue here is . . .” to bring interviewers back to the spokesperson’s commercial messages.

The presentation also teaches spokespeople how to deflect difficult questions on topics like civilian casualties. If asked about NATO “being responsible for high numbers of civilian casualties”, the presentation recommends countering with a statement about NATO’s effort to minimize civilian casualties “through a variety of measures which calls upon our forces to exercise courageous restraint during operations.”

NATO has even worked to develop a framework for assessing the efficacy of activities to influence populations. Over a three year period from 2007-2010, NATO convened multiple research groups with members from the U.S., U.K., Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Canada and Germany to formalize a program for measuring the effectiveness of strategic communications activities designed to influence targeted audiences.

The groups authored a report in 2011 called “How to Improve Your Aim: Measuring the Effectiveness of Activities that Influence Attitudes and Behaviors” that assessed NATO’s procedures for determining the success or failure of influence activities in achieving their desired effect. All military operations, including communications functions, are geared towards realizing a particular effect that can be “material, attitudinal or behavioral.”

The report seeks to develop a methodology for monitoring media, conducting surveys and determining the effectiveness of influence operations by tracking specific and quantifiable “impact indicators”. These indicators help determine whether the intended effect is occurring and provide feedback for future operations planning.

Studying and implementing strategic communications has now become an essential component of NATO’s military operations as both a means of influencing populations in theater and abroad.  As the development of doctrine for manipulating perceptions continues to become more sophisticated, the ability of the public to discern reality and make decisions becomes increasingly difficult.  The information environment, according to NATO’s Allied Joint Doctrine on Information Operations, is “where humans and automated systems observe, orientate, decide and act upon information, and is therefore the principal environment of decision-making.”  When governments and militaries make it their fundamental purpose to not simply deceive or manipulate the enemy, but to build and “maintain support” from the very populations that provide them with their funding and mandate, it becomes increasingly difficult for civilian leaders and the public at large to determine the actual reality of a conflict, effectively nullifying their democratic involvement in the prosecution of wars to which they must ultimately pledge their money, their reputations and even their lives.

 

An example of an “effects matrix” used in planning and assessing psychological operations and other influence activities. The table is presented in a restricted 2011 NATO research report “How to Improve Your Aim: Measuring the Effectiveness of Activities that Influence Attitudes and Behaviors”.

The Labor Department reported Friday that the United States added 146,000 jobs in November, barely enough to keep up with population growth. The net payroll increase was below the average monthly number for the past two years of 150,000.

The US unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, down from 7.9 percent in October, but only because 350,000 people left the labor force. The labor force participation rate fell 0.2 percentage points to 63.6 percent.

A more accurate indication of the state of the US economy and the social conditions facing broad sections of the population than the jobless rate—itself very high by historical standards—is the fact that over the past year the number of people not in the labor force has grown by 2.4 million, from 86.7 million to 89.2 million.

Friday’s report also significantly revised downward the payroll figures for the two months preceding the elections. The figure for new jobs in September was cut from 148,000 to 132,000, and that for October was downwardly revised from 171,000 to 138,000.

“At this rate of job growth, it will take more than 10 years to return to the pre-recession unemployment rate,” noted Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute.

The White House seized on the report to claim that the US is in the midst of an economic recovery. Alan B. Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, wrote that, “today’s employment report provides further evidence that the US economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression.”

The fall in the official unemployment rate will likely be used to justify either the scrapping or further curtailing of federal extended unemployment benefits as part of any deal to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Unless the program is renewed by Congress before January 1, it will terminate, stripping more than 2 million long-term unemployed workers of cash benefits.

“You don’t want to get into a cycle of dependency,” said Moody’s Analytics’ Mark Zandi, an economist who has generally supported the Obama administration’s economic policies. “You want to slowly phase out the support to the economy and let the private sector fill the holes.”

While the Obama administration has called for the continuation of federal extended unemployment benefits as part of its budget proposal, it is likely to agree to Republican demands that the program be further eviscerated. In exchange for passage of a payroll tax cut last February, financed at the expense of the Social Security trust fund, the Democrats agreed to lower the duration of federal extended benefits in most states by 30 weeks.

This cut, along with cuts at the state level, has already caused untold economic hardship and plunged many thousands of families into poverty. George Wentworth, senior staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project, pointed out: “In 2010, about two thirds of unemployed people received unemployment benefits. That number had fallen to 54 percent by 2011, and is down to about 45 percent now.”

If the extended unemployment benefit program is allowed to lapse completely, according to Wentworth, only about 25-30 percent of the jobless will receive any form of unemployment pay.

There are currently 4.8 million workers who have been unemployed for more than half a year, a figure that is four times higher than in 2007.

In Friday’s jobs report, there was a sharp demarcation between the performance of service and goods-producing industries. The service sector added 169,000 jobs, while goods-producing jobs fell by 22,000. Construction slashed 20,000 jobs, while the manufacturing sector cut 7,000.

Retail trade added 52,600 jobs, while professional and business services added 43,000, and leisure and hospitality added 23,000.

The public sector lost 1,000 jobs, with the loss of 5,000 federal and 2,000 local government jobs partially offset by an increase of 6,000 jobs at the state level. Since the beginning of 2008, more than 700,000 government jobs have been eliminated.

Average hourly wages grew by 4 cents in November, bringing the growth in wages over the past year to 1.9 percent. Over the same period, consumer prices have grown by 2.2 percent, meaning wages have fallen in real terms.

The tepid jobs figure was accompanied by even worse numbers on consumer confidence and manufacturing activity. The University of Michigan’s confidence index fell sharply to 74.5, down from 82.7 percent, indicating growing concerns over looming cuts in social spending.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM), meanwhile, reported this week that its index of manufacturing activity fell to 49.5, the lowest level since July 2009. Figures lower than 50 indicate contraction. The ISM survey’s measure of factory employment contracted for the first time in over three years.

The weak manufacturing activity is expected to slow economic growth in the third quarter. Macroeconomic Advisers, an economic consulting firm, says it expects the US economy to grow by only 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter, the lowest rate since the beginning of 2011.

These dismal figures for the US are set against the backdrop of a significant deterioration of the global economy. The day the Labor Department released its US jobs report, the Japanese government stated that the country’s economy was probably in recession and gave its worst economic assessment since April 2009.

The German central bank cut its growth forecast for Germany, concluding that the country’s economy would likely contract in the last quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013.

These downgrades follow a similar downward revision by the European Central bank of its growth estimate for 2013. The bank said that economic growth in the 17-member euro zone would likely be no more than 0.3 percent, and could contract by 0.9 percent.

Yesterday, Military.Com reported that 400 US and Dutch NATO troops were already “massed on Turkey’s Syrian border…readying Patriot missiles three days after NATO agreed to deploy the MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile system in Turkey.”

This follows the announcement this week by Germany, which is supplying two of three missile systems to Turkey, along with one from the Netherlands, that it will dispatch 170 troops to Syria’s border.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle have both alleged that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad is actively considering the use of chemical weapons against its opponents, a move defined as a “red line” by Washington. On Monday, President Barack Obama said the use of chemical weapons is “totally unacceptable” and would have “consequences.”

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad yesterday reiterated, “Syria stresses again, for the 10th, the 100th time, that if we had such weapons, they would not be used against our people. We would not commit suicide.”

The unsubstantiated claims that Syria intends to do so are as transparent a pretext for an act of military aggression by the NATO powers as were the lies a decade ago about Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction.” The US has made extensive preparations for an intervention that has nothing to do with the “intelligence” it claims to possess regarding chemical weapons.

As previously reported by the World Socialist Web Site, Washington has deployed a naval armada off Syria’s coast spearheaded by the USS Eisenhower carrier strike group and including an amphibious battle group consisting of the USS Iwo Jima, the USS New York and the USS Gunston Hall, which carry a contingent of 2,500 US Marines.

This brings 17 warships, 70 fighter-bombers and 10,000 military personnel within striking distance of Syria, in addition to the Air Force’s 39th Air Base Wing, stationed at the Incirlik base in Turkey, and tens of thousands of US ground troops deployed in Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Germany’s troop dispatch to Turkey follows last month’s call by its Foreign Ministry for a “rapid reactivation” of the European Union Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) on Egypt’s Rafah border, and for Egypt to receive EU help in equipping its border police, supposedly to stop weapons smuggling into Gaza.

The far more substantial US build-up is in line with plans drawn up by the Pentagon estimating that a full-scale military intervention against Syria would require 75,000 US troops. But another possible option was detailed by French magazine Le Point this week. It stated that there is already a planned mission for Syria involving France that would involve a relatively small number of Special Forces from a number of NATO countries, and which is modelled on the Western intervention in Libya. The intervention would combine an aerial blitz with ground action by Special Forces to destroy chemical weapons stocks and Syria’s air force and air defence systems.

The French report received confirmation Friday from DEBKAfile, which cited sources close to the French Defence Ministry of an imminent combined Western-Arab military intervention involving the US, France, Britain, Turkey, Jordan and other anti-Assad Arab states. DEBKAfile, which is close to Israeli military and intelligence sources, identified Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar as being among these.

DEBKAfile noted that “the French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, carrying a complement of marines, is deployed in the Mediterranean, having joined the USS Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group and at least five British warships which are also carrying a large marine force.”

It continued: “In the second and third weeks of November, British and French naval forces, plus 2,600 special ops combatants from both nations, performed landing-and-capture exercises against fortified locations on the coast and mountains of Albania as practice for potential operations against similar terrain in Syria, where the Alawite Mountains loom over the coastal towns of Latakia and Tartus.”

Also yesterday, Le Figaro reported that French military advisers have met with Syrian opposition fighters inside the country in order to identify possible recipients for weapons supplies. French agents held face-to-face talks with a Free Syrian Army leader “in the area between Damascus and Lebanon,” it quoted an unnamed leader of the Syrian opposition saying. They wanted to determine the “operational capacity of each group” and their “political colours,” he said. US and British agents had also held meetings, the source added.

An unnamed French military source confirmed the meetings had taken place.

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is playing a pivotal role in urging a military response. Speaking in Belfast yesterday, she urged a “concerted push” to halt the Syrian conflict, but added that there had been no “great breakthrough” during talks in Dublin on Thursday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The meeting with Lavrov and United Nations-Arab League special envoy on Syria Lakhdar Brahimi was the latest attempt to persuade Moscow to ditch its oldest ally in the Middle East, which allows it to operate a military base at Tartus. Speculation was rife as to how to interpret the statements made by Lavrov accepting Turkey’s right to self-defence. But he also insisted that “Syria is not Libya”, hoped “there will be no foreign interference” and urged negotiations.

Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Alexander Grushko, criticized the deployment of US-made Patriot missiles on the Turkey-Syria border as proof that NATO “is getting involved in the conflict after all” on the pretext of “provocations or some incidents on the [Turkey-Syria] border.”

Yesterday, Turkish government sources confirmed that Turkey and Russia have agreed to work on a plan for “political change” in Syria. However, a Turkish source said that there was not agreement on what to do next as “Russia insists on a Syrian-owned process.”

Whether or not Russia abandons Assad, the situation is moving towards NATO intervention—most probably in support of Turkey and/or an Arab proxy force. Clinton is to travel to Marrakesh, Morocco next week for a meeting of the Friends of Syria group that will be attended by the newly formed Syrian National Coalition. “Now that there is a new opposition formed, we are going to be doing what we can to support that opposition,” Clinton told reporters in Brussels.

The destabilisation of Syria is aimed at isolating Iran and securing US hegemony over the oil-rich region. But such plans bring Washington into a yet more dangerous conflict with Russia and also China. Prior to meeting with Lavrov Thursday, Clinton told reporters that the US is determined to prevent Russia from recreating a new version of the Soviet Union in Central Asia and Eastern Europe using the “ruse” of economic integration.

“There is a move to re-Sovietise the region,” she said. “It’s not going to be called that. It’s going to be called a customs union, it will be called Eurasian Union and all of that. But let’s make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it.”

Iran has strongly condemned the US for carrying out a nuclear test in Nevada this week, saying the move threatens world peace and shows a hypocritical set of double standards set by Washington when it comes to nuclear research.

­The Iranian Foreign Ministry said the Wednesday detonation proves that US foreign policy relies heavily on the use of nuclear weapons, disregarding UN calls for global disarmament, PressTV reports.

The experiment also drew criticism from Japan, with Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui wondering why the Obama administration carried out the test, despite saying he would “seek a nuclear-free world.”

The test proves that the US “could use nuclear weapons anytime,” said Hirotami Yamada, who heads the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Survivors Council.

On Friday it was announced that the Nevada National Security Site had successfully detonated plutonium in a deep shaft Wednesday to test the safety and effectiveness of US nuclear weapons, National Nuclear Security Administration officials said.

The Pollux subcritical experiment was carried out by scientists at the Los Alamos, New Mexico national laboratory and the Sandia National Laboratories and involved a tiny sample of plutonium bomb material.

Subcritical nuclear experiments have been conducted in the US since 1997 in order to help scientists understand how plutonium ages in the stockpile.

They use chemical explosives to blow up bits of nuclear materials designed to stop just short of erupting into a nuclear chain reaction, also known as a criticality.

The latest test used new diagnostic equipment that enabled researchers to collect more data then ever before.

“This is a significant diagnostics advancement,” Darwin Morgan, spokesman for the Nevada National Nuclear Security Site, was quoted as saying by the Las Vegas Review Journal.

Officials claimed that the test was carried out to provide for the secure storage of nuclear warheads.

International inspectors were not allowed to witness the experiment, as Washington has prevented access to its test site since the late 1990s.

Wednesday’s test is twenty-seventh American “subcritical experiment” since full-scale nuclear weapons tests were halted in 1992.

Ireland: The Devastating Social Impact of Economic Austerity Measures

December 8th, 2012 by Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin

Another political party is selflessly sacrificing itself to the ‘preying’ mantis of the Irish establishment. We are seeing the Labour Party (in coalition with the conservative Fine Gael) being slowly ingested before our eyes as they struggle to justify their support for the recent right wing austerity budget to an increasingly angry populace.

Even the usually calm and collected silver tongues of the party are starting to get nervous. The last political victim of the establishment mantis was the Green Party who were coaxed into a coalition by the establishment’s Fianna Fáil party in 2007. The angry public had its revenge in the 2011 election when the Greens lost all their seats in the Dáil (Parliament) and Fianna Fáil itself succumbed to exhaustion and had its own meltdown after the collapse of the Celtic Tiger economy.

There were demonstrations and scuffles with Gardaí during the budget debate (5/12/2012) and more recently (7/12/2012) a group of about 250 carers and their families protested outside Leinster House against the cut of €325 to the annual €1,700 respite care grant announced in Wednesday’s Budget.

According to author and campaigner Paddy Doyle:
“There’s no question or doubt about it that any vulnerable group, be they elderly, be they carers – the few I’ve met here are exhausted. You can see it in their faces that they’re just worn out. They’re saving the State a fortune,” he added.

The campaign group Social Justice Ireland director, Fr Seán Healy, said that for the second year in a row the Government had perpetrated a transfer of wealth from the poor to the prosperous. He noted that:

“Budget 2012 saw 40 per cent of the population on lowest incomes take a far higher proportionate ‘hit’ than the richest 10 per cent. Budget 2013 continues this process.”

And it looks like some people won’t be just reading Dickens this Christmas but will be experiencing a Dickensian one as well. According to the president of St Vincent de Paul, Geoff Meagher, there are families that “are choosing to go without heating their homes as they struggle to afford the basics.” He also said that:

“It’s not just this budget, it’s the result of a cumulative effect of tough budgets that have happened in the past few years. They are pushed into poverty when they cannot afford the basics such as food, heating and education, with fuel being the first thing to go as it is usually most expensive.”

Anger is growing at a budget which is targeting young families, the elderly and the sick, as the government slashes child benefits, triples prescription charges and rubber-stamps the hugely-controversial property tax. What is galling many people in Ireland is that this is all being facilitated by a Labour Party which according to one of the tenets of its Principles states: “Equality implies reorganising society with the specific object of creating a more equal distribution of wealth and power, and not just opportunities for individuals to become powerful or wealthy.” Under another Principle it is stated that “the spirit of Community places Labour on the side of the oppressed.” However, it is beginning to look like if these austerity measures continue much longer, the community is going to place Labour on the side of the unemployed.

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is a prominent Irish artist who has exhibited widely around Ireland. His work consists of paintings based on cityscapes of Dublin, Irish history and geopolitical themes (http://gaelart.net/). His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country at http://gaelart.blogspot.ie/.

7.3 Earthquake Rattles Fukushima

December 8th, 2012 by Washington's Blog

A 7.3 earthquake hit near Fukushima.

That is large earthquake … bigger than the 1989 San Francisco earthquake (But it is much smaller than last year’s 9.0 Japanese earthquake, which produced almost 1,000 times more energy.)

The location was very close to last year’s earthquake. The epicenter of the 2011 earthquake is shown on the left, and of today’s quake on the right:

2011 and 2012 Japanese Earthquakes 1024x512 7.3 Earthquake Rattles FukushimaHere are webcam videos showing today’s shaking at Fukushima:

 

A mini tsunami – only 1 yard high – resulted in Ishinomaki, a city in Miyagi prefecture. The earthquake appears to have caused only very limited injuries and property damage.

 

There are no reports of damage at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex – the nuclear reactors which melted down last year.

There are reports of rising pressure at the Fukushima Daini complex 7 miles away … which narrowly avoided melting down last year. But so far it looks like the problems are minor and contained.

While we dodged a bullet this time, we’ve repeatedly noted that there is a very real danger that an earthquake could damage the fuel pools at Fukushima. For example, we noted in February:

Scientists say that there is a 70% chance of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hitting Fukushima this year, and a 98% chance within the next 3 years.

Given that nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen says that an earthquake of 7.0 or larger could cause the entire fuel pool structure collapse, it is urgent that everything humanly possible is done to stabilize the structure housing the fuel pools at reactor number 4.

Tepco is doing some construction at the building … it is a race against time under very difficult circumstances, and hopefully Tepco will win.

As AP points out:

The structural integrity of the damaged Unit 4 reactor building has long been a major concern among experts because a collapse of its spent fuel cooling pool could cause a disaster worse than the three reactor meltdowns.

***

Gundersen (who used to build spent fuel pools) explains that there is no protection surrounding the radioactive fuel in the pools. He warns that – if the fuel pools at reactor 4 collapse due to an earthquake – people should get out of Japan, and residents of the West Coast of America and Canada should shut all of their windows and stay inside for a while.

The fuel pool number 4 is apparently not in great shape, and there have already been countless earthquakes near the Fukushima region since the 9.0 earthquake last March.

And Germany’s ZDF tv quotes nuclear engineer Yukitero Naka as saying:

If another earthquake occurs then the building [number 4] could collapse and another chain reaction could very likely occur.

Today’s earthquake may show that the fears that a 7.0 earthquake could damage the fuel pools are overblown. But given that the Japanese government said today that an 8.0 earthquake is possible, and given that another monster earthquake is likely at Fukushima, stabilizing the fuel pools is urgently needed as a national security concern.

As part of the sinister plan for Syria at work, French military agents have recently held face-to-face meetings with the foreign-backed militants inside the country in a bid to “assess the situation on the ground.”

A report carried by French paper Le Figaro on Friday indicates that “Their main task was to know who controls the battlegrounds around Damascus.”

It seems that a West-orchestrated plan to invade the country is under way and that they are teaming up and gearing up for united military action against the country.

The report adds that the meetings were held last month with the full knowledge of the French government and that the French government wants to know the “operational capacity of each group” and their “political colors.”

To make matters worse, NATO has agreed to deploy Patriot missiles on the Syria-Turkey border under the pretense of defending Turkey as Britain has warned Syria of ‘serious consequences’ if the regime used chemical weapons. All the pieces of the puzzle are being meticulously put together by the ‘foes of Syria’ to lend a cloak of legitimacy to an imminent invasion of the country: that Syria mulls using chemical weapons against its own people and the militants, that the war may spill over into Turkey and that Turkey should be able to defend herself against any potential attacks.

While in Brussels for a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting, William Hague, British foreign secretary, said that Britain had delivered a stark message to President Bashar al-Assad, echoing the words of the Obama administration on Monday.

“We are worried about chemical weapons,” said Mr. Hague. “We have become more concerned about them in recent days for the same reasons the US has. We have already sent our own, clear, private message directly to the Syrians about the serious consequences that would follow from the use of those weapons.”

Syria has blasted NATO’S decision to deploy Patriot missiles as “psychological warfare,” saying the new deployment would not deter it from seeking victory over the militants it views as terrorists.

Despite some western countries claiming that NATO’s decision to deploy the missiles shows a low appetite on their part for military intervention, it is to be seen as a strong naked message that the West is indeed gearing up for military intervention.

Syria said the NATO deployment shall not make Assad change course, calling the talk of chemical weapons part of a conspiracy to justify future intervention.

“The Turkish step and NATO’s support for it are provocative moves that constitute psychological warfare,” Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said in an interview with Lebanon’s Al-Manar TV. “But if they think this will affect our determination and work for a decisive victory in this fight against terrorism, they are very wrong.”

He added, “In the event that [foreign powers] actually considered an aggression, they should consider the consequences. I believe the cost will be high…. They need to understand that they are putting the entire region and its environs to danger, if they tried to commit such a folly.”

That Assad will use chemical weapons against his own population or even the militants is a threadbare claim and a feeble excuse concocted by the West to embark on their initial militaristic voyeurism and eventual military expedition. In fact, it is very much reminiscent of Washington’s claim that Iraq was in possession of Weapons of Mass destruction before it launched a military invasion of the country and brought about a human loss of inconceivable degree. Sadly some realities are soon forgotten. An opinion conducted by Opinion Research Business (ORB) on August 12–19, 2007, indicated a human loss of 1,033,000 in Iraq War. Although the range varies between 946,000 to 1,120,000 deaths, the sheer idea of such colossally disastrous human loss is beyond imagination. According to ORB, “48% died from a gunshot wound, 20% from the impact of a car bomb, 9% from aerial bombardment, 6% as a result of an accident and 6% from another blast/ordnance.”

Russia’s new ambassador to NATO, Alexander Grushko, has de plano perceived some pernicious amount of threat in the move and said, “This is not a threat to us, but this is an indication that NATO is moving towards engagement and that’s it. We see a danger of further involvement of NATO into the situation in Syria as a result of provocation or some border incidents.”

It is cruel but highly likely that West may provide the militants with chemical weapons so they may use them against the Syrians and shift the blame on the Syria government so that they can carry on with their long-though-out plan of invading the country. This idea is further consolidated when we focus on the attention recently accorded to this issue by the US and some western countries. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama have for their parts vowed to take action if Syria uses chemical weapons in the country. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned on Tuesday that any use of chemical weapons by Syria against gunmen would prompt an immediate military response.

The sad truth is that they have already formed their coalition against Syria with even Israel being part of this coalition. According to Hebrew-language Maariv newspaper, Tel Aviv is preparing for such a scenario amid increasing speculation that the US military will intervene in Syria “within days” if chemical weapons are used.

The ‘chemical weapons’ scenario seems to be the best cue for Washington and their western allies in order to gorge the international community on a tacit consent to another military adventurism in the Middle East.

Now that Barack Obama is firmly ensconced in office, re-elected for a second term, it appears that the hounds of hell are desperately barking for some action on Syria. Frustrated by the successful efforts of the Syrian government to turn back the western backed and armed terrorists, their stooges and proxies, they have gone back to old tactics again.

You would think after having been caught out the last time they started agitating about chemical weapons before a false flag attack, they they would give up the ruse. However, here they go again, trying to put the international community in a receptive mood to the idea of attacking Syria by claiming that the Assad government, not them, is desperate enough to use chemical weapons, specifically sarin gas.

Obama made the following televised speech just days ago:

To the National Defense University on Monday, Obama warned Syrian President Bashar Assad not to use his arsenal.

“Today I want to make it absolutely clear to Assad and those under his command: The world is watching,” Obama said. “The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable. And if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable.”

Indeed, Mr. Obama et al, the world is watching. They know your games and your lies very well. They know you will stop at nothing, that no life is too precious not to be sacrificied for your interests.

More of the latest noise from Mr. Obama:

“We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”

Red line, isn’t that special. They are all barking about some red line. There is a line alright, and the FUKUS axis had better not cross it.

Another clucking head was Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, who said much in the same style as the “weapons of mass destruction in Iraq” that “intelligence reports raise fears that an increasingly desperate Syrian President Bashar Assad is considering using his chemical weapons arsenal – which the U.S. and Russia agree is unacceptable.”

Leave the sacred name of Russia out this, you blubbering, lying fool. He went on to say:

“I think there is no question that we remain very concerned, very concerned,” Panetta said, “that, as the opposition advances, in particular in Damascus, that regime might very well consider the use of chemical weapons.”

Panetta has things backwards, like all of them. The terrorist “opposition” is not making advances, even though they try. They are getting their collective behinds kicked. The Syrian Arab Army remains very strong and in good spirits.

Meanwhile, the old war hag, Hillary Clinton, was also being counted on to chime in with the latest agiprop:

“We have been trying hard to work with Russia to try to stop the bloodshed in Syria and start a political transition for a post-Assad Syrian future,” Clinton told reporters in Dublin.

“Events on the ground in Syria are accelerating and we see that in many different ways,” she said. “The pressure against the regime in and around Damascus seems to be increasing. We’ve made it very clear what our position is with respect to chemical weapons, and I think we will discuss that and many other aspects of what is needed to end the violence.”

This disgusting piece of human waste has also tried to blame Russia for the continuing bloodshed while her own hands are dripping with the blood of thousands of Yugoslavian citizens, Libyans and Syrians. They are the ones providing the backing, the funding, the weapons, the communication devices and, most of all, the propaganda for the terrorists.

The hungry monster of US imperialism is not satisfied with having killed around 35,000 Syrians, a large number of them defense forces. A chemical attack would kill many. One wonders what part of hell these people that comprise the FUKUS axis and Israel come from. Surely nothing human is capable of such evil, they are purely demonic in nature.

President Assad has no reason to use chemical weapons, least of all against his own people. It has been repeatedly stated that Syria’s weapons will only be sued for self defense. Why would anyone in Syria be so foolish as to deliberately bring down the full force of the FUKUS axis and NATO?

Syrian Foreign Minister, Jihad Makdissi, clearly said chemical weapons won’t be used internally. Nor will they be used against other nations except in self-defense.

Anyone fair minded person can figure out for themselves that if you have two sides in a conflict, you don’t just demand only one side stop fighting while you arm and encourage the other side to fight harder and dirtier. Being fair minded, Russia and China see that both sides must stop fighting and all parties need to be represented.

You don’t just declare victory for one side and tell the other they cannot participate. That is not diplomacy. That is idiocy and since it has involved many deaths, it’s extremely evil and criminal. The FUKUS aixs with Israel, and particularly US imperialism, are WRONG on the matter.

All nations and people must come together to oppose such dictatorial, totalitarian, fascist behavior and bring these criminals to justice. They are nothing less than war criminals who have committed grievous crimes against humanity, being responsible for millions of deaths, beginning with Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and Syria.

Any use of chemical weapons will obviously have the fingerprints of terrorists, not the Syrian government, all over them. Cui bono (to whose benefit) is such an attack? It’s obvious, as has been since the beginning of these fascist, imperialist wars.

Last but not least, we declare to these dogs of war…no false flag operation is going to result in world community support for any more of your dirty, murderous, destructive wars.

Their abhorrent path of destruction is there for everyone, the entire world community, to see. Wherever the hooves of the FUKUS axis and Israel have tread, they have left hell on Earth for the people who live there.

They envision unfettered capitalism unleashed in its most viscious, savage form. They want Syria to go the way of Iraq and Libya. Only profits, plunder and global domination, not people, not even innocent children, matter to any of them, despite the hypocritical, sanctimonious pronouncements.

News Analysis: Talks of Syrian chemical weapons: prelude for intervention or further pressure on Damascus?

“The real concern is that the U.S. may have other plans; to provide the terrorist groups with such weaponries.. .to justify any foreign intervention in Syria’s internal affairs,” Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad told local media on Thursday.

Qadri Jamil, the minister of domestic trade, asserted recently that “the West is looking for an excuse for direct intervention. If this excuse does not work, it will look for another excuse.”

[A]ll “this wrangling is aimed at empowering the Western stance in the face of Russia that supports the Syrian government.”

DAMASCUS: The U.S. administration and its Western allies have renewed talks of Syria’s alleged chemical arsenal over the past week, sending stern warnings to Damascus against using it.

Such moves have raised questions: is this added pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, or a prelude for a foreign intervention?

U.S. President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials have unleashed a barrage of warnings to the Assad administration citing Western media reports that “the Syrian regime has shown signs that it may be making chemical weapons material.”

Obama said he wanted to be “absolutely clear” to Assad that “the world is watching” and the use of chemical weapons is “totally unacceptable” and “if you make mistake of using it – there will be consequences and you will be held accountable. ”

The Syrian government then made several statements, saying even if it had chemical weapons, it wouldn’t use them “against people.”

“The real concern is that the U.S. may have other plans; to provide the terrorist groups with such weaponries.. .to justify any foreign intervention in Syria’s internal affairs,” Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad told local media on Thursday.

He stressed that any foreign military aggression on Syria will be costly and lead to catastrophic consequences in the region.

Qadri Jamil, the minister of domestic trade, asserted recently that “the West is looking for an excuse for direct intervention. If this excuse does not work, it will look for another excuse.”

However, Syrian analysts and experts argued that the United States and its Western allies’ talk and warnings only aimed to apply more pressure on Damascus.

Sharif Shihadeh, a Syrian parliamentarian, told Xinhua that “stirring this file now doesn’t exceed political pressure by the Western countries along with some regional ones in a bid to achieve political and strategic agendas.”

He said Washington knows that Syria doesn’t possess such weapons, adding that all “this wrangling is aimed at empowering the Western stance in the face of Russia that supports the Syrian government.”

Meanwhile, Afif Delleh, a political expert, concurred with Shihadeh, saying the talk about chemical weapons is a “mere media magnification aimed to achieve political gains at the negotiation table.”

Delleh, who runs a center for strategic studies in Syria, said that the Syrian administration “will not commit such a foolish act because using that kind of weapons would not resolve battles in the military sense, but have catastrophic results on civilians. ”

He concluded that the Western countries will use all pressure cards to squeeze the Syrian administration.

Other observers believe that the United States wants to stir up the chemical weapons case because it acknowledges the presence of radical fighters of al-Qaida in Syria and that in the case of further deterioration in the country, those weapons might fall into the hands of those fighters which will cause great danger to Israel.

Meanwhile, NATO has approved Turkey’s request to deploy Patriot missiles along the Turkish border with Syria to “protect Turkey from a possible attack from Syria.”

In response, media reports revealed Wednesday Russia’s intention to provide the Syrian administration with Iskander missiles in the face of the U.S. Patriots.

Recent developments highlighted the world powers’ division on the Syrian issue. Observers here also said the end of the Syrian crisis depends largely on an understanding between the United States and Russia.

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“We are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it.”

Indeed, they are. For that, the US has launched full-scale wars in close vicinity to the region (not to mention local clashes and a “limited” use of drones on a wider number of countries), slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans, depriving them of the basic human right – the right to live; successfully destabilized the situation in their “Greater Middle East”, flooded the whole of Central Asia with Afghan opium and heroin (with metastasis reaching as far as Russia and Western Europe). And after that Ms. Hillary is trying to present her country as a champion of human rights and finds it OK for herself to criticize others.

As reported by the Financial Times, on Thursday, hours before meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a news conference that the US is to prevent Russia from integrating more closely with its neighbors in Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

“There is a move to re-Sovietise the region,” said the US Secretary of State. “It’s not going to be called that. It’s going to be called a customs union, it will be called Eurasian Union and all of that. But let’s make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it.”

What irritated Ms. Hillary to the extent that she is obviously going to rethink the “reset” policy in relations with Russia, declared in 2009 and launched with her direct participation, is the process of growing integration between former Soviet states, and in particular Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, which formed a customs union in 2010. In 2012, the union was transformed into a common economic space with prospects of turning into a Eurasian Union that would enable other neighboring countries to join it along lines similar to of those of the European Union.

In October 2011, in an article published by the Russian Izvestia newspaper, the then-premier of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin wrote, “There is no talk of reforming the USSR in some form. It would be naive to restore or copy what has been abandoned in the past, but close integration – on the basis of new values, politics and the economy – is the order of the day.”

So, there is a clear impression that when Ms. Hillary speaks of “re-Sovietization” , she barely notices the real goals formulated by Russian politicians, but rather suspects that Russia in its policy regarding its neighbors is following a pattern with which she, as the head of American diplomacy, is well acquainted.

Hence, her claims that Russia is following an expansionist policy, and hence her desire to see the retreat “of so many of the hoped-for indicators of progress” she saw 20 years ago.

And when Mr. Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov called Ms. Hillary’s comments “a completely wrong understanding” of integration efforts and said. “What we see on the territory of the ex-Soviet Union is a new type of integration, based only on economic integration. Any other type of integration is totally impossible in today’s world,” he was right in essence, but his words are sure to fall on deaf ears. As, for example, the vote in the US Senate on the so-called Magnitsky Act has shown, the top brass of US foreign policy are too blind-folded by the old stereotypes, and still believe they are living in the times of the Cold War.

But what Ms. Hillary’s statements do really reveal is the unchanging US strategy towards Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Despite her obvious blunders concerning the nature of Russian policy with regard to its neighbors, her statements concerning the US line really ring true. “We are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it.”

Indeed, they are. For that, the US has launched full-scale wars in close vicinity to the region (not to mention local clashes and a “limited” use of drones on a wider number of countries), slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans, depriving them of the basic human right – the right to live; successfully destabilized the situation in the “Greater Middle East”, flooded the whole of Central Asia with Afghan opium and heroin (with metastasis reaching as far as Russia and Western Europe). And after that Ms. Hillary is trying to present her country as a champion of human rights and finds it OK for herself to criticize others.

In fact, one passage from her speech is worth quoting once more – “Let’s make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is.”

Thou hast said it, Ms. Hillary!

Boris Volkhonsky, senior research fellow, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies

Russian diplomat sees sign of NATO involvement in Syrian conflict in missile deploymentMOSCOW: The deployment of Patriot missiles in Turkey near the Syrian border indicates that NATO is getting involved in the conflict in Syria, Russian ambassador to the alliance Alexander Grushko has said.

“It is difficult to assume that Syria would be interested in fanning tension on the border. The deployment of Patriots indicates that NATO is getting involved in the conflict after all,” he said during a Friday TV linkup from Brussels.

Grushko said that there is the threat of NATO involvement in the Syrian conflict as a result of possible incidents on the Turkish-Syrian border.

“We see the danger of the further involvement of NATO in the developments in Syria as a result of provocations or some incidents on the border,” he said.

“We know that there were incidents in the area of the border, grenade fire. The first question that arises is – what are the Patriots deployed for?” Grushko said.

He said Patriot systems are incapable of neutralizing such threats. “The system is meant to combat warplanes, it also has anti-missile potential,” the diplomat stressed.

“For months NATO leaders continued to say that Syria is not Libya and the alliance sees no political role in the Syrian situation,” Grushko said.

“Today it is necessary not to demonstrate military muscles or military preparations but intensify efforts aimed at launching the political process on the basis of the Geneva platform,” the diplomat said.

Earlier this week NATO foreign ministers backed Turkey’s request for the deployment of Patriot air defense systems on its territory. Turkey accounted its request to the threat of shelling of its territory from Syria.

The NATO leadership stressed that the coming deployment of Patriot missiles would be conducted for purely defense purposes. Several hundred NATO servicemen are planned to be stationed in Turkey to service the missile systems.

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by Adri Nieuwhof

The British-Danish security giant G4S has become the target of rights activists in different countries because of its provision of services to Israeli prisons, military checkpoints and to firms in illegal settlements in the West Bank.

In 2008, G4S Israel advertised its involvement with Israeli miitary checkpoints on its website. The text on the left of the screenshot above reads: “Systems for checking persons, manufactured by Safeview USA, first of their kind, were installed at the Erez checkpoint. The systems are in operational use by the army and enable the performance of full scans of the human body.”

g4s_israel_advertises_on_its_website_its_role_in_eretz_checkpoint_near_gaza.png

G4S Israel advertised its role in Eretz checkpoint on its website. (Screenshot November 2008)

(Who Profits?)

G4S confirmed it had provided security equipment with “associated maintenance services” to the Israeli police, prison service and defense ministry, in a 21 December 2010 letter to the Business and Human Rights Resource Center in London. At the same time, the company claimed it did “not control” — and was not “necessarily aware” — where its security equipment was deployed “as it may be moved around the country.”

Lack of transparency

G4S’s claim that it did not know where its security equipment was deployed sounds implausible. In 2008, the campaign group Who Profits? found evidence on G4S Israel’s website that the firm supplied equipment to the checkpoints of Bethlehem, Qalandiya near Ramallah, Irtah near Tulkarem, and Erez near Gaza. Who Profits? published the information in a March 2011 report on G4S. Although the information is no longer available on the company’s website, the screenshots capturing the pages with the information can be found in the report by Who Profits?.

g4s_israel_advertises_on_its_website_its_role_in_israeli_checkpoins.png

G4S Israel advertised its role in Israeli checkpoins on its website. (Screenshot Nov ember 2008)

(Who Profits?)

The text on the left of the screenshot above reads: “Personal luggage scanning machines manufactured by Rapiscan USA were installed in the Seam Zone crossings [checkpoints which are located along the route of the wall] including the Qalandiya crossing, the Bethlehem crossing, the Sha’ar Efraim [Irtah] crossing and more.”

Confirmation

In order to obtain more clarity about G4S’s involvement in Israel’s military checkpoints, Who Profits? filed a request under the Israeli Freedom of Information Act. A reply from the defense ministry in July 2012 confirmed that ”G4S is one of the companies that provides inspection [services] and scanning equipment to all the Israeli checkpoints along the separation wall [in the West Bank],” wrote Who Profits? in an email to me on 19 November 2012. Click here for a detailed map of the wall and the checkpoints.

In an interview with The Electronic Intifada, London lawyer Simon Natas addressed G4S’s role in Israel’s violations of international law. The provision of technical equipment and maintenance for checkpoints is particuarly problematic, he said. The International Court of Justice found that the construction of the wall on Palestinian land was illegal in 2004. Excerpts of the interview follow below:

The court talked not only about the wall, but about the wall and its associated regime. It considered that “the construction of the wall and its associated regime create a fait accompli on the ground that could well become permanent in which case and notwithstanding the formal characterization of the wall by Israel it would be tantamount to de facto annexation.”

When one talks about the associated regime of the wall, one certainly talks about the checkpoints, because the wall cannot operate without checkpoints.

So the checkpoints are necessary in order to allow Israelis access to the West Bank [and] to prevent Palestinians from passing the other way. If you are providing the technical facilities like scanners and other equipment, and you also have a contract to look after them, to fix them when they go wrong, to ensure that they are working properly, then you are assisting in that process by ensuring that the checkpoints can effectively regulate the movement of people through the wall.

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and the Bank of Scotland have been pillars of Scotland’s economy and culture for over three centuries.  So when the RBS was nationalized by the London-based UK government following the 2008 banking crisis, and the Bank of Scotland was acquired by the London-based Lloyds Bank, it came as a shock to the Scots.  They no longer owned their oldest and most venerable banks.

Another surprise turn of events was the triumph of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in the 2011 Scottish parliamentary election.  Scotland is still part of the United Kingdom, but it has had its own parliament since 1999, similar to U.S. states.  The SNP has rallied around the call for independence from the UK since its founding in 1934, but it was a minority party until the 2011 victory, which gave it an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament.

Scottish independence is now on the table.  A bill has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament with the intention of holding a referendum on the issue in 2014.

Arguments in favor of independence include that it will allow the Scottish people to make decisions for Scotland themselves, on such contentious issues as having nuclear weapons in their seas and being part of NATO.  They can also directly access the profits from the North Sea oil off Scotland’s coast.

Arguments against independence include that Scotland’s levels of public spending (which are higher than in the rest of the UK) would be difficult to sustain without raising taxes.  North Sea oil revenues will eventually decline.

One way budgetary problems might be relieved would be for Scotland to have its own publicly-owned bank, one that served the interests of the Scottish people.  True economic sovereignty means having control over the national currency, credit and debt.

The Public Bank Option

It was in that context that I was asked to give a presentation on public banking at RSA Scotland (the Royal Society of Arts) in Edinburgh on November 22nd.  Among other attendees were a special adviser and a civil servant from the Scottish government.  The presentation was followed by one by public sector consultant Ralph Leishman, Director 4-consulting, who made the public bank option concrete with specific proposals fitting the Scottish context.  He suggested that the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB) be licensed as a depository bank, on the model of the state-owned Bank of North Dakota.  Lively debate followed.

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

“[S]ecuring affordable finance remains a considerable challenge . . . . Evidence shows that while many large companies have significant cash holdings or can access capital markets directly, for most Small and Medium-sized companies bank lending remains the key source of finance. Unblocking this is key to helping the recovery gain traction.”

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

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

Leishman stated that the SIB now has investment funds of £23.2 million from the Scottish government.  Rounding this to £25 million, a public depository bank could have sufficient capital to back £250 million in loans.  For deposits to cover the loans, the Scottish Government has £125 million on deposit with private banks, currently earning little or no interest.  Adding just 14% of the General Fund cash and cash equivalent reserves held by Scotland’s local governments would provide another £125 million, reaching the needed £250 million with six times that sum in local government revenues to spare.

The Model of the Bank of North Dakota

My assignment was to show what the government could do with its own bnak, following the model of the Bank of North Dakota (BND).  On the Saturday following the RSA event, the Scotsman published an article by Alf Young that summarized the issues and possibilities so well that I’m taking the liberty of abstracting from it here.

North Dakota is currently the only U.S. state to own its own depository bank.  The BND was founded in 1919 by Norwegian and other immigrants, determined, through their Non-Partisan League, to stop rapacious Wall Street money men foreclosing on their farms.

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

Young writes:

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

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

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

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

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

Young writes:

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

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

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

Ellen Brown is an attorney and president of the Public Banking Institute.  In Web of Debt, her latest of eleven books, she shows how a private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Her websites are http://WebofDebt.com, http://EllenBrown.com, and http://PublicBankingInstitute.org.   

 

Canada: Starving the People in Order to Feed the Banks

December 7th, 2012 by Rocco Galati

“What is this? This is nonsense! This is an unconstitutional use of the Bank of Canada and it also breaches the terms for which it was set up. The other dimension is, why do we have foreign private interests dictating to the Bank what the interest rate policy, the currency policies and everything else is going to be? And it’s not as if these people are brilliant. They’ve literally caused the collapse of the financial system in the G20 countries! The Federal Reserve, it’s just come out on the audit, printed $16 trillion to save their banks. Our government has put in over a hundred billion in buoying our banks.

So why are we doing this at public expense? And letting the Bank of Canada wither down to nothing, except interest rate policy trying to keep interest rates between 1% and 3%? That’s all they do now!

It’s abdicating your duty under the Bank of Canada Act to govern with respect to these issues.”

-Canadian Constitutional Lawyer Rocco Galati, Dec 5, 2012

“As many of you know, Canada was not a part of the problem. Canadian banks had maintained healthy leverage ratios and largely avoided exposure to toxic assets. No major Canadian financial institutions failed and none required bailouts from the government. As a consequence, Canada now has one of the largest banking sectors in the world, and it is entirely in the private sector.”

-Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 28, 2010

The Canadian banking system has received national and international acclaim.

The perception that Canada weathered the economic storm of 2008-2009 better than other major world powers, and did so without the need for a massive government bailout scheme, has propped up Canada’s reputation as competent fiscal managers. Indeed, this view more than likely played a role in the recent elevation of Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney to the new Head of the Bank of England. It also did not hurt Canadian Prime Minister’s electoral prospects during the election of 2011.

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However, unknown to most Canadians, the country’s biggest banks did indeed receive government money through the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the Bank of Canada and even the US Federal Reserve! The research was published last spring by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in the document The Big Banks’ Big Secret: Estimating Government Support for Canadian Banks During the Financial Crisis. The report’s author, CCPA Senior Economist David Macdonald explains his findings in the first half hour of today’s program.

Just as disturbingly, the Canadian government stopped borrowing from the Bank of Canada in 1974 and started borrowing money from private chartered banks at market rates of interest with the result that nearly 70% of taxes paid by the public goes to the banks just to pay off the interest on those loans.*

A group known as COMER (Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform) has launched a two-pronged challenge against the Bank of Canada and the Finance Minister in the interest of returning the Bank of Canada to its previous role of lending to the Canadian government to finance programs in the public interest at near zero rates of interest.

Toronto Constitutional lawyer Rocco Galati is representing the plaintiffs and explains the suit and why his clients believe the Bank of Canada’s abdication of its mandated role has left the country’s monetary and socio-economic policies in the hands of foreign private elites.

*Source: COMER (The Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform), which cited statistics from economist Jack Biddell indicating that between 1981 and 1995, Canadians paid $619B in income taxes. Interest paid to private banks during the same period totaled $428B. (Economic Reform, p.4. http://comer.org/archives/2007/Aug07.pdf)

LISTEN TO THE SHOW:

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Length (59:04)

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The Global Research News Hour hosted by Michael Welch airs on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg Thursdays at 10am CDT. The programme is broadcast weekly by CKUW News, 95.9 FM out of Winnipeg, MB, and on Canadian community radio networks. The weekly programme is available for download on the Global Research website.

Marking abandonment of the last shred of pretense of observing the rule of law, the Nobel Peace Prize winning European Union Foreign Ministers are to meet with the leader of the Syrian insurgency in Brussels on Monday 10th December, according to Lebanon’s Daily Star.

Mouas al-Khatib, now heading the self-styled Syrian National Coalition: “will attend at least part of the meeting a spokesman for Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign affairs chief “, confirmed today.

The Ministers strategy to end the tragedy in Syria is to arm the insurgents, it seems and: “ … to look at ways of loosening an arms embargo in order to help rebel forces, EU diplomats said.”

Al Khatib, the paper points out, has already visited London and Paris, where the “coalition” has been recognized as the: “sole representative of the Syrian people.”

EU Foreign Ministers did not endorse full recognition at a meeting on 19th November though considered the “coalition” to be: “legitimate representatives” of the (un-consulted) Syrian people. The “sole representative” is clearly hoping for the jackpot at this gathering.

Later in the week the EU, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other allies are meeting factions of the insurgency in Marrakesh, Morocco.

In the week the US has designated one of the Syrian groups, the Nusra Front, to its list of “terrorist organizations”, alleging its links to al-Qaeda, the decision would seem to have been made for Clinton also to announce in Morocco, recognition of the al-Khatib collection as fully “the legitimate representative” of the Syrian people: “an endorsement Washington hopes will help the group mature in to a transitional government.”

(“Treason: betrayal of one’s sovereign or country, especially by attempting to overthrow the government. Any treachery or betrayal.” Collins Oxford Dictionary.)

Last week EU Member States decided to review the embargo on Syria “designed to cut off supplies” to the government, quarterly instead of annually: “to facilitate the supplies of non-lethal equipment to the rebels if necessary.” So “loosening the arms embago” and assistance in illegality in every way, bestowed by the collective Nobel Laureates.

It has to be wondered, given US concern regarding the Nusra Front’s links with Al Qaeda, whether anyone has read Mouas al-Khatib’s cv.

The highly educated fifty two year old, Damascus born al-Khatib is President of the Islamic Civilisation Society, and a Member of the Board of Trustees of Sheikh Badr al-Din al-Hassani Institute for Islamic Studies. A graduate of the Department of Applied Geophysics at Damascus University, he also holds a Diploma in Political Science and International Relations.

The US Administration will not have missed his impeccable oil industry credentials.

He worked at Syria’s al-Furat Petroleum Company from 1985-1991. The company was part owned by the Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell (Shell Oil.) He maintained contacts with the company.

On the death of his father in 1992, he inherited his place as preacher at Damacus’s Umayyad Mosque (“The Great Mosque.”) Built in 634, it is custodian of a shrine believed to hold the head of John the Baptist, revered as a Prophet by both Christians and Muslims. However he was banned from preaching in the historic and illustrious place of worship by Bashir al Assad’s father, Hafez.

Al-Khatib then founded the Islamic Civilisation Society and taught Sharia Law and Islamic studies, in Damascus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nigeria, Turkey, the UK, USA. He settled in Qatar – now a Syria opposition facilitator in the region.

Between 2003 and 2004 he returned to Syria as a lobbyist for Shell Oil when Bashir al Assad, having inherited the Presidency from his father in 2000, was opening up the country to oil and gas concessions.

He then returned again in 2012 to make what many considered inflammatory speeches, was arrested, imprisoned, then pardoned. He again left the country.

Many of his writings were initially remarkably conciliatory, but then became more and more militant. Now Syria National Coalition Member Mahmoud al-Hamza: “states that the Coalition agreement signed by al-Khatib stipulates that a peaceful settlement will not be pursued.” (i)

“The formation of the National Coalition ‘rules out any talks with Mr. Assad and stipulates that his regime must be toppled’ is a victory for the war party and spells disaster for Syria and the region.”

 He should have a warm welcome in Europe and North Africa next week. However, Washington would appear to have missed something:

Mouas al-Khatib was implacably opposed to the Iraq invasion, regarding Western presence to be sacrilegious. Osama bin Laden held the same view. He is widely stated as having aligned himself to Osama bin Laden at the time.

Note

i. http://humanrightsinvestigations.org/2012/11/12/ahmed-mouaz-al-khatib-president-of-the-syrian-national-coalition-of-forces-of-the-syrian-revolution-and-opposition/

 

 

The Left in Government – A Strategic Project

December 7th, 2012 by Asbjørn Wahl

To Be in Office, But Not in Power

The experiences from having had left political parties in government in Europe in the era of neoliberalism have not been very exciting, to put it mildly. The most recent experiences from such governments in France, Italy and – to a certain degree – also Norway have proved anything from negative to disastrous. In all these three countries right wing populist parties have been the biggest winners – with growing support, including in the working-class, and increasing influence on areas like immigration policies. This is particularly worth noting, since one of the arguments from parties on the left for entering into centre-left coalition governments has been to contain and isolate the radical right.

In analysing these experiences we have to look at external as well as internal factors. Externally, the balance of power between labour and capital is the most decisive factor. This power relationship has changed considerably in favour of capital during the neoliberal era since about 1980. Internally, it is the character of the party in question which is most important – its social roots, its analyses of the current situation, its strategies, its relationship with trade unions and social movements and its aims and perspectives. In this regard, the ideological and political crisis on the left has to be addressed.

Even though a detailed analysis will have to go deep into the concrete situation in each country, its history and traditions, its class formations and its social and political forces, I have chosen a more generalized approach in this paper. My discussion focuses on the initial conditions for left parties to enter into broader coalition governments. Based on the most recent experiences, I will try to develop some general, minimum conditions for government participation for parties on the left – at least as a starting point for further discussion.

A Couple of Clarifications

However, before developing the discussion further, I should like to make a couple of clarifications which I think are important for the following analysis.

Firstly, I do not consider the traditional social democratic (or labour) parties (even if some of them name themselves socialist) to be part of the left. There are important differences between these parties and right wing and centre parties, first and foremost in terms of history, traditions and their roots in the working-class. This creates special challenges to the left. Politically, however, these parties have pursued more or less soft versions of neoliberalism since the 1980s. They have contributed to shifting the balance of power from labour to capital in society through liberalization, privatization and the undermining of labour market regulations.

Secondly, in Europe it has not been a question of the left winning majority governments (like for example in some Latin American countries). In the neoliberal era it has only been a question of joining centre-left coalition governments as a junior partner – most often in coalition with a dominant social democratic party and some green and/or social liberal parties. It has therefore always been a question of what kind of compromises the left party is willing to accept, and where the absolute conditions (if any) are in the different political areas. Political compromises from a junior position have been the order of the day for these parties.

The Balance of Power

The neoliberal offensive from around 1980 led to a considerable shift in the balance of power in society. Through deregulation and privatization power and decision-making have been transferred from democratically elected bodies to the market. Through New Public Management public institutions have been moved arm’s length from politicians and made subject to quasi-market rules and regulations – with increased power to management and the market. Through international agreements and institutions (like the World Trade Organization and the European Union), neoliberal policies have been institutionalized at the international/regional level and further contributed to limiting the political space at the national level.

The room for manoeuvre has accordingly become very limited for left political parties which choose to enter into centre-left coalition governments. Even if many governments and politicians exaggerate the lack of political space, there is no doubt that it is strongly restricted in many areas. The free movement of capital, the right for capital to establish wherever it wants, and the free access to markets across borders are just some of the most important examples on how politicians, through deregulation and reregulation, have strongly limited their own possibility to pursue alternative policies in their own countries.

In short, not only have we seen an enormous shift in the balance of power in society, but also extensive institutionalization of the new power relations – something which simply has made many progressive, left wing policies illegal and in breach of international agreements. This, of course, represents serious challenges for political parties on the left, and any such party which faces the possible participation in a centre-left government has to take this into consideration. The significant English saying “To be in office, but not in power,” can easily come true in such a situation. The danger of becoming just a hostage for neoliberal policies is imminent.

Relations to Social Forces/Movements

Thus, governments have limited their possibility to regulate the economy and to restrict the power of capital, even if the actual government would like to do so. Any government that intends to pursue a radical welfare policy under such circumstances will therefore need strong social movements outside the parliament to challenge the increased structural power of capital. This has not been the case in most European countries over the last 20-30 years. There have been ebb and flow tides of social movements and trade union struggles in many countries, but strong, lasting movements with well developed class consciousness and long-term perspectives have been in short supply.

It seems also to be a problem for political parties on the left to stand with one leg in the government and the other leg outside, as the French Communist Party proclaimed when it joined the so-called pluralistic left Government of Lionel Jospin in 1997. Anyway, this dual power strategy was obviously easier to proclaim than to carry out, and the actual results were not very encouraging for the French left.

In the current Norwegian context the need for such a movement outside Parliament is not even part of the perspective and strategy of the Socialist Left Party, which is currently in a broad centre-left coalition government. On the contrary, movements have been told by official representatives of the party to stay calm, to be patient and to give the government more time rather than to ‘create problems for them’ by criticizing them or mobilizing for more radical solutions.

In today’s society, an enormous mobilization of social power would be necessary to move forward with a progressive social agenda. It would require the combination of strong and highly mobilized social forces and the existence of a political party deeply rooted in popular and working-class movements – and with the ability to represent these movements whether inside or outside governments. Most probably, a left political party of the sort which is needed to lead an emancipatory struggle for the popular classes will hardly be possible to develop without the existence of such strong social movements.

Class Consciousness

The political/ideological situation in the working-class is also of great importance. In Europe, this has been strongly influenced by the pretty successful post WWII developments, based on a class compromise and the social partnership ideology.

The effects of this development were twofold. On the one hand, the European Social Model or the welfare state led to enormous improvements of working and living conditions for the a majority of the people. On the other hand, these improvements, which took place under a social compromise in which capitalist interests gave many concessions to the workers, resulted in the depolitization and the deradicalization of the working-class. Another effect was a strong integration of the working-class in the capitalist order.

Even though the class compromise has broken down, or is breaking down, in the wake of the economic crisis of the 1970s and the following, neoliberal offensive, the labour movement in Europe is still strongly influenced by this social partnership ideology – including many of the political parties on the left. In other words, the ideological legacy of the social pact is still alive and well in big parts of the labour movement.

Some even aim at re-establishing the broad social compromise, or a New Deal, as it was called in the USA (under the current threat of climate change, some also aim for a New Green Deal). These policies, however, seem to be completely delinked from any assessment of power relations in society. They do not take into account the enormous shift in the balance of power which lay behind the class compromise which dominated the post WWII period, including the discredit of free-market capitalism after the depression of the 1930s. Calls for a new social pact from the political left are pretty illusory under the actual power balance and will only contribute to leading the struggle astray.

Competition With the Radical Right

The undermining and the weakening of the European social model, the welfare state, and the general offensive of capitalist forces, have led to increased discontent, insecurity and powerlessness among workers and people in general. The social and economic basis for the discontent among people is in other words deeply embedded in the capitalist economy – particularly in its current neoliberal version, which increases the exploitation of workers, reduces their influence at the workplace, alienates them in relation to the work process as well as to society in general and makes life more socially and economically insecure.

The current financial and economic crises have further strengthened and deepened the discontent among workers. The political articulation of these problems, however, has not been very well developed on the left. This has contributed strongly to the rise of the radical right (right wing populist parties), which is cynically and successfully exploiting this situation. This success is exactly made possible by the lack of political parties on the left which understand the situation, take people’s discontent seriously and are able to politicise it and channel it into an organized struggle against alienation, exploitation and exclusion – for a social, just and solidary society.

With the left party in a centre-left coalition government, dominated by social democrats, this problem can actually become even more serious, since the party then will be bound up in a number of compromises, and there is hardly any opposition on the left that can pick up and politicise the messages of the discontents. Thus, the participation in a broad centre-left coalition government, and all the compromises which necessary will come with it in the current conjuncture, will in itself limit the left’s ability to represent and defend the interests of workers and ordinary people.

The right wing populists then become the only anti-establishment, system-critical alternative, while the centre-left government is mainly administering and defending the existing order. Thus we face the paradoxical situation that left parties, which have entered into broad centre/left coalitions with the aim of containing and isolating the radical right, in effect lead to the opposite – to the strengthening of right wing populist parties and the weakening of the left. This development can only be turned if the left is able to create a situation in which workers and people in general experience that they are part of a real emancipatory struggle, a struggle which the recent centre-left governments in Europe have not been able to launch.

The Character of the Party

When discussing the experiences with left parties in government, however, one cannot only assess external, but also internal factors. Does the actual party have a meaningful analysis of the situation? Does it have the strategies and perspectives necessary to mobilize social power for social change? If not, its political practice cannot only be considered a mistake – or an effect of external factors. Maybe we will rather have to conclude that this is not the party we need to lead the struggle for the emancipation of the working-class and the overthrowing of capitalism (if this is still our aim).

Most political parties on the left are a bit confused, influenced as they are by the ideological and political crises in the labour movement after the breakdown of the Soviet model in Eastern Europe and the end of the social democratic model (based on the social pact between labour and capital) in Western Europe. The character of the various parties on the left is therefore the product of many factors. The lack of strong social movements which can influence the party, radicalize it and deliver new activists with experiences from social struggles, is one factor. Another factor is a tendency among party leaders in particular to want to come out of political isolation and become accepted in society. A third factor is careerism of individuals in or close to the party leadership if they see a possibility to become part of the government apparatus etc. All these factors will drive a left party toward more moderate and pragmatic positions.

Based on the experiences so far from left parties in broad centre-left coalition governments in Europe, it seems as if the actual parties have been too eager to become government partners, while the political strategies and tactics on how to use this position have been sparsely developed. It seems also as if the parties have underestimated how the current unfavourable balance of power, together with the broad composition of the government coalitions, limits the political room for manoeuvre for a junior coalition partner on the left.

These developments have led to crises of expectation. While the left parties themselves promise new policies, and the electorate expects reforms which can meet their needs, the results have proved to be quite meagre. Thus, left parties have come into a squeeze between peoples’/workers’ legitimate expectations on the one side and the limited room for manoeuvre in broad coalition governments on the other. The result has become a loss of confidence in and support for the actual left party. Again, what we experience is a weakening of the left and a further strengthening of the radical right – exactly the opposite of what was the aim.

Minimum Conditions

Of course, socialist left parties should seek alliances with other parties, also in government, if this can contribute to shifting the balance of power in society from capital to labour. However, certain preconditions must be in place for the establishment of such coalition governments. Only concrete negotiations with other parties can in the end reveal whether or not the political preconditions are satisfactory. Generalized solutions therefore have to be taken with great caution. In spite of that, and based on the experiences so far with the Socialist Left Party in the Norwegian government, as well as with other experiences with left parties in centre-left government coalitions in Europe over the last 20-30 years, I will put forward the following four minimum conditions as a basis for discussion:

1) A socialist left party should not join a coalition government if this government is not opposed to a policy of privatization – at the national level as well as internationally. The government should defend, not attack, trade union and labour rights, and it should not take part in imperialist wars.

2) The party must let its participation in the government be guided by long-term socialist visions and strategies. It must also be able continuously to assess whether or not its participation serves these long-term goals and be able to break out if this is not the case.

3) Under the current balance of power, there is no possibility to carry out consistent anti-neoliberal policies from a government position without the existence of strong popular movements (including trade unions) outside the parliament. The actual party of the left must therefore also both understand the necessity of such movements and be able to join forces with them.

4) The political platform of such a government and its actions must address the problems, the insecurities, the concerns and the anxieties of ordinary people. Their discontent with current developments must be taken seriously. This includes a programme which challenges existing power structures, limits the power of capital, redistributes wealth and extends democracy. Only a government which, through concrete economic and social reforms, is able to mobilize workers and ordinary people can have any chance to contain right wing populism. The indications from experiences so far are that only in a situation in which workers and people in general experience that they are part of a real emancipatory struggle, can the left in government succeed.

None of the centre-left governments in Europe over the last 20 years have met these four conditions. The conclusion of my analysis is therefore that government participation should be dealt with in a much more strict way than has been the case on the European left in the neoliberal era. Under the current unfavourable balance of power, with rather weak and fluctuating social movements, the main tasks of left political parties should therefore be to organize, to politicize, to raise awareness and to mobilize resistance from below in society. In this way the basis for possible future participation in governments can be developed.

Tactical Considerations

For a left party with the aim of overthrowing capitalism, passive but critical support of a centre-left government would probably be a better choice than to join the government under current power relations. It gives much more room for manoeuvre, and the possibility to pursue primary positions and more radical proposals than the often watered-down compromises reached in the government. One should also not forget that the execution of power in not restricted to government participation. To challenge a centre-left government from a position outside the government, in alliance with strong social movements, can have good effects on governmental parties which are competing for support from the same social basis.

However, an often heard argument from the actual political parties of the left has been that ‘it would not have been understood or accepted by our electorate and the most radical parts of the working-class if we had not joined the coalition government.’ The possible negative effect of staying outside the government would have been that the party had lost support and confidence among workers and people in general, according to this argument.

At least two points can be made against this argument. Firstly, experiences have proved that the actual parties have lost great parts of its support and confidence in government – and probably much more than what would have been the situation if the party had placed itself as part of the actual government’s parliamentary basis, but outside the government.

Secondly, the effect of staying outside the government will probably depend on the way in which the political manoeuvre is made. Any party must of course say yes in principle to government participation – if the right political conditions are present. It is exactly the definition of these conditions which are decisive. If the left party picks up some of the most important demands from trade unions and social movements, and turn them into absolute conditions, it should have a good position to defend its position if government negotiations break down. The problem so far has probably been that the actual left parties have gone too far in compromising their policies already in the initial government negotiations.

Post script

However, the not so successful experiences from participation in centre-left governments in Europe over the last 20-30 years do not seem to frighten new parties on the left from following the same course. Rather the opposite, it seems to have become a dogma that left parties should join centre-left governments if the opportunity offers and the social democratic party in question accepts it as a junior partner. Thus, the Left Party in Sweden, the Socialist Peoples’ Party in Denmark, the Socialist Party in the Netherlands and the Left Party in Germany all seem to be on course for government participation as soon as the opportunity knocks. If this results in governments which are unable to meet peoples’ and workers’ needs and expectations in a deepening economic and social crisis, the situation can be really disastrous – and lead to a further strengthening of the radical right.

 

Asbjørn Wahl is Director of Campaign for the Welfare State, Oslo.

Published in Birgit Daiber (ed.) (2009), The Left in Government: Latin America and Europe compared, Brussels: Rosa Luxemburg foundation.

Middle East on the Boil

December 7th, 2012 by Stephen Lendman

Call it the curse of oil and gas. Countries with large and smaller reserves are affected. So are some with few or perhaps none. Living in a targeted neighborhood is challenging. Independent governments are most vulnerable.

Reports suggest the worst ahead. Iran remains a longtime US/ Israeli target. Syria’s very much on the boil. Washington’s proxy war rages. It’s been ongoing since early last year.

It was planned many years ago. Previous articles explained that America wants all independent governments replaced by pro-Western puppet ones. War is the bottom line option of choice when other methods fail.

Direct US/NATO intervention looms. Deploying attack Patriot missiles in Turkey near Syria’s border comes perilously close to declaring war. Doing so may follow.

Germany agreed to participate. It approved sending 400 troops to the Turkish/Syrian border. Washington, Berlin, and the Netherlands will provide Patriot missiles.

On Tuesday, NATO formerly approved deploying them. Operationally, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) will control them.

Washington considers the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea its private lakes. Powerful naval forces dominate their waters ominously.

The USS Eisenhower sits off Syria’s coast. On board are eight fighter bomber squadrons and 8,000 troops. It joined the USS Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group. About 2,500 marines are on board.

Mossad-connected DEBKAfile (DF) said “10,000 US fighting men, 70 fighter-bombers and at least 17 warships, including three Iwo Jima amphibious craft, a guided missile cruiser, and 10 destroyers and frigates” are positioned off Syria or nearby.

Four ships have Aegis missile interceptors. Some are nuclear armed. US firepower off Syria’s coast can destroy the entire country. It remains to be seen what’s next.

The combination of powerful warships, heavy armaments, thousands of combat troops, dozens of attack aircraft, offensive Patriot missiles, Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System readiness, and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) capability suggests direct US-led intervention could happen any time.

On Tuesday, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amendment. It requires Obama to inform Congress of intentions to impose a Syrian no-fly zone or planned intervention in other ways.

Voting 92 – 6, it requires “a report on military activities to deny or significantly degrade the use of (Syrian) air power against civilian and opposition groups in Syria.”

It suggests possible US intervention. Allies should be involved if it comes. US boots on the ground should be avoided. Hostilities could erupt any time. Opinion in Washington is divided. Influential hawks want something done now.

Amendment language said it’s not a declaration of war or authorization of force. It didn’t rule them out. It wants US military options evaluated. It suggests establishing a no-fly zone.

Attack Patriot missiles deployed on Syria’s border impose one. The Senate amendment adds more teeth. It suggests possible intervention in one of three ways or a combination of two or more.

US aggression may involve offensive Patriot missiles, no-fly zones over population centers, and/or US-led NATO air strikes.

Backers called the amendment a “reasonable assessment” of how Pentagon forces can degrade and deter Assad’s air capability. Some call it step one toward direct US involvement.

Senators want to be kept informed about plans. Most House members likely concur. They passed their NDAA measure earlier this year. Both versions will be reconciled once a final Senate bill passes. Obama will sign it into law.

He made baseless threats about Syria’s chemical weapons. He called using them crossing a “red line.” He’s looking for ways to provoke full-scale intervention.

When America wants war, pretexts are claimed to justify it. When none exist, they’re invented. Washington wants Assad removed. Expect full-scale war. It’s coming.

Timing may follow Obama’s January inauguration. It could be sooner. Reports suggest Israeli involvement in plans to remove Assad. A previous article discussed Israel approaching Jordanian officials about attacking Syrian chemical weapons sites.

Baseless US claims suggest Assad has sarin nerve gas bombs ready for use. They say he’s positioning them at as yet unknown locations.

Syria categorically denies it. A Foreign Ministry statement said military forces “would not use chemical weapons, if (they) had them, against its own people under any circumstances.”

On December 2, The New York Times hyped the baseless chemical weapons threat. Unnamed officials were cited as sources. A US one said “activity we are seeing suggests some potential chemical weapon preparation.”

It goes beyond moving them from one location to another, he claimed. No evidence whatever of planned use was given.

Leaking the chemical weapons story was strategically timed. It came ahead of NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels. They approved deploying Patriot missiles.

Doing so permits establishing no-fly zones over Syrian population centers without Security Council authorization. Incrementally, US-led NATO heads for war.

Following his one day Istanbul meeting with Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan, Vladimir Putin issued a veiled warning. It was meant for Washington, saying:

“What we are concerned about is Syria’s future. We don’t want the same mistakes to be repeated in the near future. We shall remember how some regimes supported the militants in Libya and” how badly that turned out.

At the same time, Putin knows Washington’s war on Syria looms. Russia and China have much to lose if America achieves unchallenged regional control. It remains to be seen how both countries will respond.

Egypt also remains very much on the boil. On November 23, protests erupted throughout the country. They came after President Mohamed Morsi’s November 22 decree asserted dictatorial powers.

Despite strong opposition, Egypt’s Constituent Assembly approved a draft constitution on November 30. In mid-December, a national referendum will be held on whether to adopt it. Elections in early 2013 will follow.

Morsi said once a new constitution is approved, he’ll rescind his unlimited executive powers. Egyptians are justifiably skeptical. Similar earlier promises proved hollow.

Washington supports him and his Muslim Brotherhood led government. They’re reliable imperial allies. They’re too important to lose. So is Egypt’s military. It retains enormous power. It has considerable say over whatever it chooses to control.

Morsi’s government is Egypt’s public face. Opponents and supporters squared off for days. Police attacked anti-government protesters.

On December 6, tanks and armored vehicles protected the presidential palace. Three Morsi advisors resigned. His planned Wednesday address was cancelled. Prime Minister Hisham Qandil called for calm and national dialogue.

Since protests erupted, six people died. Hundreds more were injured and/or arrested. Clashes show no signs of ending. On Tuesday, protesters broke through presidential palace barbed wire barriers.

Morsi fled for his own protection. Later he returned. Street clashes reflect pandemonium. Demonstrators call their efforts a “last warning.”

They demand Morsi rescind his degree. They oppose the hastily written constitution. It’s based on Sharia law. It establishes an Islamic dictatorship and military rule.

It hardens the worst of what most Egyptians oppose. It keeps Egypt on the boil. It assures vicious crackdowns against opponents. Public anger erupted on and off last year. Broken pledges continued them this year.

Ousting Mubarak reaped the whirlwind. America wanted him replaced. Morsi is Washington’s man in Cairo. Obama wants Muslim Brotherhood officials and Egypt’s military running things.

Western funding supports them. Considerable amounts are provided. Morsi is a US-educated technocrat. His public persona belies his collusion with Washington and other NATO countries.

He’s hardline anti-Assad. He supports anti-Syrian death squads. He feigns Palestinian support. He’s another tinpot regional despot. He’s secure as long as he retains Western support. He’s got it as long as he remembers who’s boss.

Egyptians are no better off than before anti-Mubarak clashes erupted. Their legitimate grievances are ignored. It’s the same throughout most of the region.

Despite uprisings in a dozen or more countries, substantive change didn’t follow. Liberating struggles remain.

Throughout most of the region, people want jobs, decent pay, better services, ending corruption and repression, as well as liberating democratic change in a part of the world where poverty, unemployment and despotism reflect daily life for tens of millions.

Regional despots enforce the worst of conditions. Fed up people want change. They’re on their own against repressive entrenched power.

Western support makes their liberating struggles harder. Expect no resolution easily or quickly. Dark forces will go all out to crush them. Real change remains a distant dream.

 

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

 

His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

 

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

 

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

 

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

Pollux: Subcritical Underground US Nuclear Explosion Test

December 7th, 2012 by Andrew Kishner

On December 6, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) posted on their website that a day earlier it had conducted ‘Pollux,’ the U.S.’s 27th subcritical nuclear experiment since signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Pollux was a first-of-its-kind subcritical test involving a scale model nuclear warhead primary (this fact wasn’t mentioned in their press release, see Annex below).

The CTBT allows these underground explosive experiments on plutonium as long as they don’t sustain a chain reaction, however the U.S. has not allowed international inspectors access to its test site since the late 1990s, so the veracity of its claims – that it didn’t conduct a very small nuclear explosion – cannot be established. Since the formation of the CTBT, subcritical experiments have been under attack because of their proliferation risks.

Andrew Kishner, founder of NuclearCrimes.org, said ‘Any nuclear experiment that’s conceivably helpful for advancing nuclear weapons designs and, worse, conducted in an underground area of a nuclear test site, is a recipe for global destabilization.’ In 1997, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Ali Alatas remarked at a United Nations meeting “Unless the nuclear powers desisted from sub-critical tests and computer simulations to design new weapons, there could be a resumption of the nuclear arms race and a revival risk of global disaster.”

The NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency of the U.S. Department of Energy, which, through 1992, conducted hundreds of nuclear tests at the former Nevada Test Site. That site, a ‘proving grounds’ for nuclear weapons testing, was renamed in recent years to the Nevada National Security Site, which maintains a ‘readiness’ for treaty breakout and resumption of nuclear testing.

Andrew Kishner said ‘As an American, the thing that angers me about subcritical tests is that the DOE is an un-rehabilitated nuclear criminal. They’re back at the scene of the crime. Their test site is still open for blowing up nuclear bombs. Today, those bombs entail subcritical explosions. But I fear the DOE has on its wish list to do critical ones, and won’t care again who is living downwind.’

NNSA press release: http://nnsa.energy.gov/mediaroom/pressreleases/pollux120612

CONTACT: Andrew Kishner, [email protected]

[email protected][email protected]________________________

ANNEX

 

Press Release

NNSA Conducts Pollux Subcritical Experiment at Nevada National Security Site
Dec 6, 2012

LAS VEGAS – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that Pollux, a subcritical experiment, was successfully conducted yesterday at its Nevada National Security Site (NNSS).

The experiment, conducted by staff from NNSS, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories, gathered scientific data that will provide crucial information to maintain the safety and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear weapons.

“Challenging subcritical experiments maintain our capabilities to ensure that we can support a safe, secure and effective stockpile without having to conduct underground testing,” said NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino. “I applaud the work done by the men and women who worked to make this experiment successful. Experiments such as this help deliver President Obama’s nuclear security agenda.”

Pollux was the 27th subcritical experiment to date.  The previous subcritical experiment, Barolo B, was conducted on Feb. 2, 2011. Pollux employed a superb new diagnostic that recently won an R&D 100 award.

“Diagnostic equipment fielded by our scientists resulted in more data collected in this single experiment than all other previous subcritical experiments,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Don Cook. “This type of data is critical for ensuring our computer simulations can accurately predict performance, and thus continued confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the nation’s stockpile.”

Christopher Deeney, NNSA Assistant Deputy Administrator for Stockpile Stewardship said, “Pollux will provide a significant data set to verify codes important to laboratories’ stockpile missions.”

Subcritical experiments examine the behavior of plutonium as it is strongly shocked by forces produced by chemical high explosives. Subcritical experiments produce essential scientific data and technical information used to help maintain the safety and effectiveness of the nuclear weapons stockpile. The experiments are subcritical; that is, no critical mass is formed and no self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction can occur; thus, there is no nuclear explosion.

Watch a video of the experiment on YouTube.

Follow NNSA News on our Blog and on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, and Flickr.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Andrew Kishner is founder of NuclearCrimes.org, which provides analysis into the history and public health consequences of nuclear weapons work during the 20th century by several ‘nuclear club’ nations.

NATO forces raided a health clinic, detained people inside and used the building to house detained Afghan insurgents in breach of Geneva Conventions

US-led NATO forces attacked a health clinic in Afghanistan, stormed the building, damaged equipment, detained those inside and turned it into a temporary jail and military base, in a grave violation of the laws of war.

The incident occurred in October in Wardak province, according to the aid group that runs the clinic, the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan.

“The soldiers knocked down a wall to enter the building, damaged doors, windows, examination beds and other equipment, and detained clinical staff and civilians inside,” reports the Guardian‘s Emma Graham-Harrison from Kabul. ”And for the next two and a half days they brought dozens, maybe hundreds of prisoners through the clinic, using it as a jail, logistics hub and for mortar fire, contravening the Geneva conventions, which protect medical centres.”

“The protection of medical persons and facilities, and respect for their neutrality was one of the founding principles of international humanitarian law,” Erica Gaston, a human rights lawyer and senior program officer at the US Institute of Peace, told theGuardian.

“This latest incident is a serious violation…if true, it’s incredible to me that they not only raided this clinic but that [NATO] command allowed them to continue occupying it for days afterwards.”

The Swedish Committee said it complained to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and they admitted the takeover violated international laws, but said it was a mistake.

But apparently this incident isn’t so out of the ordinary.

Andreas Stefansson, the Swedish group’s director, told the Guardian that ”Most NGOs who deliver healthcare in this country experience this almost on a monthly basis; that there are breaches in different provinces, where the Afghan National Army, or ISAF, or special forces basically don’t show the level of respect they should for health facilities.”

The announcement that Kate Middleton, wife of Britain’s Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge, is expecting a baby has produced unseemly squeals of delight from the American media and establishment generally.

Why this stupidity? Or is it something more than mere stupidity?

Since we are speaking, first of all, of the American media, of course there is the element of imbecility—along with the inevitable effort to divert public attention from social disaster and unending wars and threats of wars.

For months the major television networks, cable channels and weekly magazines have been breathlessly anticipating what ABC News on December 3 termed “the most eagerly awaited pregnancy.” Fox News, owned by Rupert Murdoch, declared itself “delighted” by the “royal pregnancy,” only worrying whether “Kate’s medical condition” posed a threat to her health. According to Time, “When news of the Duchess of Cambridge’s pregnancy broke on Monday, a gasp of excitement went round the world.”

Briton Alex Massie, writing in Newsday, noted December 5 that the media in the US was “plunging overboard in one of its periodic obsessions with the British House of Windsor” and that the news from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge was “sending a good part of the American press into a familiar frenzy of twittering, fluttering excitement.”

This same press imputed its own frenzy to the population at large. An Associated Press reporter informed his readers that “An heir to the British throne is on the way—and Americans may be as enthralled as the Brits. This former colony has been riveted by the royal news that the former Kate Middleton is pregnant.” He should speak for himself. To the casual observer, this country presents itself as a sea of indifference to the British royal family’s pending expansion.

Without a doubt, however, the various television anchors, gossip columnists and scandalmongers posing as journalists are beside themselves with joy.

CNN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell asked her viewers Monday evening, “Are you excited? I am. We’ve got breaking news… Since the moment they [the prince and his wife] walked down the aisle, rumors have run rampant that the wildly popular couple are expecting. But tonight, a year and a half after their wedding, we have confirmation—the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting a baby—yay!—and an heir to the throne.”

On CNN’s HLN evening show, “Showbiz Tonight,” host A.J. Hammer observed, “Already we’ve seen the reaction to the news that Catherine is merely pregnant. What if it turns out she’s carrying twins? It would be like a nuclear explosion of baby news.” He asked his guest, Rosie Pope, “You can hear my head is exploding, right?”

Pope responded, “My head is exploding, too. It’s—I’m speechless just even thinking about it. I mean, the possibility is incredibly exciting, however unlikely.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney told a media briefing December 3 “that on behalf of everyone here in the White House, beginning with the President and the First Lady, we extend our congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the welcome news this morning out of London that they are expecting their first child.”

Nominally at least, the United States remains a republic. Why should the American president extend congratulations to the British royal family, a collection of wealthy parasites, mediocrities and dimwits, for anything?

The American independence struggle (1775-1783) was an immensely serious, world-historical event. An estimated 25,000 American revolutionaries died in the conflict, 8,000 or so in battle and another 17,000 from disease. As many as 12,000 perished as British prisoners, most in rotting prison ships. The estimates of the wounded ranges as high as 25,000. The total casualty figure, therefore, is estimated to be at least 50,000, in addition to thousands of civilians. This out of a population of only 2.4 million.

The former colonists declared independence in conscious defiance of King George III and the principle of royalty, on the basis that all men were created equal. The generation that advocated and fought for independence from Britain despised the monarchy as an institution.

For example, the radical Tom Paine, author of Common Sense, wrote: “To the evil of monarchy we have added that of hereditary succession; and as the first is a degradation and lessening of ourselves, so the second, claimed as a matter of right, is an insult and imposition on posterity. For all men being originally equals, no one by birth could have a right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others for ever… One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in Kings, is that nature disapproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule, by giving mankind an ASS FOR A LION.”

Thomas Jefferson referred to royalty with unstinting contempt. In 1788, writing to George Washington from France, he observed, “I was much an enemy of monarchies before I came to Europe. I am ten thousand times more so since I have seen what they are. There is scarcely an evil known in these countries which may not be traced to their king as its source, nor a good which is not derived from the small fibres of republicanism existing among them.”

In a letter written in 1810, Jefferson noted that not only was the king of England “a cipher,” but the entire breed of European royals, like “any race of animals,” confined “in idleness and reaction, whether in a sty, a stable, or a state-room,” pampered and gratified in every way, deprived of “whatever might lead them to think,” had become in a few generations “all body and no mind.” Listing the various European kings and queens of the time, he described them as “fools,” “idiots” or “really crazy.” Concluded Jefferson, with a biblical pun, “And so endeth the book of Kings, from all of whom the Lord deliver us.”

The Civil War, the second American revolution, fought against the Slave Power, was also conceived of by the most advanced elements in the North as part of the global struggle against aristocracy and royalty and a blow for republicanism.

Abraham Lincoln argued along these lines: “They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, ‘You work and toil and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.’

“No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.”

The most profound figures in American culture and social life in the late 19th century shared this hostility to royalty, Mark Twain chief among them. Anyone who has read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889) is unlikely to forget Twain’s defense of the French revolutionary “terror” and his somewhat bloodthirsty advocacy of exterminating nobility generally.

Twain also observed, “There never was a throne which did not represent a crime” and “The institution of royalty in any form is an insult to the human race.”

In his notebook in 1888, the novelist suggested, “Let us take the present male sovereigns of the earth—and strip them naked. Mix them with 500 naked mechanics, and then march the whole around a circus ring, charging suitable admission of course—and desire the audience to pick out the sovereigns. They couldn’t. You would have to paint them blue. You can’t tell a king from a copper except you differentiate their exteriority.”

So why do the present rulers of America, and their press agents, ooh and aah and wretchedly carry on about the Windsor family, who cost the British people hundreds of millions of pounds a year and whose personal, ill-gotten wealth is simply vast (in 2010 Forbes estimated that Queen Elizabeth II’s net worth was nearly half a billion dollars)?

The most pertinent answer lies in America’s transformed social and economic conditions. The United States is ruled today by a financial-corporate aristocracy, with infinitely more in common with George III and Jefferson Davis than with Paine, Jefferson, Lincoln, the abolitionists, Twain and any progressive figure in US history.

Can anyone imagine the crowd of “Tories” (as those loyal to the crown were known during the Revolutionary War) and “copperheads” (pro-Southern sympathizers during the Civil War) who currently run America standing up to the British monarch or the slavocracy? Not for an instant; they are made from the same human and social material.

America’s multimillionaires and billionaires, and their hangers-on, envy Britain’s “legitimate” royalty and dregs of a nobility, long for such rank themselves and despise the “common people” with as much fervor as the aristocrats of an earlier age.

They would agree with Alexander H. Stephens, the vice president of the Confederacy (and a figure in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln), who insisted in a March 1861 speech, as historian James McPherson has observed, that the old confederation known as the United States “had been founded on the false idea that all men are created equal.” (This Mighty Scourge, 2007)

US tightens military noose around Syria

December 7th, 2012 by Bill Van Auken

Amid an escalating drumbeat about a supposed threat that Syria’s government is preparing to use chemical weapons against its own people, Washington has deployed a naval armada off the country’s coast.

The USS Eisenhower carrier strike group was sent through the Suez Canal from its deployment in the Persian Gulf earlier this week and has reportedly arrived in the Mediterranean near Syrian shores. The deployment joins that of an amphibious battle group already present in the eastern Mediterranean, consisting of the USS Iwo Jima, the USS New York and the USS Gunston Hall, which together carry a contingent of 2,500 US Marines.

Between the two naval forces, Washington now has 17 warships, 70 fighter-bombers and 10,000 military personnel within close striking distance of Syria. This is in addition to the Air Force’s 39th Air Base Wing stationed at the Incirlik base in Turkey together with tens of thousands of US ground troops deployed in Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Citing US military sources, the Times of London reported Wednesday that Washington is ready to launch a military attack on Syria “within days.”

“It won’t require major movement to make action happen,” an unnamed US official told the British newspaper. “The muscle is already there to be flexed.”

Pentagon sources have suggested that an intervention carried out on the pretext of securing Syria’s chemical weapons would require some 75,000 troops.

In a further threat of direct US-NATO intervention, NATO governments are moving ahead to implement Tuesday’s decision of the NATO foreign ministers conference to deploy Patriot missile batteries on Turkey’s border with Syria. Germany’s defense and foreign ministers announced a decision to deploy some 400 German troops on the border. Similar detachments will also be sent by the US and the Netherlands.

While Turkey claimed it needed the missiles to defend itself from a supposed threat that Syria would fire missiles carrying chemical weapons towards its border, the Patriot batteries could also be used to impose a de facto “no-fly zone” over northern Syria, allowing the US-backed “rebels” to consolidate control over territory and creating the conditions for the installation of a Western-backed government on Syrian soil.

US officials have reiterated threats made by President Barack Obama and others in the administration about the government of President Bashar al-Assad crossing a “red line” and facing military action if it uses chemical weapons.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Thursday described the US administration as “very concerned that as the opposition advances, in particular on Damascus, that the regime might very well consider the use of chemical weapons.”

Panetta referred to unspecified intelligence as the cause of these supposed concerns. Media outlets like the New York Times, CNN and NBC News have trumpeted this “intelligence,” citing unnamed US officials as the sources for vague and often contradictory accounts of developments that have allegedly pointed toward a potential use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Syria’s deputy foreign minister, Faisal Maqdad, charged Thursday that the allegation made by the US and other NATO countries about Syria’s chemical weapons were designed to create a “pretext for any subsequent interventions.”

“Syria stresses again, for the tenth, the hundredth time, that if we had such weapons, they would not be used against its people,” said Maqdad in an interview with Lebanon’s Al Manar television.

Speaking at the NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Washington and its allies of manufacturing the alleged chemical weapons threat.

“As soon as we get these rumors [about chemical weapons] we engage in constructive demarche; when we get confirmation that nothing of that type is happening we share this information with our American colleagues,” Lavrov told the media.

There are no grounds to grant any credibility to the claims made by Washington and its media servants in presenting a supposedly imminent threat of a chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government as a trigger for war.

To the extent that there is any genuine content to these claims, it was expressed on Wednesday by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who declared that Washington was concerned “that an increasingly desperate Assad regime might turn to chemical weapons, or might lose control of them to one of the many groups that are now operating within Syria.”

The statement raised for the first time the prospect that the real threat in Syria is that the so-called rebels that the US and its allies are backing could overrun Syrian military facilities and capture chemical weapons.

Citing unnamed US officials, CNN reported on Wednesday that the US State Department is preparing to add Jabhat al-Nusra, a Syrian Islamist militia that is playing the leading role in the military campaign against the Assad government, to its list of “Foreign Terrorist Organizations.”

According to recent reports, the Al Qaeda-connected al-Nusra militia has fielded as many as 10,000 fighters, many of them foreign Islamists who have been funneled into Syria. The group is said to be the best-armed element waging the war for regime change and is credited with recently overrunning two Syrian military bases.

Much of the weaponry going to the group has reportedly been sent in by the US-backed monarchy in Qatar. The CIA set up a command-and-control headquarters in southern Turkey earlier this year to coordinate the distribution of these arms and other aid going to the “rebels.”

The designation of the al-Nusra militia as a terrorist organization would no doubt be meant to publicly distance Washington from the Al Qaeda elements upon which it has relied to wage the sectarian civil war to oust Assad. It would amount to a damning self-indictment, however, with the US government effectively making a formal admission that it has been supporting a terrorist war in Syria, replete with suicide bombings and sectarian massacres.

One reason for the pending terrorist designation is to pave the way for the US and its allies to intervene more directly in arming the “rebels,” while claiming to distinguish between “secular-democratic” elements—found largely in luxury hotels in Doha—and Islamist militias, which are bearing the brunt of the US-backed war.

Such a move is likely in conjunction with a “Friends of Syria” meeting to be held in Marrakech, Morocco next week in which Washington may join with its NATO allies in recognizing a new “rebel” front—the National Coalition for the Opposition Forces—which was cobbled together under the direction of the US State Department.

In a related development, the New York Times published a front-page article Thursday that cited unnamed US officials explaining that in last year’s war for regime change in Libya, “the Obama administration secretly gave its blessing to arms shipments to Libyan rebels from Qatar” that resulted in “turning some of these weapons over to Islamic militants.” The newspaper said that evidence had yet to emerge that these weapons were used in last September’s assault on the US consulate and a secret CIA facility in Benghazi that killed the US ambassador and three other Americans.

There is little new in the article, which stresses that the Libyan experience “has taken on new urgency as the administration considers whether to play a direct role in arming rebels in Syria, where weapons are flowing in from Qatar and other countries.”

No doubt underlying these reports and maneuvers are bitter divisions within the US military-intelligence apparatus over the tactics being pursued in the wars for regime change, first in Libya and now in Syria. It would be surprising if elements within the American military did not have serious reservations about a policy founded on the US arming and supporting of forces tied to Al Qaeda.

However, an examination of the trajectory of US policy in the Middle East points to a definite relationship between Washington’s attempts to assert its hegemony by military means and Al Qaeda that is sharply at odds with the official narrative of the “war on terrorism.”

Over the past decade, every regime targeted by US imperialism for military overthrow in the Middle East, from Iraq to Libya to Syria, has been hostile to Al Qaeda and the Islamist agenda. In each of these countries, Islamist and Al Qaeda-linked forces had no real power until the US intervened. The principal target for US militarism, Iran, is a nation whose population is composed predominantly of Shiite Muslims, who have been targeted for attack by Al Qaeda elements in Iraq and elsewhere.

The motivation for military action against these countries has not been to further a “war on terror,” much less to promote democracy or humanitarianism, but rather to assert US hegemony over an oil-rich and strategically vital region of the world.

To the extent that there is a genuine issue regarding chemical weapons in Syria, it is because the Obama administration has backed a “rebel” force that is dominated by Al Qaeda-linked militias into whose hands these weapons may fall, posing the threat that they may be used in terrorist attacks elsewhere.

Iranian media reported on Tuesday, December 4 that the naval forces of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have successfully hunted down an American Scan Eagle surveillance drone which had violated Iran’s airspace while on an espionage mission over the Persian Gulf island of Khark on the southern coasts of Iran.

The U.S. military officials and people in the Obama administration rushed to categorically refute the claims that Iran has captured the American drone. Immediately after Iran’s English-language Press TV aired an 11-minute footage showing some Iranian commanders inspecting the intact Scan Eagle drone in an undisclosed location in Tehran, the U.S. military officials released statements and denied the reports.

“The U.S. Navy has fully accounted for all unmanned air vehicles operating in the Middle East region,” Cmdr. Jason Salata, a spokesman for the United States Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain told Reuters. “Our operations in the gulf are confined to internationally recognized water and airspace. We have no record that we have lost any Scan Eagles recently.”

However, a few hours later, the public relations officer of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps Ramazan Sharif told the Tasnim News Agency that “the United States will soon or late confirm that it has lost one of its drones.”

“I recommend the American commanders to count the number of their drones once again,” he said. The Scan Eagle drone, as said by IRGC, was on a mission to gather information about Iran’s oil terminals

It’s not the first time IRGC takes over an American drone. In December 2011, IRGC’s electronic warfare unit captured a U.S.-manufactured Lockheed Martin RQ-170 reconnaissance drone while flying over the southeastern territories of Iran. It was later on confirmed that the sophisticated drone, known as the Kandahar Beast, has been collecting information and imagery of Iran’s nuclear facilities and was planned to deliver the information to a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, but failed to accomplish its mission.

Although the American military analysts who were interviewed by the U.S. media tried to play down the importance of Iran’s achievement by alleging that Scan Eagle is not a complicated and significant drone, they will surely confirm in their privacy that its being seized by the naval forces of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps is another debacle for the United States which in the past decade has gone through fire and water to obstruct Iran’s nuclear program, while it has no single page of evidence showing that Iran’s nuclear activities have a military dimension.

In the past 10 years, the United States pulled out all the stops to hinder Iran’s nuclear program. Planning for the destabilization of the Iranian government through funding the so-called pro-reform, pro-democracy movements, imposing hard-hitting economic sanctions which have borne no fruit but the suffering and anguish of the ordinary Iranian citizens, assassinating Iran’s nuclear scientists and supporting anti-Iranian terrorist groups such as MKO and Jundallah to carry out terrorist operations inside the Iranian soil are only some of the machinations of the United States for Iran. The superficial excuse is to prevent Iran from going nuclear, but the reality is that Iran is emerging as a regional superpower and this is something which the United States cannot come to terms with.

However, an important point in this latest chapter of standoff between Iran and the United States is the legal aspect of Washington’s dispatching surveillance drones to Iran’s territory. Iran is not a failed state like Somalia to neglectfully overlook the violation of its airspace by a foreign aggressor. To Iran, such provocations signify the possibility of more serious moves in the future, such as a military strike on its nuclear facilities.

On December 9, 2011, Iran formally lodged a complaint against the U.S. to the UN Security Council and criticized the U.S. for violating Iran’s airspace. Albeit it could be predicted from the outset that the Security Council, dominated by a number of veto-yielding powers and some non-permanent members which are heavily influenced by the United States would not take any practical steps to condemn the illegal actions of the United States and its violation of the airspace of a sovereign nation, but it’s a must for Iran to bring its case to the International Court of Justice and other international organizations so as to prevent the U.S. from repeating such fatal blunders.

What is clear is that Iran’s army and IRGC are sufficiently powerful to confront foreign threats against Iran, even in the face of a possible war against Iran, which the U.S., Israel and their European friends have been trumpeting for so long. The fact that Iran has reached the technical capability to capture American drones flying over its waters and lands indicates that Iran has become a serious contender of the U.S. military power and this is something which the U.S. politicians can hardly believe.

The irony is that the United States has used whatever in its capacity to bring Iran to its knees, and has even banned the export of medicine and powder milk to Iran – which may purportedly contribute to Iran’s nuclear program as dual-use materials! – but it seems that Iran does not intend to surrender in the face of such backbreaking pressures.

Maybe it’s an advantage of being a lawless superpower that you can send unmanned aerial vehicles to a foreign country thousands of kilometers away from where you are, without being reprimanded and criticized, but imagine for a moment that what could happen if Iran had violated America’s airspace by sending drones to the Gulf of Mexico for espionage? Wouldn’t it without more ado spark the World War III?

 فداء دكروب

عموميات

 عندما وصل أمير دولة قطر، حمد، الى قطاع غزة على رأس وفد كبير يضم زوجته موزة، ورئيس وزرائه حمد –وهو شيخ وليس أميرا- استقبله رئيس حكومة حماس، إسماعيل هنية، ونظم حفلا كبيرا بهذه المناسبة. ووقف الرجلان جنبا إلى جنب عندما عـُزف النشيدان الوطنيان الفلسطيني والقطري. بالتأكيد،  تم فرش سجاد احمر على شرفه، بعد ذلك استقبل حشد من مسؤولي حماس الأمير، منهم وزراء حكومة غزة وقيادي من الحركة في المنفى “صالح عروري” جاء إلى الأراضي الفلسطينية خصيصا لهذه المناسبة المجيدة جدا.(1).

 وبالإضافة إلى ذلك، صرح السيد طاهر النونو، المتحدث باسم رئيس حكومة حماس في غزة، الذي ابتلع لسانه عندما قرأ الولاءات للأمير الجديد، أن الزيارة كانت ذات أهمية سياسية كبيرة، لأنه أول زعيم عربي –بالأحرى “عارب” حسب اصطلاحاتنا(2)- لكسر الحصار السياسي(3).

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We reported yesterday:

  • 10,000 U.S. troops – as well as French, British and Nato troops – are amassing off the coast of Syria for a potential invasion

Here are updates in this quickly-moving situation:

  • Pentagon officials say that there is no evidence that Syria is mixing chemical weapons, and “it’s not even clear that the precursors have been moved from separate storage sites to one location”
  • On the other hand, the the Syria Tribune has released a video allegedly showing Syrian rebels killing rabbits with chemical weapons, and threatening to use them against supporters of the Syrian government. (It is impossible at this point to say whether this is genuine or propaganda)
  • The U.S. will designate one of the leading Syrian rebel groups as a terrorist operation.  McClatchy notes that – until recently – the Syrian opposition blamed this terrorist group’s attacks on the government. In other words, the terrorist violence carried out by one of the main opposition groups was wrongly blamed on the Syrian government (in fact,the U.S. has backed various terrorist opposition groups in Syria)