La bandiera olimpica in mano ai militari

July 30th, 2012 by Manlio Dinucci

Possano le Olimpiadi essere «un momento di rinnovata amicizia in cui forgiare la pace»: così l’arcivescovo di Westminster ha salutato gli atleti giunti a Londra da tutto il mondo. Proprio per rappresentare questo spirito, nella cerimonia di apertura il governo di Sua Maestà britannica ha fatto issare la bandiera olimpica con i cinque cerchi, simbolo di pace, da una squadra di 16 militari britannici, scelti tra quelli maggiormente distintisi nelle ultime guerre.

A capo della squadra, comprendente militari delle tre armi, Tal Lambert, responsabile delle comunicazioni delle basi aeree Lyneham e Brize Norton, impegnate l’anno scorso nella guerra alla Libia. Tra gli altri membri della Raf, il sergente Raval,  distintosi nelle guerre dei Balcani e dell’Iraq. Tra quelli della marina e dei marines, l’ufficiale Hiscock, insignito della Queen’s Gallantry Medal per le sue azioni nell’invasione dell’Iraq. Tra quelli dell’esercito, il sergente Reains distintosi nei combattimenti in Iraq e quindi Afghanistan, dove è stato ferito, e il caporale Rainey, con alle spalle due pericolose missioni in Afghanistan.

Far issare ai militari non solo la bandiera britannica ma anche quella olimpica è stato un gesto altamente simbolico: la riaffermazione che le forze armate del Regno Unito e degli altri paesi Nato non conducono guerre di aggressione, ma operazioni di pace nell’interesse dell’intera umanità. Grave il fatto che il Comitato olimpico internazionale abbia autorizzato tale scelta, che andrebbe vietata  in qualsiasi paese si svolgano le Olimpiadi. Altrettando grave che lo abbia ignorato la stampa internazionale, presente a Londra con migliaia di giornalisti. Impegnati a descrivere il cappello indossato da Sua Maestà, al momento in cui la bandiera olimpica  è stata issata dai militari che rinnovano le glorie dell’impero britannico. 

Manlio Dinucci

L’arte della guerra : Business di armi Roma-Tel Aviv

July 30th, 2012 by Manlio Dinucci

Nel pieno della crisi arriva finalmente «una potente iniezione di fiducia per tutti coloro che credono nel valore del lavoro»: lo dichiara il deputato Pd Daniele Marantelli, plaudendo al contratto di Alenia Aermacchi (Finmeccanica) per la fornitura a Israele di 30 velivoli militari da addestramento avanzato M-346. Così, nella prossima operazione «Piombo fuso», i piloti israeliani potranno essere ancora più micidiali. Berlusconi aveva promesso di promuovere la vendita degli M-346, dice l’onorevole Pd, ma la sua è stata «una promessa non mantenuta, come tante altre». Poi, fortunatamente, è arrivato il governo Monti. I suoi meriti vengono riconosciuti da Giuseppe Orsi, presidente di Finmeccanica: l’accordo è frutto di «una proficua collaborazione» tra il governo italiano è quello israeliano. Dimentica però, ingiustamente, i meriti del governo Berlusconi, artefice della legge quadro (17 maggio 2005) sulla cooperazione militare Italia-Israele.

Quest’ultimo accordo, dunque, è frutto della stessa politica bipartisan attuata dai governi italiani. Nell’annunciare il successo della vendita a Israele degli M-346 e dei loro sistemi operativi, il ministero italiano della difesa tace però su un particolare. Il ministero della difesa israeliano pagherà solo una parte minore del prezzo totale. Il grosso, circa 600 milioni, sarà anticipato da un consorzio finanziario formato dal gruppo bancario italiano Unicredit e da un fondo pensione collegato, che investiranno insieme 400 milioni, e dalla banca israeliana Hapoalim, che investirà 200 milioni. Il ministero italiano della difesa annuncia quindi che «le forze armate italiane, dal canto loro, potranno utilizzare un sistema satellitare ottico ad alta risoluzione per l’osservazione della Terra denominato Optsat-3000, realizzato in Israele». Dà quindi l’impressione che questo satellite sia stato messo da Israele gentilmente a disposizione dell’Italia. In realtà, essa lo acquista attraverso Telespazio dalle Israel Aerospace Industries, pagandolo oltre 200 milioni di dollari, cui si aggiungeranno gli ingenti costi per la messa in orbita e il controllo del satellite. Questo, da una quota di 600 km, servirà non a una generica «osservazione della Terra», ma a individuare in lontani teatri bellici gli obiettivi da colpire, con immagini di 50 cm ad alta risoluzione. Col solito tono vago, il ministero della difesa comunica infine «la fornitura di sottosistemi standard Nato di comunicazione per due aerei destinati all’Aeronautica militare». Parla così della frusta e non del cavallo: gli aerei sono due Gulfstream 550, jet di lusso per executive made in Usa, che le Israel Aerospace Industries trasformano in sofisticatissimi aerei da guerra. Dotati delle più avanzate apparecchiature elettroniche e collegati a sei stazioni terrestri, questi G-550 modificati, capaci di volare a 12mila metri di quota con un raggio d’azione di 7mila km, sono la punta di lancia di un sistema di comando e controllo per l’attacco in distanti teatri bellici. L’Italia acquista da Israele questo sistema di comando per le guerre di aggressione al modico prezzo di 750 milioni di dollari che, aggiunti a quello del satellite militare, portano la spesa a oltre un miliardo. Ovviamente con denaro pubblico. «Una potente iniezione di fiducia» a coloro che credono nel valore della guerra.

Manlio Dinucci

In the wake of the UN Security Council face-off with Russia and China, a new dangerous phase of the war on Syria is unfolding. The Obama administration, in liaison with London, Paris, Tel Aviv and NATO headquarters in Brussels, is mulling over various military “intervention options”, including the conduct of both naval and air operations in support of “opposition” rebel forces on the ground.

The dubious justification for waging a “humanitarian war” on Syria hinges upon the West’s “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) the Syrian people against their own government, which allegedly is involved in the routine killing of civilians.

In the aftermath of the battle of Damascus and the setbacks of the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta reiterated Washington’s threat of military intervention, accusing Syrian government forces of waging “a tragic attack on their own people”. The Defense Secretary vowed not only to unseat the Syrian president, but also, in so many words, “to get rid of” Bashar Al Assad:

… I think it ultimately will be a nail in Assad’s own coffin,.. What Assad has been doing to his own people and what he continues to do to his own people makes clear that his regime is coming to an end. It’s lost all legitimacy,” he said, adding, “It’s no longer a question of whether he’s coming to an end, it’s when.” (Quoted in Syria says it recaptures Aleppo district after battle, Reuters, July 29, 2012, emphasis added)

Meanwhile, Moscow has accused the US led coalition of supporting the terrorist attacks committed by the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA)  and Al Qaeda affiliated entities operating inside Syria.

It is important at this historical juncture to set the record straight as to who is behind these atrocities and crimes against humanity, particularly in view of the fact that the Obama administration and its allies are contemplating outright military intervention against Syria on “humanitarian grounds”.

Who is behind the Atrocities?

Whereas the government bears a burden of responsibility pertaining to the conduct of its military operations in urban areas directed against the rebels, the gruesome human rights record of the US-NATO supported “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) is unequivocal. Amply documented, the killings of innocent civilians were not carried by the government but, quite deliberately, by the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

These killings were implemented as part of a diabolical intelligence operation, which consisted in blaming the Syrian government for the atrocities committed by rebel forces. (See Michel Chossudovsky, SYRIA: Killing Innocent Civilians as part of a US Covert Op. Mobilizing Public Support for a R2P War against Syria, Global Research, May 30, 2012) 

The substance of Russia’s finger pointing is confirmed by numerous reports.

According to the leaked Arab League Observer Mission Report:  which had initially been commissioned by the Arab League at Washington’s behest:

“In Homs, Idlib and Hama, the Observer Mission witnessed acts of violence being committed against Government forces and civilians that resulted in several deaths and injuries. Examples of those acts include the bombing of a civilian bus, killing eight persons and injuring others, including women and children. …  Such incidents include the bombing of buildings, trains carrying fuel, vehicles carrying diesel oil and explosions targeting the police, members of the media and fuel pipelines. Some of those attacks have been carried out by the Free Syrian Army and some by other armed opposition groups.” (League of Arab States Observer Mission to Syria, Report of the Head of the League of Arab States Observer Mission to Syria for the period from 24 December 2011 to 18 January 2012, 

The Arab League Observer mission report was subsequently shelved because it revealed the forbidden truth, namely that the US-NATO sponsored “rebels” rather than the government were behind the massacres. 

A report of Der Spiegel (March 29, 2012) entitled “An Executioner for Syria’s Rebels Tells His Story”, confirms an organized process of mass-murder and extra-judicial killing of civilians conducted by the Free Syrian Army (FSA). This single “burial brigade”, according  to the executioner’s testimony, was responsible for the arbitrary execution of 350-400 people including “prisoners” and “traitors”.  The “traitors” are Sunni civilians within the occupied urban and rural areas, who express their opposition to the rule of terror of the Free Syrian Army (FSA):

“Since last summer, we have executed slightly fewer than 150 men, which represents about 20 percent of our prisoners,” says Abu Rami. … But the executioners of Homs have been busier with traitors within their own ranks than with prisoners of war. “If we catch a Sunni spying, or if a citizen betrays the revolution, we make it quick,” says the fighter. According to Abu Rami, Hussein’s burial brigade has put between 200 and 250 traitors to death since the beginning of the uprising.” (Der Spiegel, March 29, 2012)

The Vatican News Service Agenzia Fides largely confirms that the Western backed “opposition forces” rather than the Al Assad government are responsible for countless atrocities:

“The Syrian soldiers in fact, continue to face foreign fighters, mercenaries Libyans, Lebanese militants from the Gulf, Afghans, Turks. “The Sunni Salafist militants – says the Bishop – continue to commit crimes against civilians, or to recruit fighters with force. The fanatical Sunni extremists are fighting a holy war proudly, especially against the Alawites. When terrorists seek to control the religious identity of a suspect, they ask him to cite the genealogies dating back to Moses. And they ask to recite a prayer that the Alawites removed. The Alawites have no chance to get out alive.” (Agenzia Fides, Vatican News Service, 4 June 2012)

Russian journalist Marat Musin in a comprehensive report dispels the lies and fabrications of the Western media.  

The report is based on a chronology of events as well as eyewitness accounts.  Entire pro-government families in Houla were massacred. The terrorists were not pro-government shabbiha militia as conveyed, in chorus, by the mainstream media, they were in large part mercenaries and professional killers operating under the auspices of the self-proclaimed Free Syrian Army (FSA):

“When the rebels seized the lower checkpoint in the center of town and located next to the local police department, they began to sweep all the families loyal to the authorities in neighboring houses, including the elderly, women and children.
 
 Several families of the Al-Sayed were killed, including 20 young children and the family of Abdul Razak. The people were killed with knives and shot at point blank range.
 
 Then they presented the murdered [corpses] to the UN and the international community as victims of bombings by the Syrian army, something that was not verified by any marks on their bodies.” (See Marat Musin, THE HOULA MASSACRE: Opposition Terrorists “Killed Families Loyal to the Government” ANNA News, translated from Russian, June 1, 2012)
 
 According to a detailed report by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ):

“Those killed were almost exclusively from families belonging to Houla’s Alawi and Shia minorities. …. Immediately following the massacre, the perpetrators are supposed to have filmed their victims and then presented them as Sunni victims in videos posted on the internet.” (Neue Erkenntnisse zu Getöteten von Hula.Abermals Massaker in Syrien, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, June 7, 2012) 

The recently released  “Intelligence Estimates” of  Germany’s Bundes Nachrichtendienst (BND) states that “‘around 90 [terror attacks] can be attributed to organizations that are close to al-Qaeda or jihadist groups’ (January through June 2012) as reported by the German daily Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ)”. (quoted in English by John Rosenthal,  German intelligence: al-Qaeda all over Syria   The Asian Times, July 24, 2012).

The above mainstream media reports –together with an extensive body of evidence contained in independent alternative media reports– confirm unequivocally that crimes against humanity are being committed by terrorist militia. 

We are at a very dangerous crossroads. An all out “humanitarian war” against Syria is on the drawing board of the Pentagon, which, if carried out, could lead the World into a regional war extending from the Eastern Mediterranean to the heartland of Central Asia.

It is essential to reverse the tide of war propaganda which uses civilian deaths as a pretext to wage war on humanitarian grounds, when those killings of civilians were carried out not by government forces but by professional terrorists operating under the helm of the US-NATO sponsored Free Syrian Army (FSA).

For further detailed documentation on Who is behind the Atrocities in Syria see Michel Chossudovsky (Editor), SYRIA: NATO’s Next “Humanitarian” War? ONLINE INTERACTIVE I-BOOK, Global Research, February 2012, updated June 15, 2012, PART VI of this Collection pertains to War Propaganda and The Massacre of Innocent Civilians.

Links to the chapters in Part VI are indicated below:


SYRIA: Killing Innocent Civilians as part of a US Covert Op. Mobilizing Public Support for a R2P War against Syria
- by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-05-30

US military doctrine envisages the central role of “massive casualty producing events” in which innocent civilians are killed. The killings are carried out as part of a covert operation. The enemy is blamed for the resulting atrocities.

Report: Rebels Responsible for Houla Massacre

Armed rebels murdered “entire Alawi families” in village of Taldo in Houla
- by John Rosenthal – 2012-06-10


Propaganda War: Houla Massacre Committed by US-NATO Sponsored “Free Syrian Army”. But They Accuse Syrian Government
- by Thierry Meyssan – 2012-06-09


“Humanitarian War Criminals” in High Office: Was the Houla Massacre Ordered by the Western Military Alliance?
- by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-06-11

Who is behind these rebel groups? What is the precise nature of the relationship between the FSA and the Western military alliance? What is the command structure? What is the nature of this diabolical covert operation? Who ordered these atrocities against the Syrian people?

VATICAN NEWS: Foreign Fighters, Mercenaries, Terrorists, behind Syria Massacre

“The desolation of Homs and the war of information “: the Words of a Greek-Catholic Bishop
- by Vatican News (Agenzia Fides) – 2012-06-04


THE HOULA MASSACRE: Opposition Terrorists “Killed Families Loyal to the Government”
Detailed Investigation
- by Marat Musin – 2012-06-01

The terrorists were not pro-government shabbiha militia as conveyed, in chorus, by the mainstream media, they were in large part mercenaries and professional killers operating under the auspices of the self-proclaimed Free Syrian Army (FSA).


VIDEO: US-NATO “Humanitarian Intervention” in Syria: Towards a Regional War?
Latest report now available on GRTV
- by Michel Chossudovsky, Nile Bowie – 2012-06-08

Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (Emeritus) at the University of Ottawa. He is the Founder and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal and Editor of the globalresearch.ca  website. He is the author of The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003) and America’s “War on Terrorism”(2005). His most recent book is entitled Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War (2011).

He has taught as Visiting Professor at universities in Western Europe, South East Asia, Latin America and the Pacific, acted as an adviser to governments of developing countries and as a consultant for several international organizations.

Prof. Chossudovsky is a signatory of the Kuala Lumpur declaration to criminalize war and recipient of the Human Rights Prize of the Society for the Protection of Civil Rights and Human Dignity (GBM), Berlin. He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His writings have been published in more than twenty languages.

WWIII Scenario

The Next Stage in the Destruction of Syria

July 30th, 2012 by Shamus Cooke

The U.S. media has made its intentions clear: the ‘rebels’ attacking Syria’s government must have more support to advance Syria’s “revolution.”  This was the result of the much-hyped advance of Syria’s rebels into the country’s two largest cities, which the western media portrayed as a defining moment in global democracy. But “journalists” like these have blood on their hands, with much more in the works.  

The systematic dismantling of Syria has more to do with western media lies and geo-politics than “revolution;” and the more that the U.S. media cheers on this bloodletting, the more politicians feel enabled to spill it.  

The rebel attacks on the cities of Damascus and Aleppo were, in actuality, meant to convince the western media that the rebels are near victory, with the hopes of attracting more direct military support from abroad. In reality, however, the attacks in Damascus were instantly crushed by the Syrian government, but the U.S. media predicted “victory just around the corner” for the rebels.    

Suddenly Syria is becoming a U.S. presidential topic of debate.  Republicans have accused Obama of “outsourcing” the Syrian conflict, refusing to be involved when the rebels deserve extra support (guns mainly). But Obama is the principal cause of this humanitarian catastrophe. Middle East expert Robert Fisk explains:  

“While Qatar and Saudi Arabia arm and fund the rebels of Syria…Washington mutters not a word of criticism against them. President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, say they want a democracy in Syria. But Qatar is an autocracy and Saudi Arabia is among the most pernicious of caliphate-kingly-dictatorships in the Arab world.”

Fisk fails to mention that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are virtual puppets of U.S. foreign policy; they would never act independently to overthrow a regional neighbor; they do so on command.  

Syria is conveniently surrounded by close allies of the U.S., and it is through these allies that guns and foreign fighters have poured into Syria to cause massive destruction. The rebel-held areas of Syria exist only on the rural borders of Turkey, Jordan, and Northern Lebanon, areas in alignment with U.S. foreign policy.  

Revolutions are city affairs, but the Syrian revolution has been a rural undertaking ever since foreign powers decided to destroy the country. It is fortunate for the rebels that Syria’s two largest cities are close to these border countries: the rebels made a quick foray into the cities for some high profile attacks, and then drifted back to the border areas to seek protection from their friends. 

Although it is true that the so-called Free Syrian Army includes defectors from the Syrian military, it is possible that these defectors are simply betting that, in the long term, the U.S. will spare no expense in overthrowing the Syrian government.

The commonsense question that the U.S. media never explores is whether Syrians want their country destroyed, the inevitable result of this conflict. In fact, there are numerous indications to the contrary. After constant cheerleading of the Syrian rebels, The New York Times has been forced to admit on several occasions that massive pro-government rallies have been held in Syria’s only two large cities:

“The turnout [at least tens of thousands] in Sabaa Bahrat Square in Damascus, the [Syrian] capital, once again underlined the degree of backing that Mr. Assad and his leadership still enjoy among many Syrians… That support is especially pronounced in cities like Damascus and Aleppo, the country’s two largest.”

This was further confirmed by a poll funded by the anti-Syrian Qatar Foundation, performed by the Doha Debates:

“According to the latest opinion poll commissioned by The Doha Debates, Syrians are more supportive of their president with 55% not wanting him to resign.” (January 2, 2012). 

This should be of zero surprise. Syrians have seen Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya destroyed by U.S.-style “liberation.” Americans should know better too — and many do — regardless of their media’s blatantly criminal behavior.

The United States is using a strategy in Syria that has been perfected over the years, starting with Afghanistan (in the 1980′s) Yugoslavia, and most recently in Libya: arming small paramilitary groups loyal to U.S. interests that attack the targeted government — including terrorist bombings — and when the attacked government defends itself, the U.S. cries “genocide” or “mass murder,” while calling for foreign military intervention.   

In each instance the targeted society is dismembered, mass murder and ethnic/religious violence is consciously used to gain military advantage that inevitably spirals out of control; refugee crises are also natural consequences, which inevitably lead to cross border destabilization and wider regional conflicts. Millions of lives are completely ruined in each instance, if not ended.

There is every indication that the Syrian conflict has the potential — as the Iraq war before it — to cause incredible ethnic and religious violence on a multi-nation scale. Neighboring Lebanon has already experienced armed conflict as a direct result of Syria and is a powder keg of ethnic and religious tension that needs only a spark to explode, and Syria promises to spew flames.    

The U.S. population has largely been spared images of the incredible suffering and social destruction caused by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  Syria’s crisis is thus happening in an already-destabilized region, having the potential to completely tear the social fabric of the larger Middle East.  

These war crimes benefit nobody except the very rich who take over the helm of governments and use these positions to privatize the invaded country’s economy, though especially the oil. The people in Syria, however, are being used as cannon fodder for an additional reason: so that the U.S. can have a steppingstone towards destroying Iran (Syria is Iran’s close ally). But Russia and China are acting more boldly against this genocidal behavior, and may act with more vigor in defending their allies, a dynamic that could easily lead to a regional or even world war.  

Thus, the hell that has become the Middle East is being poked and prodded by U.S. foreign policy with absolutely no regard for the global implications. Both U.S. major presidential candidates are cheerleading the flood of blood to different degrees, ensuring that the next election will provide fresh “legitimacy” to an equally barbarous U.S. foreign policy. 

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org) He can be reached at [email protected]

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/07/29-1

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/13/world/middleeast/syrians-rally-in-support-of-assad.html

http://www.thedohadebates.com/news/item/index.asp?n=14312

Armed members of the Free Syrian Army are seen in the western border town of Zabadani in this undated still image taken from amateur video obtained by Reuters (Reuters / Reuters TV)

Armed members of the Free Syrian Army are seen in the western border town of Zabadani in this undated still image taken from amateur video obtained by Reuters (Reuters / Reuters TV)

Radical Islamists with “British accents” are among the coalition forces looking to topple Bashar Assad, says Jeroen Oerlemans, a photographer who was held hostage in Syria for a week. The UK Foreign Office has launched an investigation.

Oerlemans, a famous Dutch photo journalist, and John Cantlie, another photographer from the UK, were captured by a group of between 30 and 100 anti-Assad fighters when crossing the Syrian border from Turkey last week. They were then blindfolded.

One of the black jihadists freaked out and shouted: ‘These are journalists and now they will see we are preparing an international jihad in this place.‘” Oerlemans told NRC Handelsblatt newspaper. He said that none of the fighters was Syrian.

They all claimed they came from countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh and Chechnya and they said there was some vague ‘emir’ at the head of the group.”

About 40 per cent of the militants spoke English. In fact, several apparently talked with recognizable regional British accents, from Birmingham and London.

The two photographers suspected that a ransom would be demanded for their release and tried to escape. Oerlemans was shot twice in the leg during the failed attempt and Cantlie, who has so far not spoken to any media, was wounded in the arm.

The pair’s ordeal ended when the Free Syrian Army, the main anti-Assad force, demanded that their nominal allies hand them over.

They took us with them like a bunch of gangsters,” Oerlemans said, “Shooting in the air as we rode out of there.”

The Free Syrian Army released the men and the two are now resting in Turkey. They expect to travel home in the coming days.

If it is confirmed, Oerleman’s story will add to reports that Syria has become a magnet for radical Islamists, who are there either as mercenaries or because of ideology.

As soon as Assad has fallen, these fighters want to introduce Islamic law, Sharia, in Syria,” said Oerlemans.

Confirmed by press reports, the US-NATO supported “Free Syrian Army” has been defeated in Damascus.  

Government forces are in full control of the nation’s capital. The Syrian government has declared victory in Damascus.   

In Aleppo, government forces have regained control of most of the city with pockets of rebel fighters still active in the south-western Aleppo district of Salaheddine. 

“The government of Bashar al-Assad declared victory on Sunday in a hard-fought battle for Syria’s capital Damascus, and pounded rebels who control parts of its largest city Aleppo… Helicopter gunships hovered over the city shortly after dawn and the thud of artillery boomed across neighborhoods. Syrian state television said soldiers was repelling “terrorists” in Salaheddine and had captured several of their leaders.”  (Reuters, July 29, 2012) 

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem stated during a visit to Tehran: “Today I tell you, Syria is stronger… In less than a week they were defeated [in Damascus]  and the battle failed. So they moved on to Aleppo and I assure you, their plots will fail.”

 

Open Letter to the President and Leadership from Health Professionals, Lawyers and Advocates for Medicare for All 

July 30, 2012

Dear Mr. President, Secretary Sebelius, Majority Leaders Reid and Cantor, Speaker Boehner and Minority Leaders McConnell and Pelosi,
 
We write to you on the occasion of Medicare’s 47th birthday to share our deep concern about increasing threats to both Medicare and Medicaid and to urge the immediate expansion of Medicare to everyone in the United States followed by its improvement. The implementation of the Affordable Care Act is not the solution; when it is fully implemented tens of millions will be left without insurance, tens of millions more will be left without adequate insurance and the cost of health care will continue to skyrocket.  Forty-seven years of experience proves that Medicare is not the problem, but is the solution to the health care crisis in America.

For many of the most vulnerable among us, Medicare and Medicaid are their last protection from financial and medical catastrophe. Unfortunately, these vulnerable patients are not represented in health policy discussions. Instead, policy is dictated by special interests profiting from our health care system, not by those depending upon it to stay alive.
 
We call upon you to end the partisan and corporate influences that replace the best medical interests of our patients with the financial interests of those whose primary need and goal is to maximize profit, not to promote prevention and assure patient care.
 
Health care costs more in America than it does anywhere else in the world. Among the industrialized nations, we rank at or near the bottom on almost every measure of public health. Millions of us have limited or no access to health care, resulting in tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths and hundreds of thousands of family bankruptcies; these consequences are not found in other industrialized nations. Our country is heading in the wrong direction. We need immediate action.

We need a health care system that provides access to every one of us, no matter how sick, poor, old, or unemployed we may be. We need reduced costs. We need improved health for all people in the United States, not just the most fortunate. 

The recent Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act unhappily codifies into law an approach that fails to meet any of these health care needs: 

• At its best, the ACA will leave 30 million Americans without health coverage. Another 40 million will be under-insured and therefore at risk for financial catastrophe or death when they get sick. Both numbers will increase as states opt out of the Medicaid expansion.

• With no restriction on prices charged by insurance companies, many people will find even the lowest tier policies unaffordable. Others will be unable to afford deductibles, and with that unable to afford necessary care. And still more will be bankrupted by out-of-pocket expenses when they get sick. 

• As Medicare spending decreases, out of pocket expenses will rise. Patients will be compelled to defer health care until they are desperately ill, further eroding public health in America.

• The ACA will not slow the soaring costs of American health care. These costs exact a terrible toll on our economy. Small businesses struggle to survive if they choose to provide benefits to their employees. Large businesses cannot compete in international markets. Entrepreneurs refuse to start new businesses for fear their families will lack access to health care.

Instead of relieving our families and businesses from higher costs and diminishing access, the ACA entrenches the worst aspects of our health care system:

• Private health insurance companies are enshrined as the only portal through which most patients can access health care. We already know that because of the current system of more than a thousand insurance plans, the associated administrative waste consumes 31% of total health care spending. If this administrative loss were invested in health care, we could provide comprehensive care to every person with no additional funding.

• The ACA reduces Medicare costs by paying providers less, a tactic encouraging providers to avoid Medicare patients.

• The Supreme Court decision on the ACA allows states to cut Medicaid enrollment and services without penalty, leaving millions of Americans with inadequate or no access to care.

• The ACA encourages continuation of inhumane cost-shifting to patients in the form of compulsory purchase of expensive policies, higher deductibles, and higher co-pays. 

• Millions of people will remain dependent upon employer-sponsored private insurance for health care access, continuing the pattern of labor-management negotiations becoming battlegrounds.

America needs cost-effective universal health care as exists in every other industrialized country. No other nation uses our unique private insurance system which penalizes the sick by charging them more, by reducing their benefits, or by denying care altogether. None allow private insurance companies to place profit over coverage. All of them encourage health care by reducing or eliminating deductibles and co-pays. And all of them provide better care to more people for less money than we do.

Instead of greater privatization of our health care system, we implore you to immediately extend Medicare, our cherished national public insurance, to every person in the United States and then work to improve it. Making Medicare universal would:

• Insure health care access to every American regardless of health, wealth, age, or employment.

• Create the opportunity to fund health care with progressive taxes designed to spare struggling families and small businesses.

• Reduce costs of health care by eliminating the extraordinary and unnecessary administrative waste generated by the private health insurance industry.

• Increase the financial health of our families by sparing them the specter of bankruptcy if any member should have a serious accident or illness.

• Eliminate labor-management disputes over health care benefits.

• Reduce fraud by using consistent forms throughout the country.

• Allow patients to choose their physicians, rather than having insurance companies choose for them.

Medicare needs improvement to provide these benefits. An improved Medicare program should:

• Include every person in the United States, giving them all equal access and benefits.

• Cover all necessary medical, dental, vision, mental health and long-term care with little or no patient cost-sharing.

• Negotiate fair prices for pharmaceuticals, medical devices and health services.

• Remove for-profit health facilities.

• Create an appointed board of patients and health professionals to determine benefits and payments based on need and evidence, not on politics.

• Assure guaranteed access to health care for all communities by defining global operating budgets for health facilities with separate capital budgets to facilitate better health planning.

America’s multi-decade experiment with market-driven care which emphasizes protection of for-profit industries has devastated our families, crippled our businesses, smothered our economy, and stolen our health. The ACA is a continuation of this experiment and medical ethics dictate that this experiment must be stopped.

We can no longer tolerate having the highest health care costs with the worst outcomes in the industrialized world. Our own publicly funded health care systems (Medicare and the Veterans Administration) can and do provide better care at lower cost to even the most vulnerable patients. 

We cannot rely either on our private insurance industry or the ACA to remedy our crisis. We implore you to immediately protect, improve, and expand Medicare. Every person in the United States needs and deserves access to health care.

With concern,

Henry L. Abrons, MD, Berkeley, California; Pippa Abston, MD PhD, Huntsville, Alabama; Garrett Adams, MD, Louisville, Kentucky; Patch Adams, MD, Urbana, Illinois; Kris Alman, MD, Portland, Oregon; Paul Bigman, Business Representative, IATSE Local 15, AFL-CIO, Seattle, Washington; Mindy Blaski, MD, Seattle, Washington; Paul Blaski, Seattle, Washington; Philip Caper, MD, Brooklyn, Maine; Claudia Chaufan, MD, San Francisco, California; Andy Coates, MD, Albany, NY,  Mardge Cohen, MD, Boston, Massachusetts; Mary L. De Luca, MD, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Margaret Flowers, MD, Baltimore, Maryland; Elizabeth Frost, MD, Minneapolis, Minnesota; John Geyman, MD, Seattle, Washington; Leslie Hartley Gise, MD, Kula, Hawaii; Irene Gomez, Seattle, Washington; James S. Goodman, MD, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Jeoffry Gordon, MD, San Diego, California; Paul Gorman, MD, Portland, Oregon; Nancy Greep, MD, Los Angeles, California; Oliver Hall, JD, Washington, DC; Hedda L. Haning, MD, Charleston, West Virginia; Bruce Hector, MD, North Hills, California; David Himmelstein, MD, New York, New York; Paul Hochfeld, MD, Corvallis, Oregon; Michael Huntington, MD, Corvallis, Oregon; Dana Iorio, ARNP; Seattle, Washington; Joseph Q. Jarvis, MD, Salt Lake City, Utah; Jeffrey Kaplan, MD, Baltimore, Maryland; Stephen B. Kemble, MD, Honolulu, Hawaii; Jim Kratzer MD, MPH, Fresno, California; David McLanahan, MD, Seattle, Washington; George Martin, MD, Seattle, Washington; Samuel Metz, MD, Portland, Oregon; Russell Mokhiber, JD, Berkeley Springs, West Virginia; Kathleen Myers, DDS, Seattle, Washington; Eric Naumburg, MD, Columbia, Maryland; Clark Newhall, MD JD, Salt Lake City, Utah; Carol Paris, MD, Leonardtown, Maryland; George L. Pauk, MD, Phoenix, Arizona; Glenn Pearson, MD, Fort Collins, CO,  Julie Keller Pease, MD, Brunswick, Maine; Ellen Punyon, Retired School Principal, Seattle, Washington; George Randt, MD, Cleveland,Ohio; Helen Redmond, LCSW, New York, New York; Katie Robbins, Mailman School of Public Health, MPH, Class of 2014, New York, New York; Cecile Rose, MD, MPH, Denver, Colorado; Rick Saling, CWA (for ID only), Seattle, Washington; Gordon Schiff, MD, Boston, Massachusetts; Ann Settgast, MD, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Elias Shaya, MD, Baltimore, Maryland; Diljeet Singh, MD, Chicago, Illinois; William Skeen, MD, Oakland, California; Paul Y. Song, MD, Santa Monica, California; Nancy Hewitt Spaeth, RN, Seattle, Washington James Squire, MD, Seattle, Washington; Karen Green Stone, Small Business Owner, Bloomington, Indiana; Rob Stone, MD, Bloomington, Indiana; Bruce Trigg, MD, Albuquerque, New Mexico; William Ulwelling, MD, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Robert Vinetz, MD, Los Angeles, California; John V. Walsh, MD, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Li-hsia Wang, MD, Berkeley, California; Daniel P. Wirt, MD, Houston, Texas; Steffie Woolhandler, MD, New York, New York; Kevin Zeese, JD, Baltimore, MD.

Israel, US Warmongers Bent on Brewing Iran Crisis

July 29th, 2012 by Dr. Ismail Salami

A report published on Sunday in Ha’aretz reveals that US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon has presented Washington’s contingency plans for a possible attack on Iran to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once the nuclear negotiations reach an impasse.  

However, the report was immediately denied by a top Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity. He said, “Nothing in the article is correct. Donilon did not meet the prime minister for dinner, he did not meet him one-on-one, nor did he present operational plans to attack Iran.”

A quick justification for this denial could be that such a contingency plan was not supposed to be publicized and should have remained confidential for as long as necessary. 

Still, there is no denial that Washington and Israel are the two sides of a coin and it is manifest that they have in their political wheeling and dealing formed a united front against Iran.

US GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has recently paid a visit to Israel to marshal up support of the Israelis on the one hand and express his unswervingly servile commitment to Israel (including his anti-Iran stance) on the other. Dan Senor, a top foreign policy adviser for the GOP presidential candidate, says that Romney would support “Israel’s decision to launch a military strike against Iran to keep that country from achieving nuclear capabilities, but hopes diplomatic and military measures will dissuade Tehran from pursuing its path toward nuclear acquisition.”

Furthermore, he told reporters ahead of the speech, planned for late Sunday near Jerusalem’s Old City, “If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing the capability, the governor would respect that decision.”

With a more somber tone, however, Romney himself has repeatedly said that he has a “zero tolerance” policy toward Iran obtaining the capability to build a nuclear weapon.

In recent past, Washington has frequently threatened Iran with a military strike. The threats, which evidently run counter to all international laws, are generally uttered by a massive number of officials influenced by the powerful Zionist lobby in Washington. A brazen instance of these threats is that Washington may use the 14-ton bunker buster (20ft long, 1ft wide weapon) known as Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), the world’s largest conventional bomb against Iran nuclear sites. Michael Donley, the US Air Force Secretary, said the bomb would be available if necessary.

“We continue to do testing on the bomb to refine its capabilities, and that is ongoing,” he said “We also have the capability to go with existing configuration today.”

In order to justify their illegal threats and sanctions, the US has apparently embarked on a systematic program of fomenting Iranophobia in the US and the rest of the world. In this pernicious Iranophobic campaign, a number of groups and parties including Tea Party, neocons and AIPAC are actively involved.

By this program, the US is hell bent on distorting the realities of the Islamic Republic as well as brainwashing public opinion in the world into believing that Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons, and that Iran poses a grave danger to the security of the world. In this smear campaign, Washington also makes use of its allies including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel in the region.

A politically bankrupt politician who does have but little respect in his own country, Romney follows the selfsame Iranophobic campaign, takes an aggressive stand on Iran in Israel where he is falsely emboldened and says Tehran’s leaders are giving the world “no reason to trust them with nuclear material.” He even voiced support for an Israeli decision for military action “to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capability”.

“Make no mistake: The ayatollahs in Tehran are testing our moral defenses. They want to know who will object, and who will look the other way. My message to the people of Israel and the leaders of Iran is one and the same: I will not look away; and neither will my country.”

These facts aside, the duo have recently started a string of false flag terrorist attacks taking place in different parts of the world. With Washington pointing the finger of blame at Iran, Israel feels more fallaciously entitled to tone up its war rhetoric against the Islamic Republic and make the best of the fabricated ops. In the same line, former UN Ambassador John Bolton has called on the Zionist entity to attack Iran in retaliation for the alleged killing of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, saying “the time has come for the Jewish state to quit threatening and take action”.

“This is obviously a very dangerous period for Israel with the civil war in Syria, refugees reported going across the border into Lebanon, and Hezbollah well armed with rockets on Israel’s northern border,” Bolton told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Thursday night. “So I think if there were ever a time to retaliate, and directly against Iran this time, this is it.”

In the final analysis, one can see that the real threat in the world is being posed and imposed by those warmongers in Washington who will turn the situation to the best of their own interests in the region as well as by Israel. 

UK in double-dip recession

July 29th, 2012 by Robert Stevens

Britain is mired in its second official recession since the global financial meltdown of the autumn of 2008.

In May, the British economy entered a “double-dip” recession for the first since the 1970s.

Figures released by the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the economy shrank by a larger-than-expected 0.7 percent in the second quarter of the year. This was the third successive quarter of negative economic growth and was far higher than the forecast drop of 0.2 percent. It follows a decline of 0.3 percent recorded in the first three months of 2012.

The ONS figures are a first estimate and will be revised but still confirm that the UK is in the longest double-dip recession since quarterly records began in 1955. It is also the longest period of recession since the Second World War.

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition immediately sought to play down the figures, which are a devastating indictment of its economic policies. Such has been the systematic wrecking of the UK economy that economic output is now 4.5 percent smaller than when the coalition government took office just two years ago.

Speaking in London at the Global Investment Conference, organised to coincide with Olympics Games, Prime Minister David Cameron said he was “disappointed” with the figures, but added, “We’ve taken bold decisions to sort out our public finances and earn credibility with the markets”.

Referring to the government’s seven-year, £123 billion austerity programme, he said, “We will continue to take the tough decisions that are necessary for business leaders and investors to have confidence in the long-term future of the British economy”.

Michael Saunders, an economist at Citigroup, told the Financial Times that he questioned any analysis based on citing one-off factors: “There are always special effects. The big picture is that when a recession has gone on this long, we are in a depression”.

Earlier this year, Saunders declared that the UK economy was suffering “the deepest recession and weakest recovery for 100 years”.

The coalition’s October 2010 austerity programme was unveiled alongside government insistence that as public spending was drastically cut back, the basis would be laid for a “private-sector led recovery”. The opposite has occurred, with hundreds of thousands of jobs lost in the public sector combined with an unprecedented contraction of the private sector.

Other economists ruled out any recovery, let alone one based on the private sector. Gerard Lyons, chief economist at Standard Chartered, forecast a 1.3 percent fall in GDP this year, saying, “I think it’s inconceivable that there’ll be positive growth this year”.

Peter Dixon, economist at Commerzbank, said of the ONS statistics, “Terrible data. Frankly there’s nothing good that comes out of these numbers at all…. The economy looks to be badly holed below the water line at this stage. It’s a far worse period of activity than we’d expected”.

Guardian commentator Will Hutton stated, “Even if a strong economic recovery were to begin now—which it will not—the news is bleak. As the prospect is for a slow and faltering two years in which output recovers to its peak levels of 2008, the worst economic performance since the 19th century, with only a weak follow-through in prospect afterwards, the news is bleaker still”.

The biggest collapse in output came in the construction industry, which fell by more than 10 percent in the last six months. The latest 5.2 percent fall comes on top of a 4.9 percent first-quarter decline. Global financial services firm Morgan Stanley estimated that the precipitous decline in the construction industry output alone has eliminated 0.4 percent from total UK GDP.

Industrial production as a whole fell by 1.3 percent over the past quarter, while output in the services industry, accounting for fully 77 percent of the UK economy, fell by 0.1 percent. The only sectors that saw any growth were public-sector services output and business services.

Despite the unprecedented economic collapse, a number of commentators and political figures pointed to the Olympic Games as the means for providing some temporary economic respite. Labour Party shadow chancellor Ed Balls commented, “Thank goodness the Olympics will give our economy a much-needed shot in the arm”.

The reality is there is no historic evidence for a substantial or even short-term reversal in economic fortunes as a result of the Olympics. Brian Dennehy, managing director of FundExpert.co.uk, stated that such was the contraction of the UK economy that any growth related to the Olympics would “definitely not be enough to get the UK out of recession”.

Analysing growth of 0.75 percent recorded in the Australian economy after the Sydney Olympics of 2000, Dennehy said, “However, the UK’s economy is almost twice the size of Australia’s—which means almost twice the size relative to the economic importance of the Olympics”.

Any growth would be at most “0.4 percentage points—not enough to overcome a contraction on a 0.7 percent level”, he said. The Bank of England is predicting the Olympics will give just a 0.2 percentage point increase in growth.

The ONS report also reveals that the government’s “quantitative easing” (printing money) has done little or nothing to alleviate the situation. The policy is supposedly aimed at promoting economic recovery at a time of weakening demand and rising unemployment.

At its meeting earlier this month, the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee voted to add a further £50 billion in quantitative easing to the existing £325 billion stimulus committed since 2009. But this money, which is handed over to the banks on the basis that it will stimulate the economy by allowing desperate and struggling businesses access to credit, has largely remained with the banks.

The Bank of England’s latest figures on lending to business saw a £3 billion fall in the three months to May. According to the Federation of Small Businesses, 4 in 10 small firms are still being refused credit.

Indicators point to the worsening of economic conditions. A central factor in the continuing recession is the fall in the number of full-time employees since the crisis began in 2008. In that year, the number of full-time employees as a percentage of the UK’s total workforce stood at 58.9 percent. In the first quarter of 2012, that number had fallen to just 54.7 percent of the workforce, down nearly 2 percent from a year earlier.

The economy is in freefall, even though 90 percent of the government’s cuts have yet to come into effect. Further slashing of public spending and services, including the full privatisation of the National Health Service and public education, will lead to even greater social and economic misery.

Cameron does little else but provide verbal assurances to the British and global financial elite that the government remains committed to its austerity agenda. Last week, he told the Daily Telegraph, “The way I put it is look, it’s like there’s a sort of global race on right now, in which countries are going to make it and which countries aren’t. And in this highly competitive world, you’ve got to get on top of your debts, you’ve got to reform welfare, you’ve got to make sure you can pay your pensions…you’ve got a public sector you can afford”.

Asked if spending cuts would last the entirety of the next parliament, through to 2020, Cameron made clear that there will be at least a decade or austerity. “I don’t see a time when difficult spending choices are going to go away”, he said. “I can’t see any time soon when the pressure will be off”.

Cuba, a ilha da saúde

July 29th, 2012 by Salim Lamrani

Desde o triunfo da Revolução de 1959, o desenvolvimento da medicina tem sido a grande prioridade do governo cubano, o que transformou a ilha do Caribe em uma referência mundial neste campo. Atualmente, Cuba é o país que concentra o maior número de médicos por habitante.

Em 2012, Cuba formou mais 11 mil novos médicos, os quais completaram sua formação de seis anos em faculdades de medicina reconhecidas pela excelência no ensino. Trata-se da maior promoção médica da história do país, que tornou o desenvolvimento da medicina e o bem-estar social as prioridades nacionais. Entre esses médicos recém-graduados, 5.315 são cubanos e 5.694 vêm de 59 países da América Latina, África, Ásia e até mesmo dos Estados Unidos, com maioria de bolivianos (2.400), nicaraguenses (429), peruanos (453), equatorianos (308), colombianos (175) e guatemaltecos (170). Em um ano, Cuba formou quase o dobro de médicos do total que dispunha em 1959. [1]

Após o triunfo da Revolução, Cuba contava somente com 6.286 médicos. Dentre eles, três mil decidiram deixar o país para ir para os Estados Unidos, atraídos pelas oportunidades profissionais que Washington oferecia. Em nome da guerra política e ideológica que se opunha ao novo governo de Fidel Castro, o governo Eisenhower decidiu esvaziar a nação de seu capital humano, até o ponto de criar uma grave crise sanitária. [2]

Como resposta, Cuba se comprometeu a investir de forma maciça na medicina. Universalizou o acesso ao ensino superior e estabeleceu a educação gratuita para todas as especialidades. Assim, existem hoje 24 faculdades de medicina (contra apenas uma em 1959) em treze das quinze províncias cubanas, e o país dispõe de mais de 43 mil professores de medicina. Desde 1959, se formaram cerca de 109 mil médicos em Cuba. [3] Com uma relação de um médico para 148 habitantes (67,2 médicos para 10 mil habitantes ou 78.622, no total), segundo a Organização Mundial da Saúde, Cuba é a nação mais bem dotada neste setor. O país dispõe de 161 hospitais e 452 clínicas. [4]

No ano universitário 2011-2012, o número total de graduados em Ciências Médicas, que inclui 21 perfis profissionais (médicos, dentistas, enfermeiros, psicólogos, tecnologia da saúde etc.), sobe para 32.171, entre cubanos e estrangeiros. [5]

Wikimedia Commons

Sede da Escola Latino-Americana de Medicina em Havana

A ELAM

Além dos cursos disponíveis nas 24 faculdades de medicina do país, Cuba forma estudantes estrangeiros na Elam (Escola Latino-Americana de Medicina de Havana). Em 1998, depois que o furacão Mitch atingiu a América Central e o Caribe, Fidel Castro decidiu criar a Elam – inaugurada em 15 de novembro de 1999 – com o intuito de formar em Cuba os futuros médicos do mundo subdesenvolvido.

“Formar médicos prontos para ir onde eles são mais necessários e permanecer quanto tempo for necessário, esta é a razão de ser da nossa escola desde a sua fundação”, explica a doutora Miladys Castilla, vice-reitora da Elam. [6] Atualmente, 24 mil estudantes de 116 países da América Latina, África, Ásia, Oceania e Estados Unidos (500 por turma) cursam uma faculdade de medicina gratuita em Cuba. Entre a primeira turma de 2005 e 2010, 8.594 jovens doutores saíram da Elam. [7] As formaturas de 2011 e 2012 foram excepcionais com cerca de oito mil graduados. No total, cerca de 15 mil médicos se formaram na Elam em 25 especialidades distintas. [8]

A Organização Mundial da Saúde prestou uma homenagem ao trabalho da Elam: “A Escola Latino-Americana de Medicina acolhe jovens entusiasmados dos países em desenvolvimento, que retornam para casa como médicos formados. É uma questão de promover a equidade sanitária (…). A Elam (…) assumiu a premissa da “responsabilidade social”. A Organização Mundial da Saúde define a responsabilidade social das faculdades de medicina como o dever de conduzir suas atividades de formação, investigação e serviços para suprir as necessidades prioritárias de saúde da comunidade, região ou país ao qual devem servir.

A finalidade da Elam é formar médicos principalmente para fornecer serviço público em comunidades urbanas e rurais desfavorecidas, por meio da aquisição de competências em atendimento primário integral, que vão desde a promoção da saúde até o tratamento e a reabilitação. Em troca do compromisso não obrigatório de atender regiões carentes, os estudantes recebem bolsa integral e uma pequena remuneração, e assim, ao se formar, não têm dívidas com a instituição.

[No que diz respeito ao processo seletivo], é dada preferência aos candidatos de baixa renda, que de outra forma não poderiam pagar os estudos médicos. “Como resultado, 75% dos estudantes provêm de comunidades que precisam de médicos, incluindo uma ampla variedade de minorias étnicas e povos indígenas”.

Os novos médicos trabalham na maioria dos países americanos, incluindo os Estados Unidos, vários países africanos e grande parte do Caribe de língua inglesa.

Faculdades como a Elam propõem um desafio no setor da educação médica do mundo todo para que adote um maior compromisso social. Como afirmou Charles Boelen, ex-coordenador do programa de Recursos Humanos para a Saúde da OMS: “A ideia da responsabilidade social merece atenção no mundo todo, inclusive nos círculos médicos tradicionais… O mundo precisa urgentemente de pessoas comprometidas que criem os novos paradigmas da educação médica”. [9]

A solidariedade internacional

No âmbito dos programas de colaboração internacional, Cuba também forma, por ano, cerca de 29 mil estudantes estrangeiros em ciências médicas, em três especialidades: medicina, enfermagem e tecnologia da saúde, em oito países (Venezuela, Bolívia, Angola, Tanzânia, Guiné-Bissau, Guiné Equatorial, Timor Leste). [10]

Desde 1963 e o envio da primeira missão médica humanitária a Argélia, Cuba se comprometeu a curar as populações pobres do planeta, em nome da solidariedade internacional e dos sete princípios da medicina cubana (equidade, generosidade, solidariedade, acessibilidade, universalidade, responsabilidade e justiça). [11] As missões humanitárias cubanas abrangem quatro continentes e têm um caráter único. De fato, nenhuma outra nação do mundo, nem mesmo as mais desenvolvidas, teceram semelhante rede de cooperação humanitária ao redor do planeta. Desde o seu lançamento, cerca de 132 mil médicos e outros profissionais da saúde trabalharam voluntariamente em 102 países. [12] No total, os médicos cubanos curaram 85 milhões de pessoas e salvaram 615 mil vidas.  [13] Atualmente, 31 mil colaboradores médicos oferecem seus serviços em 69 nações do Terceiro Mundo. [14]

Segundo o Pnud (Programa das Nações Unidas para o Desenvolvimento), “um dos exemplos mais bem sucedidos da cooperação cubana com o Terceiro Mundo é o Programa Integral de Saúde para América Central, Caribe e África”. [15]

Nos termos da Alba (Aliança Bolivariana para os Povos da Nossa América), Cuba e Venezuela decidiram lançar em julho de 2004 uma ampla campanha humanitária continental com o nome de Operação Milagre. Consiste em operar gratuitamente latino-americanos pobres, vítimas de cataratas e outras doenças oftalmológicas, que não tenham possibilidade de pagar por uma operação que custa entre cinco e dez mil dólares. Esta missão humanitária se disseminou por outras regiões (África e Ásia). A Operação Milagre possui 49 centros oftalmológicos em 15 países da América Central e do Caribe. [16] Em 2011, mais de dois milhões de pessoas de 35 países recuperaram a visão. [17]

A medicina de catástrofe

No que se refere à medicina de catástrofe, o Centro para a Política Internacional de Washington, dirigido por Wayne S. Smith, ex-embaixador dos Estados Unidos em Cuba, afirma em um relatório que “não há dúvida quanto à eficiência do sistema cubano. Apenas alguns cubanos perderam a vida nos 16 maiores furacões que atingiram a ilha na última década e a probabilidade de perder a vida em um furacão nos Estados Unidos é 15 vezes maior do que em Cuba”. [18]

O relatório acrescenta que: “ao contrário dos Estados Unidos, a medicina de catástrofe em Cuba é parte integrante do currículo médico e a educação da população sobre como agir começa na escola primária […]. Até mesmo as crianças menores participam dos exercícios e aprendem os primeiros socorros e técnicas de sobrevivência, muitas vezes através de desenhos animados, e ainda como plantar ervas medicinais e encontrar alimento em caso de desastre natural. O resultado é a assimilação de uma forte cultura de prevenção e de uma preparação sem igual”. [19]

Alto IDH

Esse investimento no campo da saúde (10% do orçamento nacional) permitiu que Cuba alcançasse resultados excepcionais. Graças à sua medicina preventiva, a ilha do Caribe tem a taxa de mortalidade infantil mais baixa da América e do Terceiro Mundo – 4,9 por mil (contra 60 por mil em 1959) – inferior a do Canadá e dos Estados Unidos. Da mesma forma, a expectativa de vida dos cubanos – 78,8 anos (contra 60 anos em 1959) – é comparável a das nações mais desenvolvidas. [20]

As principais instituições internacionais elogiam esse desenvolvimento humano e social. O Fundo de População das Nações Unidas observa que Cuba “adotou há mais de meio século programas sociais muito avançados, que possibilitaram ao país alcançar indicadores sociais e demográficos comparáveis aos dos países desenvolvidos”. O Fundo acrescenta que “Cuba é uma prova de que as restrições das economias em desenvolvimento não são necessariamente um obstáculo intransponível ao progresso da saúde, à mudança demográfica e ao bem-estar”. [21]

Cuba continua sendo uma referência mundial no campo da saúde, especialmente para as nações do Terceiro Mundo. Mostra que é possível atingir um alto nível de desenvolvimento social, apesar dos recursos limitados e de um estado de sítio econômico extremamente grave, imposto pelos Estados Unidos desde 1960, que situe o ser humano no centro do projeto de sociedade.

Doutor em Estudos Ibéricos e Latinoamericanos pela Univerdade Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani é professor encarregado de cursos na Universidade Paris-Sorbonne-Paris IV e na Universidade Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée e jornalista, especialista nas relações entre Cuba e Estados Unidos. Seu libro mais recente é “Etat de siège. Les sanctions économiques des Etats-Unis contre Cuba” (“Estado de sítio. As sanções econômicas dos Estados Unidos contra Cuba”, em tradução livre), Paris, Edições Estrella, 2011, com prólogo de Wayne S. Smith e prefácio de Paul Estrade. Contato: [email protected] /Página no Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SalimLamraniOfficiel

Referências bibliográficas:
[1] José A. de la Osa, “Egresa 11 mil médicos de Universidades cubanas”, Granma, 11 de julho de 2012.
[2]  Elizabeth Newhouse, “Disaster Medicine: U.S. Doctors Examine Cuba’s Approach”, Center for International Policy, 9 de julho de 2012. http://www.ciponline.org/research/html/disaster-medicine-us-doctors-examine-cubas-approach (site consultado em 18 de julho de 2012).
[3] José A. de la Osa, “Egresa 11 mil médicos de Universidades cubanas”, op. cit.; Ministério das Relações Exteriores, “Graduados por la Revolución más de 100.000 médicos”, 16 de julho de 2009. http://www.cubaminrex.cu/MirarCuba/Articulos/Sociedad/2009/Graduados.html (site consultado em 18 de julho de 2012).
[4] Organização Mundial da Saúde, “Cuba: Health Profile”, 2010. http://www.who.int/gho/countries/cub.pdf (site consultado em 18 de julho de 2012); Elizabeth Newhouse, “Disaster Medicine: U.S. Doctors Examine Cuba’s Approach”, op. cit.
[5] José A. de la Osa, « Egresa 11 mil médicos de Universidades cubanas », op.cit.
[6] Organização Mundial da Saúde, “Cuba ayuda a formar más médicos”, 1º de maio de 2010. http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/88/5/10-010510/es/ (site consultado em 18 de julho de 2012). 
[7] Escola Latino-Americana de Medicina de Cuba, “Historia de la ELAM”. http://www.sld.cu/sitios/elam/verpost.php?blog=http://articulos.sld.cu/elam&post_id=22&c=4426&tipo=2&idblog=156&p=1&n=ddn (site consultado em 18 de julho de 2012).
[8] Agência cubana de notícias, “Over 15,000 Foreign Physicians Gratuated in Cuba in Seven Years”, 14 de julho de 2012.
[9] OMS, “Cuba ayuda a formar más médicos”, op. cit.
[10] José A. de la Osa, “Egresa 11 mil médicos de Universidades cubanas”, op. cit.
[11] Ladys Marlene León Corrales, “Valor social de la Misión Milagro en el contexto venezolano”, Biblioteca Virtual en Salud de Cuba,  março de 2009. http://bvs.sld.cu/revistas/spu/vol35_4_09/spu06409.htm (site consultado em 18 de julho de 2012).
[12] Felipe Pérez Roque, “Discurso del canciller de Cuba en la ONU”, Bohemia Digital, 9 de novembro de 2006.
[13] CSC News, “Medical Brigades Have Treated 85 million”, 4 de abril de 2008. http://www.cuba-solidarity.org.uk/news.asp?ItemID=1288 (site consultado em 18 de julho de 2012).
[14] Felipe Pérez Roque, “Discurso del canciller de Cuba en la ONU”, op. cit.
[15] PNUD, Investigación sobre ciencia, tecnología y desarrollo humano en Cuba, 2003, p.117-119. http://www.undp.org.cu/idh%20cuba/cap6.pdf (site consultado em 18 de julho de 2012).
[16] Ministério das Relações Exteriores, “Celebra Operación Milagro cubana en Guatemala”, República de Cuba, 15 de novembro de 2010. http://www.cubaminrex.cu/Cooperacion/2010/celebra1.html (site consultado em 18 de julho de 2012) Operación Milagro, “¿Qué es la Operación Milagro?”. http://www.operacionmilagro.org.ar/ (site consultado em 18 de julho de 2012).
[17] Operación Milagro, «¿Qué es la Operación Milagro?», op. cit.
[18] Elizabeth Newhouse, “Disaster Medicine: U.S. Doctors Examine Cuba’s Approach”, op. cit.
[19] Ibid.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Raquel Marrero Yanes, “Cuba muestra indicadores sociales y demográficos de países desarrollados”, Granma, 12 de julho de 2012.

“Quando voltei ao Pentágono em Novembro de 2001, um dos oficiais superiores do staff teve tempo para uma conversa. Sim, ainda estamos a caminho de ir contra o Iraque, disse ele. Mas havia mais. Isto estava a ser discutido como parte de um plano de campanha de cinco anos, disse ele, e havia um total de sete países, a começar pelo Iraque, a seguir a Síria, Líbano, Líbia, Irão, Somália e Sudão”.
Wesley Clark, antigo comandante-geral da NATO

“Deixe-me dizer aos soldados e oficiais que ainda apoiam o regime sírio – o povo sírio recordará as escolhas que fizerem nos próximos dias…”
Secretária de Estado Hillary Clinton, conferência Friends of Syria, em Paris, 07/Julho/2012

Enquanto a confrontação entre a Rússia e o Ocidente estava, até recentemente, confinada ao âmbito polido da diplomacia internacional, dentro do recinto do Conselho de Segurança da ONU, agora uma situação incerta e perigosa está a desdobrar-se no Mediterrâneo Oriental.

Forças aliadas incluindo operativos de inteligência e forças especiais reforçaram a sua presença sobre o terreno na Síria a seguir ao impasse da ONU. Enquanto isso, coincidindo com o beco sem saída no Conselho de Segurança da ONU, Moscovo despachou para o Mediterrâneo uma frota de dez navios de guerra russos e navios de escolta comandados pelo destróier anti-submarino Almirante Chabanenko. A frota russa está actualmente estacionada ao largo da costa Sul da Síria.

Em Agosto do ano passado, o vice-primeiro-ministro da Rússia, Dmitry Rogozin, advertiu que “a NATO está a planear uma campanha militar contra a Síria para ajudar a derrubar o regime do presidente Bashar al-Assad com um objectivo de longo alcance de preparar uma cabeça de ponte para um ataque ao Irão…” Em relação à actual deslocação naval, o chefe da Armada da Rússia, vice-almirante Viktor Chirkov, confirmou, entretanto, que se bem que a frota [russa] esteja a transportar fuzileiros navais, os navios de guerra “não seriam envolvidos em Tarefas na Síria”. “Os navios executarão manobras militares planeadas”, disse o ministro russo da Defesa.

A aliança EUA-NATO retaliou à iniciativa naval da Rússia, com uma deslocação naval muito maior, uma formidável armada ocidental consistente de navios de guerra britânicos, franceses e americanos, previstos para serem ali instalados neste Verão no Mediterrâneo Oriental, levando a uma potencial “confrontação estilo Guerra Fria” entre a Rússia e forças navais ocidentais.

Enquanto isso, planeadores militares dos EUA-NATO anunciaram que várias “opções militares” e “cenários de intervenção” estão a ser contemplados na sequência do veto russo-chinês no Conselho de Segurança da ONU.

O planeado posicionamento naval é coordenado com operações aliadas no terreno em apoio ao “Exército Sírio Livre” (ESL) patrocinado pelos EUA-NATO. Quanto a isto, os EUA-NATO aceleraram o recrutamento de combatentes estrangeiros treinados na Turquia, Iraque, Arábia Saudita e Qatar.

Navio russo.
(Navios de guerra russos entram no Mediterrâneo, rumo à Síria, timesofmalta.com, 24/Julho/2012)

Navio russo atracado em Tartus.

A França e a Grã-Bretanha participarão este Verão em jogos de guerra com o nome de código Exercise Cougar 12 [2012]. Os jogos serão efectuados no Mediterrâneo Oriental como parte de um “Response Force Task Group” franco-britânico envolvendo o HMS Bulwark britânico e o grupo de batalha do porta-aviões Charles De Gaulle da França. O centro deste exercício naval serão operações anfíbias envolvendo a colocação em terra firme de tropas no “território inimigo” (simulada).

HMS Bulwark

Charles de Gaulle

Cortina de fumo: A proposta evacuação de cidadãos ocidentais “Utilizando uma humanitária frota naval de armas de destruição em massa”

Pouco mencionado pelos media de referência, os navios de guerra envolvidos no exercício naval Cougar 12 também participarão na planeada evacuação de “cidadãos britânicos do Médio Oriente, caso o conflito em curso na Síria extravase fronteiras para os vizinhos do Líbano e da Jordânia”.

Os britânicos provavelmente enviariam o HMS Illustrious, um porta-helicópteros, juntamente com o HMS Bulwark, um navio anfíbio, bem como um destróier avançado para providenciar defesa à força-tarefa. Estarão a bordo várias centenas de comandos da Royal Marine, bem como um complemento de helicópteros de ataque AH-64 (os mesmos utilizados na Líbia no ano passado). Espera-se que se lhe junte uma frota de navios franceses, incluindo o porta-aviões Charles De Gaulle, transportando um complemento de caças Rafale.

Espera-se que aquelas forças permaneçam ao longo e possam escoltar navios civis especialmente fretados destinados a recolher cidadãos estrangeiros a fugirem da Síria e países em torno. (ibtimes.com, 24/Julho/2012).

Fontes no Ministério da Defesa britânico, se bem que confirmando o “mandato humanitário” da Royal Navy no planeado programa de evacuação, negaram categoricamente “qualquer intenção quanto a um papel de combate para forças britânicos [contra a Síria]“.

O plano de evacuação utilizando o mais avançado material militar, incluindo o HMS Bulwark e o porta-aviões Charles de Gaulle, é uma cortina de fumo óbvia. A agenda militar não tão escondida é ameaça militar e intimidação contra uma nação soberana localizada no berço histórico da civilização, a Mesopotâmia”:

“Só o Charles De Gaulle é porta-aviões nuclear com todo um esquadrão de jactos mais avançados do que qualquer coisa que os sírios tenham – é especulação de incitamento [dizer] que aquelas forças pudessem ficar envolvidas numa operação da NATO contra forças sírias leais a Bashar al-Assad…

O HMS Illustrious, que está actualmente ancorado no Tamisa, no centro de Londres, provavelmente será enviado para a região no fim das Olimpíadas”. (Ibid)

Este deslocamento impressionante de poder naval franco-britânico poderia também incluir o porta-aviões USS John C.Stennis, o qual está para ser enviado de volta ao Médio Oriente:

[Em 16/Julho/2012], o Pentágono também confirmou que iria reposicionar o USS John C. Stennis, um porta-aviões nuclear capaz de transportar 90 aviões, para o Médio Oriente… O Stennis estaria a chegar na região com um cruzador avançado de lançamento de mísseis, … Já é esperado que o porta-aviões USS Eisenhower esteja no Médio Oriente naquele momento (dois porta-aviões actualmente na região estão para ser aliviados e enviados de volta para os EUA).

Em meio a situações imprevisíveis tanto na Síria como no Irão, que teriam deixado forças estado-unidenses tensas e excessivamente sobrecarregadas se fosse necessária uma firme resposta militar em qualquer circunstância. (Ibid, ênfase acrescentada)

Porta-aviões USS Stennis e Illustrious.

O grupo de ataque USS Stennis está para ser enviado de volta ao Médio Oriente “numa data não especificada no fim do Verão” para ser posicionado na área de responsabilidade do Comando Central:

“O Departamento da Defesa disse que o deslocamento anterior viera de um pedido feito pelo general do Marine Corps James N. Mattis, o comandante do Comando Central (a autoridade militar dos EUA que cobre o Médio Oriente), parcialmente devido à preocupação de que haveria um curto período em que apenas um porta-voz estaria localizado na região”. (Strike group headed to Central Command early – Stripes Central – Stripes, July 16, 2012)

O Gen. Marine James Mattis, comandante do U.S. Central Command, “pediu para avançar o posicionamento do grupo de combate com base num “conjunto de factores” e o secretário da Defesa Leon Panetta aprovou-o”… (ibid)

Um porta-voz do Pentágono declarou que a mudança de posicionamento do grupo de ataque USS Stennis fazia parte de “um vasto conjunto de interesses de segurança dos EUA na região”. “Estamos sempre atentos aos desafios colocados pelo Irão. Deixe-me ser muito claro: Esta não é uma decisão baseada unicamente nos desafios colocados pelo Irão, …”Não é acerca de qualquer país particular ou uma ameaça particular”, dando a entender que a Síria também fazia parte do posicionamento planeado. (Ibid, ênfase acrescentada)

“Cenários de intervenção”

Este maciço posicionamento de poder naval é um acto de coerção tendo em vista aterrorizar o povo sírio. A ameaça de intervenção militar tem em vista desestabilizar a Síria como estado nação bem como confrontar e enfraquecer o papel da Rússia na intermediação da crise síria.

O jogo diplomático da ONU está num impasse. O Conselho de Segurança da ONU está morto. A transição é em direcção à “Diplomacia guerreira” do século XXI.

Se bem que uma operação militar aliada total dirigida contra a Síria não esteja “oficialmente” contemplada, planeadores militares estão actualmente envolvidos na preparação de vários “cenários de intervenção”.

Líderes políticos ocidentais podem não ter apetite por intervenção mais profunda. Mas como a história tem mostrado, nós nem sempre escolhemos que guerras combater – por vezes as guerras escolhem-nos. Planeadores militares tem a responsabilidade de preparar para opções de intervenção na Síria para os seus mestres políticos caso este conflito seja escolhido. A preparação estará a ser efectuada em várias capitais ocidentais e sobre o terreno na Síria e na Turquia. Até o ponto do colapso de Assad, é mais provável que vejamos uma continuação ou intensificação das opções abaixo do radar de apoio financeiro, armamento e aconselhamento dos rebeldes, operações clandestinas e talvez guerra cibernética a partir do Ocidente. Após algum colapso, entretanto, as opções militares serão vistas a uma luz diferente. ( Daily Mail, 24/Julho/2012, ênfase acrescentada)

Observações conclusivas

O mundo está numa encruzilhada perigosa.

A configuração deste planeado posicionamento naval no Mediterrâneo Oriental com navios de guerra dos EUA-NATO contíguo àqueles da Rússia é sem precedentes na história recente.

A história conta-nos que guerras são muitas vezes desencadeadas inesperadamente devido a “erros políticos” e erro humano. Os segundos são os mais prováveis dentro no âmbito de um sistema político desagregados e corrupto nos EUA e na Europa Ocidental.

O planeamento militar EUA-NATO é supervisionado por uma hierarquia militar centralizada. Operações de Comando e Controle são em teoria “coordenadas” mas na prática muitas vezes elas são marcadas pelo erro humano. Operativos de inteligência muitas vezes funcionam independentemente e fora do âmbito da responsabilidade política.

Planeadores militares são agudamente conscientes dos perigos de escalada. A Síria tem capacidades de defesa aérea significativas bem como forças terrestres. A Síria tem estado a instalar seu sistema de defesa aérea com a recepção dos mísseis russos Pantsir S1 . Qualquer forma de intervenção militar directa dos EUA-NATO contra a Síria desestabilizaria toda a região, levando potencialmente à escalada numa vasta área geográfica, que se estende desde o Mediterrâneo Oriental até a fronteira do Afeganistão-Paquistão com o Tadjiquistão e China.

O planeamento militar envolve cenários intricados e jogos de guerra por ambos os lados incluindo opções militares relativas a sistema de armas avançados. Um cenário Terceira Guerra Mundial tem sido contemplado pelos planeadores militares EUA-NATO-Israel desde o princípio de 2000.

A escalada é uma parte integral da agenda militar. Preparativos de guerra para atacar a Síria e o Irão têm estado num “estado avançado de prontidão” durante vários anos.

Estamos a tratar com complexas tomadas de decisão políticas e estratégicas que envolvem a acção recíproca de poderosos grupos de interesses económicos, as acções de operativos de inteligência.

O papel da propaganda de guerra é fundamental não só para moldar a opinião pública, levando-a a aceitar a agenda de guerra, como também para estabelecer um consenso dentro dos escalões superiores do processo de tomada de decisão. Uma forma selectiva de propaganda de guerra destinada a “Top Officials” (TOPOFF) em agências do governo, inteligência, militares, aplicadores da lei, etc destina-se a criar um consenso firme em favor da Guerra e do Estado Policial.

Para o projecto guerra ir em frente é essencial que tanto os planeadores políticos como os militares estejam legitimamente comprometidos em conduzir a guerra “em nome da justiça e da democracia”. Para que isto se verifique, eles devem acreditar firmemente na sua própria propaganda, nomeadamente em que a guerra é “um instrumento de paz e democracia”.

Eles não têm preocupação para com os impactos devastadores de sistemas de armas avançados, rotineiramente classificados como “danos colaterais”, muito menos o significado e significância de guerra antecipativa (pre-emptive), utilizando armas nucleares.

As guerras são invariavelmente decididas por líderes civis e grupos de interesse e não pelos militares. A guerra serve interesses económicos dominantes os quais operam a partir dos bastidores, por trás de portas fechadas em salas de reunião corporativas, nos think tanks de Washington, etc.

As realidades são invertidas. Guerra é paz. A Mentira torna-se a Verdade.

A propaganda de guerra, nomeadamente as mentiras dos media, constituem o mais poderoso instrumento guerreiro.

Sem a desinformação dos media, a agenda guerreira conduzida pelos EUA-NATO entraria em colapso como um castelo de cartas. A legitimidade dos criminosos de guerra em altos postos seria rompida.

Portanto é essencial desarmar não só os media de referência como também um segmento dos media alternativos auto proclamados como “progressistas”, os quais têm proporcionado legitimidade para a obrigação da “Responsabilidade de proteger” (“Responsibility to protect, R2P) da NATO, em grande medida tendo em vista desmantelar o movimento anti-guerra.

A estrada para Teerão passa por Damasco. Uma guerra ao Irão patrocinada pelos EUA-NATO envolveria, como primeiro passo, a desestabilização da Síria como uma nação-estado. O planeamento militar relativo à Síria é uma parte integral da agenda de guerra ao Irão.

Uma guerra contra a Síria poderia evoluir na direcção de uma campanha militar EUA-NATO contra o Irão, na qual a Turquia e Israel estariam envolvidas directamente.

É crucial difundir esta notícia e romper os canais de desinformação dos media.

Um entendimento crítico e não enviesado do que está a acontecer na Síria é de importância crucial na reversão da maré de escalada militar rumo a uma guerra regional mais vasta.

Nosso objectivo em última análise é desmantelar o arsenal militar EUA-NATO-israelense e restaurar a Paz Mundial.

É essencial que o povo no Reino Unido, na França e nos Estados Unidos impeça o próximo posicionamento naval de ADM no Mediterrâneo Oriental.

Ajude a difundir. Reenvie este artigo.

26/Julho/2012

Do mesmo autor:

  • SYRIA: NATO’s Next “Humanitarian” War?

  • “A opção salvadorenha para a Síria”

  • Uma “guerra humanitária” à Síria? Escalada militar. Rumo a uma guerra mais vasta no Médio Oriente-Ásia Central?

    O original encontra-se em http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=32079

    Este artigo foi traduzido em português por http://resistir.info/

  • Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Linked to Nuclear Technology Smuggling Ring – FBI Files

    July 29th, 2012 by Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy

    WASHINGTON, July 28, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The following is being released by the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy – The FBI partially declassified and released files linking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a nuclear technology smuggling ring that targeted the United States.  The declassified files are now publicly available online at http://www.IRmep.org/ila/krytons/06272012_milco_mdr.pdf

    FBI agents interviewed indicted American smuggler Richard Kelly Smyth on April 16-17, 2002, at the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles. The secret interview report details how during trips to Israel Smyth’s handler placed him in contact with Benjamin Netanyahu at Heli Trading Company. The FBI report suggests that “Smyth and [Netanyahu] would meet in restaurants in Tel Aviv and in [Netanyahu's] home and/or business. It was not uncommon for [Netanyahu] to ask Smyth for unclassified material.”

    Smyth was indicted in the mid-1980s for smuggling 800 dual use “krytrons” without proper export licenses through a multi-front company network.  Smyth fled the U.S. and lived abroad, supported by unknown means, until he was captured by Interpol and returned to the U.S. in 2001.  He was convicted in 2002.

    During the 2002 Smyth counterintelligence debriefing, the FBI learned that the Israeli Ministry of Defense ordered and paid an Israeli company called Heli Trading for krytrons. Heli in turn sourced them from California-based MILCO in a clandestine operation codenamed “Project Pinto.” The report reveals how MILCO illegally shipped other prohibited military articles under general Commerce Department export licenses rather than smuggling them out via Israeli diplomatic pouches.

    Released on the Internet on July 4, 2012, the files have been the subject of reporting in the Israeli press, including Israeli National News, Ma’ariv and The Marker.  Some U.S. alternative media also explored the implications of the formerly secret files including Antiwar.com, Tikkun OlamMondoweiss and CounterPunchWBAI radio and the Scott Horton Show have hosted interviews. 

    Although the FBI report has now been sent to the New York Times, Washington Post, all members of Congress and United Nations members, no top-tier establishment news coverage, Congressional or UN investigations have been made public.  On Friday, National Public Radio syndicated host Diane Rehm immediately disconnected IRmep Research Director Grant F. Smith when he asked her reporter roundtable to assess the implications of the Netanyahu espionage ring.  An audio clip of the brief exchange is available at: http://www.IRmep.org/NPR.mp3

    IRmep is a private nonprofit that studies how warranted law enforcement and civil action can improve U.S. Middle East policy.

    Last week, the delegates who attended the Arms Trade Treaty Conference (ATT) reportedly did not come to a consensus to ratify the ATT, but rather will come back to the issue later this year.

    Further talks will likely take place at a UN General Assembly (UNGA) meeting wherein 192 nations could achieve the 2/3rd majority vote for ratification of the ATT.

    According to the British delegation: “We feel that we could have agreed (a treaty). It is disappointing that more time is needed. But an arms-trade treaty is coming – not today – but soon. We’ve taken a big step forward.”

    Although activists in support of a convention for global gun control advocated the need to prevent illicit trade of guns into conflicted zones, such as in Syria, those same activists blamed the US and Russia for causing a stalemate during the negotiations process.

    Victoria Nuland, US Ambassador to the UN released a statement on the US State Department website wherein it was admitted that “the illicit trafficking of conventional arms is an important national security concern for the United States.”

    The US has committed to an ATT that works towards a contribution “to international security, protect the sovereign right of states to conduct legitimate arms trade, and meet the objectives and concerns that we have been articulating throughout the negotiation” and the US government believes that the ATT “will make a valuable contribution to global security by helping to stem illicit arms transfers, and we will continue to look for ways for the international community to work together to improve the international arms transfer regime so that weapons aren’t transferred to people who would abuse them.”

    The stance of the US government, in rejecting signature of the ATT over the trafficking of illicit arms directs the purpose of the CIA and Obama administration’s involvement in arming terrorist groups in order to facilitate foreign policy objectives in the Middle East with regard to the current situation in Syria and ultimately Iran.

    Of recent, the Obama administration is focusing on increasing proliferation of arms, intelligence and training to the Free Syrian Army and other oppositional factions to facilitate a forced regime change in Syria.

    Obama has denied that the US government is arming oppositional forces, yet the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have been in Turkey offering intelligence and training to factions aiding in the destruction of the Syrian government.

    Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, admits that the US government “[is] looking at the controlled demolition [of the Syrian government]. But like any controlled demolition, anything can go wrong.”

    Bassma Kodmani, front woman for the Syrian National Council and globalist infiltrator, has had the closest relations to the Obama administration and called specifically for a military strike against Syria by stating : “No dialogue with the ruling regime is possible. We can only discuss how to move on to a different political system. The next step needs to be a resolution under Chapter VII, which allows for the use of all legitimate means, coercive means, embargo on arms, as well as the use of force to oblige the regime to comply.”

    In Turkey, while the CIA trains oppositional forces against Assad, there has developed an element of instability within the Kurds against Erdogan, who supports the CIA operatives.

    In a UN document entitled “Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran”, the UN resolved to reject prior resolutions and treaties in order to give the US and Israel international authority to attack Iran as they are planning to do.

    By claiming with international support, that Iran is indeed in violation of human rights treaties as well as redirecting actions taken by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) against the Iranian people and attributing them to the Syrian government under Assad’s control, the UN has paved the way for military action and ultimate usurpation of the region by the US and Israel for the global Elite.

    Ultimately with the US being the largest supplier of arms to terrorist organizations worldwide, it makes sense that they refused to sign the ATT.

    In the draft that was leaked out, it clearly states in Article 1 that countries must establish UN standards “for regulating or improving regulation of the international trade in conventional arms.” It goes on to assert that this is to “prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in conventional arms and their diversion to illegal and unauthorized end use.”

    The Fast and Furious scandal is just one example of how the US government arms specific cartels in order to facilitate instability in targeted regions for their own geopolitical gains.

    The attack on the 2nd Amendment is not averted, as some in the alternative media would have us believe. It has simply been halted until the globalists can come to an agreement as to how to restrict gun procurement globally while still allowing the US and Israel to continue to fund the fake terrorist organizations in the Middle East that are providing the justification for WW III and ultimate occupation of Israel in the entirety of the region.

    German intelligence: al-Qaeda all over Syria

    July 28th, 2012 by John Rosenthal

    German intelligence estimates that “around 90″ terror attacks that “can be attributed to organizations that are close to al-Qaeda or jihadist groups” were carried out in Syria between the end of December and the beginning of July, as reported by the German daily Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). This was revealed by the German government in a response to a parliamentary question.

    In response to the same question, the German government admitted that it had received several reports from the German foreign intelligence service, the BND, on the May 25 massacre in the Syrian town of Houla. But it noted that the content of these reports was to remain classified “by reason of national interest”, Like many other Western governments, Germany expelled Syria’s ambassador in the immediate aftermath of the massacre, holding the Syrian government responsible for the violence.

    Meanwhile, at least three major German newspapers – Die Welt, the FAZ, and the mass-market tabloid Bild – have published reports attributing responsibility for the massacre to anti-government rebel forces or treating this as the most probable scenario.

    Writing in Bild, longtime German war correspondent Jurgen Todenhofer accused the rebels of “deliberately killing civilians and then presenting them as victims of the government”. He described this “massacre-marketing strategy” as being “among the most disgusting things that I have ever experienced in an armed conflict”. Todenhofer had recently been to Damascus, where he interviewed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for Germany’s ARD public television.

    Wring in Die Welt, Alfred Hackensberger noted that Taldo, the sub-district of Houla where the massacre occurred, has been under rebel control since December 2011 and is in an open plain, making it unlikely that “hundreds of soldiers and Assad supporters” could have entered the village to commit the massacre. (An abridged version of Hackenberger’s report also appeared in Die Berliner Morgenpost.) Hackensberger visited Houla to conduct investigations for his report.

    He also interviewed an alleged eyewitness – identified simply by the pseudonym “Jibril” – at the Saint James Monastery in Qara, Syria. In contrast to an earlier report in the FAZ, which had claimed that the victims were largely Shi’ites and Alawis, Jibril told Hackensberger that all of the victims were Sunnis “like everybody here”. By his account, they were killed for refusing to support the rebellion. Jibril added that “a lot of people in Houla know what really happened” but would not say so out of fear for their lives. “Whoever says something,” he explained, “can only repeat the rebels’ version. Anything else is certain death.”

    While traveling in the region of Homs, Hackensberger heard similar stories about the conduct of the rebels. One – now former – resident of the city of Qusayr told him that not only were Christians like himself expelled from the town, but that anyone who refused to enroll their children in the Free Syrian Army had been shot. Hackensberger’s source held foreign Islamists responsible for the atrocities. “I have seen them with my own eyes,” he said, “Pakistanis, Libyans, Tunisians and also Lebanese. They call Osama bin Laden their sheikh.”

    A Sunni resident of Homs told Hackensberger that he had witnessed how an armed group stopped a bus: “The passengers were divided into two groups: on the one side, Sunnis; on the other, Alawis.” According to Hackenberger’s source, the insurgents then proceeded to decapitate the nine Alawi passengers.

    That the German government would cite national interest in refusing to disclose its information concerning the circumstances of the Houla massacre is particularly notable in light of Germany’s support for the rebellion and its political arm, the Syrian National Council (SNC).

    While France, the United Kingdom, and the United States have figured as the most visible Western powers supporting the rebellion, Germany has been quietly playing a major role behind the scenes. According to a new report in the FAZ, the German foreign office is working with representatives of the Syrian opposition to develop “concrete plans” for a “political transition” in Syria following the fall of Assad.

    John Rosenthal is a journalist who specializes on European politics and transatlantic security issues. His website is Transatlantic Intelligencer

    GRTV: Rooftop Missile Controversy in London 2012 Olympics

    July 28th, 2012 by Patrick Henningsen

    La llegada al poder del Presidente Obama en Estados Unidos en 2008 marcó una ruptura de estilo respecto a la anterior administración Bush hacia Cuba. No obstante, salvo el levantamiento de algunas restricciones relativas a los viajes, las sanciones económicas siguen aplicándose, incluso de modo extraterritorial. He aquí algunos ejemplos recientes.

    Durante su campaña electoral en 2007, el entonces candidato Barack Obama hizo una lúcida constatación sobre el carácter obsoleto de la política de Estados Unidos hacia Cuba. Una vez elegido, declaró su voluntad de buscar “un nuevo comienzo con Cuba”. “Creo que podemos llevar la relación entre EE.UU. y Cuba en una nueva dirección y lanzar un nuevo capítulo de acercamiento que continuará durante mi mandato”, subrayó.[1]

    Obama había denunciado la política de su predecesor hacia Cuba, el cual había limitado fuertemente los viajes de la comunidad cubana de Estados Unidos. “Se trata a la vez de una cuestión estratégica y humanitaria. Esta decisión […] ha tenido un impacto profundamente negativo sobre el bienestar del pueblo cubano. Otorgaré a los cubanoamericanos derechos ilimitados para visitar a sus familiares y mandar dinero a la Isla”, se comprometió.[2]

    Obama cumplió su palabra. En abril de 2009 anunció el levantamiento de algunas restricciones que afectan a los cubanos que viven en Estados Unidos y que tienen familiares en la isla, que entró en vigor el 3 de septiembre de 2009. Desde entonces pueden viajar a su país de origen sin ningún obstáculo (en vez de catorce días cada tres años) y mandar remesas ilimitadas a sus familias (en vez de cien dólares al mes).[3]

    Aplicación extraterritorial de las sanciones económicas contra Cuba

    No obstante, Washington no ha vacilado en aplicar las sanciones económicas, incluso de modo extraterritorial, violando así gravemente el derecho internacional. En efecto, éste estipula que las legislaciones nacionales no pueden ser extraterritoriales, es decir aplicarse fuera del territorio nacional. Así, la ley brasileña no puede aplicarse en Argentina. Del mismo modo, la legislación venezolana no puede aplicarse en Colombia. Ahora bien, la ley estadounidense de las sanciones económicas contra Cuba se aplica en todos los países del mundo.

    En efecto, en junio de 2012, el banco neerlandés ING recibió la más importante sanción jamás dictada desde el inicio del estado de sitio económico contra Cuba en 1960. La Oficina de Control de Activos Extranjeros (OFAC) del Departamento del Tesoro sancionó a la institución financiera con una multa de 619 millones de dólares por realizar, entre otras, transacciones en dólares con Cuba, a través del sistema financiero estadounidense, entre 2002 y 2007.[4]

    El Departamento del Tesoro también obligó al banco neerlandés a romper sus relaciones comerciales con Cuba y anunció que “ING aseguró a la Oficina de Control de Activos Extranjeros que había puesto fin a las prácticas que llevaron al acuerdo de hoy”. Así, Washington prohibió a un banco europeo toda transacción comercial con Cuba.[5]

    El gobierno cubano denunció esta nueva aplicación extraterritorial de las sanciones económicas, las cuales, además de impedir todo comercio con Estados Unidos (excepto las materias primas alimenticias), constituyen el principal obstáculo al desarrollo de las relaciones comerciales de Cuba con el resto del mundo. “El Gobierno de Estados Unidos sancionó unilateralmente al banco ING por tramitar, en conjunto con sus subsidiarias en Francia, Bélgica, Holanda y Curazao, transacciones financieras y comerciales de entidades cubanas, prohibidas por la criminal política de bloqueo contra Cuba”, subraya el comunicado oficial.[6]

    Adam Szunin, Director de la OFAC, aprovechó la ocasión para advertir a las empresas extranjeras que tienen relaciones comerciales con Cuba. Esta multa “debería servir como una clara advertencia a cualquiera que considere aprovecharse de evadir las sanciones de los Estados Unidos”, declaró, reafirmando así que Washington seguiría aplicando sus medidas extraterritoriales. [7]

    Otras empresas extranjeras también fueron sancionadas por sus relaciones comerciales con Cuba. Así, la multinacional sueca Ericsson, especializada en el campo de las telecomunicaciones, tuvo que pagar una multa de 1,75 millones de dólares por reparar, mediante su filial basada en Panamá, equipos cubanos de un valor de 320.000 dólares, en Estados Unidos. Tres empleados, implicados en el caso, también fueron despedidos.[8]

    El 10 de julio de 2012, el Departamento del Tesoro infligió una multa de 1,35 millones de dólares a la empresa estadounidense Great Western Malting Co. por vender cebada a Cuba, mediante una de sus filiales extranjeras entre agosto de 2006 y marzo de 2009. No obstante, el derecho internacional humanitario prohíbe todo tipo de embargo sobre las materias primas alimenticias y los medicamentos, incluso en tiempos de guerra. Ahora bien, oficialmente, Cuba y Estados Unidos jamás han estado en conflicto.[9]

    En Francia, Mano Giardini y Valérie Adilly, dos directores de la agencia de viajes estadounidense Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), fueron despedidos por vender paquetes turísticos con destino a Cuba. La empresa corre el riesgo de recibir una multa de 38.000 dólares por estancia vendida, lo que suscitó la ira de algunos asalariados que difícilmente comprenden la situación. “¿Por qué Carlson no retiró del sistema de reservas los productos Cuba ya que no teníamos derecho a vender?”, preguntó un empleado.[10]

    Del mismo modo, es posible que CWT no sea autorizada a responder a los concursos de los viajes de la administración estadounidense, los cuales representan una parte sustancial de su volumen de negocios. La dirección de CWT se expresó al respecto: “En estas condiciones, tenemos que aplicar la regla estadounidense que prohíbe mandar a viajeros a Cuba, incluso para las filiales”. Así, una filial estadounidense basada en Francia está obligada a aplicar la ley estadounidense sobre las sanciones económicas contra Cuba, mofándose de la legislación nacional en vigor.[11]

    Google censurado y un presupuesto de 20 millones de dólares para la “democracia digital

    Más insólito, las sanciones económicas prohíben que los cubanos utilicen algunas funciones del motor de búsqueda Google, tales como Google Analytics (que permite calcular el número de visitas en un sitio web, así como su origen), Google Earth, Google Destktop Search, Google Toolbar, Google Code Search, Google AdSense o Google AdWords, privando así a Cuba de acceso a estas nuevas tecnologías y a numerosos productos descargables. La empresa estadounidense proporcionó una explicación mediante su representante Christine Chen: “Lo teníamos escrito en nuestros términos y condiciones. No se puede usar Google Analytics en los países sometidos a embargos”.[12]

    Al mismo tiempo, mientras que Washington impone a Google restringir el uso de sus servicios digitales en Cuba y prohíbe que La Habana se conecte a su cable de fibra óptica para Internet, el Departamento de Estado anunció que iba a dedicar, mediante la Agencia de Estados Unidos para el Desarrollo Internacional (USAID), la suma de 20 millones de dólares a “activistas de los derechos humanos, periodistas independientes y bibliotecas independientes en la isla”, con el fin de difundir, entre otras, la “democracia digital”.[13]

    La administración Obama, lejos de adoptar “un nuevo comienzo con Cuba”, sigue imponiendo sanciones económicas que afectan a todas las categorías de la población cubana empezando por las más vulnerables o sea las mujeres, los niños y los ancianos. No vacila en sancionar a empresas extranjeras violando el derecho internacional al aplicar medidas extraterritoriales. También se niega a oír el reclamo unánime de la comunidad internacional que condenó en 2011, por vigésimo año consecutivo, la imposición de un estado de sitio anacrónico, cruel e ineficaz, que constituye el principal obstáculo al desarrollo de la nación.

     
    Doctor en Estudios Ibéricos y Latinoamericanos de la Universidad Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani es profesor encargado de cursos en la Universidad Paris-Sorbonne-Paris IV y en la Universidad Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée y periodista, especialista de las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos. Su último libro se titula Etat de siège. Les sanctions économiques des Etats-Unis contre Cuba, París, Ediciones Estrella, 2011, con un prólogo de Wayne S. Smith y un prefacio de Paul Estrade.

    Contacto: [email protected]  

    Página Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SalimLamraniOfficiel  

     

    Texto original en portugués :


    As sanções econômicas a Cuba sob o governo Obama
    Longe de adotar “um novo começo”, a atual administração continua impondo punições que afetam toda a população cubana
    - par Salim Lamrani – 2012-07-27

    Notes

    [1] The Associated Press, «Obama Seeks ‘New Beginning’ With Cuba», 17 de abril de 2009.

    [2] Barack Obama, «Our Main Goal: Freedom in Cuba», The Miami Herald, 21 de agosto de 2007.

    [3] Office of Foreign Assets Control, «Hoja informativa: Tesoro modifica reglamento para el control de bienes cubanos a fin de implementar el programa del Presidente sobre visitas familiares, remesas y telecomunicaciones», Treasury Department, 3 de septiembre de 2009.

    [4] Office of Foreign Assets Control, «Settlement Agreement ING», Department of the Treasury, junio de 2012. http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/CivPen/Documents/06122012_ing_agreement.pdf (sitio consultado el 10 de julio de 2012).

    [5] Ibid.

    [6] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, «Statement by the Ministry of foreign Affairs», 20 de junio de 2012. http://www.cubaminrex.cu/english/Statements/Articulos/StatementsMINREX/2012/Statement200612.html (sitio consultado el 10 de julio de 2012).

    [7] Ibid.

    [8] Steve Stecklow & Bail Katz, «U.S. to Fine Ericsson in Panama $1,75 Million Over Cuba Shipments», Reuters, 24 de mayo de 2012.

    [9] Office of Foreign Assets Control, «Enforcement Information for July 10, 2012», Department of the Treasury, 10 de julio de 2012. http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/CivPen/Documents/07102012_great_western.pdf (sitio consultado el 12 de julio de 2012).

    [10] Jean da Luz, «Carlson Wagonlit Travel : l’embargo cubain fait tomber des têtes en France», Tourmag, 2 de julio de 2012 ; Geneviève Bieganowsky. «Licienciements, Carlson redoute la perte des budgets voyages de l’administration US», Tourmag, 3 de julio de 2012.

    [11] Ibid.

    [12] Michael McGuire, « Google responde a denuncias de Cuba », The Miami Herald, 20 de julio de 2012.

    [13] Juan O. Tamayo, « Estados Unidos busca romper censura tecnológica en Cuba », El Nuevo Herald, 23 de junio de 2012.

    This week, Syrian General Manaf Tlass was mooted as the head of a proposed interim national unity government, to be installed if the US and its allies succeed in overthrowing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

    Tlass only defected on July 6. Before that he was a general in the elite 104th brigade of the Republican Guard. The son of a former defence minister, he was for years Assad’s right-hand man, helping strengthen ties with Syria’s Sunni business community.

    Behind the scenes he is being sponsored by Washington. The Wall Street Journal reported, “The Obama administration and officials of some Arab and Western nations are discussing ways to place Syria’s highest-ranking military defector at the center of a political transition in the Arab state, according to US and Middle East officials.”

    Tlass read a prepared statement on Saudi-based Al-Arabiya television, calling for unity and stressing that he was speaking as “one of the sons of the Syrian Arab Army” who could reach out to “honourable troops” that must now become “the extension of the [opposition] Free Syrian Army.”

    He was on a pilgrimage to Mecca aimed at reinforcing his Islamic credentials. His trip was arranged by Saudi Arabia’s new head of intelligence, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan.

    Whether or not his power grab is successful, the backing Tlass has received blows a hole in all attempts to portray the anticipated overthrow of Assad as the dawn of a new democratic era. The US, France, Britain and other imperialist powers want Assad eliminated because he is seen as too dependent upon Iran. Their goal is to impose an equally militarist and authoritarian regime, but one that is under their control.

    The Syrian National Council (SNC) is split on whether to endorse Tlass. Last week SNC leader Abdel Basset Sayda revealed its plan for a post-Assad regime. The SNC would lead an interim government with the help of the military, to “guarantee the security of the country and its unity once the regime falls.”

    The class character of this proposal is largely identical to that of plans to install Tlass. Islamist and pro-imperialist parties, representing various bourgeois factions, would act as a front for a military regime that would keep itself in power by brutally suppressing the ethnic and sectarian tensions exacerbated by the US intervention.

    And if Tlass proves too controversial a figure to head such a regime, there are other candidates. Syrian commentator Hassan Hassan noted in the Guardian that the importance of Nawaf al-Fares, the former Syrian envoy in Iraq, is rooted in efforts to utilise tribal ties to establish spheres of influence. His eastern clan is part of the dominant Egaidat tribal confederation, which has at least 1.5 million members across 40 percent of Syria’s territory and “kinship links to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.”

    The mooting of Tlass is only the latest initiative by the major powers and their regional allies, the Gulf States and Turkey, which are oversee the SNC and other “opposition” forces.

    Foreign Policy magazine reported that for at least six months, 40 senior Syrian “opposition” groups have met in Germany under the aegis of the US Institute for Peace (USIP) to make plans for a post-Assad Syrian government. The project leader is Georgetown University academic Steven Heydemann, but the USIP is funded by the State Department. “This is a situation where too visible a US role would have been deeply counterproductive,” Heydemann said.

    In a February article for Foreign Policy, he urged that, “the Friends [of Syria] Group should move quickly to establish a single, centralized body overseeing the training and equipping of the armed opposition. Inevitably, this will involve a significant role for Turkey, which currently hosts the FSA in areas along the Syrian border.”

    This proposal has been fully implemented. Reuters revealed Friday that Turkey has set up a secret base, working with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to direct, arm and train the opposition. Its staff includes 20 former Syrian generals.

    Advancing a military strongman is in part of an attempt to suppress the very forces that the major powers have mobilised against Assad—Islamists, including not only the Muslim Brotherhood but also Al-Qaeda and other Salafist groups armed and financed by the Gulf states.

    The nominally liberal media now openly discusses the sectarian nature of the conflict they have backed from its inception and the danger of a bloodbath after Assad’s downfall. Referring to Tlass, the Guardian’s Martin Chulov concluded that given the “potential balkanisation of Syria, which would possibly be linked to outright sectarian war… One way to avoid the abyss is the anointing of a hardman to take over.”

    But the liberal media is not alone in supporting the installation of a military regime through a proxy war waged by the western powers. This week, Britain’s Socialist Workers Party warns that “the longer the fighting continues, the bigger the danger will be of foreign powers stepping in to hijack the revolution.”

    This possibility was always ridiculed by the pseudo-left SWP, and even now it never explains that such a “hijack” is made possible precisely due to the class forces leading the opposition to Assad and the absence of an independent mobilisation of the working class.

    SWP leader Alex Callinicos goes further. While proclaiming cynically that “We may regret the absence of the independent working class action,” he insists, “The idea that Syria is being ‘recolonised’ implies that it is a long-standing Western priority to remove the Assad regime. But there is no evidence of this… Those in the Western left who allow a reflexive and unthinking ‘anti-imperialism’ to set them against the Syrian revolution are simply confessing their own bankruptcy.”

    Callinicos and his ilk within the ex-left tendencies are far more than political bankrupts. The “revolution” they are backing is of a right-wing pro-imperialist character—and they know it.

    The denunciation of “reflexive” opposition to imperialism comes from a man with intimate personal and political ties to Britain’s ruling elite and to right-wing bourgeois forces in the Middle East like the Muslim Brotherhood. He heads a party with a privileged petty-bourgeois membership, whose social and political outlook is fundamentally the same as the layers catered for by the Guardian. His is, in short, an authentic voice of the counter-revolution.

    According to media reports, the new ISI chief, General Zaheer-ul-Islam would be in Washington on 2nd of August to hold talks with CIA Director David Petraeus on counter-terror cooperation and intelligence sharing. Since after the ‘uncivilized and unethical’ raid of the US marines in search of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, the relationship between the two countries is continuously at stake. Moreover the Salala incident in November 2011 and beheading of 17 Pakistani soldiers by the Afghan insurgents in the last week of June 2012 added salt to the injuries.

    US reaction over the sentencing of Dr. Afridi who illegally helped the US authorities in locating Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad also widened the gulf. But the most painfully pinching issue has been the continuous recurrence of drone attacks on innocent people who in fact have nothing to do with the terrorists and terrorism.

    Though the government of Pakistan responded vehemently to all these issues by ordering the US authorities to vacate the Shamsi Air Base and by closing the NATO supply route through Pakistan but these actions could not pacify the Pakistani nation. On the other hand, misguided by their arrogance of power and ecstasy of opulence, the US authorities started discrediting Pakistan’s civil-military leadership by criticising their policy decisions and pressuring them through financial sanctions instead of offering apology. Resultantly diplomatic relations between Pakistan and the US suffered a setback.

    Since after the Salala incident, the people of Pakistan have been demanding two things; a clear-cut apology from the US authorities over Salala incident and a full-stop to the drone attacks. In the beginning the US authorities paid no heed to the demand of apology but ultimately they had to surrender before the increasing pressure exerted by the government of Pakistan and consequently there came an ‘unwilling apology’ from the US government regarding the Salala brutality.

    As far as the drone attack issue is concerned, the situation is still the same. After reopening of the NATO supply line it was expected that there would be a considerable reduction in drone attacks but things have never changed.

    Gen. Zaheer-ul-Islam will have to concentrate largely upon the issue of drone attacks during his talks with the US authorities in Washington. On behalf of the whole Pakistani nation, he will have to convey the message to his US counterpart that the security forces of Pakistan have all required ability and skill to counter the drone attacks and Pakistan’s silence over the drone attacks must not be taken as cowardice or inability to respond to aggression; this silence is simply an attempt to avoid apparently ‘imminent’ Third World War. War in itself is a terrorist activity.

    Being a peace loving country, Pakistan has always tried to avoid any conflict and confrontation with its neighbouring countries. It has always been a well-wisher even of its very unfriendly neighbours like Afghanistan and India but it does not mean that Pakistan has no ability of responding to insurgencies. Everyone has its own boiling point, some boil early and some take more time.

    The drones are doing nothing but pushing the Pak-US relations to a point of no return. It is an important thing to be noted that Pak-US relations at official level have been taking different turns and changes but the relationship between the two nations has never been as bitter and pungent as it is now. There was no hatred for America among the people of Pakistan before the beginning of the drone attacks. The cruel drone attacks have pushed the Pakistani nation to the verge of enmity with the US because these drones have become a grave threat and a serious challenge to their existence and survival. If drones stop slaughtering the innocent Pakistanis and the so-called war on terror is kept limited only to the Afghan lands, all this hatred and enmity would at once come to an end.

    Our American friends, who are wasting a lot of their precious time and valuable sources in showering a rain of drones on innocent and helpless women and children in the tribal areas of Pakistan, must realise that this action of theirs is nothing but a callous brutality. The Pakistani nation has already suffered from heavy losses in the form of damage to its economy, casualties at the hands of terrorists and suicidal attacks on officials of security forces and intelligence agencies and even on the common public in the name of the global war on terror.

    This immense loss deserves not to be paid back in the form of drones; it is certainly a very unfair deal. Gen. Zaheer-ul-Islam will have to convey the actual situation to his US counterpart that the people of Pakistan don’t hate America but strongly protest the way America is treating ‘a friend in need’. This protest is gradually turning into hostility and hatred with the passage of time.

    Playing the Holocaust Card: Will Romney Visit Auschwitz?

    July 28th, 2012 by Michael Carmichael

    Mitt Romney is now embarked on his highly touted international tour.  


    The first reactions to Romney’s diplomatic charm offensive were surprisingly negative.  Romney insulted the British when he suggested that London was not prepared to hold the Olympic Games.  

    Led by Fleet Street, a feeding frenzy ensued that pulverized Romney far more brutally than anything he had experienced to date.  Even Rupert Murdoch’s flagship newspaper, The Sun, (daily circulation 5 million) proclaimed Romney to be:  ”Mitt the Twit.”  

    David Cameron, the Conservative Prime Minister blasted Romney for insulting the British Olympics, and Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London (another Conservative) held Romney up for ridicule before an audience of 60,000 Londoners at the new Olympic Stadium.  The Cameron and Johnson statements received massive media coverage.  ”Mitt the Twit” was labeled “Nowhere Man” for bragging about his Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City – described as “in the middle of nowhere” by Prime Minister David Cameron, and Romney crawled back into his shell.

    Now in Israel, Romney enjoyed a warm welcome with a massive interview in the tiny nation’s largest newspaper, Israel Hayom, that is owned by his major financial backer, the controversial American casino billionaire, Sheldon Adelson.  Of course, Romney effectively pledged himself to war with Iran to please the current right-wing coalition that governs Israel.  Adelson is a major financial backer of Binyamin Netanyahu and his party, Likud, so the political fit is far more comfortable for Romney than Britain.

    While Romney’s political intentions in both Britain (the Olympics) and Israel are clear, the reason for his visit to Poland is still somewhat obscure. In fact, the central reason for Romney’s plan to visit Poland has been kept totally under wraps to date.  

    It now seems likely that Romney’s visit to Poland is simply part B of his plan to challenge President Obama’s record on US support for Israel and the foreign policy of the Middle East.  By visiting Auschwitz, Romney may hope to upstage President Obama and his commitment to peace in the Middle East.  By politicizing the Holocaust, Romney and his mastermind, Sheldon Adelson, would appear to be launching their plan to manufacturing a deep schism within the American Jewish community that could influence the outcome of the November election.  

    It is well known that Adelson and Romney are hoping to create a fault-line and slice off a larger proportion of the Jewish vote for the GOP.  Adelson has pledged an undisclosed amount of money said to be in the tens of millions for a hard-hitting advertising campaign that will target the US Jewish community in battleground states:  Florida; Indiana; Missouri; North Carolina; Pennsylvania and Virginia.  Adelson’s attack on Obama will be designed to encourage Jews to vote Republican this fall.  To convince Jewish voters to vote Republican, Adelson’s anti-Obama campaign will focus intensively on the “buyer’s remorse” of Jewish voters who backed Obama in 2008 and encourage them to vote for Romney.

    On the other hand, if Romney visits Poland and does not visit Auschwitz – his campaign to divide the US Jewish community will be in tatters.  Therefore, it seems likely that the real reason for Romney’s visit to Poland will be part of the Adelson plan to capture a  higher proportion of the Jewish vote for the Republicans.  

    However, by playing the Holocaust card so clumsily and so politically, Romney would run the risk of setting off a tidal wave of criticism from the Jewish community – a firestorm that could boomerang and become incandescent in the USA.


    Given the worsening crisis in Syria, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper reported [June 2012] that the Russian army is apparently being prepared for a mission in Syria. Citing anonymous sources in the military leadership, the newspaper said that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the general staff to work out a plan for military operations outside Russia, including in Syria.

    The units being prepared for an intervention are the 76th Division of airborne forces (an especially experienced unit of the Russian army), the 15th Army Division, as well as special forces from a brigade of the Black Sea fleet, which has a base in the Syrian port of Tartus.

    The details of the operational plan are being prepared by the working parties of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, to which most of the post-Soviet states belong, as well as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to which China and Russia belong.

    According to the newspaper report, deployment depends on the decision of the Russian government and the UN. However, the plans also foresee that the troops might intervene without UN approval. The Russian government has so far not confirmed the report.

    On Monday last week, three Russian warships were sighted off the Syrian coast. An anonymous source from the Russian government told the Iranian newspaper Tehran Times that Moscow wants to show NATO that it will not allow any military operation against Damascus under the guise of a humanitarian mission.

    Earlier, the secretary-general of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Nikolai Bordjusha, had held out the possibility of using “peacekeepers” in Syria. “The task in Syria is likely to be to impose peace—primarily against the insurgents, who use weapons to solve political problems.”

    Russia and China strongly oppose a military intervention by NATO in Syria, and have already blocked two UN resolutions on the issue. The US and its allies, especially Turkey, Saudi Arabia and France, have stoked up a civil war in Syria and are systematically arming the so-called rebels, who consist mainly of Islamists, ex-members of the government, or Al Qaeda terrorists. Turkey is increasingly in the leadership of the US proxy war in Syria.

    In recent weeks calls for a military intervention in Syria have increased. After the massacre in Houla, French President Francois Hollande spoke out in favour of military intervention. The West blamed the government of Bashar al-Assad for this massacre without any clear evidence. The German elite is also openly discussing a possible military intervention; Berlin has tried unsuccessfully to push Russia to make concessions on the issue.

    Russia has not excluded a “political solution”, i.e., the slow transition from the Assad regime to another government. At all costs, however, the Kremlin wants to avoid the violent overthrow of Assad by the West for several reasons, whether it is through direct military intervention by NATO or is brought about by the rebels armed by the West. Two weeks ago, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned that a military intervention in Syria could quickly escalate and lead to the use of nuclear weapons.

    Since Soviet times, Moscow and Syria have maintained close ties, especially in military and economic matters. More importantly, however, a war against Syria means a ramping up of US aggression in the Middle East. The US has already significantly extended its influence in the region through the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq. They also have military bases in almost every country in the area: Pakistan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Turkmenistan, as well as some in other smaller states. Meanwhile, Syria and Iran, which are virtually surrounded by US military bases, have become the last bastions of Russia and China in the Middle East against the encroachment of the United States.

    A regime change in Damascus would probably bring a Sunni government to power, which would work closely with Saudi Arabia and the United States against Russia and China. Moreover, an escalation of the civil war in Syria—which is already well underway—and a military intervention would set the entire Middle East ablaze. A NATO-led war against Syria would be an immediate prelude to a war against Iran. An attack on Iran would mean another step toward a military escalation of tensions between Washington and Beijing.

    While China obtains a significant portion of its raw material imports from Iran, Tehran is Russia’s most important ally in the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea to counter the influence of the US and Israel. Both Moscow and Tehran oppose the construction of a trans-Caspian pipeline by the West. They also reject the massive military rearmament of Azerbaijan, which is promoted by the United States, Israel and Turkey. The Caspian region is of key geopolitical importance because it links resource-rich Central Asia with Europe, and because it also has extensive oil and gas reserves.

    The growing threat of war in the Middle East—and the fact that the European countries, including Germany and France, are siding with the United States—is increasingly driving Russia into a military alliance with China.

    It is significant that Vladimir Putin’s first foreign visit since taking office was to Belarus, and that he then only spent a few hours in Berlin and Paris before going on to Central Asia. The highlight of his visit abroad was in China, where he met with the Chinese president, and then took part at the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on June 6 and 7. In addition to Russia and China, the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan also belong to this organization; Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India have “observer” status.

    As was the case at the previous meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, discussion at the SCO summit centred on military and economic cooperation. The summit adopted a declaration on the “establishment of a region of lasting peace and common prosperity”. Military intervention against Syria or Iran was explicitly rejected.

    The declaration also condemns the establishment of the NATO missile defence system in Europe, which is directed primarily against Russia and has led to severe tensions between Washington and both Europe and Moscow. In future, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is planning to cooperate militarily more closely on issues of “regional security”.

    During his two-day visit to Beijing, Putin had previously agreed with Chinese President Hu Jintao to jointly strengthen “security in the Asia-Pacific region”. Both countries intend to hold frequent joint military exercises in the Pacific, after holding joint naval exercises in the Yellow Sea in the spring. The United States is increasingly focussing its military build-up in the Asian Pacific region in preparation for a military confrontation with China.

    anthony+freda+HumanitarianBombs Why Do Progressive Liberals Fall for Humanitarian War?

    Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com.

    “Humanitarian” War Contradicts 200 Years of Liberal Thought

    The Founding Fathers – the basis for American values – warned against standing armies and foreign entanglements, saying that overgrown military establishments destroy our liberty.

    Liberal economists – such as Nobel prize winner Joe Stiglitz and James Galbraith – have demonstrated that large military budgets and war destroy our economy, and help the rich at the expense of everyone else.

    Progressive University of Chicago professor Robert A. Pape – who specializes in international security affairs – points out:

    Extensive research into the causes of suicide terrorism proves Islam isn’t to blame — the root of the problem is foreign military occupations.

    ***

    Each month, there are more suicide terrorists trying to kill Americans and their allies in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other Muslim countries than in all the years before 2001 combined.

    ***

    New research provides strong evidence that suicide terrorism such as that of 9/11 is particularly sensitive to foreign military occupation, and not Islamic fundamentalism or any ideology independent of this crucial circumstance. Although this pattern began to emerge in the 1980s and 1990s, a wealth of new data presents a powerful picture.

    More than 95 percent of all suicide attacks are in response to foreign occupation, according to extensive research [co-authored by James K. Feldman - former professor of decision analysis and economics at the Air Force Institute of Technology and the School of Advanced Airpower Studies] that we conducted at the University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Terrorism, where we examined every one of the over 2,200 suicide attacks across the world from 1980 to the present day. As the United States has occupied Afghanistan and Iraq, which have a combined population of about 60 million, total suicide attacks worldwide have risen dramatically — from about 300 from 1980 to 2003, to 1,800 from 2004 to 2009. Further, over 90 percent of suicide attacks worldwide are now anti-American. The vast majority of suicide terrorists hail from the local region threatened by foreign troops, which is why 90 percent of suicide attackers in Afghanistan are Afghans.

    Israelis have their own narrative about terrorism, which holds that Arab fanatics seek to destroy the Jewish state because of what it is, not what it does. But since Israel withdrew its army from Lebanon in May 2000, there has not been a single Lebanese suicide attack. Similarly, since Israel withdrew from Gaza and large parts of the West Bank, Palestinian suicide attacks are down over 90 percent.

    Some have disputed the causal link between foreign occupation and suicide terrorism, pointing out that some occupations by foreign powers have not resulted in suicide bombings — for example, critics often cite post-World War II Japan and Germany. Our research provides sufficient evidence to address these criticisms by outlining the two factors that determine the likelihood of suicide terrorism being employed against an occupying force.

    The first factor is social distance between the occupier and occupied. The wider the social distance, the more the occupied community may fear losing its way of life. Although other differences may matter, research shows that resistance to occupations is especially likely to escalate to suicide terrorism when there is a difference between the predominant religion of the occupier and the predominant religion of the occupied.

    Religious difference matters not because some religions are predisposed to suicide attacks. Indeed, there are religious differences even in purely secular suicide attack campaigns, such as the LTTE (Hindu) against the Sinhalese (Buddhists).

    Rather, religious difference matters because it enables terrorist leaders to claim that the occupier is motivated by a religious agenda that can scare both secular and religious members of a local community — this is why Osama bin Laden never misses an opportunity to describe U.S. occupiers as “crusaders” motivated by a Christian agenda to convert Muslims, steal their resources, and change the local population’s way of life.

    The second factor is prior rebellion. Suicide terrorism is typically a strategy of last resort, often used by weak actors when other, non-suicidal methods of resistance to occupation fail. This is why we see suicide attack campaigns so often evolve from ordinary terrorist or guerrilla campaigns, as in the cases of Israel and Palestine, the Kurdish rebellion in Turkey, or the LTTE in Sri Lanka.

    One of the most important findings from our research is that empowering local groups can reduce suicide terrorism. In Iraq, the surge’s success was not the result of increased U.S. military control of Anbar province, but the empowerment of Sunni tribes, commonly called the Anbar Awakening, which enabled Iraqis to provide for their own security. On the other hand, taking power away from local groups can escalate suicide terrorism. In Afghanistan, U.S. and Western forces began to exert more control over the country’s Pashtun regions starting in early 2006, and suicide attacks dramatically escalated from this point on.

    ***

    The first step is recognizing that occupations in the Muslim world don’t make Americans any safer — in fact, they are at the heart of the problem.

    Security experts – including many liberal doves – agree that waging war in the Middle East weakens national security and increases terrorism. See this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

    Killing innocent civilians is one of the main things which increases terrorism. And see this).   As one of the top counter-terrorism experts (the former number 2 counter-terrorism expert at the State Department) told me, starting wars against states which do not pose an imminent threat to America’s national security increases the threat of terrorism because:

    One of the principal causes of terrorism is injuries to people and families.

    (Indeed, Al Qaeda wasn’t even in Iraq until the U.S. invaded that country.)

    Liberal icon Noam Chomsky agrees that 9/11 happened because of American imperial policies in the Middle East.

    Regime Change: A Decades-Long Neocon Project

    Liberals – justifiably – despised Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the other neoconservatives’ warmongering.

    The U.S. government – and especially the neocon element – has been consistently planning regime change in Syria and Libya for 20 years, and dreamed of regime change for 50 years.

    Why are progressives are falling for a continuance of this decades-old neocon effort?

    Why Are We Fighting on the Same Side as Al Qaeda?

    The Syrian opposition is largely comprised of Al Qaeda terrorists.  See this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

    Terrorist rebels have been responsible for much of the violence inside Syria. And outside monitors have confirmed that the situation on the ground is much different than it is being portrayed in the Western media. (And according to the large German newspaper FAZ, those recently massacred in Hama were on the same side as Syrian leader Assad).

    The United States is actually fighting on the same side as 3 terrorist groups in Syria.  And see this.

    Reuters notes that the leader of Al Qaeda – Ayman al-Zawahri – is backing the Syrian rebels, and asking his followers to fight the Syrian government.

    Some of the main Al Qaeda fighters who overthrew Gadaffi – and now appear to be in control of Libya – are already helping the Syrian rebels.

    Even Pat Buchanan asks:

    If its good for Al Qaeda, can it be good for us?

    The U.S. is arming the Syrian opposition, even though Secretary of State Clinton admits that will help Al Qaeda.

    American government officials and corporate media are applauding Al Qaeda attacks in Syria. See this, this and this. Rather than condemning suicide terrorist attacks, they simply say Al Qaeda’s bombings show that the “window is closing” for Assad, and he should give up power.   (Samples here, here and here – the latter tweeted by U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice right after an Al Qaeda bomb attack.)

    We supported Bin Laden and the other originators of “Al Qaeda” in the 1970s to fight the Soviets.  Are we going to create another 9/11 by backing Al Qaeda in Syria?

    The Antithesis of Real Liberal, Progressive Values

    Given that U.S. support of Middle Eastern battles increases terrorism, weakens our national security, hurts our economy,  continues a long-held Neocon agenda, supports Al Qaeda, hurts freedom here in America, it is the antithesis of real liberal, progressive values.

    Public Relations to Blame?

     Why Do Progressive Liberals Fall for Humanitarian War?

    Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com.

    Associate Professor of Media Studies at Florida Atlantic University James Tracy notes:

    In April 1917, when Democratic President Woodrow Wilson led America into the war that he promised would “make the world safe for democracy,” he called on some of America’s foremost progressive journalists to “sell” the war to a reluctant American population through the greatest propaganda campaign ever put together. Wilson’s anxiety over securing liberal support for the war effort brought him to recognize how well known “Progressive publicists” exercised credibility in the public mind through their previous work in exposing government and corporate corruption. One such journalist was George Creel, who Wilson tapped to lead the newly formed Committee on Public Information (CPI). New Republic editor Walter Lippmann and “father of public relations” Edward Bernays were also brought on board the elaborate domestic and international campaign to “advertise America.”

    Because of Creel’s wide-ranging connections to Progressive writers throughout the US, Wilson was confident that Creel would be successful in getting such intellectual workers on board the war effort, “to establish a visible link between liberal ideals and pursuit of the war,” Stuart Ewen observes. “On the whole, Wilson’s assumption was justified. When the war was declared, an impassioned generation of Progressive publicists fell into line, surrounding the war effort with a veil of much-needed liberal-democratic rhetoric.”

    Well known for his derisive critiques of big business interests, such as the Rockefellers and their infamous role in the Ludlow massacre, Creel was the perfect candidate to lead a propaganda apparatus at a time when suspicion toward “a ‘capitalists’ war’” was prevalent. “When the moment to lead the public mind into war arrived, the disorder threatened by antiwar sentiments—particularly among the lower classes—was seen as an occasion that demanded what Lippmann would call the ‘manufacture of consent.’”

    The sales effort was unparalleled in its scale and sophistication. The CPI was not only able to officially censor news and information, but to manufacture it. Acting in the role of an advanced and multifaceted advertising agency, Creel’s operation “examined the different ways that information flowed to the population and flooded these channels with pro-war material.”

    The Committee’s domestic organ was comprised of 19 subdivisions, each devoted to a specific type of propaganda, one of which was a Division of News that distributed over 6,000 press releases and acted as the chief avenue for war-related information. On an average week, more than 20,000 newspaper columns carried data provided through CPI propaganda. The Division of Syndicated Features enlisted the help of popular novelists, short story writers, and essayists. These mainstream American authors presented the official line in a readily accessible form  reaching twelve million people every month. Similar endeavors existed for cinema, impromptu soapbox oratory (Four Minute Men), and outright advertising.

    Creel himself recalls the unparalleled efforts of the thought control apparatus he oversaw to sell the war to a skeptical American public

    “It is a matter of pride to the Committee on Public Information, as it should be to America, that the directors of English, French, and Italian propaganda were a unit in agreeing that our literature was remarkable above all others for its brilliant and concentrated effectiveness.”

    Alongside Creel’s recollections, out of their experiences in the CPI the liberal-minded Lippmann and Bernays wrote of their overall contempt for what they understood as a malleable and hopelessly ill-informed public that could not be trusted with serious decision-making. In their view, public opinion had to be created by an “organized intelligence” of technocrats (Lippmann) or “engineered” by “an invisible government” (Bernays), with the average citizen relegated to the role of idle spectator.

    Anyone who doubts that the government continues to hire numerous well-known liberal reporters to act as propagandists to sell war should read this, this and the rest of Tracy’s post.

    Amediawar Why Do Progressive Liberals Fall for Humanitarian War?

    Note:  We are not endorsing the official 9/11 commission findings.

    As sanções econômicas a Cuba sob o governo Obama

    July 27th, 2012 by Salim Lamrani

     chegada ao poder do presidente Obama nos Estados Unidos, em 2008, marcou uma ruptura de estilo frente à administração de Bush em relação a Cuba. No entanto, exceto pela retirada de algumas restrições a viagens, as sanções econômicas ainda são aplicadas, até mesmo fora do território nacional. Eis aqui alguns exemplos recentes.

    Carlos Latuff

    Durante sua campanha eleitoral em 2007, o então candidato Barack Obama fez uma lúcida observação sobre a ultrapassada política dos EUA em relação a Cuba. Uma vez eleito, declarou sua intenção de buscar “um novo começo com Cuba”. “Acredito que podemos conduzir a relação entre EUA e Cuba por uma nova direção e iniciar um novo capítulo de aproximação que continuará durante o meu mandato”, afirmou.

    Obama havia denunciado a política de seu antecessor em relação a Cuba, que havia restringido drasticamente as viagens da comunidade cubana dos EUA. “Trata-se tanto de uma questão estratégica quanto humanitária. Esta decisão (…) teve um impacto profundamente negativo sobre o bem-estar da população cubana. Vou conceder aos cubano-americanos direitos ilimitados de visitar seus familiares e enviar dinheiro para a ilha”, assegurou.

    Obama manteve sua palavra. Em abril de 2009, anunciou a retirada de algumas restrições que afetam os cubanos residentes nos EUA e que têm familiares na ilha, que entrou em vigor em 3 de setembro de 2009. Desde então, podem viajar ao seu país natal sem nenhum obstáculo (em vez de catorze dias a cada três anos) e enviar remessas ilimitadas para suas famílias (em vez de cem dólares por mês).

    Aplicação extraterritorial das sanções econômicas contra Cuba

    No entanto, Washington não tem hesitado ao aplicar as sanções econômicas, até mesmo fora do território nacional, violando gravemente o direito internacional. Na verdade, este estipula que as leis nacionais não podem ser extraterritoriais, ou seja, ser aplicadas fora do território nacional. Dessa forma, a lei brasileira não pode ser aplicada na Argentina, assim como a legislação venezuelana não pode ser aplicada na Colômbia. E, no entanto, a lei norte-americana de sanções econômicas contra Cuba é aplicada em todos os países.

    Em junho de 2012, o banco holandês ING recebeu a maior punição já proferida desde o início do cerco econômico contra Cuba em 1960. O Escritório para o Controle de Ativos Estrangeiros (OFAC, na sigla em inglês) do Departamento do Tesouro multou a instituição financeira em 619 milhões de dólares por efetuar transações em dólares com Cuba, através do sistema financeiro americano, entre 2002 e 2007.

    O Departamento do Tesouro também obrigou o banco holandês a cortar relações comerciais com Cuba e anunciou que o “ING garantiu ao Escritório para o Controle de Ativos Estrangeiros que havia posto fim às práticas que levaram ao acordo atual”. Assim, Washington proibiu um banco europeu de realizar qualquer transação comercial com Cuba.

    O governo cubano denunciou esta nova aplicação extraterritorial das sanções econômicas, que, além de impedir qualquer tipo de comércio com EUA (exceto as matérias primas alimentícias), são o principal obstáculo ao desenvolvimento das relações comerciais de Cuba com o resto do mundo. “O governo dos EUA penalizou unilateralmente o banco ING por tramitar, junto com subsidiárias na França, Bélgica, Holanda e Curaçao, transações financeiras e comerciais de entidades cubanas, proibidas pela política de bloqueio contra Cuba”, destacou a nota oficial.

    Adam Szunin, diretor da OFAC, aproveitou a ocasião para advertir as empresas estrangeiras que têm relações comerciais com Cuba. Esta penalidade “deveria servir como um aviso claro a qualquer um que considere tirar proveito das sanções dos EUA”, declarou, reafirmando que Washington continuaria aplicando suas medidas extraterritoriais.

    Outras empresas estrangeiras também foram penalizadas por suas relações comerciais com Cuba. A multinacional sueca Ericsson, por exemplo, teve de pagar uma multa de 1,75 milhões de dólares por consertar nos EUA, através de sua filial situada no Panamá, equipamentos cubanos por um valor de 320 mil dólares. Três funcionários, envolvidos no caso, foram demitidos.

    Em 10 de julho de 2012, o Departamento do Tesouro impôs uma multa de 1,35 milhões de dólares à empresa norte-americana Great Western Malting Co. por vender cevada a Cuba, através de uma de suas filiais estrangeiras, entre agosto de 2006 e março de 2009. No entanto, o direito internacional humanitário proíbe qualquer tipo de embargo sobre as matérias-primas alimentícias e medicamentos, mesmo em tempos de guerra. Isso porque, oficialmente, Cuba e EUA nunca estiveram em conflito.

    Na França, Mano Giardini e Valérie Adilly, diretores da agência de viagens norte-americana Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), foram demitidos por vender pacotes turísticos com destino a Cuba. A empresa corre o risco de receber uma multa de 38 mil dólares por pacote vendido, o que suscitou a ira de alguns funcionários que mal compreendem a situação. “Por que a empresa não tirou do sistema de reservas os produtos Cuba que não podíamos vender?”, perguntou um funcionário.

    Da mesma forma, é possível que a CWT não tenha permissão para participar das concorrências de viagens do governo norte-americano, que representam uma parcela substancial de seu faturamento. A administração da CWR manifestou-se a respeito: “Nestas condições, devemos aplicar a regra norte-americana que proíbe o envio de passageiros para Cuba, mesmo as filiais”. Assim, uma filial instalada na França é obrigada a aplicar a lei norte-americana de sanções econômicas a Cuba, ridicularizando a legislação interna vigente.

    Censura ao Google e um orçamento de 20 milhões de dólares para a “democracia digital”

    Mais raramente, as sanções econômicas proíbem os cubanos de utilizar alguns recursos da ferramenta de buscas Google, como o Google Analytics (que permite calcular o número de visitas a um site, assim como sua origem), Google Earth, Google Destktop Search, Google Toolbar, Google Code Search, Google AdSense e Google AdWords, privando Cuba do acesso a essas novas tecnologias e a vários programas de download. A empresa norte-americana ofereceu uma explicação por meio de sua representante Christine Chen: “Nós tínhamos escrito em nossos termos e condições. Não é possível usar Google Analytics nos países sob embargo”.

    Ao mesmo tempo, enquanto Washington exige que a Google limite o uso de seus serviços em Cuba e proíbe que Havana se conecte ao seu cabo de fibra ótica para Internet, o Departamento de Estado anunciou que iria gastar, através da Agência dos EUA para o Desenvolvimento Internacional (USAID, na sigla em inglês), a quantia de 20 milhões de dólares a “ativistas de direitos humanos, jornalistas independentes e bibliotecas independentes na ilha”, com o objetivo de difundir a chamada “democracia digital”.

    Longe de adotar “um novo começo com Cuba”, a administração Obama continua impondo sanções econômicas que afetam a todas as camadas da população cubana, a começar pelas mais vulneráveis, ou seja, as mulheres, as crianças e os idosos. Não hesita em penalizar empresas estrangeiras, violando o direito internacional ao aplicar medidas extraterritoriais. Também se recusa a ouvir o apelo unânime da comunidade internacional, que condenou, em 2011, pelo vigésimo ano consecutivo, a imposição de um estado de sítio anacrônico, cruel e ineficaz, que consiste no principal obstáculo ao desenvolvimento da nação.

    1. The Associated Press, «Obama Seeks ‘New Beginning’ With Cuba», 17 de abril de 2009.
    2. Barack Obama, «Our Main Goal: Freedom in Cuba», The Miami Herald, 21 de agosto de 2007.
    3. Office of Foreign Assets Control, «Hoja informativa: Tesoro modifica reglamento para el control de bienes cubanos a fin de implementar el programa del Presidente sobre visitas familiares, remesas y telecomunicaciones», Treasury Department, 3 de septiembre de 2009.
    4. Office of Foreign Assets Control, «Settlement Agreement ING», Department of the Treasury, junio de 2012. http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/CivPen/Documents/06122012_ing_agreement.pdf (sitio consultado el 10 de julio de 2012).
    5. Ibid.
    6. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, «Statement by the Ministry of foreign Affairs», 20 de junio de 2012. http://www.cubaminrex.cu/english/Statements/Articulos/StatementsMINREX/2012/Statement200612.html (sitio consultado el 10 de julio de 2012).
    7. Ibid.
    8. Steve Stecklow & Bail Katz, «U.S. to Fine Ericsson in Panama $1,75 Million Over Cuba Shipments», Reuters, 24 de mayo de 2012.
    9. Office of Foreign Assets Control, «Enforcement Information for July 10, 2012», Department of the Treasury, 10 de julio de 2012. http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/CivPen/Documents/07102012_great_western.pdf (sitio consultado el 12 de julio de 2012).
    10. Jean da Luz, «Carlson Wagonlit Travel : l’embargo cubain fait tomber des têtes en France», Tourmag, 2 de julio de 2012 ; Geneviève Bieganowsky. «Licienciements, Carlson redoute la perte des budgets voyages de l’administration US», Tourmag, 3 de julio de 2012.
    11. Ibid.
    12. Michael McGuire, « Google responde a denuncias de Cuba », The Miami Herald, 20 de julio de 2012.
    13. Juan O. Tamayo, « Estados Unidos busca romper censura tecnológica en Cuba », El Nuevo Herald, 23 de junio de 2012.

    * Doutor em Estudos Ibéricos e Latinoamericanos pela Univerdade Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani é professor encarregado de cursos na Universidade Paris-Sorbonne-Paris IV e na Universidade Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée e jornalista, especialista nas relações entre Cuba e Estados Unidos. Seu livro mais recente é “Etat de siège. Les sanctions économiques des Etats-Unis contre Cuba” (“Estado de sítio. As sanções econômicas dos Estados Unidos contra Cuba”, em tradução livre), Paris, Edições Estrella, 2011, com prólogo de Wayne S. Smith e prefácio de Paul Estrade. Contato: [email protected]

    Página no Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SalimLamraniOfficiel

    As the 2012 Olympics got under way in London the grand ceremonial parade of nations can claim an historic first. For the first time in over a century of the modern Games, women athletes will be representing all 204 participating nations.

    The historic landmark is down to a last-minute U-turn by one country – Saudi Arabia.

    The kingdom has up to now never permitted its women to participate in the Olympics because of its draconian application of Islamic Sharia law, which forbids women to be present in public gatherings of both sexes. But the real issue is not the Saudi rulers’ desire to cover up their women – it’s the need for the Western powers and their Arab proxies to cover up ongoing imperialist aggression in the Middle East.

    Only in the last few weeks – before the 9 July deadline – did the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee rescind its decades-long moratorium on sending female athletes to the Olympics – a ban that has been in force ever since the kingdom first began participating in the Games in 1972.

    As a result, some Western mainstream media are now talking up the occasion in glowing terms as a “breakthrough for women’s rights”.

    But a more pressing question not being asked is: how can a country in the 21st century even have a policy of barring women from the world’s foremost sports event?

    Saudi women athletes will be allowed to compete in the London 2012 Olympics only at the condition that they will be accompanied by a male guardian
    Saudi Women Athletes

    Moreover, the royal rulers of the House of Saud only relented on the female ban after sustained pressure from the Swiss-based International Olympic Committee, which reportedly threatened to exclude the entire Saudi team if the country did not comply with the Olympic Charter of racial and gender equality.

    Another factor was that the other Persian Gulf Arab monarchy, Qatar, and the obscure Southeast Asian kingdom of Brunei had earlier lifted their ban on women participating in London 2012. Along with Saudi Arabia, these were the only three countries in the world that had maintained a prohibition on female athletes partaking in the Games. It is likely that the Qatari rulers realised that they needed to abandon that position owing to their ambitions to turn the emirate into a sporting hub of the Middle East and to expedite the holding of the 2022 Football World Cup.

    Saudi Arabia, therefore, was facing the invidious title of being the only nation in the world to bar women from the globe’s premier sporting celebration. Given the symbolism of common humanity that the four-yearly event is supposed to represent, the Western-backed kingdom would have been in the spotlight as a backward, feudal pariah.

    The anachronistic position of Saudi Arabia is made all the more glaring when the timeline of women’s participation in the Olympics is considered. The progressive rise in female involvement in the Games can be viewed as a correlation with the general worldwide increase in women’s rights over the past century.

    In the 1908 Games, the International Olympic Committee recorded that women represented a mere 1.8 per cent of all competitors. By 1948, female participation increased to 9.5 per cent; and by the last 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the ratio had risen to more than 42 per cent.

    Given this rising tide of women athletes over the decades, the Saudi rulers would have been exposed as an utter discrepancy in the eyes of the world.

    But this is about much more than sport and women’s rights.

    There are high geopolitical stakes at play. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have emerged as the pivotal Arab states promoting the Western powers’ neo-imperialist agenda in the Middle East. This agenda has been unfolding over at least the past decade, but it has come into sharper focus over the last year with regard to Libya, Syria and Iran.

    The agenda of regime change towards Libya, Syria and Iran has been cloaked with a cynical, disingenuous concern by Western governments for democratic reform and protection of human rights. The espousal of noble, lofty rhetoric by Washington, London, Paris and Germany has facilitated outright, criminal military interference in Libya that resulted in the overthrow and murder of Muammar Gaddafi as well as the deaths of up to 50,000 Libyans from seven months of NATO aerial bombing.

    The same Western deception of concern for democracy, human rights and international law, is being replicated for the destabilisation of the Syrian government of Bashar Al Assad, and for justifying the relentless military aggression towards Iran.

    In all this geopolitical manoeuvring, the monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar have provided a crucial semblance of indigenous Middle Eastern support for the Western powers in their policies towards Libya, Syria and Iran – policies that would otherwise be quite rightly seen as naked imperialism.

    But a fatal flaw in this Western-Arab “coalition for democracy” is the appalling and barely concealable track record of the Arab monarchies. The absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia in particular is, according to several criteria, perhaps the most repressive regime in the world. The House of Saud, ruled by the ageing King Abdullah bin Abdulazis ibn Saud, has zero tolerance for any political dissent. It has cracked down brutally on the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain over the past 17 months causing dozens of deaths and thousands of illegal detentions. In recent weeks, the Saudi military has intensified repression against its own popular protests for democratic reforms, which has resulted in several deaths from live fire, as well as mass arrests. Currently, there are some 30,000 political prisoners being held in the kingdom under unknown conditions.

    Despite a virtual Western media blackout on the widespread Saudi violations, nevertheless the Western public is aware, even if just vaguely, of the kingdom’s despotism, in particular, the suppression of women’s rights.

    It is compulsory for Saudi women to cover their bodies with the black abaya dress; they are forbidden from driving cars; and they must be accompanied at all times by a male guardian who is also required to give permission for travel, medical attention, opening a bank account, or if even if the woman wants to leave the house on a mundane errand. The obscurantism of the kingdom towards women’s rights takes on even more sinister meaning with the omnipresence of the Mutaween – the so-called religious police – who have powers to arrest women if they are not attired to the satisfaction of the police. The Mutaween are also empowered to administer physical punishment and are known to abuse their powers for their own gratification – invariably with impunity.

    Some court cases underscore the plight of Saudi women. In one case where a woman was caught driving a car in the Red Sea city of Jeddah she was sentenced to receive 10 lashes with a whip. A more disturbing case in 2006 was that of a teenage girl who was kidnapped and gang raped by seven men. She was sentenced to six months in prison with 100 lashes – because the judge ruled that the girl should not have been outside her home alone in the first place.

    The contradiction of Saudi Arabia and the other absolute Gulf monarchs championing democratic reforms and human rights in other Middle Eastern countries on behalf of the Western powers is, of course, an absurdity. And because of that, Western media and political leaders have no doubt striven to keep that gross anomaly out of public view, because if it were dwelt on by the Western public then the propaganda cover for Arab-backed Western regime change in the Middle East – purportedly on the basis of promoting democracy and human rights – would be completely blown away.

    At this critical juncture in the Middle East’s political affairs when Washington, London, Paris and Berlin are desperately trying to force regime change in Syria, it is even more imperative that the propaganda offensive – based on spurious concerns for human rights – is shored up with credibility.

    In this context, the abrupt and reluctant acquiescence by Saudi Arabia and Qatar to permit female participation in the London 2012 Olympics takes on its real significance. This is not, unfortunately, a long-overdue triumph for women’s international rights. It is more a cynical and temporary sop to cover for Western imperialism and its despotic Arab conduits in the Middle East.

    Another indicator of the political influence on the Saudi and Qatari team selection is that the female athletes from both countries are being waived in under the International Olympic Committee’s discretionary rules. The two Saudi females and three Qataris are being allowed to participate even though those individuals did not qualify according to the normal Olympic standards governing their respective sports that applied to the other 10,500 athletes.

    Furthermore, the mere admission of the Saudi and Qatari female athletes – while a tribute to the individuals concerned – does not cancel out a culture in both kingdoms where women’s sports are discouraged and even banned. It is telling that the two Saudi female athletes – one in judo, the other in track and field – have resided and trained outside the country for several years. In Saudi Arabia, women’s sports are banned outright. There are no public facilities or sporting bodies for women. Even in schools, females are forbidden from partaking in athletics because it is deemed “immodest” by the authorities. There has also been a vicious backlash in the kingdom against the two women entering the London Games with some commentators on Saudi social media denouncing them as “Olympic prostitutes”.

    In other words, the mere extemporary reversal of official Saudi and Qatari policy towards women in the Olympics does not herald any thing like the necessary sea change in institutional and cultural practice.

    Finally, it may be noted that the two countries in the Middle East which Western governments are tacitly designating for regime change – Syria and Iran – are sending mixed gender teams, as they have done for decades. While both these countries have certain deficits in terms of women’s rights, they are nonetheless in a different league by comparison with the Arab monarchies.

    Iran has eight sportswomen among its team of 53, while Syria is sending four female athletes among its total of 10. Both countries have a history of active female participation in sports. Syria’s only Olympic Gold Medal victory ever, for example, was won by the legendary Ghala Shouaa in the women’s heptathlon in the 1996 Atlanta Games. The high profile of women in Syrian and Iranian sports reflects their prominence generally in public life over many decades, including education, arts and professions.

    Which is another reason why the Western-sponsored Arab monarchies had to be dragged out of the Dark Ages – at least for the occasion of the London 2012 Olympics. That contradiction would have won a Gold Medal for hypocrisy.

    Finian Cunningham is Global Research’s Middle East and East Africa Correspondent

    [email protected]


    SYRIA: NATO’s Next “Humanitarian” War?
    ONLINE INTERACTIVE I-BOOK
    - by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-08-15

    ONLINE INTERACTIVE I-BOOK. The insurgency in Syria is based on the “Libya Model”: it is integrated by mercenaries and Al Qaeda affiliated paramilitary brigades supported by British, French and Turkish Special Forces…


    The Globalization of War: The “Military Roadmap” to World War III
    ONLINE INTERACTIVE READER
    - by Michel Chossudovsky, Finian Cunningham – 2012-08-14

    The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest. The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously.


    Peace IS possible if we remain committed to the truth
    - 2012-08-01


    Seeds of Destruction: Hijacking of the World’s Food System
    - 2012-07-29


    Greek government, European officials plan billions in new social cuts
    - by Alex Lantier, John Vassilopoulos – 2012-07-27


    Bahrain: Repression intensifies as Revolution is re-invigorated
    - by Bahrain Freedom Movement – 2012-07-27


    World Social Inequality more Pronounced than Ever
    The Super-rich are Hiding Trillions of Dollars in Offshore Tax Havens…
    - by Ernst Wolff – 2012-07-27

    US Proxy Al Qaeda Death Squads in Syria
    - by Stephen Lendman – 2012-07-27


    U.S. Uses NATO For Black Sea Military Buildup
    - by Rick Rozoff – 2012-07-27


    US Treasury Confirms that Al Qaeda Runs Syrian “Rebellion”
    - by Tony Cartalucci – 2012-07-27


    The Frontiers of Academic Imperialism
    - by Prof. Thorsten Pattberg – 2012-07-26


    Syria: Washington’s Latest War Crime
    - by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts – 2012-07-26


    The US-NATO War on Syria: Western Naval Forces Confront Russia Off the Syrian Coastline?
    - by Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-07-26

    While confrontation between Russia and the West was, until recently, confined to the polite ambit of international diplomacy, within the confines of the UN Nations Security Council, an uncertain and perilous situation is now unfolding in the Eastern Mediterranean.


    GRTV: The End of the Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World
    Will we see the end of most seafood by 2048?
    - by Charles Clover – 2012-07-26


    “Progressive” War Propaganda: Deception with a Human Face
    Selected Articles
    - 2012-07-26


    The Cheonan Incident and the Continued International Isolation of North Korea
    Two years on, scientists refuse to cease questioning Cheonan sinking
    - by Stuart Smallwood – 2012-07-26


    America’s Internal Colonialism
    - by Devon DB – 2012-07-26


    Freedom is slavery, popular support is authoritarianism
    The Mainstream Media’s double-speak
    - by Lizzie Phelan – 2012-07-26

    Lawless Domestic Spying: Homeland Security’s National Applications Office (NOA)
    - by Stephen Lendman – 2012-07-26


    China Opposes West’s Bid To Overthrow Syrian Government
    China supports the Syrian people’s freedom to choose its leadership and opposes outside intervention to force regime change
    - by Zheng Xiwen – 2012-07-26


    Turkey Running Proxy-Invasion of Syria
    Admits hosting foreign fighters seeking to enter Syria, trucks in weapons to rearm terrorist groups
    - by Tony Cartalucci – 2012-07-26


    Cheap Labour, Cheap Lives: Migrant Farm Workers. A New Form of Slavery?
    - by Chris Webb – 2012-07-25


    Reality Denial : Apologetics for Western-Imperial Violence
    Review of Steven Pinker’s Book
    - by Prof. Edward S Herman, David Peterson – 2012-07-25


    Syria: Syrians, Iraqis, Palestinians: No Place to Hide
    Pentagon’s plan to “take out 7 countries in 5 years….”
    - by Felicity Arbuthnot – 2012-07-25


    Washington’s “Evil Web” in Syria: Fomenting and Spearheading a Civil War of Attrition
    - by Dr. Ismail Salami – 2012-07-25


    The Rise of the Police State and the Absence of Mass Opposition
    - by James Petras, Robin Eastman Abaya – 2012-07-25

    Despite the vast expansion of the police powers of the Executive Branch of government, no mass pro-democracy movement has emerged to confront the powers and prerogatives or even protest the investigations of the police state.


    Israel, The Temple Mount, Land Grabs and Sanctions directed against Iran
    - by Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich – 2012-07-25


    Western Sectarian Subversion of Syria is Fuelling Region-Wide Bloodshed
    - by Finian Cunningham – 2012-07-25


    GRTV: World Being Readied for Aggression Against Syria
    Hype over Syria chemicals ‘deja-vu and old Pentagon scenario to oust regime’
    - by F. William Engdahl – 2012-07-25

    Recycled Propaganda from Libya: Media Hysteria Over Syrian Government “Bombings” of Aleppo
    If tired WMD lies won’t convince the public to back foreign intervention, perhaps recycled lies from Libya?
    - by Tony Cartalucci – 2012-07-25

    Turkish Labor Party Deputy Chairman: “We Have Clear Evidence That Turkish President Incited Terrorism and War on Syria”
    - by H. Sabbagh – 2012-07-25


    What is Really Happening in Syria?
    - by Jack A. Smith – 2012-07-24

    Israel Orders Demolition of Eight Palestinian Villages
    Military Argues Long-Standing Villages ‘Illegal’
    - by Jason Ditz – 2012-07-24


    The battle of Damascus has begun
    - by Thierry Meyssan – 2012-07-24


    GRTV: War on Health: The FDA’s Cult of Tyranny
    Documentary challenging the FDA agenda and its allegiance with the Codex Alimentarius
    - by Gary Null – 2012-07-24


    GRTV: Police Brutality: Cops Try to Buy Evidence from Witnesses
    Protests against fatal police shooting of unarmed man in Anaheim turn violent
    - by Michael Prysner – 2012-07-24


    Colorado Carnage: Proof of Obama Ineptitude
    Sick individuals are the product of a “sick society”
    - by Finian Cunningham – 2012-07-24

    Eroding Social Justice in Spain
    The name of today’s game is destroying decades of social progress. It’s about money power over popular needs…
    - by Stephen Lendman – 2012-07-24

    Quebec students seek to broaden strike, but CLASSE leaders capitulate to union opposition
    - by Keith Jones – 2012-07-24


    Global markets fall as fears grow over Spanish debt crisis
    - by Nick Beams – 2012-07-24


    Another ‘Palestinian Gandhi’ Ignored by U.S. Media
    - by Chad Rosenbloom – 2012-07-24


    Climate Change and the Next U.S. Revolution
    - by Shamus Cooke – 2012-07-24

    Tony Blair: Don’t Hang Bankers
    Why Is Everyone Suddenly Talking about Hanging Bankers?
    - by Washington’s Blog – 2012-07-24


    “Extremism”, Islam and 9/11
    - by Felicity Arbuthnot – 2012-07-24


    Western Campaign To Isolate China, Russia Over Syria To Fail
    - 2012-07-24

    West Spreads Syrian WMD Lies For Foreign Intervention
    As NATO’s proxy terrorists collapse in both Damascus and Aleppo, Israel and Turkey prepare impending attack
    - by Tony Cartalucci – 2012-07-24


    Kurdish Syrian Rebels Trained in Iraq. Iraqi Fighters integrate FSA
    - 2012-07-24

    Slaughter In Iraq As 145 Are Killed And 379 More Are Wounded
    - by Margaret Griffis – 2012-07-24


    GRTV: Winds of Change: Kim Jong-Un Wants More for North Korea
    Significant departure away from Kim Jong-Il’s “Military-First Policy”?
    - by Nile Bowie – 2012-07-23

    NATO Death Squads Attempt to Ethnically Divide Syria
    Refugees fleeing NATO’s “Free Syrian Army,” not government troops.
    - by Tony Cartalucci – 2012-07-23


    Climate Change: Is the Carbon Tax the Death of Democracy?
    - by Kate Johnston – 2012-07-23


    GRTV: The Technocratization of Education
    How generations of children are being dumbed down
    - by Dr. James Tracy, James Corbett – 2012-07-23


    After veto of UN war resolution: Washington steps up drive to overthrow Syrian regime
    - by Niall Green – 2012-07-23


    Washington’s Plan B for Syria
    - by Stephen Lendman – 2012-07-23


    Persian Gulf primed to explode
    - by Dr. Kaveh L Afrasiabi – 2012-07-23


    Putin’s Geopolitical Chess Game with Washington in Syria and Eurasia
    - by F. William Engdahl – 2012-07-23

    Putin is engaging every imaginable means of preventing a further deterioration of the situation into what easily could become another “world war by miscalculation.”


    US Attempting to Pull former Soviet Allies into NATO
    - by Rick Rozoff, John Robles – 2012-07-23


    The Global Economic Crisis: Causes and Devastating Consequences
    Read excerpts from the best-selling book from Global Research
    - 2012-07-22

    In all major regions of the world, the economic recession is deep-seated, resulting in mass unemployment, the collapse of state social programs and the impoverishment of millions of people. The economic crisis is accompanied by a worldwide process of militarization, a “war without borders” led by the United States of America and its NATO allies. The conduct of the Pentagon’s “long war” is intimately related to the restructuring of the global economy.


    U.S. plans to act against Syria, bypassing UN
    - 2012-07-22

    Syria and Bulgaria: U.S. Double Standards on Terrorism
    - by Konstantin Garibov – 2012-07-22


    Watching Syria, remembering Nicaragua
    History shows U.S. viciously attacks—not supports—real revolutions
    - by Richard Becker – 2012-07-22

    Part-time USA
    - by Kate Randall – 2012-07-22


    Saudi Kingdom Rocked by Protests
    - by Stephen Lendman – 2012-07-22

    US Prepares For Direct Intervention in Syria
    As FSA proxies fail and psychological operations falter, US prepares more direct approach for long-sought regime change
    - by Tony Cartalucci – 2012-07-22


    The Arab Spring story in a nutshell: Fake springs, post-modern coup d’etat
    - by Prof. Ismael Hossein-zadeh – 2012-07-22

    Soon after being caught by surprise by the glorious uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, the counterrevolutionary forces headed by the United States embarked on damage control. A major strategy in pursuit of this objective has been to foment civil war and regime change in “unfriendly” places, and then portray them as part of the Arab Spring

    Afghanistan’s Extensive Minerals Resources: Hidden Agenda of US led War?
    - 2012-07-21

    Repression of Myanmar Muslims amid Media Blackout
    - by Kourosh Ziabari – 2012-07-21


    Failing to Break Up the Big Banks is Destroying America
    - by Washington’s Blog – 2012-07-21

    U.S. Lawmakers Cut Pentagon Ties with Russian Arms Exporter
    - 2012-07-21

    A Nun from Damascus: “We have no trust in these so-called ‘revolutionaries’
    - 2012-07-21


    US Writing New Syrian Constitution – “Tutoring” the SNC For Syria Take Over
    - by Tony Cartalucci – 2012-07-21

    Greek officials met with European Commission (EC) President José Manuel Barroso and international financial officials yesterday to discuss a new round of budget cuts worth 11.5 billion euros (US$14.4 billion) in 2013-2014.

    These cuts, amounting to over 5 percent of Greece’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), will devastate a Greek economy already bled white by repeated waves of social cuts over the last three years. The Labor Ministry budget is to contract by €5 billion, largely at the expense of pensions.

    Greece’s devastated public hospital system faces another €300 million in cuts. Health minister Andreas Lykourentzos was forced to deny reports that Athens plans to impose a mandatory €1,500 upper limit on health spending per patient in Greece.

    Relative to the size of Greece’s economy, these cuts are massive; corresponding amounts would be $802 billion in the United States, £82 billion in Britain, or €136 billion in Germany. They come on top of the deepest economic contraction in Greece since the Nazi occupation of that country; most workers have lost 30 to 50 percent of their wages and benefits. Reports earlier this year suggested that roughly 30 percent of Greece’s population is forced to rely on street clinics for health care.

    Athens is making the latest budget cuts in a desperate attempt to meet European Union (EU) debt-cutting targets, which it has missed as austerity policies shrank Greece’s economy faster than it could pay down its debts. The economy is projected to contract by 7 percent in 2012, more than earlier forecasts of 4.5 percent. Greece needs further assistance to meet a €3.26 billion debt payment due on August 20.

    The leaders of the Greek government coalition met last night to finalize the budget cuts. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras of New Democracy (ND), PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, and Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis approved roughly €10 billion of the cuts. Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said the meeting had been “constructive,” adding: “Everyone wants to contribute to achieving fiscal targets.”

    Samaras, Venizelos, and Kouvelis reportedly disagreed on where to make the last €1.5 billion in cuts. Samaras was reportedly opposed to cuts in “special salaries” in the public sector, mostly paid to the security services, while Venizelos hoped to avoid further cuts to pensions. Coalition talks to finalize the cuts are slated to resume Monday.

    Samaras will also meet officials of the “troika”—the EC, International Monetary Fund, and European Central Bank (ECB)—for further talks today.

    After a two-hour meeting with Samaras, Barroso reiterated EU demands for cuts: “To maintain the trust of European and international partners, delays must end. Words are not enough, actions are much more important than words.”

    These events underscore the bankruptcy of the Greek political establishment—both the current government, which imposes whatever cuts the EU demands, and the pseudo-left SYRIZA party that emerged as ND’s main opponent in the June elections. While weakly criticizing EU austerity, it pledged to repay the banks and made public campaign gestures to the army and police, effectively handing the election to ND. It has pledged to be a “responsible” opposition, not to call strikes, and to support the EU (See, “SYRIZA backs Greek government’s capitulation to the EU”).

    Social and political tensions are escalating in Greece, reflected in the recent resignation of General Constantinos Ziazias as army chief of staff. He announced Wednesday morning that he was resigning his position, explaining: “I was called at 2 a.m. to receive a list with names of officers for promotion and discharge. I cannot accept such interference with my duties.”

    This was apparently a continuation of infighting inside the army that flared up last autumn, when the PASOK government of Prime Minister Giorgios Papandreou sacked the entire top brass amid rumors of a possible coup, after the announcement of further unpopular austerity measures. This provoked opposition among former army personnel in ND’s “Defense Group,” including current Deputy Defense Minister Panayiotis Karabelas. These forces are now pressing for a redistribution of influence inside the army, amid rising discontent in the ranks over economic policy.

    Greek news site onalert.gr commented, “Without a doubt, the personnel of the army is in a desperate state … due to the cuts they have suffered and those that are coming, and on top of that the anxiety of being posted elsewhere. In no other civilized European country are the promotions and discharge of army officers connected in such a blatant and crude way with political parties.”

    EU officials are pressing ahead to preserve the euro at the expense of massive attacks on the working class and the Greek economy. At the same time, a bitter debate is raging inside the European bourgeoisie over whether to rescue Greece and other debt-stricken countries. Some favor cutting off credit to Greece, forcing it to leave the euro zone and to reintroduce and print its own national currency to stave off a collapse of its banking system.

    Markus Soeder, the finance minister in the German state of Bavaria, was the latest to call for expelling Greece from the euro zone. Yesterday he called Greece a “money sink,” adding: “In terms of reform steps there is nothing. So I don’t think the solution lies in giving more money to Greece, but that Greece will leave the euro zone.”

    Yesterday, however, troika officials also told the Greek daily Kathimerini that if Greece made the currently agreed-upon cuts, they would support keeping Greece in the euro zone. For his part, Barroso said that all European heads of state were committed to keeping Greece inside the euro zone, “as long as its commitments are honored.”

    Yesterday ECB head Mario Draghi also pledged the ECB would do “whatever it takes to preserve the euro,” adding: “Believe me, it will be enough.” Financial commentators widely interpreted this as a pledge to print whatever money was necessary to finance indebted euro zone states—including not only Greece, but larger economies including Italy and Spain.

    As it seeks to free up resources to pay off the banks, the European bourgeoisie is thus choosing between two equally bankrupt policies: ruining workers in the indebted countries with devastating austerity, or printing large amounts of money—a policy Berlin opposes, citing a ban on ECB “debt monetization,” or financing government spending by inflationary money-printing.

    Referring to the ECB’s €1 trillion loan to European banks earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal wrote, “For a while the banks did what the ECB wanted them to: they bought their domestic sovereign debt, driving down yields. But €1 trillion proved not to be enough. Yields fell only temporarily. Now it seems Mr. Draghi is willing to ignore restrictions on debt monetization … In theory the ECB is only limited by how fast it can run its printing presses. And in the days of electronic finance, that’s essentially the speed of light.”

    Remarkably, the massive amounts of credit made available to the banks have not produced economic growth. While European stock markets ended up on expectations of fresh funds from the ECB, the latest economic figures for in Europe and internationally released show continued contraction in Europe. The British economy shrank a larger-than-expected 0.7 percent in the second quarter of the year, and Germany faces falling business confidence amid expectations that it will need to help fund a bailout of the ailing Spanish banking sector.

    Bahrain: Repression intensifies as Revolution is re-invigorated

    July 27th, 2012 by Bahrain Freedom Movement

    Since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadhan the Bahraini Revolution has escalated dramatically. At least 25 demonstrations have taken place every day and night with one clear message: The people want regime change. Chanting like “Down with Hamad” has become the standard slogan uttered by the men and women participating in those protests.

    The regime’s brutality has also not diminished. The use of chemical gases has intensified dramatically in the past three weeks. While the zeal of the people has intensified, the regime’s repression knows no bounds. Makeshift clinics in towns and villages have offered first aid to the victims who fear for their life to go to the main hospital at Salmaniya which is run by the military. Many observers believe that the situation has reached the point of no-return. The Alkhalifa regime is doomed as the people unanimously refuse to accept to be ruled by tribal hereditary dictatorship. Neither side is in a mood to compromise or engage in any form of dialogue. The hostilities have become so entrenched in the public domain that it is hard to imagine any kind of reconciliation between the two sides.

    The Alkhalifa have lost the opportunity to retain any degree of power. They have reduced their choices to one; crushing the people to the ground with no compromise. On 23rd July Amnesty International called on the Alkhalifa to release all political prisoners: Bahrain must release all prisoners of conscience immediately and without conditions, Amnesty, ahead of appeals in the cases of a prominent human rights activist and a group of medical workers. Yet the regime deferred the case of Nabeel Rajab for another session in September. “The charade of justice has gone on too long in Bahrain, and all prisoners of conscience must be set free immediately and unconditionally before these appeals take place,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Programme Director.

    “All convictions against them should be quashed.”

    Nine months ago the Bissiouni report also recommended that these prisoners be released. None of the serious recommendations of the report has been implemented.

    In another development, Bahraini Pro-democracy activists received the malware in Washington, London and Manama, the capital of Bahrain, the Persian Gulf kingdom that has been gripped by tension since a crackdown on protests last year.

    Researchers believe they’ve identified copies of FinFisher, (a spyware sold by U.K.- based Gamma Group) based on an examination of malicious software e-mailed to Bahraini activists, they say. Their research, which is being published today by the University of Toronto Munk School of Global Affairs’ Citizen Lab, is based on five different e-mails obtained by Bloomberg News from people targeted by the malware.

    On Monday 23rd July The Times newspaper published a one page article about Bahrain titled “Police ‘dodge security clean-up by torturing detainees at secret sites” highlighting the tactics adopted by the regime in its repression of activists.

    The detainees whose number now exceeds 1200 are now facing severe crackdown. At the Dry Dock Prison detainees have been attacked at the middle of the night as a means of intimidation and repression. The cooling system has been switched off intermittently and the detainees have been subjected to more torture and beating.

    Iran has demanded that the Revolution in Bahrain be listed on the agenda of an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation called for by Saudi Arabia next week. This is a serious moral challenge to the Saudis whose forces are still occupying Bahrain and which is deeply involved in supporting the armed militias fighting in Syria. The discussion must not be confined to the events of one particular country. The Saudis are reported to have used extensive torture against a prominent scholar, Sheikh Nimr Al Nimr, who was arrested two weeks ago. Demonstrations have erupted in several towns of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia with more injuries and arrests.

    As the London Olympics have been bogged down by the attendance of a notorious torturer; Nasser bin Hamad Alkhalifa,  around 140 buses have carried an advert about the serious human rights crisis for everyone to read. It has shaken the regime to its core as people in the streets in London were shocked by those images. 

    World Social Inequality more Pronounced than Ever

    July 27th, 2012 by Ernst Wolff

    The super-rich are currently hiding away wealth estimated between $21 trillion and $32 trillion in tax havens such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands. This is the conclusion published last weekend by the Tax Justice Network, an NGO based in London. The author of the study is James Henry, a former chief economist at the McKinsey consulting firm and an expert on tax havens.

    Henry bases his projections on data from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United Nations and various national central banks. His study was limited to financial assets, and excluded tangible assets such as real estate, gold, jewellery or other possessions.

    The figures reveal that “high net worth individuals” (defined as those with assets of over $50 million) have stashed away much larger sums in tax havens than previously thought. The report also shows that the concentration of global wealth in ever fewer hands has rapidly accelerated.

    In 2005, the estimated offshore assets of the super-rich amounted to $11.5 trillion. Since then this total has doubled or tripled. Today the top 10 percent of the world’s population control 84 percent of assets, while the bottom 50 percent have access to just 1 percent. According to the study, the top of the pile—92,000 people who constitute an infinitesimal fraction of the world’s population—have hidden financial assets amounting to more than 9 trillion dollars, an average of nearly $100 million apiece.

    The rapid growth of these assets during the past seven years shows that the global crisis of capitalism has been by no means disadvantageous for the financial elite. On the contrary, while more and more people in advanced countries are suffering due to government austerity programs and millions in developing countries are condemned to dire poverty, the super-rich have used the financial and economic turmoil of recent years to massively increase their wealth and hide their money beyond the reach of tax authorities.

    They are assisted by a tax code that permits them to move huge amounts of money to offshore tax havens utilising legal loopholes and professional help.

    While those on low incomes are strictly monitored by the state and are badgered for their tax payments, the super-rich are able to rely on a globally operating group of highly paid asset and investment advisers employed by the major international banks, which charge considerable sums in return for their tax fiddles. The four largest UK banks alone—HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland—have over 1,200 branches in tax havens.

    According to Henry, the world’s 10 largest private financial institutions, including Deutsche Bank, moved more than $6.25 trillion offshore in 2010. Prior to the crash of 2007 the equivalent sum amounted to $2.34 trillion.

    Those hit hardest by tax avoidance and tax evasion are developing countries. In the past 40 years the wealthiest citizens from 139 developing countries hid away non-declared assets estimated at $7.3 trillion to $9.3 trillion in tax havens. Their offshore assets are often greater than the national debt of their respective countries and play a major role in the lack of money to finance urgently needed public health and education programs in their home countries.

    The top three in the list of countries with the most super-rich individuals are the US, China and Germany. A study by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) recently revised upward its estimate of the fortune of the country’s top 1 percent, from 23 percent to 34 percent of national wealth, conceding that the incomes of ultra-wealthy households had not been included in its previous investigations.

    Based on the findings of the enormous scale of hidden assets, Henry argues in his study that the previously applied standards for inequality, which are generally related to household income, have “dramatically underestimated” the real divide between rich and poor.

    The author of the study agrees with the British economist and journalist Stewart Lansley, who writes in his recently published book, The Cost of Inequality: “There is absolutely no doubt at all that the statistics on income and wealth at the top understate the problem.”

    Global social inequality today is not only much more pronounced than all the official statistics show. It has, in global terms, reached levels unprecedented in human history.

    US Proxy Al Qaeda Death Squads in Syria

    July 27th, 2012 by Stephen Lendman

    Washington’s agenda involves death squad diplomacy. Evidence mounts proving it. It’s standard practice in all US direct and proxy wars. It’s how America treats its enemies.

    Massacres and unspeakable atrocities are committed. Women are raped. Civilians are treated like combatants. They’re indiscriminately killed.

    Others are targeted for opposing US aggression. Children are harmed like adults. Prisoners are tortured. No crime’s too gruesome to commit. 

    Lies, duplicity, and coverup follow. Media scoundrels bear direct responsibility. Their hands are bloodstained like US officials, forces and proxy killers.

    Vietnam’s Operation Phoenix became a prototype for today’s wars. It included intimidation, kidnappings torture, and mass murder. At issue was eliminating opposition elements. Terrorizing people into submission was policy. 

    Southeast Asia tactics are replicated in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Barbarism defines US policy.

    On July 11, German writer Jurgen Todenhofer confirmed  the presence of Al Qaeda insurgents in Syria. He met with them, he said. He holds them and others like them responsible for mass terror attacks.

    He described a “massacre marketing strategy.” He called it “among the most disgusting things that I have ever experienced in an armed conflict.”

    He added that Western media distort what’s happening on the ground. Viewers and readers know it’s their stock and trade. They’re paid to lie. Journalists dedicated to truth and full disclosure need not apply.

    On July 24, Asia Times writer John Rosenthal headlined “German intelligence: al-Qaeda all over Syria,” saying:

    “German intelligence estimates that ‘around 90′ terror attacks that ‘can be attributed to organizations that are close to al-Qaeda or jihadist groups’ were carried out in Syria between the end of December and the beginning of July, as reported by the German daily Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).”

    Die Welt and Bild published similar reports. All three name Al Qaeda behind the May 25 Houla massacre. Russian journalist Marat Musin was there. He said hundreds of “bandits and mercenaries” were responsible.

    Washington’s imperial tactics involve cutthroat killer atrocities. Human lives have no value. Only wealth, privilege and dominance matter. US officials don’t keep body counts. Objectives are pursued lawlessly.

    Rosenthal cited Die Welt contributor Alfred Hackensberger. Taldo is part of Syria’s Houla region. Insurgents controlled it for months, said Hackensberger. They bear responsibility for Houla killings.

    He visited the area. He interviewed an eyewitness. He left him unidentified for his safety. He was at Qara’s Saint James Monastery. Victims were pro-Assad Sunnis, he said. Many people know what happened but won’t say “out of fear for their lives.”

    “Whoever says something can only repeat the rebels’ version. Anything else is certain death.”

    Hackensberger related similar stories. A former Qusayr resident said Christians and others refusing to “enroll their children in the Free Syrian Army” were shot. He held “foreign Islamists” responsible.

    “I have seen them with my own eyes,” he said. Pakistanis, Libyans, Tunisians and also Lebanese. They call Osama bin Laden their sheikh.”

    A Homs Sunni resident told Hackensberger he witnessed armed insurgents stopping a bus. “The passengers were divided into two groups: on one side, Sunnis; on the other, Alawis.”

    Nine Alawis were decapitated.

    Rosenthal said:

    “That the German government would cite national interest in refusing to disclose its information (publicly) concerning the circumstances of the Houla massacre is particularly notable in light of Germany’s support for the rebellion and its political arm, the Syrian National Council (SNC).”

    It plays a quiet behind the scenes role, he added. Its foreign office is involved in developing “political transition” plans.

    So is former US Saudi Arabia ambassador Prince Bandar, reports Haaretz. His close ties to the Bush family earned him the nickname “Bandar Bush.”

    For years he’s been involved with Washington’s Syria regime change plans. He now serves as Saudi intelligence chief. He’s also National Security Council secretary-general.

    His intelligence appointment involves “preparing for the next stage in Syria,” said Haaretz. His wife has Al Qaeda “connections.” He’s considered “CIA’s man in Riyadh.” He’s “known as a can-do” guy. 

    He spares nothing to achieve objectives. He participated directly in America’s Contra wars. He helped fund Central American death squads and Afghan mujahideen fighters against Soviet forces.

    He’s active in current Washington plans to depose Assad. Like other US allies, his hands are bloodstained.

    In her daily press briefing, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland condoned the murder of Syrian officials. She justified her position, saying they “organize(d) Assad’s military campaign….”

    She tried having it both ways, adding “we don’t condone violence of any kind.” She ignored Washington’s direct role in orchestrating it. 

    US rhetoric about supporting human rights and other democratic values rings hollow.

    America is the world’s worst human rights abuser. It spurns democracy. It’s intolerant at home and abroad. It’s hardline, belligerent and repressive. 

    Saying one thing and doing another is policy. At the same time, it audaciously points fingers at China.

    On July 25, Bloomberg headlined “US Finds China’s Human Rights Situation Is Deteriorating,” saying:

    According to Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael Posner, conditions in China are worsening. We have human rights issues in America, he added. He left unsaid how US policy spurns them at home and abroad.

    Do as I say not as I do is policy. So is practicing wrong over right. Interfering in the internal affairs of other countries blatantly violates international and constitutional law. 

    Doing it by direct or proxy belligerence adds crimes of war, against humanity and genocide. Justice Robert Jackson called aggressive war “the supreme international crime against peace.” 

    Convicted Nazis were hanged. America repeatedly gets away with murder unaccountably. 

    A July 25 Washington Post article provided more evidence, saying:

    Free Syrian Army fighters have safe havens in Turkey. In Antakya, they “stride through its narrow streets sunburned and sweaty from the battlefield, hoping to meet benefactors to provide them with money and arms.”

    “Salafi Muslims, who have come to offer help from the countries of the Persian Gulf region, huddle over kebabs, their long beards and robes conspicuous in secularist Turkey.”

    Ankara officials are largely tight-lipped. Little is said about “rebel fighters” passing freely cross border to Syria and back. Military trucks ferry weapons into Syrian territory. 

    Turkish authorities deny what independent observers confirm. Officials claim only humanitarian aid is provided. At the same time, Hurriyet daily headlined “PM declares Syria intervention a ‘natural right,’ ” saying:

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Syrian-based Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) elements give Turkey the right to intervene. “We will not tolerate PKK cooperation with other organizations in the area,” he said.

    This, earlier hostile comments, and Turkey’s provocative violation of Syria’s airspace suggest Ankara’s looking for a pretext to intervene. 

    Washington calls the shots. Erdogan’s a useful tool. He’s complicit in US regime change plans. Whether he’ll initiate preemptive cross-border attacks remains to be seen.

    It’s unclear if Israel plans getting involved. Recent tax increases were announced. Mossad-connected DEBKAfile says they’re “steps towards a $25-30bn war budget.” 

    Israel already spends an enormous amount on militarism. Like America, it does it at a time it has no enemies except ones it invents.

    Between militarism, settlement construction, and corporate favoritism, little remains for domestic needs mattering most to ordinary Israelis.

    Whether Israel plans more war won’t be known unless or attacks confirm it. Threats alone don’t signify policy. Netanyahu and other Israeli officials make them often. On July 25, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said:

    Israel faces “tough and crucial (security) decisions. I am well aware of the difficulties involved in thwarting Iran’s attempts to acquire a nuclear weapon.” 

    “However, it is clear to me that without a doubt, dealing with the threat itself will be far more complicated, far more dangerous and far more costly in resources and human life than thwarting it.”

    Israel may or may not be planning to confront Syria. On July 24, IDF Chief of Staff General Benny Gantz was ambiguous about an alleged Damascus chemical and biological weapons threat.

    On the one hand, he urged caution. On the other, he said Israel might “find itself in a wider conflict that it planned” if military operations against Syria are initiated. 

    He left unexplained what he meant except to suggest attacking WMDs may have unintended consequences. He added that IDF policy sometimes means engaging in action. At other times, it’s about holding back.

    The Syrian pot is boiling. Both countries share a common border. Full-scale war could spill over. Syria run by extremist elements means anything going forward is possible.

    Israel, Western states and regional allies plan regime change. Achieving it might bring more than what they bargain for.

    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

    U.S. Uses NATO For Black Sea Military Buildup

    July 27th, 2012 by Rick Rozoff

    With permanent access to eight air and other military bases and training facilities in Bulgaria and Romania acquired over the past seven years, and advanced interceptor missiles to be stationed in the second country in three years, the Pentagon is establishing a firm foothold in the Black Sea region from which to continue current and initiate new military operations in South Asia, the Middle East, Africa, the Balkans and the Caucasus.

    The U.S. Marines Corps’ Black Sea Rotational Force and the U.S. Army’s Task Force-East are assigned to the region on a regular basis and American warships are frequent visitors to the Black Sea, notwithstanding the 1936 Montreux Convention which limits the passage of non-littoral nations’ military vessels through the Dardanelles and Bosporus straits to the Black Sea.

    Last year the flagship of the U.S.-NATO interceptor missile system, the guided missile cruiser USS Monterey, participated in the U.S.-led Sea Breeze naval exercise in the Black Sea – a NATO Partnership for Peace initiative – coordinated from Odessa, Ukraine, only 187 miles from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastopol.


    USS Monterey

    This year’s Sea Breeze, held from July 9-21, was the largest naval exercise held in the Black Sea this year and featured personnel from 17 nations, NATO members and partners (not always publicly acknowledged): The U.S., Ukraine, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Norway, Portugal, Turkey, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Georgia, Israel, Moldova, Qatar, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates. Algeria, Bangladesh, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates participated for the first time. The last two states, members of the Gulf Cooperation Council and of NATO’s Istanbul Cooperation Initiative military partnership, provided NATO with warplanes for the six-month air war against Libya last year. The United Arab Emirates also has troops serving under NATO in Afghanistan.


    USS Jason Dunham guided missile destroyer at the Sea Breeze 2012 exercise

    Overlapping with the above maneuvers, another NATO Partnership for Peace exercise run by U.S. European Command, Rapid Trident 2012, was launched in Western Ukraine on July 16 and will run to July 28.

    An estimated 1,400 service members from 16 countries – the U.S., Ukraine, Austria, Azerbaijan, Denmark, Bulgaria, Canada, Germany, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Sweden – are participating.

    The Dacian Thunder 2012 exercise is being conducted by the U.S., Britain and Romania from July 10-31 in the third nation. Led by the U.S. 81st Fighter Squadron and Marines, the three NATO allies are training for, in the words of the U.S. Air Force website, “air-to-air, air-to-ground, combat search and rescue, air defense, air security, air intelligence, tactical command, and cross service logistical support and operations” in preparation for “future contingency operations.”

    Earlier this month U.S. Army Europe commander Lieutenant General Mark Phillip Hertling visited Georgia, on the other end of the Black Sea, to meet with the country’s new defense minister, Dimitri Shashkin, and top military commanders.

    This week Rear Admiral Mark Montgomery, Deputy Director of Plans, Policy and Strategy for U.S. European Command, met with Defense Minister Shashkin to begin the implementation of this year’s agreement between U.S. President Barack Obama and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to upgrade Georgia’s military capabilities.

    This week Saakashvili’s spouse, Netherlands-born Sandra Roelofs, visited the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. to meet with six Georgian soldiers being treated there for injuries sustained in NATO’s Afghan war.

    Last week Saakashvili met with Turkish Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi and stated:

    “You know that 2014 has been declared as the year of NATO expansion, and Georgia already has a real chance for full membership in NATO, which represents an important long-term security guarantee for us.”

    The Georgian head of state added:

    “Turkey is one of the major supporters in our drive to join NATO and for that we are very grateful, because it represents a historic chance for Georgia, for the region and for our good neighborly relations to [have] Georgia protected within this international organization.

    “Recently it (Georgia’s NATO membership) became more realistic than it has ever been in history.”

    In 2005, the year after Romania became a member of NATO, the Pentagon acquired several military installations in the nation including the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, previously employed for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The following year it gained bases in neighboring Bulgaria, including the Graf Ignatievo and Bezmer air bases. The above are the first American military bases on the territory of former members of the Warsaw Pact.

    The Marine Corps’ Black Sea Rotational Force, which as of this year is spending six months in the greater Black Sea region, frequently operates from the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, as has the Task Force-East.


    Black Sea Rotational Force Marines and Georgian troops in Agile Spirit exercise in Georgia in March

    The Black Sea Rotational Force’s area of operations is formally the Black Sea region, the Balkans and the Caucasus, though in fact it extends into Moldova and Greece as well. That is, it has defined a geostrategically vital area of the world, the junction of Europe, Asia and the Middle East, as its purview, one which includes all the so-called frozen conflicts in former Soviet space: Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia and Transdniester.

    The Black Sea region was completely inaccessible, was terra prohibita, to the Pentagon during the Cold War era. NATO expansion, with the incorporation of new members and partners, has opened the sea to U.S. military penetration, presence and use for what are termed downrange operations – armed interventions – to the east and the south.   

    US fails to sell militants in Syria as “freedom fighters,” tells truth for pretext to liquidate monsters of their own creation. 

    The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in its article, “Al Qaeda’s War for Syria,” cited officials from the US Treasury Department stating, “Al Qaeda in Syria (often operating as the “Al Nusra Front for the People of the Levant”) is using traffickers—some ideologically aligned, some motivated by money—to secure routes through Turkey and Iraq for foreign fighters, most of whom are from the Middle East and North Africa. A growing number of donors from the Persian Gulf and Levant appear to be sending financial support.”


    Photo: The “Free Syrian Army,” whose composition consists of not only Syrian sectarian extremists, but Libyan terrorists from the US State Department listed “Libyan Islamic Fighting Group” led by Abdul Hakim Belhaj, is the manifestation of years of US, Saudi, and Israeli aid since at least 2007.

    ….

    This undercuts the West’s year and a half-long narrative that Syria’s violence was the result of a so-called “uprising” by the people of Syria. While the WJS attempts to downplay this admission by claiming, “al Qaeda makes up a small part of the resistance movement,” it concedes that, “its strength appears to be rising.” In reality, it was Al Qaeda militants from the very beginning, and the only aspect of the conflict “rising” is public awareness of this fact.

    Since 2007, US Aided and Abetted Al Qaeda Affiliates Against Syria 

    As early as 2007, veteran journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in his New Yorker article “The Redirection,” that:

    “To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.” -The Redirection, Seymour Hersh (2007) 

    Hersh’s report would also include: 

    “the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations.” -The Redirection, Seymour Hersh (2007)

    The 2007 article also warned about the inevitable consequences of arming radical sectarian extremists, with CIA operators in Lebanon warning of mass murder, sectarian violence, and specifically the targeting of Christian minorities across the Levant (the region along the Mediterranean Sea including Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, and Syria):

    “Robert Baer, a former longtime C.I.A. agent in Lebanon, has been a severe critic of Hezbollah and has warned of its links to Iranian-sponsored terrorism. But now, he told me, “we’ve got Sunni Arabs preparing for cataclysmic conflict, and we will need somebody to protect the Christians in Lebanon. It used to be the French and the United States who would do it, and now it’s going to be Nasrallah and the Shiites” -The Redirection, Seymour Hersh (2007)

    Now, demonstratively, we see exactly this feared onslaught manifesting itself in Syria, in particular against Christians as indicated in LA Times’ “Church fears ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Christians in Homs, Syria,” and more recently in USA Today’s distorted, but still telling, “Christians in Syria live in uneasy alliance with Assad, Alawites.” Even the massacre in Houla, seems to echo of this 2007 warning, bearing all the hallmarks of sectarian extremists like Al Qaeda. 

    Not only did the United States government, with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Israel’s aid, knowingly assemble a sectarian extremist front affiliated with Al Qaeda, not from within Syria, but from beyond its borders, it knew well in advance the destructive consequences such a foreign policy would yield.

    The US government has since willfully lied to the both the American people and the world regarding the true nature of the violence unfolding in Syria, and with the help of the corporate-media, is attempting to spin the forewarned consequences of their long-planned conspiracy as merely an unfortunate by-product of a spontaneous conflict.

    A Foreign Invasion, not a Rebellion

    The WSJ’s article begins with the sentence, “the United States and its allies should consider opening a second front in the Syrian war. In addition to helping end Bashar Assad’s rule, there is a growing need to conduct a covert campaign against al Qaeda and other extremist groups gaining a presence in the country.”

    In essence, we are being told that the militant extremists the US assembled against Syria have failed to overthrow the government, so the US should intervene on the pretext of liquidating the very terrorists they conspired to send, funded and armed, and have been supporting since the very beginning. 

    The very logistical “routes” through Turkey the WSJ claims Al Qaeda is using to flood into Syria with militants and weapons, are admittedly organized by the US through its CIA intelligence apparatus. The New York Times article, “C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition,” states clearly that:

    A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers.

    The NYT continues:

    The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the officials said. 

    Likewise, in the Washington Post’s article, “Syrian rebels get influx of arms with gulf neighbors’ money, U.S. coordination,” it is reported:

    Syrian rebels battling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad have begun receiving significantly more and better weapons in recent weeks, an effort paid for by Persian Gulf nations and coordinated in part by the United States, according to opposition activists and U.S. and foreign officials.

    We are now expected to forget these admissions, or believe that Al Qaeda is slipping past CIA officers “operating secretly in southern Turkey,” and that only by coincidence they are armed with the very weapons and resources the US, Saudis, and Qataris have pledged to supply the so-called “Free Syrian Army” with.  Turkey, it should be remembered, is a NATO member – that Al Qaeda is swarming within and along its borders belies 10 years of “War on Terror” mythology.

    The “Free Syrian Army” does include sectarian extremists from within Syria, mostly drawn from the banned, sectarian Muslim Brotherhood movement which has sought to destroy secular society across the Arab World for decades. But the vast majority of the fighters flowing into Aleppo in the north, and who had recently attempted to overrun Damascus in the south, are foreign fighters, armed by foreign sponsors, invading and conducting armed attacks on populated Syrian cities.

    Image: “A lot of them were bald and many had beards. Many wore white sports shoes and army pants,” said an alleged “defected officer” of the perpetrators of the “Houla Massacre.” An apt description of the NATO-armed sectarian terrorists that ravaged Libya before traveling to Syria (here, here, and here) to continue their campaign of extremist-driven genocide. (click image to enlarge)
    ….

    Reports months ago indicated that Libyan militants had been making their way to Syria by the hundreds, flush with cash and weapons recently received from NATO during their own operation to overrun and destroy Libya. As many as 600 Libyan terrorists were reported to have reached Syria by late 2011.

    Now as Western media houses embed their representatives within terrorist bands crossing the Turkish-Syrian border, and as these terrorists find their way into Aleppo and amongst a population capable of revealing their identity to the world, slowly the admissions are trickling out that indeed entire “platoons” of North African fighters are involved in the misleadingly titled, “rebellion.”

    CNN, whose Ivan Watson accompanied these terrorists over the Turkish-Syrian border and into Aleppo, revealed that indeed foreign fighters were amongst the militants. It was admitted that:

    Meanwhile, residents of the village where the Syrian Falcons were headquartered said there were fighters of several North African nationalities also serving with the brigade’s ranks.

    A volunteer Libyan fighter has also told CNN he intends to travel from Turkey to Syria within days to add a “platoon” of Libyan fighters to armed movement.

     CNN also added:

    On Wednesday, CNN’s crew met a Libyan fighter who had crossed into Syria from Turkey with four other Libyans. The fighter wore full camouflage and was carrying a Kalashnikov rifle. He said more Libyan fighters were on the way.

    The foreign fighters, some of them are clearly drawn because they see this as … a jihad. So this is a magnet for jihadists who see this as a fight for Sunni Muslims.

    CNN’s reports provide bookends to earlier admissions that large numbers of Libyan terrorists flush with NATO cash and weapons had headed to Syria, with notorious terrorist commanders making the arrangements. 

    West Used Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Libya, Is Using Al Qaeda Now in Syria

    By all accounts, including admissions by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, Osama Bin Laden’s organization that would become Al Qaeda was created by the West during the Soviet-Afghan war in in the late 70′s and throughout the 80′s. The US and Saudi funding of these militants did not begin after the Soviet invasion, but actually several years before the invasion. US intervention in Afghanistan by training and arming Afghanistan’s Mujaheddin, along with Osama Bin Laden’s Arab fighters, is one of the leading factors that led to the murderous and protracted decade-long war, according to the Nation in an article titled, “Blowback, the Prequel.”

    Photo: Former US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski meeting with Osama Bin Laden, then leading the CIA’s Arab legionaries in Afghanistan. Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda would later spin off into regional terrorist organizations, covertly armed, trained, and protected by the CIA to this day, including LIFG in Libya, MEK in Iraq and Iran, and Baluchi terrorists in Pakistan.
    ….
    Since then, Al Qaeda has conveniently provided both a well-armed, capable proxy force, as well as a sufficiently terrifying boogeyman, giving Wall Street and London access to nations it could otherwise never justify intervening in.

    The very militant leader of the “Tripoli Brigade” who secured Libya’s capital just in time for US dignitaries to visit, was Abdul Hakim Belhaj, commander of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), listed on the US State Department’s roster of “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” (#28). In fact, several reports out of West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) illustrated how not only LIFG was actively leading NATO-backed regime change in Libya, but was involved in fighting Western troops and locals in both Afghanistan and Iraq – disrupting legitimate resistance, and providing a continuous pretext to maintain Western occupation. 

    That Belhaj almost immediately after overthrowing Libya’s government, began organizing operations to bring in fighters, weapons, and cash to Syria, indicates that, just as Al Qaeda was used from its very inception by the US and Saudis to fight Soviets in Afghanistan, it is still a valuable tool in executing Western foreign policy.

    Essentially, the so-called “War on Terror” is a fraud, the belligerents on both sides fueled by the West as a means of establishing military, economic, and political hegemony in otherwise unapproachable targeted nations. When Al Qaeda cannot sufficiently overrun a targeted nation as a proxy “foreign legion” of Western interests (Libya), its presence, facilitated by the West in the first place, is then cited as a “casus belli” for military intervention (Afghanistan).

    Now, it appears that the West’s Arab “foreign legion,” Al Qaeda, is about to suffer an unprecedented defeat – not at the hands of Western anti-terrorism forces, but at the hands of Syrian troops in the city of Aleppo. In a desperate effort to prevent this, the West is employing a series of desperate strategies ranging from portraying the trapped foreign-fighters committing atrocities inside Aleppo as “pending a certain massacre,” to using the very presence of these foreign-fighters as evidence “Al Qaeada” is operating in Syria and must be “stopped” by Western intervention.

    It is essential to understand that, as empires have always done, the monolithic corporate-financier interests of the West seek regional hegemony as a step toward global domination, and will say and do anything in order to achieve it. As resistance increases, the West’s lies become more difficult to sell, the consistency of their propaganda overtly crumbling. The West, in nearly a single breath, has now claimed FSA fighters are both “Al Qaeda” that need to be eliminated, while also impeding a “massacre” by Syrian forces if something isn’t done to save them. 

    When US President Obama referred to the “depths of depravity” regarding Syrian security operations in Aleppo, he and his script writers do so with the belief that Americans, and the world, are ignorant and disinterested in the truth, and will gladly allow Western foreign policy to once again prey on their emotions and good intentions to sell yet another destructive, self-serving military intervention.

    The Frontiers of Academic Imperialism

    July 26th, 2012 by Dr. Thorsten Pattberg

    The “Frontiers of Philosophy in China” – a “distinguished” academic journal with an impressive editorial board composed of many prominent “China experts”- involuntarily supports Western sovereignty over the interpretation of Chinese thought. And it’s not alone.

    The Journal’s open propaganda is striking: the word “philosophy” is a Western term and concept that is nowhere to be found in pre-colonial East-Asia. I would guess that 90% of China’s population have never heard of “philosophy”. The Journal’s title deliberately conceals from the public what China has instead. The correct Chinese term for philosophy, zhexue, is a late 19th-century import from Japan, where it is pronounced tetsugaku. It therefore cannot exist in any of the Chinese classics. Have a close look at the Journal’s ‘Aims’:

    “Frontiers of Philosophy in China aims to disseminate new scholarly achievements in the field of broadly defined philosophy, and promote philosophical researches of the highest level by publishing peer-reviewed academic articles that facilitate intensive or extensive communication and cooperation between philosophers in China and abroad. It covers nearly all main branches of philosophy, with priorities given to original works on Chinese philosophy or in comparative studies in Chinese philosophy and other kinds of philosophy in the world.”

    Apart from the self-praise for being elite and exclusive (it tacitly offers the title “philosopher” to its authors) – and essentially an old-boy network – , the ‘Aims” propagates the Western term ‘philosophy’ no less than eight times. If this looks like ideological indoctrination, that’s because it is ideological indoctrination.

    We can only guess at how this propaganda pamphlet came into being; something along the lines of:

    Editor: Hmm, that’s awkward. We’ve put “Philosophy” in our ‘Title’, but we couldn’t find the term “philosophy” nowhere in Chinese tradition. Editor-in-Chief: That’s why we have to repeat it another eight times in our ‘Aims’, Goebbels Law!

    The Journal’s mission is self-evident: to hammer home “Philosophy in China” in China and abroad. It is precisely this easy-peasy formula of parading Chinese thought under European prescription that should set serious scholarship on its ears. In its form it resembles fascist and ideological writings intended to forcefully pull a world-view, in this case the (Western) History of philosophy, over China’s own contributions to history like rujiao, daojiao, fojiao and thousands of other xue, jia and jiao.

    Many Western Sinologists spent the formative years of their lives learning and mastering European culture and language, an education that is guided by a colonial and imperial sense of mission. They inevitably continue old habits and cultivate a “China image” that is going to confirm their own world-view and advance the complete Westernization of China. They prefer to do it by translating China’s socio-cultural originality into Western biblical or philosophical taxonomy. If nothing else, it’s grand intellectual property theft.

    Western publishers understandably embrace such ideology. How else can we explain – given that no “philosophy” existed in China – thousands of recent titles like Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy (2006), Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy (2011), A Short History of Chinese Philosophy (1997), Oriental Philosophy (1979), and so on?

    There are exceptions to this propaganda, of course, as seen in neutral titles like Chinese thought (1960). Yet, even that author had to work in the word “philosophy” on the book cover for promotional purposes.

    One can often guess from the book titles what ideology the publishers (and/or the authors) are trying to instigate. For example, Cambridge University Press – maybe because it served British imperialism for so long – is the usual offender; its title range includes propaganda like Chinese Philosophy and Virtue Ethics and Consequentialism in Early Chinese Philosophy, and so forth. On the other hand, Harvard University Press is explicitly more tactful in its title choices, for example in The World of Thought in Ancient China (1985) by Benjamin Schwartz.

    Most Western universities and those that harbor Western-educated Chinese require their students to write essays, class assignments, and to attend seminars on “Chinese philosophy” as if it was a fact of life that the Hellenic and the Judeo-Christian tradition also applies to the Chinese one.

    Many China historians, such as Ji Xianlin, Tu Weiming, Gu Zhengkun and Roger T Ames, persistently warn against misleading biblical and philosophical Western translations of non-Western concepts, but few people outside the profession have heard about their critique. Meanwhile, Western language imperialists pick “Cultural China” into pieces word by word.

    In these days only those students who are receptive to Western indoctrination may reach a doctoral level, post-doctoral level, lectureship and then, finally, a professorship, by which time they will have become so indoctrinated and subservient, and will have “manufactured” so much propaganda material on “Chinese philosophy” that they cannot possibly blame an omnipotent Big West for having deceived them or forced them to do it. Such a confession would jeopardize their academic careers and vindicate their “good reputations” (as “peer-reviewers” and “cross-quotation careerists”).

    There are thousands of Chinese scholars who still fight for Chinese terminologies, but who will not be given a voice in Western mainstream media. Such Chinese are virtually unemployable globally, as they do not conform to Western standard.

    Often Chinese scholars involuntarily support the Western onslaught on Chinese terminology and, without giving too much thought to it, enabling the Western hold for power over the history of thought. Peking University’s Department of Philosophy, The Council of Research in Values and Philosophy, in 2007 published its pamphlet “Chinese Philosophical Studies” entitled “Dialogues of Philosophies, Religions and Civilizations in the Era of Globalization”. All those key words in here: philosophy, religion, civilization, globalization are Western concepts and inventions. Chinese concepts are left out of world history.

    Thorsten Pattberg is a German linguist and cultural critic from Peking University. He is the author of The East-West dichotomy (2009) and Shengren (2011), and he publishes widely on language imperialism. This article was first published in Asia Times in 2012, July 24th. © 2012 Thorsten Pattberg

    Syria: Washington’s Latest War Crime

    July 26th, 2012 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

    One wonders what Syrians are thinking as “rebels” vowing to “free Syria” take the country down the same road to destruction as “rebels” in Libya. Libya, under Gaddafi a well run country whose oil revenues were shared with the Libyan people instead of monopolized by a princely class as in Saudi Arabia, now has no government and is in disarray with contending factions vying for power.

    Just as no one knew who the Libyan “rebels” were, with elements of al Qaeda reportedly among them, no one knows who the Syrian “rebels” are, or indeed if they are even rebels (Antiwar.com). Some “rebels” appear to be bandit groups who seize the opportunity to loot and to rape and set themselves up as the governments of villages and towns. Others appear to be al Qaeda. (Antiwar.com)

    The fact that the “rebels” are armed is an indication of interference from outside. There have been reports that Washington has ordered its Saudi and Bahrain puppet governments to supply the “rebels” with military weaponry. Some suspect that the explosion that killed the Syrian Defense Minister and the head of the government’s crisis operations was not the work of a suicide bomber but the work of a US drone or missile reminiscent of Washington’s failed attempts to murder Saddam Hussein. Regardless, Washington regarded the terror attack as a success, declaring that it showed the rebels were gaining “real momentum” and called on the Syrian government to respond to the attack by resigning. (reuters.com)

    The following is from a leaked intelligence document describing a previous Western terrorist intervention in Syria just in case any reader is so naive as to think that “our government would never do that.”

    “In order to facilitate the action of liberative (sic) forces, …a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key individuals. …[to] be accomplished early in the course of the uprising and intervention, …

    Once a political decision has been reached to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria, CIA is prepared, and SIS (MI6) will attempt to mount minor sabotage and coup de main (sic) incidents within Syria, working through contacts with individuals. …Incidents should not be concentrated in Damascus …

    Further: a “necessary degree of fear .. frontier incidents and (staged) border clashes”, would “provide a pretext for intervention… the CIA and SIS [MI6] should use … capabilities in both psychological and action fields to augment tension.” (Joint US-UK leaked Intelligence Document, London and Washington, 1957) (globalreasearch.ca)

    Obama has not said why his government is so desperate to overthrow the Syrian government. The current president was an eye doctor in London who was brought back to Syria to replace his father, who had passed away, as president of the country. Washington is reticent about its real motives, which it masks with high-sounding humanitarian rhetoric, but Washington’s motives are transparent.

    One motive is to get rid of the Russian naval base in Syria, thus depriving Russia of its only Mediterranean base.

    A second motive is to eliminate Syria as a source of arms and support to Hizbullah in order that Israel can succeed in its attempts to occupy southern Lebanon and acquire its water resources. Hizbullah’s fighters have twice defeated the Israeli military’s attempts to invade and to occupy southern Lebanon.

    A third motive is to destroy the unity of Syria with sectarian conflict, as Washington destroyed Libya and Iraq, and leave Syria to waring factions to dismember the country, thus removing another obstacle to Washington’s hegemony.

    Syria, a secular Arab state, like Iraq was, is ruled by a political party composed of Alawis, more or less Shia Muslims. The Alawis comprise about 12% of the Syrian population and are regarded as heretics by the Sunni Muslims who comprise about 74% of the Syrian population. Thus the orchestrated “uprising” appeals to many Sunnis who see the opportunity to take over. (In Iraq it was a Sunni minority that ruled a Shia majority, and in Syria it is the opposite.)

    The divisions among Arabs make Arabs vulnerable to Western interference and rule. The Sunni-Shia split makes it impossible for an Arab country to unite against an invader or for one Arab country to come to the aid of another. In 1990 the Shia Syrian government lined up with the US against the Sunni Iraq government in the First Iraq War. Neither Lawrence of Arabia, Nasser, nor Gaddafi succeeded in creating an Arab consciousness.

    Washington’s cover for its violent overthrow of other governments is always moralistic verbiage. First the target is demonized, and then Washington’s naked aggression is described as “bringing freedom and democracy,” “overthrowing a brutal dictator,” “protecting women’s rights.” Any assortment of cant words and phrases seems to work.

    Hillary Clinton has been especially strident in advocating the overthrow of the Syrian government. The silly woman even issued threats to Russia and China for daring to block Washington’s attempt to use a UN resolution as cover for invading Syria. Washington misrepresents the Syrian government’s resistance to being overthrown as a government conducting terror against its own people. But Washington had no condemnation for the terror attack, whether its own or that of a suicide bomber, that killed high-level Syrian government officials. Washington’s double standard prompted the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, to accuse Washington of having “a sinister position.”

    Indeed, Washington does. But what is surprising about Washington’s sinister position after Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Pakistan? Undoubtedly, after Syria is overthrown, Washington will move on to Iran. Russia itself is already being surrounded by US missile bases, and the Russian government has a disloyal and traitorous political opposition financed by American money. China is confronting a rapid buildup of US air, naval, and troop bases in the Pacific. How long before China’s government has a disloyal opposition financed by Washington?

    The hegemon is on the march, but what Syrian Sunnis see is a chance to overthrow the Alawite Shia. The Syrian Sunnis will ally with Washington despite the fact that Washington overthrew the Iraqi Sunnis. Few Arabs, it seems, mind being puppets of a foreign regime that hands out billions of dollars.

    Washington loosely refers to Syrian President Assad as a “dictator” or “brutal dictator,” but obviously if Assad is a dictator he is not very effective in that role. Normally, dictators don’t permit an opposition to rise, much less arm itself. It would be more accurate to say that the ruling party is authoritarian, but the ruling party has introduced elements of democracy with the new constitution.

    As Iraq has proved, Arab governments have to be authoritarian if their Sunni and Shia populations are not to be constantly engaged in civil war. Both Bush and Obama claim that Washington brought “freedom and democracy” to Iraq. However, the ongoing violence in Iraq is as intense or more intense than under the American occupation. Here are the reports for the last three days:

    July 23: “A wave of bomb attacks and shootings in Baghdad and north of the capital has killed at least 107 people. At least 216 were wounded.”

    July 24: “A second day of intensified attacks left at least 145 Iraqis killed and 379 more wounded.”

    July 25: “Attacks continue across Iraq: 17 killed, 60 wounded.”

    This is what Washington did for Iraq. Far from bringing “freedom and democracy,” Washington brought endless mayhem and death. And this is precisely what Washington is in the process of bringing to Syria.

    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.

    “As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia, and Sudan.” 

    Former Nato Commander General Wesley Clark

    “Let me say to the soldiers and officials still supporting the Syrian regime — the Syrian people will remember the choices you make in the coming days….”

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Friends of Syria conference in Paris’ July 7, 2012 

    While confrontation between Russia and the West was, until recently, confined to the polite ambit of international diplomacy, within the confines of the UN Nations Security Council, an uncertain and perilous situation is now unfolding in the Eastern Mediterranean.

    Allied forces including intelligence operatives and special forces have reinforced their presence on the ground in Syria following the UN stalemate. Meanwhile, coinciding with the UN Security Council deadlock, Moscow has dispatched to the Mediterranean a flotilla of ten Russian warships and escort vessels led by the Admiral Chabanenko anti-submarine destroyer. Russia’s flotilla is currently stationed off the Southern Syrian coastline.

    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in St. Petersburg on June 29, 2012, on the eve of international talks in Geneva to find a political solution to the Syria crisis
    “Polite Diplomacy” (without smiles). Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L)  and Russia’s Foreign Minister
    Sergey Lavrov meet in St. Petersbourg, June 29, 2012 

    Back in August of last year, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin warned that “NATO is planning a military campaign against Syria to help overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad with a long-reaching goal of preparing a beachhead for an attack on Iran,…”  In relation to the current naval deployment, Russia’s navy chief, Vice Admiral Viktor Chirkov, confirmed, however, that while the [Russian] flotilla was carrying marines, the warships would “not be engaged in Syria Tasks”. “The ships will perform “planned military manoeuvres”, said the [Russian Defense] ministry” 

    The US-NATO alliance has retorted to Russia’s naval initiative, with a much larger naval deployment, a formidable Western armada, consisting of British, French and American warships, slated to be deployed later this Summer in the Eastern Mediterranean, leading to a potential “Cold War style confrontation” between Russian and Western naval forces.

    Meanwhile, US-NATO military planners have announced that various “military options” and “intervention scenarios” are being contemplated in the wake of the Russian-Chinese veto in the UN Security Council.

    The planned naval deployment is coordinated with allied ground operations in support of the US-NATO sponsored “Free Syrian Army”(FSA). In this regard, US-NATO has speeded up the recruitment of foreign fighters trained in Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

    ( Russian warships enter the Med, bound for Syria – timesofmalta.com, July 24, 2012)

    Russian warship in the Syrian port of Tartus

    Franco-British War Games: “Warship Diplomacy”

    France and Britain will be participating later this Summer in war games codenamed Exercise Cougar 12 [2012]. The games will be conducted in the Eastern Mediterranean as part of a Franco-British  “Response Force Task Group” involving  Britain’s HMS Bulwark and France’s Charles De Gaulle carrier battle group. The focus of these naval exercises will be on amphibious operations involving the (planned simulated) landing ashore of troops on “enemy territory”. 

    File:HMS Bulwark midships.jpg

    Britain’s HMS Bulwark

    Fichier:Charles De Gaulle (R91) underway 2009.jpg

    France’s Charles De Gaulle aircraft carrier

    Smokescreen: The Proposed Evacuation of Western Nationals “Using a Humanitarian Naval Fleet of WMDs”

    Barely mentioned by the mainstream media, the warships involved in the Cougar 12 naval exercise will also participate in the planned evacuation of  “British nationals from the Middle East, should the ongoing conflict in Syria further spill across borders into neighboring Lebanon and Jordan.”:

    The British would likely send the HMS Illustrious, a helicopter carrier, along with the HMS Bulwark, an amphibious ship, as well as an advanced destroyer to provide defenses for the task force. On board will be several hundred Royal Marine commandos, as well as a complement of AH-64 attack helicopters (the same ones used in Libya last year). A fleet of French ships, including the Charles De Gaulle aircraft carrier, carrying a complement of Rafale fighter aircraft, are expected to join them.

    Those forces are expected stay offshore and could escort specially chartered civilian ships meant to pick up foreign nationals fleeing Syria and surrounding countries.  (ibtimes.com, 24 July 2012). 

    Sources in the British Ministry of Defense, while confirming the Royal Navy’s “humanitarian mandate” in the planned evacuation program, have categorically denied “any intention of a combat role for British forces [against Syria]“.

    The evacuation plan using the most advanced military hardware including the HMS Bulwark, the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier is an obvious smokescreen. The not so hidden agenda is military threat and intimidation directed against a sovereign nation located in the historical cradle of civilization in Mespotamia: 

    “The Charles De Gaulle alone is a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with an entire squadron of jets more advanced than anything the Syrians have — is sparking speculation that those forces could become involved in a NATO operation against Syrian forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad…

    The HMS Illustrious, which is currently sitting on the Thames in central London, will likely only be sent to the region after the end of the Olympics.” (Ibid)

    This impressive deployment of Franco-British  naval power could also include the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier, which is to be sent back to the Middle East:  

    [On July 16, 2912], the Pentagon also confirmed that it would be redeploying the USS John C. Stennis, a nuclear-powered supercarrier capable of carrying 90 aircraft, to the Middle East… The Stennis would be arriving in the region with an advanced missile-launching cruiser, …. The carrier USS Eisenhower is already expected to be in the Middle East by that time (two carriers currently in the region are to be relieved and sent back to the U.S.).

    Amid unpredictable situations in both Syria and Iran, that would have left U.S. forces stretched and overly burdened if a firm military response were needed in either circumstance. (Ibid, emphasis added)

    The USS Stennis, at left, and the HMS Illustrious, at right, together in the Persian Gulf in April 1998. The two ships may be sailing together again sooner than expected. Photo: Wikipedia Commons

    USS Stennis aircraft carrier

    The USS Stennis strike group is to be sent back to the Middle East “by an unspecified date in the late summer” to be deployed to the Central Command area of responsibility:  

    “The Defense Department said that the early deployment had come from a request made by Marine Corps General James N. Mattis, the commander for Central Command (the U.S. military authority area that covers the Middle East), partly out of concern that there would be a short period where only one carrier would be located in the region.” ((Strike group headed to Central Command early – Stripes Central – Stripes, July 16, 2012)

    Marine Gen. James Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, “asked to move up the strike group’s deployment based on “a range of factors,” and  Defense Secretary Leon Panetta approved it”… (Ibid)

    A Pentagon spokesman stated that the deployment shift of the USS Stennis strike group pertained to “a wide range of U.S. security interests in the region”. “We’re always mindful of the challenges posed by Iran. Let me be very clear: This is not a decision that is based solely on the challenges posed by Iran, … ” This is not about any one particular country or one particular threat.” intimating that Syria was also part of planned deployment. (Ibid, emphasis added) 

    “Intervention Scenarios” 

    This massive deployment of naval power is an act of coercion with a view to terrorizing the Syrian people. The threat of military intervention purports to destabilize Syria as a nation state as well as confront and weaken Russia’s role in brokering the Syrian crisis.  

    The UN diplomatic game is at an impasse. The UN Security Council is defunct. The transition is towards Twenty-first Century “Warship Diplomacy”.  

    While an all out allied military operation directed against Syria is not “officially” contemplated, military planners are currently involved in preparing various “intervention scenarios”: 

    ‘Western political leaders may have no appetite for deeper intervention. But as history has shown, we do not always choose which wars to fight – sometimes wars choose us. ‘Military planners have a responsibility to prepare for intervention options in Syria for their political masters in case this conflict chooses them. ‘Preparation will be proceeding today in several Western capitals and on the ground in Syria and in Turkey. ‘Up to the point of Assad’s collapse, we are most likely to see a continuation or intensification of the under-the-radar options of financial support, arming and advising the rebels, clandestine operations and perhaps cyber warfare from the West. ‘After any collapse, however, the military options will be seen in a different light.’ (Daily Mail, July 24, 2012, emphasis added)

    Concluding Remarks

    The World is at a dangerous crossroads.

    The shape of this planned naval deployment in the Eastern Mediterranean with US-NATO warships contiguous to those of Russia is unprecedented in recent history.  

    History tells us that wars are often triggered unexpectedly as a result of “political mistakes” and human error. The latter are all the more likely within the realm of a divisive and corrupt political system in the US and Western Europe.

    US-NATO military planning is overseen by a centralised military hierarchy. Command and Control operations are in theory “coordinated” but in practice they are often marked by human error. Intelligence operatives often function independently and outside the realm of political accountability.

    Military planners are acutely aware of the dangers of escalation. Syria has significant air defense capabilities as well as ground forces. Syria has been building up its air defense system with the delivery of Russian Pantsir S1 air-defense missiles.

    Any form of US-NATO direct military intervention against Syria would destabilize the entire region, potentially leading to escalation over a vast geographical area, extending from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border with Tajikistan and China.

    Military planning involves intricate scenarios and war games by both sides including military options pertaining to advanced weapons systems. A Third World War scenario has been contemplated by US-NATO-Israeli military planners since early 2000. 

    Escalation is an integral part of the military agenda. War preparations to attack Syria and Iran have been in “an advanced state of readiness” for several years.

    We are dealing with complex political and strategic decision-making involving the interplay of powerful economic interest groups, the actions of covert intelligence operatives.

    The role of war propaganda is paramount not only in moulding public opinion into accepting a war agenda, but also in establishing a consensus within the upper echelons of the decision-making process. A selective form of war propaganda intended for “Top Officials” (TOPOFF) in government agencies, intelligence, the Military, law enforcement, etc. is intended to create an unbending consensus in favor of War and the Police State.

    For the war project to go ahead, it is essential that both politicians and military planners are rightfully committed to leading the war “in the name of justice and democracy”. For this to occur, they must firmly believe in their own propaganda, namely that war is “an instrument of peace and democracy”.

    They have no concern for the devastating impacts of advanced weapons systems, routinely categorized as “collateral damage”, let alone the meaning and significance of pre-emptive warfare, using nuclear weapons.

    Wars are invariably decided upon by civilian leaders and interest groups rather than by the military. War serves dominant economic interests which operate from behind the scenes, behind closed doors in corporate boardrooms, in the Washington think tanks, etc.

    Realities are turned upside down. War is peace. The Lie becomes the Truth.

    War propaganda, namely media lies, constitutes the most powerful instrument of warfare.

    Without media disinformation, the US-NATO led war agenda would collapse like a deck of cards. The legitimacy of  the war criminals in high office would be broken.

    It is therefore essential to disarm not only the mainstream media but also a segment of the self proclaimed “progressive” alternative media, which has provided legitimacy to NATO’s “Responsibility to protect” (R2P)  mandate, largely with a view to dismantling the antiwar movement.  

    The road to Tehran goes through Damascus. A US-NATO sponsored war on Iran would involve, as a first step, the destabilization of Syria as a nation state. Military planning pertaining to Syria is an integral part of the war on Iran agenda. 

    A war on Syria could evolve towards a US-NATO military campaign directed against Iran, in which Turkey and Israel would be directly involved.

    It is crucial to spread the word and break the channels of media disinformation.

    A critical and unbiased understanding of what is happening in Syria is of crucial importance in reversing the tide of military escalation towards a broader regional war.

    Our objective is ultimately to dismantle the US-NATO-Israeli military arsenal and restore World Peace. 

    It is essential that people in the UK, France and the US prevent “the late Summer” naval WMD deployment to the Eastern Mediterraean from occurring.  

    It is essential that people in the UK, France and the US prevent “the late Summer” naval WMD deployment to the Eastern Mediterraean from occurring.

    The British Ministry of Defense has announced that several British warships are required “to ensure the security” of the Olympic Games. HMS Bulwark is stationed in Weymouth Bay for the duration of the games. HMS Illustrious is ”currently sitting on the Thames in central London”. The deployment of British warships including HMS Bulwark and HMS Illustrious to the Middle East is envisaged  “after” the Olympic Games.

    Spread the word. Forward this article. Post it on Facebook.


    SYRIA: NATO’s Next “Humanitarian” War?
    - by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-08-15

    ONLINE INTERACTIVE I-BOOK. The insurgency in Syria is based on the “Libya Model”: it is integrated by mercenaries and Al Qaeda affiliated paramilitary brigades supported by British, French and Turkish Special Forces…

    Click to order Michel Chossudovsky’s most recent book:  

    WWIII Scenario

    “This book is a ‘must’ resource – a richly documented and systematic diagnosis of the supremely pathological geo-strategic planning of US wars since ‘9-11’ against non-nuclear countries to seize their oil fields and resources under cover of ‘freedom and democracy’.”
    -John McMurtry, Professor of Philosophy, Guelph University

    “In a world where engineered, pre-emptive, or more fashionably “humanitarian” wars of aggression have become the norm, this challenging book may be our final wake-up call.”
    -Denis Halliday, Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations

    Michel Chossudovsky exposes the insanity of our privatized war machine. Iran is being targeted with nuclear weapons as part of a war agenda built on distortions and lies for the purpose of private profit. The real aims are oil, financial hegemony and global control. The price could be nuclear holocaust. When weapons become the hottest export of the world’s only superpower, and diplomats work as salesmen for the defense industry, the whole world is recklessly endangered. If we must have a military, it belongs entirely in the public sector. No one should profit from mass death and destruction.
    -Ellen Brown, author of ‘Web of Debt’ and president of the Public Banking Institute  

    It is essential that people in the UK, France and the US prevent “the late Summer” naval WMD deployment to the Eastern Mediterraean from occurring.

    The British Ministry of Defense has announced that several British warships are required “to ensure the security” of the Olympic Games. HMS Bulwark is stationed in Weymouth Bay for the duration of the games. HMS Illustrious is ”currently sitting on the Thames in central London”. The deployment of British warships including HMS Bulwark and HMS Illustrious to the Middle East is envisaged  “after” the Olympic Games.

    Spread the word. Forward this article. Post it on Facebook. Prevent the warships from leaving port.

    Is the Western “progressive” alternative media being duped by classic war propaganda cloaked in a humanitarian narrative or is it trying to lure the public into supporting military intervention?

    Several Global Research authors have questioned the focus of high profile alternative news outlets, which have supported the so-called Arab Spring revolutionaries in Libya and Syria.

    Throughout history “left-wing” pundits have been recruited by war propagandists to galvanize “progressive public opinion” in favour of a humanitarian “Responsibility to Protect” military intervention.

    Even though this deceitful technique has been used from time immemorial, it still works remarkably well today.

    With mainstream war mongering and the absence of a real Western antiwar movement, war propaganda is now storming on all fronts and facing hardly any resistance.

    Here is a list of recent articles published by Global Research on this topic.

    SELECTED ARTICLES    


    “Progressive” Journalism’s Legacy of Deceit
    - by Prof. James F. Tracy – 2012-07-20

    Progressive-left media persist in acting as propaganda outlets for the US-NATO destabilization of Syria. The historical record suggests how this is not the first time “Progressive publicists” were used to sell a war.


    The Arab Spring story in a nutshell: Fake springs, post-modern coup d’etat
    - by Prof. Ismael Hossein-zadeh – 2012-07-22

    Soon after being caught by surprise by the glorious uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, the counterrevolutionary forces headed by the United States embarked on damage control. A major strategy in pursuit of this objective has been to foment civil war and regime change in “unfriendly” places, and then portray them as part of the Arab Spring


    ‘Don’t be duped by Western humanitarian rhetoric on Syria’
    Interview with Russia’s UN ambassador
    - by Vitaly Churkin – 2012-07-20

    Humanitarian intervention unfortunately only sounds humane, but the fact of the matter is that any military intervention for whatever reason is inevitably going to cause more bloodshed. And we know the greatest humanitarians in the world – the US and UK – intervened in Iraq, for instance, citing all sorts of noble pretexts, in that particular case – non-existent weapons of mass destruction.


    Watching Syria, remembering Nicaragua
    History shows U.S. viciously attacks—not supports—real revolutions
    - by Richard Becker – 2012-07-22


    The Rise of the Police State and the Absence of Mass Opposition
    - by James Petras, Robin Eastman Abaya – 2012-07-25Recycled Propaganda from Libya: Media Hysteria Over Syrian Government “Bombings” of Aleppo
    If tired WMD lies won’t convince the public to back foreign intervention, perhaps recycled lies from Libya?
    - by Tony Cartalucci – 2012-07-25


    Freedom is slavery, popular support is authoritarianism
    The Mainstream Media’s double-speak
    - by Lizzie Phelan – 2012-07-26

     


    “Democracy Now” and the “Progressive” Alternative Media: Valued Cheerleaders For Imperialism and War
    - by Finian Cunningham – 2012-07-13

    Because the alternative media are supposed to be independent, critical, non-corporate, the public tends to consider their reports as objective and unbiased…


    “Manufacturing Dissent”: the Anti-globalization Movement is Funded by the Corporate Elites
    The People’s Movement has been Hijacked
    - by Michel Chossudovsky – 2010-09-20

    The People’s Movement has been Hijacked

    The sinking of the South Korean anti-submarine corvette Cheonan has been a key reason for the ongoing international isolation of North Korea and contributed significantly to the increased tensions on the Korean peninsula in 2010. But doubters of the official explanation continue to resurface.

    The South Korean government-commissioned Joint Investigation Group (JIG) said it was irrefutable that a North Korean submarine sank the South Korean vessel with a torpedo on March 26, 2010, killing 46 navy members. However, the debate has been reignited in South Korea over the last two months because scientists have persistently questioned the JIG report.

    In late April this year, Dr. Kim Gwang-sop, former rotational program manager at the National Science Foundation in Washington DC, was invited to do a presentation about the JIG report at a Korean Institute of Chemical Engineers conference. His lecture was cancelled at the last minute because the institute told him it was “too political.”

    Dr. Kim said cancelling a scientific lecture for political reasons is unprecedented for a non-profit scientific organization.

    “As far as I know, no scientific societies have committed such blatant misconduct as the KIChE,” he said via email.

    He isn’t the only scientist who has been unable to contribute to the now two-year-old Cheonan debate. Dr. Sam Ahn (Ahn Soo-myong), whose American-based company Ahntech specializes in anti-submarine warfare and had top-secret facility clearance with the US Department of Defense between 1999 and 2008, wrote his own report this year about the scientific impossibility of the JIG’s conclusions. He submitted a section of his report to the Seoul National University Alumni Association for publication but he says it was denied in less than three hours because its contents were too “sensitive.”

    Dr. Ahn and Dr. Kim are among a large minority who question the JIG report, other scientists among them. In the summer after the midterm report was released a poll conducted by the South Korean government showed 30 per cent of South Koreans doubted North Korea was involved. More striking, a Russian investigation after the interim report suggested it was unlikely North Korea was responsible. 

    All of this stands in stark contrast to the claim by US Secretary of Defense Hillary Clinton that the evidence of North Korea’s guilt is “overwhelming.”

    Dr. Ahn – almost no chance Cheonan was hit by a torpedo

    The JIG submitted “smoking-gun” evidence on May 15th 2010 in the form of torpedo parts discovered just five days before the interim report was scheduled for release – though North Korea’s guilt was rumored long beforehand. The captain of the boat sailing one of the two ships that were present when the torpedo parts were dragged out of the ocean called the find “luck from heaven.”

    Yet the source of doubt for the skeptics is not simply the fortuitousness of the find. They say there are many irregularities in the report itself and the scientific basis of its conclusions. Doubters also question the impartiality and expertise of the JIG, which was composed only of allies to the United States and South Korea – the United Kingdom, Australia and Sweden (though purported to be neutral, Sweden has served as the US diplomatic arm in North Korea, is a member of the NATO military alliance, involved itself in the Afghan War and has sent prisoners to Egypt on behalf of the CIA for torture).

    Most strikingly, Dr. Ahn says the very theory that a North Korean submarine hid underwater undetected by radar and fired a torpedo at the Cheonan is scientifically impossible.

    The JIG report says the torpedo was “conclusive” evidence of North Korean guilt because it was the same design as the blueprints of torpedoes North Korea sent to other countries for the purpose of arms exporting.

    It says the submarine undetectably moved within range of the Cheonan and fired the torpedo, which identified and tracked the vessel until it moved directly under the ship’s keel. The JIG says the torpedo exploded prior to contact, apparently by design, and created a powerful burst of water that cut the vessel in half.

    Yet Dr. Ahn says an engineer with minimal experience in signal processing could have spotted the “fatal flaw” of the “smoking-gun” torpedo described in the JIG report. This is because sound wave targeting cannot be done while a submarine is underwater and undetectable, so North Korea would have had to use an historic and unknown method. He says no ships have ever been sunk by an undetected submarine in naval warfare.

    “The blueprint does not show any digital signal processing, nor does it address the algorithms which enabled the torpedo to detect, track, navigate toward the Cheonan and blow itself up to make a non-contact explosion,” he says.

    Ahn says the chances of the torpedo accurately targeting the Cheonan using sound waves emitted from the ship in the harsh environment described in the JIG report would have been almost impossibly low – less than 0.00001 per cent. There was too much noise coming from cargo ships, fishing boats and high current speeds.

    “It is hard to believe,” he says. “It is harder to believe the JIG ‘experts’ do not discuss the North Korean historic [anti-submarine warfare] achievement in the report.”

    Tim Beal, a retired professor of New Zealand’s Wellington University and author of two books on the Korean Peninsula, also questions why an anti-submarine corvette would not have been able to detect the North Korean submarine if it did surface to launch the torpedo, particularly when other South Korean and U.S. Navy ships were doing training exercises in the area at the time.

    “The Cheonan was no…easy prey for a modern submarine,” Beal wrote in his 2011 book Crisis in Korea. “On the contrary, the Cheonan was a modern ship with other top-class ships, American and South Korean, in the vicinity.”

    No chemical evidence linking the torpedo and ship with an explosion

    Dr. Yang Pan-seok of the University of Manitoba’s department of geological sciences also wants the Cheonan investigation reopened. He says the report fails to substantiate the claim that the Cheonan was sunk by an explosion at all.

    The JIG says a white compound they discovered on the Cheonan and the torpedo were both aluminum oxide – a common byproduct of high pressure explosions underwater. Dr. Yang says if there really were aluminum oxide on both the torpedo and the ship it would be clear the torpedo sunk the Cheonan.

    Dr. Yang says the JIG report data proves the atomic composition and chemical compounds of the two materials are identical but the materials’ ratio of oxygen to aluminum in their data (around 0.92) is different from the make-up of aluminum oxide (0.11-0.25). To be certain he obtained a sample of the white compound on both the torpedo and the ship and tested them himself. 

    “Everybody agrees this material we are looking at is not aluminum oxide,” Dr. Yang said. “What’s important is the origin, not the same chemistry on the torpedo and ship.”

    Dr. Yang says the compound can be formed in many different ways. The JIG report says the aluminum oxide changed its chemical makeup after being submerged in the ocean for a period of time. Dr. Yang argues that is but one of a wide variety of possibilities that might explain the chemical similarity, including aluminum corrosion, a reaction to spilt diesel fuel or interaction with clay sediment – a well-known source of aluminum – common in the area.

    “We will never be able to tell which path the compound took,” he said.

    Dr. Yang thinks the difference in the chemical compound is why the JIG conducted their own simulation experiment to try and produce similar results.

    “Instead of trying to find out what the identity of this white material was, JIG simply tried to compare the chemistry of this residue with their explosion test,” he said. “And they say the chemistry they collected matches with their experiment result.”

    Yet even the results of the experiment diverged from the samples on the torpedo and the ship. The JIG explained this was because the real explosion created more extreme temperatures and the metal on the ship and torpedo also cooled down much more quickly due to water exposure, but Dr. Yang says this doesn’t make sense.

    He says this because if there were aluminum oxide originally it would have formed a nano-sized diamond – another piece of substantiating evidence the JIG failed to find.

    “The absence of this nano-diamond and aluminum oxide matches to what I’m thinking – there was no explosion whatsoever,” he said.

    Yang also wonders why the final report released in September relegated discussion of the chemical compound to the appendix when it featured so prominently as proof of an explosion in the interim report that concluded North Korea attacked the ship.

    Russian report says torpedo attack by NK unlikely

    Though the official investigation included only allies of the U.S. and South Korea, a Russian group of investigators were allowed access to the findings of the JIG after they had finished their report.

    Professor Beal says the Russian investigation – little-discussed in Western media – appears to have been conducted by torpedo experts who were doubtful of North Korea’s capability to create a bubble column explosion that could tear the Cheonan apart.

    “The Russian investigation was the only outside investigation that had some access to the data, so it’s important that their conclusions be noted,” he said by telephone from the United Kingdom.

    Their investigation concluded that it was unlikely a North Korean torpedo sunk the Cheonan. They were reportedly suspicious of this account already because North Korea could not even make their own torpedoes prior to 1995 and the kind of torpedo capable of making a bubble-jet explosion was in the possession of the only the U.S. and a few other countries. Further, the attack method itself had never been successfully conducted in real naval combat.

    As for the “smoking gun” torpedo, the Russian investigation concluded that its level of corrosion suggested it had been in the water for six months or more – far more than the less than three months between the official date of the sinking and when the JIG said they had retrieved the torpedo.

    The Russians ultimately speculated that the ship got caught in fish netting (found on one of its propellers) and, while trying to get free, may have dragged up a sea mine causing an explosion.

    “This was conjecture, not proof,” Prof. Beal said. “That might have been attainable if the Russians had been brought into the original investigation but no longer. However, what actually caused the sinking is of less consequence than what did not and the Russians were adamant on that.”

    The Russian investigators did not actually release their findings to the public. The report was leaked to South Korean newspaper The Hankyoreh and published on May 28 and May 29.

    Professor Beal says the Russians likely didn’t release the report because what they discovered would embarrass the South Korean government – something the Russians may have been particularly sensitive about, given their substantial debt owed to South Korea since before the fall of the Soviet Union.

    Former Ambassador to South Korea Donald Gregg also wrote in the International Herald Tribune on August 31, 2010, “When I asked a well-placed Russian friend why the report has not been made public, he replied, ‘Because it would do much political damage to [South Korean] President Lee Myung-bak and would embarrass President Obama.’”

    Suppression of doubt in South Korea

    The South Korean government has worked hard to quash any Cheonan-related dissent within the country.

    Even while the investigation was ongoing a civilian member of the JIG, Shin Sang-cheol was cast out for publicly disputing the existence of an explosion. He was eventually probed by the government under the auspices of South Korea’s controversial National Security Act for sympathizing with North Korea.

    Civilian groups have also faced heavy criticism for questioning the investigation. A group with UN consulting status called the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy was investigated by authorities for defaming the JIG and “benefiting the enemy.” Their crime was expressing concerns about the JIG interim report by sending a letter to the 15 member-states of the UN Security Council on June 11, 2010.

    “Obviously there is something there the [South Korean government] wants to keep hidden,” Prof. Beal said.

    “Most of the Korean academics who have criticized or analyzed the evidence have done so from the United States or Canada, not within Korea itself and the reasons for that are fairly obvious,” he said. “You’d have to be a very brave person to do it.”

    Dr. Ahn and Dr. Yang have also faced strong condemnation for voicing their own opinions about the JIG report.

    “If I say that underwater sound signal processing is virtually impossible from an engineering and mathematical perspective, I am not believed and I am declared to be a commie without any scientific learning,” said Dr. Ahn.

    Dr. Yang says criticizing the government in South Korea doesn’t help anybody’s career so it isn’t surprising most South Korean scientists haven’t entered the debate.

    “If you don’t accept the results of the government’s report, they will put red paint on your face,” he said.

    Another retired scientist whose expertise is sound waves and seismic wave detection told The Hankyoreh that the explanation by the Korean Ministry of Defense that the torpedo detected the Cheonan using underwater sound waves “ignores science,” is “fact-free” and “simply put is just incompetent.” He asked to remain anonymous.

    What really happened is still unknown

    Dr. Ahn requested all the data related to the JIG investigation from the US Navy through the Freedom of Information Act in June last year. So far he has only received a copy of a separate report by Admiral Eccles, a member of the US Navy and participant in the JIG investigation.

    Dr. Ahn says the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations informed him the information he requested would be in Admiral Eccles’ emails, and told him he would receive them by June 11, but he still hasn’t. The Office of Naval Intelligence said they couldn’t confirm or deny the existence of the data he requested.

    Both Dr. Ahn and Dr. Yang do not purport to have any grand theory for what did happen to the Cheonan, but they are both sure of one thing respectively: the investigation needs to be reopened.

    Professor Beal agrees North Korea was not involved, at least in the way explained by the JIG report.

    “To this day we do not know why the Cheonan sank, but we can be pretty sure that the claim by the South Korean government that it was sunk by a North Korean torpedo is fabricated,” he said.

    Stuart Smallwood is a journalism graduate of the University of King’s College in Canada and currently an Asian Studies MA candidate in Seoul. He writes at koreaandtheworld.com. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

    America’s Internal Colonialism

    July 26th, 2012 by Devon DB

    Colonialism is a word associated with the 19th and 20th centuries, with an outside force (usually European) coming into a country, destroying and uprooting the culture and people, with the main goal being the extraction of resources for the gain of the ‘mother’ country. It is defined as “the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically.” [1] Yet this definition of colonialism can be expanded from examining the external to examining the internal. For what may be the first time in US history, internal colonialism is occurring as the very facades of democracy and the economic system begin to fall apart and the elites begin to colonize internally.

    The internal colonization of America by elites can be seen most starkly in the financial sector, specifically in the 2007-2009 economic crisis, the effects of which are still being felt. There was mass panic about the near global economic collapse which allowed financial corporations to convince the government to bail them out to the tune of $12.8 trillion [2], yet, once the dust cleared, the very banks that caused the crisis in the first place only grew larger. Bloomberg noted in April of this year that Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Citigroup had combined assets that “amounted to 43 percent of US output” in 2007 but after the crisis those same banks now “held $8.5 trillion in assets at the end of 2011, equal to 56 percent of the U.S. economy,” [3] meaning that their combined percentage of the economy had increased by thirteen percent.

    While the near collapse of the economy led to large amounts of growth for the banks and therefore the banksters getting massive bonuses, it had a devastating impact on average Americans. While one can go and generalize about the number of jobs and houses lost, it is much more telling to go and look at the actual numbers. After the crisis ended, it was stated that the entire fiasco “cost the U.S. an estimated $648 billion due to slower economic growth” which translated into “an average of approximately $5,800 in lost income for each U.S. household.” [4] It was also found that 5.5 million more jobs were lost than were predicted in the Congressional Budget Office forecast of 2008.

    The effects of this recession has not only resulted in droves of Americans being left destitute and unemployed to the point where just last year one million of them applied to McDonalds [5], but has also left towns and cities on almost utterly destroyed.. A 2011 IHS reported revealed that there were “37 metropolitan areas which are not expected to return to peak employment until after 2021” and that  

    Many of these metropolitan areas are part of the “Rust Belt,” an area covering portions of the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest that was once an international center for heavy manufacturing. Cities such as Canton and Youngstown, Ohio were once hubs of the steel industry. Detroit and Flint, of course, were at the heart of the US automobile industry. [6]

    This is a prime example of internal colonialism where the banks and automobile companies have sucked the economic life out of towns and cities, exploiting them to the fullest extent possible, and then when they are done and no more can be used, the banks and companies leave these areas and move elsewhere in the world to exploit other people, leaving in their wake only destruction and devastation. This combination of greedy banksters and companies that offshore jobs has created not only a global economic crisis, but also a situation where half of the US population is now either impoverished or low-income. [7]

    Yet, this internal colonization happens on an even more horrendous scale environmentally. Mining companies such as Massey Energy, now owned by Alpha Natural, engage in a horrid practice called mountaintop mining which is defined as “a surface mining practice involving the removal of mountaintops to expose coal seams, and disposing of the associated mining overburden in adjacent valleys — ‘valley fills.’” [8] Mining practices such as these allow corporations to get at the resource faster and thus extract more easily and cheaply as well as it allows miners more safety since they do not have to actually go down into the mines. While this may be good for the corporations, it is nothing but horrible for the environment. A 2007 Wired article stated that

    In just two decades, hundreds of mountaintops, more than a thousand miles of stream, and hundreds of square miles of forests have been obliterated.

    [...]
    According to the Environmental Protection Agency, MTR destroyed more than 1,200 miles of Appalachia’s streams and 7 percent of its forests between 1985 and 2001. Approximately 800 square miles of mountains were leveled.

    [...]

    According to a rough estimate by West Virginia University bio-geochemist William Peterjohn, the deforestation could add as much as 138 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere — and that’s not even counting the even-larger CO2 emissions from burning the coal. [9]

    There is also a human factor involved as well as removal of the mountaintops in such a manner causes water resources to become contaminated which can lead to “Balkan endemic nephropathy (BEN), an irreversible kidney disease has been related to the leaching of toxic organic compounds in groundwater.” Contaminated drinking water can affects children quite negatively as “An Eastern Kentucky University study found that children in Letcher County, Kentucky, suffer from an alarmingly high rate of nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and shortness of breath, symptoms related to blue babe syndrome,” [10] which was found to be caused by contaminated minerals find their way into nearby streams.

    This is yet another prime example of internal colonialism. As the corporations abuse the planet and push the environment to its breaking point, their careless exploitation and sole concern for profits results in a decimated, uninhabitable environment and people who become sickly and weak. As with the bankers, once there is no one and nothing left to exploit, they flock to the next location and start the process anew.

    This internal colonialism is not only destroying people, but also the very environment that everyone- including the bankers and industrialists- live on. While we may be suffering currently, the colonizers may be in for a surprise as they destroy the environment and with it, themselves.

    Notes

    1: Oxford Dictionaries, Colonialism, http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/colonialism
    2: PBS, The true cost of the bank bailout, http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/economy/the-true-cost-of-the-bank-bailout/3309/ (September 3, 2010)
    3: David J. Lynch, “Banks Seen Dangerous Defying Obama’s Too-Big-To-Fail Move,” Bloomberg, April, 16, 2012 (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-16/obama-bid-to-end-too-big-to-fail-undercut-as-banks-grow.html)
    4: Pew Charitable Trusts, The Impact of the 2008 Economic Collapse, http://www.pewtrusts.org/our_work_report_detail.aspx?id=58695 (April 28, 2010)
    5: Andy Kroll, “How the McEconomy Bombed the American Worker,” Truthout, May 9, 2011 (http://truth-out.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=998:how-the-mceconomy-bombed-the-american-worker)
    6: 24/7 Wall St, Ten Cities That Will Take A Decade To Recover From The Recession, http://247wallst.com/2011/06/22/ten-cites-that-will-take-a-decade-to-recover-from-the-recession/ (June 22, 2011)
    7: ABC News, Census date: Half of US poor or low income, http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57343397/census-data-half-of-u.s-poor-or-low-income/ (December 15, 2011)
    8: U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, Mid-Atlantic Mountaintop Mining, http://www.epa.gov/region3/mtntop/
    9: Brandon Keim, “Blowing The Top Off Mountaintop Mining,” Wired, September 10, 2007 (http://www.wired.com/science/planetearth/news/2007/09/mountaintop_mining?currentPage=all)
    10: University of South Carolina, Mountaintop Removal: Effects on Human Health and the Environment, http://law.sc.edu/environmental/papers/200841/eas/chhotray.pdf

    Devon DB is a 20 year old independent researcher and writer. He is studying political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

     

    A recent article by The Washington Post by Juan Forero entitled Latin America’s new authoritarians is just the latest example of how the imperialist’s media machine is relentlessly engaged in media warfare against sovereign nations in the South, in order to fertilise the ground for new or increased economic and military aggression against them. Such psy-op campaigns also seek to influence events on the ground in target nations, in this case in Venezuela ahead of the October elections where all signs point to another resounding victory for current President Hugo Chávez Frías.

    The article is part of the psychological wing of what Nicaraguan based website tortilla con sal terms the West’s “War on Humanity” in order to convince the world of the moral superiority of the minority (the Western elite/imperialists) over the majority so as to minimise the threat of a mass organised effort to challenge that minority’s increasingly doomed attempts to achieve total global hegemony.

    Their morals, the minority argues through its vast propaganda network which bombard the majority, are superior because they are universal and therefore must be defended and achieved regardless of the cost, including that of the destruction of entire nations, let alone millions upon millions of lives, whose governments stand in the way, Libya being the most recent example.

    Inconvenient facts like the unrivalled criminal record of the /imperialists powers who claim moral superiority, must relentlessly be legitimised, through the imperialist’s media (including The Washington Post) and entertainment industry portrayal of NATO crimes as acts of freedom, while acts of resistance and self-defence by their adversaries which undermine that claim to moral superiority and the total hegemony agenda, are presented as crimes against mankind.

    And so looking through Forero’s lens, the sovereign nations of Latin America, that are consolidating their freedom from western domination through the continent’s growing unification, are the emerging bogey man that the US government should do something about.

    His hook is Human Rights Watch’s recent onslaught against Venezuela in their report entitled Tightening the Grip which as the name screams out is a document arguing that Chavez has become more authoritarian then ever.

    And in one fell swoop Forero takes all of the popularly elected leaders of sovereign, progressive nations on the continent down with the report on Chavez, with focus on those with the greatest support: Ecuador’s Rafael Correa and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega.

    Forero/HRW and the evil Venezuelan judiciary straw-man

    In Venezuela the crux of the article’s venom, in line with the HRW report, is aimed at the country’s judicial system. Neither the article nor the report make mention of the Venezuelan government’s recently published plan for the next six years which has a section entirely devoted to the judicial system which outlines the government’s intention to tackle that system’s “racist and classist character…and impunity”. In the west such admissions only come after lengthy, meek and costly public inquiries. Indeed those governments would never dream of acknowledging the racism, classicism and rife impunity so blatant in their own systems without, for example, scores of embarrassing racist murders, and sustained public pressure by victims’ families as happened when a public inquiry “found” that the British police were institutionally racist in the wake of the scandalous trial of Stephen Lawrence’s murderers.

    To make his case Forero cites the cases of two former judges who have accused the Venezuelan government of rigging the judicial system. Top government officials, he says would call ex-magistrate, Eladio Aponte who has since sought exile in the US, and ask him for “favours”. Forero conveniently fails to inform the reader that Aponte was dismissed from his post because he faces charges of accepting money from drugs traffickers and providing now jailed infamous drugs barron Walid Makled with an identity card. During Makled’s trial he alleged that he paid approximately $70,000 to Aponte. Nor does the article mention that Aponte first fled to Costa Rica to evade trial, from where he travelled to the US in a US Drug Enforcement Administration plane, no less. Aponte has denied the allegations but provided no evidence to support his denial. The Venezuelan authorities have said they will present the evidence of their charges against Aponte.

    Forero devotes just one sentence to mentioning that former judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni, is facing trial after having “infuriated Chavez with one of her rulings”. If more than 23 words had been devoted to the case of Afiuni than perhaps some facts would have got in the way of a good story, as the old adage goes. Because Afiuni, after making a ruling where no prosecutors were present (contrary to the law) that Eligio Cedeño, a financier who was charged with embezzling millions of dollars and playing a role in other huge cases of corruption, be set free immediately actually escorted him out of the courtroom and saw him off onto a motorcycle where he began his escape ending up finally in Miami. Regardless of the legality of Afiuni’s ruling, she unilaterally violated the normal procedure of sending the defendant to the court’s detention facility while the administrative procedures regarding his release were completed. It is that scandal of such grave proportions that infuriated the Venezuelan public and government, and for that that Afiuni is facing trial.

    The Washington Post includes a disclaimer paragraph, conceding that “pro-American” leaders, like in Colombia have “weakened democratic governance”. So Colombia is a weak democracy but Venezuela, Nicaragua and Ecuador are authoritarian regimes? This is another total inverse of the reality. Colombia, the continent’s (and one of the world’s) top recipients of US military aid, boasting access to seven US military bases, currently detains approximately 5,700 political prisoners and has an eye-watering 3.6 million internal refugees. Such a bleak situation is totally incomparable with the reality in non-US client states like those The Washington Post and HRW have focused their ire on.

    And indeed the most abysmal picture globally in terms of domestic abuse of the judicial system is at the hands of the US regime.

    Unlike in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Ecuador, in the US you can be detained indefinitely without charge. One in every 48 men of working age are behind bars and that figure excludes tens of thousands of immigrants facing deportation, people awaiting sentencing. The US imprisons five times more people than Venezuela, six times more than Nicaragua and eight times more than Ecuador. While, the US tops the list of global prison population rates, the other three are far behind at number 98, 122 and 160 respectively.

    Conditions inside US prisons are unrivalled, especially given that some 2.3 million people squander in them. Sexual abuse rates are staggering and corporations use inmates as cheap – to – free sources of labour. This is 21st century systematic slavery in the “developed” world and such a dangerous phenomenon means that there is actually a huge monetary incentive for the corporate elite which pull the strings of the US political system, to incarcerate more and more.

    While Venezuela has pledged to tackle the racist character of its judicial system, and has supported the creation of an array of groups of African descent which will act as pressure groups to ensure that the struggle against racism progresses, the US has historically cracked down on African-American organizations that genuinely strive for such progress. There is nowhere on this planet where the treatment of Black people is worse than at the hands of the US regime, as exemplified by the fact that of the US’ 2.3 million inmates, 46 per cent are Black, despite that Black people make up just 13 per cent of the US population.

    But neither The Washington Post or HRW dedicate a report to scrutinising the status of human rights in the US as they do with their sexy “Tightening the Grip” headline for Venezuela and mention of the US’ domestic abuses are buried in their annual world reports. That is left every year for the Chinese to do.

    While HRW has been busying itself propagandising for the fall of the Syrian government on the back of a bunch of shaky youtube videos purporting to show Syrian security forces using weapons against peaceful protesters, regarding which head of the UN Human Rights Commission investigating Syria, Paulo Pinheiro said: “YouTube isn’t a reliable means of investigation… There is manipulation of the media”, there is no way it would mount a campaign for US regime change on the back of this very real video, which only adds to the reams before it, of US police opening fire on unarmed protesters in California’s city of Anaheim.

    Popular leader or repressive authoritarian?

    Continuing with this drive to divert attention from who the greatest enemies of humanity are, the undertone of Forero’s article is that the Venezuelan masses who back Chavez are somehow not in full control of their mental capacities, and this therefore is another sign of how the power hungry Venezuelan government are hoodwinking its people.

    And so he quotes one Venezuelan judge who talks about his loyalty to Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution and Chavez, as an example of how supporters of Chavez are everywhere, including in the country’s most important institutions. The ridiculous logic seems to be that popularity is dangerous because with people everywhere who support the government, there will be less people to stand in the way of its agenda, regardless of whether that agenda is to improve the lot of all Venezuelans as it has proven hitherto to have done.

    Forero patronisingly portrays the masses of poor Venezuelans like sheep under the spell of a “captivating, messianic leader,” as though they support Chavez for no other reason then being brainwashed by his charisma. Even more abhorrent, is the use of academic Javier Corrales, who authored a book about Chavez with the overtly racist title Dragon in the Tropics, as a source to add to the shrill of voices claiming that Chavez is abusing his popularity.

    Never mind then that that popularity is a direct result of the facts that since Chavez won his first election in 1999, that country which had one of the world’s widest gaps between rich and poor has seen poverty reduced by more than 50 per cent , illiteracy eradicated, tens of millions now able to access free health care, millions more participating in higher education for free, the creation of tens of thousands of communal councils that give the population the opportunity to participate in the political system, the emergence of 200,000 cooperatives, the emergence of an array of women’s, indigenous and as mentioned African descendant organisations and much more. These are the reasons why, like Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega, when Chavez speaks in open squares, something which the imperialists could never dare to dream of, millions flock to hear him speak. This is why they came again in their millions to defend him from the failed US backed coup in 2002 and this is why they repeatedly vote for him in their millions.

    Far from consolidating power in few hands, both Nicaragua and Venezuela are steadily moving to strengthen and expand the organs of direct democracy. Venezuela’s communal council’s were cited above, while in Nicaragua the Citizen’s Power model continues to improve the ways in which local communities can make decisions about how government money is spent in their municipalities. The connection between that model and the recent statistics which showed the FSLN had managed to halve extreme poverty in the second poorest country in the Americas after Haiti, is clear. It is local people who know best the needs of their community and as such it is them who decide where government investment should be prioritised for huge infrastructure development, i.e. road, house, roof and electricity development, and social initiatives which have been targeted particularly at enabling Nicaragua’s poorest women to become self-sufficient. The ruling FSLN party has also expanded the number of local government representatives, while not increasing the budget for their salaries. This is a move which ensures more balanced representation and will cut the salary of civil servants, to improve the monetary/social service incentive of such a position in favour of the latter.

    Addressing the material and spiritual needs of the poor and marginalised majority as the nations attacked by Forero have done and are doing, is key to ensuring that they enjoy the conditions that enable them to participate in democracy building. Meanwhile, in the US and England, for example, the idea that citizens should be able to have more say over policies that affect their local communities over and above choosing from two or three parties that all represent the same corporate interests every three or four years, which is really no say at all, is unheard of.

    In Libya, the wests preferred style of “democracy” has arrived on the back of white phosphorous and Tomahawk cruise missiles, at the expense of the system of direct democracy that was being built there, not to mention tens of thousands of lives, millions of livelihoods, stability and a level of development that brought the Libyan people the highest standard of living in Africa.

    Unmasking the missionary

    But HRW has a track record of preferring to propagandise in favour of destroying such progress in countries where the balance of power is not in the favour of the NATO powers.

    Since its founding in 1978 as Helsinki Watch by the Ford Foundation, HRW has consistently promoted humanitarian intervention in countries viewed as adversaries by the west. Most recently in Libya, HRW was a signatory to the document that lead to Libya’s suspension from the UN Human Rights Council, in violation of the UN’s own procedures, and the subsequent Security Council Resolutions that led to nine months of airstrikes supported by approximately 40 NATO countries.

    Amidst its long and dirty history, HRW in 2010 announced that they would be accepting $100 million from George Soros who is the honey-pot behind some of the US’ most powerful think-tanks, lobby groups and NGOs and therefore enjoys considerable clout in influencing the US’ imperialist foreign policy.

    Others amongst HRW’s long list of malignant backers include the Sandler Foundation which has given approximately $30 million to the group. The foundation is the child of Marion and Herb Sandler who themselves have been key donors of Democrats and helped found a number of think-tanks and lobby groups including the Center for American Progress, also funded by Soros and headed by John Podesta, White House chief of staff under President Clinton. It is therefore unsurprising that the foundation has consistently promoted US meddling in the South including supporting the KONY2012 saga that called for military intervention in Uganda on an entirely bogus pretext.

    In short, if you follow the money of the NATO countries vast network of think-tanks, lobbyists, NGOs, newspapers, news websites, news channels, music and film industry, that of The Washington Post and HRW included, it can almost always be traced back to a corporate or “philanthropic” elite that have a vested interested in promoting NATO countries global hegemony agenda.

    I have noticed some surprise from people who discover the role of organisations like HRW and Amnesty International. The humanitarian-intervention discourse however is perhaps one of the oldest tricks in western empire’s book, but it has only evolved its disguise. This Global Research article was right to call western NGOs modern “Missionaries of Empire” or as Black Agenda Report labelled HRW, “Human Rights Warriors for Empire”. Accounts of the first English presence in Africa, like those given in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, show the insidious way in which missionaries following the first carve up of Africa at the Berlin Conference would embed themselves in African communities and prey on some points of tension as an opportunity to promote the idea to minority sections of those communities that their grievances with their community were examples of suffering of the gravest degree, the cause of which was the moral backwardness of their society and could be solved if they embraced the only correct moral path, the English church. This splitting of the community meant that by the time the disastrous consequences became clear to all, and true suffering of the gravest degree felt, it was too late.

    NGOs operate in much the same way today, facilitating imperial designs which only bring war, instability and misery first to the majority people’s of the South behind the mask of those people’s “human rights”. It is a mask however that is being ripped off, first with the call by ALBA for member countries to expel US AID and its representatives, and then this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin signing a bill that will make all NGO’s that receive external funding register as foreign agents, and most recently with Chavez pulling Venezuela out of the OAS’ Inter-American Human Rights Court. The OAS is of course another tool of western domination of the region, a body that is supposed to promote democracy is itself undemocratic and continues to violate the majority will of its members to end the criminal blockade on Cuba.

    Chavez’ decision to withdraw, he said, came, “out of dignity, and we accuse them before the world of being unfit to call themselves a human rights group.” It is not unheard of for such groups to be barred by governments in the South from their countries when they face actual military aggression. But the war against such sovereign countries begins long before direct military action. It begins in articles such as Forero’s.

    Years ago, domestic spying was common. Post-9/11, it became institutionalized. Police states do it. So do faux democracies. America is no exception.

    In 2007, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) established a new domestic spying operation. It’s called the National Applications Office (NOA).

    It’s described as “the executive agent to facilitate the use of intelligence community technological assets for civil, homeland security and law enforcement purposes within the United States.” 

    It provides sophisticated satellite imagery. Eye in the sky drone spying supplies more.

    The FBI, CIA, NSA, and Pentagon spy domestically. So do state and local agencies. 

    In the new millennium, spies are us and other lawless practices define America’s agenda. Obama exceeds the worst of his predecessors.

    Everyone is suspect unless proved otherwise. It’s a national sickness. With other repressive tools and harmful policies, it’s destroying the fabric of society. America the beautiful doesn’t exist. 

    It never did, in fact, except in songs, verses, slogans, and other rhetoric. They wore thin long ago.

    On July 9, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) headlined “Law Enforcement Agencies Demanded Cell Phone User Info Far More Than 1.3 million Times Last Year.”

    On July 8, The New York Times covered the same story. It headlined “More Demands on Cell Carriers in Surveillance,” saying:

    In the last year, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies demanded “text messages, caller locations and other information in the course of investigations.”

    Rep. Edward Markey (D. MA) disclosed it. What’s going on reveals “an explosion in (domestic) cellphone surveillance.” 

    He expressed shock at how extensive and pervasive it’s become. He chairs the Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus.

    Much of the time it’s warrantless. The 1.3 million number way understates the pervasiveness of domestic spying. According to The Times:

    “Because of incomplete record-keeping, the total number of law enforcement requests last year was almost certainly much higher than the 1.3 million the carriers reported to Mr. Markey.” 

    “Also, the total number of people whose customer information was turned over could be several times higher than the number of requests because a single request often involves multiple callers.” 

    “For instance, when a police agency asks for a cell tower “dump” for data on subscribers who were near a tower during a certain period of time, it may get back hundreds or even thousands of names.”

    Markey learned that nine telecommunications companies cooperate in spying on subscribers. Over the past five years, demand for their services increased up to 16% annually.

    Given advanced technology and widespread cell phone usage, Americans may be the world’s most spied on population.

    In April, the ACLU covered the same issue. It reported unprecedented cell phone location tracking requests. “The threat to personal privacy presented by this technology is breathtaking,” it said.

    Knowing where people are over time reveals much about their activities. According to the Washington-based US Court of Appeals for the federal circuit:

    “A person who knows all of another’s travels can deduce whether he is a weekly church goer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups — and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts.”

    Tracking this type information and most others should require warrants based on probable cause. Otherwise, privacy rights are violated. Constitutional law mandates it.

    In United States v. Jones (January 2012), the Supreme Court ruled that government-attached GPS devices to cars or trucks to track movements constitutes searches under the Fourth Amendment.

    It follows that tracking personal cell phones applies the same way. Doing so violates privacy. Without warrants explaining probable cause, it’s troublesome at least, illegal at worst.

    What goes on mostly happens secretly. In August 2011, 35 ACLU affiliates filed over 380 public record requests. State and local law enforcement agencies were asked about their policies and procedures for tracking cell phones.

    Information gotten was disturbing. Over 200 police departments said they track them. Few, however, obtain warrants or demonstrate probable cause. The ACLU said:

    “The government’s location tracking policies should be clear, uniform, and protective of privacy, but instead are in a state of chaos, with agencies in different towns following different rules — or in some cases, having no rules at all.”

    Demonstrable cause should accompany these type requests. Warrants should explain it. Congress, state legislatures, and city governments should update obsolete electronic privacy laws accordingly. 

    Everyone carrying a cell phone on or off is trackable. According to ACLU spokesman Christopher Calabrese:

    “Whether they realize it or not, Americans are carrying tracking devices with them wherever they go. The cell phone data of innocent Americans is almost certainly swept up in (government) requests.”

    EFF also reported disturbing information. AT&T alone complies with “230 emergency requests” daily nationwide. Sprint last year processed 500,000 requests.

    Real-time information provider Neustar handles law enforcement compliance for about 400 telecom and Internet companies.

    EFF and ACLU both call what’s going on a privacy disaster. Congress has been largely out to lunch. In recent years, cell phone surveillance exploded. Companies provide thousands of records daily.

    They’re handed over in response to emergency requests, court orders, law enforcement subpoenas, and other demands.

    All levels of government are involved. Information requested runs the gamut from garden variety crimes to financial felonies and intelligence investigations.

    Law enforcement agencies have their own tracking capability. They can bypass minimal carrier protections. In addition, telecom companies maintain personal records. They include cell phone use. In response to requests, they can provide it in massive quantities.

    EFF says cell phone companies must start releasing regular transparency reports like Google and Twitter. Doing so is a step in the right direction. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. 

    Many companies, however, oppose transparency reports. They lobbied against a California measure. EFF and the ACLU of Northern California sponsored the California Location Privacy Act of 2012 (SB 1434).

    Passage would require warrants based on probable cause to obtain electronic location information. A watered-down bill passed the California Senate Committee on Public Safety. It omitted a reporting requirement.

    Wireless companies opposed it. According to the Wireless Association (CTIA), it would “unduly burden(s member companies) and their employees, who are working day and night to assist law enforcement to ensure the public’s safety and to save lives.”

    EFF and ACLU called CTIA’s objections “baseless” and “laughable.” One Sprint official, in fact, said its automated system can easily comply. It’s “extremely inexpensive to operate and easy,” he said.

    At the same time, cell phone users have a right to know what legal basis government agencies have to violate their privacy.

    Congressional legislation is needed. Mandating warrants based on probable cause is essential. Information gotten is very precise. Cell phones transmit locations to towers every seven seconds whether they’re on or off.

    Government can know user locations round-the-clock daily. In 2010, the DC Circuit court said:

    A “person who knows all of another’s travels can deduce whether he is a weekly church goer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups—and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts.”

    EFF believes Fourth Amendment protections apply. Many federal courts agree. So does the Supreme Court with respect to attaching GPS devices to cars, trucks or other vehicles.

    Markey and other congressional members are drafting legislation. He wants clarity on how law enforcement agencies can access this data. He calls requests made “digital dragnets.” He fears “we’ve already crossed the line.”

    On June 14, HR 2168: Geological Privacy and Surveillance Act was introduced. Markey wasn’t one of 22 co-sponsors. On the same day, it was referred to committee. No further action was taken. It requires warrant authorization to conduct electronic tracking.

    Obama officials oppose the law. They claim it’s “burdensome” to demand warrants. It’s easier spying covertly. No one then knows you’re doing it except complicit telecom companies. 

    The Obama administration exceeds Bush era lawlessness. It includes pervasive warrantless surveillance. It immunized government agencies and telecom companies. It blocked pesky lawsuits. 

    In January 2012, the San Francisco-based US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dismissed 33 warrantless suits. In doing so, it ignored rule of law inviolability. Telecom companies involved were absolved.

    They’re concerned only about bottom line priorities and avoiding lawsuits. They’re well paid for cooperating with government authorities. 

    In 2006, they cooperated with Bush officials on matters alleging national security. They conducted warrantless eavesdropping. They were sued. Congress granted them immunity.

    In 2007, the FBI was criticized for improperly using emergency letters. They required telecom companies to provide records on thousands of phone numbers. They allegedly related to counterintelligence investigations. Emergencies weren’t involved.

    Normally, carriers require warrants, court orders, or subpoenas to release customer information. However, when law enforcement agencies claim emergencies, anything goes, including privacy and rule of law principles.

    Federal, state and local authorities call cell tracking a powerful law enforcement tool. Many others fill their arsenals. 

    Emerging fascism grips America. It’s on a fast track to tyranny. Techniques used would make despots proud. 

    Obama achieved the impossible. He exceeds the worst of George Bush. Arrogance and unaccountability define his presidency. Rule of law principles don’t matter. Imagine what’s ahead if he’s reelected.

    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

    Over the past decade, the US-led Western world has been preaching the notion of “human rights above sovereignty”. The US launched wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and engineered a war to overthrow Muammar Gadhafi in Libya. In reality, what the US-led defense forces brought to these countries were death, destitution and humanitarian crises. The truth is, by emphasizing self-proclaimed efforts to promote democracy and protect human rights, the West is trying to eliminate dissenting voices and fulfill its geopolitical interests.

    China and Russia have come under fire again for vetoing a United Nations Security Council resolution, brokered by the West, on July 19 that would have paved the way for imposing sanctions on Syria.

    As usual, the Western media have held China and Russia accountable for the escalating conflict in Syria. Susan Rice, US permanent representative to the UN, has criticized China and Russia, saying that “history will judge those that three times have blocked (Security) Council action quite harshly”.

    Despite the West’s attempt to blame China and Russia, people can tell which countries are actually on the right side of history, act responsibly and truly care for the Syrian people.

    As a responsible country, China has been consistent in its position and will never seek to fulfill its own interests on the Syrian issue by supporting or opposing anyone. Instead, China upholds justice and remains committed to maintaining peace and stability in Syria and the Middle East by adhering to the principles governing international relations.

    Above all, China adheres to the principle of noninterference in the internal affairs of Syria and opposes any foreign intervention in the meanwhile.

    Sovereign equality is a principle enshrined in the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, which is widely recognized as the foundation of modern international relations and also serves as the founding principle of the UN. The maintenance of the international order and world peace and stability, to a great extent, depends on whether we stick to this principle.

    Just as former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger wrote in an article earlier this year, intervention in the Syrian issue risks upsetting the global order. Noninterference in another country’s internal affairs is an iron principle that should be abided by all nations to maintain the global order.

    Besides, China respects the independent choice of the Syrian people and opposes any outside attempt to forcibly promote regime change in Syria. A country’s leadership should be decided by its own people, not by any outsider. There is no legitimate reason for any country or group of countries to decide the leadership of another country.

    For a recent example we have to look at Greece. Although the Greek turmoil worsened and threatened to touch off a domino effect across Europe, European Union leaders could not force leadership change in Greece. It was the Greek people who decided the country’s fate through the ballot. Likewise, the fate of Syria is in the hands of its people, and China will respect any decision that is reached within that country and is supported by the Syrian people.

    Moreover, China has always stressed that the Syrian issue should be resolved through political means and strongly opposes any military intervention. The Syrian crisis can only be resolved politically, not under outside military intervention.

    Over the past decade, the US-led Western world has been preaching the notion of “human rights above sovereignty”. The US launched wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and engineered a war to overthrow Muammar Gadhafi in Libya. In reality, what the US-led defense forces brought to these countries were death, destitution and humanitarian crises. The truth is, by emphasizing self-proclaimed efforts to promote democracy and protect human rights, the West is trying to eliminate dissenting voices and fulfill its geopolitical interests.

    The West is now resorting to the “Libyan model” to intervene in Syria and seek the UN Security Council’s authorization for military intervention. It’s for this reason that the US and its Western allies keep demonizing the Syrian government and supporting the Syrian opposition.

    Actually, the US and its allies should be held responsible for the prolonged unrest in Syria.

    The good news is that the UN Security Council has passed a rollover resolution that gives the UN Supervision Mission in Syria a final 30-day extension, which indicates that the Security Council is back on the “right track” of supporting UN-Arab League joint envoy Kofi Annan’s mediation efforts in Syria and settling the Syrian crisis through political means.

    The Syrian situation has entered a critical phase and the international community should urge all parties to give up violence to facilitate the establishment of long-term peace and stability in Syria and the Middle East.

    The author is an international affairs analyst based in Beijing.

    Turkey Running Proxy-Invasion of Syria

    July 26th, 2012 by Tony Cartalucci

    The Washington Post has just published an article with the very misleading titled, “Turkey a hub for Syria revolution as illegal border crossing points abound,” in which it describes “Salafi Muslims,” who have “come to offer help from the countries of the Persian Gulf region” arming and joining the so-called “Free Syrian Army.” The article also claims “weapons are ferried into Syria, delivered by Turkish military trucks and picked up by fighters on the other side in the dead of night.”

    A more apt title would be, “Turkey hosts invading Saudi and Qatari mercenary army.”

    This confirms earlier reports featured in the New York Times and the Washington Post, that not only are the Gulf States of Saudi Arabia and Qatar funding and arming militants via Turkey, but that the US is coordinating the logistical aspects of the operation as well. 

    Likewise, CNN has attempted to spin concessions made by its own Ivan Watson, traveling with sectarian extremists into Syria, where it was admitted:

    Meanwhile, residents of the village where the Syrian Falcons were headquartered said there were fighters of several North African nationalities also serving with the brigade’s ranks.

    A volunteer Libyan fighter has also told CNN he intends to travel from Turkey to Syria within days to add a “platoon” of Libyan fighters to armed movement.

     CNN has now added:

    On Wednesday, CNN’s crew met a Libyan fighter who had crossed into Syria from Turkey with four other Libyans. The fighter wore full camouflage and was carrying a Kalashnikov rifle. He said more Libyan fighters were on the way.

    The foreign fighters, some of them are clearly drawn because they see this as … a jihad. So this is a magnet for jihadists who see this as a fight for Sunni Muslims.

    CNN then attempts to claim the “real” Syrian “revolutionaries” “do not want an Islamist political agenda to be mixed in with their revolution.”


    Photo: The face of Libya’s “revolution” was literally Al Qaeda. Abdul Hakim Belhaj, commander of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) listed by the US State Department as a “Foreign Terrorists Organization,” was armed and backed by NATO (including the US) in his efforts to topple the government of Libya. Belhaj more recently pledged (NATO) weapons, cash, and Libyan militants to the “Free Syrian Army.”
     ….
    Unfortunately for CNN, despite its best efforts, it cannot qualify its claim that these foreign fighters are “unwanted,” – for the so-called “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) has long since exposed itself as a sectarian extremist front infiltrated with foreign fighters and foreign weapons, stretching back as far as 2007

    Saudis and Qataris Attempt “Arab League-UN” Rescue of Faltering Mercenaries

    Perhaps as a sign the Gulf States of Saudi Arabia and Qatar are stretched to the limits of their ability to covertly undermine Syria, they have announced plans to seek “UN General Assembly action” for a “political transition and establishment of a democratic government in Syria.” For the despotic, unelected, grandiose nepotism of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to call for a “democratic government in Syria” is truly a move made as much out of desperation as it is one of farcical hypocrisy.


    Image: In “progressive” Saudi Arabia, who is calling for a “democratic transition” in Syria, women are not even allowed to drive, let alone vote for their leaders – who with Qatar, are amongst the few remaining absolute monarchies on Earth.
    ….
    Both Gulf State nations are run by absolute monarchies – some of the only kind still left in the world. In Saudi Arabia, not only are elections out of the question, but women are in fact, prohibited from even driving. How the Saudis themselves are not subject to UN resolutions, open condemnations, sanctions of all kinds, and ultimatums over their own dictatorship is a true indication of the bankrupted, hypocritical, self-serving dysfunction that punctuates a Western corporate-financier dominated “international order.” It is an “international community” that creates the illusion of urgency and injustice when it seeks to expand its interests into one nation, but conveniently ignores real injustice when it jeopardizes their interests elsewhere.


    Turkey Supports Subversion of Syria, While Crushing Dissent at Home

    Turkey itself has been waging a decades-long bloody campaign against its own armed uprising in predominately Kurdish areas bordering Syria, Iraq, and Iran. In fact, at one point, the US allowed Turkish tanks to cross into American-occupied Iraq to attack villages suspected of harboring armed Kurdish separatists in 2008, mirroring the very tactics Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is now condemning Syria for. The Guardian reported in their 2008 article, “Iraq demands Turkey withdraw from border conflict with Kurds,” that the conflict had been raging since 1984 and had cost the lives of 40,000 people.

    Turkey has in recent weeks, violated Iraq’s airspace in order to strafe and bomb Kurdish villages inside Iraqi territory. Iraq has lodged a complaint with the UN Security Council – a complaint likely to go unnoticed.

    One can only imagine the “threat” Syria would be portrayed as if it were to likewise strafe and bomb targets beyond its borders in pursuit of now admittedly foreign-armed, foreign fighters invading its country via Turkey. Turkey, a NATO member since 1952, would most likely invoke “Chapter V” of NATO’s treaty, a mutual defense clause that makes an attack on one alliance member an attack on all members – thus opening up the door for more direct foreign military intervention. 

    Turkey’s ruling government led by PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is in fact undermining its own national security by running errands for NATO versus Syria. By supporting foreign terrorists invading neighboring Syria, it undermines the legitimacy of its own campaign against Kurdish rebels within its borders, not to mention beyond them. Turkey’s current stance vis-a-vis Syria is not shared by all members of Turkey’s government, and at this critical stage, now more than ever they need to make their voices heard both to the Turkish people and to the people of the world.

    Carving Out “Safe Havens” for the US State Department’s SNC

    The ultimate goal of inundating Syria with foreign fighters and weapons while Saudi Arabia and Qatar farcically call for a “democratic transition” in Syria is to create a “safe haven” from which the US State Department coached and directed “Syrian National Council” (SNC) can rule from – further dividing and undermining the Syrian nation-state.

    This geopolitical objective was first summarized in the Fortune 500-funded Brookings Institution’s March 2012 Middle East Memo #21 “Assessing Options for Regime Change (.pdf) and recently reiterated almost verbatim by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    The US foreign-policy think-tank, Brookings Institution blueprinted designs for regime change in Libya as well as both Syria and Iran. In their report, “Assessing Options for Regime Change” it is specifically stated (emphasis added):

    “An alternative is for diplomatic efforts to focus first on how to end the violence and how to gain humanitarian access, as is being done under Annan’s leadership. This may lead to the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power. This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Asad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts.” -page 4, Assessing Options for Regime Change, Brookings Institution.


    Image: Also out of the Brookings Institution, Middle East Memo #21 “Assessing Options for Regime Change (.pdf),” makes no secret that the humanitarian “responsibility to protect” is but a pretext for long-planned regime change.
    ….The Brookings Institution’s “safe havens” and “humanitarian corridors” are meant to be established by NATO-member Turkey, who had been threatening to partially invade Syria in order to accomplish this. And while Turkey claims this is based on “humanitarian concerns,” examining Turkey’s abysmal human rights record in addition to its own ongoing armed campaign against the Kurdish people both within and beyond its borders, it is clear they are simply fulfilling the agenda established by their Western patrons on Wall Street and in the city of London.

    There is still extreme danger that with Aleppo still under threat by foreign fighters and the so-called “Free Syrian Army,” NATO is preparing cross-border provocations to justify the “limited military power” Brookings calls for in establishing its prescribed “safe havens.” Fabricated “massacres,” “humanitarian crisis,” and false flag attacks involving chemical weapons are also pretexts the West might use for a limited military incursions into Syria in an attempt to cripple its military and lend its militant proxies a “safe haven” in Syria to rule over.

    There is a passage from Olive Schreiner’s 1883 novel The Story of An African Farm where she describes the isolated existence of the rural Karoo, with its “weird and almost oppressive beauty…the stone walled sheep kraals and kaffer huts.” This cursory and derogatory description of farm worker’s dwellings is perhaps the only time they feature in the book. Rather, labourers and their homes are considered part of the farm’s natural landscape and as such are rendered invisible and silent social actors. In present day South Africa the lives of farm workers, and the dangerous and oppressive working conditions they face, remain invisible to most. The only time they provoke public debate, or indeed any political action by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) is in moments of extreme tragedy.

    The driver escaped uninjured after a train hit the truck he drove over a railway crossing with 49 farm labourers on the back.

    The recent collision between a truck carrying farm workers and coal train in Mpumalanga is illustrative of this fact. Twenty-five workers were killed when the truck taking them to harvest oranges on a nearby citrus farm collided with a train and was dragged 200 meters down the track. The workers were transported on the back of an open truck, which as anyone who has spent time in rural South Africa knows is the most common means of transport for workers to and from the farms. Known as the bakkie brigade, this mode of transportation is a ubiquitous feature in rural areas during the harvesting season when many farmers employ labour brokers to source cheap labour from nearby localities, often informal settlements comprised of former farm workers. The South African Food and Allied Worker’s Union (FAWU) alleges that the truck was owned by a labour broker, which raises crucial questions of culpability between the broker, farm owner and driver in the transport of these workers. Many of these questions remain unresolved in South Africa’s labour legislation, which remains structured around a normative standard employment relation despite rapid increases in informal and third party employment.

    Increase in Casual and Temporary Workers

    The transportation of farm workers over long distances is but one example of the changing nature of rural labour relations and the restructuring of capital accumulation in agriculture. In South Africa the introduction of legislation protecting farm workers after 1994 alongside tenure rights for farm dwellers has caused many commercial farmers to restructure their operations, relying increasingly on casual and temporary workers in order to avoid compliance with labour laws. The historic reliance of on-farm permanent workers to perform the bulk of agricultural labour is gradually being eroded as casuals, many of who are foreign migrants and women, work for a few months each year in the fields and pack houses. These changes have also been driven by post-apartheid economic reforms, including the deregulation of agricultural markets and adherence to WTO trade policies, which have consolidated ownership in the hands of fewer commercial farmers and exposed them to global markets. This is the context in which the Mpumalanga accident must be understood. Sadly, it is one that threatens to be repeated as agricultural production continues to rely on cheap and flexible labour trucked in under unsafe conditions by unscrupulous labour brokers.

    While historically different, neoliberal trade and labour market policies in North America have also caused Canadian farmers to change their labour recruitment strategies. Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, for example, imports farm labour from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean to meet the demands of local farmers. Here the intermediary of the triangular employment relation is not the broker, but rather the state which sets the terms and conditions of the contract. Migrant workers are placed on farms for 3-8 months after which they must return home hoping to be rehired the following year. According to Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW), a migrant worker solidarity group based in Canada, “Migrant workers perform rigorous and often dangerous rural labour that few Canadians choose to do. Many workers are reluctant to stand up for their rights since employers find it easier to send workers home (at their own expense) instead of dealing with their serious concerns.” On top of low wages, no benefits, and no legal right to unionize, these workers face the constant threat of deportation if they speak out against their employer. It is within this context that we must understand the crash that six months ago killed 11 farm workers, including 9 migrants from Peru, near the Canadian town of Waterloo. Since the accident there has been no government investigation into the transportation and living conditions of migrant farm workers in Canada and fleeting media coverage. Like South Africa, migrant farm workers in Canada live in isolated rural areas, often housed directly on the farms, where they often experience severe discrimination and racism.

    Disposable Workforce?

    Both of these accidents are the inevitable outcome of a system of production that treats farm workers as a cheap and ultimately disposable workforce. In North America the ravages of NAFTA on the Mexican economy and the structural adjustment of the Jamaican economy by the World Bank in the 1980s were acutely felt by the country’s poor and working-classes. As a result of these policies, Canadian agrarian capital can rely on a steady stream of cheap migrant labour from the South. In its role as intermediary, the Canadian state will continue to prevent these workers from settling permanently in the country or gaining any organizing rights. This is not to suggest that Canadian workers are somehow immune from enforced labour flexibility. Indeed, there are clear trends toward increasingly precarious forms of work among domestic workers. Migrant workers however, are neoliberalism’s ideal workforce: shipped in to perform specific tasks without draining state resources and sent home when no longer needed.

    A crash on Feb. 6, 2012, on a rural road near Waterloo, Ontario, left a flatbed truck flipped onto its roof, and a van crumpled beside a farmhouse. Eleven people died in the accident.

    In the South African case, the surplus labour force of mostly unskilled workers was historically absorbed into mining and agriculture, but steep job losses in both of these sectors has meant escalating unemployment, which now stands at around 40 per cent (70% of whom are between the ages of 17-25). South Africa embarked on a high-skill growth path after 1994, which largely neglected the needs of poor and rural workers without access to education or training. Jobs that have been created for low and semi-skilled workers have tended to be low-paid and temporary. Rather than addressing the needs of these workers the ANC has pursued a limited deracialization strategy through Affirmative action measures, the most important being known as Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) which, as economists Jeremy Seekings and Nicoli Nattrass argue has benefitted full-time unionized workers while neglecting the needs of the unemployed – their conclusions however, that the selfish preferences of unions are to blame for low job growth, is highly questionable. This historically disadvantaged ‘underclass,’ as they call them, is without access to land capital or educational opportunities and forms the bulk of temporary and casual farm labour.

    One of the most salient features of the new global division of labour is this increasing divide between a core of permanent employees, still protected by corporatist arrangements, and a fragmented and unorganized majority of informal and precarious workers. The Canadian state is furthering these divisions with changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program that will allow employers to pay migrant workers 15 per cent less than the local minimum wage. The move has rightly been branded as a brazen attempt at dividing workers along national and racial lines and at creating a sub-category of more vulnerable and unprotected workers. Back in South Africa these same tensions are at play over a proposed government youth wage subsidy, which would see the state provide subsidies to employers who hire young people. With youth unemployment being staggeringly high the subsidy has been seized upon by the right wing opposition DA to attract the unemployed and youth vote while simultaneously branding trade unions as greedy and self-interested. In reality the subsidy is nothing more than an opportunity for business to replace unionized workers with cheaper and unorganized workers. In their rejection of the subsidy, the Unemployed People’s Movement have argued that,

    “Big business built its wealth on the back of a history of racist oppression that included land dispossession and the migrant labour system. The government should not be subsidizing them now. The government should be subsidizing the poor directly!”

    Yet the discursive, and entirely artificial, construction of an unemployed youth pitted against greedy unionized workers is a potent weapon in times of economic uncertainty. It also fits surprisingly well with mainstream developmental rhetoric, particularly the social capital school of thought trumpeted by the World Bank, that praises the entrepreneurialism and ingenuity of the poor and informal workers as the new productive subjects of post-fordist capitalism. In reality informality and precarious forms of work are, as South African labour scholar Franco Barchiesi notes, “new avenues for accumulation,” as workers incomes as a share of the national income declined from 55 per cent in 1970 to 42 per cent in 2007 while the share of company profits rose from 28 to 32 per cent over the same period. The poor it seems are getting poorer.

    A New Form of Slavery?

    The main union federation COSATU has called for an outright ban on labour brokerage, labelling it a new form of slavery. Rhetoric aside, and the occasional stone throwing at DA marches, unions have done little to organize the most vulnerable workers in the economy. Farm workers in particular have the lowest unionization levels in the country and no major unions are actively organizing these workers. The call for a ban on labour brokers merely illustrates the ideological rifts apparent in the tripartite alliance rather than an effective strategy for organizing those who rely on labour brokers for their wages. The prospects for a ban seem increasingly unlikely given the fact that regulating brokers is already under discussion in parliament. As one COSATU official told me, the unions need to organize casual workers, but they just don’t know how to go about it.

    One possibility is the integration of social and community struggles over service delivery, healthcare and access to land with the combined demand for decent work. This would involve a reorientation of COSATU toward civil society organizations active in poor and rural areas, the possibilities of which are a constant source of discussion and debate. The struggle over land access is a particularly important one as the precarious livelihoods of rural workers could potentially be stabilized by secure access to land for small crop production. However, the state’s ineffective approach to land reform will only change through sustained political pressure, and at present no such movement exists to pose this challenge.

    Any campaign that demands decent employment for farm workers must also confront the concentrated and racialized ownership structure of South African agriculture and in doing so challenge the existing corporate food regime. As Walden Bello has argued, the turbulence that underlines the global food system – that resulted in riots and wide scale protests against the rise in food prices in 2008 – is not merely due to speculation on commodity futures and investment in biofuels but is rather a far deeper crisis of capitalist agriculture. The accidents that claimed the lives of farm workers in South Africa and Canada are markers of this crisis, which marginalizes and brutalizes those millions of farm workers who produce our food. The challenge then is not only to ensure safe transportation for farm workers, but also to challenge the global agricultural system that prioritizes profits over nature and the lives of its workers. It is a challenge to make visible the hidden world behind grocery store shelves and for the workers themselves to occupy a long neglected political space. •

    Chris Webb is a postgraduate student at York University, Toronto where he is researching labour restructuring in South African agriculture. This article first published by amandlapublishers.co.za.

    Los Juegos Olímpicos de Londres están adquiriendo rápidamente el aspecto de una vasta operación militar terrestre y aérea, en vez del de un acontecimiento deportivo internacional.

    En vez del sentimiento de fraternidad internacionalista que deberían encarnar los Juegos Olímpicos, en Londres reina una atmósfera amenazante de país en guerra con misiles tierra-aire desplegados en los tejados de viviendas, los acorazados de la Marina en estado de alerta y los cazas y helicópteros de las Reales Fuerzas Aéreas patrullando los cielos de la capital británica.

    Los Juegos empiezan dentro de una semana [el 27 de julio]. Entre los recientes acontecimientos figura el anuncio del ministerio británico de Defensa de que quiere que se desplieguen 3.500 soldados suplementarios para garantizar la seguridad de las treinta sedes que acogen los acontecimientos deportivos. Se añaden a los 13.500 militares ya asignados a la protección del público y de los equipos deportivos contra los riesgos de un ataque terrorista.

    El general británico Sir Nick Parker, que supervisa los dispositivos de seguridad, declaró que uno de las contingencias para las que se están preparando consiste en hacer frente a un “suceso tipo 11 de septiembre”.

    El despliegue total de tropas en Londres y sus alrededores supone 7.000 personas más que las que están en las actuales operaciones británicas en Afganistán.

    Esta cantidad se añade a los 10.000 policías suplementarios y a una división de 10.000 agentes de seguridad privados. La causa del más reciente reclutamiento de soldados suplementarios fue la revelación hecha por G45, la empresa privada de seguridad contratada para los Juegos Olímpicos, de que no sería capaz de satisfacer las necesidades en términos de efectivos para garantizar la seguridad de los Juegos.

    El portavoz del ministerio de Defensa reconoció sin querer la militarización de los Juegos Olímpicos cuando declaró: “Muchas de las personas con las que se encontrará el público en el punto de entrada de cada acontecimiento olímpico será ahora un miembro en activo de las fuerzas armadas”.

    Por su parte Boris Johnson, el inconformista alcalde de Londres, afirmó: “El alcalde se toma muy en serio la cuestión de la seguridad de los Juegos y debería reconfortarnos el hecho de tener a nuestra disposición los hombres y mujeres militares mejores y más valientes del mundo”.

    El mayor acorazado de la Armada Real, HMS Ocean, se amarrará en Greenwich en el Támesis y servirá de centro de mando dedicado a la logística durante los Juegos. También servirá de base para los helicópteros Lynx, equipados con tiradores de elite, que harán constantes salidas por los cielos de la capital.

    También se han asignado marines a barcos patrulla y canoas neumáticas para patrullar el emblemático río que transcurre entre los monumentos históricos de Londres.

    La Real Fuerza Aérea (RAF, por sus siglas en inglés) patrullará además los cielos de la capital con helicópteros Puma y aviones caza Typhoon desde la base militar Northolt de la RAF, al oeste de Londres, y desde la de Ilford al este de la ciudad.

    Pero el despliegue más controvertido ha sido la instalación de baterías de misiles tierra aire en edificios de viviendas en el empobrecido y decrépito barrio del East End de Londres. Residentes en este barrio acaban de perder la batalla judicial que tenía como objetivo impedir la instalación de baterías Rapier SAM.

    Las comunidades locales formadas principalmente por clase obrera se han opuesto a la militarización de sus barrios. Además, han puesto en duda la seguridad de sus residente en caso de que se utilicen las armas para abatir un avión sospechoso de ser utilizado para atentados terroristas. Uno de ellos declaró: “¿Qué ocurrirá si se rocían nuestras casas de desechos?”.

    La invasión militar de los barrios durante las cuatro semanas de los Juegos Olímpicos ha exacerbado la irritación provocada por este colosal espectáculo. Zonas del este de Londres como Tower Hamlets y Waltham Forest se sitúan a la sombra de las instalaciones construidas expresamente para los Juegos. Se calcula que el coste total de la organización de los Juegos Olímpicos, incluyendo la gigantesca operación de seguridad, alcanzará entre 20.000 y 40.000 millones de dólares, una cantidad que en gran parte asumirán por los contribuyentes. Todo ello en un momento en el que el gobierno británico está en pleno periodo de restricciones presupuestarias y draconianas medidas de austeridad que han eliminado unos gastos públicos del orden de los 140.000 millones de dólares.

    Comunidades socialmente desfavorecidas del East End londinense han pagado los platos rotos de las reducción presupuestaria necesaria para equilibrar la contabilidad del Tesoro, en peligro debido a los generosos miles de millones destinados a salvar bancos privados corruptos.

    Con el paro y las privaciones que se viven profundamente en zonas como el East End londinense, pocos de sus residentes tendrán medios de asistir a los Juegos Olímpicos: las entradas llegan a alcanzar los 3.000 dólares.

    Dada la yuxtaposición de este extravagante acontecimiento y su estridente patrocinio corporativo con la lúgubre y extendida pobreza de muchos londinenses, con un telón de fondo de operaciones militares y de vigilancia a gran escala, existe una sobrecogedora sensación que recuerda a la novela de George Orwell, 1984.

    Este relato ya clásico de Orwell de un autoritario Estado policial se desarrolla principalmente en Londres, convertido en la capital de Airstrip One, una provincia del super-Estado estadounidense, Oceanía. La empobrecida mayoría de la población, los “prolos”, tenía que contentarse con pubs sórdidos y la vana esperanza de ganar una lotería semanal, mientras que el “círculo interno” trata con prepotencia a las masas. Unos poderes de excepción y un permanente estado de guerra mantiene a los prolos en su posición de servidumbre. En 1984 de Orwell la idea de que el supuesto estado de guerra y los futuros ataques de enemigos anónimos son una estratagema de la elite para infundir temor a las masas es también más que una sospecha.

    Con la fundamental participación del gobierno británico en la “guerra global contra el terrorismo” de Estados Unidos y las pruebas de que la inteligencia británica actuó en connivencia con los denominados atentados terroristas en el metro de Londres del 7 de julio de 2005, 1984 de Orwell da la impresión de que la vida imita cada vez más al arte.

    1984 se publicó en 1949, un año después de la celebración de los Juegos Olímpicos en Londres. Estos Juegos tuvieron lugar inmediatamente después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, cuando gran parte del perfil de la ciudad de Londres seguía devastado por la guerra relámpago de la Luftwaffe alemana.

    En 2012 Londres volverá a parecerse a una zona de guerra debido a la espuria “guerra contra el terrorismo” a la que se han lanzado el gobierno británico y su aliado estadounidense, ambos en busca del dominio tanto en el extranjero como interno.

    Fuente: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=31908

    Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos.

    Finian Cunningham es corresponsal del Centro de Investigación sobre la Globalización en Oriente Próximo y África Oriental. Su correo es [email protected]

    Syria: Syrians, Iraqis, Palestinians: No Place to Hide

    July 25th, 2012 by Felicity Arbuthnot

    “A person can only be born in one place. However, he may die several times elsewhere: in the exiles and prisons, and in a homeland transformed by the occupation and oppression in to a nightmare.”

     (2004 Acceptance speech for the Prince Klaus Fund Award, Mahmoud Darwish, 1941-2008.)

    Syria’s citizens are now another nation reduced to tragic turmoil resultant from being targeted in the post 11th September 2001 Pentagon plan to: “take out seven countries in five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and finishing off with Iran”, as described by General Wesley Clark. (i)

    US planned carnage in sovereign Syria was a bit behind schedule, but now back on track, if out of predicted sequence, with another wannabe Crusader in the White House, this one with a Nobel Peace Prize. Fact mirrors fiction’s wildest darknesses, and from the “Nile to the Euphrates” the regions’s residents increasingly have only the most uncertain and tenuous places to hide.

    Syria, with population of under twenty three million, is also host to nearly half a million Palestinian refugees and the largest influx of Iraqi refugees in the world, a minimum of 1.2 million, who fled the US-UK’s liberating bombs, bullets, kidnappings, rapes, murders, ethnic cleansing, looting and mayhem.

    The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) record: “Syria has been a generous host to Iraqi refugees.”

    Now the horrors they fled after the invasion are again stalking those who thought they were now safe:

    “Iraqis with old vendettas have taken advantage of the chaos and instability in Syria to pursue Iraqi refugees there, with a string of kidnappings in recent months”, records UNHCR.(ii)

    One young woman who had survived the unimaginable, said she feared being hunted down in Syria by the same people who killed nine members of her family at the height of sectarian warfare in Iraq in 2006-7.

    Another family who had already lost one member in Iraq before fleeing to Syria recently had their son: “kidnapped, tortured and killed, despite paying a ransom.”

    A short time ago seven members of an Iraqi family were found dead in their Damascus apartment according to the U.N., recording three other refugees killed by gunfire. Two Iraqi journalists were killed in Damascus this month in circumstances that remain unclear. (Los Angeles Times, 20th July 2012.)

    Three hundred Palestinians are already thought to have been killed, again mirroring their plight in Iraq when the 2003 onslaught and the ignorance  or willfulness of those who planned it from far away, destroyed the entire societal fabric of the nation. “As for Arab media, they should know well that their insistence on representing Palestinians as a relevant party in the bloodshed in Syria equals to setting them up for a major disaster, to say the least”, writes Palestine Chronicle Editor Ramzy Baroud. (iii)

    “It is a gruesome turn for the distinguished Middle Eastern city of Damascus, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world …” comments the Jordan Times (23rd July 2012.) “The people of Damascus are not used to wars, there were real fears in Damascus last week”, a resident told them.

    Meanwhile an Iraqi friend with impeccable knowledge states: “Iraqi refugees in Syria are facing a real dilemma.”

    Last week Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki called for Iraqi refugees to return to their country and formed a team headed by the Transportation Minister to facilitate travel and re-entry at land borders, to date having also sent ten aircraft to transport them.

    Finally a hand of reconciliation from America’s murderously sectarian puppet Prime Minister? Not quite states my Iraq-wise sage. It is as ever, more murderously complex than that:

    “Tens if not hundreds of Iraqi refugees in Damascus got killed and injured during the clash between the (Syrian Free Army) and the Government Army in Kudsyah, Yermuk, and Sayedah Zainab areas. Some of them were mugged during their escape from one area to another, trying to save their children’s lives.

    “While the Iraqi government announced their concerns about Iraqi refugees, they actually meant their (own) followers and militias in Sayeda Zainab in Damascus.

    “They are asking Iraqi refugees in Syria to go back to Iraq. At the same time they increased their security personnel and are fully prepared at the Al Waleed check point between Syria and Iraq to triple check the passports in a serious search for previous Iraqi Army generals and other prominent anti- occupation figures  and to arrest them on the spot when they enter Iraq. (Emphasis mine.)

    “That is if they survive the (Syrian Free Army) check points.  After shutting Syria’s neighbouring countries borders off in the face of Iraqi refugees from Syria, most of the refugees are heading to Iraqi Kurdistan through Yaaroubia Check point instead of going back to Baghdad.

    “Whilst not knowing what are they facing in that region, this choice seems better than  Maliki’s secret prisons or receiving a bullet in head before settling down in their homes in Baghdad.

    “It looks like UN refugees organizations left the American Occupation victims to face their terrible destiny again: Running away to the unknown, with their children suffering a new episode of fear …”

    Fear indeed for what my kidnapped and murdered friend, Margaret Hassan, who worked so fearlessly and tirelessly to alleviate their suffering, rightly predicted would be: “another lost generation of Iraqi children.”

    “Iraq … is still one of the most dangerous places in the world”, stated IRIN, the news service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in April this year.

    Another UN Report states: “UNHCR does not consider the security situation in Iraq adequate to facilitate or promote returns.”

    Between Sunday and Monday, 22nd and 23rd July, one hundred and forty six Iraqis were killed and hundreds injured in bomb attacks across the country.

    Suicide bombings were unknown in Iraq until 2003, with car bombings nearly so, with the exception of a few of the latter in the late 1990’s, widely agreed by various intelligence sources to be linked to the Iraqi National Accord (INA) which received backing from countries including the UK, Saudia Arabia, and the United States.(iv)

    In 2004, INC founder Iyad Allawi – reportedly under pressure from the US and with objections by the UN Special Envoy to Iraq Lakhdar Brahimi – became Iraq’s interim Prime Minister. Undisputed is that Brahimi resigned two weeks later.

    Short of a miracle, Syria is set to follow another bloody US guided path: “Gangs and thieves (are) attacking cars and commercial centers the way we have seen in Baghdad during the invasion of . It seems like another beautiful country is going to be wasted (God forbid). Christian’s and Armenians are terrified”, adds my friend, who has family there, saying desperately:

    “I don’t know how can I help them. They won’t to leave because their children are in schools and universities and they can’t see them going through the agony of leaving another country which felt like home after seven or eight years.”

    Meanwhile, for those returning to Iraqi Kurdistan, it is widely reported that British Commandos have been given permission by the Iranian born warlord for all seasons and current President of Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, to train insurgents there to infiltrate and fight in Syria. (eg vi)

    Further, the US has declared that President Bashar al Assad’s sovereign government must be toppled. (vii)

    Ramzy Baroud, who has nothing to learn on either regional complexities, or displacement(viii) writes: 

    “There is nothing worse than being a refugee on the run, except being a refugee on the run again and again, with a legal status of perpetual statelessness, and with no country in which to seek shelter.”

    That is surely not the: “Change we can believe in”, promised by the Presidential Nobel Peace Laureate currently running for re-election.

    Notes

    i.  http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=5166
    ii. http://www.irinnews.org/Report/95856/SYRIA-Iraqis-use-Syrian-conflict-to-settle-old-scores
    iii.http://www.palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=19433
    iv.http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Ayad_Allawi
    v. http://www.unhcr.org/4caf376c6.html
    vi.http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/07/24/252536/british-army-trains-syria-militants/
    vii.http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/in-syria-conflict-us-struggles-to-fill-intelligence-gaps/2012/07/23/gJQAW8DG5W_story.html?wprss=rss_world
    viii. http://www.amazon.com/My-Father-Was-Freedom-Fighter/dp/0745328814

     

     

    By a crafty act of political ruse, Washington has envisaged a taxing state of instability by fomenting and spearheading a civil war of attrition in Syria.  

    Instability is seeping through cities with prodigious rapidity and spilling into neighboring countries. Cleanly choreographed terrorist operations also deepen the crippling crisis in the country.   

    Although Washington seems to have decided to monitor from afar the developments in Syria without any military intervention by avoiding a Libya-style scenario, they are resorting by any means to expedite the collapse of Assad regime. During a press conference in East al-Quds (Jerusalem), US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton clearly stated that “So we’re going to continue to press forward in the Security Council. We’re going to continue to press the Russians because that is an important part of reaching a resolution in the Security Council. But it is worrisome that the violence is increasing, that it is more prevalent in Damascus and the suburbs. I believe – and I’ve said it before and obviously I can’t put a timeline on it – that this regime cannot survive.”

    In fact, the collapse of Syria regime has long been on Washington’s agenda.

    Russia has slammed Washington’s reaction to blasts in Damascus as an outright justification of terrorism. Earlier, US State Department had announced the terrorist attacks in Syria are not surprising in view of the Assad government’s actions. The terrorist attacks which bespoke of calculated organization and planning killed some high-ranking Syrian officials including Defense Minister Dawoud Rajiha, Deputy Defense Minister Assef Shawkat, and Assistant Vice President Hassan Turkmani in a meeting between cabinet ministers and senior security personnel on Wednesday July 16.

    Russian Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said, “This is direct endorsement of terrorism. How are we supposed to understand that? This is a sinister position, I cannot find words to express our attitude towards that.”

    The UN Security Council refused to condemn the terrorist attacks in Damascus. Further to that, the US permanent representative to the UN Susan Rice said acts of this nature in Damascus contribute to speeding up the adoption of a resolution on Syria according to the Chapter 7 of the UN Statute, which authorizes harsh sanctions as well as resorting to force.

    With the increasing conviction that the Assad regime is breathing its last breath out, Washington has initiated a contingency plan by focusing on the chemical weapons which they claim Assad government possesses and will use against the rebels and the civilians alike if they are forced to.  This has furnished the Pentagon officials with ample reasons to avail themselves of the generous contributions the Zionist regime can dole out to this end. It’s long since the US officials have run out of novel ideas and well-wrought out plans and instead rely on threadbare excuses to push ahead with their plans. As it has been profusely pointed out by pundits, the ‘chemical weapons card’ Washington is playing reeks of their claim that Saddam Hussein was in possession of a huge arsenal of WMDs before they invaded Iraq in 2003.

    None the less, Pentagon officials have recently conversed with Israeli defense officials “about whether Israel might move to destroy Syrian weapons facilities”. An Israeli attack on Syria will be definitely a geopolitical blunder not because such a strike will be regionally viral but because it will to the disappointment of the Zionists gain sympathy for Syria and condemnation for Israel. Therefore, attacking Syria under the pretext that it possesses chemical weapons and that it may use them against rebels and civilians is a farcically banal excuse. Besides, this is not exactly what Washington and Israel wish.

    As for Washington, they will hardly initiate such a strike under any discoverable pretext because they are already grappling with strangling economic meltdown, unbridled social unrest and national debt closing in on nearly USD 16 Trillion.

    However, the US will instead instigate other sinister forces such as Israel which wishes for the collapse of a regime which is so antagonistic to its entity and Qatar and Saudi Arabia which have openly voiced their animosity towards Assad regime. According to a report carried by Reuters, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are paying salaries to rebels in fighting against the government of President Bashar Assad.

    “The payment has been going on for months and the agreement was made on April 2 by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with logistical organization from Turkey where some Free Syrian Army factions are based,” a diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

    A country of immense strategic significance in the Middle East, Syria is doubly important for Washington. Firstly, as the country serves as a conduit between Hezbollah and Iran, the collapse of Assad regime means the severing of this link. Secondly, Israel, a close ally of the US, will get rid of Syria which keeps planting roadblocks in the path of Zionism. So without bothering to side with this or that party in the Syrian crisis, it is easy to see why the US is so interested in establishing a ‘US-friendly regime’ in Syria and putting an end to or at least limiting the increasing influence of Iran and Hezbollah.

    It is sad to see that sinister forces are mobilized to accelerate the collapse of Syria with the ultimate goal of serving the imperialist interests of the US and the UK, strengthening the colonizing regime of Israel in the region and limiting the influence of Iran and Hezbollah.

    All these vicious forces have helped turn Syria into a piece of votive beef in the hands of ravishing warmongers. 

    Introduction        

    One of the most significant political developments in recent US history has been the virtually unchallenged rise of the police state.  Despite the vast expansion of the police powers of the Executive Branch of government, the extraordinary growth of an entire panoply of repressive agencies, with hundreds of thousands of personnel, and enormous public and secret budgets and the vast scope of police state surveillance, including the acknowledged monitoring of over 40 million US citizens and residents, no mass pro-democracy movement has emerged to confront the powers and prerogatives or even protest the investigations of the police state.          

    In the early fifties, when the McCarthyite purges were accompanied by restrictions on free speech, compulsory loyalty oaths and congressional ‘witch hunt’ investigations of public officials, cultural figures , intellectuals, academics and trade unionists, such police state measures  provoked widespread public debate and protests and even institutional resistance.  By the end of the 1950’s mass demonstrations were held at the sites of the public hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in San Francisco (1960) and elsewhere and major civil rights movements arose to challenge the racially segregated South, the compliant Federal government and the terrorist racist death squads of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). The Free Speech Movement in Berkeley (1964) ignited nationwide mass demonstrations against the authoritarian-style university governance.           

    The police state incubated during the first years of the Cold War was challenged by mass movements pledged to retain or regain democratic freedoms and civil rights.           

    Key to understanding the rise of mass movements for democratic freedoms was their fusion with broader social and cultural movements:  democratic freedoms were linked to the struggle for racial equality; free speech was necessary in order to organize a mass movement against the imperial US Indo-Chinese wars and widespread racial segregation; the shutting down of Congressional ‘witch hunts’ and purges opened up the cultural sphere to new and critical voices and revitalized the trade unions and professional associations.  All were seen as critical to protecting hard-won workers’ rights and social advances.           

    In the face of mass opposition, many of the overt police state tactics of the 1950’s went ‘underground’ and were replaced by covert operations; selective state violence against individuals replaced mass purges.  The popular pro-democracy movements strengthened civil society and public hearings exposed and weakened the police state apparatus, but it did not go away.  However, from the early 1980’s to the present, especially over the past 20 years, the police state has expanded dramatically, penetrating all aspects of civil society while arousing no sustained or even sporadic mass opposition.           

    The question is why has the police state  grown and even exceeded the boundaries of previous periods of repression and yet not provoked any sustained mass opposition? This is in contrast to the broad-based pro-democracy movements of the mid to late 20th century.  That a massive and growing police state apparatus exists is beyond doubt:  one simply has to look up the published records of personnel (both public agents and private contractors), the huge budgets and scores of agencies involved in internal spying on tens of millions of American citizens and residents.  The scope and depth of arbitrary police state measures taken include arbitrary detention and interrogations, entrapment and the blacklisting of hundreds of thousands of US citizens.  Presidential fiats have established the framework for the assassination of US citizens and residents, military tribunals, detention camps and the seizure of private property.           

    Yet as these gross violations of the constitutional order have taken place and as each police state agency has further eroded our democratic freedoms, there have been no massive “anti-Homeland Security” movements, no campus ‘Free Speech movements’.  There are only the isolated and courageous voices of specialized ‘civil liberties’ and constitutional freedoms activists and organizations, which speak out and raise legal challenges to the abuse, but have virtually no mass base and no objective coverage in the mass media.         

    To address this issue of mass inactivity before the rise of the police state, we will approach the topic from two angles.           

    We will describe how the organizers and operatives have structured the police state and how that has neutralized mass responses.           

    We will then discuss the ‘meaning’ of non-activity, setting out several hypotheses about the underlying motives and behavior of the ‘passive mass’ of citizens.

    The Concentric Circles of the Police State           

    While the potential reach of the police state agencies covers the entire US population, in fact, it operates on the basis of ‘concentric circles’.  The police state is perceived and experienced by the US population according to the degree of their involvement in critical opposition to state policies.  While the police state theoretically affects ‘everyone’, in practice it operates through a series of concentric circles. The ‘inner core’, of approximately several million citizens, is the sector of the population experiencing the brunt of the police state persecution.  They include the most critical, active citizens, especially those identified by the police state as sharing religious and ethnic identities with  declared foreign enemies, critics or alleged ‘terrorists’.  These include immigrants and citizens of Arab, Persian, Pakistani, Afghan and Somali descent, as well as American converts to Islam.       

    Ethnic and religious “profiling” is rife in all transport centers (airports, bus and train stations and on the highways).  Mosques, Islamic charities and foundations are under constant surveillance and subject to raids, entrapment, arrests, and even Israeli-style ‘targeted’ assassinations.           

    The second core group, targeted by the police state, includes  African Americans, Hispanics and immigration rights activists (numbering in the millions).  They are subject to massive arbitrary sweeps, round-ups and unlimited detention without trial as well as mass indiscriminate deportations.           

    After the ‘core groups’ is the ‘inner circle’ which includes millions of US citizens and residents, who have written or spoken critically of US and Israeli policy in the Middle East, expressed solidarity with the suffering of the Palestinian people, opposed US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan or have visited countries or regions opposed to US empire building (Venezuela, Iran, South Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza, etc.).  Hundreds of thousands of these citizens have their telephone, e-mail and internet communications under surveillance; they have been targeted in airports, denied passports, subject to ‘visits’ and to covert and overt blacklisting at their schools and workplaces.           

    Activists engaged in civil liberties groups, lawyers, and professionals, leftists engaged in anti-Imperialist, pro-democracy and anti-police state activities and their publications are on ‘file’ in the massive police state labyrinth of data collecting on ‘political terrorists’.  Environmental movements and their activists have been treated as potential terrorists – with their own family members subjected to police harassment and ominous ‘visits’.           

    The  ‘outer circle’ includes, community, civic, religious and trade union leaders and activists who, in the course of their activity interact with or even express support for core and inner circle critics and victims of police state violations of due process . The ‘outer circle’ numbering a few million citizens are ‘on file’ as ‘persons of interest’, which may involve monitoring their e-mail and periodic ‘checks’ on their petition signing and defense appeals.
    These ‘three circles’ are the central targets of the police state, numbering upward of 40 million US citizens and immigrants – who have not committed any crime.  For having exercised their constitutional rights, they have been subjected to various degrees of police state repression and harassment.

    The police state, however, has ‘fluid boundaries’ about whom to spy on, whom to arrest and when – depending on whatever arouses the apparatchiks ‘suspicion’ or desire to exercise power or please their superiors at any given moment. 

    The key to the police state operations of the US in the 21st century is to repress pro-democracy citizens and pre-empt any mass movement without undermining the electoral system, which provides political theater and legitimacy.  A police state ‘boundary’ is constructed to ensure that citizens will have little option but to vote for the two pro-police state parties, legislatures and executives without reference to the conduct, conditions and demands of the core, inner and outer circle of victims, critics and activists.  Frequent raids, harsh public ‘exemplary’ punishment and mass media stigmatization transmit a message to the passive mass of voters and non-voters that the victims of repression ‘must have been doing something wrong’ or else they would not be under police state repression.

    The key to the police state strategy is to not allow its critics to gain a mass base, popular legitimacy or public acceptance.  The state and the media constantly drum the message that the activists’ ‘causes’ are not our (American, patriotic) ‘causes’; that ‘their’ pro-democracy activities impede ‘our’ electoral activities; their lives, wisdom and experiences do not touch our workplaces, neighborhoods, sports, religious and civic associations.  To the degree that the police-state has ‘fenced in’ the inner circles of the pro-democracy activists, they have attained a free hand and uncontested reach in deepening and extending the boundaries of the authoritarian state.  To the degree that the police state rationale or presence has penetrated the consciousness of the mass of the US population, it has created a mighty barrier to the linking of private discontent with public action.

    Hypothesis on Mass Complicity and Acquiescence with the Police State           

    If the police-state is now the dominant reality of US political life, why isn’t it at the center of citizen concern?  Why are there no pro-democracy popular movements?  How has the police state been so successful in ‘fencing off’ the activists from the vast majority of US citizens?  After all, other countries at other times have faced even more repressive regimes and yet the citizens rebelled.  In the past, despite the so-called ‘Soviet threat’, pro-democracy movements emerged in the US and even rolled back a burgeoning police state.  Why does the evocation of an outside ‘Islamic terrorist threat’ seem to incapacitate our citizens today? Or does it?           

    There is no simple, single explanation for the passivity of the US citizens faced with a rising omnipotent police state.  Their motives are complex and changing and it is best to examine them in some detail.           

    One explanation for passivity is that precisely the power and pervasiveness of the police state has created deep fear, especially among people with family obligations, vulnerable employment and with moderate commitments to democratic freedoms.  This group of citizens is aware of cases where police powers have affected other citizens who were involved in critical activities, causing job loss and broad suffering and are not willing to sacrifice their security and the welfare of their families for what they believe is a ‘losing cause’ – a movement lacking a strong popular base and with little institutional support.  Only when the protest against the Wall Street bailout and the ‘ Occupy Wall Street ’ movements against the ‘1%’ gained momentum, did this sector express transitory support.  But as the Office of the President consummated the bailout and the police-state crushed the ‘Occupy’ encampments, fear and caution led many sympathizers to withdraw timidly back into passivity.           

    The second motive for ‘acquiescence’ among a substantial public is because they tend to support the police state, based on their acceptance of the anti-terror ideology and its virulent anti-Muslim-anti-Arab racism, driven in large part by influential sectors of pro-Israel opinion makers.  The fear and loathing of Muslims, cultivated by the police state and mass media, was central to the post-9/11 build-up of Homeland Security and the serial wars against Israel ’s adversaries, including Iraq , Lebanon , Libya and now Syria with plans for Iran .  Active support for the police state peaked during the first 5 years post- 9/11 and subsequently ebbed as the Wall Street-induced economic crisis, loss of employment and the failures of government policy propelled concerns about the economy far ahead of support for the police state.  Nevertheless, at least one-third of the electorate still supports the police state, ‘right or wrong’.  They firmly believe that the police state protects their ‘security’; that suspects, arrestees, and others under watch ‘must have been doing something illegal’.  The most ardent backers of the police state are found among the rabid anti-immigrant groups who support arbitrary round-ups, mass deportations and the expansion of police powers at the expense of constitutional guarantees.           

    The third possible motive for acquiescence in the police state is ignorance: those millions of US citizens who are not aware of the size, scope and activities of the police state.  Their practical behavior speaks to the notion that ‘since I am not directly affected it must not exist’.  Embedded in everyday life, making a living, enjoying  leisure time, entertainment, sports, family, neighborhoods and concerned only about household budgets … This mass is so embedded in their personal ‘micro-world’ that it considers the macro-economic and political issues raised by the police state as ‘distant’, outside of their experience or interest:  ‘I don’t have time’, ‘I don’t know enough’, ‘It’s all ‘politics’ … The widespread apoliticism of the US public plays into its ignoring the monster that has grown in its midst.           

    Paradoxically as some peoples’ concerns and passive discontent over the economy has grown, it has lessened support for the police state as well as having lessened opposition to it.  In other words the police state flourishes while public discontent is focused more on the economic institutions of the state and society.  Few, if any, contemporary political leaders educate their constituency by connecting the rise of the police state, imperial wars and Wall Street to the everyday economic issues concerning most US citizens.  The fragmentation of issues, the separation of the economic from the political and the divorce of political concerns from individual ones, allow the police state to stand ‘above and outside’ of the popular consciousness , concerns and activities.           

    State-sponsored fear mongering on behalf of the police state is amplified and popularized by the mass media on a daily basis via propagandistic-‘news’, ‘anti-terrorist’ detective programs, Hollywood’s decades of crass anti-Arab, Islamophobic films.  The mass media portrayal of the police state’s naked violations of democratic rights as normal and necessary in a milieu infiltrated by ‘Muslim terrorists’, where feckless ‘liberals’(defenders of due process and the Bill of Rights) threaten national security, has been effective.         

     Ideologically, the police state depends on identifying the expansion of police powers with ‘national security’ of the passive ‘silent’ majority, even as it creates profound insecurity for an active, critical minority.  The self-serving identification of the ‘nation’ and the ‘flag’ with the police state apparatus is especially prominent during ‘mass spectacles’ where ‘rock’, schlock and ‘sports’  infuse mass entertainment with solemn Pledges of Allegiance to uphold and respect  the police state and busty be-wigged young women wail nasally versions of the national anthem to thunderous applause. Wounded ‘warriors’ are trotted out and soldiers rigid in their dress uniforms salute enormous flags, while the message transmitted  is that police state at home works hand in hand with our ‘men and women in uniform’ abroad.  The police state is presented as a patriotic extension of the wars abroad and as such both impose ‘necessary’ constraints on citizen opposition, public criticism and any real forthright defense of freedom.

    Conclusion:  What is to be done?           

    The ascendancy of the police state has benefited enormously from the phony bi-partisan de-politicization of repressive legislation, and the fragmentation of socio-economic struggles from democratic dissent. The mass anti-war movements of the early 1990’s and 2001-2003 were undermined (sold-out) by the defection of its leaders to the Democratic Party machine and its electoral agenda.  The massive popular immigration movement was taken over by Mexican-American political opportunists from the Democratic Party and decimated while the same Democratic Party, under President Barack Obama, has escalated police state repression against immigrants, expelling millions of Latino immigrant workers and their families.           

    Historical experience teaches us that a successful struggle against an emerging police state depends on the linking of the socio-economic struggles that engage the attention of the masses of citizens with the pro-democracy, pro-civil liberty, ‘free speech’ movements of the middle classes. The deepening economic crisis, the savage cuts in living standards and working conditions and the fight to save ‘sacred’ social programs (like Social Security and Medicare) have to be tied in with the expansion of the police state.  A mass social justice movement, which brings together thousands of anti-Wall Streeters, millions of pro-Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid recipients with hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers will inevitably clash with the bloated police-state apparatus.  Freedom is essential to the struggle for social justice and the mass struggle for social justice is the only basis for rolling back the police state.  The hope is that mass economic pain will ignite mass activity, which, in turn, will make people aware of the dangerous growth of the police state.  A mass understanding of this link will be essential to any advance in the movement for democracy and people’s welfare at home and peace abroad.

    On July 23, 2012, in a scathing attack against the Islamic Waqf (lliterally translated to “Endowment”), the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) opinion piece’s opening paragraph stated: “This year, as Israel observes the traditional period of national mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temple on Tisha b’Av (which starts at sundown on Saturday), it has again been revealed that the Islamic Wakf is carrying out unsupervised work at the Temple Mount, potentially causing irrevocable damage to Judaism’s holiest site”.i 

    A December 2011 al-Akhbar article fully elaborates on the Israeli attacks against the Islamic Waqf (see link ii) for the purpose of land grabs which include homes, shops, and even Muslim cemeteries.   

    But there is another dimension to these attacks – a messianic aspect which is far more alarming than just stealing land from their rightful owners.   The inherent danger from the Israeli obsession over the Temple Mount was first elaborated in an article dated June 2010 called “Nukes And Temples” – highlights of which is as follows.

    Evidently, American presidents wish to continue to guard Israel ‘s nuclear “secret”.   Today, the secrecy continues, as does the aid — perhaps towards a messianic return – the building of the Third Temple .

    In 2006, the Israeli government began work on an exact replica of the Hurva synagogue on its original site. The story of the Hurva has received little attention other than coinciding with Joe Biden’s visit to Israel and that government’s insistence on building more illegal settlements.  But Hurva is the beginning of the end.

    As the United States protects Israel and pushes for more sanctions on Iran , thereby distracting the international community from the more pressing problem at hand, rabbis are being tailored for the special kind of garments they will be wearing in a “rebuilt temple”. These rabbis believe that the return of Jews to Jerusalem are the obvious signs – “Less obvious are the more subtle realities that add up – the rebuilding of the Jewish Quarter, Jews steadily moving into the Old City , even the Temple Mount tunnel excavations. But alas, those big mosques are still situated on the Temple Mount . For now.“iii

    Attempts to fulfill the prophecy are not new.  In 1990, there was another attempt by the ‘ Temple Mount Faithful’ to bring a cornerstone for a reconstructed Third Temple to the site.  In 1996, the opening of an archaeological tunnel adjacent to the Mount led to the first outbreak of widespread violence across the territories between Israelis and Palestinians since the signing of the Oslo accords.  In 2000, Ariel Sharon staged a provocative visit to the Temple Mount and said: “The Temple Mount is in our hands and will remain in our hands. It is the holiest site in Judaism and it is the right of every Jew to visit the Temple Mount,”.
    It took four years to complete the work on Hurva.  When presidential candidate, Barack Obama  promised AIPAC an undivided Jerusalem in 2008, the building of the Hurva synagogue was well on the way — which signaled continued future attacks on the al-Aqsa Mosque to make way for construction of the Third Temple .  Past wars and future was waged against other countries based on unfounded accusations has distracted the international community from the reality of this construction and its implications – the messianic era.  As importantly,  Israel ‘s stockpile of nuclear weapons – a nation more likely than any other to use their nuclear weapons based on their deep religious ideology. Of particular concern is the Gush Emunim, a right-wing religious organization, or others, hijacking a nuclear device to ‘liberate’ the Temple Mount for the building of the Third Temple .  The completion of the Hurva synagogue has increased these chances.  On April 6, JTA reported that “Our Land of Israel” party had put posters on 200 city buses in Jerusalem showing an artist’s rendition of the Third Temple on the site now occupied by the al-Aqsa Mosque with the slogan, “May the Temple be built in our lifetime.”

    Equally disturbing, a 1997 article reviewing the Israeli Defense Force repeatedly stressed the pos sibi lities of, and the need to guard against, a religious, right-wing military coup, especially as the proportion of religious in the military increases iv. The warming was not unfounded.  The once secular army now has combat units filling with those who believe Israel’s wars are “God’s wars”.

    This small nation with unimaginable influence in the Western world,  enabled by the United States continues to commit crimes against humanity,  instigates conflicts and unleashes terrorists in the region and beyond, while it distracts the global community with Iran and its non-existent nuclear program, presenting it as a threat while the zealots prepare  for the Messiah’s Temple – unhindered.  Heaven must be hell.

    Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich is a Public Diplomacy Scholar, independent researcher and blogger with a focus on U.S. foreign policy and the role of lobby groups. 

    Notes

    i. chman, “Op-Ed: Stop Islamic Wakf’s work on the Temple Mount ”, JTA, July 23, 2012

    ii Mya Guarnieri, “Destruction of Waqf: The Grave Offences of the Israeli State ”; alakhbar, December 19, 2011 http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/destruction-waqf-grave-offences-israeli-state

    iiiTom Mountain.  Preparing for the Third Temple Jewish Advocate.  Boston :Aug 22, 2008.  Vol. 199,  Iss. 34,  p. 9 (1 pp.)

    iv (Blanche, Ed, “Is the Myth Fading for the Israeli Army? — Part 1.” Jane’s Intelligence Review, 8, no. 12 (December 1996).    

    The sectarian violence being fomented in Syria is fanning out and threatening to engulf the wider region and beyond. This dynamic is, in turn, unleashing insecurity and instability among populations far beyond Syria’s borders. Like igniting a wildfire, the incendiary effects may be much harder to quench than they were to start, with untold suffering and political fallout.

    The instigator of this explosive dynamic is the de facto US-led coalition that is desperately seeking to topple the Syrian government of Bashar Al Assad in Syria.

    Unable to assert its agenda for regime change through the diplomatic channels of the United Nations, due to Russian and Chinese defiance, Washington and its allies are ramping up the heat within Syria by covert sabotage and terrorism. A central tactic is to incite sectarian violence and division among Syria’s population in order to undermine the authority of the Damascus government.

    Already the sectarian fire that the US-led axis is playing with in Syria has sparked a wave of bloodletting in neighbouring Iraq with levels of violence this week rising to the worst seen for years in that country. This may be a harbinger of even much worse to come not only in Iraq, but across the region – with conflicts erupting between Shia and Sunni Muslims and also between Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and other ethnic groups. It seems more than coincidence that over the past 16 months of intensifying violence in Syria there has been a stepwise increase in inter-communal aggressions across the wider region.

    Sunni majority Pakistan, for example, has seen a flare up of killings against its minority Shia population with a spate of bomb attacks killing dozens in the western city of Quetta and nearby areas bordering Afghanistan.

    Across India, there are renewed conflicts between Muslims and Hindus, forcing tens of thousands into migration, with the northeast state of Assam riven by the sharpest conflicts. Over 30 people have been killed in clashes this week between Muslims and Bodo tribespeople in Assam. There have also been clashes between Muslims, Christians and Hindus.

    The Times of India reports: “Gun battles between police and roving mobs of rioters armed with guns, machetes and sticks [have] continued overnight, despite police warnings that violators would be shot on sight if they broke a curfew.”

    From last month, the surge in persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar by Buddhists could also be seen as a repercussion of perceived religious strife in Syria. Hundreds of Rohingya have been killed and thousands displaced from attacks reportedly by the armed forces of the Myanmar military junta, which wants that Muslim community to return to its historic homeland of Bangladesh.

    There have been reports too of renewed violent clashes between Christian and Muslim communities in East Africa, with deadly attacks occurring in both Ethiopia and Kenya.

    While many of these inter-religious and inter-ethnic hostilities have a long history stemming from European colonialism, and while there are other contemporary forces at play, such as poverty, hunger and communal dislocations due to extreme floods, nevertheless it seems more than plausible that there is a spillover effect from Syria. Namely, that the sectarian destabilisation of that country is fuelling region-wide insecurities and conflicts – conflicts that may spiral out of control into civil wars.

    For months now the covert game plan played out by the US, Britain and France, along with Turkey, Israel and Gulf Arab dictatorships has been to inflame sectarian fear and division in Syria. The main objective is to undermine the Baathist ruling party of President Assad, which has been in power for over 40 years even though the Assad family belongs to the minority Alawite sect of Shia Islam. The majority of Syria professes Sunni Islam.

    It is testimony to the secular nature of the Syrian state and its culture of pluralism that this divide-and-rule tactic has so far failed to splinter the society. By and large, the Syrian people seem to be holding firmly to principles of tolerance towards each other, whether non-religious, Christian, Jew or Muslim, Shia or Sunni. Civilian sources say that while there may be criticism of the Assad regime from the point of view of demands for more democratic power-sharing, Assad still retains popular support because the majority of Syrians see the incumbent administration as a defender of religious and secular freedoms.

    This is further underlined by the religious make-up of the four security chiefs who were killed last week in the assassination bomb attack on the National Security headquarters in Damascus. The victims – senior members of Assad’s inner circle – included Shia, Sunni and Christian faiths.

    Heading up the US-led tactic of sectarian warfare in Syria is the Gulf dictatorship of Saudi Arabia, with its black expertise in Sunni despoticism. The Saudi monarchy is an adherent to the extreme Wahhabist sect of Sunni Islam. Wahhabism harbours a deep, visceral antipathy towards Shia Islam, seeing the latter as a heresy. This stems from the historic schism in Islam over the disputed lineage of authority from Prophet Mohammed. In its extreme expression, certain Wahhabists would even consider it a religious duty to kill Shia members over their alleged apostasy. This fundamentalist mindset, espoused by the House of Saud, and to a lesser extent the other Sunni Gulf monarchies, is politically expedient for the Western powers. It serves as a driving force among Saudi-backed mercenaries and Jihadists to commit extreme acts of violence in Syria, such as massacres and no-warning car bombs, in order to terrorise the population and destabilize the incumbent government.

    For many years, Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabist House of Saud has been proselytizing the Middle East region with its fundamentalist version of Islam. Saudi petrodollars have funded the building of mosques and the beaming of satellite television stations dedicated to preaching that brand of faith. This religious fanaticism has also manifested in the emergence of reactionary Jihadists linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists and Al Qaeda. Despite claims of fighting “a war on terror”, Saudi and Western military intelligence have had a long, covert partnerships with these groups in carrying out shared political objectives dating back to the overthrow of Soviet Afghanistan, and more recently in the subversion of Libya and currently Syria.

    The paramount geopolitical objective is the containment and ideally the long-term destabilization of Shia Iran – the perceived nemesis of the House of Saud – in its ambition for regional hegemony. The Western powers, of course, share that objective for interests of securing cheap oil supply, the maintenance of the petrodollar system, propping up the garrison Zionist state of Israel, and for the suppression of democratic nationalism across the region. The Western-backed Saudi suppression of democracy in Bahrain and Yemen are salient cases in point.

    In Syria, Saudi intelligence is suspected of being behind a long and fiendish list of dirty tricks to ignite sectarian war. The appointment of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, former ambassador to Washington, as head of Saudi intelligence is seen as particularly significant. Whole villages, such as Houla and Qubair, have been massacred in cold blood by Saudi and Western-backed Jihadists. The recent attack by mercenaries to desecrate the holy Shia shrine of Sayyida Zainab is believed to have been ordered by the Saudis, with the obvious intention of whipping up tit-for-tat reprisals against Sunnis. The deployment of snipers to fire on civilians from the minarets of Shia mosques is also seen as an attempt to incite revenge attacks.

    As noted, the Syrian population seems well aware of the dirty tricks being perpetrated by external forces and it is not falling into the trap of internecine feuding. Indeed, there are accounts of tenacious solidarity between Shia and Sunni Syrians, as well as Muslims, Christians and Jews, in the face of mutual hardship and suffering inflicting by foreign-backed militia.

    This failure to unleash sectarian bloodshed in Syria may be what is behind the re-escalation of violence across Iraq. This week saw more than 100 Iraqis killed in bombings and shootings in more than 18 cities, including the capital, Baghdad. Since May, through June and July, the death toll has risen to near 500 and it shows a clear targeting of the Shia population, with devastating attacks on the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf.

    Iraq’s foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari recently said that his government is increasingly alarmed about a spillover of violence from Syria to Iraq and the rest of the Middle East.

    This week, Hakem Al Zameli, a member of Iraqi parliament committee on security and defence, noted: “It is clear that there is a direct connection between the events in Syria and the insecurity in Iraq, and those that conduct murder and bombings in Iraq are the same people who are currently engaged in bombing and killing the Syrian people.” Al Zameli went on to say that the perpetrators belonged to Al Qaeda groups – typical of Saudi and Western intelligence operations.

    Many analysts believe that the Jihadist mercenaries recruited and supplied by Saudi Arabia and Western intelligence to wreak havoc in Syria are now plying their nefarious trade once again in Iraq. The Shia-led government of Baghdad has been supportive of Damascus and Tehran, objecting to diplomatic moves by the West to isolate Syria and Iran.

    It seems that, given the failure to incite sectarian conflict in Syria, Saudi Arabia and the Western powers are now opening a new front for destabilisation through neighbouring Iraq. Such involvement by these agencies in Iraq has a well-worn history during the nine-year NATO occupation of that country.

    However, any short-term success from such a stratagem with regard to Western plans for regime change in Syria could prove to be a Pyrrhic victory – if the whole region and beyond explodes into sectarian flames that end up consuming nations, including those of the Gulf monarchs.

    Finian Cunningham is Global Research’s Middle East and East Africa Correspondent

    [email protected] 

    http://globalresearch.ca 

    GRTV: World Being Readied for Aggression Against Syria

    July 25th, 2012 by F. William Engdahl

    The Telegraph has reported (emphasis added), “fighter jets have reportedly launched bomb attacks on Syria’s second city of Aleppo, which, if confirmed, would be the first time Assad forces had used war planes against citizens.”


    Image: A sole”tweet” from BBC’s Ian Pannell, who has yet to provide any source, evidence, or details regarding his vague claim, immediately made headlines across the Western media.
    ….

    The claim is based on a single “tweet” from BBC’s Ian Pannell who, after hours of making his his claim that, “fighter jets have bombed eastern #Aleppo city. A significant escalation and perhaps the first time they’ve been used in #Syrian conflict,” has failed categorically to cite his source, provide any evidence of his claims, or provide details of the targets and context of the attacks, if indeed they took place. Yet the Western media “echo chamber” began repeating the story seconds after it was posted, and through this alone it attempted to validate the claim while building momentum behind NATO insinuations.



    Image: Taken from an official Defense Department transcript, the US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Admiral Michael Mullen both concede they’d seen no confirmation “whatsoever” regarding claims by the corporate media that Libya’s Qaddafi had used airstrikes against his own people. However, this fabrication would be used for very real airstrikes, not by Qaddafi, but by NATO under the guise of the “Responsibility to Protect.” 
    ….

    Narratives of “brutal dictators” bombing civilians with aircraft have been used before, most notably in Libya where verified lies were told regarding Qaddafi’s use of aircraft against the city of Benghazi. These fabrications were used to justify foreign military intervention and regime change under the guise of a “no-fly zone” to “protect civilians.”

    However, the US Department of Defense itself noted that none of these accusations were founded in fact or confirmed in any way, and the Russian government went as far as providing satellite imagery of sites allegedly bombed to show no such strikes were made.

    Ironically, NATO’s subsequent “protection of civilians” flattened several cities across the country, slaying thousands of civilians. 

    Syria’s Violence in Context

    The Syrian military cannot, however, rule out the use of airstrikes considering the overt manner in which foreign interests such as the US, Israel, and the Gulf States are increasingly sending heavily armed militants over their borders to destabilize their nation. It must be taken into consideration that FSA militants have been conducting indiscriminate bombings across Syria for months now, and with their latest assassinations and offensive, have shed the ability to play to role of “victim-civilians.” 



    Image: The West’s “lightly armed” FSA. ABC (Australia) claims this is a picture taken this week of an FSA-seized tank on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria. One wonders if this tank was rolling along the outskirts of Washington in the middle of a war, whether or not the US would use airstrikes to neutralize it. 
    ….

    The West has eagerly described this violence in Syria as a “civil war,” yet has conveniently continued to depict their heavily armed, foreign-backed fighters streaming across Syria’s borders as “citizens” and “civilians,” even as their ties to Al Qaeda and other foreign militant groups become ever more apparent. In fact, Iraqi officials are already linking the recent bombings in their country by Al Qaeda to the same forces and backers of the so-called “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) in Syria.





    Image: Al Jazeera was running this picture along with the description, “Syrian rebels near Aleppo city, as they took much of the formerly loyalist city from the government [EPA].” Heavy weapons can be seen mounted on several of the trucks, and images like this are increasingly common as militants attempt to enter cities like Damascus and Aleppo where there are more cameras, and hiding these weapons from the general public becomes increasingly difficult.
    ….

    Additionally, despite a repeated mantra by the Western media that the FSA is “lightly armed,” these same media outlets have shown columns of trucks mounted with heavy weapons, and even captured tanks identified as FSA forces. While the US conducts airstrikes on entirely unarmed civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and with Turkey likewise brutalizing its own “rebels” in Kurdish dominated provinces from the air, NATO and its allies attempt to condemn Syria for doing likewise against heavily armed militants like those pictured above.

    Fishing for a Pretext

    Between lies revolving around distorted statements regarding chemical weapons, fabricated atrocities, and now claims of airstrikes being used upon “civilian populations,” the West is desperately running down the list for a “casus belli” that will stick. The Syrian government, after a year and a half of being undermined by foreign interests and hordes of foreign militants, has maintained both the faith and trust the majority of its population has put into it. If it is deploying airstrikes, it can be assured they are doing so with keeping that faith and trust intact – and as the West often claims in the midst of its military adventures, doing so to minimize as much as possible collateral damage.

    Recent attacks by the FSA have aimed at undermining that faith and truth, and militants in the northern city of Aleppo have purposefully moved to the commercial center of the city to draw in the heavy weapons necessary to neutralize them. While the Western press portrays this move toward the center of Aleppo as “progress,” it should be noted that the Syrian military operates out of bases on the city’s outskirts.

    This means the further militants push toward the center of the city, the further from engaging the military directly they become. While the FSA claims they are “liberating” Aleppo, even the Western media concedes it is a bastion of government support. This indicates that terrorism, intimidation, and panic, not “liberation” are the FSA’s goals in Aleppo, and that the government is justified to take any measures necessary to stop them.

    Conversely, NATO and its allies see Syria’s vigorous defense capabilities as an obstacle to Western-planned regime change – therefore if neutralizing them through covert  means is not possible, they will attempt to neutralize them by declaring them a threat to “civilians,” invoking “Responsibility to Protect,” and initiating foreign military intervention.

    ANKARA, (SANA) – Deputy Chairman of the Turkish Labor Party Hasan Basri Ozbey denounced the position of Turkish President Abdullah Gul who is encouraging terrorists to commit crimes in Syria, saying that the Labor Party will file a complaint against Gul to try him in the Higher Court.

    In a press statement published on Friday, Ozbey said that his party will file a complaint to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and the Attorney General of the Higher Court to try Gul, affirming that the Labor Party has clear evidence that the latter incited terrorism and war on Syria and signed a secret agreement with the United States, which alone is grounds for trial.

    He said that Gul’s statement after the terrorist bombing that targeted the National Security HQ in Damascus was shameful and disgraceful to Turkish citizens, affirming that Gul didn’t fulfill his duties and responsibilities as a statesman towards an act of terrorism against the officials of a neighboring countries.

    Ozbey said that Gul encouraged the terrorists by saying that the Syrian government isn’t legitimate instead of denouncing the crime, adding that his statements constitute a crime according to the Turkish penal code.

    He went on to note that world media – primary US media – has unveiled the fact the current Turkish government headed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan is among the top governments in terms of organizing terrorist operations in Syria and providing weapons to terrorists in it, all under instructions from the US.

    Ozbey pointed out that Gul himself admitted that the ruling Justice and Development Party signed a secret agreement with former US Secretary of State Colin Powell in April 2, 2003, and that these admissions were printed in Vatan newspaper in May 24, 2004.

    He affirmed that Turkey is moving towards bloody adventures, and that the crimes of the Justice and Development Party constitute national treason. 

    What is Really Happening in Syria?

    July 24th, 2012 by Jack A. Smith

    After several months of talking diplomacy while simultaneously strengthening rebel forces in Syria and demonizing the Damascus government, the Obama Administration has openly decided to go for the kill. Violent regime change will not happen immediately, but it is obviously President Obama’s goal.

     

    The White House is now “redoubling efforts to rally a coalition of like-minded countries to forcibly bring down the government of President Bashar al-Assad,” the New York Times reported July 21. “Administration officials have been in talks with officials in Turkey and Israel over how to manage a Syrian government collapse.”

    McClatchy Newspapers stated July 23 that “Despite reports last week that suggested rebel forces were on the verge of major triumphs in Syria, the last few days of fighting there show that a long battle still looms. Forces loyal to Assad in recent days have tightened their grip on the Lebanese border, re-established control over at least one neighborhood in Damascus and perhaps reached an accommodation with the country’s Kurds that will free up more troops for battle.”

    According to the U.S. and its NATO allies, the Damascus regime is engaging in a one-sided, murderous war against its own people, who simply seek democracy. At the same time, the Tehran government is characterized as a “terrorist” regime intent upon building and using nuclear weapons in order to destroy Israel and rule the Middle East. The U.S. news media, as expected, propagates without question Washington’s campaign against Syria and Iran.

    The United States suggests that its principal reason for seeking regime change in Syria is to promote “democracy” — a tarnished rationale often employed in recent decades to undermine or destroy governments that displease the U.S. superpower, such as in Iran in the 1950s, the Dominican Republic in the 1960s, Chile in the 1970s, Nicaragua in the 1980s, Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Iraq in the 2000s, and Libya in the 2010s, among other instances.

    Democracy has nothing to do with Washington’s objectives in Syria. America’s closest regional ally in the anti-Assad endeavor is the repressive anti-democratic monarchy of Saudi Arabia, which finances and arms the rebel opposition in Syria along with resource-rich Qatar. Both Arab countries played a similar role last year in the U.S./NATO overthrow of the Gaddafi government in Libya.

    Having learned a bitter lesson after agreeing to support a no-fly zone in Libya — and seeing that mandate illegally expanded by U.S.-NATO forces in order to wage a vicious war for regime change — both Russia and China have three times exercised their right to veto U.S. measures in the UN to escalate the conflict in Syria. The Security Council approved a 30-day extension of the UN monitor mission July 20, but Susan Rice, Washington’s ambassador to the world body, implied it may be the last continuation.

    Both Moscow and Beijing seek to bring about a negotiated solution to the crisis based on a cease-fire, talks and reforms. According to  Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin “the only way to put an end to this tragic conflict is to get to the negotiating table.” The Syrian government agrees, but the opposition forces — aware that Washington and its allies seek a swift regime change — reject negotiations.

    Churkin warns: “Don’t be duped by humanitarian rhetoric. There is much more geopolitics in their [U.S.] policy in Syria than humanism…. Our concern is that the Syrian people have to suffer the consequences of this geopolitical struggle.”

    There are two principal and interlocking reasons the U.S. and its NATO and Mideast coalition allies are conspiring to oust the Assad government.

    (1) The first is to secure Washington’s geopolitical position in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), particularly as President Obama prepares to focus additional military and economic resources on East Asia to contain the rise of China, and on Eurasia reduce Russian influence.

    British news analysis Patrick Seale, whom we consider an objective source, wrote July 19: “The keys to the Syrian crisis lie outside Syria. Indeed, the Syrian crisis cannot be separated from the massive pressures being put on Iran. President Obama is now fully mobilized against both regimes. He seems to have given up trying to secure a win-win deal with Iran over its nuclear program, and he is sabotaging Kofi Annan’s Syrian peace plan by conniving in the arming of the rebels. He seems to want to bring down the regimes in both Tehran and Damascus — either because he sees Iran as a rival in the Gulf region or to win the favors of Israel’s American supporters in an election year.”

    According to a July 10 report from Stratfor, the non-government commercial intelligence organization close to certain U.S. spy sources: “Human rights interests alone do not come close to explaining why this particular uprising has received a substantial amount of attention and foreign backing over the past year. The past decade enabled Iran to wrest Baghdad out of Sunni hands and bring Mesopotamia under Shi’ite control. There is little question now that Iraq, as fractured as it is, sits in the Iranian sphere of influence while Iraqi Sunnis have been pushed to the margins. Iran’s gains in Baghdad shifted the regional balance of power.”

    (2) The second reason is to enhance the power of Sunni Islam in MENA and limit the possibility of a larger regional role by the Shia Muslim minority.

    There are about 2 billion Muslims in the world today. Statistics vary somewhat, but about 87% are said to be Sunnis, and the remainder are Shia — a minority that has suffered discrimination from the majority. Iran has the largest Shia population in the world — up to 95% of its 75 million people. Iraq has the second largest Shia population — over 60% of its 30 million people.

    About 87% of the 26 million Syrians are Muslims — 74% of these Sunni and 13% Shia — but members of the Shi’ite Alawite sect, led by the Assad family that dominates Syria’s Ba’athist regime, have essentially controlled the country for over 40 years.

    The principal Obama Administration target in this complex affair is Iran, not Syria. The Syrian government must fall because it is Iran’s main Arab ally (as it also is Russia’s, a not insignificant factor). Washington has been intent upon gravely wounding Iran after the Iraq war blew up in its face, resulting in the Shia assumption of power in Baghdad.

    Until the 2003 U.S. overthrow of the secular Ba’athist regime in Baghdad led by President Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s 30% Sunni minority historically dominated the state. Sunni Iraq was in fact Iran’s biggest enemy. President Hussein launched a mutually devastating, unnecessary eight-year war against Iran in 1980 with tacit U.S. support. Now, while not yet an official ally, Baghdad is friendly to Tehran.

    President Obama labored long to compel Shia President Nouri al-Maliki to allow tens of thousands of U.S. troops and government “advisers” to remain in Iraq after the bulk of forces were to withdraw at the end of 2011. One purpose was to monitor and reduce future Iranian influence. But the Iraqi leader ultimately refused at the last moment — a huge setback for the administration, though Washington no doubt is continuing its efforts to manipulate Baghdad covertly while crushing Iran’s ally in Damascus.

    The U.S. now views Iraq as positioned within neighboring Iran’s sphere of influence, a significant shift in the regional balance of power. This can only be perceived as a serious danger to American hegemony throughout the region and particularly the Persian Gulf/Arabian Peninsula, from whence much of the world’s petroleum issues. Washington’s greatest fear is that Iran and Iraq — two of the world’s principal oil producers — might develop a genuine alliance.

    This is a chief reason why the Obama government has contrived pretexts to impose heavy sanctions and threaten military action against the Tehran government. This also explains why ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia so enthusiastically backs sanctions and threats against Iran and is investing heavily in overthrowing Assad. The Saudi royal family, devotees of a fundamentalist brand of Sunni religion, wants to expunge Shia influence throughout the region, as well as keep its own discriminated-against 15% Shi’ite minority under tight control.

    One pay back for the Saudis is Washington’s indifference to the cruelty toward the Shi’ite majority demanding a modicum of democracy in Bahrain, which is ruled by a dictatorial Sunni monarchy under the protection of Saudi Arabia.

    Obama’s immediate goal is to break up the developing relationship between three contiguous Shia-led countries  — Persian Iran and Arab Iraq and Syria — covering some 1,600 miles from the Afghan border to the Mediterranean.

    All other states in MENA circulate well within Washington’s hegemonic orbit. The Arab Spring has not diminished U.S. hegemony in the region where regimes were overthrown —Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen. Indeed, U.S./NATO control  of Libya and now the Syrian situation appear to have enhanced Washington’s regional power. Last week the Arab League, representing all the Arab states, proposed Assad should resign and that the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which leads the armed struggle, should form a transitional regime. Iraq dissented, declaring that it was for the Syrian people alone to decide his fate.

    Most Arab countries, and non-Arab NATO member Turkey as well — which flaunts the opportunity to flex its Sunni credentials as it strains to reassert its influence and even leadership in the Middle East — are part of the regime change coalition. Turkey is playing a key role, providing a reliable rear area for the FSA and as a transmission point for arms bound for the opposition.

    Even Israel shows public signs of getting directly involved in Assad’s downfall. Last week right wing Prime Minister Netanyahu told Fox News Israel “was ready to act” in Syria. Over the years, Tel-Aviv had been more than willing to tolerate the Assad government rather than a Sunni regime until the recent period when Tehran and Damascus began developing much closer ties.

    Interestingly, Hamas — the Islamic organization elected to govern the Palestinian territory of Gaza — has recently announced its support for the Sunni rebels in Syria, after receiving decades of solidarity and support from the Assad government. Hamas is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood now leading Egypt which recently guaranteed it would maintain peace and commerce with Israel. Another branch of the Brotherhood is expected to acquire greater political power in Syria if regime change succeeds.

    Syria is a strongly nationalist capitalist country which promoted pan-Arabism when it was in vogue in the 1960s. It has been ruled by the Ba’ath Party for over four decades. There are a number of other parties but they are subordinate to the Ba’athists. It is not a western-type democracy and the government is repressive toward dissent. Further, Syria dealt harshly with peaceful demonstrators before the armed opposition was a major factor.

    The Damascus government also has positive aspects. The Assad regime is secular in nature, is opposed to colonialism and imperialism, and does not bend the knee — as so do many Arab governments these days — to the U.S. The Assad government strongly opposed America’s war in Iraq. It materially and politically backs the rights of the Palestinian people and the Shia Lebanese political party Hezbollah, which is supported by Iran.

    In addition, the government appears to have the allegiance of a substantial proportion of the population, including the several minority sects — Christians (10% of the population), Druze, Turkmen, Jews, Yazidis and others. All seem to prefer a secular government to the possibility of a more religious Sunni state, perhaps led by  the Muslim Brotherhood.

    The oppositional forces include various often contending civil and exile organizations and individuals associated with the Syrian National Council (SNC), the main opposition group, and the approximately 100 different armed urban guerrilla groups broadly identified with the Syrian Free Army. Disunity characterizes the relations between many of these groups, virtually all of which are Sunni. Major rivalries have been reported between a number of military commanders, and sharp splits have taken place within the SNC and between leaders within Syria and influential exiles largely based in Turkey and Egypt. The U.S. has been working for months to identify and promote the leaders it wishes to put into power.

    According to Middle East correspondent Pepe Escobar writing July 24 in Asia Times, “There’s no way to understand the Syrian dynamics without learning that most FSA commanders are not Syrians, but Iraqi Sunnis. The FSA could only capture the Abu Kamal border crossing between Syria and Iraq because the whole area is controlled by Sunni tribes viscerally antagonistic towards the al-Maliki government in Baghdad. The free flow of mujahedeen, hardcore jihadis and weapons between Iraq and Syria is now more than established…. As it stands, the romanticized Syrian ‘rebels’ plus the insurgents formerly known as terrorists cannot win against the Syria military — not even with the Saudis and Qataris showering them with loads of cash and weapons.”

    Repeated reports from many sources indicate that contingents of fundamentalist jihadists have joined the anti-Assad campaign. Stratfor comments that “The Syrian rebellion contains a growing assortment of Sunni Islamists, Salafist jihadists and transnational al Qaeda-style jihadists. Foreign fighters belonging to the latter two categories are believed to be making their way into Syria from Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.”

    According to a report this week in the German daily Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, German intelligence estimates that “around 90″ terror attacks that “can be attributed to organizations that are close to al-Qaeda or jihadist groups” were carried out in Syria between the end of December and the beginning of July.

    Despite such attacks, the Damascus government announced this week that it would not use its chemical weapons “against the Syrian people or civilians during this crisis, under any circumstances.” It did, however, suggest it might deploy such weapons against foreign military intervention.

    In the U.S. most liberals and Democrats support Obama’s Syrian adventure as well Republicans, just as they approved of what little they knew of the White House involvement in the Libyan regime change.  GOP candidate Mitt Romney and some Republican politicians demand “tougher action,” but that’s just for show.

    Sectors of the U.S. left are split over America’s role in Syria. Some groups support the uprising in the name of democracy, ignoring that Washington and the royal family in Riyadh will be the biggest winners. Those who identify with the anti-imperialist perspective strongly oppose U.S/Saudi involvement. (1)

    Our view is that it is the responsibility of the people of a country, such as Syria — and not outside forces — to determine the political character of their government, up to and including armed revolution.

    And the anti-Assad international coalition is not just any “outside force.” It takes orders from the United States — the most powerful military state in the world responsible for violent aggression and millions of deaths in recent decades —  and is also backed by a couple of anti-democratic monarchies and NATO, including two of the region’s former colonial overlords, France and Great Britain.

    The extent of American involvement with the opposition was partially exposed by the New York Times July 21: “American diplomats are also meeting regularly with representatives of various Syrian opposition groups outside the country to help map out a possible post-Assad government. ‘Our focus with the opposition is on working with them so that they have a political transition in place to stand up a new Syria,’ Patrick Ventrell, a State Department spokesman, said last week.”

    As such, in our understanding, the  principal aspect of the struggle for power in Syria is not popular forces fighting for democracy but an international coalition led by imperialism seeking to overthrow a government allied to Iran in order to serve Washington’s geopolitical objectives and Saudi Arabia’s sectarian goal of diminishing Shia influence in the region.

    The Israeli Defense Ministry has announced that they are planning to destroy eight Palestinian villages in the occupied West Bank, displacing 1,500 residents and forcing them to move to the city of Yatta.

    The military claims that the villages are “illegally” placed inside a “live fire zone” and will be demolished for military training. The area was only declared a military zone in 1976, and evidence suggests the villages have been there since 1830.

    The villages have been under threat of demolition since 1999, but the Israeli High Court blocked their demolition at the time. Apparently the live fire zone hasn’t effected the villages, but the military is expressing concern that the residents might be “terrorists” spying on them.

    The move to expel civilians from the area will put even more tension on the stalled peace process, as evidence that Israel is continuing to expand the portion of the West Bank it considers exclusively theirs at the expense of local populations.

    The battle of Damascus has begun

    July 24th, 2012 by Thierry Meyssan

    Western and Gulf powers have launched the largest secret war operation since the Contra war in Nicaragua.

    The Battle of Damascus is not intended to topple President Bashar al-Assad, but to fracture the Syrian Army to better ensure the domination of Israel and the U.S. over the Middle East. While the city is bracing for a new assault by foreign mercenaries, Thierry Meyssan takes stock of the situation.|

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    Coming from abroad, the “Contras” started their invasion of Syria by taking border posts.

    Over the past five days Washington and Paris have launched an attack operation dubbed “Damascus Volcano and Syrian Earthquake.” It is not a new campaign of aerial bombardment, but a secret military operation, similar to the one used in Central America during the Reagan era.

    Within a few days, 40 to 60 000 Contras, mostly Libyans, entered the country, most often via the Jordanian border. The majority of them are attached to the “Syrian” Free Army, a secret operations front for NATO under Turkish command. Some are affiliated with groups of fanatics, including Al-Qaeda, under Qatar’s command or factions of the Saudi Royal Family, the Sudairi. Along the way, they took some border posts, and then moved to the capital where they have sown confusion by attacking random targets: police groups or isolated military.

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    Syrian Generals Hassan Turkmani, Daud Rajha and Assef Chawkat died on the field of honor on 18 July 2012.

    Wednesday morning, an explosion destroyed National Security headquarters where some members of the National Security Council were meeting. It cost the lives of General Daoud Rajha (Defence Minister), of General Assef Shawkat (Deputy Minister) and of General Hassan Turkmani (Assistant Vice President of the Republic). The mode of attack remains uncertain: it could have been either a suicide bomber or a stealth drone.

    Washington hoped that the partial decapitation of the military would lead some senior officers to defect with their units, or even to turn against the civilian government. This has not happened. President Bashar al-Assad immediately signed decrees appointing successors to the fallen heroes and the seamless continuity of the state was ensured.

    In Paris, Berlin and Washington, sponsors of the operation continued their unworthy game of condemning terrorist action while reaffirming their political and logistical support for the terrorists. Shamelessly, they concluded that the responsibility for these killings lay not with the culprits, but with the victims in that they had refused to resign under pressure and surrender their homeland to western rapacity.

    Caracas and Tehran have sent their condolences to Syria, stressing that the attack was sponsored and funded by Western and Gulf powers Moscow has also expressed condolences and affirmed that requesting Security Council’s sanctions against Syria amounted to political support for the attacking terrorists.

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    Information Minister Omran al-Zou’bi delivers a message on national television after the attack that partially decapitated the Syrian Army.

    National television channels have begun to broadcast military clips and patriotic songs several times per hour. Interrupting programs, the Information Minister al-Omran Zou’bi called for the mobilization of everyone: the time for political disputes between government and opposition is over. The enemy is at the gates. Referring to my Komsomolskaya Pravda article [1], he warned his countrymen of the imminent launch of the propaganda operation prepared by Gulf and Western channels in order to demoralize the people. Then, he put the lie to Gulf network propaganda according to which a mutiny had broken out in the fourth division and explosions had devastated its main barracks.

    National channels have aired public service announcements several times hourly showing how to capture authentic programs on Atlantic Bird in case Arabsat and Nilesat satellites were interrupted.

    In Lebanon, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah recalled the brotherhood of arms uniting Hezbollah and Syria against Zionist expansionism, and assured the Syrian Army of its support.

    The bomb attack was the signal for the second part of the operation. Commandos infiltrated the capital, then attacked various more or less chosen targets. Thus, a group of about a hundred Contras attacked the house adjacent to my apartment in the cry of Allah Akbar. A senior military official resides there. Ten hours of uninterrupted fighting ensued.

    Whereas at the beginning of the night, the Army responded with measure , the order was later given to use force without restraint. It was no longer a question of fighting against terrorists destabilizing Syria, but of saving the country facing an undeclared alien invasion.

    Aircraft went into action to destroy columns of mercenaries heading to the capital.

    By late morning, calm was gradually returning to the city. The Contras and their collaborators were forced to withdraw everywhere. Traffic was resuming on major roads, and checkpoints were installed in the city center. Life was returning to normal. However, we still hear scattered gunfire here and there. Most businesses are closed, and there are long queues outside bakeries.

    Everyone expects that the final assault will be launched on the night of Thursday to Friday and all day Friday. There is no doubt that the Syrian army will emerge victorious again, the power relationship being to its advantage. The conscript army is supported by the population, including the domestic political opposition.

    As expected, Arabsat and Nilesat had disconnected the Ad-Dunya television signal in the middle of the afternoon. The Twitter account of Ad-Dounia has been hacked by the CIA in order to disseminate false messages announcing a retreat of the Syrian Army.

    Gulf channels have announced a currency collapse prelude to the downfall of the State. The Governor of the Central Bank, Adib Mayaleh, intervened on national television to denounce the new disinformation and confirm the exchange rate of 68.30 Syrian pounds per U.S. dollar.

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    Press conference by General Robert Mood on the Battle of Damascus which he observes from his hotel room.

    Reinforcements have been deployed around the Umayyads Square to protect public television studios considered a priority target for all enemies of freedom. Replacement studios have been installed in the Rose of Damascus Hotel where United Nations observers are basking. The presence of these officials, who allowed the perpetration of this attack on the capital without interrupting their idleness, is the de facto protection for Syrian journalists risking their lives attempting to inform their fellow citizens.

    At the Security Council, Russia and China have for the third time vetoed a draft Western and Gulf resolution to enable international military intervention. Russian and Chinese representatives have tirelessly denounced propaganda aimed at portraying the foreign attack against Syria as a revolt repressed with bloodshed.

    The Battle of Damascus is expected to resume tonight.

    Translation
    Roger Lagassé

    GRTV: War on Health: The FDA’s Cult of Tyranny

    July 24th, 2012 by Dr. Gary Null

    Colorado Carnage: Proof of Obama Ineptitude

    July 24th, 2012 by Finian Cunningham

    In a society which criminalizes and degrades whole communities on the basis of skin color and low economic status and which refuses appeals for clemency even for mentally sick individuals is it any wonder when certain other members of that society treat their fellow citizens with brutality over perceived grievances and grudges? Sick individuals are the product of a sick society. President Barack Obama has led the American nation’s soul-searching over the latest shooting spree in their country in which 12 people were murdered in a Colorado cinema house by a seemingly crazed 24-year-old man.

    Obama said he was “shocked and saddened by the horrific shooting” in which a university doctoral student calmly, callously opened fire on families and friends who had packed a theater in Aurora, Colorado, for the opening night of the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises.

    James Holmes, the alleged shooter, had likened himself to The Joker, the arch-villain of the Batman series. Methodically, he entered minutes after the movie began screening at midnight last Thursday, wearing a helmet and gasmask and clad in full body armor. Holmes set off two tear gas grenades and then proceeded to spray the terrified audience with bullets from a 12-gauge shotgun, a 0.40 Glock handgun and a semiautomatic assault rifle. Tragically, some of the people initially thought it was a promotional stunt for the film.

    In somber tones, Obama urged fellow Americans, “When confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family. We must stand together.”

    Moments of such darkness recur with disturbing frequency in the American society. Since Obama took office in early 2009, there have been at least six mass shootings across the United States, from Binghamton in New York where 13 people were killed in April 2009 at an immigration services centre, to Oakland, California, where seven people were shot dead at a Christian college earlier this year.

    Before that, the biggest murder spree was in 2007 at Virginia Tech when a gunman killed 32 people at a college before taking his own life. In 1999, only 17 miles from the latest massacre, two teenagers went on a shooting rampage in Colorado’s Columbine High School, killing 12 of their fellow students and a teacher, and then turning their guns on themselves.

    What is it about the American society that makes the wanton destruction of human life such a routine occurrence?

    Some point to the constitutional right for all citizens to bear firearms and the easy access of buying even high-powered weapons over a shop counter. Campaigners for stricter gun controls point out that there are more firearms in the US than there are citizens – some 300 million. Such is the prevalence of mass shootings in the US that even conservative public figures, such as commentator Bill Kristol and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, are now calling for greater restrictions on gun ownership.

    The American gun lobby claims that the perpetrators of such horrific killings are simply sick individuals who have become unhinged, morally and psychologically.

    Added to the debate are complaints that American popular culture has become saturated with gratuitous violence, from Hollywood to television to video games, which has desensitized young people to killing and maiming. Indeed, the Batman movies themselves are known for scenes of unremitting, explosive violence.

    However, the spectrum of American politicians and media pundits does not seem capable of acknowledging nor even being cognizant of a deeper malaise for these mass killings. This malaise stems from how deeply engrained and integrated violence is in the very fabric of US society. That is because it stems from America’s capitalist social disorder of haves and have-nots, its structural violence against marginalized communities, its system of self-enriching cronyism for ruling elites at the federal and state levels, the looting of public finances by banks and corporations, and from the country’s increasingly lawless and destructive relations with the rest of the world. What makes the systematic violence of the US so lamentable is that not one of the political parties or mainstream media is able to provide a comprehensive narrative for the root cause. They are intellectually bankrupt. Therefore the solution will continue to elude and the violence will continue, again and again.

    A look back at some of the incidents and news in the days preceding and following the Colorado cinema shooting casts some light on where such depravity may stem from.

    Earlier in the week that the shooter held his finger on the trigger, there was another gratuitous homicide. US Navy men onboard a 670-foot warship, the USNS Rappahannock, opened fire with heavy machine guns on a small fishing boat in the Persian Gulf. Survivors among the Indian fishing crew said that without warning shots or signals, their vessel was sprayed with a hail of lead from 0.40 caliber armor-piercing guns. One of fishing crew died when his body was torn into three pieces from the gunfire, while three others were critically wounded. The US Navy ship didn’t even stop to tend the injured. Respect for law, human life? Not as far as US government military forces are concerned in this instance as in so many other instances in Afghanistan, Iraq and countless other countries where they operate.

    The day before the Colorado murders, the American mainstream media reported that Congress had approved an annual budget of $606 billion for Pentagon military expenditure, including overseas operations such as the massive build-up of American warships and fighter jets in the Persian Gulf against Iran, and the ongoing 11-year war in Afghanistan – the longest war in American history. Such official disclosure of military spending – larger than that of all countries of the world combined – eclipses total American government spending on health, education, employment and training, research and development, community and social welfare, public infrastructure and utilities, and it comes at a time when poverty is ripping apart families and communities the length and breadth of the US, afflicting some 50 million Americans. This is an economy of war and violence writ large. An economy dictated by a few, unaccountable to the majority.

    A macabre form of cost-cutting came in the form of the Texas state execution of death row prisoner Yokamon Hearns. Just hours before the Colorado slayings, mentally disabled Hearns was put to death with a single lethal injection – instead of the customary administering of three chemicals. The single injection of pentobarbital will presumably save the state money. Pleas for clemency were ignored by the Texan authorities, even though Hearns was intellectually disabled from childhood. A second African-American man, Warren Hill, is to be executed this week, also by single lethal injection, in the state of Georgia, after more than 20 years on death row. Like Hearns, Hill is also mentally disabled. Their cases illustrate disquieting trends in the American justice system. First, the number of death row prisoners has increased five-fold from the mid-1970s, when the death penalty was reinstated, to some 3,100 currently. Second, the numbers awaiting execution are disproportionately higher for men from poor, black communities. And, thirdly, this capital punishment is being used increasingly on individuals who have clinical conditions of mental impairment. In 2002, the US Supreme Court ruled that execution of intellectually disabled inmates was “cruel and unusual punishment” – but the practice continues in many states.

    In a society which criminalizes and degrades whole communities on the basis of skin color and low economic status and which refuses appeals for clemency even for mentally sick individuals is it any wonder when certain other members of that society treat their fellow citizens with brutality over perceived grievances and grudges? Sick individuals are the product of a sick society.

    And the week of American violence was not over yet.

    Almost a full week before the Colorado shootings, massacres, shooting and bombings were intensified in Syria under Washington’s proxy war against the government of Bashar Al Assad. For the past 16 months, thousands of Syrian civilians have been murdered, kidnapped or dispossessed by foreign mercenaries waging a covert war at the behest of Washington and its allies Britain, France, Turkey, Israel and the Persian Gulf Arab monarchies. The illegal objective of “regime change” is now openly exulted by President Obama. Indeed, only last week US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned of yet more violence to bring down the Syrian government, a threat that culminated in the murder of four senior Syrian Cabinet members in a bomb attack that has all the hallmarks of a Western intelligence operation.

    Needless to say, Washington did not condemn that act of mass murder. Days later, US lawlessness was underscored when John Bolton, the Bush-era neocon and former ambassador to the United Nations, urged the state of Israel to launch a military strike against Iran on the basis of outlandish allegations that the Islamic Republic had been involved in the car-bombing of seven Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. Just like that, acts of war dispatched from American mouths, as easy as rounds from a semiautomatic. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has since given notice that long-held joint American war plans towards Iran have been brought forward.

    Meanwhile, American unmanned drone strikes continued to kill people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. The latest victims include two civilians in Nuristan, northeast Afghanistan, and 12 unknown people in Pakistan’s North Waziristan province. These victims were presumably shortlisted by President Obama in his weekly meetings with Pentagon chiefs to sanction the coming week’s assassination “hits” (- perhaps around the same time that he was preparing his somber speech for the victims in Colorado).

    Over the weekend, as the people of Aurora, Colorado, were mourning their family and friends, eight US-led soldiers were killed in Afghanistan in separate Taliban attacks, bringing the total troop fatalities in that country to 258 so far this year. Obama will no doubt claim that such loss of life is testimony to America’s “leading the world in the cause of freedom.”

    Although, over the same weekend, when American citizens at home protested for freedom from poverty, unemployment and homelessness, they were batoned and shot at with rubber bullets and pepper spray by riot-clad police officers. The levels of police brutality in cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles have reached new heights. Only days before the Colorado killings, a San Francisco man who was handcuffed by police was shot twice fatally in the chest by officers. Two days after Colorado, another man was shot in the back as he ran away from officers in Anaheim, Los Angeles. In that incident, unarmed Manuel Diaz was brought down with the first volley and then as he fell wounded he was shot in the back of head. Local people said police officers handcuffed his prone corpse before carting it away. When Diaz’s neighbors came out on their street to peacefully denounce police conduct, they were fired on with rubber bullets and set upon with police dogs.

    Such gratuitous state violence towards its citizens makes a mockery of Obama’s exhortations for Americans to “stand together as one family.”

    In his speech on the Colorado shootings, Obama added, “We may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize fellow human beings like this. Such violence, such evil is senseless. It’s beyond reason.”

    What is beyond reason is just another week of American violence, at home and abroad. 

    Eroding Social Justice in Spain

    July 24th, 2012 by Stephen Lendman

    Along with Greece, Spain represents the epicenter of decaying Western societies. Multiple rounds of social spending cuts reflect Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s war on his own people. 

    Complicit parliamentarians go along. At issue is class warfare, transferring household wealth to bankers, other corporate predators, and privileged elites, eroding Spain’s middle class, and destroying a whole youth generation and perhaps others to come. More on this below.

    Spaniards protest angrily against what no one should tolerate. They’re back after the latest announced austerity package. 

    On July 19, London’s Guardian headlined “Spanish take to streets in protest as MPs pass ($65 billion) austerity package,” saying:

    They raged in 80 cities nationwide. They’re mad as hell and won’t take it anymore. The Guardian downplayed turnout. Possibly millions participated. Around 800,000 rallied in Madrid. Other major cities saw huge crowds.

    Police attacked protesters violently. “Angry civil servants had blocked traffic in several main Madrid avenues earlier in the day, with protesters puncturing the tires of dozens of riot police vans, amid growing upset at austerity, recession and 24% unemployment.”

    Youth unemployment is 50% and heading south. Spain is deteriorating in plain sight. Madrid marchers carried Spanish flags and banners saying “No to the cuts.” “You have ruined us.” “Hands up, this is a robbery.”

    In Mieres near Oviedo, eight firemen disrobed. A wall above them displayed a banner saying “With so many cuts we have been left naked.”

    On July 21, Russia Today said “rallies turn violent” as millions march for social justice. In Madrid, police charged protesters violently. They used batons, rubber bullets, and tear gas. 

    At least 15 arrests were made. Dozens were injured. In urban areas, trash cans were set ablaze. Barricades were erected to block police vehicles from entering.

    Clashes continued daily since the latest mid-July austerity cuts were announced. Each turnout ups the stakes and gets more violent.

    One protester said:

    “There’s nothing we can do but take to the street. We have lost between 10 and 15 per cent of our pay in the past four years.”

    Another said:

    “We have to make some noise, because they’re making fun of us and of all working people.”

    Coal industry subsidy cuts threaten around 50,000 mining and related jobs. Since May, thousand of miners struck, blocked streets and railroads. They and others vowed to keep struggling for justice. Police attack them violently.

    According to Spanish sociologist Carlos Delclos:

    “If Mariano Rajoy had any sense of decency, or even a fragment of dignity that the miners and the protesters have, then he would resign, along with the rest of his government.” 

    “He’s broken every campaign promise that he’s made, some even at comical levels. His entire party was saying that raising sales tax was unthinkable and all that, and now we have a 21-per-cent sales tax.”

    He thinks he can get away with anything. “What we are seeing is the impunity of a government that has a lot of people that pertain to groups that had affinity with the Franco government, the Fascist government, 40 years ago, and have never had to sit before trial since then,” he added.

    Multiple rounds of cuts assure more coming. Social Spain is being destroyed. New measures call for raising the VAT from 18 to 21% effective August 1. Over $800 million in domestic spending reductions is planned. Expect much more later.

    At issue now is freezing public sector wages, cutting them for some state workers, slashing unemployment benefits, raising the retirement age from 65 – 67, and linking eroding pensions to life expectancy.

    In addition, closures and/or privatizing state industries, ports, airports, and rail assets are planned. Town councillor numbers are being reduced by one-third. Regional and local government authority is eroding. Trade union and political party subsidies face 20% cuts. 

    Sentiment across the country reflects rage. Protests continue daily. On July 16, Madrid streets were blocked. Firefighters, off duty police, civil servants and miners marched on Spain’s parliament. Police confronted them violently.

    Civil servants are especially hard hit. They took 5 – 15% previous cuts. They lost Christmas bonuses. They’re 7% of their reduced annual income. Sick pay is lower. Fewer days off and less rights overall became policy.

    Firefighters lost up to 30% of their income. One protesting nurse said:

    “There are hospitals with whole floors that are not being used because they are firing and cutting jobs. We have little hope, but staying at home would just make it easier for the government to keep on doing what it wants.”

    Protesters include doctors, nurses, teachers, professors, students, cops, firemen, other civil servants of all stripes, unemployed and underemployed people in all age groups, and youths representing a lost generation being destroyed.

    Since 2008 crisis conditions erupted, massive cuts in jobs, income, healthcare, education, pensions, and other social benefits were instituted. So-called reform involves dismantling public services entirely. It’s also about slashing wages and pensions to the bone.

    Growing unemployment, poverty, hunger, homelessness, and despair for some, rage for many others, reflects current conditions growing numbers won’t tolerate.

    Cutting Spain’s deficit from 8.9% of GDP to 2.8% by 2014 is cover for waging ruthless class warfare. It’s raging across Europe, America and Israel. 

    High-paying/full-time jobs are disappearing. Benefits are eroding en route to eliminating them altogether. Ruler/serf societies are planned. 

    People have two choices – rebel or starve. Fight back or face heart of darkness big brother conditions. Prioritizing monied interests over popular needs assures the worst of what Conrad and Orwell conceived.

    “The horror! The horror!” reflects what at stake.

    A Final Comment

    On July 19, Germany’s Bundestag overwhelmingly approved bailout aid for Spanish banks. European Financial Security Facility (EFSF) funds will supply it.

    Despite criticizing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s handling of crisis conditions, Social Democrats and Greens largely supported her. Germany’s Left Party voted no.

    Spain gets $123 billion. It’s coming in several tranches through yearend. It’s a down payment on what’s needed. Expect hundreds of billions more before crisis conditions end. Major Spanish banks are insolvent. They’re drowning in toxic debt. It’s impossible to repay.

    Instead of being nationalized, shut down, or broken up, bailouts hand them taxpayer money. Eurozone countries contribute EFSF funds. Troika (EU/ECB/IMF) diktats control policy. Ordinary people have no say on how their money is misused and spent.

    In June, Eurozone leaders agreed to allocate EFSF loans to Spain’s Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring (FROB).

    Conditions involve deep social spending cuts and regressive reforms. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble defended the aid package. He said Spain’s financial sector faces stability issues. Other Eurozone countries are affected. Madrid is responsible for repayment. Taxpayers are stuck with the tab.

    Parliamentary opposition was weak. Social Democrat leader Frank-Walter Steinmeier accused Merkel of not leveling with German voters and explaining the burden accurately.

    German President Joachim Gauck said “(s)he now has the duty to explain in great detail what (her plan) means, also in fiscal terms.”

    Thursday’s parliamentary vote came during its summer recess. It reconvened on Merkel’s request. On June 29, it adjourned. 

    Members left with Bundestag President Norbert Lammert instructions not to “swim to far out and make sure your carry-on baggage is within close reach.”

    In other words, giving criminal bankers taxpayer money is prioritized over parliamentarian fun in the sun and providing vital social services to German citizens who need them.

    The name of today’s game is destroying decades of social progress. It’s about money power over popular needs. It’s about exploiting people, not serving them. It transforming Western societies into dystopian nightmares.  

    Only public rage can change things. Key is mobilizing it before it’s too late.

    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

    Tens of thousands of striking students and their supporters marched through downtown Montreal Sunday in a demonstration called by CLASSE, the student association that has spearheaded the five-month strike against the Quebec Liberal government’s plan to drastically raise university tuition fees.

     

    Thousands of striking students and their supporters marched through downtown Montreal Sunday

    Held in blazing heat in the middle of the traditional summer vacation period, the boisterous demonstration attested to students’ determination to fight for education to be a social right and the depth of popular anger against the Charest Liberal government.

    But the leadership of CLASSE offered no viable perspective for carrying forward the struggle under conditions where the strike has brought students into headlong conflict not only with Liberal government of Jean Charest, but with the entire Canadian ruling class, it courts and police.

    CLASSE’s leadership claims to support a “social strike”—a larger protest movement involving limited worker job-action. But in the face of fierce opposition from the trade unions, it has for all intents and purposes abandoned its call for any broadening of the strike. Participants in Sunday’s demonstration were greeted with CLASSE’s standard protest refrain, “Shout louder, so no one can ignore us.”

    Its attempt to pressure the government into withdrawing the tuition fee hikes having clearly failed, CLASSE is increasingly adapting to the union-led campaign to divert the student strike and the broader opposition movement that erupted in response to the Liberals’ draconian Bill 78 behind a campaign to elect the big business Parti Quebecois (PQ). In recent weeks, CLASSE spokesmen have repeatedly indicated that they would view the defeat of Charest’s Liberals at the hands of the PQ—a party which when at last held office imposed the greatest social spending cuts in Quebec history—as a positive outcome for students and working people.

    Speaking at the conclusion of Sunday’s march, which culminated in front of Charest’s Montreal office, CLASSE spokesman Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, declared, “We are hundreds of thousands who dream of a better Quebec. We are hundreds of thousands who are determined to be rid of Jean Charest, rid of the Liberals, and rid of neo-liberalism. We are hundreds of thousands who want to give back the country to its people.”

    As was the case at the June 22 demonstrations in Montreal and Quebec City, CLASSE speakers made no mention whatsoever of a “social strike.” Nor did they clearly call for the student strike to continue when the three-month government-imposed “suspension” of the winter semester ends in mid-August.

    CLASSE speakers pledged to support students should they choose to defy Bill 78 and organize picketing of strike-bound universities and CEGEPs (pre-university and technical colleges). They made no recommendation, however, as to what students should do when the government tries to resume the winter semester.

    This is in keeping with a decision CLASSE took at its July 14 congress that it would be more “democratic” to “leave it to students,” organized in their local student associations, to initiate the next steps in the struggle.

    The unions, meanwhile, have declared that they will obey Bill 78. This makes them nothing less than accomplices in the state suppression of the strike, since Bill 78 legally compels them to assist the government in forcing teachers and other university and CEGEP employees to break the strike.

    As for the government, it is an open secret that it is using the lengthy suspension in the school term to prepare an unprecedented police mobilization.

    Many workers participated in Sunday’s demonstration, but they did so as individuals. Apart from a bus-load of United Steelworker members from Toronto, there were no union delegations whatsoever.

     

    Sunday’s demonstration was the fifth consecutive mass student protest held on the 22nd of the month. On May 22, just four days after the passing of Bill 78, as many as 250,000 people demonstrated in what was one of the largest protest marches in Quebec history.

    Yet even as the unions isolate the students’ struggle and pledge to enforce Bill 78, CLASSE’s leadership continues to promote them as allies of the students and the legitimate representatives of the working class.

    Sunday’s demonstration was held under the theme “Out with the neo-liberals.” Many students and their supporters welcomed this, for they saw it as a broadening of the strike, with the struggle against the tuition fee hikes tied to a wider opposition to the ruling elite’s drive to dismantle public services though social spending cuts, user-fees, and privatization.

    But this slogan clearly had a double-meaning which dovetails with the identification of the Charest Liberals as students’ principal enemy. Even more importantly, it is tied to the bankrupt reformist conception that the dominance of “neo-liberal ideology” is the result simply of greed—that the class war of recent decades is a bad policy choice not the outcome of the failure of capitalism; and that through protest the ruling class can be pressured into restoring the limited concessions it made to working people during the post-Second World War boom.

    In line with this protest orientation, CLASSE continues to confine the struggle within the parameters of Quebec, depicting it as a “nationalist” struggle of the Quebec people, rather than part of a growing working-class led opposition to the drive of big business and its political representatives to make the working class pay for the capitalist crisis.

    Only one of the three CLASSE speakers who addressed the crowd at the beginning of the demonstration made any reference to the brutal austerity measures being imposed by Canada’s Conservative government. None spoke of the growing working class resistance in Greece, Spain and around the world to the class war policies of the financial aristocracy, nor made any mention of the greatest crisis of capitalism since the Great Depression.

    The CLASSE speakers also made no mention of the PQ, a party that precisely because of the support it receives from the unions and residual popular illusions that it is a “lesser evil” has frequently proven better able than the Liberals to impose sweeping attacks on the working class.

    FECQ and FEUQ, Quebec’s other major student associations, have, along with their mentors in the union officialdom, long touted the PQ as an ally of the students. Prior to Sunday’s demonstration, FECQ and FEUQ leaders held a press conference to promote their call for students to focus their efforts on defeating the 10 sitting Liberal legislators who won their seats with the smallest pluralities.

    “I think this movement woke a lot of young people up to the fact that we can affect changes,” said FECQ President Elaine Laberge. “Before we were stuck in this vicious cycle where we wouldn’t vote so we wouldn’t be represented and because we weren’t feeling represented we wouldn’t vote.”

    While some FECQ and FEUQ leaders did join Sunday’s protest, they did nothing to build it. This is because they are determined to adhere to the letter of Bill 78. In a show of defiance, CLASSE refused to submit to the police for prior approval of the itinerary of the Montreal march and a parallel demonstration in Quebec City. Police declared both protests “illegal” at the outset, but with thousands marching, chose not to take any action.

    Supporters of the Socialist Equality Party intervened in the Montreal demonstration to warn that students’ courageous and tenacious five-month struggle is in peril and to fight for the relaunching of the student strike on a socialist perspective. They distributed more than 2,000 copies of a statement that read in part: “To prevail in their struggle, students must make their challenge to the ruling class’s austerity agenda explicit. They must broaden their struggle politically and geographically by making it the catalyst for a working class counteroffensive in Quebec and across North America in defence of all jobs and public services, and for the development of an independent political movement of the working class directed at bringing to power workers’ governments.

    “Only the working class can break the stranglehold of big business over socioeconomic life by radically reorganizing the economy so as to make social need, not private profit, the animating principle.”

    To read the statement in full go to Quebec student strike at the crossroads .