The struggle of Italian workers against unending job disparities in the Fiat Automotive company have come to a tense point as Sergio Marchionne has placed the final touches on his bid to leave Turin and relocate Fiat’s headquarters abroad in an effort to save the sinking company.

Among the many opinions voiced during this year’s May Day protests in Turin were calls to preserve one of Italy’s remaining industries that has long been the icon of Italian craftsmanship. Waves of layoffs by Marchionne in 2010 have caused rampant redundancies and harsh working conditions for laborers in the Mirafiore and Termini Imerese plants—six plants overall. The most recent protests have continued a long history of strikes and demonstrations against the Italian automaker in the fight to acquire better wages, treatment, job security, and working conditions.

Historically, workers of Fiat Motors have been battling with their employers since the Hot Autumn protests of 1969 over unfair treatment, disputes over productivity benchmarks, and the offshoring of production plants. In the latest installment of these protests, Marchionne, in defiance and frustration, began working towards internationalizing the company’s manufacturing and market shares, while at the same time, removing the threat of worker demands by completing the last 41.46% portion of his 4.5 billion dollar stake in Chrysler’s VEBA, a healthcare trust of the US United Auto Workers, which gave him full control over the Detroit-operated automotive company.

“The combination is expected to put Fiat in a strong position to compete with rivals such as Volkswagen, Toyota and General Motors. While Fiat’s main market is in Europe, Chrysler – the third biggest US carmaker after GM and Ford – now gives it a firm foothold in North America,” Deutsche Welle reports.

In recent years, economic austerity in Europe, rampant government corruption in Italy, and Sergio’s demands to raise productivity while ignoring the needs of Fiat’s workers has lead to serious disagreements between himself and Italian laborers.

When questioned about workers’ strikes in 2011, Marchionne commented,

“The strike is a very, very, very bad idea. You are telling someone who wants to invest in the country that you’re not willing to participate and you are trying to impose conditions on the investments which you can’t control.”

He alludes to the corruption under the Berlusconi administration, which has severely undermined his attempts to improve Fiat, and has openly criticized the Italian ex-Prime Minister’s irresponsible actions and negative impact on Italy’s economic progress. “The company has lost its international sense, the compass has been lost, someone opened the gates of the zoo and they’ve all got out […] It’s difficult to go around the world and explain what’s happening in Italy. It’s shameful,” he expressed in a June 3rd article from The Scotsman.

Marchionne, in an effort to circumvent the rising cost of labor, low productivity, logistics obstacles, and dwindling profits in Europe due to the economic crisis, has decided to turn towards new horizons in the Far East and West to boost the company’s earnings and long-term profits. In an article by the Daily Mail, he expressed that by completing the merger between Chrysler and Fiat under the name Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, he could increase production to 6 million units a year, giving him an advantage in pushing the company’s brand name overseas.

While noble, he fails to mention the plethora of benefits he stands to make by signing away the Turin-based headquarters to London, Amsterdam and Detroit. This has been done in a hasty move to expand the market shares of Fiat to North America and Asia, which has been responded to with mixed results from board members and investors.

On May 7th, just shortly after the May Day protests, Marchionne was faced with a series of obstacles to his ambitious plans after failing to explain how he would generate enough capital investment. In an attempt to circumvent heavily bureaucratic Italian labor laws and economic mismanagement, as well as to cash in on Fiat’s 100% shares of Chrysler Motors, up from 60% in 2009, his risky attempt to move Fiat’s production base to Detroit was met with opposition and skepticism.

His relocation to Detroit—an industrial wasteland that recently planned to shut off half of its streetlights due to a lack of funds—raised questions about his motivations for relocating and his long-term ambitions for Fiat Motors. After giving a presentation to investors, Reuters journalists reportedthat “trading was briefly suspended after the shares tumbled more than 9 percent, before resuming their decline to close almost 12 percent lower at 7.48 euros, with investors still digesting Tuesday’s strategy presentation in Detroit.”

“Fiat’s massive plan, and the necessary capital expenditure and R&D, simply do not look affordable or prudent,” said Max Warburton of Bernstein Research. Calling its financial targets “enormously optimistic”, Warburton said: “Fiat would do everyone a favor, including its employees, management and shareholders, by raising capital.”

A lesser reported, but equally important speculation of Marchionne’s move would be to gain exposure to the American derivatives market and the temptation to engage in high frequency trading. A January 23rd Bloomberg article highlighted that he had decided to move Fiat’s financial home base to London and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), which would help him to quickly resolve his borrowing demands.

“Ultimately, it’s a very rational decision,” said Erich Hauser, a London-based automotive analyst at International Strategy & Investment Group. “Going to the U.S. is reflective to the reality of this business and, ultimately, in the best interest when it comes to borrowing” needs.

In the same article, Christopher Kummer, president of the Institute of Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances at Webster University in Vienna, also observed “A listing in the U.S. makes sense, as this allows more flexibility to attract some institutional investors there. Setting it up in the U.K. however is a very unusual choice. With that regard, I would have looked at other more favorable locations.”

The “unusual choice” that Kummer speaks of is Marchionne’s complicated decision to create a UK tax base and concomitant placement on the NYSE in order to utilize new financial instruments for risk management and short term, albeit risky profits. His new affiliation with the UK-based London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange (LIFFE), which merged with the Intercontinential Exchange (ICE) in 2013, may also help the CEO to get around regulations imposed by the European Securities and Markets Authority, which has been granted authority to monitor over-the-counter derivatives’ transactions in order to prevent another financial disaster such as the one behind the Lehman Brothers in 2008.

However, Fiat’s placement on the NYSE and the ICE will also expose the company to the “dark pools” market of covert high frequency trading, which has plagued the stock platform since the 1980s. An article on The Economist specifically details the advantages gained by moving the NYSE from a ticket-and-shouting match system to that of electronic trading with ICE.

“Adding to the indignity of the NYSE’s lost independence is the broadly held belief that ICE bought it not for the NYSE itself but for another exchange it owns, LIFFE, which has a large share of the market in European derivative contracts. It also profits from a licence to issue derivatives tied to MSCI share indices, and may soon offer products tied to LIBOR, a benchmark interest rate that is to be administered by another division of ICE”, the article mentions.

Sergio’s decision to trade on the NYSE will also grant his shareholders access to even faster technological infrastructures that will allow trade at some of the world’s quickest speeds. This could make Fiat more attractive to investors on the NYSE by allowing them to make wild profits from hedging mechanisms at faster-than-light processing speeds, and by giving him and his buyers an advantage over European markets while simultaneously providing additional support to his future ambitions to work with Eurasian and Chinese markets.

In an article by Sebastian Anthony, he explains how these new technologies could benefit those wishing to participate in high frequency trading (HFS).

“Anova, a company that specializes in deploying low-latency networks for stock trading, is completing an ultra-high-speed laser network between the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the NASDAQ. The link will be just a few nanoseconds faster than the current microwave and fiber-optic links — but in the world of high-frequency trading (HFT), those nanoseconds could result in millions of dollars in profits for the trading companies. Such is the insanity of the stock markets; such is the unbelievable capacity of HFT to create money out of almost nothing.”

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne must realize that by abandoning Italy and setting sail for North America and China, he risks a twofold consequence: alienating the rich tradition of Fiat workers and manufacturers, risking penetration into an already saturated market, an financially unstable production base in Detroit, and uncertain returns even at his target rate of 6 million units per year. His ambitions have placed him at odds with investors, the austere global market, the obscure derivatives market, and most grievously, the Italian people that helped him and previous CEOs build the company from the ground up. To be fair, all of these factors must be accounted for if he wants to reap the rewards of Fiat’s expansion, and there are no shortcuts to this success, monetary or otherwise.

 Haneul Na’avi is one of the founders, writers, and radio hosts for the blog “The Last Defense”. He has studied his BA and MA in English Literature, and while living in China and South Korea for the last six years, he briefly studied Middle East and African Politics at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, South Korea, and Chinese at Fudan University in Shanghai, China. While there, his interests in politics and social movements peaked after the Arab Spring revolutions in March 2011, which lead to the discussion that lead to the creation of the blog.

By Phil Weiss with Scott Roth

Last week Michael Bloomberg, the former NY mayor who owns a media empire, visited Israel to accept a prize, and met with an old friend, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu later described Bloomberg’s devotion to Israel, funding medical facilities in memory of his parents, though he also hinted that the two men had privately disagreed. According to New York Times coverage on the weekend, Bloomberg “called the growing international movement for a boycott against Israel ‘an outrage’ that is ‘totally misplaced,’ but ducked a question about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Maybe because Bloomberg’s operation in Dubai is a cash cow.

Matt Winkler of Bloomberg News, at Zillow.comMatt Winkler of Bloomberg News, at Zillow.com

What follows are leaked excerpts of two news memos to Bloomberg writers and reporters on how to treat the Israel/Palestine conflict. You will see that Palestine just doesn’t count in the world of Bloomberg News. “There is no such country.” It’s part of Israel, or it’s Jewish land: “The land historically belonged to the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.”

I am told these notes were sent out by Matt Winkler, a veteran editor who co-founded Bloomberg News, directs the Bloomberg editorial staff, and ghosted Bloomberg’s memoir.

The more recent Bloomberg memo describes the land as historically Jewish and sees the West Bank in part as Israel.

MARCH 5, 2010

…PALESTINE

Palestine signifies different territory in different contexts. The land historically belonged to the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Palestine represented the area west of the Jordan River
that was a British mandate from the 1920s until the creation of modern Israel in 1948.
Today, Palestine includes parts of Israel and Jordan. Use Palestine in the context of geography, not as a substitute for the Palestinian Authority, Palestine Liberation Organization or any other political body.

The earlier Bloomberg memo says there “is no such country” as Palestine.

MAY 16, 2002

Avoid referring to Palestine, as in “Israel’s incursion into Palestine,” because there is no such country. Instead, describe the occupied areas by their names, as in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Palestinian people or Palestine Authority is OK.

Someone who knows how Bloomberg works explains the significance of the memos:

The company pursues a very diligent and precise approach to its coverage globally, chastising journalists where they express any personal opinions or any remote sense of subjectivity. Those rules are not always adhered to when it comes to the coverage of Israel and the occupation of Palestinians. In fact very often they are completely ignored. When Hezballah and Hamas are mentioned they are always qualified as being considered terrorist organizations by the US. Hamas is rarely described as democratically elected, and rarely does Bloomberg use the word occupation.

Writes Scott Roth:

It seems like an attempt to avoid using the term Palestine in any way that would signify that it ought to be or can be a country on its own. In ’02 the policy was to call Palestine the WB and or Gaza. The ’10 directive is even stranger. It looks like something out of an AIPAC primer. The land historically belonged to ancient Israel and Judah? It also belonged to a lot of other people. Plus no reference to partition, ’48, ’67 occupation or millions of human beings living under Israel’s boot that have no vote.

 

On Friday May 30, just a few days before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced details of its carbon rule proposal, the Obama Administration awarded offshore oil leases to ExxonMobil in an area of the Gulf of Mexico potentially containing over 172 million barrels of oil.

The U.S. Department of Interior‘s (DOI) Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) proclaimed in a May 30 press release that the ExxonMobil offshore oil lease is part of “President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to continue to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production.”

Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell formerly worked as a petroleum engineer for Mobil, purchased as a wholly-owned subsidiary by Exxon in 1998.

Dubbed a “Private Empire” by investigative reporter Steve Coll, ExxonMobil will now have access to oil and gas in the Alaminos Canyon Area, located 170 miles east of Port Isabel, Texas. Port Isabel borders spring break and tourist hot spot South Padre Island.

Map Credit: U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

ExxonMobil originally won the three leases at the Western Planning Area Sale 233, held on March 19. BOEM records show ExxonMobil was the only company to participate in the bid and paid over $21.3 million.

Transboundary Agreement Opens Floodgates

The U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreement signed into law by President Obama on December 23, 2013 — a key precursor to the ongoing debate over Mexico’s oil and gas industry reforms — served as the legal backdrop for BOEM awarding ExxonMobil with the lease.

“With the Agreement now in full force, we can make additional oil and gas along the resource-rich boundary between the United States and Mexico available and we have a clear process by which both governments can provide the necessary oversight to ensure exploration and development activities are conducted safely and responsibly,” Secretary Jewell said in a press release.

“These leases represent a significant step forward in U.S.-Mexico cooperation in energy production and pave the way for future energy and environmental collaboration.”

Over 1.5 million offshore acres opened for business as a result of the Transboundary Agreement.

Through the Agreement, U.S. companies agreed to develop the area jointly with Mexican state-owned company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex).

Mexico’s legislature is now debating the details of secondary legislation, coming after the country signed constitutional amendments in December 2013. The constitutional amendments-secondary legislation one-two punch will open up the rest of Mexico’s onshore and offshore oil and gas reserves to international oil and gas companies, working in partnership with Pemex.

Image Credit: Manhattan Institute

According to a May 6 article appearing in Upstream Online, the legislature will open up an “extraordinary session” to debate the secondary legislation sometime this month.

“Five Year Program”

Beyond the Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreement, in February the Obama Administration announced it would be opening up over 40 million acres of offshore land for oil and gas development, also doing so under the “all-of-the-above” banner.

“These lease sales underscore the President’s commitment to create jobs through the safe and responsible exploration and development of the Nation’s domestic energy resources,” Secretary Jewell said in a press release at the time.

“The Five Year Program reflects this Administration’s determination to facilitate the orderly development while protecting the human, marine and coastal environments, and ensuring a fair return to American taxpayers.”

“Stove Pipe” Energy Policy

Not everyone is confident about the Obama Administration’s ability “to facilitate the orderly development while protecting the human, marine and coastal environments,” though, particularly given the climate change and ecological impacts of offshore drilling.

And that’s to say nothing about the myriad shortcomings of the EPA carbon rule itself, which an article in Bloomberg Businessweek jovially described as doing “the power industry a big favor.”

“The Obama Administration has had a problem of stove-pipe energy policy: announcing separate, often competing policies when it comes to reducing emissions,” Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen‘s energy program, told DeSmogBlog.

President Obama has stated his strategic doctrine at West Point. In his speech, he reiterated the military omnipotence of the United States, while it is technically surpassed by both Russia and China. Unable to cope with Moscow, he glossed over the loss of the Crimea in silence and instead designated the only worthy enemy: the tactics of terrorism.

While al-Qaeda camps are located in countries under occupation by NATO or NATO members, he announced a comprehensive program to combat them. Finally, he reiterated his support for the “Syrian opposition” and promised that he would not fail to bring them help… when he gets Congressional approval.

The United States is henceforth only an “indispensable nation” in President Obama’s discourse.

On May 28th, President Obama delivered an important speech stating his strategic doctrine on the occasion of the graduation of cadets of the Military Academy at West Point. [1]

JPEG - 21.2 kbNot surprisingly, the President recalled that he kept his promise to repatriate US troops deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to eliminate Osama bin Laden. But what he portrayed as a supposedly laudatory assessment is not one: the GIs returned exhausted from Afghanistan and have fled Iraq before being expelled by the popular resistance. The exorbitant cost of these expeditions, over 1,000 billion, has prevented the Pentagon from maintaining its arsenal. About the death of bin Laden, it is naught but a fairy tale: Osama Bin Laden had nothing to do with the attacks of September 11th and died of illness and was buried in December 2001, as has well certified the British MI6. [2]

One can only admire the US ability to continue this narration of an imaginary reality, however contradicted by solid evidence, and to always be echoed by the Atlanticist media.

In his speech, the president described his country as “the indispensable nation”, both militarily and economically the most powerful. Yet neither of these assertions is still true. On May 14th, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged before the Atlantic Council that US armed forces would definitely be surpassed in 10 years if a huge upgrade effort were not made right away [3] ; an unlikely effort given budgetary restrictions. The Pentagon notes that the gap in military research is probably irreversible. Russian and Chinese Military technology are now more developed than those of the United States. It is too late to recover. The apparent superiority of Washington holds only because its troops are the only ones deployed worldwide. It therefore exists in certain theaters of operation, but not against Russia, nor against China, which would win in World War. As for the economy, the majority of consumer goods consumed in the U.S. is made in China.

On this spooky basis, in the words of the Washington Post refering only to the relative military weakness of the United States [4], President Obama announced that his country would not hesitate to intervene abroad when its direct interests are involved, but would use international coalitions to address more distant problems. He said that, unlike during the Cold War, Russia no longer posed an imminent danger, but that the main enemy is terrorism.

So the accession of the Crimea to Russia doesn’t matter. Washington will not fight against it though it describes it as an “annexation” and a grave breach of international law, not hesitating to compare President Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler.

Especially after 13 years of “war against terrorism”, Washington claims to have eliminated a few fanatics who composed the international leadership of Al Qaeda, but must now face a more serious problem : many affiliated al-Qaeda groups which have formed almost everywhere in the world.

This “war without end” has the advantage of authorizing everything. Presenting itself since 2001 as acting in self-defense, Washington has authorized itself to violate the sovereignty of other states in order to remove or bombard them, using blackmail at will. To continue this war, President Obama announced the creation of a “counterterrorism partnerships fund,” of up to $ 5 billion. It will aim to train security forces in allied states. Who can believe in such a program? Currently terrorists are trained in the more permanent camps of Al Qaeda, located in the Libyan desert country occupied by NATO. Meanwhile three Al Qaeda camps are installed in Şanlıurfa, Osmaniye and Karaman, Turkey, a NATO member [5] country.

Syrians remember the televised confessions of the Emir of Al- Nosra Front (affiliated to Al-Qaeda) who transported chemical missiles from a Turkish military base to Damascus Ghouta. According to this man, not only were the weapons provided to him by a member of the NATO army, but the order to use them under “false- flag” to justify the bombing of Syria by the United States came from the US.

13 years after the events of September 11, 2001, who can still believe that Al-Qaeda is the main enemy of the “indispensable nation”, when even Barack Obama described the elements affiliated with Al-Qaeda as “less capable” than their parent organisation in his speech at the national Defense University, May 28, 2013 ? [6]. He said that the danger had become relative and that the United States should no longer make it the priority.

About Syria, President Obama continued at West Point by stating intentions to “help the Syrian people stand up against a dictator who bombs and starves his own people” ( sic). That is why Washington will help “those who fight for the right of all Syrians to choose their own future” (read: not the Syrians themselves who vote to elect their president, but only those who are willing to collaborate with a colonial government made in NATO).

Moreover, why intervene only in Syria? Because “As the Syrian civil war spills across borders, the capacity of battle-hardened extremist groups to come after us only increases. ” In other words, after burning Syria, the United States could be affected by the fire they have lit.

“We will step up our efforts to support Syria’s neighbors — Jordan and Lebanon; Turkey and Iraq — as they contend with refugees and confront terrorists working across Syria’s borders. I will work with Congress to ramp up support for those in the Syrian opposition who offer the best alternative to terrorists and brutal dictators. And we will continue to coordinate with our friends and allies in Europe and the Arab World to push for a political resolution of this crisis, and to make sure that those countries and not just the United States are contributing their fair share to support the Syrian people,” he said.

In other words, the White House is having talks with Congress on how to support the personal ambitions of members of the National Coalition. According to press reports, Washington could provide military training in neighboring states and distribute better weapons. Only here’s the rub:

If Washington starts to train and arm Syrian collaborators, it will have to admit to not having done so on a large scale before and having used primarily foreign mercenaries as part of Al-Qaeda.

If 250,000 mercenary jihadists were unable to overthrow the Syrian government over the past three years, how will a few thousand Employees of Western colonization succeed?

Why would neighboring states, already engaged in a secret war, enter into an open war against Syria, with the risks involved for them?

JPEG - 39.8 kb

Which more sophisticated weapons could be delivered to the employees of colonialism without the risk of their being used someday against other targets, including Israeli air superiority?

And last, but not least, knowing that all this has been discussed over the past three years, what new factor could lead one to believe that these isuues could find a solution today?

Obama’s speech is one of impotence : he boasts of having withdrawn his troops from Afghanistan and Iraq and killing a ghost that, for the past decade, still existed only in the tapes of Al-Jazeera. He announces he would fight the terrorism that everywhere he protects. He declares he will support the “Syrian opposition” more effectively, but immediately tunes into Congress – which could not see bombing the country during the chemical weapons crisis -, confident that it will limit itself to the minimum.

The new West Point Military Academy graduates did not give a standing ovation to President Obama.

This speech is only a facade of verbiage trying to hide an irreversible decline. He stunned the audience which understood dreams of conquest are at an end. Against all odds, less than a quarter of the 1064 graduates of the Military Academy at West Point applauded the president, while the majority remained unmoved. The Empire is slowly dying.

Translation
Roger Lagassé

Source
Al-Watan (Syria)

[1] “Remarks by Barack Obama at West Point Academy”, by Barack Obama, Voltaire Network, 28 May 2014.

[2] “Reflections on the official announcement of the death of Osama Bin Laden”, by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 8 May 2011.

[3] “The Pentagon adopts the “2, 2, 2, 1″” Alfredo Jalife – Rahme, Translation Arnaud Bréart , La Jornada/Voltaire Network, 27 May 2014.

[4] “President Obama ’s foreign policy is based on fantasy“, editorial writing in the Washington Post, March 2, 2014.

[5] “Israeli general says al Qaeda ’s Syria fighters set up in Turkey,” by Dan Williams, Reuters, January 29, 2014. « Lettre ouverte aux Européens coincés derrière le rideau de fer israélo-US », par Hassan Hamadé, Réseau Voltaire, 21 mai 2014.

[6] “Barack Obama on the Future of Fight Against Terrorism”, by Barack Obama, Voltaire Network, 23 May 2013.

Vermont is set to make history by becoming the first state in the country to require genetically modified (GMO) food to be labeled. But Monsanto, the world’s largest GMO producer, is gearing up to sue the state.

This is an important fight, not just for Vermont, but for everyone in the country: 25 other states are considering similar labeling laws, but are waiting for someone else to take the leap for their own laws to go into effect. If Vermont wins, it might not be long until the entire country mandates GMO labeling, giving consumers the information to make their own choices.

We can’t let Vermont lose this battle. Let’s stop Monsanto before it can even get started:

Tell Monsanto: Don’t sue Vermont for its decision to label GMO foods.

Monsanto is making outlandish claims in protest, including one that a labeling requirement would be a violation to the company’s freedom of speech. It’s ready to put its corporate muscles to work to thump the state’s decision, just as it has before: It recently successfully conspired with DuPoint and Kraft Foods to grossly outspend and defeat supporters of similar laws in California and Washington.

There’s lots of discussion about what the long-term effects of GMOs might be, but one thing should be above debate: Consumers should have the right to know what they’re eating and what they’re feeding their kids.

Monsanto: We won’t let you sue Vermont.

President Barack Obama unveiled in Poland Tuesday a new $1 billion initiative aimed at ratcheting up NATO’s military encirclement of Russia and preparing for a direct armed conflict between the two nuclear-armed powers.

The four-day trip to Europe, which is to include meetings with representatives from throughout eastern Europe as well as with the president-elect of Ukraine, the “chocolate king,” Petro Poroshenko, came amid a bloody escalation of the Ukrainian regime’s “antiterrorist operation” against the populations in the east of the country.

On Monday, Ukrainian warplanes carried out air strikes in the center of Luhansk, a city of nearly half a million near the Russian border. What are believed to have been cluster bombs were dropped directly on the regional administration building, killing at least eight civilians and wounding 28 others, many of them critically. Among the dead was Natalya Arkhipova, the public health minister of the Luhansk People’s Republic, which was proclaimed following an autonomy referendum last month. When the warplanes struck, she was at the building’s entrance speaking to another woman, who was also killed.

This is only one of the more bloody actions in a growing number of atrocities, as the Ukrainian regime has unleashed warplanes, heavy artillery, mortar fire and assaults by thugs of the fascist Right Sector against the population in the east. Schools, hospitals and residential areas have all been severely damaged by indiscriminate bombardment directed at terrorizing entire regions where opposition to the regime installed by the US-backed and fascist-led coup last February has only increased since the May 25 election of the billionaire oligarch Poroshenko.

In Poland, Obama provocatively combined a threat of new sanctions and an ultimatum to the Russian government of President Vladimir Putin to order those resisting the onslaught by Kiev regime forces and Right Sector fascists to “stand down” with the unveiling of a $1 billion program aimed at increasing US and NATO military deployments on Russia’s border and providing new military aid to Ukraine.

The funding is intended to pay for a constant rotation into the region of US land, air and ground forces. This has already begun, with the deployment of a detachment of 18 US F-16 fighter planes, which Obama visited on Tuesday, as well as some 600 US paratroopers, who have been sent into Poland and the former Soviet Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

“We’ll increase the number of American personnel—Army and Air Force units—continuously rotating through allied countries in Central and Eastern Europe,” Obama said during a joint press conference with Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski. “ And we will be stepping up our partnerships with friends like Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia as they provide for their own defense.”

Like Ukraine, there are sharp tensions between Moscow and Moldova and Georgia, where ethnic Russian regions have established breakaway states—Transnistria in the case of Moldova, and Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the case of Georgia.

Pouring US military aid into these regions can only serve to provoke a confrontation with Russia, which, it is becoming increasingly apparent, is Washington’s aim.

Dubbed the European Reassurance Initiative, this stepped-up aid is to be accompanied, according to a White House statement, with a review of US “force presence in Europe in the light of the new security challenges on the continent.” The statement further vowed that a military buildup in eastern Europe would “not come at the expense of other defense priorities, such as our commitment to the Asia Pacific rebalance.”

In other words, the Obama administration is embarking on a reckless drive to encircle and militarily intimidate Russia and China simultaneously.

Speaking in Warsaw’s Belweder Palace Tuesday, Obama also said that the $1 billion program would be used by the US to “preposition more equipment in Europe” in preparation for military conflict.

Parallel to Obama’s European tour, NATO defense ministers began a two-day conference in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss military measures aimed against Russia. US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel used the meeting to pressure European NATO members to launch a major buildup of their own military forces. Most NATO member countries have failed to meet an agreed target of spending 2 percent of their economic output on their military forces, and a number have cut spending in response to the economic crisis that has gripped Europe since 2008-2009.

Inadequate military spending, Hagel warned the European ministers, posed “as much of a threat to the alliance as any potential adversary.”

Russia’s envoy to NATO, Alexander Grushko, warned that if it is “additional deployment of substantial NATO combat forces in central and eastern Europe that’s on the agenda—and we can hear calls to that effect—we will struggle to view such deployments, even if they are based on rotation, as anything other than a direct departure from commitments in the fundamental Russia-NATO documents.”

In a joint statement, Grushko and Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defense minister, called NATO’s ongoing buildup near Russia’s borders “unprecedented and excessive.” They warned, “NATO should realize that, if it embarks on that path, it can hardly expect Russia to reciprocate with ‘restraint’ in deployments of force.”

In the context of the escalating tensions provoked by Washington in both eastern Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, the Reuters news agency published an ominous article Tuesday entitled “West ponders how to stop—or fight—a new Great War.”

“After more than a decade focused on combating Islamist militancy, Western military planners are once again contemplating potential war between major powers,” the article began.

It cites Obama’s warning in his foreign policy speech at West Point last week that “Regional aggression that goes unchecked, whether in southern Ukraine or the South China Sea or anywhere else in the world, will ultimately impact our allies and could draw in our military.”

The article adds, “One hundred years after the start of World War One, books on the period have become increasingly popular in Washington, Whitehall and NATO headquarters in Brussels, current and former officials say, and not purely for their historical interest.”

It continues: “As in 1914, no one really knows what a modern great war would be like. While much military thinking assumes conflict would remain conventional, nuclear powers have kept their atomic war planning up to date, maintaining target lists for mutually assured destruction, current and former officials say.”

It quotes an unnamed senior Western official as stating: “We are in uncharted territory. It means…reconstituting high end fighting skills and properly thought out doctrine for both conventional and nuclear deterrence.”

June 3 was historic. It was Syria’s first ever free, fair, open democratic presidential election.

Hassan al-Nouri and Maher Hajjar competed with Assad. He’s overwhelmingly popular.

He’ll win easily. Only his victory margin remains to be determined.

Syrians want no one else leading them. Especially while conflict continues. He’s fighting for Syrian freedom. He’s defeating Obama’s dirty game.

On Tuesday, 9,601 polling stations opened at 7:00AM. Heavy turnout kept them open until midnight. To accommodate everyone wanting to vote.

Syrians in hot zones voted in safe areas. The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported “massive” turnout.

A Syrian Presidential Facebook posting said:

“Syrians, who are always up to the expectations, prove day after day their commitment to the culture of life, hope and challenge in the face of the culture of death, terrorism and closeness.”

They’re committed to preserving Syrian sovereignty, it added. Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem issued a statement, saying:

“No one grants legitimacy except the Syrian people. The Syrians register today their free will in democratic, transparent elections to elect who will lead them” for the next seven years.

They alone are enfranchised. “No one can impose (their) will on the Syrian people.”

Assad and his wife Asma voted at a school near his Damascus presidential residence. Hajjar cast his ballot in Salhiya Quarter’s parliament palace.

Al-Nuri voted at a Sheraton Hotel polling station. He commented, saying:

“Syria is becoming a different country where pluralism is taking root and a different opinion gets acceptable.”

Results won’t be announced until all ballots are counted. According to Supreme Judicial Committee for Elections head Hisham al-Shaar:

No exit polls were taken. “Preliminary and final results will be announced simultaneously. No tentative results will be made public.”

Thirty Syrian friendly countries sent monitors. Russian upper house Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation First Deputy Chairman Alexei Alexandrov said:

“We have no doubts about the legitimacy of these polls.”

“Syria does everything to get aligned with the world’s democratic law-governed states.”

“There are no doubts that (Assad) was confronted by serious politicians who had every ground to expect a realistic win.”

“It is obvious that (he) enjoys special prestige, and the people’s love for him is felt.”

“From legal and objective points of view, the elections (were) held impeccably.”

“The existing minor reproaches will not influence the final results.”

Electoral commission member Ridvan Asan said:

“Turnout of voters has been high. Polling has been held in an open and honest manner.”

Itar Tass correspondents visited 15 Damascus polling stations.

They witnessed unimpeded voting. The process was open, free and fair, they said.

Armed militants’ attempts to disrupt things failed. Millions of Syrians wanting to live free foiled them.

One voter perhaps spoke for others, saying:

“Three years of struggle against Saudis and Qatar have not subdued us. They did not even dream of democracy of ours.”

Another said “(t)hree years of war have not broken us. We’re voting for the future.”

A Damascus resident called voting “our duty. We can’t allow people from outside to decide for us,” he said.

“Our duty is to vote to protect our country.” According to another Damascus resident:

“Even if there are mortar bombs like the terrorists promise us, we’ll go and vote for Bashar Assad. This is our right.”

Al-Watan Waddah editor-in-chief Abed Rabbo said no one but Assad can restore peace and stability.

“People…will vote for the person who will bring them” what they most value. And best “prospects for the future.”

Syrians know Assad. They respect him. They’ll elect him overwhelmingly. By a 70% majority or higher.

Syrian expats voted on May 28. Tens of thousands of Lebanese refugees turned out.

Up to an estimated 100,000. Beirut’s Syrian embassy extended voting hours to accommodate them.

Washington pressure got France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and other countries to prevent Syrian expats from voting.

They endorsed sham Ukrainian and Egyptian elections. They denounced Syria’s model democratic process.

It didn’t deter millions of Syrians from exercising their democratic franchise. Or millions more abroad.

Western reporters in Lebanon and elsewhere were amazed. Long lines queued for hours. In countries far off as Brazil.

Overwhelmingly supporting Assad. Expressing it publicly. They want him alone representing them.

AP said he has “significant support among large sections of the population, particularly among Christians, Alawites and other religious minorities.”

In Lebanon, “(t)ens of thousands of Assad supporters flocked to cast ballots at the hilltop embassy in Yarze, a town Southeast of” Beirut.

“The ensuing chaos snarled traffic, trapping schoolchildren in buses for hours and forcing some schools to cancel scheduled exams.”

Voters began arriving pre-dawn. Some on backs of pickup trucks. Others in cars and buses.

Traffic was heavy. Some people abandoned cars. They walked several kilometers to polling stations.

They queued for hours in Iraq, Iran and some European countries. Qatar supports Obama’s war on Syria.

It owns and operates Al Jazeera. It reported what couldn’t be denied.

May 28 “was not an ordinary voting day,” it said. “It was a parade of Syrians celebrating their embattled president, Bashar al-Assad, and expressing support for him.”

“Since early morning, tens of thousands of Syrians flocked to the heavily fortified area surrounding the Syrian embassy in Lebanon as expatriate voting began ahead of the June 3 presidential election.”

“(T)his was the most visible mass gathering the country has witnessed in the past few years and possibly, the largest-ever gathering of Syrians outside their country.”

People came from everywhere. “Photos of Assad were plastered on cars and minibuses, national flags and t-shirts.”

“Chanting for Assad broke out periodically on the highway, in front of the embassy and even in the polling room.”

Voters said “God, Syria, Bashar only.”

Reuters said  ”refugees waved flags and held pictures of Bashar al-Assad as they crushed into Damascus’s embassy in Lebanon…to join Syrians worldwide voting early in an election that looks certain to give him a third seven-year term as president.”

“Several countries that oppose Assad, including France, have blocked the voting but Syrian government media said people were still able to participate in many countries.”

“In Lebanon, which holds a million Syrians – most of them refugees – citizens were driven to the Syrian embassy in Beirut.”

“Their buses blocked one of Beirut’s three main highways and men and women waved Syria’s flag and held up pictures of Assad.”

On June 3, Reuters said Syrians are “expected to deliver an overwhelming victory for President Bashar al-Assad.”

“State television showed long queues of people waiting to vote at polling stations…as well as crowds waving flags and portraits of the president.”

“(N)either of Assad’s rivals…enjoys much support.”

Washington reacted as expected. Assistant State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf repeated one Big Lie after another.

She called Syria’s model democratic process “a disgrace.” She ludicrously said Assad “has no more credibility today than he did yesterday.”

“Elections should be an opportunity for the people of a free society to be consulted and to play an important role in choosing their leaders,” she said.

“Instead, such a process was inconceivable today in Syria, where the regime continued to reject the courageous calls for freedom and dignity that started more than three years ago.”

“It intentionally denied millions of Syrians the right to vote and continued to massacre the very electorate it purports to represent and protect.”

It bears repeating. Syria’s election was open, free and fair. It mocked America’s sham process.

As quoted above, Russian monitor Alexei Alexandrov said:

“We have no doubts about the legitimacy of these polls.”

“Syria does everything to get aligned with the world’s democratic law-governed states.”

“It is obvious that Assad enjoys special prestige, and the people’s love for him is felt.”

“From legal and objective points of view, the elections (were) held impeccably.”

Final results will be announced once all ballots are counted.

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

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

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

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

The newly elected president of western Ukraine is deepening the disastrous course to civil war of his interim predecessor. Within hours of his election on May 25, Petro Poroshenko ordered jet fighters, helicopter gunships, artillery and snipers to back fascist stormtroopers from western Ukraine in attacking the airport and surrounding neighbourhoods in Donetsk in the east, the country’s fifth-largest city.

Ukraine troops and fighter aircraft launch attacks on rebellious eastern Ukraine.

Right-wing militias and army units also resumed shelling of the city of Slavyansk following the election. It lies north of Donetsk. Among the targets struck by the shelling were a primary school, a children’s hospital and houses. The Associated Press reported:

“In recent days, Ukrainian troops have been using mortars to try to retake Slavyansk, causing civilian casualties and prompting some residents to flee. The tactic has produced few immediate results other than deepening distrust toward the government in the city and instilling general fear.

“’They are shooting at us from grenade launchers. We hear explosions. The windows of our house are shaking,’ said Olga Mikhailova, who said she was leaving Slavyansk for the safety of her family. ‘I have four children. It is terrifying being here, because I am afraid for their lives’.”

The assault in Donetsk aimed to dislodge self-defence forces that had earlier secured the airport. Fighting lasted several days. Dozens of self-defence fighters and local citizenry died in the attack.

Casualties on the attacking side were not reported in most western media. Alexander Borodai, prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, told the New York Times, “Our losses are serious. But our opponents’ losses are not less, and maybe even more.”

Attack On Their Homeland

At the bus station near the airport during the attack, locals voiced their anger at the Kyiv regime for what they called a military attack on their homeland. “They call us terrorists but they are the ones who have come to our home, our land, to fight,” said Vadim Voit, a driver. He took part in a battle against Ukrainian soldiers last week in Volnovakha, south of Donetsk.

“Kiev is just not listening to us,” he said. “We can’t make peace with them now.”

A new escalation occurred on June 2 with a bombing attack by fighter aircraft on the central administrative building in the city of Luhansk. Russia Today reports five deaths and many injured.

The attack followed heavy fighting in the early morning at a nearby border control complex that pro-autonomy rebel fighters tried to seize. Kyiv used fighter aircraft to defend the complex. Luhansk lies 20 kilometers from the Russian border.

A commenter to a Russia news service site wrote,

“I’d be curious to find out who are the pilots doing this. A few months ago, there were a lot of reports on how underfunded was Ukraine’s military – only a few planes, no trained pilots, no fuel or ammunition. Now they seem to have everything. Somehow I seriously doubt those pilots are Ukrainian, I am guessing Polish, maybe Georgian.”

The Wall Street Journal reported on March 25,

“In Crimea, the Russian invasion captured a large part of Ukraine’s air force and most of its navy without a fight. Democrat Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois said Ukraine’s prime minister told the group that ‘we don’t have anything that floats, flies or runs’.” [Note: The captured military equipment was returned by Russia to Ukraine. Source.]

Civil War Course of Kyiv Regime

Attacks against Slavyansk have been going on for many weeks. Kyiv regime forces suffered a heavy blow on May 29 when a helicopter carrying General Serhiy Kulchytskiy and 12 or 14 soldiers was shot down outside the city and all its occupants died. Kulchytsky was the head of training of Kyiv’s National Guard. That’s the stormtrooper force created in the wake of the secession of Crimea from Ukraine in March. It is composed of volunteers from right-wing and fascist political movements across Ukraine.

The formation of the National Guard has been prompted by the refusal of many soldiers in Ukraine’s conscript army to fire on fellow citizens. Since the beginning of Kyiv’s assaults in eastern Ukraine in April, there have been frequent reports of mutinies and other forms of refusal by army conscripts to fire on citizens. The frequency of soldier rebellions is growing.

In a news report on Sky TV in the UK, a leader of one of the shocktroop units said that once his forces have completed their murderous rampage in the east, they will carry their “revolution” back to Kyiv and “clear out” the government there.

Compulsory military service was ended in Ukraine 2013 but reinstated in May of this year. Following Crimea’s secession, many Ukraine army and navy personnel stayed in the region and joined the Russian armed forces.

May 22 was a very bad day for Ukraine soldiers. Residents in the adjoining towns of Rubizhne and Novodruzhesk mobilized to repel an incursion by an army unit that was poorly advised and led. At least nine people died on both sides and many were wounded.

On the same day, 16 soldiers were killed near Volnovakha, in what was widely reported as a case of friendly fire. Thirteen others died in fighting at Olginka, north of Donetsk.

Poroshenko has continued the inflammatory rhetoric of his predecessor, terming the broad movement for autonomy in eastern Ukraine as “terrorist” and saying he does not recognize the plebiscite vote in the Crimea Peninsula region in March that saw the region secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.

The business tycoon has affirmed that he wants to sign an economic agreement with the European Union that would devastate the country’s industry and radically impoverish a large part of its population.

Poroshenko

Poroshenko was elected by a very wide margin over his rivals, but voter participation was low. He received 9,857,308 votes. In the 2010 presidential election, winner Viktor Yanukovych scored 12,481,266 votes while runner-up Yulia Tymoshenko received 11,593,357.

In the east, little voting took place in the two regions that have already declared autonomy from Kyiv – Donetsk and Luhansk. Elsewhere, the left-wing Borotba Union group reports in a May 27 statement that voter turnout was very low in Kharkiv and Odessa, the second- and third-largest cities in Ukraine.

Mainstream reporting in the West has shamefully downplayed or ignored the role and influence of rightist and fascist forces in Ukraine. It has failed to report the significance of the formation of the stormtrooper National Guard. It points to the low vote results for the Svoboda and Right Sector fascist parties in the presidential election; each scored around 1 per cent. But Svoboda controls three ministries of the Kyiv regime. Right Sector controls one and has deputy status in two others.

Rightist presidential candidate Oleh Lyashko received 8 per cent of the vote. His presidential campaign plastered Ukraine with posters screaming “Death to the occupiers!” referring to the fictional claims that Russians are occupying eastern Ukraine. (Curiously, Kyiv and NATO are simultaneously demanding that Russia withdraw military forces from its border region with Ukraine, which it has done, and step up border patrols to prevent possible movements of weapons and volunteer fighters across the border.)

Like other rightist leaders, Lyashko has organized his own National Guard militia to go on terror and killing sprees in the east. Only the limited experience and training of the militias and stormtroopers has limited the carnage they would otherwise have caused, though they were successful in seizing the Donetsk airport.

Worse violence will come if the Kyiv regime is not forced to pull back from its civil war. NATO is quietly providing training and other assistance to the army and stormtroopers. Poroshenko has appealed for more military aid from the U.S. and his regime has entered into a formal, military training agreement with two NATO member countries – Poland and Lithuania.

Resistance

As the regime deepens its civil war, popular resistance is growing. News reports are full of examples of people in the east spontaneously organizing to resist incursions by stormtroopers or the Ukraine army. In recent days in Donetsk, miners in the vast coal fields of the region have gone on strike to protest the war. As of May 28, miners in at least six mines in the Donetsk region were on indefinite strikes. That day, some 1000 of them marched through the centre of Donetsk condemning the Kyiv regime’s offensive (video of march here).

The movement in the east opposes Europe’s austerity program. It wants political autonomy that would cede powers over economic, social and cultural policy. It wants elected regional governors instead of Kyiv’s appointments of wealthy tycoons to the posts.

Workers in the east are demanding the nationalization of enterprises that are owned by Kyiv supporters or threatened by Kyiv’s growing ties with austerity Europe. In mid-May, the railway system in Donetsk region was nationalized by a newly formed Ministry of Transport of the Donetsk Peoples Republic (DPR).

Prime targets for nationalizations are the enterprises owned by the industrialist Rinat Akhmetov. Earlier in May, his efforts to mobilize his workforce to oppose the autonomy movement failed miserably. Tim Judah, who reports from eastern Ukraine in The Economist and the New York Review of Books and who attended several of mass mobilizations attempted by Akhmetov, described the industrialist’s claims of vast support by his employees as fairy tales. Akhmetov’s stunts were nonetheless faithfully reported as good coin in Western media.

Alexander Borodai, the aforementioned prime minister of the DPR, is opposing nationalization of Akhmetov’s enterprises. Borodai is a Russian citizen.

Since the overthrow of the elected president Viktor Yanukovych in February, a broad movement has arisen in eastern Ukraine that opposes the political and economic direction of the governing regime that came to replace him. Europe’s governments and financiers are demanding a rupture of existing relations with Russia and the implementation of an austerity program that would see the elimination of support for much of the coal, steel and other manufacturing industries in Ukraine and a further slashing of its already meagre social programs.

Workers in western Ukraine also stand to lose from Kyiv’s pro-Europe policies. But illusions in what closer ties to Europe could bring run high in the west. What’s more, the memories of grave, historic injustices at the hands of Russia during earlier times and dislike of the pro-capitalist governing regime of President Vladimir Putin in Russia provide fertile ground for anti-Russia propaganda that misrepresents or outright falsifies the true situation in the east. Western media shamefully contribute their own misrepresentations and falsehoods.

Poroshenko is a symbol par excellence of the old guard of post-Soviet Union Ukraine. He is part of the business class that rose to wealth and prominence through the privatization and plundering of the state-owned economy of the Soviet era. He and his fellow robber barons have run Ukraine’s economy into the ground over the past 20 years.

Poroshenko served for nearly one year in 2012 as a minister in Yanukovych’s government. He served as a minister for two years in the government of Yanukovych’s predecessor, Viktor Yushchenko. The parliament that today backs Poroshenko is the same one that backed Yanukovych and then endorsed his overthrow by the rightist crowds who came to dominate the Maidan social protest movement.

Europe, the U.S. and the ‘Satellization’ of Ukraine

Australian socialist writer Renfrey Clarke reported from Russia during the post-1991 transition from bureaucratic socialism to today’s state-directed capitalism. He recently wrote about the economic challenges facing Ukraine today:

“Ukraine is now a poor country, much poorer in per capita terms than Russia, and in economic shambles. After decades of underinvestment and outright plunder, its industries are badly run down. Large numbers of enterprises, especially in the southeast, are loss making and survive only because they receive central government subsidies.

“To the neoliberal mind, it’s obvious what needs to be done. The market has to be allowed to work its magic. The subsidies must be ended. The enterprises that can’t compete, and that can’t attract investors prepared to modernise them, must be allowed to go under.

“Substantially free trade with the EU will see Ukraine flooded by Western manufactured goods that are more sophisticated and of higher quality than the Ukrainian offerings. Meanwhile, the only Ukrainian products likely to command much of a market in the EU are bulk industrial commodities – mostly steel and chemicals and perhaps unprocessed foodstuffs, though how the latter will fare in the face of EU agricultural subsidies is not certain.

“In the fantasies of the neoliberals (and of large numbers of currently deluded Ukrainians), free trade will induce Western investors to buy up Ukrainian enterprises, refurbish them and take advantage of cheap, local raw materials and labour to produce goods for profitable export to the west.

“Or, the investors could buy up the enterprises, turn them into scrap and export them to the nearest metallurgical works to be melted down. That’s been a persistent pattern in the post-Soviet countries.

“Then there is another problem, potentially still more crippling for Ukrainian producers: free trade with the EU means that Ukraine will be required to raise protective barriers that limit trade with other post-Soviet countries, primarily Russia. The effect will be to cut deeply into exports of Ukrainian goods to the post-Soviet markets where these products have tended to be competitive.

“Add to all this the predictable effects of austerity in slashing effective demand from the local population for Ukrainian goods, and broad sections of industry will disappear. In what used to be one of the most developed and prosperous regions of the Soviet Union, with substantial natural resources and a highly educated population, the already hard-hit masses will be reduced to penury.

“Many Ukrainians may not yet see clearly today what closer integration with Europe will mean for them, but they aren’t stupid. As these processes go forward, and as the effects come increasingly to be felt, popular resistance will mount. This will be a class-based resistance. It will weaken the country’s traditional regional, cultural and ethno-linguistic divisions and hopefully see new forms of working-class unity arise in their place.”

Looking at the political prospects for the new president of the Kyiv regime, Clarke writes:

“Poroshenko faces the challenge of imposing austerity on the working-class in circumstances where the country’s most important industrial region is already in armed revolt. That’s a tall order.

“He doesn’t have the ability to conduct effective propaganda in the Donbass region [south-east Ukraine]. When he announces that subsidies for loss-making enterprises are to be ended, the demand for nationalization will be in the forefront of workers’ minds. The Donetsk Peoples Republic has already raised the prospect of nationalizations.

“In the general climate of defiance of authority, it would be a logical, next step for workers to take over and occupy their enterprises. In a context of incipient civil war, the government lacks the means to stop this from occurring. Needing to defend their gains, militant workers can also be expected to join the armed insurgency and make it their own.”

Autonomy demands are also being voiced by other regional or national groups in Ukraine, including the Hungarians and Rusyns in the southwest. These have received next to zero coverage in western press. There is fierce resistance to autonomy by Kyiv anywhere in the territory it claims.

Much has been made in Western press and by some left observers of the heterogeneous political outlook and political weaknesses of the autonomy movement in the east. Support for Russian nationalism and for outright secession from Ukraine is voiced by sections of the movement, though this is a minority viewpoint. The movement’s ties with the working-class in western Ukraine are weak, even though workers in western Ukraine are threatened by the very same austerity that has propelled the east into revolt. Suggestions of secession in the east create further barriers to forging alliances across the east-west divide.

The autonomy movement and its appeal to workers elsewhere in Ukraine and in Russia would be strengthened by more citizen mobilization and engagement in political and economic administration. Similarly, workers’ control of nationalized enterprises would draw sympathy and support for the movement. It would help ensure that the benefits of nationalizations and other radical, social measures would flow to workers and their communities.

Contradictions and shortcomings in the political movement in the east should be expected in conditions where for decades, workers and ordinary citizens have been excluded from democracy and citizen engagement. The deadly civil war now being waged against the movement, with NATO’s firm backing, makes conditions enormously more difficult. Indeed, the goal of the military intervention is precisely to weaken and destroy any movement toward a grassroots and working-class revolution.

The desires of the population in Luhansk, Donetsk and elsewhere in eastern Ukraine are crystal clear – they cast ballots in large numbers on May 11 for political autonomy and social justice. All but the most hidebound of Western reporters in the region acknowledge that support for autonomy is widespread and is growing with each Kyiv regime attack.

The people of Ukraine desperately need active international solidarity. Kyiv must be pressured to end the civil war in the east and accept political autonomy. NATO should end its military intervention. Political mobilizations against fascism are needed, and not only in Ukraine – the rise of the right-wing vote in many countries of Europe during the recent elections to the European Parliament shows that anti-fascist and anti-racist mobilizations are needed throughout the continent.

Sergei Kirichuk, a leader of the Borotba Union (Union of Struggle), spoke in an interview on May 21 of the goals and challenges in eastern Ukraine today. He says his group and the rest of the authentic left in Ukraine were unprepared for the rapid growth of the fascist right in Ukraine. Borotba and other leftists have been driven underground by the violent rise of the right and the all-pervasive, anti-Russian propaganda, including in Kharkiv and Odessa. But Ukraine workers are nonetheless finding the means to resist.

“Here in the Southeast, people are fighting for their socio-economic rights,” says Kirichuk. “There is a very strong anti-oligarchic, anti-capitalist component in these protests.”

Kirichuk hails from western Ukraine and explains, “I can say with confidence that very many Ukrainians even in the country’s west are sympathetic with the struggle of the southeast. There are very many people discontented with the regime in the West too, but people are simply afraid to voice their opinion and stay silent because of the atmosphere of terror that reigns over there. At the same time, they look with hope at what is happening in the Southeast.”

Borotba issued a statement following the presidential election saying, “We do not recognize the outcome of these pseudo-elections ignored by the majority. We will continue the campaign of civil disobedience against the junta of oligarchs and nationalists.”

Awareness and solidarity in western Europe is slowly growing. In Germany, representatives of Die Linke (The Left) have spoken out in the German parliament against the fascist violence and NATO collusion in Ukraine. And on June 2, a public rally in London featuring Russian writer Boris Kagarlitsky will launch a new campaign, “Solidarity with the anti-fascist resistance in Ukraine.” •

Roger Annis is a writer in Vancouver BC. He publishes a website featuring his writings and those of others at A Socialist in Canada.

After three years of a war financed, armed and manned by the U.S. and its allies, the Syrian people cast ballots wherever it was possible. The U.S. position is that Syria’s vote is illegitimate because of the conflict, but Ukraine’s elections are legitimate despite that country’s armed conflict. It is clear that the U.S. objective in Syria “is more death, more war and more chaos.”

Tens of thousands of ordinary Syrians have braved threats and violence to participate in the election process.”

Defying threats of violence, tens of thousands of ordinary Syrians went to the polls to cast a vote that was more about Syrian dignity and self-determination than any of the candidates on the ballot. After three years of unimaginable atrocities fomented by a demented and dying U.S. empire, with the assistance of the royalist monarchies of the Middle East and the gangster states of NATO, the Syrian people demonstrated, by their participation, that they had not surrendered their national sovereignty to the geo-strategic interests of the U.S. and its colonial allies in Europe and Israel.

The dominant narrative on Syria, carefully cultivated by Western state propagandists and dutifully disseminated by their auxiliaries in the corporate media, is that the conflict in Syria is a courageous fight on the part of the majority of the Syrian people against the brutal dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad. As the story goes, the al-Assad “regime,” (it is never referred to as a government), can only maintain its power through the use of force. By attacking “its own citizens,” the regime, representing the minority Alawite community, can only maintain its dominance over the rest of the country through sheer terror.

However, events in Syria, with the election being a dramatic example, continue to reveal fissures in that story.

First, it became clear that substantial numbers of non-Alawite people and communities support the government. And even those elements of Syrian society that were not enthusiastic supporters of the government grew to understand that the legitimate indigenous opposition had been displaced by powerful non-Syrian forces from the U.S. and the Gulf States who provided material, political and diplomatic support to an opposition that not only had tenuous ties to the country but seemed only committed to waging war. This convinced many that the only politically consistent option was to support the government, as an expression of support for Syria’s sovereignty and its’ national project.

Western corporate news outlets were unable to explain the huge turnout of Syrian refugees voting in Lebanon.”

As a result, not only did popular support for the government hold over the last three years of carnage, it expanded to include those in the opposition who were against the destruction of the country and the slimy Syrian ex-pats who traveled from one European capital to another begging for the U.S. and NATO to do what it did in Libya – destroy the infrastructure of the country through the use of NATO air power and flood the country with weapons.

But the most graphic undermining of the dominant Western narrative has been the participation of tens of thousands of ordinary Syrians who have braved threats and violence to participate in the election process.

Western corporate news outlets, especially in the U.S., were unable to explain the huge turnout of Syrian refugees voting in Lebanon preceding the election on Tuesday, so they just decided not to cover it. Images of Syrians displaced by war yet backing al Assad for president did not support the carefully crafted story that the only people fleeting war were those who had been terrorized to do so by the government.

Instead, the U.S. press raised the question of the “legitimacy” of elections taking place in a country involved in a “civil war,” a position consistent with their narrative of the war being one between the Syrian people and the government as opposed to what it has turned out to be – a war largely being fought by foreign forces, with the indigenous opposition forces allied with the feckless Syrian National Coalition; isolated, out-gunned and militarily irrelevant.

And while the U.S. press uncritically propagated the position of the U.S. state, which wrote off the election as illegitimate and a farce, the media seemed not to notice the contradictory position of the U.S. writing off the election in Syria because of conflict but giving enthusiastic support to the election in Ukraine in the midst of a conflict and contested legitimacy. The Western media could explore a few obvious questions if it was really independent, such as: what makes the election in Ukraine legitimate when half of the country boycotts the vote and the national army violently attacks its own citizens in Eastern Ukraine who refused to recognize the legitimacy of the coup-makers in Kiev?

Other questions might be: if they deem it appropriate to support an election in Ukraine, why would the Obama Administration violently oppose elections in Syria, especially if, as it claims, the majority of the people oppose the current government? Wouldn’t the illegitimacy of the government in Syria be confirmed by the low turnout, even in areas where there was a modicum of security? If Syrian authorities organized opportunities for displaced Syrians in various countries around the world to vote and very few participated, wouldn’t that verify the Administration’s position that the al Assad government lacks popular support?

Yet in various European capitals and other countries like Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Egypt, efforts were made to block the opportunity for displaced Syrians to vote in their election – why? Were the authorities afraid that the narrative of non-support for al Assad might be challenged if there was a proliferation of images like the ones that came out of Lebanon showing thousands of Syrians marching to the polls holding signs of Bashar al Assad?

It will be interesting to see how the authorities and their spokespeople in the corporate media spin the voting process in Syria.

The U.S. position is a position of continued war in Syria

Secretary of State John Kerry declared that Syria’s presidential election was a “farce,” and that the U.S. and its partners are prepared to quickly redouble efforts to support opposition forces in the county. The meaning of this position is that it does not matter what kind of public display of support is given to al Assad or anyone who might emerge as the head of state in Syria, the U.S. objective is more death, more war and more chaos.

This is the essence of the “new” global strategy unveiled by President Obama during his foreign policy speech at West Point last week. The U.S. declaration that it will “change the dynamics on the ground in Syria” came out of a meeting of the so-called “Friends of Syria,” a motley collection of 11 Western colonial nations and their Arab creations. The Obama Administration intends to work though these kinds of regional formations and alliances to advance its strategic objectives with as minimal a cost to the U.S. as possible. Of course, the interests and desires of the states or peoples involved are of secondary concern. The desire on the part of the majority of the people to end the conflict in Syria is not even considered. As part of the effort to secure public support in the U.S. for destabilizing and then attacking Syria it was posited that by deposing the al Assad government a real democracy can be introduced. That is why policymakers pretended to back so-called moderate elements that support democracy. But over the last year or so, even that proposal has been eliminated. Democracy in Syria is as much a threat to U.S. imperialist interests as it is in Ukraine – and increasingly even in the U.S.

Policymakers in Washington and London have already made the shift to supporting what are being called “moderate” Islamists forces grouped around the Islamic Front (IF) with al Nusrah, al Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate, operating in the background. The problem for the Syrian people is that these moderates the west is supporting are Salafi-Wahhabi fundamentalists who reject representative democracy and support the imposition of sharia law in Syria. So while the U.S. and their allies characterize the election in Syria a farce, their solution is to back forces who would eliminate even the pretext of democratic participation. This is the progress that is being imposed on the secular, pluralist society of Syria by the Western “liberators.”

It is not about al Assad, it is about the people of Syria and imperialism:

Questions of democratic legitimacy have never determined U.S. relationships with any state where the U.S. had strategic and economic interests. If a commitment to democracy and democratic governance was the determining factor for U.S. support, the Obama Administration would not be in alliance with the dictatorship of the royalists in the Gulf states, it would have condemned the coups in Honduras and Egypt, not given diplomatic or economic support to the coup in Ukraine, and would not be supporting right-wing elements in Venezuela attempting to destabilize the democratically-elected government in that country.

There was a time when this position would have been clear to the peace and anti-war, anti-imperialist progressive and left movements in the U.S. and the West. But over the last two decades, with the ideological infiltration of the left by liberalism, social democracy and the rightist tendencies of “anti-authoritarian” anarchism, the resulting political confusion has seen a consistent alignment of the left with the imperial project of the U.S. – from the attacks on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia through to attacks on nationalist projects throughout the global South, from Libya to Syria. Since the last gasp of anti-imperialism solidarity represented by the massive marches in opposition to the illegal attack on Iraq in 2003, the peace, anti-war and anti-imperialist movements have been in relative disarray.

Political confusion has seen a consistent alignment of the left with the imperial project of the U.S.”

This disarray and ineffectiveness is taking place right at the historical moment when in order to maintain its global hegemony, the colonial/capitalist West has decided to revert to what it does best – spread death and destruction. For those of us who understand our responsibility situated, as we are, at the center of this monstrosity called the U.S., we have to strip away the veneer of humanitarianism that hides the ugly inner logic of domination and we have to “struggle” – a term now passé for the hip post-modern nihilist left.

When a people, like the people of Syria, demonstrate their commitment to the integrity of their own national experience in opposition to the efforts of the imperialist states that we reside in, the only principled position we can take is to stand in solidarity with those people, no matter how we see the internal contradictions of that nation/state. The people of Syria have said no to foreign intervention. Those of us in the imperialist West, can we do anything less?

Ajamu Baraka, a long-time human rights activist and organizer, is an editor and contributing columnist for Black Agenda Report. Baraka can be reached at [email protected] and www.AjamuBaraka.com

A new film, Miners Shot Down, shows in graphic detail the massacre of dozens of miners at Marikana, South Africa, in 2012. “Footage from the South African police shows the miners being penned in by barbwire, mowed down by a fusillade and the survivors being hunted down yet again.” The slaughter may mark the beginning of the end of a Black-led regime that sold out its people.

Before August 16, 2012, the town of Marikana was little known outside of South Africa. On that day it entered the lexicon as a place of infamy where 34 striking platinum miners were shot dead by police. The massacre at Marikana left no doubt that black South Africans had been sold out by the African National Congress and its leaders, including Nelson Mandela.

The struggle against apartheid galvanized millions of people all over the world. Black Americans in particular saw themselves at Sharpeville and Soweto. Nelson Mandela became an international icon but was especially beloved by a people whose own mass movement was destroyed by assassinations, COINTELPRO and shrewd co-optation.

Mandela’s release from prison in 1989 and his election as president in 1994 were greeted with celebration – which was too often lacking in real political analysis. Black people had the right to vote, the dreaded pass system was gone, but the grinding poverty is now worse than under the days of white minority rule. That is because people who should have fought to dismantle the grotesque racially based inequities took seats at the table where the loot was divvied up.

Ramaphosa made lucrative deals with these multi-national corporations instead of representing the mine workers who looked to him for leadership.”

Cyril Ramaphosa was one of those people. He led the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and was one of those who aided and abetted the terrible accommodations that led to the continuing impoverishment of black South Africans. The London based Lonmin platinum mining corporation made Ramaphosa a board member, as did Coca Cola and Unilever. He made lucrative deals with these multi-national corporations instead of representing the mine workers who looked to him for leadership. Ramaphosa’s net worth is now estimated to be $700 million.

When miners at Marikana demanded wage increases in 2012 their union did nothing for them. They were forced to go on an unauthorized wildcat strike, in defiance of Lonmin, the ANC government and their own union. Not only did NUM do nothing to help their members, but they joined with the government and police in calling the strikers criminals.

A newly released documentary, Miners Shot Down, shows in unsparing detail the horrors of the new South Africa. Footage from the South African police shows the miners being penned in by barbwire, mowed down by a fusillade and the survivors being hunted down yet again.

The film is powerful precisely because it shows the result of settling for liberation of the few. True liberation is hard won and brings enmity from the powerful. When Mandela was lionized by the corporate media and western leaders it should have been clear that as the saying goes, “the fix was in.”

It is disheartening in the extreme to see people so pleased to have jobs and titles that they gave no thought to killing on orders from government functionaries, turn coats and a big corporation. The white faces at Sharpeville and the Soweto uprising have now been joined by black people who helped to plan and carry out the massacre. The police brought live ammunition to confront the miners who were armed only with clubs and knives. They even made sure to bring morgue ambulances and body bags. The murders were clearly premeditated but after the fact it was the miners who were charged with murder.

White supremacy doesn’t necessarily need white people in order to function. It only needs people who understand clearly where whites stand vis a vis other groups. The black police who ordered the shootings and who carried them out were as much white supremacists as the white police who killed in the days of minority rule.

The black police who ordered the shootings and who carried them out were as much white supremacists as the white police who killed in the days of minority rule.”

Apparently we have more in common with black South Africans than we thought. Twenty years after Nelson Mandela became president another black man, a so-called son of Africa, became president of the United States. The powerful people here, the 1% of the economic elite, chose him to lead. It was the right time for a new face in America. The Republicans’ unpopularity made their “brand” unsustainable politically, making the Democrats the go-to party to commit the dirty work. What better way to get that job done than to have a black man bail out banks and continue the endless war of terror around the globe? Who better to solidify America’s empire? The same sort of question can be asked of South Africa. Who better to keep South African workers trapped in poverty and starvation wages than black political leadership?

The legacy of the dead miners has not been made in vain. Lonmin workers are again on strike, this time for four months and they have been joined by other miners. This struggle is taking place twenty years after it should have. Now the truth about freedom and liberation is clear, Mandela and other leaders have passed away, and younger people can fight their own fight. Marikana should not be forgotten, nor should the hard lessons that it teaches.

Margaret Kimberley‘s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com.

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

Observers at the presidential elections in Syria are unanimous that the expression of people’s will was valid and the polls passed in a democratic and positive atmosphere.

On Wednesday morning, observers met for a roundtable meeting at Dama Rose Hotel to give their assessment to presidential elections. Observers include members of parliaments from Russia, Iran, Brazil, Venezuela, North Korea, Tajikistan, the Philippines, Uganda, as well as representatives of Canada, the United States, Ireland, Pakistan, Malaysia and Bahrain.

Syrian election observers

An Iranian observer opened the meeting accusing the US and its European allies of the policy of double standards when “an obvious free choice of Syrian people is put into doubt by Washington and its allies.” He urged a US observer to explain why such anti-Syrian hysteria took place. However, the US observer levelled a harsh criticism on the White House, pledging that upon return to the homeland, he would inform the Americans about a real situation in Syria.

The meeting continues behind closed doors. Observers promise to inform the press about the results of the meeting after consultations.

Representatives of foreign delegations observing Syria’s presidential elections stressed Wednesday that the voting process in Syria’s presidential elections was fair and marked by high turnout.

The representatives were speaking during a consultative meeting of parliamentarians, independent figures and NGOs who came to Syria upon the People’s Assembly’s invitation to oversee how the balloting ran.

The concluding statement of the meeting hailed the elections for being held on time and according to constitutional schedule in a democratic, transparent and fair atmosphere.

It lauded as “a notable progress” the first multi-candidate competitive presidential voting of Syria, which it said marks an improvement in the country’s political process and lays the foundation for a new political stage.

The Syrian government’s measures and the people’s determination to hold the presidential election despite all security threats launched by terrorist groups are worthy of praise, the statement added.

The delegations viewed the high voter turnout at home and abroad as a proof of the Syrian people’s preference for the political option to any “violent” solution.

The statement held the US and its allies responsible for the crimes committed against the Syrian people, calling on the countries supporting terrorism to halt all kinds of support to the terrorists.

The delegations called in their statement for respecting the results of Syria’s elections and its people’s will to determine their country’s future through the ballot boxes without interference by any foreign party.

Joseph Iosbaker of the Anti-War Committee-Chicago said that upon visiting Homs city, his delegation felt the suffering to which the Syrian people are being exposed, inflicted largely with the backing of the US.

The delegation, he added, also noticed the Syrians’ sense of victory which was clearly evident by the massive voter turnout to polling stations, affirming that the voting was quite fair.

Irish researcher Declan Hayes said that most of the citizens whom he gauged their opinion said they voted for President Bashar al-Assad for another 7-year term.

An Indian MP, for his part, said he saw in the wide participation in the Syrian presidential voting a message of rejection of terrorism and the hostile policies of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the US and Israel.

The massive turnout, he added, also sent another message of the steadfastness of the axis of resistance and increased popular support for President al-Assad.

Making positive change often seems impossible, but one area that should give people hope is the movement toward ending the war on drugs.

When I was in law school in the late 1970s, I did an internship at NORML, where one of my tasks was responding to mail from marijuana prisoners and their families. The harsh injustice of the drug war struck me then, and ever since I’ve been working to end the war on drugs – a war declared by Richard Nixon.

Majorities now support the outright legalization of marijuana and oppose the war on drugs. The public has overcome decades of misinformation to justify the drug war.

The transformation struck me a few years ago when I was in a medical marijuana dispensary in California. In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. At the dispensary, people lined up — as if they were waiting for a bank teller — in a safe place to get medical-quality marijuana. The slogan of the Harborside Health Center was “out of the darkness and into the light.”

That slogan is true on many levels. Not only are people who were criminals able to come out into the light and purchase their medicine in a safe environment, but the nation is coming out of the darkness of false information. In May of 2013, the Green Shadow Cabinet recommended the Obama administration allow state marijuana legalization to go forward, eight months later Attorney General Holder did just that.

Now, the light is shining on former drug war assertions, and claims like the one that marijuana causes crime are being proven false. Since the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, violent crime has fallen by 6.9 percent and property crime by 11.1 percent. A 2012 study, “California Youth Crime Plunges to All-Time Low,” credits a state marijuana decriminalization for plummeting arrests for all crimes. Meanwhile, anApril 2014 study shows that legalization does not lead to increased adolescent use.

In addition, tremendous revenues are coming into Colorado from marijuana taxes.Colorado’s Joint Budget Committee projects revenue of $610 million from retail and medical marijuana sales from January 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015, the end of the next fiscal year. And, the state is saving money on enforcement. The Denver Post reported“the number of cases filed in state court alleging at least one marijuana offense plunged 77 percent between 2012 and 2013.”

The lessons from Colorado: decreased crime, no increased use, tremendous law enforcement savings and massive new revenues. Ending marijuana prohibition has been a success on many levels.

There is an awakening regarding other drugs as well. President Obama, who has pardoned fewer prisoners than any other president, has announced he may pardon hundreds, if not thouands of drug offenders. This is occurring after the Department of Justice removed pardon attorney, Ronald Rodgers, a career drug enforcement official who provided false information in order to prevent pardons.

Granting clemency to thousands is not enough. The DOJ guidelines for pardons are extremely stringent (e.g. a person must have served at least 10 years to be considered); many tens of thousands who should be released will not be. More systemic change is needed, the country needs to change its sentencing laws and continue to dismantle the drug war.

Since the ‘Just Say No’ era of the 1980s, both parties outdid themselves to see who could be tougher on drugs. Vice President Biden, for example, chaired the Judiciary Committee when harsh mandatory minimum sentencing became law. Eric Holder has recently highlighted, “since 1980, the federal prison population has grown at an astonishing rate — by almost 800 percent.” The United States needs to face up to the injustice that with just 5 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. That’s right, one in four of the world’s prisoners live behind bars in the “land of the free.”

By every measure the drug war has failed and done incredible harm. The U.S. has spent $1 trillion on it but illegal drugs are cheaper, addiction rates remain the same and overdose deaths are rising. One positive step is the “Smarter Sentencing Act” which removes mandatory sentencing for some offenders and reduces them for others. This bi-partisan bill will save money, improve public safety, reduce overcrowding in federal prisons, and begin to undo unproductive mandatory minimum sentences.

There continues to be resistance to reform from those whose careers and livelihoods depend on the failed drug war. Just as the Obama administration removed pardon attorney Ronald Rogers, the President needs to remove the current DEA Administrator Michelle Leonhart. She is refusing to support the Smarter Sentencing Act, supported by Obama. She criticized the president for saying marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol and opposed the Obama administration’s decision to let reform in Colorado and Washington go forward. She is out of step with the administration and needs to be removed.

An awakening is occurring, the U.S. is finally getting on the right path, people need to take advantage of the opportunity and push now to end the drug war.

This paper starts with summarizing the major theoretical elements in the definition of a global ruling class. It then examines how neoconservatives in the US took power and used regime change to create chaos in other regions. A strategy of tension is used to press the population into conformity. But the real revolution is to what extent factual politics escape any attempt to democratic control. Three case studies show how far the Deep State already goes. Democracy is on the brink of survival.

1. Theory

In the earlier paper (Hamm, B. 2010) I suggested an analytical framework for the study of power as it relates to the future of global society. This outline specifically addressed four questions: (1) How is the global ruling class structured internally? (2) Is it theoretically correct to use the term class for the ruling elite? (3) Which are the major instruments of power? (4) How do these analytical insights impact on the probable future of human society?

Drawing on C. Wright Mills’ seminal work on The Power Elite, recent power structure research suggests an ideal-type model of four concentric circles: In the inner circle, we find the global money trust, the richest individuals, families or clans, all with fortunes well above one billion Euros. The CEOs of big transnational corporations and biggest international financial players make up the second circle. They are mostly concerned with increasing the wealth of the inner circle, and with it their own. Top international politicians, some active in governments and international institutions, some more in the background as advisers, plus the top military, compose the third circle. This political class has assignments: organize the distribution of the social product in such a way as to transfer as much as the actual power balance allows into the pockets of the inner and second circles, and secure the legitimacy of government by organizing the political circus of an allegedly pluralistic structure. The fourth ring will be composed of top academics, media moguls, lawyers, and may sometimes include prominent authors, film and music stars, artists, NGO representatives, few religious leaders, few top criminals and others useful for decorating the inner circles. They enjoy the privilege of close access to those in power, they are well paid and will make sure not to lose such benefits (Hamm, B. 2010:1008-9; see also Phillips, P., Osborne, B. 2013).

It appears that the degree of internationalization of the powerful correlates with their status on the ring hierarchy. The two inner circles have always been international. The third and fourth rings, however, tend to be much more nationally bound (by ownership, by elections) than the first and the second. The inner circle is not static but relatively solid. It builds on financial and social capital often accumulated by former generations, the steel, banking, weapons, or oil barons. The major source of power is being borne to a family of the inner circle. The Rockefellers, the Rothschilds, the Morgans, the DuPonts, the Vanderbilts, the Agnellis, the Thyssens or the Krupps would provide illustrative examples (see, e.g., Holbrook, 1953; or more recently Landes, 2006; Marshall, A.G. 2013).

There are also the nouveaux riches. Names like George Soros, William Gates, Warren Buffett, Marc Zuckerberg, Sheldon Adelson, or the Koch brothers come to mind (Smith, Y. 2013); Russian or Eastern European oligarchs like Alisher Usmanov, Mikhail Chodorkowski, Boris Berezowski, Mikhail Fridman, Rinat Ahmetov, Leonid Mikhelson, Viktor Vekselberg, Andrej Melnichenko, Roman Abramovich; as well as Carlos Slim Helu, Lakshmi Mittal, Mukesh Ambani, Jorge Paulo Lemann, Iris Fontbona or Aliko Dangote from the so-called less developed countries. These parvenus tend to be politically more active, at least on the front stage, than the old rich families: George Soros with his Open Society Foundation and his permanent warnings of the evils of unregulated capitalism is the best known for his liberal leanings, while the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson or Robert Murdoch are aggressively right-wing (Heath, T. 2014; Snyder, M. 2013; Webster, S.C. 2013). The oligarchs of the former Soviet block have almost all grabbed their fortunes during the presidency of Boris Yeltzin who, pathological alcoholic as he was, made room for large scale privatization of state corporations and raw materials after the collapse of the socialist regime.

Shock therapy was pushed through under the influence of Western advisors, especially the Harvard privatization program with Jeffrey Sachs as the leading figure, as well the International Monetary Fund. Jegor Gajdar, Anatoli Tschubais, an oligarch himself, and Alfred Koch [1] were their local executives in Russia, Vaclav Klaus in Czechoslovakia, Leszek Balcerowicz in Poland. The method how to create oligarchs, and social polarization, is easy to understand and has been practiced by the IMF time and again to this very day as part of their structural adjustment policy (later cynically called poverty reduction strategy): Abolish all prize control and public subventions, lay-off civil servants, limit wages, devalue the currency, and privatize public corporations and infrastructure, i.e. the Washington Consensus. Widespread poverty is the immediate result and the other side of the coin of extremely concentrated wealth in few hands.

Does this global oligarchy constitute a social class in the theoretical sense of the term? If so, it should (1) be in control of the means of production, (2) be bound together by class consciousness, and in-group mentality; (3) be party in a global class struggle over the distribution of the social product. The second criterion has been discussed in the 2010 paper, and answered positively: “The GRC will tend to see themselves, very much like feudal kings, as being of divine superiority placing them far above all other human beings. Fascism is very likely to be a basic pillar of their ideology, and war will be just one of the tools to increase their power and profits” (Hamm, 2010:1010; see also Turley, J. 2014; Dolan, E.W. 2013). As the money elite generally tends to focus their social contacts inside, groupthink is permanently reinforced. This might hold true even if it is not homogeneous in other respects (Lofgren, M. 2013).

For the first question it must be emphasized to what extent the financial sector has taken over control of productive industries. Here, the enormous amount of freshly printed dollars injected in the global economy since the abolishing of the gold standard in 1971 is decisive. The Federal Reserve Bank under successive US administrations has followed this policy up to the present day. The amount of money strolling around for profitable investment is not underpinned by production or services but rather by printing fiat notes. It allowed the financial industry to buy up real businesses by shares and bonds and their respective derivatives inside and outside the US. Thus, the financial industry acquired in fact control of large parts of the real economy including, via production chains, small and medium-sized businesses, fertile lands, and raw materials. It is also highly influential on science and technology and, through its lobbying and campaign donations, on political decision-making. In fact, as US lawmakers tend to belong to the upper strata of the financial hierarchy, and thus to the third circle of our power model, they also tend to widely identify with the interests of the inner rings (Money Choice 2013). Therefore, it is correct to conclude that the financial industry is in control of the means of production.

Too often writers understand class struggle as action taken by workers for working class interests, overlooking the equally significant (and in our times considerably more important) class struggle organized and directed by the ruling class via the state:

“The entire panoply of neo-liberal policies, from so-called ‘austerity measures’ to mass firings of public and private employees, to massive transfers of wealth to creditors are designed to enhance the power, wealth and primacy of diverse sectors of capital at the expense of labor. … Class struggle from above is directed at enhancing the concentration of wealth in the ruling class, increasing regressive taxes on workers and reducing taxes on corporations, selectively enforcing regulations, which facilitate financial speculation and lowering social expenditures for pensions, health and education for workers families.”

Class struggle from above aims at maximizing the collective power of capital via restrictive laws on labor organizations, social movements and workers’ collective bargaining rights. State budgets over bailouts are sites of class struggle; banks are sites of class struggle between mortgage holders and households, creditors and debtors. “Trillions of dollars are transferred from the public treasury to bailout bankers. Hundreds of billions in social cuts are imposed on workers, cutting across all sectors of the economy” (Petras, J., 2013). Governments are instrumental to extract money from the population via taxation and transfer it to the rich via the banking system. What they are doing, with help of the IMF, to Greece, Portugal, Ireland, or to Cyprus, or Spain, and what they hope to do to Ukraine, Egypt, Thailand, Venezuela or Lybia, they have been doing to developing countries yesterday with exactly the same medicine.

“They want it all. Profit and power. Our world is dominated and being re-shaped by a tiny global financial, corporate, political and intellectual elite. And all must suffer so that they can have what anyone in their position would want to have: more, they want it all. And they want you to just shut up and let them take it all. If you have a problem with that, well, that’s what riot police, prisons, and fascism are for” (Marshall, A.G., 2013; Drum, K. 2013).

We also find a global power hierarchy among nation-states. To paraphrase what was said above of the attitudes of members of the ruling class: The most powerful nation will tend to see itself as being of divine superiority placing it far above all other nations. Fascism is very likely to be a basic pillar of its ideology, and war will be just one of the tools to increase its power and profits.

“According to this self-righteous doctrine [of US exceptionalism], America is the indispensable country. What this means is that the US has been chosen by history to establish the hegemony of secular ‘democratic capitalism’ over the world. The primacy of this goal places the US government above traditional morality and above all law, both its own and international” (Roberts, P.C., 2013).

The claim to the role of world hegemon is having a high price (Nader, R., 2014). Socio-economic polarization increased sharply. Hundreds of thousands of families have been driven out of their homes by foreclosures. Some twenty per cent of all households are on food stamps. Increasing numbers of households can no longer pay their rents, let alone care for retirement; thousands live in shanty towns and tent cities. Some city governments have begun to drive the poor out of the downtown areas so they become more and more invisible [2]. While the trend is general, women, children and non-whites are especially affected. The consequences in form of reduced health care and increasing mortality rates have often been reported [3]. A baby born today in the U.S., when it takes its first breath of air, it is 50.000$ in debt (Ventura, J., 2013). The prison industry profits from a policy of incarceration which does not even stop short of lifelong sentences to children.

The installment of the US Dollar as world reserve currency constituted the economic pillar of the US as the only remaining super power. As the US was able to export all newly printed money, it could appropriate the products of other societies for the simple price of printing paper and by this force other countries to pay for its luxury as well as for its overwhelming military power and war mongering. Add to this the structural adjustment policy exerted by US-controlled World Bank and International Monetary Fund, plus the CIA covert actions around the globe. Therefore it is analytically correct to say that the US became the adversary in the global class struggle. It follows that the nucleus of a global ruling class resides in the US. As in Galtung’s structural theory of imperialism (Galtung, J. 1980), the hegemon will rely on vassals in subordinate nations in the form of allied governments. Elites in subordinate nations are assigned to guarantee the unchallenged role of the global hegemon, to allow its unrestrained access to local resources and control rights while securing immunity to its representatives. Therefore, we can tentatively locate the global ruling class in the power elite of the United States.

The lacmus test of power is, on the individual as on the collective level, based on two criteria: the possibility to avoid prosecution for crimes committed, or impunity, and the degree to which appropriation of others’ wealth is possible. An eminent example is given by the attacks of 9/11. Those who succeed in preventing a new and thorough investigation questioning the official narrative (among many Ruppert, M., 2004) are obviously in a power position. So are those who initiated war and are responsible for hundreds of thousands of people murdered and are not brought to trial in the aftermaths. Neither has anyone in the US government been held accountable for torture, targeted killings and drone victims, prohibited crimes under US law and the Geneva Conventions, or for violating constitutional rights–spying without warrants, warrantless searches, violations of habeas corpus, murder of citizens without due process, denial of legal representation, conviction on secret evidence. Who is to be held accountable for the long-term effects of the nuclear bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? or the spread of Agent Orange in Vietnam? or the use of depleted uranium ammunition in Iraq? The war criminals could be identified – but who tries them? Not only that the US murdered one and a half million people, mostly Iraqis and some Americans, and ruined the country, and inflicted costs of almost three trillion US$ on the taxpayer, they also inflamed the Sunni-Shia conflict (Stone, O., Kuznick, P., 2013:521-34).

“The Obama justice department, in particular the Chief of its Criminal Division, […], never even tried to hold the high-level criminals accountable. What Obama justice officials did instead is exactly what they did in the face of high-level Bush era crimes of torture and warrantless eavesdropping: namely, acted to protect the most powerful factions in the society in the face of overwhelming evidence of serious criminality” (Greenwald, G., 2013).

Who would bring to trial the banksters which plundered the middle class? (Whitney, M. 2014; Cantu, A. 2014)

2. Who Ruled the World – Yesterday, and How?

2.1 The Rise of the Neocons

Americans regularly insist that it is only the global governing authority of the United States that underpins the degree of security and prosperity that exists in the world. Without this there would be widespread chaos, economic stagnancy, and far more frequent international warfare. The proponents of this conception emphasize the dependency of world order on US military, economic, diplomatic, and ideological capabilities (Falk, R., 2014). Falk mentions Michael Mandelbaum as the most passionate proponent of such a position as worked out in his books [4]. Recently Mandelbaum has restated this argument in a short essay (2014): “The United States stands alone as the world’s de facto government.” This world government although administered from its statist headquarters in Washington, is according to its promoters, meta-political, and unselfish. It should be appreciated by all people of good will as contributing to the betterment of humanity.

The “neoconservative offensive” (Hamm, B., 2005, 1-18) started in August 1971 with the Powell Manifesto (Nace, T., 2003 [5]) and had its first great success when Ronald Reagan came into power und brought many of the neocon hawks with him. They had been in place before and were waiting for their chance. The end came probably with the Edward Snowdon’s revelations in June 2013 when people, corporations and governments around the world woke up to the fact that their entire electronic communication was spied upon by the NSA.

Ronald Reagan was the worst informed president, an old man who napped off even in meetings of the National Security Council, and who perceived the world through the lens of Hollywood movies:

“A man of limited knowledge but deep religious beliefs and strong conservative convictions, he provided little guidance on policy and had no interest in or grasp of detail. … Reagan’s disengaged style and lack of foreign policy experience left the door open to palace intrigue among his subordinates, who were eager to fill the void” (Stone, O., Kuznick, P., 2012:421-4).

By the mid-1970s, then US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld began to argue that the Soviet government would be ignoring bilateral treaties and secretly building up weapons with the intention of attacking the United States. Together with Paul Wolfowitz he wanted to create a much more severe view of the Soviet Union, its intentions, and views about fighting and winning a nuclear war. When George H. W. Bush became Director of Central Intelligence in 1976, he set up a team of sixteen outside experts who were to take an independent look at highly classified data used by the intelligence community to assess Soviet strategic forces, commonly referred to as Team B. Their allegations proved all wrong. The CIA director concluded that the Team B approach set “in motion a process that lends itself to manipulation for purposes other than estimative accuracy.”

Team B war partly recruited from the Committee on the Present Danger which first met in 1950. It lobbied the government directly and sought to influence public opinion through a publicity campaign. This iteration of the CPD was disbanded in 1953 when its leaders were offered positions in the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower. It was privately revived in March 1976 and provided 33 officials to the Ronald Reagan administration including Director of Central Intelligence William Casey, National Security Adviser Richard V. Allen, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick, Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, Secretary of State George Shultz and Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle. In June 2004 a third incarnation of CPD was being planned, to address the War on Terrorism, which is still active.

“Today, the CPD includes over 100 former White House officials, Ambassadors, Cabinet Secretaries, academics, writers, and other foreign policy experts. Its Co-Chairmen are the Honorable George Shultz, Secretary of State under President Reagan, and R. James Woolsey, Director of the CIA under President Clinton. Senators Joe Lieberman and Jon Kyl serve as Honorary Co-Chairs” [6].

In 1997, a group surfaced under the name of Project for a New American Century (PNAC), a think tank based in Washington, D.C. founded by William Kristol and Robert Kagan. The PNAC’s stated goal is “to promote American global leadership.” Fundamental to the PNAC were the views that “American leadership is both good for America and good for the world” and support for “a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity.” With its members in numerous key administrative positions, the PNAC exerted influence on high-level government officials in the administration of George W. Bush and shaped its development of military and foreign policies.

The first military test after the collapse of the Soviet empire was how Iraq President Saddam Hussein was lured into the Kuwait trap in 1990. The 28 nations “coalition of the willing” was bought together, and war was waged over the people of Iraq, a war that first was fought with murderous weapons, then with sanctions, and did not end until this very day. The most ridiculous of all adventures PNAC pushed the world’s strongest military force into was certainly Grenada (1983). “The restoration of direct US imperial interventions, unhindered by Congressional and popular opposition, was gradual in the period 1973-1990. It started to accelerate in the 1990’s and then really took off after September 11, 2001” (Petras, J., 2013).

The goal of regime change in Iraq remained the consistent position of PNAC. On January 16, 1998, members of the PNAC, including Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Robert Zoellick drafted an open letter to President Bill Clinton urging him to remove Saddam Hussein from power. They argued that Saddam would pose a threat to the United States, its Middle East allies, and oil resources in the region if he succeeded in maintaining what they asserted was a stockpile of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The PNAC also supported the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. Some have regarded the 1998 letter as evidence that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a foregone conclusion (Mackay, N., 2004).

It should not be forgotten that the war against Afghanistan, too, was being planned well before the 9/11 attacks. US officials had been in talks with the Taliban about building an oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea to Karachi, Pakistan, via Afghanistan in order to avoid crossing Iran. In July 2001, a German diplomat was reported saying that the talks ended with the announcement from the US side: “Either we cover you with a carpet of gold [if you comply], or we cover you with a carpet of bombs”. Even the date when bombings would begin was given as of October 2001 [7]. This had nothing whatsoever to do with the 9/11 attacks, nor with Osama bin Laden.

Rebuilding America’s Defenses, the most widely circulated document of the PNAC group, was developed by Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby, and devoted to matters of “maintaining US pre-eminence, thwarting rival powers and shaping the global security system according to US interests.” Section V, entitled “Creating Tomorrow’s Dominant Force”, includes the sentence: “Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event––like a new Pearl Harbor”. Though not necessarily implying that Bush administration members were complicit in those attacks, it was often argued that PNAC members used the events of 9/11 as the “Pearl Harbor” that they needed––that is, as an “opportunity” to capitalize on in order to enact long-desired plans.

By the end of 2006, PNAC was “reduced to a voice-mail box and a ghostly website”, with “a single employee left to wrap things up”. In 2006, Gary Schmitt, former executive director of the PNAC, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and director of its program in Advanced Strategic Studies, stated that PNAC had come “to a natural end” [8]. Instead, untiring neocon hawk Robert Kagan replaced it by the Foreign Policy Initiative.

2.2 Regime Change

The strategic reasoning followed by PNAC and the Bush jr. administration was formulated by former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski: “The world’s energy consumption is bound to vastly increase over the next two or three decades. Estimates by the US Department of Energy anticipate that world demand will rise by more than 50 percent between 1993 and 2015, with the most significant increase in consumption occurring in the Far East. The momentum of Asia’s economic development is already generating massive pressures for the exploration and exploitation of new sources of energy, and the Central Asian region and the Caspian Sea basin are known to contain reserves of natural gas and oil that dwarf those of Kuwait, the Gulf of Mexico, or the North Sea.“ (Brzezinski, Z., 1997:125). “Moreover, they [the Central Asian Republics] are of importance from the standpoint of security and historical ambitions to at least three of their most immediate and more powerful neighbors, namely Russia, Turkey, and Iran, with China also signaling an increasing political interest in the region (ibid., 124).

From 1991 on, the United States relentlessly pursued a strategy of encircling Russia, just as it has with other perceived enemies like China and Iran. It has brought 12 countries in central Europe, all of them formerly allied with Moscow, into the NATO alliance. US military power is now directly on Russia’s borders. The actual Ukraine crisis is in part the result of a zero-sum calculation that has shaped US policy toward Moscow since the Cold War: Any loss for Russia is an American victory, and anything positive that happens to, for, or in Russia is bad for the United States. As much as this reality might be contested by Western rhetoric and subdued by the Western media, as much is it the dominant perception in Russia, China, or Iran.

Slowly, under President Gerald Ford and, especially President Jimmy Carter, an imperial revival emerged in the form of clandestine support for armed surrogates in Southern Africa and neoliberal military dictatorships in Latin America. The first large-scale imperial intervention involved massive support for the Islamist uprising against the secular government of Afghanistan and a mercenary jihadist invasion into the Southern member states of the Soviet Union, sponsored by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the US (1979). Since September 11, 2001, US Special Operations forces have grown in every conceivable way. In the waning days of the Bush presidency, Special Operations forces were deployed in about 60 countries around the world. In 2013, elite U.S. forces were deployed in 134 countries around the globe. This 123% increase during the Obama years demonstrates how the U.S. has engaged in growing forms of overseas power projection. Conducted largely in the shadows by America’s most elite troops, the vast majority of these missions take place far from prying eyes, media scrutiny, or any type of outside oversight, increasing the chances of unforeseen blowback and catastrophic consequences. SOCOM is reportedly on track to reach 72,000 personnel in 2014, up from 33,000 in 2001. Funding for the command has also jumped exponentially as its baseline budget, $2.3 billion in 2001, hit $6.9 billion in 2013 ($10.4 billion, if you add in supplemental funding) (Turse, N. 2014).

In order to install governments obedient to US wishes and interests, US governments have been involved in and assisted in the overthrow of numerous foreign governments without the overt use of US military force. Often, such operations are tasked to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or, more tacitly, to the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), (Lopez, A. 2014). Regime change has been attempted through direct involvement of US operatives, the funding and training of insurgency groups within these countries, anti-regime propaganda campaigns, coups d’état, and other activities [9].

The art of regime change, soft and hard, has been a well developed and important part of US foreign policy since the Iran coup in the early 1950s. Beginning with Serbia in 2000, “colored revolutions” have spread over most parts of the former Soviet allies (unsuccessful in Belarus), to Myanmar 2007 (unsuccessful) and North Africa. The propaganda is always the same, centered around catch words like democracy, human rights, prosperity, justice and freedom while in reality it is about installing capitalist friendly governments, deregulation, privatization, natural resources, military bases and armament sales, and containment of potential rivals (Moglia, J. 2014). Mass media, especially TV advertising, public opinion polls together with revolutionary cells plus indefinite money mostly from US public and private sources or exiled Russian oligarchs help to orchestrate the process of transition. The Open Society Fund with numerous subsidiaries including the Central European University are illustrative examples.

Conceived for the OK’98 civic campaign in Slovakia, the strategy has been progressively perfected and adapted to other contexts. In Serbia, this gave birth to what would be called the “Bulldozer Revolution” and led to the end of the Milosevic regime. It then spread to other contexts, featuring protests and regime changes in Georgia, Ukraine, and to a limited extent, Kyrgyzstan. The deployment of that strategy is perfectly visible, with all the events in a clear sequence: unpopular regime, falsification of elections, street protests and the political death of the current president. Because of their high non-violent component, they resemble more a massive party than direct confrontation with the authorities. Whilst regimes in countries like Belarus and Uzbekistan tightened control on international funding and NGOs, Georgia and Ukraine remained relatively liberal in this respect. Both countries were open to Western influence whilst still keeping decent relations with Moscow. The Central European University is selecting what is to become the elite of those countries. Programs of assistance to Ukrainian and Georgian students are well established in the USA and in loco. One could interpret each of those “color revolutions” as arm wrestling between Moscow and Washington, with the EU timidly trying to have a voice (Polese, A. 2011).

US governments’ actions for regime change implied many thousands of people murdered (Blum, W., 2004). Operation Gladio, supervised by NATO and masterminded by Washington, had the sole purpose of preventing leftist parties in Europe of being democratically elected (Ganser, D., 2005). Operacion Condor (Calloni 2010) used terror regimes and death squadrons throughout Latin America to secure subservient governments, no matter how cruel (Davies, N.J.S. 2014). At the very moment of writing, regime change operations can be observed in Egypt, Thailand, Venezuela, Syria, Ukraine. They all are being prepared and accompanied by carefully planned propaganda campaigns. In none of these and the many former cases have such meddlings brought about democratic governments. Quite opposite, the result was usually some sort of corrupt junta grabbing power whose sole benefit was to further enrich a small cabal of local criminals plus their US accomplices. Widespread poverty, social polarization and conflict are the common consequences (Mitchell, G. 2014; Gosztola, K. 2014; Vance, L.M. 2014). PNACs foreign policy has failed everywhere, without exception. Instead of regimes favorable to the US and obedient to its rule, they created chaos, fear and hostility. PNAC has prepared the coffin in which US global power is going to be buried.

Their greatest achievement was to what extent they got through with their neoconservative ideology, and made it the basic political philosophy in Western and, even more so, in the transition countries of Eastern Europe. Their greatest mistake of truly global impact was the diligent dismissal of disarmament and peace proposals submitted by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbatchev from 1986 on. They did not even test the seriousness of his proposals. Eager to deliver a deadly blow to the global competitor, they helped to oust its charismatic leader and replace him with a pathological alcoholic, Boris Yeltsin. The primary people behind this project were Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and Dick Cheney. The same can be said with respect to President Putin’s proposals for confidence building and closer cooperation which have been rejected right away by the Obama administration.

“Why does the Obama administration choose this type of foreign policy? The main reason is that the above-targeted countries had slid out of the US orbit of control, and only these far-right groups are interested in getting their country back into the US orbit. Ultimately, US capitalists gain mountains of profit when a country is dependent on US loans, US-made weapons, manufactured goods, foodstuffs, etc. This is why the US establishment — now represented by the Obama administration — will not simply leave Latin America, the Middle East, or Eastern Europe to be independent or fall into the orbit of a competing regional power like Russia. There is simply too much profit at stake. Peace is not an option” (Cooke, S., 2014).

2.3 The Strategy of Tension

How was all this made acceptable to the American people? The strategy of tension is a tactic that aims to divide, manipulate, and control public opinion using fear, propaganda, disinformation, psychological warfare, agents provocateurs, and false flag terrorist actions. [10]. The strategy played a special role inside the US. Americans who grew up in the 1950s lived lives of constant fear—fear that communists were everywhere, fear that communism was a contagious illness of the mind that was spreading throughout America and the rest of the world, and fear that the Soviet Union was going to initiate a nuclear attack on the United States. Fear became the coin of the realm for the national-security state. Peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union was the last thing that US officials wanted. It wouldn’t justify the rise of the permanent military establishment, a foreign empire of military bases, a CIA, a NSA, covert operations, spying, foreign interventionism, coups, assassinations, torture, surveillance, spying, and support of foreign dictatorships (Hornberger, J.G. 2013).

In 2013, President Obama, almost echoing infamous Senator Joseph McCarthy, brought the enemy even closer, arguing in a speech at the National Defense University that “we face a real threat from radicalized individuals here in the United States” — radicalized individuals who were “deranged or alienated individuals — often U.S. citizens or legal residents.” The subtext is that if we want to catch them we need to start looking within. The pretext for the surveillance state is thus established.

“By sowing mistrust, by stripping us of our privacy, by taking away our rights, by subjecting us to arbitrary and irrational rules, and by constantly reminding us that this is the only thing between us and death by the hands of terrorists, the T.S.A. and its ilk are sowing fear. And by doing so, they are playing directly into the terrorists’ hands.”

A perfect example of such misdirection of fear took place in the case of the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013, in which the Boston Police Department effectively imposed martial law and seized control of people’s homes. The bombings were terrible (three people died and more than 260 were injured), but just two days later another terrible thing happened: a giant explosion in a fertilizer plant in Texas killed at least 14 people and injured more than 160. Could it have been terrorists? Saddam Hussein allegedly developed WMDs – and Condoleezza Rice already warned of a “mushroom cloud over America”. But while the US spends more than 7 billion dollars a year on the T.S.A.’s national security theater in which over 58,000 T.S.A. employees make sure not too much toothpaste or shampoo is being carried onto airplanes, the budget for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is under $600 million per year (Ludlow, P. 2014).

The term “nation” is a frequent trigger to create the unthinking crowd reaction. George Bush’s 9/11 address is an example of how he went about creating crowd support for his policies. Over and over, his words stressed the idea that the terrorism of that day was an attack on every American. He led off with “Our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack.” He went on to shape the psychological reactions that would provide the ground for his policies: “…have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger.” At this point he invoked the nation: “These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong. A great people has been moved to defend a great nation.” “I’ve directed the full resources for our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and bring them to justice” (Rozeff, M.S. 2014). Most ironically, not one person has been brought to justice because of the 9/11 attacks! Patriotism is a major device to secure blind conformity with the governments dealings (Sullivan, C. no date; Kimberley, M. 2014).

The strategy of tension will work best in an environment where general education is poor (The War on Kids 2014; America ‘Dead Last’ In Education, 2013) and where the media are more or less streamlined. There are more than 1,400 daily newspapers in the United States. But there was no single paper, nor a single TV network, that was unequivocally opposed to the American wars carried out against Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Panama, Grenada, and Vietnam (Blum, W. 2014; Lobe, J. 2014; Lyngbaek, A. 2014). Media have never been more consolidated; six media giants control some ninety percent of what US citizens read, watch, or listen to. Some of them do cooperate, directly or indirectly, with intelligence agencies (Solomon, W. 2014).

3. The Deep State

In reality, the world is increasingly governed by the Deep State (also called the Secret Government, Moyers, B. 1987), uncontrolled by democratic mechanisms, time and again discussed by some “conspiracy theorists”, with massive evidence only recently revealed by Wikileaks and Edward Snowdon. Although President Obama cannot enact his domestic policies and budgets due to incessant Republican stonewalling, he can liquidate alleged terrorists without due processes, detain prisoners indefinitely without charge, conduct dragnet surveillance without judicial warrant and engage in unprecedented witch hunts against federal employees (the so-called “Insider Threat Program”). Within the United States, this power is characterized by massive displays of intimidating force by militarized federal, state and local law enforcement. Abroad, he can start wars at will and engage in virtually any other activity whatsoever.

In 2011 when political warfare over the debt ceiling was beginning to paralyze Washington, the government somehow summoned the resources to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi regime in Libya and to provide overt and covert assistance to French intervention in Mali. At the time of heated debate about continuing meat inspections and civilian air traffic control because of the budget crisis, the government was somehow able to commit $115 million to keeping a civil war going in Syria and to pay at least £100m to the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters to buy influence over and access to that country’s intelligence. Since 2007, two bridges carrying interstate highways have collapsed due to inadequate maintenance of infrastructure, one killing 13 people. During that same period of time, the government spent $1.7 billion constructing a building in Utah that is the size of 17 football fields. This mammoth structure is intended to allow the National Security Agency to store a yottabyte of information, the largest numerical designator computer scientists have coined. A yottabyte is equal to 500 quintillion pages of text. They need that much storage to archive every single trace of our electronic life (Lofgren, M., 2014).

“Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose.”

The Deep State is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department. I also includes the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street. All these agencies are coordinated by the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council. Certain key areas of the judiciary belong to the Deep State, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose actions are mysterious even to most members of Congress.

“There are now 854,000 contract personnel with top-secret clearances — a number greater than that of top-secret-cleared civilian employees of the government. Since 9/11, 33 facilities for top-secret intelligence have been built or are under construction in and around the Washington suburbs. Combined, they occupy the floor space of almost three Pentagons — about 17 million square feet. Seventy percent of the intelligence community’s budget goes to paying contracts. And the membrane between government and industry is highly permeable: The Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, is a former executive of Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the government’s largest intelligence contractors [Edward Snowdon’s former employer; owned by the Carlyle Group]. His predecessor as director, Admiral Mike McConnell, is the current vice chairman of the same company; Booz Allen is 99 percent dependent on government business. These contractors now set the political and social tone of Washington, just as they are increasingly setting the direction of the country, but they are doing it quietly, their doings unrecorded in the Congressional Record or the Federal Register, and are rarely subject to congressional hearings.”

The executives of the financial giants even have de facto criminal immunity. On March 6, 2013, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder stated:

“I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.”

They are deeply dyed in the hue of the official ideology of the governing class, an ideology that is neither specifically Democrat nor Republican. Domestically, they almost invariably believe in the “Washington Consensus”: financialization, outsourcing, privatization, deregulation and the commodifying of labor. Internationally, they espouse “American Exceptionalism”: the right and duty of the United States to meddle in every region of the world with coercive diplomacy and boots on the ground and to ignore painfully won international norms of civilized behavior. Through long established though more and more intensified forms of cooperation, the Deep State reaches far beyond the borders of the US (Lofgren, M., 2014).

When the House voted not to rein in the NSA’s phone-spying dragnet, it turned out that the 217 “no” voters received twice as much campaign financing from the defense and intelligence industry as the 205 “yes” voters. The investigation showed that defense cash was a better predictor of a member’s vote than party affiliation. House members who voted to continue the massive phone-call-metadata spy program, on average, raked in 122 percent more money from defense contractors than those who voted to dismantle it. Political action committees and employees from defense and intelligence firms such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, United Technologies, Honeywell International, and others ponied up $12.97 million in donations for a two-year period ending December 31, 2012. Lawmakers who voted to continue the NSA dragnet-surveillance program averaged $41,635 from the pot, whereas House members who voted to repeal authority averaged $18,765 (Boehm, E. 2014).

America’s national-security elites act on the assumption that every nook and cranny of the globe is of great strategic significance and that there are threats to US interests everywhere. Not surprisingly, they live in a constant state of fear. There must be a policy of global domination to make the world safe for America. A short look at the map shows that this perception is ridiculously wrong. The ruling class is creating those very enemies it strives to combat. The national security state is remarkably unchecked and unbalanced. In recent times, that labyrinthine structure of intelligence agencies morphing into war-fighting outfits, the US military (with its own secret military, the special operations forces, gestating inside it), and the Department of Homeland Security, a monster conglomeration of agencies that is an actual “defense department,” as well as a vast contingent of weapons makers, contractors, and profiteers bolstered by an army of lobbyists, has never stopped growing (Kravets, D. 2013, London, E. 2014).

“Obama is just a willing executioner. From the ruling class’s point of view, he’s the perfect figurehead because his mere appearance confuses and disarms so many. He seems to have spent his whole life trying to get chosen to play Judas. And that’s all there is in his resume” (Whitney, M. 2014; see also Ford, G. 2014a; Ford, G. 2014b; Chomsky, N. 2014).

A stunning new report compiles extensive evidence on how some of the world’s largest corporations have partnered with private intelligence firms and government intelligence agencies to spy on activist and nonprofit groups. Environmental activism is a prominent though not exclusive focus of these activities. One of the groups that has been targeted the most, and by a range of different corporations, is Greenpeace. In the 1990s, Greenpeace was tracked by private security firm Beckett Brown International (BBI) on behalf of the world’s largest chlorine producer, Dow Chemical, due to the environmental organisation’s campaigning against the use of chlorine to manufacture paper and plastics.

Other Greenpeace offices in France and Europe were hacked and spied on by French private intelligence firms at the behest of Électricité de France, the world’s largest operator of nuclear power plants, 85% owned by the French government. Oil companies Shell and BP had also reportedly hired Hackluyt, a private investigative firm with “close links” to MI6, to infiltrate Greenpeace. Many of the world’s largest corporations and their trade associations – including the US Chamber of Commerce, Walmart, Monsanto, Bank of America, Dow Chemical, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Chevron, Burger King, McDonald’s, Shell, BP, BAE, Sasol, Brown & Williamson and E.ON – have been linked to espionage or planned espionage against nonprofit organizations, activists and whistleblowers” (Ruskin, G. 2013).

The Deep State is built on the structural advantage the executive has over the legislative and the judiciary [11]. It is the executive which is the prime target of lobbying and donations; it has direct access to law enforcement, repressive and intelligence agencies; it is partner in international negotiations; object of the media, and discusses with economic giants. While in theory democracy rests on checks and balances, the executive always has a tendency to undermine democratic control. A disturbing result of such imbalance is the incredible amount of money dumped in the military without any proper accounting (Black Budget 2013). Most of the official excitement over NSA’s spying is deeply hypocritical: Of course were intelligence services spying not only on other countries, or dissident groups, but also on industry. This was already the case under the Echelon spy system. As long as executive branches perceive each other in the framework of a competitive world this is unlikely to change. Democratic control mechanisms are much too weak to be effective. Very often governments are being kept in the dark about their own spy agency’s cooperation with NSA (Greenwald, G. 2014; Counter Intelligence: The Deep State).

Covert operations are usually criminal activities conducted by states or state-like institutions. Very often they are close to state terrorism (torture, renditions, false flag, regime change, war mongering, warrantless spying). There is also criminal behavior in corporations [12]. Corporate lobbies, together with bribed politicians, make laws to protect and facilitate unlawful behavior and shield it from law enforcement. Laws are made in their favor [13]. Money laundering helps to wash money of criminal origin and to invest it in legal businesses. The borderlines between legal and illegal behavior is increasingly blurred. Financial industries are especially inclined [14]. Gladio has used Mafia killers to prevent leftists from being democratically elected into office, the German BND uses right wing extremists and criminals to infiltrate neo-Nazi parties. The “enemy within”-theory is used to justify internal repression what, however, has already been practiced for decades to control opposition and dissent. Vice President Dick Cheney was said to command his personal killer squadron and to have personally approved torture, as does Obama (Harris-Gershon, D. 2013; Zenko, M. 2013).

Neoconservative ideology has helped to dismantle state regulations and transfer wealth to the 1%. Now, they are in a position to influence much of state legislation in their favor. They and their fortunes are protected by hosts of lawmakers, managers, accounting firms, lawyers, tax consultants, think tanks, radio stations, film studios, publishers, media outlets, researchers, ghostwriters, lobbyists, body guards and other lackeys in their service. As private property is the golden calf of capitalism, and unregulated capitalism has become the bible of the ruling class, they can even mobilize police forces and ultimately the military on their behalf. Here, the nation-state and its government remain important agencies. Nation-states can easily be played off against each other for, e.g., tax evasion. Still the rich manage to be admired in public as the true heroes of society, the stars of success, and the personification of what was once called the American Dream (Polk, S. 2014).

This is the end of democracy as we knew it, and the definite takeover of plutocracy.

2.6 Case Studies

9/11 – Crime Covered up

The amended Set of Principles for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights Through Action to Combat Impunity, submitted to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on 8 February 2005, defines impunity as:

“the impossibility, de jure or de facto, of bringing the perpetrators of violations to account – whether in criminal, civil, administrative or disciplinary proceedings – since they are not subject to any inquiry that might lead to their being accused, arrested, tried and, if found guilty, sentenced to appropriate penalties, and to making reparations to their victims” [15].

There are serious doubts with respect to the 9/11 Commission report: Members of the 9/11 Commission, as well as its executive director Philip Zelikow, had conflicts of interest. Zelikow had closer ties with the White House than he publicly disclosed and had tried to influence the final report in ways that the staff often perceived as limiting the Bush administration’s responsibility and furthering its anti-Iraq agenda. Zelikow had at least four private conversations with former White House political director Karl Rove, and appears to have had many frequent telephone conversations with people in the White House. White House lawyers attempted to stonewall the creation of the commission and to hamstring its work from the outset (Shenon, P. 2013).

The two co-chairs of the Commission, Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, believe that the government established the Commission in a way that ensured that it would fail. In their book Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission (Kean, T.H., Hamilton, L.H. 2006) describing their experience, Hamilton listed a number of reasons for reaching this conclusion, including: the late establishment of the Commission and the very short deadline imposed on its work; the insufficient funds, initially allocated for conducting such an extensive investigation (later the Commission requested additional funds but received only a fraction of the funds requested and the chairs still felt hamstrung); the many politicians who opposed the establishment of the Commission; the continuing resistance and opposition to the work of the Commission by many politicians, particularly those who did not wish to be blamed for any of what happened; the deception of the Commission by various key government agencies, including the Department of Defense, NORAD and the FAA; and, the denial of access by various agencies to documents and witnesses. “So there were all kinds of reasons we thought we were set up to fail.”

Troubled by the fact that so many of the facts related to 9/11 remain uninvestigated, in 2013 I asked about a dozen friends and colleagues in the US academe: “Could you please help me to understand why nobody takes the perpetrators to court with all the evidence provided?” I only received one serious reaction which I quote here in anonymity:

“First, I cannot say I believe the official narrative because there was no careful scientific study of the event by government officials. The events of September 11, 2001 are therefore open to alternative theories. All theories about this event, including the official one, are by definition conspiracy theories, i.e. explanations for criminal events by reference to a plot conceived by two or more persons in secret. To trust any theory about a conspiracy (or anything, for that matter) without a careful review of all the evidence would be irresponsible. I remain agnostic on the matter.

Second, I do not believe that the US government will conduct a careful scientific study of the event. Not given things as they stand today. If the official version were shown to be false in any nontrivial regard, then that might risk delegitimizing the war on terror. As a rationale for imperialism and domestic repression, the war on terror is much too important to lose in these times of crisis. Even the perception that things didn’t happen the way the government says they did could mean trouble. Therefore the matter is closed. The Commission Report is definitive. There will be no criminal investigation.

Third, anybody in the United States who espouses alternative theories, especially in the academy, is ridiculed and marginalized. The people I know who find several aspects of the official narrative problematic have reckoned that, in light of the almost certain truth that speaking up will have no effect, the personal costs of challenging the government theory are greater than the public benefits. The United States is now a closed and punishing society. People are hunkered down. Why risk one’s career for nothing? No alternative theory will gain any popular traction.

Fourth, even if we accept the official narrative, key acknowledged facts prove criminal negligence by the Bush Administration. This event would not have happened had the government dedicated itself to preventing it. However, for reasons already noted, these facts have and will continue to amount to nothing. Bush and his staff will never be held responsible for the worst security failure in US history. Obama is continuing – indeed expanding and entrenching – the neoconservative policies of his predecessor. He has no interest in pursuing a criminal investigation into criminal negligence.

So, in a real sense, the question of whether this happened the way the government says it did, is somewhat beside the point. It happened the way they did because that’s the way they need it to be. However it happened, they would have used it to devastate society.”

To be sure: The point here is not about finding out the truth of what happened how, and who is responsible. Rather, the question is who is actively preventing a new investigation in all the doubts on the table.

“The
 9/11
 attacks
 were
 used
 to
 justify
 an
 institutional
 revolution
 meant
 to
 complete
 a
 process
 of
 integration
 and
 coordination
 of
 all
 the
 assets
 of
 US
 national
 power
 through
 a
 strategic
 communication
 (SC)
 campaign
 deployed
 on
 a
 global
 scale. 
The
 ‘Global
 War
 on
 Terror’
 (GWOT)
 nurtured
 a
 narrative
 of
 crisis
 associated
 with
 this
 unprecedented
 public
 education
 effort.
 In
 order
 to
 sell
 its
 approaches,
 the
 United
 States
 government
 relied
 on
 a
 network
 of
 ‘experts’:
 military
 veterans,
 high‐ranking
 officers
such
 as
 Admirals
 as
 well
 as
 professional
 journalists
 and
 academics
 who
 contributed
 to
 forging
 a
 consensus,
or,
 as
 Michel
Foucault
 would
 call
 it,
 a
 ‘regime
 of
 truth’
 that
 claims
 a
 certain
 interpretation
 to 
be 
right 
and 
true, 
while
 ignoring 
or 
discrediting 
critics 
and 
dissenting 
narratives” (Gygax, J., Snow, N. 2013”).

Much of the official narrative of 9/11 was based on the confessions of Khaled Sheikh Mohammad which, however, were pressed out of him under torture not only of himself but also of his son in his plain sight.

Ukraine – Regime Change

For years, the association agreement between the EU and Ukraine was of minor importance. Many European politicians, first of all the German Chancellor, showed provocative disinterest in Ukraine. When, in November 2013, Russia asked for access to the negotiation table, it was rebuffed by the EU.

While Brussels was playing for time, the US was preparing the overthrow of the government. Since the end of the Cold War the United States has been surrounding Russia, building one base after another, ceaselessly looking for new ones, including in Ukraine. The US deployment of new weapon systems in Eastern Europe is consistent with a plan for antagonizing Moscow that was proposed in the Washington Post by the Obama administration’s ideological godfather, Zbigniew Brzezinski, immediately after a group of self-proclaimed Maidan leaders chased away the elected government. It betrays all those who suspect that he might have changed his position in his recent publications:

“The West should promptly recognize the current government of Ukraine as legitimate. Uncertainty regarding its legal status could tempt Putin to repeat his Crimean charade. … Meanwhile, NATO forces, consistent with the organization’s contingency planning, should be put on alert. High readiness for some immediate airlift to Europe of U.S. airborne units would be politically and militarily meaningful. If the West wants to avoid a conflict, there should be no ambiguity in the Kremlin as to what might be precipitated by further adventurist use of force in the middle of Europe” (Brzezinski, Z. 2014).

The US had tried, but failed, to take Ukraine in 2004 with the Washington-financed “Orange Revolution.” According to Assistant Secretary of State (and wife to PNAC godfather Robert Kagan) Victoria Nuland, since this failure Washington has “invested” $5 billion in Ukraine in order to foment agitation for EU membership for Ukraine [16]. EU membership would open Ukraine to looting by Western bankers and corporations, but Washington’s main goal is to establish US missile bases on Russia’s border with Ukraine and to deprive Russia of its Black Sea naval base and military industries in eastern Ukraine. EU membership for Ukraine means NATO membership (Roberts, P.C. 2014).

When President Yanukovich declared on 21 November he would not sign the EU association agreement, clashes erupted in the streets of Kiev. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets and to Maidan Square on December weekends. This was the critical stage of a campaign fueled by the three opposition parties “Fatherland” (Yuljia Tymochenko, Arsenji Yatsenyuk), “Bang” (German Konrad Adenauer Foundation funded box champion Vitali Klitschko) and “Freedom” (Svoboda leader and closely tied in the network of European fascist parties, Oleh Tjahnybok). Their common goal was to oust President Viktor Yanukovych whose Party of the Regions had succeeded in the 2012 elections. Kiev’s membership in the EU would then not be far off; after which the country could embrace the joys of neo-conservatism, receiving the benefits of the standard privatization-deregulation-austerity package and join Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Spain as an impoverished orphan of the family. Crimea’s deputy prime minister, Olga Kovitidi, described as predatory the terms of an agreement Kiev is ready to accept from the International Monetary Fund (Voice of Russia, 2014).

Since the 2004 revolt, fascist militias had been built up and payed for who would now ignite the actual uprisings and prevent compromise (Svoboda, Right Sector). They call for violence, and occupy provincial governments in the mostly agricultural and right-wing West of the country. In the Western regions of Lwow, Ternopol, Rovno, Luzk and Iwano-Frankowsk and others, they stormed office buildings and pressed governors to sign their resignations. While thousands of people took part in anti-government protests in Kiev, a small group of radical fighters were at the core of the violent clashes. Judging by their looks and actions, they are armed, trained and prepared for war. Apart from individual gear, the rioters know urban guerrilla tactics. The protesters were also well-prepared for offensive. They had a wide assortment of melee weapons.

The National Endowment for Democracy website [17] lists 65 projects that it has supported financially in recent years in Ukraine. Their programs impart the basic philosophy that people are best served under a system of free enterprise, minimal government intervention in the economy, and opposition to socialism in any shape or form. A free-market economy is equated with democracy, reform, and growth; and the merits of foreign investment in their economy are emphasized. The NED would do somewhat overtly what the CIA had been doing covertly for decades, and thus eliminate the stigma associated with CIA covert activities. NED receives virtually all its financing from the US government. Why were Washington officials grooming a replacement for President Yanukovych, legally and democratically elected in 2010, who, in the face of protests, moved elections up so he could have been voted out of office – not thrown out by a mob? Yanukovych made repeated important concessions, including amnesty for those arrested and offering, on January 25, to make two of his adversaries prime minister and deputy prime minister; all to no avail. Key elements of the protestors, and those behind them, wanted their putsch. Ukraine’s junta prime minister announced March 7 that he has invited the NATO Council to hold a meeting in Kiev over the recent developments in the country. “I invited the North Atlantic Council to visit Kiev and hold a meeting there,” Arseny Yatsenyuk said during a visit to Brussels, where he met with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and EU officials. “We believe that it will strengthen our cooperation” (Blum, W. 2014).

In addition to NED, the foreign donors included the U.S. State Department and USAID along with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute, the NGO Freedom House and the Open Society Institute (Ames, M. 2014). They all have supported non-governmental democracy-building efforts in Eastern Europe since 1988. Each of these social movements included extensive work by student activists.

The most famous of these was Otpor, the youth movement that helped bring in Vojislav Koštunica. In Georgia the movement was called Kmara. In Ukraine the movement has worked under the succinct slogan “Pora“ (“It’s Time”). Pora was built up in Ukraine in 2004 in order to assist in regime change. “We trained them in how to set up an organization, how to open a local chapter, how to develop a brand with logo, symbols, and key messages”, said an Otpor activist in the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. “We trained them in how to detect societies‘ weaknesses and what the most burning problems of the population are.” Srdja Popovic, Otpor’s founder and director, was found to have close working relationships with US intelligence firm Stratfor. He boasted to be a revolutionary for hire (Gibson, C., Horn, S. 2013; Traynor, I. 2004).

Already in 1992-95, the IMF imposed structural adjustment program had reduced Ukraine’s GDP by sixty per cent. Now, condionalities for new credits include doubling gas prizes, increase fees for public services, cut social services and funds for education, limit wages and pensions, lay-offs in the public sector, investment guarantees for foreign private corporations, and devalue the currency, thus raising the prices of imports which include Russian gas, and open Ukrainian assets to takeover by Western corporations. Ukraine’s agriculture lands will pass into the hands of American agribusiness. It was all too clear for President Yanukovych and his partisans that the elections of 2015 could not be won on this basis. Permission to set up a missile shield, also included in the IMF package, was a pure provocation to Russia. Also, the 11 billion euros that the EU is offering Kiev is not aid, it is a loan. It comes with many strings, including Kiev’s acceptance of the IMF austerity plan.

The Obama administration’s rationale for supporting the fascist-led coup in Ukraine collapsed on March 7 when a hacked phone call between EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet revealed that the snipers who fired on protestors in Maidan Square in Kiev on February 20, 2014, were not aligned with President Yanukovych, but with the protest leaders themselves. Estonian foreign ministry has confirmed the recording of his conversation with EU foreign policy chief is authentic. Urmas Paet said that snipers who shot at protesters and police in Kiev were hired by Maidan leaders.

With pro-Russian candidates off the ballot, Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok is a dominant political power in Ukraine. He certainly is a bigger votegetter than Yatsenyuk, whose main responsibility is to negotiate with the West over financial aid and the EU package, and Vitali Klitschko who announced he will be running for mayor of Kiev. In recognition of Tyahnbyok’s clout, Svoboda members got the posts of Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Ecology, and acting prosecutor general. A founder of the Social Nationalist party was made secretary of the Ukraine National Security and Defense Council. Several hundred members and supporters of the militant nationalist Right Sector swarmed Ukraine’s parliament building for the second day in a row on March 28 to demand the resignation of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and an investigation into the suspicious death earlier in the week of one of its leaders [17]. This new though illegal government composed according to US wishes and flattered by Western heads of state, has announced to sign the EU association agreement successively. It has asked the US for far-reaching military assistance. And it has brought the country’s gold reserves into US custody (Chossudovsky, M. 2014). They did not wait until a legitimate government were elected on May 25 but were eager to create faits accomplis.

“The conflicts in Ukraine, Venezuela, and Syria have one thing in common: In all three cases there are leading groups steering the “opposition” that want absolutely nothing to do with democracy — these groups are as far-right as politics gets: European-style fascism in Ukraine, Islamic extremism in Syria, and in Venezuela the elite-favored tradition of military dictatorships. But there has been a virtual U.S. media blackout as to the leadership of the movements in Ukraine, Syria, and Venezuela, and for good reason; if these groups come to power, the country will be far worse off than it is now. The American public would give zero support to these groups if they knew the truth, which is why the level of U.S. media misinformation about these groups is as Orwellian as the workings of Obama’s NSA. (Cooke, S. 2014). A State Department official was quoted saying that the US would “affirm our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of both countries and for all post-Soviet states” (Brunnstorm, D. 2014).

In strange uniformity the Western media have adopted an interpretation of events which ignores Western provocative actions as well as selfish interests of the West, and demonize President Putin and Russia (Smith, P. 2014). Interestingly enough, this goes to a large extent against public opinion as revealed in opinion polls. It is mostly the Western media which foment Cold War sentiments and thus play into the hands of neocon politicians.

 TIPP/TTIP

In 1995 the World Trade Organization (WTO) grew out of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Its first and most important project was the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI) planned to concede to transnational corporations far-reaching rights against member states. After first draft texts were leaked and developing countries opposed the thrust of the negotiations, the negotiation process was transferred to the OECD, the organization of highly industrialized countries in order to “avoid undue politization”. When draft texts were passed over to NGOs, a broad public campaign began to oppose the agreement which finally led first to a moratorium, then to an end of the negotiations. However, some of the intended contents became included in numerous bilateral agreements. Now new efforts are being made to once again establish agreements friendly to TNC wishes: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). While both processes are kept behind closed doors in almost total secrecy, it happens, once again, that NGOs could get hold of individual sections of drafts under negotiation.

“Today, 13 November 2013, WikiLeaks released the secret negotiated draft text for the entire TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. The TPP is the largest-ever economic treaty, encompassing nations representing more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP. The chapter published by WikiLeaks is perhaps the most controversial chapter of the TPP due to its wide-ranging effects on medicines, publishers, internet services, civil liberties and biological patents.”

The TPP is the forerunner to the equally secret US-EU pact TTIP, for which President Obama initiated US-EU negotiations in January 2013. Together, the TPP and TTIP will cover more than sixty per cent of global GDP. Both pacts exclude China. Since the beginning of the TPP negotiations, the process of drafting and negotiating the treaty’s chapters has been shrouded in an unprecedented level of secrecy. Access to drafts of the TPP chapters is shielded from the general public. It has been previously revealed that only three individuals in each TPP nation have access to the full text of the agreement, while 600 ’trade advisers’ – lobbyists guarding the interests of large US corporations such as Chevron, Halliburton, Monsanto and Walmart – are granted privileged access to crucial sections of the treaty text. The Obama administration is preparing to fast-track the TPP treaty in a manner that will prevent the US Congress from discussing or amending any parts of the treaty. The longest section of the Chapter – ’Enforcement’ – is devoted to detailing new policing measures, with far-reaching implications for individual rights, civil liberties, publishers, internet service providers and internet privacy, as well as for the creative, intellectual, biological and environmental commons. Particular measures proposed include supranational litigation tribunals to which sovereign national courts are expected to defer, but which have no human rights safeguards. The draft states that these courts can conduct hearings with secret evidence [19].

On April 30, 2007, a Framework Agreement was signed between the EU and the US. With it, the Trans-Atlantic Economic Council was set up to prepare negotiations which then started formally by mid-2013. A High-Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth chaired by US Trade Representative Ron Kirk and EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht was entrusted with bringing the negotiations forward. Its membership was not publicly disclosed until the Corporate Europe Observatory revealed their background in Business Europe and the Bertelsmann Foundation, both with strong neoliberal inclinations. None of them had a democratic mandate.

Primarily, TTIP is about the abolishment of non-tariff trade barriers, rules and standards. This includes, e.g., the clear declaration of genetically manipulated organisms in food which is mandatory in the EU but not in the US. Corporations like Monsanto have since long been critical of such regulations and lobby their being abolished, so they can sell their seeds and products on the European market. Hydraulic Fracturing is common in the US but forbidden in the EU, including the import of shield gas. Another issue on the agenda is the withdrawel of controls and restrictions, introduced after the financial crisis of 2008, for the financial sector, with City of London lobbies on the forefront.

TTIP is heavily criticized by NGOs for being negotiated without any democratic participation. The effects on economic growth and employment put in favour of it by its proponents are expected to be only marginal while being more than offset in a race to the bottom by undermining environmental, health and work standards in the sole interests of corporate profits. A major critical issue is the planned Investor-State Dispute Settlement which gives corporations a one-way right to sue governments in case they see their profits endangered by public regulation, while states would not have similar rights. This mechanism would exclude any resort to the judiciary. Once signed, the convention could not be altered without unanimous consensus among all member parties.

As is the case with TPP, TTIP negotiations exclude not only the public but also members of national or European parliaments, even members of national governments from insight into the documents. Parallel to attempts to fast-track ratification in the US, it is under debate in the EU whether or not the European Commission shall be the only responsible to sign the final legally binding contract.

The hurry which the US government is imposing on the negotiations is easily understandable: With European Parliament elections on May 25, and Obama’s term of office expiring, with Russia’s gas deal with China and its efforts to get rid of its US-dollar reserves, the agreements are on high risk, indeed. They might not survive public scrutiny once the texts are fully exposed.

4. Conclusion

“Illegitimate authority is on the rise and democracy is gradually succumbing to the disease of neoliberal ideology so that more and more functions of legitimate government are being assumed by illegitimate, unelected, opaque agents and organisations. This is the case at all levels, national, regional and international…. It is not exactly news that governments have always governed on behalf of certain class interests but this is different from allowing those interests to actually write the legislation and to make policy directly, including budgetary, financial, labour, social and environmental policy in the place of elected legislators and civil servants. It is different from allowing private corporations deliberately to disseminate deception and lies and undermine the public’s right to know. It’s not just their size, their enormous wealth and assets that make the TNCs dangerous to democracy. It’s also their concentration, their capacity to influence, and often infiltrate, governments and their ability to act as a genuine international social class in order to defend their commercial interests against the common good” (George, S. 2014).

Susan George accurately describes the paths our Western societies are following, the US most advanced, others lagging somewhat behind. It seems to be a one-way process without any escape towards democracy.

The global ruling class feeling that US world hegemony is approaching its end and uncertain about its own fate seems to be obsessed by paranoia, and running amok with only one goal left: to fill as much as possible into its own coffers. It even abstains from the impression of following the rule of law. Belligerent behavior towards other countries goes hand in hand with sharply increasing social tensions and conflict within.

US exceptionalism, by its very definition, is the deep conviction of one’s general superiority over others. Thus, it is a fundamentally intolerant and pre-enlightenment attitude. At the same time, it tends to turn a blind eye against own shortcomings and deficits. From it follows the self-attributed right to teach others, to impose on others one’s role model of morale and of social organization, to exert power on others, to maintain the role of world policeman. Contempt of international law follows from the idea that law is as we do. Little wonder that others in the course of political, economic, and cultural emancipation, decreasingly accept this master-and-serf model of power distribution. There is revolt in other parts of the world, and sometimes violently critical of “the West”. The world will de-Americanize, as one Chinese diplomat put it. But real and lasting change must come from within US society.

 Notes and References

 All internet sources have been checked end of march 2014

 Notes

 [1] born 28.2.1961 in Syrjanowsk, East Kasachstan, has nothing to do with Fred C. Koch, the father of the Koch brothers, owners of Koch industries, born 23.9.1900 in Texas

[2] http://www.nationalhomeless.org/

[3] among the sources used here are: Homeless line up for food, Los Angeles weighs restrictions, New York Times, 26 November 2013; http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37243.htm; Homeless in Detroit allege they are being driven out of downtown, http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/11/28/homeless-in-detroitallegetheyarebeingdrivenoutofdowntown.html; Buchheit, P. (2013a), 3 Shocking Ways Inequality Keeps Getting Worse in America, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37256.htm; Poverty in America Is Mainstream, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/02/poverty-in-america-is-mainstream/; America’s Food Stamp Cut Stories You Probably Haven’t Heard About, http://mediamattersforamerica.tumblr.com/post/70211048750/americas-food-stamp-cut-stories-you-probably-havent; A Record Number of Americans Can’t Afford Their Rent, http://www.alternet.org/record-number-americans-cant-afford-their-rent; Thousands of Homeless People Live in Shantytowns at the Epicenter of High-Tech, Super-Rich Silicon Valley, http://www.alternet.org/hard-times-usa/jungle-thousands-homeless-people-live-shantytowns-epicenter-high-tech-super-rich; 30 Percent Of Americans Skip Out On Medical Care Because It’s Too Expensive, http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/12/10/3041821/americans-skip-health-care-2013/; Zeese, K., Flowers, M., America Is the Most Inhumane Developed Country on the Planet. Are We Going to Let It Stay That Way? http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37134.htm; Buchheit, P., (2013b), Retirement Theft in 4 Despicable Steps, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37313.htm; The war on women: The newly invisible and undeserving poor in America, http://opendemocracy.net/5050/ruth-rosen/war-on-women-newly-invisible-and-undeserving-poor-in-america; Black Women Are 40 Percent More Likely To Die From Breast Cancer Than White Women, http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/12/20/3095981/black-women-breast-cancer-mortality/; Covert, B., (2013), Forty Percent Of Workers Made Less Than $20,000 Last Year, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37243.htm

[4] The Case for Goliath: how America acts as the world’s government in the twenty-first century (2005); Democracy’s Good Name: the rise and risks of  the world’s most popular form of government (2007); Frugal Superpower: America’s global leadership in a cash-strapped era (2010)

[5] Landay, J.M., (2002), The Powell Manifesto: How a Prominent Lawyer’s Attack Memo Changed America, mediatransparency.org, August 20, cited in Nace, T., 2003:137

[6] see Committee on the Present Danger homepage, http://www.committeeonthepresentdanger.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=50&Itemid=54

[7] see, among other sources, Galtung, J., (2007), The State of the World, Journal of Futures Studies, 12, August, 1: 145 – 160

[8] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_for_the_New_American_Century

[9] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covert_United_States_foreign_regime_change_actions

[10] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategy_of_tension

[11] One of the few who have intensively written about the Deep State is Peter Dale Scott (see, for a fist intro, Peter Dale Scott, “The American Deep State, Deep Events, and Off-the-Books Financing,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 14, No. 3, April 6, 2014; and his website with large amounts of material: http://www.peterdalescott.net/q.html)

[12] http://www.corporatecrimereporter.com/, see their archives

[13] 26 top American corporations paid no federal income tax from ’08 to ’12, http://rt.com/usa/low-corporate-tax-rates-275/

[14] The examples are too many to be cited; a few recent headlines must suffice: Nader, R., (), Medical Price Gouging Skyrocketing, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37383.htm; Parramore, L.S., (), The Ayn Rand-Worshipping Sears CEO That Blew Up His Multibillion Dollar Empire, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37069.htm; Buchheit, P., (), 5 Ways Our Lives Are Being Violated by Corporate Greed, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37028.htm; Reich, R., (), The Year of the Great Redistribution, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37305.htm; Hudson, M. (), The “Iron-fisted Kleptocratic Financial Oligarchy”. 95% Income Growth Goes to the 1%. Video. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37389.htm

[20] Eskow, R., (2014a), Now We Know. JPMorgan Chase is Worse Than Enron, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37445.htm; Eskow, R., (2014b), Crime Doesn’t Pay? JPMorgan Chase Begs to Differ, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37481.htm; JPMorgan gives CEO Jamie Dimon a raise despite shelling out $20 bln in fines, http://rt.com/usa/jpmorgan-dimon-raise-fines-165/; £2m: average pay award for JP Morgan’s top staff in 2012 revealed, http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jan/01/2m-average-bonus-jp-morgan-bankers?CMP=twt_fd; JPMorgan Chase Nears a $2 Billion Deal in a Case Tied to Madoff, http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/01/05/jpmorgan-chase-nears-a-2-billion-deal-in-a-case-tied-to-madoff/?_r=0; Bank pays bribe to avoid jail, http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/01/07/jpmorgan-fined-in-madoff-case/4354087/; New Revelation : AG Eric Holder Is Protecting JPMorgan Chase NYC From Criminal Investigation:

http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/item/18387-new-revelation-that-attorney-general-eric-holder-is-protecting-jpmorgan-chase-nyc-from-criminal-investigation

[15] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impunity

[16] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSxaa-67yGM#t=89

[17] www.ned.org

[18] http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/right-sector-pickets-parliament-demands-avakovs-resignation-341218.html

[19] https://wikileaks.org/tpp/pressrelease.html

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Bernd Hamm is professor emeritus of sociology, University of Trier, Germany. His recent publications include Devastating Society – The Neo-conservative Assault on Democracy and Justice (London 2005), Cultural Imperialism – Essays on the Political Economy of Cultural Domination (ed. together with Russell Smandych, Ann Arbor 2005) and Umweltkatastrophen (Environmental Catastrophies, Marburg 2011). He can be reached under [email protected]

Just before his election Ukraine’s President Poroshenko remarked:

“Russia is our biggest neighbor and taking into account that we have to stop the war and bring peace to Ukraine and stability to the eastern part of the country, it is impossible to do without Russian officials, without meeting with the Russian leadership in the first half of June”.

So, whether or not President Poroshenko makes an early visit to Moscow, his election could bring a resolution of the Ukraine crisis – provided he has the full backing of the EU and an end to United States intervention. For Russian foreign policy has always had two strands – isolationist and nationalist; and pan-European. And President Putin’s is no exception. The West has done much to get Russia – not just Mr. Putin – to act on the former, despite an overall preference for the latter, which is now on ‘life support’. There was real regret in the remark on May 23 of Russia’s exceptionally able Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov: “Our Western partners rejected a truly historic chance to build a greater Europe”.

The importance of crisis resolution

This lamentable confrontation over the Ukraine is in the interests neither of the EU nor of Russia. And this is certainly not the time for ‘Putin bashing’ which so fashionable right now – even (as Prince Charles appears to have done) comparing him to Hitler! For, as President Obama observed when he was attempting to ‘reset’ US/Russia relations, very little can be done in today’s world without Russia. And the world needs Europe, east and west, to speak with one voice on the important issues where the interests of both coincide, particularly on the existential challenges mankind is now facing.

The West’s contribution to the crisis

The Ukraine (‘the border’) is Russia’s Near West and the EU’s Near East – of Europe, whose culture and history both share. Sadly the West has offered nothing but confrontation to Russia since then US Secretary of State James Baker on 9 February 1989 famously declared in the Kremlin that there would be “no extension of NATO’s jurisdiction for forces of NATO one inch to the east” (of a reunited Germany). Poland and the other East European countries – including the Baltics – did join NATO in 1999, but by then Russia’s concern had largely been met by the formation of the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council in 1998.

After Russia’s recovery from the collapse of the Soviet Union, and four years after the US ‘shock and awe’ invasion of Iraq, President Putin made a remarkably conciliatory speech on 10 February 2007 at the 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy. He offered Russia’s cooperation over world affairs provided the US reined in its “hyper use of military power in international relations which is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts”.  NATO described this perfectly reasonable warning as ‘unhelpful’. Mr. Putin was snubbed (and so was Foreign Minister Lavrov whose views these were). The full speech deserves reading. 

Barely a year later (2008), ignoring Russia altogether, President G W Bush pushed for the Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO. So it was no surprise that Russia reacted forcefully when Georgian President Saakashvili imprudently attacked South Ossetia that same year. A US military mission and of course, the CIA were in Georgia but the US made no attempt to stop him. What is surprising is that the West failed to learn this lesson. For it obviously applied even more to Russia’s far greater interests in the Ukraine – not only for security but culturally and historically, Kiev being Russia’s ‘birthplace’.

Lack of consultation and US intervention

Clearly the European Union should have acted in consultation with Russia when the western Ukrainians sought close association with it. But no. Even when the Maidan demonstrations gathered force, the EU had no concrete proposals to make both to the protesters and to the then embattled east Ukraine-leaning Kiev government to allay the legitimate concerns of east Ukrainians – and indeed Russia. (Mr Putin is as much to blame for he made no positive suggestions from the Russian side when closer EU/Ukraine relations were being negotiated).

It was into this vacuum that the US intervened the neo-conservatives in the lead. US Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland – who is married to Robert Kagan, a top neo-conservative in the tradition of G W Bush’s Vice President Cheney – was among those confirming this with her notorious ‘epithet deleted’ open line phone call disparaging the EU. This less than competent American involvement by both State and CIA taking on Russia’s ‘special services’ on their home ground under their ex-KGB President’s direct control, has greatly exacerbated the crisis and done great harm to resolving what is a pan-European, not an American problem. 

Failure to guide the interim government 

After the ouster of President Yanukovych, who comes from Ukraine’s east, neither the EU nor the US reined in the interim take-over pro-EU government in Kiev to make sure it demonstrated full respect for the east. On the contrary, neither appealed to this temporary government not to pass, as it did on 22 February, a disastrous law repealing the 2012 law which permitted Russian to be widely used for official business. More than anything else that was taken as signaling total disregard for the interests of Russian speaking east Ukraine – it aroused both fear and resentment, and alienated many.

From all this anyone in the Kremlin would have deduced that the US was bidding for dominance in the Ukraine, taking advantage of both EU impotence and Russian weakness – even perhaps aiming at regime change in Moscow. It was in these circumstances that Mr. Putin seized the opportunity to ride this wave of fear and uncertainty to annex the Crimea, whipping up Russian nationalism with the apparent aim of re-establishing Russian hegemony over the whole Ukraine. Mr. Putin’s isolationist nationalism is – from what he himself has said – dominated by his own antipathy and resentment towards, and even fear of, the US.

The pressures on Putin

But, just as the EU is loath to lose much financially from this confrontation, so President Putin, like the czar autocrats before him, must take account of the financial interests of Russia’s élite, now the oligarchs – and indeed the attachment to Europe of the bulk of Russia’s best educated classes. A large proportion of the Russian people look on askance at Putin’s crowd of chauvinists and the West should not assume that those alone represent Russian opinion.

Even in Soviet times, as those who visited discovered, educated Russians were not ignorant of what’s going on in the world.  Today, now helped with social media, they know even more of what they aren’t supposed to know, let alone express. Russians have a lifetime behind them of reading between the lines and the most important elements want to rejoin their Europe and the world – not be a pariah nation as in Soviet days.

Still not too late to find a solution

If, before Mr. Poroshenko’s talks with the Kremlin, the EU (distinct from the US) were to take up Mr. Lavrov’s regret at the confrontation that has come about, no matter how,  and instead offer cooperation starting with the Ukraine, this would greatly help the new Ukrainian president in any talks with Mr. Putin and others in the Kremlin.

The Lavrov Europeans could be listened to again and the SVR and ‘special services’ might no longer hold such sway. Some positive ideas were floated before the annexation of the Crimea – such as inviting Mr. Putin to renew his offer of $15bn to the Ukraine and the EU matching this, $30bn being the amount assessed as needed to rebuild the Ukraine’s economy, this Marshall-type plan to be administered by a joint EU/Russian commission in consultation with the elected Ukrainian government. Now there would also have to be some substantial ‘give’ by Russia over its governance of the Ukraine before any such solution guaranteeing the economic and military neutrality would be politically possible.

 John Pedler  is a former British diplomat, now a diplomatic consultant currently based in France. Since the days of the USSR he has been closely concerned with US, and now more particularly EU, relations with Russia and the countries that made up the USSR.

His visits to the USSR and China as well as the EU countries give him valuable insight into Russia’s relations with its neighbours.                                                                       

International Observers Endorse Syrian Elections

June 3rd, 2014 by Eva Bartlett

Syria’s first multi-candidate presidential election in more than 40 years has begun earlier today. Facing strong and mostly hypocritical criticism from the West, the poll is about to demonstrate the real scale of public support President Assad is enjoying inside the country, heroically resisting foreign-sponsored aggression for more than three years. Expected pro-Assad voting in Syria would completely ruin Western narrative about a “tyrant killing his people”, so international mainstream media are dumn or emphatically skeptical about elections in a “war-torn country” (as if Ukraine or Afghanistan were peaceful resorts during balloting). Fortunately, there is a group of brave and unindifferent citizens present there in Syria ready to share their observations with the international audience.

Eva Bartlett from Syria Solidarity Movement relates:

On June 1, I met with a delegation of North Americans going to observe the Syrian elections on June 3. I hope to be in Damascus shortly, if possible to likewise observe Syria’s historic election. Below is a brief bio of the delegates and my conversation with these anti-war, justice activists.

Joseph Iosbaker, 55, from Chicago, works with the Anti-War Committee, is also on the national administrative committee of United National Antiwar Coalition.

Judith Bello, 63, on national Administrative Committee of United National Antiwar Coalition, is a founding member of the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, has travelled to Iran, Iraq, Pakistan in her justice work, writes on Counter Punch and Counter Currents.

Elias Hazineh, 62, Palestinian-Canadian entrepreneur and activist, has acted as an advocate for new Canadians for many years, assists immigrants and refugees in Canada as an immigration consultant, translator, and formerly, as an advisor to federal Members of Parliament on immigration and refugee issues.

Scott Williams, 25, International Action Centre and also a National Coordinator with the anti-imperialist youth organization based in the US called FIST -Fight Imperialism, Stand Together, was a union organizer of low-wage workers in the USA, has been active in student movements as well as the Occupy Wall St movement.

Dr. Paul Larudee, 68, former Fulbright-Hays lecturer in Lebanon, former faculty member at several universities in the San Francisco Bay Area, an organizer with the International Solidarity Movement in Palestine and co-founder of the movement to break the Israeli siege of Gaza by sea, a co-founder of the Global March to Jerusalem and the Syria Solidarity Movement.

What is the purpose of the delegation, how did it come together?

Paul Larudee

Paul Larudee: After we came back from Syria in April—the Syria Peace Pilgrimage—we had thoughts about sending observers to the elections. Rick Sterling was very active on this idea, as was Roohulla Rezvi on the Iranian side. Without knowing about our effort, Roohulla arranged for visas for an international delegation. The Syrian government recognized the importance of bringing in observers from the West.

We want to provide a narrative that we are pretty sure the mainstream media won’t be providing. …get facts on the ground, through observation, on what is really happening through this election and how people feel about it…

What is the importance of this election?

Elias Hazineh: We have an obligation after we see what we observe, to get back to our respective societies and inform them. Be an eyewitness and tell them the alternative view that is not being broadcast by mainstream media. In my case, I’ll be going to communities, churches, schools, and speak about my experience.

How is the Canadian media portraying the situation in Syria and also the upcoming election?

Elias Hazineh

 

Elias Hazineh: The mainstream media in north america has been of one opinion: that it’s a sham, it couldn’t happen under war. And yet they don’t mind an election in Afghanistan happening under war, nor in Ukraine. Unfortunately the public is asleep. You need an alternative to tell them what is happening. Otherwise, the Syrian side of the equation is not heard in north america. In Canada we do have alternative media that have a better voice. The churches have been good, the unions have been good.. but not on a large scale. So hopefully we’ll be able to enhance that, to be helpful to the movement in Canada and also in the United States.

What do you think about the importance of the elections, and why have you joined this delegation?

Scott Williams: Self-determination for oppressed people is absolutely vital. For the people of Syria to determine, very specifically, who they support and how to move forward is crucial. With the elections in Egypt, the US has supported a government which has no popular support, they can’t even get people to vote, they can’t even pay people to vote. Syrians all over the world are dying to vote in this election. We see that as a defiant and courageous act. As much as possible we want to bring this back to the US, to support them and oppose imperialism.

Judith Bello: I think it is very important to show the face of a people who want some sort of social structure. Even people who originally opposed the government in Syria now choose to live in a country with an organized government and an organized society. In all the years that this struggle has been going on, and the United States has been supporting it, the opposition has never organized anything, even though they’ve been given a lot of money and support from outside. They’ve mostly focused on destruction.

After the start of the conflict in Syria, the government had the constitution re-written, they invited opposition parties, brought them into government positions, asked their opinions in terms of re-writing the constitution. So there is a real opening-up of the Syrian society, while a monolithic Western press has denied that there is any real openness to the society, or that the government is responsive to the people. In fact, the government has been very responsive, under the most horrific circumstances.

I think they need to be given a chance for this new level of organization to unfold. Gradually, real change can happen in Syria, and to deny that is to deny them their only real hope of having democracy at this point.

Joe Iosbaker

Joe Iosbaker: I think being an observer in these elections is a continuation of our anti-war work. The reason there is a war in Syria is that the United States decide that the Assad government wasn’t compliant enough with US and Israeli interests. And they set out, like gangsters, to take him out. They used the same tools they’ve used all over the world, the so-called “colour revolutions”.

But they were shocked when the people in Syria rallied around their government and beat back the foreign mercenary armies.

This election is happening at a time when the Syrian government enjoys unprecedented popularity.

The people of Syria are being put through hell. As an anti-war activist from the US, this is our obligation, we have to be here to make a statement against what our government is doing.

Paul Larudee: I’m sympathetic with the point of view that the election in Syria is not fully free and fair and open. But it’s probably more free and fair and open than the ones in the US and Canada.

Clearly the Syrian president has a lot more support than the US president or the Canadian Prime Minister.

In order to present this narrative, I think it’s very important to have a presence in Syria, to be able to make this statement.

Many Syrian embassies around the world have closed for the Syrian election, denying Syrians abroad the chance to vote.

Joe Iosbaker: There hasn’t been a Syrian embassy in the US for years. The only we have is the Syrian representative at the United Nations, Bashar al-Jaafari, and they’ve restricted him to a 25 mile circle. He was the only source of information for anyone in the United States about what was going on in Syria.

Paul Larudee: He was effective, traveling around the country speaking about what was going on in Syria.

Judith Bello

Judith Bello: The United States did have an embassy and ambassador in Syria, until shortly after the beginning of this conflict. The US Ambassador, Robert Ford, was meeting with the people initiating the violence and openly supporting them. The American ambassador was being subversive. The Syrian representative in the US was speaking publicly, whereas the American ambassador was speaking privately to subversive forces there and helping to organize them. Clearly the US isn’t exercising diplomacy as it is normally defined.

Paul Larudee: The former US Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, his previous overseas post was in Iraq, under John Negroponte, the Ambassador there. So then we wonder why there are something resembling death squads in Syria.

Who are the Syrian American Council?

Paul Larudee: They are a very well-financed minority of Syrians in the West, who are advocating the US and other forces to go in and remove the Assad administration. They are actually advocating bombing and causing more havoc in Syria than there is now, because their only objective is to get rid of the Assad administration.

What is the relation between the Geneva Conventions and the current elections?

Joe Iosbaker: There are a couple of reasons an actual meeting happened in Geneva. When, last summer, Obama wanted to launch a cruise missile attack on Syria, he was prevented from doing that by a few different things. The foreign armies were suffering disastrous defeats on the battle ground, long before Hezbollah got involved in the Bekaa Valley, the foreign armies were losing. The US was already desperate. When Obama attempted to rally his partners in NATO to endorse the attack, he couldn’t even get the lapdogs, couldn’t even get the UK to join.

Judith Bello: With Geneva, they were trying, via the trappings of the United Nations, to legitimize what remains a government that has nothing to do with Syria and is being presented as a technocratic replacement for the government in Syria. That is the trend internationally, to put in place technocratic governments which appear to be democratic but aren’t actually democratically supported, and are plugged into the IMF. This is setting them up to bleed off their resources in the future.

In Geneva, initially they were just trying to negotiate between the “Free Syrian Army” and the “Syrian National Council”. Even that was not successful. So then they brought in some representatives of the Assad government, but they stood by the unreasonable demand that Assad would have to step down. In a sense it was asking the government to have a coup against their central leader, which they of course weren’t going to do. So they made Geneva irrelevant to the situation in Syria.

DSCN4073sWhat are your thoughts on the Western-proposed alternative, Ahmad Jarba?

Judith Bello: He’s lived for years in Saudi Arabia and has close ties with the Sauds. He is not welcome in Syria, nor was his predecessor, Ghassan Hitto, who spent most of his adult life in Texas. He has no base in Syria, except he provides money and weapons to the insurgency. He is a false front, being put forth by the US as a potential leader, the “government in exile”.

OR Note: For more info on Ahmad Jarba kindly check Who is Washington’s protégé for Syria?

**The delegation is now in Syria and will be observing voting stations in various cities, including Homs, Latakia and Damascus.

 Other North American delegates include:

 -Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Canadian, author of The Globalization of NATO(Clarity Press) and a forthcoming book The War on Libya and the Re-Colonization of Africa. He has also contributed to several other books ranging from cultural critique to international relations. He is a Sociologist and Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), a contributor at the Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF), Moscow, and a member of the Scientific Committee of Geopolitica, Italy.

-Tony Seed, Canadian, specializes in international relations; Canadian foreign and military policy; media & disinformation, published Dossier on Palestine, October 2002.

-Jim W. Dean, American, Managing Editor, VeteransToday.com, also partnering with New Eastern Outlook, has covered Syria, Iran for years, and now Ukraine extensively.

-Jane Stillwater, American, 71, has been a freelance journalist, travel writer and blogger since 2000, also works part-time as a paralegal.

International delegates include:

-Roohulla Rezvi, Kashmiri activist

-Feroze Mithiborwala, India, Founder General secretary of the India Palestine Solidarity Forum, Founder, Asia to Gaza Convoy, General coordinator, Asian Peoples’ Solidarity for Palestine, Central Committee Member, Global March to Jerusalem

-Jatinbabu Desai, India, Journalist, Columnist, Secretary, Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace & Democracy

-Dilip Kumar -Banerjee, India, Photo Journalist with more than 30 years of field experience.

-Anahita Shireen Mukherji, India, Assistant Editor at The Times of India, has MSc in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. (2012-13).

-Mansor bin Puteh, Malaysia, filmmaker

-Muhammad Abbas Komeili, Pakistan, Chief of Jafaria Alliance Pakistan

-Safdar Abbas, Pakistan, Senior News Reporter in Daily Express News Paper

-Nasir Shirazi, Pakistan, Political Secretary of Majlis Wehdat Muslameen Pakistan

-Khurram Nawaz Khan, Pakistan, Central President of Pakistan Awami Tehreek

-Salim Ghafouri. Iran, Head of International Union of Unified Ummah, Documentary film-maker and producer, Peace activist

-Declan Hayes, Ireland

The Geopolitics of the Eurasian Economic Union

June 3rd, 2014 by Eric Draitser

The deal signed last week by Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan to create a Eurasian Economic Union is yet another countermeasure against US and European attempts to isolate Russia. By moving towards closer economic cooperation, Russia hopes to build, piecemeal if necessary, a common Eurasian economic space that will ultimately rival the US and Europe in terms of economic influence.

However, the ultimate goal of this sort of cooperation goes far beyond just economic power. Rather, Russia is the key facilitator of a series of multilateral arrangements created in the last fifteen years that Putin (and much of the world) hopes will ultimately move the world towards a multipolar global order. While this is undoubtedly on the agenda for Russia and its ally Belarus, Kazakhstan is a complicated partner as it is deeply involved with the West in terms of business, investment, education, and a number of other critical areas.

The Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) presents a host of possibilities for economic cooperation and development. From energy reserves to the all important pipeline infrastructure, the new arrangement will, over time, have a greater and greater impact on energy exports and consumption both in Europe and Asia as China looks to further secure its energy future. Moreover, the EEU will impact vital trade routes and commercial and private transportation options, in addition to promoting political, military, and security cooperation among the members, and in the region generally. Essentially then, the EEU should be understood as yet another blow to US hegemony in Asia and the former Soviet space.

Regional Economic Impact

The establishment of the EEU will undoubtedly have a significant regional impact, and quite possibly a global one. As the economic ties between Russia and China continue to develop, as evidenced by the recent massive energy deal signed by the two countries, the impact of this agreement grows in importance.

Both Russia and Kazakhstan will be significant energy suppliers to China, the world’s leading consumer of energy. In fact, earlier this year the Chinese government announced that oil imports via the China-Kazakhstan oil pipeline reached record highs in 2013, having increased 14 percent from 2012. In addition, the recent Russian-Chinese gas deal creates the prospect of still greater pipeline connections that will cement Russia’s place within China’s strategic and economic future. Not only is there likely to be a new pipeline connecting Russia’s Far East with China’s northeast region, but initial preparations are already being made for the construction of the Altai Pipeline, which will bring Russia’s gas to China’s Xinjiang province in the western portion of the country.

Essentially then, the geography of the deal is such that Russia and China will be physically linked both from east and west, creating a symbiotic relationship within which other forms of cooperation will flourish. Of course, Kazakhstan could have a major role to play in this scenario being that it is conveniently situated across the border from Russia’s Altai region. However, considering Kazakhstan’s status as a net energy exporter, it seems unlikely that Russia would be interested in promoting the energy development of a potential rival in the Chinese market. That being said, Kazakhstan has the potential to greatly benefit from China’s rekindling of the New Silk Road project.

Chinese news agency Xinhua recently published a revealing look into Beijing’s vision for the New Silk Road project. The authors noted that the project will bring “new opportunities and a new future to China and every country along the road that is seeking to develop,” with the ultimate goal being an “economic cooperation area.” While this bold and far-reaching plan still requires massive preparatory work, the establishment of the EEU will only help the project. Beijing’s vision of the New Silk Road being a space for “more capital convergence and currency integration” fits nicely with the attempt to use the newly founded EEU to move towards regional economic integration in Central Asia. With Kazakhstan being a central part of both the New Silk Road and EEU, it seems likely that each will benefit from the development of the other.

Of particular significance is the fact that Russia and China recently signed a deal to bypass the US dollar in bilateral debt settlements and payments. The “Agreement on Cooperation” signed between Russia’s VTB and the Bank of China is the opening salvo in a burgeoning currency cooperation relationship between the two countries which will ultimately lead to increased economic and financial independence from the West. With the establishment of the EEU, the ruble is quickly becoming a critical currency in Central Asia, while the yuan continues to grow in its regional and global importance. In particular, Beijing envisions the yuan as becoming a dominant currency all along the New Silk Road.

With the convergence of these two multilateral arrangements, cooperation on currency issues becomes of central importance. Naturally, this should be understood as a significant blow to dollar dominance and, consequently, US hegemony throughout the Eurasian land mass.

An additional area of cooperation that takes on geopolitical significance is that of space exploration. Specifically, the Russian space program has long been using the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan as its space launch hub. In 2013, negotiations between the countries established a three year roadmap on the cooperative use of the facility. With the Chinese becoming increasingly ambitious in terms of their space program, and the recent decision by NASA to end cooperation with Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, it would seem a natural fit for Russia and China to move towards more cooperation, while Russia and Kazakhstan continue as partners. With the EEU and Silk Road providing the framework, a new strategic alignment emerges in the area of space exploration. Naturally, the US, dependent as it is on Russia for travel to space, comes out the loser in the scenario.

Not to be forgotten in the context of the EEU is Belarus, a former Soviet Republic and longtime close ally of Russia. Although Belarus is in some ways the forgotten player in this geopolitical calculus, the country actually holds a tremendous amount of strategic importance for Russia. Perhaps most principally, Belarus represents a crucial link in Russia’s energy supply network to Europe. The Yamal-Europe pipeline, which transports roughly 20 percent of Russia’s European gas exports, was purchased by Gazprom in 2011. Seen as a means diversifying its European energy delivery infrastructure away from total reliance on Ukrainian pipelines, the move has physically linked Russia and Belarus which, from the Belarusian perspective, makes Russia its principal market and strategic ally.

Additionally, Belarus is a major exporter of heavy machinery, particularly dump trucks, tractors, and other machines critical for industrial manufacturing and construction. With Russia as its principal customer, Belarus could stand to benefit greatly from increased economic partnership within the EEU. Specifically, trade restrictions, currency issues, debt settlement, and other significant obstacles could either be eliminated or greatly reduced such that Minsk could stand to gain tremendously from the new arrangement. Given its status as a pariah within the EU economic space, Belarusian President Lukashenko likely sees the EEU as a positive step towards both economic stability and gaining leverage over Europe in terms of negotiations and sanctions.

The Kazakhstan Question

With the establishment of the EEU, Kazakhstan is poised to become an even more important player on the world stage. Aside from its already well known strategic energy reserves and mineral deposits, Kazakhstan’s geography makes it a critical link for both China and Russia in Central Asia. So, it would seem then that the country has a clear road to economic prosperity, one paved by Russia and China. However, a closer examination of the country’s geopolitical and financial alignment reveals that, rather than a full-fledged, “no strings attached” economic partner, Kazakhstan has positioned itself as both friend and possible foe.

While it would seem that Kazakhstan would be a natural ally of Russia and China, with a bright economic future in the context of Eurasian development, the reality is that the Nazarbayev regime has deeply intertwined itself with the West through various institutions and organs of finance capital. Both the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and US Chamber of Commerce are well-connected in the country, with long-standing relationships with key figures in Kazakhstan’s government. In fact, USAID facilitated the creation of the US-Kazakhstan Public-Private Economic Partnership Initiative (PPEPI). As the PPEPI’s report notes,

“The PPEPI Program was developed as a policy reform initiative in order to promote ongoing dialogue between senior-level government officials and leaders in the business community…PPEPI has fostered discussion and provided recommendations on many of the key challenges that Kazakhstan faces as it strengthens and diversifies its economy.”

A close examination of the PPEPI, along with the “pro-business” activities and membership of the American Chamber of Commerce in Kazakhstan, illustrates quite clearly the fact that western finance capital is deeply rooted in the country, with influence and connections extending to the highest levels of the government. Perhaps nothing demonstrates these concrete connections better than the recent appointment of Azamat Oinarov to head the Kazakhstan Public-Private Partnership Center. As the former Deputy Defense Minister for Economics and Finance, Oinarov represents what could be regarded as the “revolving door” between Kazakhstan’s government and the institutions and organs of western finance capital. Serving as essentially a liaison between western business interests and the Nazarbayev government, Oinarov is merely one of many bureaucrats whose primary function is to maintain the presence and profitability of western corporations in the country.

The influence of western finance capital in Kazakhstan does not stop with the business community. In fact, one of the most critical aspects of the US-Western presence in the country is the widely acclaimed Nazarbayev University, established as a centerpiece in the new capital of Astana. The university was conceived, designed, partially financed, staffed, and launched under the guidance of a number of prominent US universities, including Carnegie Mellon University, Cambridge University, Harvard University (Kennedy School of Government), and many others. However, it is the leadership and guidance provided by the World Bank that truly made Nazarbayev University a reality.

As investigative reporter Steve Horn wrote for CounterPunch in late 2012:

“The World Bank in late-2007 proposed plans to upgrade and “commercialize” [Kazakhstan’s] research and development efforts. Part of the Bank’s blueprint called for the creation of a network of university-housed, market-oriented research and development centers based primarily on U.S. models. Subsequent World Bank proposals for the revamping of the country’s technical and vocational education followed suit…NU arose via a number of direct initiatives closely coordinated by the World Bank, these days re-branded as the ‘‘Knowledge Bank” set on a mission to eliminate global poverty through market-centric “education reform” efforts akin to those occurring in the U.S.”

The role of the World Bank, along with some of the most prestigious universities and powerful corporations in the western world, in establishing and administering Nazarbayev University, is an obvious indication of the tremendous influence these institutions wield inside Kazakhstan. Moreover, the implications for the future of the country are quite ominous indeed. As an entire generation receives their “westernized” education from Nazarbayev University, the logical outcome will be an entire generation of young leaders whose professional and academic connections will all be rooted in western institutions. This does not bode well for the notion of Kazakhstan as a reliable partner for the EEU and China’s Silk Road.

How Will the West Respond?

Undoubtedly, Washington and its European allies see the establishment of the EEU as a worrisome development. And so, the region and the world should prepare for some sort of a counter-measure against this growing independence. Specifically, the United States is likely to employ all the weapons of soft power at its disposal to derail, or at least stymie, the EEU and the Eurasian project generally.

One likely response will take the form of destabilization of China’s western territory of Xinjiang. Populated predominantly by the Uighur people (Muslims belonging to the Turkic ethnic group), the region has experienced intermittent violence for decades, with terrorism becoming the principal destabilizing force in recent years. In particular, the organization known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) has been responsible for dozens of acts of terror in the last two decades. However, the terrorism is merely one critical part of the broader US attempt to pry Xinjiang from the Chinese or, at the very least, make it too volatile and dangerous to be developed economically as Beijing intends.

Xinjiang figures prominently in Beijing’s development plans. First and foremost, Xinjiang, with its regional capital of Urumqi, is an all-important land bridge in the New Silk Road project. Linking China with neighboring Kazakhstan and, ultimately, with Turkey, the region takes on great importance as both a transit hub and point of origin for Chinese exports to the West. Additionally, Xinjiang’s capital of Urumqi is the likely candidate for the Chinese end of the Altai Pipeline discussed above. As an industrial center geographically near to all of China’s partners and neighbors to the West, Urumqi becomes a linchpin in the broader Chinese strategic calculus.

With the obvious importance of Xinjiang to China’s long-term plans, the US presence in the region takes on added significance. In particular, the US has a formidable “soft power” presence in the region through its long-standing financial support of a number of anti-Chinese NGOs and other organizations. Specifically, the US has spent millions of dollars in Xinjiang through its National Endowment for Democracy (NED), supporting ostensibly “human rights” organizations and watchdogs such as the International Uyghur Human Rights and Democracy Foundation, the International Uyghur PEN Club, the Uyghur American Association, and the World Uyghur Congress. Each of these organizations, dependent for their existence on US funding, is fanatically anti-Chinese and agitate for secession and “self-determination.” They have been at the epicenter of all social unrest in the region, with a representative of the World Uyghur Congress going so far as to justify the recent terror attack in Kunming which killed 33 by saying that “[China’s] policies provoked ‘extreme measures’ in response.”

With Kazakhstan and China moving closer via the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and Kazakhstan now part of the EEU, it would seem quite likely that a new outbreak of violence in Xinjiang might be just what the imperial doctor ordered. Moreover, one could easily imagine a rapid proliferation of the ETIM threat in the region, as it receives tacit political support from the US-funded Uighur organizations. Such a move would effectively block any attempts to build pipelines, rail links, and other critical infrastructure for the New Silk Road and Russia-China pipelines.

On the other side of the border from Xinjiang sits Kazakhstan which, like its neighbor, is deeply penetrated by organs of US soft power. The NED funds a wide array of NGOs throughout the country, including the infamous International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute, along with other organizations with innocuous-sounding names like the Kazakhstan International Bureau of Human Rights and Rule of Law. Because these organizations are deeply entrenched in the country, the US is able to wield tremendous influence within Kazakh civil society, making it a de facto weapon against the government should the need arise. This is of course part of the long-standing “soft power” strategy that the US has deftly employed all over the world, from Latin America to Eastern Europe.

Renowned author and columnist Pepe Escobar recently published a landmark piece entitled “The Birth of a Eurasian Century?” in which he examined the world-historical turning point that is the Sino-Russian partnership which extends far beyond simply gas and pipelines. Escobar wrote, “The now symbiotic China-Russia strategic alliance – with the possibility of extending towards Iran – is the fundamental fact on the ground in the young 21st century. It will extrapolate across the BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Non-Aligned Movement.” This transformation, once thought of as a future trend, has now become an inescapable geopolitical reality. The establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union is merely another manifestation of the new global order. However, Russia and China, along with their allies and partners, would do well to note that the West is not going to cede its hegemonic position without a fight. What exactly that fight will look like remains to be seen.

Eric Draitser is the founder of StopImperialism.com. He is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City. You can reach him at [email protected].

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Vote in Presidential Elections.

June 3rd, 2014 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Not only has the US-supported March 14 Alliance opposed voting in Syria’s June presidential elections by the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, but it has shown it cares very little about democracy or voting.

While Washington has supported the coup-installed regime in Ukraine, which is bombing its own people in places like Donetsk, Lugansk, and Slavyansk, it has opposed the Syrian government’s fight against the terrorists and anti-government forces committing crimes against civilians. In the case of Ukraine, the US claims that these are legitimate measures, but not in the case of Syria. That is not where the contradictions end. While the US supported the May-25 2014 presidential elections in Ukraine, its stance is the total opposite in regards to the presidential elections in Syria on June 3, 2014.

Thousands of Syrain nationals living in Lebanon arrive outside the Syrian Embassy in Yarze east of Beirut on May 28, 2014, before voting in the upcoming presidential elections in Syria (AFP Photo)

Thousands of Syrian nationals living in Lebanon arrive outside the Syrian Embassy in Yarze east of Beirut on May 28, 2014, before voting in the upcoming presidential elections in Syria (AFP Photo)

The US is not the only player that holds a contradictory position on the Syrian presidential elections. Here, in Lebanon, the Hariri-led March 14 Alliance, which is heavily promoted by the US and its allies as the so-called “democratic opponents”of Hezbollah, has also opposed the Syrian presidential elections. The Hariri-led March 14 Alliance, however, voting has opposed the voting process from taking place inside Lebanon.

Tens of thousands of Syrians residing in Lebanon headed into Beirut to vote. In fact, so many Syrian citizens went to cast their ballots for their country’s presidential election that they created traffic jams in Beirut due to the sheer size of numbers streaming into the Lebanese capital. The estimates on the number of Syrians that went to vote run from approximately 80,000 to 100,000 people.

More importantly, the Syrian Embassy in Beirut was forced to extend voting time. Even with the extension of the voting time by the Syrian Embassy, all the Syrians that had lined up to cast their ballots for the presidential election could not be accommodated. The Syrian expatriates living inside Lebanon, most of whom are refugees that have fled the fighting in Syria, who were not able to vote were told that they would have to go and cast their votes in Syrian polling stations on the Lebanese-Syrian border.

Myths dispelled

The reaction of the Hariri camp in Lebanon was initially one of utter shock and then anger towards the massive number of Syrians voting. The March 14 Lebanese politicians that have supported regime change in Syria since 2011, under the pretext of sympathizing with the Syrian people and on the basis of support for democracy, have shown how ingenious their claims really were and still are. March 14 has demanded that all the Syrian refugees in Lebanon be expelled, even though the Hariri camp’s leaders were shamelessly pretending to be looking out for the interests of these same Syrian refugees earlier by calling for military intervention and regime change in Damascus. March 14 even described the voting process as “provocations by pro-regime Syrians.” It is also worth noting that these Syrian refugees have been exploited as cheap laborers, prostitutes, and child brides in Lebanon in addition to having international aid, both financial and material, coming to them diverted.

Not only has the US-supported March 14 Alliance opposed the Syrian population that is stranded in Lebanon from exercising its right to vote, but it has shown its true fascist colors. Voting and democracy have only been things that these supposedly “democratic” figures hide behind. The hollowness of the Hariri-led March 14 Alliance’s democratic credentials should come as no surprise, because these same US-backed politicians have repeatedly saluted Saudi Arabia’s leaders as democrats.

What is the most important thing to note is that those who claim that the Syrian presidential election is going to be a giant fraud and that the Syrian population will be forced to vote in a mock election are negated by the fact that no one forced the Syrians in Lebanon to vote. None of the Syrians in Lebanon voted out of fear as can be seen clearly from the volumes of footage from the event. Not only did the Syrians inside Lebanon vote in a free environment, but the majority of them supported Bashar Assad.

When the majority of the Syrian population in Syria votes for Assad and openly sings his praise and holds banners and posters supporting him, it means he genuinely has popular support. Watch the spin doctors make all sorts of lies to reinvent what has happened. Go ahead New York Times and Washington Post, take your best shots. Instead of trying to undermine the Syrians that voted freely, you should be talking about the fraud in Egypt’s elections.

On May 28, President Barack Obama delivered his most belligerent and menacing speech to date at the US Military Academy at West Point. Aside from the lofty rhetoric we’ve come to expect in every Obama presentation, the president’s commencement address was a defiant restating of the Bush Doctrine of unilateral intervention, executive authority and endless warfare. The speech contained no new initiatives or surprises, but emphasized Obama’s unwavering support for the policies which have plunged large parts of the Middle East, Africa, and Eurasia into civil conflict, economic collapse and war. Obama defended US aggression on the grounds of “American exceptionalism”, the dubious idea that Americans are special and cannot be held to the same standards as others. The theory implies that Washington’s relentless war-mongering and killing of civilians cannot be prosecuted under international law because the US is a law unto itself.

“I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being,” said Obama. “But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it is our willingness to affirm them through our actions.”

Obama’s statement is deliberately misleading. As the president knows, the Bush administration notified U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan that the US would withdraw from the International Criminal Court Treaty in May 2002 just prior to the invasion of Iraq claiming that the ICC treaty put U.S. service members and officials at risk of prosecution by a court that is “unaccountable to the American people.” In retrospect, we can see that Bush and his lieutenants wanted to remove themselves from any accountability for the atrocities and crimes against humanity they planned to perpetrate in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Thus, exceptionalism does not affirm Washington’s willingness to comply with “international norms and the rule of law” as Obama says, but to absolve US leaders from any responsibility for their habitual war-making. As policy analyst Noam Chomsky has said many times, “If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.”

Here’s Obama again: “Let me repeat a principle I put forward at the outset of my presidency: The United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it… International opinion matters, but America should never ask permission to protect our people, our homeland or our way of life.”

In other words, the United States will do whatever the hell it wants to and if you don’t like it: “Too bad”. This is the Bush Doctrine verbatim. The West Point oration proves that the new administration has simply modified the Bush credo to suit Obama’s pretentious speaking style. Strip out the visionary formulations, the grandiose bloviating, and the sweeping hand gestures and the ideas are virtually identical; unilateralism, preemption, and exceptionalism, the toxic combo that has spurred 13 years of war, occupation, regime change, black sites, extra-judicial assassinations, drone attacks, and hyperbolic state terror most of which has been directed at civilian populations whose only fault is that they occupy regions where vast petroleum reserves have been discovered or which have some fleeting strategic importance to Washington’s war planners. Here’s an excerpt from an article in the World Socialist Web Site titled “Obama’s West Point speech: A prescription for unending war” by Bill Van Auken:

“Obama is not elaborating here a policy of defensive war to be waged only in response to an attack or the threat of an imminent attack. He is spelling out that the US reserves the right to intervene militarily wherever it believes its “core interests”—i.e., the access of its corporations and banks to markets, raw materials, cheap labor and profits—are involved.

When he speaks of “our livelihoods” and “our way of life,” he is referring not to the ever-declining living standards of the American worker, but to the eight-figure compensation packages of American CEOs, whose fortunes are founded on the exploitation of the working populations and resources of the entire planet…

Everything put forward by Obama is a repudiation of international law and an endorsement of the policy of aggressive war practiced by the Nazis three-quarters of a century ago.” (Obama’s West Point speech: A prescription for unending war, Bill Van Auken, World Socialist Web Site)

Here’s Obama again defending his malignant foreign policy in terms of “leadership”:

“America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will. The military that you have joined is, and always will be, the backbone of that leadership.”

Obama finds it easy to praise the people who fight his wars, even while he stealthily carries out a plan to privatize the Veterans Administration. Check out this blurb from an article titled “VA secretary resigns amid push to privatize US veterans’ health care”:

“Obama and members of Congress have responded to the VHA scandal with a breathtaking level of cynicism and hypocrisy, even by Washington standards … according to many lawmakers, the answer to this crisis is not the appropriation of funds to hire new doctors and other medical professionals, but the dismantling of the government program in order to provide a profit windfall to private insurers and health industry firms. The result of this policy will be less care at greater cost to veterans…

Under the “Veterans Choice Plan” being promoted by Rep. Andy Harris (Republican of Maryland), veterans could either choose to continue receiving care through the VHA or go to a private provider of their choosing. In what amounts to a voucher system, the federal government would cover the cost of insurance premiums and some out-of-pocket costs, depending on a veteran’s priority ranking…

The moves to privatize veterans’ health care underscore the hypocrisy of the bipartisan glorification of soldiers and veterans. It also sets a precedent for privatizing Medicare and Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor.” (VA secretary resigns amid push to privatize US veterans’ health care, World Socialist Web Site)

Is there any doubt that Obama forced General Eric Shinseki to step down so he could start to dismantle the VA? And if Obama cares so much about veterans, then why hasn’t he spoken out before about other veteran-related issues like the epidemic of suicides, rapes, traumatic brain injury or PTSD? Obama’s phony outrage is just a headline-grabbing gimmick to conceal what’s really going on, which is the VA is being handed over to America’s insatiable health care tycoons on a silver platter.

Obama again: “For the foreseeable future, the most direct threat to America, at home and abroad, remains terrorism, but a strategy that involves invading every country that harbors terrorist networks is naïve and unsustainable. I believe we must shift our counterterrorism strategy, drawing on the successes and shortcomings of our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, to more effectively partner with countries where terrorist networks seek a foothold.”

Obama’s comment absurdly implies that the US has learned from its past mistakes and has fine-tuned the art of counterterrorism so it doesn’t involve the squandering of valuable resources. What a joke. It’s like listening to a Mafia hit-man boast that he ‘s learned how to save money on ammo by strangling his victims with his bare hands. This is also a good example of how the Dems think they’re more effective (and discreet) in executing the elitist/corporate agenda than their rivals in the GOP. As if that was the purpose of the party!

Obama also made a few perfunctory remarks about closing Guantanamo, ending indefinite detention and taking steps to address climate change. But clearly these had nothing to do with the main thrust of the speech which was to announce his intention to expand the wars abroad. Citing hotspots in Syria, Ukraine and the South China Sea, Obama promised to “lead” with the military, asserting, by implication, dominion over these regions where the US claims to have “national interests”. Obama is as committed as his predecessor, Bush, to rule by force of arms even though his current adversaries (Russia and China) are not ragtag militias in sandals, but nuclear-armed nation-states who could level the better part of the planet with a flip of the switch. Even so, Obama is determined to pursue the same provocative strategy whatever the risks increasing the probability of a miscalculation that ends in a mushroom cloud.

It’s madness.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].

Bélgica y Estados Unidos acaban de cerrar un acuerdo para aplicar en Bélgica una ley estadounidense que lucha contra el fraude fiscal, la Foreing Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA). La firma del acuerdo tuvo lugar el pasado 23 de abril. Varios países, como Reino Unido, Francia, Alemania y Japón, ya han firmado un acuerdo con Estados Unidos para aplicar esta ley en su territorio. A partir del 1 de enero de 2015 los establecimientos financieros [belgas] tendrán que declarar a las autoridades estadounidenses los movimientos de aquellas cuentas cuyo propietario sea un ciudadano estadounidense. En cuando el importe de la cuenta supere los 50.000 o haya tenido lugar determinada cantidad de movimientos con el territorio estadounidense el banco tendrá que establecer un informe preciso de las entradas y salidas de fondos. Si un banco no se somete a este procedimiento, se sobretasarán todas sus actividades en Estados Unidos un 30%. La sanción puede llegar hasta la retirada de la licencia bancaria en Estados Unidos.

Estos acuerdos firmados por países miembros de la Unión Europea (UE) con el gobierno estadounidense violan tanto las leyes nacionales de protección de datos personales como la Directiva 95/46/CE del Parlamento Europeo y del Consejo del 24de octubre de 1995 «relativa a la protección de las personas físicas respecto al tratamiento de los datos de carácter personal y a la libre circulación de estos datos», directiva integrada en el derecho de todos los Estados miembros. La aplicación de la FACTA en el territorio del viejo continente viola tanto el derecho nacional de los países europeos como el de la UE. Estas legislaciones no se suprimen, sino que se suspenden. Convienen no tenerlas en cuenta en las relaciones con Estados Unidos.

Acuerdos precedentes que legalizaban la captura por parte de las autoridades estadounidenses de datos de ciudadanos europeos procedían de la misma manera. Desde los atentados del 11 de septiembre de 2001 la sociedad estadounidense de derecho belga Swift ha conferido clandestinamente al Departamento del Tesoro estadounidense decenas de millones de datos confidenciales concernientes a operaciones financieras de sus clientes. Esta captura nunca se ha puesto en tela de juicio a pesar de violar de forma flagrante los derechos europeo y belga. Al contrario, la UE y Estados Unidos han firmado varios acuerdos destinados a legitimarla [1].

La sociedad Swift estaba sometida al derecho belga y al de la comunidad europea debido a que su sede estaba localizada en La Hulpe (Bélgica). Esta sociedad también estaba sometida al derecho estadounidense ya que su segundo servidor estaba localizado en territorio estadounidense, lo que permitía al gobierno estadounidense tomar directamente los datos. Así, esta sociedad eligió violar el derecho europeo para someterse a las exigencias del ejecutivo estadounidense. Ahora bien, desde 2009 ya no se transfieren a Estados Unidos los datos Swift inter-europeos, sino a un segundo servidor europeo. Pero aunque los estadounidenses ya no tengan acceso directo a los datos, estos se transmiten, a petición suya, en «paquetes» y solo ellos controlan técnicamente el proceso de tratamiento de las informaciones. Además, nada más firmarse los acuerdos los estadounidenses habían planteado nuevas exigencias. Ya en 2009 el gobierno estadounidense había declarado «que se tenían que captar las transacciones entre los bancos europeos y estadounidenses sin que haya una necesidad probada».

Del mismo modo la UE nunca se ha opuesto a la entrega de los datos de las listas de pasajeros por parte de las compañías aéreas situadas en su territorio. Las informaciones comunicadas comprendían los apellidos del pasajero, su nombre, dirección, número de teléfono, fecha de nacimiento, nacionalidad, número de pasaporte y sexo, así como la dirección durante la estancia en Estados Unidos, el itinerario de los desplazamientos, los contactos en tierra y sus datos médicos. También estaban incluidas informaciones bancarias (como el modo de pago, el número de la tarjeta de crédito) y los hábitos alimentarios que permitieran revelar prácticas religiosas. La iniciativa unilateral estadounidense de apoderarse de estos datos fue aceptada inmediatamente por la parte europea, que tuvo que suspender sus legislaciones para responder a las exigencias estadounidenses [2].

La técnica es idéntica en estos dos casos, el de los pasajeros de líneas aéreas y el caso Swift. De hecho, no se trata de acuerdos jurídicos entre dos partes, entre dos potencias formalmente soberanas. Solo existe una parte, el gobierno estadounidense que en los hechos se dirige directamente a los ciudadanos europeos. En ambos textos el poder ejecutivo estadounidense reafirma su derecho a disponer de sus datos personales y así ejerce directamente su soberanía sobre los ciudadanos de la UE.

La primacía del derecho estadounidense en el territorio europeo también es uno de los retos de las negociaciones para establecer un gran mercado transatlántico, el Acuerdo Transatlántico sobre Comercio y la Inversión (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP).

En nombre de la libre competencia las empresas estadounidenses podrán, gracias al TTIP, denunciar a un Estado que les niegue permisos de explotación de gas de esquisto* o que imponga unas normas alimentarias o unos estándares sociales. Este sistema de resolución de discrepancias podría permitir a los estadounidenses abolir partes enteras de la regulación europea creando precedentes jurídicos ante esta justicia estadounidense privada. En efecto, el principio de introducir este mecanismo ha sido aceptado por los europeos en la facultad de negociación otorgada a la Comisión en junio de 2013 por los ministros de comercio europeos. La instancia privilegiada para estos arbitrajes es el Centro Internacional de Arreglo de Diferencias relativas a Inversiones (CIADI), un órgano dependiente del Banco Mundial y con sede en Washington, cuyos jueces, abogados o profesores de derecho se nombran caso por caso: un árbitro designado por la empresa demandante, uno por el Estado de Washington y el tercero por el secretario general del CIADI [3].

Se esse procedimento parcialmente já aceito, entra en juego en el marco de un futuro gran mercado transatlántico, el derecho europeo se desvanecerá una vez más, en este caso ante una jurisdicción privada situada en territorio estadounidense, en la que la parte estadounidense desempeñará un papel determinante.

Jean-Claude Paye 

Texto original en francés: L’Empire en construction : Le droit étasunien s’impose sur le territoire européen.

Traducido del francés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

Jean-Claude Paye es sociólogo, autor de El final del Estado de derecho, Hondarribia, Hiru, 2010, y de L’Emprise de l’image. De Guantanamo à Tarnac. Editions Yves Michel, noviembre 2011.  

Notas:

[1] Jean-Claude Paye, “Las transacciones financieras internacionales bajo control estadounidense”, 30 de mayo de 2009, http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=86205

[2] Jean-Claude Paye, «L’espace aérien sous contrôle impérial», Mondialisation.ca, 15 de octubre de 2007, http://www.mondialisation.ca/l-espace-a-rien-sous-contr-le-imp-rial/7080 [Véase en castellano sobre el mismo tema, “Pasajeros europeos bajo el control de EEUU”, http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=57828].

* El gas de esquisto es el que se extrae por medio de fractura hidráulica. N. de la T.

[3] Convención para la resolución de diferencias relativas a la inversión entre Estados y ciudadanos de otros Estados, International Centre for Settlement of Investissement Disputes ( ICSID),capítulo del arbitraje, Artículo 37, https://icsid.worldbank.org/ICSID/StaticFiles/basicdoc-fra/partA-chap04.htm#s02

Fuentehttp://www.mondialisation.ca/lempire-en-construction-le-droit-etasunien-simpose-sur-le-territoire-europeen/5384195

Washington Boasts of Military Buildup against China

June 3rd, 2014 by Bill Van Auken

If anyone was fooled by the media analyses portraying President Barack Obama’s speech at West Point last week as a turn toward “moderation” and “restraint,” or tempted to think that the World Socialist Web Site was exaggerating in describing the address as a blueprint for “permanent and global war in pursuit of the interests of the US financial elite,” they only need read the bellicose tirade delivered by his defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, in Singapore on Saturday.

The occasion for Hagel’s provocative speech was the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual meeting of Asia-Pacific defense ministers, together with their civilian and military chiefs of staff. The conference is ostensibly a forum for “dialogue” and “confidence building” aimed at furthering regional security and cooperation.

Instead, the Pentagon chief delivered an address that spelled out in detail the measures Washington is taking to build up its military power in the Asian Pacific for the purpose of encircling China while containing and rolling back its influence in the region.

In essence, Hagel’s speech is a corollary to the May 28 commencement address given by Obama at West Point. Critics of the presentation at the US Military Academy have pointed out that, while the administration had announced its “pivot to Asia” as a strategic axis of US foreign policy, Obama made no mention of this turn in what had been billed as a major foreign policy speech.

In point of fact, Obama did touch on the essence of the so-called “pivot” in his address, making a series of menacing statements in relation to China and suggesting that Washington would have to prepare for a military response to its rising global rival.

He placed China in the same category as Russia, presenting the two countries as threats to regional peace and security. “China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors,” Obama declared.

He went on to describe the territorial disputes in the South and East China seas, which Washington has deliberately inflamed and turned into global flash points, accusing China of “regional aggression” that could “ultimately impact our allies, and could draw in our military.” And he vowed to back Southeast Asian governments in maritime disputes with China in the South China Sea.

Yet there was no mention of the “pivot,” no declaration of a new over-arching strategic turn by the US and its massive military machine to confront China in the Asian-Pacific theater. Instead, the president told the American people that the principal threat faced by the United States was “terrorism,” the same boogeyman that has been used to justify US aggression abroad since the beginning of the century. No doubt this lack of an explicit statement of US strategy in a major presidential speech was deliberate.

Hagel was asked directly by one of the participants at the conference in Singapore why Obama does not explain the “pivot” to the American people with the same forcefulness with which the defense secretary and other US officials promote it in Asia. The answer is obvious. The popular reaction to a public campaign in support of a policy of military provocation and aggression against a nuclear-armed China would be one of horror and virulent opposition. So, the thinking in ruling circles undoubtedly goes, better to lead the population unwittingly to the brink of a global conflagration than risk a political firestorm.

In the somewhat more discreet atmosphere of the Shangri-La Dialogue, Hagel felt under no such compunction. He positively boasted of the US military buildup in the region.

Hagel declared that the “pivot” or “rebalance” to Asia “is not a goal, not a promise, or a vision—it’s a reality.”

He pointed to the ten-year Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) reached between Washington and the corrupt Aquino regime in the Philippines offering Washington virtually unrestricted rights to deploy US military forces in that country.

Similarly, he touted the close alliance established between the Obama administration and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who heads up the most right-wing Japanese government in postwar history.

“Consider that just three years ago, the strength of our alliance with Japan was being overshadowed by disagreement over the future of the US presence in Okinawa,” said Hagel.

“Today [after a change in government that was pushed by Washington], we have a fully agreed force realignment map …We have also deployed our most advanced capabilities to Japan—including two Global Hawks at Misawa, F-22 fighter aircraft at Kadena, and MV-22 Ospreys on Okinawa.”

He also declared his full support for Abe’s proposal to engage in a more “proactive” use of Japan’s military, as the Japanese prime minister seeks to scrap the postwar constitution that was supposed to prevent a revival of Japanese militarism. US backing has served to underwrite Japan’s increasingly provocative confrontations with China.

On the tense Korean Peninsula, Hagel added, the Pentagon has “enhanced the US Army’s force posture and deployed even more advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.” He also pointed to the deployment of more than 1,000 US Marines in Western Australia.

Hagel made a point of stressing Washington’s increased military cooperation with India, saying the US welcomed “India’s growing defense capabilities and its commitment to freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean.”

“In the coming years, the United States will increase its advanced capabilities that are forward-stationed and forward-deployed in the entire region, particularly as we draw down our forces in Afghanistan,” Hagel declared. “And we will ensure that we sustain our freedom of action in the face of disruptive new military technologies.” No one needed to ask what country might be deploying these “disruptive” weapons systems.

The defense secretary went on to detail a new arsenal of warships that will deployed in the region over the next four years, including the new Joint High Speed Vessel, another nuclear-armed submarine stationed in Guam, four Littoral Combat Ships and the Zumwalt-class destroyer. The new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, he added, will be sold to Japan, South Korea and Australia. By 2020, Hagel said, the US will have 60 percent of both its Navy and Air Force fleets operating in the region. He added that the Obama administration has pledged that no cuts in military spending will come out of the Asia-Pacific buildup.

The speech left no doubt as to which country this arsenal is directed against. China, Hagel charged, “has undertaken destabilizing, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea.” He accused it of using “intimidation, coercion, or the threat of force to assert those claims.” And, he vowed, Washington “will not look the other way when fundamental principles of the international order are being challenged.”

Hagel delivered an ultimatum to Beijing, declaring that China had “a choice: to unite and recommit to a stable regional order, or to walk away from that commitment and risk the peace and security that have benefited millions of people throughout the Asia-Pacific, and billions around the world.”

The meaning is clear enough. Either China submits to the post-World War II arrangements establishing US hegemony over the Asia-Pacific region, or it will face the direct threat of war with the United States.

The chief of the Chinese military, Wang Guanzhong, responded angrily to the speech delivered by Hagel as well as to a previous address by Japan’s Prime Minister Abe, declaring them “unacceptable” and saying the two were singing “in chorus.” Hagel’s speech, he said, was designed to “stoke instability… to pick fights and incite disputes and conflicts.”

US imperialism is seeking to encircle China militarily. Its aim is to utilize its residual military superiority to suppress economic and political challenges posed in Asia and on a world scale by the growth of China’s economy. In the final analysis, its aim is to offload as much of the burden of the capitalist crisis that erupted in 2008-2009 onto its rivals, as it steps up the assault on the working class at home.

In Singapore, Hagel repeated Obama’s statement in his West Point speech that “America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will.”

In the conference discussion Sunday, Russia’s Deputy Minister of Defense Anatoly Antonov raised a question: “For me it is not clear why the US must lead,” Antonov said. “To lead what? To where?”

No one should have any doubts. US imperialism is leading humanity to a new eruption of militarism that poses the ever graver threat of a nuclear Third World War.

Update (June 3, 14 hours UT)

With security heightened throughout the country, elections in Syria are proceeding normally. 

The country has largely been pacified following the retreat of terrorist opposition forces from Homs in early May. 

The  elections have not been disrupted and no major terrorist event has been reported.

Reports confirm a high turn out.

The aftermath of this election including the response of US-NATO is of crucial significance. 

Washington has already announced that it will not recognize the results of the June 3, elections. According to the New York Times, the elections are taking place “Amid Fear and Pressure” and are therefore categorized as “illegitimate”.

In a twisted logic the elections are portrayed by the Western media as an obstacle to achieving real democracy. The Western consensus is that the elections will contribute to a “continuation of the civil war” despite the defeat of the insurgency.

A “Continuation of the Civil  War” is a US Foreign Policy option. It is a means to implement Regime Change.

Scenarios of civil war are on the US-NATO drawing board. Confirmed by US statements, the underlying military-intelligence agenda is to foster a continuation of the civil war, namely to rebuild the terrorist insurgency.   

Michel Chossudovsky’s RT interview, June 4

There are indications that Washington and its allies are planning a new wave of destabilization involving the influx of weapons and death squads to be carried out in the wake of the June 3 Elections. This “civil war destabilization scenario” is to be supported by a new package of US military aid announced by President Obama on May 28th, less than a week before the June 3 elections. 

In mid May, two weeks before the elections, Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed that the US and its allies “would increase all aspects of support for the mainstream Syrian opposition fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad”.

Confirmed by John Kerry, these efforts consist in accelerating the flow of weapons to opposition fighters ahead of the elections:

“Every possible avenue will be pursued by one country or another,… I’m not going to discuss specific weapons and what country may or may not be providing [weapons], but out of today’s meeting [May 15, less than 3 weeks before the June 3 elections] every facet of what can be done will be ramped up, and that includes a political effort, aid to the opposition… economic efforts and sanctions.” (quoted in Guardian, May 15, 2014)

Kerry’s May 15 statement to speed up the flow of weapons to opposition rebels was followed two weeks later by a formal announcement by President Obama.

A week before the Syrian elections at his May 28 West Point Military College address, president Obama formally confirmed a new military aid package to be channeled to Syria’s “freedom fighters”.

Was this new flow of US military aid initiated prior to the elections?

According to a statement (May 22, 2014), by Mr Ahmad Al-Jarba,Chairman of the “opposition” Syrian National Coalition (SNC), the weapons will arrive “within weeks”. A subsequent report coinciding with President Obama’s official confirmation on May 28, stated within a period of “three weeks”, which includes the week leading up to the June 3, elections:

“[Mr Al Jarba] …did not not specify the quality of the weapons or reveal whether they will include the highly effective “Man Pad” anti-aircraft missiles, which could effectively change the balance of power on the ground” (5pillarz.com, May 31,  2014)

President Obama “spoke of two-pronged support aimed at assisting the armed opposition” against both Bashar Al as well as against the jihadist terrorist organizations which are fighting government forces.

This contradictory statement by president Obama was largely intended to reaffirm America’s commitment to “fighting terrorism”, rather than “supporting terrorism” in Syria, something which by now has been amply documented. The evidence confirms that the opposition terrorist insurgents are supported by US-NATO and Israel, trained in Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. They are the foot-soldiers of the Western military alliance.

According to reports, President Obama  … “wants to combat the burgeoning power of the Islamist armies – which the US identify as “terrorists”” while financing and training the so-called “moderate opposition”.

This is an obvious smokescreen: There is no such thing as a moderate armed opposition in Syria.

While the Western media, echoing Obama’s concern regarding the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the al-Nusra Front, fail to acknowledge that the bulk of US military aid is channeled covertly to these two terrorist organizations, which are supported by US intelligence.

The timely resolution of France at the United Nations Security Council directed against Syria was intended to create confusion in the weeks leading up the elections:

Syria’s Ambassador to the UN, Bashar Ja’afari, accused the UN of facilitating a plot against the regime. France, he said, was inciting public opinion against Syria within the UN and had launched a “futile” bid to have the Syrian file investigated at the International Criminal Court (ICC).(5pillarz.com, May 31, 2014)

According to Ja’afari, France’ resolution was aimed at

“piling up political pressure on the Syrian government and throwing into confusion the presidential elections so as to end up in a state of constitutional, political and security vacuum.” (Ibid, emphasis added)

The latest reports out of  Damascus suggest that the security situation is under control. No incidents were reported on the day of the elections. The elections are proceeding normally.

In the latest exposure of the US National Security Agency based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the New York Times reported Sunday that the agency collects images of hundreds of millions of people by intercepting global telecommunications and Internet traffic.

This data is used as part of an enormous program using facial recognition technology to identify individuals of interest to the US intelligence services. The images captured by the NSA include those embedded in e-mails, text messages, videoconferences and other forms of Internet messaging and telecommunications.

According to documents supplied by Snowden, the NSA intercepts “millions of images per day,” including about 55,000 every day that are of “facial recognition quality,” a resource that the agency characterized as having “tremendous untapped potential.”

One document from Snowden, dated 2010, declares, “It’s not just the traditional communications we’re after: It’s taking a full-arsenal approach that digitally exploits the clues a target leaves behind in their regular activities on the net to compile biographic and biometric information…”

The term “full-arsenal approach” is not just a figure of speech. The same document notes that obtaining such information can help “implement precision targeting”—that is, the extermination of individuals through strikes by drone-fired missiles.

The Times article observes that while facial recognition technology has greatly advanced in the past decade, it is still far from precise. This makes a targeting process based on such information recklessly inaccurate, as well as criminal in character.

One 2011 NSA slide supplied by Snowden recounted an attempt to match a photograph of Osama bin Laden that returned photos of “four other bearded men with only slight resemblances to Bin Laden.”

Under the guidelines laid down by the Obama administration Justice Department, all four men could have been deliberately incinerated by US drone-fired missiles, along with anyone in their vicinity at the time of the explosions. All the ensuing deaths, both of those targeted and the bystanders, would be written off as “collateral damage” in the never-ending US “war on terror.”

The Times cites a statement from the official spokeswoman for the NSA, claiming that the agency does not have access to photographs in driver’s license databases maintained by the 50 states, or to passport photos of American citizens, held by the State Department. There is no reason, however, to accept that statement as truthful.

US intelligence agencies routinely lie about their capabilities and the scope of their data collection. Most notorious, at least in recent history, is the flat-out perjury last year by James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, when asked at a Senate committee hearing, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper responded, “No, sir,” adding that any information collected on Americans was not done “wittingly.”

The State Department photo database is particularly valuable, with the Timesdescribing it as “what several outside experts say could be the largest facial imagery database in the federal government, storing hundreds of millions of photographs of American passport holders and foreign visa applicants.”

The NSA spokeswoman would not say “whether the agency had access to the State Department database of photos of foreign visa applicants. She also declined to say whether the NSA collected facial imagery of Americans from Facebook and other social media through means other than communications intercepts.” That non-denial suggests that the agency is engaged in such data collection on both foreigners and Americans.

NSA documents leaked by Snowden indicate that the agency collects national identity card databases from foreign countries, some of them presumably collaborating with the US intelligence apparatus, while others, like Iran, would be the target of cyberwarfare attacks or physical break-ins at overseas facilities to gain access to such data.

Other biometric data is collected and combined with facial imagery, including iris scans. According to the Times, “In addition, the agency was working with the CIA and the State Department on a program called Pisces, collecting biometric data on border crossings from a wide range of countries.”

The Times article was co-written by Laura Poitras and James Risen. Poitras, an independent documentary filmmaker, is one of the journalists who worked most closely with Edward Snowden. She was the first to gain access to his archive of NSA documents.

Risen has been the target of federal prosecutors seeking to compel him to reveal sources for previous articles on national security issues, and co-wrote one of the first exposures of NSA spying in 2004, only to see it held suppressed by the Times editors for more than a year because of government pressure.

This article was first published by GR in August 2012

The tide of World War II turned in early December 1941, when a counter-offensive of the Red Army in front of Moscow signalled the failure of Hitler’s Blitzkrieg strategy. That setback doomed Nazi Germany to lose a war it had to fight without the benefit of Caucasian oil and other resources it had hoped to gain through a speedy victory over the Soviet Union. The war was far from over, however, and for the time being the Red Army continued to do battle with its back to the wall, so to speak. Material help from the United States and Great Britain was forthcoming, but what the Soviets really needed from their allies was effective military assistance. And so Stalin asked Churchill and Roosevelt to open a second front in Western Europe. An Anglo-American landing in France, Belgium, or Holland would have forced the Germans to withdraw troops from the Eastern Front, and would therefore have afforded the Soviets much-needed relief.

In Great Britain and in the USA, which had entered the war only recently, in December 1941, political and military leaders were divided with respect to the possibilities and the merits of a second front. A number of British and American army commanders – including the American chief of staff, George Marshall, as well as General Eisenhower – wanted to land troops in France as soon as possible. They enjoyed the support of President Roosevelt, at least initially. He had promised Churchill that the United States would give priority to the war against Germany, and would settle accounts with Japan later; this decision became known as the “Germany First” principle. Consequently, Roosevelt was eager to deal with Germany right away, and this task required opening a second front. In May 1942 Roosevelt promised the Soviet minister of foreign affairs, Molotov, that the Americans would open a second front before the end of the year.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, on the other hand, was an outspoken opponent of a second front. He may have feared, as some historians suggest, that a landing in France might lead to a duplication of the murderous warfare associated with the battlefields of northern France in the First World War. But it is more likely that Churchill liked the idea that Hitler and Stalin were administering a major bloodletting to each other on the Eastern Front, and that he believed that London and Washington would benefit from a stalemated war in the East. Since he already had nearly three years of war experience, Churchill had much influence on Roosevelt, a newcomer to the war in Europe. It is therefore understandable that the opinion of the British leader ultimately prevailed, and that plans for opening a second front in 1942 were quietly discarded. In any event, Roosevelt himself discovered that this course of action – or rather, inaction – opened up some attractive prospects.

For example, it allowed him, in spite of the “Germany First” principle, to quietly commit a high proportion of manpower and equipment to the war in the Pacific, which was very much “his” war, and where American interests were more directly at stake than in Europe. He and his military and political advisors also started to realize that defeating Germany would require huge sacrifices, which the American people would not be delighted to bring. Landing in France was tantamount to jumping into the ring for a face-off with a formidable German opponent, and, even if ultimately successful, that would be a bloody and costly affair. Was it not far wiser to stay safely on the sidelines, at least for the time being, and let the Soviets slug it out against the Nazis?

With the Red Army providing the cannon fodder needed to vanquish Germany, the Americans and their British allies would be able to minimize their own losses. Better still, they would be able to build up their strength in order to intervene decisively at the right moment, like a deus ex machina, when the Nazi enemy and the Soviet ally would both be exhausted. With Great Britain at its side, the USA would then be able to play the leading role in the camp of the victors, to act as supreme arbiter in the sharing of the spoils of the supposedly common victory, and to create a “new order” of its liking in Europe. In the spring and summer of 1942, with the Nazis and Soviets locked in a titanic battle, watched from a distance by the “Anglo-Saxon” tertius gaudens, it did indeed look as if such a scenario might come to pass. (Incidentally, the hope for a long, drawn-out conflict between Berlin and Moscow was reflected in numerous American newspaper articles and in the much-publicized remark already uttered by Senator Harry S. Truman on June 24, 1941, only two days after the start of the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union: “If we see that Germany is winning, we should help Russia, and if Russia is winning, we should help Germany, so that as many as possible perish on both sides.”)

Of course, the Americans and the British could not reveal the true reasons why they did not wish to open a second front. Instead, they pretended that their combined forces were not yet strong enough for such an undertaking. It was said then – and it is still claimed now – that in 1942 the British and Americans were not yet ready for a major operation in France. Allegedly, the naval war against the German U-boats first had to be won in order to safeguard the required transatlantic troop transports. However, troops had been successfully ferried from North America to Great Britain for quite some time, and in the fall of that same year the Americans would experience no trouble whatsoever landing a sizable force in distant North Africa, on the same side of the admittedly dangerous Atlantic Ocean. (These landings, known as Operation Torch, involving the occupation of French colonies such as Morocco, did not force the Germans to transfer troops from the Eastern Front, did not provide any relief to the Soviets, and can therefore not be construed as the opening of a second front.)

In reality, it was already possible in the summer of 1942 to land a sizable force in France or elsewhere in Western Europe and open a second front. The British army had recuperated from the troubles of 1940, and large numbers of American and Canadian troops had joined them on the British Isles and were ready for action. Furthermore, it was not a secret that the Germans only had relatively few troops available to defend thousands of kilometres of Atlantic coast, and these troops also happened to be of considerably inferior quality compared to their forces on the Eastern Front. On the Atlantic coast, Hitler had about 60 divisions at his disposal, which were generally deemed to be second-rate, while no less than 260 German divisions did battle in the East. It is a fact, furthermore, that on the French coast in 1942 the German troops were not yet as strongly entrenched as they would be later, namely, at the time of the landings in Normandy in June 1944; the order to build the fortifications of the famous Atlantic Wall was only given by Hitler in August 1942, and the construction would drag on from the fall of 1942 until the spring of 1944.

Stalin, who knew that the German defences in Western Europe were weak, continued to press London and Washington for a landing in France. Churchill also experienced considerable domestic pressure in favour of a second front, for example from members of his own cabinet, such as Richard Stafford Cripps, and particularly from the side of the trade unions, whose members were sympathetic to the plight of the Soviets. Thankfully, relief from this relentless pressure came suddenly to the British Prime Minister in the form of a tragedy that appeared to demonstrate conclusively that the Western Allies were not yet able to open a second front: on August 19, 1942, a contingent of Allied soldiers, sent on a mission from England to the French port of Dieppe, seemingly in an effort to open some sort of “second front,” were tragically routed there by the Germans.

Of the total of 6,086 men who made it ashore, 3,623 – almost 60 percent – were either killed, wounded, or captured. The British Army and Navy suffered approximately 800 casualties, and the RAF lost 106 aircraft. The 50 American Rangers who participated in the raid had 3 casualties. But the bulk of the losses were suffered by Canadian troops, with nearly 5,000 men the bulk of the entire force; no less than 3,367 of them – 68 percent! – became casualties; about 900 were killed, nearly 600 were wounded, and the rest were taken prisoner. Of losses such as these, it is traditionally considered that they were “not in vain”; but unsurprisingly, the media and the public wanted to know what the objectives of this raid had been, and what it had achieved, especially in Canada. However, the political and military authorities only provided unconvincing explanations, though these duly found their way into the history books. For example, the raid was presented by Churchill as a “reconnaissance in force,” as a necessary test of the German coastal defences. But did one really have to sacrifice thousands of men to learn that the Germans were strongly entrenched in a seaport surrounded by high cliffs, in other words, in a natural fortress? In any event, crucial information such as the location of pillboxes, cannon, and machine gun positions could have been gleaned through aerial reconnaissance and through the services of local resistance fighters.

Talking about the Résistance, the raid was also purported to boost the morale of the French partisans and the French population in general; if so, it was unquestionably counterproductive. Indeed, the outcome of the operation, an ignominious withdrawal from a beach littered with abandoned equipment and corpses, and the sight of exhausted and dejected Canadian solders being marched off to a POW camp, was not likely to cheer up the French. If anything, the affair provided grist for the propaganda mill of the Germans, allowing them to ridicule the incompetence of the Allies, boast of their own military prowess, and thus dishearten the French while giving a lift to Germany’s own civilians, who were very much in need of some good news on account of the constant flow of bad tidings from the East.

Last but not least, Operation Jubilee was also claimed to have been an effort to provide some relief to the Soviets. It is obvious, however, that Dieppe was merely a pinprick, unlikely to make any difference whatsoever with respect to the fighting on the Eastern Front. It did not cause the Germans to transfer troops from the East to the West; to the contrary, after Dieppe the Germans could feel reasonably sure that in the near future no second front would be forthcoming, so that they actually felt free to transfer troops from the west to the East, where they were desperately needed. To the Red Army, then, Dieppe brought no relief.

Historians have mostly been happy to regurgitate the official rationalizations of Jubilee, and in some cases they have invented new ones. Just recently, for example, the Dieppe raid was proclaimed to have been planned also, if not primarily, for the purpose of stealing equipment and manuals associated with the Germans’ Enigma code machine, and possibly even all or parts of the machine itself. But would the Germans not immediately have changed their codes if the raid had achieved that objective? (The argument that the plan was to secretly steal the Enigma material, and that that the raiders would have blown up the installations prior to withdrawing from Dieppe, thus destroying evidence of the removal of Enigma equipment, is unconvincing, because it presupposes a high degree of naivety on the part of the Germans.)

After the June 1944 allied landings in Normandy, code-named Operation Overlord, an ostensibly convincing rationale for Operation Jubilee was concocted. The Dieppe Raid was now triumphantly revealed to have been a “general rehearsal” for the successful Normandy landings. Dieppe had supposedly been a test of the German defences in preparation for the big landing yet to come. Lord Mountbatten, the architect of Jubilee, who was – and continues to be – blamed by many for the disaster, thus claimed that “the Battle of Normandy was won on the beaches of Dieppe” and that “for every man who died in Dieppe, at least 10 more must have been spared in Normandy in 1944.” A myth was born: the tragedy of Jubilee had been the sine qua non for the triumph of Overlord.

A very important military lesson had allegedly been learned at Dieppe, namely, that the German coastal defences were particularly strong in and around harbours. It was for this reason, presumably, that the Normandy landings took place on the harbourless stretch of coastline north of Caen, with the Allies bringing along an artificial harbour, code-named Mulberry. But was it not self-evident that the Germans would be more strongly entrenched in seaports than in insignificant little beach resorts? Had it really been necessary to sacrifice thousands of men in order to learn that lesson? And one must also wonder whether information, obtained from a “test” of the German coastal defences in the summer of 1942, was still relevant in 1944, especially since it was mostly in 1943 that the formidable Atlantic Wall fortifications had been built. If Dieppe was a “general rehearsal,” why was the main event not staged until two years later? Is it not absurd to proclaim Jubilee as a rehearsal for an operation that had not even been conceived yet? Finally, the advantage of lessons learned at Dieppe, if any, were almost certainly offset by the fact that at Dieppe the Germans had also learned lessons, and possibly more useful lessons, about how the Allies were likely – and unlikely – to land troops. The idea that the tragedy of Jubilee was a precondition for the triumph of Overlord, then, is merely a useful myth.

Even today, then, the Dieppe tragedy remains shrouded in disinformation and propaganda. But perhaps we can catch a glimpse of the truth about Dieppe by finding inspiration in an old philosophical conundrum: If one seeks to fail, and does, does one fail, or succeed? If a military success was sought at Dieppe, the raid was certainly a failure; but if a military failure was sought, the raid was a success. In the latter case, we should inquire about the real objective of the raid, or, to put it in functionalist terms, about its “latent,” or hidden, rather than its “manifest” function.

There are many indications that military failure was intended. First, the town of Dieppe happened to be, and was known to be, an eminently defensible site, and therefore necessarily one of the strongest German positions on the Atlantic coast of France. Anyone arriving there by ferry from England sees immediately that this port, surrounded by high and steep cliffs, bristling at the time with machine guns and cannon, must have been a deadly trap for the attackers. The Germans could not believe their eyes when they found themselves being attacked there. One of their war correspondents, who witnessed the inevitable slaughter, described the raid as “an operation that violated all the rules of military logic and strategy.” Other factors, such as poor planning, inadequate preparations, inferior equipment (such as tanks that could not negotiate the pebbles of Dieppe’s beach), make it seem more likely that the objective was military failure, rather than success.

On the other hand, the Dieppe operation, including its bloody failure, actually made sense if it was ordered for a “latent” non-military purpose. Military operations are frequently carried out to achieve a political objective, and that seems to have been the case at Dieppe in August 1942. The Western Allies’ political leaders in general, the British political leadership in particular, and Prime Minister Churchill, above all, found themselves under relentless pressure to open a second front, were unwilling to open such a front, but lacked a convincing justification for their inaction. The failure of what could be presented as an attempt to open a second front, or at least as a prelude to the opening of a second front, did provide such a justification. Seen in this light, the Dieppe tragedy was indeed a great success, even a double success. First, the operation could be, and was, presented as a selfless and heroic attempt to assist the Soviets. Second, the failure of the operation seemed to demonstrate only too clearly that the western Allies were indeed not yet ready to open a second front. If Jubilee was intended to silence the voices clamouring for the opening of a second front, it was indeed a great success. The Dieppe disaster silenced the popular demand for a second front, and allowed Churchill and Roosevelt to continue to sit on the fence as the Nazis and the Soviets slaughtered each other in the East.

The political motivation for Dieppe would explain why the lambs that were led to the slaughter were not American or British, but Canadian. Indeed, the Canadians constituted the perfect cannon fodder for this enterprise, because their political and military leaders did not belong to the exclusive club of the British-American top command who planned the operation, and who would obviously have been reluctant to sacrifice their own men. Our hypothesis likewise explains why the British were also involved, but in much smaller numbers, and why the Americans sent only a token force.

After the tragedy of Dieppe, even Stalin stopped begging for a second front. The Soviets would eventually get one, but only much later, in 1944, when Stalin was no longer asking for such a favour. At that point, however, the Americans and the British had urgent reasons of their own for landing on the coast of France. Indeed, after the Battles of Stalingrad and Kursk, when Soviet troops were relentlessly grinding their way towards Berlin, “it became imperative for American and English strategy,” as two American historians (Peter N. Carroll and David W. Noble) have written, “to land troops in France and drive into Germany to keep most of that country out of [Soviet] hands.” When a second front was finally opened in Normandy in June 1944, it was not done to assist the Soviets, but to prevent the Soviets from winning the war on their own.

The Soviets finally got their second front when they no longer wanted or needed it. (This does not mean that did they did not welcome the landings in Normandy, or did not benefit from the belated opening of a second front; after all, the Germans remained an extremely tough opponent until the very end.) As for the Canadians, who had been sacrificed at Dieppe, they also got something, namely, heaps of praise from the men at the top of the military and political hierarchy. Churchill himself, for example, solemnly declared that Jubilee had been “the key to the success of the landings in Normandy” and “a Canadian contribution of the greatest significance to final victory.” The Canadians were showered with prestigious awards, including no less than three Victoria Crosses. The hyperbolic kudos and the unusually high number of VCs probably reflected a desire on the part of the authorities to atone for their decision to send so many men on a suicidal mission in order to achieve highly questionably political goals.

Jacques R. Pauwels is author of The Myth of the Good War: America in the Second World War, James Lorimer, Toronto, 2002

America’s Declining Influence in the Middle East

June 3rd, 2014 by Alexander Clackson

After 9/11, America unleashed their campaign to completely change the political landscape of the Middle East. Under the pretext of fighting terrorism and protecting the US national security, George W Bush and Barack Obama presided over military campaign and covert operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Iran and also looked to influence the outcome of the Arab Spring in their favour. However, analysing the current situation in the Middle East, one can say with some confidence that the American policy over the last 13 years completely backfired and has played a role in declining American influence and power in the region.

Iraq and Afghanistan failure

Apart from the obvious human costs (the Lancet journal in 2006 published an estimate of 654,965 excess Iraqi deaths related to the war), there has been a monumental financial cost (Congressional Research Service estimates that the US spent almost $802bn on funding the war by 2011).  The failure of these military campaigns is so obvious that even the American mainstream media propaganda was unable to convince the American people of the worthiness of these wars. On Iraq, Americans by 52%-37% say the United States mostly failed to achieve its goals. On Afghanistan, Americans by a nearly identical 52%-38% say the U.S. has mostly failed to achieve its goals.

Afghanistan is hardly a functioning state and will require enormous amount of aid that the taxpayer will have to pay in order to prop up basic governing conditions. Furthermore, there is a high chance that the Taliban will slowly make its come back once the American troops pull out. In addition, Iraq is now closer politically to Iran than ever before, due to the Shia majority.  Ultimately, the United States not only failed dismally in their self-destructive mission to coerce these two countries through force, but it has actually pushed them further away from the American orbit of influence.

Syria and Iran

Despite the best efforts of the American hawks to remove Syrian President Assad from power through sponsoring and financing foreign fighters that have unleashed their radical jihadist attitude on the Syrian people, Assad will likely remain the President of Syria for the foreseeable future.  The Syrian “opposition” have proven to be incapable of forming a legitimate body and have committed enough atrocities to ensure that the majority of Syrian people are supportive of Assad. Thanks to Russia’s positive intervention to prevent the US from attacking Syria, in exchange for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, the Middle Eastern country has been spared the fate suffered by Iraq. Though the brutal civil war in Syria is likely to continue, the country is in a better shape than it would have been if American hawks prevailed in convincing Obama to attack Syria.

Iran, meanwhile, has built closer ties with Russia and China.  It was announced recently that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani agreed that Moscow would build two additional nuclear power plants for Tehran and construct new facilities next to Iran’s power plant in the city of Bushehr. The Ukrainian crisis makes both Russia and the Islamic Republic much closer due to the convergence of interests and geopolitical objectives between Putin and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in resisting Western hegemony in the Middle East. Secondly, both Russia and Iran are attempting to establish themselves as key and influential geopolitical and strategic players in the region. The consolidation of Russia’s and Iran’s strategic depth in the area is combined with their shared objective of withstanding the Western powers.

Egypt

Recent results of the Presidential elections in Egypt declared Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as the winner. He has made it a priority to move away from American influence and build stronger ties with other global powers. El-Sisi personally told Putin that he is ready for close cooperation with Russia on bilateral issues and on the international agenda. The two leaders agreed to maintain active contacts and exchange visits at the top level.  Both Russia and Egypt have put particular effort into intensifying their military-to-military contacts. Russia and Egypt have also agreed to conduct joint counterterrorism exercises involving Russian paratroopers.

United States is losing its influence in the Middle East

The above analysis illustrates that American foreign policy in the Middle East has not only been a failure, but actually accelerated the inevitable decline of  U.S. power and influence in the region. America’s only real allies that remain are the Gulf States and Israel, though these are quickly losing their legitimacy due to their appalling human rights record. The other main actors in the Middle East, such as Iran, Egypt and Syria no longer feel the need to be coerced by America. The failures of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, coupled with the inability of America to influence the outcome in Syria, has resulted in many Arab countries choosing to ally themselves with other powers such as Russia. This outcome is to be welcomed, as American influence in the Middle East has not been a positive one for the region. The United States looked to squeeze the region dry of its resources, while propping up unelected dictators or carrying out illegal military interventions when it suited their interests. American influence was never about promoting democracy and security in the region, but further enhancing American grip on its hegemony. Fortunately, the tide has turned against America and it will not be long till Washington loses much of its support in the Middle East.

 

Alexander Clackson is the founder of Global Political Insight, a political media and research organisation. He has a Master’s degree in International Relations. Alexander works as a political consultant and frequently contributes to think-tank and media outlets.

International Observers in Syria Elections

June 3rd, 2014 by Global Research News

GR Editor’s Note

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) was part of the Canadian delegation of international observers (image below: second from left). Nazemroaya will be providing his assessment of the elections in a forthcoming GR article. (M.Ch. GR Editor)

Delegations from Russia, Iran, Democratic Korea, Pakistan, Canada and the US, Venezuela, Brazil and Bolivia have been observing the presidential election process at polling stations in various provinces.

The visiting delegations, who have come at Syria’s invitation, included parliamentary, political, media, cultural and civil society figures, in addition to peace advocates and independent activists.

The delegation members went to Damascus, Lattakia, Tartous, Aleppo and Sweida and Homs.

Morozov: Syria’s elections witnessing high turnout

Member of the Russian Federation Council Igor Morozov said the presidential elections in Syria are witnessing a high turnout and marked by absolute transparency and integrity.

In statements to Russian media outlets by phone, Morozov, who is among a Russian parliamentary mission to observe the electoral process in Syria, said the elections are taking place amid “an overwhelming level of national sentiment among the Syrians.”

He added that whole families have been streaming to polling stations and standing in long lines.

Morozov noted that many “international observers” are in Syria to oversee how the election process is running.

“We all have full freedom to meet citizens and political movements’ representatives, and we don’t feel any hurdles being put in our way,” he said, hailing the pluralistic basis on which Syria’s elections are taking place.

Morozov expressed his belief that the attempts at changing the political structure in Syria by military force are hopeless and doomed to failure because “President Bashar al-Assad enjoys massive support by the Syrian people.”

Regardless of the talk about him in the US, he said, President al-Assad “is today the real leader capable of uniting the nation, army and political elite in Syria.”

Beside local support, he added, President al-Assad also enjoys foreign support as felt by the Russian mission’s members, particularly in Beirut, before arriving in Damascus.

A geopolitical researcher from the US, in Lattakia, stressed that what she saw in Syria is “contrary” to the impressions she had on the situation in the country.

Bolivian Parliament Speaker Marcelo Elio Chavez told SANA reporter, upon visiting a number of voting centers in Sweida, said the Bolivian delegation came to take a close look at the elections in Syria and attest to its integrity.

“We came to express our solidarity and support for the democratic process in Syria…and to congratulate the Syrian people over this key event,” he said, adding that the elections reflect the values of democracy, transparency and freedom of the Syrian people.

Also in Sweida, Venezuela’s Ambassador to Syria Imad Saab hailed the atmosphere within which the electoral process is going on in the province as reflecting optimism of the participants.

Millions of people around the world, including in Venezuela, support the Syrian people and stress solidarity with them, Saab added.

For his part, member of the Venezuelan Parliament William Fariٌas said “This historic day is a message through which the Syrian people say they want peace not just in Syria but also in the region and the entire world.”

President of the World Peace Council Socorro Gomes of Brazil, said she came to Syria as a representative of peace-lovers and the Brazilian people who voice their love and solidarity with the Syrian people in this important event.

She added that the Syrian presidential vote reflects respect of the constitution and Syria’s right to self-determination and rejecting foreign intervention.

In Aleppo, Iranian MP Amir Khojasteh and other Iranian figures toured several polling stations along with Governor Mohamamd Wahid Aqqad.

“We have seen high turnout to voting stations,” Khojasteh told reporters, adding that the international community should recognize and accept the results of the Syrian vote “because this is democracy.”

A delegation of independent activists and peace advocates from several countries have made tours at balloting stations in the city and countryside of Homs since the presidential voting started early this morning.

Governor of Homs Talal al-Barazi said in a statement to SANA reporter that the delegation members showed desire to visit a number of voting centers to oversee the election process across Homs.

“There were free to choose whatever centers they wanted to visit,” said al-Barazi, adding that the delegation were accompanied by a number of MPs.

The Governor affirmed that the electoral process in Homs “is running quite well and all stations are open to the voters.”

This article was first published by Global Research February 9, 2005.

Ukrainian Post Modern Coup completes testing of New Template

The U.S. government and allied forces’ year-end installation of Victor Yushchenko as President of Ukraine have completed the field-testing of the “Post Modern Coup”. Employing and fine-tuning the same sophisticated techniques used in Serbia in 2000 and Georgia in 2003 (and unsuccessfully in Belarus in 2001), it is widely expected that the United States will attempt to apply the same methods throughout the former Soviet Union.

“We have to confront those forces that are committed to reproduce a Georgian or Ukrainian scenario,” Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev stated on December 26, the day of the coup, “we’ll not allow the import of Rose [Georgian] and Orange [Ukrainian] revolutions in our country.” One day later, the Kazakh government launched a criminal case against the Soros Foundation for tax evasion, one of the coups’ financiers. And last spring, Uzbek President Islam Karimov accused Soros of overseeing the revolution in Georgia, and condemning his efforts to “fool and brainwash” young intelligentsia in his own country, banned the group. The same networks are also increasingly active in South America, Africa, and Asia. Top targets include Venezuela, Mozambique, and Iran, among others.

The method employed is usefully described by The Guardian’s Ian Traynor in a November 26, 2004 article entitled “US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev,” during the first phase of the coup:

“With their websites and stickers, their pranks and slogans aimed at banishing widespread fear of a corrupt regime, the democracy guerrillas of the Ukrainian Pora youth movement have already notched up a famous victory – whatever the outcome of the dangerous stand-off in Kiev.

[T]he campaign is an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing that, in four countries in four years, has been used to try to salvage rigged elections and topple unsavory regimes.

Funded and organized by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organizations, the campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot box.

Richard Miles, the US ambassador in Belgrade, played a key role. And by last year, as US ambassador in Tbilisi, he repeated the trick in Georgia, coaching Mikhail Saakashvili in how to bring down Eduard Shevardnadze. Ten months after the success in Belgrade, the US ambassador in Minsk, Michael Kozak, a veteran of similar operations in central America, notably in Nicaragua, organized a near identical campaign to try to defeat the Belarus hardman, Alexander Lukashenko.

The operation – engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience – is now so slick that the methods have matured into a template for winning other people’s elections”

Much of the coup apparatus is the same that was used in the overthrow of President Fernando Marcos of the Philippines in 1986, the Tiananmen Square destabilization in 1989, and Vaclav Havel’s “Velvet revolution” in Czechoslovakia in 1989.

As in these early operations, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and its primary arms, theNational Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) and International Republican Institute (IRI), played a central role. The NED was established by the Reagan Administration in 1983, to do overtly, what the CIA had done covertly, in the words of one its legislative drafters, Allen Weinstein.

The Cold War propaganda and operations center, Freedom House , now chaired by former CIA director James Woolsey, has also been involved, as were billionaire George Soros’ foundations, whose donations always dovetail those of the NED.

What is new about the template bears on the use of the Internet (in particular chat rooms, instant messaging, and blogsites) and cell phones (including text-messaging), to rapidly steer angry and suggestible “Generation X” youth into and out of mass demonstrations and the like — a capability that only emerged in the mid-1990s.

“With the crushing ubiquity of cell phones, satellite phones, PCs, modems and the Internet,” Laura Rosen emphasized in Salon Magazine on February 3, 2001,”the information age is shifting the advantage from authoritarian leaders to civic groups.”

She might have mentioned the videogames that helped create the deranged mind-set of these “civic groups.” The repeatedly emphasized role played by so-called “Discoshaman” and his girlfriend “Tulipgirl,” in assisting the “Orange Revolution” through their aptly named blogsite, “Le Sabot Post-Moderne,” (www.postmodernclog.com ) is indicative of the technical and sociological components involved.

A Civilian Revolution in Military Affairs

The emphasis on the use of new communication technologies to rapidly deploy small groups, suggests we are seeing is civilian application of Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s “Revolution in Military Affairs” doctrine, which depends on highly mobile small group deployments “enabled” by “real time” intelligence and communications.

Squads of soldiers taking over city blocks with the aid of “intelligence helmet” video screens that give them an instantaneous overview of their environment, constitute the military side. Bands of youth converging on targeted intersections in constant dialogue on cell phones, constitute the doctrine’s civilian application. This parallel should not be surprising since the US military and National Security Agency subsidized the development of the Internet, cellular phones, and software platforms. From their inception, these technologies were studied and experimented with in order to find the optimal use in a new kind of warfare. The “revolution” in warfare that such new instruments permit has been pushed to the extreme by several specialists in psychological warfare. Although these military utopians have been working in high places (for example the RAND) for a very long time, to a large extent they only took over some of the most important command structures of the US military apparatus with the victory of the “neo-conservatives” in the Pentagon of Donald Rumsfeld.

The new techniques of warfare include the use of both lethal (violent) and non lethal (non violent) tactics. Both ways are conducted using the same philosophy, infrastructure, and modus operandi. It is what is known as Cyberwar. For example, the tactic of swarming is a fundamental element in both violent and non violent forms of warfare. This new philosophy of war, which is supposed to replicate the strategy of Genghis Khan as enhanced by modern technologies, is intended to aid both military and non-military assaults against targeted states through what are, in effect, “high tech” hordes. In that sense there is not difference, from the standpoint of the plotters, between Iraq or Ukraine, if only that many think the Ukraine-like coup is more effective and easier.

Indicative of the common objective are the comments of the theoreticians of the post modern coup, for example, Dr. Peter Ackerman, the author of “Strategic Nonviolent Conflict” (Praeger 1994). Writing in the “National Catholic Reporter” on April 26, 2002, Dr. Ackerman offered the following corrective to Bush’s Axis of Evil speech targeting Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, which he otherwise approved: “It is not true that the only way to ‘take out’ such regimes is through U.S. military action.”

Speaking at the “Secretary’s Open Forum” at the State Department on June 29, 2004, in a speech entitled, “Between Hard and Soft Power: The Rise of Civilian-Based Struggle and Democratic Change, ” Ackerman elaborated on the concept involved. He proposed that youth movements, such as those used to bring down Serbia, could bring down Iran and North Korea, and could have been used to bring down Iraq–thereby accomplishing all of Bush’s objectives without relying on military means. And he reported that he has been working with the top US weapons designer, Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, on developing new communications technologies that could be used in other youth movement insurgencies. “There is no question that these technologies are democratizing,” he stressed, in reference to their potential use in bringing down China, “they enable decentralized activity. They create, if you will, a digital concept of the right of assembly.”

Dr. Ackerman is the founding chairman of International Center on Nonviolent Conflicts in Washington D.C, of which former US Air Force officer Jack DuVall is President. Together with former CIA director James Woolsey, DuVall also directs the Arlington Institute of Washington D.C., which was created by former Chief of Naval Operations advisor John L. Peterson in 1989 ” to help redefine the concept of national security in much larger, comprehensive terms” it reports, through introducing “social value shifts into the traditional national defense equation.”

“Swarming Adolescents” and “Rebellious hysteria”

As in the case of the new communication technologies, the potential effectiveness of angry youth in post modern coups has long been under study. As far back as 1967, Dr. Fred Emery, then director of the Tavistock Institute, and an expert on the “hypnotic effects” of television, specified that the then new phenomenon of “swarming adolescents” found at rock concerts could be effectively used to bring down the nation-state by the end of the 1990s. This was particularly the case, as Dr. Emery reported in “The next Thirty years: concepts, methods and anticipations,” in the group’s “Human Relations,” because the phenomena was associated with “rebellious hysteria.” The British Military created the Tavistock Institute as its psychological warfare arm following World War I; it has been the forerunner of such strategic planning ever since. Dr. Emery’s concept saw immediate application in NATO’s use of “swarming adolescents” in toppling French President Charles De Gaulle in 1967.

In November 1989, Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio, under the aegis of that university’s “Program for Social Innovations in Global Management,” began a series of conferences to review progress towards that strategic objective, which was reported on in “Human Relations” in 1991. There, Dr. Howard Perlmutter, a professor of “Social Architecture” at the Wharton School, and a follower of Dr. Emery, stressed that “rock video in Katmandu,” was an appropriate image of how states with traditional cultures could be destabilized, thereby creating the possibility of a “global civilization.” There are two requirements for such a transformation, he added, “building internationally committed networks of international and locally committed organizations,” and “creating global events” through “the transformation of a local event into one having virtually instantaneous international implications through mass-media.” (Perlmutter on the origin of the concept of globalization : see quote.)

This brings us to the final ingredient of these new coups–the deployment of polling agencies’ “exit polls” broadcast on international television to give the false (or sometimes accurate) impression of massive vote-fraud by the ruling party, to put targeted states on the defensive. Polling operations in the recent coups have been overseen by such outfits as Penn, Schoen and Berland , top advisors to Microsoft and Bill Clinton. Praising their role in subverting Serbia, then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (and later on Chairman of NDI ) , in an October 2000 letter to the firm quoted on its website, stated: “Your work with the National Democratic Institute and the Yugoslav opposition contributed directly and decisively to the recent breakthrough for democracy in that country…This may be one of the first instances where polling has played such an important role in setting and securing foreign policy objectives.” Penn, Schoen, together with the OSCE, also ran the widely televised “exit poll” operations in the Ukrainian elections.

In the aftermath of such youth deployments and media operations, more traditional elements come to the fore. That is, the forceful, if covert, intervention by international institutions and governments threatening the targeted regime, and using well placed operatives within the targeted regime’s military and intelligence services to ensure no countermeasures can be effectively deployed. Without these traditional elements, of course, no post modern coup could ever work. Or, as Jack DuVall put it in Jesse Walker’s “Carnavel and conspiracy in Ukraine,” in Reason Online, November 30, 2004, “You can’t simply parachute Karl Rove into a country and manufacture a revolution.”

Gladio and James Bond get a youth group

The creation and deployment of coups of any kind requires agents on the ground. The main handler of these coups on the “street side” has been the Albert Einstein Institution, which was formed in 1983 as an offshoot of Harvard University under the impetus of Dr. Gene Sharp, and which specializes in “non violence as a form of warfare.” Dr. Sharp had been the executive secretary of A.J. Muste, the famous U.S. Trotskyite labor organizer and peacenik. The group is funded by Soros and the NED. Albert Einstein’s president is Col. Robert Helvey, a former US Army officer with 30 years of experience in South East Asia. He has served as the case officer for youth groups active in the Balkans and Eastern Europe since at least 1999.

Photo right: May 19th. An effigy of the Statue of Liberty stands with the hunger strikers in front of the Shanghai city government offices. (The Epoch Times, 64memo.com)

Col. Helvey reports, in a January 29, 2001 interview with film producer Steve York in Belgrade, that he first got involved in “strategic nonviolence” upon seeing the failure of military approaches to toppling dictators–especially in Myanmar, where he had been stationed as military attaché–and seeing the potential of Sharp’s alternative approach. According to B. Raman, the former director of India’s foreign intelligence agency, RAW, in a December 2001 paper published by his institute entitled, “The USA’s National Endowment For Democracy(NED): An Update,” Helvey “was an officer of the Defence Intelligence Agency of the Pentagon, who had served in Vietnam and, subsequently, as the US Defence Attaché in Yangon, Myanmar (1983 to 85), during which he clandestinely organized the Myanmarese students to work behind Aung San Suu Kyi and in collaboration with Bo Mya’s Karen insurgent group….He also trained in Hong Kong the student leaders from Beijing in mass demonstration techniques which they were to subsequently use in the Tiananmen Square incident of June, 1989″ and “is now believed to be acting as an adviser to the Falun Gong, the religious sect of China, in similar civil disobedience techniques.” Col. Helvey nominally retired from the army in 1991, but had been working with Albert Einstein and Soros long before then.

Reflecting Albert Einstein’s patronage, one of its first books was Dr. Sharp’s “Making Europe Unconquerable: The Potential of Civilian-Based Deterrence and Defense,” published in 1985 with a forward by George Kennan, the famous “Mr. X” 1940′s architect of the Cold War who was also a founder of the CIA’s Operations division. There, Sharp reports that “civilian-based defense” could counter the Soviet threat through its ability “to deter and defeat attacks by making a society ungovernable by would be oppressors” and “by maintaining a capacity for orderly self-rule even in the face of extreme threats and actual aggression.” He illustrates its feasibility by discussing the examples of the Algerian independence in 1961 and the Czechoslovakian resistance to Soviet invasion in 1968-9. In his forward, Kennan praises Sharp for showing the “possibilities of deterrence and resistance by civilians” as a “partial alternative to the traditional, purely military concepts of national defense.” The book was promptly translated into German, Norwegian, Italian, Danish, and other NATO country languages. See the link to the Italian translation of the book (Verso un’Europa Inconquistabile . 190 pp. 1989 Introduction by Gianfranco Pasquino) that sports a series of fashionable sociologists and “politologists” prefacing the book and calling for a civil resistance to a possible Soviet invasion of Italy.

Such formulations suggest that Albert Einstein activities were, ironically, coherent (or, possibly updating) the infamous NATO’s “Gladio” stay-behind network, whose purpose was to combat possible Soviet occupation through a panoply of military and non military means. The investigations into Gladio, and those following the 1978 assassination of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro, also shed some light (immediately switched off) on a professional apparatus of destabilization that had been invisible for several decades to the public.

It is noteworthy that the former deputy chief of intelligence for the US Army in Europe, Major General Edward Atkeson, first “suggested the name ‘civilian based defense’ to Sharp,” John M. Mecartney, Coordinator of the Nonviolent Action for National Defense Institute, reports in his group’s CBD News and Opinion of March 1991. By 1985, Gen. Atkeson, then retired from the US Army, was giving seminars at Harvard entitled “Civilian-based Defense and the Art of War. (http://www.wcfia.harvard.edu/ponsacs/seminars/TransformingStruggle/defense.htm#Art%20of%20War)

The Albert Einstein Institution reports, in its “1994-99 Report on Activities,” that Gen. Atkeson also served on Einstein’s advisory board in those years. Following his posting as the head of US Army intelligence in Europe, and possibly concurrently with his position at the Albert Einstein Institution, the Washington based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) reports that General Atkeson, who also advised CSIS on “international security.” served as “national intelligence officer for general purpose forces on the staff of the director of Central Intelligence.” ( http://www.csis.org/experts/4atkeson.htm ).

A 1990 variant of Sharp’s book, “Civilian-Based Defense: A Post-Military Weapons System, ” the Albert Einstein Institution reports, “was used in 1991 and 1992 by the new independent governments of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in planning their defense against Soviet efforts to regain control.”

As we shall see below, with such backing, Col. Helvey and his colleagues have created a series of youth movements including Otpor! in Serbia, Kmara! in Georgia, Pora! in Ukraine, and the like, which are already virally replicating other sects throughout the former Soviet Union, achieving in civilian form what had not been possible militarily in the 1980s. The groups are also spreading to Africa and South America.

And dope too?

Col. Helvey’s long experience in Myanmar in training insurgent ethnic minorities in a region that is the center of world opium production raises another question of great bearing on “post modern coups.” That is: what is the role of narcotic mafias in facilitating “regime change?” Law enforcement agencies from many nations, including the United States, have long reported that the Balkans is the major narcotics pipeline into Western Europe. Ukraine is said to be a top conduit, as is Georgia. Kyrghyzstan, now at the top of the hit list, is another opium conduit. And George Soros “the Daddy Warbucks of drug legalization,” has been the top “private” funder of all the Eastern European and Central Asian insurgent groups, as well as those in Myamar. The spread of such mafias, is, of course, one of the most efficient ways of infiltrating and corrupting government agencies of targeted states.

Col. Helvey is not the only operator with such a background. The head of the OSCE’s vote monitoring operation in Ukraine, for example, Geert-Hinrich Ahrens, was German Ambassador to Colombia in the late 1990s, when German secret agent Werner Mauss was arrested for working closely with the narco-terrorist ELN, whose bombings are financed by the cocaine trade. Ahrens was also on the scene in Albania and Macedonia, when the narcotics smuggling Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was created with US and German patronage. And Michael Kozak, the US ambassador whose 2001 effort to overthrow Belarus’ Lukachenko failed, had been a top handler of the cocaine-smuggling Contras.

The Serbian virus

The networks and methods used in the Serbian through Ukraine sequence were first publicly revealed in a Washington Post article on Dec. 11, 2000 by Michael Dobbs, entitled. “U.S. Advice Guided Milosevic Opposition Political Consultants Helped Yugoslav Opposition Topple Authoritarian Leader.” He reports that:

U.S.-funded consultants played a crucial role behind the scenes in virtually every facet of the anti-Milosevic drive, running tracking polls, training thousands of opposition activists and helping to organize a vitally important parallel vote count. U.S. taxpayers paid for 5,000 cans of spray paint used by student activists to scrawl anti-Milosevic graffiti on walls across Serbia, and 2.5 million stickers with the slogan “He’s Finished,” which became the revolution’s catchphrase.

Some Americans involved in the anti-Milosevic effort said they were aware of CIA activity at the fringes of the campaign, but had trouble finding out what the agency was up to. Whatever it was, they concluded it was not particularly effective. The lead role was taken by the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, the government’s foreign assistance agency, which channeled the funds through commercial contractors and nonprofit groups such as NDI and its Republican counterpart, the International Republican Institute (IRI).

While NDI worked closely with Serbian opposition parties, IRI focused its attention on Otpor, which served as the revolution’s ideological and organizational backbone. In March, IRI paid for two dozen Otpor leaders to attend a seminar on nonviolent resistance at the Hilton Hotel in Budapest, a few hundreds yards along the Danube from the NDI-favored Marriott.

During the seminar, the Serbian students received training in such matters as how to organize a strike, how to communicate with symbols, how to overcome fear and how to undermine the authority of a dictatorial regime. The principal lecturer was retired U.S. Army Col. Robert Helvey, who has made a study of nonviolent resistance methods around the world, including those used in modern-day Burma and the civil rights struggle in the American South.

Helvey, who served two tours in Vietnam, introduced the Otpor activists to the ideas of American theoretician Gene Sharp, whom he describes as “the Clausewitz of the nonviolence movement,” referring to the renowned Prussian military strategist.

Peter Ackerman, the above-mentioned coup expert analyzed and popularized the methods involved in a 2001 PBS documentary-series and book, “A Force More Powerful : A Century of Nonviolent Conflict,” together with retired US Airforce officer Jack DuVall. Focusing on youth organizing, they report:

After the NATO bombing, which had helped the regime suppress opposition, Otpor’s organizing took hold with a quiet vengeance. It was built in some places around clubhouses where young people could go and hang out, exercise, and party on the weekends, or more often it was run out of dining rooms and bedrooms in activists’ homes. These were “boys and girls 18 and 19 years old” who had lived “in absolute poverty compared to other teenagers around the world,” according to Stanko Lazendic, an Otpor activist in Novi Sad. “Otpor offered these kids a place to gather, a place where they could express their creative ideas.” In a word, it showed them how to empower themselves.

Otpor’s leaders knew that they “couldn’t use force on someone who… had three times more force and weapons than we did,” in the words of Lazendic. “We knew what had happened in. Tiananmen, where the army plowed over students with tanks.” So violence wouldn’t work — and besides, it was the trademark of Milosevic, and Otpor had to stand for something different. Serbia “was a country in which violence was used too many times in daily politics,” noted Srdja Popovic, a 27 year-old who called himself Otpor’s “ideological commissar.” The young activists had to use nonviolent methods “to show how superior, how advanced, how civilized” they were.

This relatively sophisticated knowledge of how to develop nonviolent power was not intuitive. Miljenko Dereta, the director of a private group in Belgrade called Civic Initiatives, got funding from Freedom House in the U.S. to print and distribute 5,000 copies of Gene Sharp’s book, From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation . Otpor got hold of Sharp’s main three-volume work, The Politics of Nonviolent Action, freely adapting sections of it into a Serbian-language notebook they dubbed the “Otpor User Manual.” Consciously using this “ideology of nonviolent, individual resistance,” in Popovic’s words, activists also received direct training from Col. Robert Helvey, a colleague of Sharp, at the Budapest Hilton in March 2000.

Helvey emphasized how to break the people’s habits of subservience to authority, and also how to subvert: the regime’s “pillars of support,” including the police and armed forces. Crucially, he warned them against “contaminants to a nonviolent struggle,” especially violent action, which would deter ordinary people from joining the movement: and alienate the international community, from which material and financial assistance could be drawn. As Popovic put it:

“Stay nonviolent and you will get the support of the third party.”

That support, largely denied to the Serbian opposition before, now began to flow. Otpor and other dissident groups received funding from the National Endowment for Democracy, affiliated with the U.S. government, and Otpor leaders sat down with Daniel Serwer, the program director for the Balkans at the U.S. Institute for Peace, whose story of having been tear-gassed during an anti-Vietnam War demonstration gave him special credibility in their eyes. The International Republican Institute, also financed by the U.S. government, channeled funding to the opposition and met with Otpor leaders several times. The U.S. Agency for International Development, the wellspring for most of this financing, was also the source of money that went for materials like t-shirts and stickers.

No lack of opportunities for employment

In the aftermath of the Serbian revolution, the National Endowment for Democracy, Albert Einstein Institution, and related outfits helped establish several Otpor-modeled youth groups in Eastern Europe, notably Zubr in Belarus in January 2001; Kmara in Georgia, in April 2003; and Pora in Ukraine in June 2004. Efforts to overthrow Belarus President Alexsander Luschenko failed in 2001, while the US overthrow of Georgian President Eduard Schevardnadze was successfully accomplished in 2003, using Kmara as part of its operation.

Commenting on that expansion, Albert Einstein staffer Chris Miller, in his report on a 2001 trip to Serbia found on the group’s website, reports:

Since the ousting of Milosevic, several members of Otpor have met with members of the Belarusian group Zubr (Bison). In following developments in Belarus since early this year, It is clear that Zubr was developed or at least conceptualized, using Otpor as a model. Also, [Albert Einstein's report] From Dictatorship to Democracy is available in English on the Zubr website at www.zubr-belarus.com Of course, success will not be achieved in Belarus or anywhere else, simply by mimicking the actions taken in Serbia. However the successful Serbian nonviolent struggle was highly influenced and aided by the availability of knowledge and information on strategic nonviolent struggle and both successful and unsuccessful past cases, which is transferable.

Otpor focused on building their human resources, especially among youth. An Otpor training manual to “train future trainers” was developed, which contained excerpts from The Politics of Nonviolent Action, provided to Otpor by Robert Helvey during his workshop in Budapest for Serbs in early 2000. It may be applicable for other countries.

And with funding provided by Freedom House and the US government, Otpor established the Center for Nonviolent Resistance, in Budapest, to train these groups. Describing the deployment of this youth movement, Ian Trainor, in the above cited Guardian November 2004 article, reports:

In the centre of Belgrade, there is a dingy office staffed by computer-literate youngsters who call themselves the Centre for Non-violent Resistance. If you want to know how to beat a regime that controls the mass media, the judges, the courts, the security apparatus and the voting stations, the young Belgrade activists are for hire.

They emerged from the anti-Milosevic student movement, Otpor, meaning resistance. The catchy, single-word branding is important. In Georgia last year, the parallel student movement was Khmara. In Belarus, it was Zubr. In Ukraine, it is Pora, meaning high time.

Stickers, spray paint and websites are the young activists’ weapons. Irony and street comedy mocking the regime have been hugely successful in puncturing public fear and enraging the powerful.

Last year, before becoming president in Georgia, the US-educated Mr Saakashvili travelled from Tbilisi to Belgrade to be coached in the techniques of mass defiance. In Belarus, the US embassy organised the dispatch of young opposition leaders to the Baltic, where they met up with Serbs travelling from Belgrade. In Serbia’s case, given the hostile environment in Belgrade, the Americans organised the overthrow from neighbouring Hungary – Budapest and Szeged.

In recent weeks, several Serbs travelled to the Ukraine. Indeed, one of the leaders from Belgrade, Aleksandar Maric, was turned away at the border.

The Democratic party’s National Democratic Institute, the Republican party’s International Republican Institute, the US State Department and USAID are the main agencies involved in these grassroots campaigns as well as the Freedom House NGO and billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Institute .

An Associated Press article by Dusan Stojanovic, on November 2, 2004, entitled “Serbia’s export: Peaceful Revolution,” elaborates:

“We knew there would be work for us after Milosevic,” said Danijela Nenadic, a program coordinator of the Belgrade-based Center for Nonviolent Resistance. The nongovernmental group emerged from Otpor, the pro-democracy movement that helped sweep Milosevic from power by organizing massive and colorful protests that drew crowds who never previously had the courage to oppose the former Yugoslav president. In Ukraine and Belarus, tens of thousands of people have been staging daily protests — carbon copies of the anti-Milosevic rallies — with “training” provided by the Serbian group.

The group says it has “well-trained” followers in Ukraine and Belarus. In Georgia, Ukraine and Belarus, anti-government activists “saw what we did in Serbia and they contacted us for professional training,” group member Sinisa Sikman said. Last year, Otpor’s clenched fist was flying high on white flags again — this time in Georgia, when protesters stormed the parliament in an action that led to the toppling of Shevardnadze.

Last month, Ukrainian border authorities denied entry to Alexandar Maric, a member of Otpor and an adviser with the U.S.-based democracy watchdog Freedom House. A Ukrainian student group called Pora was following the strategies of Otpor.

James Woolsey’s Freedom House “expressed concern” over Maric’s deportation, in an October 14, 2004 release which reported that he was traveling to Ukraine as part of “an initiative run by Freedom House, the National Democratic Institute, and the International Republican Institute to promote civic participation and oversight during the 2004 presidential and 2006 parliamentary elections in Ukraine.” In a related statement, it added that it hoped the deportation was not a sign of the Ukrainian government’s “unwillingness to allow the free flow of information and learning across borders that is an integral and accepted part of programs to encourage democratic progress in diverse societies around the world.”

Timeline

· Otpor! founded in Belgrade, Serbia in October 1998. Coup overthrows President Slobodan Milosevic on October 5, 2000. Subsequently forms Center for Nonviolent Resistence to spead !!! revolutions.

· Clinton Administration’s Community of Democracies launched in Warsaw, Poland, in June 2000.

· Zubr! founded in Minsk, Belarus, on January 14, 2001. Election-Coup efforts fail in September 9, 2001.

· Mjaft! founded in Tirana, Albania, on March 15, 2003.

· Kmara! founded in Tblisi, Georgia in April 2003. “Rose revolution” overthrows President Eduard Shevardnadze on November 23, 2003.

· Pora! founded in Kiev, Ukraine in June 2004. “Orange revolution” installs Victor Yushchenko into power on December 26, 2004.

· Kmara! overthrows Abashidze of Ajaria (western Georgian secessionist province) May 5, 2004

 

As the Canadian government pushes a new law rendering pipeline companies liable for all damages from leaks and spills, the only friend to both sides in this polarized world of dirty oil sands is leak prevention technology. 

On May 14, amid heightened opposition to two planned pipelines, Canada’s Natural Resources Ministry unveiled a new law making pipeline operators liable for all the costs and damages related to oil spills, regardless of whether the operators were at fault or demonstrated negligence.

Under the new law, pipeline operators will be required to set up advance clean-up funds for future spills, while the Canadian National Energy board will be given the authority to order operators to reimburse those affected by spills.

Canada desperately needs more pipeline infrastructure to handle its increasing oil sands production capacity, but opposition has been growing exponentially to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The Northern Gateway pipeline would mean an additional 525,000 barrels per day of crude piped from Alberta to the coast of British Columbia, while the Trans Mountain expansion would mean a tripling to 900,000 barrels per day of oil sands crude from Alberta to Vancouver.

According to the Tar Sands Solution Network, “tar sands oil is more corrosive and transported at higher pressures,” while “spills of tar sands crude are significantly more toxic and harder to clean up.”

In fact, according to the organization, “Alberta has seen 28,666 crude oil spills since 1975, an average of two per day.”

What oil sands opponents fear most is the rapid expansion of production capacity that is necessitating the creation of more pipeline networks and oil tankers threatening spills across North America.

In addition to this, new research by the Canadian government alleges that toxic chemicals from Alberta’s oil sands tailing ponds are leaking into groundwater and making their way into the Athabasca River.

The latest study used million-dollar technology that allows scientists to fingerprint chemicals and trace their origins. This has been a sticking point until now because the soil around these Alberta tailing ponds contained chemicals from naturally occurring bitumen deposits, and earlier technology was not capable of separating them from the industry chemicals.

The industry in Canada is reportedly addressing the issue of toxic seepage from its tailing ponds by footing the bill for more than $1 billion in new technology.

At the same time, investments in the latest leak detection technology may also be hastened by mounting opposition to pipeline development and new Canadian legislation that makes prevention much cheaper than clean-up.

Earlier this month, Synodon Inc., the creator of realSens leak detection technology, successfully demonstrated its oil sands applications by detecting hydrocarbon vapor plumes released from a synthetic crude oil product.

In doing so, the new technology also demonstrated its ability to detect very small oil sands leaks, long before they become catastrophic.

“We are very pleased to have had the opportunity to demonstrate to a third-party oil sands operator our ability to detect very small release rates from a low volatility crude oil product,” Adrian Banica, CEO of Synodon Inc, said in a press release. “As far as we are aware, Synodon has the only commercially available airborne liquid hydrocarbon leak detection system in the world that has been proven to be capable of detecting both gaseous hydrocarbons as well as a wide variety of liquid products from pentane to gasoline, condensates and crude oil.”

RealSens technology was developed under the Canadian Space Program and by Synodon scientists.

Canada’s new pipeline infrastructure is about to become much more expensive as legislative changes focus on prevention, liability and preparedness.

Without this legislation, new technology, such as that used in the latest study on tailing pond seepage into water supplies, and pipeline leak detection advances, may have seemed prohibitively expensive to operators. However, with the specter of footing to bill for any and all spills, regardless of operator negligence, preventative technology suddenly seems rather cheap.

Newly declassified postwar Naval Intelligence files shine new light on a little-known chapter of U.S.- relations. Massive supplies of American WWII military surplus under liquidation by the War Assets Administration were an irresistible target for ’s government-in-waiting the and nascent military the in the years immediately preceding Israel’s declaration of statehood in 1948.

The was an organization contemplated as a vital actor for achieving that statehood in ’s original vision. Explosives, advanced fighter, bomber and transport aircraft, and Jewish veterans culled from a list stolen from the U.S. Chaplain all entered a Jewish Agency pipeline stretching from the US to Mexico, Panama, Italy and Czechoslovakia to . The stories these newly declassified files tell not only foreshadow the institutionalized immunity of crimes committed in the name of Israel, but major challenges the US would later have to confront beyond displaced Palestinian refugees and simmering conflict – ongoing money laundering into US politics and Israel’s early desire to build nuclear .

In late April, 1948 US Naval Intelligence became aware of the Jewish Agency’s attempted illegal export of 42 combat military aircraft engines through a front organization called “Service Airways.” The clandestine operation, headed by future Israel Aircraft Industries pioneer Adolph “Al” has been told in other accounts such as The Pledge by Leonard Slater. The Jewish Agency, operating out of an “American Section” in New York, had already been busted for illegally acquiring M3 demolition blocks. Schwimmer’s role was to acquire the best transport aircraft as well as P-51D fighters and B-17s for illegal shipment to Jewish fighters in Palestine. Secrecy was key. The Navy noted Schwimmer “has kept all information confidential inasmuch as he did not desire any publicity be given the fact that the Jewish Agency was purchasing airplanes in the United States, and that he specifically did not desire that any representatives of the Arab nation should receive the information.”

Naval Intelligence also assessed the risk of high technology avionics continually smuggled from the US winding up in the wrong hands as “trade goods” noting, “…half of the highly critical aviation material being sent… to Palestine is for ultimate delivery to the Soviet Government.” In the United States, Jewish Agency front groups tried to structure their purchases to minimize the chance of exposure. “P-51 and other military airplane components are being purchased in Southern California for export to Israel…. one source stated that there is a fund of some nine and one-half million US dollars, deposited in banks in Switzerland, which came from contributions of Jewish people all over the world…”

After repeated Customs agents smuggling busts on large aircraft component smuggling attempts and constant surveillance by the FBI, the Jewish Agency began directing funds behind the Iron Curtain and ordered a large consignment of Czech-built Messerschmitt 109 fighters. Naval Intelligence followed the money, obtaining a stream of personal correspondence from Service Airways employees gathered in Zatec to check out the aircraft as they rolled off the assembly line in the million-dollar-a-day operation laundered from donors through Swiss bank accounts. One Service Airways employee confided in the need to acquire bigger weapons in the very near future. “This war is being fought for important deposits near Palestine. The English want those deposits and recently proposed to the Jews an armistice if the Jews would give up their rights to this one piece of desert. The Jews preferred to fight, and here we are.”

Naval Intelligence also gathered the names of hundreds of American war veterans working in the clandestine smuggling and military operations because it wanted to prosecute them. “By law, no member of the Naval Reserve is permitted to accept employment with the government of any foreign country in a capacity which is directly or indirectly under the control of such a foreign government.” In the end, only a handful of low-level smugglers were convicted of felonies for violating the Neutrality and Arms Export Control Act, while the Navy’s long list of violating regulations against working for foreign governments went unused.

After Israel was established, the Jewish Agency signed a secret 1953 covenant with the new government giving it legislative oversight and access to government funding. Its cat’s paw in the US, the American Section, secretly laundered $35 million in seed funding into proto “grassroots” lobbies – the and American – for public relations and lobbying. The American Section was shut down by the combined efforts of the Justice Department and Senate Foreign Relations Committee investigations in the 1960′s.

Despite the setback, the Jewish Agency’s surviving and other allies convinced to fork over taxpayer funds funneled through American charities earmarked to the Jewish Agency in Israel. According to a Congressional Research Service report (PDF), by 1973 the Jewish Agency began receiving $25 million a year in US taxpayer funding for refugee resettlement and other activities – totaling $460 million by 1991. CRS reveals that between 2000 and 2013 the Jewish Agency received another $534 million ($41 million per year) in funding from Congress – none of it easily auditable by US taxpayers. Seemingly confident that most Americans are unaware of its past, the Jewish Agency is making a public comeback, announcing late in 2013 a $300 million campaign to improve Israel’s sagging image in the minds of its critical benefactor the United States.

It is worthwhile to consider what should have happened if the Navy’s intelligence reports were not secret and their findings had been properly acted upon. The Justice Department, which was receiving Navy and FBI reports, could have criminally indicted the hundreds of smugglers involved on both coasts, rather than only a few lower-level smugglers. The Navy, along with other branches of the military, could have similarly prosecuted each reservist who unlawfully collaborated in the effort. The high-profile lawyers working at the Jewish Agency’s American Section, bringing in funds and writing checks for all of the illicit activities, clearly would have been shut down and prosecuted in 1950, rather than two decades later after it had already launched the /AIPAC. Absent Jewish Agency seed funding, neither the American Zionist Council nor its spun-off lobbying division, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, would have had the resources to lobby for the Israeli government in Congress for unconditional aid and arms or build up an Astroturf power base in the US, particularly when challenged by bona fide American grassroots organizations such as the American Council for Judaism. With no foreign-funded lobbying power imbalance favoring Israel active over decades, the United States would likely be far freer today to enact policies serving the broader American interest rather than those mainly of Israel.

It is similarly worthwhile to evaluate what interest was served by keeping the Navy files classified for sixty-six years. Ever protective of preserving “sources and methods,” many intelligence agencies by default prefer that their files never see the light of day through the Freedom of Information Act. In the case of the Jewish Agency smuggling ring, the files reveal the Navy had a very good picture of a nascent and growing threat to American sovereignty. Leaking them, or having them distributed in some authorized manner to a broader American public, could have done some good when it most mattered. But, perhaps realizing that domestic politics and insider lobbying prevent warranted action at an agency level, the Navy simply took the path of least resistance the Justice Department and other agencies would soon begin to follow – do nothing and look the other way when the violator is Israel.

Europe’s New Arc of Instability in the 21st Century

June 3rd, 2014 by Michael Werbowski

The old post-cold war order is now forever over. A quarter century after the fall off the Berlin Wall, a new and highly volatile geopolitical landscape is emerging in Europe. Its contours and content are not yet clearly evident, however. But in this tumultuous year of 2014 (marking a hundred years since the start of the “Great War”, and two hundred years after the Congress of Vienna) global events as in the past, are again (and with a vengeance) re-shaping or determining the way the map of Europe might look like in the coming decades. The extremely violent ructions in Ukraine showcase such a trend.

This “semi-autonomous” and relatively stable former Soviet republic was once known as the “bread basket” of the USSR. It’s today just an impoverished basket case, left for the IMF to pillage and plunder in the name of “freedom and democracy”. Since declaring its independence in 1991, “The Ukraine” has gone from being a notoriously kleptocractic and corrupt state, to a fragmented and failed state. The incipient civil war there, which the world is now witnessing, disturbingly resembles the post-colonial conflicts (or prolonged proxy wars) of the 1980s fought in Angola and Mozambique.

Whereby its western half is being wrenched away from its eastern half by foreign and a corporatist interest, its eastern half is immersed in a secessionist struggle. The western backed pro-EU and US coup, has resulted in a head on collision with Russia’s traditional or historical (post imperial and post-Soviet) geo-strategic imperatives. Ukraine’s eastern part or its Russo phone “borderlands” (Dnieper Lowlands) are being Balkanized as a result of the US-EU orchestrated “Maidan revolution”, and in the aftermath of Crimea’s re-unification ( or some say “annexation”) with “mother Russia”. This is the first time since the break-up of the former Yugoslavia (followed by a NATO led air war against Moscow’s stanch alley Serbia) in the 1990s, that a territorial implosion of such magnitude is taking place in Europe.

Back to the Future for Europe: spheres of influence and cordon sanitaire are back in style

The outcome of this Ukrainian territorial tussle is unknown. However, further destabilisation is likely whatever happens. Meanwhile, a buffer zone or cordon sanitaire is being delineated or established between the EU and the US on one side, and a remerging (some say belligerent) Russia on the other. This swathe of land runs from Kaliningrad (the non-contagious Russian enclave) in the Baltics region, along the Crimean peninsula (now once more Russian territory) on the Black sea, and ends down in the Russian Caucuses or around Georgia. Ukraine is the biggest land mass in the middle of this fractious corridor. It is thus seeing its territory being dismembered, as part of a re-alignment or “great game” being played out by foreign powers vying for influence in the region.

Amid this shifting of geo-political tectonic plates, the inchoate central government in Kiev is in turmoil. It has neither the military wherewithal in terms of manpower, equipment and intelligence; nor the legitimate authority (despite the recent presidential vote) it needs to control the centrifugal forces which are tearing the country apart.

Without doubt, there is an “arc of instability” running across the continent. This developing danger zone is potentially a grave threat to peace and stability for all of Europe. Moreover, much smaller states such as Moldavia and Georgia belong nowhere right now; that is neither to Russia’s sphere of influence nor the west’s. In view of Ukraine’s plight they are seeking a safe haven for themselves, apparently in western structures such as NATO and the EU. Hence, this week the EU has called on along with Ukraine, for the two aforementioned states to also join its club. The EU’s clear intent is to increase its overextended membership or shift more to the east, no matter what the costs might be to the trade bloc’s already austerity constrained budget. As for bi-lateral EU- Russia ties, they will likely be negatively impacted by such pronouncements. Washington for its part seems to have put its plans to expand NATO ever closer to Russia’s borders temporarily on hold. A wise move indeed.

The re-alignment between the US and EU on one side, Euro-Asia and China on the other

As a backdrop to these upheavals, this week the signing in Astana, of a Eurasian Union comprising Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus is another shift in the balance of global power. This economic alliance (modeled on the EU) is obviously meant to counterbalance the rising influence of the European Union, in what Moscow considers to be its “near abroad”. Addionally significant is Russia’s recent pivot towards Asia or more specifically China. The most obvious example of this is the signing of a major energy (in the oil and gas sector) agreement between Moscow and Beijing. Jointly these two BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) nations are now a formidable compact which forms a significant counterweight to the EU- US duo. Meanwhile, both Brussels and Washington, in the midst of these global re-alignments, are busily finalizing an EU-US free trade deal of their own. The transatlantic trade pact is most certainly meant to rival the new Euro-Asia and China strategic, military and commercial alliance in the making. In other words, more trade and regional wars will likely fashion or determine the future of Europe in the 21st century.

Michael Werbowski is a Vienna based journalist and world events analyst.

The European construction was conceived in order to perpetuate unconstrained economic liberalism. As Giscard d’Estaing put it after the signature of the Mastrich treaty (1992): “socialism is now illegal”. That construction was non democratic from the start; it deprives the elected parliaments from any hope to be allowed to move out of the diktats of the non elected Brussel’s bureaucracy. With the emergence of financialized globalized monopolies, the European Union has become the instrument of the exclusive economic and political power of small oligarchies.

Yet this extreme liberal system is not viable. Its only motive is to perpetuate the endless concentration of wealth and power. At the cost of continuous austerity for the majorities, deterioration of public services, growing financial deficits and even stagnation. The exception (Germany to day) can only be so as long as the others accept their sad fate. The slogan “do like Germany” makes no sense; it cannot be reproduced.

The European elections of may 2014 reflect the reject by the majorities of “that” Europe, even if the people are not aware that “another Europe” is not possible. More than half of the electorate abstained, more than 70% in Eastern Europe; 20% voted for Europhobic extreme right parties who headed in Britain and France; 6% voted for the radical left. But indeed the formal majority of those who voted still expressed their naïve belief of a possible reform of the system, a reform that the European constitution makes impossible.

The ultra right vote is dangerous, for sure. As usually fascists do not address their critique to those who are responsible of the disaster, i.e. the monopolies; they transfer the debate to other areas and blame an escape goat, i.e. the immigrants! But that sad victory is for a good part the result of the lack of audacity of the radical left in their critique of the European system and proposals for change. They irrigated the wishful thinking hope for a reform.

In my book “The implosion of contemporary capitalism” (2012) I have drawn the lines of that dramatic drift of Europe back to the 1930s. We would have a small “German” Europe, with the Eastern European semi colonies; France choosing a Vichy attitude and accepting to relate to it (but a later Gaullian reject remains possible); Britain more distant then ever from the European problems, deepening its integration into the Atlantic system dominated by the US; Italy and Spain hesitating between the submission to Berlin or looking toward London. The European elections express a step ahead in that direction.

How the Drug War Impacts the Criminal Justice System

June 3rd, 2014 by Meisha Bergmann

More people are arrested each year for drug-related offenses than any other type of crime, and taxpayers spend tens of billions on arresting, prosecuting and jailing offenders for drug crimes. That means drugs represent a huge focus for those who participate in the criminal justice system. Let’s explore the impact and the recent history of American justice when it comes to the drug war.

The Recent History of U.S. Drug Laws

Since the late 1960s, state and federal law enforcement policy has become increasingly focused on stamping out drug use, though recent trends have seen laws relax for one drug in particular. (1, 2, 3)

Drug War
Source: Online-Paralegal-Programs.com

1968

Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs is founded.

1969

A study links crime and heroin addiction, finding that 44% of those entering the jail system in Washington, D.C. have used heroin.

1970

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is founded by Keith Stroup and begins lobbying for decriminalization of marijuana.

1970

The White House provides funds to expand a methadone program in Washington, D.C. that aims to decrease heroin addiction; one year after the program begins, burglaries in Washington drop by 41%.

Later that year, Congress passes the Controlled Substances Act, establishing five categories (“schedules”) for regulating drugs based on their medicinal value and potential for addiction.

1971

Soldiers in Vietnam show signs of heroin addiction.

Later that year, President Richard Nixon declares war on drugs, calling drug abuse “public enemy number one in the United States.” During the Nixon era, a majority of funding goes toward treatment, rather than law enforcement.

1972

The Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement is founded, tasked with fighting the drug trade at the street level.

1973

The Drug Enforcement Administration is established, consolidating the efforts of several agencies.

1974

Nixon resigns in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal; the administration of new President Gerald Ford is preoccupied with inflation, employment and a burgeoning energy crisis.

1984

Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign becomes a centerpiece of the Reagan administration’s anti-drug campaign. The movement focuses on white, middle-class children and is funded by corporate and private donations.

1985

Crack cocaine begins to flourish in the New York region as it’s cheap, powerful and highly addictive.

1986

President Ronald Reagan signs an enormous drug bill, which includes $1.7 billion to fight the drug crisis. $97 million is allocated to build new prisons, $200 million for drug education and $241 million for treatment. The bill also creates mandatory minimum penalties for drug offenses.

1989

President George H.W. Bush appoints William Bennett to lead the new Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Federal spending on treatment and law enforcement increase under Bennett’s tenure, but treatment remains less than 1/3 of the total budget.

1990

Bush proposes adding an additional $1.2 billion to the budget for the war on drugs, including a 50% increase in military spending.

1992

The federal government suspends a small program that provides marijuana to the seriously ill, as officials conclude it undercuts official policy against the use of illegal drugs.

1993

President Bill Clinton signs the North American Free Trade Agreement, which results in an enormous increase in legitimate trade across the U.S.-Mexican border. The volume of trade makes it more difficult for U.S. Customs officials to find narcotics hidden within legitimate goods.

1995

The U.S. Sentencing Commission releases a report noting the racial disparities in cocaine vs. crack sentencing. The commission proposes reducing the discrepancy, but for the first time in history, Congress overrides the commission’s recommendation.

1996

California becomes the first state to legalize the use of marijuana for medically valid purposes.

1998

Alaska, Oregon and Washington voters approve ballot initiatives allowing marijuana for medical uses.

1999-2000

Four more states approve medical marijuana.

2004

Two more states approve medical marijuana, and an AARP poll finds that an overwhelming majority of seniors (72%) support marijuana for medical uses.

2005

Federal agents conduct widespread raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in California.

2011

As Delaware becomes the 16th state with a medical marijuana law, a study finds legal medical marijuana reduces fatal car accidents.

2012

Voters in Colorado and Washington approve ballot measures legalizing small amounts of marijuana for personal recreational use.

2013

The Justice Department announces it will no longer engage in court challenges to state medical marijuana laws.

The Legal Burden

As we’ve seen, the U.S. has a complicated recent history when it comes to drug crimes. So what’s the situation today, and how busy is the criminal justice system thanks to drug law enforcement?

$56 billion

Annual criminal justice system costs related to illicit drug use (4)

Arrests for drug-related crimes have more than doubled since the early 1980s.

Total estimated drug law violation arrests in the United States, 1980-2007 (5, 6)

1980: 580,900

1981: 559,900

1982: 676,000

1983: 661,400

1984: 708,400

1985: 811,400

1986: 824,100

1987: 937,400

1988: 1,155,200

1989: 1,361,700

1990: 1,089,500

1991: 1,010,000

1992: 1,066,400

1993: 1,126,300

1994: 1,351,400

1995: 1,476,100

1996: 1,506,200

1997: 1,583,600

1998: 1,559,100

1999: 1,532,200

2000: 1,579,600

2001: 1,586,900

2002: 1,538,800

2003: 1,678,200

2004: 1,745,700

2005: 1,846,300

2006: 1,889,800

2007: 1,841,200

2008: 1,702,537

2009: 1,663,580

2010: 1,638,846

2011: 1,531,251

2012: 1,552,432

12,196,959

Total arrests in the U.S. in 2012 (6)

12%

Percentage of total arrests for drug-related crimes, the highest proportion of all crimes (6)

Arrests also overwhelmingly target simple possession, rather than sale or manufacture of drugs.

Arrests for drug abuse violations (2011): (6)

Sale/manufacturing: 18.2%

Possession: 81.8%

And the impact of drug abuse on the criminal justice system doesn’t end once the arrest and trial are over.

1 in 2

Prisoners (including some sentenced for non-drug offenses) who are considered drug-addicted or dependent (7)

An estimated 85% of prisoners who could benefit from treatment don’t receive it. (7)

Drug Courts Provide Solution?

Helping to ease the burden somewhat are drug courts established across the country. Such proceedings

provide an alternative to traditional court cases, and drug courts attempt to strike a balance between criminal justice and treatment for drug addiction.

Drug court participants (8)

  • Receive treatment and other services required to stay clean
  • Are regularly and randomly tested for drug use
  • Are required to appear in court where a judge reviews their progress
  • Are rewarded for success in the program
  • Are sanctioned for not living up to their obligations

$4,000-$12,000

Average taxpayer savings per drug court participant (8)

$1.17 billion

Estimated annual savings from expanding drug courts so they could reach all currently eligible people (8)

$32.2 billion

Annual estimated savings from expanding drug courts to reach all arrestees at-risk for addiction or dependence (8)

 

Sources:

1. http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org
2. http://www.pbs.org
3. http://www.nytimes.com
4. http://www.justice.gov
5. http://www.bjs.gov
6. http://www.fbi.gov
7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
8. http://www.nadcp.org

True to the ancient Roman military practice of top commanders, retired four-star general and Veterans Affairs head Erik Shinseki fell on his own sword amidst a years-long scandal in the VA.

Heeding calls by both Republicans and Democrats, he took responsibility for the disaster in veterans’ health care, stepped down in defeat and called for new leadership.

A new face will likely push through some changes, get some headlines about measures to reduce wait lists, and quiet some outcry. But the issue of management does not solve the issue of resources—and unless the new VA secretary somehow gets additional VA funding in the many billions of dollars, they’ll still be trying to run an overworked, under-supported system.

Waiting to death

The current scandal broke into the open when it was revealed that at least 40 veterans had died while awaiting appointments at the Phoenix VA hospital. Around 1,600 veterans were on a “secret waiting list” in an attempt to cover-up the backlog. VA officials in Phoenix had documents shredded, and ordered their staff to not save appointments for their vets in the computer system. Scores of veterans waited many months just to see a primary care doctor (against VA mandates for timely care), and many died as a result.

And that was just in Phoenix, among the hundreds of VA hospitals and clinics nationwide. All are faced with the same core issues. The disgraceful conduct at the Phoenix VA added to the long list of injustices done to those who were promised so much when the first signed their life away to the U.S. military.

‘Don’t let me die’ – the final plea of veteran Thomas
Breen, who succumbed to cancer at the Phoenix VA
without ever seeing a doctor once, despite months
of begging.

Don’t blame the VA workers—a first-hand look inside

Watching the mainstream media, one would think the explosive exposé of veterans dying on endless waiting lists was the fault of VA hospital workers.

“The VA Medical Clinic here in Albuquerque has saved my life a few times in the over 20 years I have been using their services” wrote Bob Anderson, a decorated Vietnam combat veteran and activist in a recent letter to the editor.

“During this time I have talked to the staff about the problem of appointment delays and they have said many times it is due to the lack of medical doctors and sometimes staff cutbacks in the clinics.  There is not enough help to cover the needs.”

I personally have used the VA medical services since my discharge from the Army in 2005. Any veteran who goes to the VA knows the intense frustration that comes with being a patient there. But, like Mr. Anderson, I’ve felt incredibly cared for by the staff.

Last month I had to take a trip to the emergency room. Upon entering, a nurse immediately ran up to me and took my vitals, and talked to me in the most genuinely caring and reassuring way, lifting so much of the stress. A security guard rushed to find a wheelchair and helped me sit, and stayed near me in case I needed anything. Another nurse at the desk repeatedly updated me on how much longer I would have to wait. While in the hospital room, the janitor on shift—a Vietnam veteran—stayed by my bedside to tell me funny stories. “I’m here for the veterans,” he said. “This is the best job in the world because I get to be here for all of you.” He stayed late after his shift ended, close to midnight, to talk with patients on their gurneys.

Over 500 VA workers rally in 2012 against job downgrades

It took a while to see a doctor, but there was apparently only one on shift; and when he finally got to me, I couldn’t have asked for more thorough care.

The radiologist wheeled me into their break room to watch the Stanley Cup playoffs with him while their equipment warmed up, so I wouldn’t have to wait alone and bored. Later, the pharmacist sat me down and extensively explained the details of all the medications. How could I be angry with all of the people who helped me so much, both physically and emotionally, through that emergency room visit?

Sure, we can find administrators at various levels who have tried to cover-up the crisis on their plates, through fixing books on appointments and even destroying records. The stress and pressure on these administrators is enormous. But I’ve found the culture at the VA to be one of community, and a genuine feeling of duty to care for us.

The reality is, those cover-ups have been one way some in the VA have dealt with the increased demand put on them from cutbacks, which creates under-staffed, under-funded clinics. How can a hospital get through a waitlist faster if there are not enough doctors, nurses and VA staff on shift?

Of course, some nefarious wings of the political establishment have tried to use the crisis for their own ends, calling for the privatization of the VA by their business partners; as if corporate, for-profit control has ever helped anybody who wasn’t a millionaire.

The problem isn’t an individual at the top, or their administrators below. The problem is systemic, flowing from the U.S. government’s priority on funding warfare over the actual needs of their constituants.

The assault on the VA and all federal workers

In March 2003, as the Iraq war was beginning—as well as an unlimited faucet of funds for the defense industry—a $14 billion dollar cut to the VA budget was passed. It would have been a devastating cut even without the impending flood of young Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in serious need of quality care. Right away, the VA implemented hiring freezes and requested emergency funds just to pay its most basic costs, like paying for medical equipment.

But it’s not just cuts passed by the Republicans which have led to this crisis. The bipartisan assault under the Obama administration on all federal workers—from the post office to the social security administration—is to blame.

As the president of the American Federation of Government Employees stated recently about the state of the VA over the past four-and-a-half years, “the budget policies of this era are making it all but impossible for this workforce.”

Currently, caseloads for psychiatrists and other primary care physicians at the VA surpass 2,000 patients, exceeding the VA-mandated caseload limit by several hundred. There are hundreds of vacancies for doctors and nurses alone that are not being filled, and thousands more vacancies for other workers who are critical to the VA functioning—clerical workers, aids, maintenance staff, etc. And there are millions of unemployed who want those jobs.

When it comes to institutions of the federal government, the politicians’ strategy has been to under-staff it, under-fund it, and then say “look, it isn’t working, we need to privatize it.” That trend extends beyond the VA.

Anytime there are thousands of staff vacancies, it’s intentional—a manufactured crisis. It’s about cutting cost, not providing care. But the money is there, in large amounts, reserved for the defense industry.

Extend the outcry to all people denied care—the real scandal


There has been so much outcry from the public, pundits, politicians and advocacy groups—and rightfully so—over veterans on long waiting lists. But, for some reason, it isn’t a scandal when it happens to broad sections of poor and working class people in the United States.

The whole healthcare system in America is a scandal. Millions of hard-working people, including children, are unable to access the services they need.

It shouldn’t be a scandal just when it happens to veterans. It shouldn’t be a big deal just when veterans are mistreated and given inadequate health care services. All people—from VA janitors to hotel janitors—should have quality health care without any obstacles.

If the U.S. government wasn’t spending $1 trillion a year (the real military budget) on weapons, mass surveillance and warfare, and instead put a priority on health care, everybody in the United States—veterans, workers, children, unemployed, immigrants, etc.—could have the basic dignity that all human beings, who all get sick, deserve.

Hundreds wait in line early in the morning to gain access to a free health care clinic in Los Angeles, offered just once a year.

Rich politicians in Washington won’t solve the crisis by appointing another one of their friends to manage a system that doesn’t have the resources to meet our needs.

And the health care as a whole in America won’t cease to be a real scandal until all people can get whatever health services they need, free of the fear of being denied, mistreated, or put into bankruptcy.

 

Mike Prysner is an Iraq war veteran.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, here is an article first published by Global Research April 10, 2008.

As I read and watched the media coverage of Tibetan “protesters” unleashing their “pent-up” anger against Han civilians in Lhasa on March 14, 2008, I sensed sympathetic sentiment from the reporters who portrayed violent acts as a “test” to “Beijing’s grip” on Tibet, while the victims were almost invisible in their coverage.

Unbalanced coverage, I thought. I looked online and found eyewitness accounts by Western tourists. They described “mobs” gone “crazy” in “riots”, and showed videos of civilians being chased, stoned and beaten. I felt sympathy to the victims.

Then, I came upon a video clip by CTV, a national television network in Canada, showing dark-faced Nepalese police beating Tibetan demonstrators with sticks while a Tibetan talked about Chinese suppressing protests. I felt such grafting a gross fabrication.

It didn’t appear to be a mistake as I found similar fabrications in other mainstream newspapers and TV programs in the West. I began to wonder: Is there a Western conspiracy to smear China? Or this is merely a reflection of the West’s sentiment towards the Tibet issue?

Either way, my trust in the Western media’s fairness and objectiveness began to waver. I wonder if I had been deceived by its report of the “Tiananmen Massacre”.

While a graduate student at the University of Toronto, I coordinated, immediately after the “Massacre”, the campaign to fax reports with pictures of the killed in Beijing to other parts of China, to tell people the truth.

My parents in China had warned me to not participate in any political movement since my father had been jailed for four years without a trial during the Cultural Revolution and everyone in my family had been implicated.

But I would not return to China. I had been driven out of China by the government’s declaration to the world that “homosexuals do not exist in China.”

For my fellow students “massacred” on Tiananmen Square, I must do my part to spread the Western media’s report of truth to other parts of China, safely from Canada.

One of our fax receivers faxed back to us to thank us for telling the truth. Then, they told us to stop faxing because guards had been posted by fax machines. The Chinese government maintained that no one died on Tiananmen Square.

I disbelieved it.

Now, after witnessing the distorted coverage of the Lhasa riots by the Western media, I wasn’t so sure if the “Massacre” that had been told to me was true.

I researched online and found a 20-segment video documentary in Chinese. It chronicled the Tiananmen student movement with interviews of the student leaders and other leading figures on Tiananmen Square. It seemed credible. It showed facts that I did not know before.

Some hunger strikers actually ate. I had seen a Chinese government’s video showing some hunger strikers including the student leader Wuer Kaixi eating in a restaurant, and I had dismissed it, partly because I hadn’t seen it in the Western media’s coverage.

There was no democracy on Tiananmen Square. Whoever controlled the loud speaker spoke on behalf of everyone. Factions of students fought to control the loud speaker. There were almost three to four attempted coups daily.

After the government made one after another concession to the students’ demands, on May 27, 1989, a coalition of the student leaders and supporting workers and intellectuals agreed that the students would leave Tiananmen Square on May 30 so that they could, as student leader Wang Dang had long advocated, continue to pursue grassroots democracy on campuses.

But radical student leaders changed their minds and decided to stay on the Square. One of them was Commander-in-Chief Chai Ling.

Chai Ling had confided to an American journalist: “what we are actually hoping for is bloodshed, for the moment when the government has no choice but to brazenly butcher the people… I can’t say all this to my fellow students. I can’t tell them straight out that we must use our blood and our lives to call on the people to rise up.”

“Are you going to stay in the Square yourself?” asked the interviewer.

“No, I won’t.”

“Why?”

“… I want to live.”

That explained why, in the wee hours of June 4th, when troops moved in from the outskirts of Beijing to Tiananmen, shooting at civilians blocking the roads along the way, Chai Ling insisted that students stay at the Square.

However, a popular Taiwan-born singer Hou Dejian who had been on hunger strike on the Square to show solidarity with the students since June 2, brokered a permission at about 4:30am through a military commander to allow students to leave peacefully.

“We filed out of the Square from the southeast corner. I was near the end of the line,” said Liang Xiaoyan, a lecturer of Beijing Foreign Studies University.

(The following day, I began coordinating the fax campaign to tell people in other parts of China about “Tiananmen Massacre”.)

“Some people said that two hundred died in the Square and other claimed that two thousand died. There were also stories of tanks running over students who were trying to leave.” Hou Dejian said in the interview, “I have to say that I did not see any of that. I don’t know where those people did. I myself was in the Square until six thirty in the morning.”

“I kept thinking,” he continued, “Are we going to use lies to attack an enemy who lies?”

Tiananmen Massacre never happened! My heart pounded. I have faxed lies to China. No, this can’t be true. This documentary, in Chinese, is probably made by the Chinese government.

At the end of the film, I saw the credits:

Produced and edited by

Richard Gordon

Carma Hinton

I felt that I would be dealing with my conscience for the rest of my life. Yes, many people died in Beijing on June 4th. A former classmate of mine saw a man falling off his bicycle after being shot when all of them were running away from Tiananmen Square. But there was no massacre on the Square.

I began to see the wisdom in my parents’ warning. True, in any political confrontation, the opposing sides would be tempted to use lies to win justice, and naïve participants would be caught in between. To blindly believe in either side would be dangerous.

I wondered what if the Western media had reported the Tiananmen student movement with a critical eye, instead of with romanticized sympathy. Perhaps the Chinese students on Tiananmen Square, who had admired the West’s democracy so much to have erected the “Liberty of Goddess” statue on Tiananmen Square, might have followed the more practical voices of Wang Dang and Hou Dejian to leave Tiananmen Square and continue their democratic movement at grassroots level on campuses. The bloodshed on the roads leading to Tiananmen Square on June 4th, perhaps, could have been avoided.

Western media has a powerful influence on those who long for democracy. Such was the case in Tiananmen in 1989. Mainstream media is powerful in influencing the underdogs in Western societies. Such was also the case in 1989. I, like many Chinese students in the West, felt a boost of self-worth when the media gave our demonstrations supporting students in Beijing affirmative coverage. Not that long ago, we had felt being looked down upon because of our smelly food, poor English and dirty Chinatowns. Suddenly, we were looked at with respect.

It is not too late for the media to report on Tibet issues with a critical eye, which will ultimately benefit the Tibetans, the Han Chinese, the Olympics and the world.

A German farmer has revealed shocking GMO company tactics to silence him in an exclusive interview with RT Op-Edge.

German dairy farmer, Gottfried Glöckner, has told William Engdahl about attempted blackmail, character assassination and, ultimately, wrongful imprisonment he suffered when he refused to back off his charges that the Anglo-Swiss GMO company, Syngenta, had provided him with highly toxic GMO Maize seeds that ruined his prize dairy herd and his land.

After spending two years in prison, Glöckner is traveling round the world to tell the story and warn the public of the extreme danger of GMO seeds.

William Engdahl: Mr Glöckner, we’ve known each other since just before you were wrongfully sentenced to prison, but it is only recently that you have legally been able to tell your real story to the public. Please give us a little background.

Gottfried Glöckner: Since 1995 when genetically modified RoundupReady (RR) Soy was imported into the EU, approved under the principle ‘substantially equivalent,’ I had been interested in the subject GMO technology in plants. When in 1997 the EU approved the commercial sale of Syngenta GMO corn (Syngenta Bt176) I decided, as a farmer interested in new better technologies, to grow Syngenta’s Bt176 on my land.

WE: How did you proceed with the GMO Syngenta Maize seeds?

GG: I increased the portion of Bt corn over several years up to 100 percent of the corn I fed to my cattle from my harvest as silo corn and corn grain on my farm.

WE: Please describe for us what you began to see after you were feeding your cows a maize-portion of your feed mix only from GMO Syngenta Bt176 maize.

GG: In the year 2000 I experienced the first incidences of infertility, sicknesses and even deaths as well as severe birth defects in newborn calves.

WE: How did you react?

GG: After I organized an official test that included several investigations of my samples of soil and GMO corn, the results showed that the fatal effects were due to the genetically modified corn. Whereas Syngenta could find no Bt toxins in tests it made in its North Carolina laboratory, a lab in Germany found 8300ng/mg fresh Bt toxins with the exact same method in the same test sample as tested in Syngenta’s lab in North Carolina.

WE: Was there anything else that alternative text in Germany showed?

GG: The German lab found that there was a decline by weight of 24 percent of essential amino acids, vital for cattle feed, in the corn seed and a decline of 8.8 percent of the silo corn. With those results the lie of “substantial equivalence” or equality to conventional plants that was the basis of the EU Commission approval, was exposed as fraudulent.

AFP Photo / Lionel Bonaventure AFP Photo / Lionel Bonaventure

WE: The press made much of the fact that apparently the respected Robert Koch Institute had also tested your samples. Was that so?

GG: The Surveillance and Approval Authority in Germany at the time, the Robert Koch Institute, made absolutely no request for a testing of my Syngenta GMO corn. Instead, they wanted me to tell them with precisely what method the Bt toxins were proven to be found in the blood of my animals.

WE: Then there was an assessment of damages done to your livestock and fields you made with Syngenta. What resulted?

GG: Together with the Syngenta CEO for Germany, Hans Theo Jachmann, in April 2002 a damage report was undertaken. It included in addition to loss of animals, substitute feed grains needed, analyses and veterinary costs as well as cost of lost milk production. Syngenta paid only €43,000 of the €500,000 total damage estimated. The remainder has, as of this day, never been paid to me.

WE: As the German banker Hilmar Kopper would have said, they gave you “peanuts“ to end that story, but was it the end for you?

GG: Syngenta themselves actually made a written “recommendation” to dispose of my GMO Bt176 silo corn, “but not on green acreage.” They made tempting promises to me of various gifts like a new harvester, a new house, a new job and holiday travel. I refused. It was not right.

WE: You have fought a remarkable battle over years against the large concern Syngenta and the GMO lobby. Why?

GG: I wanted to finally hear an admission from Syngenta that there is a genuine problem with their GMO technology and that they had eliminated the toxin problem in their subsequent GMO products. Instead of that, I was hit with legal attacks after I had been invited by government officials, regional officials as well as private groups to make speeches all across Europe about my experience with Syngenta Bt176.

WE: How did Syngenta react?

GG: After our final negotiation for a resolution of the problem broke down, after Syngenta’s representative proposed to me, “With the total damages we divide 50-50,” he then called out to me afterwards when I refused, “What is going on with your marriage?” I shot back, “I’m not married to Syngenta!”

WE: That sounds bizarre. Why did Syngenta ask you about your private life?

GG: In the midst of my divorce proceedings suddenly my ex-wife, after she left our common home (the children, who were 17, 15 and 13, lived with me), was being represented by a new attorney provided to her by the industry lobbyist. With him she made the new charge against me of rape within the marriage. They presented no doctor’s report for that, also neither a psychological evaluation, nor credible statements from others, merely her allegation; that charge brought me, “in the name of the people,” directly into prison. I was released somewhat early after the state’s attorney learned of the true circumstances of my imprisonment.

WE: Did they want to make an example of you for other protesting farmers or was it something else in your view?

GG: I have to say as a former customer and injured party of Novartis/Syngenta, I find it unbelievable the methods this company operates with. In the time that I was in prison, a default summons of my ex-wife from the divorce settlement was executed twice. I paid the amount once, and after that the amount was again entered into the land register. The opposing attorney received the enforceable copy, which had already been settled, through my own attorney.

They also created a new company out of my farm holding where I had no legal rights; my office was broken into repeatedly, my home, files, machinery and electronic devices were stolen.

Furthermore, I had to fight five long years with the German Customs authorities.

They seized all my bank accounts and demanded I pay back money for milk going back four years on the argument that I was no longer a certified milk producer in the meaning of the Milk Quantity Guarantee Payments rules. All this took place during the time I made public the proof of presence of GMO in certain raw materials that had been labeled “contains no GMO.”

Reuters / Arnd WiegmannReuters / Arnd Wiegmann

WE: What was the result of your legal case with the German Customs?

GG: On September 11, 2011 I won the case in the special Financial Court in Kassel, acting as my own lawyer. The sum of the award I got was €625,128.

WE: Yet many German politicians still today plead for more GMO planting. Is that responsible?

GG: After Syngenta themselves declared in 2004 that they had failed with their GMO pursuits I am really astonished that the conservative Chancellor Merkel is a strong advocate for allowing planting of GMO crops in Germany! Even more astonished after I discovered that a study of GMO corn done by the Technical University Munich had been manipulated (to show completely dishonest positive results-w.e.). As a result of the public revelation, in April 2009 the GMO corn, Monsanto810 was prohibited by the German Consumer Protection Minister, Ilse Aigner.

WE: What did the German Government say to you after all this?

GG: A separate legal entity was created which never existed, and this fact was even ascertained by the German Supreme Court, BGH. Yet the government still said, “Mr Glöckner, that’s all very terrible what’s happened to you, but the Government supports this new technology.”

All conceivable facts and procedures have been turned on their head, the laws broken, only in order not to allow a legal damages claim to be executed.

WE: This all goes against the German law on genetic technology liability, doesn’t it?

GG: Yes. The law, GenTG § 32 Haftung, explicitly puts liability with the GMO seed producer. It states, “Should it happen that from the substance of an organism that has been genetically manipulated, someone dies, their body or health damaged or something damaged, the producer is responsible to make good any damage.” So much for the legal order of the State!

WE: And now you travel all over the world to tell the truth about the dangers of GMO and your chilling personal experience. This is genuine civil courage of which the world has far too little today.

GG: Yes, I am traveling internationally speaking in conferences, and I am happy with each success we see. Since a peoples’ referendum in 2005 for a gene-technology-free Switzerland, there has been no significant planting of GMO in Europe! Russia has forbidden all import of GMO raw materials. China has ordered grain ships loaded with unapproved GMO products to be returned to the USA or burned…and so on.

WE: What about holding an open public debate about GMO with Syngenta to give them a chance to tell their side of the story?

GG: I would gladly invite the CEO of Syngenta to a debate with me on the podium. Especially after Syngenta canceled their planned appearance at an international conference in October 2013 where I was also scheduled to speak…That would indeed have been an interesting conference had they appeared.

WE: How can readers follow the latest developments in this life-and-death vital story about the dangers of GMO for our animals and ourselves?

GG: There is constantly updated information, mainly in German, on my webpage.

WE: Thank you, Mr. Glöckner!

The Unrest in Ukraine and the Return of History

June 3rd, 2014 by William Hawes

For months now, ordinary people in Ukraine and Crimea have awoken to a landscape of personal and political turmoil and even a redrawing of borders. Yet in another sense, the events are nothing new for the people of Crimea and Ukraine, who have been subject to centuries of internal and foreign domination and manipulation. The cloak and daggers scheme continues to this very day: behind the scenes and in cities of eastern Ukraine, government armed forces, militia, and roving pro-Ukraine gangs have engaged pro-Russian gunmen. As US-EU interests vie with Russian ones to determine the future of the Ukrainian nation, chaos and unrest are spreading. Caught in between is the interim government, led by President Oleksandr Turchynov and Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk.

Weeks ago, when tanks and troops were first deployed to cities like Sloviansk and Donetsk, citizens lined the streets to offer their praise, thoughts, and concerns to the troops. Many undoubtedly cheered and prayed for them as well, but it wasn’t unanimous. One story spoke of an elderly citizen telling forces that, to paraphrase, “the government is deceiving you” and “they (the government) are trying to set us against each other”. It was not made clear (in my recollection, anyways) from the article whether the elder’s tone was admonishing or pedagogical, but perhaps the omission was intentional. It may not make any difference whether the speaker was enraged, plaintive, or simply offering their own dispassionate opinion of the situation, if what was said is true or becomes true in the near future. If true, the divisions hinted at by this wise elder will lead to a civil war in Ukraine and mass carnage.

We have already seen many signs of trouble in recent months, from the unknown snipers in Kiev who killed protesters and police alike, to violence in Donetsk, Odessa, and other cities. Finally in May the mainstream media and general public are catching on to the severity of the conflict, but more astute observers have trumpeted warnings much earlier. Even the British Independent, a well-meaning but largely toothless newspaper due to its many corporate sponsors, had an article on March 3rd acknowledging the serious security issues across the country. Their title was “Ukraine ‘on the brink of disaster’ as Russian troop movements prompt stand-off”. Meanwhile, around the same time, a bland CNN headline ran “US official says Russian troop movements near Ukraine raise concerns” and FOX ran the nondescript “Russian troop movements ‘worrying’ officials”. The New York Times could only muster up a “Russia’s shifting of border force stirs US worry”.

The media’s fixation on Russian troops and their immediate whereabouts mask more important questions to ask, such as: why is the US fully supporting the interim Ukrainian government? This is a regime that is deploying troops against its own people. Shouldn’t the US be prudent and take a more neutral stance? Also, another question to ponder is why has Russia acted so rashly in deploying troops to Crimea and subsequently annexing it? Many answers have been offered to this, and the consensus view (although tenuous, and nowhere near unanimous) is that Russia and President Putin have acted out of a paranoid fear of Ukraine and nearby nations falling further out of Russia’s orbit and further down the path of EU integration and a pro-US stance. Vladimir Putin’s actions then can be viewed as reflexive and defensive, which he undoubtedly has already rationalized them as, instead of unstable and overtly aggressive. The US is struggling to comprehend this line of thinking, instead fuelling its own paranoid fears of Russian military, spies, and black operations possibly underway in east and south Ukraine. Europe has already been coming around to this idea of a reflexive, as well as stubborn and proud Russia, rather than an out of control power-crazy Putin. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, no doubt influenced by prominent German businesspersons, has already vacillated on tougher sanctions for Russia, and most of Europe agrees and will continue to unless conditions in Ukraine worsen considerably due to Russian interference.

In understanding Ukrainian current events it is important to remember its past. Crimea, erstwhile belonging to Ukraine, now reverts to Russia, who controlled the peninsula during the late Russian empire and then later under the USSR. In 1954, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred Crimea from the Russian province to the Ukrainian one. This was possibly done for administrative reasons, or perhaps to enhance solidarity and Soviet prestige with Ukrainian leaders and communists. Also, we have to include the possibilities of Khrushchev’s inner circle simply wanting to thank Ukraine for its citizens’ hard fighting against the Nazis in World War II, or perhaps, its gratitude for Ukrainian compliance with brutal and deadly Soviet rule in the recent past.

Various political theorists have pointed out Ukraine’s weak and fractious government in recent times. One important author is Samuel Huntington, who prophetically asked in his seminal 1996 book Clash of Civilizations whether Ukraine was or would soon become a cleft (divided) country. He pointed to the skewed presidential voting turnout in Ukraine, with the majority of eastern provinces voting for the pro-Russian candidate, and western provinces backing pro-Euro and US candidates. In Huntington’s book and 1993 essay[1], he posits that conflict in the post-Cold War era would not be between nations, but between great civilizations. He identifies eight major current civilizations and predicts that conflict with occur on the boundaries of these areas. One boundary area is between his version of Western civilization, including western Europe, the settler nations (US, Canada Australia, New Zealand), most of central Europe, and a Russian civilization. One nation caught straddling this line is Ukraine, with easterners sympathetic to Russia, socialist and communist political ideas, and Orthodox Christianity. Conversely, western Ukrainians seem to prefer Euro-style capitalism, democracy, and Protestant and Catholic beliefs. As events unfold I would bet that there are more than a few people within the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Council, and State Department who are dusting off their Huntington. At least they should be.

Another important theorist is Huntington’s former student, Francis Fukuyama. Fukuyama’s influential The End of History and the Last Man, written in 1989 in essay form and expanded into a 1992 bestseller, was one of the most talked-about foreign policy works for years afterwards, and for good reason. Fukuyama’s worldview hinges on the disintegration of the USSR, the ascendency of the US and its higher meaning for democracy. In his view, corrupt and freedom-crushing regimes such as Soviet Communism would disappear into the sands of time as liberal democracies expand across the globe. Western, free-market governments would promote their ideals in the developing world, and these ideals would take hold and root. Capitalism would become the entire world’s engine for growth, and if managed astutely, poor countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere would be on track to enter the rich, industrialized world. And in that three year period from ‘89 to ‘92, you couldn’t really blame Fukuyama for thinking so. Berlin was reunited, Gorbachev was on his best behavior to keep the US happy, or at the least placate its leaders, and then, in December 1991, the USSR vanished out of existence.

There are many potential pitfalls to the expansion of democracy and capitalism that Fukuyama discusses, and he acknowledges that there may be temporary setbacks and hiccups along the way. Yet over the long term, Fukuyama predicted that conditions would improve throughout the world as democracy is broadened and deepened in the world community. However, predictive power is only useful for the future, not just to glitz up the current policy zeitgeist for the eyes of American politicians and strategists wearing their all-too-obvious rose-colored glasses. Fukuyama overlooked the eastward expansion of NATO and its consequences, even as leaders from Yeltsin to Putin expressed serious reservations, and later, anger. Fukuyama did, however, remind and warn us of one important consequence of the libertine democratic world: the last man, more inclined to enjoy the bread and circus mind-state of consumerism than to worry about faraway geopolitical struggles and the hard decisions that need to be made in interstate conflicts. By sewing together an essentially Kantian and Hegelian framework of world politics with a Nietzsche-influenced take on our fragmented modern culture, Fukuyama convinced many readers of his theory with his undeniably massive intellect and led many more to soberly consider their own beliefs and biases. However, the mish-mash of disparate ideas created a sort of Frankenstein monster, allowing US and western policymakers to believe they could do no wrong, since they were invariably on the right side of history. This led to a metaphysical as well as a very material hubris within US domestic and foreign policy in the 1990s which continues today. This sort of imperial pride has permeated US foreign policy discourse and threatens to doom us not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also through our endless deficit spending and debt spiral. While these counterweights to US hegemony are widely understood now, they were not given considerable thought during the 1990s. Just consider the blind spots of 90’s-era US policy-makers, obvious to us now, when they started throwing around terms like “hyperpower”, “full-spectrum dominance”, and “responsibility to protect (R2P)”.

In 2014 we have about 1 billion people still living in extreme poverty and facing hunger and malnourishment (individuals or families only making a few dollars a day) and perhaps another two billion or more living in a general state of squalor. Western rhetoric, in media and political circles, tries to brush it off, using disingenuous terms to describe poor people as “food insecure” and “economically disadvantaged”. If our system of democracy and global capital is not able to help those most in need, then we all need to take a good hard look within ourselves and our systems of governance. Other possible disasters loom with oil and nuclear spills, climate change, rising sea levels and overpopulation, yet liberal democracies as well as autocracies of all shapes and sizes continue to drag their feet on these issues. Western governments keep playing dumb, passing the buck onto the next generation as farmland, metals, virgin forests, fossil fuels and more are destroyed or degraded to keep profits flowing smoothly into the hands of the super-rich. Ukraine would be a huge asset gain for western business people, and this partially explains the unflinching support of the United States for the new Ukrainian leaders.

The crises brewing in Ukraine cannot be untangled from its own strange and tumultuous history, the vagaries of global capitalism, or the grand visions and strategies (however flawed) of people like Huntington and Fukuyama. The retaking of Crimea and its referendum to join Russia is now simply a fait accompli, as most analysts realize, despite the half-hearted whining of the US, Ukraine, and some of its more servile allies. If history is indeed returning, then we have to hope that leaders such as President Obama and Putin will take measured, reasonable approaches to help resolve the conflict in Ukraine. With two nuclear powers supporting opposing sides of the violence, the end of history itself becomes a very real threat.
William Hawes is an independent researcher and author specializing in environmental issues and geopolitics.

 Notes:

[1] Huntington’s 1993 essay can be found for free at: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/48950/samuel-p-huntington/the-clash-of-civilizations

The regime is collapsing, it is dying and in its last-ditch struggle to survive, the king has abdicated. Never has the regime resulting from the Transition (The Transition is the name given to the political process following the death of Franco, which culminated in the Constitution of 1978) been as widely challenged as it is today.

The regime is collapsing, it is dying and in its last-ditch struggle to survive, the king has abdicated. Never has the regime resulting from the Transition (The Transition is the name given to the political process following the death of Franco, which culminated in the Constitution of 1978) been as widely challenged as it is today. The pillars on which it rests, the monarchy, the judiciary, bipartisanship, have been greatly delegitimized for some time now. We no longer believe in their lies, those lies with which they are trying to hold together a system that is falling apart. What seemed not so long ago impossible appears today as a reality. Let us push with all our might to widen even further this breach that the economic, social and political crisis has made possible.

Since the elephant hunt of his “majesty” in Botswana, through the indictment of his son- in-law Iñaki Urdangarín in the “Noos affair” and the involvement of the Infanta Cristina in this case, and including the many operations on the monarch’s hip, costing millions and paid out of public funds, the Royal House has become a caricature of itself. One of the main justifications of “democracy” is mortally wounded, but it is not dead yet.

The announcement of the royal abdication is a final, desperate attempt to save the regime; an attempt at a “facelift” with the aim of restoring legitimacy not only to the monarchy but also to its suite of judges, politicians and opinion formers. For years, far too many years, they have lived under the shelter of this false Transition, trying to efface or hide our collective history. Our forgetfulness has been the substrate of their victory, not only moral but also political and economic.

The economic crisis, transformed into a profound social and also political crisis, has put the king and the regime of 1978 on the ropes. People have said “basta”. We saw it three years ago with the emergence of the 15-M Movement; with the spread of civil disobedience; with the occupation of empty homes that were in the hands of banks, and all of that that with broad popular support despite the criminalization of protest. More poverty means more pain, but thanks to these mobilizations it also means greater awareness of who are the winners in this situation – the bankers, the politicians – and who are the losers.

The rising demand for sovereignty in Catalonia has also thrown the regime on the ropes, highlighting the deeply anti- democratic nature of a Constitution that does not allow the right to self-determination. Today, the European elections have given the “coup de grace” to a decaying regime, with the loss of more than five million votes for the PP and the PSOE and the emergence, with the election of five members of parliament, of “Podemos”. The regime is becoming nervous, very nervous.

The royal abdication is the latest rescue manoeuvre. But we must nevertheless remember that the system still has room for manoeuvre. The abdication of the king illustrates the weakness of the pillars of the regime and the strength of the people. But we do not want Juan Carlos Felipe [[Juan Carlos Felipe is the Crown Prince]] either. It’s time to go out into the streets to demand the opening of constituent processes throughout the Spanish State, in order to decide what kind of future we want. We must go on the offensive in order to checkmate the regime.

 

*This article was published in “Público.es ” June 2, 2014. Translated by International View Point. Esther Vivas is a Spanish activist and writer. Her website is http://esthervivas.com/

 

 

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Eight people have been reported killed after an explosion in Lugansk’s regional administration building as Kiev deployed fighter jets to the city in eastern Ukraine. The jets overhead and heavy gunfire on the ground caused panic among civilians.

A previous death toll of five people was first reported by RIA Novosti, and was later confirmed by local self-defense forces.

Ukraine’s air force struck Lugansk downtown at 16.00 pm. Military aircraft made a targeted strike, deploying cluster bombs. The administration building is partially destroyed,” the government of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LNR) said.

On Tuesday it was confirmed that a salvo of free flight rockets fired from the Ukrainian armed forces’ fighter jet killed eight civilians inside and near the administrative building.

Still from Anna News Live Stream

Still from Anna News Live Stream

Many wounded were trapped inside the administration headquarters, which caught on fire. About six ambulance vehicles have arrived at the site. The death toll may rise.

Five have been killed during the air attack on the building of Lugansk regional administration by Ukrainian air force. (RIA Novosti / Evgeny Biyatov)Five have been killed during the air attack on the building of Lugansk regional administration by Ukrainian air force. (RIA Novosti / Evgeny Biyatov)

Those killed – three women and two men – are all civilians, witnesses told RT. One of them was the LNR’s health minister, Natalia Arkhipova. During the air-strike, she was talking to another woman on the administration building’s steps, the self-proclaimed republic’s premier, Vasiliy Nikitin, said.

Warning: Extremely graphic video

Large blood stains inside the HQ could be seen on live-streaming video from the area, with pieces of glass and stones also visible on the floor. The camera operator was choking with smoke. On the outside, many windows are shattered, shell fragments covering the nearby area and dark plumes of smoke are coming from the fourth floor.

Unexploded shells were found in the park in front of the building, warn the self-defense forces. Locals were urged to leave the area.

RIA Novosti / Evgeny Biyatov

RIA Novosti / Evgeny Biyatov

The fire has engulfed the third and fourth floors of the building, and the windows have been blown out. There are shards of glass everywhere. I saw paramedics carrying people out of the entrance,” a witness told RT.

Minutes earlier, heavy machine-gun shooting was reported in the center of Lugansk, as fierce fighting between the local self-defense squads and Kiev forces renewed after a brief truce.

The shooting sparked panic among visitors of a café, who rushed out searching for shelter.

Meanwhile, fighting in the Lugansk region continued later on Monday, with another airstrike reported by the self-proclaimed republic’s authorities. They said that Kiev forces launched an air strike on a checkpoint in the region and there were casualties.

Kiev denies air strike on admin building

Kiev, however, denied attacking the HQ, insisting that its forces are not firing on residential areas in the cities, and do not use air power in those areas, reports the Ukrainian news agency UNN.

The Ukrainian authorities sent its air force to Lugansk to support border guard units stationed in the area, said Vladislav Seleznyov, the spokesman for the military operation against the pro-autonomy protesters in eastern Ukraine.

The fighter jets eliminated two opposition mortar detachments, he told a media briefing.

Seleznyoov added that according to preliminary experts’ conclusions, the explosion resulted from an attempt to launch some anti-aircraft missile.

Fighter jets could become vulnerable while making turns,” he said. “Perhaps, terrorists were trying to shoot them down from some air defense system, but the explosion occurred inside the building.”

 

In the early hours of Monday, self-defense fighters attacked the Lugansk border unit’s department.

About a hundred armed men drove up towards the Lugansk border unit’s department at around 00:30am and took positions along the perimeter. The first attack with the use of using machine guns and under-barrel grenade launchers began at about 04:00am, and lasted for about 40 minutes. The border guards successfully deterred the attack,” the Ukrainian State Border Service reported on its website.

The second and third attacks were also successfully repelled, it said, adding that there were wounded among the border guards and several victims among the self-defense.

According to the State Border Service, “terrorists” kept pulling in forces to the border unit’s department, and by 7am there were “about 400” at the site.

The fighting continued for several hours before a short truce was reached in the early afternoon, which allowed for the wounded to be removed from the area. Violence renewed though only half-an hour later.

Talks between self-defense activists and the border guards’ command reached a deadlock, a spokesperson for the People’s Republic of Lugansk told Itar-Tass. The local authorities were seeking “a peaceful solution to the situation” and wanted the “servicemen living in the People’s Republic of Lugansk” to leave the border guards’ unit and return to their homes, he added.However, military officials rejected the proposal.

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The Russian Foreign Ministry called Kiev’s ongoing military operation in southeastern Ukraine, and the use of the air force a “gross violation” of international law.

The authorities in Kiev have committed another crime against their own people,” a statement on the ministry’s website said. “Everything that has taken place (there) indicates the downright unwillingness of the Kiev authorities to move towards seeking ways for national accord in the country.

Moscow also urged NATO to demand that Kiev immediately stop its military operation and fulfill the Geneva accords, as well as the OSCE roadmap of the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, Russia’s envoy to the alliance said.

Brazil: Workers Struggle Trumps Sports Spectacle

June 3rd, 2014 by Prof. James Petras

For decades social critics have bemoaned the influence of sports and entertainment spectacles in ‘distracting’ workers from struggling for their class interests. According to these analysts, ‘class consciousness’ was replaced by ‘mass’consciousness. They argued that atomized individuals, manipulated by the mass media, were converted into passive consumers who identified with millionaire sports heroes, soap opera protagonists and film celebrities.

The culmination of this ‘mystification’ – mass distraction –were the ‘world championships’ watched by billions around the world and sponsored and financed by billionaire corporations:  the World Series (baseball), the World Cup (soccer/futbol), and the Super Bowl (American football).

Today, Brazil is the living refutation of this line of cultural-political analysis. Brazilians have been described as ‘football crazy’. Its teams have won the most number of World Cups. Its players are coveted by the owners of the most important teams in Europe. Its fans are said to “live and die with football” . . . Or so we are told.

Yet it is in Brazil where the biggest protests in the history of the World Cup have taken place. As early as a year before the Games, scheduled for June 2014, there have been mass demonstrations of up to a million Brazilians. In just the last few weeks, strikes by teachers, police, construction workers and municipal employees have proliferated. The myth of the mass media spectacles mesmerizing the masses has been refuted – at least in present-day Brazil.

To understand why the mass spectacle has been a propaganda bust it is essential to understand the political and economic context in which it was launched, as well as the costs and benefits and the tactical planning of popular movements.

The Political and Economic Context:  The World Cup and the Olympics

In 2002, the Brazilian Workers Party candidate Lula DaSilva won the presidential elections. His two terms in office (2003 – 2010) were characterized by a warm embrace of free market capitalism together with populist poverty programs. Aided by large scale in-flows of speculative capital, attracted by high interest rates, and high commodity prices for its agro-mineral exports, Lula launched a massive poverty program providing about $60 a month to 40 million poor Brazilians, who formed part of Lula’s mass electoral base. The Workers Party reduced unemployment, increased wages and supported low-interest consumer loans, stimulating a ‘consumer boom’ that drove the economy forward.

To Lula and his advisers, Brazil was becoming a global power, attracting world-class investors and incorporating the poor into the domestic market.

Lula was hailed as a ‘pragmatic leftist’ by Wall Street and a ‘brilliant statesman’ by the Left!

In line with this grandiose vision (and in response to hoards of presidential flatterers North and South), Lula believed that Brazil’s rise to world prominence required it to ‘host’ the World Cup and the Olympics and he embarked on an aggressive campaign. . . Brazil was chosen.

Lula preened and pontificated: Brazil, as host, would achieve the symbolic recognition and material rewards a global power deserved.

The Rise and Fall of Grand Illusions

The ascent of Brazil was based on foreign flows of capital conditioned by differential (favorable) interest rates. And when rates shifted, the capital flowed out. Brazil’s dependence on high demand for its agro-mineral exports was based on sustained double-digit economic growth in Asia. When China’s economy slowed down, demand and prices fell, and so did Brazil’s export earnings.

The Workers Party’s ‘pragmatism’ meant accepting the existing political, administrative and regulatory structures inherited from the previous neo-liberal regimes. These institutions were permeated by corrupt officials linked to building contractors notorious for cost over-runs and long delays on state contracts.

Moreover, the Workers Party’s ‘pragmatic’ electoral machine was built on kick-backs and bribes. Vast sums were siphoned from public services into private pockets.

Puffed up on his own rhetoric, Lula believed Brazil’s economic emergence on the world stage was a ‘done deal’. He proclaimed that his pharaonic sports complexes – the billions of public money spent on dozens of stadiums and costly infrastructure – would “pay for themselves”.

The Deadly ‘Demonstration Effect’:  Social Reality Defeats Global Grandeur

Brazil’s new president, Dilma Rousseff, Lula’ protégé, has allocated billions of reales to finance her predecessor’s massive building projects: stadiums, hotels, highways and airports to accommodate an anticipated flood of overseas soccer fans.

The contrast between the immediate availability of massive amounts of public funds for the World Cup and the perennial lack of money for deteriorating essential public services (transport, schools, hospitals and clinics) has been a huge shock to Brazilians and a provocation to mass action in the streets.

For decades, the majority of Brazilians, who depended on public services for transport, education and medical care, (the upper middle classes can afford private services), were told that “there were no funds”, that “budgets had to be balanced”, that a “budget surplus was needed to meet IMF agreements and to service the debt”.

For years public funds had been siphoned away by corrupt political appointees to pay for electoral campaigns, leading to filthy, overcrowded transport, frequently breaking down, and commuter delays in sweltering buses and long lines at the stations. For decades, schools were in shambles, teacher rushed from school to school to make-up for their miserable minimum-wage salaries leading to low quality education and neglect. Public hospitals were dirty, dangerous and crowded; under-paid doctors frequently took on private patients on the side, and essential medications were scarce in the public hospitals and overpriced in the pharmacies.

The public was outraged by the obscene contrast between the reality of dilapidated clinics with broken windows, overcrowded schools with leaking roofs and unreliable mass transport for the average Brazilian and the huge new stadiums, luxury hotels and airports for wealthy foreign sports fans and visitors.

The public was outraged by the obvious official lies: the claim that there were ‘no funds’ for teachers when billions of Reales were instantly available to construct luxury hotels and fancy stadium box seats for wealthy soccer fans.

The final detonator for mass street protest was the increase in bus and train fares to ‘cover losses’ – after public airports and highways had been sold cheaply to private investors who raised tolls and fees.

The protestors marching against the increased bus and train fares were joined by tens of thousands Brazilians broadly denouncing the Government’s priorities: Billions for the World Cup and crumbs for public health, education, housing and transport!

Oblivious to the popular demands, the government pushed ahead intent on finishing its ‘prestige projects’. Nevertheless, construction of stadiums fell behind schedule because of corruption, incompetence and mismanagement. Building contractors, who were pressured, lowered safety standards and pushed  workers harder, leading to an increase in workplace deaths and injury. Construction workers walked out protesting the speed-ups and deterioration of work safety.

The Rousseff regime’s grandiose schemes have provoked a new chain of protests. The Homeless Peoples Movement occupied urban lots near a new World Cup stadium demanding ‘social housing’ for the people instead of new five-star hotels for affluent foreign sports aficionados.

Escalating costs for the sports complexes and increased government expenditures have ignited a wave of trade union strikes to demand higher wages beyond the regime’s targets. Teachers and health workers were joined by factory workers and salaried employees  striking in strategic sectors, such as the transport and security services, capable of seriously disrupting the World Cup.

The PTs embrace of the grandiose sports spectacle, instead of highlighting Brazil’s ‘debut as a global power’, has spotlighted the vast contrast between the affluent and secure ten percent in their luxury condos in Brazil, Miami and Manhattan, with access to high quality private clinics and exclusive private and overseas schools for their offspring, with the mass of average Brazilians, stuck for hours sweating in overcrowded buses, in dingy emergency rooms waiting for mere aspirins from non-existent doctors and in wasting their children’s futures in dilapidated classrooms without adequate, full-time teachers.

The political elite, especially the entourage around the Lula-Rousseff Presidency have fallen victim to their own delusions of popular support. They believed that subsistence pay-offs (food baskets) to the very poor would allow them to spend billions of public money on sports spectacles to entertain and impress the global elite. They believed that the mass of workers would be so enthralled by the prestige of holding the World Cup in Brazil, that they would overlook the great disparity between government expenditures for elite grand spectacles and the absence of support to meet the everyday needs of Brazilian workers.

Even trade unions, seemingly tied to Lula, who bragged of his past leadership of the metal workers, broke ranks when they realized that the ‘money was out there’ – and that the regime, pressured by construction deadlines, could be pressured to raise wages to get the job done.

Make no mistake, Brazilians are sports minded. They avidly follow and cheer their national team. But they are also  conscious of their needs.  They are not content to passively accept the great social disparities exposed by the current mad scramble to stage the World Cup and Olympics in Brazil. The government’s vast expenditure on the Games has made it clear that Brazil is a rich country with a multitude of social inequalities. They have learned that vast sums are available to improve the basic services of everyday life.  They realized that, despite its rhetoric, the ‘Workers Party’ was playing a wasteful prestige game to impress an international capitalist audience. They realized that they have strategic leverage to pressure the government and address some of the inequalities in housing and salaries through mass action. And they have struck. They realize they deserve to enjoy the World Cup in affordable, adequate public housing and travel to work (or to an occasional game) in decent buses and trains. Class consciousness, in the case of Brazil, has trumped the mass spectacle. ‘Bread and circuses’ have given way to mass protests.

Continental Crucible examines the clash between what the authors term the “corporate offensive” and the movements of resistance on a continental level. The conflict of these forces can be seen through the prism of free trade agreements (CUFTA, NAFTA), the restrictions on social spending resulting in severe cuts to needed social services and the continuing attacks on public sector unions in all three countries (Canada, Mexico and the United States). It is through such trade agreements, cuts and attacks that business elites have sought to lock in their domestic neoliberal reforms and thereby secure and expand “safe” private investment areas and continentally integrated markets.

This ongoing transformation of all three countries of North America, the authors say, “has created an arena of struggle which can only be understood from a perspective that combines a broad class-struggle approach with a pan-continental approach.” It is further maintained that the two sets of binational working-class relationships provide the basis for the development of workers’ resistance – indeed, a labour insurgency.

The authors admit that such potential faces numerous obstacles not the least of which are to be found within those organizations that are viewed as being central to social change, namely the trade union movement. Labour organizations, the authors maintain, are not currently capable of mounting an effective worker resistance and will therefore have to be “transformed into more democratic, participatory and politically independent organizations” for this potential to be realized.

The Big Business Offensive

Part 1 of this insightful text focuses on “The Big Business Offensive” with separate chapters on Canada, Mexico and the United States. Considerable analysis and detail on the role of business elites and their institutions, the role of political elites, the importance of free trade agreements, is provided. The authors expose the oft held belief that NAFTA was imposed by the American Empire on Canada and Mexico. On the contrary the authors find, the latter two countries promoted the idea of a North-American free trade agreement (NAFTA) as a secure and comprehensive entrance into the American market. In effect, the Canadian and then Mexican business elites applied to gain entrance and expand their markets. Finally, the role of labour and its various structures plus the adequacy and inadequacy of its responses to such offensives is deciphered.

Contexts are viewed important, particularly the post-war boom versus the recovery and competition from a resurgent Europe and Japan. The impact of restrictive anti-labour legislation, such as the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 and the Landrum-Griffin Act of 1959, is analyzed. The various institutions, legislation and actors were unique to Canada compared to the United States, but the most striking differences lie in Mexico with its long history of a one-party politics, labour upsurges and state-guided capitalism.

Two Binationalisms

Part II is entitled “The Two Binationalisms” and concerns immigration and the history of transnational labour markets and labour movements. The authors discuss the difficulties facing Mexican migrants and how neoliberal globalization largely results in poor peasants and workers exchanging one kind of poverty and hardship for another either through internal relocation to the maquila zone or in cross-border immigration. In large part, Mexican immigrants have served as a reserve army of labour for the U.S. economy and entrance of Mexican workers into higher paid jobs and into American unions was very limited. Consequently, over the last few years there have been a number of Latino immigrant demonstrations demanding full citizenship, green cards and democratic rights. This discussion is highly informative, though further exploration of the uneven levels of integration into the American work force and society at large is to be welcomed.

In the case of Canada and the United States, wherein most people spoke the same language, with the notable exception of French speaking Quebec, there is a long history of movements in both directions across the border and of workers being members of the same unions, known as “international” unions. Yet the misguided implication of the text is that such unions represent the growing integration of the two working classes whereas the reality is that national unions represent more and more Canadian workers. Furthermore, it is highly questionable that such largely top-down business unions bargaining on a work-site by work-site basis, represent integration in the first place. I remain unconvinced that such “international unions” represent either continental integration or international solidarity. If working classes can’t build solidarity domestically, they won’t be successful internationally. Nonetheless, the migrations between the two countries contrast dramatically with that between Mexico and the United States.

Workers and Unions

Part III discusses “Workers and Unions” focusing on responses to North American integration from below. Roman and Velasco argue that an effective fightback against the “continental capitalist offensive” necessitates a working-class response that goes beyond the local, regional and national levels. “The fightback has also to be continental.” Further, that the current culture of competition between workers for jobs must be replaced with a culture of solidarity. Here there is an interesting discussion of the limits of unions as presently constituted. The authors point out that while business fought for its own class-wide demands, unions have engaged in fragmented union-by-union, if not workplace-by-workplace, defensive battles. Given such, no class-wide viable and attractive alternative vision to business has been presented.

“The conundrum is that capitalists have developed “continental production chains and overlapping labour markets” while workers and their unions are segmented both organizationally and politically. ”

The challenge of engaging members with different occupations, income levels, specific needs, racial and gender distinctions on the one hand versus fighting for the general interests of workers as a whole on the other, is raised by the authors. This is an important discussion that will undoubtedly necessitate ongoing elaboration and result in structural and ideological changes if unions are to engage in the kinds of resistance contemplated. In short, the conundrum is that capitalists have developed “continental production chains and overlapping labour markets” while workers and their unions are segmented both organizationally and politically. Competitive national strategies and fragmented union responses have proved increasingly ineffective.

There is more, much more, in this valuable text. This review can only introduce the reader to a thought provoking and politically significant narrative. Yet I would be remiss if I didn’t end with a final word on Mexico. Roman and Velasco argue that Mexico is the “weak link” in terms of stability in North America. There is considerable material in the book on the political history of Mexico, its revolutionary heritage, its political development and evolution. Of particular importance is the growth and combative development of the Mexican working-class. Due to repression, poverty, brutal drug wars, increasing militarization, corruption and more, the regime commands only tenuous legitimacy. The authors hold that NAFTA has brought together a volatile “third world” country with two relatively stable capitalist democracies and that Mexico could well provide the spark for North American social transformation. Yet, although this is possible, in my view its likelihood is questionable at least in the short term, given the episodic and locational nature of labour upsurges, the political, regional, ethnic divisions, the violence and corruption in the Mexican trade union movement. On Mexico in particular, but also throughout the text, there is a tendency to exaggerate the size and nature of the contemporary class struggle. In my view, at this point in time, resistance is at a low point in all three countries, rather than a high point.

My reservations aside, the analysis presented by the authors and the conclusions they come to are fundamentally sound. The call for going beyond basic cooperation between unions to a profound transformation of unions into organizations fighting for the needs and aspirations of working people in all three countries is powerful and exciting. This very readable text may well prove crucial for those wanting to move beyond a national framework and encompass one that is continental and global.

Chris Schenk teaches in the Department of Industrial Relations, University of Toronto and is former Research Director of the Ontario Federation of Labour.

“Continental Crucible” by Richard Roman and Edur Velasco Arregui is published by Fernwood (2013). See the book launch in Toronto, LeftStreamed No. 171.

Many Americans – including influential economists and talking heads - stillwrongly assume that war is good for the economy. For example, extremely influential economists like Paul Krugman and Martin Feldstein promote the myth that war is good for the economy.

Many congressmen assume that cutting pork-barrel military spending would hurt their constituents’ jobs. And talking heads like senior Washington Post political columnist David Broder parrot this idea.

As demonstrated below, it isn’t true.

Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says that war is bad for the economy:

Stiglitz wrote in 2003:

War is widely thought to be linked to economic good times. The second world war is often said to have brought the world out of depression, and war has since enhanced its reputation as a spur to economic growth. Some even suggest that capitalism needs wars, that without them, recession would always lurk on the horizon. Today, we know that this is nonsense. The 1990s boom showed that peace is economically far better than war. The Gulf war of 1991 demonstrated that wars can actually be bad for an economy.

Stiglitz has also said that this decade’s Iraq war has been very bad for the economy. See this, this and this.

Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan also said in that war is bad for the economy. In 1991, Greenspan said that a prolonged conflict in the Middle East would hurt the economy. And he made this point again in 1999:

Societies need to buy as much military insurance as they need, but to spend more than that is to squander money that could go toward improving the productivity of the economy as a whole: with more efficient transportation systems, a better educated citizenry, and so on. This is the point that retiring Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) learned back in 1999 in a House Banking Committee hearing with then-Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. Frank asked what factors were producing our then-strong economic performance. On Greenspan’s list: “The freeing up of resources previously employed to produce military products that was brought about by the end of the Cold War.” Are you saying, Frank asked, “that dollar for dollar, military products are there as insurance … and to the extent you could put those dollars into other areas, maybe education and job trainings, maybe into transportation … that is going to have a good economic effect?” Greenspan agreed.

Economist Dean Baker notes:

It is often believed that wars and military spending increases are good for the economy. In fact, most economic models show that military spending diverts resources from productive uses, such as consumption and investment, and ultimately slows economic growth and reduces employment.

Professor Emeritus of International Relations at the American University Joshua Goldstein notes:

Recurring war has drained wealth, disrupted markets, and depressed economic growth.

***

War generally impedes economic development and undermines prosperity.

And David R. Henderson – associate professor of economics at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California and previously a senior economist with President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers -  writes:

Is military conflict really good for the economy of the country that engages in it? Basic economics answers a resounding “no.”

Image courtesy of Steve Hess

The Proof Is In the Pudding

Mike Lofgren notes:

Military spending may at one time have been a genuine job creator when weapons were compatible with converted civilian production lines, but the days of Rosie the Riveter are long gone. [Indeed, WWII was different from current wars in many ways, and so its economic effects are not comparable to those of today's wars.] Most weapons projects now require relatively little touch labor. Instead, a disproportionate share is siphoned into high-cost R&D (from which the civilian economy benefits little), exorbitant management expenditures, high overhead, and out-and-out padding, including money that flows back into political campaigns. A dollar appropriated for highway construction, health care, or education will likely create more jobs than a dollar for Pentagon weapons procurement.

***

During the decade of the 2000s, DOD budgets, including funds spent on the war, doubled in our nation’s longest sustained post-World War II defense increase. Yet during the same decade, jobs were created at the slowest rate since the Hoover administration. If defense helped the economy, it is not evident. And just the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan added over $1.4 trillion to deficits, according to the Congressional Research Service. Whether the wars were “worth it” or merely stirred up a hornet’s nest abroad is a policy discussion for another time; what is clear is that whether you are a Keynesian or a deficit hawk, war and associated military spending are no economic panacea.

The Washington Post noted in 2008:

A recent paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research concludes that countries with high military expenditures during World War II showed strong economic growth following the war, but says this growth can be credited more to population growth than war spending. The paper finds that war spending had only minimal effects on per-capita economic activity.

***

A historical survey of the U.S. economy from the U.S. State Department reports the Vietnam War had a mixed economic impact. The first Gulf War typically meets criticism for having pushed the United States toward a 1991 recession.

The Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) shows that any boost from war is temporary at best. For example, while WWII provided a temporary bump in GDP, GDP then fell back to the baseline trend. After the Korean War, GDP fell below the baseline trend:

IEP notes:

By examining the state of the economy at each of the major conflict periods since World War II, it can be seen that the positive effects of increased military spending were outweighed by longer term unintended negative macroeconomic consequences. While the stimulatory effect of military outlays is evidently associated with boosts in economic growth, adverse effects show up either immediately or soon after, through higher inflation, budget deficits, high taxes and reductions in consumption or investment. Rectifying these effects has required subsequent painful adjustments which are neither efficient nor desirable. When an economy has excess capacity and unemployment, it is possible that increasing military spending can provide an important stimulus. However, if there are budget constraints, as there are in the U.S. currently, then excessive military spending can displace more productive non-military outlays in other areas such as investments in high-tech industries, education, or infrastructure. The crowding-out effects of disproportionate government spending on military functions can affect service delivery or infrastructure development, ultimately affecting long-term growth rates.

***

Analysis of the macroeconomic components of GDP during World War II and in subsequent conflicts show heightened military spending had several adverse macroeconomic effects. These occurred as a direct consequence of the funding requirements of increased military spending. The U.S. has paid for its wars either through debt (World War II, Cold War, Afghanistan/Iraq), taxation (Korean War) or inflation (Vietnam). In each case, taxpayers have been burdened, and private sector consumption and investment have been constrained as a result. Other negative effects include larger budget deficits, higher taxes, and growth above trend leading to inflation pressure. These effects can run concurrent with major conflict or via lagging effects into the future. Regardless of the way a war is financed, the overall macroeconomic effect on the economy tends to be negative. For each of the periods after World War II, we need to ask, what would have happened in economic terms if these wars did not happen? On the specific evidence provided, it can be reasonably said, it is likely taxes would have been lower, inflation would have been lower, there would have been higher consumption and investment and certainly lower budget deficits. Some wars are necessary to fight and the negative effects of not fighting these wars can far outweigh the costs of fighting. However if there are other options, then it is prudent to exhaust them first as once wars do start, the outcome, duration and economic consequences are difficult to predict.

We noted in 2011:

This is a no-brainer, if you think about it. We’ve been in Afghanistan for almost twice as long as World War II. We’ve been in Iraq for years longer than WWII. We’ve been involved in 7 or 8 wars in the last decade. And yet [the economy is still unstable]. If wars really helped the economy, don’t you think things would have improved by now? Indeed, the Iraq war alone could end up costing more than World War II. And given the other wars we’ve been involved in this decade, I believe that the total price tag for the so-called “War on Terror” will definitely support that of the “Greatest War”.

Let’s look at the adverse effects of war in more detail …

War Spending Diverts Stimulus Away from the Real Civilian Economy

IEP notes that – even though the government spending soared – consumption and investment were flat during the Vietnam war:

The New Republic noted in 2009:

Conservative Harvard economist Robert Barro has argued that increased military spending during WWII actually depressed other parts of the economy.

(New Republic also points out that conservative economist Robert Higgs and liberal economists Larry Summers and Brad Delong have all shown that any stimulation to the economy from World War II has been greatly exaggerated.)

How could war actually hurt the economy, when so many say that it stimulates the economy?

Because of what economists call the “broken window fallacy”.

Specifically, if a window in a store is broken, it means that the window-maker gets paid to make a new window, and he, in turn, has money to pay others. However, economists long ago showed that – if the window hadn’t been broken – the shop-owner would have spent that money on other things, such as food, clothing, health care, consumer electronics or recreation, which would have helped the economy as much or more.

If the shop-owner hadn’t had to replace his window, he might have taken his family out to dinner, which would have circulated more money to the restaurant, and from there to other sectors of the economy. Similarly, the money spent on the war effort is money that cannot be spent on other sectors of the economy. Indeed, all of the military spending has just created military jobs, at the expense of the civilian economy.

Professor Henderson writes:

Money not spent on the military could be spent elsewhere.This also applies to human resources. The more than 200,000 U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan could be doing something valuable at home.

Why is this hard to understand? The first reason is a point 19th-century French economic journalist Frederic Bastiat made in his essay, “What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen.” Everyone can see that soldiers are employed. But we cannot see the jobs and the other creative pursuits they could be engaged in were they not in the military.

The second reason is that when economic times are tough and unemployment is high, it’s easy to assume that other jobs could not exist. But they can. This gets to an argument Bastiat made in discussing demobilization of French soldiers after Napoleon’s downfall. He pointed out that when government cuts the size of the military, it frees up not only manpower but also money. The money that would have gone to pay soldiers can instead be used to hire them as civilian workers. That can happen in three ways, either individually or in combination: (1) a tax cut; (2) a reduction in the deficit; or (3) an increase in other government spending.

***

Most people still believe that World War II ended the Great Depression …. But look deeper.

***

The government-spending component of GNP went for guns, trucks, airplanes, tanks, gasoline, ships, uniforms, parachutes, and labor. What do these things have in common? Almost all of them were destroyed. Not just these goods but also the military’s billions of labor hours were used up without creating value to consumers. Much of the capital and labor used to make the hundreds of thousands of trucks and jeeps and the tens of thousands of tanks and airplanes would otherwise have been producing cars and trucks for the domestic economy. The assembly lines in Detroit, which had churned out 3.6 million cars in 1941, were retooled to produce the vehicles of war. From late 1942 to 1945, production of civilian cars was essentially shut down.

And that’s just one example. Women went without nylon stockings so that factories could produce parachutes. Civilians faced tight rationing of gasoline so that U.S. bombers could fly over Germany. People went without meat so that U.S. soldiers could be fed. And so on.

These resources helped win the war—no small issue. But the war was not a stimulus program, either in its intentions or in its effects, and it was not necessary for pulling the U.S. out of the Great Depression. Had World War II never taken place, millions of cars would have been produced; people would have been able to travel much more widely; and there would have been no rationing. In short, by the standard measures, Americans would have been much more prosperous.

Today, the vast majority of us are richer than even the most affluent people back then. But despite this prosperity, one thing has not changed: war is bad for our economy. The $150 billion that the government spends annually on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and, increasingly, Pakistan) could instead be used to cut taxes or cut the deficit. By ending its ongoing wars … the U.S. government … would be developing a more prosperous economy.

Austrian economist Ludwig Von Mises points:

That is the essence of so-called war prosperity; it enriches some by what it takes from others. It is not rising wealth but a shifting of wealth and income.

We noted in 2010:

You know about America’s unemployment problem. You may have even heard that the U.S. may very well have suffered a permanent destruction of jobs.

But did you know that the defense employment sector is booming?

[P]ublic sector spending – and mainly defense spending – has accounted for virtually all of the new job creation in the past 10 years:

The U.S. has largely been financing job creation for ten years. Specifically, as the chief economist for BusinessWeek, Michael Mandel, points out, public spending has accounted for virtually all new job creation in the past 1o years:

Private sector job growth was almost non-existent over the past ten years. Take a look at this horrifying chart:

longjobs1 The Military Industrial Complex is Ruining the Economy

Between May 1999 and May 2009, employment in the private sector sector only rose by 1.1%, by far the lowest 10-year increase in the post-depression period.

It’s impossible to overstate how bad this is. Basically speaking, the private sector job machine has almost completely stalled over the past ten years. Take a look at this chart:

longjobs2 The Military Industrial Complex is Ruining the Economy

Over the past 10 years, the private sector has generated roughly 1.1 million additional jobs, or about 100K per year. The public sector created about 2.4 million jobs.

But even that gives the private sector too much credit. Remember that the private sector includes health care, social assistance, and education, all areas which receive a lot of government support.

***

Most of the industries which had positive job growth over the past ten years were in the HealthEdGov sector. In fact, financial job growth was nearly nonexistent once we take out the health insurers.

Let me finish with a final chart.

longjobs4 The Military Industrial Complex is Ruining the Economy

Without a decade of growing government support from rising health and education spending and soaring budget deficits, the labor market would have been flat on its back. [120]

***

So most of the job creation has been by the public sector. But because the job creation has been financed with loans from China and private banks, trillions in unnecessary interest charges have been incurred by the U.S.

And this shows military versus non-military durable goods shipments: us collapse 18 11 The Military Industrial Complex is Ruining the Economy [Click here to view full image.]

So we’re running up our debt (which will eventually decrease economic growth), but the only jobs we’re creating are military and other public sector jobs.

PhD economist Dean Baker points out that America’s massive military spending on unnecessary and unpopular wars lowers economic growth and increases unemployment:

Defense spending means that the government is pulling away resources from the uses determined by the market and instead using them to buy weapons and supplies and to pay for soldiers and other military personnel. In standard economic models, defense spending is a direct drain on the economy, reducing efficiency, slowing growth and costing jobs.

A few years ago, the Center for Economic and Policy Research commissioned Global Insight, one of the leading economic modeling firms, to project the impact of a sustained increase in defense spending equal to 1.0 percentage point of GDP. This was roughly equal to the cost of the Iraq War.

Global Insight’s model projected that after 20 years the economy would be about 0.6 percentage points smaller as a result of the additional defense spending. Slower growth would imply a loss of almost 700,000 jobs compared to a situation in which defense spending had not been increased. Construction and manufacturing were especially big job losers in the projections, losing 210,000 and 90,000 jobs, respectively.

The scenario we asked Global Insight [recognized as the most consistently accurate forecasting company in the world] to model turned out to have vastly underestimated the increase in defense spending associated with current policy. In the most recent quarter, defense spending was equal to 5.6 percent of GDP. By comparison, before the September 11th attacks, the Congressional Budget Office projected that defense spending in 2009 would be equal to just 2.4 percent of GDP. Our post-September 11th build-up was equal to 3.2 percentage points of GDP compared to the pre-attack baseline. This means that the Global Insight projections of job loss are far too low…

The projected job loss from this increase in defense spending would be close to 2 million. In other words, the standard economic models that project job loss from efforts to stem global warming also project that the increase in defense spending since 2000 will cost the economy close to 2 million jobs in the long run.

The Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst has also shown that non-military spending creates more jobs than military spending.

So we’re running up our debt – which will eventually decrease economic growth – and creating many fewer jobs than if we spent the money on non-military purposes.

High Military Spending Drains Innovation, Investment and Manufacturing Strength from the Civilian Economy

Chalmers Johnson notes that high military spending diverts innovation and manufacturing capacity from the economy:

By the 1960s it was becoming apparent that turning over the nation’s largest manufacturing enterprises to the Department of Defense and producing goods without any investment or consumption value was starting to crowd out civilian economic activities. The historian Thomas E Woods Jr observes that, during the 1950s and 1960s, between one-third and two-thirds of all US research talent was siphoned off into the military sector. It is, of course, impossible to know what innovations never appeared as a result of this diversion of resources and brainpower into the service of the military, but it was during the 1960s that we first began to notice Japan was outpacing us in the design and quality of a range of consumer goods, including household electronics and automobiles.

***

Woods writes: “According to the US Department of Defense, during the four decades from 1947 through 1987 it used (in 1982 dollars) $7.62 trillion in capital resources. In 1985, the Department of Commerce estimated the value of the nation’s plant and equipment, and infrastructure, at just over $7.29 trillion… The amount spent over that period could have doubled the American capital stock or modernized and replaced its existing stock”.

The fact that we did not modernise or replace our capital assets is one of the main reasons why, by the turn of the 21st century, our manufacturing base had all but evaporated. Machine tools, an industry on which Melman was an authority, are a particularly important symptom. In November 1968, a five-year inventory disclosed “that 64% of the metalworking machine tools used in US industry were 10 years old or older. The age of this industrial equipment (drills, lathes, etc.) marks the United States’ machine tool stock as the oldest among all major industrial nations, and it marks the continuation of a deterioration process that began with the end of the second world war. This deterioration at the base of the industrial system certifies to the continuous debilitating and depleting effect that the military use of capital and research and development talent has had on American industry.”

Economist Robert Higgs makes the same pointabout World War II:

Yes, officially measured GDP soared during the war. Examination of that increased output shows, however, that it consisted entirely of military goods and services. Real civilian consumption and private investment both fell after 1941, and they did not recover fully until 1946. The privately owned capital stock actually shrank during the war. Some prosperity. (My article in the peer-reviewed Journal of Economic History, March 1992, presents many of the relevant details.)

It is high time that we come to appreciate the distinction between the government spending, especially the war spending, that bulks up official GDP figures and the kinds of production that create genuine economic prosperity. As Ludwig von Mises wrote in the aftermath of World War I, “war prosperity is like the prosperity that an earthquake or a plague brings.”

War Causes Inflation … Which Keynes and Bernanke Admit Taxes Consumers

As we noted in 2010, war causes inflation … which hurts consumers:

Liberal economist James Galbraith wrote in 2004:

Inflation applies the law of the jungle to war finance. Prices and profits rise, wages and their purchasing power fall. Thugs, profiteers and the well connected get rich. Working people and the poor make out as they can. Savings erode, through the unseen mechanism of the “inflation tax” — meaning that the government runs a big deficit in nominal terms, but a smaller one when inflation is factored in.

***

There is profiteering. Firms with monopoly power usually keep some in reserve. In wartime, if the climate is permissive, they bring it out and use it. Gas prices can go up when refining capacity becomes short — due partly to too many mergers. More generally, when sales to consumers are slow, businesses ought to cut prices — but many of them don’t. Instead, they raise prices to meet their income targets and hope that the market won’t collapse.

Ron Paul agreed in 2007:

Congress and the Federal Reserve Bank have a cozy, unspoken arrangement that makes war easier to finance. Congress has an insatiable appetite for new spending, but raising taxes is politically unpopular. The Federal Reserve, however, is happy to accommodate deficit spending by creating new money through the Treasury Department. In exchange, Congress leaves the Fed alone to operate free of pesky oversight and free of political scrutiny. Monetary policy is utterly ignored in Washington, even though the Federal Reserve system is a creation of Congress.

The result of this arrangement is inflation. And inflation finances war.

Blanchard Economic Research pointed out in 2001:

War has a profound effect on the economy, our government and its fiscal and monetary policies. These effects have consistently led to high inflation.

***

David Hackett Fischer is a Professor of History and Economic History at Brandeis. [H]is book, The Great Wave, Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History … finds that … periods of high inflation are caused by, and cause, a breakdown in order and a loss of faith in political institutions. He also finds that war is a triggering influence on inflation, political disorder, social conflict and economic disruption.

***

Other economists agree with Professor Fischer’s link between inflation and war.

James Grant, the respected editor of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, supplies us with the most timely perspective on the effect of war on inflation in the September 14 issue of his newsletter:

“War is inflationary. It is always wasteful no matter how just the cause. It is cost without income, destruction financed (more often than not) by credit creation. It is the essence of inflation.”

Libertarian economics writer Lew Rockwell noted in 2008:

You can line up 100 professional war historians and political scientists to talk about the 20th century, and not one is likely to mention the role of the Fed in funding US militarism. And yet it is true: the Fed is the institution that has created the money to fund the wars. In this role, it has solved a major problem that the state has confronted for all of human history. A state without money or a state that must tax its citizens to raise money for its wars is necessarily limited in its imperial ambitions. Keep in mind that this is only a problem for the state. It is not a problem for the people. The inability of the state to fund its unlimited ambitions is worth more for the people than every kind of legal check and balance. It is more valuable than all the constitutions every devised.

***

Reflecting on the calamity of this war, Ludwig von Mises wrote in 1919

One can say without exaggeration that inflation is an indispensable means of militarism. Without it, the repercussions of war on welfare become obvious much more quickly and penetratingly; war weariness would set in much earlier.***

In the entire run-up to war, George Bush just assumed as a matter of policy that it was his decision alone whether to invade Iraq. The objections by Ron Paul and some other members of Congress and vast numbers of the American population were reduced to little more than white noise in the background. Imagine if he had to raise the money for the war through taxes. It never would have happened. But he didn’t have to. He knew the money would be there. So despite a $200 billion deficit, a $9 trillion debt, $5 trillion in outstanding debt instruments held by the public, a federal budget of $3 trillion, and falling tax receipts in 2001, Bush contemplated a war that has cost $525 billion dollars — or $4,681 per household. Imagine if he had gone to the American people to request that. What would have happened? I think we know the answer to that question. And those are government figures; the actual cost of this war will be far higher — perhaps $20,000 per household.

***

If the state has the power and is asked to choose between doing good and waging war, what will it choose? Certainly in the American context, the choice has always been for war.

And progressive economics writer Chris Martenson explains as part of his “Crash Course” on economics:

If we look at the entire sweep of history, we can make an utterly obvious claim: All wars are inflationary. Period. No exceptions.

***

So if anybody tries to tell you that you haven’t sacrificed for the war, let them know you sacrificed a large portion of your savings and your paycheck to the effort, thank you very much.

The bottom line is that war always causes inflation, at least when it is funded through money-printing instead of a pay-as-you-go system of taxes and/or bonds. It might be great for a handful of defense contractors, but war is bad for Main Street, stealing wealth from people by making their dollars worth less.

Given that John Maynard Keynes and former Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke both say that inflation is a tax on the American people, war-induced inflation is a theft of our wealth.

IEP gives a graphic example – the Vietnam war helping to push inflation through the roof:

War Causes Runaway Debt

We noted in 2010:

All of the spending on unnecessary wars adds up.

The U.S. is adding trillions to its debt burden to finance its multiple wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, etc.

Indeed, IEP – commenting on the war in Afghanistan and Iraq – notes:

This was also the first time in U.S. history where taxes were cut during a war which then resulted in both wars completely financed by deficit spending. A loose monetary policy was also implemented while interest rates were kept low and banking regulations were relaxed to stimulate the economy. All of these factors have contributed to the U.S. having severe unsustainable structural imbalances in its government finances.

We also pointed out in 2010:

It is ironic that America’s huge military spending is what made us an empire … but our huge military is what is bankrupting us … thus destroying our status as an empire.

Economist Michel Chossudovsky told Washington’s Blog:

War always causes recession. Well, if it is a very short war, then it may stimulate the economy in the short-run. But if there is not a quick victory and it drags on, then wars always put the nation waging war into a recession and hurt its economy.

Indeed, we’ve known for 2,500 years that prolonged war bankrupts an economy (and remember Greenspan’s comment.)

It’s not just civilians saying this …

The former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Admiral Mullen – agrees:

The Pentagon needs to cut back on spending.

“We’re going to have to do that if it’s going to survive at all,” Mullen said, “and do it in a way that is predictable.”

Indeed, Mullen said:

For industry and adequate defense funding to survive … the two must work together. Otherwise, he added, “this wave of debt” will carry over from year to year, and eventually, the defense budget will be cut just to facilitate the debt.

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates agrees as well. As David Ignatius wrote in the Washington Post in 2010:

After a decade of war and financial crisis, America has run up debts that pose a national security problem, not just an economic one.

***

One of the strongest voices arguing for fiscal responsibility as a national security issue has been Defense Secretary Bob Gates. He gave a landmark speech in Kansas on May 8, invoking President Dwight Eisenhower’s warnings about the dangers of an imbalanced military-industrial state.

“Eisenhower was wary of seeing his beloved republic turn into a muscle-bound, garrison state — militarily strong, but economically stagnant and strategically insolvent,” Gates said. He warned that America was in a “parlous fiscal condition” and that the “gusher” of military spending that followed Sept. 11, 2001, must be capped. “We can’t have a strong military if we have a weak economy,” Gates told reporters who covered the Kansas speech.

On Thursday the defense secretary reiterated his pitch that Congress must stop shoveling money at the military, telling Pentagon reporters: “The defense budget process should no longer be characterized by ‘business as usual’ within this building — or outside of it.”

While war might make a handful in the military-industrial complex and big banks rich, America’s top military leaders and economists say that would be a very bad idea for the American people.

Indeed, military strategists have known for 2,500 years that prolonged wars are disastrous for the nation.

War Increases Terrorism … And Terrorism Hurts the Economy

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

Terrorism – in turn – terrorism is bad for the economy. Specifically, a study by Harvard and the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) points out:

From an economic standpoint, terrorism has been described to have four main effects (see, e.g., US Congress, Joint Economic Committee, 2002). First, the capital stock (human and physical) of a country is reduced as a result of terrorist attacks. Second, the terrorist threat induces higher levels of uncertainty. Third, terrorism promotes increases in counter-terrorism expenditures, drawing resources from productive sectors for use in security. Fourth, terrorism is known to affect negatively specific industries such as tourism.

The Harvard/NBER concludes:

In accordance with the predictions of the model, higher levels of terrorist risks are associated with lower levels of net foreign direct investment positions, even after controlling for other types of country risks. On average, a standard deviation increase in the terrorist risk is associated with a fall in the net foreign direct investment position of about 5 percent of GDP.

So the more unnecessary wars American launches and the more innocent civilians we kill, the less foreign investment in America, the more destruction to our capital stock, the higher the level of uncertainty, the more counter-terrorism expenditures and the less expenditures in more productive sectors, and the greater the hit to tourism and some other industries. Moreover:

Terrorism has contributed to a decline in the global economy (for example, European Commission, 2001).

So military adventurism increases terrorism which hurts the world economy. And see this.

Postscript: Attacking a country which controls the flow of oil has special impacts on the economy. For example, well-known economist Nouriel Roubini says that attacking Iran would lead to global recession. The IMF says that Iran cutting off oil supplies could raise crude prices 30%.

Fears has been expressed in Europe about the recent EU parliament voting pattern. Instead of the fear and denouncing the winners we should ask: What causes such an outcome?

My short answer is this: Democracy itself is in deep crisis. It has become performance or ritual rather than something genuinely lived.

Two things stand out – one, the increase in votes going to nationalist, populist, right-wing and anti-Muslim parties as well as Euro-skeptics – particularly in Denmark, France, Greece and Britain.

Secondly, the voter turnout has fallen from 62 per cent in 1979 to 43% in 2009 and this year it increased only 0.09%  in spite of the EU Commission’s attempt to increase it.

So while people struggle around the world for democracy, only 43% of the EU citizens find it meaningful to go and vote every 4th year. How tragic for an EU that tries to promote democracy everywhere, even by military force.

It is understandable that the two mentioned factors is a combination that make many in Europe – the seat of two world wars, NATO and some of the most armed and two nuclear-weapons states – concerned. Perhaps the rest of the world should be at least as concerned? Other countries such as Hungary and Spain have, on different dimensions, moved in a worrying authoritarian political direction.

However, before we sink deeper into the mood of hysteria and denouncing, we should listen carefully to William Pfaff, eminent U.S. columnist over decades who lives in Paris:

“The outcome of the recently concluded European Parliament elections is described in press and political circles in Europe and North America as a shock or crisis, but the actual reaction is better named hysteria, as if “Europe” is all over, and the rise of the right in these elections resembles the rise of fascism in the 1930s — all of which is sheer nonsense.

What this vote has done is contribute 150 anti-“European” members to a parliamentary body numbering 751 seats in total, which has very little power over the functions of the European Union executive – the appointed Commission and the Council (the governing body, composed of ministers from member-governments, under a rotating presidency). Its power bears no resemblance to the power of the national parliaments in EU member states.”

Where democracy and economy fails in the eyes of the populace, there is always a risk of turns to the populist right. Because of history, Europeans are extremely concerned about such developments. And we should be.

Now, it is my hypothesis that there may be other reasons for the ”hysteria”: By focusing on the populist right gains you get a debate about that, the hows and the whys of populism and, say, about neo-Nazism and racism.

That nobly signals that you are very energetically emphasising that ”it must never happen again”. But it alsostigmatises the populist parties and their supporters as “can happen again” and, thus, increase confrontation instead of dialogue.

The debate you then do not get is this:

What is so problematic about Western democracy in general and about the democracy inside the EU in particular?

I strongly believe that the problems of democracy and the Western neo-liberal capitalist project which it tries – helplessly – to control is the independent variable while the right-wing, populist, anti-immigration voting trends is thedependent variable.

In other words, it is because democracy and the economy is malfunctioning that we get this voting pattern.

This is, however, a very difficult issue for Western politicians to take up. Naturally they believe they themselves represent true democracies – even to the extent that it is a commodity they gladly export or impose on everybody who are, from their vantage point, less developed or civilised.

If you want one website that may give you a much larger picture and combines the independent and the dependent variables mentioned above, go to the Pew Research Global Attitude Project.

Its statistics builds on 7 countries only but I would take it to be fairly representative. Its main findings are:

  • there is a small increase in favourable sentiments of the EU;
  • a remarkably low share, still, who believe that economic integration strengthens the economy (and then we can be sure that the political sacrifices for that integration is considered even more negatively);
  • only about one-third have favourable views of the EU institutions;
  • most interestingly and sadly: the EU citizens despair about their personal interaction with the EU: 65% say that the EU does not understand their needs, 63% sees it as ”intrusive” while 57% see it as inefficient. Thus, for instance, as many as 77% see unemployment as the top worry. This personal interaction has a lot to do with feeling real democracy.
  • a median of 55% wants fewer immigrants to come to their country. (Given the media debate, one would have thought this was much higher). And 50% of the EU citizens have unfavourable views about Roma, 46% about Muslims and 18% about Jews (again, somewhat surprising given the media coverage which tells much more about anti-semitism than about anti-muslim attitudes).

It should be fairly easy to understand from this that all in all the views of the citizens in the EU on a series of issues are much more diverse and complex than one would believe when reading most EU politicians’ reactions and statements as well as the general media coverage.

The answer to this challenge is not what many EU leaders say, namely that “we must learn to sell the EU better”. That is the answer of performers with a marketing mind-set. It is also not to denounce those who vote for populism and anti-EU values.

The answer is to take the democratic deficit – or even the absence of lived democracy – very very serious.

Mohandas K. Gandhi - Photo © Jan Oberg

So much for the analysis of attitudes inside the EU.

Something must be deeply wrong when only 43% feel it is meaningful to express their opinions about an organisation that decides an ever larger part of their lives.

And something must be wrong when 65% of Europe’s citizens think that the EU, after all these years since the Coal and Steel Community (1951), does not understand what they need.

In a follow-up article – ”Democracy needs democratisation” – we shall focus on what is so problematic about democracy in general and in the EU in particular.

Jan Oberg TFF director, dr. hc.

TFF provides research and public education related to the basic UN Charter norm that “peace shall be established by peaceful means”.

We are always happy to hear from you or try to answer your questions.

This text may be reprinted as it is with due credit and links to TFF but we shall appreciate you telling us. If shortened, please send the abridged version to obtain our permission.

June 2, 2014 – The 24-member 9/11 Consensus Panel – which includes physicists, chemists, engineers, commercial pilots, attorneys and lawyers – today announced three new studies confirming the controlled demolition of World Trade Center 7.

The studies scientifically refutes the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) claim that, for the first time in history, fire caused the sudden and complete collapse of a large, fire-protected, steel-framed building on 9/11.

(Note that whereas the Consensus Panel uses a scientific methodology to peer-review its work, the NIST report was not peer-reviewed.)

The first Panel study deals with the NIST computer simulations, which purported to show that fire-induced thermal expansion caused a girder to be pushed off its seat at Column 79, thereby initiating a global collapse of the entire 47-storey building at 5:21 in the afternoon.

However, a recent FOIA request has produced WTC 7 architectural drawings showing that the NIST simulations omitted basic structural supports that would have made this girder failure impossible.

The second Consensus Panel study deals with NIST’s claim that it did not recover any steel from this massive steel-frame skyscraper.

This is extraordinary, given the need to understand why a steel-frame building would have completely collapsed for the first time in history from fire alone, and to thereby prevent a recurrence.

We know now that some of the steel was recovered.  Photographs recently obtained by researchers show the strange curled-up paper-thin WTC 7 steel, with a NIST investigator pointing it out.

The third Panel study shows that on September 11, 2001, many people were told hours in advance that WTC 7 was going to collapse.

MSNBC reporter Ashleigh Banfield said early in the afternoon: “I’ve heard several reports from several different officers now that that is the building that is going to go down next.”

Many members of the New York Fire Department were confidently waiting for the building to come down:

Firefighter Thomas Donato: “We were standing, waiting for seven to come down. We were there for quite a while, a couple hours.”

Assistant Commissioner James Drury: “I must have lingered there. There were hundreds of firefighters waiting to — they were waiting for 7 World Trade Center to come down.”

Chief Thomas McCarthy: “So when I get to the command post, they just had a flood of guys standing there. They were just waiting for 7 to come down.”

In addition, CNN and the BBC made premature announcements.

This foreknowledge corroborates the evidence presented in previous Consensus Points (WTC7-1 to WTC7-5) that WTC 7 was brought down by controlled demolition.

Top Ten Countries at Risk of Water Shortages

June 3rd, 2014 by Global Research

This article first published in July 2010 had already warned of a looming crisis

Sub-Saharan African countries top list of those with most vulnerable water supplies as report warns of ‘looming crisis’ in both Asia and Africa from pollution and depletion of natural water resources

Depleting water supplies are increasing the risk of both internal and cross-border conflict as competition between industry, agriculture and consumers increases, according to an assessment of world most vulnerable countries.

The report from the analysts Maplecroft, says that the ten countries most at risk are: Somalia (1), Mauritania (2), Sudan (3), Niger (4), Iraq (5), Uzbekistan (6), Pakistan (7), Egypt (8), Turkmenistan (9) and Syria (10).

The ranking was based on an assessment of access to water, water demands and the reliance on external supplies with countries like Mauritania and Niger more than 90 per cent reliant on external water supplies.

Dam conflict

Egypt, ranked eight by the report, is dependent on water from the Blue Nile, and is in the midst of an ongoing dispute with Ethiopia over the construction of the Gibe III dam in Ethiopia, which it claims will further deplete its water resources. The dam, which would be the largest in Africa, has also faced opposition from NGOs who claim it will devastate fisheries in neighbouring Kenya.

A separate report has highlighted the worsening problem of water scarcity in the Himalayan sub-region of India, Bangladesh, China and Nepal.

Although none of these countries made Maplecroft’s top ten list, the Indian-based Strategic Foresight Group (SFG) say they will have to cope with 275 billion cubic meters less water within 20 years – more than the total amount of water currently available in just one of the countries – Nepal.

It says that while global warming may take two centuries to seriously deplete the Himalayan glaciers, some impacts will be visible sooner. The Yellow River in China and the Ganges (with its tributaries) in India are expected to become seasonal rivers by the second half of this century.

The high water demands of agriculture in both India (where it accounts for 90 per cent of water usage) and China (where it accounts for 65 per cent of water) will lead to a drop in wheat and rice yields of between 30-50 per cent by 2050, according to the report. It said both countries would be forced to import 200-300 million tonnes of crops.

Water pollution

In addition to natural depletion, the report also pointed out the increasing scarcity of water resources due to pollution. The Yellow River Conservancy Committee estimates 34 per cent of the river is unfit for drinking, aquaculture, and agriculture. An estimated 30 per cent of the tributaries of Yangtze River are extremely polluted and in India, 50 per cent of the Yamuna River, the main tributary of the Ganges is extremely polluted.

Data for rivers in Bangladesh are not available, but a study published recently in the Lancet medical journal said up to 77 million people in Bangladesh had been exposed to toxic levels of arsenic from naturally contaminated groundwater supplies.

In total, SFG says that more than 30 per cent of the major Himalayan rivers are biologically dead and unfit for people or fish.

A Bélgica e os Estados Unidos acabaram de concluir um acordo com vistas a aplicar na Bélgica uma lei americana contra a fraude fiscal. Esse é  um acordo para que contas estrangeiras fiquem em conformidade com a lei do fisco estadunidense. Trata-se do denominado FACTA, “Foreing Account Tax Compliance Act”. A assinatura desse acordo se deu em 23 de abril. Vários países tais como o Reino Unido, a França, a Alemanha e o Japão já tinham assinado um acordo com os Estados Unidos para aplicar essa lei em seus respectivos países. A partir do 1º de janeiro de 2015 todos os estabelecimentos financeiros deverão declarar às autoridades americanas os movimentos de uma conta mantida por um cidadão americano. De quando o montante dessas for maior que 50.000 dólares, ou quando um certo número de transações forem efetuadas dentro do território dos Estados-Unidos, o banco deverá fazer um relatório preciso quanto a entrada e saída de fundos dessas contas. Caso um banco não se submeta a este procedimento, todas as suas atividades nos Estados Unidos serão submetidas a um imposto de cerca de 30%. As  penalidades poderão ir até a uma retirada da licença do banco nos EStados Unidos.

Os acordos que foram assinados pelos países membros da União Européia, UE, com a administração estadunidense violam as leis nacionais de proteção individual, assim como a Diretiva 95/46/CE do Parlamento e do Conselho europeu de 24 de outubro de 1995, “relativas a proteção de pessoas físicas e ao tratamento de dados de carácter pessoal, assim como a livre circulação dos mesmos”. Essa é uma diretiva integrada no direito de todos os países membros da UE. A aplicação da FACTA no solo do velho continente europeu viola o direito nacional dos países europeus, assim como o próprio direito da UE. Aqui as suas legislações não são anuladas, mas suspendidas. É conveniente que não se note esse tipo de coisas quando tratando-se dos Estados Unidos.

Acordos precedentes que legalizavam a captura pelas autoridades estadunidenses de dados de cidadãos europeus procedem na mesma. Depois dos atentados de 11 de setembro de 2001, Swift, sociedade americana com direito belga, transmitiu clandestinamente ao Departamento da Tesouraria dos Estados Unidos dezenas de milhões de dados confidenciais a respeito das operações financeiras de seus clientes. Apesas dessa flagrante violação de direitos europeus e belgas, essa captura nunca foi  posta em questão. Pelo contrário, a União Européia e os Estados Unidos já assinaram vários acordos destinados a legitimizá-la [1].

Swift está submetido tanto as leis belgas quanto as da comunidade européia pelo fato de sua localização ser em Hulpe, na Bélgica. Entretanto, essa sociedade também está submetida as leis dos Estados Unidos pelo fato da localização do seu segundo server ser no território dos Estados Unidos, o que permite também a administração dos Estados Unidos de se apoderar diretamente dos dados nele contidos. Tem-se então que essa sociedade escolheu violar a lei européia, afim de se subjugar as ordens do executivo estadunidense, mas depois do final de 2009, os dados Swift inter-europeus não foram mais transferidos aos Estados Unidos, mas a um segundo server europeu. Entretanto, se os americanos não tem mais acesso direto aos dados, esses os são transmitidos a eles por procura, e em “pacotes”, sendo que só eles então podem fazer o processamento técnico das informações. Ainda mais, apenas tendo-se concluído as assinaturas dos acordos os estadunidenses começaram a apresentar novas exigências. A administração dos Estados Unidos declarou, já em 2009, “que as transações entre os bancos europeus e americanos deverão ser recolhidas, sem que qualquer necessidade tenha sido verificada no caso.”

A União Européia nunca se opôs a remessas de dados PNR  (de passageiros de vôo) pelas companhias aéreas baseadas em seu solo. As informações comunicadas abrangem os nomes, sobrenomes, endereços, números de telefone, data de nascimento, nacionalidade, número do passaporte, sexo assim também como os endereços da estadia nos Estados Unidos, os itinerários a serem percorridos, os contactos no país, assim como dados médicos também. O mesmo acontece com as informações bancárias, tais como as formas de pagamentos, o número dos cartões de crédito, além da especificação do comportamento alimentar que permitiria a revelação de certas práticas religiosas. A iniciativa unilateral dos norte americanos de se apoderarem desses dados foi automaticamente aceita pela União Européia que teve de suspender suas legislações para atender a essas exigências do outro lado do atlântico.

Nesses dois casos acima mencionados, os dos  passageiros dos serviços aéreos e de transações com o sistema Swift, a técnica usada foi idêntica. Em realidade aqui não se trata de acordos jurídicos entre dois sócios, entre dois poderes formalmente soberanos. Aqui só há uma parte, a administração dos Estados Unidos, que de-facto se dirige diretamente aos cidadãos europeus. Nesses dois contextos o poder executivo americano reafirma seu direito de dispor dos dados pessoais desses cidadãos exercendo assim um poder direto sobre a soberanidade dos cidadãos da União Européia.

A prioridade da lei dos Estados Unidos no solo europeu é como uma forma de amaciamento do terreno para as negociações que querem meter nos devidos lugares de quando das negociações para um grande mercado transatlântico. (Transatlantic Trade and Investiment Partnership – TTIP, ou seja,  Sociedade para Comércio e Investimento Transatlânticos).

Graças a esse TTIP, as empresas dos Estados Unidos poderão, no nome da livre concorrência, entrar com uma ação judicial contra um país que se recuse a permitir a exploração do gás liquidificado [a temida exploração pelo processo por fracking], ou contra os países que quiserem impor normas alimentares, ou padrões sociais. Esse sistema de regras permitiria que os estadunidenses pudessem fazer cair por terra como que quase todos os regulamentos europeus, criando precedentes jurídicos frente a uma justiça particular, americana. A introdução de um tal mecanismo foi em princípio já aceito pelos europeus pelo mandato de negociações dado a Comissão da UE pelos ministros europeus do comércio, em junho de 2013.

A instância maior para a arbitragem entre os interesses particulares e os países seria o Centro internacional de regulamentação para diferenças ligadas a investimentos (Cirdi), que é um órgão dependente do Banco Mundial, o qual é baseado em Washington e onde os juízes, os advogados de negócios, e os professores de direito, são nominados aos devidos cargos, de caso a caso. Um árbitro é designado pela empresa queixosa, um outro por Washington, e o terceiro pelo secretário geral da Cirdi [3].

Se esse procedimento, parcialmente já aceito, entrar em função num cenário de um grande mercado transatlântico num futuro não distante o direito europeu se desfazerá de uma vez por todas frente a essa jurisdição particular localizada no solo estadunidense. Nesse sistema os Estados Unidos tem um papel central, e determinante

 Jean-Claude Paye

 

Jean-Claude Paye, sociólogo, autor de L´emprise de l´image. De Guantanamo à Tamac, edições Yves Michel, novembro 2011.

 


[1]    Jean-Claude Paye, « Les transactions financières internationales sous contrôle américain, Mondialisation.ca, le 2 mai 2008, http://www.mondialisation.ca/les-transactions-financi-res-internationales-sous-contr-le-am-ricain/8879

[2]    Jean-Claude Paye, « L’espace aérien sous contrôle impérial », Mondialisation.ca, le 15 octobre 2007,http://www.mondialisation.ca/l-espace-a-rien-sous-contr-le-imp-rial/7080

[3]    Convention pour le réglement des différents relatifs aux investissements entre Etats et ressortissants d’autres Etats, International Centre for Settlement of Investissement Disputes ( ICSID), chapitre de l’arbitrage article 37, https://icsid.worldbank.org/ICSID/StaticFiles/basicdoc-fra/partA-chap04.htm#s02

 

Traduzido por Anna Malm, artigospoliticos.wordpress.com, para Mondialisation.ca

At West Point Obama told us, to the applause of West Point cadets, that “American exceptionalism” is a doctrine that justifies whatever Washington does.  If Washington violates domestic and international law by torturing “detainees” or violates the Nuremberg standard by invading countries that have undertaken no hostile action against the US or its allies,  “exceptionalism” is the priest’s blessing that absolves Washington’s sins against law and international norms. Washington’s crimes are transformed into Washington’s affirmation of the rule of law.  Here is Obama in his own words: 

“I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it is our willingness to affirm them through our actions.”

Actions indeed. In the 21st century “American exceptionalism” has destroyed seven countries in whole or in part. Millions of people are dead, maimed, and displaced, and all of this criminal destruction is evidence of Washington’s reaffirmation of international norms and the rule of law. Destruction and murder are merely collateral damage from Washington’s affirmation of international norms.

“American exceptionalism” also  means that US presidents can lie through their teeth and misrepresent those they choose to demonize.  Listen to Obama’s misrepresentations of the Putin and Assad governments:

“Russia’s aggression towards former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe . . . In Ukraine, Russia’s recent actions recall the days when Soviet tanks rolled into Eastern Europe .” 

Obama misrepresents Assad as “a dictator who bombs and starves his own people.”

Did any of the cadets in Obama’s West Point audience wonder why, if Assad is a brutal dictator who bombs and starves his own people, the Syrian people are supporting Assad instead of the American-backed “liberation forces,” the combination of imported jihadists and al Qaeda fighters who object to Assad’s government because it is secular? The US military is taught to respect its civilian commander-in-chief, but if West Point cadets actually do obtain an education, it is remarkable that Obama’s audience did not break out in laughter.

The reference to Soviet tanks rolling into Europe is a reference to the Hungarian (1956) and  Czech (1968) “revolutions” when the Hungarian and Czech communist leaders attempted to assert independence from Moscow.  It is doubtful that Washington’s response to countries attempting to exit NATO would be any different.  A few months ago Washington responded to political talk in Germany and England about leaving the EU by informing both governments that it was not in Washington’s interest for them to depart from the European Union.

Obama used the image of Soviet tanks in order to color Russia with the Soviet Threat, to mischaracterize Russia’s response to the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia, and to misrepresent Crimea’s vote in favor of reunification with Russia as “Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea.”  These lies are still a mainstay in the US media and in Washington’s official propaganda.

Obama’s speech is probably the most disingenuous ever given by a Western politician. We could have fun for hours with all the crimes that Washington commits but buries in rhetoric directed at others.  Perhaps my favorite is Obama evoking a world in which “individuals aren’t slaughtered because of political belief.”  I am sure Obama was thinking of this just world when he murdered without due process of law four American citizens “outside of areas of active hostilities.”

Another favorite is the way Obama flushed the US Constitution of its meaning. Obama said, with reference to bringing the Guantanamo prisoners to the US, that “American values and legal traditions don’t permit the indefinite detention of people beyond our borders.” No, Obama, the US Constitution prevents the indefinite detention of US citizens by the US government anywhere on earth, especially within our borders.

By detaining and by murdering US citizens without due process of law, Obama has violated his oath of office and should be impeached.  It was only a short time ago that President Bill Clinton was impeached by the US House of Representatives (the Senate saved him from conviction) for lying about his sexual affair with a White House intern.  How times change. Today a president who violates his oath of office to protect the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic gets a free ride.  The Constitution has lost its power to protect citizens from the arbitrary power of government. The US is the Constitution.  Without the Constitution the US ceases to exist, and the country becomes a tyranny, both at home and abroad.Today the US is a tyranny cloaked in the garb of “freedom and democracy.”

Instead of laughing our way through Obama’s ridiculous speech to what apparently was a dumbed-down West Point graduating class, lets pay attention to Obama’s bottom line:

“America must always lead on the world stage. . . . The military is, and always will be, the backbone of that leadership.”

In other words, Washington doesn’t use diplomacy.  Washington uses coercion. The favorite threat is: “Do as you are told or we will bomb you into the Stone Age.” Obama’s speech is a justification of Washington’s criminal actions on the grounds that Washington acts for the exceptional Americans whose exceptionalism places them and, thereby, their government above law and international norms. In this way of thinking, only the failure to prevail constitutes failure.

Americans are the new ubermensch, the new master race. Inferior humans can be bombed, invaded, and sanctioned. Obama’s West Point speech asserts American superiority over all others and Washington’s determination to continue this superiority by preventing the rise of other powers.  This arrogant hubris was not enough for the Washington Post editorial board. The newspaper’s editorial damned Obama for binding US power and limiting its use to “a narrow set of core interest,” such as direct threats to America.

The American “liberal media” object that Obama’s claim of exceptionalism is not broad enough for Washington’s purposes.  Obama’s address, the Washington Post wrote, bound “US power” and “offered scant comfort” to those militarists who want to overthrow Syria, Iran, Russia, and China. 

The world should take note that the most militarily aggressive American president in history is considered a wimp by the neoconized American media.  The media drives wars, and the American media, firmly allied with the military/security complex, is driving the world to the final war.

Jointly published with the Strategic Culture Foundation. http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2014/06/02/what-obama-told-us-at-west-point.html  

Soja 2,4-D: guerra a los campesinos

June 2nd, 2014 by Grain

Los intentos globales de Dow AgroSciences por aprobar cultivos de soja resistentes al herbicida 2, 4-D han cobrado en los últimos meses una agresividad particular y se están dando en forma simultánea en varios de los países en el mundo que aceptaron en la década de los noventa la introducción de los transgénicos.

Estos impulsos a nuevos transgénicos son parte de una nueva escalada del agronegocio en su estrategia de hacer cada día a la agricultura más dependiente de sus agrotóxicos incrementando así sus ganancias por la venta de herbicidas. La situación vivida en los años noventa con la introducción de los cultivos rr (Roundup Ready, resistentes al glifosato) tiende ahora a replicarse con herbicidas más tóxicos y peligrosos y en muchos casos antiguos y profundamente cuestionados.

 

Soja transgénico en Argentina  (Foto : Juan Mabromata/AFP)Soja transgénico en Argentina (Foto : Juan Mabromata/AFP)

El argumento con el que se los publicita es la necesidad de incorporar transgénicos resistentes a otros herbicidas ante el surgimiento masivo de malezas resistentes al glifosato. Este hecho demuestra que en apenas 18 años este modelo de agricultura ha fracasado rotundamente ya que los transgénicos resistentes a herbicidas no han podido cumplir con el único objetivo con el que fueron creados (resistir a herbicidas mientras el resto de las malezas son destruidas).

 

 

Dow AgroSciences es una compañía multinacional con sede en Estados Unidos creada en 1897. Inicialmente se dedicó a la producción de productos químicos y desde 1989 y en asociación con Eli Lilly se propone combinar “los productos químicos líderes de The Dow Chemical Company con los de la división agrícola”. Comercializa el 2,4-D como herbicida bajo la marca registrada Frontline y en otras marcas lo combina con otros herbicidas.Dow AgroSciences es una compañía multinacional con sede en Estados Unidos creada en 1897. Inicialmente se dedicó a la producción de productos químicos y desde 1989 y en asociación con Eli Lilly se propone combinar “los productos químicos líderes de The Dow Chemical Company con los de la división agrícola”. Comercializa el 2,4-D como herbicida bajo la marca registrada Frontline y en otras marcas lo combina con otros herbicidas.

Estados Unidos, Argentina, Brasil y Sudáfrica tienen en sus entes regulatorios varios expedientes para la autorización de una nueva soja transgénica resistente al herbicida 2,4-D. Con ritmos similares, los cuatro países avanzan hacia el otorgamiento de los permisos de cultivo comercial. Esta dinámica deja a la vista el actuar global de las corporaciones que se mueven como peces en el agua frente a instituciones absolutamente colonizadas por su poder y su discurso.

 

Los cuatro eventos de soja que Dow está impulsando1 incorporan resistencia a otros herbicidas (glufosinato de amonio y glifosato) además del 2,4-D.

La particularidad de la situación es que en este momento los movimientos sociales y las organizaciones campesinas han podido dar un paso adelante en la resistencia denunciando, movilizándose y actuando para frenar este nuevo atropello.

2,4-D: guerra a los campesinos

2, 4 D son las siglas con que se conoce al ácido 2,4-diclorofenoxiacético. Es un herbicida sistémico hormonal, usado en el control de malezas de hoja ancha. Es muy común su aplicación en combinación con otros herbicidas. Fue desarrollado durante la II Guerra Mundial en Inglaterra y comenzó su comercialización en el año 1946.

 

Es tristemente célebre por haber sido parte del Agente Naranja (junto con el 2,4,5 T), que utilizó Estados Unidos en la guerra de Vietnam. La principal razón de los graves daños que provocó el Agente Naranja a miles de personas se debió a que tenía un contaminante cancerígeno y teratogénico (una dioxina) en el componente 2,4,5 T. Sin embargo el 2,4-D sigue asociado en su fabricación a la producción de dioxinas como posibles contaminantes.

Existen múltiples estudios que demuestran que es altamente tóxico, pese a ser clasificado como moderadamente peligroso (Clase II). Está ligado al aumento de casos de linfoma No Hodgkin entre agricultores y aplicadores en los Estados Unidos.2 Por este motivo fue sometido allí a un polémico proceso de revisión de 17 años. Este proceso culminó en junio del 2005 cuando los intereses económicos e industriales prevalecieron por sobre los cuestionamientos al producto y la EPA decidió volver a registrar el 2,4-D.

En cuanto a su mecanismo de acción el 2,4-D posee actividad hormonal y se lo ha asociado a su accionar en el organismo como disruptor endócrino.3

El 2,4-D es neurotóxico. Se absorbe con facilidad a través de la piel o por inhalación y puede causar daños al hígado, a los riñones, a los músculos y al tejido cerebral. El consumo oral de cantidades elevadas (100 a 300mg/kg de peso corporal para los mamíferos) y la absorción a través de la piel pueden causar la muerte. La exposición al 2,4-D, a sus formulaciones en ésteres y sales, se ha asociado a una diversidad de efectos adversos para la salud de los seres humanos y para distintas especies animales. Estos efectos van desde la embriotoxicidad y la teratogenicidad a la neurotoxicidad 2.

A este panorama se debe sumar el hecho de que las formulaciones comerciales del 2,4-D contienen coadyuvantes que poseen un alto grado de toxicidad 3.

Para poder evaluar los potenciales riesgos de la aprobación de esta nueva soja resulta imprescindible remitirnos a la experiencia de los últimos 18 años con la introducción de la soja transgénica resistente al glifosato. Las cifras para Argentina hablan de un crecimiento del uso de aproximadamente 220 millones de litros entre los años 1996 y 20134. En los Estados Unidos los reportes de Benbrook5 exponen un crecimiento de 239 millones de kilogramos para el periodo 1996-2011.

Es evidente que la autorización de cualquier evento transgénico resistente al 2,4-D producirá un crecimiento exponencial de su uso. Esta situación se agrava si se tiene en cuenta que además de la soja hay solicitudes para la aprobación de algodón y maíz resistentes a este herbicida. Y se torna aún mucho más seria si se considera que varias de las solicitudes incluyen resistencia a otros herbicidas (glifosato y glufosinato) en conjunto con la resistencia al 2,4-D.

Veamos un panorama de la situación en los diferentes países donde Dow ha avanzado con los intentos de aprobación de la soja resistente al 2,4-D en sus distintas versiones.

Canadá

Éste es el único país de los grandes productores de soja que ya cuenta desde los años 2012 y 2013 con la aprobación para el cultivo comercial de la soja resistente al 2,4-D.6

En noviembre del 2012, con motivo de la primera aprobación, el doctor Warren Bell de la Asociación Canadiense de Médicos por el Medio Ambiente afirmó que “El gobierno federal ha aprobado imprudentemente un nuevo cultivo transgénico tolerante a otro pesticida tóxico, a pesar de que los cultivos transgénicos tolerantes al glifosato ya han creado súper malezas y un aumento del uso de pesticidas. Estos mismos problemas se incrementarán con los cultivos resistentes al 2,4-D. Nuestro medio ambiente, la comida y la población estarán cada vez más expuestos a otro producto peligroso”.

Estados Unidos

 

Fumigación con herbicidas.Fumigación con herbicidas.

Dow está intentando aprobar una soja resistente al 2,4-D7 además de otros eventos con resistencia a otros herbicidas apilados (glifosato y glufosinato de amonio).

 

El Center for Food Safety ha lanzado una campaña8 pidiendo al Departamento de Agricultura de los EUA (USDA) que no apruebe la soja “agente naranja” que ya ha recibido más de 32 mil firmas. Y más recientemente ha denunciado el intento de aprobación de un maíz y un algodón también resistentes al 2,4-D. Vale recordar que los cultivos transgénicos de soja, el maíz y el algodón son casi exclusivamente los únicos con los que han logrado tener éxito comercial las corporaciones.

El documento del Center for Food Safety expresa: “La aprobación comercial de la soja de Dow disparará un gran aumento en el uso de 2,4-D, pero la USDA no ha llevado a cabo una revisión significativa del consecuente daño a los ecosistemas nativos, el daño a cultivos del 2,4-D debido a la deriva a campos vecinos, o la evolución de malezas resistentes al 2,4-D. El 2,4-D ya es el principal responsable de las denuncias por lesiones relacionadas con las derivas, y el enorme aumento de su uso con la soja 2,4-D exacerbará estos daños”.

Argentina

En el mes de enero se hizo público que la Comisión Nacional Asesora de Biotecnología Agropecuaria (CONABIA) y la Dirección de Biotecnología recomendaron la liberación comercial de una soja genéticamente modificada resistente al 2,4-D9, concluyendo que “los riesgos derivados de la liberación de este organismo vegetal genéticamente modificado (OVGM) en el agroecosistema, en cultivo a gran escala, no son significativamente diferentes de los inherentes al cultivo de soja no GM”.

Diferentes actores sociales que van desde organizaciones campesinas, organismos no gubernamentales, organizaciones ecologistas y organizaciones de abogados ambientalistas han salido a cuestionar duramente este aval de la CONABIA y los fundamentos con los que se impulsó el mismo.

Durante el mes de enero y ante el dictamen positivo de la CONABIA se lanzó una Campaña10desde la Red por una América Latina Libre de Transgénicos (RALLT) y la Alianza Biodiversidad: la Campaña Paren de Fumigarnos, solicitando a la Presidenta Cristina Fernández de Kirchner que no autorice esta soja argumentando que “ los impactos ambientales y de salud de este nuevo cultivo transgénico serán aún más devastadores, especialmente teniendo en cuenta que en este nuevo transgénico se han apilado una combinación de herbicidas, con el fin de hacer frente a la emergencia de súper malezas en áreas en las que se ha utilizado durante muchos años los cultivos RR”. La campaña logró llegar con más de dos mil firmas a la Presidenta.

Al mismo tiempo el CELMA (Centro de Estudios Legales del Medio Ambiente) realizó una presentación ante el Ministerio de Agricultura Ganadería y Pesca de la Nación,11 impugnando el documento de Decisión de la CONABIA, solicitando que se ponga a disposición de la ciudadanía en general los estudios sobre seguridad ambiental e inocuidad alimentarias presentados por la empresa Dow AgroSciences Argentina SA. a fin de ser evaluados y estudiados, y consecuentemente se realice una convocatoria a audiencia pública y se proceda a darle intervención a la Secretaría de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sustentable.

En el mes de febrero un colectivo de organizaciones realizaron una presentación al Ministerio de Agricultura de la Nación cuestionando la aprobación ante la falta de participación ciudadana y la carencia de estudios de impacto ambiental. Dicha presentación se hizo pública en una masiva Conferencia de Prensa realizada en la Ciudad de Buenos Aires .12

Ninguna de estas acciones han tenido respuesta hasta el presente.

Brasil

 

Aquí también la CTNBio tiene en sus manos la solicitud de aprobación de una soja resistente al 2, 4-D. Por impulso de la Campaña por un Brasil Libre de Transgénicos en el mes de diciembre se realizó una Audiencia pública para escuchar las diferentes voces que existen. La Fiscalía Federal demostró estar dispuesta a escuchar a la sociedad y se logró cuestionar en esta audiencia los impactos de una posible liberación comercial de variedades de soja y maíz, resistentes al 2,4-D, producto calificado por la ANVISA como de extrema toxicidad.13

En la Audiencia se demostró que “Al contrario de todas las promesas hechas sobre los OGM, los cultivos utilizan hoy más pesticidas, y hay más malezas y más plagas. Para hacer frente a la situación, se hacen nuevas promesas, como las de plantas resistentes a la sequía y plantas desarrolladas a partir de recursos públicos y no por las grandes multinacionales”.

Sudáfrica

Sudáfrica aprobó la importación de soja transgénica resistente al 2,4-D en marzo del año 2013. Agrupaciones de la sociedad civil de Sudáfrica, de América Latina —especialmente Brasil y Argentina— y de Estados Unidos se manifestaron en aquel momento profundamente preocupadas por la decisión de las autoridades sudafricanas de otorgar la autorización para la importación al país de la variedad de soja transgénica de Dow14. Esta variedad ha sido modificada genéticamente para resistir aplicaciones de los agrotóxicos 2,4-D, glufosinato y glifosato.15

En los fundamentos se expresó que esta autorización daría mayor respaldo a las solicitudes de autorización para el cultivo de esta variedad realizadas por Dow, especialmente en Brasil, Argentina y Estados Unidos.

Mariam Mayet del Centro Africano para la Bioseguridad expresó “Condenamos la decisión de las autoridades sudafricanas. Una vez más, los intereses económicos pasan por encima del deber del gobierno de proteger la salud de nuestros ciudadanos y del medioambiente. La decisión de aprobar la variedad de soja genéticamente modificada es aún más indignante a la luz de la actual moción del Partido Demócrata Cristiano de África, de anular una decisión previa de permitir las importaciones a Sudáfrica, de maíz transgénico tolerante al 2,4-D producido por Dow.”

Algunas reflexiones y conclusiones

- La primera cuestión que surge de manera contundente es el fracaso evidente del paquete tecnológico “semillas transgénicas resistentes a herbicidas + siembra directa”16. El surgimiento de las malezas resistentes que obstinadamente las corporaciones se negaban a reconocer en la primera década del cultivo de estos transgénicos es hoy una evidencia incontestable17.

- Al mismo tiempo es una prueba clara del fracaso completo de la única semilla transgénica que obtuvo un relativo éxito en su cultivo comercial (la soja rr es el transgénico más cultivado en el mundo ocupando una superficie de más de 100 millones de hectáreas) impuesta a fuerza de mentiras, poder corporativo y vergonzosas complicidades a nivel de gobiernos y grupos científicos.

- La supuesta solución de “ir por más” introduciendo resistencias a nuevos herbicidas demuestra que el único y principal objetivo de la introducción de estas semillas transgénicas es, tal como lo anunciábamos hace siete años, “la búsqueda del control de un inmenso mercado de productos agrícolas primarios y agrotóxicos del que ninguna empresa quiere perder tajada…. La venta del paquete tecnológico semilla-agrotóxico (protegido por la correspondiente patente que garantice el cobro de las regalías) es la ecuación perfecta para sostener un poder corporativo que ha crecido en las últimas décadas de una forma que no tiene precedentes”.18

- Estos nuevos transgénicos significarán la aplicación de millones de litros de herbicidas aún más tóxicos que el glifosato que confirman la existencia de una guerra contra los campesinos y campesinas que aún resisten en sus territorios el avance del agronegocio. Pero esta vez la escala de la agresión parece crecer a límites insospechados.

- Los cinco países mencionados son algunos de los principales productores de soja transgénica a nivel global y destinan más de 80 millones de hectáreas al cultivo de soja transgénica. La misma es un “commodity” que en nada contribuye a la alimentación humana y que se utiliza fundamentalmente como forraje y para la producción de agrocombustibles. Los nuevos transgénicos basados en este modelo no harán más que profundizar esta situación y agravar las próximas crisis alimentarias que vendrán.

- Existe una profunda inconsistencia de los sistemas regulatorios en todos los países, que siguen siendo burdos mecanismos burocráticos carentes de independencia y autonomía y que se apoyan en conceptos ya insostenibles como el de la “equivalencia sustancial”. Todos los instrumentos de la llamada “bioseguridad” no son más que brazos institucionalizados de los intereses corporativos insertos en los Estados y los mecanismos de “participación” o no existen o son simples máscaras para cubrir la formas.

- Las resistencias en todos los países crece de manera sostenida en la medida en que se denuncian los impactos y se evidencian las falacias con que impusieron los transgénicos y sectores cada vez más amplios hacen oír sus voces.

- Finalmente todo el camino andado con la imposición de los transgénicos demuestra que este ha sido un camino equivocado y obliga a ampliar el debate para reconocer su fracaso, desmantelar el poder corporativo que los sostiene y empezar a recorrer junto a los campesinos y campesinas del mundo el camino de la Soberanía Alimentaria.


Bibliografía

1 International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA): los eventos denominados DAS44406-6, DAS68416-4 y DAS68416-4 x MON89788

3 Reavaliação Toxicológica dos agrotóxicos a base de 2,4-Diclorofenoxiacético, (2,4-D), MINISTÉRIO DO DESENVOLVIMENTO AGRÁRIO, Núcleo de Estudos Agrários e Desenvolvimento Rural – NEAD, 24 de marzo, 2014

4 GRAIN, “La República Unida de la Soja Recargada”, 12 de junio, 2013.

5 Charles M. Benbrook, “Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in the U.S. – the first sixteen years“, Environmental Sciences Europe 2012 24:24.

6 Los eventos autorizados en Canadá son, de nuevo, los DAS44406-6, DAS68416-4 y DAS68416-4 x MON89788.

7 Evento DAS- 68416-4

8 Center for Food Safety, “Tell USDA to Reject ‘Agent Orange’ Soy

9. Evento DAS-44406-6

12 RENACE et al, Conferencia de prensa: “¡No a la soja resistente al 2,4 D!”, Biodiversidad, 12 de febrero, 2014.

13 AS-PTA, “Brasil: MPF debate liberação de soja e milho resistentes a 2,4-D,” Biodiversidad en América Latina y el Caribe, 18 de diciembre, 2013.

14 DAS-44406-6

15 African Centre for Biodiversity et al, “Duras criticas al gobierno sudafricano por la aprobacion de la soja transgenica agente naranja“, Biodiversidad, 26 de marzo, 2013.

16  La siembra directa, labranza de conservación, labranza cero, o siembra directa sobre rastrojo es una técnica de cultivo sin alteración del suelo mediante arado. Planteada inicialmente como una práctica conservacionista, se convirtió en la práctica agrícola a través de la cual se implementan los cultivos resistentes a herbicidas.

17 El único motivo que justificó los transgénicos resistentes a herbicidas fue justamente la resistencia a ellos; hecho que en menos de dos décadas demuestra su fracaso. Al mismo tiempo el otro supuesto beneficio que prometía un menor uso de agrotóxicos también ha demostrado ser falso.

18 GRAIN, “Más herbicidas para sostener lo insostenible“, 18 de septiembre, 2007.

Juvenile Prison: $5 Billion for Child Abuse

June 2nd, 2014 by David Swanson

Every juvenile prison must be immediately closed and all of its prisoners freed.

Oh. Oh. Oh! That sounds too drastic and simplistic and revolutionary.

We talk about being reformist or revolutionary as if it were a personality choice. Yet we also talk about being scientific, about being reality-based. Unlike reactionary climate-denying racist creationists we claim, most of us, to recognize such phenomena as climate change and to act on them (leave aside for the moment whether we’re really acting appropriately on that one).

The science has long been crystal clear: juvenile prisons are worse than nothing.  They increase rather than reducing crime.  In our failure to abolish them, we — and not the children we torture — are the seemingly hopeless recidivists.

We spend in the United States $88,000 on average per year to lock a child up, compared to $10,652 to educate a child.  We have over 66,000 children locked up, 87% of them boys, and our police arrest 2 million juveniles each year.

A recent longitudinal study of 35,000 young offenders found that those who are locked up are over twice as likely to be locked up as adults compared to those who committed similar offenses and came from similar backgrounds but were given an alternative penalty or were just not arrested.  In some states over 80% of those locked up as kids will be convicted of later crimes.  Studies have found that, more than family difficulties or gang membership or any other factor, the best predictor of criminality is whether someone has been imprisoned in what amount to factories for crime.

Well, but then, isn’t the best predictor the initial commission of a crime that led to the initial incarceration? Actually, no.  Eighty to 90% of teenagers in the United States commit illegal acts that could land them behind bars.  Most of those put behind bars are put there for minor, nonviolent offenses. A third of all teenagers have even committed a somewhat serious crime, but most are never arrested, much less imprisoned.  Almost all grow out of it.

If the minority of young people whose lives are ruined by prison were selected randomly, we might be a bit more likely to do something about it.  Anyone who is a parent and finds out what happens in juvenile prisons must be highly unlikely to tolerate their continued existence unless convinced that only other people’s children will be locked up. And in fact, it is highly disproportionately kids from poor neighborhoods and with darker skin who get locked up.  A non-white child is far more likely to be arrested for the same act than a white child, far more likely to be charged and detained, far more likely to be sentenced to prison, and far more likely to be given a longer sentence.

In fact, the idea that sub-human monsters, of whatever race, must be made to suffer and must be kept away from the rest of us, is the leading candidate as a major explanation of the continuation of juvenile imprisonment.  If the goal were preventing crime, the prisons are worse than nothing.  We’ve tried alternatives within the prison system, and found that reforms help but can only go so far.  We’ve tried alternatives outside of the prison system, and found them far superior in results. We’ve even seen states shut down lots of juvenile prisons, primarily because of the financial cost, and seen the benefits in cost savings, in the lives of young people, and in reduced crime rates.  But other states don’t follow suit, and the states making the cuts need only see a rise in revenue to begin rebuilding the torture palaces.

The lessons are of course obtainable from abroad as well.  The U.S. locks kids up at a higher rate than any other nation.  The next closest is South Africa, which locks up children at one-fifth the rate of the U.S.  While the United States slowly, reluctantly, begins to stop throwing away packaging, it remains intent on throwing away people.  For many who accept disproven ways of thinking, setting those 66,000 children free would make us less safe, just as cutting the military or disbanding it would endanger us all.  These are powerful myths, but the evidence overwhelmingly disproves them.  If our rural communities went back to farming food instead of prisoners, we would all be better off.

Much of what is routinely done to tens of thousands of youths in the United States would be illegal if done to prisoners of war.  Torture in these houses of “correction” is the norm, not the exception.  Isolation is the central abuse, combined with food deprivation, assault, rape, temperature extremes, deprivation of medical care, deprivation of education, sadistic exercises in humiliation, forced nudity, stress positions, piling on, attacks by dogs, and of course indefinite detention without criminal conviction.  These practices have been transferred to international prisoners after becoming routine for U.S. prisoners, including juveniles.  And, while much of the abuse comes from other prisoners, most of it is committed by guards — or, excuse me, “correctional officers.”

This disastrous system seems in dire need of reform, and the idea that it can be reformed is quite tempting.  Children’s bodies are dug up behind an institution in Florida. A judge in Pennsylvania gets caught taking bribes to send more kids to hell.  A sexual assault scandal in Texas gets big enough to make the news.  Kids hog-tied and left outside in freezing weather in Arkansas create some waves.  But the scandals are everywhere.  A review found only 8 states where there was not conclusive evidence of system-wide mistreatment.  And the scandals have been there for a century and a half.  The reforms have been needed and been worked on since day one.  They are not what’s needed.  Children need love and companionship, safety and trust, respect and encouragement.  They are even worse equipped to survive imprisonment than adults.  Locked up kids commit suicide at a far higher rate than others, nearly rivaling that of war veterans.  These facts are continually reconfirmed by new science, but they and the failure of juvenile prisons have been known practically since the invention of juvenile prisons.

Solitary confinement greatly increases suicide rates, and yet is used as a punishment for the offense of being suicidal.  This is not a nifty contradiction to be examined in a master’s thesis.  Rather, it is part of a process that fundamentally destroys our young people, a process which we pretend improves them.

Or do we? Polls suggest that we, the public, in fact understand the madness of government child-abuse currently engaged in to the tune of $5 billion.  The public prefers rehabilitation and treatment and is willing to pay higher taxes for those approaches, even though they actually cost less.  We test this, prove it, and then don’t act on it — or at least our government doesn’t act on it.  Oregon tried an experiment in Deschutes County, giving the county the money it would have taken to lock kids up and requiring the county to pay the bill for any kid that did end up locked up.  The county spent the money on prevention, neighborhood programs, community services.  In a year, the number of children sent into the fortresses of misery and horror dropped by 72%.

Everything I’ve just claimed, and much more, is documented in a new book by Nell Bernstein called Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison.  This book includes numerous personal stories, countless examples, endless studies, and all the evidence anyone claiming to base policy on reality would need to become a “radical” when it comes to the malfunctioning of juvenile prisons.  Bernstein looks at the worst and the best of the institutions.  The best remains far from good enough.  The best remains worse than nothing at all.  Improving the mass abuse of children is not pragmatic; it’s immoral.  It’s like being in favor of the war on Libya because the war on Iraq was worse; doing so requires averting one’s eyes from the state Libya is in.

Burning Down the House should be taught in our schools.  Maybe free young people would find the power to speak up on behalf of their imprisoned fellows, if they knew.  Maybe parents, if sufficiently intent on discarding both sadism and racism, would act if they heard it from their children.

There is a hurdle to be overcome, however, higher than the false belief that injustice only happens to those who deserve it, or the corruption of our misrepresentative government by profiteers, or the cooption of the corporate media by the government.  The hurdle is this: everything that’s wrong with prisons for children is also wrong with prisons for adults.  If we stop thinking about imprisoned children the way that we must think in order to allow their imprisonment, we’ll be in danger of ceasing to think about imprisoned adults the way we must to allow their imprisonment.  Are we willing to risk that danger? I certainly hope so.

In late May 2014, President Obama rolled out his foreign policy initiatives at West Point and said nothing new. Every lie he uttered is just a retread cover for the same old, same old disastrous foreign policy the US has engaged in since the cold war began shortly after World War II. The fact is Washington has been regularly practicing this same modus operandi for over sixty years.

Through constant use of false flags deceptively blaming the designated enemy of the United States, starting with the dual threat of the Soviet Union and China’s spreading Communism in the early 1950’s, then in this century fabricating the al Qaeda enemy’s spreading terrorism and now back to a revitalized cold war stopping the expansionist spread of Russia and China again, the US has been busily justifying its aggressive interventionist policy throughout the world.

For nearly seven decades the US Central Intelligence Agency has been the chief operating engineer and primary culprit covertly orchestrating this entire diabolical front engaging in acts of terrorism to ensure that Obama’s unabashed exceptionalism in the form of an overstretched, morally bankrupt, imperialistic American Empire in decline reaches every corner of the planet. 

Though false flag terrorism has been utilized throughout human history, including Nero’s Great Fire as the Roman Empire literally went down in flames, its deployment in modern times has been increasingly frequent. By definition a false flag operation involves a government or organization committing egregious acts of violence on its own citizens or members in order to deceitfully blame its enemy and initiate wars. Though this presentation shall focus primarily on the US government’s false flag events committed within the last 60 years, many nations other than America have also engaged in false flag operations.

The term originated when wooden ships would purposely fly the enemy flag in order to launch an attack on another ship belonging to the same navy. Hence, falsely blaming the designated enemy for terrible murderous events unfortunately ever since as a common US tactic deployed to terrorize and sway public opinion has been used as a justified excuse to declare war on many nations and groups. A few passing historical examples are presented here, the first of which was the jingoistic media-induced frenzy “Remember the USS Maine!” after it sank in the Havana harbor in 1898. Though an internal explosion ripped open the hull causing the vessel to sink killing 270 sailors, it was then used to unfairly accuse Spain for a crime it clearly did not commit in order to trigger the start of the Spanish American War.

Though President Franklin D. Roosevelt was credited with lifting America out of the despair of the Great Depression, FDR willfully withheld information he had been privy to months in advance of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Instead he chose to sacrifice most of the Pacific fleet though he ensured the fleet’s crucial three aircraft carriers were safely relocated. But most importantly the US President knowingly permitted the murder of 2,403 Americans and the wounding of another 1,178. All because he felt too weak to oppose the strong anti-war sentiment of the American public, FDR let the war come to him and all those dead and suffering Americans just to enter World War II. His deceitful actions willfully ensured that mass numbers of Americans would be murdered just to start America’s involvement in the most deadly war in human history.

Roosevelt’s false flag crime against humanity as the first and only attack on American soil since the War of 1812 ranks despicably high. That said, sixty years later the second and only other attack on the US homeland since resulted in the loss of even more American lives and ranks as the biggest, most disgraceful false flag of them all in the entire US history – 9/11. But more on that false flag later.

To demonstrate that the US does not have the cornerstone on such shameful human atrocities, Hitler regularly employed false flags. In Operation Himmler he ordered SS troopers to attack his own people among them a German radio station as antecedent events that led to blaming the Poles and invading their homeland in 1939 to ignite the Second World War. Six years earlier Hitler was responsible for setting fire to the German parliament building in order to pave his way to seizing power and suspending all liberties.

As false flag architects and firm believers in their effectiveness to stir national opinion, Gestapo commander Hermann Göring has an infamous quote illustrating this point:

“The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”Unfortunately his words ring true for dozens of successful false flags in history. But once in awhile one will backfire. In the early 1950’s an Israeli terrorist cell planted evidence and set bombs off in several buildings including the US Embassy in Egypt to blame Egypt. But one of the bombs was accidentally detonated early enough for the Egyptian authorities to link Israel to the attacks, resulting in a scandal that brought down the then Israeli government.

Operation Gladio emerged and flourished throughout the cold war period from the early 1950’s through the 1980’s in reaction to both a potential Soviet invasion and the very real growth of the Communist Party within pockets of Western Europe, particularly Italy where at one time one third of the voting electorate consisted of Communists. Gladio evolved into right wing state sponsored terrorism funded by NATO and the American CIA. A strategy of tension designed to instill fear into the general population was created by carrying out various false flag events such as planting bombs in crowded public markets, train stations and targeted buildings killing dozens of innocent Italian citizens then blaming it on the leftist Red Brigade.

The CIA’s active involvement in staging terrorism, coups and assassinations around the world has been proven beyond a doubt despite the US government’s standard official policy to cover-up, lie and deny. These state sponsored acts of terror were not limited to just Italy only but evidence exists that they were also committed in France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany and Switzerland and later expanded heavily in the 1990’s with Gladio B in Turkey and Central Asia as well. For many decades US State Department personnel along with CIA operatives covertly working behind the scenes with NATO and various right wing reactionary groups have included high ranking European politicians, judges, security forces, military officers and organized crime drug lords to repeatedly kill hundreds of innocent civilians en masse.

In 1997 declassified documents unveiled Operation Northwoods, among the most damaging evidence to date indicating just how low and pathologically ill US military megalomaniacs running America’s armed forces really are. The psychopathic killers who were the five Joint Chiefs of Staff, the very top generals of each of the military services back in 1962, conspired to execute terrorist attacks on innocent American civilians in order to blame it on Fidel Castro, thereby gaining public approval to start a war against Cuba. Perturbed over the failed Bay of Pigs debacle, the generals colluded with the CIA to propose highjacking and shooting down commercial airliners, attacks on both US Navy ships and other military targets, and bombing US citizens in Washington DC and Miami. When President John F. Kennedy learned of this sinister false flag plan just prior to its implementation, he cancelled it.

President Kennedy had inherited the CIA’s Bay of Pigs fiasco leftover from the Eisenhower administration. The president’s rejection of Operation Northwoods on top of his refusal to deploy the US military in the infamously botched attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro left in its wake a number of angry anti-Castro Cubans as well as miffed CIA agents and the highest ranking military officers. Conversely, the humiliating bitter pill that the Bay of Pigs forced Kennedy to swallow left a sour aftertaste, setting into motion a conflict between all parties that in retrospect have been cited as strong provocation behind Kennedy’s own demise.

Further recent evidence suggests that JFK was moving to reduce the CIA’s power by restructuring, not escalate a war in Vietnam and reduce the power of the privatized Federal Reserve Board that was/is the oligarch banking cabal and that these preeminent plans were the basis for his enemies within the government to assassinate him. Clearly enough evidence exists to incriminate elements within the CIA as major players in his untimely death. A number of recent investigators implicate elements of false flag operations through use of patsies in not only JFK’s but his brother Robert and Martin Luther King’s assassinations as well. Blaming a lone gunman with known ties to Communist enemies the Soviet Union and Cuba was used as a means to cover up the true perpetrators who were American agents within the US government.

Kennedy’s successor Lyndon B. Johnson with circumstantial links to the JFK assassination himself wasted no time as Commander-in-Chief in August 1964 employing another false flag to begin yet another war. The Gulf of Tonkin incident became LBJ’s immoral excuse to declare a bogus war against North Vietnam. Yet he, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and then military analyst later turned whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg knew it was a lie that North Vietnamese gunboats fired on the destroyer the USS Maddox that was sent by Washington on the mission to the Tonkin Gulf purposely to bait Hanoi into taking aggressive action. Johnson’s boldface lie that “our boys are floating in the water” swept America into its then longest running war in US history. 58,213 American lives lost later with an astounding total of between nearly one to over three million human additional lives violently ended, the Vietnam War was a total tragic waste in every aspect of the word. Absolutely nothing positive came out of the first official American war defeat in US history. But the senseless slaughter and shattered lives of so many innocent Southeast Asians who never deserved such an unforgivable horrendous fate based on another US president’s lie is impossible to fathom much less accept. No one can blame innocent war victims for never forgiving America for its countless brutal sins that only continue to rage against humanity uninterrupted to this very day.

To demonstrate that America is not alone as the only heavy using of false flags and that other current leaders also employ false flag operations on their own people, the September 1999 bombings of Russian apartment buildings killing 300 innocent people were falsely blamed on Chechen terrorists in order to bring about another war against Chechnya. A 2002 book written by former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko exposing the 9/99 false flag likely resulted in his poisoning death by Russian intelligence in 2006. A report from a Johns Hopkins study additionally concluded that the KGB and Russian government were in fact guilty of planting the bombs in order to ensure that Vladimir Putin would be elected the next Russian Federation president.

But perhaps the most unforgivable false flag crime against the human race committed by the most evil humans still alive on earth – the neocon insiders of the Bush-Cheney administration – pulled off the all time most egregious terrorist act of our lifetime – the inside job that is the horror of the 9/11 attacks. Massive evidence has been accumulating over the past 13 years since the attacks on New York’s World Trade Center twin towers and the Pentagon that highly incriminate the US government. President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney and their cast of neocon characters were responsible for murdering nearly 3000 Americans on September 11th, 2001 in order to justify their preplanned agenda of a permanent war on terror starting in Afghanistan and Iraq and the subsequent systematic dismantling of the US Constitution. Their day of infamy turns out far more diabolical than FDR’s own infamy day. A coup took place where a handful of neocons single handedly overthrew what was left of democracy in America, and overnight replaced it with a fascist despotic oligarchic dictatorship. With the Patriot Act and executive orders America woke up and found itself living in a real life Orwellian nightmare of tyranny from the top on down that now appears to be reigning even more supreme under the Obama regime.

Obviously books have been written offering far more detailed accounts covering the hundreds of discrepancies that point to the sinister inside job. However, for the sake of brevity here a condensed version presenting only the most salient and glaring facts are included.

Hundreds of engineers analyzing how the twin towers came down concluded that they collapsed from internal explosionsfrom within, falling at an acceleration rate of two thirds that of freefall. Seven hours later at 5:20PM on 9/11 near the fallen towers, Building 7 never hit by a plane and only slightly damaged from fallen tower debris at half the height of the towers suddenly collapsed at absolute freefall in just 6.5 seconds. This strongly indicates that the buildings were brought down by detonations set off by explosives placed near the steel girders, and clearly not from the damage caused by jet fuel explosions near the top stories of the towers. If two planes flying into the top floors of the towers (one at the 78thfloor and the other between the 93rd and 99th floors) were to cause the buildings to collapse, which in itself is virtually impossible, the speed at which they came down would have been much slower and they would never have totally collapsed into all the dust and rubble that was left. Simple laws of physics prove that two planes and their fires could never have brought down those towers but only internal explosives carefully planted on every floor would cause the collapses the way all three buildings fell.

Larry Silverstein who leased the World Trade Center mistakenly referenced the collapse of Building 7 as “pulled it,” a common expression used in building demolitions. Silverstein who had only leased the towers six months before their collapse, stood to gain a quick 1.4 billion in profit on his six month turnaround investment. Also the head of security of the World Trade Center happened to be President Bush’s cousin. Additionally lots of illicit insider trading just before and after 9/11 prove certain unrevealed insiders were aware of the coming events.

Not unrelated, a BBC correspondent named Jane Standley actually reported the collapse of Building 7 over twenty minutes prior to its collapse.

Explosions resulting from burning jet fuel at near 800 degrees cannot possibly melt steel which requires temperatures of at least 1600 degrees. Yet the red-gray dust from the fallen rubble and debris shows that explosives that burn at far higher temperatures than jet fuel were used to cause the buildings to collapse. Overwhelming amounts of nano-thermite dust were detected at ground zero providing conclusive evidence that nano-thermite burning at high enough temperatures to effectively melt steel was the key ingredient in the explosives that must have been planted weeks prior to the planes colliding into the towers. The nano-thermite material in the planted explosives clearly brought the buildings down in a controlled demolition, and definitely not the planes.

Additionally there were survivors like Brian Clark who at the time of impact were on floors higher than the floor the plane flew into, yet they experienced no level of heat that prevented them from moving past the burning floor all the way down to ground level to escape to safety. This totally defies the official explanation that it was the jet fuel explosion and ensuing fire that caused the entire buildings to collapse a short time after the planes impact.

Another fact that strongly supports the contention that the buildings were brought down by an explosive demolition is the eyewitness testimony of hundreds of survivors who all heard a series of loud explosions at the ground floor level. Planes burning at the upper floor levels could never cause those explosions.

The Pentagon was never hit by a plane. No pieces or parts of the plane were ever found. And then the hole in the Pentagon was only 16 feet wide, far smaller than the size of a commercial aircraft. This provides indisputable evidence that Flight 77 never impacted the Pentagon building but that more than likely a missile did. Furthermore, the hard turn required for the alleged jetliner flown by an inexperienced terrorist could not possibly maneuver a large plane into the Pentagon. Lastly, the airspace over Washington DC is the most heavily guarded in the entire world and no plane could crash into the most defended military building on the planet. Far too much concrete evidence taken together makes the official story impossible.

With nearly a trillion dollar budget spent each year on defending the United States with the most sophisticated and powerful military and air defense in the world, yet the four jet airliners that supposedly were crashed by terrorists were somehow never intercepted by any fighter planes. There were 35 Air Force bases within close proximity on 9/11 to the four hijacked planes. Within minutes after planes go off the air traffic controller system an air defense protocol is in place to immediately release military fighter jets to intercept highjacked airliners. Yet not one fighter jet was on the scene the entire time. This implausible explanation that they could not respond in time is simply preposterous.

Another questionable phenomenon was all the military officers in charge of air defense operations near Washington on 9/11 that by tragic outcome clearly showed that they all failed to do their jobs properly. Yet to a man they were all mysteriously promoted just days after 9/11 when they ordinarily should have been demoted for clearly gross negligence… of course unless they were actually being rewarded for their complicit roles in the inside job.

Just three days after 9/11 the FBI had miraculously identified all nineteen of the alleged hijackers without providing any evidence that any were actually on the four flights. In contrast after the Pan Am flight went down over Lockerby, Scotland, two years into the investigation indictments were finally made. Then one day after 9/11 Attorney General Ashcroft announced that the intact passport of one of the alleged terrorists had been found a few blocks from ground zero. Yet the planes allegedly caused molten steel to pulverize and meltdown everything in sight into a fine powdery dust but somehow not even a burned and entirely intact undamaged passport was found. These lies would be laughable if they were not used to cover up the truth of how 2,977 victims’ deaths resulted from the worst false flag in history.

The official report would lead the public to believe that fifteen of the nineteen hijacking terrorists were Saudi fundamentalist Islamists practicing the strictest form of Islam called Solafist. Yet the former American girlfriend of their alleged ringleader Mohammed Atta and his fellow terrorists were always drinking alcohol and using cocaine. While staying in Florida near NSA offices Atta is on record as an actual roommate of a CIA pilot who flew drugs during the Iran-Contra scandal in South America. While living in Hamburg Atta is also known to have met with German intelligence.

Atta and another alleged hijacker flew from Florida to Boston a couple days prior to 9/11 and left a known trail of traveling onto Portland Maine and staying out late partying and drinking at a club in Portland the night of September 10th. On the morning of 9/11 they then flew from Portland into Boston on a flight that landed a mere half hour before their alleged flight they supposedly hijacked was taking off. The FBI released a photo of them captured on an airport camera the FBI claimed was proof that they boarded the flight at Boston’s Logan Airport. However, it was actually a photo of the two boarding their flight in Portland. Thus no evidence showed them ever on the flight of the plane they were purported to crash into the New York tower. In fact no evidence of any of the 19 alleged terrorists ever boarding any of the four flights on 9/11 was ever produced.

In the days and weeks following 9/11, the UK’s Telegraph and CBS news tracked down several of the identified terrorists still alive in Morocco and Saudi Arabia. Newsweek reported that Atta was on record of having had a phone conversation with his father on September 12th. One by one a number of the supposed dead hijackers began showing up alive and well faraway from the 9/11 crash sites. All of these pieces of damning evidence make the official US government accounts of the September 11th attacks even more suspect and weak, only adding to the mounting strength proving that a cover-up to a very sloppy inside job was perpetrated on the American public.

The fact is the neocon network is far more America’s enemy than any so called al Qaeda network. Long before 9/11, the Bushes (with roots traced back to financing Nazi Germany), Cheney and Rumsfeld all had their indelible grubby fingerprints all over US foreign policy as far back as the 70’s and 80’s. George Bush senior was CIA Director during the mid 1970’s and on 9/11 met with the bin Laden family in another major business transaction. Later when all planes were grounded in the US, the bin Ladens were safely flown home to Saudi Arabia. There is a more than casual linkage between Osama’s family and the neocons responsible for 9/11.

Donald Rumsfeld was Defense Secretary during the Ford administration. And Dick Cheney began working for Rumsfeld in 1969. From 1979-89 Cheney served as a Wyoming Congressman until President George Bush senior promoted Cheney to Secretary of Defense where he oversaw military operations in both Panama and the first Gulf War, rewarded by his boss with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. From 1995 Cheney was CEO at Halliburton, a huge and corrupt defense contractor until 2000 when he became George junior’s Vice President and more the front end mastermind behind 9/11 and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars than less endowed figurehead George junior. Their lives and careers have long been intertwined in government and corporate cronyism. Along with a handful of other notable neocons like Paul Wolfowitz who was Deputy Secretary of Defense under Rumsfeld and later World Bank President. These 9/11 figures saw the opportunity to use Osama bin Laden as their wanted milk carton face to their global war on terror.

The label al Qaeda was eventually attached to Osama’s Islamic freedom fighters whose mission was to support fellow Moslems everywhere oppressed by Western imperialism. As the young emerging leader of the Mujahideen fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, the US with CIA support had been financing, arming and training Osama and his randy brand of terrorists since the late 1980’s and continued sponsoring their terrorist activities throughout the 1990’s in Bosnia and Kosovo. Many of the Mujahideen fighters were on the US payroll. A Pentagon subcontractor called Military Professional Resources, Inc. (MPRI) employed many of the Mujahideen terrorists in the Balkans.

Michael Springman, Chief of Visa Section at the US General Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia from 1987 to 1989 disclosed that many CIA personnel worked undercover issuing US visas to a number of the same terrorists later allegedly involved in the 9/11 attacks. The CIA was sponsoring state supported terrorism bringing them to the US and training them at various US military schools, fine tuning their terror skills. After 9/11 from an LA Times article Springman recognized a number of the terrorist hijackers amongst those freely receiving visas years before and promptly informed the FBI. In fact 15 visas belonging to the alleged 9/11 terrorists had been attained in Jeddah. But not surprisingly, the FBI never bothered getting back to Springman.

A similar story was heard from Sibel Edmonds a former FBI translator and government whistleblower who became aware of an Iranian FBI informant who had been on the payroll for ten years in April 2001 warning the FBI that al Qaeda terrorists were planning to fly airplanes into key buildings in several US cities.

Two FBI agents independent of each other, one in Arizona and the another in Minnesota, also contacted central FBI headquarters in Washington reporting a flurry of activity involving a number of Arabs enrolling in flight schools. Attorney General Ashcroft in August 2001 was approached by the FBI over reports of increasing signs of potential terrorism and Ashcroft emphatically replied that terrorism was lowest on his priority list and did not want to hear any more about impending threats. There were numerous warnings that had been reported to the federal government but obviously went unheeded. Meanwhile, since 1999 the Air Force had been doing training exercises four times a year in preparation for just such a scenario of terrorists flying planes into buildings.

Bush and Security Council Condoleezza Rice have both repeatedly gone on record denying that there were any advance warnings to alert and possibly prepare them for planes used by terrorists for this purpose… more lies. But then since 9/11 was a false flag operation, of course the neocons would ignore all warnings however obvious and blatant that the attack was about to occur… like another day of infamy.

The Patriot Act was written before 9/11 and signed into law on October 26th, 2001. Congressman Ron Paul asked about it being prepared so quickly and was told it had been sitting in the Justice Department waiting for the right time to be brought to a vote for the last twenty years.

Many in US Congress both past and current members along with numerous retired US military officers and scientists and professors from academia have questioned publicly the whitewashed bogus findings of the 9/11 Commission that the Bush administration resisted for well over a year before it was finally formed. Then he and Cheney resisted having to even testify. Yet that said, the government has conveniently dismissed those believing Washington insiders bear culpability and responsibility for 9/11 by calling them “conspiracy theorists.” The derogatory name calling designed to eliminate credibility over time is offering less credence to their stonewalling lies and cover-up cracks. Instead more Americans are realizing the depth of moral depravity and evil in their resistance to truth. Movement to ultimately hold the war criminals accountable at the Hague are in process.

Two weeks after 9/11 General Wesley Clark learned of the neocon agenda formulated prior to 9/11 to take down seven sovereign nations in the Middle East and North Africa within five years. Americans learned that the myth of Saddam Hussein holding weapons of mass destruction was a complete lie. That willful deception along with the other false accusation that Hussein had direct links to terrorism became the basis for invading Iraq in March 2003. Lies perpetrated on both America and Iraq resulted in a million and a half Iraqi citizens dying in a decade long war under US occupation that has left the nation permanently embroiled in sectarian civil war violence the last two and a half years since US departure. Al Qaeda holds more of the country’s territory now than ever before. Genetically deformed babies and cancer rates have soared exponentially due to US military deploying depleted uranium and flesh burning white phosphorus chemicals. US blood for oil wars decimate and destroy nations, installing regime changes with weak, corrupt puppet governments, indefinite sectarian violence and untold human misery. Meanwhile, shut out of the nation with the world’s fifth largest oil reserves until the US invasion, now ExxonMobil, BP and Shell are making huge profits.

Though fortunately no US false flag has come close to reeking the same level of damage, human suffering and horrible consequences since 9/11, the US government has persisted in engaging in more recent false flag operations. Last August 21st in a Damascus suburb a chemical weapons attack launched by US and Saudi backed al Qaeda militants killed many innocent Syrian civilians with many children among the casualties. At the time, President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry were aggressively pushing to launch air strikes on Syria convinced that it was Assad’s government forces that committed the attack. Yet they refused to produce any evidence because they had none. They were giving it their best psychopathic shot to inflict more death and destruction on more innocent humans knowing they were spewing more lies of deception in their thinly veiled imperialistic would-be intervention. Obama was willing to risk starting World War III as Russia and China moved their naval fleets into the area in support of their allies Syria and Iran. And Syria and Iran remain the last of those seven nations on that neocon list for regime changes.

Fortunately Kerry made an offhand rhetorical comment that Russian President Putin opportunistically seized to successfully broker a face saving deal where Assad has now turned over 92% of his chemical weapons. Of course no one ever insisted that the al Qaeda rebels who were responsible for the heinous atrocity turn over their chemical weapons likely shipped to them from Saudi Arabia.

Despite Obama’s weakened position as a world leader from his grandstanding fiasco, he has not given up his goal to remove Assad from power with a recent renewed commitment to supplying al Qaeda militants with even more sophisticated weaponry that at some point risks being used against Americans. Meanwhile, the Syrian government forces are gaining the upper hand in a stalemate that has perhaps killed over 160,000 and displaced over 2.58 millionSyrian refugees from their homes. The number in Lebanon alone is up to 1.3 million in a growing international humanitarian and political crisis.

In this last year several other false flags have occurred with US-NATO involvement and support. Two months ago a planned false flag operation was uncovered when a few months earlier the Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary, a National Intelligence Organization staff and a Turkish general were secretly taped while openly discussing a proposed false flag attack on its own citizens and soil in Turkey that would then be falsely blamed on Syrian government military as a precursor to a Turkish invasion into Syria. There also has been a Turkish government representative making reference to being repeatedly asked by John Kerry about whether a false flag had been executed.

Al Qaeda rebels fighting in Syria have also been instructed to destroy and desecrate holy mosques in order to be able to blame Assad forces, thereby swaying the Syrian population against their government. All these incidents demonstrate continued US commitment to using the false flag strategies with US-NATO allies as proxy perpetrators.

Finally, in every sovereign nation targeted by the US for destabilization and regime change, as recently in Ukraine, Venezuela and Syria among other nations, the US-NATO secret security and intelligence forces have trained mercenarysnipers on using the false flag tactic by posing as enemy personnel and murdering their own citizens as well as police. Back in February in both Ukraine and Venezuela during the weeks leading up to the US-NATO supported Ukrainian fascist coup and the violent unrest in Venezuela, snipers shot and killed protestors in the streets. In both situations the cold-blooded killing was designed to turn public sentiment against the alleged oppressive government security forces that were being falsely blamed. Then in both nations photos were quickly posted on social media websites to enflame citizens to openly oppose and actively overthrow their existing government, which of course with US backing did occur in Ukraine. This same tactic continues currently in Ukraine where in Odessa several weeks ago murderous thugs posing as pro-Russian militants killed many victims in a building and then set fire killing even more.

The fact is the US has always had al Qaeda on its payroll spanning the last twenty-five years. For over three years al Qaeda mercenaries have been active in both Libya and Syria, fighting US proxy wars for regime changes in Libya against the overthrow of Muammar Kaddafi and in what now appears to be a losing cause in Syria to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. Therefore, it should not come as much of a surprise that the US government merely used Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda to be the patsies in a false flag operation to launch the war on terror on the false pretext of invading Afghanistan and Iraq.

Al Qaeda from the start has been a mere invention by US intelligence to declare war on a new enemy once the Soviet Union was dissolved nearly a quarter century ago. America was left as the sole world superpower but without an identifiable enemy. Hence, out of expedience, America’s military and CIA must always justify their need for constant war with a known enemy to demonize and fight, in effect justifying their very existence, not to mention being the prime beneficiaries of so much allocated US taxpayer funding. Obviously much is at stake for the military security complex to lay claim to so many hard earned taxpayer dollars.

For instance in 2011 alone, $845 billion dollars were spent on defense, security and veterans benefits, comprising about 25% of the total annual budget, nearly as much as the rest of the entire world spends on its military and defense combined! And this does not include much of the secret discretionary funds allocated carte blanche without oversight to covert Special Operations training death squads for more terrorism and enemies around the world. Thus it is imperative if the theft of so much taxpayer revenue is to continue or even increase in the future, the US government must continue to engage in false flag terrorism on its own people in order to condition the American population into actually believing there remains a very real and dangerous external threat to their very survival. Once the public reaches critical mass in catching on to the US government’s ponzi scam of global deceit, tragic waste and mass murder, enough angry and fed up Americans will revolt, refusing to any longer support the US Empire’s killing machine. It will be then that another false flag will be foisted on citizens that will in turn lead to martial law, FEMA roundups and a probable second American civil war.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former Army officer. His written manuscript based on his military experience examines leadership and national security issues and can be consulted at http://www.redredsea.net/westpointhagopian/. After the military, Joachim earned a masters degree in psychology and became a licensed therapist working in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now focuses on writing.

Plunging retail sales and rising inflation have rocked Japan’s anemic economy and cast doubt on the future of Abenomics. While the US Commerce Department announced that first-quarter growth in the United States had slipped into negative territory for the first time since 2011 (-0.1 percent), the news from Tokyo was even grimmer. Following a tax hike that began on April 1, retail sales have collapsed sabotaging far-right prime minister Shinzo Abe’s hope for a strong recovery and steering the economy towards another slump. According to Bloomberg News: 

“Japan’s retail sales dropped at the fastest pace in at least 14 years… Sales in April declined 13.7% from the previous month, the trade ministry reported today… The drop-off follows a consumer splurge ahead of the April 1 tax increase, and highlights the task Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces in steering the nation through a forecast contraction this quarter… The economy is forecast to shrink an annualized 3.4% this quarter.” (Bloomberg)

Economists around the world had cautioned Abe not to raise the consumption tax while the economy was still weak and wages were trending lower. But the urge to shrug more of the costs of government onto working people was too hard to resist. Abe pushed the tax hike through parliament, paving the way for yesterday’s retail meltdown. Check this out from Zero Hedge:

“Following last night’s record plunge in Japanese retail sales… Household Spending cratered 4.6% YoY – its biggest drop since the Tsunami… Industrial Production tumbled 2.5% MoM – also the biggest drop since the Tsunami (topped off by a) surge in Japanese CPI.” (Zero Hedge)

So while retail sales are dropping like a stone and wages continue to stagnate, inflation has suddenly burst onto the scene pushing up food and energy costs and increasing the hardship on Japan’s dwindling workforce. (inflation in April soared 3.4 percent on all items from a year earlier, while goods prices are up 5.2 percent) With debts and deficits piling up at an unprecedented pace and the economy slowing to a crawl, Abenomics is looking like an unmitigated catastrophe. This is from Testosterone Pit:

“Total retail sales in April plunged 19.8% from March and were down 4.4% year over year. (while)… “large retailers,” sales swooned 25.0% from March… At department stores, where people buy jewelry, designer clothing, or French purses, sales fell 10.6% year over year… In short, it was the largest decline in sales since March 2011, when the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that killed over 19,000 people, brought commerce to a near-standstill.” (Testosterone Pit)

Abe’s retail bloodbath is the result of a class-based economic policy that attempts to shift more of the nation’s wealth to fatcat stock speculators, corporations and establishment elites while the working people shoulder more of the costs of funding the government. Behind the public relations hype about “fighting deflation”, Abenomics so-called “structural reforms” are nothing more than a full-on attack on the meager incomes of Japan’s working people, 37 percent of whom are limited to part-time work with no benefits, retirement, health care or security. For these people–who number in the millions–life has only gotten harder under Abe.

At the same time, corporate bosses and the IMF are encouraging Abe to implement unpopular economic reforms quickly before the economy slides back into recession. The anti-worker “third arrow” of Abenomics will further undermine job security and working conditions while cutting corporate taxes. According to the Japan Times, “The Cabinet is likely to approve this year’s growth strategy on June 27″ which will involve “corporate tax cuts…reforming public funding, utilizing foreign labor, promoting entrepreneurship and more women in the workforce, and revitalizing local economies.” In other words, tax breaks for big business, slashing public spending, more cheap foreign labor, tax incentives for startups, and “special strategic zones” where worker safety and other regulations are jettisoned so corporate kingpins can rake in more dough. Abe’s third arrow is a wish list for voracious CEOs and carpetbagging business tycoons whose only objective is to extract more wealth from the sweat of working people.

Abenomics has been particularly destructive for those living beneath the poverty line, Japan’s down-and-outs. Besides raising the national sales tax, Abe has cut welfare benefits to shore up the governments flagging finances. The policy has triggered a sharp uptick in the number of working poor. According to the Japan Times, “the number of part-time, temporary and other non-regular workers who typically make less than half the average pay has jumped 70 percent from 1997 to 19.7 million today — 38 percent of the labor force.” This is the crux of the problem that you will not read about in the business-friendly, pro-corporate dissembling media, that is, that Japan’s economy suffers from chronic lack of demand due to falling incomes, shitty wages and system that favors the upward distribution of wealth. All of these have gotten worse under the exploitative leadership of Shifty Shinzo, Japan’s all-time worst PM.

Naturally, the perennial squeeze on workers is having an impact on consumer spending and industrial output. Check this out from Reuters:

“Japan’s household spending in April fell at the fastest rate in three years in a sign that consumption could be slow to recover from an increase in the nationwide sales tax, raising questions over the pace of economic recovery.

Industrial production fell more than expected in April as companies cut output to avoid a pile up in inventories in the lull after the sales tax hike took effect…Industrial output fell 2.5 percent in April, more than a median market forecast of a 2.0 percent fall.” (Reuters)

To summarize: Industrial production, down. Manufacturing, Down. Wages, Down. Profits for Japan’s biggest and greediest corporations, Up, Up, Up!

Also, higher inflation coupled with droopy wages (wages dropped 0.1 percent year-over-year) have pushed consumer confidence to its lowest level since 2011. Recent data show that consumer confidence plunged to 37.5 percent, the worst since the right-wing Abe took office. Additionally, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is about to drive the so called misery index, “which adds the jobless rate to the level of inflation, to its highest level since June 1981 when Japan was emerging from depression after the oil shocks of the 1970s.” (Bloomberg)

So while the media bimbos and their corporate taskmasters continue to applaud Abe’s willingness to destroy the economy and crush working people in the name of all-out class warfare, the results have been less than spectacular. In fact, the Japan’s economy is skittering headlong into another gigantic slump thanks to excessive monetary flim-flam, targeted tax gouging, and slavish pandering to the loafer class of moocher elites. Check this out from Roger Arnold at The Street:

“The essential policy tools of Abenomics are massive monetary and fiscal stimulus aimed at forcing the yen lower, which should cause exports to rise and domestic production to increase, leading to increased domestic job production and consumption: the virtuous cycle…

But it isn’t working…Abenomics is making the real economic and fiscal situations in Japan worse, not better. They are digging a bigger sovereign debt hole and accelerating the trajectory toward insolvency.” (Arnold: Abenomics’ Failure Is the Global Canary, The Street)

You bet it isn’t working, just like it’s not working in the United States or Europe or Canada or Australia or anywhere else the mercenary bank cartel has extended its hoary tentacles. Abenomics is failing because it was designed to fail. It was designed to do exactly what it does; transfer everything of value to a handful of crafty, self-serving freeloaders who have the political system by the balls and are extracting every last farthing they can before the economy collapses in a heap.

If you’re in the 1 percent, the system works just swell. For everyone else, not so much.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].

On March 30, bestselling author Michael Lewis appeared on 60 Minutes to summarize the findings in his newest book, Flash Boys, as follows: “stock market’s rigged.” Michael Lewis was talking about stock market manipulation by high frequency traders.

Increasingly, the U.S. bond market is delivering almost the same message as Michael Lewis. The U.S. Treasury market, which is experiencing a flight to safety (that suggests a slowing economy, lower corporate earnings and thus a lower stock market in the future) is essentially saying that the current composite wisdom of the stock market is either nuts or the market is, indeed, rigged.

Stocks have been setting new highs of late while the yields on the benchmark 10-year and 30-year Treasurys decline. The 10-year Treasury began the year at a yield of approximately 3 percent and closed on Friday at a yield of 2.49. The 30-year Treasury started the year at a yield of approximately 4 percent and closed last week with a yield of 3.33 percent.

….

The question is, does high frequency trading and stock market rigging have anything to do with this decoupling?

Read the complete article

The United States last week stepped up pressure on South Korea to take part in Washington’s regional anti-ballistic missile system. The South Korean government has in the past been reluctant to take part, rather focusing on its own indigenous program. The incorporation of South Korea into the existing US partnership on so-called “missile defence” with Japan would further inflame regional tensions.

The Wall Street Journal last Tuesday reported that “the US has conducted a site survey in South Korea for possible locations for a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) ballistic missile system.” However, officials told the newspaper that no final decision had been taken.

According to one defense official, Washington could try to convince South Korea to purchase a THAAD system, either directly or by installing it first at a US military base in South Korea and later selling to Seoul. The system is designed to intercept short, medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles up to an altitude of 150 kilometers and comes equipped with the X-band radar system.

The US plans to purchase seven THAAD systems, but as of now, only three are operational. Last year, the US military placed one on Guam, ostensibly in response to the North Korean “threat.”

Last Wednesday Admiral James A. Winnefeld, the vice chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs, delivered a speech to the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank, on the necessity of US allies such as South Korea acquiring their own anti-missile systems and strengthening regional cooperation.

“Going forward, we will continue to emphasise the importance of developing regional ballistic missile defence systems,” he said. “This is a very sensitive topic for several of our regional allies, but progress in this area would only increase our confidence in the face of persistent North Korean provocations.”

While Washington routinely uses North Korea to justify its anti-missile build-up, the real target is China. As part of its “pivot to Asia”, the Obama administration is building up military forces and strengthening its alliances throughout the region against China.

Far from being a defensive measure, the Pentagon’s placement of anti-ballistic missile systems in Asia is part of its planning for nuclear war with China. US strategists have been seeking “nuclear primacy”—that is, the ability of a US first strike to wipe out China’s nuclear arsenal. The US anti-missile systems are to knock out any remaining Chinese missiles.

Beijing has reacted negatively to the prospect of an anti-ballistic missile system in South Korea. Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang declared: “We believe that the deployment of ant-missile systems in this region will not help maintain stability and strategic balance in this region.”

Until now, South Korea has been reluctant to join the US missile defence partnership. Instead, it has built its own independent anti-missile system, called the Korean Air and Missile Defense System (KAMD), as well as the “Kill Chain” system, which is designed to carry out pre-emptive strikes on missile launch sites in North Korea. The South Korean KAMD system is designed to intercept short-range missiles that reach altitudes of less than 40 kilometers.

In part, South Korea has maintained its own anti-missile system so as not to alienate China, the country’s largest trading partner. At the same time, Seoul is well aware that placing a US anti-ballistic missile system on the peninsula would turn South Korea into a frontline target in the event of war between the US and China.

Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok last Thursday denied that Seoul’s position on the missile system had changed. “Our Defense Ministry is not aware of the US reviewing deployment of the THAAD system on the Korean Peninsula. The US missile-defense system is a separate system from our Army’s KAMD system.”

South Korean President Park Geun-hye, however, indicated that she was willing to consider a US request. “If there is a new proposal to be tabled by the US, this is something that could be discussed during talks between our defense ministers,” she said.

The US was expected to continue exerting pressure on Seoul during the Asia Security Summit in Singapore this past weekend. On the sidelines of the three-day conference, also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with his Korean and Japanese counterparts, Kim Kwan-jin and Itsunori Onodera, on Saturday.

The Wall Street Journal article indicated that the issue of missile defence would be “high on the agenda,” but nothing was announced.

Hagel did secure agreement on military intelligence sharing agreement between the three countries, a longstanding US goal. In 2012, at Washington’s insistence, Seoul and Tokyo nearly completed an intelligence sharing agreement, but it was derailed after former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak attempted to push through the deal without consulting the National Assembly. A trilateral memorandum of understanding is expected to be signed in the near future.

Washington has been frustrated by the state of affairs between its two allies. Relations between Seoul and Tokyo have soured in recent years, particularly over a territorial dispute over the Dokdo/Takeshima Islets in the Sea of Japan. Tensions have worsened after the 2012 election of right-wing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who has sought to whitewash the war crimes of Japanese imperialism in the 1930s and 1940s in Korea and China.

A senior defense official was quoted in the Wall Street Journal  s report saying: “It would be really useful if those nations could set aside their long standing differences. There is enormous utility to having a regionally-knitted together approach to missile defense.”

In March, President Obama personally interceded in the dispute between the two countries and brought President Park and Prime Minister Abe together for the first time on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague. Abe, who was elected in December 2012, and Park, who assumed office in February 2013, have yet to propose a bilateral summit.

In a menacing and provocative speech in Singapore on Saturday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel directly accused China of “destabilising, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea” and warned that the US “will not look the other way when fundamental principles of the international order are being challenged.”

Delivered at the Shangri-La Dialogue, the annual Asian defence forum, Hagel’s speech was an open and unequivocal statement that the US intends to maintain its undisputed dominance in Asia and will use its military might to that end. Hagel reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to the “pivot” or “rebalance” to Asia—an aggressive strategy aimed at undermining and militarily encircling China. The rebalance, he declared, “is not a goal, not a promise, or a vision—it’s a reality.”

In the course of his speech, Hagel listed the recent steps taken by the Obama administration to strengthen military ties throughout the region, including: new strategic partnerships with Vietnam and Malaysia, the signing of a basing agreement for US forces in the Philippines, the build-up of advanced US military hardware in Japan, expanded anti-ballistic missile systems in Asia, and greater military collaboration with key allies including Japan, South Korea and Australia.

The rapid US military build-up in Asia makes a mockery of the Obama administration’s claims that its “pivot” is purely to maintain peace and stability and is not targeted against China. As Hagel reaffirmed, by 2020, the US will station 60 percent of its air and naval assets in the Asia Pacific. The Pentagon also plans to boost support for its allies and strategic partners by increasing foreign military financing by 35 percent and military education and training by 40 percent by 2016.

Hagel dispensed with customary diplomatic niceties and openly attacked China over its actions in the South China Sea. Accusing Beijing of “intimidation and coercion,” he declared: “It has restricted access to Scarborough Reef, put pressure on the long-standing Philippine presence at the Second Thomas Shoal, begun land reclamation activities at multiple locations, and moved an oil rig into disputed waters [with Vietnam] near the Paracel Islands.”

In reality, the US has deliberately inflamed these longstanding territorial disputes as a means of driving a wedge between China and its neighbours. In 2010, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton provocatively declared at an Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) forum that the US had “a national interest” in ensuring “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea. Over the past four years, Washington has encouraged ASEAN countries, particularly the Philippines and Vietnam, to press their claims against China. As a result, low-level regional disputes have been transformed into dangerous international flashpoints for war.

Hagel delivered what amounted to an ultimatum to Beijing, declaring that it had a choice: “to unite and recommit to a stable regional order, or walk away from that commitment and risk the peace and security that have benefitted millions of people throughout the Asia Pacific.” In the course of his Asian tour in April, President Obama explicitly declared support for Japan and the Philippines in any war with China over disputed territories.

Hagel’s speech was part of a concerted campaign at the Shangri-La Dialogue to bully and bait China. His remarks were not only echoed by high-level American officials such as Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of the US Pacific Command, but by representatives of key Asian allies including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Defence Minister David Johnston.

In a keynote speech last Friday, Abe announced: “Japan intends to play an even greater and more proactive role” in security affairs in Asia and the world. He declared Japan’s “utmost support for efforts by ASEAN member countries to ensure the security of the seas and the skies and rigorously maintain freedom of navigation and overflight.”

Like the US, Japan is directly intervening in the disputes in the South China Sea, providing patrol boats to the Philippines and Indonesia and pushing for a deal with Vietnam to do the same. Targeting China, Abe declared: “What the world eagerly awaits is for our seas and our skies to be places governed by rules, laws and established dispute resolution procedures.”

Abe’s comments are utterly hypocritical. In the case of the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea, he refuses to acknowledge that there is even a dispute with China making “dispute resolution procedures” irrelevant. Since coming to power in December 2012, Abe has used the territorial dispute to justify Japan’s remilitarisation, including increased military budgets and the removal of constitutional constraints on the Japanese military.

The speeches by Hagel and Abe at the Shangri-La forum were calculated to goad Chinese officials present. Lieutenant General Wang Guanzhong, the deputy chief of the general staff and head of the Chinese delegation, hit back, branding Hagel’s speech as “full of threats and intimidating language,” “completely non-constructive” and “full of hegemony.”

Hagel and Abe appeared to be “singing in duet,” Wang declared. “In this kind of public space with many people openly criticising China without reason, Secretary Hagel’s speech is full of encouragement, incitement for the Asian region’s instability giving rise to a disturbance,” he said.

The gang-up of US and its allies against China at the Singapore forum is a marked escalation of the Obama administration’s drive to war in Asia. Even as it is engaged in a confrontation with Russia in Ukraine, Hagel’s bellicose language indicates that the US is determined to ramp up pressure on China and continued its military build-up in Asia.

It is no accident that Hagel focused on the South China Sea. A critical component of the Pentagon’s plans for war against China is control of the key sea lanes through South East Asia on which China relies to import energy and raw materials from Africa and the Middle East. In close collaboration with Japan and Australia, the US is positioning itself to be able to impose a blockade of China aimed at crippling its industry and economy.

The 24-member 9/11 Consensus Panel – which includes physicists, chemists, engineers, commercial pilots, attorneys and lawyers – today announced three new studies confirming the controlled demolition of World Trade Center 7.

The studies scientifically refutes the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) claim that, for the first time in history, fire caused the sudden and complete collapse of a large, fire-protected, steel-framed building on 9/11.

(Note that whereas the Consensus Panel uses a scientific methodology to peer-review its work, the NIST report was not peer-reviewed.)

The first Panel study deals with the NIST computer simulations, which purported to show that fire-induced thermal expansion caused a girder to be pushed off its seat at Column 79, thereby initiating a global collapse of the entire 47-storey building at 5:21 in the afternoon.

However, a recent FOIA request has produced WTC 7 architectural drawings showing that the NIST simulations omitted basic structural supports that would have made this girder failure impossible.

The second Consensus Panel study deals with NIST’s claim that it did not recover any steel from this massive steel-frame skyscraper.

This is extraordinary, given the need to understand why a steel-frame building would have completely collapsed for the first time in history from fire alone, and to thereby prevent a recurrence.

We know now that some of the steel was recovered.  Photographs recently obtained by researchers show the strange curled-up paper-thin WTC 7 steel, with a NIST investigator pointing it out.

The third Panel study shows that on September 11, 2001, many people were told hours in advance that WTC 7 was going to collapse.

MSNBC reporter Ashleigh Banfield said early in the afternoon: “I’ve heard several reports from several different officers now that that is the building that is going to go down next.”

Many members of the New York Fire Department were confidently waiting for the building to come down:

Firefighter Thomas Donato: “We were standing, waiting for seven to come down. We were there for quite a while, a couple hours.”

Assistant Commissioner James Drury: “I must have lingered there. There were hundreds of firefighters waiting to — they were waiting for 7 World Trade Center to come down.”

Chief Thomas McCarthy: “So when I get to the command post, they just had a flood of guys standing there. They were just waiting for 7 to come down.”

In addition, CNN and the BBC made premature announcements.

This foreknowledge corroborates the evidence presented in previous Consensus Points (WTC7-1 to WTC7-5) that WTC 7 was brought down by controlled demolition.

Source:

The 9/11 Consensus Panel:  [email protected][email protected]

Contact List:    http://www.consensus911.org/media-contacts/

Co-founders:    David Ray Griffin, Elizabeth Woodworth

Drone Wars: Surveying the Home Front

June 2nd, 2014 by Chris Cole

Today Statewatch and Drone Wars UK are co-publishing a new report into the use of unmanned drones in UK airspace. Back from the Battlefield: Domestic Drones in the UK written by Chris Jones of Statewatch examines the current use of drones in UK airspace by public and private bodies looking in particular at their use by police and border control authorities. The report argues that it is essential for widespread debate, discussion and democratic decision-making on the issue of ‘domestic’ drones in order to establish acceptable limits on their deployment and use by public authorities, private companies and individuals.

Despite strict Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulations that control and limit the use of drones in UK airspace slowly but surely the number of drone operators is increasing. In late 2011 Drone Wars UK revealed that around 50 to 60 annual ‘permissions’ were granted by the CAA to private companies and public institutions to fly drones in UK airspace. According to the CAA’s latest update there are now more than 220 public bodies and private companies that have permission to fly in the UK. However if plans to allow unmanned drones to fly freely in civil airspace are implemented – supposedly in 2016 – that number is likely to rocket.

The first section of the report examines the regulations and law governing the use of drones. The CAA currently tightly regulates the use of drones in the UK due to safety concerns. While this frustrates many would-be drone entrepreneurs, a number of crashes by small drones at public events over the past year has led to death and injuries and show that strict regulation is absolutely necessary (see here andhere and here and here.   In February 2014 the UK industry body representing insurance underwritersargued for significant changes to the way drones are currently being regulated due to “significant hazard, loss and risk” they pose.

In addition the danger posed to other aircraft is causing disquiet. Earlier this month the US equivalent of the CAA, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), revealed that a small drone had nearly collided with an airliner over Florida in March 2014. Such a collision could have “catastrophic results” said the FAA.

The report also addresses the other major concern with regard to the use of drones in civil airspace: privacy.  The government has argued that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and a recently adopted Surveillance Camera Code of Practice have to be taken into account should public authorities wish to operate drones. However, both contain numerous shortcomings and neither applies to private companies or individuals.

Considering these inadequacies – and in the light of phone hacking scandals by media organisations, on-going revelations about mass telecommunications surveillance by security agencies and the highly controversial use of undercover police officers in protest movements – there is arguably a need for a thorough revision of the UK’s legal and regulatory framework surrounding all forms of surveillance. As the New York Times wrote recently in an editorial on the opportunities and dangers posed by growing use of drones in civil airspace:

Given the National Security Agency’s widespread spying and efforts by advertisers and Internet companies to track consumers online, another technology capable of conducting mass surveillance could become a serious threat to privacy.

Behind the scenes the UK government has set up a ‘RPAS Cross Government Working Group’ to promote the use of ‘Remotely Piloted Air Systems’ (aka drones). However protecting the civil liberties and privacy of UK citizens does not even rate a cursory mention in the terms of reference for the group obtained by Tom Watson MP last month. In addition, while the European Commission has stated that it will “set tough new standards to regulate the operations of civil drones” details are yet to be seen.

police dronesThe report also looks in some detail at the use of drones by police and border agencies and suggests that the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) may already be using surveillance drones. 12 of Britain’s 51 regional police forces are known to have used drones to some extent over the last five years, but due to CAA restrictions such use has mainly been restricted to trials such as currently being undertaken by Sussex Police at Gatwick airport. Currently only Staffordshire Police and the PSNI are making regular use of drone technology.   Although early steps into drone use by the police have been tentative (and once or twice pretty embarrassing) it is likely to increase in the future.

Finally the report reveals that at least £80 million of public funding from both UK and EU institutions has gone towards the development of drones or the technology and facilities seen as a prerequisite for their use. Far more will likely be spent in the future – a consortium led by BAE Systems has just received an undisclosed amount to investigate “unmanned aviation in the civil market” as part of a £60 million push to “keep Britain at the forefront of the global aerospace market”.

While the developments in the use of civil drones is being backed by numerous public and private interests, there appears to have been relatively little – if any – thought given to the issues raised by the potential widespread introduction of domestic drones. It is essential that a widespread debate on these issues takes place now, before it is too late.

Please note: Additional data annexes available here  and background source materials and responses to Freedom of Information requests are here

Amidst howls of “whitewash” from media commentators and interested observers of all political hues, it seems the findings of the Chilcot Inquiry in to the Iraq war are finally to be published by the end of this year.

The Inquiry, Chaired by Sir John Chilcot ran from autumn 2009 to February 2011. Their Report is expected to run to several thousand pages with the total cost incurred from the date of the establishment of the hearings: “on 15th June 2009 up to 31st March 2012 … £6,129,000.”

As of 16th May this year: “ On the present timetable, the Inquiry may incur further costs of some £2 million.”(1, pdf.)

From June 2013 to November 2013 the Inquiry: “submitted ten requests covering some two hundred Cabinet-level discussions and twenty five Notes” from Tony Blair to President Bush “and more than one hundred and thirty records of conversations between either” Tony Blair or subsequent Prime Minister Gordon Brown and President Bush.(2)

Finally, on the 28th May Sir John published his letter (3,pdf) to Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood recording their:

“agreement on the principles that will underpin disclosure of material from Cabinet level discussions between the (former) UK Prime Minister and the President of the United States which the Inquiry has asked to use in its Report … My colleagues and I judge that this material is vital to the public understanding of the Inquiry’s conclusions.”

In the letter he also recalls some of the hurdles that have been put in the Inquiry’s path by the British government, past and present.

Sir Jeremy (NB: who was Private Secretary to Tony Blair prior to the 2003 invasion) appears to have followed in the footsteps of his predecessor Sir Gus O’Donnell who: “wrote to the Inquiry in January 2011 (making) clear that there was no prospect of reaching agreement that notes from Mr. Blair or records of discussions” (between him and President Bush) “should be disclosed in their entirety, even with redactions. Accordingly, the requests … submitted last summer were for permission to disclose quotes or gists of the content. We have concluded they are sufficient to explain our conclusions.”

In July and August last year: “some potential gaps in the material provided by the government” had been identified which have now been addressed, Sir John further notes in his letter.

Now it is down to “gists and quotes” from the notes, documents and a  hundred and thirty conversations: Consideration will be based on the principle that this material should not reflect President Bush’s views.” Agreement is also: that the use of direct quotations from the documents should be the minimum necessary …”

George W. Bush, with his Administration devised the horror of “Shock and Awe”, planned to attack Iraq two years before 11th September 2001, devising 935 public lies during the planning (4) and who said on 11th November 2002: “… for the sake of protecting our friends and allies, the United States will lead a mighty coalition of freedom-loving nations and disarm Saddam Hussein.

“See, I can’t imagine what was going through the mind of this enemy when they hit us. They probably thought the national religion was materialism, that we were so selfish and so self-absorbed that after 9/11/2001 this mighty nation would take a couple of steps back and file a lawsuit.” (5)

In spite of this:

“the material should not reflect George W. Bush’s views.” In light of the enormity of the breaches of international law and crimes seemingly devised by the Bush and Blair Administrations the level of protection and kid glove handling of the alleged culprits might be near unprecedented.

It should also be remembered that Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, former head of MI5 (2002-2007) told the Chilcot Inquiry that the Bush line that Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida were connected has no “credible intelligence” a view also held by the CIA she said – and that Saddam had “nothing” to do with 9/11. She added: “Arguably, we gave Osama bin Laden his Iraqi jihad.” The invasion also: “ radicalised young Muslims in Britain (Evidence 20th July 2010.)

However, not all are happy. On the BBC’s “Today” morning news programme, former Prime Minister Sir John Major, normally an unusually quiet and conciliatory man for a politician said:

“I think it is a pity the papers are going to be withheld for several reasons. Firstly, they will leave suspicions unresolved and those suspicions will fester and maybe worsen.

“Secondly, in many ways I think withholding them is going to be very embarrassing for Tony Blair, not least of course because he brought the Freedom of Information Act into law when he was in government.”

He pointed out that “strict rules” prevented the current government from getting involved, but the Labour Party or indeed Mr Blair could contacts the Cabinet Office and clear the full release of the documents.

“Mr Blair could, the previous Labour government could, and maybe in their own interests they should think about that because otherwise, as I say, this will fester and I don’t think anybody wishes to see that”, he stated. Of course for Blair to make such a request would be akin to a multi-millionaire alleged war criminal turkey voting for Christmas.

Former Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay also a previous Member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee accused Chilcot of “surrender” adding:

“It is a bad, bad day for democracy and justice. The Establishment of this country, and the security and intelligence services, have won again. Truth has lost out … We were lied to as a country time and time again on Iraq. The lies endure.”(6)

Rose Gentle whose soldier son Gordon was just nineteen when he was killed in Iraq in 2004, feels Blair himself is “behind” the gagging decision. She will not be alone, particularly as current Prime Minister David Cameron has talked of his admiration for him, regarding him as a “mentor” it would seem.

The most prescient and amusing account of the whole outrageous government cover up come from the blog of the most searingly honest and astute of MPs., Paul Flynn. The first three paragraphs of his 30th May blog on the subject are far too good to paraphrase:

“Surprised to hear today that I was lined up to do battle on the Chilcot betrayal with ‘Peter Jay.’  Even more surprised he used the words ‘shits’ three times at noon on the eminently respectable BBC Wales.

“I’ve not heard his name for years. But I remember him as a broadcast journalist son-in-law of Jim Callaghan. There were whispers of nepotism when he was appointed, without diplomatic qualifications, ambassador to the USA. His spell there was distinguished by personal indiscretions – including allegedly fathering a child with his children’s’ nanny. His colourful career afterwards included a spell as Chief of Staff to Robert Maxwell. In company Maxwell always called him ‘Mr Ambassador’.

“From today’s performance on BBC Wales, it’s clear he has now become very righteous and correct. He said that only ‘shits’ would want to publish the whole truth on the Bush-Blair correspondence that led to the Iraq War and the deaths of 179 UK soldiers. Is this how diplomats communicate? The loved ones of the fallen had no right to hear the whole truth, Jay explained. Protocol between the UK and USA was a higher priority.  His is the authentic voice of yesterday’s contemptible establishment arrogance telling the lower orders ‘ Yours not to reason why. Yours, but to do and die.’”

Cameron of course, is still eyeing his very own war in intervening in Syria, surely not coincidentally, a course urged by Blair – so fearful that he is safely guarded by a large armed protection squad at British taxpayers expense where ever he goes. Incidentally, it seems Tony Blair is again currently bidding for another go as EU President.(8) Given the horrors he unleashed as a Prime Minister of a small island off France, imagine the nightmare if he prevails.

In the light of the sustained campaign in high places to render the Chilcot Inquiry impotent, it is perhaps worth concluding with the Freedom of Information Act the then Prime Minster Blair introduced in 2000.

He became Prime Minister in 1997. In 1996 he stated of the proposed legislation:

“It is not some isolated constitutional reform that we are proposing with a Freedom of Information Act. It is a change that is absolutely fundamental to how we see politics developing in this country over the next few years…information is power and any government’s attitude about sharing information with the people actually says a great deal about how it views power itself and how it views the relationship between itself and the people who elected it.”

Further, also when in opposition, that: “Such an act would ‘signal a new relationship between government and people: a relationship which sees the public as legitimate stakeholders in the running of the country.’ “(9)

What a long time thirteen years is in politics and after an invasion or two. In his autobiography “A Journey”, published in 2010 he writes:

“Freedom of Information Act. Three harmless words. I look at those words as I write them, and feel like shaking my head ‘til it drops off. You idiot. You naive, foolish, irresponsible nincompoop. There is really no description of stupidity, no matter how vivid, that is adequate. I quake at the imbecility of it.”

Moreover: “Scandals will happen … The problem with FOI is that it can be used to expose them.”  Scandals don’t get much bigger than embarking on an illegal war, destruction of the “Cradle of Civilisation”, manufactured on a pack of lies.

Until, as has been tried on a number of occasions (10,11) someone finally arrests him and delivers him to the International Criminal Court, the least he can do is relieve the British taxpayer of the cost of the Chilcot Inquiry and pay for it out of the millions he has made since the slaughter of an upper estimate of one and a half million Iraqis and his departure from Downing Street.

Perhaps the Court will order his assets stripped, his seven mansions sold and used to compensate, in some small way, the maimed, bereaved, cancer patients resultant from the depleted uranium weapons used in Iraq and Afghanistan under his tenure. Globally, many still dream of international justice that is truly, universally, even handed.

A personal note: I emphatically believed this Inquiry would be yet another whitewash, given the totally establishment figures conducting it. I now believe their eyes and minds were opened to the historic lie-driven horror wrought upon Iraq and that Sir John has stood his ground and done his best against the iron wall of government resistance against this government proclaimed final “Open Inquiry.”

Notes

1. www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/sn06215.pdf

2. http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/news/update_on_inquiry_progress_-_november_2013.aspx

3.  http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/media/55103/2014-05-28_Chilcot_Heywood.pdf 

4. http://edition.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/01/23/bush.iraq/

5. http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2002/11/20021101-2.html

6. http://www.hemsworthandsouthelmsallexpress.co.uk/news/national/blair-could-intervene-on-chilcot-1-6645469

7. http://paulflynnmp.typepad.com/

8. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2645052/President-Blairs-plan-save-EU-He-tells-Germanys-Merkel-defend-Europe-far-right-fuelling-speculation-bid-Presidency.html

9. http://www.cfoi.org.uk/blairarticle060910.html

10. http://www.arrestblair.org/

11. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/man-who-called-for-blair-to-be-arrested-for-war-crimes-fined-100-8323995.html

Syria: Dirty Lies and Black Deeds of Barack Obama

June 2nd, 2014 by Viktor Mikhin

American President Barack Obama while delivering a speech at the West Point graduation ceremony on May 28 outlined his foreign policy agenda for the remaining years of his term. In this speech, Obama defended his decision to avoid direct military intervention in Syria and expressed his willingness to increase the aid to the opposition groups that would be willing to attempt a military overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “As president, I made a decision that we should not put American troops into the middle of this increasingly sectarian civil war, and I believe that is the right decision. But that does not mean we shouldn’t help the Syrian people stand up against a dictator who bombs and starves his people”.

Obama affirmed that his administration will be working together with Congress to increase the assistance to the groups that “offer the best alternative to terrorists and a brutal dictator”. Additionally Obama pledged his support to Syria’s neighbours – Jordan and Lebanon; Turkey and Iraq. In addition, Obama promised to allocate up to 5 billion dollars on counter terrorism operations and training of security forces in other countries in order to combat extremism.

While listening to this speech one couldn’t help but feel amazed with this cheap demagoguery, cynicism and a bunch of lies delivered by the highest official in the United States . After all, it is a well known fact that the US initiated the creation of the “Al-Qaeda” organization and its leader Osama bin Laden had been a VIP guest of the financial department of the CIA for over three decades. It is Washington and its faithful European satellites along with the Arab monarchies that is behind the creation of numerous terrorist organizations of today. And now this terrorist scum from all over the world is butchering people in Syria, in an attempt to show “value for the money” provided by Washington and its allies .

Understandably, the US president is planning to increase its support of the Syrian rebels in order to further prolong the civil war in Syria that should result in the eventual destruction of this country, as it has happened before in Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Libya due to a hefty amount of the US “assistance”. Joshua Landis an Associate Professor at the University of Oklahoma believes that, should the rebels prevail, the probability of turning Syria into another Somalia and the further continuation of the conflict between the militants themselves without the involvement of government forces is extremely high. This, in the long, run can significantly increase the number of refuges leaving Syria.

According to the CIA reports there are more than 1500 different terrorist groups operating in Syria now, the better part of them is manned by Americans and Europeans. Earlier, the Syrian government issued a statement about the proportion of foreigners among terrorists and bandits waging war in the country, this proportion exceeds 80%. The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States James Komi told reporters that the flow of US and EU citizens wishing to fight on the side of the Syrian opposition had significantly increased. According to Janis Komi, dozens of Americans are joining the ranks of insurgents in Syria to participate in the conflict, however the number of EU mercenaries arriving in Syria is calculated in thousands.

Unexpectedly, it’s the mercenaries from the US and Europe, fighting in Syria in the ranks of extremist groups, that are largely responsible for the brutal executions. On top of all they’re not simply engaging the security forces of President Bashar al-Assad, but other rebels and civilians alike. This was the statement made by the Free Syrian Army General Abdullah al-Bashir to The Times newspaper. According to this commander, European extremists make up the bulk of all troops fighting in the ranks of a breakaway “Al- Qaeda ” radical group – ” Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant “, and those resort to extremely brutal methods in combat.

“The Syrian people are beaten, killed, beheaded, crucified, women are treated improperly, the command is run by archaic methods” – the newspaper quotes the General. According to Abdullah al-Bashir, the majority of those participating in these acts are British subjects. He underlined that that these extremists are kidnapping the men of the Free Syrian Army and attack civilian houses in Raqqa, instead of assaulting a nearby base of the Syrian Air Forces.

A PBS documentary on Syria depicts how Americans are training armed opposition forces on a secret base in Qatar. The future militants are taught, in particular, “how to kill soldiers who are still alive after an attack”. The US military instructors seem to be aiming at developing a particular ferocity in their cadets. The film also features numerous interviews with Syrian militants filmed by a PBS journalist, they say that they were meeting secretly with their “American supervisors” in Turkey to obtain weapons and ammunition from them.

By who is supplying these illegal formations with weapons and thus fanning the flames of the civil war? For instance, the latest reports say that Syrian rebels started receiving TOW antitank missiles systems produced in the US. By now it’s only the trial program aimed at supporting the forces fighting against the Syrian army, the USA Today newspaper reported, citing its own sources. “First they try it, and then we’ll see how it goes (before increasing supplies)” – said a former US senior official in his interview to the newspaper.

Congressman Mike Rogers, in turn, told the newspaper that there is a “limited growth” of support provided to these terrorists. However, he did not specify what was the form of this “support”. Experts interviewed by the USA Today, also refused to specify whether the United States was supplying the anti-tank weapons directly, but they hinted that the supplies of TOWs to Syria must be carried out by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, but “it wouldn’t happen without the consent of the United States”.

But it’s not all that easy with supplying bandits and terrorists. As it was the case with “Al-Qaeda”, Syrian extremists and terrorists have already declared their readiness to attack the British transport infrastructure and financial centers, and they have nothing against arranging terrorist attacks in the United States, for example, like bombing the White House, reports The Daily Mail. A promise to carry out such attacks has already appeared on the Internet. According to the British newspapers, the UK secret services take such threats extremely seriously. In turn, the BBC writes: “Never before has the UK citizens fighting in Syria threatened their own country with such bloody acts”.

According to The Daily Mail, the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is in possession of reports that show that “Al-Qaeda” has organized a training camp in Syria, in which it has been training mercenaries from Western countries. According to the publication, in this camp, foreigners are studying terrorism, and then they should be returning to their respective countries to carry out terrorist attacks there.

Above facts are substantial enough for anyone to admit that Washington and President Obama personally is responsible for all the atrocities and crimes that their mercenaries are carrying out and the US administration will not wash the blood of 150,000 Syrian civilians off their hands. And now Obama is going to allocate another $ 5 billion (incidentally, the same amount that was spent in order to the trigger the bloody events in the Ukraine) on the so-called anti-terrorist activities. In fact, it all turns around, as the facts show, leading to further deterioration of the civil war and more Syrian civilians killed.

When enough is enough? Isn’t it the time to punish those contenders for world domination with their never ending war hysteria? Maybe it’s time to remember the words Lakhdar Brahimi a former UN special envoy to Syria that had unfortunately failed his mission, who said that everyone who is responsible for the situation and can influence it must remember that the question is how many more people must die, how many more buildings must be destroyed, before Syria would become a country we all knew, and at the same time – the new Syria, a country that we all love.

Victor Mikhin, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”. 

Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad

Tens of thousands of Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem have spent three months without running water, despite petitions and calls from human rights bodies after an Israeli water utility company stopped supplies in March.

Hagihon, Jerusalem’s water utility company, stopped regular supplies of running water to several neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem, such as Shu’fat Refugee Camp, Ras Khamis, Ras Sh’hadeh and Dahiyat a-Salam, said a statement from the website of B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

The camps are located inside Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries and isolated from the rest of the city by the Separation Barrier.

According to B’Tselem, some households in these camps “have been completely cut off from the water supply” while others “receive water intermittently.”

“As for the rest, the water pressure in the pipes is so low that the water does not reach the faucets,”says the statement.

As a result, between 60,000 and 80,000 Palestinians, the majority of whom are permanent Israeli residents, have been left without a regular water supply, adds the organization.

According to B’Tselem, the fact that people have to live without a proper water supply is but “another outcome of the severe and ongoing neglect of the residents in the Jerusalem neighborhoods separated by the Separation Barrier from the rest of East Jerusalem.”

“The construction of the barrier and the isolation of these neighborhoods have led to a state of neglect even more severe than that endured by East Jerusalem neighborhoods for decades,” says the group.

Meanwhile, the local residents continue looking for running water in the camps. Families have no choice but to buy bottled water and limit their consumption – drinking, showering and laundry – to minimum.

AFP Photo / Hazem Bader AFP Photo / Hazem Bader

“Every other week, I take the kids to my family’s home in Ras al-‘Amud [Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem] to shower. We go by bus and it takes us an hour to get there,” Linda Abu Rajeb told B’Tselem.

She said that her husband has to walk over to his brother’s house, which is nearly a kilometer away to get water.

When the running water was stopped back in March, people spent at least three weeks calling the Hagihon Company and the Jerusalem Municipality to restore the water supply in their neighborhoods.

On March 25, local residents, community leaders and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) wrote a petition to the Israeli High Court of Justice over negligence that has cut water supplies to tens of thousands of people.

“This is a humanitarian crisis of the first degree, and infringes on the right to water, dignity and health, especially of children and infants, the elderly, the sick and persons with disabilities,” said the petition.

According to ACRI, the water infrastructure in the affected areas can support only 15, 000 people, while there are more than 80,000 in the camps.

Hagihon in its turn said that “security problems (including employees needing to have a police escort) and frequent attacks against infrastructure,” were preventing the company from carrying out its maintenance work properly in the Palestinian neighborhoods.

On 2 April, 2014, the Court told Israeli officials to give a response to the petition within 60 days. The deadline is set on the first week of June 2014.

White House Purchases Google Key Words to Slam Putin

Russian writer idaltae tweeted the following:

Because she didn’t say what search term she used to pull up that ad – and because we don’t live in Russia – it took some legwork to verify that this is real.

Specifically, we used Keyword Spy – a highly-regarded and widely-used resource in the SEO industry – to see if the White House had purchased keywords for Google using the domain name WhiteHouse.gov.

Indeed, we did find the ad using Keyword Spy:

 

 Keyword Spy also told us the keywords which the White House purchased:

Telenor is a huge telecommunications company based in Norway, which provides telecom services in Eastern Europe, and has had a series of legal disputes regarding its sizable ownership stake in Russian and Ukrainian telecoms.

In other words, Telenor Russia is probably a popular Google search term in Russia and Ukraine.  And the White House has purchased Google key words to troll Putin.