Iraq plunged further toward full-scale civil war Tuesday when Sunni insurgents of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) took control of most of Mosul after four days of fighting.

ISIS (also referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) seized government buildings, television stations, police headquarters, prisons, military installations and the airport in the country’s second largest city when Iraqi army and police forces abandoned their posts and weapons and fled.

The collapse of government forces, said to number 60,000 in the region, before several hundred insurgents is a humiliation for the central government, exposing its extreme weakness and placing a question mark over its continued existence. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has presided over a sectarian Shia government that has alienated Sunni tribal leaders by removing leading Sunnis from office and otherwise marginalizing them.

Coming just two and a half years after the withdrawal of the last of a US occupation force that at its peak numbered over 157,000—deployed in a war sold to the US public as a struggle against terrorism—the fall of Mosul to Al Qaeda-linked guerrillas also constitutes a searing indictment of the criminal character of US policy in the region.

With the takeover of the west bank and center of Mosul, a mostly Sunni city of 1.8 million people 220 miles north of Baghdad, ISIS controls a large swath of territory stretching from the eastern outskirts of Aleppo in Syria to Fallujah and part of Ramadi in Iraq’s western Anbar Province, to large parts of Nineveh Province and its capital, Mosul.

ISIS’ goal is to establish an Islamic caliphate comprising the two countries.

Iraq has been hit in recent months by an eruption of sectarian bombings and killings, mostly directed against Shiite Muslims, Kurds and Christians. ISIS practices a particularly savage form of Sunni fanaticism, carrying out widespread massacres of civilians in both Syria and Iraq.

Mosul is known as the political capital of northern Iraq and is strategically located on the border of the autonomous Kurdish region, home to large oil reserves. The city is a key transit point for exports of Iraqi petroleum. It has been at the center of a power struggle between the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government over control of the oil in the region.

On Tuesday, Maliki went on television to declare a nationwide state of “maximum preparedness” and request that the Iraqi parliament approve a state of emergency. He did not, however, indicate how or when he would attempt to dislodge ISIS from Mosul. The jihadist group has maintained control of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi since early January, beating back all attempts by government forces to retake the cities.

Officials in Nineveh urged Kurdish authorities to mobilize their peshmerga military force against the ISIS attackers, but Kurdish spokesmen said they had first to receive a request from the central government in Baghdad. The population on the east bank of Mosul, which has as yet not been occupied by ISIS, is mostly Kurdish. Maliki gave no indication of making such a request in his remarks Tuesday.

The ISIS offensive in Mosul has compounded a worsening humanitarian crisis. The United Nations refugee agency reported last week that nearly 500,000 people had been displaced so far this year in fighting, primarily in Anbar Province. The BBC reported Tuesday that some 150,000 people had already fled Mosul. The Mosul refugees are heading to nearby Kurdistan to seek protection from marauding ISIS forces.

The Wall Street Journal quoted Mahmoud Al Taie, a dentist, saying, “The whole of Mosul collapsed today. We’ve fled our homes and neighborhoods, and we’re looking for God’s mercy. We are waiting to die.”

Reuters cited Amina Ibrahim, who was leaving the city with her children. She said, “Mosul is now like hell. It’s in flames and death is everywhere.” Her husband had been killed last year in a bombing. The news agency cited one of its reporters as seeing “the bodies of soldiers and policemen, some mutilated, littering the streets.”

The UN estimates that 8,868 people were killed in Iraq in 2013, the worst death toll since the height of the sectarian fighting in 2006 and 2007. The UN mission in Iraq reported that May was the deadliest month so far this year, with 799 Iraqis killed in violence, including 603 civilians. The past few days, in addition to the fighting in Mosul, have seen ISIS attacks in a number of cities and a wave of sectarian bombings in Baghdad and elsewhere. On Tuesday, bombs exploded near a funeral procession in Baquba, 30 miles northeast of Baghdad, killing at least 20 people.

On Sunday and Monday, offices of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Communist Party of Kurdistan in Diyala Province, north of Baghdad, were bombed, killing some 40 people in all. ISIS claimed responsibility for these attacks.

Last week, ISIS sent a column of fighters into Samara, a Sunni city that includes a famous Shia shrine, and stormed Anbar University outside Ramadi, taking some 100 students hostage. ISIS withdrew its forces from both places after being challenged by government forces and released most of the hostages taken at the university.

On Saturday night, seven car bombs exploded within an hour in Baghdad, killing at least 52 people, mostly Shiites.

Washington reacted with alarm to the ISIS seizure of Mosul. There are reports that the insurgents gained access to bank deposits and government funds in addition to seizing advanced weaponry, including helicopters and planes, from the fleeing Iraqi troops. ISIS also freed hundreds of prisoners, mostly ISIS and Al Qaeda supporters, who are likely to join the insurgency.

The US has been attempting to isolate and subdue ISIS in Syria, mobilizing other jihadist forces, including the Al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra Front, in order to create the conditions to resume its war for regime-change against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It does not want to see ISIS increase its influence in Iraq. The private intelligence service Stratfor reported Tuesday that Washington has accelerated its arming of the Baghdad regime since the fall of Fallujah and Ramadi in January. According to Stratfor, the US has increased its sale of small arms, ammunition and Hellfire missiles to Baghdad, is training Iraq’s special forces in Jordan, and plans to deliver the first F-16 jets to the Iraqi regime before the end of the year.

The US State Department issued a statement saying it was “deeply concerned” by the developments in Mosul and that Washington would “support a strong, coordinated response.”

The statement went on to say that the United Sates would “provide all appropriate assistance to the government of Iraq,” adding that ISIS was “not only a threat to the stability of Iraq, but a threat to the entire region.”

This is the height of hypocrisy and cynicism. US imperialism is entirely responsible for the catastrophe engulfing Iraq, including the rise of forces such as ISIS. The American invasion and nearly decade-long occupation killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, wounded countless more, turned millions into refugees and destroyed the economic and social infrastructure of the country.

While the Bush administration fabricated claims that there were ties between the Saddam Hussein regime and Al Qaeda in an attempt to convince the American public that the war of aggression was retaliation for 9/11, in reality there was no Al Qaeda presence in Iraq until after the US invasion toppled the Iraqi government.

Washington deliberately fomented and exploited sectarian differences in order to overthrow the Sunni-based regime of Saddam Hussein and destroy the Baathist political establishment. It then encouraged Shia resentment against the old Sunni-based elite and installed a Shia sectarian government in order to block the emergence of a unified opposition to its neo-colonial occupation. This created a fertile environment for Al Qaeda-linked forces.

In Syria, it has similarly played the sectarian card in its attempt to pit the majority Sunni population against the Assad regime. The US has promoted, financed and armed Sunni jihadist forces such as ISIS to wage the civil war that has devastated that country.

Detention under spurious charges in Ethiopia is nothing new. With the second highest rate of imprisoned journalists in Africa[1] and arbitrary detention for anyone who openly objects to the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) regime’s despotic iron fist, the Western backed government in Addis Ababa is a dab hand at silencing its critics.

Eskinder Nega and Reeyot Alemu are just two of the country’s more famous examples of journalists thrown in prison for daring to call the EPRFD out on their reckless disregard for human rights. This April the regime made headlines again for jailing six[2] bloggers and three more journalists on trumped up charges of inciting violence through their journalistic work. Repeated calls for due legal process for the detainees from human rights organisations and politicians, such as John Kerry, have fallen on deaf ears as they languish in uncertainty awaiting trial. This zero-tolerance approach to questioning of government repression is central to the EPRDF’s attempts to control its national and international image and doesn’t show much signs of letting up.

Stepping up their counter-dissent efforts the regime just this week detained another journalist Elias Gebru – the editor-in-chief of the independent news magazine Enku. Gebru’s magazine is accused of inciting student protests[3] which rocked Oromia state at the end of April. The magazine published a column which discussed the building of a monument[4] outside Addis Ababa honouring the massacre of Oromos by Emperor Melinik in the 19th century. The regime has tried to tie the column with protests against its plans to bring parts of Oromia state under Addis Ababa’s jurisdiction. The protests, which kicked off at Ambo University and spread to other parts of the state, resulted in estimates[5] of up to 47 people being shot dead by security forces.

Ethiopia has a history of student protest movements setting the wheels of change in motion. From student opposition to imperialism in the 1960s and 1970s to the early politicisation of Meles Zenawi at the University Students’ Union of Addis Ababa.  The world over things begin to change when people stand up, say enough and mobilise. Ethiopia is no different. Similar to its treatment of journalists Ethiopia also has a history of jailing students and attempting to eradicate their voices. In light of such heavy handed approaches to dissent the recent protests which started at Ambo University are a telling sign of the level discontent felt by the Oromo – the country’s largest Ethnic group. Long oppressed by the Tigrayan dominated EPRDF, the Oromo people may have just started a movement which has potential ramifications for a government bent on maintaining its grip over the ethnically diverse country of 90 million plus people.

Students and universities are agents of change and the EPRDF regime knows this very well. The deadly backlash from government forces against the student protesters in Oromia in April resulted in dozens[6] of protesters reportedly being shot dead in the streets of Ambo and other towns in Oromia state. Since the protests began scores more have been arbitrarily detained or vanished without a trace from campuses and towns around the state. One student leader, Deratu Abdeta  (a student at Dire Dawa University) is currently unlawfully detained in the notorious Maekelawi prison for fear she may encourage other students to protest. She is a considered at high risk of being tortured.

In addition to Ms. Abdeta many other students are suspected of being unlawfully detained around the country. On May 27th 13 students were abducted from Haramaya University by the security forces. The fate of 12 of the students is unknown but one student, Alsan Hassan, has reportedly committed suicide by cutting his own throat all the way to the bones at the back of his neck after somehow managing to inflict bruises all over his body and gouging out his own eye. His tragic death became known when a local police officer called his family to identify the body and told them to pay 10,000 Birr ($500) to transport his body from Menelik hospital in Addis Ababa to Dire Dawa town in Oromo state.  Four of the other students have been named as Lencho Fita Hordofa, Ararsaa Lagasaa, Jaaraa Margaa, and Walabummaa Goshee.

Detaining journalists and students without fair judicial recourse may serve the EPRDF regime’s short term goal of eradicating its critics. However, the reprehensible silencing of opponents is one sure sign of a regime fearful of losing its vice-like grip. Ironically the government itself has its own roots in student led protests in the 1970s. No doubt it is well aware that universities pose one of the greatest threats to its determination to maintain power at all costs. Countless reports of spies monitoring student and teacher activities on campus, rigid curriculum control and micro-managing just who gets to study what are symptoms of this. The vociferous clamp-down on student protesters is another symptom and just the regime’s latest attempt to keep Ethiopia in a violent headlock. The regime would do well to remember that stress positions cause cramps and headlocks can be broken. It can try to suppress the truth but it can’t try forever.

Paul O’Keeffe is a Doctoral Fellow at Sapienza University of Rome. His research focuses on Ethiopia’s developing higher education system.


Socialism is by no means dead, except in the minds of much of what passes for the Left in the West. Socialists are struggling to overcome capitalist relations of power in various places around the world. “Radicals would benefit much from studying the cooperative economic and political structures of the Bolivarian process.”

After over two decades since the destabilization of the socialist bloc, the debate brought on by Francis Fukuyama’s “end of history” proclamation has taken a turn left.  “The end of history” argument was the bourgeoisie’s claim to victory over socialism. Capitalism and imperialism have indeed expanded, ravaging the people of the world with poverty, war, racism, and instability in every corner of the planet.  Yet, Fukuyama’s implied conclusion of socialism’s defeat was, and still is, dead wrong. The world is far from a “post-ideological” order. Although not the only example of a still existing and developing challenge to global capitalism, Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution in particular has inspired a left movement in Latin America called 21st Century Socialism.  What can revolutionaries and radicals in the US learn from this movement as we rebuild our forces in the US imperial center?

The fact that socialism is becoming more “popular” in the US is reason enough to examine the idea of 21st Century Socialism further.  A Pew Research Center Poll in 2011 found that nearly half of young people in the US find socialism favorable over capitalism.  However, socialism’s definition is unclear in the study. Arguably, the meaning of socialism is unclear for most left-leaning folk in the US whose primary source of information is the corporate media and capitalist education.  21st Century socialism has the potential to provide renewed clarity for progressive and radical forces in the US desperately seeking a model of resistance against US imperialism.

In Venezuela, 21st century socialism represents a break from US-sponsored imperialism and neo-liberalism. From the power and organization of the nation’s working class and poor, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) has implemented vast political and economic changes to Venezuelan society.  Social welfare programs, called “Missions,” have greatly reduced poverty, homelessness, and unequal access to healthcare and education.  Politically, the electoral process has been transformed from a two-party competition between the wealthy national elite into a practice of direct-democracy. Neighborhood ”Bolivarian circles” and a revised Constitution ensure popular participation in all branches of government.  These reforms have caught the attention of imperialist instruments.  The UN heralded Venezuela for reducing poverty in the region more than any other Latin American country in 2012.  Former US president Jimmy Carter called Venezuela’s election process “the best in the world.”

21st Century socialism has the potential to provide renewed clarity for progressive and radical forces in the US.”

Revolutionaries in the US have much to learn from the Bolivarian process. While Venezuelans are building infrastructure for universal healthcare, education, and housing, the US government is privatizing these human necessities. The leadership of the Bolivarian government has taken defiant positions against US imperialism in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East, while some who pose as left “leadership” in the US has been caught cheering US imperial invasions from Libya to Syria.  Organizing efforts like Jackson Rising in Mississippi remain anomalies in the US. Radicals would benefit much from studying the cooperative economic and political structures of the Bolivarian process. Such structures have allowed Venezuela’s revolutionary leadership and masses to defend the gains of the revolution from imperialist subversion and deepen the revolutionary process despite the untimely death of Hugo Chavez in 2013.

It is important that radicals in the US avoid romanticizing the Bolivarian Revolution and 21st Century socialism, but do so with solidarity and internationalism in mind.  The US’s racist and capitalist roots have been a centuries-long roadblock to socialist construction. This has been true since European colonialism bloodily uprooted communal and collective indigenous societies in the Americas five centuries ago.  When the US took the reigns as top imperial power halfway through the 20th century, anti-communism and racism were combined into a comprehensive domestic and international strategy for capitalist domination over the growing influence of the socialist Soviet Union and China in world affairs. US intelligence (COINTELPRO) neutralized communists and socialists in the US at the same time that the US military apparatus was conducting imperialist invasions of Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, and many other nations around the world that were breaking free from imperialist rule. 21st Century socialism in Venezuela overlooks this history in a balancing act with current global political conditions.  The Bolivarian revolution is building its political and economic infrastructure in the midst of US imperialist attack, and US radicals would do well to understand the affect of these concrete conditions on the political direction of this movement.

The Bolivarian revolutionary movement for 21st century socialism has positioned itself as a “third way” to distinguish the movement from the racist “Cold War” rhetoric that painted capitalism as “benevolent” and communism and socialism as “evil.”  Although Venezuela’s socialist movement has taken firm positions in defense of nations under imperialist attack, 21st century socialism’s “third way” politics present future problems for implementation in the US imperialist center. A revived and rejuvenated US radicalism needs to build a clear internationalist framework that defends and learns from all nations currently struggling against imperialism, not just Venezuela. This means fighting the racism and mythology surrounding nations like Cuba and North Korea, two socialist countries that have transformed their societies to better meet the needs of workers and peasants despite a decades-long struggle against US imperialism. It also means revisiting the conflict between the Soviet Union and the US, a period of history that needs desperate revision after nearly a century-long disinformation campaign waged by US imperialism.  Simply put, US radicals and revolutionaries need to take a firm position on the self-determination of all nations and peoples to their own political and economic destinies, something 21st Century socialism leaves open to debate within its “third way” non-communist but yet non-capitalist framing.

The Bolivarian revolution is building its political and economic infrastructure in the midst of US imperialist attack.”

US radicals and revolutionaries cannot emulate the creation of “one…two…many Vietnams” that Che Guevara had in mind for the anti-imperialist struggle of the Third-World when it comes to building a “21st Century” socialist movement in the US imperial center.  It is impossible to fathom an alternative model of economic development existing in the US alongside the imperialist state. Venezuela is currently under threat of US sanctions and has been struggling for years against US-coup attempts and proxy violence.  Many of Venezuela’s continued problems with inflation and instability derive from the intentional obstruction of and hostility to working class power from Venezuela’s oligarchy. Radicals and revolutionaries in the US have more than a few tasks ahead of them, one of them being the obligation to stand in solidarity with sovereign nations against imperialism. Another critical task is to begin defining and promoting socialism as the transfer of property, wealth, and production out of the private grips of the capitalist class and into the collective hands of the workers, oppressed, and exploited everywhere.  This is the definition of socialism that needs to endure into the 21st century and beyond.

Danny Haiphong is an activist and case manager in the Greater Boston area. You can contact Danny at: [email protected]

As the war in the southeast of (former) Ukraine rages on, more proof is emerging of active Polish participation there. This participation has thus far been indirect (i.e. no official Polish military units), although this does not mean that it is no less lethal. Not only has Poland been complicit in training urban terrorists in the run-up to the EuroMaidan chaos, but it has also sent loads of mercenaries to forcibly put down the anti-coup protesters rising up against the junta.

Now, photographic proof linking Poland to the Ukrainian madness has arisen. Jerzy Dziewulski, the security advisor to former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, was photographed last week with Turchynov in Slavyansk. Dziewulski is a notorious counter-terrorism expert, having been trained in the US, Israel, France, and Germany, and he currently runs his own private ‘security’ organization. Despite Sikorski playing dumb about the presence of Polish mercenaries in Ukraine and saying he’d “report the fact to the country’s prosecution office”, Dziewulski’s photo with Turchynov proves that he is lying. In reality, Sikorski and Dziewulski represent Poland’s strategic and tactical interference in Ukraine’s civil conflict, and one can no longer be separated from the other.

Photo taken at the outskirts of Slavyansk, at the HQ of Ukrainian "antiterrorist operation" command. Jerzy Dziewulski (left) and Alexander Turchinov (center).

Photo taken on the outskirts of Slavyansk, at the HQ of Ukrainian “antiterrorist operation” command. Jerzy Dziewulski (left) and Alexander Turchinov (center).

Reports of mercenary teams operating in (former) Ukraine started sprouting up on the eve of the Kievan junta’s punitive operation in April, but only recently has proof begun to emerge of Poland’s contribution to this force. The late-May report about Polish mercenaries being shipped to Ukraine was almost immediately challenged by Sikorski, despite Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister stressing that foreign mercenaries, “particularly from Poland”, are active on the ground. Sikorski is now just as easily dismissingthe actual capturing of these mercenaries and their Polish commanders, with the Polish Foreign Ministry simply stating that such information is “black propaganda”. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since Sikorski is on record nearly a week prior speaking about the illegality of these mercenaries in the first place, and thus, he will never confirm that they exist. Now that the photo of Dziewulski (dressed in full combat fatigues, helmet, and appearing to have a pistol holstered to his chest) with Turchynov in Slavyansk has hit the internet, it is impossible to deny Poland’s participation in that conflict zone.

To properly understand the significance of the photo in catching the Polish government red-handed, a few words must be said about Dziewulski. As taken from his website, he is an anti-terrorism expert who founded Poland’s Commission for Special Services (special forces). He is licensed in mine warfare, pyrotechnics, and as a sniper. He underwent operational training in Israel, the US, Germany, and France, even training with the State Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms during his time in America. He advertises himself as the premier expert on all things related to security, including the use of security companies (read: private military companies) and the “customization of security plans” (read: directing the mercenary offensives). Considering his previous intimate association with Kwasniewski, it is highly probable that he is an important cog in Poland’s national security complex. This makes it all the less likely that Sikorski would not know about such a high-profile government-connected individual’s militant involvement in a festering conflict next door.

Jerzy Dziewulski

Jerzy Dziewulski

What has transpired is that Sikorski and Dziewulski have commandeered Polish policy towards Ukraine and now present a unified two-pronged offensive against the people in Donbass. Sikorski,maneuvering for the EU’s top foreign policy spot, has almost completely overshadowed Poland’s own Prime Minister, whom 69% of Europeans can’t even recognize. Sikorski’s approach is to present the high-level strategy that Poland uses to advance its interests in the lands of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (the revival of which the Yanukovich-era head of Ukraine’s security services credits as motivating Polish participation in the February coup).

Dziewulski represents a more underhanded and, prior to the photo’s publication, covert approach towards the east. He is the on-the-ground militant power that tactically carries out Sikorski’s strategy. His extensive previous experience could even possibly mean that it is he who is controlling the legions of mercenaries scouring Donbass (and thus responsible for any war crimes carried out by them. After all, it is not likely that Turchynov would waste his time being photographed with an insignificant (which we know Dziewulski is not) figure near the front lines of his offensive. Sikorski and Dziewulski together thus form a unified and aggressive combination of ‘brains and brawn’ that represent the arm and hammer of the ‘Slavic Turkey’s’ Neo-Commonwealth plans.

Andrew Korybko is the American Master’s Degree student at the Moscow State University of International Relations (MGIMO).

The Fateful Triangle: Russia, Ukraine and the Jews

June 11th, 2014 by Israel Shamir

The erotic reliefs of Hindu temples with their gravity-defying and anatomy-challenging positions have found a new modern competitor in the Ukrainian crisis. Each party wants to get the Jews on their side, while claiming that the other side is anti-Jewish and a Jewish puppet at once. This impossible, Kama-Sutraesque position is the result of extremely confusing alliances: the Kiev regime lists devout Jews and fiery antisemites among its mainstays.

The leading figures of the regime (including the president-elect) are of Jewish origin; strongman and chief financier Mr. Igor (Benya) Kolomoysky is a prominent Jewish public figure, the builder of many synagogues and a supporter of Israel. The most pro-active force of the regime, the ultra-nationalists of the Svoboda party and the Right Sector, admire Hitler and his Ukrainian Quisling, Stepan Bandera, “liberators of Ukraine from the Judeo-Muscovite yoke”. Jews are ambivalent, and the sides are ambivalent about them, and a most dramatic intrigue has been hatched.

The Russians tried to pull Israel and American Jews to their side, with little success. President Putin condemned the antisemitism of the Svoboda party; he mentioned the desecration of the Odessa Jewish cemetery in his important talk.

The Russians re-vitalised the World War Two narrative, fully identifying the Kiev regime with the Bandera gangs and the Nazi enemy. Still, this rhetoric is not taken seriously by Jews who refuse to feel threatened by cuddly Kolomoysky. “These Nazis are not against Jews, they are against Russians, so it is not a Jewish problem”, they say.

The Kiev regime mirrored the Russian attitude, if not Russia’s tactics. Being rather short of facts to brandish, they faked a leaflet from Donetsk rebels to local Jews calling upon them to register and pay a special poll tax “for the Jews support the Kiev regime”. This rude and improbable hoax was immediately and convincingly disproved, but not before it was used by, no less, Barak Obama and John Kerry.

The American Jewish newspaper of record, The Forward, obfuscated the issue by saying that Russians and Ukrainians are antisemites by birth and their denials are to be taken with a grain of salt. This mud-slinging was effective – the hoax has made the front pages, while its debunking was published on the back pages.

The Russians had the facts on their side, and the West knew that: the US refused entry to Oleg Tyagnibok and other Svoboda leaders (now members of Kiev government) because of their antisemitism as recently as 2013. But Russian appeals to Jewish and American sensitivities failed to make an impact. They know when to feign indignation and when to hush.

Pro-Hitler commemorations are frequent in Estonia, Latvia, Croatia, and cause no lifting of a censorious brow, for these countries are solidly anti-Russian. In March of this year, the Obama administration’s special envoy on anti-Semitism, Ira Forman, flatly denied everything and said to the Forward that Putin’s assertions of Svoboda’s antisemitism “were not credible”. The US wants to decide who is an antisemite and who is not; like Hermann Goering wanted to decide who is a Jew and who is not in the Luftwaffe. In the Ukrainian crisis, the Jews remain divided, and follow their countries’ preferences.

Israel is neutral

Recently Prime Minister Netanyahu called President Putin. Putin is always available for and always courteous to Netanyahu, as opposed to President Obama, who shows signs of irritation. (Admittedly Obama has to listen to Netanyahu much more often and for hours.) Netanyahu apologised that he wouldn’t be able to come to St Petersburg for Israeli Culture Week; instead, old reliable Shimon Peres, Israel’s President, will make the trip. He apologised for leaking the news of this visit cancellation to the media, as well.

This is quite typical for the Israeli PM: at first, he asks for an invitation, Russia extends it, then he cancels his visit and leaks it to the press, thus earning brownie points with the Americans. He did it at the Sochi Olympic games, and now again, in St Petersburg. This is his way of expressing Israeli neutrality.

Israel is explicitly neutral in the Ukrainian crisis. Israelis walked out and did not vote on the UN GA Crimea resolution at all, annoying its American sponsors. The Israelis had a flimsy excuse: their Foreign Office was on strike. The Americans weren’t satisfied with this explanation. Strike or not, vote you must!

We learned from our Israeli colleagues the details of the Putin-Netanyahu phone conversation, which elaborated the reasons for Israeli neutrality. Israel is worried that as an asymmetric response to the US sanctions, Russia would deliver its potent air defence systems to Iran and Syria. Iran and Russia had signed a weapons supply contract a few years ago, Iran duly paid; then the shipment was suspended. Iran went to court demanding a massive compensation for the breach of contract. Likewise, the Syrians were supposed to get the S-300 surface-to-air missile system, able to protect its skies from Israeli raids.

The deliveries commenced; PM Netanyahu beseeched Putin to put it on hold. Initially Putin objected, stressing the defensive nature of the system. Netanyahu told the Russian president that the S-300 would allow the Syrians to cover the whole North of Israel, at least all the way to Haifa, rendering important airfields unusable and endangering civil aviation as well. Putin agreed to stop the deliveries.

Vladimir Putin is friendly to Israel. He promised he would not allow the destruction of Israel; he promised to save its population if the situation should become truly dangerous. During the recent visit of PM Netanyahu to Moscow, Putin was not carried away by Netanyahu and Liberman’s hints of possible Israeli re-alliance with Moscow instead of Washington. He told the Israelis that their ties with the US are too strong for such a re-alliance being conceivable. Putin said that Russia is satisfied with the present level of friendship and does not demand that Tel Aviv weaken its ties with Washington. Putin visited Israel a few times, he received the Israeli PM in Kremlin. The Israeli ambassador Mme Golender sees Putin more often than do her American or French counterparts.

This friendly attitude has a down-to-earth reason: Putin is not fluent in English or French, while Mme Ambassador speaks Russian to him, eliminating the bothersome need of an interpreter. A deeper reason is Putin’s background: a scion of liberal elites, brought up in St Petersburg, schooled by ultra-liberal Mayor Sobchack, anointed by Boris Yeltsin, Putin is naturally friendly to Jews and to Israel. This friendly attitude annoyed some Russian ultra-patriots, who excitedly circulated his photo taken in the obligatory kippah near the Wailing Wall. They also counted and recounted the names of Jewish oligarchs in Moscow.

True, some of them – Berezovsky, Gusinsky, Hodorkovsky – had to flee their Russian homeland, but the Russian president is surely not the Jewish-tycoons-Nemesis and the-new-Hitler he is sometimes made out to be. Abramovich and Friedman, to name just two, retain his trust and access. Putin does not mind any oligarch (Jewish or Gentile) – as long as he stays out of politics.

Putin is also friendly with Jewish intellectuals and gentlemen-of-the-media, even if they are outright hostile to him. Masha Gessen, and magazine editor; Alexey Venediktov, Jewish chief editor of Echo Moskvy, a popular liberal medium that attacks Putin every day; many others enjoy access to Putin, – while no Russian nationalist including Dr Alexander Dugin can boast of having met with the president privately.

Putin’s affability does not turn him into a bountiful source for every Jewish initiative. He stopped S-300 deliveries to Iran, but rejected all Israeli overtures asking him to ditch Iran, or Syria, or Hamas. In the course of their last phone conversation, Netanyahu claimed the Israelis discovered proofs of Iranian nukes. Putin politely expressed his doubts and re-addressed him to IAEA. He agreed to receive the Israeli “experts” with their proofs in Moscow, but nothing came of it. Russia’s support for Palestine is unwavering, – there is a Palestinian embassy in Moscow, too.

Putin supported building of a spacious Jewish museum in Moscow and personally contributed to its budget – but Russian street advertising proclaims the Resurrection of Christ, Eastertide, and His Nativity at Christmas. No “season’s greetings”, but open affirmation of Christianity. Russia is not like the US or EU, where external signs of Christian faith are forbidden, Easter and Christmas can’t be mentioned and whatever Jews request must be done immediately. Western Jews are annoyed (so their organisations claim) by public displays of Christian faith, but Russian Jews do not mind; moreover, they intermarry, convert and enter the Church in previously unheard of numbers. They are not strongly pro-Israeli, those that were already left for Israel.

So the Jews of Russia are not an influential factor to the Russian President. Putin will do what is right according to the Christian faith, and what is good for Russia, as he understands it — and he can’t be convinced to give up really important points. Other considerations – such as friendship with Israel – would normally take a much lower place in his priorities. However, in the midst of the Ukrainian crisis, as the Russians are worried by sanctions and by threats of isolation, they try to pull Jews to their side. This makes them increasingly susceptible to Israeli manipulation, whether state-authorised or a private venture.

Last week, Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld visited Moscow. In 2003, he famously threatened Europe with nuclear destruction (the “Samson Option”), saying “Israel has the capability to take the world down with us, and that will happen before Israel goes under”. Now he has explained to Russians Israel’s new policy: While the US enters the period of its decline, Israel must diversify and hedge its bets by drawing close to Moscow, Beijing and Delhi, he wrote in Izvestia daily. Perhaps, but without going too far. A flirt – yes, switching sides – not yet.

Israel prefers to stick to its neutrality. This is easy, as the Israeli populace (excepting its Russians) is not interested in Russian/Ukrainian affairs, does not know the difference between Russia and the Ukraine and is rather unfriendly to Russians/Ukrainians. This goes for both the Left and Right; the Israeli Left is even more pro-American than the Israeli Right. As for Russian Israelis, they are equally divided between supporters of Russia and supporters of Kiev regime. While observing niceties towards Russia, Israel does not intend to side with Moscow. The Jewish oligarchs of Ukraine – Kolomoysky, Pinchuk, Rabinovich – are integrated within the Kiev regime, and they support Israeli right-wing on a large scale. Israeli businessmen are invested in the Ukraine, and the oligarchs are invested in Israel. Kolomoysky controls YuzhMash, the famed missile construction complex in Dnepropetrovsk, and holds the secrets of the Satan ballistic missile, the most powerful Russian strategic weapon. He allegedly intends to share these secrets with the Israelis. If Israel were to side with Moscow regarding Ukraine, the breach with Washington would be unavoidable, and Israel does not intend to provoke it.

Some marginal Israeli right-wingers support Russia; they claim that they represent Israeli public opinion and government. They try to collect on their promises before they deliver. However, this is not an ordinary scam: they are trying to turn Russia into a supporter of right-wing Zionism.

Consider Russian-Israeli far right activist Avigdor Eskin. He impossibly claims that the Israeli government has already decided to jump from the US train to join the Russian one, that Israeli commandos are on their way to fight for the Russians in Donetsk, that Israeli authorities intend to strip Mr Kolomoysky of his Israeli citizenship. Naturally, all that is a load of bunkum, but Russians swallow it hook, line and sinker.

Avigdor Eskin is a colourful personality: a convert to Jewish faith (his mother is not Jewish), an observant Jew, an ex-Kahanist who was arrested in Israel for an alleged attempt to desecrate Al Aqsa mosque and a Muslim cemetery, and who served two or three years in Israeli jail; he styles himself a “Rabbi” and wears a full beard. After serving his time in jail, he moved to Russia and built a network of Israel supporters among the Russian far right. His message is “Israel is a true friend of Russia, while Muslims are Russia’s enemies”. He also adds that Israeli settlers are anti-American and pro-Russian. (If you believe that, the tooth fairy is the next step.)

Recently he claimed that the Aliya Battalion of “experienced Israeli commandos and sharpshooters” came to warring Donbass to fight on the Russian side against the Kiev regime troops. The Aliya Battalion is a battalion in the sense Salvation Army is an army. This is an Israeli NGO, established by Russian Israelis of far-right Zionist persuasion and of some Russian military background. It is not a part of Israeli Army. For a short while, the NGO provided guards for Jewish settlements in Gaza and the West Bank, but the settlements stopped using them as they were extremely unreliable. They boasted of murdering Palestinian civilians, of torturing and killing children, but this was just a sick sadist and racist fantasy, people say. Afterwards, the Battalion leaders turned its name into a profitable scam, roaming American Jewish communities and collecting donations for their supposedly secret activities. As this scam was exposed by Israeli TV (RTVI network; it is available on the YouTube), they had disappeared from the public eye. Now Avigdor Eskin resurrected the old scam, and made a lot of headlines in the Russian media.

Eskin found a soulmate in prominent Russian media man Vladimir Solovyev. The Solovyev is of partly Jewish origin, lived abroad, then returned to Russia; he runs an important political show Sunday Evening on Russian TV. The Saker (a well-known blogger) described him as follows:

“This show is hosted by a famous personality, Vladimir Solovyev, who is a very interesting guy. Solovyev is a Jew, and he is not shy about reminding his audience about it, who was even elected as a member of the Russian Jewish Congress. He is also a Russian patriot, and he is an outspoken supporter of Putin and his policies. His position on the Ukraine is simple: he as a Jew and as a Russian has zero tolerance for Ukrainian nationalism, neo-Nazism or Banderism. He is a determined and total enemy of the new Kiev regime.”

It is possible Solovyev is going through some personal identity crisis: from celebrating his Russian roots, he moved to proclaiming his Jewish origin. Alternatively, it is possible (and more likely) that the Russian decision-makers want to pull Jews on their side, and Solovyev is acting with US Jews in mind. Stalin did it, so Putin could repeat the trick. In 1942, as Nazi onslaught threatened Russia, Stalin had sent some Russian Jews to the US, to speak Yiddish to Jewish communities and lobby for the USSR. The American Jewish community surely carries some clout… Now Solovyev and others are trying to influence Jews abroad; or at least to show to their superiors they are trying.

The price Eskin extracts for his fantasy stories is high. In Solovyev’s prime time programme, he called for the destruction of al Aqsa mosque and for the building of the Jewish temple on its place. He called Palestinians “the people of Antichrist”. Even in Israel such statements can’t be voiced on public TV. In confused Moscow, Eskin was feted and given a place in another important political programme, that of Arcady Mamontov. Who is conning whom: is Eskin conning his Russian hosts, or are his media hosts using him to con their superiors, or are their superiors trying to con the Russian people? Or is Israel hedging its bets? Who knows?

Ukrainian Jews beg to differ

Jews came to the Ukraine a thousand years ago, perhaps from Khazaria. This is not a homogeneous community; rather, they represent several communities. A lot of them emigrated to Israel; even more moved to Russia. They speak Russian and usually do not speak Ukrainian, though they picked up the vernacular over last twenty years. Normally, they wouldn’t care about Ukraine’s independence, as Jews traditionally side with the strong, be it Poles under Polish rule, with Russians under Moscow rule, or with Germans under Vienna or Berlin. Now many of them have decided to side with the US or EU. One of the reasons why so many people of Jewish origin do well is that the ruling ethnic groups trust the Jews and rely upon their loyalty to the powerful and lack of compassion for their Gentile neighbours.

Another reason is the vague definitions. For last three or four generations, Jews have intermarried freely; children of these mixed marriages are often considered ‘Jews’. These are the ‘Jews’ to the present regime; often they have only one Jewish grandparent.

Ukraine, following its independence in 1991, moved into the Western sphere of influence, but Eastern Ukraine (Novorossia) retained its Russian character and links. Jews did well in both parts. Mr Kolomoysky is a prominent member of the Jewish community, and a mainstay of the Kiev regime. He is a ruthless businessman, famous for his raiding of others’properties and for his Mafia connections. Rumours connect him with many killings of business adversaries.

On the other side, in Kharkov, the Mayor and the district Governor (nicknamed Dopah and Gepah) are Jewish, and they can be considered pro-Russian. It was thought that Kharkov would become the centre of rising Novorossia; president Yanukovich fled to Kharkov hoping to find allies and supporters. But Dopa and Gepa disabused him, so he continued his flight all the way to the Russian city of Rostov. Their decision to remain loyal to Kiev did not work well for them: one was shot, and the second one has been imprisoned and his attempt to run for president thwarted.

Kharkov is also home to Mr. Hodos, a wealthy and prominent Jew who fought most valiantly against Habad, the Jewish spiritual movement of which Mr Kolomoysky is a prominent member. The Jews of Novorossia apparently support the general pro-Russian trend, though there are exceptions. Practically all Ukrainian Jews have relatives in Russia, and had Russian education.

Israel has a strong network of agents in the Ukraine. They snatched a Palestinian engineer and flew him to an Israeli dungeon, and that could not be done without support of Ukrainian security services. However, the stories of Israeli soldiers fighting in Ukraine are somewhat exaggerated: these are individuals of dual citizenship who act at their own will, not a state representatives.

US Jews are divided

US Jews are divided on the Ukraine, as they were divided on Palestine. Friends of Palestine, people with a strong anti-imperialist record and sound knowledge of East European history – Noam Chomsky and Stephen F. Cohen — recognised and renounced the US attempt to sustain their hegemony by keeping brazen Russia down. A subset of people, Gilad Atzmon aptly called AZZ (anti-zionist zionists), Trots and other faux-Leftist shills for NATO like Louis Proyect – called for American intervention and brayed for Russian blood.

The notorious Israel Lobby is strictly anti-Russian. The State Dept. official Victoria (“Fuck EU”) Nuland personally directed the Kiev coup; she handpicked the government and the president of the new American colony on the Dnieper River. Her husband, Robert Kagan, is a founder of FPI, the successor of infamous PNAC, the extremist Zionist think tank which promoted wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and pushed for a war with Iran. Now they attack Russia, but they do not forget about their support for Israel.

Consider a young American gender activist and journalist, James Kirchick. He entered the Neocon network by shilling for the Lobby. He pink-washed Israel (“Israel as the best friend of gays on earth, while the Palestinians are homophobes who deserve to be bombed”). After doing the Israeli stint, he moved on to fighting Russia. He worked for the CIA-owned and US Congress-funded Radio Free Europe; stage-managed the sensational Liz Wahl’s on-air resignation from the RT and protested alleged mistreatment of gays in Russia. His dirty tricks were revealed by Max Blumenthal, a Jewish American journalist, a known anti-Zionist (working together with a Palestinian Rania Khalek).

While Israel is neutral re Ukraine, Israeli friends in EU and US are hostile to Russia and supportive of American hegemony, while friends of Palestine stand for Russia’s challenge to the Empire. The French Zionist media philosopher Bernard Henri Levy is an example of the former, while Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research is a representative of the latter. Leading critical (“anti-Zionist”) websites Counterpunch, Antiwar, Global Research sympathise with Russia, while pro-Israeli sites are hostile to Russia.

Zionists are enemies, but they make even worse friends. Edward N. Luttwak is friendly to Russia; he called upon the US to make up with Russia. Strategic union of Russia and America is necessary, he says. Who cares about Ukraine? And here is his pitch line: Russia should fight China for the US benefit. Another Zionist friend, Tony Blair, also calls for peace with Russia – so Russia can fight the Muslim world for Israel. Quite similar to Eskin who offers his pathetic support to Russia in order to neutralise her positive influence and defence of Palestine.

The bottom line: Israel remains neutral for its own reasons. While Jews as individuals differ on Ukraine, there is a correlation with their stand on Palestine and on Syria. Enemies of Putin in Russia, Ukraine, Europe and US do support Israel and are hostile to Palestine, to Syria of Bashar, to Venezuela of Chavez. And the most dangerous lot are those who support Israel and Russia, as they are surely plotting some mischief.

Israel Shamir can be reached at [email protected]  Language editing by Ken Freeland

Mainstream Media and the Illusion of Debate

June 11th, 2014 by David Edwards

When corporations own the news and advertisers ‘sponsor’ the shows, journalists know they are above all answerable to the company managers and allied interests who pay their salaries. The mere public, especially voices of dissent, can be treated with indifference, even contempt. Journalists have power without responsibility, and they know it.

On March 6, the fast-talking presenter of ABC Radio Triple 6′s Mornings with Genevieve Jacobs in Canberra described the shameful suffering of indigenous Australians exposed by John Pilger’s important film, Utopia.

‘What veteran filmmaker John Pilger had to present for his film was in many ways a Third World country, a place where there is despair and dispossession, desperate injustice.’

Jacobs quoted football legend and ‘Australian of the year’, Adam Goodes, on ‘mainstream’ Australia’s response to Pilger’s film:

‘Our response, our muted response, is a disgrace. It is disturbing and hurtful that we just don’t evidently care all that much.’

Jacobs then interviewed Pilger, asking him:

‘So what does that say about the state of the national debate?’

It was a good question, one that would soon return to haunt the questioner.

Like so many journalists responding to so much serious criticism, Jacobs breezily insisted that her organisation was different, it had embraced all points of view: ‘John, that’s a debate we’re very aware of here in Canberra… I think we’re well aware of that, John!’ she told Pilger repeatedly, who exposed the usual, key flaw in the argument:

‘Intensely discussed, yes, you’re absolutely right. But discussed in the narrowest terms.’

This recalled the sublime moment when Noam Chomsky rendered a brash young Andrew Marr temporarily speechless, after the BBC interviewer had commented of the Gulf War:

‘There was a great debate about whether there should have been a negotiated settlement.’

Chomsky interrupted: ‘No, sorry, no, that’s not [the] debate…’

Jacobs, though, was insistent:

‘Certainly here in Canberra we do have that discussion vigorously and often… I have spoken to people in the studio… I think that has been widely discussed.’

Given that the issues had in fact been endlessly discussed, what on earth was the point of Pilger’s film? Jacobs asked again:

‘That’s my question though – what do you bring that is new to this?’

Pilger replied: ‘Well, have you seen the film?’

Jacobs: ‘I haven’t seen the film, but…’

Like her audience, Jacobs knew exactly what was coming next:

‘Well then, how can we…? This is the problem, you see. And forgive me for raising it. How can you have a discussion with me about a film you haven’t seen?… You say you’re having a lot of debate there, but you apparently haven’t watched the film that we’re supposed to be talking about!’

Pilger’s voice dropped and slowed as he circled the flailing interviewer like a ‘Saltie’ croc:

‘I’m giving you the opportunity to explain to me and your listeners why you haven’t, why you haven’t watched the film before you discuss with the filmmaker the film?’

Jacobs explained that she hadn’t seen the film ‘because my producer suggested to me this morning that it would be a really good idea to discuss this’. But there was no place to hide:

‘You run a programme, and with all respect to you, that’s what Adam Goodes is talking about – that people like you cannot be bothered! And that’s what he’s writing about. Don’t you find this so exquisitely ironic?’

Jacobs instantly shut down the debate and turned to emailed comments sent in by listeners. Would these be favourable to the guest who had just sunk the host? Jacobs blurted:

‘Gus says to me, “Doesn’t ‘Triple 6′ ever get tired of having people on the radio to lecture us about how racist we are? Didn’t we say sorry? Are we going to move on?”‘

And by way of balance:

‘Rob says, “While I don’t disagree with Pilger on many issues he’s tackled over the years, his holier than thou, patronising tone alienates those who support his efforts and hardens the attitudes of those who don’t.”‘

Paul Mason – ‘Yeah, But I Deal In Fact’

The collision between the idea of what a free press is supposed to be about – telling the truth, standing up for the oppressed, holding power to account – and the reality of a corporate media culture that just ‘cannot be bothered’ is tragicomic indeed.

In March, we challenged Channel 4′s Paul Mason (formerly of BBC Newsnight, now economics editor of Channel 4 News) to explain why he believed the failure of the US to bomb Syria in August 2013 was a ‘Disaster!

Mason invited us to email him, which we did. He failed to reply. After repeated nudges, he promised to reply when he had the time. More than two months later, journalist Ian Sinclair reminded Mason that he had still not responded. Mason replied:

‘Believe it or not, I still have more important things to do’

We answered:

‘Well, Chomsky – famously, the world’s busiest human – typically replies within 24 hours with detailed comments’

Mason’s sage response:

‘yeah but I deal in fact, not ideology’

We replied again:

‘Time allowing, you should read @ggreenwald’s new book, No Place To Hide - it might relieve you of that conceit.’

This is one of the passages in Glenn Greenwald’s book that we had in mind:

‘As we are told endlessly, journalists do not express opinions; they simply report the facts.

‘This is an obvious pretense, a conceit of the profession. The perceptions and pronouncements of human beings are inherently subjective. Every news article is the product of all sorts of highly subjective cultural, nationalistic, and political assumptions. And all journalism serves one faction’s interests or another.’ (Greenwald, No Place To Hide – Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State, Penguin, digital edition, 2014, p.471)

Greenwald concludes of the US press:

‘”Objectivity” means nothing more than reflecting the biases and serving the interests of entrenched Washington. Opinions are problematic only when they deviate from the acceptable range of Washington orthodoxy.’ (p.474)

Mason’s magnificently daft, one-word reply to the suggestion that he might read Greenwald’s book:


Like Pilger’s interviewer, Mason simply cannot be bothered, just as he cannot be bothered to answer us. We have previously discussed similar unfulfilled promises to respond from the Guardian’s Seumas Milne.

Debunking De Botton

Alain de Botton also has no time for dissident views in his latest book The News: A User’s Manual(Penguin digital edition, 2014). In what affects to be a penetrating analysis of contemporary news media, de Botton warns that ‘when news fails to harness the curiosity and attention of a mass audience through its presentational techniques, a society becomes dangerously unable to grapple with its own dilemmas…’. (p.38)

De Botton really is arguing that ‘presentational techniques’ should be a key focus for media reformers, who need to deal with the fact that ‘no one is particularly interested’ in news. (p.98)

The solution, then, ‘is to push so-called serious outlets into learning to present information in ways that can properly engage audiences. It is too easy to claim that serious things must be, and can almost afford to be, a bit boring.’ (p.38)

In the grand tradition of no-holds-barred dissent, de Botton adds:

‘Why do news organisations focus so much on the darkness? Why so much grimness and so little hope? Perhaps they think that their audiences are a little too innocent, sheltered and pleased with themselves…’ (p.89)

Instead, society’s news should ‘train and direct its capacity for pride, resilience and hope’. (p.54)

Key problems with the media are thus identified: they don’t try hard enough to be interesting, they’re too boring, they’re too focused on negative events – a desperately superficial and misguided analysis.

De Botton’s discussion is so disconnected from the reality of today’s corporate media that it does not merit close attention. But he is a bestselling author whose book sales have been measured in the millions.

The word ‘corporate’ features once in The News, the word ‘corporation’ twice. At no point does de Botton even mention that the media is corporate in nature, let alone discuss the implications. At no point does he mention the disastrous reliance on corporate advertising, with even ‘quality’ newspapers like the Guardian dependent to the tune of 60 per cent of their revenues.

In a rare gesture in the direction of dissent, de Botton comments that ‘foreign reporting implicitly defers to the priorities of the state and business, occupying itself almost exclusively with events which touch on military, commercial or humanitarian concerns’. (p.106)

But note, he is arguing that foreign reporting defers to particular types of ‘events’ that are of interest to state and business, not to an elite worldview through which foreign reporting typically interprets those events. In reality, foreign reporting focuses on ‘humanitarian concerns’, for example, only when those concerns suit the needs of state-corporate power. Embarrassing humanitarian concerns are not on the agenda. Unwilling or unable to recognise this level of structural bias, de Botton is able to declare:

‘To become powerful once more, foreign news needs only to submit itself to some of the processes of art.’ (p.115)

The key, again – presentation needs to be more humanly interesting.

De Botton reverses the truth of public exclusion:

‘The financial needs of news companies mean that they cannot afford to advance ideas which wouldn’t very quickly be able to find favour with enormous numbers of people.’ (p.93)

Like the endless promotion of wars in Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, perhaps – including the Guardian and Independent’s tireless advocacy for the West’s supposed ‘responsibility to protect’ – despite the clear disfavour of readers and viewers. In fact, the financial needs of newspapers mean that they cannot afford to advance ideas which fail to find favour with the 1 per cent, and above all the 0.1 per cent, which owns and controls them.

Ours, it seems, is an innocent age:

‘The news is committed to laying before us whatever is supposed to be most unusual and important in the world.’ (p.8)

Again, an exact reversal of the truth described by Chomsky:

‘The basic principle, rarely violated, is that what conflicts with the requirements of power and privilege does not exist.’ (Chomsky, Deterring Democracy, Hill and Wang, New York, 1992, p.79)

De Botton observes that ‘newspapers and news bulletins are in truth thimblefuls of information arbitrarily pulled out of a boundless ocean of data by hard-pressed editors, daily forced to do no better than guess at the desires of a putative “average reader”. Inevitably, they don’t always get it right.’ (p.296)

In fact, their job is to shape, not indulge, the political and material desires of their readers on behalf of elite owners, parent companies, advertisers and state allies. De Botton contradicts his own claim that news content is ‘arbitrarily’ pulled out of an ocean of information:

‘We should at least be somewhat suspicious of the way that news sources… seem so often to be in complete agreement on the momentous questions of the day.’ (p.90)

And why might that be? Could it be related to the fact that the media are all giant, profit-seeking, ad-dependent corporations owned by even larger profit-seeking conglomerates owned by wealthy individuals?

Reading The News was a particularly depressing experience for us. De Botton is an intelligent, well-intentioned individual, and he has previously (albeit in private) commented positively on our own work. Moreover, we had written to him on November 30, 2012:

‘Hi Alain

‘Hope you’re well. Interested to hear about the topic of your new book on Twitter. Are you reading Herman and Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent, or watching the documentary about Chomsky’s media analysis of the same name? Fascinating stuff. Can you say any more about the book?’

‘Best wishes

‘David Edwards’

De Botton replied:

‘Dear David,

‘Thanks for your interest. Yes, I’m reading Herman and Chomsky carefully – many thanks. I can’t say more for now – and respect your and Medialens’s activities very much.

‘With good wishes,


It may be that de Botton’s intention was to avoid triggering a negative reaction from media gatekeepers, to reach readers with at least some analysis of the news. Or it could be that, like so many commentators, he was wary of alienating a corporate system that has made him a household name. But what is interesting, disturbing, and such a feature of our time, is that de Botton surely did read unfiltered, accurate analysis of the media, and chose to ignore it.

Afghanistan: Ciò che non dice la Mogherini

June 11th, 2014 by Manlio Dinucci

L’Italia non abbandonerà l’Afghanistan con la fine dell’Isaf, ma continuerà a occuparsene, mantenendo l’impegno preso: lo assicura il ministro Mogherini sul manifesto (7 giugno). Quale sia l’impegno lo chiarisce l’aeronautica: in sei anni i cacciabombardieri italiani hanno effettuato in Afghanistan 3.583 sortite, «traguardo mai eguagliato da velivoli da combattimento italiani in operazioni fuori dai confini nazionali dal termine del secondo conflitto mondiale». Nella loro ultima missione, il 28 maggio, due cacciabombardieri Amx hanno distrutto l’obiettivo individuato da un drone Predator e dalla Task Force Victor (classificata come «unità speciale e semisegreta» dalla Rivista Italiana Difesa). Mentre gli elicotteri Mangusta dell’Esercito, schierati a Herat, hanno varcato la soglia delle 10mila ore di volo. L’impegno delle forze armate italiane in Afghanistan ha dunque un nome, che la Mogherini si guarda bene dal pronunciare: guerra. Che non terminerà con la fine dell’Isaf. «La nostra Joint Air Task Force – comunica l’aeronautica  – continuerà ad operare in Afghanistan con aerei da trasporto tattico C-130 J e da guerra elettronica EC-27 della 46a Brigata aerea di Pisa e i velivoli a pilotaggio remoto Predator B del 32° stormo di Amendola». In altre parole, la guerra continuerà in forma coperta, con apposite unità aeree e forze speciali che avranno il compito anche di addestrare quelle locali. Sempre sotto comando degli Stati uniti che, dopo 13 anni di guerra costati oltre 600 miliardi di dollari (solo come spesa militare ufficiale), non sono riusciti a controllare il paese e cercano ora di farlo con la nuova strategia. A tale proposito il presidente Obama ha chiamato il 27 maggio il premier Renzi, trasmettendogli di fatto gli ordini. L’Italia continuerà così a partecipare a una guerra che provocherà altre vittime e tragedie sociali, scomparendo però dalla vista. L’Afghanistan  – situato al crocevia tra Asia centrale e meridionale, occidentale e orientale – è di primaria importanza geostrategica rispetto a Russia, Cina, Iran e Pakistan, e alle riserve energetiche del Caspio e del Golfo. E lo è ancora di più oggi che la strategia Usa/Nato sta portando a un nuovo confronto con la Russia e, sullo sfondo, con la Cina. Restare in Afghanistan significa non solo continuare a partecipare a quella guerra, ma essere legati a una strategia che prevede una sempre maggiore presenza militare occidentale nella regione Asia/Pacifico. Secondo il racconto della Mogherini, l’asse portante dell’impegno italiano in Afghanistan sarà «il sostegno alla società civile» nel quadro dell’Accordo di partenariato firmato a Roma nel 2012 da Monti e Karzai, approvato dalla Camera a schiacciante maggioranza e dal Senato all’unanimità. Esso prevede la concessione al governo afghano di un credito agevolato di 150 milioni di euro per la realizzazione di «infrastrutture strategiche» a Herat (mentre L’Aquila e altre zone disastrate non hanno i soldi per ricostruire) e altri finanziamenti, che vanno ad aggiungersi ai circa 5 miliardi di euro spesi finora per le operazioni militari. L’aiuto economico di 4 miliardi di dollari annui, che i «donatori» (tra cui l’Italia) si sono impegnati a fornire a Kabul, finirà in gran parte nelle tasche della casta dominante, come la famiglia Karzai arricchitasi con i miliardi della Nato, gli affari sottobanco e il traffico di droga. La Mogherini annuncia l’impegno del governo ad «aumentare le risorse e renderle stabili». Parte servirà a finanziare quelle Ong embedded che, come crocerossine, vanno a curare le ferite della guerra per darle un volto «umanitario».

The Global Economic Crisis: Causes and Devastating Consequences

June 10th, 2014 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

This important collection provides the reader with “a most comprehensive analysis of the various facets – especially the financial, social and military ramifications – from an outstanding list of world-class social thinkers.”

The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century

Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall, Editors

originalThe complex causes as well as the devastating consequences of the economic crisis are carefully scrutinized with contributions from Ellen Brown, Tom Burghardt, Michel Chossudovsky, Richard C. Cook, Shamus Cooke, John Bellamy Foster, Michael Hudson, Tanya Cariina Hsu, Fred Magdoff, Andrew Gavin Marshall, James Petras, Peter Phillips, Peter Dale Scott, Bill Van Auken, Claudia von Werlhof and Mike Whitney.

Despite the diversity of viewpoints and perspectives presented within this volume, all of the contributors ultimately come to the same conclusion: humanity is at the crossroads of the most serious economic and social crisis in modern history.

This book takes the reader through the corridors of the Federal Reserve, into the plush corporate boardrooms on Wall Street where far-reaching financial transactions are routinely undertaken.

Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century
Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall, Editors

Global Research Price: US $17.00
(List price: US $25.95, Canada C$27.95)


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We bring to the attention of our readers some of the highlights of this important collection with selected excerpts from the various chapters.


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

The meltdown of financial markets in 2008-2009 was the result of institutionalized fraud and financial manipulation. The “bank bailouts” were implemented on the instructions of Wall Street, leading to the largest transfer of money wealth in recorded history, while simultaneously creating an insurmountable public debt.

With the worldwide deterioration of living standards and plummeting consumer spending, the entire structure of international commodity trade is potentially in jeopardy. The payments system of money transactions is in disarray. Following the collapse of employment, the payment of wages is disrupted, which in turn triggers a downfall in expenditures on necessary consumer goods and services. This dramatic plunge in purchasing power backfires on the productive system, resulting in a string of layoffs, plant closures and bankruptcies. Exacerbated by the freeze on credit, the decline in consumer demand contributes to the demobilization of human and material resources.

-Michel Chossudovsky



We are at the crossroads of the most serious economic crisis in world history. The economic crisis has by no means reached its climax, as some economists have predicted. The crisis is deepening, with the risk of seriously disrupting the structures of international trade and investment.

What is distinct in this particular phase of the crisis is the ability of the financial giants –through stock market manipulation as well as through their overriding control over credit – not only to create havoc in the production of goods and services, but also to undermine and destroy large and well established business corporations.

This crisis is far more serious than the Great Depression. All major sectors of the global economy are affected. Factories are closed down. Assembly lines are at a standstill. Unemployment is rampant. Wages have collapsed. Entire populations are precipitated into abysmal poverty. Livelihoods are destroyed. Public services are disrupted or privatized. The repercussions on people’s lives in North America and around the world are dramatic.
-Michel Chossudovsky, Chapter I.


America is dying. It is self-destructing and bringing the rest of the world down with it.

It all began in the early part of the 20th century. In 1907, J.P. Morgan, a private New York banker, published a rumor that a competing unnamed large bank was about to fail. It was a false charge but customers nonetheless raced to their banks to withdraw their money, in case it was their bank. As they pulled out their funds, the banks lost their cash deposits and were forced to call in their loans. People therefore had to pay back their mortgages to fill the banks with income, going bankrupt in the process. The 1907 panic resulted in a crash that prompted the creation of the Federal Reserve, a private banking cartel with the veneer of an independent government organization. Effectively, it was a coup by elite bankers in order to control the industry.
-Tanya Cariina Hsu, Chapter II 


Much attention has rightly been paid to the techniques whereby mortgages were packaged together and then sliced and diced and sold to institutional investors around the world. Outright fraud may also have been involved in some of the financial shenanigans. The falling home values following the bursting of the housing bubble and the inability of many sub-prime mortgage holders to continue to make their monthly payments, together with the resulting foreclosures, was certainly the straw that broke the camel’s back, leading to this catastrophic system failure.
-John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff, Chapter III


A world depression, in which upward of a quarter of the world’s labor force will be unemployed, is looming. The biggest decline in trade in recent world history defines the future. The immanent bankruptcies of the biggest manufacturing companies in the capitalist world haunt Western political leaders. The “market” as a mechanism for allocating resources and the government of the U.S. as the “leader” of the global economy have been discredited.

All the assumptions about “self-stabilizing markets” are demonstrably false and outmoded. The rejection of public intervention in the market and the advocacy of supply-side economics have been discredited even in the eyes of their practitioners.

Among almost all conventional economists, pundits, investment advisors and various and sundry experts and economic historians, there is a common faith that in the long-run, the stock market will recover, the recession will end and the government will withdraw from the economy. Fixed on notions of past cyclical patterns and historical trends, these analysts lose sight of the present realities which have no precedent: the world nature of the economic depression, the unprecedented speed of the fall, and the levels of debt incurred by governments to sustain insolvent banks and industries and the unprecedented public deficits, which will drain resources for many generations to come.
-James Petras, Chapter 4.


Is there an alternative to plundering the earth? Is there an alternative to making war? Is there an alternative to destroying the planet? No one asks these questions because they seem absurd. Yet, no one can escape them either.

Until the onslaught of the global economic crisis, the motto of so-called “neoliberalism” was TINA: “There Is No Alternative!”No alternative to “neoliberal globalization”?  No alternative to the unfettered “free market” economy?

The notion that capitalism and democracy are one is proven a myth by neoliberalism and its “monetary totalitarianism”. The primacy of politics over economy has been lost. Politicians of all parties have abandoned it. It is the corporations that dictate politics. Where corporate interests are concerned, there is no place for democratic convention or community control. Public space disappears. The res publica turns into a res privata, or – as we could say today – a res privata transnationale (in its original Latin meaning, privare means “to deprive”). Only those in power still have rights. They give themselves the licenses they need, from the “license to plunder” to the “license to kill”.
-Claudia Von Werlhof, Chapter 5.


The mainstream media is now – for political reasons – in a constant clamor for the economy’s elusive “rock bottom”. This is so people will be more hopeful, less agitated, and more willing to let those who destroyed the economy continue running the country un-challenged. Every time a new economic indicator comes out that wasn’t “as bad as expected”, Wall Street cheers and politicians give their “we’ve turned the corner” speeches. Reality is thus turned on its head.

The recession is creating a “fight or die” environment for corporations and governments around the world. The super rich that currently control both entities are using their influence to ensure that workers carry the brunt of this burden. It doesn’t have to be so. The fight for jobs, a living wage, progressive taxation, social security and single payer healthcare are all issues capable of uniting the vast majority of U.S. citizens.
-Shamus Cooke Chapter 6


The sugar-coated bullets of the “free market” are killing our children. The act to kill is instrumented in a detached fashion through computer program trading on the New York and Chicago mercantile exchanges, where the global prices of rice, wheat and corn are decided upon. People in different countries are being impoverished simultaneously as a result of a global market mechanism. A small number of financial institutions and global corporations have the ability to determine the prices of basic food  staples quoted on the commodity exchanges, thereby directly affecting the standard of living of millions of people around the world.

The provision of food, fuel and water is a precondition for the survival of the human species. They constitute the economic and environmental foundations for development of civilized society. In recent years, both prior and leading up to the 2008-2009 financial meltdown, the prices of grain staples, including rice, corn and wheat, gasoline and water, has increased dramatically at the global level with devastating economic and social consequences.
-Michel Chossudovsky, Chapter 7


Globalization is accompanied by the increasing impacts of world hunger and starvation. Over 30 000 people a day (85 percent are children under the age of five) die of malnutrition, curable diseases and starvation. The numbers of unnecessary deaths has exceeded 300 million people over the past forty years.

American people cringe at the thought of starving children, often thinking that there is little they can do about it, proclaiming, I am glad I live in America. However, in a globalized economy there are no safe enclaves, poverty and starvation elsewhere can become poverty and wretchedness here as well.
-Peter Phillips, Chapter 8


Economic conquest is an integral part of America’s military adventure. The U.S. military and intelligence apparatus consults with Wall Street and the Texas oil giants. Conversely, the IMF and the World Bank, which have a mandate to supervise macroeconomic reform in developing countries, are in liaison with the U.S. State Department and the Pentagon.

Economic warfare supports Washington’s military roadmap. The manipulation of market forces through the imposition of strong “economic medicine” under the helm of the IMF supports U.S.-NATO strategic and geopolitical objectives. Similarly, the speculative attacks waged by powerful banking conglomerates in the currency, commodity and stock markets are acts of financial warfare. They seek to destabilize the monetary systems of nation states.

Historically, warfare has been an instrument of economic conquest. U.S. foreign policy and the Pentagon’s war plans are intimately related to the process of economic globalization.
-Michel Chossudovsky Chapter 9


Strange as it may seem and irrational as it would be in a more logical system of world diplomacy, the “dollar glut” is what finances America’s global military build-up. It forces foreign central banks to bear the costs of America’s expanding military empire: effective “taxation without representation”.

The military overhead is much like a debt overhead, extracting revenue from the economy. In this case it is to pay the military-industrial complex, not merely Wall Street banks and other financial institutions. The domestic federal budget deficit does not stem only from “priming the pump” to give away enormous sums to create a new financial oligarchy; it contains an enormous and rapidly growing military component.

The domestic federal budget deficit does not stem only from “priming the pump” to give away enormous sums to create a new financial oligarchy; it contains an enormous and rapidly growing military component.
-Michael Hudson, Chapter 10


The bailout measures of late 2008 may have consequences at least as grave for an open society as the response to 9/11 in 2001. Many members of Congress felt coerced at the time into voting against their inclinations, and the normal procedures for orderly consideration of a bill were dispensed with.

America escaped from the depression of the 1890s with the Spanish-American War.  It only escaped the Great Depression of the 1930s with the Second World War. There was even a recession in the late 1940s from which America only escaped with the Korean War. As we face the risk of major depression again, I believe we inevitably face the danger of major war again.
-Peter Dale Scott, Chapter 11


As the global economic crisis deepens, ongoing efforts by the defense and security establishment to shore-up the empire’s crumbling edifice consumes an ever-greater proportion of America’s national budget

The “black” or secret portions of the budget are almost as large as the entire expenditure of defense funds by America’s allies, hardly slouches when it comes to feeding their own militarist beasts.
-Tom Burghardt, Chapter 12


In testimony before the Senate Committee on Intelligence, Obama’s new Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, warned that the deepening world capitalist crisis posed the paramount threat to U.S. national security and warned that its continuation could trigger a return to the “violent extremism” of the 1920s and 1930s. Clearly underlying his remarks are fears within the massive U.S. intelligence apparatus as well as among more conscious layers of the American ruling elite that a protracted economic crisis accompanied by rising unemployment and reduced social spending will trigger a global eruption of the class struggle and the threat of social revolution.
-Bill Van Auken, Chapter 13


The world is moving towards establishing, within decades, a global government structure. Moving the utopian rhetoric of such an undertaking aside, we must analyze how such a structure is being built. Given the global economic crisis, the governments of the world are restructuring their economies, and the global economy as a whole, into a corporatist structure. Thus, this new international economic system being constructed is one representative of economic fascism.

The governments now work directly for the banks, democracy is in decline everywhere, and the militarization of domestic society into creating “Homeland Security states” is underway and accelerating.
-Andrew Gavin Marshall, Chapter 14


Any notion of a “free market” must be dispelled in its true meaning, for as long as the central banking system has been dominant, central bankers have managed and controlled capitalism for the benefit of the few and at the expense of the many. Comprehending the nature of central banking is necessary in order to understand the nature of the current economic crisis.

The central banking system has been the most powerful network of institutions in the world; it reigns supreme over the capitalist world order, almost since its inception. Central banks are the perfect merger of private interests and public power. They have played key roles in every major development and drastic change in the capitalist world economy, and continue to do so.

Central bank policies caused the Great Depression and played an enormous role in creating the Global Economic Crisis of 2008 onwards. As the “solutions” to the economic crisis are being implemented, it would appear that those that created the crisis are being rewarded. The central banking system is becoming more globalized, more centralized, and more powerful.
-Andrew Gavin Marshall, Chapter 15


Wary observers might say that this is how you pull off a private global dictatorship: (1) create a global crisis; (2) appoint an “advisory body” to retain and maintain “stability”; then (3) “formalize” the advisory body as global regulator. By the time the people wake up to what has happened, it’s too late.

If we the people of the world are to avoid abdicating the sovereignty of our respective nations to a private foreign banking elite, we need to insist on compliance with the constitutional and legal mandates on which our nations were founded.
-Ellen Brown, Chapter 16


The very concept of a global currency and global central bank is authoritarian in its very nature, as it removes any vestiges of oversight and accountability away from the people of the world, toward a small, increasingly interconnected group of international elites. Indeed, the policy “solutions” tend to benefit those who caused the financial crisis over those who are poised to suffer the most as a result of the crisis: the disappearing middle classes, the world’s dispossessed, poor, indebted people.

It is imperative that the world’s people throw their weight against these “solutions” and usher in a new era of world order, one of the People’s World Order; with the solution lying in local governance and local economies, so that the people have greater roles in determining the future and structure of their own political-economy, and thus, their own society. With this alternative of localized political economies, in conjunction with an unprecedented global population and international democratization of communication through the internet, we have the means and possibility before us to forge the most diverse manifestation of cultures and societies that humanity has ever known.
-Andrew Gavin Marshall, Chapter 17


Real economic democracy, defined as the unfettered opportunity for every person to achieve his productive potential and be fairly rewarded for doing so, does not exist on the earth today. The economic life of the world today is based on predatory capitalism, where the people with the most money are the ones in charge.

Instrumental in control of economics by the rich has been the debt-based monetary system, where credit is treated as the monopoly of private financial interests who in turn control governments, intelligence services and military establishments. Politicians are bought and sold, elected or removed, or even assassinated for this purpose. The global monetary system is tightly controlled and coordinated at the top by the leaders of the central banks who work for the world’s richest people.

The worldwide monetary reform movement has come into existence to secure the benefits of control of the monetary supply by the community rather than monopolistic cliques exemplified by the Western banking system. While this is only one means of attaining economic democracy, it may be the most important one, because money as an instrument of law controls all commodities.
-Richard C. Cook, Chapter 18


When the smartest guys in the room designed their credit default swaps, they forgot to ask one thing – what if the parties on the other side of the bet don’t have the money to pay up?

If there are no rules, the players can cheat; and cheat they have, with a gambler’s addiction.

The Ponzi scheme that has been going bad is not just another misguided investment strategy. It is at the very heart of the banking business, the thing that has propped it up over the course of three centuries.

A Ponzi scheme is a form of pyramid scheme in which new investors must continually be sucked in at the bottom to support the investors at the top.
-Ellen Brown, Chapter 19


Is it possible to make hundreds of billions of dollars in profits on securities that are backed by nothing more than cyber-entries into a loan book? It is not only possible; it has been done. And now those who cashed in on the swindle have lined up outside the Federal Reserve building to trade their garbage paper for billions of dollars of taxpayer-funded loans.

Where is the justice? Meanwhile, the credit bust has left the financial system in a shambles and driven the economy into the ground like a tent stake.

The unemployment lines are growing longer and consumers are cutting back on everything from nights-on-the-town to trips to the grocery store. And it’s all due to a Ponzi-finance scam that was concocted on Wall Street and spread through the global system like an aggressive strain of Bird Flu. This is not a normal recession; the financial system was blown up by greedy bankers who used “financial innovation” game the system and inflate the biggest speculative bubble of all time. And they did it all legally, using a little-known process called securitization.
-Mike Whitney, Chapter 20

Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century
Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall, Editors

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“This deployment of strategic bombers provides an invaluable opportunity to strengthen and improve interoperability with our allies and partners.”

– Admiral Cecil Haney, commander, US Strategic Command on the deployment of B-2 stealth bombers to Europe.

“Against stupidity, no amount of planning will prevail.”

- Carl von Clausewitz

Less than 24 hours after Ukraine’s new president Petro Poroshenko announced his determination to retake Crimea from Russia, US Admiral Cecil Haney confirmed that the US Air Force had deployed two B-2 stealth bombers to Europe to conduct military exercises. The addition of the multipurpose B-2, which is capable of delivering nuclear weapons, is intended to send a message to Moscow that the United States is prepared to provide backup for Ukraine’s fledgling government and to protect its interests in Central Asia. News of the deployment was reported in the Russian media, but was excluded by all the western news outlets.

The B-2 announcement was preceded by an inflammatory speech by Poroshenko at the presidential “swearing in” ceremony in Kiev. In what some analysts have called a “declaration of war”, Poroshenko promised to wrest control of Crimea from Russia which annexed the region just months earlier following a public referendum that showed 90 percent support for the measure. Here’s part of what Poroshenko said:

“The issue of territorial integrity of Ukraine is not subject to discussion…I have just sworn ‘with all my deeds to protect the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine,’ and I will always be faithful to this sacred promise…

“Russia occupied Crimea, which was, is and will be Ukrainian soil…Yesterday, in the course of the meeting in Normandy, I told this to President Putin: Crimea is Ukraine soil. Period. There can be no compromise on the issues of Crimea, European choice and state structure…” (New York Times)

On Thursday, the day before Poroshenko was sworn in, “President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron set a deadline for Russia to comply with its demands or face harsher economic sanctions that would be imposed by members of the G-7. Once again, the threat of new sanctions was largely ignored by the western media but was reported in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“To avoid even harsher sanctions.. Putin must meet three conditions: Recognize Petro Poroshenko’s election as the new leader in Kiev; stop arms from crossing the border; and cease support for pro-Russian separatist groups concentrated in eastern Ukraine.

“If these things don’t happen, then sectoral sanctions will follow…”

Obama said the G-7 leaders unanimously agree with the steps Cameron outlined.” (Haaretz)

The United States is ratcheting up the pressure in order to widen the conflict and force Russian president Vladimir Putin to meet their demands. It’s clear that the threat of sanctions, Poroshenko’s belligerent rhetoric, and the steady buildup of military assets and troops in the region, that Obama and Co. still think they can draw Putin into the conflict and make him look like a dangerous aggressor who can’t be trusted by his EU partners. Fortunately, Putin has not fallen into the trap. He’s resisted the temptation to send in the tanks to put an end to the violence in Donetsk, Lugansk and Slavyansk. This has undermined Washington’s plan to deploy NATO to Russia’s western border, assert control over the “bridgehead” between Europe and Asia, and stop the further economic integration between Russia and the EU. So far, Putin has out-witted his adversaries at every turn, but there are still big challenges ahead, particularly the new threats from Poroshenko.

If Poroshenko is determined to take Crimea back from Moscow, then there’s going to be a war. But there are indications that he is more pragmatic than his speeches would suggest. In a private meeting with Putin at the D-Day ceremonies in France, the Ukrainian president said he had a plan to “immediately stop the bloodshed”

Here’s how Putin summarized his meeting with Poroshenko:

“Poroshenko has a plan in this respect; it is up to him to say what kind of plan it is… I cannot say for sure how these plans will be implemented, but I liked the general attitude, it seemed right to me, so, if it happens this way, there will be conditions to develop our relations, in other areas, including economy.

“It’s important to stop the punitive actions in the southeast without a delay. That’s the only way to create conditions for the start of a real process of negotiations with the supporters of federalization. No one has yet said anything concrete to the people (living in the southeast of Ukraine) and nothing practical has been offered to them. People there simply don’t understand how they’ll live in the future and what the parameters of the new Constitution will look like.” (Poroshenko tells Putin of plan to immediately stop bloodshed in Ukraine, Itar-Tass)

If the report is accurate, then there’s reason to hope that Poroshenko is moving in Russia’s direction on most of the key issues which are; greater autonomy for the people in East Ukraine, Constitutional provisions that will protect them from future abuse by Kiev, and an immediate end to the violence. Putin has sought assurances on these issues from the very beginning of the crisis. Now it looks like he might get his way. Of course, it is impossible to know, since Poroshenko is sending mixed messages.

So why is Poroshenko sounding so conciliatory in his private meetings with Putin, but so belligerent in public?

It could be any number of things, but it probably has a lot to do with Monday’s scheduled tripartite meetings of representatives from the European Union, Ukraine and Russia. These meetings will have incalculable impact of Ukriane’s economic future. They will resolve the issues of price for future gas purchases as well as a plan for settling all previous claims. (Russia says that Ukraine owes $3.5 billion in back payments for natural gas.)

On April 1, Gazprom cancelled Ukraine’s discount and raised the price of gas to 485.5 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters nearly doubling the rate of payment. (It had been $268.5 per 1,000 cubic meters) It is impossible to overstate the impact this will have Ukraine’s economy. Even Ukrainian hardline Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was candid in his dire assessment of the situation. He said, “I could have made a populist statement but it is not true. We cannot refrain from using Russian gas.”

If Poroshenko sounds conciliatory, this is why.

Putin refused to discuss the gas issue with the media, but implied that political developments in Ukraine would factor heavily into any decision by Gazprom.

“Russia will be compelled to enact economic protection measures to defend its market if Ukraine signs the association agreement with the EU. “As soon as that accord is signed, we’ll start taking measures to defend our economy,” Putin said. (Itar-Tass)

In other words, if Ukraine doesn’t play ball, it’s going to have to go-it-alone. Kiev cannot expect “most favored trade partner-status”, gas discounts, or other perks if they’re going to stab Moscow in the back and jump into bed with the EU. That’s just not the way things work. Putin is merely warning Poroshenko to think about what he’s about to do before taking the plunge. ( “Average gas prices for Ukrainian households began rising by more than 50 percent in May, and heating prices are expected to climb by about 40 percent, starting in July.” World Socialist Web Site)

This is a much more important issue that most analysts seem to grasp. Many seem to think that IMF, EU and US loans and other assistance can buoy Ukraine’s sinking economy and restore it to health. But that’s a pipedream. In a “must read” report by the Brookings Institute, authors Clifford G. Gaddy and Barry W. Ickes spell it out in black and white, that is, that “Ukraine is a prize that neither Russia nor the West can afford to win.” Here’s a clip from the text:

“It is clear to most observers that the West would not be able to defend Ukraine economically from a hostile Russia…The simple fact is that Russia today supports the Ukrainian economy to the tune of at least $5 billion, perhaps as much as $10 billion, each year…

When we talk about subsidies, we usually think of Russia’s ability to offer Ukraine cheap gas — which it does when it wants to. But there are many more ways Russia supports Ukraine, only they are hidden. The main support comes in form of Russian orders to Ukrainian heavy manufacturing enterprises. This part of Ukrainian industry depends almost entirely on demand from Russia. They wouldn’t be able to sell to anyone else…

If the West were somehow able to wrest full control of Ukraine from Russia, could the United States, the other NATO nations, and the EU replace Russia’s role in eastern Ukraine? The IMF, of course, would never countenance supporting these dinosaurs the way the Russians have. So the support would have to come in the way of cash transfers to compensate for lost jobs. How much are we talking about? The only known parallel for the amount of transfer needed is the case of German reunification. The transfer amounted to 2 trillion euros, or $2.76 trillion, over 20 years. If Ukraine has per capita income equal to one-tenth of Germany’s, then a minimum estimate is $276 billion to buy off the east. (In fact, since the population size of eastern Ukraine is larger than East Germany’s, this is an underestimate.) It is unthinkable that the West would pay this amount.” (Ukraine: A Prize Neither Russia Nor the West Can Afford to Win, Brookings)

The authors go on to show that “a NATO-affiliated Ukraine — is simply impossible under any real-world conditions” because it assumes that Russia will either “become an enthusiastic EU and NATO member itself” (or) “will it return to being the bankrupt, dependent, and compliant Russia of the 1990s.” In other words, the Obama administration’s strategic objectives in Ukraine do not jibe with economic reality. The US cannot afford to win in Ukraine, that’s the bottom line. Even so, we are convinced the aggression will persist regardless of the presumed outcome. The train has already left the station.

At the D-Day ceremonies, Putin and Poroshenko also met briefly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande although the content of their discussions was not revealed. Public support for the two leaders’ Ukraine policy is gradually withering as the fighting continues in the East without any end in sight. An article in the popular German newspaper Die Zeit indicates that elite opinion in Europe is gradually shifting and no longer sees Washington’s Ukraine policy as being in its interests.

Here’s a brief summary from the WSWS: “It goes on to argue that Washington’s aggression is laying the foundations for a Chinese-Russian-Iranian axis that “would force the West to pursue a more aggressive foreign policy to secure its access to important but dwindling raw materials such as oil.” In opposition to this, the commentary insists that Germany’s independent interests lie “with preserving and deepening Europe’s relations with Russia,” while pursuing similar ties with Iran.” (D-Day anniversary: Commemorating the Second World War and preparing the Third, World Socialist Web Site)

This is an important point and one that could put a swift end to US aggression in Ukraine. Washington’s objectives are at cross-purposes with those of the EU. The EU needs a reliable source of energy and one, like Russia, that will set its prices competitively without resorting to coercion or blackmail. Washington, on the other hand, intends to situate itself in this century’s most prosperous region, Eurasia, in order to control the flow of oil from East to West. This is not in Europe’s interests, but promises to be a source of conflict for the foreseeable future. Case in point: Just last week Bulgaria’s prime minister, Plamen Oresharski, “ordered a halt to work on Russia’s South Stream pipeline, on the recommendation of the EU. The decision was announced after his talks with US senators.”

According to RT News, Oresharski stopped construction after meeting with John McCain, Chris Murphy and Ron Johnson during their visit to Bulgaria on Sunday.

McCain, commenting on the situation, said that “Bulgaria should solve the South Stream problems in collaboration with European colleagues,” adding that in the current situation they would want “less Russian involvement” in the project.

“America has decided that it wants to put itself in a position where it excludes anybody it doesn’t like from countries where it thinks it might have an interest, and there is no economic rationality in this at all. Europeans are very pragmatic, they are looking for cheap energy resources – clean energy resources, and Russia can supply that. But the thing with the South Stream is that it doesn’t fit with the politics of the situation,” Ben Aris, editor of Business New Europe told RT.” (Bulgaria halts Russia’s South Stream gas pipeline project, RT)

Once again, we can see how US meddling is damaging to Europe’s interests.

Western elites want to control the flow of gas and oil from East to West. This is why they’ve installed their puppet in Kiev, threatened to levy more sanctions on Moscow, and moved B-2 stealth bombers into the European theater. They are determined to succeed in their plan even if it triggers a Third World War.

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].

With just days to go to the June 12 opening of the World Cup football (soccer) tournament in Brazil, the country has been shaken by a series of strikes and protests, including a six-day walkout by transit workers that has paralyzed the country’s largest city, São Paulo, with a population of nearly 12 million people.

The authorities have confronted the transit strikers with naked repression and violence. Military police shock troops have been deployed against workers’ picket lines and demonstrations, employing tear gas, rubber bullets and sound grenades against strikers and their supporters, dozens of whom have been arrested.

A São Paulo labor court, in an unprecedented Sunday session, ruled the strike “abusive” and illegal. A mass assembly of transit workers voted the same day to continue the walkout in defiance of the court ruling and of the threat from the state government that all strikers who failed to return to work on Monday would be fired.

São Paulo Metro strikers [Photo: Oliver Kornblihtt / Midia NINJA]

A meeting between union officials and representatives of the São Paulo state government Monday afternoon broke up without any agreement being reached. Brazilian media reported that the union had been willing to accept a wage settlement below the 12.2 percent hike it had demanded, but insisted that the firing of some 60 strikers for actions on the picket lines be withdrawn.

São Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin, who was the 2006 presidential candidate backed by the Brazilian right, took a hardline position that there was “nothing to discuss,” i.e., that there would be no wage offer other than 8.7 percent originally offered, and none of those who had been fired would be given their jobs back.

Transit officials claimed Monday afternoon that 29 percent of the workforce was on the job Monday and that 50 out of 65 train stations were open, but with limited service.

The union held an assembly late Monday in which workers voted to suspend the strike until Wednesday, when they are to meet again to decide whether to resume the walkout—on the day of the World Cup’s first game—if their demand for the rehiring of the fired strikers is not met.

The transit strike follows similar actions by teachers in both São Paulo and Río de Janeiro, bus workers and other sections of the working class. These strikes have been accompanied by mass demonstrations across the country rejecting the vast expenditures on the World Cup amid mass poverty and inadequate government spending on education, health care, housing and other basic necessities.

Organized by the International Football Federation (FIFA), the tournament, which takes place every four years, brings in the national teams of many countries. The football tournament is expected to generate US$4 billion and over US$2 billion in profits for FIFA and the Cup’s corporate promoters. This record sum is roughly twice the revenue generated at the South Africa games in 2010.

Authorities claimed to have “learned the lessons” of the protests that rocked Brazil a year ago, when demonstrators fought pitched battles with security forces outside stadiums hosting the so-called Confederation Cup, which serves as a rehearsal for the larger World Cup tournament.

The government is spending close to $1 billion on organizing a huge repressive force, including an army of 57,000 troops and 100,000 police and security agents to protect the games primarily from social protests and strikes—though inevitably terrorism has been raised as a pretext.

The buildup to the tournament was a major factor in the mass demonstrations that brought millions into the streets of Río de Janeiro, São Paulo and other cities a year ago. While those protests were triggered by threatened transit fare hikes, the demonstrators pointed to the public expenditure of 18 billionreais (US$8 billion) that the government had budgeted for building and upgrading stadiums and airports, while education, health care and other human needs were neglected.

In the wake of last year’s mass protests, the Workers Party (PT) government promised to comply with the demands for improved education, health care and housing. However, since then, President Dilma Rousseff has failed to make good on these promises and instead has repeatedly made use of federal security and military forces to repress strikes and protests.

The military police have been employed as an occupation force in the favelas (shantytowns), including the Maré complex of 15 favelas in Río de Janeiro, which straddles the route between Río’s international airport and the wealthy tourist districts.

As early as 2009, the government had begun building walls around Río de Janeiro hillside slums (favelas) in preparation for their militarization in anticipation of the World Cup. Having failed to resolve the social issues, the government has made use of the police. Government security forces have killed over 5,600 Brazilians since 2007, many of them in the occupied favelas.

This is the second time that the FIFA cup is being held in Brazil. The first was in 1950 and marked the resumption of the games following their suspension during World War II.

Brazil at the time was a nation in the process of rapid industrialization. War-imposed shortages had stimulated domestic production, spurred by government import-substitution policies. Millions were abandoning the countryside and settling in the coastal cities and the industrial south. Plans would soon take shape for creating a new capital, Brasilia, in the center of the country, in large measure to isolate the government from mass strikes and social struggles. Even though more than half of the nation’s inhabitants were in poverty, living standards and life expectancy were on the rise, infant deaths had declined, and more Brazilians had access to medical services.

Despite this accelerated growth, successive governments were unable to resolve long-standing social and regional conflicts and free the country from the stranglehold of US imperialism. The latter played a crucial role in imposing, in 1964, a brutal military-fascist dictatorship that lasted until 1985.

Sixty-four years have passed since the 1950 World Cup. In contrast to that earlier event, this time the country is in the midst of economic decline. For many Brazilians, their country is moving in reverse. A poll released last week showed that 72 percent of the population are dissatisfied with the way things are going, compared to 55 percent a year ago.

In 2003, when FIFA announced that Brazil would host the championship, a PT government, under former union leader Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, had come to office and had raised expectations that Brazil, along with the group of so-called emerging economies known as the BRICs (including Russia, India and China), would find a path to increasing economic growth and greater social equality.

The PT model of “Lulalism” or “Brasilia consensus,” consisted of free market policies, privatizations and de-regulations combined with populist demagogy and minimal assistance programs for the most impoverished layers of the population. It was promoted as a free market alternative to both the “Bolivarian Revolution” of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and to the “Washington consensus” of savage cuts in social programs. The government was to deregulate businesses and privatize state industries, and create a Central Bank independent of the government but under the control of global financial institutions, while still devoting some resources to social programs.

In the end, neither Brazil, the BRICS, nor the rest of the emerging economies proved stronger than the world capitalist crisis and the deterioration of global commerce and the collapse of world commodity prices, due in Brazil’s case to a drop in orders from China.

The world price of iron ore, for example, up until recently Brazil’s main export product, has fallen by more than 20 percent this year alone. The Reuters news agency recently interviewed officials of Brazilian iron producer Vale, who indicated that less efficient and exhausted mines are being shut down in an attempt to support ore prices. Since 2010, Brazil has faced rising inflation, unemployment and capital flight.

The PT was created as a political instrument for diverting the explosive eruption of mass workers’ struggles at the end of the military dictatorship into safer reformist and parliamentary channels. Various pseudo-left tendencies participated in its construction and hailed it as a model for organizing workers internationally.

Since then, it has been exposed as a corrupt bourgeois party and, after over a decade in power, the favored instrument of rule of the Brazilian financial and corporate elite. The pretense that this party has anything to do with social reform has become more threadbare with each passing day. As it hosts the 2014 World Cup, the Rousseff administration reveals itself as a government that lives in fear of the Brazilian working class and poor and which is prepared to resort to police state repression to guarantee the interests of big business.

While the death toll among civilians is growing in Ukraine the United States continues its policy aimed at escalation of the conflict. It offers all kinds of support to Kiev including military aid. Deputy Secretary General Ambassador Alexander Vershbow said the cooperation is going to get a new impetus with instructors sent to beef up the modernization efforts of Ukraine’s armed forces. 

The US Congress is to pass a bill to provide $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine. The bill authorizes an additional $100 million to bolster security cooperation among the United States, European Union and countries in Central and Eastern Europe and further authorizes the President to provide defense help and additional security assistance to Ukraine and other countries in the region. According to Igor Dolgov, Ukraine’s Ambassador to NATO, the alliance is to provide logistics and gratuitously train Ukrainian personnel. It will also intensify intelligence collecting efforts against Russia including AWACS aircraft. Anders Fogh Rasmussen says no military actions against Russia are planned, but the facts tell otherwise.

Having won the presidential election on May 25, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko secretly met with strange American delegation headed by the Director of the National Service of Covert Operations (the CIA’s National Clandestine Service) Frank Archibald, which also included former CIA chief in Ukraine Jeffrey Egan, the current – Raymond Mark Davidson, Mark Buggy (CIA, Istanbul), Andrzej Derlatka, a CIA agent in the Polish intelligence Agency and member of CIA Kevin Duffin who is working as senior Vice President of the insurance company Brower. Poroshenko and Archibald signed a paper entitled an “Agreement on Military Cooperation between the U.S. and Ukraine”…

The composition of the U.S. delegation, which is rather mysterious at first glance, is explained by the fact that the professional diplomats would not understand at all what it was about, and by the fact that the U.S. Congress would not authorize the usual military cooperation agreement which involves sending military trainers and direct participation of American troops in the armed conflict in Ukraine.

However, the National Service of Covert Operations can bypass the lawmakers through channels such as private insurance company Brower, belonging to the CIA. It can provide large-scale military aid to other countries using its operatives and employees of private military contractors. Aside from the military cooperation with the United States,   the Ukrainian government signed an agreement to revive the concept of LITPOLUKRBRIG (the Lithuanian – Polish – Ukrainian Brigade) to make it reach operational status. The brigade is a planned multinational formation  consisting of units from the Lithuanian, Polish and Ukrainian army units. An agreement on its creation was signed on November 16, 2009.

In his remarks on “anti-terrorist operation” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Russia Today that he felt U.S. officials were quick to blame his nation for everything going awry in Ukraine and to insist Moscow can unilaterally solve it all. Lavrov said that while those in Ukraine’s east and south who defiantly oppose the Kiev-based government are “not puppets” of the Kremlin, such a characterization would describe the relationship between Ukraine’s leadership in Kiev and the United States. “Americans have, I think, overwhelming influence,” he said. “They act in a much more open way, without any scruples; compared to the Europeans … You cannot avoid the impression that they are running the show very much, very much.” It’s worth to note that Lugansk was shelled the very same day US Assistant Secretary of Defense Derek Chollet visited Kiev. According to the sources coming from Ukrainian special services, the US official was immediately involved in the planning of the punitive operation.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the process of the alliance expansion to the East will continue.

NATO is using the Ukrainian crisis as a smoke screen for a war plan and the US has already decided to permanently station troops in Eastern Europe”, says Harvard-educated professor Francis Boyle, a US-based expert on Russia.

NATO leaders are poised to meet in September to debate the initiative to permanently base additional forces in Eastern Europe. “This is just a trial balloon, but in reality it is a war plan unfolding here,” Boyle told RIA Novosti on May 8. “The Ukrainian crisis had been planned as well as the war. There was a war plan, there was a war game. Then it was revised and implemented.” “We are seeing steps now being taken that were planned in advance,” Boyle said, adding, “This is all being used as a pretext to bring NATO military forces, as Rasmussen said, by air, sea, and land right up to the borders of the Russian Federation. They are clearly going ahead with this.”

Boyle extolled Russia for trying to exhaust all diplomatic means possible to resolve the Ukrainian crisis, and accused the United States and NATO of deliberate escalation.

So, that the US won’t be provided with any more pretexts for hostile provocative maneuvers that they are going to take in any event,” Boyle asserted. The professor emphasized that Russian President Vladimir Putin is in a very difficult and dangerous situation and needs to be very careful. “The US has already resumed the Cold War with the neo-Nazi coup d’état in Ukraine that the United States sponsored, controlled, and directed,” he said.

In his inauguration speech on June 7 Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko promised to use his diplomatic experience to accomplish the goal of reaching an international security agreement,

I will use all my diplomatic experience to ensure the signing of an international treaty that would replace the Budapest memorandum. Such a treaty should provide reliable guarantees of peace and security, up to military support in case of a threat to [Ukraine's] territorial integrity. Any aggressor at the Ukrainian border must remember this biblical adage: he who comes with a sword will be defeated by a sword.”

If the stated goal comes true than the need for formal membership of Ukraine in NATO will lose relevance – the country will host NATO forces without formal accession to the alliance.

Rasmussen used the Ukrainian crisis as a pretext for calling on NATO members to increase military expenditure. Pursuing the goal of convincing the NATO member-states to hike military spending, Washington sides with Poland and the Baltic States who raise alarm over the alleged Russian threat.  Obama rushed to reassure them. On his tour of Eastern Europe he made his message to the NATO countries in the region clear: 

“As allies we have a solemn duty, a binding treaty obligation to defend your territorial integrity and we will. We stand together now and forever, for your freedom is ours. Poland will never stand alone. But not just Poland, Estonia will never stand alone, Latvia will never stand alone, Lithuania will never stand alone, Romania will never stand alone. These are not just words, they are unbreakable commitments.”

The President has also pledged a billion dollars’ worth of extra military aid for Eastern Europe’s NATO members. And he’s agreed to expand non-lethal aid to Ukraine’s new government, so it now includes items like night-vision equipment and body armor. And he was clear too that Ukraine could also reply on American moral support: 

“I met with President-elect Poroshenko this morning and I told him that just as free nations offered support and assistance to Poland in your transition to democracy, we stand with Ukrainians now, Ukraine must be free to choose its own future for itself and by itself.”

On March 4 NATO decided to step up its military activities.  The U.S. sent 12 F-16 fighter jets to Poland on the Polish government’s request. The U.S. also agreed to send four F-15 jets to Lithuania. There is a U.S. Air Force presence in the Baltic States because of NATO air-patrol responsibilities, which rotate in four-month intervals between member countries. US warships moved to the Baltic and Black seas. In June the defense chiefs from Germany, Denmark and Poland, which work together in NATO’s Multinational Corps Northeast, told NATO counterparts they had agreed to upgrade the readiness of the corps’ headquarters in Szczecin, Poland, a NATO official said. The headquarters is likely to get more staff and equipment so it could take command of exercises and potentially any reinforcement effort needed in Eastern Europe. However, Poland, which wants large numbers of NATO troops stationed permanently on its soil, said beefing up the headquarters was not enough. “We don’t want the strengthening of the command center to be seen as the only aspect of bolstering NATO presence in the east. We expect much more and we are talking about this,” Polish Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak told reporters in Brussels.

Deputy NATO Secretary Alexander Vershbow called for NATO strategy to be reviewed.

The US President wants Congress to give him $5 billion blank check to fund contingencies aboard. The new fund would be established for the purpose. The sum is to be added to the administration’s Pentagon budget request for the upcoming fiscal year inside what’s known as the Overseas Contingency Operations Fund. The money is to be spent of foreign wars and not be included into the Defense Department’s core budget.

Talking to West Point graduates Obama said the United States will lead the world for another one hundred years.  It looks more like mantra against the background of inflated public debt and rapid emergence of multipolar world. The Russia-China gas deal and the both countries’ planned switch to national currencies settlements, prospective payments in Russian national currency for European gas supplies and the tangible trend of BRICS moving to financial independence – all told it becomes evident the dollar’ status of global reserve currency is jeopardized.  Japan, the US loyal ally, has already expressed its wish to join the dollar boycott threatening the very system of US-led military alliances and shaking the very foundation of US global leadership.

Sheer inertia makes the United States continue to act like if it were the only global leader. For instance, Obama says the United States armed forces are unmatched in the world,

In fact, by most measures, America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world. Those who argue otherwise – who suggest that America is in decline, or has seen its global leadership slip away – are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics. Think about it. Our military has no peer. The odds of a direct threat against us by any nation are low, and do not come close to the dangers we faced during the Cold War.

The issue of Ukraine was on the agenda of the highly secretive Bilderberg group holding its 62nd annual conference in Denmark from May 29 to June 1 in Copenhagen, Denmark. This year they talked about the concerted actions of the United States and the European Union in case Russian troops enter Ukraine and the readiness of the West for a world war.

In the celebratory atmosphere last week as the Palestinian unity government was sworn in, ending a seven-year feud between Fatah and Hamas, it was easy to overlook who was absent.

Hamas had agreed to remain in the shadows to placate Washington, which is legally obligated to refuse aid to a government that includes a designated terrorist group. The new Palestinian cabinet looked little different from its predecessor; Hamas’ input was limited to three independents, all in low-level ministerial positions.

And because this transitional government is still operating within the confines of Israeli occupation, the three ministers from Gaza were refused permits to travel to the West Bank for the swearing-in ceremony on June 2.

The appointment of a temporary government of technocrats is likely to be the easiest phase of the reconciliation agreed in late April. The deal has endured so far – unlike earlier agreements – because Hamas, in even more desperate straits than its rival, Fatah, has capitulated.

For that reason, the United States and most of the world hurried to offer their blessing. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the other hand, made dire warnings about the “strengthening of terror” and okayed 3,300 settler homes to punish the Palestinians.

A far trickier stage is still to come: the Palestinian cabinet under President Mahmoud Abbas needs to oversee a bitterly contested national election between Fatah and Hamas expected early next year.

The elections are seen as vital. Palestinians have had no say in who rules them since 2006, when Hamas was victorious. A year later, after brief and vicious fighting, Hamas and Fatah created separate fiefdoms in Gaza and the West Bank. Both need to prove their legitimacy at the ballot box.

Should voting take place, and Hamas win again, the US and others can be expected to boycott the new government – withdrawing desperately needed aid – as they did back in 2006.

But far more likely, Israel will not allow the elections to take place.

Eight years ago, in the months prior to voting, Israel initiated a wave of arrests of Hamas leaders in an attempt to stymie the democratic process. Israel also hoped to block voting in occupied East Jerusalem, which it considers part of its “eternal, indivisible” capital. But the White House – realising a ballot without Jerusalem would lack credibility – pressured Israel into grudging acquiescence.

Less well remembered is that Fatah quietly conspired with Israel to try to postpone the national vote. Fearing that Hamas would sweep the board, Fatah hoped to use Israeli intransigence in Jerusalem as the necessary pretext to delay the wider elections to a time more favourable to its candidates.

Netanyahu has already announced that he will not allow an election in East Jerusalem, as well as indicating that Hamas will be barred from running elsewhere. That is hardly surprising: Israel has spent the past eight years eradicating Hamas from Jerusalem by jailing its leaders or expelling them to the West Bank.

But Fatah’s behaviour in 2006 hints at an even bigger obstacle to consummating the reconciliation. The reality is that Hamas and Fatah have entered the process only out of mutual despair.

Hamas’ political and geographical isolation in Gaza has plumbed new depths since the Egyptian regime turned hostile. Blockaded on all sides, Hamas has seen its support erode as the enclave’s economic crisis has deepened. A deal with Fatah seems the only way to open the borders.

The credibility of Fatah and Abbas, meanwhile, has been steadily undermined by years of cooperation with Israel – all while the settlements have expanded – in the hope of extracting a concession on statehood. With little to show for it, Fatah is increasingly seen as Israel’s craven security contractor.

Abbas’ new strategy – creating a momentum towards statehood at the United Nations – requires that his government-in-waiting establish its democratic credentials, territorial integrity, and a national consensus behind the diplomatic option.

The priority for Netanyahu is not only to void the elections but to weaken the two sides’ commitment to unity by punishing them for their insolence. He can do so given Israel’s control over all aspects of Palestinian life.

Israel has begun not only with another glut of settlement building, but by declaring war on the Palestinian economy, refusing to accept shekel deposits from Palestinian banks, and by imposing collective daily blackouts on Palestinians for unpaid bills to Israel’s electricity company.

Abbas, now responsible for paying the salaries of tens of thousands of public employees in Gaza each month, will be even more vulnerable to Israeli threats to refuse to transfer tax and customs revenues. On Monday it was reported that Israel had also been lobbying foreign capitals to ensure the Palestinian president is held directly responsible for any rockets fired from Gaza.

Hamas faces a no less difficult period ahead. If it strays too far from Fatah’s dictates, it will be blamed for destroying the unity pact; but if it adheres too close to Fatah, it will lose its identity and risk being outflanked by more militant groups like Islamic Jihad.

Samah Sabawi, a political analyst, observed of the unity government: “What we need more than ministries and authorities is resistance and liberation.” The unity government – whether of technocrats or elected officials – will still operate within the limitations imposed by Israel’s occupation.

In fact, the unity government simply breathes new life into the illusion – created by the Oslo accords of two decades ago – that good governance by the Palestinian Authority can change the Palestinians’ situation for the better. In practice, such governance has entailed submitting to Israel’s security demands, a Palestinian obligation Abbas termed “sacred” last week.

As Sabawi suggests, an occupied people needs not better rubbish collection or street lighting but an effective strategy for resistance.

Palestinians will not benefit from a PA that polices the occupation simply because it becomes more “unified”. Rather, their struggle to attain real freedom will grow that bit more daunting.


Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books).  His website is

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

Dear Colleagues, dear Friends:

First of all, thank you very much for organizing the very interesting and important Peace Event in Sarajevo from June 6th to 9th, which you’ve called “the biggest international peace event 2014.” You have put together a compelling program.

Weeks ago I purchased my flight tickets to Sarajevo. I looked forward to the meetings and discussions with colleagues. I was also grateful for the opportunity to show a film, “The Killing Floor,” and to co-present a workshop about the first Global Action Day against the Use of Drones for Surveillance & Killing on October 4, 2014.

Only very recently did I notice that the donors for Peace Event Sarajevo include not only respected NGOs and foundations, but also the French Foreign Ministry (Ministère des Affaires Etrangères) and USAID (United States Agency for International Development).

How can this be? What do the governments of France and the United States hope to achieve by financing a peace event in Sarajevo? Have you perhaps heard this same concern from other conference participants?

After all, the U.S. is by far the most aggressive war power in the world, with annual military spending that dwarfs that of all other countries and with operations all over the planet in violation of the sovereignty of other nations and international law. Among European nations, France is playing a particularly aggressive role, especially in Africa, and is working to persuade its European partners in NATO and the EU to join in more military ventures, often in the guise of “peacemaking” and “humanitarian” intervention.

Since I am a U.S. citizen, in the remainder of this letter I wish to explain more fully why I strongly object to the acceptance of a donation from USAID for a peace conference.

As you must know, USAID was founded at the height of the Cold War in 1961 and has played a controversial role in U.S. government destabilization efforts in various countries ever since, beginning with Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. The USAID website sets forth the mission of this agency:

“USAID is a U.S. Government agency that provides economic, development, and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States.”

“Although technically an independent federal agency, USAID operates subject to the foreign policy guidance of the President, Secretary of State, and the National Security Council.”

“Further, since 9/11, America’s foreign assistance programs have been more fullyintegrated into the United States’ National Security Strategy.”

Over the years, many countries have expelled USAID. In 2012 Russia expelled USAID because of “attempts to influence political processes through its grants,” and Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Venezuela called on all the Latin American ALBA countries to expel USAID.

It seems that these countries had good grounds to expel USAID. For example, in 2013 Wikileaks exposed how USAID worked in Venezuela to destabilize its government. In April 2014, an investigative article by the Associated Press exposed USAID attempts to destabilize Cuba by setting up a Cuban Twitter service. Some 40,000 Cubans joined the Twitter service, unaware of the U.S. role in setting it up. They also were unaware that the U.S. government was monitoring their private Twitter communications. The U.S. had planned to subsequently intervene in Cuban social networks by sending messages to the Twitter subscribers with the aim of fomenting unrest in Cuba. Reporting on the Cuban Twitter scandal, the well-known U.S. independent news program Democracy Now asked: “Is USAID the New CIA?”

Nearer to Sarajevo, USAID has played a leading role in the U.S. “regime change” effort in the Ukraine. USAID of course supports the coup government in Kiev, which includes acknowledged fascists and has unleashed terror and death on countless Ukrainians. Over the last twenty years, USAID pumped $1.8 billion into various Ukrainian projects, including $1.25 million to subsidize the pro-Kiev media in advance of the May 25th presidential election. In May 2014 USAID brokered a U.S. government loan guarantee of another billion dollars.

And here in Germany, USAID is partnered with AFRICOM, the United States Africa Command in Stuttgart, which is part of the Pentagon and the central command for all U.S. military ventures in Africa, including intelligence gathering, illegal drone murders, clandestine special forces ventures, and providing training and assistance for African military forces allied with the U.S. The U.S. military activities in Africa are often conducted in close association with those of France, and the U.S. has provided France with Reaper drones for use in Africa. To summarize, USAID provides a “humanitarian” veneer for brutal neo-colonial policies in Africa. USAID is the glove on the massive U.S. military fist.

Acceptance of the USAID donation damages the reputation of Peace Event Sarajevo 2014 and of its participants, and undermines the conference’s credibility.

Acceptance of the donation also helps the nefarious USAID to spruce up its image through association with well-respected peace activists, so that USAID can continue to “talk of peace” while preparing wars.

Peace Event Sarajevo 2014 should immediately return the USAID donation.

If for some reason it is not possible to return the USAID donation, Peace Event Sarajevo organizers should at the beginning of the conference disclose to all conference participants all details concerning the USAID donation, including how it came about, its amount, and any donor letters, contracts or correspondence.

Furthermore, Peace Event Sarajevo organizers must assure conference participants that their contact data and other personal information have not been and will not be made available to USAID for future schemes to influence social networks as was attempted by USAID in the Cuban Twitter project.

UPDATE (June 8, 2014):

The organizers of Peace Event Sarajevo recently removed USAID from the list of donors posted on their website under:

But the USAID financing is still listed on page four of this downloadable program:

As far as I know, the organizers have not returned the financing from USAID, nor have they so far been open to a public discussion regarding this financing. Many participants in the Peace Event have expressed concern about the USAID and French Foreign Ministry financing, and several petitions are circulating. Two Members of the German Parliament, Heike Hänsel and Alexander Neu, have written to the organizers to express their concerns about the USAID financing.

Many conference participants were shocked upon arrival to see the ca. 200 local Bosnian volunteers for the event all wearing T-shirts with “USAID Peace Event Sarajevo 2014″ printed on them. The Bosnian version of the “Peace Event” newspaper has USAID prominently displayed on the first page and other donors only in very fine print on the back page. It seems that among the population in Bosnia, USAID was promoted as virtually the only donor for Peace Event Sarajevo.

USAID is hardly a “neutral” source of financing for a peace event in Sarajevo. The continued US military presence in Bosnia is controversial here and is particularly resented by the large Bosnian Serbian minority of ca. 30%. Several Bosnians I have spoken with in the two days I have been here have complained that they feel as though under a continuing US occupation. They are also dependent on USAID as virtually the sole source available to them for cultural and other projects.

The US has a huge embassy in Sarajevo. The US military base Camp Eagle in Bosnia would provide essential military infrastructure for any US and NATO military intervention in Ukraine. The George W. Bush Presidency is reported to have used Camp Eagle for the secret extrajudicial detention of ghost prisoners, which (along with Camp Bondsteel in nearby Kosovo) has been called a smaller version of Guantanamo.

Elsa Rassbach (in Sarajevo)

The Big Money World of Mercenaries and Private Security

June 10th, 2014 by Global Research News

By Jasmine Henrique 

Private Security Beginnings:

13th Century B.C.: Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses the II hires Nubians (popularly known as Medjai), Libyans, Syrians, and Sherdens (from Sardinia) to compliment his own military and security forces.
400 A.D. During the Byzantine empire, emperors contracted foreigners for their personal security, forming the Varangion Guard.
1748: Harry Fielding, in the UK, proposed the founding of a permanent well paid professional security force.
1850s: Allan Pinkerton (a former Chicago police detective) created the Pinkerton Agency, his own private security agency.

Private Security

In an Increasingly Violent World:

526,000: number of people killed by armed violence every year
Every minute: 1 person dies of armed violence
87.8: percentage of people killed annually in non conflict settings
12.2: percentage killed in conflict settings
1 in 10: number of people killed in conflict, or terroristic settings a year

The most dangerous places in the world (global average, 7.9 persons killed per 100,000 people):

• Syria: 3,750: Average number of violent deaths per month. More than 140,000 people have been killed in the past two years, including 7,000 children.
• El Salvador: 61.9 people killed per 100,000 every year
• Iraq: 59.4/100,000 (but on the rise)
• Jamaica: 58.1/100,000
• Afghanistan: 14.3 deaths per 1,000

4,000: Number of homicides in Caracas, Venezuela in 2012


The Rise of Private Security Services in Modern Times:

2005: At the Height of the Iraqi War:
• 20,000: number of non-Iraqi security contractors
Of these, 5-6,000 were British, American, South African, Russian or European; another 12,000 are from Third World countries, such as Fiji, Colombia, Sri Lanka, and India.
• 15,000 Iraqi security contractors
Most were hired mainly by the British security firm Erinys to guard Iraq’s oil infrastructure.

#1: U.S. is the number top user of private contract security services in the world
$174+ billion: amount spent on security services, worldwide, 2010
35: percentage of worldwide security services market is in U.S., 2014
17: percentage growth anticipated by 2015
$210 billion: amount projected worldwide demand of security services, in 2015

Fueling demand of personal security:
• Increased urbanization
• Need to protect assets
• Lack of faith in public safety
• Fear of crime and terrorism

Fueling the growth of the personal security industry:
• Foreign investment
• Economic recover
• Overloading of public services

In the U.S.:

Private Security
2 million: number of private security personnel
90,000: number of private security organizations

Vs. Law Enforcement
765,000: employed law enforcement personnel
17,985: number of state and local law enforcement agencies
80: percentage of private security personnel employment from 1980-2010
Less than 1: percentage of applicants hired by elite security firms.

What private security firms do:

Personal protection of:
• Business executives
• Celebrities
• Government officials
• Consulting and Training
• Threat assessment
• Threat management
• Investigation
• Legal support
• Background checks
• Information security

On the Sea: Private Maritime Security vs. Piracy
• $400 million: Annual cost of multinational naval presence
• 0: number of ships hijacked with private security aboard
• 140: number of maritime private security firms now operational
• 35,000: number of cargo ships that must pass through high risk zones
• $5.5 million: average ransom paid to pirates

Personal protection: about 50 % of private security services requested is for personal security
Guards for private security firms can make between $400 and $600 per day.
Guards employed by Blackwater, a high-profile American company that guarded Ambassador Paul Bremer in Iraq, were paid up to $1000 a day.

The world’s most powerful mercenary armies:
• G4S: employs 625,000
• Presence in more than 125 countries
• 2nd largest employer in the world (after WalMart)
• Unity Resources Group: 1,200 employees
• Strong presence in Iraq
• Erinys: more than 15,000 (unofficial)
• Asia Security Group, employs 600. Formerly owned by Karzai, president of Afghanistan.
• Dyncorp: staff in excess of 5,000.


How to Prepare for Mercenary Employment

Step 1 – Obtain military or law enforcement related experience.
• Previous experience working in the special forces of the army, USMC, navy, or air force if seeking the higher paying security-related jobs.
• Most private security companies will be looking for a minimum of 3-5 years of relevant experience on one’s resume.
Step 2 – Obtain proficiency in a foreign language.
• Develop a skill set in another commonly spoken language such as French, German, Arabic, Russian, or Spanish will make you more attractive to future employers.
Step 3 – Get into great physical shape.
• Many of the private security firms will require a physical fitness test be passed before making a new employee permanent.
Step 4 – Build your resume.
• Focus on job skills, qualifications, and experience that directly relate to the mercenary job(s) that you are interested in filling.
Step 5 – Gather required documentation.
• Most American private security firms require a valid U.S. driver’s license, tourist passport, the DD-214 provided on separation from the military service.



The European Commission has indicated it will obstruct the building of a new gas pipeline to bypass Ukraine. South Stream is a Russian sponsored natural gas pipeline. As planned, the pipeline would run under the Black Sea to Bulgaria, and continue through Serbia with two branches to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to Croatia. From Serbia the pipelines crosses Hungary and Slovenia before reaching Italy. Its planned capacity is 63 billion cubic metres per year.

The key partner for Russia’s Gazprom in the South Stream project is Italy’s largest energy company, ENI.

Russia signed intergovernmental agreements with Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and Greece as far back as 2008 and with Slovenia in 2009 and Croatia and Austria in 2010.

Now the EU energy chief, German Gunther Oettinger has claimed to the German media that EU objections to the South Stream project are both political and legal.

“With civil war-like conditions in eastern Ukraine and without Moscow’s recognition of the Kiev government, we will certainly not arrive at a political conclusion of our negotiations,” he said.

He added that talks in a special EU-Russia “working group” on South Stream can continue, but only if Russia is “ready for constructive co-operation on the basis of our energy law”.

The EU’s so-called third energy package forces energy firms to separate production and distribution assets and to allow competitors access to infrastructure.

Legal threat against Bulgaria

The Commission cannot force member states to abandon the project, but it can obstruct progress by launching legal cases against the contracts which underpin its future. It already threw one spanner in the works this week by launching “infringement proceedings” against Bulgaria on alleged non-compliance with EU public procurement law in its handling of tenders.

Last December, the Commission said that all bilateral agreements (IGAs) for the construction of South Stream gas, signed between Russia and Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Greece, Slovenia, Croatia and Austria, are all in breach of EU law and need to be renegotiated from scratch. Klaus-Dieter Borchardt, director for energy markets at the European Commission, speaking in the European Parliament said the deals were in breach of EU law.

“The Commission has looked into these intergovernmental agreements and came to the conclusion that none of the agreements is in compliance with EU law,” Borchardt said.

The Commission official highlighted at least three major issues about the deals:

First, the EU’s so-called network ownership “unbundling” rules need to be observed, he said. This means that Gazprom, which is both a producer and a supplier of gas, cannot simultaneously own production capacity and its transmission network;

Secondly, non-discriminatory access of third parties to the pipeline needs to be ensured. There cannot be an exclusive right for Gazprom to be the only shipper; and

Thirdly, the tariff structure needed to be addressed.

EU challenged over claim that its rules should prevail over international law

Russian deputy minister for energy Anatoly Yankovski, who delivered a speech shortly afterwards made the obvious point that Russia could not accept that EU rules should apply to trans-boundary projects such as pipelines, which are not stationed solely on EU territory. He added that EU law could not prevail in EU-Russia relations, which are governed only by international law. In other words, the intergovernmental agreements concluded by Russia over South Stream were prevailing over other legal norms, Yankovski said.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso upped the ante by warning Bulgaria that the EU executive would impose infringements on Bulgaria regarding pipeline declaring that its construction is in breach of EU laws.

The total value of the construction works on Bulgarian territory will be 3.5 billion Euros, with 20 to 30% of the implementation being sub-contracted to Bulgarian firms.

The Commission has objected precisely on the grounds that the Bulgarian-Russian bilateral agreement on South Stream gives preference to companies from Bulgaria and Russia, which is against EU competition rules.

Despite the Commission’s position that the IGA violates EU law, Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller confirmed last month that the building of the Bulgarian and Serbian portions of the pipeline will begin in July.

In end-April, Russia filed a lawsuit with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against the European Union over the EU’s Third Energy Package.

As I was researching Nineteen Eighty-four in Chinese, I wondered whether Orwell ever wrote about China. His interest in India, where he was born in 1903, is well known, and he served in the Burma Police after leaving school and before becoming a writer, but my guess was that China didn’t concern him greatly. But when I went to the British Library to check in his massive, 20-volume Complete Works [CW], I was surprised to discover that he wrote quite a lot about China and its fate under Japanese occupation, in particular when he was working for the BBC’s Eastern Service during World War II.

And of direct relevance to this article, it turns out that he asked his publishers to send a copy of Nineteen Eighty-four to his colleague, the literary critic William Empson in Peking, where he was teaching English literature. When he was seriously ill in a sanatorium in Gloucestershire in 1949, Orwell wrote to his agent Leonard Moore:

“William Empson in China has asked for a copy of 1984 [sic]. I think it might be wise to get two copies sent, one from London and one from New York. He already seems uncertain as to whether his letters are being opened, so could you ask both publishers not to enclose the usual card saying ‘Compliments of the Author’, as this might just conceivably be embarrassing to him.”

Helpfully he gave Empson’s address as 11, Tung Kao Fang, Near Peking Normal University, Peiping 9, China (30 August 1949, CW, vol 20, p 162).

It so happens that a neighbour of mine was a close friend of the Empsons and a couple of years ago she introduced me to their son Jacobus, who has written a book about his parents’ unconventional marriage and his childhood in Peking. Jake tells me that not only did at least one copy of Nineteen Eighty-four arrive safely in Peking, but that he remembers his parents reading it so eagerly that “they had to tear it in half so they could both read it at once!” (J. Empson, email to the author, 8 March 2014).

Orwell had written three months earlier that

“I had vague ideas of writing [to Empson], but thought it might be embarrassing for foreigners in China to get letters from outside at the moment. Hetta, Empson’s wife, is or used to be a Communist, & he himself is not particularly hostile to Communism, but I doubt whether that would do much good under a Chinese Communist régime”

(letter also from Gloucestershire, to his American publisher Robert Giroux. Orwell adds that “I have been horribly ill for the last month or so…” 19 May 1949, CW, vol 20, p 117). Orwell seems to have been somewhat bemused by the Empsons’ departure for Peking, and in another letter to Giroux, he says: “I’d like to know what he [Empson] has to say about “[King] Lear,” (a reference to Empson’s recent essay on Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool). He has disappeared into China the way people do…” (14 April 1949, CW, vol 20, p 84). Jake says Orwell’s assessment of his parents’ political stances is accurate.

“My mother was a member of the Communist Party from 1937 until 1956, so Orwell was quite correct in her case – my father’s political opinions were more nuanced, as they say these days, but he could have been rightly described as a sympathiser – wearing his Chinese communist uniform when attending a conference in the U.S. in about 1950, for instance.”

But despite Orwell’s suspicions about the Empsons, he did not include them in his famous (or infamous) list of alleged communists that he drew up for the Information Research Department, a branch of the British Foreign Office, a year or two before he died (CW, vol 20, pp 240-259). This list of 135 “crypto-Communists & fellow-travellers” sparked a furore when it finally came to light in the late 1990s, with some denouncing Orwell as a government informer and others defending him because he viewed the Communist Party as a totalitarian menace. The list includes comments such as “Half-Caste…Main emphasis anti-white but reliably pro-Russian on all major issues”.. Empson was a highly influential literary critic who taught in Peking and Kunming in the late 1930s and returned to teach at Peking Normal University from 1947 to 1952, witnessing the last years of the Chinese civil war and the Communist takeover.

Orwell’s main interest in China was related to its attempts to resist the Japanese, who had first invaded the northeast in 1931 and the rest of the country six years later, and he voiced his anger in several BBC scripts. He was appalled at the eye-witness stories of extreme Japanese cruelty that came to his attention at the BBC. With unusual insight, he dated the beginning of World War II not to the German invasion of Poland in 1939 but to the Japanese invasion of China.

“[The war] started, properly speaking, in 1931 when the Japanese invaded Manchuria, and the League of Nations failed to take action. From then onwards, we have seen a long series of aggressions … [I]t was inevitable that Soviet Russia, however anxious to remain at peace, should sooner or later be drawn into the war on the side of the democracies. It was inevitable that Britain and China should ultimately find themselves fighting on the same side, whatever differences there may have been between them in the past …”

Predictably perhaps, Orwell does not seem to have been sympathetic to the Communists, and gives the Nationalists the credit for China’s success in resisting the Japanese. He notes that when the Japanese invaded Manchuria in 1931, “China was in a state of chaos, and the young Chinese republic was in no condition to resist. Six years later, however, when the invasion of China proper began, order had been restored under the leadership of Marshal Chiang Kai-shek, and a powerful national spirit had grown up.” Orwell adds that the main reason the Chinese kept on fighting against enormous odds is that “they are fighting for their liberty, and the will to surrender does not exist in them” (16 May 1942, CW, vol 13, p 324).

He also noted that “This is [Japan's] third war of aggression in 50 years. On each occasion they have wrenched away a piece of Chinese territory and then exploited it for the benefit of two or three wealthy families who rule Japan, with absolutely no regard for the native inhabitants” (17 January 1942, CW, vol 13, p 127).

It was surely Japanese cruelty towards the Chinese that angered Orwell the most.

“By almost universal agreement it is a regime of naked robbery with all the horrors of massacre, torture and rape on top of that. The same will happen, or has already happened, to all the lands unfortunate enough to fall under Japanese rule. Perhaps the best answer to the propaganda which the Japanese put out in India and other places is simply three words LOOK AT CHINA” (13 March 1943, CW, vol 15, p 28).

In Nineteen Eighty-four Orwell envisaged a world divided into Eurasia, Eastasia and Oceania which are continually at war against each other, and shortly after the end of World War Two he envisaged how “More and more obviously the surface of the earth is being parcelled off into three great empires, each self-contained and cut off from contact with the outer world, and each ruled, under one disguise or another, by a self-selected oligarchy.”

“The haggling as to where the frontiers are to be drawn is still going on, and will continue for some years, and the third of the three super-States–East Asia, dominated by China–is still potential rather than actual,” Orwell declared. “But the general drift is unmistakable,” he said, adding rather puzzlingly that “every scientific discovery of recent years has accelerated it” (‘You and the Atom Bomb,’ Tribune, 19 Oct 1945, CW, vol 17, p 320). This seems to be the closest that Orwell got to linking current politics to the horrific world of his final novel.

Orwell is famous for his interest in political language, and this includes the use of appropriate words for various ethnicities, not a matter that troubled many writers of his time but one which concerned him a great deal and which he returned to again and again. In 1943 he wrote to Penguin Books with the corrected proofs of the forthcoming Penguin edition of his first novel, Burmese Days. Apart from correcting a few misprints, “I have also made a few minor alterations,” Orwell says, adding that

“I draw attention to these as it is important that they should not be missed. Throughout, whenever it says in the text, ie. not in the dialogue, I have altered ‘Chinaman’ to ‘Chinese’. I have also in most cases substituted ‘Burmese’ or ‘Oriental for ‘native’, or have put ‘native’ in quotes. In the dialogue, of course, I have left these words just as they stand. When the book was written a dozen years ago ‘native’ and ‘Chinaman’ were not considered offensive, but nearly all Orientals now object to these terms, and one does not want to hurt anyone’s feelings.” (21 November 1943, CW, vol 15, p 338).

Of course “Oriental” is now almost – or just as – objectionable as “Chinaman”, and the words “racist” or “racism” would be bound to crop up in any modern discussion of such terms, but Orwell was surely ahead of his time in his sensitivity to such issues. The word Negro is now archaic, but in Orwell’s time it was a word of respect, and he insisted (more than once) that it should be written with a capital N: in a review of a special supplement to New Republic magazine, entitled The Negro: His Future in America he highlighted how “the facts it reveals about the present treatment of Negroes in the U.S.A. are bad enough in all conscience. In spite of the quite obvious necessities of war, Negroes are still being pushed out of skilled jobs, segregated and insulted in the Army, assaulted by white policemen and discriminated against by white magistrates….

“In Asiatic eyes the European class struggle is a sham. The Socialist movement has never gained a real foothold in Asia or Africa, or even among the American Negroes: it is everywhere side-tracked by nationalism and race-hatred…

“The word ‘native,’ which makes any Asiatic boil with rage, and which has been dropped even by British officials in India these ten years past, is flung about all over the place. “Negro” is habitually printed with a small n, a thing most Negroes resent.” He adds how he has been substituting “Chinese” for “Chinaman” in Burmese Days, adding: “The book was written less than a dozen years ago, but in the intervening time ‘Chinaman’ has become a deadly insult. Even ‘Mahomedan’ is now being resented: one should say ‘Moslem.’ These things are childish, but then nationalism is childish. And after all we ourselves do not actually like being called ‘Limeys’ or ‘Britishers.’” (‘As I Please’, 2, Tribune, 10 December, 1942, CW, vol 16, pp 23-24).

Orwell holding his adopted son Richard

Orwell returned to this theme in 1947, devoting an entire ‘As I Please’ column to it. It has an added poignancy because the reason he was looking at a child’s illustrated alphabet is no doubt because he was by now a widower with a small adopted son, Richard. It’s a forceful piece without a wasted word:

Recently I was looking through a child’s illustrated alphabet, published this year. It is what is called a “travel alphabet.” Here are the rhymes accompanying three of the letters, J, N and U.

J for the Junk which the Chinaman finds

Is useful for carrying goods of all kinds.

N for the Native from Africa’s land.

He looks very fierce with his spear in his hand.

U for the Union Jacks Pam and John carry

While out for a hike with their nice Uncle Harry.

The “native” in the picture is a Zulu dressed only in some bracelets and a fragment of leopard skin. As for the Junk, the detail of the picture is very small, but the “Chinamen” portrayed in it appear to be wearing pigtails.

Perhaps there is not much to object to in the presence of the Union Jack. This is an age of competing nationalisms, and who shall blame us if we flourish our own emblems along with all the rest? But is it really necessary, in 1947, to teach children to use expressions like “native’ and “Chinaman”?

The last-named word has been regarded as offensive by the Chinese for at least a dozen years. As for “native,” it was being officially discountenanced even in India as long as twenty years ago.

It is no use answering that it is childish for an Indian or an African to feel insulted when he is called a “native.” We all have these feelings in one form or another. If a Chinese wants to be called a Chinese and not a Chinaman, if a Scotsman objects to be called a Scotchman, or if a Negro demands his capital N, it is only the most ordinary politeness to do what is asked of one. (27 Feb 1947, Daily Herald for Tribune, CW, vol 19, pp 50-51).

As the article below is about translation, I would also like to add Orwell’s touching words that he added to a list of translations of his works (he lists no translation into Chinese but does mention editions of Animal Farm in Japanese and Korean, produced by the U.K. Liaison Mission, Tokyo and the U.S. Army, respectively). He added as a note:

“Some of the above translations, chiefly of ANIMAL FARM, were not paid for. I most particularly do not wish payment to be demanded for translation of any book, article, etc., by any groups of refugees, students, working-class organisation, etc., not in any case where translation will only be made if the rights are given free.

Ditto with reprints in English (I don’t think Braille versions are ever paid for, but in any case I don’t want payment for any that may be made).”

Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four with
a banner advertising
Murakami Haruki’s 1Q84

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four is just the kind of book that you would expect to be banned in China, all that talk of Big Brother, Newspeak and the rewriting of history is far too close to the bone, surely. So I was amazed to come across it on open sale in a state-run bookshop in Yanji 延吉on the North Korean border in fact.

Nineteen Eighty-four is all over the place in China in fact. A Chinese website lists no fewer than 13 translations published in the PRC between 1985 and 2012, and it’s easy to find at least three or four downloadable or online translations on a quick internet search. Apart from anything else I’m speechless at the amount of reduplicated effort all these translations involve, and also wonder how much “borrowing” has taken place between the various translations. And in addition to all the Mainland translations, about 10 have been published in Taiwan or Hong Kong, according to a University of Hong Kong M. Phil. thesis. (There is some overlap between the two categories as some translations first published in Taiwan have since been reprinted in the PRC).

I’m not sure why the Chinese government takes such a relaxed attitude to a book that condemns totalitarianism in such ferocious terms, or why there are so many different translations. It’s certainly quite unlike the Soviet Union, where the novel was banned. Certainly the squalid, Dickensian atmosphere of Nineteen Eighty-four doesn’t remotely evoke the glitzy skyscrapers of 21st century Beijing or Shanghai, but it is remarkable that the authorities are so nonchalant about a book that is supposed to frighten the wits out dictators everywhere. Perhaps it’s the fact that the book is by a foreigner and is set explicitly in London that makes the Chinese Communist Party feel that it can brush it off so casually. Orwell’s other masterpiece, Animal Farm, translated literally as 动物庄园, seems also to be widely available in China, which is equally surprising, and the translator of Animal Farm has thrown some light onto why the authorities have taken such a relaxed attitude to Orwell. David Goodman of the University of Sydney quotes his late friend Fu Weici 傅惟慈 (1923-2014) as saying: “I recall talking to Fu about Animal Farm and its translation a long way back. He said that as long as one equated the dystopia with the USSR there was no problem. This was presumably if asked, outside the text Fu was always…healthily cynical.” This Chinese Wikipedia entry says the first Chinese translation of Animal Farm was published by the leftist Commercial Press 商务印书馆 in 1948 and lists seven subsequent translations. It’s hard to imagine an original Chinese dystopian novel or political allegory being remotely tolerated.

Fu Weici holding a copy of his translation of
Animal Farm (courtesy of David Goodman)

The first, and probably the best known, of the many Chinese translations of Nineteen Eighty-four published on the Mainland is by Dong Leshan 董乐山 (1924-99), who, like Orwell, was an independent-minded socialist and who like almost all Chinese intellectuals suffered badly during the Cultural Revolution. Dong, who translated the first PRC edition of the novel that was published in 1979, wrote a remarkably frank introduction which is downloadable here in an edition published by the Liaoning Educational Publishing House in 1998.

“Orwell is not a so-called anti-communist writer in the general meaning of the phrase, and Nineteen Eighty-four is not simply a so-called anti-Soviet work….Orwell was first and foremost a socialist, and next he was anti-totalitarian and his struggle against totalitarianism is the inevitable result of his belief in socialism,”

Dong declared. “He believed that only if totalitarianism is defeated can socialism be victorious.” Dong’s condemnation of the Chinese Communist Party’s brutality and authoritarianism is clear enough, and becomes even more direct when he praises Orwell for not being like those Western intellectuals in the 1930s who “paid homage to the ‘new Mecca’ [Stalin's Soviet Union] and were led by the nose through ‘Potemkin villages’ and when they returned raved how they had seen the bright sunshine of a new world.” (Dong was too astute to mention the Western leftists who praised Mao’s China in the 1960s and 70s in similar awestruck terms). But Dong saved his most daring critique for last, concluding with the words:

“The twentieth century will soon be over, but political terror still survives and this is why Nineteen Eighty-four remains valid today. In any case so far as we are concerned, only if we thoroughly negate the terror of totalitarianism associated with the ‘Cultural Revolution’ can those people who fought for socialism for so many years bring about true socialism which is worth aspiring to.”

Although the Cultural Revolution is now officially regarded as one of Mao’s greatest mistakes, open discussion of the period remains strictly banned, and Dong was extremely brave to mention the direct parallel between it and the terrifying world of Nineteen Eighty-four.

It’s widely claimed that Dong’s translation of Nineteen Eighty-four was first published one year after the eponymous year, in 1985, but that isn’t correct. David Goodman has kindly provided me with the introduction and editor’s note to the first edition of Dong’s translation, which was published in neibu 內部 (internal/restricted) form in 1979. This would have been available only to senior officials and intellectuals deemed politically reliable enough to be permitted access to such material. It was published in three installments in the “irregularly published” periodicalSelected Translations from Foreign Literature 国外作品选译 and is marked “Internal publication. Look after carefully” 内部刊物 注意保存. The first installment appeared on April 15, 1979, with further installments in May and July.

Dong says in his short introduction that Nineteen Eighty-four “accorded with the needs of the Cold War that was then taking place and has long been a classic anti-communist work that is highly influential, and anyone who takes an interest in contemporary international political material will almost inevitably encounter this book.”

Orwell holding a puppy in Spain
during the Spanish Civil War

Orwell is a “bourgeois intellectual” who fought on the Republican side in the Spanish civil war, while the novel is “modeled on how [Orwell] imagined the future of Soviet society and enormously exaggerated some aspects which were incompatible with his bourgeois individualist liberalism.” The 1979 introduction, published just three years after the death of Mao and the official ending of the Cultural Revolution, is notably more orthodox than the highly outspoken foreword published a decade later. The earlier introduction refers to Orwell as a ‘bourgeois intellectual” and his “bourgeois individualist liberalism” while the later one seems to have been written during a brief cultural thaw – in Liaoning at least – which Dong took full advantage of. It also notes how expressions such as “big brother” and “doublethink” have entered the English language, “which shows how great its influence is.” The (anonymous) editor’s note makes a similar point, noting that the phrase “‘Orwellian society’ is a frequently used English expression”, and says “Western newspapers and magazines even directly or indirectly refer to this book as an anti-communist ‘classic’”. It says Orwell “changed from a ‘left-wing’ to an extreme right-wing writer”, and adds: “The way the book exaggerates and distorts all aspects of this future society under totalitarian rule is used to incite anti-Soviet and anti-communist feelings in the service of the Cold War and ideological war that was then waging.”

It may seem surprising that a book by an anti-communist “extreme right-winger” was published in China, even in a neibu edition, but heretical works, including books by Trotsky and Bakunin, were made available to top officials, often labelled 反面教材 (negative teaching materials). (See here for a discussion of this in Chinese). I recall seeing the best-selling novel Jonathan Livingston Seagull as well as Gone with the Wind in neibu editions when I was a student at Fudan University, Shanghai in 1975-76, and I believe other Western novels were also published at this time as “negative teaching materials”.

There is an interesting account here of how Dong’s translation of Nineteen Eighty-four was first published. Dong’s friend and fellow translator Wu Ningkun 巫宁坤also recalls Dong and his efforts to translate Nineteen Eight-four. Dong joined the underground Communist Party in Shanghai in 1940, but like most intellectuals he was persecuted and imprisoned during the 1957 Anti-rightist campaign and during the Cultural Revolution. He was allowed to return to Beijing after injuring himself on a tractor, and this is when he came across The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich 第三帝国的兴亡 by William Shirer. According to Wu he saw close parallels between the Nazi period in Germany and the Cultural Revolution. He secretly translated at night Shirer’s eye-witness account of Nazi Germany which after the Cultural Revolution was published as a neibu publication for senior officials and was later published openly. He first encountered Nineteen Eighty-four in the early 1970s when he had found a job in Beijing at Xinhua news agency 新华社 where he had worked in the 1950s. He came to the notice of the deputy director of the agency, Chen Shiwu 陈适五, who was editing a periodical with the title Selected Translations from Foreign Literature 国外作品选译. Chen seems to have been quite an independent-minded official for he told Dong he was looking for “material which has reference value and is quite long and is unconventional in character, for leaders and other comrades to refer to.”. Dong decided that Nineteen Eighty-four was the ideal candidate, and as mentioned above it was published in installment form in 1979. Only 5,000 copies of the periodical were printed. The novel was first issued in book form in China in Guangzhou in 1985, again as a neibu publication. This was the idea of Cai Nüliang 蔡女良, an editor at Huacheng Publishing House 花城出版社, who had it published in a set together with Brave New World and We. It was republished openly by Huacheng three years later. It is worth noting that although Wu quotes from Dong’s introduction in which he states how Nineteen Eighty-four remains valid today, for clearly political reasons he omits the reference to the Cultural Revolution.

Dong Leshan

Fu Weici translator of Animal Farm, recalled in a moving tribute to Dong how his friend was in the 1970s reluctant at first to propose that Nineteen Eighty-four be translated into Chinese because of the all too clear parallels with recent Chinese history including the Cultural Revolution, and much later, in 1997, he had trouble getting a two-volume selection of Orwell’s writings published. There seems to have been no problem with the first volume, which was a collection of essays and criticism, but the second volume was to have consisted of Nineteen Eighty-four andAnimal Farm, the latter translated by Fu. At the time Fu wrote the memoir, his translation of Animal Farm had still not been published, although it has since appeared, both alone and in combination with Nineteen Eighty-four. Incidentally Fu notes that Dong’s later translations include Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy 锅匠、裁缝、士兵、间谍 by John Le Carré, The Last Temptation of Christ 基督的最后诱惑 by Nikos Kazantzakis (co-translated with Fu, this was particularly controversial apparently, though Fu doesn’t give details) and Darkness at Noon 正午的黑暗 by Arthur Koestler.

The first ever Chinese translation of Nineteen Eighty-four appeared in Taiwan in 1950, according to Walter Tsang Ka Fa’s 曾家輝 master’s thesis, A study of three Chinese translations of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four (2005), which is based mainly on translations by Qiu Suhui 邱素惠 (Taipei, 1975), Joseph S.M. Lau (Liu Shaoming) 劉紹銘(Taipei, 1984) and Dong Leshan (Guangzhou, 1985). Lau is perhaps the best known of the translators in the west, and is co-editor of Classical Chinese Literature: An Anthology of Translations (New York, 2000) and author of Hong Kong Remembered (Hong Kong, 2002). Most of the translations listed by Tsang have been published in several different editions. In fact, he lists no fewer than 16 different translations, although he says Qiu’s translation is “grossly abridged”, which has not stopped it from being published in 15 different editions, and this does not include recent Mainland reprints. Tsang compares how different translators translate particular passages (including the famous slogan “Big Brother is watching you”) and says “there is no noticeable distinction between the translations that may be attributable to political considerations.” Regarding Dong’s Mainland translation, he says that

“It seems the political environment at the time of translating the novel does not bother Dong at all. This is because he resolutely declares in his preface to the translation that he abhors totalitarianism and would like to warn readers – presumably readers in China in particular as it was first released by a Guangzhou publisher – of such horror with Orwell’s novel” (pp. 125-6).

Tsang doesn’t consider the possible influence of censorship on the various translations, and one should bear in mind that Taiwan in the 1950s and 60s was almost as authoritarian as the PRC.

Here’s my translation of the short foreword to the 2010 edition I bought in Yanji which was published by Qunyan Press 群言出版社 in Beijing. The translation (and presumably the foreword) are by Fu Qiang 富强, which is a pseudonym meaning “rich and strong”. I have uploaded the Chinese original here.


George Orwell (1903-1950) was a British novelist. Among world novels there are the so-called “dystopian trilogy, consisting of We 我们 by the Soviet Union’s Zamyatin, Brave New World 美丽新世界 by Britain’s Huxley and the present work by Orwell, 1984.

To put it briefly, this book is a political satire. The plot is strange, grotesque, but it seems to obey certain rules of social development. The novel describes the evil development of totalitarianism which has developed to an appalling degree – human nature has been strangled, freedom has been eradicated, thought has been suppressed and life has become extremely monotonous.

Just like this book, the book that made Orwell famous, Animal Farm, is a very accurate – but similarly biased – novel. All the characters are animals, and the plot is strange and original, with a strong comic element, and to this extent it is pervaded by fear. But Nineteen Eighty-four is entirely lacking in comedy and a bone-chilling sense of fear fills the entire work.

The fear isn’t gory and physical however but reflects a hopeless feeling that human nature has been extinguished. For example, the novel describes an official language called Newspeak 新语言 whose use is compulsory and whose purpose is to reduce the number of words in the language to the smallest possible number so that people will not be able to think except in terms of concepts that the state has decided. Furthermore, no Party member can avoid being officially monitored and there is an electronic screen in every room that cannot be turned off, and the screen accurately transmits each sound [that it hears] to the “Thought Police”.

Nineteen Eighty-four is Orwell’s [most] enduring work. Not only do readers love it but it is deeply respected by scholars. Some of the words and phrases invented in the book, such as Big Brother 老大哥,Doublethink 双重思想,Newspeak and Thought Police 思想警察are listed in authoritative English dictionaries and are even in world circulation. Everybody acknowledges that Nineteen Eighty-four is an extremely graphic description of totalitarianism, and is also an extremely fierce retort 反抗 to totalitarianism. The New York Times praised this book: “No other work of this generation has made us desire freedom more earnestly or loathe tyranny with such fullness.” Many people are convinced that “if one more person reads Orwell, there will be one more guarantee of freedom.”

In fact, Nineteen Eighty-four isn’t purely a political novel but is a journey that asks questions about good and evil and beauty and ugliness in human nature and about reality. But while it cares about human nature it does not turn the novel into a dry textbook or manifesto. If that’s all it was it wouldn’t have attracted so many readers from all around the world. Even though what it talks about is politics, what it is really concerned about is human nature. Mixing and human nature together so they are inseparable is Orwell’s most successful achievement.

This is a book which reveals great truths and no matter how many times you read it you will reach a deeper understanding each time. So far as the reader is concerned, this is a challenge to his or her intelligence and is also a rare opportunity to gain wisdom.

It’s worth noting incidentally that the comments about human nature being strangled, freedom eradicated, thought suppressed and life becoming extremely monotonous seem to have been taken straight from Fu Weici.

Recommended Citation: Michael Rank, “Orwell in China: Big Brother in every bookshop,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 23, No. 2, June 9, 2014.

Michael Rank is a British journalist and translator. He graduated in Chinese Studies from Downing College, Cambridge in 1972 and was a British Council student in Peking and Shanghai from 1974 to 1976. He was a Reuters correspondent in China from 1980 to 1984, followed by two years in east and southern Africa. He has written about an English school in Tibet in the 1920s for the Bulletin of Tibetology as well as news reports.

We bring to the attention of GR readers, a selection of videos by the anti-Maidan Southern Front. ЮЖНЫЙ ФРОНТ


Will Fracking Cause our next Nuclear Disaster?

June 10th, 2014 by Dahr Jamail

This article was first published byTruthout

The idea of storing radioactive nuclear waste inside a hollowed-out salt cavern might look good on paper. The concept is to carve out the insides of the caverns, deep underground, then carefully move in the waste. Over time, the logic goes, the salt will move in and insulate the containers for thousands of generations.

“The whole game is to engineer something that can contain those contaminants on the order of tens of thousands of years,” Tim Judson, the executive director of the Nuclear Information Resource Service(NIRS), told Truthout. NIRS is intended to be a national information and networking center for citizens and environmental activists concerned about nuclear power, radioactive waste, radiation and sustainable energy issues, according to Judson.

Salt-cavern storage was the plan for the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP), the world’s third-deepest geological repository, constructed and licensed to permanently dispose of radioactive waste for 10,000 years. The repository sits approximately 26 miles east of the town of Carlsbad in southeastern New Mexico.

Since shipments began in 1999, more than 80,000 cubic meters and 11,000 shipments of waste have been transferred to WIPP.

But at the moment, there are several ongoing critical problems at the site, which has been closed and unable to accept shipments of radioactive waste ever since a fire and radiation release in February. Dozens of barrels of radioactive waste from Los Alamos National Lab, like the one that caused the radiation leak, now pose an “imminent” or “substantial” threat to public health and the environment.

Yet, these problems could pale in comparison to what might happen at the site if an earthquake were to strike, or if the protective salt layer were compromised by nearby drilling for oil and gas, and in particular, hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking.

Fracking is a technique used in obtaining gas and petroleum, in which water is mixed with sand and toxic chemicals, and the mixture is injected at extremely high pressure into a wellbore to create small fractures.

Thus, one would logically deduce that fracking should never be done anywhere near WIPP. However, it is being done there, and experts expect it to increase.

“In the last three years, a dozen fracking wells have become operational within five miles of the site [WIPP],” Don Hancock, the director of the Nuclear Waste Safety Program at Southwest Research and Information Center, told Truthout.

Given that it is already well known that fracking causes earthquakes, it is clear that the nuclear waste storage site is now in danger of having its structural integrity compromised.

“These are the major concerns,” Hancock warned. “There is clearly a possibility that the deep fracking can affect the stability, but even more likely is fracking liquids nearing or entering the waste beds – which would be a very bad thing.”

“They Are Drilling All Around It”

Truthout spoke with a state of New Mexico employee who is intimately familiar with the permitting and drilling processes related to WIPP. The employee spoke on condition of strict anonymity, due to a fear of reprisals from the pro-drilling administration of radical right-wing Tea Party Governor Susana Martinez.

“There is so much drilling coming online down there now,” the employee explained. “They are going back into existing fields and drilling horizontally, and the WIPP siteis located right in the middle of all these fields, so they are drilling all around it.”

The source said that the oil and gas companies who are drilling and fracking near WIPP “have permission to go under the [WIPP] boundary to target the reservoirs there, so it appears as though most of the wells are horizontal, and that is a concern.”

According to the employee, “The fracking fluids they are injecting are very unstable, and if it continues like this there could be big problems…. There was a 5.2 [earthquake] in West Texas from fracking, and that’s a big concern given the sensitivity of the WIPP site and what the possible consequences could be.”

The WIPP site was chosen in the mid-1970s because there was no oil or gas found within several miles of it. The thought at the time was that the area was outside the active oil and gas production area.

“One of the original criteria for siting is there shouldn’t even be a borehole let alone active drilling within two miles of the site,” Hancock explained. “But that ended up being reduced to a mile.”

As time went on, oil and gas drilling started getting closer and closer to the site, so it started being something people paid attention to.

“We became concerned, because inadvertently drilling through nuclear waste containers on your way to find gas has generally had been thought of being a bad idea,” Hancock added sarcastically.

Since the federal government “doesn’t really control fracking” according to Hancock – and since most of the land around the site is controlled by the Bureau of Land Management and the state of New Mexico, whose governor is extremely pro-oil and gas and anti-environment – the area has been allowed to be treated just like any other in New Mexico, when it comes to being exploited for oil and gas.

“Those government agencies, federal and state, none of them have fracking restrictions, because the goal is to maximize mineral production because that is the law and it generates income for the feds and state from the royalties,” Hancock added.

The 16-square-mile WIPP site is surrounded by more than 100 operating oil and natural gas wells within a mile of the boundary. There are at least 350 wells within three miles of the boundary, and the number is growing.

In addition to the eventuality of fracking causing earthquakes that could damage the natural salt container around the waste, Hancock also warned, “There is some likelihood of fracking fluids penetrating areas at or near waste emplacement.”

Judson is also concerned about this possibility, because water contamination that comes with fracking creates groundwater seepage that can compromise the integrity of the site, by allowing water into the area where the nuclear waste containers are stored.

“There are also stable rock formations that evolved over millennia, and you are disturbing those rocks and that causes geologic instability,” he added.

Judson also expressed concern about a highly pressurized brine reservoir directly beneath the site, which he says presents “lots of possibilities for problems.”

“The brine is a big pool of very salty water underneath the site,” he explained.

“The repository itself is a salt repository. The concept is you hollow out salt caverns in the earth and move in the waste, and over time the salt moves in and insulates the containers for a long time. But under the site is this salt pond, and if disturbed, [it] can cause wastewater to leak up into the site and corrode waste canisters, and cause waste to migrate if it leaks, and compromise the integrity of the entire site.”

Given that the principle behind WIPP is that it is built so that burying the waste there means the site will resist the dispersal of nuclear waste for thousands of years, Judson warned, “Anything allowing water migration or canister corrosion can compromise the stability of the site itself.”

“A Massive External Release”

State and federal authorities who’ve granted permissions for the oil and gas drilling, along with fracking close to WIPP, say they don’t believe any of these activities will be a problem, because the oil and gas they are going for are several thousand feet below WIPP, which is just over 2,000 feet deep at its deepest point.

According to Hancock, however, this argument is weak.

“Fracking causes earthquakes and other kinds of fracturing, and it’s not like fracking is an exact engineering process. So if you’re fracking at eight or nine thousand feet, this doesn’t mean you can’t have problems at two thousand one hundred feet, or close enough to WIPP to cause difficulties at the level where the waste is,”

he said.

Hancock believes that fracking near the site could cause a release from the underground containment area itself, which could have immediate and long-term effects. This is what we witnessed in February, by way of a small radiation release that shut the site down for nearly four months, and will likely keep it closed for several months to come.

Hancock issued a dire warning about the consequences of fracking near the site: “It [fracking] is potentially a shutting-down-the-facility kind of thing, and worst case scenario, that could cause catastrophic injuries to workers and a massive external [radiation] release which would be an extremely serious problem.”

A Growing Number of Problems

Due to the ongoing problems at WIPP, the federal government’s Department of Energy (DOE) recently notified the state of New Mexico that it would be unable to meet a June 30 deadline to remove 3,706 cubic meters of nuclear waste from the mesa at Los Alamos National Lab where it is stored.

“As we work to assess the conditions of the transuranic waste program at the lab, we have decided to halt further shipments until we can reassure the public that it is safe to do so,” DOE Deputy Under Secretary David Klaus said.

As a result of the February radiation leak and fire within the facility, WIPP officials at the site discounted any effect of the current leak on human health, saying no radiation escaped to the surface. But they did not speak about the extent of the problem or how it eventually would be cleaned up.

“Officials at WIPP continue to monitor the situation,” DOE spokeswoman Deb Gillsaid at the time of the leak. “We are emphasizing there is no threat to human health and the environment.”

Contradicting Gill’s assurances, plutonium readings were detected at a DOE field office half a mile from the site. Joe Franco, the manager of the DOE field office, confirmed the readings.

Nothing will change unless the left and progressives take seriously the subjective underpinnings of oppression in the United States.

If breathed or swallowed, plutonium generally stays in the body for decades and continues to expose the surrounding tissues to radiation.

The WIPP site remains shut down as the DOE and other groups investigate the cause of the release. There is no date set for when the site will reopen, which means areas like Los Alamos will continue to have to store radioactive waste on site.

Wildfires in 2011 burned precariously close to the radioactive waste site at Los Alamos, where the waste is stored aboveground in barrels.

Several times wildfires have come close to the nuclear waste at Los Alamos, nearly causing what would be a national disaster. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)Several times wildfires have come close to the nuclear waste at Los Alamos, nearly causing what would be a national disaster. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

Given the ongoing severe drought in New Mexico and most of the rest of the western US, this wildfire season is expected to set records once again.

Meanwhile, the domino effect from WIPP’s mounting problems is evident, as nuclear power plants across the US are already making preparations for long-term storage of nuclear waste at their sites, due in part to the ongoing crisis at WIPP.

Further complicating the situation at WIPP is the fact that it is located in Eddy County, where there were 592 oil and gas-related spills (63 percent of all the spills in New Mexico) in 2013.

During the first three months of 2014 there were 127 spills in Eddy County, which constituted 91 percent of the spills in the state. Not one enforcement action was referred to state Attorney General Tannis Fox, whose responsibility would have been to enforce state protocols against the spiller. Hence, by not referring actions to the attorney general, the state need not hold accountable the oil and gas companies responsible for spills. In fact, there has not been one enforcement action referred to the state attorney general during the entire time Governor Martinez has been in office.

As of May 2014, more than 3,600 reported violations of the New Mexico oil and gas drilling regulations had not been acted on. Several of these occurred in the vicinity of WIPP.

Despite these disconcerting statistics, the federal government has opted not to inspect high-risk wells and drilling in the area around WIPP.

Hancock pointed to yet another potentially catastrophic situation related to WIPP. “Eddy County has the highest highway accident rate in the state because of the heavy trucks with the fracking and oil and gas drilling, so we expect accidents with fracking and drilling vehicles and WIPP trucks, assuming the site gets reopened,” he warned, as the trucks carrying large containers of radioactive waste en route to WIPP travel alongside those of the oil and gas companies. “Thus, traffic accidents could cause releases on the surface.”

Thousands of Generations

Hancock, who has been monitoring WIPP since 1975 and is intimately familiar with the technical policy, regulatory and legal issues related to the site, reiterated what should be an obvious point: “Given that some of the wastes at WIPP are dangerous for thousands of generations, it is not an ideal place for storing wastes,” he said. “That being the case, we can’t predict what will happen with fracking ramifications that far into the future. The likelihood that the stability of the site will be disrupted is clear.”

Judson was blunt about his assessment of what have been the formative years of the WIPP project.

“The issues of management and mismanagement just 15 years into the project speaks to the difficulties the government faces in managing nuclear waste,” he said. “Given there is a renewed push to reopen Yucca Mountain, which has many of the same problems of WIPP, it raises a real question about the quality of management within DOE for the nuclear waste program.”

WIPP contains plutonium and very toxic radio nuclides that could, if the integrity of the site is comprised as a result of the increasing fracking activity nearby, leak into New Mexico’s groundwater and contaminate it for hundreds of thousands of years to come.

Judson asked why there is not a mandatory 100-mile boundary around the site, and his concluding comment remains what is perhaps the most important unanswered question of all: “Isolating nuclear waste is a national priority, but how much of a priority is it if they are going to allow these kinds of activities near a site like this?”

Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last ten years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

Let’s pretend that we want to start an organization to defend the rights of people across the globe that has no affiliation to any government or corporate interest. Which of the following characters should we therefore exclude from intimate roles in our organization’s operation? (You may choose more than one answer.) 


  1. An individual who presided over a NATO bombing, including various civilian targets.
  2. An individual who was formerly a special assistant to President Bill Clinton, a speechwriter for Secretaries of State Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright and a member of the State Department’s policy planning staff who in 2009 declared that, under “limited circumstances, there is a legitimate place” for the illegal CIA rendition program that has seen an untold number of innocent people kidnapped and tortured.
  3. A former US Ambassador to Colombia, who later lobbied on behalf of Newmont Mining and J.P. Morgan — two US firms whose track records of environmental destruction would suggest that human wellbeing falls below elite profit on their list of priorities.
  4. A former CIA analyst. 

If you answered “all of the above,” you’re one step ahead of Human Rights Watch, which has played institutional host not only to persons matching descriptions A–D but to many others with similar backgrounds.

Javier Solana, for example, was NATO secretary general during the 1999 assault on Yugoslavia, an event HRW itself described as entailing “violations of international humanitarian law.” Solana is now on the group’s Board of Directors.

Tom Malinowski, whose partial CV appears in description B, was HRW’s Washington Director from 2001 to 2013 and has now returned to full-fledged government activity as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Myles Frechette, a former US Ambassador to Colombia, is a member of HRW Americas’ advisory committee, an entity that for many years also counted on the expertise of former CIA analyst Miguel Díaz, currently an Intelligence Community Associate at the State Department. 

It’s no wonder, then, that despite its claims of independence and objectivity, HRW stands accused of participating in a revolving door scheme with the US government.

The apparent conflict of interest is the subject of a recent letter to its executive director Kenneth Roth which was signed by Nobel Peace Prize laureates Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and Mairead Maguire, former United Nations Assistant Secretary General Hans von Sponeck, and more than 100 scholars. Their proposed solution? Shut the door.

The HRW seal of approval

Founded in the US in 1978 under the name Helsinki Watch to monitor human rights violations in the former Soviet bloc, HRW pledges in its mission statement to “scrupulously investigate abuses, expose the facts widely and pressure those with power to respect rights and secure justice.”

But scrupulousness and pressure can be selective at times. As the letter to Roth notes, during Venezuela’s 2012 candidacy for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, HRW berated then-President Hugo Chávez for a human rights record that was allegedly “far short of acceptable standards.”

The letter continues: “At no point has US membership in the same council merited censure from HRW, despite Washington’s secret, global assassination program, its preservation of renditions, and its illegal detention of individuals at Guantánamo Bay.”

Given HRW’s trumpeting of fabricated and sensational claims concerning official press censorship in Venezuela, one can imagine the reaction that might ensue were Caracas to, say, inaugurate its own policy of torture-renditions, or its own independent human rights outfit to condone said policy “under limited circumstances.”

Washington, DC-based journalist Keane Bhatt, a one-man truth squad on the issue of HRW’s revolving door, has repeatedly drawn attention to the organization’s entanglement with US interests. In an email to me, he noted its propagandistic insistence on “hurling epithets like ‘authoritarian’” at the Venezuelan government following the late-nineties rise of chavismo, the left-wing political ideology developed by Chávez.

Over the same period, on the other hand, neighboring Colombia has been apparently immune from such labels, despite being the worst human rights abuser in the hemisphere. Bhatt notes that in 1997 HRW research associate Robin Kirk sent a memo to Congress stating that

We are not opposing [US] aid to the [Colombian] Anti-Narcotics Police because of their good human rights record … You’re fully welcome to refer to this as the HRW ‘Seal of Approval’ for police aid, if you wish. Hang onto it — it doesn’t come often!

Unfortunately, the police in question enjoyed high-level ties to the notorious right-wing paramilitary group Los Pepes, responsible for various acts of terrorism in the 1990s including a series of bomb blasts in Medellín.

Why such different treatment? It’s simple. Colombia is a critical US ally — particularly following the surge of left-leaning governments in Latin America — and Venezuela is not.

Honduras, another traditional pal of the US and a de facto US military base, offers a similar example. After a 2009 right-wing coup overthrew then – President Manuel Zelaya — who had grown a bit too chummy with Venezuela for the US’s taste — 90 international scholars published a letter urging HRW to end its month-and-a-half-long silence in the face of extra-judicial killings, arbitrary detentions, physical assaults and attacks on the press carried out by the new regime.

While HRW did initially denounce Zelaya’s overthrow, its six weeks of subsequent inaction contributed to the new regime’s consolidation. Elections held months after the coup served up the illusion of a return to democracy, which the US gleefully embraced, its political and corporate interests having been safeguarded from the threat posed by the overthrown government.

From Cuba to Ecuador to Syria to Ethiopia, HRW’s edicts and positions have often been suspiciously in line with US policy. Cuba is regularly demonized as a human rights offender, when the US’s own offenses — not least in Guantánamo Bay — are far more serious. In Ethiopia, a committed US ally, HRW has been disproportionately lenient on repressive government behavior.

Even in the run-up to the illegal 2003 war that devastated Iraq and spawned all manner of human rights violations, HRW demurred: “We avoid judgments on the legality of war itself because they tend to compromise the neutrality needed to monitor most effectively how the war is waged.” So much for the scrupulous and widespread exposure of injustice.

How to shut a revolving door

If HRW wants to rectify its compromised neutrality, it could stop granting prominent organizational roles to individuals with firm ties to the state and the corporate sector. As Bhatt documents, there’s no dearth of links to companies such as ExxonMobilCoca-Cola, and Boeing — all of which have been accused of acute human rights violations. HRW’s board is co-chaired by investment bankers and its vice chair is a private equity manager.

This is not to argue that HRW is an inherently malevolent government puppet or that it is incapable of making valuable contributions to the field of human rights. But the much-needed reports and analyses it regularly produces are inevitably tainted by its institutional biases. HRW currently fulfills a function not totally dissimilar from that of the establishment media, which, while playing an important watchdog role, simultaneously provides a veneer of independent validation to destructive political endeavors. (Recall, for example, the retinue of Iraq war cheerleaders at the New York Times.)

Bhatt warns that if HRW wishes to “retain credibility,” particularly in Latin America, “it must begin to extricate itself from elite spheres of US decision-making.” He added that HRW must abandon its “internalization of US exceptionalism” (the idea that the US is inherently a force for good).

To stop the revolving door, the signatories to the letter to Roth recommended the following:

Bar those who have crafted or executed US foreign policy from serving as HRW staff, advisors or board members. At a bare minimum, mandate lengthy ‘cooling-off’ periods before and after any associate moves between HRW and that arm of the government.

It’s far from an instant remedy, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction that would help ensure that the rights of humans don’t get confused with the prerogatives of empire.

DoD photo by Petty Officer 1st class Shane T. McCoy, U.S. Navy

The Senior Medical Officer (SMO) at Guantanamo who attended at least two of three high-profile “suicides” at Guantanamo nearly eight years ago concluded at the time that, contrary to the conclusions of a later government investigation, the detainees did not die by hanging but by “likely asphyxiation” from “obstruction” of the airway. Moreover this SMO found a prisoner he examined and pronounced dead had “cotton clothing material in [his] mouth and upper pharynx.” (See pgs. 5-7 of this PDF to view the SMO’s original findings.)

The finding is consistent with other accounts, and with the theory the three prisoners died from a torture procedure known as “dryboarding,” as researcher Almerindo Ojeda described in an 2011 story at Truthout.

Yet, unaccountably, the SMO was never formally interviewed by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), which had the Department of Defense mandate to investigate the supposed suicides. Furthermore, the SMO’s account was not included in the NCIS final report. This new finding is one of a number of such discoveries detailed in a new investigatory report published last month by The Center for Policy and Research (CPR) at Seton Hall University School of Law.

Thus far, their report has been totally ignored by the press.

Other findings in CPR’s new report either ignored or overlooked in previous investigations include the fact that guards who searched the deceased’s rooms only hours prior to their deaths did “not discover anything that a detainee could hang himself with…. in the manner of the rumors” of their death by hanging.

CPR’s report, “Uncovering the Cover-ups: Death in Camp Delta,” was supervised by Seton Hall law professor (and attorney for some Guantanamo detainees) Mark Denbeaux, and co-written by Charles Church, Ryan K. Gallagher, Adam Kirchner and Joshua Wirtshafter. Joseph Hickman, who was at Guantanamo at the time of the deaths, and who figured so prominently in Scott Horton’s January 2010 Harper’s article, “The Guantanamo Suicides,” acted as lead investigator. A full PDF download of the paper is available at this link.

This article will summarize CPR’s findings, but it is highly recommended that readers study the entire report.

Newly Uncovered Documents

Last month, Scott Horton wrote an article at Harpers Magazine, “The Guantanamo ‘Suicides,” Revisited,” which reproduced and annotated a document that had been suppressed in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) release of documents concerning their investigation into three purported suicides at Guantanamo on June 10, 2006. The document, part of a group of documents associated with a separate Staff Judge Advocate investigation of the deaths, had sat unexamined on a DoD FOIA website for literally years, until both Seton Hall and Scott Horton brought it to the public’s attention. The original can be found on pgs. 15-17 of this PDF.

The explosive document — a sworn statement by Master of Arms Denny called to attend to the suicides that evening — states a number of facts from a witness on the scene that directly contradicts the story promulgated by Guantanamo officials and the NCIS report into the deaths. (Denny was named by Horton, but not described by name in the CPR report.) Horton and CPR describe Denny’s account in some detail, including the fact attempts to revive a still living “suicide” were not made for some time, and that cloth wrapped tightly around his neck was not removed.

Government authorities contend the three prisoners died in an act of simultaneous suicide by hanging, an act JTF Guantanamo Commander Harry Harris described only one day after the deaths as “asymmetrical warfare.” It is this version of what happened that has been accepted by a wide section of the press. Horton’s article surmises that the prisoners may have died at Guantanamo’s “Camp No,” also known as “Penny Lane,” thought to be a special CIA black site at Guantanamo used to coerce prisoners, including through torture, to turn informants for the U.S. government.

CPR’s report goes much farther than Horton’s article in documenting exactly how the government pulled this document — Exhibit 25 of the NCIS report — and replaced it with random pages from elsewhere in the group of documents gathered in the course of the investigation. Detailed in Appendix D of the report, the work is an impressive piece of forensic research.

This deliberate suppression of information contrary to the government’s story should be a matter of public outrage and congressional investigation, but the CPR report also shows how the Obama administration’s Justice Department deliberately misled congressional queries about the report in the wake of the 2010 Harpers report and earlier Seton Hall CPR investigation and report, “Death in Camp Delta” (PDF).

Unfortunately, for reasons that are not clear at present, Horton’s recent article, which drew upon work done by Seton Hall’s (CPR), did not include reference to to a number of other new findings and documents CPR uncovered in their ongoing analysis of the Guantanamo deaths (including the SMO report). The documents describe how important evidence contradicting the official narrative were withheld from the NCIS report. Furthermore, when congressional representatives went to the Department of Justice to ask for an investigation, they were lied to about how long the investigation had taken, and whether or not there was evidence that showed something other than death by hanging.

According to the CPR Executive Summary, besides the findings discussed above, the new report concludes:

• Contrary to standard investigative protocol, NCIS never authenticated “suspected suicide notes.”

• Contrary to standard suspected suicide protocol, NCIS never investigated the behavior, state of mind, or emotional condition of the dead men during the minutes, hours, days, and weeks before they died.

• NCIS failed to investigate multiple irregularities in protocol, among them: tampering with the contents of cells where the men were reported to have died, as well as more than fifty discrete events so irregular that they had no specific designation in the log book, and that were so secret that their details were redacted which occurred for hours before the alleged crime scene was secured and investigated by NCIS….

• Contrary to extensive protocol, the Camp Commander ordered the cessation of video recording of the events.

Cover-up or “Conspiracy building”?

The most compelling evidence of a cover-up consists of contemporaneous reports that all three prisoners were found with socks or other cloth material shoved deep into their throats. It was this account of the deaths that Guantanamo authorities moved quickly to cover-up and replace with a story that the detainees had hanged themselves.

According to Horton’s 2010 article, the Joint Detention Group Commander, Michael Bumgarner, gathered camp personnel hours after the deaths and told them “you all know” the prisoners had died from swallowing rags and choking to death, but the press would be told something different: the prisoners had died by hanging themselves.

In May 2011, Alex Koppelman, then writing for Adweek, but currently the News Editor for The Guardian/US, wrote an influential article criticizing Scott Horton for “conspiracy building.” He decried the story about Baumgarner’s speech about “rags” — because Bumgarner denied to him having ever made it. Koppelman’s account was later cited in a government legal brief used to counter a lawsuit by the relatives of two of the Guantanamo “suicides.” I deconstructed Koppelman’s account in a series of articles that examined his arguments in detail.

But the new evidence in Horton’s article and the Seton Hall report demonstrates conclusively that multiple witnesses on the scene, including the Senior Medical Officer, found cloth material inside the deceased’s mouths and throats. This was no “conspiracy building”: the evidence was covered up.

Among many telling details in the new documents, Master of Arms Denny’s account of how one detainee, ISN 093, Yasser Talal al Zahrani, was found alive even two hours after he supposedly hanged himself. Denny witnessed cloth matching a ligature placed around Zahrain’s throat being wrapped around his hands:

I observed a Corpsman wrapping an altered detainee sheet… around the detainee’s right wrist. The other side of the material was bound to the detainee’s left wrist with approximately a foot of cloth in between. The cloth was not on the detainees [sic] wrists when the Camp 1 guards removed the handcuffs a few minutes earlier.

The fact all the “suicides” had their hands bound was supposed to be evidence of collaboration in the “asymmetrical warfare” that was simultaneous suicide. But Denny’s account shows the “evidence” was being fabricated after the supposed suicides themselves.

The Seton Hall report deserves wide exposure and Congress must undertake its own investigation, as it’s evident that DOJ and the Obama administration have no intention of looking further into what happened. But according to Seton Hall’s Executive Director for Communications, Janet LeMonnier, attempts to get attention from multiple attempts at media outreach have garnered “very little interest,” and CPR personnel are frustrated at the lack of response.

Even so, Mark Denbeaux told me in a phone interview that Seton Hall’s investigations are going forward, and another report with even more new revelations is due out early next year.

DoD photo by Petty Officer 1st class Shane T. McCoy, U.S. Navy

CIA drones have not hit Pakistan for over five months – some now suggest it is a permanent end to strikes.

The hiatus in drone strikes continues as Pakistan’s military takes the fight to the Taliban.

A US drone strike kills at least four amid an ongoing Yemen military offensive against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Another month without a reported US attack in Somalia as al Shabaab attacks neighbouring countries.

New case studies added to the Naming the Dead project.


May 2014 actions

Total CIA strikes in May: 0
Total killed in strikes in May: 0

All actions 2004 – May 31 2014

Total Obama strikes: 332
Total US strikes since 2004: 383
Total reported killed: 2,296-3,719
Civilians reported killed: 416-957
Children reported killed: 168-202
Total reported injured: 1,089-1,639

For the Bureau’s full Pakistan databases click here.

More than five months have passed without a drone strike in Pakistan, and some analysts suggest the campaign is drawing to a close.

The Associated Press reported that CIA drones are still flying armed missions over Pakistan and analysts are still adding targets to the kill list. But the US intends to continue drawing down its forces in Afghanistan, leaving altogether by 2016. This would mean the air bases from which the drones fly and the intelligence outposts that provide them with their targets will close.

Congressman Mike Rogers, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, told AP: ‘By the end of this year we will have a noticeable degradation in our ability to collect intelligence on people of concern.’

President Obama made a major speech on foreign policy at West Point military academy, in which he confirmed the US will continue to conduct off-battlefield drone strikes. But he mentioned Pakistan only once, declaring that ‘al Qaeda’s leadership on the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been decimated’.

The Pakistan military has stepped up operations in North Waziristan, continuing the air strikes that began in April and also attacking Taliban targets with artillery, helicopters and ground forces. There have been reports of high casualties from the strikes; at least 60 people reportedly died in a series of attacks on May 21. Thousands of people have already reportedly been displaced, fleeing to neighbouring Bannu region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The Pakistan Taliban has reportedly fragmented this month as infighting between factions continued. A faction based in South Waziristan, made up of Mehsud tribesmen commanded by Khan Said, has broken from the main group commanded by Mullah Fazlullah. Said’s Mehsud group is reportedly on good terms with the Pakistani government and there is hope this schism could lead to increased stability in South Waziristan.

The US government agreed to publish a redacted version of the memo outlining the legal basis for killing US citizens overseas. The move came after an appeals court ordered the publication last month. However, a week after the judgment, the Justice Department sought a fresh court hearing to redact further sections of the memo, beyond those agreed by the court. The government also sought to have the new hearing held in secret. The court agreed to hear the government’s case for further redactions but refused to do so entirely behind closed doors.

This month the Bureau published major research analysing all strikes that have taken place in Pakistan. This revealed that drones have attacked more domestic buildings than another type of target – more than 60% of strikes hit houses, killing at least 222 civilians.

Since 2008 in Afghanistan air strikes on domestic buildings have been banned in all but the most urgent situations, as part of measures to reduce civilian casualties. But they have been the most frequent targets of attacks in Pakistan in each year of the campaign, including since 2008. The research, a collaboration with Forensic Architecture and Situ Research, is also presented in an interactive map, Where the Drones Strike.


May 2014 actions

Confirmed US drone strikes: 1
Further reported/possible US strike events: 0
Total reported killed in US operations: 4-6
Civilians reported killed in US strikes: 0

All actions 2002 – May 31 2014*

Confirmed US drone strikes: 64-76
Total reported killed: 334-488
Civilians reported killed: 34-84
Children reported killed: 7-8
Reported injured: 78-196

Possible extra US drone strikes: 93-112
Total reported killed: 315-505
Civilians reported killed: 24-48
Children reported killed: 6-9
Reported injured: 85-118

All other US covert operations: 14-79
Total reported killed: 150-386
Civilians reported killed: 59-88
Children reported killed: 24-26
Reported injured: 22-115
Click here for the full Yemen data.

* All but one of these actions have taken place during Obama’s presidency. Reports of incidents in Yemen often conflate individual strikes. The range we have recorded in US drone strikes and covert operations reflects this.

A US drone killed at least four people in a vehicle in the Wadi Abeeda area of Mareb province. Witnesses named two of the dead as alleged al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) members Naif Faraj andMousleh al Arahabi.

The Yemeni military continued to carry out operations against AQAP in the central and southern Yemeni provinces of Shabwa, Abyan and al Bayda, with casualties to both sides. AQAP responded with attacksand bombings in the capital and other cities.

The UN estimates more than 24,000 refugees have been displaced by the fighting, as of May 20. The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Yemen Red Crescent have been providing humanitarian relief.

There have been few reports of civilian casualties beyond five civilians killed on May 22, when Yemeni government forces targetted their vehicle with artillery. However the Yemeni government appears to have been taking steps to shut down critical media coverage of its activities.

On May 20 a team of al Jazeera reporters were detained in Shabwa by government forces while covering the conflict and ‘evacuated’ to the capital, Sana’a.

On May 8 the Yemeni authorities expelled Adam Baron, a reporter for McClatchy who had worked in the country for more than three years. On May 12 Iona Craig of The Times left the country; at the airport she was told she would not be allowed to return. She later wrote: ‘The foreign media may not be welcome in Yemen, but if they are quietly trying to remove us then the greatest threat to be faced will be to domestic reporters.’

Barack Obama cited Yemen in his West Point speech, as part of his declaration that the US will continue to launch drone strikes ‘when we have actionable intelligence’. He also announced the US would spend $5bn on developing and training counter-terrorism forces in countries around the world, pointing to the US’s direct support for Yemen’s security forces as an example of the work this new programme will do.

Also this month, it emerged Saudi Arabia had bombed northern Yemen with US-made cluster bombs in 2009 and 2010.


May 2014 actions

Total reported US operations: 0

All actions 2007 – May 31 2014

US drone strikes: 5-8
Total reported killed: 10-24
Civilians reported killed: 0-1
Children reported killed: 0
Reported injured: 2-3

All other US covert operations: 8-11
Total reported killed: 40-141
Civilians reported killed: 7-47
Children reported killed: 0-2
Reported injured: 11-21
Click here for the Bureau’s full data on Somalia.

There was again no reported US strikes in Somalia – it is now more than four months since the last confirmed US attack in the country.

However al Shabaab continues to penetrate security to carry out attacks in Mogadishu, including an attack on the parliament building that killed 10 people.

The attack came two weeks after 100 Somali MPs signed a letter calling on the president to resign for failing to improve the security situation. The MPs threatened to impeach him. The president rejected the call for his resignation.

African Union peacekeeping forces (Amisom) continue to battle al Shabaab south and west of the capital. On May 18 Kenyan jets killed at least 50 alleged militants in a strike described as an Amisom operation. Howeverthe peacekeeper’s UN mandate extends to ‘an appropriate aviation component of up to twelve military helicopters’; not jets. On May 28 the militants hit back, ambushing a column of Amisom forces and killing 32 Ethiopian troops.

Al Shabaab also attacked a restaurant in the tiny African state, Djibouti to the north of Somalia, killing three people. This country is home to the only permanent US base in Africa as well as a French base and EU and Nato naval forces involved in counter-piracy operations. The group has also vowed to take its fight into Kenya. It has continued to attack targets in Kenya, in the capital, Nairobi and in the coastal city of Mombassa. At least 13 were killed in two bomb blasts in Nairobi on May 16.

There is increasing concern that the attacks in Kenya are doing serious damage to the economy, particularly to the  tourism industry - the country’s second-biggest source of foreign currency.

Kenya has continued to crack down on ethnic Somalis living in the country in operations Amnesty International described as ‘a disturbing wave of serious human rights violations’.

Naming the Dead

New case studies on the Naming the Dead website this month include profiles of British brothers Abdul Jabbarand Mohammed Azmir Khan, who died in separate drone strikes in North Waziristan in 2010 and 2011. Following reports that an Australian and Yemeni citizen died in a drone strike in Yemen, we have profiledSaifullah, described in reports as an Australian militant, and Zahirullah, the owner of the house in which Saifullah died. Emeti Yakuf, commander of a Chinese militant group, has also been profiled.

Follow Alice Ross and Jack Serle on Twitter.

Sign up for monthly updates from the Bureau’s Covert War project and subscribe to our podcast Drone News.


With news that the US is planning to keep almost 10,000 troops in Afghanistan–a day after seeing some headlines about the war’s “end”–you might wonder if journalists can get the troop counting right in the first place.

On NPR’Morning Edition (5/26/14)Scott Horsley told listeners:

Some 32,000 Americans are currently serving in Afghanistan, a war the president is determined to wind down by year’s end.

Moments later, he added this history:

This is Obama’s fourth visit to Afghanistan as president and his first since 2012. Since that time, US troop levels here have been cut by about two-thirds.

This is incomplete–and misleading.

Hearing that “US troop levels here have been cut by about two-thirds” shortly after you hear that Obama is determined to end the war gives a very distorted picture of the war under Obama’s watch.
In reality, current US troop levels–about 32,000–are actually about what they were when Obama took office (Think Progress,6/22/11). A graph that accompanied an NPR story (6/29/11) shows this pretty clearly.

Late last year the New York Times offered similarly misleading spin (FAIR Blog,11/25/13), reporting that Obama “has reduced the forces in Afghanistan from about 100,000 in 2010 to about 47,000 today.”  That’s technically true, but ignores the fact that the troop levels had only gotten that high as a result of Obama’s policy of massive escalation.

It’s often said that Afghanistan is America’s forgotten war. But when the war is remembered, the barest facts about US involvement manage to disappear, too.

Revolutionary Activism in the 20th Century and Beyond

June 10th, 2014 by Derrick O'Keefe

Not long ago, I overheard a prominent social democratic politician in British Columbia repeating an old saw sometimes attributed to Winston Churchill, “Any man who is not a socialist at age 20 has no heart. Any man who is still a socialist at age 40 has no head.” He was offering this line to the editor of the Vancouver Sun – a joking way to put a right-wing journalist at ease. The implication was clear: despite a left-wing public image, rest assured he understood the limits of things and could be trusted on to deliver reasonable and moderate policies.

The limits of debate in mainstream media and society at large are exceedingly narrow, and everyone these days it seems must rush to prove their moderation and reasonableness. In practice this means that – rhetorical flourishes and youthful exuberance aside – one must pay due tribute to big business and avoid threatening the prerogatives of corporate power. For a politician, it means letting a right-winger know you might be left-wing, but you’re not one of those left-wingers. I offer this anecdote to illustrate the rotten state of political life today. The popularity of this cliche that suggests one must inevitably become more right-wing as one gets older is a sign of the deep cynicism of politicians and their ilk.

Against this cynical “common sense,” fortunately, new generations are once again being won over to radical ideas. The Occupy Wall Street movement brought back the language of class struggle into popular circulation. Socialism is no longer a dirty word in North America. An openly socialist candidate was just elected to city council in Seattle. More and more environmentalists are reaching explicitly anti-capitalist conclusions. Young people are again seeking out the rich traditions of Marxist ideas – a new left is again taking shape to meet the daunting challenges of our times.

Our History

This memoir by Ernie Tate is a valuable resource for these new generations coming into political life. First, because it contains a trove of movement history for us here in Canada, much of it documented in depth for the first time. For instance, Ernie recounts the formation of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in Canada, and the singular contribution of Verne Olson. The solidarity movement built around defence of the Cuban Revolution helped to attract thousands in Canada to socialist ideas. Ernie also recounts his participation in the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and then the NDP, with a chapter focusing on the debates around the 1961 formation of that social democratic party.

The political landscape has shifted a great deal in the half century since, but the discussions and dilemmas related to the NDP are still with us in Canada. This first volume of Ernie’s memoir is an important contribution to the history of the Canadian left. Volume two covers his time as a socialist organizer in the UK, where he participated in the sometimes byzantine factional struggles of the Trotskyist movement, while also interacting with some of the towering figures of 20th century scholarship and progressive activism, including Bertrand Russell, Ernest Mandel and Isaac Deutscher.

Perhaps even more important than the particular historical details, this book tells the story of a life lived in the struggle for a better world. Ernie Tate’s life shows us that age doesn’t have to mean a gradual slide to the right. Age can just mean an accumulation of experience and wisdom – more compassion, less dogma and better political judgment. After growing up in poverty in Northern Ireland – leaving school at the age of 14 to work in factories – Ernie came to Canada and began his life of socialist activism in the mid-1950s, not long after the height of Cold War anti-communism. His career as a militant organizer began in those lean times for the left, but was then followed by the tumultuous youth radicalization of the 1960s and early 70s.

The past three decades of Ernie Tate’s life and activism are sketched only briefly. He provides a rough outline of his disagreements with the leadership of the small socialist organization to which he belonged, and explains his reasons for eventually leaving active membership. This memoir recounts honestly the challenges and failures of socialist groups, unions and other progressive organizations. Despite these experiences, he has remained an active socialist, never wavering from his beliefs and ethics. This is a real achievement, and worth noting. Capitalism works to grind us down in our working life but also in our moral life. It takes strength of personality, in addition to collective organization, to resist cynicism.

I first met Ernie and his wife Jess close to a decade ago, through mutual friends in Toronto. They both exude warmth and humility – I felt an instant sense of comradeship. It’s an honour to write a preface to this volume of Ernie’s memoir. I hope more of his generation and his stature – the real organizers – write their memoirs. The left has in many ways adapted to the youth fetishization so rampant under capitalism, and so we pay too little attention to learning our own history or honouring the wisdom of our movement’s elders.

We have a lot to learn. It’s not easy to change the world; it’s not, and it never has been, easy to wrest political power from the brutal and selfish ruling classes. But I think learning what previous generations have been through helps steel us for the long battle, helps us keep perspective and understand ourselves better.

This memoir also reminds us that there is dignity and joy in the struggle for a better world. And for all the trials and tribulations of the left, we are part of a real and proud tradition. Whatever their age, everyone with a heart to feel and a head to think should be a socialist.

Derrick O’Keefe is an author and journalist based in Vancouver, and the former Editor of He is the author of The Lesser Evil? and the co-writer of A Woman Among Warlords, with Afghanistan’s Malalai Joya. He is currently involved with the new web-native, crowdfunded media project Ricochet.

World War II: The Unknown War

June 10th, 2014 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

In my June 6 column, “The Lies Grow More Audacious,” I mentioned that Obama and the British prime minister, who Obama has as a lap dog, just as George Bush had Tony Blair as lap dog, had managed to celebrate the defeat of Nazi Germany at the 70th anniversary of the Normandy invasion without mentioning the Russians.

I pointed out the fact, well known to historians and educated people, that the Red Army defeated Nazi Germany long before the US was able to get geared up to participate in the war. The Normandy invasion most certainly did not defeat Nazi Germany.  What the Normandy invasion did was to prevent the Red Army from overrunning all of Europe.

As I have reported in a number of columns, many, if not most, Americans have beliefs that are not fact-based, but instead are emotion-based.  So I knew that at least one person would go berserk, and he did.  JD from Texas wrote to set me straight.  No one but “our American boys” won that war. JD didn’t know that the Russians were even in the war.

JD had the option of consulting an encyclopedia or a history book or going online and consulting Wikipedia prior to making a fool of himself. But he chose instead to unload on me. JD epitomizes US foreign policy: rush into every fight that you know nothing about and start new ones hand over fist that someone else will win.

It occurred to me that World War II was so long ago that few are alive who remember it, and by now even these few probably remember the propaganda version that they have heard at every Memorial Day and July 4th occasion since 1945. Little wonder that neither Obama nor Cameron or their pitiful speech writers knew nothing about the war that they were commemorating.

Propaganda has always been with us. The difference is that in the 21st century Americans have nothing but propaganda. Nothing else at all. Just lies. Lies are the American experience. The actual world as it exists is foreign to most Americans.

In 1973 a British television documentary series was released that chronicled WW II. Of the 28 episodes, only 3 and a part of a 4th acknowledge Russian participation in the war. From the British standpoint, victory was an Anglo-American victory.

This did not sit well with the Soviet government. The Soviets offered their film archives to the West. In 1978 a 20 part series of 48 minutes per episode was released in an American documentary television series narrated by Burt Lancaster. The documentary was titled: “The Unknown War.”

Certainly, it was a war unknown to most Americans, raised as they are on propaganda.

The Unknown War was a revelation to Americans because it demonstrated beyond all doubt that Nazi Germany lost World War II on the Russian front. Of the 20 episodes, “The Allies,” that is, the Anglo-Americans and free French, feature only in number 17. One out of twenty is about the correct proportion of the West’s participation in the defeat of Nazi Germany.

If you google The Unknown War you will find an entry on Wikipedia. The series might still be available on YouTube. It was taken off the air when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, a folly repeated by dumbshit Washington. It was more important to Washington that Russia be demonized than any truths should be presented, so the truth revealed in The Unknown War was removed from US TV. Later the documentary  reappeared on the History Chanel.

In my June 6 article, I said, following the consensus of historians, that Nazi Germany lost the war at Stalingrad. In this article:  historian Dr. Jacques R. Pauwels says that Germany lost the war 14 months earlier at the Battle of Moscow in December 1941. He makes a good case. Whether one agrees or not, the facts he presents are eye openers for the “exceptional, indispensable Americans” who believe nothing happens without them.

Normandy, June 1944, is 2.5 years after Germany lost the war in the Battle of Moscow. As historians have made clear, by June 1944 Germany had little left with which to fight.

Whatever was left of the German military was on the Eastern Front.

At the 70th annual Normandy landing celebration in France, Obama informed his French vassal, President Hollande, that he, Obama, the ruler of the Exceptional Country, would not sit down to dinner with the Russian Putin. Americans are too good to eat dinner with Russians. So Hollande had to have two dinners. One for Obama, and then one for Putin. As food is still good in France thanks to the banning of GMOs, probably Holland didn’t mind. I myself would have enjoyed being at both dinners for the food alone.

Like all news that is important, the dinner for Putin, and its meaning, escaped the attention of the American presstitute media, the world’s greatest collection of whores. If memory serves, normally the Russians are left out of the Normandy commemoration celebrations. If the war was won in the West, what did the Russians have to do with it? Nothing, of course. “Our boys” did it all, just as JD informed me. Russians? What Russians?

But this time France invited Putin to the Normandy celebration, and Putin was not too proud to come. Putin spoke with European politicians in the off moments, and these politicians saw a real person, unlike Obama, a total fake.

The superiority of Russian diplomacy over Washington’s is clear to all. Putin’s position is: “we are here for you, we can work things out.” Washington’s position is: “do as we say or we will bomb you into the stone age.”

Russia is accommodating to its client states. Washington is not. Putin says that he is willing to work things out with the billionaire corrupt Oligarch imposed on Ukraine by Washington, but Washington has forced the Bulgarians to stop work on the South Stream Pipeline. This natural gas pipeline bypasses Ukraine by going under the Black Sea to Bulgaria. As Washington’s new puppet state in Ukraine has not paid its multi-billion dollar natural gas bill to Russia and threatens to disrupt the pipeline to Europe and to steal gas from it, Russia, despite Western sanctions, made preparations for a new pipeline route in order that Europeans do not suffer from winter cold and have their industries shut down and economies collapse from lack of energy.

Washington sees Putin’s commitment to Europe as a threat and has gone to work to prevent any Russian energy flows to Europe.

In contrast with Putin’s position, Washington’s position is: We don’t give a hoot what happens to our European puppets.  Like the rest of humanity, European puppets don’t count and are dispensable, mere collateral damage, in the Indispensable Country’s war for world hegemony.

All that is important to Washington is that Russia is damaged regardless of the damage done to the puppet regimes in Western and Eastern Europe, including the moronic Polish government, possibly the only government on earth more foolish than Obama’s.

Washington is trying to break off Europe’s economic relations with Russia. Washington is promising to supply Europe with US natural gas obtained by fracking. This promise is a lie, like everything else Washington says.

On May 20 the Los Angeles Times reported that “federal energy authorities have slashed by 96% the recoverable oil buried in California’s vast Monterey Shale deposits.”

The Monterey Shale formation contains about two-thirds of the nation’s shale oil reserves, and only 4% are recoverable.

William Engdahl has reported that at best the US has 20 years of natural gas from fracking, and that the price of the gas will be the despoiling of US surface and ground waters. Experts have pointed out that the infrastructure for transporting US natural gas to Europe does not exist and that it would take three years to build the infrastructure. What will Europe do for three years while it waits for US energy to replace the cut-off Russian energy? Will Europe still be there?

Washington’s European vassals should take note: Washington is prepared to destroy the economies of its vassals in order to score a one up on Russia.

How is it possible that by now Europe doesn’t understand how Washington thinks? Those bag full of money must be very large.

As I have reported several times, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security affairs told me years ago that Washington purchases European politicians with bags full of money. It remains to be seen if European “leaders” are willing to sacrifice their peoples and their own reputations in order to be complicit in the war that Washington is planning with Russia, a war that could mean the end of life on earth.

It is Europe’s call. If leaders emerge who tell Washington, “no dice,” the world is saved.

If instead European politicians want the money, the world is doomed.

Europe would be the first to go.

Farmer and shepherd Montana Jones has had a rough couple of years. Since 2010, she’s been fighting a downward battle with a ruthless agency, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Before all of this, she was living a simple life as a farmer and blogger in a rural part of Ontario, Canada.

“Along with other heritage breed livestock, I raise Heritage Shropshire sheep, a breed that is on the Rare Breeds Canada Endangered livestock list. The British genetics in my Wholearth flock had pedigrees dating back to the early 1900′s when the first British stock was imported here” Jones wrote in one of her blog entries.

It was clearly her passion and life’s work, breeding the beautiful sheep to keep the endangered species alive and strong with there being only a small amount of the animals alive today. Her life changed for the worst in 2010, when the CFIA swooped down on her little heritage farmstead and declared that a ewe that she had sold many years prior (to a livestock hauler and farmer in Alberta) had tested positive for a sheep disease called Scrapie. There had only been 10 cases in all of Canada the year before. The disease is not a human health risk either.

The Scrapie infected sheep did not have the traceability I.D. ear tag that was there when Jones had sold it, apparently the owner “didn’t have it,” but CFIA were told it was originally her sheep. The CFIA agreed it was quite possible that it had been infected in the time since it had left Jones’s farm.

“Scrapie is easy to spot, and my flock NEVER had a single sign or symptom. The CFIA went ahead and conducted live tests that have an 88% accuracy rate in detecting the disease. The ‘dead’ test on obex brain tissue has only slightly higher accuracy. As I predicted…all tests came back negative. But that wasn’t good enough. The CFIA issued an order to kill them anyway.”


Jones goes on to explain how she tried her hardest to find alternatives to the dire situation,

“I offered many other risk free alternatives and suggested we work together to find out if indeed any illness had ever been in the flock. ”Kill first””ask questions later” is not the best option to conserve a rare breed. The CFIA did not even respond to my proposal. The CFIA wouldn’t listen to over 5,000 petitioners on either. The CFIA is not pleased that I made their unjust actions public knowledge.

I am horrified at the degree of harm a government agency can do with an incredible amount of money and a superfluous number of relatively incompetent employees. Who was I to suggest that our government re-examine their protocols regarding agricultural biodiversity?
I was advised to roll over, let the CFIA kill my healthy sheep, take their compensation money and move on. Other commercial sheep producers did…why shouldn’t I?”

The situation didn’t get any better for Jones. Without mercy, the CFIA ordered Jones to dig a large hole to bury her sheep.

“They demanded I hire an excavator and have a deep grave dug, and said they would kill them before my eyes and leave me to bury them all. A 15-foot pit was dug at the top of my hill overlooking the farm…the hill they grazed peacefully for so many years.

Then the CFIA told me they changed plans, and decided to load my sheep for a stressful 5 hour transport to a killing facility at a pet food plant near Ottawa, and that I would have to pay the bill.”

“There were many calls, emails and messages from outraged people saying they’d take, hide or move the sheep to protect them. The CFIA arrived early April 2 to kill the flock, but the sheep were gone, with only a note left. Months later they were discovered on a distant farm, and the CFIA killed them and their newborns. All of the the tests came back negative.”


Jones admits her quality of life has been destroyed by the CFIA,

“My farm is still in quarantine, CFIA has effectively halted my farm income and ensured that each day revolves around them, and defending my right to live peacefully. They have attacked, stripped bare, twisted up and torn down. It’s non-sensical: am I that much of a threat? I was just quietly living and farming with a few animals, growing vegetables, selling at local farmers market…well, I was. Not now.

The CFIA continued to issue press releases announcing the high risk to the nation and “dangerous” nature of the missing sheep situation. The CFIA claimed they understood what a severe impact their procedures had on “affected” producers (implying that my destroyed flock they killed had indeed been infected with “disease” they weren’t) …and how difficult it must be and announced publicly that they properly compensate producers for their losses. Simply not true.

Armed with search warrants, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency investigators and Ontario Provincial Police raided my home, Michael Schmidt’s and two others on August 2nd, 2012.

The CFIA charged myself and raw milk activist farmer Michael Schmidt and 2 others with numerous criminal offences including conspiracy, for allegedly trying to save Canada’s heritage sheep and preserve our country’s agricultural biodiversity.

The domino effect of the CFIA’s invasion meant selling off my heritage turkey breeding stock because I had no way to feed them. My beautiful pastured Tamworth pigs too, and two white Percheron mares. My farm truck died last fall. Then my car followed suit in December.”

If convicted, Jones faces up to 12 years in jail and up to $1.5 million dollars in charges and fees. She has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money to support her cause.

“More people need to know what our government is doing with the power we have vested in them, on the pretence of protecting us. I refuse to believe that the gross misuse of power wielded by this government body might go unnoticed.

First, I need to ensure the farm will not be lost. Then, to raise funds for legal defense against the CFIA’s charges, and to raise awareness about how their policies are affecting all of us, and work to get them changed.”

Jones says she has managed to stay strong through the support of so many people who have been following her story since the initial raid in 2010.

“The encouragement of all those who have been following this story has been a huge support to me. It constantly reminds me that we are all in this together:no matter how different our personal suffering or challenges. This is not the worst thing that ever happened to anybody, but it IS happening, and it needs to stop.

With your help, we’ll breathe life back into this farm once again. “

Montana Jones has already managed to raise $95,000 dollars with the help of so many caring souls. Help spread the awareness around Jones’s story and support her GoFundMe campaign today!!

Jeff Roberts – Another soul searcher like you my friends, trying to make sense out of our human experience. I’ve been with CE for over a year now and it’s been an awesome ride so far. Simply put, I love to write, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. If you have a question or wanna chat you can contact me at [email protected].

Far from being ‘like Hitler’ as Prince Charles accuses, Putin is sober, cautious, defensive, a stickler for international law, determined to modernise Russia, and anxious to avoid military confrontation. Israel Shamir sees through the NATO propaganda …

Putin’s choice is not an easy one. As Russia procrastinates, as the US doubles the risks, the world draws nearer to the nuclear abyss. Who will chicken out?

It is not much fun to be in Kiev these days. The revolutionary excitement is over, and hopes for new faces, the end of corruption and economic improvement have withered.

The Maidan street revolt and the subsequent coup just reshuffled the same marked deck of cards, forever rotating in power.

The new acting President has been an acting prime minister, and a KGB (called ‘SBU’ in Ukrainian) supremo.

The new acting prime minister has been a foreign minister. The oligarch most likely to be ‘elected’ President in a few days has been a foreign minister, the head of the state bank, and personal treasurer of two coups, in 2004 (installing Yushchenko) and in 2014 (installing himself).

His main competitor, Mme Timoshenko, served as a prime minister for years, until electoral defeat in 2010.

The new rulers are the ones that ruined Ukraine

These people had brought Ukraine to its present abject state. In 1991, the Ukraine was richer than Russia, today it is three times poorer because of these people’s mismanagement and theft.

Now they plan an old trick: to take loans in Ukraine’s name, pocket the cash and leave the country indebted. They sell state assets to Western companies and ask for NATO to come in and protect the investment.

They play a hard game, brass knuckles and all. The Black Guard, a new SS-like armed force of the neo-nazi Right Sector, prowls the land. They arrest or kill dissidents, activists, journalists.

Hundreds of American soldiers, belonging to the ‘private’ company Academi (formerly Blackwater) are spread out in Novorossia, the pro-Russian provinces in the East and South-East.

IMF-dictated reforms slashed pensions by half and doubled the housing rents. In the market, US Army rations took the place of local food.

Kiev – even the pretence of democracy has gone

The new Kiev regime had dropped the last pretence of democracy by expelling the Communists from the parliament. This should endear them to the US even more.

Expel Communists, apply for NATO, condemn Russia, arrange a gay parade and you may do anything at all, even fry dozens of citizens alive. And so they did.

The harshest repressions were unleashed on industrial Novorossia, as its working class loathes the whole lot of oligarchs and ultra-nationalists.

After the blazing inferno of Odessa and a wanton shooting on the streets of Melitopol the two rebellious provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk took up arms and declared their independence from the Kiev regime. They came under fire, but did not surrender.

The other six Russian-speaking industrial provinces of Novorossia were quickly cowed. Dnepropetrovsk and Odessa were terrorised by personal army of Mr Kolomoysky. Kharkov was misled by its tricky governor.

Russia did not interfere and did not support the rebellion, to the great distress of Russian nationalists in Ukraine and Russia who mutter about “betrayal”. So much for the warlike rhetoric of McCain and Brzezinski.

An exasperating respect for international law

Putin’s respect for others’ sovereignty is exasperating. I understand this sounds like a joke, – you hear so much about Putin as a “new Hitler” – most recently in unguarded comments from Prince Charles on his Canadian tour.

As a matter of fact, Putin had legal training before joining the Secret Service. He is a stickler for international law. His Russia has interfered with other states much less than France or England, let alone the US.

I asked his senior adviser, Mr Alexei Pushkov, why Russia did not try to influence Ukrainian minds while Kiev buzzed with American and European officials. “We think it is wrong to interfere”, he replied like a good Sunday schoolboy.

It is rather likely Putin’s advisors misjudged public sentiment. The majority of Novorossia’s population does not like the new Kiev regime, but being politically passive and conservative, will submit to its rule”, they estimated.

“The rebels are a small bunch of firebrands without mass support, and they can’t be relied upon”, was their view. Accordingly, Putin advised the rebels to postpone the referendum indefinitely, a polite way of saying “drop it”.

A convincing vote for secession

They disregarded his request with considerable sang froid and convincingly voted en masse for secession from a collapsing Ukraine. The turnout was much higher than expected, the support for the move near total.

As I was told by a Kremlin insider, this development was not foreseen by Putin’s advisers.

Perhaps the advisors had read it right, but three developments had changed the voters’ minds and had sent this placid people to the barricades and the voting booths.

1. The Odessa incineration

The first one was the fiery holocaust of Odessa, where the peaceful and carelessly unarmed demonstrating workers were suddenly attacked by regime’s thugs – the Ukrainian equivalent of Mubarak’s shabab – and corralled into the Trade Unions Headquarters.

The building was set on fire, and the far-right pro-regime Black Guard positioned snipers to efficiently pick off would-be escapees.

Some fifty, mainly elderly, Russian-speaking workers were burned alive or shot as they rushed for the windows and the doors. This dreadful event was turned into an occasion of merriment and joy by Ukrainian nationalists who referred to their slain compatriots as “fried beetles”.

It is being said that this auto-da-fé was organised by the shock troops of Jewish oligarch and strongman Kolomoysky, who coveted the port of Odessa.

Despite his cuddly bear appearance, he is pugnacious and violent person, who offered $10,000 for a captive Russian, dead or alive, and proposed a cool $1 million for the head of Mr Tsarev, a Member of Parliament from Donetsk.

2. The Mariupol pogrom

The second was the Mariupol attack on May 9, 2014. This day is commemorated as V-day in Russia and Ukraine (while the West celebrates it on May 8). The Kiev regime forbade all V-day celebrations.

In Mariupol, the Black Guard attacked the peaceful and weaponless town, burning down the police headquarters and killing local policemen who had refused to suppress the festive march. Afterwards, Black Guard thugs unleashed armoured vehicles on the streets, killing citizens and destroying property.

The West did not voice any protest. Nuland and Merkel weren’t horrified by this mass murder, as they were by Yanukovich’s timid attempts to control crowds.

The people of these two provinces felt abandoned. They understood that nobody was going to protect and save them but themselves, and went off to vote.

3. The Eurovision Song Contest. Yes, seriously …

The third development was, bizarrely, the Eurovision jury choice of the Austrian transgender singer Conchita Wurst as winner of its 2014 song contest. The politically correct judges of the jury chose to “celebrate tolerance”, in line with Western European cultural trends.

However this support for re-gendering did not go down well with most Russians and / or Ukrainians, who remain socially conservative on such issues. Traditionally minded Novorossians want no part of such a Europe, which they see as an affront to their values, traditions, religion and culture.

The Russians have readjusted their sights, but they do not intend to bring their troops into the two rebel republics, unless dramatic developments should force them.

Sochi Olympics were meant to showcase the new Russia

Imagine: you are dressed up for a night on Broadway, but your neighbours are involved in a vicious quarrel, and you have to gun up and deal with the trouble instead of enjoying a show, and a dinner, and perhaps a date. This was Putin’s position regarding the Ukrainian turmoil.

A few months ago, Russia had made a huge effort to become, and to be seen as, a very civilised European state of the first magnitude.

This was the message of the Sochi Olympic games: to re-brand, even re-invent Russia, just as Peter the Great once had, as part of the First World; an amazing country of strong European tradition, of Leo Tolstoy and Malevich, of Tchaikovsky and Diaghilev, the land of arts, of daring social reform, of technical achievements, of modernity and beyond – the Russia of Natasha Rostova riding a Sikorsky ‘copter.

Putin spent $60 billion to broadcast this image. The old fox Henry Kissinger wisely said:

“Putin spent $60 billion on the Olympics. They had opening and closing ceremonies, trying to show Russia as a normal progressive state. So it isn’t possible that he, three days later, would voluntarily start an assault on Ukraine.

“There is no doubt that … at all times he wanted Ukraine in a subordinate position. And at all times, every senior Russian that I’ve ever met, including dissidents like Solzhenitsyn and Brodsky, looked at Ukraine as part of the Russian heritage. But I don’t think he had planned to bring it to a head now.”

But the US does not want a modern Russia

However, Washington hawks decided to do whatever it takes to keep Russia out in the cold. They were afraid of this image of “a normal progressive state” as such a Russia would render NATO irrelevant and undermine European dependence on the US.

They were adamant about retaining their hegemony, shattered as it was by the Syrian confrontation. They attacked Russian positions in the Ukraine and arranged a violent coup, installing a viciously anti-Russian regime supported by football fans and neo-Nazis, paid for by Jewish oligarchs and American taxpayers.

The victors banned the Russian language and prepared to void treaties with Russia regarding its Crimean naval base at Sebastopol on the Black Sea. This base was to become a great new NATO base, controlling the Black Sea and threatening Russia.

Putin had to deal quickly and so he did, by accepting the Crimean people’s request to join Russian Federation. This dealt with the immediate problem of the base, but the problem of Ukraine remained.

A Ukraine hostile to Russia is not acceptable

The Ukraine is not a foreign entity to Russians, it is the western half of Russia. It was artificially separated from the rest in 1991, at the collapse of the USSR.

The people of the two parts are interconnected by family, culture and blood ties; their economies are intricately connected. While a separate viable Ukrainian state is a possibility, an ‘independent’ Ukrainian state hostile to Russia is not viable and can’t be tolerated by any Russian ruler.

And this for military as well as for cultural reasons: if Hitler had begun the war against Russia from its present border, he would have taken Stalingrad in two days and would have destroyed Russia in a week.

A more pro-active Russian ruler would have sent troops to Kiev a long time ago. Thus did Czar Alexis when the Poles, Cossacks and Tatars argued for it in 17th century. So also did Czar Peter the Great, when the Swedes occupied it in the 18th century. So did Lenin, when the Germans set up the Protectorate of Ukraine (he called its establishment “the obscene peace”). So did Stalin, when the Germans occupied the Ukraine in 1941.

Washington’s geo-political goals

Putin still hopes to settle the problem by peaceful means, relying upon the popular support of the Ukrainian people. Actually, before the Crimean takeover, the majority of Ukrainians (and near all Novorossians) overwhelmingly supported some sort of union with Russia. Otherwise, the Kiev coup would not have been necessary.

The forced Crimean takeover seriously undermined Russian appeal. The people of Ukraine did not like it. This was foreseen by the Kremlin, but they had to accept Crimea for a few reasons.

Firstly, a loss of Sevastopol naval base to NATO was a too horrible of an alternative to contemplate. Secondly, the Russian people would not understand if Putin were to refuse the suit of the Crimeans.

The Washington hawks still hope to force Putin to intervene militarily, as it would give them the opportunity to isolate Russia, turn it into a monster pariah state, beef up defence spending and set Europe and Russia against each other. They do not care about Ukraine and Ukrainians, but use them as pretext to attain geopolitical goals.

No succour from the EU

The Europeans would like to fleece Ukraine; to import its men as ‘illegal’ workers and its women as prostitutes, to strip assets, to colonise. They did it with Moldova, a little sister of Ukraine, the most miserable ex-Soviet Republic.

As for Russia, the EU would not mind taking it down a notch, so they would not act so grandly. But the EU is not fervent about it. Hence, the difference in attitudes.

Putin would prefer to continue with his modernisation of Russia. The country needs it badly. The infrastructure lags 20 or 30 years behind the West.

Tired by this backwardness, young Russians often prefer to move to the West, and this brain drain causes much damage to Russia while enriching the West.

Even Google is a result of this brain drain, for Sergey Brin is a Russian immigrant as well. So are hundreds of thousands of Russian scientists and artists manning every Western lab, theatre and orchestra.

Meeting the aspirations of Russia’s young people

Political liberalisation is not enough: the young people want good roads, good schools and a quality of life comparable to the West. This is what Putin intends to deliver.

He is doing a fine job of it. Moscow now has free bikes and Wi-Fi in the parks like every Western European city. Trains have been upgraded. Hundreds of thousands of apartments are being built, even more than during the Soviet era.

Salaries and pensions have increased seven-to-tenfold in the past decade. Russia is still shabby, but it is on the right track. Putin wants to continue this modernisation.

As for the Ukraine and other ex-Soviet states, Putin would prefer they retain their independence, be friendly and work at a leisurely pace towards integration a la the European Union. He does not dream of a new empire. He would reject such a proposal, as it would delay his modernisation plans.

If the beastly neocons would not have forced his hand by expelling the legitimate president of Ukraine and installing their puppets, the world might have enjoyed a long spell of peace. But then the western military alliance under the US leadership would fall into abeyance, US military industries would lose out, and US hegemony would evaporate.

Peace is not good for the US military and hegemony-creating media machine. So dreams of peace in our lifetime are likely to remain just dreams.

What will Putin do?

Putin will try to avoid sending in troops as long as possible. He will have to protect the two splinter provinces, but this can be done with remote support, the way the US supports the rebels in Syria, without ‘boots on the ground’.

Unless serious bloodshed on a large scale should occur, Russian troops will just stand by, staring down the Black Guard and other pro-regime forces.

Putin will try to find an arrangement with the West for sharing authority, influence and economic involvement in the failed state. This can be done through federalisation, or by means of coalition government, or even partition.

The Russian-speaking provinces of Novorossia are those of Kharkov (industry), Nikolayev (ship-building), Odessa (harbour), Donetsk and Lugansk (mines and industry), Dnepropetrovsk (missiles and high-tech), Zaporozhe (steel), Kherson (water for Crimea and ship-building), all of them established, built and populated by Russians.

An independent Novorussia?

They could secede from Ukraine and form an independent Novorossia, a mid-sized state, but still bigger than some neighbouring states. This state could join the Union State of Russia and Belarus, and / or the Customs Union led by Russia.

The rump Ukraine could manage as it sees fit until it decides whether or not to join its Slavic sisters in the East. Such a set up would produce two rather cohesive and homogeneous states.

Another possibility (much less likely at this moment) is a three-way division of the failed Ukraine: Novorossia, Ukraine proper, and Galicia&Volyn. In such a case, Novorossia would be strongly pro-Russian, Ukraine would be neutral, and Galicia strongly pro-Western.

The EU could accept this, but the US probably would not agree to any power-sharing in the Ukraine. In the ensuing tug-of-war, one of two winners will emerge. If Europe and the US drift apart, Russia wins. If Russia accepts a pro-Western positioning of practically all of Ukraine, the US wins.

The tug-of-war could snap and cause all-out war, with many participants and a possible use of nuclear weapons. This is a game of chicken. The one with stronger nerves and less imagination will remain on the track.

Pro and Contra

It is too early to predict who will win in the forthcoming confrontation. For the Russian president, it is extremely tempting to take all of Ukraine or at least Novorossia, but it is not an easy task, and one likely to cause much hostility from the Western powers.

With Ukraine incorporated, Russian recovery from 1991 would be completed, its strength doubled, its security ensured and a grave danger removed. Russia would become great again. People would venerate Putin as Gatherer of Russian Lands.

However, Russian efforts to appear as a modern peaceful progressive state would have been wasted. It would be seen as an aggressor and expelled from international bodies.

Sanctions will bite: high tech imports may be banned, as in the Soviet days. The Russian elites are reluctant to jeopardise their good life. The Russian military just recently began its modernisation and is not keen to fight yet, perhaps not for another ten years. But if they feel cornered, if NATO moves into Eastern Ukraine, they will fight all the same.

The Ukrainian national interest lies with Russia

Some Russian politicians and observers believe that Ukraine is a basket case. Its problems would be too expensive to fix. This assessment has a ‘sour grapes’ aftertaste, but it is widespread.

An interesting new voice on the web, The Saker, promotes this view. “Let the EU and the US provide for the Ukrainians, they will come back to Mother Russia when hungry”, he says. The problem is, they will not be allowed to reconsider. The junta did not seize power violently in order to lose it at the ballot box.

Besides, Ukraine is not in such bad shape as some people claim. Yes, it would cost trillions to turn it into a Germany or France, but that’s not necessary. Ukraine can reach the Russian level of development very quickly – in union with Russia. Under the EC-IMF-NATO, Ukraine will become a basket case, if it’s not already.

The same is true for all East European ex-Soviet states: they can modestly prosper with Russia, as Belarus and Finland do, or suffer depopulation, unemployment, poverty with Europe and NATO and against Russia, vide Latvia, Hungary, Moldova, Georgia.

It is in Ukrainian interests to join Russia in some framework. Ukrainians understand that. For this reason they will not be allowed to have democratic elections.

Putin’s hard choices

Simmering Novorossia has a potential to change the game. If Russian troops don’t come in, Novorossian rebels may beat off the Kiev offensive and embark on a counter-offensive to regain the whole of the country, despite Putin’s pacifying entreaties. Then, in a full-blown civil war, the Ukraine will hammer out its destiny.

On a personal level, Putin faces a hard choice. Russian nationalists will not forgive him if he surrenders Ukraine without a fight. The US and EU threaten the very life of the Russian president, as their sanctions are hurting Putin’s close associates, encouraging them to get rid of or even assassinate the President and improve their relations with the mighty West.

War may come at any time, as it came twice during the last century – though Russia tried to avoid it both times. Putin wants to postpone it, at the very least, but not at any price.

Putin’s choice is not an easy one. As Russia procrastinates, as the US doubles the risks, the world draws nearer to the nuclear abyss. Who will chicken out?

Israel Shamir can be reached at [email protected]

We came dangerously close to nuclear war when the United States was fighting in Vietnam, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg told a reunion of the Stanford anti-Vietnam War movement in May 2014. He said that in 1965, the Joint Chiefs of Staff assured President Lyndon B. Johnson that the war could be won, but it would take at least 500,000 to one million troops. The Joint Chiefs recommended hitting targets up to the Chinese border. Ellsberg suspects their real aim was to provoke China into responding. If the Chinese came in, the Joint Chiefs took for granted that we would cross into China and use nuclear weapons to demolish the communists.

Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower also recommended to Johnson that we use nuclear weapons in both North and South Vietnam. Indeed, during the 1964 presidential campaign, Republican nominee Barry Goldwater argued for nuclear attacks as well. Johnson feared that the Joint Chiefs would resign and go public if Johnson didn’t follow at least some of their recommendations, and he needed some Republican support for the “Great Society” and the “War on Poverty.” Fortunately, Johnson resisted their most extreme proposals, even though the Joint Chiefs regarded them as essential to success. Ellsberg cannot conclude that the antiwar movement shortened the war, but he says the movement put a lid on the war. If the president had done what the Joint Chiefs recommended, the movement would have grown even larger, but so would the war, much larger than it ever became.

“The Most Dangerous Man in America”

Ellsberg, a former US military analyst and Marine in Vietnam, worked at the RAND Corporation and the Pentagon. He risked decades in prison to release 7,000 top-secret documents to The New York Times and other newspapers in 1971. The Pentagon Papers showed how five presidents consistently lied to the American people about the Vietnam War that was killing thousands of Americans and millions of Indochinese. Ellsberg’s courageous act lead directly to the Watergate scandal, Nixon’s resignation, and helped to end the Vietnam War. Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s national security advisor, called Ellsberg “the most dangerous man in America,” who “had to be stopped at all costs.” But Ellsberg wasn’t stopped. Facing 115 years in prison on espionage and conspiracy charges, he fought back. The case against him was dismissed due to egregious misconduct by the Nixon administration. Ellsberg’s story was portrayed in the Oscar-nominated film, “The Most Dangerous Man in America.” Edward Snowden told Ellsberg that film strengthened his intention to release the NSA documents.

The April Third Movement

On April 3, 1969, 700 Stanford students voted to occupy the Applied Electronics Laboratory (AEL), where classified (secret) research on electronic warfare (radar-jamming) was being conducted at Stanford. That spawned the April Third Movement (A3M), which holds reunions every five to 10 years. The sit-in at AEL, supported by a majority of Stanford students, lasted nine days, replete with a printing press in the basement to produce materials linking Stanford trustees to defense contractors. Stanford moved the objectionable research off campus, but the A3M continued with sit-ins, teach-ins and confrontations with police in the Stanford Industrial Park. Many activists from that era continue to do progressive work, drawing on their experiences during the A3M. This year, we discussed the political economy of climate change, and the relationship between the counterculture of the 1960s and the development of Silicon Valley. Highlights of the weekend included three keynote addresses – Ellsberg’s, one delivered by Stanford political science Professor Terry Karl, and a talk by Rutgers professor of English and American Studies, H. Bruce Franklin.

“Accountability for War Crimes: From Vietnam to Latin America”

Terry Karl is a Stanford professor who has published widely on political economy of development, oil politics, Latin America and Africa, and human rights. She also testifies as an expert witness in trials against Latin American dictators and military officers who tortured, disappeared and killed civilians in the 1970s and 1980s, when their governments were supported by the United States. Karl’s testimonies have helped to establish guilt and accountability for the murders of El Salvador’s Archbishop Romero, the rape and murders of four American churchwomen and other prominent cases.

Karl quoted President George H.W. Bush, who announced proudly after the first Gulf War in 1991, “The specter of Vietnam has been buried forever in the desert sands of the Arabian peninsula.” Nevertheless, Karl observed, we have been involved in “permanent war” since Vietnam, in part because there had been no accountability, abroad or at home, for each of our past wars. The US global military presence around the world, according to Karl, is not there for defense, but rather to maintain the United States “at the top.” No defense can be based on having soldiers in 150 countries.

Beginning with Vietnam, we stopped paying taxes for the wars we fight, Karl said. The Korean War was financed with taxes, but the Vietnam War was paid for through inflation. This helped to produce the recession that was the basis for the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. Wars in Central America, Iraq and Afghanistan have been “paid for” through debt. In this respect, permanent war not only threatens our democracy, Karl pointed out, but also our economic future. In one example, Karl noted that the United States fights wars to secure oil and gas, yet the largest consumer of oil in the world is the Department of Defense because of those very wars.

Karl also observed that we have not “won” all of those unpaid wars – if measured against their original objectives. The United States fought in Vietnam to prevent communist reunification of the country, yet that is exactly what happened. The Reagan administration decided to “draw the line” in El Salvador to prevent FLMN rebels from coming to power, yet the FMLN is the government today. And the Reagan administration supported the contras in Nicaragua to prevent the Sandinistas from governing that country; the Sandinistas are now in control. She predicted we would see similar “victories” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The Cultural Memory of the Vietnam War in the Epoch of Forever War” 

H. Bruce Franklin was the first tenured professor to be fired by Stanford University, and the first to be fired by a major university since the 1950s. Franklin, who was a Marxist and an active member of the A3M, was terminated because of things he said at an antiwar rally, statements that, according to the ACLU, amounted to protected First Amendment speech. A renowned expert on Herman Melville, history and culture, Franklin has taught at Rutgers University since 1975. He has written or edited 19 books and hundreds of articles, including books about the Vietnam War. Before becoming an activist, Franklin spent three years in the US Air Force, “flying,” he said, “in operations of espionage and provocation against the Soviet Union and participating in launches for full-scale thermonuclear war.”

Franklin told the reunion about myths the US government has promulgated since the Vietnam War. “One widespread cultural fantasy about the Vietnam War blames the antiwar movement for losing the war, forcing the military to ‘fight with one arm tied behind its back,’” Franklin said. “But this stands reality on its head,” he maintains. Franklin cited the American people’s considerable opposition to the war. “Like the rest of the movement at home,” he noted, “the A3M was inspired and empowered by our outrage against both the war and all those necessary lies about the war coming from our government and the media, as well as the deceitful participation of institutions that were part of our daily life, such as Stanford University.” The war finally ended, Franklin thought, because of the antiwar movement, particularly opposition to the war within the military.

The other two myths Franklin debunked are first, that the real heroes are the American prisoners of war (POW’s) still imprisoned in Viet Nam; and second, that many veterans of the Viet Nam War were spat upon by antiwar protestors when they returned home. The black and white POW/MIA (missing in action) flag has flown over the White House, U.S. post offices and government buildings, the New York Stock Exchange, and appears on the right sleeve of the official robe of the Ku Klux Klan, according to Franklin. “The flag now came to symbolize our culture’s dominant view of America as the heroic warrior victimized by ‘Viet Nam’ but then reemerging as Rambo unbound,” he said. After talking to several Japanese scholars he met on a trip to Japan, Franklin realized he had missed the “most essential and revealing aspect” of the POW/MIA myth. The scholars told him, “When militarism was dominant in Japan, the last person who would have been used as an icon of militarism was the POW.  What did he do that was heroic?  He didn’t fight to the death.  He surrendered.” Franklin told the reunion:

Both the POW and the spat-upon vet become incarnations of America, especially American manhood, as victim of ‘Vietnam,’ which is not a people or a nation but something terrible that happened to us.”

He also said that there is absolutely no evidence that any Viet Nam vet was spat upon by an antiwar protestor. “These two myths turned ‘Vietnam’ into the cultural basis of the forever war,” Franklin said. He quoted George H. W. Bush who proclaimed in 1991, “By God, we’ve kicked the Viet Nam Syndrome once and for all.”

The Legacy of the Vietnam War

But, as Karl and Franklin observed, we are now engaged in a “permanent war” or “forever war.” Indeed, the US government has waged two major wars and several other military interventions in the years since Vietnam. And in his recent statement on US foreign policy, President Barack Obama said: “The United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it – when our people are threatened; when our livelihoods are at stake; when the security of our allies is in danger.” Obama never mentioned the United Nations Charter, which forbids “unilateral” intervention – the use or threat of military force not conducted in self-defense or with the consent of the Security Council.

The US military, Karl noted, teaches that the Vietnam War was a success. And, indeed, during the next 11 years, leading up to the 50th anniversary of that war, the US government will continue to mount a false narrative of that war. Fortunately, Veterans for Peace has launched a counter-commemoration movement to explain the true legacy of Vietnam. It is only through an accurate understanding of our history that we can struggle against our government’s use of military force as the first, instead of the last, line of defense.

It is well-documented that the U.S. government has – at least at some times in some parts of the world – protected drug operations.

(Big American banks also launder money for drug cartels. See this, this, this and this. Indeed, drug dealers kept the banking system afloat during the depths of the 2008 financial crisis. And the U.S. drug money laundering is continuing to this day.)

The U.S. military has openly said that it is protecting Afghani poppy fields:

As Wikipedia notes:

Opium production in Afghanistan has been on the rise since U.S. occupation started in 2001.

Indeed, a brand new report from the United Nations finds that opium production is at an all-time high.

Common Dreams notes:

The cultivation of opium poppy in Afghanistan—a nation under the military control of US and NATO forces for more than twelve years—has risen to an all-time high, according to the 2013 Afghanistan Opium Survey released Wednesday by the United Nations.

According to the report, cultivation of poppy across the war-torn nation rose 36 per cent in 2013 and total opium production amounted to 5,500 tons, up by almost a half since 2012.

“This has never been witnessed before in the history of Afghanistan,” said Jean-Luc Lemahieu, the outgoing leader of the Afghanistan office of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which produced the report.


The U.S. military has allowed poppy cultivation to continue in order to appease farmers and government officials involved with the drug trade who might otherwise turn against the Afghan Karzai government in Kabul. Fueling both sides, in fact, the opium and heroin industry is both a product of the war and an essential source for continued conflict.


Public Intelligence has published a series of photographs showing American – and U.S.-trained Afghan – troops patrolling poppy fields in Afghanistan. Public Intelligence informs us that all of the photos are in the public domain, and not subject to copyright, and they assured me that I have every right to reproduce them.

We produce these photos and the accompanying descriptions from Public Intelligence without further comment.





U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Noel Rodriguez, a team leader with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6, communicates with an adjacent squad while on patrol in Sangin, Helmand province, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012. Marines patrolled to provide security in the area and interact with the local populace.















The Hypocrisy of Human Rights Watch

June 10th, 2014 by Keane Bhatt

This article was first published by Global Research on February 8, 2014.

Over more than a decade, the rise of the left in Latin American governance has led to remarkable advances in poverty alleviation, regional integration, and a reassertion of sovereignty and independence. The United States has been antagonistic toward the new left governments, and has concurrently pursued a bellicose foreign policy, in many cases blithely dismissive of international law.

So why has Human Rights Watch (HRW)—despite proclaiming itself “one of the world’s leading independent organizations” on human rights—so consistently paralleled U.S. positions and policies? This affinity for the U.S. government agenda is not limited to Latin America. In the summer of 2013, for example, when the prospect of a unilateral U.S. missile strike on Syria—a clear violation of the UN Charter—loomed large, HRW’s executive director Kenneth Roth speculated as to whether a simply “symbolic” bombing would be sufficient. “If Obama decides to strike Syria, will he settle for symbolism or do something that will help protect civilians?” he asked on Twitter. Executive director of MIT’s Center for International Studies John Tirman swiftly denounced the tweet as “possibly the most ignorant and irresponsible statement ever by a major human-rights advocate.”1

HRW’s accommodation to U.S. policy has also extended to renditions—the illegal practice of kidnapping and transporting suspects around the planet to be interrogated and often tortured in allied countries. In early 2009, when it was reported that the newly elected Obama administration was leaving this program intact, HRW’s then Washington advocacy director Tom Malinowski argued that “under limited circumstances, there is a legitimate place” for renditions, and encouraged patience: “they want to design a system that doesn’t result in people being sent to foreign dungeons to be tortured,” he said, “but designing that system is going to take some time.”2

Similar consideration was not extended to de-facto U.S. enemy Venezuela, when, in 2012, HRW’s Americas director José Miguel Vivanco and global advocacy director Peggy Hicks wrote a letter to President Hugo Chávez arguing that his country was unfit to serve on the UN’s Human Rights Council. Councilmembers must uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights, they maintained, but unfortunately, “Venezuela currently falls far short of acceptable standards.”Given HRW’s silence regarding U.S. membership in the same council, one wonders precisely what HRW’s acceptable standards are.

One underlying factor for HRW’s general conformity with U.S. policy was clarified on July 8, 2013, when Roth took to Twitter to congratulate his colleague Malinowski on his nomination to be Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL). Malinowski was poised to further human rights as a senior-level foreign-policy official for an administration that convenes weekly “Terror Tuesday” meetings. In these meetings, Obama and his staffers deliberate the meting out of extrajudicial drone assassinations around the planet, reportedly working from a secret “kill list” that has included several U.S. citizens and a 17-year-old girl.4

Malinowski’s entry into government was actually a re-entry. Prior to HRW, he had served as a speechwriter for Secretary of State Madeline Albright and for the White House’s National Security Council. He was also once a special assistant to President Bill Clinton—all of which he proudly listed in his HRW biography. During his Senate confirmation hearing on September 24, Malinowski promised to “deepen the bipartisan consensus for America’s defense of liberty around the world,” and assured the Foreign Relations Committee that no matter where the U.S. debate on Syria led, “the mere fact that we are having it marks our nation as exceptional.”5

That very day, Obama stood before the UN General Assembly and declared, “some may disagree, but I believe that America is exceptional.” Assuming that by “exceptional” Obama meant exceptionally benevolent, one of those who disagreed was Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, who had opened the proceedings at the same podium by excoriating Obama’s “global network of electronic espionage,” which she considered a “disrespect to national sovereignty” and a “grave violation of human rights and of civil liberties.” Rousseff contrasted Washington’s rogue behavior with her characterization of Brazil as a country that has “lived in peace with our neighbors for more than 140 years.” Brazil and its neighbors, she argued, were “democratic, pacific and respectful of international law.”Rousseff’s speech crystallized Latin America’s broad opposition to U.S. exceptionalism, and therefore shed light on the left’s mutually antagonistic relationship with HRW.


Malinowski’s background is but one example of a larger scenario. HRW’s institutional culture is shaped by its leadership’s intimate links to various arms of the U.S. government. In her HRW biography, the vice chair of HRW’s board of directors, Susan Manilow, describes herself as “a longtime friend to Bill Clinton,” and helped manage his campaign finances. (HRW once signed a letter to Clinton advocating the prosecution of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes; HRW made no case for holding Clinton accountable for NATO’s civilian-killing bombings despite concluding that they constituted “violations of international humanitarian law.”)Bruce Rabb, also on Human Rights Watch’s Board of Directors, advertises in his biography that he “served as staff assistant to President Richard Nixon” from 1969-70—the period in which that administration secretly and illegally carpet bombed Cambodia and Laos.8

The advisory committee for HRW’s Americas Division has even boasted the presence of a former Central Intelligence Agency official, Miguel Díaz. According to his State Department biography, Díaz served as a CIA analyst and also provided “oversight of U.S. intelligence activities in Latin America” for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.As of 2012, Díaz focused, as he once did for the CIA, on Central America for the State Department’s DRL—the same bureau now to be supervised by Malinowski.

Other HRW associates have similarly questionable backgrounds: Myles Frechette, currently an advisory committee member for the Americas Division, served as Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean from 1990-93, and then became U.S. Ambassador to Colombia from 1994-97. Frechette subsequently worked as the executive director of a “nonprofit” group called the North American-Peruvian Business Council, and championed the interests of his funders in front of Congress. His organization received financing from companies such as Newmont Mining, Barrick Gold, Caterpillar, Continental Airlines, J.P. Morgan, ExxonMobil, Patton Boggs, and Texaco.10

Michael Shifter, who also currently serves on HRW’s Americas advisory committee, directed the Latin America and Caribbean program for the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a quasi-governmental entity whose former acting president Allen Weinstein told The Washington Post in 1991 that “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”11 Shifter, as current president of a policy center called the Inter-American Dialogue, oversees $4 million a year in programming, financed in part through donations from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the embassies of Canada, Germany, Guatemala, Mexico and Spain, and corporations such as Chevron, ExxonMobil, J.P. Morgan, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Boeing, and Western Union.

To be sure, not all of the organization’s leadership has been so involved in dubious political activities. Many HRW board members are simply investment bankers, like board co-chairs Joel Motley of Public Capital Advisors, LLC, and Hassan Elmasry, of Independent Franchise Partners, LLP. HRW Vice Chair John Studzinski is a senior managing director at The Blackstone Group, a private equity firm founded by Peter G. Peterson, the billionaire who has passionately sought to eviscerate Social Security and Medicare. And although Julien J. Studley, the Vice Chair of the Americas advisory committee, once served in the U.S. Army’s psychological warfare unit, he is now just another wealthy real-estate tycoon in New York.

That HRW’s advocacy reflects its institutional makeup is unremarkable. Indeed, an examination of its positions on Latin America demonstrates the group’s predictable, general conformity with U.S. interests. Consider, for example, HRW’s reaction to the death of Hugo Chávez. Within hours of his passing on March 5, 2013, HRW published an overview—“Venezuela: Chávez’s Authoritarian Legacy”—to enormous online response. In accordance with its headline’s misleading terminology, HRW never once mentioned Chávez’s democratic bona fides: Since 1998, he had triumphed in 14 of 15 elections or referenda, all of which were deemed free and fair by international monitors. Chávez’s most recent reelection boasted an 81% participation rate; former president Jimmy Carter described the voting process as “the best in the world.”12The article neglected to cite a single positive aspect of Chávez’s tenure, under which poverty was slashed by half and infant mortality by a third.

In contrast, HRW’s August 21, 2012 statement regarding the death of Ethiopian leader Meles Zenawi was decidedly more muted: “Ethiopia: Transition Should Support Human Rights Reform,” read the headline. Leslie Lefkow, HRW’s deputy Africa director, urged the country’s new leadership to “reassure Ethiopians by building on Meles’s positive legacy while reversing his government’s most pernicious policies.” Regarding a leader whose two-decade rule had none of Chávez’s democratic legitimacy (HRW itself documented Ethiopia’s repressive and unfair elections in both 2005 and 2010), the organization argued only that “Meles leaves a mixed legacy on human rights.”13 Whereas HRW omitted all mention of Chávez-era social improvements, it wrote, “Under [Meles’s] leadership the country has experienced significant, albeit uneven, economic development and progress.”

The explanation for this discrepancy is obvious: as a New York Times obituary reported, Meles was “one of the United States government’s closest African allies.” Although “widely considered one of Africa’s most repressive governments,” wrote the Times, Ethiopia “continues to receive more than $800 million in American aid each year. American officials have said that the Ethiopian military and security services are among the Central Intelligence Agency’s favorite partners.”14



Jose M. Vivanco at Senate hearing in 2004. Photo by Jeremy Bigwood.

HRW has taken its double standard to cartoonish heights throughout Latin America. At a 2009 NED Democracy Award Roundtable, José Miguel Vivanco described Cuba, not the United States, as “one of our countries in the hemisphere that is perhaps the one that has today the worst human-rights record in the region.” As evidence, he listed Cuba’s “long- and short-term detentions with no due process, physical abuse [and] surveillance”—as though these were not commonplace U.S. practices, even (ironically) at Guantánamo Bay.15 Vivanco was also quoted in late 2013, claiming at an Inter-American Dialogue event that the “gravest setbacks to freedom of association and expression in Latin America have taken place in Ecuador”—not in Colombia, the world’s most dangerous country for trade union leaders, or in Honduras, the region’s deadliest country for journalists (both, incidentally, U.S. allies).16

Latin America scholars are sounding the alarm: New York University history professor Greg Grandin recently described HRW as “Washington’s adjunct” in The Nation magazine.17 And when Vivanco publicly stated that “we did [our 2008] report because we wanted to show the world that Venezuela is not a model for anyone,” over 100 academics wrote to the HRW’s directors, lamenting the “great loss to civil society when we can no longer trust a source such as Human Rights Watch to conduct an impartial investigation and draw conclusions based on verifiable facts.”18

HRW’s deep ties to U.S. corporate and state sectors should disqualify the institution from any public pretense of independence. Such a claim is indeed untenable given the U.S.-headquartered organization’s status as a revolving door for high-level governmental bureaucrats. Stripping itself of the “independent” label would allow HRW’s findings and advocacy to be more accurately evaluated, and its biases more clearly recognized.

In Latin America, there is a widespread awareness of Washington’s ability to deflect any outside attempts to constrain its prerogative to use violence and violate international law. The past three decades alone have seen U.S. military invasions of Grenada and Panama, a campaign of international terrorism against Nicaragua, and support for coup governments in countries such as Venezuela, Haiti, Honduras, and Guatemala. If HRW is to retain credibility in the region, it must begin to extricate itself from elite spheres of U.S. decision-making and abandon its institutional internalization of U.S. exceptionalism. Implementing a clear prohibition to retaining staff and advisers who have crafted or executed U.S. foreign policy would be an important first step. At the very least, HRW can institute lengthy “cooling-off” periods—say, five years in duration—before and after its associates move between the organization and the government.

After all, HRW’s Malinowski will be directly subordinate to Secretary of State John Kerry, who conveyed the U.S. attitude toward Latin America in a way that only an administrator of a superpower could. In an April 17, 2013 House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, a member of Congress asked Kerry whether the United States should prioritize “the entire region as opposed to just focusing on one country, since they seem to be trying to work together closer than ever before.” Kerry reassured him of the administration’s global vision. “Look,” he said. “The Western Hemisphere is our backyard. It is critical to us.”19

Keane Bhatt is a regular contributor to the Media Accuracy on Latin America (MALA) section of NACLA Report and the creator of the Manufacturing Contempt blog on

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Although Tom Malinowski was confirmed by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to serve as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor in September 2013, as of publication, he and 70 other Obama appointees have yet to be approved by the Senate. 


1. Kenneth Roth, followed by John Tirman’s response, Twitter, August 25, 3013,

2. Greg Miller, “Obama preserves renditions as counter-terrorism tool,” Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2009.

3. José Miguel Vivanco and Peggy Hicks, “Letter to President Chavez on Venezuela’s Candidacy to the UN Human Rights Council,” Human Rights Watch, November 9, 2012.

4. Jo Becker and Scott Shane, “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will,” The New York Times, May 29, 2012.

5. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “Statement for the Record by Tom Malinowski,” September 24, 2013.

6. “Text of Obama’s Speech at the U.N.,” The New York Times, September 24, 2013. Statement by H.E. Dilma Rousseff, United Nations, September 24, 2013.

7. Human Rights Watch, “Major Rights Groups Oppose Immunity for Milosevic,” October 6, 2000. HRW, “New Figures on Civilian Deaths in Kosovo War,” Februrary 8, 2000.

8. Human Rights Watch, “Board of Directors,”, accessed November 16, 2013.

9. U.S. Department of State, “Franklin Fellows Alumni,” September 8, 2011,, accessed November 16, 2013.

10. Ways and Means Committee, “Statement of Myles Frechette, the North American Peruvian Business Council,” U.S. House of Representatives, May 8, 2001.

11. David Ignatius, “Innocence Abroad: The New World of Spyless Coups,” The Washington Post, September 22, 1991.

12. Keane Bhatt, “A Hall of Shame for Venezuelan Elections Coverage,” Manufacturing Contempt (blog),, October 8, 2012.

13. Human Rights Watch, “Ethiopia: Government Repression Undermines Poll,” May 24, 2010.

14. Jeffrey Gettleman, “Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Dies at 57,” The New York Times, August 22, 2012.

15. National Endowment for Democracy, “José Miguel Vivanco: 2009 NED Democracy Award Roundtable,”, Jun 29, 2009.

16. Eva Saiz, “Indígenas de Ecuador denuncian en EEUU la norma de libre asociación de Correa,” El Pais, October 28, 2013.

17. Greg Grandin, “The Winner of Venezuela’s Election to Succeed Hugo Chávez Is Hugo Chávez,” The Nation, April 16, 2013.

18., “More Than 100 Latin America Experts Question Human Rights Watch’s Venezuela Report,” December 17, 2008.

19. Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, “Hearing: Securing U.S. Interests Abroad: The FY 2014 Foreign Affairs Budget,” April 17, 2013. 

Chicken Meat Sold in America Contains Cancer-Causing Arsenic

June 10th, 2014 by Global Research News

After years of sweeping the issue under the rug and hoping no one would notice, the FDA has now finally admitted that chicken meat sold in the USA contains arsenic, a cancer-causing toxic chemical that’s fatal in high doses.

But the real story is where this arsenic comes from: It’s added to the chicken feed on purpose!

Even worse, the FDA says its own research shows that the arsenic added to the chicken feed ends up in the chicken meat where it is consumed by humans. So for the last sixty years, American  consumers  who eat conventional chicken  have been swallowing arsenic, a known cancer-causing chemical. (…)

Until this new study, both the  poultry industry  and the FDA denied that arsenic fed to  chickens ended up in their  meat.  The fairy-tale excuse story we’ve all been fed for sixty years is that “the arsenic is excreted in the chicken feces.” There’s no scientific basis for making such a claim… it’s just what the poultry industry wanted everybody to believe.

But now the evidence is so undeniable that the manufacturer of the chicken feed product known as Roxarsone has decided to pull the product off the shelves (…). And what’s the name of this manufacturer that has been putting arsenic in the chicken feed for all these years? Pfizer, of course — the very same company that makes vaccines containing chemical adjuvants that are injected into children.

Technically, the company making the Roxarsone chicken feed is a subsidiary of Pfizer, called Alpharma  LLC. Even though Alpharma now has agreed to pull this toxic  feed chemical off the shelves in the United States, it says it won’t necessarily remove it from feed  products  in other countries unless it is forced by regulators to do so. As reported by AP:

Scott Brown of Pfizer Animal Health’s Veterinary Medicine Research and Development division said the company also sells the ingredient in about a dozen other countries. He said Pfizer is reaching out to regulatory authorities in those countries and will decide whether to sell it on an individual basis.” (…)

  But even as its arsenic-containing product is pulled off the shelves, the FDA  continues its campaign of denial, claiming arsenic in chickens is at such a low level that it’s still safe to eat. This is even as the FDA says arsenic is a carcinogen, meaning it increases the risk of  cancer.

The National Chicken Councilagrees with the FDA. In a statement issued in response to the news that Roxarsone would be pulled from feed store shelves, it stated, “Chicken is safe to eat” even while admitting arsenic was used in many flocks grown and sold as chicken meat  in the United States.

What’s astonishing about all this is that the FDA tells consumers it’s safe to eat cancer-causing arsenic but it’s dangerous to drink  elderberry   juice! The FDA recently conducted an armed raid in an elderberry juice  manufacturer, accusing it of the “crime” of selling “unapproved drugs.” (…) Which  drugs  would those be? The elderberry juice, explains the FDA. You see, the elderberry juice magically becomes a “drugs” if you tell people how it can help support good health.

The FDA has also gone after dozens of other  companies  for selling natural herbal products or nutritional products that enhance and support  health. Plus, it’s waging a war on raw milk which it says is dangerous. So now in America, we have a food and drug regulatory agency that says it’s okay to eat arsenic, but dangerous to drink elderberry juice or raw milk.

Eat more poison, in other words, but don’t consume any healing foods. That’s the FDA, killing off Americans one meal at a time while protecting the profits of the very companies that are poisoning us with their deadly ingredients.

Oh, by the way, here’s another sweet little disturbing fact you probably didn’t know about hamburgers and conventional beef  : Chicken litter containing arsenic is fed to cows in factory beef operations.  So the arsenic that’s pooped out by the chickens gets consumed and concentrated in the tissues of cows, which is then ground into hamburger  to be consumed by the clueless masses who don’t even know they’re  eating  second-hand chicken crap. (…)

Copyright Intellhub and World Truth TV 2013

Coretta Scott King: “We have done what we can to reveal the truth, and we now urge you as members of the media, and we call upon elected officials, and other persons of influence to do what they can to share the revelation of this case to the widest possible audience.” – King Family Press Conference, Dec. 9, 1999.

From the King Center on the family’s civil trial that found the US government guilty in Martin’s assassination:

After four weeks of testimony and over 70 witnesses in a civil trial in Memphis, Tennessee, twelve jurors reached a unanimous verdict on December 8, 1999 after about an hour of deliberations that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. In a press statement held the following day in Atlanta, Mrs. Coretta Scott King welcomed the verdict, saying ,

“There is abundant evidence of a major high level conspiracy in the assassination of my husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. And the civil court’s unanimous verdict has validated our belief. I wholeheartedly applaud the verdict of the jury and I feel that justice has been well served in their deliberations. This verdict is not only a great victory for my family, but also a great victory for America. It is a great victory for truth itself. It is important to know that this was a SWIFT verdict, delivered after about an hour of jury deliberation.

The jury was clearly convinced by the extensive evidence that was presented during the trial that, in addition to Mr. Jowers, the conspiracy of the Mafia, local, state and federal government agencies, were deeply involved in the assassination of my husband. The jury also affirmed overwhelming evidence that identified someone else, not James Earl Ray, as the shooter, and that Mr. Ray was set up to take the blame. I want to make it clear that my family has no interest in retribution. Instead, our sole concern has been that the full truth of the assassination has been revealed and adjudicated in a court of law… My husband once said, “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” To-day, almost 32 years after my husband and the father of my four children was assassinated, I feel that the jury’s verdict clearly affirms this principle. With this faith, we can begin the 21st century and the new millennium with a new spirit of hope and healing.”


View Full Trial Transcript>

View Transcript of King Family Press Conference on the Verdict


The King family stands firmly behind the civil trial verdict reached by twelve jurors in the Memphis, Tennessee courtroom on December 8, 1999.

An excerpt from remarks made by Mr. Dexter Scott King, Chairman, President, and CEO of The King Center, during the December 9, 1999 press conference regarding the verdict that may be used in support of this family decision:

“We can say that because of the evidence and information obtained in Memphis we believe that this case is over. This is a period in the chapter. We constantly hear reports, which trouble me, that this verdict creates more questions than answers. That is totally false. Anyone who sat in on almost four weeks of testimony, with over seventy witnesses, credible witnesses I might add, from several judges to other very credible witnesses, would know that the truth is here.”

The question now is, “What will you do with that?” We as a family have done our part. We have carried this mantle for as long as we can carry it. We know what happened. It is on public record. The transcripts will be available; we will make them available on the Web at some point. Any serious researcher who wants to know what happened can find out.”

The King family feels that the jury’s verdict, the transcripts of the conspiracy trial, and the transcripts of the King family’s press conference following the trial — all of which can be found on The King Center’s website — include everything that that family members have to say about the assassination.

Therefore, the King family shares the conviction that there is nothing more to add to their comments on record and will respectfully decline all further requests for comment.

Related Downloads

Assassination Trial – Family Press Conference.pdf

Assassination Trial – Full Transcript.pdf

Excerpt from Verdict  [Global Research Editor, emphasis added, for further details see full transcript]

(Verdict form passed to the Court.)

THE COURT: I have authorized
this gentleman here to take one picture of
you which I’m going to have developed and
make copies and send to you as I promised.
Okay. All right, ladies and
gentlemen. Let me ask you, do all of you
agree with this verdict?
THE JURY: Yes (In unison).
THE COURT: In answer to the
question did Loyd Jowers participate in a
conspiracy to do harm to Dr. Martin Luther
King, your answer is yes. Do you also find
that others, including governmental agencies,
were parties to this conspiracy as alleged by
the defendant? Your answer to that one is
also yes. And the total amount of damages
you find for the plaintiffs entitled to is
one hundred dollars. Is that your verdict?
THE JURY: Yes (In unison).
THE COURT: All right. I want
to thank you ladies and gentlemen for your
participation. It lasted a lot longer than
we had originally predicted. In spite of
that, you hung in there and you took your
notes and you were alert all during the
trial. And we appreciate it. We want you to
note that our courts cannot function if we
don’t have jurors who accept their
responsibility such as you have.
I hope it has been a pleasant
experience for you and that when you go back
home you’ll tend tell your friends and
neighbors when they get that letter saying
they’ve been summoned for jury duty, don’t
try to think of up those little old lies,
just come on down and it is not so bad after
I know how much you regret the fact
that you won’t be able to come back for the
next ten years. I don’t know, I may or may
not recognize you if I see you on the street
some day, but if you would see me and
recognize me, I sure would appreciate you
coming up and reminding me of your service
To remind you of your service, we
have some certificates that we have prepared
for you. They look real good in a frame.
Not only will they remind you of your service
here, but they will remind you also of that
wonderful judge who presided over this. We
do thank you very much on behalf of everyone
who has participated in this trial.
You were directed not to discuss the
case when you were first sworn. Now that
your verdict has been reached, I’m going to
relieve you of that oath, meaning that you
may or may not discuss it. It is up to you.

No one can force you to. And if you discuss
it, it will only be because you decide that
you wanted to.
I guess that’s about all except that
I want to come around there and personally
shake your hand. You are what I would call
Having said that, as soon as I get
around there and get a chance to shake your
hands, you’ll be dismissed.
(Judge Swearengen left the bench
to shake the jurors hands.)
THE COURT: Those of you who
would like to retain your notes, you may do
so if you want to.
I guess that’s about it. So
consider yourselves dismissed and we thank
you again.
Ladies and gentlemen, Court is
(The proceedings were concluded
at 3:10 p.m. on December 8th, 1999.)

(901) 529-1999
SHERYL WEATHERFORD, Reporters and Notaries
Public, Shelby County, Tennessee, CERTIFY:
1. The foregoing proceedings were
taken before us at the time and place stated
in the foregoing styled cause with the
appearances as noted;
2. Being Court Reporters, we then
reported the proceedings in Stenotype to the
best of our skill and ability, and the
foregoing pages contain a full, true and
correct transcript of our said Stenotype
notes then and there taken;
3. We am not in the employ of and
are not related to any of the parties or
their counsel, and we have no interest in the
matter involved.
____ day of ___________, 2000.
Certificate of Merit
Holder; Registered
Professional Reporter,
Notary Public for
the State of Tennessee at
Large ***
(901) 529-1999
Professional Reporter,
Notary Public for
the State of Tennessee at
Large ***


Chi ha sabotato il gasdotto South Stream

June 10th, 2014 by Manlio Dinucci

Il governo bulgaro ha annunciato domenica di aver interrotto i lavori di costruzione del South Stream, il gasdotto che dovrebbe trasportare gas russo nell’Unione europea senza passare per l’Ucraina. «Ho ordinato di fermare i lavori – fa sapere il premier Plamen Oresharski – Decideremo gli sviluppi della situazione dopo le consultazioni che avremo con Bruxelles». Nei giorni scorsi il presidente della Commissione europea, Josè Manuel Barroso, aveva annunciato l’apertura di una procedura Ue contro la Bulgaria per presunte irregolarità negli appalti del South Stream.

Appena tre giorni prima, il 5 giugno, la direzione del Partito socialista bulgaro, che sostiene il governo Oresharski, dava per sicuro che il tratto bulgaro del gasdotto sarebbe stato costruito nonostante la richiesta di Bruxelles di fermare il progetto. «Per noi è d’importanza vitale», sottolineava il vicepresidente della commissione parlamentare per l’energia, Kuiumgiev. E il presidente della Camera dei costruttori, Glossov, dichiarava che «il South Stream è una boccata d’ossigeno per le imprese bulgare».

Che cosa è avvenuto? Il progetto nasce quando, nel novembre 2006 (durante il governo Prodi II), la russa Gazprom e l’italiana Eni firmano un accordo di partenariato strategico. Nel giugno 2007 il ministro per lo sviluppo economico, Pierluigi Bersani, firma con il ministro russo dell’industria e dell’energia il memorandum d’intesa per la realizzazione del South Stream. Secondo il progetto, il gasdotto sarà composto da un tratto sottomarino di 930 km attraverso il Mar Nero (in acque territoriali russe, bulgare e turche) e da uno su terra attraverso Bulgaria, Serbia, Ungheria, Slovenia e Italia fino a Tarvisio (Udine).  Nel 2008-2011 vengono conclusi tutti gli accordi intergovernativi con i paesi attraversati dal South Stream. Nel 2012 entrano a far parte della società per azioni che finanzia la realizzazione del tratto sottomarino anche la tedesca Wintershall e la francese Edf con il 15% ciascuna, mentre l’Eni (che ha ceduto il 30%) detiene il 20% e la Gazprom il 50%.  La costruzione del gasdotto inizia nel dicembre 2012, con l’obiettivo di avviare la fornitura di gas entro il 2015. Nel marzo 2014 la Saipem (Eni) si aggiudica un contratto da 2 miliardi di euro per la costruzione della prima linea del gasdotto sottomarino.

Nel frattempo, però, scoppia la crisi ucraina e gli Stati uniti  premono sugli alleati europei perché riducano le importazioni di gas e petrolio russo, che costituiscono circa un terzo delle importazioni energetiche della Ue. Primo obiettivo statunitense (scrivevamo il 26 marzo) è impedire la realizzazione del South Stream. A tale scopo Washington esercita una crescente pressione sul governo bulgaro. Prima lo critica per aver affidato la costruzione del tratto bulgaro del gasdotto a un consorzio di cui fa parte la società russa Stroytransgaz, soggetta a sanzioni statunitensi. Con tono di ricatto, l’ambasciatrice Usa a Sofia, Marcie Ries, dichiara: «Avvertiamo gli uomini d’affari bulgari di evitare di lavorare con società soggette a sanzioni da parte degli Usa». Il momento decisivo è quando, domenica scorsa a Sofia, il senatore Usa John McCain, accompagnato da Chris Murphy e Ron Johnson, incontra il premier bulgaro trasmettendogli gli ordini di Washington. Subito dopo Plamen Oresharski annuncia il blocco dei lavori del South Stream.

Una vicenda emblematica: un progetto di grande importanza economica per la Ue viene sabotato non solo da Washington, ma anche da Bruxelles per mano dallo stesso presidente della Commissione europea. Ci piacerebbe sapere che cosa ne pensa il governo Renzi, dato che l’Italia – come ha avvertito Paolo Scaroni, numero uno dell’Eni – perderebbe contratti per miliardi di euro se venisse affossato il South Stream.


Discontent among the people with the French-imposed government in the capital of Bangui in the Central African Republic (CAR) has erupted in demonstrations by both the Muslim and Christian communities.

These developments are taking place amid the increasing deployment of foreign military forces mandated for peacekeeping operations by United Nations Security Council and other regional bodies.

The number of troops now occupying the CAR include a bolstered French force of 2,000 along with 6,000 personnel from regional African states (MISCA), European Union Forces (EUFOR) of 1,000 and the impending intervention of some 12,000 other soldiers under the rubric of the Security Council. Nonetheless, the minority Muslim community is still facing organized violence while more people are being forced out of Bangui and other cities across the country.

Interim President Catherine Samba-Panza was appointed after the forced removal at the aegis of Paris of the previous transitional leader Michel Djotodia in January. A Muslim, Djotodia came to power in March 2013 when Seleka Coalition rebels entered Bangui without any real opposition from French troops that were already maintaining a presence in the CAR.

Subsequent human rights violations against the Christian community during the rule of Seleka prompted reprisal attacks by the Anti-Balaka forces composed of armed youth who have been accused of attacking Muslim residents, their homes, mosques and businesses.

On May 30 people took to the streets of the capital protesting the deteriorating security situation. Earlier in the same week 17 people were killed in a church that was attacked while people were taking refuge in the building.

According to CNN,

“Hundreds also came out in the streets to protest against the international peacekeeping forces — French troops and the MISCA forces — whom they accuse of doing too little to protect the people. The unrest continued Friday. (May 30) The International Red Cross described the situation in Bangui as ‘fluid and somewhat chaotic.’ Its teams on the ground have received reports of injured people in the demonstrations but are still assessing the number of casualties, it said.” (May 30)

Foreign troops in efforts to control the demonstrations, which other sources report to have involved thousands of people, opened fire resulting in three demonstrators being killed by gunshot wounds. Rather than calming the situation, the deaths of the three people fueled anger and further unrest throughout the following week.

Text Messages Banned Amid Call for General Strike

Tensions escalated through June 6 when the current government issued a ban on text messaging. The blocking of the technology was done to minimize the impact of a call for a general strike in opposition to the government and the role of so-called peacekeepers.

In an article published by the London-based Guardian newspaper, it reports that “Mobile phone users in the CAR who try to send texts get the response:

‘SMS not allowed.’ Abdallah Assan Kadre, the communications minister issued a statement saying ‘On the instruction of the prime minister … in order to contribute to the restoration of security in the country, the use of SMS by all mobile-phone subscribers is suspended.’” (June 6)

Moreover, the Guardian continued by noting

“The clampdown came after a mass SMS (text message) was circulated urging a general strike in response to more than a year of conflict between Christian and Muslim militias that has killed thousands of people. An organization called Collectif Centrafrique Debout sent out the texts last weekend urging people to stay at home and demanding complete disarmament, especially of the PK5 Muslim neighborhood in the capital, Bangui.” (June 6)

Anti-French sentiment is growing both among the Christian and Muslim populations who have been bitterly divided by the present neo-colonial system of governance. France and other imperialist countries maintain mining interests in the diamond, gold and uranium sectors.

On June 1 Prime Minister André Nzapayeke urged people to end the strike and mass demonstrations in order to return to work in the capital after several days of unrest that had virtually shut down Bangui. Nzapayeke also appealed for a voluntary national disarmament campaign where all residents were requested to hand in their weapons by June 8.

French troops were heckled by residents on June 7 and 8 in Miskine, a Christian-dominated area of Bangui. In Muslim neighborhoods chants of “No to France!” and anti-French insults are commonly shouted at the occupying forces. (AFP, June 6)

Noël Ngoulo, the Secretary General of Bangui University, was quoted by the AFP as saying that

“When they arrived, (French troops) we had hope that they were going to disarm the country. But as time has gone on, the population noticed that the disarmament was delayed. People are angry at the French because they have the impression that the mission objective has changed, from a mission of disarmament to one of simple intervention.” (June 6)

Recent events in the CAR illustrate that the deployment of troops from former colonial and present imperialist countries will only further destabilize the political situation in Africa. The United States has provided logistical and intelligence support to the French-led occupation of the CAR.

These foreign policy initiatives are being headed by the Pentagon through the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) whose presence and influence is being strengthened and enhanced by the administration of President Barack Obama. African workers, farmers and youth will inevitably escalate their opposition to the western military interventions being carried out across the continent.

Take a look at every corner of the globe today. Like never before seen on this planet, the global chessboard is fast being carved up with provocative red lines drawn in the sand resulting from rapid military armament and troop deployment throughout this ever increasing bipolar world.

Cold War Part Two was jump started with February’s US backed Ukraine coup and overnight the old familiar East versus West scenario is once again threatening the start of World War III. Wherever untapped precious natural resources can still be extracted from the sea and ground is where opposing military forces from each side are lining up and ready for the end-of-world war. If it wasn’t so alarming, it would be absurdly laughable. Can you hear the global ring announcer? “In the West’s corner, the current and still only heavyweight champion of the superpower world, the greatest empire on earth, the world bully of all bullies, the US-NATO forces! And in this East corner, the up and coming wannabe challenger, once again making its re-appearance on the global stage, the original axis-of-evil we all have all come to love to hate – the armies of Russia, China, Iran and North Korea!”

Beyond the border of the Western nations that are the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel and Western Europe including Asian allies Japan and South Korea and the Eastern nations of Russia and China, virtually everywhere else on earth the West is now locked in a global power grab battling to plunder the earth’s remaining turf and resources before and against the East gets to it first in a fight to the finish. Perhaps this colliding path to increasing conflict, death and destruction can best be graphically understood in terms of geographic regional breakdowns of the various East versus West confrontations.

The champion bully so used to throwing its weight around the world is clearly the American Empire’s high powered killing machine and its right hand killer puppet NATO. But the bully has met its match with the emerging powerful Eastern bloc of a reaffirmed Russia-China alliance threatening to tilt the power away from previously unchecked US global hegemony. Several weeks ago Russia and China  signed a $400 billion gas deal ensuring that Russia’s largest export will only grow regardless of what might happen with supplying Europe. Since the US-induced Ukraine crisis, in self-defense to America’s global aggression and imperialism, Russia and China have reestablished old ties.

Recently discovered evidence exposes the US Empire’s extended Gladio operations into the twenty-first century Europe using strong arm bullying and subversive aggressive tactics against various socialist and left leaning politicians within the European Union who might oppose NATO, tactics that include possible assassination as well as “softer” character assassination techniques. This proves just how much Europe, its EU and NATO are all completely dominated and controlled by any and all means necessary as puppets of the US Empire. 

The US is pushing its “full spectrum dominance” to purposely escalate tensions with encircling Russia and China by militarizing every nation on their border. In the meantime, through mainstream media’s state sponsored propaganda, the US government is attempting to demonize Russian President Putin and his nation as the vilified aggressor when in fact US Empire has always been the warmongering state inciting war after war. Despite the lies and saber rattling propaganda, more Americans are finally seeing the true villain is in fact the hegemonic Empire. And with the overthrow of another democratically elected sovereign government in Ukraine earlier this year, by perpetual US aggression the next war could well be in Eastern Europe against nuclear armed Russia.

In Poland last week Obama promised a billion dollar military aid package to strengthen Ukraine and NATO nations in preparation for war with Russia. US Air Force and Army units along with F-16’s are arriving en masse throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia along the Russian border and will be serving on a rotational basis for years to come. Additionally, long time scheduled nuclear powered warhead missile sites are being lined up in Poland and already this year in Romania pointed across the border to Russia. In Romania Obama’s also rolling out the newest version of the star wars program of nukes from space, capable of taking out Russian target cities with a first strike while neutralizing Russia’s response with its anti-missile defense system. Thus, overwhelming evidence indicates Obama is currently planning and preparing for the likelihood of World War III with Russia and its allies. The geopolitics game of course has everything to do with global hegemony, which in turn has everything to do with money, oil pipelines and access to earth’s most precious resources. 

US Empire agenda has always been to target any nation that defies preservation of the US dollar and petrodollar as the fiat international currency standard to ensure the central banking cabal’s global control of the world population through a feudalistic debtor system. Both Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi went down quickly after planning to no longer trade in US dollars.

The underlying escalation in conflict with Iran centers greatly on Russia and other BRIC nations trade with Iran with rubles and gold. Even NATO ally Turkey’s president yesterday was making a deal with Iran’s visiting leader to buy Iran’s oil through payment in gold rather than the US petrodollar. With Russia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa all BRIC members that are choosing to not trade in US dollars, they are leading the charge that will soon bring down the US oligarch’s paper fiat. As more and more of the world moves against the US dollar, at some point in the near future the US economy will plunge into a freefall nosedive of a severe depression. But then this also has been the oligarchs’ eventual plan in the making for some time. 

In fact the biggest East vs. West geographical bone of contention covers the elongated stretch of land 10,000 miles long spanning every country bordering Russia and China, all those onetime outer Soviet state nations that end in “stan” that Americans can neither pronounce nor remember. From Europe through the trans-Caucasus of Central Asia to Tibet all the way to East Asia, the big East vs. the big West face-off in recent months has been heating up with noticeable mounting tensions throughout.

And the current hottest of all hotspots in this vast arena of course has been the civil war well underway now in Ukraine. With increasing violence the Ukraine military has been destroying hospitals, schools, residential areas and municipal buildings in eastern Ukrainian cities like Lugansk. Meanwhile Russian troops have overall shown restraint although just recently the southeastern Ukraine border crossing checkpoints have been abandoned by Kiev government forces and are now under Russian control. The impending war between Ukraine and Russia appears increasingly eminent.

But in short order, all along the Russia-China bloc’s own backyard, the West is fomenting and creating dirty secret wars spilling death squad bloodshed in any number of these highly unstable, corrupt, resource-rich borderlands. The strategy is to head Russia off at the pass from forming its own Eurasian Union (EAU) by next year with Kazakhstan and Belarus. A number of other nations in the region like Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan that may even include prior Western leaning nations like Georgia have all expressed an interest in also joining this EAU as well. If Putin succeeds in acquiring these pivotal nations on its side, the EAU would rival the EU and NATO in economic and military power. This development would weaken and potentially threaten the oligarchs’ central banking cabal. To ensure that it does not happen, World War III is more likely to happen first.

One relatively new global region where the US-NATO military is currently facing off against the Russian armed forces is fighting over the disputed waters accounting for 30% of the world’s vast oil reserves sitting underneath the Arctic Ocean floor. As the global warming rapidly melts the polar icecaps, the result makes the value of its mineral and oil reserves both more assessable and coveted by all the nations that share Arctic territory. The melted ice also opens up new trade routes never available before. Thus competition and potential conflict is ratcheting up as Russia the nation with the most Arctic territory has been building a military presence in the region since 2007 and currently possesses ten military bases along the northern sea route. Only in the last year has NATO recognized the need to match Russia’s head start both militarily and economically.

Recently 16,000 soldiers from the US and NATO participated in the largest Western joint military exercise north of the Arctic circle in a hurry up effort to try and catch up to the 70,000 troop buildup of the Russian Army already stationed on the northern tundra. Russia has the distinction of being the only nation in the world with a nuclear icebreaker fleet

Last month Norway’s defense minister echoed the NATO party line seeing Russia’s annexation of Crimea as a direct threat to all NATO countries and called for an increased focus on matching Russia’s Arctic circle growth. In April Russia successfully shipped its first oil from its Arctic drilling operations. Canada, the US, Norway and Denmark through Greenland all have a vested NATO interest in the Arctic for its plentiful deposits of oil, gas and minerals. And the Russian Federation has beaten NATO to the punch both in its resource extraction as well as its military stronghold in the region. 

The US never ratified a UN treaty among the Arctic nations that irons out how access and extraction of resources will be conducted. Even though the oil corporations, the military and environmental groups all agree the US should ratify the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, once again the dysfunctional US Congress has continually voted it down. It seems the US purposely desires to undermine any judicious international solution to the intensifying competition as if a subsequent conflict and potential war is purposely part of the Empire agenda.

In Africa Obama’s exceptionalism manifests in the form of Special Operations on the ground busily training and militarizing the entire continent so the Empire can outmaneuver and undercut surging China’s economic power interest as the continent’s leading trading partner. Training death squads in so called counterinsurgency operations has become the Special Ops modus operandi. The US is spending 1.2 billion dollars to build and expand an outpost into a major military base housing 4000 soldiers at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. America took advantage of the recent Boko Haram kidnapping of girls to ensure its military presence including drone operations secured an even stronger foothold in Nigeria. Yemen, Somalia, Mali, Sudan, Libya and Congo have all been targeted for a growing drone surveillance and missile strike program in answer to intelligence claims that Islamic extremists have posed a rising terrorist threat on the continent. AFRICOM has now extended its operations to all African nations but two. Of course the stronger US military presence and activity are precursors for securing the region for expanding transnational corporations into Africa to compete with China’s economic dominance. 

Historically in modern times the Middle East has never stopped being the world hotspot for multi-layered international conflict. Aside from the longstanding Israeli apartheid genocide against Palestinians and the broader Jewish vs. Muslim antagonism, the focal point for over three years now has been the devastating war in Syria where Iran, Russia and China are aligned with the Assad government while the US-NATO-Israel-Saudi Arabia alliance has been financially backing, arming and deploying thousands of al Qaeda mercenaries to fight their proxy war against Syria and the Eastern alliance.

Iran and Syria have long been in the US imperialistic crosshairs as the final two of seven nations on that neocon regime change list dating back prior to 9/11 and still remain unfinished business. Controlling Ukraine and conquering Syria and Iran would cut off Russia’s oil supply to Europe and America could effectively control the outgoing oil supply from the Middle East to the rest of the world. Thus, Obama is still sending more sophisticated high powered weaponry to the so called moderate anti-Assad rebels in Syria that could potentially end up in the hands of al Qaeda militants who have already pledged to use the US made arms against America. And this comes when the Syrian government forces have begun to gain the upper hand in the bloody war against the US proxy lowlifes.

In a Reuter’s article (June 9, 2014) a Free Syrian Army general warned against Obama’s plan to arm rebel groups in Syria as he believes it will create warlords like in Somalia and Afghanistan that will operate as loose cannons not answering to anyone and only creating more problems for anti-government forces. This view only reinforces the common perception that Obama’s poor, misguided and erratic leadership in the Middle East has diminished America’s international power, reputation and credibility, grossly undermined by Obama’s empty, paper tiger rhetoric and inconsistency.

Though the US-NATO military forces can occupy nations along the entire border of Russia’s and China‘s backyard, the double standard that is US exceptionalism ensures that Chinese and Russian armies are forever banned far from North and South America. Other than Cuba, gaining a foothold of influence and power within the US dominated Western hemisphere has been tenuous for Russia and China. The exploitative and over controlling (with roots back to the Monroe Doctrine) American Empire has driven Latin American nations toward seeking an intra-continental alliance promoting a degree of independence, solidarity and defense from the reigning clutches of the sole world superpower to the north. Nations like Venezuela through the efforts of the late Hugo Chavez have taken a bold and defiant stance against US hegemony, calling Bush “the devil” at the UN a few years ago. Similar to long sanctioned Cuba, resistance to American aggression has taken the form of embracing both Russia and China for bolstered support through economic development and trade. While the US was busy focusing on waging wars on multiple warfronts, China from 2000 to 2009 quietly increased its trade with Latin America by 600%. As a result, China is gaining influence in America’s hemispheric “backyard.” 

Lastly, in the final continent East Asia tensions have only increased between America and China there as well. During his recent so called pivot tour to the Far East, Obama reaffirmed and strengthened military ties with South Korea, Japan and the Philippines. In response to the increasing territorial squabbling between China and other US allies in Asia like Japan, Philippines and more recently Vietnam, always the opportunist the US in Secretary of State Kerry recently invited Vietnam’s deputy prime minister to Washington to discuss establishment of a US naval base in Vietnam. Another recent issue causing friction is the US allegation that Chinese military officers spied on American corporations breaching security to gain valuable information. Of course the fact that the US was caught with the Snowden revelations spying on the entire world has no impact on the US willingness to chastise and accuse others nations. The rest of the planet readily recognizes America’s double standard hypocrisy in constantly objecting to other nations that are merely doing the same behavior that America does. 

The polarizing effect on the world brought on by America’s arrogance, exceptionalism and widespread bullying and aggression has created dangerous conflicts that are leading to military tensions and hostilities that in turn appear to be leading to major wars with nuclear powers Russia and China as well as unpredictable North Korea. And unlike the false propaganda of the US government and its presstitute media outlets, this increasingly militarized, armed and dangerous world is the direct intended result of US foreign policy. As the puppet to the oligarch puppet masters, it is by design that war is on the horizon and the end game of World War III looms ever closer with each passing month. It again must be up to us rational citizens of the world who know better than to plunge into a war that no one can win but all of us earth inhabitants can lose if we allow our leaders to push us off the doomsday cliff.
Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer. He has written a manuscript based on his unique military experience entitled “Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down.” It examines and focuses on US international relations, leadership and national security issues. After the military, Joachim earned a masters degree in Clinical Psychology and worked as a licensed therapist in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now concentrates on his writing.

Let’s Remove Unemployment

June 9th, 2014 by Aleksandar Sarovic

Unemployment exists in order for employers to be able to buy cheap labor. Through policy, employers maintain the unemployment rate at a level that suits them best. A higher unemployment rate produces a cheap labor force because the workers are pressured to accept poorly paid jobs in order to feed their families.

Consequently, underpaid workers are not able to buy enough goods produced by private companies. It seems that an unemployment rate of about 5 percent suits the employers best. Thus, economists accept this as a “normal” state. This “normal” state allows the exploitation of workers through low labor costs while the total workers’ purchasing power is still large enough for private companies to produce profit.

Today’s economists recognize the existence of  cyclical, frictional, and structural unemployment. Cyclical unemployment is the result of oscillations in the process of expansion and recession of production which oscillates demand for work. The economists do not see that burden of crisis and benefits from profits should be more equally distributed.

Frictional unemployment is the result of people willing to move between jobs, careers and locations. The economists do not see that workers should do it in a day. Structural unemployment is the consequence of a change in technology which results in an absence of demand for the available workers.

The economists do not see that prequalification of workers should also be the responsibility of those who profit the most. The economists today are so indoctrinated with false teaching that they believe unemployment is the unavoidable price which must be paid for technological development. They even believe that 0% unemployment is not a positive thing1. I want to stress here that 0% unemployment will solve most of the existing economic problems.

The current philosophy of economics is based on the preservation of capital as a requirement for the protection of the individual. This is wrong. As a result, we can see the deterioration of the individual and capital. The individual has to be more important than capital. The new economy will be based on the protection of the individual. From this point a much better economy will emerge.

The exploitation of workers cannot form a sane basis for the formation of a good society. A good society can only develop on equal human rights. A just society requires the availability of work to everyone. In order to achieve a proper balance between the supply and demand of labor, it will be necessary to create a balance between the number of jobs and workers. If job creation is not needed, full employment will be achieved by reducing the work hours proportionally to the unemployment rate. This is a political measure which needs to be accepted by people and must be conducted in both the public and private enterprises.

The shortening of working hours will reduce employees’ salaries proportionally to the shorter working hours. For example, an unemployment rate of 10% will shorten the working hours of all workers by 10% and the workers’ wages would be 10% lower. The 10% saved will be deployed to the newly hired workers. With this point of view the employers would not be burdened with additional labor costs and all workers would be employed. Initially, the workers would perceive the lower wages as a disadvantage, but in the long run their salaries will significantly grow because the employers will be forced to increase workers’ salaries in the reduced work market in order to hire workers.

The shortening of working hours will bring great benefits to society. Firstly I need to point out that a slightly lower salary for workers is not even close to the disadvantage the unemployed workers bear by receiving no salary. Such a measure would guarantee that unemployment and economic insecurity of workers can no longer exist.

People are accustomed to fluctuations in living standards depending on the performance of the economy. The purchasing power of wages fluctuates more than the unemployment rate due to changes in supply and demand, economic crisis, inflation and deflation. Workers silently accept such fluctuations in purchasing power. They accept that they live worse through the crisis. So, why would they not accept this measure in the name of solidarity among workers, which will help them establish a healthy long-term basis to achieve higher standards of living?

Shortening work hours proportionally to the rate of unemployment will not only eliminate unemployment but it will also solve the problem of exploitation. Here is a simple explanation: If there are a total of two workers who apply for a total of one work post, the competition among the workers will reduce the cost of labor; the worker who gets the job will be exploited. If there is a total of one worker and a total of two jobs, the competition among employers would increase the wage of the worker. Regarding this, the reduction of work hours proportionally to the rate of unemployment will put workers in a better position in the production process. A lower availability of workers will raise the value of the labour of workers and thus, employers would pay workers more than they do today.

Overtime work will continue to be allowed. In the Western world, overtime work is paid time and a half. Employers who intend to solve labour shortage with overtime work will not reduce unemployment. Then the policy that follows the will of the people will further shorten working hours of all employees, and employers will have to pay more overtime hours. Let the employers themselves realize whether it is more worth it to hire new workers or to pay more overtime hours per worker.

The task of a good policy is to simplify regulation as much as possible while achieving the greatest positive impact on society. Today’s policy regulates minimum income which has a very limited impact on the overall distribution of incomes. In the developed world, a large number of workers earn minimum wage while inflation reduces the real value constantly. Workers of the American corporation Walmart generally receive minimal income due to the high unemployment in America. The salaries in Walmart cannot cover basic needs, and so the workers receive social assistance from the U.S. government. They live at the expense of U.S. tax payers while Walmart continues to be one of the most profitable companies in America.

A good policy will regulate the length of working hours and not the minimum income. When unemployment is removed by reducing work hours, employers who need more labor must take it from other employers by offering more money because available workers do not exist. They will have to compete by increasing workers’ wages in order to attract workers from other companies. This will cause a chain reaction in which the workers’ wages will rise. If employers do not increase wages they would simply not have workers. This is just a fair labor market. The regulation of a minimum income will not be required any longer. There will be no need for unions as intermediaries in protecting workers’ rights.

The reduction of work hours is not a new idea. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Robert Owen2 realized the absurdity of daily work that lasted between 12 and 16 hours. In 1817 he proposed the reduction of work hours to 8 hours a day so people would have 8 hours a day for recreation and 8 hours for rest. Employers were strongly opposed to it and did not let the reduction occur. The workers were very dissatisfied. The first significant worker resistance occurred in Chicago, on May 1st, 1867, and the day was declared International Labor Day. The struggle between employers and workers has been difficult and often bloody. It took around 100 years of struggle for the idea of the eight-hour workday to be accepted worldwide.

But this reduction of work hours is not enough today. French socialists3 in power adopted a new law in 1988 which shortened the work hours of all employees from 39 to 35 hours per week. They did this in order to reduce unemployment and enable more free time to workers. But the shorter work hours did not lead to an increase in employment because employers burdened employed workers more. That says to me that there is not even a need for a seven hour workday because the automation in the manufacturing process has reduced the need for manpower. Socialists should have been aware that the employers, who are accustomed to exploiting workers, would not easily give up. The socialists needed to implement a higher reduction of work hours, until employers are forced to hire unemployed workers. I would recommend decreasing the work week length to 30 hours per week. The struggle between the privileged and underprivileged people has never been easy. The French Socialists were not sufficiently committed, and ten years later the Conservatives abolished the limitation of 35 work hours per week. So the idea of social justice lost once again.

Privileged people always find a way to oppress the marginalized and that has always been the main source of problems in society. But in the 14th century, a huge natural tragedy helped the disenfranchised. The Black Death killed one-third of the European population, which produced a huge labor shortage. The shortage of servants, craftsmen, and workmen, and of agricultural workers and laborers, left a great many lords and people without service and attendance. The crops in the fields languished because there were not enough people harvest them. Suddenly, workers and their labor were in much higher demand, enabling those who survived the Black Death to be in a much better position to negotiate work conditions. They could hardly be persuaded to serve the eminent without tripled wages. Historian and economist Thorold Rogers4 recorded that the peasants were given virtually everything they asked for. Karl Marx displayed the time as “the golden age of European proletariat”

Now what? Shall we wait for a new tragedy of humanity, or will we, in the name of justice and solidarity among people, be smart enough to shorten working hours as long as unemployment exists? Only that would force companies to hire unemployed workers. Only that would build justice and balance in the process of production and distribution. Such a regulation of the market will use the invisible hand to balance the demand for labor and income heights in the most acceptable way for workers and employers.

Increasing the wages of workers will be at the expense of employers. Employers would not like it, of course, but they must understand that they cannot earn more if there is not a large enough consumer purchasing power. They must understand that the purchasing power of the society cannot be increased without increasing the wages of workers. They should understand that there is not a better distribution neither for employers nor for workers than the one achieved through a fair labor market. Shortening work hours proportionally to the rate of unemployment would ensure a fair distribution to society. A fair distribution will provide greater purchasing power to the people, which will ensure a greater flow of goods, which would again bring greater profits to the owners of capital. This would eradicate the current economic crisis because the crisis is primarily based on the lack of trade in goods and services. Shorter work hours will form a better capitalism and bring prosperity to society.

I received a lot of criticism about the fact that more expensive work propels capital to where labor is cheaper. Is that not the situation that we have today anyway? Does capital not go to Asia? But this situation will come to an end, because if workers in developed countries do not earn enough they cannot buy enough of the goods that the large capitals produce. The less the capital invests in society the more it will lose. Capital must invest in order to survive. On the other hand, the departure of capital cannot bring workers into an existential threat any more. The eventual increase in unemployment caused by the departure of capital would result in a greater reduction of working hours of workers, thus economic security would still be guaranteed to all people. The shortening of working hours will reduce the incomes of workers but they would remain high enough to provide a decent life. Capitalism has spent a lot of energy in developing the consumer mentality, which is very unnecessary, and egotistical character trait of workers which is wrong. The solidarity in shortening working hours will fundamentally change it.

The question is why has such a simple idea never been suggested? The reason should be sought in the conspiracy of big businesses, which by their economic power prevent the advent of new ideas that can improve society. Big businesses supported the ideas that cannot improve society. Big businesses supported Marxism as the leading ideology of the Left because big businesses have always known that Marxism cannot create a good society, and as such it does not constitute a hazard to them. Otherwise, Marxism, as a vehicle of the violent revolutionary ideology, would have been outlawed. Marxism is useful to big businesses because it mistakenly directs the Left. This is proved by the practice of the socialist revolutions.

Thanks to the conspiracy of big business, my ideas do not have access to the media, universities, politics, and so, nor to the people. But one day the idea of reducing work hours proportionally to the unemployment rate will break through and society will necessitate its implementation. This will reduce the privileges of employers and increase workers’ rights. It will also reduce the difference between the earnings of employers and workers. In such an environment, capital will lose its significance. A fair labor market will spontaneously initialize a new social and economic system that will replace capitalism and greatly meet the needs of society as a whole. I have presented this system in detail in my book Humanism5. Humanism would be equally acceptable to all people and would further improve society.


Aleksandar Šarović is a free thinker who has worked on the improvement of society for 30 years. His work can be found


1. Economics Http://

2. Robert Owen - socialist enterprise at New Lanark -

3. The 35-Hour Workweek in France – Marcello Estevão and Filipa Sá

4. A History of Agriculture and Prices in England from 1259 to 1793 - James Edwin Thorold Rogers

5. Humanism – Aleksandar Šarović -

Most pundits of historical developments tend to perceive another global war, often called WW III, in a manner similar to World Wars I and II; that is, large scale deployment of military means in pursuit of defeat, destruction or subjugation of contending opponents.

While prospects of such an ominous scenario certainly cannot be ruled out, there is reason to believe, however, that the much talked-about WW III may be of a different type: more interclass than international. Viewed in this light, WW III is already here; it has indeed been raging on for years: the unilateral, cross-border neoliberal war of austerity economics that is waged by the transnational class of financial oligarchy against the overwhelming majority of world citizens, the global 99%.

Globalization of capital and interdependence of world markets has reached a point where large scale military clashes of the magnitude of World Wars I & II could lead to financial catastrophe for all. Not surprisingly, the network of transnational financial elites, who often elect politicians and run governments from behind the scenes, seem to be averse to another wholesale international war that could paralyze worldwide financial markets.

This explains why imperialistic aggressions of late have often taken the form of “soft-power” interventions: color-coded revolutions, “democratic” coup d’états, manufactured civil wars, economic sanctions, and the like. Of course, military option always lurks in the background to be employed when/if “soft-power” strategies of regime change fail or prove insufficient. Even then, however, all efforts are made (by the major capitalist powers) to make such military interventions “controlled” or “manageable,” that is, limited to local or national levels. While “controlled” wars tend to safeguard the fortunes of war profiteers and beneficiaries of military spending (mainly the military-security-industrial complex and major banks), they would not cause paralysis of international financial markets.

This also explains why major world powers such as China, Russia, India, and Brazil tend to shy away from standing up more robustly to the bullying policies of the United States. Wealthy oligarchic circles in these countries have more in common with their elite counterparts in the U.S. and other core capitalist countries than their fellow countrymen at home. “Whether they maintain primary residences in New York or Hong Kong, Moscow or Mumbai, today’s super-rich are increasingly a nation unto themselves,” points out Chrystia Freeland, Global Editor of Reuters, who travels with the elites to many parts of the world. It is therefore only logical to believe that a de facto alliance exists between members of this global “nation” of the super-rich, which helps facilitate the operations of imperialist schemes of regime change. For example, when/if Russia is threatened by the U.S. and its European allies, Russian oligarchs tend to clandestinely collaborate with their class counterparts in the West, thereby undermining Russia’s resistance to such interferences from Western powers.

A brief look at recent schemes of regime change in countries like Iraq and Libya, on the one hand, and Ukraine and Iran, on the other, can help an understanding of when or where the imperialist powers resort to direct military action to bring about regime change (as in Iraq and Libya), and where or when they resort to “soft-power” tactics to achieve the same goal, as in Ukraine and Iran. Two major reasons or considerations can be identified in this context, that is, in regard with the imperialist choice of the means or tactics of regime change.

The first is related to the level of class differentiation within countries targeted for regime change. Due to extensive (and often scandalous) privatization of public property in both Ukraine and Iran, there have emerged quite wealthy circles of financial oligarchs in both of these countries. These Western-oriented money magnates tend to collaborate with the interventionist forces of regime change from abroad; they are essentially agents of regime change from within, in collaboration with imperialist forces from without. This explains (at least partially) why schemes of regime change in these two countries have relied primarily on “soft-power” and color revolutions instead of direct military intervention.

By contrast, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Qaddafi’s Libya lacked such influential and internationally connected wealthy classes. While neither Saddam nor Qaddafi were paragons of virtue or champions of democracy, they did played the role what is sometimes called “enlightened dictators”: they implemented extensive welfare state programs, maintained strong public-sector economies, opposed privatization of public services such as health and education, and kept major or “strategic” industries such as energy and banking/financial system under state ownership and control. Combined, these policies prevented the rise of powerful financial elites such as those emerged and developed in Iran or Ukraine. This meant, among other things, that “soft-power” and/or color revolution tactics of regime change, which heavily rely on native or local allies, the so-called comprador bourgeoisie, did not have a good chance of success in these countries—hence the use of “hard-power” or direct military intervention/occupation of both Iraq and Libya.

The second imperialist consideration in the choice of soft- versus hard-power tactics of regime change is related to whether a war to be waged in pursuit of regime change can be controlled and managed at the local or national level, or whether it may spin out of control and become regional and/or global. In the case of Ukraine, for example, a direct military aggression would certainly have involved Russia, very likely become global, with disastrous economic/financial consequences beyond the control of imperialist powers—hence the choice of soft-power and/or “democratic” coup d’état in Ukraine. A similar concern that an all-out war against Iran may get out of control likewise explains why schemes of regime change in that country too have (so far) focused primarily on economic sanctions and other soft-power tactics, including the color-coded “green revolution” of 2009.

By contrast, “hard power” or sheer military force was used for regime change in Iraq and Libya out of near-certain knowledge that the wars of regime change against these countries could be controlled fairly successfully, that is, prevented from becoming regional or global.

The Case of Ukraine

The recent and ongoing crisis in Ukraine serves as a clear case of how transnational financial elites tend to avoid cataclysmic international wars of the scale of World War I or II in favor of controllable and often interclass wars by means of economic sanctions and other types of “soft-power” tactics.

In the immediate aftermath of the February 22 (2014) putsch in Kiev, which ousted the duly elected President Viktor Yanukovych and brought to power the U.S.-backed coup regime, tensions between Russia and Western powers ran so high that many observers warned of “the impending WW III.” While those earlier tensions and the concomitant danger of major military clashes between the two sides still exist, they have subsided considerably since the early May when President Putin of Russia effectively blinked in the standoff with Western powers and announced (on May 7th) that Russia would respect the presidential election in Ukraine, and work with whomever is elected—which turned out to be the billionaire oligarch Petro Proshenko.

Despite the fact that the brutal crackdown on the autonomy-seeking activists in Ukraine’s eastern/south-eastern provinces continues unabated, diplomatic maneuvers spearheaded by the representatives of the financial elites from the U.S., Europe, Ukraine and Russia have nonetheless succeeded in averting a military clash between the U.S. and Russian sides.

So, what changed all the earlier threats of wholesale sanctions and/or military actions against Russia to the somewhat diffused tensions and “diplomatic solutions” of today?

The answer, in a nutshell, is that the powerful economic interests vested in international finance, trade and investment (that is, the financial elites in Russia, Ukraine and the core capitalist countries) simply could not risk another uncontrollable world war. Surely, big banks and the influential military-security-industrial complexes tend to flourish on perpetual wars and international tensions. But they also tend to prefer “manageable” or “controllable” wars at the local or national levels (such those waged against Iraq or Libya, for example) to cataclysmic large scale wars on a regional or global level.

It is no secret that as Russia’s economy has become increasingly intertwined with Western economies (largely due to economic power and behavior of its transnational oligarchs), it has also become increasingly vulnerable to global market fluctuations and threats of economic sanctions. This explains, to a large extent, President Putin’s conciliatory gestures and accommodating policies to diffuse hostilities over Ukraine crisis diplomatically.

What is less known, however, is that Western economies too are vulnerable to sanctions from Russia, should Russia decide to retaliate. In fact, Russia has at its possession some powerful economic weapons with which to retaliate, if necessary. Economic wounds from such reciprocal sanctions could be very painful to a number of European countries. Due to interconnection of most economies and financial markets, tit-for-tat sanctions could significantly exacerbate the already fragile European and, indeed, world economy:

“Sanctions on Russian exports would greatly expose the EU. Europe imports 30 percent of its gas from the Russian state-owned company Gazprom. Russia is also Europe’s biggest customer. The EU is, by far, Russia’s leading trade partner and accounts for about 50 percent of all Russian exports and imports. In 2014, EU-Russia overall trade stands at around 360 billion Euros per year. Russia’s total export to the EU, which is principally raw materials such as gas and oil, stands at around 230 billion Euros, while Russia’s imports from the EU amount to around 130 billion Euros of mainly manufactured products as well as foodstuff. The EU is also the largest investor in the Russian economy and accounts for 75 percent of all foreign investments in Russia” [1].

Russia could also retaliate against Western powers’ policies and threats of freezing the assets of Russian individuals and companies by freezing the assets of Western companies and investors:

“In case of Western economic sanctions, Russian lawmakers have announced that they would pass a bill to freeze the assets of European and American companies that operate in Russia. On the other side, more than 100 Russian businessmen and politicians are allegedly targeted by the EU for a freeze of their European assets. Besides Alexey Miller, head of the state-owned Gazprom, the CEO of Rosneft, Igor Sechin, is also apparently on the sanction hit list. Rosneft is the largest listed oil company in the world and, as such, has partners worldwide, including in the West. For example, the U.S.-based company Exxon-Mobil has a $500 million oil-exploration project with Rosneft in Siberia, and Exxon-Mobil is already in partnership with the Russian giant oil company to exploit Black Sea oil reserves” [2].

Russia has at its disposal additional economic weapons to inflict damage to the U.S. and European economies. For example, in reaction to threats to its assets being frozen by the U.S. and its European allies, Russia liquidated (in late February and early March 2014) more than $100 billion of its holdings in U.S. Treasury Bonds. Escalation of such reckless threats of freezing the assets of “unfriendly” governments could well involve China with disastrous consequences for the U.S. dollar, as “China owns an estimated $1.3 trillion in U.S. Treasury Bonds and is the number one investor amongst foreign governments” [3].

This high degree of economic/financial interconnection explains why—with the backing of Washington and the nodding of Moscow—European diplomats from Berlin and Brussels rushed to Kiev, engineered the establishment of the so-called Round Table Discussions and paved the way for the bogus May 25th presidential election, thereby giving legitimacy to the regime of coup d’état and averting the prospect of a mutually destructive escalation of economic sanctions and/or military actions.

Comparison with Iraq and Libya

Regime change in Libya (2011) and Iraq (2003) by means of “hard-power” military interventions (as opposed to “soft-power” schemes of regime change) tend to support the main argument of this essay that, in pursuit of regime change, imperialist powers resort to direct military action where (a) such military involvements can be controlled or restricted to the targeted country, and (b) there is an absence of significant or powerful local allies in the targeted country, that is, local forces of wealthy oligarchs with ties to global markets and, therefore, to external forces of regime change.

Although both Qaddafi and Saddam ruled their countries heavy handedly, they maintained strong public-sector economies and widely nationalized industries and services. This was especially true in the case of strategic industries such as energy, banking, transportation and communications, as well as vital social services such as health, education and utilities. They did this not so much out of socialist convictions (although they occasionally claimed to be champions of “Arab Socialism”), but because, in their struggles against earlier rival regimes of tribal and landed aristocracies, they had learned that control of national economies through bureaucratic state management, along with a strong welfare state, was more beneficial to the cause of stability and continuity of their rule than allowing the development of unbridled market forces and/or the emergence of powerful industrialists and financiers in the private sector.

Whatever the motivation, the fact remains that neither Saddam nor Qaddafi countenanced the rise of powerful financial elites with significant ties to global markets or Western powers. Not surprisingly, opposition figures and forces that collaborated with the imperialist schemes of regime change in these two countries consisted largely of either the remnants of the royal/tribal days, or petty intellectual expats and military nemeses of Saddam and Qaddafi who were forced to live in exile. Unlike the financial elites in Ukraine, for example, opposition forces in Iraq and Libya lacked either the economic means to finance the forces of regime change, or an extensive social base/support in their native countries. They also lacked strong or reliable financial and political ties with Western markets and political establishments.

This explains why economic sanctions and other “soft-power” tactics (such as mobilizing, training and funding opposition forces) proved insufficient to change the regimes of Saddam and Qaddafi; and why U.S. imperialism and its allies had to deploy the “hard-power” of military action/occupation to achieve this nefarious goal. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, interventionist imperial powers were certain that (contrary to the cases of Ukraine or Iran, for instance) such military invasions could be controlled and prevented from going beyond the borders of Libya or Iraq.

The Case of Iran

The U.S. policy of regime change in Iran seems to resemble more the pattern that has been followed in Ukraine than those pursued in Iraq or Libya. This is largely because (a) it is feared that direct military intervention in Iran could not be controlled or limited to that country alone, and (b) Iran has a relatively well-developed, Western-oriented financial oligarchy on whom the U.S. and its allies can rely to bring about reform and/or regime change from within.

It is, of course, not an either-or policy: either military power or “soft power.” It is rather a matter of more or less reliance on one or the other policy, depending on specific circumstances. Indeed, the imperialist agenda of regime change in Iran since the 1979 revolution in that country has included a number of (often concurrent) tactics. They range from instigating and supporting Saddam Hussein to invade Iran (in 1980), to training and funding destabilizing anti-Iran terrorist organizations, to constant war and military threats, to efforts to sabotage the 2009 presidential election through the so-called “green revolution,” and to systematic escalation of economic sanctions.

Having failed (so far) at its nefarious plots of “regime change” from without, the U.S. seems to have shifted emphasis in recent years to regime change (or reform) from within; that is, through political and economic collaboration with the Western-oriented currents within the ruling circles of Iran. What seems to have made this option more attractive to the U.S. and its allies is the rise of an ambitious capitalist class in Iran whose chief priority seems to be the ability to do business with their counterparts in the West. These are largely the wealthy Iranian oligarchs who literally mean business, so to speak; for them, issues such as nuclear technology or national sovereignty are of secondary importance. Having methodically (and often scandalously) enriched themselves in the shadow of the public sector of the Iranian economy, or by virtue of political/bureaucratic positions they held (or still hold) in various stations in the government apparatus, these folks have by now lost all appetite they once had for radical economic measures required for economic self-reliance in order to resist or withstand the brunt of the brutal economic sanctions. Instead, they now seem eager to strike business and investment deals with their transnational class allies abroad.

More than any other social strata, President Rouhani and his administration represent the interests and aspirations of this rising capitalist–financier class in Iran. Representatives of this class of financial oligarchy wield economic and political power mainly through the highly influential Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines, and Agriculture (ICCIMA). Ideological and/or philosophical affinity between President Rouhani and the power-brokers residing within ICCIMA is reflected in the fact that, immediately upon his election, the president appointed the former head of the Chamber of Commerce Mohammad Nahavandian, a U.S.-educated neoliberal economist and an advisor to former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, as his chief of staff.

It was through the Iran Chamber of Commerce that, in September 2013, an Iranian economic delegation accompanied President Rouhani to the United Nations in New York to negotiate potential business/investment deals with their American counterparts. The Iran Chamber of Commerce has also organized a number of economic delegations that have accompanied Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif to Europe in pursuit of similar objectives.

Many observers of the U.S.-Iran relations tend to think that the recently initiated diplomatic dialogue between the two countries, including regular contacts within the framework of Iran’s nuclear negotiations, started with the election of Mr. Rouhani as President. Evidence shows, however, that behind-the-scene contacts between representatives of the financial elites in and around the U.S. and Iranian governments started long before Mr. Rouhani was elected as president. For example, a relatively well-researched report by the Wall Street Journal recently revealed that

“Top [U.S.] National Security Council officials began planting the seeds for such an exchange months earlier—holding a series of secret meetings and telephone calls and convening an assortment of Arab monarchs, Iranian exiles and former U.S. diplomats to clandestinely ferry messages between Washington and Tehran, according to current and former U.S., Middle Eastern and European officials briefed on the effort” [4].

The report, showing how the “intricate communications network helped propel the recent steps toward U.S.-Iran rapprochement,” indicated that the often behind-the-scene “meetings were held in Europe, primarily the Swedish capital of Stockholm.” Using international diplomatic conduits such as the Asia Society, the United Nations Association and the Council on Foreign Relations, “The American and Iranian sides gathered in hotels and conference halls, seeking formulas to defuse the crisis over Iran’s nuclear program and avert a war,” the report further pointed out. The authors of the report, Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee, also wrote:

“The Asia Society and the nongovernmental Council on Foreign Relations hosted roundtables for Messrs. Rouhani and Zarif on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in September. The two men used them to explain Tehran’s plans to American businessmen, former government officials, academics and journalists.

“Mr. Obama personally reached out to Mr. Rouhani last summer soon after Rouhani’s election). The U.S. president penned a letter to the new Iranian leader, stressing Washington’s desire to end the nuclear dispute peacefully. Mr. Rouhani responded with similar sentiments.

“Mr. Zarif, meanwhile, reconnected with prominent American foreign-policy officials he met while serving as Iran’s ambassador to the U.N. in the 2000s.

“Ms. DiMaggio of the Asia Society says she was among those in New York who contacted Mr. Zarif shortly after he was brought in to the Rouhani government. A veteran facilitator of informal contacts between Iranian and American officials, she held numerous meetings over the past decade with the U.S.-educated diplomat on ways to end the nuclear impasse” [5].

This explains why President Rouhani (and his circl of outward-looking, Western-oriented advisors) chose Mr. Zarif as foreign minister; and why they have, perhaps unwisely, pinned all their hopes of an economic recovery in Iran on political and economic rapprochement with the West, that is, on free trade and unrestricted investment from the U.S. and other major capitalist countries. (Incidentally, this also explains why President Rouhani’s team of nuclear negotiators has, willy nilly, been condemned to a weak bargaining position in their discussions with the group of P5+1 countries; and why the Iranian negotiators have given up so much for so little.)

Conclusion and Implications

While powerful beneficiaries of war and military spending—Major banks (as primary lenders to governments) and the military-security-industrial complex— thrive on war and international tensions, they nonetheless tend to prefer local, national, limited, or “manageable” wars to large scale regional or global wars that, in a cataclysmic fashion, could paralyze global markets altogether. This goes some way to explain why in pursuit of regime change in Iraq and Libya, for example, the United States and its allies relied on direct military action/occupation; whereas in cases like Ukraine and Iran they have (so far) avoided direct military intervention and relied, instead, on “soft-power” tactics and color-coded revolutions. As noted earlier, this is largely because, for one thing, it is feared that war and military intervention in Ukraine or Iran may not be “controllable”; for another, there are large and sufficiently influential pro-Western financial elites in both Iran and Ukraine who could be relied upon in pursuit of reform and/or regime change from within, that is, without risking another catastrophic world war that could destroy the fortunes of the transnational capitalist class along with everything else.

Interventionist powers have almost always been keen on the utility of the age-old divide and rule tactics. What is relatively new in the context of this discussion is that, in addition to older patterns of utilization of this tactic (which have often relied on divisive issues such as nationality, ethnicity, race, religion and the like), recent instances of the use of this scheme are increasingly relying on class divisions. The calculation seems to be that, when/if a country like Iran or Ukraine can be divided across the class lines, and alliances can be built with the wealthy oligarchs of the countries targeted for regime change, why embark on a wholesale military attack that could in an undiscriminating fashion hurt your own and your local allies’ interests along with those of your foes. When economic sanctions along with alliances and collaborations with the economically powerful native oligarchs can be used to carry out “democratic coup d’états or color-coded revolutions (often through bogus elections) why risk an indiscriminate military attack with uncertain and potentially catastrophic consequences.

This shows (among other things) how imperial policies of aggression have evolved over time—from the earlier stages of “crude” military occupation of the colonial days to today’s subtle, multipronged and stealthy tactics of intervention. In terms or in the context of recent U.S. foreign policy adventures, it can be argued that while the former pattern of blatantly imperialistic aggressions finds relevance to President George W. Bush’s unabashedly militaristic foreign policies, the latter pattern finds parallels in President Barack Obama’s insidiously “sophisticated” and stealthily interventionist policies. While champions of the blatantly militaristic faction of the U.S. ruling elite criticize Mr. Obama as a “gun-shy” or “weak” president, the fact is that his relatively low-key but sneaky policy of methodically building coalitions—both with traditional allies of the United States and the oligarchic or comprador forces in countries targeted for regime change—has proven more effective (in terms of regime change) than the Bush-Cheney-type policy of unilateral military action. This is neither speculation nor simply theoretical: Secretary of State John Kerry recently made this point quite clear in the context of the Obama administration’s policy toward Ukraine and Iran. When he was asked on May 30, 2014, by Gwen Ifill of Public Broadcasting System (PBS): “Does the president get a bad rap, in your opinion, for being weak or not taking the long homer runs instead of the base hits?” Mr. Kerry replied:

I don’t think the president, frankly, takes enough credit for the successes that are on the table right now. . . . I mean, if you look at what has happened in Ukraine, the president led an effort to try to keep Europe unified with the United States, to put difficult sanctions on the table. Europe wasn’t thrilled with that but they came along. That was leadership. And the president succeeded in having an impact ultimately, together with the Europeans, on the choices that face President Putin.

In addition, the president has engaged with Iran. We were on a course to absolute collision where they were building a nuclear system and the world was standing opposed to that. But the president put in place a series of sanctions, a capacity to be able to bring Iran to the table. We are now in the middle of negotiations. Everyone will agree the sanctions regime has held together. The weapon – the nuclear program has been frozen and rolled backwards. And we now have expanded the amount of time that Iran might have for a breakout. That’s a success.

So I think we are as engaged, more engaged than in any time in American history, and I think that case is there to be fully proven and laid out.

And that is the essence of the foxy imperialism characteristic of the Obama administration, versus the adolescent imperialism of Bush (Jr.) administration.


Ismael Hossein-zadeh is Professor Emeritus of Economics (Drake University). He is the author of Beyond Mainstream Explanations of the Financial Crisis (Routledge 2014), The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave–Macmillan 2007), and the Soviet Non-capitalist Development: The Case of Nasser’s Egypt (Praeger Publishers 1989). He is also a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press 2012).



 [1] Gilbert Mercier, “Ukraine’s Crisis: Economic Sanctions Could Trigger a Global Depression,” <>.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Wall Street Journal, “U.S.-Iran Thaw Grew From Years Of Behind-the-Scenes Talks,” <>.

[5] Ibid.

East of Vienna, that’s where the military action and bloody confrontation in Ukraine is being played out on the ground. But the furtive diplomatic goings on in Vienna are no less intensive nor internationally important, from the standpoint of a small and neutral, (although EU member state). While the US is discreetly conducting “low–key” talks here with another “bad boy” or similarly sanctioned state namely Iran (which after decades of being demonized by the west, is finally coming out of its international isolation), the Austrian government, is  attempting to play an instrumental intermediary role in breaching Russia’s western imposed isolation. It’s a delicate matter indeed. Especially as the threat of further western sanctions against Moscow are looming ominously over Russia.

 G-7, US and EU: All Stick and no Carrot

For example, in an ultimatum which harkens back to the prewar period of June 1914, the “so-called” G-7” (now minus Russia) has warned Moscow, unless it recognizes the results of the recent Ukrainian elections, withdraw its troops from the Russian Ukrainian border, and stops supporting separatist elements fighting in Eastern Ukraine that new sanctions will be imposed. Obama has effectively given Putin “between two to four weeks” to comply with these demands. Tough talk for sure!

With the threat of further western punitive measure against Putin’s Russia looming in the background Austria has stepped into the diplomatic fray. In a surprise announcement, the Austrian President Heinz Fischer has invited his Russian counterpart to Vienna on June 24th. The head of state is effectively extending a helpful hand or at least a handshake to his counterpart in the Kremlin, at a time when the EU and US (in a simulations and well-coordinated fashion) are seeking to minimize Russia’s resurgence as a great power to be in the 21st century.

This past week, the Austrian foreign minister Sebastian Kurz told “Die Presse” (05/07/2012) the state visit seeks to “open channels of communication”. Between whom? The EU and Russia? That’s so far remains unclear.

After Brussels, Paris all eyes are now on Vienna

Is Austria playing the role of diplomatic go-between as it has during the height of the Cuban missile crisis? Maybe so, but in any case, the post –imperial capital, going back almost two hundred years or to the “Congress of Vienna”, has always been a key or central place for sorting out international conflicts. And today’s tensions are no exception to this rule. Hence the Austrian overture to Putin.

“Whoever wants to mediate, must [be willing] to talk with both sides,” the foreign minister said. For his part, the Austrian head of state, (whose office officially announced Putin’s upcoming visit to Vienna) believes that in the midst of the current Russia vs. EU and US standoff, talking directly with the Kremlin leader is essential.  “Dialogue in this present phase is of special significance,” President Fischer told the influential Austrian daily.

Are Austrian Sanction- busters ready for “business as usual”?

Whether the Russians are adored or despised by the Austrians themselves remains uncertain. Undoubtedly, both states have had historically, a tumultuous and intensive relationship with each other.  In any case, the current Ukraine conflict (and the harsh sanctions regime) apparently hasn’t hurt closer bi-lateral economic, or business friendly ties at all, between the two states. Austria does lots of business in Russia. It sells machinery over there and also has according to the Austrian National bank has lent over the years, an overall sum of 36,3 billion Euros to the Russian federation in credit outlays.

In return, Russia, delivers vital oil and gas supplies to the land locked alpine country. So expect to see some big energy contracts signed during the Putin-Fisher meetings.  Moreover, as part of this strange courtship, Austria has adeptly taken advantage of its much vaunted neutrality to act according to national interests, instead of abiding by EU-wide policy directives.  Austria thus, has more room to maneuver diplomatically than Brussels does, when it comes to dealing with Russia. And the country is in full gear, as regards to resolving the ongoing crisis to its East.

This surely riles Germany and the US very much.

And it hasn’t forgotten the days when like Russia it was considered a “Black Sheep” within the EU or the “international community”. Back in the 1990s when a right wing party under Jorg Haider, partook in the sharing of governmental power (within a coalition government) Brussels slapped Austria on the wrist with symbolic political sanctions, which nearly  relegated the country to  “pariah state” status inside the EU .

Vienna felt left out or ostracised back then (or the way Moscow might feel today with respect to the west). The resentment from those days remains present in the minds of several Austrian diplomats and policy makers and politicians alike. And perhaps besides business considerations also explains why Putin now shunned on the multilateral scene, (and vilified by the western mainstream media) is hardly unpopular among influential and prominent Austrians.

Portugal is bombarded daily with the prime minister’s discourse. It is an unmistakable discourse, unlike any known speech. I cannot find adequate words to describe it.

Hypocritical? Irrational? These are insufficient to express the style, purpose and content of his pompous harangues. It is a mad, neo-fascist discourse, which turns reality on its head and offends people’s intelligence.

In the last few days, tirelessly, Prime Minister Pedro Passos has traveled the country to glorify his administration. The central theme of these harangues is a justification of what his government has been doing.

He calls attention to the people’s gratitude. He has no doubts about the approval of the Portuguese for his policy (a word he uses and abuses to the point of perversion) that imposes “sacrifices” on them. He knows that he demanded much of them, but what comforts him is the certainty that they accept the harsh laws and decrees designed to satisfy the “greater interests of the nation.”

He feels proud of the wise measures taken by his ministerial team that convey an unprecedented but humanistic concept of solidarity, misinterpreted by people who refuse to understand that reducing wages will in the end bring about an indirect sort of solidarity.

He thinks of himself now as a revolutionary reformer and that history will judge his strategy as one that brought justice.

What pains him is the total lack of understanding among the opposition parties, those incapable of realizing that his government is ensuring the welfare state, combating unemployment, demanding much from the powerful, protecting the poorest – this opposition is so blind they fail to see the growth of the economy and the admiration the major powers of the European Community and the IMF for the results of his diligence in fulfilling the demands of the “memorandum” signed with the troika.

The judgment of the Constitutional Court, which ruled that three measures enforced in the state budget were unconstitutional, aroused the indignation of the prime minister, his government and its parliamentary majority.

Passos and his people did not limit themselves this time to expressing disagreement with the decisions of that sovereign body. They unleashed an unprecedented campaign against the court, with an insulting tone.

The Prime Minister set the tone by questioning the competence of the constitutional judges, suggesting basic changes in the appointment process.

The arrogant letter to the president of the Constitutional Court demanding a clarification of the judgment is a shameful document that accurately reflects the level of political degradation to which the scum ensconced in power has sunk.

The remarks pronounced in Parliament by the representatives of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the CDS in an attempt to justify the submission of this defiant letter illuminate the incompatibility of the menagerie of Passos & Portas* with the universal principles of constitutional law.

The gesture should have raised widespread repudiation by the media. But it did not.

Authoritative TV channels and newspapers promoted debates and roundtables in which many commentators – spokespeople for the ideology of the ruling class — took the opportunity to criticize the Constitutional Court.

Some did not even hesitate to express understanding for the insane speech of the prime minister, who is the defender of the interests of big business, ally of imperialism and enemy of the workers.

The response of the victims of the brutal tax policy, of the unemployed, of the retired workers whose pensions were stolen, will be given in factories, schools, in the service industries and in all workplaces.

The people, as the subject of history, will intensify the fight against a government whose policy, in a different context, reminds us increasingly of Salazar. It falls to the CGTP union confederation and the Communists to give leadership to this patriotic struggle.

* President Paulo Portas (Passos & Portas means steps & doors)

Ithaca, New York: How can you be in the past and present at the same time?

Go to your college reunion.

I did, this past weekend, up on the forever beautiful and very green Cornell campus in Ithaca, New York. About 350 members of a class of 2400 trekked back to remember how we were, and to see how the ravages of age and affluence have affected us.  I probably hadn’t bonded with as many fellow students because I was an independent, and not in a fraternity or athletic team. I was an early responder to activism.

We also had a moving memorial for more than a hundred, of the fallen, including my late friends Bernie Moss, Daniel Patrick  Cassidy and Robin Williams. My co-editor Kenneth Barry Rubin of Dialogue Magazine was not on the list because he had dropped out earlier.

There were many people there I didn’t know then, and perhaps didn’t want to know, but I did run into some old friends and was thrust back into discussions of the racial /civil rights issues that mobilized us to care in our college years, and still top the list of the University’s and the country’s unfinished business.

Somehow, there was a convergence of concerns raised about the color line, the crisis that the black scholar, W.E.B Dubois, saw as the THE issue of the 20th Century. It is not surprising that it continues to dominate what should top our agenda in this century even as Cornell turns 150 this year.

It was also the weekend of the memorial service for the great Maya Angelou, (who once, believe it or not, gave me an award), and the weekend that our ever so funny hip black comedian, Tracey Morgan, (whose career started in my Bronx high school) was nearly killed in a brutal highway accident caused by a Walmart truck. He is fighting for life.

Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich noted this weekend that the past we fought over then has an insidious way of not dying:

“Mississippi used its new voter-identification law for the first time Tuesday — requiring voters to show a driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID at the polls. The official reason given for the new law is alleged voter fraud, although the state hasn’t been able to provide any evidence that voter fraud is a problem.

The real reason for the law is to suppress the votes of the poor, especially African-Americans, some of whom won’t be able to afford the cost of a photo ID.

It’s a tragic irony that this law became effective almost exactly fifty years after three young civil rights workers — Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman – were tortured and murdered in Mississippi for trying to register African-Americans to vote.”

Reich was a friend of  Mickey Schwerner.  Schwerner and I worked with CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality, and after he died, I took over his job as a dishwasher at the AE Pi fraternity house.

Schwerner and his compatriots were remembered in President David Skorton’s, “State of the University speech. (Skorton is leaving to take over the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.)

After he was done, I was outside the hall, handing out leaflets  the way I used to but a rarity in our digital age, communicating the proposal of today’s students, organizations, faculty members and alums to build a prominent memorial on campus to honor the civil rights movement.

Our statement read:

“Fifty years ago, on June 21, 1964, these three civil rights activists were brutally murdered in Mississippi. James Chaney was a native son of that state. Michael Schwerner graduated from Cornell in 1961. Andrew Goodman had extensive family connections to Cornell.

Over the past year, distinguished faculty, hundreds of students, over 40 students organizations, and an alumni committee have asked Cornell to authorize the construction of a prominent outdoor memorial to the memory of these three martyrs. Members of the S-C-G Memorial Project believe that a memorial to the heroism of these young men would serve as a campus touchstone for the values that inspired them and for which they gave their lives: social justice, democracy, and equal rights.  Their example and commitment must not be forgotten by future generations of Cornellians.

Cornell has stated that it deeply desires that this memorial be built. However, challenges remain. If you would like to become a project supporter or would just like more information, please contact Bill Schechter, ’68, at [email protected].”

The President’s speech candidly discussed not only how few African Americans students had been in the college when I was there—just four in my freshman class— but also reprised the history of struggle on the issue, most notably dramatized by the 1969 takeover by armed black students of the student union at Willard Straight Hall, an event that gave Cornell global publicity of a kind the Administration was most unhappy about.

Cornell’s then president, James Perkins, quit or was forced out, although, it now turns ou,t he played a major behind the scenes role in integrating Cornell.

One of the leaders of that take-over, Tom Jones, was there on the reunion weekend, He went from the trenches of that guerilla battle to a seat at the Trustees table. He  told me he supports our campaign for the memorial.

I also spoke with President Skorton who also said he backs it too, as well as the former head of the Board of Trustees, and Svante Myrick, the dynamo Mayor of Ithaca who is a Cornell grad and just 26 years old.

The University is officially on record supporting the monument proposal, but, so far, no funds for it have been allocated and there may be battles ahead on what it should be and where it should be located.

The campaign itself raised consciousness in this generation about this all too quickly forgotten history, building alliances across racial, religious sexual, and generational lines.

Some of us are still active on these issues.

My old friend Eric Mann, a Cornell fraternity boy back in the day, was there. His life was changed by the civil rights movement of our era. He is now the brilliant organizer of the very militant and well-organized interracial Bus Riders Union in LA, fighting today’s racism and demanding services for the inner city poor.

That campaign is ongoing and has seen many victories, but, in our unequal and divided society, there are problems building coalitions between the impoverished majority and more affluent white middle class. The people who depend on public transportation are largely not supported by the black of Latino middle classes either.

Ivy League Cornell ranks 15th among American universities. It has become a global player with campuses and offerings in the Middle East and China. It won a competition to build a multi-million dollar state of the art Tech Campus on New York’s Roosevelt island in partnership with Michael Bloomberg and an Israeli technical institution that could lead to more political problems.

In the fall, a new $25 million dollar computer center named for and paid for by Bill Gates opens on campus,

In the town many locals call “Mythica,” Cornell is admired for its power and resented for its elitism. At least now, it seems willing to look at its past critically and do more to promote economic as well as racial diversity.

There is a free spirit. Over 400 students attended a Gay and Lesbian dance the last time I was there.

Like every university, Cornell is coping with growing student debt—student debt surpassed mortgage debt this Spring—and is trying to make education relevant at a time, that many graduates cannot find jobs.

I saw through many of the contradictions when I was on campus, but I also have to acknowledge that going there—I was at the Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) School—reinforced my values and taught me a hell of a lot about what needs changing in these disunited States of America. I went back this weekend because in many ways I had never left.

It was there that I deepened my involvement in civil rights activism and socially committed journalism, and enlisted in the fight against apartheid and war

Also, the School’s colors resonated with me me: Big Red!

News Dissector Danny Schechter later attended the London School of Economics and Harvard. He blogs at, and edits Comments to [email protected]

European Central Bank Goes Sub Zero

June 9th, 2014 by Mike Whitney

On Thursday, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi dropped rates on overnight deposits to minus 0.1% thereby charging commercial banks to keep their money at the ECB. The move, which was applauded by the media as a “historic measure to fight deflation”, is nothing of the kind. Negative rates have been used in both Sweden and Denmark in recent years, but to little effect. The policy will not “get the banks lending again” as the ECB suggests, nor will it ease the high unemployment and slow growth that have plagued the Eurozone for the last six years. In truth, the rate change will have no impact at all. It’s merely public relations stunt designed to create the impression that the ECB is aggressively addressing the crisis for which it is largely responsible. Here’s how the World Socialist Web Site summed it up:

“The move is an expression of the fact that, nearly six years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the world economy remains mired in deep crisis, for which the world’s central banks have no solution outside of pumping trillions into banks and financial firms. While trillions are handed out to the banks, workers throughout the continent are told that there is “no money” to pay for pensions, social programs, and healthcare benefits.” (European Central Bank cuts interest rate below zero, World Socialist Web Site)

Stock traders loved the news that the ECB was going “sub zero”. As we’ve seen before, any indication that the easy money regime is here-to-stay is enough to send equities skyrocketing, which it did. All the main indices notched substantial gains on the day while the SandP 500 surged to a new record of 1,940.

The idea that charging the banks a small fee on overnight deposits will induce them to lend more freely, demonstrates a laughable misunderstanding of how the system really works. Banks don’t need piles of reserves to issue loans. What they need is creditworthy customers and strong demand. But, of course, demand is weak because the ECB has taken steps to keep the EU in a permanent state of Depression through its austerity policies. What this shows, is that the objectives of the class war precede the requirements for a healthy economy. Draghi and his cohorts would rather decimate the welfare state and reduce EU working people to abject poverty, then implement the policies that would generate a strong economic recovery.

But won’t the lower rates lead to more lending, you ask? After all, when the price of money falls, borrowing becomes more attractive, right?

It’s a persuasive theory, but it doesn’t work that way. For example, check out this blurb from Reuters and you’ll see what I mean:

“Lending to companies in the euro zone contracted at the fastest pace on record in November, piling pressure on the European Central Bank to do more to revive the currency bloc’s economy…

“Worryingly, there is still no sign of any trend change in bank lending to euro zone businesses…” said Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS Economics…

Corporate borrowing in the euro zone overall declined at the fastest pace on record, November’s 3.9 percent drop comparing with a 3.8 percent decline on the year in the previous month.

Bank lending to Italian firms fell at an annual pace of 5.9 percent in November, the sharpest decline in the measure’s 10-year history. That was also true for the euro zone’s smallest economy, Malta, which recorded a 10.4 percent drop….The biggest decline was in Spain, where lending to companies fell 13.5 percent.” (Euro zone corporate lending shrinks at record pace in November, Reuters)

The reason bank lending saw “the sharpest decline in the measure’s 10-year history”, is because the economy is in a depression, and people don’t borrow tons of dough in a depression. They cut back, hunker down and squirrel-away whatever they can. Draghi knows this. He’s just going through the motions to make it look like he cares. It’s all PR. What he really cares about is his constituents, and what they want, is an end of the welfare state.

What’s so irritating about all of this, is that we know how fix the economy. We know how to increase activity. We know how to boost demand, create jobs, and raise GDP. None of this is new.

When the private sector (consumers and businesses) can’t spend for some reason, then the government has to step up and spend like crazy to keep the economy going. The only alternative is to allow consumption to fall sharply, which will push up unemployment, push down GDP and do vast damage to both the economy and financial system. Why would anyone want to do that, especially when all they have to do is increase the budget deficits temporarily while consumers patch their balance sheets and get back on their feet again?

Monetary policy has not and will not fix the economy. How many years are we going to repeat the same mistake before we acknowledge that? The whole presumption that this pointless, circle-jerk policy is designed to do anything other than provide another bailout for underwater, insolvent financial institutions and the crooked bank bondholders who own the whole friggin’ planet is laughable in the extreme. Check this out from Bloomberg:

“In a bid to get credit flowing to parts of the economy that need it, the ECB also opened a 400-billion-euro ($542 billion) liquidity channel tied to bank lending and officials will start work on an asset-purchase plan. While conceding that rates are at the lower bound “for all practical purposes,” he signaled the the ECB is willing to act again.” (Bloomberg)

So that’s what this is really all about, eh? Draghi is just laying the groundwork for a European version of QE?

Yep. Sure is. And that means another $542 billion will go to the chiseler class. Another $542 billion propping up crooked banks by purchasing their unwanted, toxic Asset-Backed Securities. (ABS) Do you think I’m kidding? I’m not. That’s what the money is earmarked for.

The point is, monetary policy alone will not produce a strong, self sustaining recovery, which is a point that Keynes makes in Chapter 12 of “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money”. Here’s what he says:

“For my own part I am now somewhat skeptical of the success of a merely monetary policy directed towards influencing the rate of interest. I expect to see the State, which is in a position to calculate the marginal efficiency of capital-goods on long views and on the basis of the general social advantage, taking an ever greater responsibility for directly organizing investment; since it seems likely that the fluctuations in the market estimation of the marginal efficiency of different types of capital, calculated on the principles I have described above, will be too great to be offset by any practicable changes in the rate of interest.” (John Maynard Keynes, “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money”,, 2002)

Keynes is just stating the obvious, that during periods of weak demand, the sensible option is for the government to take up the slack by “directly organizing investment”, in other words, spending money to keep the economy running. Doesn’t that seem infinitely more reasonable than the Draghi approach which involves a decade of experimental monetary policy that ends in social upheaval, high unemployment, and political unrest?

And here’s the thing: Keynes “The General Theory” was published in 1936. That’s nearly 80 years ago! This isn’t some new-fangled theory concocted by pointy-head crackpots like Bernanke. This is settled science. Fiscal stimulus works. If the government spends, unemployment will drop. If the government spends, the economy will grow. What else do you need to know?

We’ve been hoeing this same row for 6 years now and the economy is still in the dumps. And, in the EU, it’s even worse. Youth unemployment is above 50 percent in Spain and Greece, GDP stuck at a miserable 0.2 percent, business and consumer lending still shrinking, bond yields on sovereign debt are in the toilet, civil disorder and fascism are on the rise, and with the entire 17-member union is rushing headlong into deflation.

And Draghi thinks that negative rates are going to fix all this and put the economy back on the road to recovery?

In your dreams! The only way out of a mess like this is to spend like a madman, which is what Keynes recommended in his famous statement about bottles stuffed with banknotes. Here’s what he said:

“If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coalmines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez-faire to dig the notes up again… there need be no more unemployment and, with the help of the repercussions, the real income of the community, and its capital wealth also, would probably become a good deal greater than it actually is. It would, indeed, be more sensible to build houses and the like; but if there are political and practical difficulties in the way of this, the above would be better than nothing.” (p. 129)

Okay, so it sounds crazy, but it’s really no different than Bernanke’s “helicopter drop” theory, that is, that –during a severe downturn–the government needs to find a way to stimulate demand. The best way to do that, is to avoid the normal transmission mechanisms (which don’t function properly during a slump) and get money directly into the hands of the people who will spend it quickly and get the economy growing again. It’s all about spending, spending, spending. It doesn’t matter if people buy Ipads or Ant Farms. Just spend, dammit. Spending is activity, activity is growth, growth reduces unemployment, which leads to more investment, more jobs and a virtuous circle.

If it seems to you, dear reader, that Keynes antidote for the ailing economy is more likely to succeed than Draghi’s, then you are certainly right. Massive doses of fiscal stimulus WILL revive the EU economy, lower unemployment, and boost growth. The question is whether that’s a goal the public should really support or not? In other words, is there any point in trying to restore a system which, at its very core, is unstable, self destructive and exploitative? Here’s how Counterpunch economics writer Rob Urie sums it up:

“John Maynard Keynes created a host of economic patch-jobs to save capitalism from more effective solutions. In the pit of the Great Depression FDR implemented programs based on Mr. Keynes’ ideas (which) produced minor relief now deemed by the economic insightful-lite to be a ‘robust’ economic recovery….. But the cause, leveraged (finance) capitalism gone wild, was only temporarily tamped down by regulation while its intrinsic instability was left intact…

Calls for re-regulation, managed capitalism, beg the question: re-regulate what? As demonstrated by history, the system of finance capitalism is intrinsically unstable and economically destabilizing. Under the guise of reviving a functioning financial system a dysfunctional system has been revivified, not revived, and nearly all benefits continue to accrue to a tiny economic elite.” (Financial Crises and Economic Depressions, Rob Urie, CounterPunch)

So, yeah, Keynes’ remedies will work. They’ll definitely get the economy up-and-running again and keep it sputtering-along until the next crisis. But why bother?

Why not just scrap the whole thing and move on to Plan B.


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].

Mérida – Several figures within the hard-line faction of the Venezuelan opposition are facing charges of conspiracy and instigation of violence in relation to their activities during the opposition’s recent unrest movement.

The most well known case is that of Leopoldo Lopez, leader of the right-wing party Popular Will. In a hearing before a Caracas court this week, Judge Adriana Lopez decided that Leopoldo Lopez should face trial for four crimes: public incitement (to violence), damage to property, fire damage (public and private) and association for conspiracy. The trial will take place in August, according to Lopez’s lawyers.

Lopez turned himself in to authorities on 18 February, a week after he spoke at a demonstration in Caracas which turned violent, and resulted in damage to public property and several deaths. Authorities consider Lopez to be one of the “intellectual authors” of the violence which came to be associated with the opposition’s unrest.

The opposition’s demonstrations in early February were organised as part of a strategy launched by Lopez and other hard-line opposition leaders, called “The Exit”. The government has labelled the subsequent protests and militant street barricades as an attempt to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro, while the opposition defended the protests as peaceful and solely denouncing problems surrounding the economy and insecurity.

Forty-two people were killed and around 900 were injured during the unrest, which claimed the lives of government supporters, opposition activists, members of security forces and civilian bystanders.

Since he was taken into custody, Lopez has been held at the Ramon Verde military prison, 35 kilometres south of Caracas. If he is found guilty and is sentenced to the full extent of the law, he could face between six to ten years in prison. Supporters argue that Lopez is innocent of any wrongdoing, and that the charges against him are politically motivated.

The charges are not Lopez’s first brush with the law since the Bolivarian government was elected to power in 1998. In 2008 Lopez was banned from holding public office for six years due to acts of corruption committed in 1998, when public funds were diverted from state oil company PDVSA to Lopez’s fledgling political party.

Lopez also participated in the short-lived 2002 coup against former president Hugo Chavez, signing the decree which dissolved the Venezuelan constitution and appointed business leader Pedro Carmona as interim president.

Meanwhile, one of Lopez’s closet political allies, Carlos Vecchio, has fled from Venezuela to escape an arrest warrant on charges similar to Lopez’s.

Vecchio, who is the political coordinator of the Popular Will party, is currently residing in New York. In declarations to CNN and AP, the opposition politician said he plans to initiate a tour to denounce the situation in Venezuela and what he alleged were “human rights abuses” being committed against opponents of the Venezuelan government.

Two opposition politicians have been given jail sentences so far for their role during the unrest. Mayors Enzo Scarano and Daniel Ceballos were jailed for 10 ½ and 12 months respectively for refusing to obey a Supreme Court order to dismantle militant opposition street barricades in their municipalities. The street barricades were associated with much of the violence and many of the deaths which occurred during the unrest.

Maria Corina Machado to give testimony

Meanwhile, an investigation has been launched by the Attorney General’s office after authorities released messages written by several opposition figures which purportedly show the existence of a plan to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro. The messages also appear to show collaboration between members of the Venezuelan opposition and figures in the United States government, such as the U.S. ambassador to Colombia, Kevin Whitaker.

The alleged author of one message is former parliamentary deputy and hard-line opposition leader Maria Corina Machado. On 23 May, she allegedly wrote to political colleague Diego Arria, “I think it is time to gather efforts; make the necessary calls, and obtain financing to annihilate Maduro, and the rest will fall apart by itself”.

Since the messages were made public, Machado has agreed to go to the Attorney General’s office on 16 June to give her testimony on an alleged plot. Machado is an ally of Leopoldo Lopez and also participated in the 2002 coup against the Chavez administration.

Machado has admitted that the messages were sent from her email account but rejects them as “false”, saying that she wants Maduro to resign, but not for him to be assassinated.

Describing the accusations against her as “persecution”, Machado has asked supporters to accompany her to the Attorney General’s office to give her account. “I’ve always shown my face and I won’t stop struggling until we achieve victory,” she declared.

However, top Venezuelan government figures announced yesterday that authorities also possess evidence that officials from the U.S. State Department are involved in the alleged plot to assassinate President Maduro.

Jorge Rodriguez, a United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) leader, said this evidence would be made available in the next few days. He added that the hard-line opposition’s messages around the alleged plot had been released publicly in order to raise awareness of the conspiracy’s existence and to protect the constitutional order in Venezuela.

“We received the message from the president [Maduro] that a very serious denouncement had to be made, because it’s his obligation as head of state to ensure that [national] security [is paramount]”, he said.

The comments were made at an event titled “Media Plot against Venezuela”, where officials, journalists, intellectuals and researchers discussed what Rodriguez described as an international and local media campaign “to promote all forms [of reportage] that result in a situation of destabilisation, un-governability, crisis, and violence for political ends”.

The Western media is seeking to downplay the prominent role of fascists in the new Ukrainian government. Several of the regime’s ministries are headed by members of the far-right Svoboda party, and the militias of the neo-Nazi Right Sector are active in violently repressing resistance in the east of the country.

Both Svoboda and Right Sector played a crucial role in the February 22 coup in Kiev, which was strongly backed by Berlin and Washington. This is no coincidence. The close collaboration of Germany and the US with Ukrainian fascists has a long history, reaching back over the last hundred years.

The roots of Ukrainian nationalism

In contrast to many other European countries, there has never been a strong capitalist national movement in Ukraine. Ukraine has been divided between Poland and Russia since the late Middle Ages. After the carve-up of Poland at the end of the eighteenth century, Ukraine became part of the Russian Empire. Only a section of what is now western Ukraine was integrated into the Hapsburg Empire.

The weakness of the Ukrainian national movement was due on the one hand to the country’s economic backwardness and lack of a strong middle class. Significant industrialisation occurred only in the era of the Soviet Union. On the other hand, a large proportion of the urban population consisted of Russians, Germans and Jews, while the rural population was mainly Ukrainian.

When capitalist forces finally erected a Ukrainian nation-state, following the 1917 February Revolution’s overthrow of the tsar in Russia, they were immediately confronted with a revolutionary working class. The Bolsheviks, who seized power in Russia in October, received powerful support from the workers of Ukraine. Ever since then, nationalism in Ukraine has been characterised by virulent anti-communism, pogroms against revolutionary workers and Jews, and attempts to win the support of imperialist powers.

The Social Democratic-dominated Rada (parliament), which proclaimed Ukraine’s independence in January 1918, tried to reach an agreement with Germany. After the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, however, the Soviet government was forced to cede Ukraine to Germany. When German troops marched into the country, the military dispensed with the Rada and established a dictatorship under Hetman (pre-eminent military commander) Pavlo Skoropadskyi, a landowner and former tsarist general. Skoropadskyi proceeded to make Kiev a rallying point for extreme right-wing and anti-Semitic politicians and military officers from all over Russia. (See: Anti-Semitism and the Russian Revolution: Part two)

Germany’s defeat in the First World War led to its forced retreat from Ukraine. Bloody battles engulfed Ukraine during the ensuing civil war in Russia. Supported by Western powers on Ukrainian soil in its fight against the Soviet government, the volunteer army under General Denikin committed horrific crimes and organised anti-Jewish pogroms. An estimated 50,000 Jews were murdered by the Whites in the second half of 1919 alone.

Symon Petliura, one the many Social Democrats who became nationalists, headed a directorate that took power in Kiev. This body also sought the backing of the Western powers in its war against the Soviet government and was responsible for the murder of more than 30,000 Jews. Both Petliura and Stepan Bandera, who emerged later as a leading figure, are regarded as role models by present-day Ukrainian nationalists.

Lenin advocated self-determination for Ukraine, and this democratic demand played a crucial role in winning the oppressed Ukrainian workers and peasants to the side of the Bolsheviks, who eventually won the civil war in 1921. In 1922, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic officially became part of the newly formed Soviet Union. However, western Ukraine remained under Polish rule.

Genuine independence from imperialism and development of national culture were possible in Ukraine only during the early years of the Soviet Union. These advances emerged from Lenin and Trotsky’s nationalities policy, which conceded to the nations within the Soviet confederation a comprehensive right to self-determination. The oppression of nationalities, as was common in the tsarist empire, was decisively rejected by the Bolsheviks.

The cultural life and material living standards of the Ukrainian masses underwent a dramatic improvement in the 1920s. The illiteracy rate declined sharply, as educational institutions and universities were established throughout the country. The Ukrainian language and culture were widely promoted, and this greatly stimulated intellectual life. As Leon Trotsky wrote in 1939, thanks to this policy, Soviet Ukraine became extremely attractive to the workers, peasants and revolutionary intelligentsia of western Ukraine, which remained enslaved by Poland.

However, the rise of the Stalinist bureaucracy brought an end to this nationalities policy. Lenin had attacked Stalin because of his centralist and bureaucratic tendencies in relation to the Georgian and Ukrainian questions. But after Lenin’s death, Stalin became increasingly ruthless in his attacks on non-Russian nationalities.

“The bureaucracy strangled and plundered the people within Great Russia, too,” wrote Trotsky in 1939. “But in the Ukraine matters were further complicated by the massacre of national hopes. Nowhere did restrictions, purges, repressions and in general all forms of bureaucratic hooliganism assume such murderous sweep as they did in the Ukraine in the struggle against the powerful, deeply-rooted longings of the Ukrainian masses for greater freedom and independence.” [1]

The Ukrainian peasants were particularly affected by the forced collectivisation of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Approximately 3.3 million people fell victim to this policy.

The devastating consequences of the nationalist polities of the Stalinist bureaucracy strengthened “nationalist underground groups… which were led by fanatical anti-Communists, successors of Petliura’s supporters and forerunners of Bandera’s people,” writes Vadim Rogovin in his book Stalin’s War Communism. [2]

Stalin’s murderous policies of repression played into the hands of Ukrainian nationalists and fascists, who agitated in the western parts of the divided Ukraine and collaborated with Hitler when he invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. Despite the crimes of Stalinism, however, the great majority of Ukrainians fought in the Red Army to defend the Soviet Union.

The crimes of the Ukrainian fascists in World War II

Among the most significant organisations that collaborated with the Nazis was the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). Its members were recruited mainly from veterans of the Civil War who had fought on the side of Petliura against the Bolsheviks.

During the 1930s, the OUN carried out numerous terrorist attacks in Ukraine, Poland, Romania and Czechoslovakia. Its ideological head was Dmytro Dontsov (1883-1973), who became one of the leading ideologues of the Ukrainian extreme right-wing through his journalistic activities, among which were Ukrainian translations of Mussolini’s Dottrina del Fascismo ( The Doctrine of Fascism ) and excerpts from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf .

Dontsov had earlier developed his thesis of “amorality.” According to historian Frank Golczewski, this asserted the obligation “to collaborate with every enemy of Great Russia, regardless of their own political goals.” It “created an ideological justification for the subsequent collaboration with the Germans” and the lineup of Ukrainian nationalists behind the United States during the Cold War. [3]

In 1940, the OUN split into the Bandera (B) and Melnyk (M) factions, which bitterly fought each other. Bandera’s more extreme group was able to attract more followers than Melnyk’s. It began by establishing Ukrainian militia (the Roland and Nightingale Legions) on German-occupied territory in Poland which, in league with the Wehrmacht (German army), invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941.

After the withdrawal of the Red Army from areas conquered by the Germans, the legions and special militias acted as auxiliary troops in countless massacres of Jews. Following the entry of the OUN-B into Lviv on June 29, 1941, the Bandera militias (Nightingale Legion) unleashed murderous pogroms against the Jews lasting several days. Ukrainian militia continued massacring Jews in Ternopil, Stanislau (today Ivano-Fankisk) and other places. Documentary evidence relating to the first few days of the Wehrmacht’s advance reveals that about 140 pogroms were perpetrated in western Ukraine, in which 13,000 to 35,000 Jews were murdered. [4]

On June 30, 1941, Bandera and his deputy head of the OUN-B, Yaroslav Stetsko, proclaimed the independence of Ukraine in Lviv. Stepan Lenkavski, the OUN-B government’s director of propaganda, openly advocated the physical extermination of Ukrainian Jewry.

The Nazis used their Ukrainian collaborators to commit murders and acts of brutality that were too disturbing even for the SS units. For example, SS task force 4a in Ukraine confined itself to “the shooting of adults while commanding its Ukrainian helpers to shoot [the] children.” [5]

Dealing with Ukrainian and other collaborators in the Soviet Union was a controversial issue in the Nazi leadership. While Alfred Rosenberg, one of the main Nazis responsible for the Holocaust, urged greater involvement of local fascist forces, Hitler opposed the nationalists’ so-called independence projects. On Hitler’s orders, the OUN-B leaders were eventually arrested and the Ukrainian legions disarmed and relocated.

From 1942, the Ukrainian militia served the Third Reich in the “anti-partisan campaign” in Belarus, in the “security service,” and as armed personnel in concentration camps. Bandera and Stetsko remained in custody in Sachsenhausen concentration camp until September 1944.

When Hitler’s armies went into retreat after their defeat at Stalingrad, members of the OUN legions returned to Ukraine and formed the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) in 1943. Immediately after his release by the German authorities, Bandera headed back to Ukraine to lead the UPA.

The UPA was supplied with German weapons and attempted to implement an extensive ethnic cleansing program in order to create the conditions for an ethnically pure Ukrainian state. In 1943 and 1944, the UPA organised massacres that claimed the lives of 90,000 Poles and thousands of Jews. It also brutally terrorised, tortured and executed Ukrainian peasants and workers who wanted to join the Soviet Union. The UPA went on to kill some 20,000 Ukrainians before the insurrection was completely crushed in 1953.

This is the first part of a two-part article.


[1] Leon Trotsky, “Problem of the Ukraine,” Trotsky Internet Archive 

[2] Vadim Rogovin: Stalins Kriegskommunismus, Essen 2006, p. 377

[3] Frank Golczewski: Die ukrainische Emigration, (Hrsg.): Geschichte der Ukraine, Göttingen 1993, p. 236

[4] Per Anders Rudling: “The Return of the Ukrainian Far Right. The Case of VO Svoboda,” in: Ruth Wodak, John E. Richardson (ed.): Analyzing Fascist Discourse: European Fascism in Talk and Text, London 2013, pp. 228-255. The article is accessible online.

[5] Quoted in Christopher Simpson: Blowback. America’s Recruitment of Nazis and Its Effects on the Cold War, London 1988, p. 25

Global Economic Austerity and the US War Agenda

June 9th, 2014 by James Corbett

In this stage of advanced globalization, banks earnings and corporate profits continue to soar even as real wages continue to plummet. This does not just lead to mass poverty and unrest, but it sows the seeds for geopolitical conflict and military confrontation.

Find out more about this relationship in this week’s GRTV Backgrounder on Global Research TV.

With US Vice President Joseph Biden in the audience, Petro Poroshenko, a billionaire confectioner, was formally sworn in Saturday as president of Ukraine. Delivering a bellicose speech, he pledged to confront Russia, suppress the separatists in Ukraine’s east and fully militarise the country. At the same time, he alluded to his plans to impose brutal austerity measures on the Ukrainian working class.

Poroshenko began by paying homage to the fascistic forces that spearheaded his installation, via a US- and European Union-backed putsch in February followed by an election held May 25 amid a reign of terror and military violence in eastern Ukraine. He enthused over the “victorious revolution” by “Ukrainian patriots” and “warriors.”

While the Western media portrayed it as a powerful performance, the speech only underscored the fact that Poroshenko is nothing but a front man for German and particularly American imperialism, and is entirely dependent on them. Adopting a provocative stance toward Russia, he declared he would never accept Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and vowed to repudiate the Budapest Agreement that restricts the deployment of Western military forces within former Soviet states.

“Russia occupied Crimea, which was, is and will be Ukrainian soil,” Poroshenko insisted. Referring to a brief meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the D-Day commemoration in France, he said: “Yesterday, in the course of the meeting in Normandy, I told this to President Putin: Crimea is Ukraine soil. Period. There can be no compromise on the issues of Crimea, European choice and state structure.”

Fresh from talks in France with US President Barack Obama, Poroshenko rejected any negotiations with pro-Russian separatist forces in Ukraine’s east. He vowed instead to swiftly put an end to the resistance to February’s pro-Western, fascist-led coup in Kiev.

He depicted those holding control in dozens of eastern cities and towns as “bandits,” “criminals,” “terrorists” and “Russian mercenaries,” foreshadowing a renewed offensive by the Ukrainian military and allied right-wing militias.

Even as Poroshenko spoke, there was an assassination attempt on Denis Pushilin, a pro-Russian leader in Donetsk, resulting in the shooting death of an assistant, Maksym Petruhin. Photographs on Ukrainian news sites showed Petruhin, wearing a business suit, lying face down on a street alongside a parked car with at least seven bullet holes in the rear door panel.

“For peace to become lasting, we must get used to living in constant combat readiness,” the tycoon known as Ukraine’s “chocolate king” declared. “We have to keep the gunpowder dry. The army and its re-equipment by means of national military-industrial complex is our top priority… Our army must become a true elite of the Ukrainian community.”

Insisting that “great sacrifices” would have to be made by the Ukrainian population, Poroshenko stated: “Those who grudge money for the armed forces feed the foreign army… Our most reliable allies and the best guarantors of peace are our army, fleet, the National Guard and professional special forces.”

At a meeting with Poroshenko, Biden reiterated American support for his regime. “America’s with you,” Biden said. “That is not hyperbole.”

In conjunction with Biden’s visit, the White House announced $48 million in new aid to Ukraine, as well as $8 million for Moldova and $5 million for Georgia, both of which are also expected to sign agreements with the EU this month.

According to the White House statement, the aid would help the Ukrainian government “conduct key reforms, build law enforcement capacity, and strengthen national unity.” It specifically committed the US to supporting Ukraine’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity” and “economic development,” including “the reforms needed to make its IMF and World Bank programs.”

Poroshenko promised to move swiftly to an economic agreement with the EU from which Ukraine’s former government backed away last November, fearing the social unrest that would be triggered by the austerity dictates of the EU and the International Monetary Fund. “My pen is in my hands,” he said, pointing out that the EU association agreement was but the first step “towards fully-fledged membership of Ukraine in the European Union.”

The unelected interim government installed in February has already begun to implement the austerity measures demanded by the EU and IMF, including scrapping domestic energy subsidies and allowing the currency, the hryvnia, to depreciate about 30 percent against the US dollar. Average gas prices for Ukrainian households began rising by more than 50 percent in May, and heating prices are expected to climb by about 40 percent, starting in July.

Far harsher measures are still to come, including a freeze on public-sector wages, mass redundancies of government workers, the cancellation of scheduled pension increases and a range of social spending cuts.

The Wall Street Journal reported concerns about Poroshenko’s capacity to deliver. “It looks like people are ready to accept this decline in living standards,” Vitaliy Vavryshchuk, head of research at Kiev-based investment house SP Advisors, told the newspaper, but Ukrainians expected economic improvement. “Patience is not unlimited,” he warned.

For all the efforts of the Western powers and the compliant media to dress up Poroshenko as a popular and democratic figure, he is a particularly venal representative of the corrupt Ukrainian elites that enriched themselves by looting the assets of the former Soviet Union. He held senior cabinet posts under both the pro-Western government of President Viktor Yushchenko that followed the US- and EU-backed 2004 “Orange Revolution” and, after Yushchenko’s disgrace, the Moscow-aligned leadership of recently ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.

Having served as Yushchenko’s foreign minister and Yanukovych’s trade minister, Poroshenko is well-known in the Western corridors of power as a pliable instrument for promoting their interests.

Russian President Vladimir Putin who, like Poroshenko, represents the oligarchy that arose from the liquidation of the Soviet Union, is desperately trying to reach an accommodation with the Kiev regime and Washington. At a press conference, after meeting with Poroshenko for about 15 minutes in France, he declared: “I liked his attitude,” adding: “I cannot but welcome the position of Poroshenko on the necessity to end the bloodletting immediately in the east of Ukraine.”

There is every indication that Putin is prepared to give Poroshenko a free hand to crush the resistance in eastern Ukraine. The Wall Street Journal reported that for weeks, “Mr Putin has been sending back-channel messages to the West trying to distance the Kremlin from the actions of the rebels and suggesting it was prepared to support efforts to de-escalate violence in eastern Ukraine.”

Moscow returned its ambassador, Mikhail Zurabov, to Kiev to attend the inaugural festivities, and Russian news agencies reported that Putin had ordered tighter controls on the border to prevent people from crossing to fight against the regime in Kiev.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande reportedly arranged the French meeting between Putin and Poroshenko, seeking to facilitate a settlement. German and French imperialism, while fully backing the Kiev coup, have close economic and energy ties with Russia, as well as their own historic aspirations to dominate Ukraine and Russia. Washington, however, has made it clear that it intends to fully pursue its underlying agenda: to exploit the Ukrainian crisis in order to subjugate Russia and transform it into a US semi-colony.

Benghazi, the CIA, and the War in Libya

June 9th, 2014 by Eric Draitser

The unfolding violence and chaos in Libya’s second city of Benghazi should be understood as a power struggle between competing factions, each struggling to assert its own authority over the critical commercial center. However, what is purposely omitted from the Western media narrative is the fact that both groups – one a military command led by Libyan General Hifter, the other an Islamist terror group called Ansar al-Sharia – are proxies of the United States, each having received US support through a variety of channels in recent years. Seen in this way, the unrest in Libya must be understood as a continuation of the war waged against that country by the US-NATO forces.

As firefights, explosions, and air strikes become the norm in Benghazi and the surrounding areas, the nature of the conflict remains somewhat murky. On the one hand is Army General Khalifa Belqasim Haftar (also spelled Hifter), a longtime military commander under Gaddafi who fled Libya for the United States where he became a principal asset for the CIA until his return to Libya at the height of the US-NATO assault on that country. On the other hand is the Islamist Ansar al-Sharia organization, led by Ahmed Abu Khattala, which has been implicated in the September 11, 2012 attack on the US-CIA compound in Benghazi which killed US Ambassador Chris Stevens. In examining both the conflict and connections between these two individuals and the factions they lead, the fingerprints of US intelligence could not be more apparent.

However, the situation in Benghazi, and the Cyrenaica region more generally, is far more complex than simply these two factions. There are other important militias which have played a significant role in bringing the region to the brink of total war. From blockading Benghazi and Cyrenaica’s oil ports to internecine conflicts within the militia movements/coalitions, these militias have made the possibility of reconciliation almost unthinkable. And so, despite the fact that the combat phase of the US-NATO war in Libya ended nearly three years ago, the country is still undeniably a war zone.

The War for Benghazi

The news coming from Benghazi is growing steadily more troubling. On Monday June 2nd, nearly one hundred Libyans, many of them being civilians, were killed or wounded in the coastal metropolis and surrounding towns when the Islamist Ansar al-Sharia militia attacked a camp occupied by forces loyal to Army General Hifter. Hifter’s men, equipped with modest but effective air power including the use of combat helicopters, responded to the attack, driving off many of the Ansar al-Sharia militants. In the process however, residents of Benghazi were forced to flee or take refuge in their homes, with many businesses and schools remaining closed due to the sporadic gunfire and other fighting.

Though the clash was modest in scope in comparison to the horrors of the US-NATO war on Libya in 2011, it is a stark reminder of the sad reality that is modern Libya – a once proud nation reduced to a patchwork of competing militias, clans, and tribes, with no central authority ruling the country, no reliable social services, and a complete absence of the rule of law. It is within this maelstrom of political and social conflict that we must examine the nature of the conflict in Benghazi.

The city has been rocked by fighting and political posturing since the overthrow and assassination of Gaddafi in 2011. While a provisional government in Tripoli was established by the so called National Transitional Council (NTC), real power on the streets was exercised by competing militias loyal to their tribal and/or clan affiliations, and usually restricted to one major town or city. Although there are a number of Islamist militias operating in or around Benghazi, the two most powerful and well organized are the February 17 Martyrs Brigade and Ansar al-Sharia. While both organizations are nominally independent, each has outwardly expressed either a direct or indirect affiliation with the terror brand known as Al Qaeda.

Opposing both 17 February and Ansar al-Sharia is the so called Libyan National Army, a collection of militias and smaller units loyal to General Hifter. Having recently gained notoriety for declaring a quasi-coup against the Tripoli government in February 2014, the Libyan National Army has been waging a low-intensity war against the Islamist militias in hopes of gaining control over Benghazi and the Cyrenaica region. Naturally, General Hifter’s plans extend well beyond Benghazi, as he intends to use the conflict there as the pretext by which he hopes he’ll bring the country under his leadership. While there are some who see this as an unlikely scenario, it is nevertheless an important part of the strategic calculus.

Finally, there is the lingering question of other militias which have, at various times, controlled critical oil terminals and port facilities in Benghazi and the East generally. Of particular note is the militia surrounding Ibrahim al-Jathran, a young tribal leader who has called for regional autonomy for Cyrenaica from the central government in Tripoli. Jathran and his men have numerous times blockaded key oil facilities as a means of leveraging their demands. Though as yet they have succeeded only in causing a political and diplomatic problem for Tripoli, al-Jathran’s militia, and others like it, only further complicate the endlessly complex politics of the Libyan street.

Libya’s “Revolution” and US Intelligence

From the outset of the war against Libya, the United States and its NATO allies utilized a variety of terror groups and other intelligence assets to topple the Gaddafi government. While some had been directly linked to the CIA, others were pulled from the stable of terror organizations utilized at various times by the US as mujahideen in Afghanistan, Kosovo, and elsewhere. Essentially then, the US developed a loose network of proxies, some of which were ideologically opposed to the US and to one another, that it unleashed on Libya to do Washington’s dirty work.

One key group allied with US intelligence is Hifter’s Libyan National Army. The organization was founded by Hifter after his defection (or expulsion) from Libya in the early 1980s. From there, Hifter became a significant asset for the CIA in its quest to topple Gaddafi. Using Hifter’s forces in Chad during the Libya-Chad war of the early 1980s, the CIA attempted the first of many regime change efforts in Libya. As the New York Times reported in 1991:

The secret paramilitary operation, set in motion in the final months of the Reagan Administration, provided military aid and training to about 600 Libyan soldiers who were among those captured during border fighting between Libya and Chad in 1988…They were trained by American intelligence officials in sabotage and other guerrilla skills, officials said, at a base near Ndjamena, the Chadian capital. The plan to use the exiles fit neatly into the Reagan Administration’s eagerness to topple Colonel Qaddafi.

As the above cited Times article noted, the regime change efforts failed and Hifter and his associates were then given safe passage and residence in the US. A State Department spokesman at the time explained that the men would have “access to normal resettlement assistance, including English-language and vocational training and, if necessary, financial and medical assistance.” Indeed, Hifter spent nearly two decades living comfortably in a suburban Virginia home, just a short drive from CIA headquarters at Langley. He became known as the CIA’s “Libya point man,” having taken part in numerous regime change efforts, including the aborted attempt to overthrow Gaddafi in 1996.

And so, when Hifter conveniently showed back up in Libya to take part in the 2011 regime change operation, many political observers noted that this meant that the hand of the CIA was intimately involved in the uprising. Indeed, as the war evolved and more became known about the deeply rooted connection between US intelligence and the so called “rebels,” the truth about Hifter became impossible to conceal. However, Hifter was certainly not alone in being a willing puppet of NATO and the CIA.

Another critical group in this regard is the infamous Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) led by international terrorist Abdelhakim Belhadj whose credits include killing Americans in Afghanistan and beyond while being directly linked to Al Qaeda. Having been imprisoned by Gaddafi, the leadership of the LIFG immediately sought to align itself with the US in hopes of occupying the power vacuum that would emerge post-Gaddafi. Led by Belhadj, the LIFG became a critical part of the rebel movement that toppled Gaddafi, including LIFG taking the lead in the attack on Gaddafi’s compound at Bab al-Aziziya. In this regard, LIFG was provided intelligence, and likely also tactical support, from US intelligence and the US military, particularly through its AFRICOM network based out of Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti.

Once Gaddafi had fallen, Belhadj became the military commander of Tripoli, temporarily acting as dictator-in-chief. However, in order to continue to sell the “Libya as democracy” mythology, Belhadj’s US-NATO paymasters decided to put in his place the so called “transitional government” which is today regarded as ineffectual at best, and utterly irrelevant at worst.

The February 17 Martyrs Brigade is yet another terror group with close ties to both the “government” in Tripoli and, most importantly, to the CIA. Having emerged from the regime change operation as the most viable, well-trained, well-armed and organized militia, the February 17 Martyrs Brigade quickly rose to prominence within the post-war political landscape. Posturing as a trusted force to be employed by the authorities in Tripoli, February 17 quickly came to be a security detail for hire. It is here that the CIA and February 17 came into direct association. As the Los Angeles Times reported:

Over the last year, while assigned by their militia to help protect the U.S. mission in Benghazi, the pair had been drilled by American security personnel in using their weapons, securing entrances, climbing walls and waging hand-to-hand combat…The militiamen flatly deny supporting the assailants but acknowledge that their large, government-allied force, known as the Feb. 17 Martyrs Brigade, could include anti-American elements…The Feb. 17 brigade is regarded as one of the more capable militias in eastern Libya.

It is essential to note that the so-called “consulate” in Benghazi was no typical diplomatic mission. Rather, it was a CIA installation likely used by Ambassador Stevens as a headquarters from which arms and fighters could be organized for the destabilization campaign in Syria. So, in examining exactly what the arrangement in Benghazi was, it would be accurate to say that the United States acted as the patron and employer for a violent terrorist organization whose own members admit that their group “could include anti-American elements.”

Ansar al-Sharia of course fit into the September 11, 2012 attack narrative, conveniently acting as the aggressors against the CIA compound defended by their sometime rivals (and sometime allies) the February 17 Martyrs Brigade. Ansar al-Sharia, headed by a man named Ahmed Abu Khattala, is reputedly the group that carried out the attack on the CIA station in Benghazi. In fact, Khattala himself admits to having been part of the assault on the compound, though he only admits to being present, not leading it.

Despite professing radical Islam that is anti-Western and rooted in the notion of sharia law, Ansar al-Sharia, and Khattala specifically, did not seem particularly troubled with collaborating with “American infidels.” In fact, as the New York Times noted in its expose, Khattala and his organization likely played the role of executioner in one of the most significant assassination operations (aside from that of Gaddafi himself) of the entire conflict.

The abduction and assassination of Libyan General Abdul Fattah Younis, until 2011 regarded as the US handpicked successor to Gaddafi, was a major turning point. As the Times explained, “After Islamists sent a team to take the general to an impromptu judicial inquiry in July 2011, his captors held him overnight in the headquarters of Mr. Abu Khattala’s brigade. The bodies of General Younes and two of his aides were found on a roadside the next day, riddled with bullets.” So, even according to mainstream accounts, Khattala and Ansar al-Sharia are at least indirectly, if not directly, responsible for the death of Younis.

This becomes particularly important in light of the long-standing competition between Younis and Hifter for control of the post-Gaddafi “secular” forces inside Libya. It would be fair then to argue that, in the power struggle between Hifter and Younis, the CIA darling Hifter was the beneficiary of the actions of a nominal terror organization. And now, these two factions are at war with each other. So goes modern Libya.

Any analysis of the current conflict in Libya, and specifically in Benghazi, must take into account the role of the US (and other nations’) intelligence agencies that have been deeply involved from the very beginning. In particular, in examining the nature of the fighting, Benghazi must be understood as both a turf war, and an ideological struggle. On the one hand, it is a competition for control over the most important city in the country with the exception of the capital in Tripoli. On the other hand, it is an existential struggle for the future of Libya. Hifter and his faction envision a mostly secular Libya open to Western financiers, speculators, and corporations. Ansar al-Sharia and the other terror groups see in Libya the building blocks of an Islamic state to be governed by sharia. And, lurking in the background, above and behind all the principal actors in the conflict, is the CIA and the US geopolitical agenda. And so the war continues; no end in sight.

Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City, he is the founder of and OP-ed columnist for RT. This article was written exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

There is a tendency to believe that Russian president Vladimir Putin is orchestrating the unrest in eastern Ukraine, sending in irregular Russian forces to stir up pro-Russian separatist sentiment.

As guesses go, this might not be a bad one–but journalism is supposed to be about presenting evidence to confirm such speculation. The New York Times clearly has a hunch about deep Russian involvement in Ukraine. The ways it tries to confirm this hunch are curious.

Back in April, the Times got into some trouble (FAIR Blog4/23/14) with a  “scoop” showing photos of people they claimed were Russian special forces and intelligence forces. A few days later, the Times was conveying skepticism about its own story–skepticism noticeably lacking in the original report.

But before long, the paper (5/4/14) was back on the case, reporting that “one persistent mystery has been the identity and affiliations of the militiamen, who have pressed the confrontation between Russia and the West into its latest bitter phase.”

The piece offered close look at one group of fighters associated with the People’s Militia of the Donetsk People’s Republic.  “Moscow says they are Ukrainians and not part of the Russian armed forces,” the Times reported, while “Western officials and the Ukrainian government insist that Russians have led, organized and equipped the fighters.”

So what does reality say? The Times says that “neither portrayal captures the full story.” Then it goes on:

The rebels of the 12th Company appear to be Ukrainians but, like many in the region, have deep ties to and affinity for Russia. They are veterans of the Soviet, Ukrainian or Russian Armies, and some have families on the other side of the border. Theirs is a tangled mix of identities and loyalties.

If these fighters are Ukrainian, and veterans of–not active duty members of–the Russian armed forces, then it would certainly seem that Moscow’s explanation is closer to the truth than what “Western officials” are alleging about formal Russian control–unless there is evidence that they’re not sharing.

The Times‘ interest in this story continues. “Russians Revealed Among Ukraine Fighters” was the May 28 headline, but the story was less conclusive than that might suggest:

The scene at the hospital was new evidence that fighters from Russia are an increasingly visible part of the conflict here, a development that raises new questions about that country’s role in the unrest. Moscow has denied that its regular soldiers are part of the conflict, and there is no evidence that they are. But motley assortments of fighters from other war zones that are intimately associated with Russia would be unlikely to surface against the powerful will of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, experts said.

So the fighters raise “new questions” about Russian “role”–but there’s no evidence the fighters are Russian soldiers. But Putin has such a “powerful will” that “motley assortments” of fighters wouldn’t be there if he didn’t want them to be there–so say the “experts.”

As if that wasn’t curious enough, the Times adds:

The disclosure of Russian nationals among the fighters here muddies an already murky picture of the complex connections and allegiances that are beginning to form. While their presence does not draw a straight line to the Kremlin, it raises the possibility of a more subtle Russian game that could keep Ukraine unbalanced for years.

So, to recap: There is no evidence that Russia is in control of any of this, but the lack of such evidence may be a sign of a  ”more subtle” game.

And then, one more–this past Sunday (6/1/14) brought the headline, “In Ukraine War, Kremlin Leaves No Fingerprints.” In that piece, the Timesreports that “eastern Ukraine is evolving into a subtle game in which Russian freelancers shape events and the Kremlin plausibly denies involvement.”

While “Putin may not be directing these events…he is certainly their principal beneficiary.” The Times also claims that “for now, at least, the strategy seems to be to destabilize Ukraine as much as possible without leaving conclusive evidence that would trigger more sanctions.”

Again, some–or even all–of this could be true. But the Times doesn’t seem to have the evidence to back up its claims of Russian management of the separatist movements or uprisings. The only time it presented anything that looked like such evidence, it had to retreat. Deep into the June 1 piece, theTimes notes that a Russian investigative journalist thinks “does not believe that either Mr. Borodai or Mr. Strelkov”–those are the two separatists profiled–”is acting on behalf of the Russian government.”

What you’re left with from the Times is the suggestion that the lack of direct evidence is probably proof that Russia is up to something– i.e., “leaving no fingerprints.”

During the days of the Soviet Union, Kremlinologists spent their time poring over state propaganda in an attempt to understand what was really going on in the USSR. It bears some resemblance to what one might be seeing in the New York Times now.

Justifying the swap of Taliban prisoners for Sgt. Bergdahl, President Obama cited a principle of never leaving U.S. soldiers behind, but that rule was violated in the shabby treatment of the USS Liberty crew, attacked 47 years ago by Israeli warplanes.

On June 8, 1967, Israeli leaders learned they could deliberately attack a U.S. Navy ship and try to send it, together with its entire crew, to the bottom of the Mediterranean – with impunity. Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats attacked the USS Liberty, a state-of-the-art intelligence collection platform sailing in international waters off the Sinai, killing 34 of the 294 crew members and wounding more than 170.

On the 47th anniversary of that unprovoked attack let’s be clear about what happened: Israeli messages intercepted on June 8, 1967, leave no doubt that sinking the USS Liberty was the mission assigned to the attacking Israeli warplanes and torpedo boats as the Six-Day War raged in the Middle East. Let me repeat: there is no doubt – none – that the mission of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) was to destroy the USS Liberty and kill its entire crew.

USS Liberty (AGTR-5) receives assistance from units of the Sixth Fleet, after she was attacked and seriously damaged by Israeli forces off the Sinai Peninsula on June 8, 1967.  (US Navy photo)

USS Liberty (AGTR-5) receives assistance from units of the Sixth Fleet, after she was attacked and seriously damaged by Israeli forces off the Sinai Peninsula on June 8, 1967. (US Navy photo)

Referring last week to the controversy of the swap of five Taliban prisoners for Sgt. Bode Bergdahl, President Barack Obamaclaimed, “The U.S. has always had a pretty sacred rule: We don’t leave our men or women in uniform behind.” The only exception, he might have added, is when Israeli forces shoot them up; then mum’s the word.

Mr. President, try explaining that “pretty sacred rule” to the USS Liberty survivors. I know them well enough to sense the hollow echo that Obama’s claim will leave in their ears – and in the ears of the families of those who did not survive.

The crew of the USS Liberty has been “left behind,” in a figurative as well as a physical sense. There is no way to retrieve the bodies of those washed out to sea through the large hole made by the Israeli torpedo that hit the Liberty amidships, killing 26 of the crew.

There is a way, however, to stop throwing salt in the survivors’ wounds, as every U.S. president since Lyndon Johnson has done in acquiescing to the false narrative that it was all a terrible case of mistaken identity and confusion by Israeli command and control. That salt burns – especially on anniversaries of the tragedy, raising troubling questions about the power of the Israel Lobby and the Israeli government over U.S. politicians.

In apparent fear of the Israel Lobby and not wanting to offend the Israeli government, U.S. officials including the Navy have refused to come clean on what happened 47 years ago. The mainstream U.S. media has been a willing partner in this failure to face the facts and demand accountability.

No Accident

Here, for example, is the text of an intercepted Israeli conversation, just one of many pieces of hard, unambiguous evidence that the Israeli attack was not a mistake:

Israeli pilot to ground control: “This is an American ship. Do you still want us to attack?”

Ground control: “Yes, follow orders.” …

Israeli pilot: “But, sir, it’s an American ship – I can see the flag!”

Ground control: “Never mind; hit it!”

The Israelis would have been able to glory in reporting “mission accomplished, ship sunk, all crew killed” save for the bravery and surefootedness of then-23 year-old Navy seaman Terry Halbardier, whose actions spelled the difference between the murder of 34 of the crew and the intended massacre of all 294.

Halbardier skated across the Liberty’s slippery deck while it was being strafed in order to connect a communications cable and enable the Liberty to send out an SOS. The Israelis intercepted that message and, out of fear of how the U.S. Sixth Fleet would respond, immediately broke off the attack, returned to their bases, and sent an “oops” message to Washington confessing to their unfortunate “mistake.”

As things turned out, the Israelis didn’t need to be so concerned. When President Johnson learned that the USS America and USS Saratoga had launched warplanes to do battle with the forces attacking the Liberty, he told Defense Secretary Robert McNamara to call Sixth Fleet commander Rear Admiral Lawrence Geiss and tell him to order the warplanes to return immediately to their carriers.

According to J.Q. “Tony” Hart, a chief petty officer who monitored these conversations from a U.S. Navy communications relay station in Morocco, Geiss shot back that one of his ships was under attack. Tellingly, McNamara responded: “President Johnson is not going to go to war or embarrass an American ally over a few sailors.”

Getting Away With Murder

For the Israelis, the tight U-turn by the U.S. warplanes over the Mediterranean was proof positive that the Israeli government can literally get away with murder, including killing U.S. servicemen, and that Official Washington and its servile media could be counted upon to cover up the deliberate nature of the attack.

John Crewdson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the Chicago Tribune, asked McNamara about this many years later. McNamara’s answer is worth reading carefully; he said he had “absolutely no recollection of what I did that day,” except that “I have a memory that I didn’t know at the time what was going on.”

Crewsdon has written the most detailed and accurate account of the Israeli attack on the Liberty; it appeared in the Chicago Tribune, and also in the Baltimore Sun, on Oct. 2, 2007. Read it and you’ll understand why Crewdson got no Pulitzer for his investigative reporting on the Liberty. Instead, the Tribune laid him off in November 2008 after 24 years.

Several of the Liberty survivors have become friends of mine. I have listened to their stories, as Crewdson did. When June 8 comes around each year I remember them. And on special occasions, as when Terry Halbardier was finally awarded the Silver Star for his bravery, I write about them.

The mainstream U.S. media has avoided the USS Liberty case like the plague. I just checked the Washington Post and – surprise, surprise – it has missed the opportunity for the 46thconsecutive year, to mention the Liberty anniversary.

On the few occasions when the mainstream U.S. media outlets are forced to address what happened, they blithely ignore the incredibly rich array of hard evidence and still put out the false narrative of the “mistaken” Israeli attack on the Liberty.

And they attempt to conflate fact with speculation, asking why Israel would deliberately attack a ship of the U.S. Navy. Why Tel Aviv wanted the Liberty and its entire crew on the bottom of the Mediterranean remains a matter of speculation, but there are plausible theories including Israel’s determination to keep the details of its war plans secret from everyone, including the U.S. government.

But there is no doubt that destroying the Liberty and its crew was the mission assigned to Israel’s warplanes and torpedo boats. One Navy Admiral with a conscience, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (and before that Chief of Naval Operations) Thomas Moorer, has “broken ranks,” so to speak. Moorer helped lead an independent, blue-ribbon commission to investigate what happened to the Liberty.

The following are among the commission’s findings made public in October 2003:

-That the attack, by a U.S. ally, was a “deliberate attempt to destroy an American ship and kill its entire crew”

-That the attack included the machine-gunning of stretcher-bearers and life rafts

-That “the White House deliberately prevented the U.S. Navy from coming to the defense of the [ship] … never before in naval history has a rescue mission been cancelled when an American ship was under attack”

-That surviving crew members were later threatened with “court-martial, imprisonment, or worse” if they talked to anyone about what had happened to them; and were “abandoned by their own government.”

Doing Justice

Will the USS Liberty survivors ever enjoy the opportunity to know and to tell the real story with all its evil cruelties? Or will silence continue to reign? In a different context, Russian dissident author Alexandr Solzhenitzyn wrote this warning about what silence about evil does to the foundations of justice:

“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.” Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

President Obama, the crew of the USS Liberty has been “left behind” for way too many years. Do the right thing by them. Face down those who warn that you cannot risk Israel’s displeasure. And add more substance to your rhetoric about our “pretty sacred rule” that we do not leave anybody wearing the American uniform behind.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He served as an Army infantry and intelligence officer and then as a CIA analyst for the next 27 years.

A Sheriff in Tennessee called Homeland Security on a journalist for attempting to obtain public records about the treatment of prisoners at a local jail.

“Alex Friedmann, editor for the Prison Legal News, has been working on a piece about complaints coming out of the (Marshall County) jail. He’s now suing Sheriff Normal Dalton for refusing to release public records of alleged questionable practices in the prison system,” reports

After Sheriff Dalton refused to provide Friedmann with records pertaining to medical care and other services for inmates, he paid him a home visit, ordered background checks, and even called the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to get federal agents to harass Friedmann.

Dalton’s attorney claimed that the Sheriff had the right to take such action in order to protect the jail and ensure that Friedmann was a resident of Tennessee, while also asserting that Friedmann’s attempt to obtain the records in person invalidated the request.

“I think that’s very alarming and very disturbing that a law enforcement officer can do a background check, and in this case actually drove in to check my residence in person just because I filed a public records request with his agency,” Friedmann said.

Bail bondsman Mike Farrar claimed that the refusal to provide records was part of a cover-up centered around the fact that prisoners are only fed twice a day and that the Sheriff’s department is financially profiting as a result.

The judge in the case has taken the decision under advisement and is expected to rule in the next few days.

The story highlights how the Department of Homeland Security is being leveraged as a tool of intimidation against Americans who are simply trying to uncover official misconduct.

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor at large of and Prison

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NSA whistleblower Russel Tice was a key source in the 2005 New York Times report that blew the lid off the Bush administration’s use of warrantless wiretapping.

Tice told PBS and other media that the NSA is spying on – and blackmailing – top government officials and military officers, including Supreme Court Justices, highly-ranked generals, Colin Powell and other State Department personnel, and many other top officials:

He says the NSA started spying on President Obama when he was a candidate for Senate:

Many of Tice’s allegations have been confirmed by other government whistleblowers. And see this.

Washington’s Blog called Tice to find out more about what he saw when he was at NSA.

RUSSELL TICE: We now know that NSA was wiretapping [Senator] Frank Church and another Senator.  [That has been confirmed.]

And that got out by accident. All the information the NSA had back then – and probably many other senators and important people too, back in the 70s – they shredded and they destroyed all of that evidence.  As much as they could find, they destroyed it all. By accident, something popped up 40 years later.

And, in fact, they were asked 40 years ago whether NSA had bugged Congress. And, of course, they lied. They lied through their teeth.

NSA Has Hidden Its Most Radical Surveillance Operations … Even from People Like Snowden Who Had General “Code Word” Clearance

WASHINGTON’S BLOG: Glenn Greenwald – supposedly, in the next couple of days or weeks – is going to disclose, based on NSA documents leaked by Snowden, that the NSA is spying on all sorts of normal Americans … and that the spying is really to crush dissent.  [Background here, here and here.]

Does Snowden even have documents which contain the information which you’ve seen?

RUSSELL TICE:  The answer is no.

WASHINGTON’S BLOG: So you saw handwritten notes. And what Snowden was seeing were electronic files …?

RUSSELL TICE: Think of it this way.  Remember I told you about the NSA doing everything they could to make sure that the information from 40 years ago – from spying on Frank Church and Lord knows how many other Congressman that they were spying on – was hidden?

Now do you think they’re going to put that information into Powerpoint slides that are easy to explain to everybody what they’re doing?

They would not even put their own NSA designators on the reports [so that no one would know that] it came from the NSA.  They made the reports look like they were Humint (human intelligence) reports.  They did it to hide the fact that they were NSA and they were doing the collection. That’s 40 years ago.  [The NSA and other agencies are still doing "parallel construction", "laundering" information to hide the fact that the information is actually from mass NSA surveillance.]

Now, what NSA is doing right now is that they’re taking the information and they’re putting it in a much higher security level.  It’s called “ECI” - Exceptionally Controlled Information  – and it’s called the black program … which I was a specialist in, by the way.

I specialized in black world – DOD and IC (Intelligence Community) – programs, operations and missions … in “VRKs”, “ECIs”, and “SAPs”, “STOs”. SAP equals Special Access Program. It’s highly unlikely Mr. Snowden had any access to these. STO equals Special Technical Operations  It’s highly unlikely Mr. Snowden had any access to these.

Now in that world – the ECI/VRK world – everything in that system is classified at a higher level and it has its own computer systems that house it.  It’s totally separate than the system which Mr. Snowden was privy to, which was called the “JWICS”: Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System.  The JWICS system is what everybody at NSA has access to.  Mr Snowden had Sys Admin [systems administrator] authority for the JWICS.

And you still have to have TS/SCI clearance [i.e. Top Secret/ Sensitive Compartmented Information - also known as “code word” - clearance] to get on the JWICS. But the ECI/VRK systems are much higher [levels of special compartmentalized clearance] than the JWICS. And you have to be in the black world to get that [clearance].

ECI = Exceptionally Controlled Information. I do not believe Mr. Snowden had any access to these ECI controlled networks). VRK = Very Restricted Knowledge. I do not believe Mr. Snowden had any access to these VRK controlled networks.

These programs typically have, at the least, a requirement of 100 year or until death, ’till the person first being “read in” [i.e. sworn to secrecy as part of access to the higher classification program] can talk about them.  [As an interesting sidenote, the Washington Times reported in 2006 that – when Tice offered to testify to Congress about this illegal spying – he was informed by the NSA that the Senate and House intelligence committees were not cleared to hear such information.]

It’s very compartmentalized and – even with stuff that they had – you might have something at NSA, that there’s literally 40 people at NSA that know that it’s going on in the entire agency.

When the stuff came out in the New York Times [the first big spying story, which broke in 2005] – and I was a source of information for the New York Times –   that’s when President Bush made up that nonsense about the “terrorist surveillance program.” By the way, that never existed. That was made up.

There was no such thing beforehand. It was made up … to try to placate the American people.

The NSA IG (Inspector General) – who was not cleared for this – all of a sudden is told he has to do an investigation on this; something he has no information or knowledge of.

So what they did, is they took a few documents and they downgraded [he classification level of the documents] – just a few – and gave them to them to placate this basic whitewash investigation.

Snowden’s Failure To Understand the Most Important Documents

RUSSELL TICE: Now, if Mr. Snowden were to find the crossover, it would be those documents that were downgraded to the NSA’s IG.

The stuff that I saw looked like a bunch of alphanumeric gobbledygook.  Unless you have an analyst to know what to look for – and believe me, I think that what Snowden’s done is great – he’s not an intelligence analyst.  So he would see something like that, and he wouldn’t know what he’s looking at.

But that would be “the jewels”. And the key is, you wouldn’t know it’s the jewels unless you were a diamond miner and you knew what to look for. Because otherwise, there’s a big lump of rock and you don’t know there’s a diamond in there.

I worked special programs. And the way I found out is that I was working on a special operation, and I needed information from NSA … from another unit. And when I went to that unit and I said “I need this information”, and I dealt with [satellite spy operations], and I did that in the black world. I was a special operations officer. I would literally go do special missions that were in the black world where I would travel overseas and do spooky stuff.

Cheney Was Running the Show

WASHINGTON’S BLOG: You said in one of your interviews that Dick Cheney ordered the intercepts that you found in the burn bags [the bags of documents which were slated to be destroyed because they were so sensitive].

Is that right … and if so, how do you know that?

RUSSELL TICE: I did not know one way or the other until I talked to a very senior person at NSA who – much later – wanted to have a meeting with me. And we had a covert, clandestine style meeting. And that’s when this individual told me that the whole thing was being directed and was coming from the vice president’s office … Cheney, through his lawyer David Addington.

WASHINGTON’S BLOG:  It sounds like it wasn’t going through normal routes?  It’s not like Cheney or Addington made formal requests to the NSA … through normal means?

RUSSELL TICE: No, not normal at all. All on the sly … all “sneaky pete” under the table, in the evening when most NSA employees are gone for the day. This is all being done in the evenings … between like 7 [at night] and midnight.

NSA Is Spying On CONTENT as Well as Metadata

WASHINGTON’S BLOG: And from what you and others have said, it’s content as well as metadata?

RUSSELL TICE: Of course it is. Of course. [Background. But see this.]

NSA Spying On Journalists, Congress, Admirals, Lawyers …

RUSSELL TICE: In 2009, I told [reporters] that they were going after journalists and news organizations and reporters and such.

I never read text of Congressman’s conversations. What I had was information – sometimes hand-written – of phone numbers of Congressmen, their wives, their children, their staffers, their home numbers, their cellphone numbers, their phone numbers of their residence back in Oregon or whatever state they’re from, and their little offices back in their state.

Or an Admiral and his wife, and his kids and his staffers …

The main thing I saw more than anything else were lawyers and law firms. I saw more lawyers or law firms being wiretapped than anything else.

These are the phone numbers I saw written. And then I would see those numbers incorporated into those lists with the columns of information about the phone number, and the serial number and the banks of recorders and digital converters and the data storage devices. I could see handwritten phone numbers and notes, sometimes with names, sometimes not.

Snowden and Greenwald’s Whistleblowing Was Done In the Right Way

RUSSELL TICE: If Mr. Snowden would have had access to VRK, ECI, SAP, STO (and a few others that I will not mention here), and he released them en masse to the press, I would volunteer to shoot him as a traitor myself.

But this is not what he did.

He gave up JWICS info that he insisted be vetted for sources and methods, and true damage to national security. Mr. Greenwald and company should be congratulated on the restraint that they have shown with the JWICS documentation that they have in hand via Mr. Snowden.

Postscript: When Tice started blowing the whistle on NSA mass surveillance in the early 2000s, the NSA all of a sudden decided that Tice was “crazy”. As Tice told us:

For many years, I was the only NSA whistleblower in public.

And what they did is call me in – 9 months after my routine psychological evaluation – which I passed with flying colors, like every other one I’ve had in my entire career, passed with flying colors.

They called me in for an “emergency” psychological evaluation, and they declared me nuts.

I am a fairly good judge of character, and I found Tice to be humorous, self-deprecating in a healthy and light-hearted way, and consistent on the facts. Tice talked about how he was a pretty darn good football player in junior college, but no star athlete. He talked about how one reporter tried to make him out to be James Bond with leading man looks, and he thought that was ridiculous. We shared some normal “guy talk” about women. Tice has a little anger at the way the NSA tried to whitewash the mass surveillance that he uncovered (wouldn’t you be?), but he wasn’t enraged or over-the-top. Tice is also a patriotic American, not a subversive. Specifically, we spent a long time talking about the importance of the Constitution and the rule of law. In other words, Tice seems “oriented to reality”, completely sane, normal, ethical and bright to me.

And the following facts are more important than my personal impression:

Given the way that the NSA has been repeatedly caught in lies about its surveillance programs – and the way that it has attacked whisteblowers – I believe Tice over the NSA.

Primary elections originated in the American progressive movement and were intended to take the power of candidate nomination away from party leaders and deliver it to the people.  California’s Top Two Primary takes power away from third parties representing the 99% and delivers it to the 1%.

Voters have increasingly become disillusioned with the Democratic and Republican Parties. According to a poll reported by Rasmussen in April, more than half the country believes that neither of the top two parties represents the American people. As presidential candidate Ron Paul remarked in 2011:

These parties aren’t different, they’re all the same. The monetary policy stays the same. The welfare system stays the same. The foreign policy stays the same. . . . There is but one party.

Or as Ronald Reagan put it, “We don’t need a third party. We need a second party.”

A recent Gallup poll found that nationwide, the share of registered voters identifying as independent has hit a record high of 42 percent. That trend also holds true in California. Yet no third-party or independent candidate for state-wide office will appear on the California general election ballot in November. All were eliminated by Top Two, the new electoral system ushered in by Proposition 14 in 2010. It excludes all but the top-two primary vote-getters from advancing to November, and that effectively means all but the top two political parties.

In the June 3rd California primary, the highest number of votes received by any third party or independent candidate was 218,847, representing 6.4% of voters. That count went to me, running as a Green for state treasurer on a state bank platform. It was the highest percentage ever gotten by a Green in a statewide partisan California election, but it was not enough to leap the top-two barrier. Laura Wells, also running as a Green on a state bank platform, received 5.6% of the vote for state controller. All other third party and independent statewide candidates got a lower percentage in their races, except for one independent who just placed fourth. That means only Democrats and Republicans will be debating the issues in November.

Top Two has not only foreclosed third-party candidates from the general election but has made it substantially harder for them to get on the primary ballot. From 1992 to 2010, the Green, Libertarian, Peace and Freedom, and American Independent parties averaged 127 primary ballot candidates among them in each election cycle. In 2012, in Top Two’s first year, they were able to qualify only 17 for state legislative and congressional races, the fewest since 1966, when only Democrats and Republicans were on the ballot. This dropped to 13 in 2014, with only 10 others running for quadrennial statewide offices, down from 33 in 2010.

California’s Controversial Proposition 14

On Feb. 19, 2009, between 4 and 7 a.m., without any public notice or public hearing, the Legislature placed a major constitutional electoral reform – Proposition 14 – on the June 2010 primary ballot and approved its companion statute, Senate Bill 6.

The Voter Information Guide did not provide a summary or text of SB 6, which fleshes out critical details of Proposition 14; nor did Proposition 14’s official ballot title and summary refer to it. Many potential negative effects of Top Two were hidden from voters, and opportunities to vet and correct them before the measure was placed on the ballot were denied to the public.

This left the field wide open for California’s largest corporations – which enthusiastically favored Proposition 14 because they thought it would result in the election of corporate-friendly public officials – to flood the airwaves with propoganda about how Top Two would increase voter choice. In fact, it has done the opposite, to the point of excluding “no corporate money” candidates from the general election debate.

Several other barriers to participation were added or strengthened by Top Two, without the prior vetting of voters. The number of signatures needed to be on the statewide primary ballot without paying an expensive filing fee jumped from 150 to 10,000 for smaller-party candidates – and that puts the candidate on the ballot only for the June primary, not into November as under the previous system.

Meanwhile, the fee for a candidate statement in the Voter Information Guide – the chief way many voters learn about candidates – was raised to $25 per word, putting the cost of a full statement at more than double the candidate filing fee. The result was to radically reduce the number of words many smaller-party candidates can afford.

The Legislature even eliminated general election write-in candidacies – a right Californians have enjoyed since statehood in 1850.

By eliminating party primaries, Top Two increased the cost of running for office – and the need for early big money – for candidates from all parties. Candidates now have to campaign to the entire electorate in June as well as in November (assuming they manage to reach the general election).  That means the role of money in California politics has only increased as a result of Top Two, making it even easier for “the 1%” to buy elections.

A Voice in the Debate

California houses 39 million people, far too many to reach by knocking on doors. Many people get their news on television. But candidates who cannot afford to buy advertising airtime and who are not invited to the televised debates (or even to the non-televised ones covered by the print media) cannot reach the broader population. That effectively means all candidates without big corporate money backing or enough personal wealth to self-fund.

Third-party candidates have long been excluded from televised debates, on the pretense that they have not polled well enough or raised enough money to be “viable candidates.” Yet hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of voters share their views on various issues. Without big money to contact voters or exposure in the debates, however, third party and other grassroots candidates cannot poll high enough to qualify because voters don’t know anything about them, creating a vicious circle of disempowerment.

But it gets worse. Apparently even the appearance of dissent to the corporate dominance of our politics cannot be tolerated. When Laura Wells attended the Brown-Whitman California gubernatorial debates in San Rafael, California, in 2010 – a race in which she was then the Green Party candidate  for governor – she was arrested just for trying to attend and sit in the audience with a ticket.  The charge, she said, was perfect: “trespassing at a private party.” Jill Stein, the 2012 Green Party candidate for US president, was similarly arrested for merely attempting to attend the presidential debates at Hofstra University, from which she had been excluded. In 2000, then-Green presidential candidate Ralph Nader was blocked from entering a viewing party in the building next door to the presidential debate from which he had been excluded. And in 2002, California Green gubernatorial candidate Peter Camejo was excluded from a gubernatorial debate although he was on the guest list of the Republican nominee in the debate.

Taking Back Our Democracy

Under the current electoral system, corporate-funded politics are strangling democracy. Our political party system needs to be radically overhauled.

At the federal level, the presidential debates are controlled by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a private corporation run by the Democrat and Republican parties and funded by corporate America. The Green Party’s alternative is to create a new publicly-funded People’s Commission on Presidential Debates, and to open its presidential debates to all candidates who appear on at least as many ballots as would represent a majority of the Electoral College and who raise enough funds to otherwise qualify for general election public financing. Also recommended is to amend federal law to remove the non-profit tax exemption status that allows corporations to fund the existing Commission on Presidential Debates and other exclusive, privately-controlled debate entities.

In California, the Green Party recommends overturning Top Two and replacing it with a system of multi-seat districts with proportional representation in the legislature. A constituency or party receiving 10% of the vote would win 10% of the seats, 30% of the vote would win 30% of the seats, and so on. This would lower the cost of getting elected while increasing the diversity of representation to more accurately reflect the voters.

For single-seat statewide executive office, Ranked Choice or “Instant Runoff” Voting is recommended, and has been successfully implemented in a number of countries and municipalities. Voters rank their choices by preference. In a five way race, a voter’s first choice gets five points and his last choice gets one point, with other selections in between. The candidate with the most points wins. There is only one election, so issues get discussed and minor party candidates get heard right up to the end. Ranked Choice Voting gives people more power to vote their true preferences, without being trapped in the “lesser-of-two-evils” dynamic that has been used to stifle real dialogue and choice.

For all elections, public financing is needed, in order to ensure that voters hear from all candidates rather than just the most well-funded.

The money is with the 1%, but the vote count is with the 99%. We can prevail, if we can get that great mass of disillusioned voters into the voting booths. And that is just the sort of game-changing event that Top Two is calculated to prevent.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute and the author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt. Her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, explores successful public banking models historically and globally.

GR Editor’s Notes

This article  by Russian scholar Aleksander B. Krylov was first published by GR in May 2007. It sheds light on an important historical debate. Who won World War II?  The historical record suggests that when British, American and Canadian Troops landed in Normandy in Jun 1944, the Third Reich had already, from a military standpoint been “defeated by the Russian People”.

Translated from Russian. Editing by M. Ch. (emphasis added)

(Michel Chossudovsky, GR Editor, June 8, 2014) 

Certain noteworthy tendencies keep surfacing in British and US historical studies of WWII during the last several years. Until recently, US and British scholars focused mainly on the events related to the Western Front (the Battle of El Alamein, the Normandy Invasion, the Ardennes Offensive, etc.). There was a reason behind their emphasizing the significance of the operations carried out by the Western allies:  this approach created the false impression among the general public that Germany was defeated by the US and Great Britain. In some cases, schoolchildren in Great Britain and the US were actually led to believe that the Soviet Union had been Germany’s ally during WWII.

This interpretation of history became canonical in the West from the very beginning of the Cold War era, from the time when, adhering to a kind of a “class approach”, Winston Churchill in his writings denigrated the crucial contribution of the Red Army to the victory of Nazi Germany.

Later,  Western historical thinking were largely influenced by the writings of former Nazi officers who had been involved in analyzing the Nazi military archives, and by numerous memoirs left by the Wehrmacht generals. As a rule, these authors tended to justify themselves and the German Wehrmacht, which was upheld as a purely professional entity separate from Hitler and Nazi ideology. The reminiscences of Hitler’s dogs of war also reflected a lot of their arrogance and hurt pride, which further distorted the historical process.

On the other hand, the memoirs and archives of the Soviet military and political leadership were dismissed by Western authors.  They failed to serve as a scholarly and ideological “counterbalance” opposing the flow of literature by former Hitlerites. The war-time recollections published in the USSR were subject to an ideological censorship in the West so severe that oftentimes they lost any value as sources of historical knowledge.

The first attempts to assess in a more realistic way the respective roles of the Eastern and Western Fronts were made in the West nearly 30 years after the end of WWII.

John Erickson, a British historian, was among the first to move in this direction – in his books “The Road to Stalingrad” (1975) and “The Road to Berlin” (1983);  he demonstrated the magnitude of the actual contribution of the Eastern Front to the defeat of Nazi Germany. Next, David M. Glantz, a US military historian, wrote several books about the war on the Russian front. In 1989-2006, he published 16 works including “When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler”.

Hundreds of works by British and US scholars focused on specific aspects of the operations on the Eastern Front such as the treatment of the prisoners of war, the war-time ethnic purges, the role of the NKVD (the Soviet secret service), the economy and the food supplies, etc. Those publications were not meant for mass audience. Therefore, for decades the perceptions of the broader public in Great Britain and the US were shaped primarily by the memoirs left by W. Churchill and other Western statesmen, who presented the Western Front as the main theatre of WWII. This traditional assessment started to erode in recent years. In this respect, “Europe at War 1939-1945: No Simple Victory” by Norman Davies, a British historian, played a significant role.

Norman Davies is a popular author in Great Britain and the US, and justly so. He became famous after the publication of “The Isles. A history” (1999), an extensive and captivating treatise on the British past. His “Europe. A History” (1996) and “Europe at War 1939-1945: No Simple Victory” (2006) were no less successful. In the latter book, Davies clearly, and with the emotionality untypical of a British scholar, condemns the pathological narcissism of the US. He finds especially harsh words for those US authors who continue stupidly to convince their countrymen that it was the US who stopped fascism and ultimately defeated Hitler.

According to Norman Davies, fighting went on between 400 German and Soviet divisions on the Eastern Front for four years. The front itself spanned 1,600 km. In the meantime, the fighting on the Western Front involved 15-20 divisions at most.

The German army suffered 88% of its casualties on the Eastern Front. It was the Soviet troops who broke the will and capacity of the German army to carry out massive front offensives in 1943. The Battle of Kursk – that is the name historians must remember! Norman Davies writes that the key role of the Soviet army in WWII will be so obvious to future historians that they will merely credit the US and Great Britain with providing a vitally important support.

Nevertheless, discussing the crucial contribution of the Red Army to the triumph over fascism, N. Davies fails to avoid the invariable ideological cliché concerning the “clash of the two totalitarianisms”: in his view, the most bestial regime in the history of Europe was crushed not by democracies, but by another bestial regime. In other words, a tyrant got defeated by a tyrant.

Recognizing the decisive contribution of the Soviet Union to the victory in WWII, N. Davies however ignores the fact that Nazism, which was crushed by the Soviet Union in 1941-1945, was an aggressive and inhuman creation of Western society. At the same time, N. Davies acknowledges the personal role of Stalin in the victory of Russians. Geoffrey Roberts, another historian, concurs with this view. In his “Stalin’s Wars. From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953”, he writes that rising from the ashes after so many mistakes and leading the country to the greatest victory was an incomparable triumph, and that the world was saved for democracies by Stalin.

The truth is that the world was saved by the Russian people, not by Stalin’s genius. Stalin admitted this in 1945 – in his toast “to the Russian people” during a reception for the Red Army commanders in the Kremlin. For Russians, this war will always be Great and Patriotic, as well as holy, since for our people it was a deadly fight against the absolute evil – the Nazism that came from the West.

Is the real reason President Obama would like to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan until 2024 to allow the CIA to cash in on its $50 billion annual opium crop?

When the Taliban ruled Pakistan, if nothing else, it suppressed the opium trade. It is indisputable this situation radically worsened after the U.S. invaded.

Professor Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research, Montreal, wrote: “The Taliban prohibition had indeed caused the beginning of a heroin shortage in Europe by the end of 2001.”

Indeed, noted Canadian journalist Eric Walberg wrote in his “Postmodern Imperialism”(Clarity):

“Within two years of the CIA operation in Afghanistan,the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands became the world’s top heroin producer.”

He writes, “opium production has increased 33 fold from 185 tons in 2001 to 6100 tons in 2006. In 2007, Afghanistan provided approximately 93% of the global supply of heroin…”

If the Central Intelligence Agency was not involved fang-and-claw in the Afghan drug trade it would be acting out of character. The CIA’s history of dope peddling is well documented. The practice yielded tidy sums the CIA could spend at will, without going to Congress.

Keep in mind, too, that President Obama,a former CIA payroller, said when the CIA asked to expand the drone bomber fleet, “The CIA gets what the CIA wants.” His relationship with the Agency is more than cozy.

In the Fifties, writes William Blum in “Rogue State” (Common Courage Press), the CIA organized defeated Chinese Nationalist troops in Burma to wage war against Red China. The Agency closed its eyes to the fact the soldiers “were becoming the opium barons of The Golden Triangle,” (parts of Burma, Thailand, and Laos.) The CIA’s private Air America, “flew the drugs all over Southeast Asia, to sites where the opium was processed into heroin, and to trans-shipment points on the route to Western customers,” Blum reported.

Former Rep. Ron Paul (R.-Tex.), according to the “Huffington Post, told a gathering of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, that the CIA was involved in trafficking drugs as part of the Iran-Contra debacle.

Drug trafficking is “a gold mine for people who want to raise money in the underground government in order to finance projects that they can’t get legitimately,” Rep. Paul claimed. “It is very clear that the CIA has been very much involved with drug dealings,” the Huffington Post quotes him as saying.

Paul said: “The CIA was very much involved in the Iran-Contra scandals. I’m not making up the stories; we saw it on television. They were hauling down weapons and drugs back.”

In an interview on RT television on August 20, 2009, Russian General Mahmut Gareev, a former commander in the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, said, “The U.S. is not going to stop production of drugs in Afghanistan as it covers the costs of its military presence there.”

Gareev added, “I don’t make anything up. Americans themselves admit that drugs are often transported out of Afghanistan on American planes. Drug trafficking in Afghanistan brings them about 50 billion dollars a year –which fully covers the expenses tied to keeping their troops there.”

The general asserted, “They (the Americans) engage in military action only when they are attacked. They don’t have any planned military action to eliminate the Mujahideen.”

This last observation may go a long way to explain why the U.S. defeated Italy, Germany and Japan in World War II in just three and a half years while it has so far spent 12 years in comparatively tiny (30-million people) Afghanistan and can eke out no “victory.”

Is it possible the U.S. has no intention of “winning” the War on Terror? But instead sees it as a profit-center for milking the Afghan opium crop? Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Miami-based Sherwood Ross formerly reported for major dailies and wire services and currently runs a public relations firm for worthy causes.

US Vice President Joe Biden’s smiling and nodding attendance of the inauguration of Ukrainian President was the final stroke in legitimizing a leader and a government brought about by a US backed and orchestrated coup d’état.

Sure Mr. Biden has a lot to smile about: not only has his government successfully destabilized another country for the US corporate military industrial complex but he has secured his youngest son Hunter Biden a million dollar job establishing his family’s place in the future of the American elite hierarchical oligarchy.

To top it all off Biden and his American elitist cronies have more or less successfully managed to demonize Russia for their entire operation.

Petr Poroshenko

© Photo: RIA Novosti/Sergei Guneev

Western Backers Gloat

Watching a tanned Biden smiling and nodding next to his blonde trophy wife at many of the wrong moments during the inauguration of Washington’s latest puppet Petr Poroshenko, it was clear that he was only pretending he understood what he was witnessing. Like gum chewing Obama at Normandy/Mandela, Victoria Nuland posing for photo ops with triumvirate (Yatsenyuk, Tyahnybok and Klitschko) , John Kerry and his Syrian “we knows” and George Bush and his entire two terms, Joe Biden proved to the part of the world that has a real understanding of the events and the history of Ukraine that the Washington political elites are nothing but overpaid empty suits who are completely and totally ignorant of anything and everything beyond their little bubble-like worlds of self-serving lies and manufactured realities.

It would be something to ridicule and laugh about but in their ignorance they are killing millions of people, spreading misery and despair and devastating the planet and destroying the future for all peoples including their own citizens and the scary thing is they do not even understand, let alone care how they are devastating the planet and causing death and misery all over the world.

Poroshenko’s Challenges

There is no way that exit poll president Poroshenko will be elected again if the Ukrainian election system returns to something approaching a democratic process therefore he has a very short time to attain his objectives. Number one is ensuring an EU agreement is signed, establishing NATO infrastructure in Ukraine, quelling dissent and attempting to keep eastern regions in Ukraine without federalizing the country (an impossibility), avoiding his own prosecution for war crimes, ensuring the long term survival of the fascists who have attained power and their continued escape from justice and the protection of the oligarchs and their western masters from prosecution and from the people of Ukraine. In short he has to continue to attempt to legitimize the junta and its western masters and keep them from facing justice for crimes ranging from treason to genocide.

Poroshenko’s Inauguration Speech and his Audience: Fascist Nationalists and Western Sponsors

From the outset it is clear that Poroshenko’s speech was written not for the Ukrainian people as a whole but for a very narrow audience of foreign sponsors from the US and the EU, for whom he was the most desirable choice (the wise grandfatherly figure) and for all of the national socialist, fascist and nazi forces that allowed his rise to power.

His speech began by quoting Ivan Franko, a famous poet and the co-founder a Ukrainian Radical Party and a nationalist anarchist Mikhail Drahomanov who both played an important role in the development of the Ukrainian ultra-right nationalist movement and who in their day faced persecution for their extremist views.

Denying Ukraine’s historic ties to Russia and the history of Kievan Rus Poroshenko stated that: “The return of Ukraine to its natural, European state has been long-awaited by many generations,” this is clearly an affront to all Ukrainians who see their historic ties to Russia as being important, but plays to the European aspirations of nationalists, something that has gone hand in hand with Ukrainian nationalism and was most marked with the 1917 revolution and the beginning of the Soviet Union.

Recent History Revised: Legitimizing the Maidan Coup

Poroshenko, in his wording, is attempting to characterize (as has been the narrative but forward by the West)  the western backed coup and the armed neo-nazi nationalist thugs on Maidan who assisted in overthrewing the democratically elected government, as a popular revolt with its cause being the EU agreement. Calling the previous contitutional democratically elected government a “dictatorship” is completey disengenous and in fact and outright lie. While the supposed pretext of the Maidan (manipulated by the West as they unleashed their paid thugs and Right Sector military formations) was the signing of an EU association agreement, any popular discontent that may have existed was due to poor living conditions, unemployment and corruption caused by oligarchs like himself. Saying a the previous government also sought to deprive the Ukrainian people of EU agreement is also not true as President Yanukovich merely said such a move had to be studied further. This theme clearly ignores the wishes of the majority of Ukrainians who wanted to improve relations with Russia and the socio-economic realities on the ground. It also ignores the fact that waht happened on the Maidan was a US organized revolt. Something few in the West watn to address even though the evidence was made clear by the US’ own officials.

He calls the disgraceful destruction to property, fires, the killing of police and security forces and the overthrow of a democratically elected president who merely wanted to take a pause to study an EU agreement that was being fast-tracked into law as something dignified.

“Dictatorship that ruled Ukraine in recent years sought to deprive us of this prospect (Europeanization) people rebelled. Victorious Revolution of dignity….”

He further attempted to legitimize Ukraine’s nazis by calling them fighters for independence. The enslaving of Ukraine to the EU, NATO, the IMF and the US he apparently equates to “independence.” It is quite stunning actually.

“Entire generations of Ukrainian patriots struggled for our independence.”

Transferring Blame for Junta’s Punitive War

Apparently Poroshenko is concerned about the fact that he is guilty of war crimes for continuing the junta’s punitive war and collective punishment on the civilians and the people of Donbass. He attempts to portray the war as having originated within Donbass ignoring the reality that it is a punitive operation after the population in the region rose up against the fascist junta and refused to be led by an illegitimate government. That government launched a war on the people while labelling it a terrorist operation. Again he tries to tie it with Europeanization and for some reason believes that he can get away with calling the democratically elected government of Victor Yanukovich “tyranny”. Reality has no meaning for Poroshenko, he can say anything he wants.

“A real war, planned and unleashed in the Ukrainian Donbass, became an obstacle for enormous opportunities that opened for the European modernization of Ukraine after the fall of tyranny.”

A Moment of Silence for the Fascists? No Mention of Berkut

If anyone had the illusion that Poroshenko represents all of the Ukrainian people the error of that belief should be clear by his moment of silence for the Right Sector and assorted nationalists who died on the Maidan. He did not mention the brave Berkut officers who were unarmed and beaten to death, he did not mention the possibly over 100 people who were brutally murdered and burned alive in Odessa, he did not mention the victims of pogroms in Mariupol or other locations in Ukraine, nor did he mention those being killed by the Ukrainian army as I am writing this. He mentioned the “heroes” of the Maidan, the assorted Bandera nazi trash that killed and are killing anyone opposed to their fascist power grab. For Poroshenko, his western masters and the fascists in the Rada all of these people mean nothing. As the Right Sector calls them, they are mere “insects.”

“Heroes of Nebesna Sotnya died for it. Let us honor the memory of those who died for freedom and independence of Ukraine with a moment of silence.”

A Phony Peace Plan

Much hailed by the West and the western media as a sign of his moderate decency, his normalcy set to counter act a growing level of questioning and disgust in the West by those who are actually obtaining access to the real information coming out of Ukraine, Poroshenko’s peace plan is being promoted granting the illusion that he wants peace and is not in fact continuing the wholesale killing of the populations in the east of the country.

Poroshenko’s peace plan is a complete farce, even if taken at face value. As the operations are being orchestrated by the West who is manipulating the language no doubt to protect Poroshenko from future prosecution the wording has to be studied carefully and his “offers of piece” looked at critically against the backdrop of what is really happening in the country. It would appear that the “plan” or perhaps it is better to call it the “final solution” is merely a Trojan horse and a license to continue the war against the Ukrainian people.

By stating the word revenge from the start Poroshenko is implying that there is in fact a reason for taking revenge and names that reason the sacrifices being made by the people of Ukraine before his eyes. Of course in his kindness he chooses not to do so. This is a completely obvious manipulation of the language and again a transference of the blame setting up a future defense that he was just moved by the suffering of his people.

Given that many of the people assembled around him were directly involved in the murder of civilians all over Ukraine and were in fact the architects of the punitive military campaign being waged against the people he completely ignores this fact and makes it clear who the “criminals” are, Russian speakers and those opposed to the junta.

“I do not want revenge. Even though there are great sacrifices of the people of Ukraine before my eyes.”

Continuing that mien he ignores the fact it is the Maidan thugs and terrorists, the Right Sector, the private fascist militias, Greystone mercenaries and Nazi paramilitaries that are waging a punitive war against the civilian populations in the east. Implying that the people do not have the right to defend themselves against an army gone mad killing its own people, he pulls out the terrorist card. He also follows the Right Sector claim that they took up arms legally.

Here it is important to note the similarities to the US strategy, for example in Afghanistan where the US labelled everyone terrorists and literally attempted to make it illegal for the people of Afghanistan to defend themselves, hauling anyone who resisted to Guantanamo or killing them outright. How anyone is supposed to believe that women and children and pensioners who are Orthodox Christians are terrorists is not important for the West they are operating on Goebbels strategy.

“I strongly urge everyone who illegally took weapons in their hands to lay them down. In response, I first of all guarantee the exemption from criminal responsibility for those who do not have blood of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians on their hands. And those who is not involved in funding terrorism.”

The second point he makes is perhaps the most ridiculous and like the previous transfers blame, demonizes Russia and does not reflect the reality of the situation. He takes no issue with the Greystone mercenaries but claims there are Russian mercenaries in Ukraine. These are the same invisible Russian mercenaries who no one sees because they are secret and who have operate invisibly as ghosts not leaving a single sign of their presence in the country, again a complete and total fabrication by the junta and the US.

Amid Russian calls for a humanitarian corridor to allow women and children and civilians to leave Donbass rather than face the endless bombings and the war of extermination being carried out by the junta and Poroshenko, he makes a mockery of the very idea. Truly disgusting.

“Second, controlled corridor for Russian mercenaries who would like to return home.”

If all of this was not bad enough it only gets worse and even though much was made of the fact that he spoke Russian this is just another propaganda ploy. He ignores that the populations of Donetsk and Lugansk held referendums and now are no longer part of Ukraine as they have chosen to determine their own futures, a right being denied to them by the US/NATO and the junta and for which they are being killed, and then tries to say that there are terrorists who have brought the East into a state of war, when it is in fact the forces under his command. The people of Donetsk and Slavyansk are being killed by his army, they are the terrorists, there is no one else. The junta has caused the country to spiral into civil war but Poroshenko ignores this. His nazi brothers can do no wrong, it is the bogeyman of Russia and the poor bombed civilians who are terrorists. Nauseating.

“… Many of you have already felt the “pleasures” of the rule of terrorists. In addition to pillage and abuse of civilians, they led the economy of the region, which has already been in crisis conditions, to the brink of total disaster.”

Continuing to Blame Yanukovich while Pretending to be Legitimate

Poroshenko knows he may be seen as an illegitimate leader after the holding of elections with the country in a state of civil war. In order to add credibility to himself he claims the recent unconstitutional elections conducted by the junta in which entire regions of the country did not take part were legitimate. Of course. He then incredibly attempts to blame Russian propaganda for the illegitimacy of the nazi junta. Of course this is made possible by the US and the fact that no one is allowed to print or speak the truth in Ukraine anymore but the disconnect from reality cannot be further. Just like the junta arranged the snipers on the Maidan in an attempt to blame president Yanukovich, they continue to attempt to pass the balme to him even though he is in hiding in Russia. If Poroshenko really wants peace let him stop the punitive war against his own people right now, but of course the war criminal can not, he has been bought and paid for, just another in a series of traitors to Ukraine purchased by the CIA. Yes Joe Biden we see why you are smiling.

“Nationwide presidential elections has put a bold cross on the myth of allegedly illegitimate Kyiv authorities. This myth has been created by Russian propaganda and clan of Yanukovych who betrayed the Donbas and robbed it even more than the whole country. He has been inseparably ruling Donetsk region for 17 years. And now, he is funding terrorists. It is he who shall be totally responsible for political and socio-economic situation of the region. For unemployment, for poverty and for refugees. For killed citizens and for mothers’ tears.”

False Claim of Decentralization

For Poroshenko decentralization obviously means spreading the junta’s grip away from Kiev. What else could it mean when he still refuses to reinstate Russian as a state language and refuses to discuss federalization? Ignoring that the “right” Ukrainians are killing the “wrong” Ukrainians he continues his “speech”. He makes no note of the fact that Russia will continue to be demonized in Ukraine and does not touch upon measures initiated by the junta to prhibit Russian being used in public places in cluding in doctor’s offices, but does hint at who is really controlling the scenario: the EU.

“With guarantee of free usage of Russian language in your region. With strong intention not to divide people into right and wrong Ukrainians. With respect for the specifics of regions. For the right of local communities to their peculiarities in the issues of historic memory, pantheon of heroes, religious traditions. With project on creation of jobs in the East of Ukraine elaborated jointly with our partners from the EU before the elections.”

Ignoring Atrocities

Clearly a sly wink to the Right Sector here. He dares to mention the patriotism he has seen in Odessa but again fails to mention the over 100 people burned alive and brutally murdered there. Obviously it is the patriotism of the brutal nazi murderers that he is impressed with. That message is clear.

“I am deeply impressed with patriotism of citizens in southern and eastern regions, from Odessa to Kharkov. Peace has not come yet, but today we can confidently say that hard challenges united Ukrainian family. They strengthened us as Ukrainian political nation which is confident in its European choice. Our people has never been so strong.”

Preparing the Groundwork for NATO

The following paragraph must have been written with the help of NATO propagandists. If you will recall dear reader once Ukraine joins NATO the country will have to give up at least 8% of its GDP to support NATO. The country will have to spend billions upon billions of dollars on “upgrading” and “interoperability” enhancements and of course the people will have to get used to having foreign troops in their sold out and occupied country.

To make all of this possible there has to be a threat. Poroshenko, like Adolf Hitler is calling for arming, but there is no threat to Ukraine. Even the implied bogeyman of Russia was not mentioned as the Ukrainian people would never believe this. They know who the threat is: Poroshenko and his fascists.

“For peace to become lasting, we must get used to living in constant combat readiness. We have to keep the gunpowder dry. Army and its re-equipment by means of national military-industrial complex is our top priority. Moreover, state orders for military-industrial enterprises will give a boost to reindustrialization of the economy. Those who grudge money for the armed forces feed foreign army. Nobody will protect us until we learn to defend ourselves.”

One has to ask the question again: Against whom!?!?! However he then makes it clear and should follow his own advice, as should the brutal Right Sector and Svoboda fascists: those who live by the sword perish by the sword. No secret anymore it is right out there. His goal is enslaving Ukraine to NATO and the EU whether the people want it or not. Yes Nuland, Kerry, Pyatt, McFaul, Rasmussen, Ashton, and Biden, you truly do have a reason to smile. Another country is killing its own people for your worthless dollars and doing your bidding like mindless sheep.

The Budapest Memorandum was the key security arrangement with Russia. OF course that will have to annulled. However there are clauses that would allow it to be used against the junta itself, if anyone cared to study it properly.

“I will use my diplomatic experience to ensure the signature of an international agreement that would replace the Budapest Memorandum. Such agreement must provide direct and reliable guarantees of peace and security – up to military support in case of threat to territorial integrity. Any aggressor on the border of Ukraine must remember the saying from the Gospel: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”

The New Masters: The EU

More European rhetoric, however decentralization does not apply to Donbass. Again the decentralization means spreading the junta’s control into the regions:

“European democracy for me is the best form of government invented by mankind. It is the European choice which tells us that significant part of powers must be immediately delegated from the center to local governments. Reform on decentralization will begin this year with amendments to the Constitution.”

Further Raping of the Economy

Prepare for Oligarch Poroshenko to take complete control of the economy and allow him to hoard the wealth because it needs to be “built up” and of course those funds will go to Europe!

“While economic management falls within the competence of free market or the Government, President as a guarantor of the Constitution is obliged to provide conditions for innovative economy and social justice. Fair distribution of national wealth is an urgent demand of time. But we must increase the national wealth before distributing it. Ukraine has everything to ensure the European prosperity for people.”

Yes Ukrainian people do not think, do not choose your own future. Just follow the instructions of the EU. Your president has determined your fate. It is written in the EU agreement, an agreement that will enslave you forever.

“European choice of Ukraine – is the heart of our national ideal. It is a choice made by our ancestors and prophets. And what exactly do we have to do to live freely, to live comfortably, to live in peace and security? It is written in the agreement on political association and free trade area with the EU.”


Finally: A Call for Fascists to Unite, the NATO Endgame

The most chilling aspect of the speech came towards the end and should have set off alarm bells around the world. Poroshenko finally vocalizes the real plan of his government and the junta by causally referring to the failures of previous Ukrainian nationalist and fascist movements and speaking sentimentally about such figures as Symon Petliura, the most brutal of the nazi collaborators and what some call the mentor of Stepan Bandera.

Imagine if a German politician mentioned the sad arguments between Adolf Hitler and say Heinrich Held or Benito Mussolini expressing regret at the demise of the Third Reich. For some reason Biden continued to smile.

Was Poroshenko merely playing to his base? Or is he really going to continue the war on the Ukrainian people started by Svoboda and the Right Sector?

Apparently he is set on continuing the punitive military operations. There are some that take issue with the fact Poroshenko is Jewish, so why would he mention Symon Petliura who was said to have commanded pogroms against Jews? And if not leading them then at least condoning them having once said: “… it is a pity that pogroms take place, but they uphold the discipline of the army.”

Is that Poroshenko’s belief? Does he believe that the pogroms against the citizens of Donetsk and Lugansk are okay because they “uphold discipline.” Or is his approach towards what the junta are calling “pro-Russian terrorists” more along the lines of Hitler who when asked what to do with Russian Jews stated “als Partisanen auszurotten” (exterminate them as partisans). Is Poroshenko of the belief that the people in the east have to be “exterminated like terrorists”? It would appear so. Their crime? They are against being ruled by fascists and labelled as pro-Russian.

“To implement our ambitious plans, we need not only peace and unity of the country, but also consolidation of all patriotic, pro-Ukrainian and pro-European forces. We must always keep in mind the harsh lessons of the national liberation struggle of the seventeenth-twenties of the last century. At that time, our politicians were not able to unite and resist aggression jointly. Volodymyr Vynnychenko fought against Mykhailo Hrushevskyi, Symon Petliura fought against Pavlo Skoropadskyi. And Nestor Makhno fought against all.”

Fascist neo-Nazi racist parties and grouping in Ukraine like the Right Sector and Svoboda as well as neo-Nazi groups, proponents of anti-Semitism, and various far-right racist groups “worldwide” accuse the most brutal proponents and enablers of the bloodshed in Ukraine, such as Kolomoisky who is trying to establish his own little Fourth Reich, Arseny Yatsenyuk who betrayed and sold his country out for personal gain, Victoria Nuland the key puppet master and Poroshenko of being Jewish. This is may be a key questions for some in Ukraine but in reality what we have are forces working in unison, if not those at the top manipulating radical followers of nazi ideology to bring about the objectives of US/NATO/EU.

It would appear that in reality anti-Semitism and neo-nazism in fact mean nothing when it comes to the goal, dividing the centuries long brotherhood between the Ukrainian and Russian people and placing NATO first strike infrastructure in Ukraine. They are just being paid and the ideological leanings of Yarosh, Poroshenko and the like are most likely completely irrelevant to the cynical geopolitical planners. How will the Right Sector react when they realize the are just pawns?

How are the Jews in Ukraine supposed to believe in leaders who support forces that call for the hanging of Jews and speak sentimentally of anti-Semitic monsters who carried out genocide on the Jewish population of Ukraine? There can be no excuse whatsoever for unleashing nazis once again in Europe. But Biden smiles.

I started out by saying Biden and Company have no idea what they are doing yet finish with a contradiction and leave you with this thought: perhaps they know exactly what they are doing and are playing all of the opposing forces in Ukraine for all they are worth to bring about their goal? Which might better explain Biden’s smiles and nods, everything is going according to plan in Ukraine, soon NATO/EU/IMF and their assembled forces will have conquered another country and enslaved its economy. Although you might say the 8% of GDP that Ukraine will have to pay NATO is not really that much, they are also taking the energy sector, the economy and everything else they can get their hands on under control.

The US military industrial complex and NATO win once again and the people of Ukraine lose forever in the “fate” that will be signed by Poroshenko as soon as the document is before him. The same document that the legal President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovich wanted to study before it was signed.

The real patriots of Ukraine are the people who want to breathe free, not the junta and the oligarchs who have sold the country down river and are selling Ukrainian sovereignty to the wolves for all eternity. Russia has never “subjugated” Ukraine, Russia has always repsected Ukraine’s Sivereignty and treated Ukraine as a brotherly nation. Anyone who tells you otherwise is misinformed or has another agenda.

As the people in the east continue to flee Ukraine and continue to die at the hands of their own army one might tell the US Vice President: smile Biden, you deserve it. And Victoria Nuland who just visited Odessa but did not think it worth her while to lay flowers at, or visit the House of Unions, where a ceromony was taking place where her Right Sector and pro-Maidan forces killed what are possibly over a hundred innocent civilians who were attempting to take part in their own “democracy” and protesting aginst the junta, you can keep smiling too. How you are still allowed into a country you openly subverted is beyond me.

Note From Author

Dear reader I challenge anyone to prove one claim against Russia that is being made by Poroshenko and the junta. Just one. Please show us the evidence. Of course no one can. There is none.

The views and opinions expressed here are my own. I can be reached at [email protected].

But it was here, on these shores, that the tide was turned in that common struggle for freedom. What more powerful manifestation of America’s commitment to human freedom than the sight of wave after wave of young men boarding those boats to liberate people they’d never met? We say it now as if it couldn’t be any other way. But in the annals of history, the world had never seen anything like it. But America’s claim – our commitment – to liberty; to equality; to freedom; to the inherent dignity of every human being – that claim is written in blood on these beaches, and it will endure for eternity.
-US President Barack Obama, from his 2014 D-Day address in Normandy, France [1]



Length (59:21)
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June 6 marked the 70th anniversary of the famous landing of Allied troops on the beaches of Normandy. It has been portrayed in movies like The Longest Day as a major turning point in a war considered to be the last just war. This incident has been commemorated in recent days with ceremonies in France, the UK, the US and Canada.

The Second World War has proven to be a major challenge, and a common rebuttal to those holding pacifist beliefs. Even figures such as Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell came to embrace the war, albeit reluctantly, as a necessary evil to stop the tyranny of the Nazis.

Major sectors of the Western World see the involvement of the US, Canada and its allies in the war as principally a defence of democracy and freedom, with the allied landings on the beaches of Normandy as the pivotal turning point that put an end to the threat of fascism.

However, a closer look at the events of the mid-twentieth century reveals something different.

On this week’s Global Research News Hour, we examine some of the realities of the war and the motives of the Allied powers that participated in it with two researchers.

Richard Sanders is the coordinator of the Ottawa-based Coalition Opposed to the Arms Trade. He argues that Canadian authorities were openly admiring of Adolphe Hitler. He also reveals that in addition to the well-known abuses of Japanese-Canadians and the rejection of Jewish refugees from Europe, Canada had interned Jewish refugees sent to them by Britain. He also notes the presence of 150 or so slave labour camps in the early thirties where poor single males were forcibly relocated.

Dr. Jacques Pauwels, a Belgian-born Canadian historian and author of the 2000 book The Myth of the Good War: America in the Second World War fills out the hour with an exploration of the role of American industrialists like Henry Ford and Prescott Bush in helping to build the Nazi war machine, the significance of the Soviet contribution to the war effort, and the real lessons that the people of Earth should draw from the most devastating global conflict in history.




Length (59:21)
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The Global Research News Hour airs every Friday at 1pm CT on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg. The programme is also podcast at .

The show can be heard on the Progressive Radio Network at Listen in every Monday at 3pm ET.

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

CHLY 101.7fm in Nanaimo, B.C – Thursdays at 1pm PT

Boston College Radio WZBC 90.3FM NEWTONS  during the Truth and Justice Radio Programming slot -Sundays at 7am ET.

Port Perry Radio in Port Perry, Ontario – Thursdays at 1pm ET

Burnaby Radio Station CJSF out of Simon Fraser University. 90.1FM to most of Greater Vancouver, from Langley to Point Grey and from the North Shore to the US Border. It is also available on 93.9 FM cable in the communities of SFU, Burnaby, New Westminister, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Surrey and Delta, in British Columbia Canada. – Tune in every Saturday at 6am.

CFRU 93.3FM in Guelph, Ontario. Tune in Wednesdays from 12am to 1am.


1) source: The Guardian, June 6;

The battle of Stalingrad is considered by historians as a decisive turning point of World War II, during which German forces were defeated after five months of combat.

Historian Dr. Jacques Pauwels analyses the evolution of World War II,  focussing on the “Battle of Moscow” in December 1941 which preceeded the defeat of German troops in Stalingrad in February 1943.  According to Dr. Pauwels, the turning point was not Stalingrad but “the Battle of Moscow” and the Soviet counter-offensive launched in December 1941:

When the Red Army launched its devastating counteroffensive on December 5, Hitler himself realized that he would lose the war. But of course he was not prepared to let the German public know that. The nasty tidings from the front near Moscow were presented to the public as a temporary setback, blamed on the supposedly unexpectedly early arrival of winter and/or on the incompetence or cowardice of certain commanders.

It was only a good year later, after the catastrophic defeat in the Battle of Stalingrad during the winter of 1942-1943, that the German public, and the entire world, would realize that Germany was doomed; this is why even today many historians believe that the tide turned in Stalingrad .

Even so, it proved impossible to keep the catastrophic implications of the debacle in front of Moscow a total secret. For example, on December 19, 1941, the German Consul in Basel reported to his superiors in Berlin that the (openly pro-Nazi) head of a mission of the Swiss Red Cross, sent to the front in the Soviet Union to assist only the wounded on the German side, which of course contravened Red Cross rules, had returned to Switzerland with the news, most surprising to the Consul, that “he no longer believed that Germany could win the war.”[30]

This article was first published by Global Research in December 2011.

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, January 30, 2014

The defeat of German troops at Stalingrad was on February 4, 1943

72 Years Ago, December 1941: Turning Point of World War II

The Victory of the Red Army in front of Moscow was a Major Break…

by Jacques Pauwels

Global Research

6 December 2011

World War II started, at least as far as the “European Theatre” was concerned, with the German army steamrolling over Poland in September, 1939. About six months later, even more spectacular victories followed, this time over the Benelux Countries and France. By the summer of 1940, Germany looked invincible and predestined to rule the European continent indefinitely. (Great Britain admittedly refused to throw in the towel, but could not hope to win the war on its own, and had to fear that Hitler would soon turn his attention to Gibraltar, Egypt, and/or other jewels in the crown of the British Empire.) Five years later, Germany experienced the pain and humiliation of total defeat. On April 20, 1945, Hitler committed suicide in Berlin as the Red Army bulldozed its way into the city, reduced to a heap of smoking ruins, and on May 8/9 German surrendered unconditionally.

Clearly, then, sometime between late 1940 and 1944 the tide had turned rather dramatically. But when, and where? In Normandy in 1944, according to some; at Stalingrad, during the winter of 1942-43, according to others. In reality, the tide turned in December 1941 in the Soviet Union, more specifically, in the barren plain just west of Moscow. As a German historian, an expert on the war against the Soviet Union, has put it: “That victory of the Red Army [in front of Moscow] was unquestionably the major break [Zäsur] of the entire world war.”[1]

That the Soviet Union was the scene of the battle that changed the course of World War II, should come as no surprise. War against the Soviet Union was the war Hitler had wanted from the beginning, as he had made very clear on the pages of Mein Kampf, written in the mid-1920s. (But an Ostkrieg, a war in the east, i.e. against the Soviets, was also the object of desire of the German generals, of Germany’s leading industrialists, and of other “pillars” of Germany’s establishment.) In fact, as a German historian has just recently demonstrated,[2] it was a war against the Soviet Union, and not against Poland, France, or Britain, that Hitler had wanted to unleash in 1939. On August 11 of that year, Hitler explained to Carl J. Burckhardt, an official of the League of Nations, that “everything he undertook was directed against Russia,” and that “if the West [i.e. the French and the British] is too stupid and too blind to comprehend this, he would be forced to reach an understanding with the Russians, turn and defeat the West, and then turn back with all his strength to strike a blow against the Soviet Union.”[3] This is in fact what happened. The West did turn out to be “too stupid and blind”, as Hitler saw it, to give him “a free hand” in the east, so he did make a deal with Moscow – the infamous “Hitler-Stalin Pact” – and then unleashed war against Poland, France and Britain. But his objective remained the same: to attack and destroy the Soviet Union as soon as possible.

Hitler and the German generals were convinced they had learned an important lesson from World War I. Devoid of the raw materials needed to win a modern war, such as oil and rubber, Germany could not win a long, drawn-out war. In order to win the next war, Germany would have to win it fast, very fast. This is how the Blitzkrieg-concept was born, that is, the idea of warfare (Krieg) fast as “lightning” (Blitz). Blitzkrieg meant motorized war, so in preparation for such a war Germany during the thirties cranked out massive numbers of tanks and planes as well as trucks to transport troops. In addition, gargantuan amounts of oil and rubber were imported and stockpiled. Much of this oil was purchased from US corporations, some of which also kindly made available the “recipe” for producing synthetic fuel from coal.[4] In 1939 and 1940, this equipment permitted the German Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe to overwhelm the Polish, Dutch, Belgian, and French defenses with thousands of planes and tanks in a matter of weeks; Blitzkriege, “lightning-fast wars,” were invariably followed by Blitzsiege, “lightning-fast victories.”

These victories were spectacular enough, but they did not provide Germany with much loot in the form of vitally important oil and rubber. Instead, “lightning warfare” actually depleted the stockpiles built up before the war. Fortunately for Hitler, in 1940 and 1941 Germany was able to continue importing oil from the still neutral United States – not directly, but via other neutral (and friendly) countries such as Franco’s Spain. Moreover, under the terms of the Hitler-Stalin Pact the Soviet Union herself also supplied Germany rather generously with oil! However, it was most troubling for Hitler that, in return, Germany had to supply the Soviet Union with high-quality industrial products and state-of-the-art military technology, which was used by the Soviets to modernize their army and improve their weaponry.[5]

It is understandable that Hitler already resurrected his earlier plan for war against the Soviet Union soon after the defeat of France, namely, in the summer of 1940. A formal order to prepare plans for such an attack, to be code-named Operation Barbarossa (Unternehmen Barbarossa) was given a few months later, on December 18, 1940.[6] Already in 1939 Hitler had been most eager to attack the Soviet Union, and he had turned against the West only, as a German historian has put it, “in order to enjoy security in the rear (Rückenfreiheit) when he would finally be ready to settle accounts with the Soviet Union.” The same historian concludes that by 1940 nothing had changed as far as Hitler was concerned: “The true enemy was the one in the east.”[7] Hitler simply did not want to wait much longer before realizing the great ambition of his life, that is, before destroying the country he had defined as his archenemy in Mein Kampf. Moreover, he knew that the Soviets were frantically preparing their defenses for a German attack which, as they knew only too well, would come sooner or later. Since the Soviet Union was getting stronger by the day, time was obviously not on Hitler’s side. How much longer could he wait before the “window of opportunity” would close?

Furthermore, waging a Blitzkrieg against the Soviet Union promised to provide Germany with the virtually limitless resources of that huge country, including Ukrainian wheat to provide Germany’s population with plenty of food, also at wartime; minerals such as coal, from which synthetic rubber and oil could be produced; and – last but certainly not least! – the rich oil fields of Baku and Grozny, where the gas-guzzling Panzers and Stukas would be able to fill their tanks to the brim at any time. Steeled with these assets, it would then be a simple matter for Hitler to settle accounts with Britain, starting, for example, with the capture of Gibraltar. Germany would finally be a genuine world power, invulnerable within a European “fortress” stretching from the Atlantic to the Urals, possessed of limitless resources, and therefore capable to win even long, drawn-out wars against any antagonist – including the US! – in one of the future “wars of the continents” conjured up in Hitler’s feverish imagination.

Hitler and his generals were confident that the Blitzkrieg they prepared to unleash against the Soviet Union would be as successful as their earlier “lightning wars” against Poland and France had been. They considered the Soviet Union as a “giant with feet of clay”, whose army, presumably decapitated by Stalin’s purges of the late 1930s, was “not more than a joke,” as Hitler himself put it on one occasion.[8] In order to fight, and of course win, the decisive battles, they allowed for a campaign of four to six weeks, possibly to be followed by some mopping-up operations, during which the remnants of the Soviet host would “be chased across the country like a bunch of beaten Cossacks.”[9] In any event, Hitler felt supremely confident, and on the eve of the attack, he “fancied himself to be on the verge of the greatest triumph of his life.”[10]

(In Washington and London, the military experts likewise believed that the Soviet Union would not be able to put up significant resistance to the Nazi juggernaut, whose military exploits of 1939-40 had earned it a reputation of invincibility. The British secret services were convinced that the Soviet Union would be “liquidated within eight to ten weeks,” and Field Marshal Sir John Dill, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, averred that the Wehrmacht would slice through the Red Army “like a warm knife through butter,” that the Red Army would be rounded up “like cattle.” According to expert opinion in Washington, Hitler would “crush Russia [sic] like an egg.”)[11]

The German attack started on June 22, 1941, in the early hours of the morning. Three million German soldiers and almost 700,000 allies of Nazi Germany crossed the border, and their equipment consisted of 600,000 motor vehicles, 3,648 tanks, more than 2.700 planes, and just over 7,000 pieces of artillery.[12] At first, everything went according to the plan. Huge holes were punched in the Soviet defences, impressive territorial gains were made rapidly, and hundreds of thousands of Red Army soldiers were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner in a number of spectacular “encirclement battles” (Kesselschlachten). After one such battle, fought in the vicinity of Smolensk towards the end of July, the road to Moscow seemed to lay open.

However, all too soon it became evident that the Blitzkrieg in the east would not be the cakewalk that had been expected. Facing the most powerful military machine on earth, the Red Army predictably took a major beating but, as Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels confided to his diary as early as July 2, also put up a tough resistance and hit back pretty hard on more than one occasion. General Franz Halder, in many ways the “godfather” of Operation Barbarossa’s plan of attack, acknowledged that Soviet resistance was much tougher than anything the Germans had faced in Western Europe. Wehrmacht reports cited “hard,” “tough,” even “wild” resistance, causing heavy losses in men and equipment on the German side.[13] More often than expected, Soviet forces managed to launch counter-attacks that slowed down the German advance. Some Soviet units went into hiding in the vast Pripet Marshes and elsewhere, organized deadly partisan warfare, and threatened the long and vulnerable German lines of communication.[14] It also turned out that the Red Army was much better equipped than expected. German generals were “amazed,” writes a German historian, by the quality of Soviet weapons such as the Katyusha rocket launcher (a.k.a. “Stalin Organ”) and the T-34 tank. Hitler was furious that his secret services had not been aware of the existence of some of this weaponry.[15]

The greatest cause of concern, as far as the Germans were concerned, was the fact that the bulk of the Red Army managed to withdraw in relatively good order and eluded destruction in a major Kesselschlacht, the kind of repeat of Cannae or Sedan that Hitler and his generals had dreamed of. The Soviets appeared to have carefully observed and analyzed the German Blitzkrieg successes of 1939 and 1940 and to have learned useful lessons. They must have noticed that in May 1940 the French had massed their forces right at the border as well as in Belgium, thus making it possible for the German war machine to encircle them in a major Kesselschlacht. (British troops were also caught in this encirclement, but managed to escape via Dunkirk.) The Soviets did leave some troops at the border, of course, and these troops predictably suffered the Soviet Union’s major losses during the opening stages of Barbarossa. But – contrary to what is claimed by historians such as Richard Overy[16] – the bulk of the Red Army was held back in the rear, avoiding entrapment. It was this “defence in depth” that frustrated the German ambition to destroy the Red Army in its entirety. As Marshal Zhukov was to write in his memoirs, “the Soviet Union would have been smashed if we had organized all our forces at the border.”[17]

By the middle of July, as Hitler’s war in the east started to lose its Blitz-qualities, some German leaders started to voice great concern. Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the Wehrmacht’s secret service, the Abwehr, for example, confided on July 17 to a colleague on the front, General von Bock, that he saw “nothing but black.” On the home front, many German civilians also started to feel that the war in the east was not going well. In Dresden, Victor Klemperer wrote in his diary on July 13: “We suffer immense losses, we have underestimated the Russians…”[18] Around the same time Hitler himself abandoned his belief in a quick and easy victory and scaled down his expectations; he now expressed the hope that his troops might reach the Volga by October and capture the oil fields of the Caucasus a month or so later.[19] By the end of August, at a time when Barbarossa should have been winding down, a memorandum of the Wehrmacht’s High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, OKW) acknowledged that it might no longer be possible to win the war in 1941.[20]

A major problem was the fact that, when Barbarossa started on June 22, the available supplies of fuel, tires, spare parts etc., were only good enough for about two months. This had been deemed sufficient, because it was expected that within two months the Soviet Union would be on its knees and its unlimited resources – industrial products as well as raw materials – would therefore be available to the Germans.[21] However, by late August the German spearheads were nowhere near those distant regions of the Soviet Union where oil, that most precious of all martial commodities, was to be had. If the tanks managed to keep on rolling, though increasingly slowly, into the seemingly endless Russian and Ukrainian expanses, it was to a large extent by means of fuel and rubber imported, via Spain and occupied France, from the US. The American share of Germany’s imports of vitally important oil for engine lubrication (Motorenöl), for example, increased rapidly during the summer of 1941, namely, from 44 per cent in July to no less than 94 per cent in September.[22]

The flames of optimism flared up again in September, when German troops captured Kiev, bagging 650,000 prisoners, and, further north, made progress in the direction of Moscow. Hitler believed, or at least pretended to believe, that the end was now near for the Soviets. In a public speech in the Berlin Sportpalast on October 3, he declared that the eastern war was virtually over. And the Wehrmacht was ordered to deliver the coup de grace by launching Operation Typhoon (Unternehmen Taifun), an offensive aimed at taking Moscow. However, the odds for success looked increasingly slim, as the Soviets were busily bringing in reserve units from the Far East. (They had been informed by their master spy in Tokyo, Richard Sorge, that the Japanese, whose army was stationed in northern China, were no longer considering to attack the Soviets’ vulnerable borders in the Vladivostok area.) To make things worse, the Germans no longer enjoyed superiority in the air, particularly over Moscow. Also, insufficient supplies of ammunition and food could be brought up from the rear to the front, since the long supply lines were severely hampered by partisan activity.[23] Finally, it was getting chilly in the Soviet Union, though no colder than usual at that time of the year. But the German high command, confident that their eastern Blitzkrieg would be over by the end of the summer, had failed to supply the troops with the equipment necessary to fight in the rain, mud, snow, and freezing temperatures of a Russian fall and winter.

Taking Moscow loomed as an extremely important objective in the minds of Hitler and his generals. It was believed, though wrongly, that the fall of Moscow would “decapitate” the Soviet Union and thus bring about its collapse. It also seemed important to avoid a repeat of the scenario of the summer of 1914, when the seemingly unstoppable German advance had been halted in extremis on the eastern outskirts of Paris, during the Battle of the Marne. This disaster -from the German perspective – had robbed Germany of nearly certain victory in the opening stages of the “Great War” and had forced it into a long, drawn-out struggle that, lacking sufficient resources and blockaded by the British Navy, it was doomed to lose. This time, in a new Great War, fought against a new archenemy, the Soviet Union, there was to be no “Miracle of the Marne,” that is, no defeat just outside the capital, and Germany would therefore not again have to fight, resourceless and blockaded, a long, drawn out conflict it would be doomed to lose. Unlike Paris, Moscow would fall, history would not repeat itself, and Germany would end up being victorious.[24] Or so they hoped in Hitler’s headquarters.

The Wehrmacht continued to advance, albeit very slowly, and by mid-November some units found themselves at only 30 kilometers from the capital. But the troops were now totally exhausted, and running out of supplies. Their commanders knew that it was simply impossible to take Moscow, tantalizingly close as the city may have been, and that even doing so would not bring them victory. On December 3, a number of units abandoned the offensive on their own initiative. Within days, however, the entire German army in front of Moscow was simply forced on the defensive. Indeed, on December 5, at 3 in the morning, in cold and snowy conditions, the Red Army suddenly launched a major, well-prepared counter-attack. The Wehrmacht’s lines were pierced in many places, and the Germans were thrown back between 100 and 280 km with heavy losses of men and equipment. It was only with great difficulty that a catastrophic encirclement (Einkesselung) could be avoided. On December 8, Hitler ordered his army to abandon the offensive and to move into defensive positions. He blamed this setback on the supposedly unexpectedly early arrival of winter, refused to pull back further to the rear, as some of his generals suggested, and proposed to attack again in the spring.[25]

Thus ended Hitler’s Blitzkrieg against the Soviet Union, the war that, had it been victorious, would have realized the great ambition of his life, the destruction of the Soviet Union. More importantly, at least from our present perspective, such a victory would also have provided Nazi Germany with sufficient oil and other resources to make it a virtually invulnerable world power. As such, Nazi Germany would very likely have been capable of finishing off stubborn Great Britain, even if the US would have rushed to help its Anglo-Saxon cousin, which, incidentally, was not yet in the cards in early December of 1941. A Blitzsieg, that is, a rapid victory against the Soviet Union, then, was supposed to have made a German defeat impossible, and would in all likelihood have done so. (It is probably fair to say that if Nazi Germany would have defeated the Soviet Union in 1941, Germany would today still be the hegemon of Europe, and possibly of the Middle East and North Africa as well.) However, defeat in the Battle of Moscow in December 1941 meant that Hitler’s Blitzkrieg did not produce the hoped-for Blitzsieg. In the new “Battle of the Marne” just to the west of Moscow, Nazi Germany suffered the defeat that made victory impossible, not only victory against the Soviet Union itself, but also victory against Great Britain, victory in the war in general.

Bearing in mind the lessons of World War I, Hitler and his generals had known from the start that, in order to win the new “Great War” they had unleashed, Germany had to win fast, lightning-fast. But on December 5, 1941, it became evident to everyone present in Hitler’s headquarters that a Blitzsieg against the Soviet Union would not be forthcoming, so that Germany was doomed to lose the war, if not sooner, then later. According to General Alfred Jodl, Chief of the Operations Staff of the OKW, Hitler then realized that he could no longer win the war.[26] And so it can be argued that the tide of World War II turned on December 5, 1941. However, as real tides do not turn suddenly, but gradually and imperceptibly, the tide of the war also turned not on one single day, but over a period of days, weeks, even months, namely in the period of approximately three months that elapsed between the late summer of 1941 and early December of that same year.

The tide of the war in the east turned gradually, but it did not do so imperceptibly. Already in August 1941, as the German successes failed to bring about a Soviet capitulation and the Wehrmacht’s advance slowed down considerably, astute observers started to doubt that a German victory, not only in the Soviet Union but in the war in general, still belonged to the realm of possibilities. The well-informed Vatican, for example, initially very enthusiastic about Hitler’s “crusade” against the Soviet homeland of “godless” Bolshevism and confident that the Soviets would collapse immediately, started to express grave concerns about the situation in the east in late summer 1941; by mid-October, it was to come to the conclusion that Germany would lose the war.[27] Likewise in mid-October, the Swiss secret services reported that “the Germans can no longer win the war”; that conclusion was based on information gathered in Sweden from statements by visiting German officers.[28] By late November, a defeatism of sorts had started to infect the higher ranks of the Wehrmacht and of the Nazi Party. Even as they were urging their troops forward towards Moscow, some generals opined that it would be preferable to make peace overtures and wind down the war without achieving the great victory that had seemed so certain at the start of Operation Barbarossa. And shortly before the end of November, Armament Minister Fritz Todt asked Hitler to find a diplomatic way out of the war, since purely militarily as well as industrially it was as good as lost.[29]

When the Red Army launched its devastating counteroffensive on December 5, Hitler himself realized that he would lose the war. But of course he was not prepared to let the German public know that. The nasty tidings from the front near Moscow were presented to the public as a temporary setback, blamed on the supposedly unexpectedly early arrival of winter and/or on the incompetence or cowardice of certain commanders. (It was only a good year later, after the catastrophic defeat in the Battle of Stalingrad during the winter of 1942-1943, that the German public, and the entire world, would realize that Germany was doomed; this is why even today many historians believe that the tide turned in Stalingrad .) Even so, it proved impossible to keep the catastrophic implications of the debacle in front of Moscow a total secret. For example, on December 19, 1941, the German Consul in Basel reported to his superiors in Berlin that the (openly pro-Nazi) head of a mission of the Swiss Red Cross, sent to the front in the Soviet Union to assist only the wounded on the German side, which of course contravened Red Cross rules, had returned to Switzerland with the news, most surprising to the Consul, that “he no longer believed that Germany could win the war.”[30]

December 7. 1941. In his headquarters deep in the forests of East Prussia, Hitler had not yet fully digested the ominous news of the Soviet counter-offensive in front of Moscow, when he learned that, on the other side of the world, the Japanese had attacked the Americans at Pearl Harbour. This caused the US to declare war on Japan, but not on Germany, which had nothing to do with the attack and had not even been aware of the Japanese plans. Hitler had no obligation whatsoever to rush to the aid of his Japanese friends, as is claimed by many American historians, but on December 11, 1941 – four days after Pearl Harbor – he declared war on the US. This seemingly irrational decision must be understood in light of the German predicament in the Soviet Union. Hitler almost certainly speculated that this entirely gratuitous gesture of solidarity would induce his Eastern ally to reciprocate with a declaration of war on the enemy of Germany, the Soviet Union, and this would have forced the Soviets into the extremely perilous predicament of a two-front war. Hitler appears to have believed that he could exorcize the spectre of defeat in the Soviet Union, and in the war in general, by summoning a sort of Japanese deus ex machina to the Soviet Union’s vulnerable Siberian frontier. According to the German historian Hans W. Gatzke, the Führer was convinced that “if Germany failed to join Japan [in the war against the United States], it would…end all hope for Japanese help against the Soviet Union.” But Japan did not take Hitler’s bait. Tokyo, too, despised the Soviet state, but the land of the rising sun, now at war against the US, could afford the luxury of a two-front war as little as the Soviets, and preferred to put all of its money on a “southern” strategy, hoping to win the big prize of Southeast Asia – including oil-rich Indonesia! -, rather than embark on a venture in the inhospitable reaches of Siberia. Only at the very end of the war, after the surrender of Nazi Germany, would it come to hostilities between the Soviet Union and Japan. [31]

And so, because of Hitler’s own fault, the camp of Germany’s enemies now included not only Great Britain and the Soviet Union, but also the mighty USA, whose troops could be expected to appear on Germany’s shores, or at least on the shores of German-occupied Europe, in the foreseeable future. The Americans would indeed land troops in France, but only in 1944, and this unquestionably important event is still often presented as the turning point of World War II. However, one should ask if the Americans would ever have landed in Normandy or, for that matter, ever have declared war on Nazi Germany, if Hitler had not declared war on them on December 11, 1941; and one should ask if Hitler would ever have made the desperate, even suicidal, decision to declare war on the US if he had not found himself in a hopeless situation in the Soviet Union. The involvement of the US in the war against Germany, then, which for many reasons was not “in the cards” before December 1941, was also a consequence of the German setback in front of Moscow. Obviously, this constitutes yet another fact that may be cited in support of the claim that “the tide turned” in the Soviet Union in the fall and early winter of 1941.

Nazi Germany was doomed, but the war was still to be long one. Hitler ignored the advice of his generals, who strongly recommend trying to find a diplomatic way out of the war, and decided to battle on in the slim hope of somehow pulling victory out of a hat. The Russian counter-offensive would run out of steam, the Wehrmacht would survive the winter of 1941-1942, and in the spring of 1942 Hitler would scrape together all available forces for an offensive – code-named “Operation Blue” (Unternehmen Blau) – in the direction of the oil fields of the Caucasus – via Stalingrad. Hitler himself acknowledged that, “if he did not get the oil of Maikop and Grozny, then he would have to end this war.”[32] However, the element of surprise had been lost, and the Soviets proved to dispose of huge masses of men, oil, and other resources, as well as excellent equipment, much of it produced in factories that had been established behind the Urals between 1939 and 1941. The Wehrmacht, on the other hand, could not compensate for the huge losses it had suffered in 1941. Between June 22, 1941, and January 31, 1942, the Germans had lost 6,000 airplanes and more than 3,200 tanks and similar vehicles; and no less than 918,000 men had been killed, wounded, or gone missing in action, amounting to 28,7 percent of the average strength of the army, namely, 3,2 million men.[33] (In the Soviet Union, Germany would lose no less than 10 million of its total 13.5 million men killed, wounded, or taken prisoner during the entire war; and the Red Army would end up claiming credit for 90 per cent of all Germans killed in the Second World War.)[34] The forces available for a push towards the oil fields of the Caucasus were therefore extremely limited. Under those circumstances, it is quite remarkable that in 1942 the Germans managed to make it as far as they did. But when their offensive inevitably petered out, namely in September of that year, their weakly held lines were stretched along many hundreds of kilometers, presenting a perfect target for a Soviet attack. When that attack came, it caused an entire German army to be bottled up, and ultimately to be destroyed, in Stalingrad. It was after this great victory of the Red Army that the ineluctability of German defeat in World War II would be obvious for all to see. However, the seemingly minor and relatively unheralded German defeat in front of Moscow in late 1941 had been the precondition for the admittedly more spectacular and more “visible” German defeat at Stalingrad.

There are even more reasons to proclaim December 1941 as the turning point of the war. The Soviet counter-offensive destroyed the reputation of invincibility in which the Wehrmacht had basked ever since its success against Poland in 1939, thus boosting the morale of Germany’s enemies everywhere. The Battle of Moscow also ensured that the bulk of Germany’s armed forces would be tied to an eastern front of approximately 4,000 km for an indefinite period of time, which all but eliminated the possibility of German operations against Gibraltar, for example, and thus provided tremendous relief to the British. Conversely, the failure of the Blitzkrieg demoralized the Fins and other German allies. And so forth…

It was in front of Moscow, in December 1941, that the tide turned, because it was there that the Blitzkrieg failed and that Nazi Germany was consequently forced to fight, without sufficient resources, the kind of long, drawn-out war that Hitler and his generals knew they could not possibly win.

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


[1] Gerd R. Ueberschär, „Das Scheitern des ‚Unternehmens Barbarossa‘“, in Gerd R. Ueberschär and Wolfram Wette (eds.), Der deutsche Überfall auf die Sowjetunion: “Unternehmen Barbarossa” 1941, Frankfurt am Main, 2011, p. 120.

[2] Rolf-Dieter Müller, Der Feind steht im Osten: Hitlers geheime Pläne für einen Krieg gegen die Sowjetunion im Jahr 1939, Berlin, 2011.

[3] Cited in Müller, op. cit., p. 152.

[4] Jacques R. Pauwels, The Myth of the Good War: America in the Second World War, James Lorimer, Toronto, 2002, pp. 33, 37.

[5] Lieven Soete, Het Sovjet-Duitse niet-aanvalspact van 23 augustus 1939: Politieke Zeden in het Interbellum, Berchem [Antwerp], Belgium, 1989, pp. 289-290, including footnote 1 on p. 289.

[6] See e.g. Gerd R. Ueberschär, “Hitlers Entschluß zum ‘Lebensraum’-Krieg im Osten: Programmatisches Ziel oder militärstrategisches Kalkül?,” in Gerd R. Ueberschär and Wolfram Wette (eds.), Der deutsche Überfall auf die Sowjetunion: “Unternehmen Barbarossa” 1941, Frankfurt am Main, 2011, p. 39.

[7] Müller, op. cit., p. 169.

[8] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…,” p. 95.

[9] Müller, op. cit., pp. 209, 225.

[10] Ueberschär, “Hitlers Entschluß…”, p. 15.

[11] Pauwels, op. cit., p. 62; Ueberschär, „Das Scheitern…,“ pp. 95-96; Domenico Losurdo, Stalin: Storia e critica di una leggenda nera, Rome, 2008, p. 29.

[12] Müller, op. cit., p. 243.

[13] Richard Overy, Russia’s War, London, 1997, p. 87.

[14] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…“, pp. 97-98.

[15] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…“, p. 97; Losurdo, op. cit., p. 31.

[16] Overy, op. cit., pp. 64-65.

[17] Grover Furr, Khrushchev Lied : The Evidence That Every ‘Revelation’ of Stalin’s (and Beria’s) ‘Crimes’ in Nikita Khrushchev’s Infamous ‘Secret Speech’ to the 20th Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on February 25, 1956, is Provably False, Kettering/Ohio, 2010, p. 343: Losurdo, op. cit., p. 31; Soete, op. cit., p. 297.

[18] Losurdo, op. cit., pp. 31-32.

[19] Bernd Wegner, “Hitlers zweiter Feldzug gegen die Sowjetunion: Strategische Grundlagen und historische Bedeutung“, in Wolfgang Michalka (ed.), Der Zweite Weltkrieg: Analysen – Grundzüge – Forschungsbilanz, München and Zurich, 1989, p. 653.

[20] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…“, p. 100.

[21] Müller, op. cit., p. 233.

[22] Tobias Jersak, “Öl für den Führer,“ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, February 11, 1999. Jersak used a “top secret” document produced by the Wehrmacht Reichsstelle für Mineralöl, now in the military section of the Bundesarchiv (Federal Archives), file RW 19/2694.

[23] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…“, pp. 99-102, 106-107.

[24] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…“, p. 106.

[25] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…,” pp. 107-111; Geoffrey Roberts, Stalin`s Wars from World War to Cold War, 1939-1953, New Haven/CT and London, 2006, p. 111.

[26] Andreas Hillgruber (ed.), Der Zweite Weltkrieg 1939–1945: Kriegsziele und Strategie der Grossen Mächte, fifth edition, Stuttgart, 1989, p. 81.

[27] Annie Lacroix-Riz, Le Vatican, l’Europe et le Reich de la Première Guerre mondiale à la guerre froide, Paris, 1996, p. 417.

[28] Daniel Bourgeois, Business helvétique et troisième Reich : Milieux d’affaires, politique étrangère, antisémitisme, Lausanne, 1998, pp. 123, 127.

[29] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…“, pp. 107-108.

[30] Bourgeois, op. cit., pp. 123, 127.

[31] Pauwels, op. cit., pp. 68-69; quotation from Hans W. Gatzke, Germany and the United States: A “Special Relationship?,” Cambridge/MA, and London, 1980, p. 137.

[32] Wegner, op. cit., pp. 654-656.

[33] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…,” p. 116.

[34] Clive Ponting, Armageddon: The Second World War, London, 1995, p. 130; Stephen E. Ambrose Americans at War, New York, 1998, p. 72.

Il discorso pronunciato dal presidente Obama il 28 maggio 2014 presso la prestigiosa Accademia Militare di West Point [1] sembra segnare un aggiustamento importante nella politica estera degli Stati Uniti verso il mondo arabo. Sono finiti i giorni del teatrale elogio della “Primavera araba”: questa espressione non è stata pronunciata una volta sola in tutto il suo discorso. È stata sostituita da “sconvolgimenti nel mondo arabo”, cioè “rivolta (o sommossa) nel mondo arabo”. La parola “democrazia” è stata detta solo due volte, ma in un contesto molto generale. Realpolitik oblige, Obama ha dichiarato che “il sostegno statunitense a democrazia e diritti umani va oltre l’idealismo;  è una questione di sicurezza nazionale“. Non poteva essere più chiaro. Dopo i fiaschi politici delle “campagne” in Iraq e Afghanistan, il presidente degli Stati Uniti ha chiesto un cambio di strategia nella lotta al terrorismo. “Penso che dobbiamo riorientare la nostra strategia antiterrorismo, costruendola sui successi e le lacune della nostra esperienza in Iraq e in Afghanistan, con partenariati più efficaci con i Paesi in cui le reti terroristiche cercano di prendere piede” ha detto. Ciò non significa necessariamente che l’intervento militare diretto non sia più possibile, anzi. Serve solo, dice, “soddisfare standard che riflettano i valori americani“.

Due esempi libici illustrano tale nuova strategia degli Stati Uniti. L’istituzione di “partenariati efficaci” è essenziale per impedire tragedie come l’omicidio nel 2012 dell’ambasciatore USA in Libia Christopher Stevens e altri tre statunitensi [2]. Ricordiamo, a tal fine, che tale crimine commesso esattamente nell’undicesimo anniversario degli attacchi dell’11 settembre 2001, è stato attribuito agli islamisti di Ansar al-Sharia. [3] Interventi militari mirati, a loro volta, sono necessari per “neutralizzare” i terroristi coinvolti negli attacchi contro interessi statunitensi, come nel caso di Abu Anas al-Libi. Infatti, il 5 ottobre 2013, un commando statunitense lo catturò in pieno giorno con uno spettacolare raid a Tripoli. Tale ex-capo islamista, la cui taglia dell’FBI era di 5 milioni di dollari, è accusato del coinvolgimento negli attentati del 1998 contro le ambasciate statunitensi in Tanzania e Kenya. [4]
Tale politica “antiterrorismo” delineata dal presidente Obama a West Point sembra essere già attuata in Libia. Infatti, uno dei dispositivi che attualmente forniscono un “partenariato efficace” con la Libia si basa sulla collaborazione con il generale Qalifa Haftar (o Hiftar) le cui “gesta” sono ancora in prima pagina. La sua missione è lo sradicamento del terrorismo islamista che prolifera nel Paese dalla morte del colonnello Gheddafi. Il suo obiettivo principale: Ansar al-Sharia contro cui molte voci statunitensi si sono alzate chiedendo una rappresaglia per vendicare la morte dei diplomatici statunitensi brutalmente assassinati [5], accusando Obama di non aver fatto molto in tal senso [6].

La ricomparsa di Qalifa Haftar è molto istruttiva, soprattutto dopo la fuga precipitosa dell’ex-primo ministro Ali Zaydan in Germania [7], dopo il suo licenziamento da parte del parlamento libico. Ali Zaydan è il cofondatore, con Muhammad Yusif al-Magaryaf, del Fronte nazionale per la salvezza della Libia (FNSL) nel 1981. [8] Tale organizzazione, notoriamente addestrata e sostenuta dalla CIA [9], perpetuò l’opposizione armata con diversi tentativi di golpe contro il colonnello Gheddafi. Zaydan e la sua collusione con il governo degli Stati Uniti furono denunciati dopo l’arresto di Abu Anas al-Libi. Infatti, l’ex-primo ministro fu brevemente rapito il 10 ottobre 2013 da un gruppo di ex-ribelli islamici che l’accusavano di avere collaborato con il governo degli Stati Uniti nell’arresto di al-Libi, ex-membro di al-Qaida. [10] D’altra parte, nessun commento sulla fuga di Ali Zaydan o accuse di frode contro di lui furono espressi dal dipartimento di Stato. Invece, il suo portavoce “lodò” il lavoro di Zaydan “che ha guidato il fragile periodo della transizione in Libia”. [11] Dopo la fuga di Zaydan, che era nelle grazie del governo statunitense, era indispensabile riattivare “un partner efficace” nella persona del generale Haftar. Descritto come un “generale della rivoluzione”, Haftar apparve nel “quadro” insurrezione libico nel marzo 2011 “apportando qualche coerenza tattica alle forze ribelli anti-Gheddafi” [12]. Ma chi è questo Haftar lodato in tal modo dai media mainstream e la cui collaborazione è apprezzata dagli Stati Uniti? Il generale Qalifa Haftar era un alto ufficiale dell’esercito libico che partecipò al colpo di Stato che portò al potere Gheddafi nel 1969. [13] Principale ufficiale nel conflitto ciadiano-libico per la striscia di Aozou (ricco di uranio e altri metalli rari), guidò per sette anni la guerra contro le truppe di Habré, ex-presidente del Ciad sostenuto da CIA e truppe francesi. [14] Aiutati da forze francesi, Mossad israeliano e CIA, i ciadiani inflissero una grave sconfitta alle truppe libiche, il 22 marzo 1987 a Wadi Dum (Ciad settentrionale) [15]. Haftar e i suoi uomini (un gruppo di 600-700 soldati) furono catturati e imprigionati. Rinnegato da Gheddafi, che non avrebbe apprezzato la sconfitta che gli fece perdere la striscia di Aozou, infine il generale disertò presso il FNSL [16]. Supportato da Ciad, CIA e Arabia Saudita, si formò nel 1988 l’esercito nazionale libico, l’ala militare del FNSL, per cercare di rovesciare Gheddafi. [17] Un articolo del New York Times del 1991 dice che i membri di tale esercito “furono addestrati da agenti segreti statunitensi nel sabotaggio e altre azioni di guerriglia in una base nei pressi di N’Djamena, capitale del Ciad” [18]. Quando Deby salì al potere nel 1990 a N’Djamena, la situazione cambiò completamente per i ribelli libici, dato che il nuovo padrone del Ciad era in buoni rapporti con Gheddafi. Il buon rapporto tra i due uomini continuò fino alla caduta del leader libico. Infatti, Déby inviò anche truppe a sostenerlo contro la “primavera libica” [19].




Haftar e i suoi uomini dovettero lasciare il Ciad e gli statunitensi che l’infiltrarono organizzarono un ponte aereo con Nigeria e Zaire. [20] Furono quindi accolti come rifugiati negli Stati Uniti, beneficiando di molti programmi di reinserimento, comprese formazione, assistenza finanziaria e medica. Secondo un portavoce del dipartimento di Stato “i resti dell’esercito di Haftar erano sparsi in tutti i cinquanta Stati” [21]. Prima di tornare a supervisionare le forze ribelli durante la “primavera” libica, Haftar trascorse vent’anni nella provincia della Virginia. Alla domanda sul reddito del generale, uno dei suoi vecchi conoscenti confessò “che non sapeva esattamente come Haftar si mantenesse”. [22] Secondo un’altra fonte, “viveva assai bene e nessuno sa come campasse“, aggiungendo che la famiglia di Haftar non era ricca [23]. Tale frase diede luogo all’interpretazione chiara del fatto che Haftar vivesse a Vienna, in Virginia, a otto miglia dal quartier generale della CIA di Langley: “Per chi sa leggere tra le righe, questo profilo è un’indicazione sottilmente velata del ruolo di Haftar come agente della CIA. Altrimenti, come un ex-alto comandante libico poté entrare negli Stati Uniti nei primi anni ’90, pochi anni dopo l’attentato di Lockerbie, e stabilirsi nei pressi della capitale degli Stati Uniti, se non con il permesso e il sostegno attivo delle agenzie d’intelligence degli Stati Uniti?”. [24] “Quando ero negli Stati Uniti, ero protetto da ogni mossa di Gheddafi contro di me e i suoi tentativi di assassinio da tutte le agenzie degli Stati Uniti“, ha detto. “Mi spostavo dagli Stati Uniti in Europa e mi sentivo al sicuro perché ero protetto“. [25] Secondo il Washington Post, Haftar ha ottenuto la cittadinanza statunitense avendo votato due volte (2008 e 2009) nelle elezioni dello Stato della Virginia. [26] Da parte sua, il New York Times dice senza mezzi termini che il generale è “un cittadino degli Stati Uniti”. [27] Haftar ha anche riconosciuto che poco prima della sua partenza per Bengasi, fu contattato dall’ambasciatore degli Stati Uniti in Libia Gene Cretz, che alloggiava a Washington da gennaio, e da agenti della CIA. [28] Al suo arrivo a Bengasi, nel marzo 2011, il generale Haftar fu nominato capo dell’esercito del CNT e partecipò attivamente alla guerra contro le forze di Gheddafi. Ma travolto dalla sua nomea di “agente della CIA”, fu licenziato dopo il rovesciamento della “guida” libica [29]. Tuttavia, il caos anarchico che ha colpito il Paese, la debolezza del governo centrale verso la profusione di milizie islamiste che governano ognuna una propria roccaforte e le tendenze separatiste che minacciano la Libia, ne hanno permesso il ritorno alla ribalta libica. Già il 14 febbraio 2014 sorprese tutti gli osservatori annunciando una nuova tabella di marcia per il Paese, la sospensione del parlamento e la formazione di un comitato presidenziale per governare il Paese organizzando nuove elezioni. [30] Tale tentativo di presa del potere fallì. Ma non per molto. Dopo la fuga dell’ex-primo ministro Ali Zaydan, Haftar tornava alla carica a metà maggio 2014. Dopo pesanti combattimenti contro le milizie islamiste a Bengasi e contro il Parlamento libico, che fecero decine di morti e feriti, ribadì le stesse affermazioni. [31] Diceva di rispondere solo all’”appello del popolo a sradicare il terrorismo in Libia”. Haftar smentiva le accuse di un colpo di Stato. [32] Sorprendentemente parlò, come nel febbraio 2014, per conto di un “esercito nazionale libico”, nome usato nel 1988 dall’ala militare del FNSL.

A differenza del precedente tentativo, questa volta è sostenuto da molti civili e militari nell’operazione militare chiamata “al-Qarama” (Dignità in arabo) con cui sembra unire diverse forze che “sembrano poter distruggere gli islamisti che dominano il Parlamento, che ha aperto la porta agli estremisti e alimenta il caos che scuote la Libia“. [33] E gli Stati Uniti in tutto questo? A tal proposito, l’autore e giornalista statunitense Justin Raimondo dubita che sia “una coincidenza che il generale Qalifa Haftar colpisca appena quattro giorni dopo che gli Stati Uniti schierassero 200 soldati in Sicilia, una “squadra d’intervento di crisi” inviata su richiesta del dipartimento di Stato” [34]. Da parte sua, John Hudson di “Foreign Policy” ha detto che “il dipartimento della Difesa degli Stati Uniti ha raddoppiato il numero di aeromobili in attesa in Italia e schierato centinaia di marines in Sicilia nel caso fosse necessario evacuare frettolosamente l’ambasciata [in Libia Stati Uniti], una decisione che verrebbe presa letteralmente in qualsiasi momento“. [35] D’altra parte, è interessante notare che durante tale periodo travagliato e violento, gli Stati Uniti avevano attività diplomatiche in Libia (anche se il loro ambasciatore aveva lasciato il Paese, apparentemente per motivi familiari), mentre Paesi come Algeria e Arabia Saudita chiusero le loro ambasciate. [36] Poi il 27 maggio 2014  raccomandarono ai loro cittadini di lasciare “immediatamente” la Libia a causa della situazione “imprevedibile ed instabile”, pur mantenendo “personale limitato presso l’ambasciata di Tripoli”.[37] Situazione curiosa, francamente, per questo Paese presuntamente democratizzato dalla grazia dei bombardamenti della NATO e dei “buoni uffici” di un famoso filosofo francese, amante delle camicie bianche e acerrimo appassionato di guerre “senza amarle”.

Va detto che a Washington, alcuni esperti e funzionari del dipartimento di Stato espressero sottovoce soddisfazione nel vedere qualcuno lottare contro gli islamisti come Ansar al-Sharia [38], la milizia accusata di essere l’autrice dell’attacco contro la missione diplomatica degli Stati Uniti di Bengasi che causò la morte dell’ambasciatore Christopher Stevens. Inoltre, ciò permise a Muhammad Zahawi, capo della brigata della milizia (la Brigata Bengasi), di accusare il governo degli Stati Uniti di sostenere Haftar [39].
Deborah Jones, l’ambasciatrice degli Stati Uniti in Libia, ha detto che la sua squadra non ha condannato le azioni del generale Haftar che ha dichiarato guerra ai terroristi “islamici” in Libia. Parlava presso il Centro Stimson di Washington. [40] Un modo indiretto di sostenere Haftar, uno dei concittadini rientrato nel Paese per guidarne la guerra e che godeva da anni della generosità e calda comodità degli accoglienti sobborghi statunitensi della Virginia. Un concittadino, almeno per ora, parte dell’arsenale dei “partner più efficaci” degli Stati Uniti.

Ahmed Bensaada 

Zaydan e Kerry

Zaydan e Kerry

AFGHANISTAN-US-OBAMAHaftar: le « partenaire efficace » des États-Unis en Libye

Traduzione di Alessandro Lattanzio – SitoAurora

1. The New York Times, «Transcript of President Obama’s Commencement Address at West Point», 28 mai 2014
2. Barney Henderson et Richard Spencer, «US ambassador to Libya killed in attack on Benghazi consulate», The Telegraph, 12 septembre 2012
3. AP, «U.S. names militants involved in Benghazi attack», CBS News, 10 janvier 2014
4. AFP, «Abou Anas al-Libi, un leader présumé d’Al-Qaida méconnu chez lui», 20 Minutes, 7 octobre 2013
5. Ron DeSantis, «DESANTIS: Justice, absent in Damascus, awaits in Benghazi, too», The Washington Times, 11 septembre 2013
6. Lucy McCalmont, «John Bolton: Obama hasn’t avenged Chris Stevens’s death in Benghazi», Politico, 6 mars 2014
7. Reuters, «L’ex-Premier ministre libyen Ali Zeidan a fui en Europe», Le Nouvel Observateur, 12 mars 2014
8. The Indian Express, «New Libyan PM Ali Zeidan has strong India links», 15 October 2012
9. Ahmed Bensaada, livre à paraître.
10.AFP, «Libye: le premier ministre brièvement enlevé par d’ex-rebelles», Le Monde, 10 octobre 2013
11. AFP, «Libye: le Congrès limoge le premier ministre, Ali Zeidan», Le Monde, 12 mars 2014
12.Walter Pincus, «Only a few of Libya opposition’s military leaders have been identified publicly», The Washington Post, 1er avril 2011
13. Ibid.
14. Russ Baker, «Is General Khalifa Hifter The CIA’s Man In Libya?», Business Insider, 22 avril 2011
15. J ean Guisnel, «Quand un espion raconte…», Le Point, 5 janvier 2001
16. Russ Baker, «Is General Khalifa Hifter The CIA’s Man In Libya?», art. cit.
17. Walter Pincus, «Only a few of Libya opposition’s military leaders have been identified publicly», Op. cit.
18. Neil A. Lewis, «350 Libyans Trained to Oust Qaddafi Are to Come to U.S.», The New York Times, 17 mai 1991
19. Pierre Prier, «La garde tchadienne au secours du colonel Kadhafi», Le Figaro, 23 février 2011
20. Pierre Prier, «Le nouvel état-major libyen sous tension», Le Figaro, 23 février 2011
21. Russ Baker, «Is General Khalifa Hifter The CIA’s Man In Libya?», Op. cit.
22. Chris Adams, «Libyan rebel leader spent much of past 20 years in suburban Virginia», McClatchy Newspapers, 26 mars 2011
23. Abigail Hauslohner et Sharif Abdel Kouddous, «Khalifa Hifter, the ex-general leading a revolt in Libya, spent years in exile in Northern Virginia», The Washington Post, 19 mai 2014
24. Patrick Martin, «A CIA commander for the Libyan rebels», WSWS, 28 March 2011
25. Shashank Bengali, «Libyan rebel leader with U.S. ties feels abandoned», McClatchy DC, 12 avril 2011
26. Abigail Hauslohner et Sharif Abdel Kouddous, «Khalifa Hifter, the ex-general leading a revolt in Libya, spent years in exile in Northern Virginia», Op. cit.
27. Ethan Chorin, «The New Danger in Benghazi», The New York Times, 27 mai 2014
28. Shashank Bengali, «Libyan rebel leader with U.S. ties feels abandoned», Op. cit.
29. Armin Arefi, «Khalifa Haftar, un général made in USA à l’assaut de la Libye», Le Point, 19 mai 2014
30. RFI, «Libye: rumeurs de coup d’État sur la chaîne Al-Arabiya», 14 février 2014
31. Claire Arsenault, «En Libye, le général dissident Khalifa Haftar tente le coup», RFI, 23 mai 2014
32. Armin Arefi, «Khalifa Haftar, un général made in USA à l’assaut de la Libye», Op. cit.
33. Esam Mohamed et Maggie Michael, «Un général dissident reçoit des appuis», Le Devoir, 21 mai 2014
34. Justin Raimondo, «The Libyan ‘Coincidence’. CIA-backed general launches Libyan coup», Antiwar, 21 mai 2014
35. John Hudson, «It’s Not Benghazi, It’s Everything», Foreign Policy, 20 mai 2014
36. Renseignor, «Devant la dégradation de la situation sécuritaire en Libye l’Arabie saoudite ferme son ambassade à Tripoli…», n°823, p.3, 25 mai 2014
37. AFP, «Les États-Unis conseillent à tous leurs ressortissants d’évacuer la Libye», Le Monde, 28 mai 2014
38.Ethan Chorin, «The New Danger in Benghazi», Op. cit.
39. AP, «As Libya deteriorates, U.S. prepares for possible evacuation», CBS News, 27 mai 2014
40. Barbara Slavin, «US ambassador says Libyan general is going after ‘terrorists’», Al Monitor, 21 mai 2014

Traduzione di Alessandro Lattanzio – SitoAurora

Questo articolo è stato pubblicato da Reporters quotidiani algerini, 3 giugno 2014 (pp. 12-13)

Você está preparado para a guerra nuclear?

June 8th, 2014 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Preste bem atenção à coluna de convidados de Steven Starr “A letalidade das armas nucleares”: Washington pensa que a guerra nuclear pode ser ganha e planeja um primeiro ataque nuclear contra a Rússia, e talvez contra a China como forma de prevenção a qualquer desafio a sua dominância mundial.

Esse plano já está num estado bem avançado enquanto a implementação do mesmo também já está em curso. Como eu relatei anteriormente a doutrina estratégica americana foi modificada, e o papél dos mísseis nucleares foi elevado de um papél de retaliação a um papél ofensivo de primeiro ataque.  Bases de mísseis antibalísticos (MAB) foram estabelecidas na Polônia nas fronteiras com a Rússia, enquanto outras bases foram sendo projetadas. Quando tudo  estiver completo, a Rússia estará completamente cercada por bases militares americanas de mísseis antibalísticos, MAB.

Os mísseis antibalísticos, conhecidos também como a “guerra das estrelas”, são armas feitas para interceptar e destruir os mísses balísticos inter-continentais, ou seja os mísseis de longa distância, (ICBM na sigla inglêsa). Na doutrina de guerra de Washington, os Estados Unidos atacariam a Rússia com um primeiro ataque, e qualquer que fosse a força retaliatória ainda disponível da Rússia, essas seriam impedidas de alcançar os Estados Unidos pela proteção dos mísseis antibalísticos, MAB.

A razão dada por Washington para mudar a sua doutrina de guerra foi a possibilidade de que terroristas pudessem vir a obter armas nucleares com as quais pudessem vir a destruir uma cidade norteamericana. Uma tal explicação não faz nenhum sentido. Quanto a terroristas trata-se de indivíduos, ou um grupo de indivíduos,  não de um país com um poder militar ameaçador. Usar armas nucleares contra terroristas iria destruir muito mais que os próprios terroristas, e seria inútil na medida em que um ataque por mísseis convencionais, carregados por um drone, seria o suficiente.

A razão dada por Washington para as bases dos mísseis antibalísticos, MAB, na Polônia seria a proteção da Europa contra MBIC, mísseis balísticos inter-continentais, do Irã. Washington e os governos europeus sabem muito bem que Irã não tem nenhum MBIC, e que esse país nunca apresentou a mínima intenção de atacar a Europa.

Nenhum governo acredita nas razões invocadas por Washington. Cada um deles compreende que as razões de Washington não são mais que pequenas tentativas de disfarçar o fato de que eles estão a caminho de criar uma capacidade, de fato consumado,  que os permita ganhar uma guerra nuclear.

O governo russo compreende que a mudança da doutrina de guerra americana, e a construção de bases de mísseis antibalísticos nas suas fronteiras, são dirigidas mesmo é contra a Rússia, e que essa seria uma clara indicação de que Washington estaria planejando um ataque ofensivo contra a Rússia, e isso com armas nucleares.

A China também já compreendeu que as intenções de Washington contra ela são as mesmas. Como eu relatei a vários mêses atrás, em resposta as ameaças de Washington a China então tinha chamado a atenção do mundo quanto a sua capacidade de destruir os Estados Unidos, no caso de Washington iniciar um tal conflito.

De qualquer modo, Washington acredita que ele poderá ganhar uma guerra nuclear, com pouco ou nenhum dano, para os Estados Unidos. Essa crença faz com que uma guerra nuclear apresente-se como provável.

Como Steven Starr deixou bem claro, essa crença baseia-se na ignorância. Uma guerra nuclear não dá a vitória a ninguém. Mesmo se as cidades americanas pudessem ser salvas de um ataque retaliatório da Rússia ou da China pelos mísseis antibalísticos, os efeitos da radiação e do inverno nuclear que viria depois de uma tal colisão com a Rússia ou China iria destruir os Estados Unidos também.

A mídia, que foi convenientemente concentrada em poucas mãos durante o corrúpto governo de Clinton, é cúmplice por ignorar a questão. Os governos dos países subjugados por  Washington, tanto na Europa ocidental como na Europa do Leste, assim como os do Canadá, da Austrália e do Japão também são cúmplices, porque aceitam os planos de Washington e fornecem as suas bases militares para a realização desses planos. O governo da Polônia, do qual já não há duvidas quanto a insanidade mental, já terá provavelmente assinado a autorização de morte da humanidade, por procuração. O congresso dos Estados Unidos também é cúmplice, porque nenhuma investigação está sendo feita a respeito dos planos do poder executivo de iniciar uma guerra nuclear.

Washinton criou uma situação muito perigosa. A Rússia e a China estando claramente ameaçadas por um ataque nuclear poderiam muito bem atacar primeiro. Porque deveriam sentar e esperar passivamente o inevitável enquanto seus adversários constroem uma capacidade de proteger a si mesmos através dos mísseis antibalísticos? Uma vez que esse sistema esteja concluído, a Rússia e a China podem estar certas de que serão atacadas, ao menos que se entreguem incondicionalmente de antemão.

Essa reportagem de 10 minutos aqui abaixo vem da Russia Today, RT. Ela esclarece que o plano secreto de Washington para um primeiro ataque ofensivo contra a Rússia não é na realidade uma coisa secreta. Essa reportagem também esclarece que Washington está se preparando para poder eliminar qualquer líder político europeu que não se alinhe com Washington .  A transcrição foi encaminhada pela  Global Research :

Os leitores poderiam me perguntar. “Mas o que poderemos fazer?” Aqui está o que poderia ser feito. Você poderia por um fim ao ministério da propaganda não assistindo  Fox News, CNN, BBC, ABC, NBC e CBS. Você poderia se recusr a ler o New York Times, o Washington Post e LA Times. Deixe simplesmente de lado toda a mídia oficial. Não acredite numa palavra dita pelo governo. Não vote.

Compreenda que o problema, o mal, está concentrado em Washington. Nesse século XXI (treze anos e meio), Washington já destruiu em parte, ou completamente, 7 países. Milhões de pessoas foram assassinadas, aleijadas e deslocadas. Washington não mostrou até agora absolutamente nenhum remorso que fosse quanto a isso, e tampouco o fizeram as igrejas “cristãs”. A devastação inflingida por Washington é apresentada como um grande sucesso.

Washington prevaleceu até aqui e está determinado a se manter em dominância enquanto a perversidade, a desgraça, e o mau absoluto que Washington representa dirige o mundo à destruição.

Paul Craig Roberts

Artigo original : Are You Ready for Nuclear War ? – de 3 junho de 2014

Traduzido por Anna Malm,, para

As a curtain of censorship falls over the UK internet, this special investigation uncovers the deception and elite players behind the murky system of corporate web filters, which block far more than pornography.

The UK’s sweeping internet censorship plans are ramping up, with the country’s main internet service providers (ISPs), who service 95% of UK households, rolling out ‘default’ web filters to meet the government’s call for an internet clampdown.

State-sanctioned internet filtering on this scale, often condemned when carried out by authoritarian regimes, is unparalleled in “free” western countries and sets a dangerous precedent. The way this policy has been introduced, sold and now implemented has been misleading and deceptive all along. Last year, Prime Minister David Cameron led the public to believe this is all about blocking pornography to stop the “corruption of childhood”, but it’s apparent the well-worn “think of the children” argument was just Trojan horse propaganda to create a moral pretext for introducing extensive censorship infrastructure.

While proponents point out people can still ask their ISPs to turn the filters off, the problem is the filters block more than people are led to believe and operate without transparency. They already target much more than pornography, and their reach will likely creep as time goes on. This is already happening. And who ultimately decides what these unaccountable, shadowy corporate web filters block is shrouded in mystery.

There was a long, well-orchestrated campaign to put these filters in place. A moral panic about online pornography was carefully manufactured to pave the way years before this occurred. I hope to unravel how this happened, and who is involved. A look at the players and history leading up to the policy announcement reveals the influence of various elite powerbrokers in government, media, international business, and religious lobby groups.

I am concerned that behind these machinations is a hidden agenda that could see swathes of alternative websites blacked-out in a so-called free country, and that “alternative thought” is bound to be targeted. I am also concerned that the UK may just be the beginning. At this juncture it is important to reflect on how this policy arose, and where it is headed, to understand the serious ramifications for Britain and potentially the world.

So to get a full picture of what is going on here, let’s take a look at how this censorship system works, then we’ll examine the elite powerbrokers pushing these plans, and the far-reaching implications of their agenda.

The Problem: Anti-Porn Catch-cry Just a Cover for a Sweeping Censorship Coup

David Cameron announcing the UK’s ISP web filter policy Source: PCmag (right)

In July last year, UK Prime Minister David Cameron called for internet censorship in the UK under the guise of protecting children from accessing legal pornography (illegal child abuse material was already blocked). This happened after a moral panic about pornography had been running for some time, which I’ll explain further on.

After the announcement, digital rights advocate Open Rights Group warned the filters would target multiple content categories in addition to pornography, including “esoteric material” and “web forums”. Many predicted the sweeping state-sanctioned web filters would wind up extending far beyond porn. And that’s exactly what happened. These are not merely “porn filters” despite being deceptively referred to as such.

Now operational, the filters do indeed block a murky medley of content categories. Swathes of non-pornographic websites have already been caught in the dragnet, including charities and women’s rights websites. Those who warned over-blocking would happen – either by design or by accident – have been proven right. And since the filters have been announced, the government has suggested it will now seek to block “extremist websites” and “unsavoury content” without providing any clear explanation of how these terms will be applied. The Government’s use of vague and slippery catch-all terms have many concerned the filters will inevitably be used to suppress dissent.

An Outsourced Censorship Regime

Unlike in countries like China, the UK has outsourced web censorship to the private sector, with the UK’s four main ISPs, Talk Talk, BT, Sky and Virgin all filtering their own networks.

The UK Government pressured and coerced the ISPs to install the filters and now, publicly at least, it is standing back and letting the corporations iron out the details. Could this be a shrewd attempt to introduce an unprecedented level of censorship at arm’s length while avoiding liability or accountability for its implementation and overreach?

Lack of Transparency and oversight

There is a major lack of transparency in this setup. Astonishingly, there seems to be no legal oversight or clear regulatory framework for this massive outsourced censorship system. There is no clear and unified definition of blocked content categories or explanations as to why they warrant blocking, and no easy way to find out which sites are blocked or why. There is also no clear way to discover if your website is blocked by one or more of the ISPs (especially if you’re outside the UK), nor is there a single avenue of appeal if you’re even able to find out, because each ISP operates its own inscrutable filter. This leaves the public in the dark as to what is really happening – and perhaps that’s just how the government wants it.

The opaque system is probably deliberate. Not only does it allow the Government to wash its hands and avoid being held accountable for the implementation of the creeping censorship it introduced, but it makes it possible for hidden players to influence things behind the scenes unseen, and for a range of content to be blocked without people even realising it. A system so unaccountable is ripe for misuse, abuse and overreach.

The government has faced some hiccups however. Over-blocking concerns were highlighted after charity websites were blocked. In response the Government announced that it was covertly setting up a whitelist to protect the sites deemed off-limits from the filters. But just think of the implications of this. A backroom gathering of officials has now taken upon itself, behind closed doors, to unilaterally pick out the sites out of the millions on the World Wide Web that they think should not be censored by their filtering system, which they also instated through backroom meetings. Does this mean that any sites that don’t make it on the whitelist are fair game? And if the government has taken upon itself to setup a whitelist, has it also setup a blacklist? If so, how do you find out if you are on it?

‘Active Choice’ or Censorship by Stealth?

General examples of blocked content categories revealed by Open Rights Group, which is running a campaign against UK filtering

Advocates are quick to point out people still have a choice and the filtering is not mandatory. The ISPs are pre-ticking their blocked content categories in the sign-up process for new customers. This means people can manually un-tick and “opt out” of any categories they don’t want blocked.

But given that people tend to trust default settings given by their providers, could it be people are being nudged into selecting censorship by stealth? And if people don’t know how the filters really work and what they actually block, can they really make an informed choice?

Proponents of the censorship also often completely ignore the rights of content creators in this system. People whose websites are arbitrarily blocked in the UK will have a hard time discovering it. What “active choice” do they have? How can private companies be given so much unaccountable power over what content is appropriate or not for the UK population?

How did this happen? How did this extensive and insidious stealth censorship infrastructure get rolled out while people were hoodwinked into thinking it was all about saving children from porn?

To understand how, let’s take a look at the way these plans unfolded and examine the elite powerbrokers linked to these developments, including those with connections to the Bilderberg Group.( Forthcoming on GR)
General examples of blocked content categories revealed by Open Rights Group, which is running a campaign against UK filtering

This article is part of a longer essay focusing on the role of the Bilderberg Group and the influence it has exerted in the formulation of the UK internet filtering project. GR will be publishing the second part of this essay.

For more details see: 


This article was first published by Global Research  on February 25, 2013.

Excerpted from Cruel Harvest: US Intervention in the Afghan Drug Trade (Pluto Press, 2013), by Julien Mercille.

As Obama proclaims that the US adventure in Afghanistan will draw to a close over the next couple years, we may look at the balance sheet with respect to one of the occupation’s alleged justifications: the fight against Afghan heroin. The outcome has been a total failure. In fact, whereas Afghanistan is sometimes referred to as the “graveyard of empires” because throughout history, big powers have attempted, unsuccessfully, to invade and control it, the country can already be labeled as the “garden of empire” because the US/NATO occupation has resulted in a drastic increase in drug production.

Opium production in Afghanistan skyrocketed from 185 tons to 8,200 tons between 2001 and 2007 (today it is down to 3,700 tons). Most commentary glosses over Washington’s large share of responsibility for this dramatic expansion while magnifying the Taliban’s role, which available data indicates is relatively minor. Also, identifying drugs as a main cause behind the growth of the insurgency absolves the United States and NATO of their own role in fomenting it: the very presence of foreign troops in the country as well as their destructive attacks on civilians are significant factors behind increases in popular support for, or tolerance of, the Taliban. In fact, as a recent UNODC report notes, reducing drug production would have only a “minimal impact on the insurgency’s strategic threat,” because the Taliban receive “significant funding from private donors all over the world,” a contribution that “dwarfs” drug money.

A UNODC report entitled Addiction, Crime and Insurgency: The Transnational Threat of Afghan Opium provides a good example of the conventional view of the Taliban’s role in drug trafficking. It claims that they draw some $125 million annually from narcotics, resulting in the “perfect storm” of drugs and terrorism heading toward Central Asia and endangering its energy resources. UNODC maintains that when they were in power in the second half of the 1990s, the Taliban earned about $75–100 million per year from drugs, but since 2005 this figure has risen to $125 million. Although this is presented as a significant increase, the Taliban play a lesser role in the opium economy than the report would have us believe as they capture only a small share of its total value. Moreover, drug money is likely a secondary source of funding for them: UNODC itself estimates that only 10 percent to 15 percent of Taliban funding is drawn from drugs and 85 percent comes from “non-opium sources” such as private donations.

The total revenue generated by opiates within Afghanistan is about $3 billion per year. According to UNODC data, the Taliban get only about 5 percent of this sum. Farmers selling their opium harvest to traffickers get 20 percent. And the remaining 75 percent? Al-Qaeda? No: the report specifies that it “does not appear to have a direct role in the Afghan opiates trade,” although it may participate in “low-level drugs and/or arms smuggling” along the Pakistani border. Instead, the remaining 75 percent is captured by traffickers, government officials, the police, and local and regional power brokers – in short, many of the groups now supported or tolerated by the United States and NATO are important actors in the drug trade.

Therefore, claims that “Taliban insurgents are earning astonishingly large profits off the opium trade” are misleading. Nevertheless, UNODC insists on the Taliban-drugs connection but pays less attention to individuals and groups supported or tolerated by Washington. The agency seems to be acting as an enabler of coalition policies in Afghanistan: when asked what percentage of total drug income in Afghanistan is captured by government officials, the UNODC official who supervised the above report quickly replied: “We don’t do that, I don’t know.”

Mainstream commentary blames the size of the narcotics industry and much of what goes wrong in Afghanistan partly on corruption. But to focus on bad apples in the Afghan government and police misses the systemic responsibility of the United States and NATO for the dramatic expansion of opiates production since 2001 and for their support of numerous corrupt individuals in power. The United States attacked Afghanistan in association with Northern Alliance warlords and drug lords and showered them with weapons, millions of dollars, and diplomatic support.

The empowerment and enrichment of those individuals enabled them to tax and protect opium traffickers, leading to the quick resumption of narcotics production after the hiatus of the 2000–2001 Taliban ban, as many observers have documented. Ahmed Rashid has written that the whole Afghan Interior Ministry “became a major protector of drug traffickers, and Karzai refused to clean it out. As warlord militias were demobilized and disarmed by the UN, commanders found new positions in the Interior Ministry and continued to provide protection to drug traffickers.” The United States was not interested in cleaning Afghanistan of drug traffickers either. Thus, to blame “corruption” and “criminals” for the current state of affairs is to ignore the direct and predictable effects of US policies, which have followed a historical pattern of toleration and protection of strongmen involved in narcotics.

In 2004, Afghan forces found an enormous cache of heroin in a truck near Kandahar, but both Wali Karzai, the president’s brother, and an aide to President Karzai called the commander of the group that had made the discovery to tell him to release the drugs and the truck. Two years later, American and Afghan counternarcotics forces seized more than 110 pounds of heroin near Kabul, which US investigators said were linked to Wali Karzai. But Wali Karzai was only the tip of the iceberg, as a former CIA officer asserted that virtually “every significant Afghan figure has had brushes with the drug trade.” In private, American officials acknowledge ties with drug-linked Afghan figures. A Wikileaks cable recounting US officials’ meetings with Wali Karzai in September 2009 and February 2010 stated that while “we must deal with AWK [Ahmed Wali Karzai] as the head of the Provincial Council, he is widely understood to be corrupt and a narcotics trafficker.” But in public, the ties are denied. As Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said: “We should not condemn Ahmed Wali Karzai or damage our critical relations with his brother, President Karzai, on the basis of newspaper articles or rumors.”

Of the annual $65 billion global market for opiates, only 5 to 10 percent ($3 to $5 billion) is estimated to be laundered by informal banking systems, while two-thirds ($40 to $45 billion) is available for laundering through the formal banking system. A recent UNODC report estimated that about $220 billion of drug money is laundered annually through the financial system. However, only about 0.2 percent of all laundered criminal money is seized and frozen, as governments have other priorities than regulating the banking industry, which benefits from this extra liquidity.


Until about 2005, American policy in Afghanistan was, by and large, not concerned with drugs. General Tommy Franks, who led the initial attack, declared in 2002 that US troops would stay clear of drug interdiction and that resolving narcotics problems was up to Afghans and civilians. When Donald Rumsfeld was asked in 2003 what the United States was doing about narcotics in Helmand, he replied: “You ask what we’re going to do and the answer is, I don’t really know.” A US military spokesman at Bagram base, Sergeant Major Harrison Sarles, stated: “We’re not a drug task force. That’s not part of our mission.” Moreover, the DEA had only two agents in Afghanistan in 2003 and didn’t open an office in the country until 2004.

Several reasons explain the early opposition to counternarcotics on the part of the White House and the military. First, Afghanistan was attacked to show that Washington should not be challenged, and destroying poppy crops and heroin labs contributes nothing in this respect. Therefore, there is no reason why any effort should have been directed toward that task. In late 2005, Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, then commander of US forces in Afghanistan, made it clear that “drugs are bad, but his orders were that drugs were not a priority of the U.S. military in Afghanistan.” Furthermore, Washington’s most important target at that time was Iraq, whose oil resources and strategic location in the Persian Gulf region ensured that it would take priority.

Second, many of the United States’ local Afghan allies were involved in trafficking, from which they drew money and power. Destroying drug labs and poppy fields would have been, in effect, a direct blow to American operations and proxy fighters on the ground. As Western diplomats conceded at the time, “without money from drugs, our friendly warlords can’t pay their militias. It’s as simple as that.” According to James Risen, this explains why the Pentagon and the White House refused to bomb the 25 or so drug facilities that the CIA had identified on its maps in 2001. Similarly, in 2005, the Pentagon denied all but 3 of 26 DEA requests for airlifts. Barnett Rubin summarized the US attitude well when he wrote in 2004 that when “he visits Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld meets military commanders whom Afghans know as the godfathers of drug trafficking. The message has been clear: Help fight the Taliban and no one will interfere with your trafficking.” As a result, US military officials closed their eyes to the trade. An Army Green Beret said he was “specifically ordered to ignore heroin and opium when he and his unit discovered them on patrol.” A US Senate report mentioned that “congressional committees received reports that U.S. forces were refusing to disrupt drug sales and shipments and rebuffing requests from the Drug Enforcement Administration for reinforcements to go after major drug kingpins.”

Third, the Department of Defense thought that eradicating crops would upset farmers and hurt attempts at winning Afghan hearts and minds. Indeed, since 2001, the Taliban have sought to capitalize on resentment caused by eradication schemes. For example, in Helmand “they appear to have offered protection to the farmers targeted by eradication” and in Kandahar “they were even reported to have offered financial assistance to farmers whose fields were being eradicated, in exchange for support in fighting against the government.” Thus, it is far from certain that eliminating drugs would weaken the insurgency. In fact, the opposite is more likely, as it would only add to the opposition already generated by NATO operations in the country, as noted by a well-informed analyst: “As the conflict progressed, victims of abuses by both Afghan and foreign troops and of the side-effects of US reliance on air power began to represent another important source of recruits for the Taliban.”

From 2004, counternarcotics started slowly moving up the US agenda. In 2005, Washington developed its first counternarcotics strategy for Afghanistan, composed of five pillars: elimination/eradication, interdiction, justice reform, public information, and alternative livelihoods (although the pillars were not weighted equally: alternative development was relatively neglected, while eradication/elimination was the priority). The Afghan government incorporated this strategy into its own 2006 National Drug Control Strategy, which was later updated and integrated into its National Development Strategy in 2008. Around 2005, counternarcotics operations were still relatively isolated from the broader counterinsurgency strategy. Nevertheless, the Pentagon started to consider the possibility of getting involved in counterdrug missions and issued new guidelines authorizing the military to “move antidrug agents by helicopters and cargo planes and assist in planning missions and uncovering targets,” among other things. A number of counternarcotics units were set up, such as Task Force 333 (a covert squad of special agents) and the Central Poppy Eradication Force, an Afghan team trained by the American private contractor Dyncorp at a cost of $50 million and supervised by the United States through the Afghan Ministry of the Interior, where Washington’s main contact was Lieutenant General Mohammad Daoud. It didn’t seem to be a problem that Daoud was “an ex-warlord from the north who was reputed to have major connections with the drug trade.”

Since 2007, the United States has intensified its counternarcotics efforts and sought to integrate them more closely with the counterinsurgency campaign. In particular, in late 2008, the Pentagon changed its rules of engagement to permit US troops to target traffickers allied with insurgents and terrorists, and soldiers were allowed to accompany and protect counternarcotics operations run by Americans and Afghans. This shift was also adopted by NATO, whose members were allowed to participate in interdiction missions.

Since 2009, the Obama administration’s strategy has deemphasized eradication by ending support for the Afghan central eradication force while focusing on interdiction and the destruction of heroin labs, based on the reasoning that this “would more precisely target the drug-insurgency nexus.” A focus on rural development has also been announced because, as Richard Holbrooke declared, eradication is a “waste of money,” it alienates farmers, and it “might destroy some acreage, but it didn’t reduce the amount of money the Taliban got by one dollar. It just helped the Taliban.” The number of permanent DEA agents in Afghanistan has increased from 13 to over 80 in 2011 and the Pentagon has established a Combined Joint Interagency Task Force-Nexus in Kandahar to provide coordination support and intelligence for DEA interdiction missions and ISAF counterinsurgency operations that target insurgents with links to the drug trade.

Overall, an interesting question is to explain the emergence, intensification and militarization of US counternarcotics operations in Afghanistan. Although such a discussion remains somewhat speculative, what follows discusses possible reasons that may account for the evolution of the anti-drug strategy over time. Some have pointed to the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of defense in 2006. Rumsfeld had always been strongly opposed to military involvement in drug control and thus his departure is thought to have contributed to a “sea change” in the Department of Defense’s attitude, which then became more engaged in counternarcotics. However, the significance of staff changes should be downplayed when explaining the broad outlines of policy. It is not as if Rumsfeld had prevented single-handedly an army of drug warriors in the US government from carrying out counternarcotics operations in Afghanistan. As seen above, there were clear strategic reasons for the lack of military involvement in counternarcotics in the years immediately after 2001.

Congressional pressures have also been identified as a reason. This political pressure, the argument goes, eventually led the Pentagon and CIA to accept publicly that the insurgency was funded by drugs and to approve the 2005 counternarcotics strategy. Indeed, in 2004–05, a host of critical pieces in the media urged more action in light of the large 2004 opium harvest. For example, Henry Hyde, Illinois Republican, stated that there was “a clear need at this stage for military action against the opium storage dumps and heroin laboratories” and that if the military did not get involved, the United States would need to send “troops from places like Turkey to take on this challenge.” The Democrats also pitched in, as when John Kerry criticized Bush for failing to eliminate narcotics in Afghanistan.

Such explanations might be correct in terms of immediate causes, in that congressional pressures and debates contributed to putting the issue on policymakers’ agenda and generating media coverage. However, they beg the question of why the narcotics issue became a more prominent debate within government circles in the first place? Some have pointed to the explosion of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan and the political pressures it has generated in the United States to do something about the problem. For example, Ahmed Rashid noted how the greater emphasis on drugs in US policy from 2005 onwards was prompted in part by the fact that it had become too obvious that Afghan poppy cultivation was getting out of control. The United States could less easily afford to be seen as doing nothing, for public relations purposes. The 2004 massive opium harvest embarrassed Washington and London enough for them to begin addressing narcotics more seriously: farmland under poppy cultivation had just increased by 64 percent and for the first time poppies were cultivated in all 34 of Afghanistan’s provinces. Similarly, opium production rose to 6,100 tons in 2006 and to 8,200 tons in 2007, the highest amount ever recorded, and Afghanistan now accounted for 93 percent of global heroin production. The skyrocketing of drug production in 2006 and 2007, publicized in UNODC reports, could not be ignored indefinitely.

There is probably some truth to this interpretation. Even if drug control is not a US objective, the discourse that has been created around the issue has acquired a force of its own. Therefore, when poppy cultivation spread in Afghanistan to a point that it became difficult to ignore, Washington was forced to make some gesture seemingly addressing the problem, otherwise, its image as a government allegedly concerned with drug harms could have been tarnished.

Finally, another possible reason is that from 2004–05, it became useful politically to talk about a war on drugs to make the resurgent Taliban look evil by associating them with narcotics. Indeed, the intensification of counternarcotics rhetoric and operations “took place against the backdrop of an upsurge in armed opposition” to the US-backed Afghan government. That is to say, whereas in the years immediately after 2001, the drug trade was largely controlled by US allies (warlords), from the time the Taliban reemerged as a significant force partly financed by drugs, narcotics became an issue that could be used to cast a negative light on them. Indeed, it is interesting that since 2004, the intensification of drug war rhetoric has grown in parallel with the rise of the insurgency.

In sum, while from 2001 to 2005, drugs were simply not part of the US agenda in Afghanistan, since 2005, there has been more talk about drug control, and more counter-narcotics operations have taken place. However, this does not mean that the United States is moving closer to conducting a real war on drugs. It is not the intensification of militaristic counterdrug missions per se that makes a drug war real, but the implementation of strategies known to reduce drug problems. On that count, Washington has failed. Further, the United States has continued to support allies involved in trafficking, and Obama stated explicitly that his drug war is instrumental in fighting the insurgency and not about eliminating drugs per se. Indeed, in 2009, his administration presented its new approach to narcotics and elaborated a target list of 50 “major drug traffickers who help finance the insurgency” to be killed or captured by the military. Therefore, if traffickers help the Taliban, they will be attacked – but if they support government forces, they apparently will be left alone. This suggests that the drug war is used to target enemies.

Julien Mercille is lecturer at University College Dublin, Ireland.

Is Edward Snowden a Radical?

June 8th, 2014 by William Blum

Is Edward Snowden a radical? 

The dictionary defines a radical as “an advocate of political and social revolution”, the adjective form being “favoring or resulting in extreme or revolutionary changes”.

That doesn’t sound like Snowden as far as what has been publicly revealed. In common usage, the term “radical” usually connotes someone or something that goes beyond the generally accepted boundaries of socio-political thought and policies; often used by the Left simply to denote more extreme than, or to the left of, a “liberal”.

In his hour-long interview on NBC, May 28, in Moscow, Snowden never expressed, or even implied, any thought – radical or otherwise – about United States foreign policy or the capitalist economic system under which we live, the two standard areas around which many political discussions in the US revolve. In fact, after reading a great deal by and about Snowden this past year, I have no idea what his views actually are about these matters. To be sure, in the context of the NBC interview, capitalism was not at all relevant, but US foreign policy certainly was.

Snowden was not asked any direct questions about foreign policy, but if I had been in his position I could not have replied to several of the questions without bringing it up. More than once the interview touched upon the question of whether the former NSA contractor’s actions had caused “harm to the United States”. Snowden said that he’s been asking the entire past year to be presented with evidence of such harm and has so far received nothing. I, on the other hand, as a radical, would have used the opportunity to educate the world-wide audience about how the American empire is the greatest threat to the world’s peace, prosperity, and environment; that anything to slow down the monster is to be desired; and that throwing a wrench into NSA’s surveillance gears is eminently worthwhile toward this end; thus, “harm” indeed should be the goal, not something to apologize for.

Edward added that the NSA has been unfairly “demonized” and that the agency is composed of “good people”. I don’t know what to make of this.

When the war on terrorism was discussed in the interview, and the question of whether Snowden’s actions had hurt that effort, he failed to take the opportunity to point out the obvious and absolutely essential fact – that US foreign policy, by its very nature, regularly and routinely creates anti-American terrorists.

When asked what he’d say to President Obama if given a private meeting, Snowden had no response at all to make. I, on the other hand, would say to Mr. Obama: “Mr. President, in your time in office you’ve waged war against seven countries – Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Syria. This makes me wonder something. With all due respect, sir: What is wrong with you?”

A radical – one genuine and committed – would not let such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity pass by unused. Contrary to what his fierce critics at home may believe, Edward Snowden is not seriously at war with America, its government or its society. Does he have a real understanding, analysis, or criticism of capitalism or US foreign policy? Does he think about what people could be like under a better social system? Is he, I wonder, even anti-imperialist?

And he certainly is not a conspiracy theorist, or at least keeps it well hidden. He was asked about 9-11 and replied:

The 9/11 commission … when they looked at all the classified intelligence from all the different intelligence agencies, they found that we had all of the information we needed … to detect this plot. We actually had records of the phone calls from the United States and out. The CIA knew who these guys were. The problem was not that we weren’t collecting information, it wasn’t that we didn’t have enough dots, it wasn’t that we didn’t have a haystack, it was that we did not understand the haystack that we had.

Whereas I might have pointed out that the Bush administration may have ignored the information because they wanted something bad – perhaps of unknown badness – to happen in order to give them the justification for all manner of foreign and domestic oppression they wished to carry out. And did. (This scenario of course excludes the other common supposition, that it was an “inside job”, in which case collecting information on the perpetrators would not have been relevant.)

The entire segment concerning 9/11 was left out of the television broadcast of the interview, although some part of it was shown later during a discussion. This kind of omission is of course the sort of thing that feeds conspiracy theorists.

All of the above notwithstanding, I must make it clear that I have great admiration for the young Mr. Snowden, for what he did and for how he expresses himself. He may not be a radical, but he is a hero. His moral courage, nerve, composure, and technical genius are magnificent. I’m sure the NBC interview won him great respect and a large number of new supporters. I, in Edward’s place, would be even more hated by Americans than he is, even if I furthered the radicalization of more of them than he has. However, I of course would never have been invited onto mainstream American television for a long interview in prime time. (Not counting my solitary 15 minutes of fame in 2006 courtesy of Osama bin Laden; a gigantic fluke happening.)

Apropos Snowden’s courage and integrity, it appears that something very important has not been emphasized in media reports: In the interview, he took the Russian government to task for a new law requiring bloggers to register – the same government which holds his very fate in their hands.

Who is more exceptional: The United States or Russia?

I was going to write a commentary about President Obama’s speech to the graduating class at the US Military Academy (West Point) on May 28. When he speaks to a military audience the president is usually at his most nationalistic, jingoist, militaristic, and American-exceptionalist – wall-to-wall platitudes. But this talk was simply TOO nationalistic, jingoist, militaristic, and American-exceptionalist. (“I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.”) To go through it line by line in order to make my usual wise-ass remarks, would have been just too painful. However, if you’re in a masochistic mood and wish to read it, it can be found here.

Instead I offer you part of a commentary from Mr. Jan Oberg, Danish director of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research in Lund, Sweden:

What is conspicuously lacking in the President’s West Point speech?

  1. Any reasonably accurate appraisal of the world and the role of other nations.
  2. A sense of humility and respect for allies and other countries in this world.
  3. Every element of a grand strategy for America for its foreign and security policy and some kind of vision of what a better world would look like. This speech with all its tired, self-aggrandising rhetoric is a thin cover-up for the fact that there is no such vision or overall strategy.
  4. Some little hint of reforms of existing institutions or new thinking about globalisation and global democratic decision-making.
  5. Ideas and initiatives – stretched-out hands – to help the world move towards conflict-resolution in crisis areas such as Ukraine, Syria, Libya, China-Japan and Iran. Not a trace of creativity.

Ironically, on May 30 the Wall Street Journal published a long essay by Leon Aron, a Russia scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington. The essay took Russian president Vladimir Putin to task for claiming that Russia is exceptional. The piece was headed:

“Why Putin Says Russia Is Exceptional”

“Such claims have often heralded aggression abroad and harsh crackdowns at home.”

It states: “To Mr. Putin, in short, Russia was exceptional because it was emphatically not like the modern West – or not, in any event, like his caricature of a corrupt, morally benighted Europe and U.S. This was a bad omen, presaging the foreign policy gambits against Ukraine that now have the whole world guessing about Mr. Putin’s intentions.”

So the Wall Street Journal has no difficulty in ascertaining that a particular world leader sees his country as “exceptional”. And that such a perception can lead that leader or his country to engage in aggression abroad and crackdowns at home. The particular world leader so harshly judged in this manner by the Wall Street Journal is named Vladimir Putin, not Barack Obama. There’s a word for this kind of analysis – It’s called hypocrisy.

“Hypocrisy is anything whatever may deceive the cleverest and most penetrating man, but the least wide-awake of children recognizes it, and is revolted by it, however ingeniously it may be disguised.” – Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi, (1828-1910) Russian writer

Is hypocrisy a moral failing or a failing of the intellect?

The New Cold War is getting to look more and more like the old one, wherein neither side allows the other to get away with any propaganda point. Just compare any American television network to the Russian station broadcast in the United States – RT (formerly Russia Today). The contrast in coverage of the same news events is remarkable, and the stations attack and make fun of each other by name.

Another, even more important, feature to note is that in Cold War I the United States usually had to consider what the Soviet reaction would be to a planned American intervention in the Third World. This often served as a brake to one extent or another on Washington’s imperial adventures. Thus it was that only weeks after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, the United States bombed and invaded Panama, inflicting thousands of casualties and widespread destruction, for the flimsiest – bordering on the non-existent – of reasons.The hostile Russian reaction to Washington’s clear involvement in the overthrow of the Ukrainian government in February of this year, followed by Washington’s significant irritation and defensiveness toward the Russian reaction, indicates that this Cold War brake may have a chance of returning. And for this we should be grateful.

After the “communist threat” had disappeared and the foreign policy of the United States continued absolutely unchanged, it meant that the Cold War revisionists had been vindicated – the conflict had not been about containing an evil called “communism”; it had been about American expansion, imperialism and capitalism. If the collapse of the Soviet Union did not result in any reduction in the American military budget, but rather was followed by large increases, it meant that the Cold War – from Washington’s perspective – had not been motivated by a fear of the Russians, but purely by ideology.

Lest we forget: Our present leaders can derive inspiration from other great American leaders.

White House tape recordings, April 25, 1972:

President Nixon: How many did we kill in Laos?

National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger: In the Laotian thing, we killed about ten, fifteen [thousand] …

Nixon: See, the attack in the North [Vietnam] that we have in mind … power plants, whatever’s left – POL [petroleum], the docks … And, I still think we ought to take the dikes out now. Will that drown people?

Kissinger: About two hundred thousand people.

Nixon: No, no, no … I’d rather use the nuclear bomb. Have you got that, Henry?

Kissinger: That, I think, would just be too much.

Nixon: The nuclear bomb, does that bother you? … I just want you to think big, Henry, for Christsakes.

May 2, 1972:

Nixon: America is not defeated. We must not lose in Vietnam. … The surgical operation theory is all right, but I want that place bombed to smithereens. If we draw the sword, we’re gonna bomb those bastards all over the place. Let it fly, let it fly.

“Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.” – Michael Ledeen, former Defense Department consultant and holder of the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute

Help needed from a computer expert

This has been driving me crazy for a very long time. My printer doesn’t print the document I ask it to print, but instead prints something totally unrelated. But what it prints is always something I’ve had some contact with, like an email I received or a document I read online, which I may or may not have saved on my hard drive, mostly not. It’s genuinely weird.

Now, before I print anything, I close all other windows in my word processor (Word Perfect/Windows 7); I go offline; I specify printing only the current page, no multiple page commands. Yet, the printer usually still finds some document online and prints it.

At one point I cleared out all the printer caches, and that helped for a short while, but then the problem came back though the caches were empty.

I spoke to the printer manufacturer, HP, and they said it can’t be the fault of the printer because the printer only prints what the computer tells it to print.

It must be the CIA or NSA. Help!



  1. William Blum, Killing Hope, chapter 50
  2. Jonah Goldberg, “Baghdad Delenda Est, Part Two”, National Review, April 23, 2002