On July 15, a division of Buk missile systems of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was deployed in the area of Donetsk. The firing range of the Buk missile system reaches 43 kilometers. The Boeing 777 of Malaysia Airlines was flying at the height of 10,600 kilometers. Representatives of the breakaway republics of Ukraine said that the militias had neither such weapons, nor skills for such an attack.

An aircraft flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters [33,ooo feet] can be destroyed only with S-300 or Buk type of weapon. Militias do not can and can not have such systems at their disposal.

The leadership of the People’s Republic of Donetsk did not exclude that the Boeing-777 of Malaysia Airlines could be shot down by the Ukrainian military. The fighting in the area, where the Boeing crashed, is very serious.

On board the crashed Boeing 777, there were 295 people. All of them were killed in the crash. The plane crashed in Ukraine, 60 kilometers from the Russian border.

Eurocontrol, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, announced that it was closing the airspace above Ukraine.

On board the crashed airliner, there were no Russian citizens. The passengers on board the MA Boeing 777 were US, British and Dutch nationals. There were 80 children on board, but the information about the citizenship of the killed passengers is unconfirmed and needs to be verified.

On Thursday, July 17, Boeing 777 of Malaysia Airlines en route Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur, crashed in the Donetsk region of Ukraine. There were 280 passengers and 15 crew members on board. The crash left no survivors.

Malaysia Airlines has confirmed [July 17] that plane “Kuala Lumpur -Amsterdam” went off the radar in Donetsk oblast, possibly shot down

First it was MH-370. Now, it appears tragedy has struck again, this time on Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17, on route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, which disappeared from radar moments ago and was reportedly shot down over Ukraine. While there is nothing yet officially confirmed by the carrier, the radar tracked path of the airplane is shown below.

 

And from a second source:

 

Last reported position log was at 1:20 pm UTC:

While public attention has been distracted by the ISIS uprising in Iraq with the return of American ”troops on the ground,” the horrific devastation occurring in Ukraine continues with no real recognition by the US media of the role of self-motivated oligarch-funded militias in the use of heavy artillery, white phosphorous and cluster bombs against a civilian population.

Given Russian President Vladimir Putin’s impressive patience and test of his maturity during the weeks of US-instigated provocations by the Kiev government, its increased violent escalation of deadly military assaults on ethnic Russian civilians in east Ukraine, all aimed at luring the Russian army to “invade’ Ukraine, it was only a matter of time before the Kiev government and its allies with its reliance on US backing, created a sweet spot of escalation which even the strategically-minded Putin would find difficult to ignore.

The goal, of course, has been to entice Putin into an aggressive military response so that the US could wrap itself in the righteous flag as defenders of the peace and small children; then allege that Russia had committed assorted international, criminal and human rights violations. But early on Putin recognized the game for what it was.

While not the first cross border incident but perhaps the most flagrant violation of Russia’s sovereign border, a Ukrainian Air force plane crossed into Russian air space on Sunday along with an attack of up to six mortar shells in Doentsk (same name as the Ukraine city) in Russia’s Rostov province which killed its first civilian:

“I heard a scream, it was my younger brother, I grabbed him and ran towards the exit. Then I heard my father’s scream,” the girl said. “When my brother and I ran up to the door, glass from the windows shattered again. We stopped. When we went out to the porch, we saw my father lying there. He was without an arm. I was in shock, I thought it was a dream, I came back into the house, then went out again to see him lying there without an arm. He was screaming. My brother was screaming. We were bombed.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry in citing that Russia reserves the right to protect its citizens and territory promised that this “action will not be left without a corresponding reaction” called the shelling an “obviously aggressive act” and warned of ‘irreversible consequences’ and of a potential ‘dangerous escalation ..that puts our citizens in higher danger.”

However, for Putin to initiate even a measured retaliatory response, regardless of its merit, is to invite a direct, perhaps a ‘shock and awe’ assault from the United States on the civilian Russian population which is exactly what Obama has been hoping for.

After several weeks of persistent checkpoint attacks aimed, in part, at hindering what has now become a large-scale exodus of refugees from Ukraine, on July 12th a vehicle of Russian border guards came under fire from the Ukrainian side at Kuibyshev border crossing while the Novoshakhtinsk and Dolzhansky checkpoints, all in Rostov province in Russia, were shelled by mortars on June 20th. The Gukuvo checkpoint was under fire on June 28th and the villages of Vasetsky Khutor and Shakhta experienced shell explosions as assorted incidents of sniper fire were reported on civilian vehicles at the Izvarivo border checkpoint.

As the rebels were driven out of their base in Slyvansk, the Ukraine army predicts a ‘nasty surprise,” a plan, its security force says will crush the heavily urbanized city of Donetsk (Ukraine) rebels, a city of one million with a suburban population of two million. Cited by Forbes in 2012 as Ukraine’s best city for business, Donetsk is of major economic importance to the country. Home to a heavy industry base of steel plants, coal mines, a metallurgy, chemical and engineering industry and a skilled workforce explains why the financially struggling Kiev government is in a desperate brutal fight to control Donetsk and its economy.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has suggested that “Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko would like to ease tension and go on with the truce, there are other forces” including the “battalions of Igor Kolomoysky who do not obey Ukraine’s Central Command and the Commander-in-Chief.”

Lavrov’s mention of Kolomoysky, a Ukrainian oligarch with Israeli citizenship who is worth an estimated $6.3 billion according to Forbes, reveals the existence of a bank tycoon who continues to play an extraordinary role in turning the tide of war on behalf of the Kiev government. Of Jewish descent, Kolomoysky, who lives in Switzerland returned to Ukraine to accept appointment as Governor of the Dnipropetrovsk in March, 2014 in no small part to protect his investments and to benefit from bank ‘reform’ under the recently signed European Trade Association Agreement (ETAA). In Dnipropetrovsk, an area of heavy industry second only to the Donetsk province, Kolomoysky is known for his aggressive take-over of businesses using armed guards when necessary. The ETAA is essentially the same document that exiled President Yankovych refused to sign in February in opposition to acquiescing political control of Ukraine to the EU in return for complying with strict trade and austerity requirements.

Since April, Kolomoysky has reportedly spent more than $10 million to create the 2,000 battle-ready Dnipro Battalion (with 20,000 reserve troops) which is not limited to military engagement within the Dnipropetrovsk province. Considered a terrorist group by the Putin government for its role in the deadly arson attack in Odessa and the massacre of Mariupol civilians, Dnipro has also been cited as responsible for the shelling of Slovyansk, Kramatorsk and Donetsk which has driven 50,000 from their homes. Dnipro was also implicated in storming the Krasnoarmeick city hall in May to stop the balloting.

Ukraine authorities reportedly support other oligarch-funded militias like the Donbass and Azov Battalions, none of which are limited to their local regions, and a very interesting clandestine group referred to as the black men, all considered more reliable than the Ukrainian military.

Offering a $10,000 bounty for the capture of any pro-Russian separatist, former Presidential candidate and local member of Parliament Oleg Tsarev became a prime target after receiving a threatening phone call from Kolomoysky. Informed that a Jewish solider from the Dnipro Battalion had been killed in fighting and that members of the Jewish community had put a reward of one million dollars on his head, Tsarev withdrew from the Presidential race after being beaten by a mob in Kiev and after his home was burnt to the ground. Tsarev then moved his family to Moscow but has been sighted recently in Kramatorsk.

While the merging of Ukraine’s anti-semitic fascists and Israeli Zionists may appear to be a clash of contradictory interests but in reality represents a comfortably militant philosophic union on the benefits of war, Kolomoysky has said he will not be governed by Poroshenko, has challenged the Kiev government’s legitimacy, declared himself to be a ‘separatist’ and has promised to continue military operations until all the Moskal (Russians) are killed.

The shark aquarium in Kolomoysky’s office may reveal more about the man than he would like especially with the recent controversy surrounding his effort to establish the European Jewish Union in 2011 after being denied a leadership position in other European Jewish organizations. The EJU then went on to establish a European Jewish Parliament modeled on the Knesset which met for the first time in February, 2012. Created to represent the concerns of Europe’s Jewish community to the European Union, the Jewish Parliament got off to a shaky start when soccer star David Beckham, filmmaker Roman Polanski, comic actor Sacha Baron Cohen, Pee Wee Herman and fashion designer Diane von Furstenburg among other surprised nominees were announced as candidates for election to the Jewish Parliament.

While Poroshenko talks tough promising that the “militants will pay tens and even hundreds of their own lives for the life of each of our soldiers” as if he and his government are in charge, the fact is that the irrational Kolomoysky and his Battalion, in what otherwise would be considered insubordination and treason, are encouraged to behave like international outlaws, reminiscent of how Israel deals with the Palestinians. They owe no loyalty to the Kiev government and are totally unaccountable to any one including the Ukraine Army’s military authority – and given the US delusional foreign policy of attempting to box Putin in, the possibility of a demented out-of-control oligarch triggering a nuclear crisis is too horrendous to consider.

Renee Parsons was a staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives and a lobbyist on nuclear energy issues with Friends of the Earth.  in 2005, she was elected to the Durango City Council and served as Councilor and Mayor.  Currently, she is a member of the Treasure Coast ACLU Board.

Following an intensive bombing and shelling operation resulting in more than 200 civilian deaths, the Netanyahu government has announced a full-scale invasion.

A new round of attacks against the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip has begun. With it comes the loss of lives and the further destabilization of the Middle East. The Palestinians are not only fighting for their survival, but they are also fighting against a gigantic corporate media machine that sits on Israel’s side. Israel has the advantage of having the support of the mainstream media in many places in the world, where the news is filtered and skewed to give a distorted picture of events on the ground.

Global Research is one of the few voices and news outlets that actively operates to break the Western media monopoly. We are a vital source of information for readers and various audiences to turn to for updates on Gaza and the latest analysis about the situation in the Occupied Territories.  Getting accurate and honest analysis about the situation in the Israeli occupation of Palestine is one of the first steps to help raise awareness about the oppressed Palestinian people. Arm yourself with the facts.

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Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in Ukraine near the Russian border.  MH17 had 295 people on board — 280 passengers and 15 crew members.  Western media has gone into overdrive mode in reporting that the plane was deliberately shot down.  Salivating over the story, self-acclaimed pundits are putting the blame on anti-coup Ukrainians and even pointing the finger at Russia even as the crash has not been investigated yet.

So-called experts, among them Richard Quest dubbed as an aviation expert, is hard at work convincing CNN viewers that it would be “extremely unusual” for an airliner at 32,000 feet to be shot down. From the ground, one could simply look up and tell whether a plane was a commercial aircraft.

“It looks like a commercial aircraft, it squawks a commercial aircraft. So something is absolutely appalling that’s gone on here,”.

A Ukrainian official, Anton Gerashchenko even knew what kind of missile had brought down the plane.  He “wrote on his Facebook page  that a Buk missile system was used to shoot down the plane, not an on-the-shoulder missile launcher, and it’s unlikely pro-Russian rebels have access to that type of sophisticated weaponry. “  He accused Putin of sponsoring terrorism.

Whatever (or whomever) was behind the crash, investigations have just started.  But as far as the court of public opinion is concerned, CNN, Fox , et al, this is a deliberate act of terrorism, pointing to “Pro-Russian Separatists.”  Well, it would have to be if a passenger plane is so readily recognizable – even from the ground, and missiles fired at it, right?

Well, that depends.

On July 3, 1988, in an unprovoked move, US carrier USS Vincennes fired two missiles at an Iranian passenger plane, Iran Air flight 655 that was on route to Dubai.

All 290 innocent civilians perished.   The passenger airliner, so recognizable even from the ground was “mistaken” for a jet fighter (jetfighter is two-thirds smaller than a passenger plane).  The United States called its own act of terrorism “a regrettable accident”.

In short, the Malaysian airliner is easily recognizable from the ground, according to reports, but the Iran Air plane was ‘mistaken’ for a much smaller jetfighter.

Listening to the media news surrounding the ML 17 incident, one cannot help but conclude that the USS Vincennes captain, Will Rogers III was too dumb and blind not to see the easily recognizable passenger plane, or else, he was/is a terrorist.

In spite of this stark reality, in 1990, President Bush Sr.  awarded Capt. Rogers the Legion of Merit decoration “for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service as commanding officer … from April 1987 to May 1989.”

In a Truthout and TomDispatch collaboration, Truthout staff reporter Dahr Jamail has written a searing analysis covering the ongoing disaster in Iraq. Jamail has covered the story extensively for both Truthout and TomDispatch since 2005, and now provides this current perspective on how the legacy of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq continues to destroy lives.

For Americans, it was like the news from nowhere. Years had passed since reporters bothered to head for the country we invaded and blew a hole through back in 2003, the country once known as Iraq that our occupation drove into a never-ending sectarian nightmare. In 2011, the last US combat troops slipped out of the country, their heads “held high,” as President Obama proclaimed at the time, and Iraq ceased to be news for Americans.

So the headlines of recent weeks – Iraq army collapses! Iraq’s second largest city falls to insurgents! Terrorist caliphate established in Middle East! – couldn’t have seemed more shockingly out of the blue. Suddenly, reporters flooded back in, the Bush-era neocons who had planned and supported the invasion and occupation were writing op-eds as if it were yesterday, and Iraq was again the story of the moment as the post-post-mortems began to appear and commentators began asking: How in the world could this be happening?

Iraqis, of course, lacked the luxury of ignoring what had been going on in their land since 2011. For them, whether Sunnis or Shiites, the recent unraveling of the army, the spread of a series of revolts across the Sunni parts of Iraq, the advance of an extremist insurgency on the country’s capital, Baghdad, and the embattled nature of the autocratic government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki were, if not predictable, at least expectable. And as the killings ratcheted up, caught in the middle were the vast majority of Iraqis, people who were neither fighters nor directly involved in the corrupt politics of their country, but found themselves, as always, caught in the vice grip of the violence again engulfing it.

An Iraqi friend I’ve known since 2003, living in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood in Baghdad, emailed me recently. He had made it through the sectarian bloodletting of 2006 to 2007 in which many of his Sunni compatriots were killed or driven from the capital, and this is the picture he painted of what life is now like for him, his wife and their small children:

All the dangers faced by Iraqis from the occupation – arrests, torture, car bombs, and sectarian violence – those killings have become like a toy in comparison to what we are facing these days. Fighting has spread in all directions from the north, east, and west of Baghdad. Much of the fighting is between the government and Sunni insurgents who have suffered a lot from the injustice of Maliki’s sectarian government.

As for his daily life, he described it this way:

As a result of this fighting, we can’t sleep because of our fear of the uncertainty of the situation, and because of the random arrests of innocent Sunni people. Each day I awake and find myself in a very hard and bad situation and now am trying to think of any way I can to leave here and save my family. Most of my neighbors left back when it was easier to leave. Now, we have both the US and Iran helping the Iraqi government, and this will only make the fighting that is going on across Iraq much worse.

Life in Iraq has become impossible, and even more dangerous, and there is now no way to leave here. To the north, west, and east of Baghdad there is fighting, and with so many groups of Shiite militias in the south, it is not safe for us to go there because of the sectarianism that was never here before the invasion. The price for bus tickets has become very expensive and they are all booked up for months. So many Iraqi families and I are trapped in the middle now.

Every day, the Iraqi army is raiding homes and arresting many innocent people. So many dead bodies are to be found at the Baghdad morgue in the days following the mass arrests in Sunni areas.

He concluded his email on a stark note, reminiscent of the sorts of things I regularly heard when I was in Iraq covering the brutal results of the US occupation. “Horror, fear, arbitrary arrests, indiscriminate bombing, killing, an uncertain future – this is the new democratic Iraq.”

And don’t for a second think that this summer it’s just Sunni communities who are living in fear. Claims of massacres and other atrocities being carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the group spearheading the Sunni revolt across the northern and western parts of the country, abound along with well-documented accounts of their brutal tactics against Shiites.

In one incident, according to witnesses, ISIS forces kidnapped at least 40 Shia Turkmen, blew up three Shia mosques and another Shia shrine, and raided homes and farms in two Shia villages near the city of Mosul. And that’s just to start down a long list of horrors. Meanwhile, the sectarianism shredding the social fabric is being stoked further by the posting of images online that show at least 10 ancient Shiite shrines and mosques destroyed by ISIS fighters.

The Disintegration of Iraq

As for myself, I can’t claim to be surprised by the events of recent weeks. Back in March 2013, on a visit to the embattled Sunni city of Fallujah (twice besieged and largely destroyed by US troops in the occupation years), I saw many signs of the genesis of what was to come. I was at one point on a stage there alongside half a dozen tribal and religious leaders from the area. Tens of thousands of enraged men, mostly young, filled the street below us, holding up signs expressing their anger toward US-backed Prime Minister Maliki.

Having written about the myriad human rights abuses and violations Maliki’s regime was responsible for, I was intimately familiar with the way the bodies, dignity and rights of much of the Sunni population in Fallujah’s province, al-Anbar, had been abused. That same month, I had, for instance, interviewed a woman who used the alias Heba al-Shamary and had just been released from an Iraqi prison after four grim years.

“I was tortured and raped repeatedly by the Iraqi security forces,” she told me. “I want to tell the world what I and other Iraqi women in prison have had to go through these last years. It has been a hell . . . I was raped over and over again. I was kicked and beaten and insulted and spit upon.” Heba, like so many Sunnis the Maliki regime decided to detain, torture and sometimes execute, had been charged with “terrorism.”

That very month, Amnesty International released a report that highlighted what it called “a grim cycle of human rights abuses” in Iraq. When I was in Baghdad, it was common to hear Maliki referred to in many areas as “worse than Saddam [Hussein].”

In late 2012, the young among the politically disenfranchised Sunni population began to organize peaceful Arab Spring-style rallies against the government. These were met with brute force and more than a dozen demonstrators were killed by government security forces. Videos of this went viral on the web stirring the already boiling tempers of youths desperate to take the fight for their rights to Baghdad.

“We demand an end to checkpoints surrounding Fallujah. We demand they allow in the press [to cover the situation]. We demand they end their unlawful home raids and detentions. We demand an end to federalism and gangsters and secret prisons.” This was what Sheikh Khaled Hamoud Al-Jumaili, a leader of the demonstrations, told me just before I went on stage that day. As we spoke, he clutched a photograph of one of his nephews killed by Maliki’s forces while demonstrating in the nearby city of Ramadi. “Losing our history and dividing Iraqis is wrong, but that and kidnapping and conspiracies and displacing people is what Maliki is doing.”

As I wrote at the time, the sheikh went on to assure me thatmany people in Anbar Province had stopped demanding changes in the Maliki government because they had lost hope. After years of waiting, no such demands were ever met. ”Now, we demand a change in the regime instead and a change in the constitution. We will not stop these demonstrations. This one we have labeled ‘last chance Friday’ because it is the government’s last chance to listen to us.”

“What comes next,” I asked him, “if they don’t listen to you?”

“Maybe armed struggle comes next,” he replied without a pause.

Maliki’s response to the Fallujah protests would, in fact, ensure that the sheikh’s prediction became the region’s future.

The adrenaline-pumping energy on stage and in the crowd that day mixed electric anticipation and anxiety with fear. All of this energy had to go somewhere. Even then, local religious and tribal leaders were already lagging behind their supporters. Keeping a lid on the seething cauldron of Sunni feeling was always unlikely. When a tribal sheikh asked the crowd for a little more time for further “diplomacy” in Baghdad, the crowd erupted in angry shouts, rushed the stage, and began pelting the sheikhs with water bottles and rocks.

In pockets of that crowd, now a mob, the ominous black flags of ISIS were already waving vigorously alongside signs that read “Iraqis did not vote for an Iranian dictatorship.” Enraged shouts of “We will now fight!” and “No more Maliki!” swept over us as we fled the stage, lest we be hit by those projectiles that caught the rage of the young, a rage desperate for a target, and open to recruitment into a movement that would take the fight to the Maliki regime.

Enter ISIS

Funded by Arabian Gulf petrodollars from Qatar and Saudi Arabia, among other places, and for a long while supported, at least implicitly, by the Obama administration, radical Islamist fighters in Syria opposing Bashar al-Assad have been expanding in strength, numbers and lethality for the last three years. This winter, they and their branches in Iraq converged, first taking Fallujah, then moving on to the spring and summer debacles across Sunni Iraq and the establishment of a “caliphate” in the territories they control in both countries.

It was hardly news that ISIS, a group even the original al-Qaeda rejected, had a strong presence in Syria. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke of the situation defensively last fall in attempting to explain Washington’s increasingly controversial and confused policy on Syria, the rebels and the regime of Bashar al-Assad they were trying to fell. He described the “bad guys” as radical fighters belonging to ISIS and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups, calling them the lesser part of the opposition in that country, a statement that even then was beyond inaccurate. He went on to describe those “bad guys” as having “proven themselves to be probably the best fighters . . . the most trained and aggressive on the ground.”

Of course, Kerry claimed that the United States was only supporting the “good guys,” another convenient fiction of the moment.

Fast forward to late June: in a meeting with Syrian opposition leader Ahmad al-Jarba, Kerry proposed arming and training supposedly well-vetted “moderate” Syrian rebels to help take the battle to ISIS in Syria but also in Iraq. “Obviously, in light of what has happened in Iraq,” he said, “we have even more to talk about in terms of the moderate opposition in Syria, which has the ability to be a very important player in pushing back against [ISIS's] presence and to have them not just in Syria, but also in Iraq.”

The confusion of this policy remains stunning: Washington hopes to use “moderate” Syrian rebels, in practice almost impossible to separate from the extreme Islamists, “in pushing back against” those very Islamists, while striking against the Assad regime which is supporting – with airstrikes, among other things – the Maliki government which Washington has been arming and supporting in Iraq. The United States has already invested more than $25 billion in support for Maliki – at least $17 billion of which was poured into the Iraqi military. Clearly that was money not well spent as that military promptly collapsed, surrendering a string of cities and towns, including Tal Afar and Mosul, when ISIS and other Sunni insurgents came knocking.

More aid and personnel are now on the way from Washington. The Obama administration already admits to sending at least an extra 750 Marines and Special Operations troops into Iraq, along with missile-armed drones and Apache helicopters. It is now pushing hard to sell Iraq another 4,000 Hellfire missiles. The Pentagon insists its troops in Baghdad are either guarding the huge US embassy or serving in an “advisory” capacity to the Iraqis, but is also claiming that its forces need “flexibility” in order to carry out their missions. As a result, there are already plans for US pilots to fly those Apache attack helicopters there.

While Washington might be at odds with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the crisis in Ukraine, the Obama administration is undoubtedly breathing a sigh of relief that Russian military aid, including fighter planes, is now flowing into Baghdad. Blurring opaque political alliances further, Iran has supplied Iraq with ground attack jets, has drones carrying out reconnaissance missions over the country, and Iranian Kurds could be joining the fight on the ground.

Considering all these twists and turns of the Iraqi situation, political analyst Maki al-Nazzal shared these thoughts with me, which are increasingly typical of Sunni opinion: “Iraq is still suffering from the US occupation’s sins and now self-operating to remove the cancer the US planted in its body. Iraqi nationalists and Sunni Islamists have had enough of being wasted through 11 years of direct and indirect occupation and so revolted to correct by guns what was corrupted by wrongful politics.”

Meanwhile, the ongoing crisis has sent the government in Baghdad into free fall just as the opportunistic Kurds of northern Iraq have called for a referendum in the next two months to address a long-fostered desire to become an independent country. Given all of this, hopes for any kind of Sunni-Shia-Kurdish “unity” government that could save the country from collapse have been repeatedly dashed. Making matters worse, with thousands of Iraqis being slaughtered every month and the country coming apart at the seams, even the Shiites in the country’s parliament seem deadlocked. “Things are moving faster than the politicians can make decisions,” a senior Shiite member of parliament told a reporter.

No wonder the Iraqi army won’t stand its ground when facing ISIS fighters, who are more than willing to die for their cause. What exactly is it to die defending? And it’s not just army troops who are refusing to put their lives on the line for Nouri al-Maliki. Powerful Sunni tribal leaders in Iraq’s volatile Anbar Province are also refusing to fight for Maliki. In a recent interview, Sheikh Hatem al-Suleiman, head of the Dulaimi tribe, insisted that Maliki was more dangerous than the ISIS fighters, adding, “I believe that Maliki is responsible for ISIS coming to Iraq.”

Washington’s man in Baghdad for so long, Maliki himself now adds to the crisis by refusing to budge, no matter the pressure from his former patrons and Shiite religious leaders.

The Nightmare of Ordinary Iraqis 

The disintegration of Iraq is the result of US policies that, since 2003, have been strikingly devoid of coherence or any real comprehension when it comes to the forces at play in the country or the region. They have had about them an aura of puerility, of “good guys” versus “bad guys,” that will leave future historians stunned. Worst of all, they have generated a modern-day Middle Eastern Catch-22 in which all sides are armed, funded and supported directly or indirectly by Washington or its allies.

Meanwhile, ISIS and other Sunni insurgent groups have effectively tapped into the tens of thousands of angry young men I saw in Fallujah last year and are reportedly enjoying significant popular support (as, in some cases, the best of a series of terrible options) in many of the towns and cities where they have set up shop.

In all of this, the nightmare for ordinary Iraqis has only been accentuated. I recently received an email from a friend in Fallujah, a city now occupied by ISIS after having been brutally shelled by the Iraqi military earlier in the year. At that time, hundreds were killed and even Fallujah’s main hospital was hit. Tens of thousands of people in the city, including my friend, had to flee for their lives. He has now been a refugee for months and summed up his life this way:

Words cannot explain what we are suffering now. I do not believe what is happening to us. Imagine a life lived in permanent fear, with shortages of all-important services like electricity, water supply, fuel, and food in the very hot Iraqi summer and during the fasting month of Ramadan.

The most important part of the whole story is that all of these tragedies are happening – and let me say with sadness, are happening while we are now refugees and deprived of our houses and belongings. Fleeing Maliki’s bombardment, we travelled to Anah City [northwest of Fallujah and closer to the Syrian border] seeking safety, but now Anah has become unsafe and was attacked twice by Syrian helicopters, which killed five Fallujan civilian refugees. Everything in our life is sad and difficult. We are under the control of senseless criminals.

As Iraq’s disintegration into darkness progresses, it sickens me to think of all the Iraqis I met and became friends with, who have since been killed, disappeared or have become refugees. What is left of Iraq, this mess that is no longer a country, should be considered the legacy of decades of US policy there, dating back to the moment when Saddam Hussein was in power and enjoyed Washington’s support. With Maliki, it has simply been a different dictator, enjoying even more such support (until these last weeks), and using similarly barbaric tactics against Iraqis.

Today, Washington’s policies continue in the same mindless way as more fuel is rushed to the bonfire that is incinerating Iraq.

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.

Flying over warzone Ukraine, The probable and Convenient Happens

At no juncture during the Ukrainian crisis could the downing of Malaysian Boeing 777 flight MH17 have been more convenient for NATO and its proxy regime in Kiev.

Kiev’s forces were being picked apart in eastern Ukraine with several units encircled and destroyed. In the west of the country, dissent was growing by Ukrainians unwilling to march off to fight in the east. NATO’s attempts to bait Russia into moving into Ukrainian territory and shift global opinion against Moscow had repeatedly failed.

Image: Yet another Malaysia Boeing 777 is lost under extraordinary circumstances this year.

The final card to be played by the US was another round of sanctions that almost immediately was ridiculed as ineffective and impotent. Even US corporate-financier interests condemned the latest round of sanctions claiming they were “unilateral” in nature and thus limited US enterprise from interacting with Russia while leaving European competitors free to move into the void.  An effective US policy of confronting, containing, and undermining Russia would require multilateral sanctions with almost universal support – but the impetus for such sweeping sanctions did not exist – until now.

The US FAA Declared Ukrainian Airspace Off-Limits 3 Months Ago 

Indeed, the stars have aligned for NATO. While the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) declared Ukrainian airspace off limits to all aircraft under its jurisdiction, it appears other airlines continued flying over what has been a warzone for months. The Atlantic in a report titled, “The FAA’s Notice Prohibiting Airline Flights Over Ukraine,” stated clearly that:

Did aviation authorities know that this was a dangerous area? 

Yes, they most certainly did. Nearly three months ago, on the “Special Rules” section of its site, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration put out an order prohibiting American pilots, airlines, charter carriers, and everyone else over whom the FAA has direct jurisdiction, from flying over parts of Ukraine.

Fighters Use Man-Portable Air Defense Systems That Can’t Reach 33,000 Feet

Image: Igla man-portable air defense missiles.

For months fighters in eastern Ukraine have been downing Ukrainian military helicopters, warplanes, and even a military transport aircraft – all using various formsof man-portable anti-air missiles - all of which are incapable of downing the Malaysian 777 which was flying at approximately 33,000 feet – well above the effective range of man-portable air defense systems.

The system cited as responsible for the downing of flight MH17, was the sophisticated Buk radar guided, tracked-vehicle mounted, anti-aircraft missile system. The New York Daily News reported in an article titled, “Malaysia Airlines plane feared shot down in Ukraine near Russian border,” that:

Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Minister, said on Facebook that the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet when it was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher, reported Interfax, a Ukranian news agency.

Image: Buk anti-air missile system.

It is not clear if fighters in eastern Ukraine obtained any Buk systems – and if they did, it is unclear whether they had the ability to maintain and operate them.

If they did have any Buk systems, they would be few. Kiev claims that the systems were passed along by Russia – apparently denying that any of their own systems had gone missing. Unfortunately, even if Russia was arming fighters in eastern Ukraine, it would not be with Buk systems that would be traced directly back to Moscow during their first use regardless of what they fired at.

Cui Bono? 

Russia’s strongest card thus far has been its restraint and NATO’s inability to implicate it in the chaos NATO itself started by backing armed Neo-Nazis during the “Euromaidan” of late 2013-early 2014. Russia surely would not throw that card away to pass along weapon systems to fighters that were already successfully downing Ukrainian military aircraft with man-portable missiles.

Russia and the fighters operating in eastern Ukraine have nothing to gain by downing a civilian airliner, but absolutely everything to lose – thus pointing the finger in another direction – that of NATO and their proxy regime in Kiev. That the downed aircraft is yet another Malaysian Boeing 777 – the second one this year to be lost under extraordinary circumstances – has serendipitously gained maximum attention for propagandists across the West. They have the world’s full and undivided attention with which to pin the blame on Russia and anti-Kiev fighters in eastern Ukraine.

The impetus necessary to unite Europe and other Western allies behind NATO and the US for a more direct intervention in Ukraine where the West is currently floundering is now consuming headlines around the world. If the downing of MH17 was not a case of tragic misidentification, then answering the first question of any investigation, cui bono – or to whose benefit – is answered resoundingly with, “NATO.”

Reuters/Chris Helgren

A subversive website has been launched to keep track of news and other webpages Google has “censored” from the search engine’s index, following the European Court of Justice’s controversial Right to be Forgotten ruling.

The tech giant has reportedly been inundated with 70,000 requests to remove sensitive information from its search results in the aftermath of the ECJ’s decision. While this data may be accurate, it is considered “irrelevant” and possibly defamatory under the EU policy shift.

In a mark of protest against online censorship, a new site ‘Hidden From Google’ has begun archiving links censored by search engines intent on complying with ECJ demands. The site was set up by US web developer and transparency advocate, Afaq Tariq.

The New Jersey developer asserts the removal of links from a search engine’s index amounts to censorship. So in an effort to preserve transparency in Europe’s online realm, he invites visitors to log data that has been removed from Google on the site.

“This list is a way of archiving the actions of censorship on the Internet,” Tariq states on the site’s about page. “It is up to the reader to decide whether our liberties are being upheld or violated by the recent rulings by the EU.”

Following the ECJ’s ruling in May, Google allows European users to request the deletion of data referencing them if they consider it irrelevant or outdated. Implementing the ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling has proven difficult for Google, however, despite the firm’s creation of a special advisory committee to assist in the process.

Ironically searches conducted in Europe for information the tech firm has censored are returning links to Tariq’s site.

 

Image from GoogleImage from Google

 

Google says that when evaluating users’ requests, it checks “whether the results include outdated information” and if the data relates to the public interest. Thus far, requests tendered to the tech company for consideration under the EU ruling relate to financial fraud, violent crime, child pornography arrests and more.

Google retains the power to reject data removal applications in cases where the public interest is deemed to trump individuals’ right to privacy. But such a position of power is arguably more appropriate for a state body than a mammoth commercial firm.

“Here state power is being exercised without the involvement of the state: Google decides how to handle redaction requests”, Johnathan Zittrain, a professor of law and computer science at Harvard University, recently told the Financial Times.

“If a search engine declines to alter its results, the claimant might appeal to a national data protection authority. Under the court’s decision, the public’s right to know is to be balanced against a claimant’s right to privacy – but there is no easy way for the public to remonstrate against poor balancing”, he said.

While Tariq’s site creates a degree of transparency, independent and comprehensive scrutiny of how this new EU right operates in practice is warranted. Zittrain proposes Google and its peers should contribute to “an independent database of takedowns”. But such a move is far from EU-wide implementation.

All of the Chairs of the 9/11 Commission and the Congressional Investigation Into 9/11 Say It’s “Implausible” that the 9/11 Hijackers Acted Without Government Backing

Congressman Thomas Massie read the 28 classified pages of the Joint Intelligence Committee Inquiry into 9/11 (the joint Senate and House investigation into 9/11) and immediately called for them to be released to the public:

By way of background, the former Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, outside adviser to the CIA, and Co-Chair of the congressional investigation into 9/11 – Bob Graham – says:

I have personally talked to the other cochair of the Congressional Joint Inquiry, a man who was a very distinguished congressman and, later, director of the CIA [Porter Goss], I have talked to the two chairs of the … 9/11 Commission, asking them, what do you think were the prospects of these 19 people being able to plan, practice, and execute the complicated plot that was 9/11 without any external support?

All three of them used almost the same word: “Implausible”. That it is implausible that that could have been the case.

Yet that has now become the conventional wisdom to the aggressive exclusion of other alternatives.

Indeed, it is pretty clear that 9/11 was state-sponsored terror … although people argue about which state or states were responsible (we personally believe that at least two allied governments were involved).

Indeed, Graham – along with 9/11 Commissioner and former Senator Bob Kerrey – said in sworn declarations that the Saudi government is linked to the 9/11 attacks. They’re calling for either a “permanent 9/11 commission” or a new 9/11 investigation to get to the bottom of it.

An FBI report implicates the Saudi government.

And many other top U.S. counter-terrorism officials say that the government’s explanation of the 9/11 hijackers being “lone wolves” connected only to Al Qaeda is ridiculous. See this and this.

If this sounds implausible, remember that Saudi Prince Bandar – the recently-fired head of Saudi intelligence – helped to arm the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan, and is now arming Al Qaeda in Syria. (Background). Respected financial writer Ambrose Evans-Pritchard says that Prince Bandar admitted that Saudi Arabia carries out false flag terror.

Indeed, the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 found that the Saudi government supported the 9/11 attacks, but the Bush administration classified the 28 pages of the report which discussed the Saudis.

Bipartisan Bill to Publicly Release Report on Saudi Involvement In 9/11

A bipartisan bill – introduced by congressmen Walter B. Jones (Republican from North Carolina) and Stephen Lynch (Democrat from Massachusetts) would declassify the 28 pages of the Joint Inquiry which implicate the Saudi government.

Sadly, both the Bush and Obama administrations have gone to great lengths to keep Saudi involvement under wraps for more than 10 years.

Remember, the U.S. government allowed members of Bin Laden’s family – and other suspicious Saudis – to hop on airplanes and leave the country right after 9/11 without even interviewing them, even though air traffic was grounded for everyone else.

Additionally, a Saudi FBI informant hosted and rented a room to Mihdhar and another 9/11 hijacker in 2000.

Investigators for the Congressional Joint Inquiry discovered that an FBI informant had hosted and even rented a room to two hijackers in 2000 and that, when the Inquiry sought to interview the informant, the FBI refused outright, and then hid him in an unknown location, and that a high-level FBI official stated these blocking maneuvers were undertaken under orders from the White House.

As the New York Times notes:

Senator Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who is a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, accused the White House on Tuesday of covering up evidence ….The accusation stems from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s refusal to allow investigators for a Congressional inquiry and the independent Sept. 11 commission to interview an informant, Abdussattar Shaikh, who had been the landlord in San Diego of two Sept. 11 hijackers.

In his book “Intelligence Matters,” Mr. Graham, the co-chairman of the Congressional inquiry with Representative Porter J. Goss, Republican of Florida, said an F.B.I. official wrote them in November 2002 and said “the administration would not sanction a staff interview with the source.” On Tuesday, Mr. Graham called the letter “a smoking gun” and said, “The reason for this cover-up goes right to the White House.”

The government obstructed the 9/11 Commission in every way possible. During both the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 and the 9/11 Commission investigation, government “minders” intimidated witnesses and obstructed the investigation.

Obama has been no better.  Obama’s Department of Justice filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the lawsuit brought by the families of victims killed in the 9/11 attacks against Saudi Arabia should be thrown out of court (it was; but the Supreme Court reversed that decision).

Graham said that he’s lobbied Obama for years to release the 28 pages and to reopen the investigation, but Obama has refused. The former Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and 9/11 investigator has even resorted to filing Freedom of Information requests to obtain information, but the Obama administration is still stonewalling:

Graham said that like the 28 pages in the 9/11 inquiry, the Sarasota case is being “covered up” by U.S. intelligence. Graham has been fighting to get the FBI to release the details of this investigation with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and litigation. But so far the bureau has stalled and stonewalled, he said.

And a former U.S. congressman for 6 years, who is now a talking head on MSNBC (Joe Scarborough) says that – even if the Saudi government backed the 9/11 attacks – Saudi oil is too important to do anything about it:

 

Still Urgent Today

Ancient history, you say?

Graham notes:

Although it’s been more than a decade ago when this horrific event occurred, I think [the questions of who supported the attacks] have real consequences to U.S. actions today.

For example, the U.S. might not want to support – let alone launch joint military adventure alongside – a regime which supported the 9/11 hijackers.

As Graham told told PBS:

[Question]: Senator Graham, are there elements in this report, which are classified that Americans should know about but can’t?

SEN. BOB GRAHAM: Yes … I was surprised at the evidence that there were foreign governments involved in facilitating the activities of at least some of the terrorists in the United States.

I am stunned that we have not done a better job of pursuing that to determine if other terrorists received similar support and, even more important, if the infrastructure of a foreign government assisting terrorists still exists for the current generation of terrorists who are here planning the next plots.

To me that is an extremely significant issue and most of that information is classified, I think overly-classified. I believe the American people should know the extent of the challenge that we face in terms of foreign government involvement. That would motivate the government to take action.

[Question]: Are you suggesting that you are convinced that there was a state sponsor behind 9/11?

SEN. BOB GRAHAM: I think there is very compelling evidence that at least some of the terrorists were assisted not just in financing — although that was part of it — by a sovereign foreign government and that we have been derelict in our duty to track that down, make the further case, or find the evidence that would indicate that that is not true and we can look for other reasons why the terrorists were able to function so effectively in the United States.

[Question]: Do you think that will ever become public, which countries you’re talking about?

SEN. BOB GRAHAM: It will become public at some point when it’s turned over to the archives, but that’s 20 or 30 years from now. And, we need to have this information now because it’s relevant to the threat that the people of the United States are facing today.

Postscript: Ironically, the U.S. government has in the past alleged state sponsorship of 9/11 when it suited its purposes. Specifically, people may not remember now, but – at the time – the supposed Iraqi state sponsorship of 9/11 was at least as important a justification for the Iraq war as the alleged weapons of mass destruction. This claim that Iraq is linked to 9/11 has since been debunked by the 9/11 Commission, top government officials, and even – long after they alleged such a link – Bush and Cheney themselves. But 70% of the American public believed it at the time, and 85% of U.S. troops believed the U.S. mission in Iraq was “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks.”

See this for a contrary view.

A Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing-777 with over 280 passengers on board has crashed in Ukraine, close to the border with Russia. Both Kiev and the opposition deny involvement in the incident.

LIVE UPDATES:Malaysian Airlines MH17 plane crash in Ukraine

The head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Anton Geraschenko said the plane carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew members fell.

Malaysian Airlines has confirmed that it has lost contact with the plane when it was flying over Ukrainian soil.

Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow.

The passenger plane was expected to enter Russian airspace at 5:20pm local time, but never did, a Russian aviation industry source was cited by Reuters.

“The plane crashed 60km away from the border, the plane had an emergency beacon,” ITAR-TASS cited its source.

A man works at putting out a fire at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014.(Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev )

A man works at putting out a fire at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014.(Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev )

Residents have reported finding debris from a plane, which they say could belong to the Malaysian Boeing. They said that several dozen dead passengers have been found, RIA Novosti reports.

Groups that are fighting Kiev’s forces in eastern Ukraine have rejected any involvement in the incident, as there are reports that the plane was shot down.

The Donetsk People’s Republic claims its self-defense forces simply don’t have such military equipment.

Donetsk People’s Republic PM Aleksandr Boroday has called the incident a “provocation by the Ukrainian military”.

“We confirm that the plane crashed not far from Donetsk,” Boroday said. “Representatives of Donetsk People’s Republic have headed to the scene of the plane search.”

“Self-defense forces have no air-defense, which could target transport aircraft at that height,” he told Interfax.

“We have only MANPADs (portable anti-aircraft missile complex) which hit targets at 3-4 kilometers,” Sergey Kavtaradze, representative for Donetsk People’s Republic PM, also told journalists.

Russia’s military also says none of its military planes have been flying close to the Russia-Ukraine border on Thursday, RIA Novosti reported citing a military official.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has not ruled out that a Malaysian plane has been shot down.

“We don’t rule out that this plane was shot down and stress that Ukrainian forces did not fulfill any actions targeting in the air,” Poroshenko said. He added that an investigation commission will be launched.

At the same time, Anton Geraschenko said on his Facebook page that the plane was targeted from the air defense missile complex “Buk”.

RIA Novosti is citing its source who said that Kiev indeed deployed “Buk” in the Donetsk region.

“According to the system of objective control, “Buk” division of the armed forces of Ukraine was relocated to Donetsk region on Wednesday. Now in Kharkov another division is being prepared,” the source said.

The sources stressed that aircraft flying at an altitude of over 10 kilometers can only be targeted by C-300 class weapons or ‘Buk”.

A source in Russia’s federal air traffic agency Rosaviatsia has said that three days ago Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council closed the airspace over eastern Ukraine because of the so-called “anti-terrorist operation” that Kiev conducts in the region.

Earlier a representative of Donetsk People’s Republic said that civil aviation planes could not fly over Donetsk and Lugansk regions. He added that all necessary traffic control and navigation equipment was damaged.

“Dispatching support of all passenger flights is being conducted from Kiev. How this plane could be there – is not clear,” a representative of Donetsk People’s Republic said.

The Boeing-777, whose maiden commercial flight was almost exactly two decades ago, had previously suffered ten serious incidents, according to the Aviation Safety Database.

The most notorious of these involved another route performed by the same company, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, during which the US-made aircraft disappeared off the radars between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, in March this year. Despite an international search effort costing tens of millions of dollars, the plane, the reasons for whose disappearance have still not been definitively established, has not yet been recovered.

Another widely-covered incident occurred last year, when Asiana Airlines Flight 214 pilot crashed into the seawall just short of the landing strip at San Fransisco International Airport, prompting the fuselage to drag across the runway as it disintegrated in a fire. Three people died as a result of the incident – the first fatalities in the history of the model, which is regarded as very safe in the industry.

Currently, about 1200 modifications of Boeing-777 are operated worldwide.

“A Boeing-777 is an extremely reliable piece of machinery. Modern planes don’t just crash with no reason,” pilot and aviation expert Yury Karash told RT. “Let us recall how a Ukrainian missile downed a Russian TU-154 aircraft ten years ago. I can’t completely exclude the possibility the Boeing-777 was also hit by a missile.”

“I don’t know who could’ve shot it down. But I can allege that it most likely was the Ukrainian armed forces: simply because its military – anti-aircraft defense, in particular – are, unfortunately, unqualified. As judging by the overall state of the Ukrainian armed forces, insufficient attention has been paid to their training,” he added.

The following article first published ten years in June 2004 pertains to Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, the legendary leader and founder of Al Qaeda in Iraq. 

The name of this mysterious jihadist organization was later renamed the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) and in 2013 it became the Islamic State of the Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), largely involved  in terrorist attacks inside Syria, 

In June 2014, the ISIL became The Islamic State (IS). The present leader and cleric of the Islamic State’s Caliphate is another mysterious figure called Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, formerly also known as Dr. Ibrahim and Abu Du’a

Both Al-Zarqawi and Al-Bagdhadi are fabricated bogeymen.

While Al Qaeda leaders are routinely presented to World public opinion as “terrorist masterminds” threatening the “Free World”,  what the media invariably fails to mention is that they were recruited and trained by the CIA, Mossad, Britain’s MI6 and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) acting in liaison with its Western counterparts.

Al Zarqawi had been recruited by the CIA to fight in the Afghan war.  This was confirmed by Secretary of State Colin Powell in his historic presentation to the UN Security Council on 5 February 2003. 

Our concern is not just about these illicit weapons [WMDs]; it’s the way that these illicit weapons can be connected to terrorists and terrorist organizations…

But what I want to bring to your attention today is the potentially much more sinister nexus between Iraq and the Al Qaeda terrorist network, a nexus that combines classic terrorist organizations and modern methods of murder. Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network, headed by Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi, an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda lieutenants.

Zarqawi, a Palestinian born in Jordan, fought in the Afghan War more than a decade ago [recruited by the CIA]. Returning to Afghanistan in 2000, he oversaw a terrorist training camp. One of his specialties and one of the specialties of this camp is poisons.

When our coalition ousted the Taliban, the Zarqawi network helped establish another poison and explosive training center camp, and this camp is located in Northeastern Iraq. You see a picture of this camp. Graphic, above. [there were no WMDS at this camp according to ABC report, see below] Colin Powell, UN Security Council, February 5, 20o3)

And now a new legendary terrorist leader of the Islamic State has emerged: Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who allegedly ordered the kidnapping and murder of the 3 Israeli teenagers (which served as a pretext to bomb Gaza) was trained by Mossad:   “[He] took intensive military training for a whole year in the hands of Mossad, besides courses in theology and the art of speech.” (Gulf News, July 15, 2014)

The former employee at US National Security Agency (NSA), Edward Snowden, has revealed that the British and American intelligence and the Mossad worked together to create the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Snowden said intelligence services of three countries created a terrorist organisation that is able to attract all extremists of the world to one place, using a strategy called “the hornet’s nest”.

NSA documents refer to recent implementation of the hornet’s nest to protect the Zionist entity by creating religious and Islamic slogans.

According to documents released by Snowden, “The only solution for the protection of the Jewish state “is to create an enemy near its borders”. (Gulf News, July 15, 2015)

Let us be under no illusions, the Islamic State is a CIA-Mossad creation. It is an intelligence asset. 

The incursion of IS brigades into Iraq in June was part of a carefully planned military-intelligence operation supported covertly by the US, NATO and Israel. In Syria, the ISIL is said to be part of “opposition” fighting government forces. The Israeli military is directly supporting the ISIL out of bases in the occupied Golan Heights.

It is worth noting that the same strategy of using jihadist death squads to destabilize and foment violence in Iraq (including the numerous suicide attacks) was implemented by Washington from the outset of the US led occupation. 

 George W. Bush (June 2004 press Conference) candidly admits that the purpose of Al-Zarqawi’s “operational plan” was to sow “cold blooded killing”:

You know, I hate to predict violence, but I just understand the nature of the killers. This guy, Zarqawi, an al Qaeda associate — who was in Baghdad, by the way, prior to the removal of Saddam Hussein — is still at large in Iraq. And as you might remember, part of his operational plan was to sow violence and discord amongst the various groups in Iraq by cold- blooded killing. And we need to help find Zarqawi so that the people of Iraq can have a more bright — bright future. (George W. Bush, Press Conference, 1 June 2004, emphasis added)

originalWhat GWB does not mention is that Al Zarqawi is not “this guy”, he is “our guy”.

Paraphrasing president Bush, “[our] guy Zarqawi, [a CIA sponsored intelligence asset]… his operational plan, [acting on our behalf], was to sow violence and discord amongst the various groups in Iraq by cold- blooded killing.”

In 2004, the aggressor nations, namely the US and Britain “came to the rescue of the people of Iraq” “so that they can have a brighter future” under a counter-terrorism mandate at “the request” of the Iraqi interim government, in an agreement sanctioned by the UN. What is rarely mentioned by the media is that the US led military alliance has been supporting the Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists.

Washington’s unspoken objective remains “to sow violence and discord by cold blooded killing”.

And in late June 2014, the same scenario has emerged: the Islamic State (IS) has “invaded Iraq” and America –which is covertly supporting the Islamic State– is called to rescue.

The Islamic State rebels are America’s foot soldiers, generously funded by Qatar and Saudi Arabia:

The “War on Terrorism” consists in creating Al Qaeda terrorist entities as part of an intelligence operation, as well as also coming to the rescue of governments which are the target of  the terrorist insurgency. This process is carried out under the banner of counter-terrorism. It creates the pretext to intervene.

ISIS is a caliphate project of creating a Sunni Islamist state. It is not a project of the Sunni population of Iraq which is broadly committed to secular forms of government. The caliphate project is part of a US intelligence agenda.

In response to the advance of the ISIS rebels, Washington is envisaging the use of aerial bombings as well as drone attacks in support of the Baghdad government as part of a counter-terrorism operation.  It is all for a good cause: to fight the terrorists, without of course acknowledging that these terrorists are the “foot soldiers” of the Western military alliance. Michel Chossudovsky, The Engineered Destruction and Political Fragmentation of Iraq, Global Research, July 01, 2014

Al Qaeda is “Made in America” … lest we forget with the support of Israel. And this includes the entire network of Al Qaeda affiliates in a large number of countries. 

Surely the revelations concerning the links of Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi to the Mossad, not to mention the overt support of ISIL by the Israeli military and the Netanyahu government should serve to refute once and for all the absurd proposition that Al Qaeda (including its affiliates)  is an “independent entity” which threatens America and the Western World.

A revised version of the June 2004 article below was incorporated as a chapter in my book, America’s War on Terrorism, Global Research, 2005.

Michel Chossudovsky, July 17, 2014


Who is Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi?

by Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, June 11,  2004

The US intelligence apparatus has created it own terrorist organizations. And at the same time, it creates its own terrorist warnings concerning the terrorist organizations which it has itself created. In turn, it has developed a cohesive multibillion dollar counterterrorism program “to go after” these terrorist organizations.

Counterterrorism and war propaganda  are intertwined. The propaganda apparatus feeds disinformation into the news chain. The terror warnings must appear to be “genuine”. The objective is to present the terror groups as “enemies of America.”

The underlying objective is to galvanize public opinion in support of America’s war agenda.

The “war on terrorism” requires a humanitarian mandate. The war on terrorism is presented as a “Just War”, which is to be fought on moral grounds “to redress a wrong suffered.”

The Just War theory defines “good” and “evil.” It concretely portrays and personifies the terrorist leaders as “evil individuals”.

Several prominent American intellectuals and antiwar activists, who stand firmly opposed to the Bush administration, are nonetheless supporters of the Just War theory: “We are against war in all its forms but we support the campaign against international terrorism.”

To reach its foreign policy objectives, the images of terrorism must remain vivid in the minds of the citizens, who are constantly reminded of the terrorist threat.

The propaganda campaign presents the portraits of the leaders behind the terror network. In other words, at the level of what constitutes an  “advertising”  campaign, “it gives a face to terror.” The “war on terrorism” rests on the creation of one or more evil bogeymen, the terror leaders, Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, et al, whose names and photos are presented ad nauseam in daily news reports.

Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi is presented to World public opinion, as the upcoming terrorist mastermind, overshadowing “Enemy Number One”,  Osama bin Laden.

The U.S. State Department has increased the reward for his arrest from $10 million to $25 million, which puts his “market value” at par with that of Osama. Ironically, Al Zarqawi is not on the FBI most wanted fugitives list. (http://www.fbi.gov/mostwant/topten/fugitives/fugitives.htm )

Al Zarqawi’s Links to Al Qaeda

Al Zarqawi is often described as an “Osama associate”, the bogyman, allegedly responsible for numerous terrorist attacks in several countries.  In other reports, often emanating from the same sources, it is stated that he has no links to Al Qaeda and operates quite independently. He is often presented as an individual who is challenging the leadership of bin Laden.

His name crops up on numerous occasions in press reports and official statements. Since early 2004, he is in the news almost on a daily basis.

Osama belongs to the powerful bin Laden family, which historically had business ties to the Bushes and prominent members of the Texas oil establishment. Bin Laden was recruited by the CIA during the Soviet-Afghan war and fought as a Mujahideen. In other words, there is a longstanding documented history of bin Laden-CIA and bin Laden-Bush family links, which are an obvious source of embarrassment to the US government.

In contrast to bin Laden, Al-Zarqawi has no family history. He comes from an impoverished Palestinian family in Jordan. His parents are dead. He emerges out of the blue.

He is described by CNN as “a lone wolf” who is said to act quite independently of the Al Qaeda network. Yet surprisingly, this lone wolf is present in several countries, in Iraq, which is now his base, but also in Western Europe. He is also suspected of preparing  a terrorist attack on American soil.

He seems to be in several places at the same time. He is described as “the chief U.S. enemy”, “a master of disguise and bogus identification papers”. We are led to believe that this “lone wolf”  manages to outwit the most astute US intelligence operatives.

According to The Weekly Standard –which is known to have a close relationship to the Neocons in the Bush administration:

“Abu Musab al Zarqawi is hot right now. He masterminded not only Berg’s murder but also the Madrid carnage on March 11, the bombardment of Shia worshippers in Iraq the same month, and the April 24 suicide attack on the port of Basra. But he is far from a newcomer to slaughter. Well before 9/11, he had already concocted a plot to kill Israeli and American tourists in Jordan. His label is on terrorist groups and attacks on four continents.”  (Weekly Standard, 24 May 2004)

Al-Zarqawi’s profile “is mounting a challenge to bin Laden’s leadership of the global jihad.”

In Iraq, he is said to be determined to “ignite a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites”. But is that not precisely what US intelligence is aiming at ( “divide and rule”) as confirmed by several analysts of the US led war? Pitting one group against the other with a view to weakening the resistance movement. (See Michel Collon,  http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/COL312A.html , See also http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/RAD308A.html )

The CIA, with its $30 billion plus budget, pleads ignorance: they say they know nothing about him, they have a photograph, but, according to the Weekly Standard (24 May 2004), they apparently do not know his weight or height.

There is an aura of mystery surrounding this individual which is part of the propaganda ploy. Zarqawi is described as “so secretive even some operatives who work with him do not know his identity.”

Consistent Pattern

What is the role of this new mastermind in the Pentagon’s disinformation campaign, in which CNN seems to be playing a central role?

In previous propaganda ploys, the CIA hired PR firms to organize core disinformation campaigns, including the Rendon Group. The latter worked closely with its British partner Hill and Knowlton, which was responsible for the 1990 Kuwaiti incubator media scam, where Kuwaiti babies were allegedly removed from incubators in a totally fabricated news story, which was then used to get Congressional approval for the 1991 Gulf War.

What is the pattern?

Almost immediately in the wake of a terrorist event or warning, CNN announces (in substance): we think this mysterious individual Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi is behind it, invariably without supporting evidence and prior to the conduct of an investigation by the relevant police and intelligence authorities.

In some cases, upon the immediate occurrence of the terrorist event, there is an initial report which mentions Al-Zarqawi as the possible mastermind. The report will often say (in substance):  yes we think he did it, but it is not yet confirmed and there is some doubt on the identity of those behind the attack. One or two days later, CNN may come up with a definitive statement, quoting official police, military and/or intelligence sources.

Often the CNN report is based on information published on an Islamic website or a mysterious Video or Audio tape. The authenticity of the website and/or the tapes is not the object of discussion or detailed investigation.

Bear in mind that the news reports never mention that Al Qaeda is a creation of the CIA and that Al Zarqawi had been recruited to fight in the Soviet-Afghan war (This is in fact confirmed by Sec. Colin Powell in his presentation to the UN Security Council on 5 February 2003) (see details below). Both Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi are creations of the US intelligence apparatus. The recruitment of foreign fighters was under the auspices of the CIA.

The press usually present the terrorist warnings emanating from the CIA as genuine, without acknowledging the fact that US intelligence, has provided covert support to the Islamic militant network consistently for more than 20 years.

Amply documented, the training camps in Afghanistan established during the Reagan Administration had been set up with the support of the CIA. In fact, several members of the current Bush administration including Richard Armitage and Colin Powell were directly involved in channeling support to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, where bin Laden and Al Zarqawi received specialized training. (See Michel Chossudovsky,  http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO109C.html and http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO303D.html )

History of Al Zarqawi

The first time Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi’s name is mentioned was in relation to the thwarted attack on the Radisson SAS Hotel in Amman, Jordan,  during the millennium celebrations (December 1999). According to press reports, he had previously gone under another name: Ahmed Fadil Al-Khalayleh, (apparently among other aliases).

According to the New York Times, Al Zarqawi fled Afghanistan to Iran in late 2001, following the entry of US troops. Official US reports suggest that he was protected at the highest levels of the Tehran government.

“United States intelligence officials say they are increasingly concerned by the mounting evidence of Tehran’s renewed interest in terrorism [and support to Al Zarqawi], including covert surveillance by Iranian agents of possible American targets abroad. American officials said Iran appeared to view terrorism as deterrent against possible attack by the United States.

Since the surprise election of reformer Mohammad Khatami as president of Iran in 1997 and his wide public support, Washington has been counting on a new moderate political majority to emerge. But the hard-line faction has maintained its grip on Iran’s security apparatus, frustrating American efforts to ease tensions with Tehran.

Now, Iranian actions to destabilize the new interim government in Afghanistan, its willingness to assist Al Qaeda members and its fueling of the Palestinian uprising are prompting a reassessment in Washington, officials say.” (NYT, 24 March 2002)

In 2002, his presence in Tehran, allegedly “collaborating with hardliners” in the Iranian military and intelligence apparatus, is part of an evolving disinformation campaign which consists in presenting Iran as a sponsor of the “Islamic terror network”:

In February 2002, he was allegedly involved in planning terror attacks inside Israel.

Colin Powell’s Address to the UN Security Council

In the months leading up to the war on Iraq, Al Zarqawi’s name reemerges, this time almost on daily basis, with reports focusing on his sinister relationship to Saddam Hussein.

A major turning point in the propaganda campaign occurs on February 5, 2003. Al-Zarqawi was in the spot light following Colin Powell’s flopped WMD report to the UN Security Council. Powell’s speech presented “documentation” on the ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, while focusing on the central role of Al-Zarqawi: (emphasis added):

Our concern is not just about these illicit weapons; it’s the way that these illicit weapons can be connected to terrorists and terrorist organizations…

But what I want to bring to your attention today is the potentially much more sinister nexus between Iraq and the Al Qaeda terrorist network, a nexus that combines classic terrorist organizations and modern methods of murder. Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network, headed by Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi, an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda lieutenants.

Zarqawi, a Palestinian born in Jordan, fought in the Afghan War more than a decade ago. Returning to Afghanistan in 2000, he oversaw a terrorist training camp. One of his specialties and one of the specialties of this camp is poisons.

When our coalition ousted the Taliban, the Zarqawi network helped establish another poison and explosive training center camp, and this camp is located in Northeastern Iraq. You see a picture of this camp. Graphic, above. [there were no WMDS at this camp according to ABC report, see below]

The network is teaching its operative how to produce ricin and other poisons. Let me remind you how ricin works. Less than a pinch — imagine a pinch of salt — less than a pinch of ricin, eating just this amount in your food would cause shock, followed by circulatory failure. Death comes within 72 hours and there is no antidote. There is no cure. It is fatal.

Those helping to run this camp are Zarqawi lieutenants operating in northern Kurdish areas outside Saddam Hussein’s controlled Iraq, but Baghdad has an agent in the most senior levels of the radical organization Ansar al-Islam, that controls this corner of Iraq. In 2000, this agent offered Al Qaeda safe haven in the region. After we swept Al Qaeda from Afghanistan, some of its members accepted this safe haven. They remain there today.

….

We know these affiliates are connected to Zarqawi because they remain, even today, in regular contact with his direct subordinates, including the poison cell plotters. And they are involved in moving more than money and materiel. Last year, two suspected Al Qaeda operatives were arrested crossing from Iraq into Saudi Arabia. They were linked to associates of the Baghdad cell, and one of them received training in Afghanistan on how to use cyanide.

From his terrorist network in Iraq, Zarqawi can direct his network in the Middle East and beyond. [Note he is present in several countries at the same time]

….

According to detainees, Abu Atiya, who graduated from Zarqawi’s terrorist camp in Afghanistan, tasked at least nine North African extremists in 2001 to travel to Europe to conduct poison and explosive attacks. Since last year, members of this network have been apprehended in France, Britain, Spain and Italy. By our last count, 116 operatives connected to this global web have been arrested. The chart you are seeing shows the network in Europe.

We know about this European network, and we know about its links to Zarqawi, because the detainee who provided the information about the targets also provided the names of members of the network.

We also know that Zarqawi’s colleagues have been active in the Pankisi Gorge, Georgia, and in Chechnya, Russia. The plotting to which they are linked is not mere chatter. Members of Zarqawi’s network say their goal was to kill Russians with toxins.

We are not surprised that Iraq is harboring Zarqawi and his subordinates. This understanding builds on decades-long experience with respect to ties between Iraq and al Qaeda.

….

As I said at the outset, none of this should come as a surprise to any of us. Terrorism has been a tool used by Saddam for decades. Saddam was a supporter of terrorism long before these terrorist networks had a name, and this support continues. The nexus of poisons and terror is new; the nexus of Iraq and terror is old. The combination is lethal.

With this track record, Iraqi denials of supporting terrorism take their place alongside the other Iraqi denials of weapons of mass destruction. It is all a web of lies. When we confront a regime that harbors ambitions for regional domination, hides weapons of mass destruction, and provides haven and active support for terrorists, we are not confronting the past, we are confronting the present. And unless we act, we are confronting an even more frightening future.”

(US Secretary of State Colin Powell to the UN Security Council, Excerpts, 5 February 2003)

The statement of Secretary Powell regarding Al-Zarqawi consisted in linking the secular Baathist regime to the “Islamic terror network,” with a view to justifying the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

The Alleged Al-Zarqawi Sponsored Chemical and Biological Attacks

Powell’s UN statement with regard to Al Zarqawi rested on the existence of a chemical-biological weapons plant in Northern Iraq producing ricin, sarin and other biological weapons, allegedly to be used in terror attacks on the US and Western Europe.

With reference to the North Iraqi facility where the ricin was allegedly produced, The London Observer’s correspondent in Northern Iraq (9 February 2003) blatantly refutes Colin Powell’s statement:

” There is no sign of chemical weapons anywhere – only the smell of paraffin and vegetable butter used for cooking. In the kitchen, I discovered some chopped up tomatoes but not much else. The cook had left his Kalashnikov propped neatly against the wall. Ansar al-Islam – the Islamic group that uses the compound identified as a military HQ by Powell – yesterday invited me and several other foreign journalists into their territory for the first time. ‘We are just a group of Muslims trying to do our duty,’ Mohammad Hasan, spokes-man for Ansar al-Islam, explained. ‘We don’t have any drugs for our fighters. We don’t even have any aspirin. How can we produce any chemicals or weapons of mass destruction?’”

Barely a few weeks later, at the height of the military campaign, US Special Forces, together with their “embedded” journalists, entered the alleged chemical biological weapons facility in Northern Iraq:

“What they found was a camp devastated by cruise missile strikes during the first days of the war. A specialized biochemical team scoured the rubble for samples. They wore protective masks as they entered a building they suspected was a weapons lab. Inside they found mortar shells, medical supplies, and grim prison cells, but no immediate proof of chemical or biological agents. For this unit, such evidence would have been a so-called smoking gun, proof that it has banned weapons. But instead, this was a disappointing day for these troops on the front line of the hunt for weapons of mass destruction here. Jim Sciutto, ABC News, with US Special Forces in Northern Iraq ” (ABC News, 29 March 2003)

The Ricin Threat

On February 8th 2003, three days after Colin Powell’s UN speech, the ricin threat remerges this time in the US. Al Zaqwari was said to be responsible for “the suspicious white powder found in a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist which contained the [same] deadly poison ricin.”

In a CIA report which was apparently “leaked” to Newsweek, a group of CIA analysts predicted that there was

“a 59 percent probability that an attack on the U.S. homeland involving WMD would occur before 31 March 2003″… It all seems so precise and frightening: a better than 90 percent chance that Saddam will succeed in hitting America with a weapon spewing radiation, germs or poison. But it is important to remember that the odds are determined by averaging a bunch of guesses, informed perhaps, but from experts whose careers can only be ruined by underestimating the threat.” (Newsweek, 24 February 2003, http://newsmine.org/archive/propoganda/terror-threats/2003/terror-alert-assumptions-hints.txt)

The picture of Al Zarqawi, the mastermind is featured prominently in the Newsweek feature article.

In the National Review (February 18, 2003), Al Zarqawi was described as Al Qaeda’s “chief biochemical engineer”:

“It is widely known [from where, what evidence] that Zarqawi, al Qaeda’s chief biochemical engineer, was at the safe house in Afghanistan where traces of Ricin and other poisons were originally found. What is not widely known-but was briefly alluded to in Sec. Powell’s U.N. address-is that starting in the mid-1990s, Iraq’s embassy in Islamabad routinely played host to Saddam’s biochemical scientists, some of whom interacted with al Qaeda operatives, including Zarqawi and his lab technicians, under the diplomatic cover of the Taliban embassy nearby to teach them the art of mixing poisons from home grown and readily available raw materials.”

Radioactive Dirty Bombs

There were rumors of attacks within the US also using ricin, sarin and other poisonous gases. In the immediate aftermath of Powell’s speech, there was an orange code alert. Official statements also pointed to the dangers of a dirty radioactive bomb attack in the US.

Again Al Zarqawi was identified as the number one suspect.

The various ricin and dirty bomb terror alerts proved to be fabricated. A fabricated story emanating from the CIA on so-called ‘radioactive dirty bombs’ had been planted in the news chain (ABC News, 13 Feb 2003). A few days following his address to the UN, Sec. Powell warned that:

“it would be easy for terrorists to cook up radioactive ‘dirty’ bombs to explode inside the U.S. … ‘How likely it is, I can’t say… But I think it is wise for us to at least let the American people know of this possibility.’”(ABC This Week quoted in Daily News (New York), 10 Feb. 2003).

Meanwhile, network TV had warned that “American hotels, shopping malls or apartment buildings could be al Qaeda’s targets as soon as next week…”. Following the announcement, tens of thousands of Americans rushed to purchase duct tape, plastic sheets and gas-masks.

It later transpired that the terrorist alert was fabricated by the CIA, in all likelihood in consultation with the State Department (ABC News, 13 Feb. 2003). The FBI, for the first time had pointed its finger at the CIA. While tacitly acknowledging that the alert was a fake, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge decided to maintain the ‘Orange Code’ alert:

“Despite the fabricated report, there are no plans to change the threat level. Officials said other intelligence has been validated and that the high level of precautions is fully warranted.” ( ABC News, 13 Feb. 2003 ).

A few days later, in another failed propaganda initiative, a mysterious Osama bin Laden audio tape was presented by Sec. Colin Powell to the US Congress as ‘evidence’ that the Islamic terrorists “are making common cause with a brutal dictator”. (US official quoted in The Toronto Star, 12 Feb. 2003). Curiously, the audio tape was in Colin Powell’s possession prior to its broadcast by the Al Jazeera TV Network. (Ibid.)

Meanwhile, Al Zarqawi had been identified as the mastermind behind the (thwarted) ricin attacks in several European countries including Britain and Spain.

In London, in January 2003, there was a ricin terror alert, which had apparently also been ordered by Al Zarqawi. The ricin had allegedly been discovered in a London apartment. It was to be used in a terror attack in the London subway.

British press reports, quoting official statements claimed that the terrorists had learnt to produce the ricin at the camp in Northern Iraq. Yet when US Special Forces in March 2003 raided the camp in Northern Iraq, nothing resembling biological or chemical weapons was found (see ABC report quoted above).

It is worth mentioning, in this regard, that news stories on the chemical weapons plant in Northern Iraq, have continued to be churned out, despite the fact that US Forces said that it did not exist. In a recent story in the Washington Times:

Zarqawi stands as stark evidence of a link between Saddam Hussein’s autocratic regime and bin Laden’s al Qaeda terror network. Zarqawi, 38, operated a terrorist camp in northern Iraq that specialized in developing poisons and chemical weapons.(Washington Times, 8 June 2004)

The Spanish Connection

Meanwhile in Spain, Bush’s coalition partner, Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar had initiated his own disinformation campaign, no doubt in liaison with US officials.

Perfect timing! While Colin Powell was presenting the Al-Zarqawi dossier to the UN, on the very same day, February 5, 2003, Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar was busy briefing the Spanish parliament on an alleged chemical terror attack in Spain.

According to Aznar, Al Zarqawi was apparently linked to a number of European  Islamic “collaborators” including Merouane Ben Ahmed, “an expert in chemistry and explosives who visited Barcelona” (reported in El Pais, February 6 2003).

Prime Minister Aznar’s speech to the Chamber of Deputies (Camera de diputados) intimated that the 16 alleged Al Qaeda suspects, who apparently were in possession of explosives and lethal chemicals, had been working hand in glove with Al Zarqawi.

The information had been fabricated. The Spanish Ministry of Defense report confirmed that the “lethal chemicals” turned out to be “harmless and some were household detergent… ” (quoted in Irish News, 27 February 2003, emphasis added):

A defence ministry lab outside Madrid tested the substances – a bag containing more than half a pound of powder and several bottles or containers with liquids or residues- for the easy-to-make biological poison ricin…The Spanish defence ministry, which carried out the tests, and the lab itself declined to comment ” (Ibid)

The Link to Ansar al-Islam

Following Powell’s February 2003 presentation to the UNSC, Al-Zarqawi immediately gained in public notoriety.

Since early 2004, his name appears almost daily in CNN reports. All in all,  his name is linked to some 25 “terrorist attacks” in Iraq, not to mention numerous terrorist warnings, threats or alerts. Already before the war in Iraq, he was presented in media reports as an ally of Saddam Hussein.

The press reports, which quoted Colin Powell’s UNSC 5 Feb 2003 speech, confirmed that Al Zarqawi was back in Iraq, working hand in glove with Ansar Al-Islam, which was held responsible for the attack on the UN in Baghdad. In August 2003, Zarqawi was identified, without supporting evidence, as having played a role in the attack on the UN, which led to the death of the UN head of mission and 24 other people.

Bear in mind Ansar was also said to be behind the alleged ricin plant in Northern Iraq, which was confirmed to be a fake.

It is useful to recall that Ansar al-Islam, which constituted a pre-existing Islamist group, developed into a paramilitary organisation, only after the 9/11 attacks. Ironically, it was allowed to develop in a region of Iraq, which was already under US military control, namely Kurdish held Northern Iraq.

Ansar was largely involved in terrorist attacks directed against the secular institutions of the Kurdish regional governments. It was also involved in assassinations of members of the Kurdish PUK. And the US military and intelligence were present in the region.

In other words, prior to the war, Northern Iraq -which was in “the no fly zone”– was already a US protectorate. According to one report  «Al Qaida affiliates coordinating the movement of people, money and supplies for Ansar al-Islam have been operating freely in the [regional] capital.” (Midland Independent, 6 February 2003).

Responding to Colin Powell’s February 2003 UN address, an Iraqi foreign ministry spokesman had stated at the time that:

 ”the Iraqi government helped the [PUK] Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani against the Ansar al-Islam group. He [the spokesman] accused Ansar al-Islam of carrying out acts of sabotage inside Iraq…[and] that the United States had turned down an Iraqi offer to cooperate on the issue of terrorism.” (News Conference by Lieutenant-General Amir al-Sa’di, adviser at the Iraqi Presidency; Dr Sa’id al-Musawi, head of the Organizations’ Department at the Iraqi Foreign Ministry; and Major-General Husam Muhammad Amin, head of the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate. BBC Monitoring Service, 6 February 2003).

The Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal

Was it a coincidence? At the very outset of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, there were rumors of an Al Zarqawi terrorist attack on American Soil, in Jordan as well as in Iraq.

Al Zarqawi  identified by CNN as “the lone wolf” was, according to these reports, planning terrorist attacks simultaneously in several countries. Then there was the mysterious video on the Nicholas Berg execution.

The Attacks in Jordan

A mysterious tape released by CNN pointed to Al Zarqawi’s plan to attack the Jordanian intelligence headquarters in an attack using chemical weapons which could have been more deadly than 9/11. Again the evidence is based on a mysterious tape.

CNN 27 APRIL 2004

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jordanian special forces raiding an apartment house in Amman in the hunt for an al Qaeda cell. Some of the suspects are killed, others arrested, ending what Jordanian intelligence says was a bold plan to use chemical weapons and truck bombs in their capital; targets including Jordanian intelligence headquarters, the prime minister’s office and the U.S. embassy. The Jordanian government fears the death toll could have run into the thousands, more deadly even than 9/11.

For the first time the alleged plotters were interviewed on videotape, aired on Jordanian TV. CNN obtained copies of the tapes from the Jordanians. This man revealing his orders came from a man named Azme Jayoussi, the cell’s alleged ringleader.

HUSSEIN SHARIF (through translator): The aim of this operation was to strike Jordan and the Hashemite royal family, a war against the crusaders and infidels. Azme told me that this would be the first chemical suicide attack that al Qaeda would execute.

VAUSE: Also appearing on the tape, Azme Jayoussi, who says his orders came from this man, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the same man the U.S. says is behind many of the violent attacks in Iraq.

AZME JAYOUSSI, ACCUSED PLOTTER (through translator): I took advanced explosives course, poisons, high level, then I pledged allegiance to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, to obey him without any questioning, to be on his side. After this Afghanistan fell. I met Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq.

VAUSE: Al Jayoussi was only shown in profile. He had marks on his hand, neck and face. The Jordanians who taped the confessions say the suspect suffered the injuries during the arrest. CNN was not allowed access to any of those arrested. The Jordanian government says this plot is only the latest attempt by al Qaeda to destabilize this country.

ASMA KHADER, JORDANIAN MINISTER OF STATE: Jordan was fighting this type of plans years now, and the security forces were able to confront them.

VAUSE (on camera): The Jordanians say the alleged terrorist plot was just days away from execution. If successful, Jordan’s King Abdullah told a U.S. newspaper it could have decapitated his government.

John Vause, CNN, Amman, Jordan.

The press reports which followed the original CNN report, often quote CNN as the sole source for their information.

Al-Zarqawi’s plans for Amman scale the heights of horror. CNN quoted Jordanian authorities as saying that the attack involved a combination of 71 lethal chemicals, including blistering agents to cause third-degree burns, nerve gas and choking agents, which would have formed a lethal toxic cloud over a square mile of the capital, Amman. Many thousands would have died in what would have been al-Qaida’s deadliest terrorist attack.

The Associated Press reported Monday that four of the men arrested said on Jordanian television that they had been recruited by al-Zarqawi to carry out “the first suicide attack to be launched by al-Qaida using chemicals … striking at Jordan, its Hashemite (royal family) and launching war on the Crusaders and nonbelievers.” One of the conspirators, Azmi al-Jayousi, said he received about $170,000 from al-Zarqawi to finance the plot and used part of it to buy 20 tons of chemicals. Images of vans packed with chemicals and explosives were shown on television. (Charleston Post Courier, 28 April 2004)

Alleged Al Zarqawi “Attack on America”

Two days later, following the alleged terrorist threat on Jordanian intelligence, the State Department announced that Al Zarqawi was planning an attack on America (29 April 2003, CNN Report). Note that the rumours of an attack on America and the attack in Jordan took place virtually at the same time.

The State Department today said the number of terrorists attacks around the world declined last year, but the government’s annual report on terrorism includes a chilling warning about the year ahead.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The State Department says terrorists are planning an attack on U.S. soil. High on their anxiety list, terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

AMB. COFER BLACK, COORDINATOR FOR COUNTERTERRORISM: He is representative of a very real and credible threat. His operatives are planning and attempting now to attack American targets, and we are after them with a vengeance.

Bear in mind that the Attack on America report, focusing on “We are after them with a vengeance”, was published on day following the CBS 60 minutes program on torture at the Abu Ghraib prison. (Complete transcript at http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CBS405A.html ).

The Nicholas Berg Video

Barely a couple of weeks later (11 May 2004), Al Zarqawi is reported as being the mastermind behind the execution of Nicholas Berg on May 11, 2004.

Again perfect timing! The report coincided with calls by US Senators for Defense Sec Donald Rumsfeld to resign over the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. It occurs a few days after President Bush’s “apology” for the Abu Ghraib prison “abuses” on May 6.

The Nicholas Berg video  served to create “a useful wave of indignation” which served to distract and soften up public opinion, following the release of the pictures of torture of Iraqi prisoners. (See the intelligence assumptions underlying Operation Northwoods, a secret Joint Chiefs of Staff plan to kill civilians in the Cuban community in Florida, and blame it on Fidel Castro. (http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/NOR111A.html ) .

CNN coverage of the Nicholas Berg execution was based on a mysterious report on an Islamic website, which CNN upholds as providing “evidence” of Al-Zarqawi’s involvement:

ENSOR: The Web site claims that the killing was done by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian terrorist whose al Qaeda affiliated group is held responsible by U.S. intelligence for a string of bombings in Iraq and for the killing of an American diplomat in Amman. CNN Arab linguists say, however, that the voice on the tape has the wrong accent. They do not believe it is Zarqawi. U.S. officials said the killers tried to take advantage of the prison abuse controversy to gain attention.

BROWN: So, the administration said today we’ll track these people down. We will get them beyond, I guess, this belief that Zarqawi somehow was involved. Are there any clues out there that we heard about?

ENSOR: This is going to be very, very difficult. They’ve been looking for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi for several years now. There’s a large price on his head. He’s been blowing up a lot of things in Iraq according to him and according to U.S. intelligence. They don’t know where he is, so it’s — I don’t think they have any clues right now, at least none that I know of — Aaron.

A subsequent more definitive report by CNN was aired 2 days later on 13 May 2004

The CIA confirms that Nicholas Berg’s killer was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi; The CIA acknowledges sticking to strict rules in tough interrogations of top al Qaeda prisoners.” (CNN)

BLITZER Because originally our own linguists here at CNN suspected that — they listened to this audiotape and they didn’t think the it sounded, the sounded like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. But now definitively, the experts at the CIA say it almost certainly is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi?

ENSOR: They say it almost certainly is. There’s just a disagreement between the CNN linguists and the CIA linguists. The U.S. Government now believes that the person speaking on that tape and killing Nick Berg on that tape is the actual man, Abu Musab al- Zarqawi.

Did the US officials check the mysterious website or was it CNN?

The video footage published on the website was called «Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi shows killing of an American». ” Then the CIA experts released a statement saying that Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi was the man in the mask who beheaded the US citizen Nick Berg in front of a camera.” (See  http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/SAT405A.html ). Yet several reports question the authenticity of the video. (http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CAR405A.html ).

Al Zarqawi is Jordanian. Yet the man in the video “posing as Jordanian native Zarqawi does not speak the Jordanian dialect. Zarqawi has an artificial leg, but none of these murderers did. The man presented as Zarqawi had a yellow ring, presumably a golden one, which Muslim men are banned from wearing, especially so-called fundamentalists.” (See Was Nick Berg killed by US intelligence? by Sirajin Sattayev, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/SAT405A.html

Another report states that Zarqawi was dead.

Immediately when the issue of his artificial leg was mentioned in relation to the video, US officials revised their story, stating they were not sure whether he actually lost a leg:  “U.S. intelligence officials, who used to believe that Zarqawi had lost a leg in Afghanistan, recently revised that assessment, concluding that he still has both legs.” (News and World Report, 24 May 2004).

There were a number of other aspects of the video, which suggest that it was a fraud: there was no blood when Nicholas Berg was beheaded. The audio was not in synchrony with the video, indicating that the film might have been manipulated.

3/11 The Madrid 11 March 2004 Train Bombing

While the press dispatches provide no evidence of of Al Zarqawi’s involvement in the Madrid 3/11 bombing, several of the reports implied, without supporting evidence, that he was involved. According to the CIA, the Moroccan group which allegedly “supervised the bombings in Madrid, [were] acting as a link between al- Zarqawi and a cell of mostly Moroccan al-Qaeda members.” (The Australian, 27 May 2004)

A CNN statement two days after the 3/11 Madrid bombing states that Al Zarqawi may be planning attacks on “soft targets” in Western Europe:

LISOVICZ: And Jonathan, specifically, Abu Musaab al Zarqawi is someone you have described as al Qaeda 2.0, which is pretty scary.

SCHANZER: Yes. Abu Musaab al Zarqawi is the man we caught; we intercepted his memo last month. U.S. intelligence officials found this memo. It indicated that he was trying to continue to carry out attacks against the United States. He was seeking help from the larger al Qaeda network and was seeking to foment internecine violence inside Iraq. This is a man dangerous; he’s been linked to attacks in Riyadh, Istanbul and Morocco. This is essentially a freelancer. This is a lone wolf, someone that’s acting alone in the name of al Qaeda.

CAFFERTY: Where do we stand in your opinion on this war on terrorism? We have got this terrible situation in Madrid. We’ve got this fellow, Zarqawi, you are talking about, the lone Wolf that is active, some think inside Iraq. We have got terrorist attacks happening there. There is discussion all over Western Europe of fear of terrorism, possibly being about to increase there. Are we winning this war or are we losing it? What is your read?

SCHANZER: I think we’re winning it. We’ve certainly — I mean counterterrorism at its core is just restricting the terrorist environment. So we’ve cut down on the amount of finances moving around in the terrorist world. We have arrested a number of key figures. So we are doing a good job.(CNN,13 March 2004)

For details on the Madrid bombing see, Madrid ‘blueprint’: a dodgy document by Brendan O’Neill at  http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/ONE404A.html

Extending the War on Terrorism

Are “we winning or loosing”  the war on terrorism.  These statements are used to justify enhanced military operations against this illusive individual, who is confronting US military might, all over the World. Al Zarqawi is used profusely in Bush’s press conferences and speeches in an obvious public relations ploy.

You know, I hate to predict violence, but I just understand the nature of the killers. This guy, Zarqawi, an al Qaeda associate — who was in Baghdad, by the way, prior to the removal of Saddam Hussein — is still at large in Iraq. And as you might remember, part of his operational plan was to sow violence and discord amongst the various groups in Iraq by cold- blooded killing. And we need to help find Zarqawi so that the people of Iraq can have a more bright — bright future. (George W. Bush, Press Conference, 1 June 2004, emphasis added)

And with a new interim Iraqi government, US and British troops would be in Iraq at “the request” of the interim government, in an agreement sanctioned by the UN.

“The terrorists are still at large”: The tasks of the so-called “multinational force” would include “preventing and deterring terrorism”, namely going after Al Zarqawi, as a means to “establishing democracy” under G-8′s “political and economic reform in the Middle East and North Africa.”


Annex:

Selected Alleged Al Zarqawi Terrorist events

Assassination of Iraqi Governing Council President Izz-al-Din Salim (17 May 2004)

According to a mysterious website the Islamic Renewal Organization’s (IRO) forum at www.tajdeed.net and www.lajnah22.co.uk , Salim was executed by a Abu-Mus’ab al-Zarqawi affiliated group, the so-called  “Military Wing of the Jama’ah al-Tawhid wa-al-Jihad,”. (quoted in BBC Monitoring, May 19 2004)

Bomb Attacks in Baghdad (6 May 2004)

Well, coalition officials say that this car bomb, which went off at about 7:30 in the morning, bears all the hallmarks of Abu Musab al- Zarqawi, that Jordanian national who, coalition officials have consistently said, they believe is behind many of the car bombs that have rocked this country in recent months.

He also has ties, it is believed, with Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network.

Now this bomb, as I said, went off at a time when many workers were headed towards the Green Zone. That’s the headquarters of the U.S.-led coalition.

Went off at a checkpoint. And when that happened, five Iraqi civilians were killed. A U.S. soldier, as well as the suicide bomber. Now, his nationality is not clear.

A claim of responsibility for the bombing has been put on a web site by a rather shadowy group that claims Zarqawi is its amir or its leader. The statement indicated that the bomber was from Saudi Arabia and that the car was packed with 600 kilograms or about 1,300 pounds of TNT

The Attack on the Basra Oil Facility (27 April 2004)

Responsibility for this attack by Zarqawi was based on information from the same mysterious website. No substantiating evidence based on police reports was presented:

BLITZER: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is now being blamed for the attack against the oil facilities near Basra. He’s being blamed for what happened , the near terrorist attack in Amman, Jordan. Dan Senor, first to you, then I’ll bring General Kimmitt in. Is he to blame for all of this?

SENOR: Well, it certainly looks to be that way, Wolf. But it’s too early to tell. He is a very bad guy. He’s an international terrorist. Zarqawi has very direct ties to al Qaeda. He’s been involved with al Qaeda for a number of years. Several months ago, we discovered a document that was drafted by Mr. Zarqawi, headed for the senior al Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan that outlined his battle plan for Iraq. And in there were very specific operations that he had taken credit for that occurred in the past and he described the sorts of operations that he would like to be involved with going forward.

Another CNN report on the 27th of April 2004 states without evidence that Zarqawi was responsible for the bombing of an oil facility in Basra.

BLITZER: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is now being blamed for the attack against the oil facilities near Basra. He’s being blamed for what happened , the near terrorist attack in Amman, Jordan. Dan Senor, first to you, then I’ll bring General Kimmitt in. Is he to blame for all of this?

SENOR: Well, it certainly looks to be that way, Wolf. But it’s too early to tell. He is a very bad guy. He’s an international terrorist. Zarqawi has very direct ties to al Qaeda. He’s been involved with al Qaeda for a number of years. Several months ago, we discovered a document that was drafted by Mr. Zarqawi, headed for the senior al Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan that outlined his battle plan for Iraq. And in there were very specific operations that he had taken credit for that occurred in the past and he described the sorts of operations that he would like to be involved with going forward.

Suicide bombing in Baghdad

Bombings in Baghdad and Basra, March 17-18 , 2004

Basra’s car bomb attack has remarkable similarities to what happened here in Baghdad last night. The Basra bombing, the target was a Alzeiten (ph), a small residential hotel out of the way. Again, the modus operandi, the way of delivering the bomb was a vehicle.

The attack took place just a little over an hour ago. Basra is in the British sector of Iraq and we’re told British troops rushed to the scene immediately. Again, similarities between what happened in Baghdad last night, where the target was the Mount Lebanon Hotel. Now it’s the Alzeiten in Basra. The Iraqi police are saying, in the context of the Basra attack, that anywhere between three and five people were killed. Always the early indications of casualties and fatalities will fluctuate. You can be sure of that — Soledad.

O’BRIEN: Walt, you know, you just mentioned, you said specifically remarkable similarities. Right now there is a suspect in the Baghdad bombing. Al- Zarqawi has been named as a suspect.

I know it’s early yet in the Basra bombing, but is there anything so far that is connecting this man to the bombing in Basra?

RODGERS: Yes, there is. But remember, what the U.S. military is saying at this point is that they believe this bombing here in Baghdad and the one in Basra will have the same hallmarks, which is to say, it’s an Islamist group. The car bomb, the way of detonating it, when the forensic experts go through what they’re expecting to find is similarities between what happened here in Baghdad last night and what happened last August 19th, when the United Nations compound was attacked here, killing 22 people.

What they are saying is that Abu Musab Al- Zarqawi is one of the leading suspects in the war on terror here in Iraq. They believe he’s spearheading the attacks here. But they’re also saying another Islamist group, Ansar al-Islam, could be responsible. In truth, what they’re saying is they’re not really sure who did it, but they just have a hunch — Soledad.

The signatories to this statement, all academics at Israeli universities, wish it to be known that they utterly deplore the aggressive military strategy being deployed by the Israeli government. The slaughter of large numbers of wholly innocent people, is placing yet more barriers of blood in the way of the negotiated agreement which is the only alternative to the occupation and endless oppression of the Palestinian people. Israel must agree to an immediate cease-fire, and start negotiating in good faith for the end of the occupation and settlements, through a just peace agreement.

If you are an Israeli academic, working in Israel, and would like to sign this statement, please send an email to Prof. Rachel Giora [email protected] with your name, title and affiliation.

Academics in Israeli universities who have signed the statement above:

Prof. Rachel Giora, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Emmanuel Farjoun, Hebrew University
Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Hebrew University
Dr. Kobi Snitz, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
Dr. Anat Matar, Tel Aviv University
Dr Efrat Ben-Zeev, Ruppin Academic Center
Prof. As’ad Ghanem, Haifa University
Prof. Anat Biletzki, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Adi Ophir, Tel Aviv University
Dr. Ovadia Ezra, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Zvi Tauber, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Vered Kraus, Haifa University
Dr. Yuval Yonay, Haifa University
Prof. Oded Goldreich, Weizman Institute
Prof. Dana Ron, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Gadi Algazi, Tel Aviv University
Professor Mira Ariel, Tel Aviv University
Professor Idan Landau, Ben Gurion University
Professor As’ad Ghanem, Haifa University
Dr. Ayelet Ben-Yishai, Haifa University
Prof. Micah Leshem, Haifa University
Dr. Ilan Saban, University of Haifa
Dr. Avishai Ehrlich, TAU
Dr. Ivy Sichel, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Prof. Yehuda Shenhav, TAU
Dr. Hannah Safran, The Academic College for Society and the Arts
Dr. Yael Ben-zvi, Ben-Gurion University
Prof. Dudy Tzfati, Hebrew University
Dr. Tikva Honig-Parnass, Jerusalem
Professor David Blanc, University
Dr. Haim Yacobi Bezalel, Ben Gurion University
Elizabeth Ritter, Ben-Gurion University
Paul Wexler, Professor Emeritus, Tel-Aviv University
Prof. Tal Siloni, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Amatzia Weisel, Tel Aviv University (retired)
Prof. Tamar Katriel, Haifa University
Dr. Haim Deuelle Luski, Tel Aviv University & Bezalel Academy of Art
Prof. Matania Ben-Artzi, Hebrew University
Dr. Roy Wagner, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Professor Uri Hadar, Tel Aviv University
Professor Shlomo Sand, Tel Aviv University
Professor Yuri Pines, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Amira Katz, Hebrew University Jerusalem
Prof. Julia Horvath, Tel-Aviv University
Dr. Arie M. Dubnov, University of Haifa
Dr. Raz Chen-Morris, Bar Ilan University
Dr. Amalia Sa’ar, University of Haifa

Manila, Philippines – Groups demanding the cancellation of Philippine debts delivered luggage full of questionable loan contracts and conditionalities to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, who is visiting the country from July 14 to 15.

“Goodbye, Mr. Kim, and take your oppressive loans with you,” chanted members of the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) and Focus on the Global South during a staged send-off for “nuisance visitor” Mr. Kim.

The groups, denouncing new World Bank loans for recovery efforts in typhoon-devastated areas, said that the Philippines needs grants, not enlargement of its debts, to recover from the death and destruction caused by super-typhoon Yolanda.

“We are now almost a billion dollars deeper in debt with the World Bank, and another billion with the Asian Development Bank. These so-called development banks have shamelessly lent to a country devastated by the effects of climate change while still hell-bent on collecting interest payments and principal amortization for Philippines debts, including those that did not benefit the people. These new loans should be revoked,” said Sammy Gamboa, FDC Secretary-General.

According to FDC and FGS, conditionalities attached to World Bank loans have denied the Filipinos access to their resources for decades. These policies have compelled the Philippines to prioritize debt service over spending for essential services. This is why the Marcos legacy of automatic appropriations for debt payments has been kept by the 1987 Administrative Code.

“Debt payments have drained the public purse resulting in the privatization, deregulation and liberalization of key industries and service sectors because the government, as dictated by international financial institutions, needed to mobilize private investors. But look at where we are now. Not only are we facing corruption by public officials, but also corporate pillage as prices of goods and services unjustly skyrocket,” said Mary Ann Manahan of Focus on the Global South.

The groups added that the World Bank does not only impose growth-stunting policies on the nation, it is also financing the destruction of the country’s natural resources, thus contributing to the Philippines’s vulnerability to the effects of climate change.

The World Bank lobbied for the passage of the 1995 Mining Act and has provided loans and investments to private mining explorations, such as infusing $9.4 million to Mindoro Resources Ltd. for the company’s exploration for and extraction of nickel, copper and gold in Agusan del Norte, Mindanao Island.

Contact: Mary Ann Manahan, Focus on the Global South Program Officer // Sammy Gamboa, FDC Secretary-General, +63932 872 6169

GMO Myths and Truths

July 17th, 2014 by Global Research News

Genetically modified (GM) crops are promoted on the basis of a range of far-reaching claims from the GM crop industry and its supporters.

They say that GM crops:

  • Are an extension of natural breeding and do not pose different risks from naturally bred crops
  • Are safe to eat and can be more nutritious than naturally bred crops
  • Are strictly regulated for safety
  • Increase crop yields
  • Reduce pesticide use
  • Benefit farmers and make their lives easier
  • Bring economic benefits
  • Benefit the environment
  • Can help solve problems caused by climate change
  • Reduce energy use
  • Will help feed the world.

canola plants and tractorHowever, a large and growing body of scientific and other authoritative evidence shows that these claims are not true. On the contrary, evidence presented in this report indicates that GM crops:

  • Are laboratory-made, using technology that is totally different from natural breeding methods, and pose different risks from non-GM crops
  • Can be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than their natural counterparts
  • Are not adequately regulated to ensure safety
  • Do not increase yield potential
  • Do not reduce pesticide use but increase it
  • Create serious problems for farmers, including herbicide-tolerant “superweeds”, compromised soil quality, and increased disease susceptibility in crops
  • Have mixed economic effects
  • Harm soil quality, disrupt ecosystems, and reduce biodiversity
  • Do not offer effective solutions to climate change
  • Are as energy-hungry as any other chemically-farmed crops
  • Cannot solve the problem of world hunger but distract from its real causes – poverty, lack of access to food and, increasingly, lack of access to land to grow it on.

Gmo myth report coverBased on the evidence presented in this report, there is no need to take risks with GM crops when effective, readily available, and sustainable solutions to the problems that GM technology is claimed to address already exist.

Conventional plant breeding, in some cases helped by safe modern technologies like gene mapping and marker assisted selection, continues to outperform GM in producing high-yield, drought-tolerant, and pest- and disease-resistant crops that can meet our present and future food needs.

Download a PDF of the full GMO Myths and Truths report

A pro-Palestinian protester shouts anti-Israeli slogans in a massive street march in Paris, Sunday, July 13, 2014.

French authorities have forbidden pro-Palestinian protests in some cities, citing potential tension between the opponents of the Israeli atrocities and the backers of the Tel Aviv regime.

A police official said Wednesday that a protest march against the recent Israeli military attacks against the Gaza Strip planned for Saturday in Paris is banned because of “the serious risk of disruption of public order that such a protest could engender, in a context of heightened tension,” AP reported on Thursday.

According to the report, the official spoke on condition of anonymity since he was not authorized to be publicly identified.

Authorities have also banned protests in the cities of Nice and Lille, the report added.

After several thousand pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched peacefully Sunday through Paris, clashes reportedly broke out among small groups, prompted by attacks from the radical pro-Israeli group known as the Jewish Defense League on some of the protesters.

The Zionist group, which is most active in the US and Western Europe, is fiercely anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim and has engaged in several terror attacks against Arab and Palestinian figures.

This is while local reports have blamed a recent attack at a Paris Synagogue on the anti-Israeli protesters, an allegation that local observers view as yet another anti-Muslim publicity effort.

France has Western Europe’s largest Muslim and Jewish populations.

Since the Beginning of the Israeli Offensive on Gaza:

221 Palestinians Killed, of Whom 179 Are Civilians, Including 45 Children and 32 Women, and 1,458 Others Wounded, Mostly Civilians, Including 432 Children and 298 Women;

312 Houses Targeted and Destroyed and Hundreds of Others Extensively Damaged

Thousands of Palestinian Civilians Forcibly Displaced

Israeli occupation forces have continued their brutal and immoral offensive on the Gaza Strip for the 8th consecutive day, and have continued the policy of collective punishment in disregard for the international law and humanitarian law, which ensure protection for civilians in times of war, and in violation of the principles of necessity, proportionality and distinction. Israeli forces have continued their aerial, ground and sea attacks throughout the Gaza Strip, causing more civilian casualties and damaging civilian facilities, including houses and mosques.  In disregard for the lives of children, Israeli forces killed 4 Palestinian children while they were playing at the beach in Gaza City.  At night, Israeli forces accepted a truce suggested by the United Nations for 6 hours on Thursday, 17 July 2014.  PCHR is concerned that Israeli forces may attack Palestinian civilians during this truce, like what happened during “Operation Cast Lead” (2008-2009).

From 10:00 on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 to 10:00 on Thursday, 17 July 2014, 26 Palestinians, 21 of whom are civilians including 9 children and 3 women, were killed.  Additionally, 119 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were wounded – this number includes 31 children and 52 women.  Israeli warplanes also targeted and destroyed 26 houses.

The latest developments since the press release issued by PCHR yesterday noon have been as follows:

The Northern Gaza Strip:

Israeli warplanes launched 48 airstrikes and Israeli tanks and gunboats fired dozens of shells targeting houses, agricultural plots, open areas and a mosque.  As a result of these attacks, a Palestinian child and a member of an armed group were killed, and 23 others, including 9 children and 5 women, were wounded. Additionally, Israeli warplanes targeted 5 houses and destroyed 3 of them.

The most significant attacks were as follows:

-       At approximately 16:00 on Wednesday, 16 July 2014, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at Othman Bin ‘Affan Mosque in Be’r al-Na’ja area.  As a result, 5-year-old Ra’ed Mohammed Sari was killed, and 3 civilians, including the child’s father, were wounded.

-       At approximately 20:50, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a 4-storey house belonging to the al-Madhoun family in Beit Lahia.  The house was damaged.

-       At approximately 21:15, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a house belong to Mohammed Wirsh Agha in Beit Lahia.  The house was completely destroyed.

-       At approximately 23:50, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a 5-storey house belonging to Fathi Hammad, former Minister of Interior, in Beit Lahia.  The house was damaged.

-       At approximately 00:45 on Thursday, 17 July 2014, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a house belonging to ‘Omar Hassan al-Far in Jabalya.  Soon after, an Israeli warplanes launched a missile at the house and destroyed it.

-       At approximately 04:20, an Israeli drone fired a missile at members of a Palestinian armed groups in al-’Atatra area in Beit Lahia, killing one of them, Ahmed Rajab Raihan, 23, and wounded 3 others.

-       At approximately 06:30, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a house belonging to Sah’ban Mohammed Dakka in Jabalya. Soon after, an Israeli warplanes launched a missile at the house and destroyed it.

Gaza City:

Israeli warplanes launched 20 airstrikes and Israeli gunboats and tanks fired shells targeting houses, civilians, agricultural lands and open areas. As a result of these attacks, 7 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children, were killed, and 45 others, including 8 children and 8 women, were wounded.  Additionally, 9 houses were targeted and 8 of them and a money exchange shop were destroyed.

The most significant attacks were as follows:

-       At approximately 11:00 on Wednesday, 16 July 2014, Israeli drone fired 2 missiles at a 5-storey house belonging to Rafiq Ismail al-Nu’aizi, in which 40 people live, in al-Shuja’iya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City.  Soon after, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at the house and destroyed it.  Before the attack, Israeli forces had phoned the owner and order evacuation of the house.

-       At approximately 11:30, Israeli drone fired 2 missiles at a 3-storey house belonging to Sa’id Ramadan Haddad, in which 25 people live, in al-Sha’af neighborhood in the east of Gaza City.  Soon after, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at the house and destroyed it.  Before the attack, Israeli forces had phoned the owner and order evacuation of the house.

-       At approximately 12:30, Israeli drone fired 2 missiles at a 3-storey house belonging to Jaber Jabr Jundiya, in which 20 people live, in al-Shuja’iya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City.  The house was extensively damaged.

-       At approximately 13:00, Israeli drone fired 2 missiles at a 4-storey house belonging to Khaled Mustafa Harara, in which 4 families live, in al-Shuja’iya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City.  Soon after, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at the house and destroyed it.

-       At approximately 14:00, Israeli drone fired 2 missiles at a 3-storey house belonging to ‘Aahed Mohammed Habib, in which 12 people live, in al-Shuja’iya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City.  Soon after, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at the house and destroyed it.

-       At approximately 15:00, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at ‘Abdul Rahman Ibrahim Khalil al-Serji, 37, and his child, 16-year-old ‘Omar, who were on an agricultural plot belonging to the family in al-Zaytoun neighborhood in the southeast of Gaza City.  As a result, the father was killed and the child was seriously wounded.

-       At approximately 16:10, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at a number of Palestinian children who were playing at Gaza beach.  As a result, 4 children were killed: Zakaria ‘Aahed Bakr, 10; Ismail Mohammed Subhi Bakr, 10; Mohammed Ramez ‘Ezzat Bakr, 11; and ‘Aahed ‘Aattaf ‘Aahed Bakr, 10.  A fifth child, 8-year-old Hamada Khamis Bakr, was seriously wounded.

17-7-2

The children of the Bakr family run away from an Israeli attack at the beach

17-07-3

The place where the children were attacked

-       At approximately 18:00, an Israeli drone fired a missile at 3 Palestinian civilians who were sitting near the debris of a house that had been destroyed by Israeli warplane in Sheikh ‘Ejlin neighborhood in the southwest of Gaza City.  Two civilians were killed: Hussam Jamal Hassouna Shamallakh, 30; and Mohammed Kamel Mohammed ‘Abdul Rahman, 32.  The third civilian was wounded.

 

-       At approximately 00:30 on Thursday, 17 July 2014, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a house belonging to Maher Saleh Farawana, in which 17 people live, in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood in the south of Gaza City.  A few minutes later, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at the house and destroyed it.

-       Also at approximately 00:30, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a 6-storey house belonging to Amal Yousef Muhanna, in which 43 people live, in al-Nafaq Street in Gaza City.  A few minutes later, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at the house and destroyed it.

-       At approximately 01:30, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at a currency exchange shop belonging to Maher Musbah Abu Ghanima in al-Jalaa’ Street in the center of Gaza City.  The shop was destroyed. Abu Ghanima’s house had been also attacked on 15 July 2014.

-       At approximately 03:30, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a house belonging to Hamza Subhi al-Yazji, in which 35 people live, in al-Yarmouk Street in Gaza City.  A few minutes later, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at the house and destroyed it.

-       At approximately 09:30, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a 2-storey house belonging to Arafat Mohammed al-Minawi, a university lecturer, in which 23 people live, in al-Shuja’iya  neighborhood in the east of Gaza City.  A few minutes later, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at the house and destroyed it

The Central Gaza Strip:

Israeli warplanes launched 14 airstrikes targeting houses, agricultural lands and open areas.  As a result of these attacks, 2 Palestinians, including a civilians, were killed, and 14 others, including 6 women and 2 children, were wounded.  Six houses and a store were also destroyed.

The most significant attacks were as follows:

-       At approximately 17:30 on Wednesday, 16 July 2014, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a 3-storey house belonging to Shihda ‘Abed Rabbu Abu Dahrouj, in which 15 people live, in al-Zawaida village.  A few minutes later, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at the house and destroyed it.

-       At approximately 18:30, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at a store under a house belonging to Kamel ‘Eid al-Hawajari in al-Nussairat refugee camp.  The store was destroyed.

-       At approximately 19:00, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a house belonging to ‘Alaa’ Mahmoud al-Danaf, in which 8 people live, in Deir al-Balah.  A few minutes later, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at the house and destroyed it.

-       At approximately 19:10, an Israeli drone fired a missile at an inhabited house belonging to Hatem Yousef al-Roubi in al-Boreij refugee camp.  A few minutes later, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at the house and destroyed it.

-       At approximately 19:30, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a 2-storey house belonging to the heirs of Waleed Jaber Abu Hain, in which 8 people live, in Gaza Valley village.  A few minutes later, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at the house and destroyed it.

-       At approximately 21:40, an Israeli drone fired a missiles at members of a Palestinian armed group in Wadi al-Salqa village, east of Deir al-Balah, wounding 2 of them.  One of them, Mohammed Mahmoud Ibrahim al-Qaddem, 22, died of his wound later.

-       At approximately 02:00 on Thursday, 17 July 2014, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a house belonging to Ma’awia Mahmoud Basheer, in which 8 people live, in Deir al-Balah.  A few minutes later, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at the house and destroyed it.

-       At approximately 06:00, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at a house belonging to Salem Saleh ‘Olayan Fayad in Deir al-Balah. As a result Fayad was killed, and another two residents of the house were wounded.

Khan Yunis:

Israeli warplanes launched 30 airstrikes targeting houses, agricultural plots and open areas in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis.  Israeli tanks and gunboats also fired dozens of shells at agricultural and open areas.  As a result, 10 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children and 3 women, were killed, and 22 others, including 3 children and 6 women, were wounded.  Israeli warplanes also targeted 4 houses and destroyed 2 of them.  They also bombarded a flat and damaged it.

The most significant attacks were as follows:

-       At approximately 11:15, Israeli tanks positioned at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel fired a number of shells at Abu Tu’aima area in the east of ‘Abassan village, east of Khan Yunis.  As a result 2 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded: Mo’men Mohammed Abu Tu’aima, 30; and Siraj Tariq Abu Tu’aima, 12.

-       At approximately 11:25, Israeli drones fired 2 missiles at a civilian car that was traveling in Bani Suhila village, east of Khan Yunis.  As a result, 3 civilian passengers were killed: Khadra al-’Aabed Salama Abu Daqqa, 65; ‘Omar Ramdan Hassan Abu Daqqa; and Ibrahim Ramdan Hassan Abu Daqqa, 10.  Additionally, 3 members of the family who were also traveling in the car were also wounded.  Additionally, 7 passing civilians, including 4 women, were wounded.

-       At approximately 16:25, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a shed on an agricultural plot in al-Satar al-Gharbi area in the north of Khan Yunis, destroying it and wounded 3 Palestinian civilians.

-       At approximately 17:20, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at a flat belonging to the ‘Abdul ‘Aati family in the Austrain neighborhood in the west of Khan Yunis. The flat was damaged and fired broke out in it.

-       At approximately 17:35, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at two Palestinians brothers were sitting in the yard of their house in ‘Abassan village, east of Khan Yunis.  The two civilians were killed: Akram and Kamal Mohammed Abu ‘Aamer, 32 39 respectively.

-       At approximately 18:55, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a number of Palestinian civilians who were sitting in the year of a house belonging to Kawthar Hussein al-Astal, 58, in al-Katiba neighborhood in Khan Yunis.  As a result, she and 3 of her relatives, including 2 children, were killed: Ussama and Yasmeen Mahmoud Hussein al-Atal, 8 and 4 respectively; and Hussein ‘Abdul Nasser Hussein al-Astal, 23.

-       At approximately 20:45, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a house belonging to te al-Hajj family in Khan Yunis refugee camp.  About 15 minutes later, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at a nearby 3-storey house belonging to Su’ad ‘Ali al-Zayani, in which 21 people live, and destroyed it.

-       At approximately 22:30, Israeli drones fired 2 missiles at a 3-storey house belonging to the sons of Kamel Sleem al-Saqqa, and a house belonging to their mother, Zainab Sa’id Mohammed al-’Abadla, 73.  As a result, the woman was seriously wounded.  She died of her wound on the following day morning.

-       At approximately 22:00, Israeli drones fired a 2 missiles at a house belonging to Fu’ad Furaij Abu Ma’rouf in Jourat al-Lout area in the south of Khan Yunis.  A few minutes later, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at the house, damaging it extensively.

-       At approximately 22:50, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at the vicinity of al-Iman Mosque in Bani Suhaila village, east of Khan Yunis. The mosque was damaged, but no casualties were reported.

-       At approximately 01:15 on Thursday, 17 July 2014, Israeli tanks positioned at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel fired a number of shells at Palestinian communities in the east of Khan Yunis.  As a result, a water tank, agricultural plots, a minaret and a mosque were damaged, and 3 Palestinian civilians were wounded.

-       Also at approximately 01:15, Israeli gunboats shelled Khan Yunis beach.  No casualties were reported.

-       At approximately 04:10, Israeli warplane launched 7 airstrikes on agricultural plots in al-Manara, Ma’an, al-Satar al-Gharbi and al-Qarara areas.  No casualties were reported.

-       At approximately 05:30, Israeli drones fired 2 missiles at a house belonging to Qais ‘Adnan al-’Assar in al-Manara neighborhood in the south of Khan Yunis.  A few minutes later, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at the house and destroyed.

Rafah:

Israeli warplanes launched 35 airstrikes targeting houses, agricultural lands and open areas in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah.  As a result, 5 Palestinians, including 2 civilians, were killed, and 15 others, including 5 children and 4 women, were wounded.  Two houses were destroyed.

The most significant attacks were as follows:

-       At approximately 19:10 on Wednesday, 16 July 2014, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a house belonging to Ahmed Najem al-Masri, in which 7 people live, near Saladin Date in the south of Rafah without a prior warning. Twenty minutes later, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at the house and destroyed it.  A number of nearby houses were damaged.

-       At approximately 21:15, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a motorbike in Musabbeh neighborhood in the north of Rafah.  As a result, Mohammed ‘Abdul Hadi al-Masri, 27, a nurse, who was riding the motorbike was seriously wounded.

-       At approximately 01:00 on Thursday, 17 July 2014, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a house belonging to ‘Aadel ‘Abdul Hamid al-’Attar, in which 11 people live, in Yebna refugee camp in the south of Rafah.  A few minutes later, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at the house and destroyed it.  Before the attack, Israeli forces phoned a neighbor ordering evacuation of the house.

-       At approximately 04:20, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a number of Palestinian civilians who were on their way to a mosque in al-Junaina neighborhood in Rafah for the Dawn Prayer.  As a result, Mohammed ‘Abdul Rahman Hassouna, 70, was killed, and Mohammed Ahmed al-Hout, 35, was seriously wounded.  He died a few hours later.

-       At approximately 09:30, Israeli drones fired 2 missiles at 3 members of a Palestinian armed group in al-Nasser village, north of Rafah, killing them instantly: Mohammed Nabil Ghanem, 27; ‘Abdullah Salem al-Akhras, 30; and Basheer Mohammed ‘Abdul ‘Aal, 19.

PCHR reiterates condemnation, expresses utmost concern for these crimes, and:

1)   Warns of deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip in light of this continuous Israeli military escalation, threats to expand military operations, and the continued tightened closure of the Gaza Strip;

2)   Calls upon the international community to act immediately to stop these crimes, and renews the call to the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligation under Article 1 of the Convention to ensure that it is respected at all times, and their responsibilities under Article 146 to pursue perpetrators of serious violations of the Convention, which are determined in Article 147, which lists violations of the Convention amounting to war crimes; and

3)   Calls for establishing a UN fact-finding mission to investigate suspected war crimes committed by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, and take necessary steps to prosecute responsible for them.

The United States is manipulating politics and attempting to exercise “19th century classical imperialism” in Afghanistan because it wants a “client regime” in Kabul, says an American antiwar activist.

In a phone interview with Press TV on Tuesday, Rick Rozoff, with the Stop NATO International Network, said Afghanistan “since 1918 had a rich history of parliamentary democracy, in many ways even currently, much more diverse than the situation that obtains in the United States where, as is infamously known, there are two major political parties that have a monopoly on both houses of Congress and the White House.”

And now, Rozoff added, we see “the US stepped in and claimed to be the defender of representative government, of parliamentary democracy; that is a bitter irony.”

“What is painfully obvious is that the US and NATO want to maintain a client regime in Kabul,” Rozoff said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry held meetings with Afghanistan’s two presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani and incumbent President Hamid Karzai on Friday and Saturday, trying to strike a deal ending the deadlock over the June 14 election run-off between the leading contenders.

On Saturday, Kerry said the Afghan presidential rivals have agreed to a full audit of ballots. In a joint meeting with Ghani and Abdullah, Kerry said both candidates have accepted to stand by the eventual result of the audit.

Rozoff says Washington is only interested in securing a “bilateral security agreement or status of forces agreement that permits the United States and its Western military allies to maintain not only a longstanding but ultimately an indefinite military presence in the country.”

The Periodic Slaughter of Palestinians

July 17th, 2014 by Prof. Lawrence Davidson

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with President Obama on Sept. 1, 2010. (White House photo by Pete Souza)

To the Israeli government, the periodic slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza is called “mowing the grass,” a chore that frequently needs repeating. But this violence is wearing on the world’s conscience, including moral objections from more and more Jews.

As the Israelis once more inflict collective punishment in Gaza (a tactic which happens to constitute a war crime), it is time to consider the mind-set behind their repeated violent and sadistic behavior. One way to do so is to listen to the rationalizations they use, also repeatedly, to justify their actions.

Among the many rationalizations offered by Israeli leaders for their violent behavior is the assertion that the Arabs, and Palestinians in particular, “only understand force.” If you do not use force against them they interpret its absence as a sign of weakness and this only encourages them to stand against the Zionist state.

This notion that the Arabs only understand force is one of the holdover stereotypes of a mostly, but obviously not completely, bygone age of imperialism.When it comes to the Israelis, this persistent myth about the need to employ force against the Arabs is mixed up with their own post-Holocaust determination to “never again” react to a threat passively. They believe that sort of reaction is what killed millions of European Jews, and so it is no longer psychologically acceptable.

The core problem with these lines of thought is that they are seriously misleading – both in terms of Arab/Palestinian perceptions and European Jewish behavior.

Since coming into existence in 1948, Israel has attacked Palestinian individuals and infrastructure thousands of times. Israeli conventional wisdom would claim that this has been done in self-defense and to dissuade the Palestinians from future attacks.

The self-defense rationale is misleading because Israelis have, from the beginning, been acting offensively: most of what is now Israel and the Occupied Territories was taken violently and then ethnically cleansed of most of its Arab inhabitants with the ongoing goal of setting up a religiously exclusive state. Palestinian violence has always been a reaction to Israeli aggression.

The argument that harsh retaliation against Palestinian acts of resistance would dissuade them from further resistance (that is, the Palestinians “only understand force”) proved long ago to be false. It has never worked, and yet too many Israelis have clung tenaciously to this lie (a small minority, such as the Israeli journalist Gordon Levy, know the lie for what it is and bravely keep proclaiming the truth).

Why has the lie persisted so long? Well, there is the old adage that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is a form of insanity, but perhaps that is a bit too superficial for the case at hand.

One reason for Israel’s repetitive violence is that if Israelis admit it is a tactical failure and desist, they might have to negotiate a genuine peace treaty with the Palestinians. Many will immediately say that they have, repeatedly, tried to negotiate while always coming up against Palestinian intransigence.

However, if one takes a close and objective look at these efforts at negotiation, one finds that they are facades or false fronts behind which we find Israeli intransigence. As the liberal Zionist M. J. Rosenberg has pointed out, the Israelis have never negotiated in good faith.

When the Palestinians react to Israel’s bad faith, the Israelis break off negotiations and blame the Palestinians. Israel then returns to its pattern of repetitive violence.

In truth, negotiating in good faith means compromising Israel’s ambition to settle all of the land of Palestine, and that is something the hard-core Zionists will not do. As a consequence it is not the Israelis, but the Palestinians who have lacked a partner who will negotiate responsibly.

Engrained Racism

Another reason for the repetitive violence is that once Israel has raised several generations of citizens to believe that the Palestinians are implacable enemies who “only understand force,” it becomes politically difficult to change the message despite its elemental falseness.

The myth of the impossibility of negotiating with the Palestinians is believed by so many Israelis that if a politician started advocating a genuine compromise, he or she would be marginalized or worse. Remember the fate of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who almost certainly was not operating in wholehearted good faith toward the Palestinians but was assassinated anyway because of the fear that he was moving in that direction.

Finally, there is the connection the Israelis make between giving up their violence and appearing weak. Yet given their overwhelming superiority in weaponry and the fact that its repeated use has destroyed Palestinian society without stopping Palestinian attacks, why be concerned that switching to non-violent tactics, such as good faith negotiating, would signal weakness?

My guess is that the Israelis aren’t really afraid that the Palestinians would interpret things this way. The Israelis are concerned that they themselves would feel that they would be replicating the alleged passivity of European Jews in the face of the Nazi onslaught.

In other words, the Israeli fear of showing weakness is not an attitude that references outside groups. It references only the Israeli concern for their own self-image. It is the fear of seeing themselves as akin to European Jews passively going to the gas chambers that stands as the greatest psychological barrier to an Israeli decision to halt their repetitive violence.

As noted above, this is so despite the fact that their interpretation of European Jewish behavior is historically misleading. For hundreds of years Europe’s Jews faced discrimination and persecution that periodically turned violent. These episodes of violence, known as pogroms, were murderous but short-lived.

The Jewish communities learned that if they kept their heads down and allowed the storm to wash over them, their casualties were less. They learned this not just by being passive, but by comparing such behavior with the consequences of active resistance.

When in the Twentieth Century the Nazis’ anti-Semitism emerged, most of the Jewish leadership interpreted it as yet another episode of pogroms, and they reacted to it in the manner that history had taught them would result in the least harm. Of course, they were wrong. The Nazis were a qualitatively different sort of enemy. But the Jews of Europe only discovered this when it was too late.

Still, there were plenty of episodes of active Jewish resistance ranging from concentration camp revolts to the battle of the Warsaw ghetto. Unfortunately, the Israelis and most other Zionists forget about this history and condemn Europe’s Jews for being shamefully passive in the face of mortal danger.

Thus was born the slogan “never again.” This state of mind also encouraged the Zionists to see the Palestinians, and indeed all Arabs, as latter-day Nazis to be repeatedly vanquished with repetitive violence.

The Future

The Israelis would expel or kill a majority of the Palestinians left in their homeland if the world let them. Israel would do so not only because it would clear the way for Jewish settlement of all of Palestine, but also because it would allow the Israelis to feel psychologically redeemed – redeemed from the allegedly sinful passivity displayed by the victims of the Holocaust.

The consequences of this state of mind are, of course, catastrophic – first and foremost for the Palestinians, who suffer death and destruction for their justified resistance to oppression. The Zionists see them as latter-day Nazis but in truth they resemble the resisters in the Warsaw ghetto. And, if that rings true, then who do the Israelis now resemble?

That point leads us to ask what are the consequences of Israeli behavior for the Jews and Judaism? After all, Israel claims to represent world Jewry. So, the consequences of persecuting the Palestinians have been, are and will continue to be disastrous to the reputation of Jews and Judaism.

In relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there are now three categories of Jews: a) those who have publicly taken a stand opposing Israel’s behavior; b) those who publicly support Israel’s behavior and its rationalizations; and c) those who stand aside, try to ignore what is going on, and just carry on with their lives.

Whatever the people or situation, this last category is usually the largest. It is also the category that concerns me the most for, unbeknownst to many of these Jews, their wellbeing is being used falsely to justify the policies of a habitually violent state and its racist ambitions.

But there are intimations that this largest group of Jews is becoming conscious of Israel’s crimes and this is a welcome and necessary beginning. The next question is what actions, if any, will consciousness bring?

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.

All In With Chris Hayes had the most ethnically diverse guestlist we found on cable news.

A survey of major cable news discussion programs shows a stunning lack of diversity among the guests.

FAIR surveyed five weeks of broadcasts of the interview/discussion segments on several leading one-hour cable shows: CNN‘s Anderson Cooper 360° and OutFront With Erin BurnettAll In With Chris Hayes and the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, and Fox News Channel‘s O’Reilly Factor and Hannity.

Guests were coded by gender, race/ethnicity and occupation, as well as the affiliations of partisan guests-those who are identified with a party as current or former government officials or campaign professionals.

Data was collected during the first two weeks of February, the first week of March and the first two weeks of April. (Fewer weeks were monitored in March to limit the distorting effects of the singular focus on the missing Malaysian plane story.) Guests who appeared in interview or roundtable segments were the only appearances that were included; taped segments, which normally include a correspondent and soundbites from various guests, were excluded.

In total, there were 1,015 guests in the five-week period. Maddow was an outlier with only 49 guests during the study period; the other shows ranged from All In with 164 to AC360 and OutFront, both with 212.

Among guests with a partisan affiliation, Democrats outnumbered Republicans, 104 to 84. That is almost entirely due to the lopsided nature of partisan-identified guests on MSNBCAll In With Chris Hayes had a 35-7 advantage for Democrats, while Rachel Maddow had 12 Democrats to two Republicans.

Fox News Channel, as you might expect, featured more Republicans than Democrats, but the GOP enjoyed a more modest advantage: 24-15 on theO’Reilly Factor and 29-21 on Hannity. Many of the Democrats appearing on Fox News are what one might call “Fox News Democrats” (Extra!3/12), people like Kirsten Powers, Bob Beckel and Lanny Davis, who often represent a center-right faction of the party and are called on to bash more progressive Democrats.

The largest category of guests were other members of the media: 55 percent of the guests were either journalists (400) or pundits (159). Current and former government officials were the next largest category, accounting for almost 10 percent of guests (107). There were 37 military guests (current and former), 35 representatives of think tanks and 32 academics. Other prominent guest categories were lawyers (21) and business representatives (17).

Some patterns were a function of the study period. Fifteen guests were affiliated with the Bundy ranch standoff, when a conservative rancher decided to protest having to pay to graze his cattle on federal land. All of those guests appeared on the Hannity show. CNN’s obsessive coverage of the disappeared Malaysian airplane was evident in their programming in March, which featured pilots, aviation experts and scientists who would normally not appear on cable chat shows.

Eighty-four percent of guests were white (848). The most and least diverse shows in terms of ethnicity were both on MSNBC: People of color were 27 percent of guests on All In and only 6 percent on Maddow. Just three ofMaddow’s guests were people of color; none of these were women.

Hayes’ previous show, the weekend Up With Chris Hayes, had been credited for presenting more diverse discussions than other programs, particularly the Sunday morning chat shows (Media Matters3/14/13). Hayes explained (CJR.org3/28/13) that it was simply a matter of monitoring the show’s guest list: “A general rule is if there are four people sitting at table, only two of them can be white men.”

The Fox News shows were also mostly white, with people of color constituting 10 percent of the guests on O’Reilly and 15 percent on Hannity. On CNN,AC360‘s guest list was 14 percent people of color, and OutFront (19 percent) was slightly better.

Media diversity demographics

People of color constitute about 36 percent of the US population. On All In, the show that came closest to parity, there were 76 percent as many people of color as there would have been if the sources had matched the nation’s demographics. By comparison, people of color appeared 53 percent as much as their demographic proportion on OutFront, 39 percent on AC360, 42 percent on Hannity and 29 percent on O’Reilly. On Maddow, people of color were represented just 17 percent as often as they occur in the general public.

Latinos—who make up 16 percent of the US population—were particularly underrepresented on cable, with only 31 appearances (3 percent of sources) in the study. Eight of these appearances, more than a quarter of the total, were byCNN contributor Sunny Hostin on AC360; only four other Latino women appeared across all six shows. The diversity of Latino voices was even further diminished on Fox, where five of the seven Latino guest appearances were made by Fox personality Geraldo Rivera.

Male guests widely outnumbered women on every show (730 to 285), making up 72 percent of the guest lists. Just 5 percent (46) of cable news guests were women of color.

The show closest to gender parity was the O’Reilly Factor, where women were 36 percent of guests, followed by Hannity, also on Fox, with 35 percent women. However, all but one of O’Reilly’s female guests were white; Hannity had only four women of color on his show. This pattern is related to the phenomenon of the “Fox News blonde,” the young, attractive female guests who are regulars on both shows; they’re not actually all blonde, but they are almost uniformly white  (SteveDennie.com1/26/12).

CNN‘s Erin Burnett had the most male-dominated guest list, with only 19 percent female guests. All In was 28 percent female, while Maddow andAC360‘s guests were both 25 percent women.

With women making up about 51 percent of the US population, they got 72 percent of their demographic share on the O’Reilly Factor, 69 percent onHannity, 55 percent on All In, 48 percent on both Maddow and AC360, and only 37 percent on OutFront.

Women of color (about 18 percent of the US public) were strikingly underrepresented on most shows, getting 34 percent of their demographic share on AC360, 26 percent on OutFront, 11 percent on Hannity and 3 percent on the O’Reilly FactorMaddow, again, had no women of color as guests during the study period. All In came closest to parity, with women of color at 60 percent of their demographic share.

Non-Latino white men, on the other hand, were overrepresented on every show. The Fox News shows had the least overrepresentation, with white men appearing 162 percent as much as they do in the general public on Hannity, and 167 percent on the O’Reilly Factor. Next came All In, where white men had 175 percent of their proportion of the public. White men appeared a little more than twice as often as their demographic share on Out Front (209 percent), AC360 (210 percent) and Maddow (213 percent).

Research assistance by Sara Qureshi and Aldo Guerrero.

Demographic Representation on Cable News

SIDEBAR:

Alternative Media: How Alternative Is It?

FAIR thought it would be interesting to contrast the elite dominance of these cable shows with an independent outlet: Democracy Now!, the daily TV/radio broadcast heard on hundreds of affiliate stations. The structure of the show is in some respects very similar to cable news programming, with long-form interviews, debates and panel discussions. But the show is perhaps best known for featuring experts and analysis that are rarely heard in the corporate media.

Democracy NowSo how did Democracy Now!stack up against corporate-owned cable news? The show interviewed only two former or current government officials, and featured far more guests who were activists—27 percent. The most common category of guests, as on cable, was journalists, but many of these were drawn from independent/alternative media, a type of reporter seldom seen on cable news.

The guest list during the study period was 79 percent white—66 of the 84 guests—better than the cable average, but still bested by All In. Latinos were 8 percent of the guests (seven appearances), African-Americans 6 percent (five guests). Overall, people of color were represented 67 percent as much as they appear in the general public.

Women were 40 percent of the show’s guests, making DN! closer to parity than any of the cable shows studied. This was 79 percent of their proportion of the public.

White men were overrepresented on Democracy Now!, but at a lower rate—148 percent of their demographic share—than on any of the cable news shows we looked at. Women of color were underrepresented, appearing 53 percent as often as their proportion of the public—more than most of the cable shows, but behind All In.

We also looked at the diversity of the guestlist on FAIR’s CounterSpin radio program. Because it’s a weekly show with usually only two guests per episode, we looked at a longer time frame: the first five months of 2014, during which the show featured 41 guests.

CounterSpin‘s 20 female guests gave it 95 percent parity with women in the general public, and the 14 people of color interviewed represented 93 percent of their demographic share. Women of color, with six guests, were 86 percent of demographic parity. The 13 white men the show featured exactly matched the white male proportion of the population. -P.H.

Dr. Basman al-’Ashi, Director of al-Wafa Hospital and two of the patients | Anne Pak, ActiveStills, 15 July 2014.

B’Tselem has discovered that the Israeli military included the al-Wafaa rehabilitative hospital in a-Shuja’iyeh neighborhood in the demand it issued to residents of the a-Shuja’iyeh and a-Zeitun neighborhoods to evacuate their homes by today, July 16, 2014 at 8:00 AM. Hospital Director Basman al-‘Ashi told B’Tselem over the phone that the hospital received a recorded message last night at around 11:10 PM, saying that a-Shuja’iyeh residents must leave the area and move north to the city center. Shortly thereafter, at around 11:30 PM, the hospital received another phone call from a person saying he was from the military who repeated the demand to evacuate the hospital specifically.

According to al-‘Ashi, the hospital currently has 17 patients, between the ages of 14 and 95, all suffering from different degrees of paralysis. There are also some thirty staff members in the hospital at this time and a number of international activists. Al-‘Ashi clarified that there is no intention to evacuate the hospital, noting that this was one of the only hospitals in Gaza to offer rehabilitative treatment for patients in these conditions.

The military’s demand to evacuate the hospital is unlawful. A hospital is not a military target and the military may not target it even after it is evacuated. The information B’Tselem has indicates that the hospital was ordered to evacuate as part of the sweeping demand to evacuate the entire neighborhood, in blatant disregard for the fact that evacuating a rehabilitation institution is a complicated task which may put lives at risk. There is no other rehabilitative institute in the area where patients can be transferred. These patients require special conditions that cannot be recreated. Transferring hospital patients is complicated and dangerous at the best of times. Under the current conditions in Gaza, the danger is mortal.

As the Western-backed regime in Kiev assaults pro-Russian militias in the major cities of eastern Ukraine, mass graves are coming to light in Slavyansk, the former opposition stronghold recently captured by Kiev. The government offensive is unfolding with the support of Washington and the European Union (EU), which yesterday imposed more sanctions to compel Moscow to abandon any support for opposition militias in Ukraine.

Andriy Lysenko, the spokesman for the Kiev regime’s Defense and Security Council, said yesterday that “hundreds of bodies of rebel fighters” had been found in shallow graves. Lysenko claimed some of the graves “have been mined by the terrorists”—apparently implying that some of the dead were killed during the siege of Slavyansk and buried by fellow opposition fighters before Kiev’s forces captured the town. Lysenko refused to give further details.

While the Kiev regime’s bombardment of Slavyansk doubtless caused hundreds of casualties, its own accounts show that the far-right Ukrainian nationalist militias it has mobilized are carrying out a campaign of political terror and murder in Slavyansk. Upon capturing the city, they detained all men between the ages of 25 and 35 on suspicion of supporting or giving aid, including medical aid, to the opposition militias.

On Tuesday, Interior Ministry official Anton Gerashchenko confirmed that two Slavyansk priests had been murdered for supporting opposition forces. “We found a grave of two priests from Slavyansk, who were tortured and killed by the Ukrainian nationalists,” Gerashchenko said. The bodies of two sons of one of the priests were discovered in the same grave as the priests’ mutilated remains.

The Odessa diocese confirmed that Ukrainian nationalists have threatened, beaten or kidnapped several Orthodox priests, many of whom they consider too close to Moscow. The Odessa diocese secretary, Archpriest Andrei Novikov, who has fled to Moscow fearing arrest by Ukrainian nationalist groups, said, “I’m sure if the government keeps its position, it will handle the physical liquidation of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine.”

Statements by top Kiev officials during the siege of Slavyansk amounted to a blank check for its far-right forces—including fascist militias such as the Right Sector and Azov Battalion and the newly formed National Guard—to murder civilians.

President Petro Poroshenko pledged that his forces would “liquidate” opposition fighters. Adopting the tactics the Nazis used against resistance fighters in occupied Europe during World War II, Poroshenko called for disproportionate killings in retaliation for losses suffered by his regime, saying: “For every soldier’s life, the militants will pay with dozens and hundreds of their own.”

A BBC report on the Azov Battalion makes clear the type of fascist trash the Ukrainian regime and its backers in Washington and the European Union are unleashing on the population of eastern Ukraine. It interviewed Mikael Skillt, a white supremacist and former Swedish Army sniper now fighting with the Azov Battalion. Skillt said the unit includes “national socialists” who wear swastikas, but there is “even one liberal, though I don’t know how he got there.”

The Azov Battalion, which is financed by billionaire oligarch Igor Kolomoisky and has recruiters traveling internationally, is led by Andriy Biletsky, the head of the Social National Assembly (SNA). The SNA’s online mission statement specifies that its goals are to “punish severely” interracial sexual relations and “to prepare Ukraine for further expansion and to struggle for the liberation of the entire White Race from the domination of the internationalist speculative capital.”

Contacted by the BBC, the Kiev regime defended the Azov Battalion. Gerashchenko said, “The Social National Assembly is not a neo-Nazi organization.” He claimed the only non-Ukrainians in the Azov Battalion were “journalists from Sweden, Spain and Italy who have come to report on the heroic achievements of the fighters in their struggle against terrorism.”

The fascist atrocities in Ukraine are an indictment of Washington and the European powers, which publicly encouraged pro-EU demonstrations in Kiev led by far-right forces in order to topple pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Having built up the Right Sector and other fascist militias to crush Yanukovych’s riot police and install a pro-Western regime in the February 22 putsch, the Western governments and media are now concealing the fascists’ crimes.

The atrocities in Slavyansk further expose the hypocrisy of the advocates of “human rights” imperialism who praised Western intervention in support of the Kiev protests and the February 22 putsch, portraying the right-wing, pro-EU opposition to Yanukovych as a movement for democracy (see: “In the service of imperialism: Right-wing “intellectuals” gather in Kiev”). Their silence on the crimes of the Kiev regime highlights their role as agents of imperialism and fascist reaction.

The Western imperialist powers are stepping up their support for the Kiev regime as it intensifies its civil war and political terror in eastern Ukraine. Yesterday, US President Barack Obama announced new sanctions against Russia at a White House press conference.

The measures target firms including Rosneft, the world’s largest oil company; Gazprombank, the banking subsidiary of natural gas giant Gazprom; independent natural gas producer Novatek; and development lender Vnesheconombank. They are also directed against separatist groups in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Donetsk and Luhansk. The sanctions restrict these entities’ access to US lending and the American financial system.

Obama said, “These sanctions are significant, but they are also targeted,” adding that they were designed to limit “spillover” effects for US companies.

Although Ukrainian government forces have repeatedly and provocatively shelled Russian border areas, Obama cynically placed responsibility for the crisis in Ukraine on Moscow. “We have to see concrete actions, and not just words that Russia in fact is committed to trying to end this conflict along the Russia-Ukraine border,” he said (see: “Moscow threatens response after Ukraine forces shell Russian border town”).

Meeting in Brussels yesterday, EU authorities imposed sanctions on “individuals or entities who actively provide material or financial support to the Russian decision-makers responsible for the annexation of Crimea and the destabilization of eastern Ukraine.” These sanctions include travel bans and asset freezes affecting 72 Russian persons and entities.

“The situation in Ukraine is unacceptable,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said. “The territorial integrity of that country is not being properly respected by Russia.”

EU authorities proceeded with the new sanctions against Russia even though the economies of the EU and Russia are closely linked. With the two economies doing over $300 billion in yearly trade, broader sanctions risk triggering an economic collapse across the region.

The Ukraine crisis has already had a serious impact on the European economy, according to figures released by the European statistics agency Eurostat, which found that EU exports to Russia have fallen 11 percent and Russian exports to the EU have declined by 9 percent.

The Israeli government intensified its barbaric nine-day bombardment of the Gaza Strip yesterday, as senior ministers issued new warnings of a full-scale ground assault that would send the Palestinian death toll—already exceeding 220—soaring further.

They did so confident of Washington’s full support. Speaking at the White House yesterday, President Barack Obama declared, once again, that Israel had a right to defend itself against rocket attacks. Cynically, he blamed the Hamas-led government in Gaza for the “heartbreaking” deaths and injuries of “so many innocent civilians.”

“There’s no country on Earth that can be expected to live under a daily barrage of rockets,” Obama said, effectively giving a green light for an Israeli escalation. “Now, yesterday Israel did agree to a ceasefire. Unfortunately, Hamas continued to fire rockets at civilians, thereby prolonging the conflict.”

While he claimed that the US government was working intensively for a truce, Obama’s comments pointed to the real purpose of the supposed ceasefire proposal cooked up earlier in the week by the US-backed military regime of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Issued to Hamas as an ultimatum, without any consultation, the Sisi-Netanyahu pact was nothing but a pretext for Israel to unleash a new, even deadlier, phase of its military onslaught.

According to media reports, Hamas had proposed its own truce, offering ten years of calm in exchange for a complete lifting of Israel’s crippling siege of Gaza and the release of dozens of prisoners detained over the past month. The Sisi-Netanyahu plan, drawn up with US backing, met none of these demands, beyond a vague promise to ease the economic and supply blockade of Gaza “once the security situation stabilises.”

Today, under the cover of a five-hour ceasefire requested by the UN, supposedly for “humanitarian” purposes to allow food supplies into Gaza, preparations are being made for an invasion. Its goal would be to pulverise Gaza and destroy the Hamas leadership that has governed Gaza since winning elections in 2006.

Eight thousand more Israel Defence Force (IDF) reservists were called up yesterday in readiness for a ground blitzkrieg, taking the total to 50,000. More than 100,000 Gaza residents were again barraged with automated phone messages and air-borne leaflets ordering them to evacuate their homes.

Yesterday’s bombing targeted both the homes of prominent Hamas leaders and innocent children, in a bid to further terrorise the entire 1.7 million population of the tiny overcrowded enclave.

Israeli missiles hit the residences of Hamas leaders—including Mahmoud al-Zahar, an international spokesman; Fathi Hamad, a former interior minister; Ismail al-Ashqar, an ex-member of parliament; and Bassem Naim, an adviser to the former prime minister, Ismail Haniya.

While striking these homes with pinpoint precision, missiles also slaughtered four boys, aged between 8 and 11, on a Gaza beach in full view of international journalists.

Witnessing the atrocity first hand, Guardian reporter Peter Beaumont noted that after an initial missile hit the sea wall of Gaza City’s small harbour, “four figures could be seen running, ragged silhouettes, legs pumping furiously along the wall. Even from a distance of 200 metres, it was obvious that three of them were children.”

Minutes later, “the second shell hit the beach, those firing apparently adjusting their fire to target the fleeing survivors. As it exploded, journalists standing by the terrace wall shouted: ‘They are only children’.”

When relatives gathered to bury the four dead boys, their uncle, Abdel Kareem Baker, 41, told reporters: “It’s a cold-blooded massacre. It’s a shame they didn’t identify them as kids with all of the advanced technology they claim they’re using.”

In a dismissive statement, Israel’s military said the deaths appeared to be the “tragic outcome” of an Israeli strike targeting Hamas “terrorist operatives.”

Mark Regev, spokesman for Netanyahu, said yesterday that an invasion of Gaza was “definitely an option.” Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, a frequent Netanyahu mouthpiece, urged a takeover of Gaza for a few weeks to “demilitarise” it, topple Hamas and pave the way to “something else.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman reiterated his call for an invasion. “[I]t is not possible to ensure summer vacation, a normal summer for our kids, without a ground operation in Gaza,” he said. “We expect the international community to back Israel diplomatically as we act to ensure our citizens will live in peace.”

Speaking to international journalists at the IDF’s Tel Aviv headquarters, an unnamed senior Israeli military official said the likelihood of an invasion was “very high.” An Israeli takeover of Gaza would take “a matter of days or weeks,” but could require an occupation “of many months.”

The official said the military had a variety of operational plans, including a full re-occupation of Gaza, which Israel seized in the 1967 war, withdrawing its settlers and soldiers only in 2005.

By yesterday, Israel had struck more than 1,800 sites in Gaza, exceeding the 1,500 targets of its eight-day assault in November 2012. More than 220 people have been killed and 1,500 injured. The Israeli army stated yesterday that “about half” of those killed have been civilians. However, the UN put the figure much higher, closer to 80 percent.

The Israeli leaflets dropped yesterday in northern Gaza and some neighbourhoods of Gaza City warned: “Whoever disregards these instructions and fails to evacuate immediately endangers their own lives, as well as those of their families.”

It was unclear how many residents were heeding the call. Hamas urged people to stay put, calling the warnings “psychological warfare.” In the densely populated and poor neighborhoods of Zeitoun and Shejaya in Gaza City, journalists said many people appeared confused, with some seeking shelter in friends’ homes deeper inside the neighborhoods rather than leaving.

“We got leaflets and calls to evacuate,” Um Mohammed Rahmi, 56, who was fleeing in a donkey-drawn cart with six of her neighbours, told Al Jazeera. “We don’t know where we are going. We don’t know where we should go … We are just going aimlessly.”

Hundreds of residents were seen walking in the streets, carrying small bags with belongings. “We don’t want to leave our homes, but we do this because of the children. There are many bombings and they get terrified,” Um Ramez said, as she and her grandchildren packed a car with clothes bags and food.

Meanwhile, on the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority regime of President Mahmoud Abbas blocked and suppressed protests against the Israeli offensive. Abbas was in Cairo yesterday to meet with Sisi, underscoring his complicity with the Egyptian and US administrations.

The Losers From U.S. Sanctions: AMERICAN Businesses

Who are the losers from U.S. sanctions?  American companies.

Two giant U.S. business groups – the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers – ran ads in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post protesting sanctions against Russia.  These are not do-good political groups … they are conservative, hard-nosed pro-business groups.

The New York Times reports today:

American business groups have objected to unilateral sanctions, arguing that they would only hurt domestic businesses while their European competitors swooped in.

The National Association of Manufacturers said it “is disappointed that the U.S. is fundamentally extending sanctions in increasingly unilateral ways that will undermine U.S. commercial engagement and reduce the effectiveness of the measures imposed.”

Zero Hedge notes that the sanctions don’t seem to have hurt Russia much:

[The U.S. has] underperformed Russia by almost 20% since unleashing the first set of sanctions and sell recommendations ….

U.S. News and World Report pointed out in April:

Sanctioning Russia’s energy sector is a bad idea that will only marginally hurt Russia ….

Russia is the world’s third largest oil producer, and U.S. or E.U. sanctions against Russia will dramatically lower the global supply, thus raising global prices.

Bloomberg also reports that American power plants are “desperately” turning to Russia for their coal.

And sanctioning Russia has also pushed Russia to bypass US-controlled oil and gas systems altogether, and pushed Russia, China and Iran closer together.

The Wall Street Journal reports that – according to a new study – sanctions against Iran cost the U.S. as much as $175.3 billion in lost export opportunities over 18 years

In other words, by demonizing countries instead of peacefully trading with them, the U.S. is shooting itself in the foot economically.

This is not an isolated problem …

Ron Paul says that sanctions against Russia and Iran are acts of war.   Some analysis agree and others disagree.

But it has become clear that hawkish, imperialistic policies no longer benefit the American economy:

Similarly, NSA’s mass surveillance is destroying the economy  … but making a handful of people

 The first two days this week gold was subjected to a series of computer HFT-driven “flash crashes” that were aimed at cooling off the big move higher gold has made since the beginning of June. During this move higher, the hedge funds, who typically “chase” the momentum of gold up or down, built up hefty long positions in gold futures over the last 6 weeks. In order to disrupt the upward momentum in the price of gold, the bullion banks short gold in the futures market by dumping large contracts that drive down the price and make money for the banks in the process.

As we explained in previous articles on this subject, the price of gold is not determined in markets where physical gold is bought and sold but in the paper futures market where contracts trade and speculators place bets on the price of gold. Most of the contracts traded on the Comex futures market are settled in cash. The value of the contracts used to short gold and drive down the price is well in excess of the actual amount of physical gold that is kept on the Comex and available for delivery. One might think that regulators would pay attention to a market in which the value of contracts outstanding exceeds by several multiples the amount of physical gold available for delivery.

The Comex gold futures market trades 23 hours per day on a global computer system called Globex and on the NYC trading floor from 8:20 a.m. EST to 1:30p.m. EST (the 8:30 a.m. opening time on the face of the graph below is a draftsman’s error). The Comex floor trading session is the highest volume trading period during any 23 hour trading period because that is when most of the large U.S. financial institutions and other users of Comex futures (jewelry manufactures and gold mining companies) are open for business and therefore transact their Comex business during Comex floor hours in order to achieve the best trading execution at the lowest cost.

The big hedge funds primarily trade gold futures using computers and algorithm programs. When they buy, they set stop-loss orders which are used to protect their trading positions on the downside. A “stop-loss” order is an order to sell at a pre-specified price by a trader. A stop-loss order is automatically triggered and the position is sold when the market trades at the price which was pre-set with the stop-order.

The bullion banks who are members and directors of Comex have access to the computers used to clear Comex trades, which means they can see where the stop-loss orders are set. When they decide to short the market, they start selling Comex futures in large amounts to force the market low enough to trigger the stop-loss orders being used by the hedge fund computers. For instance, huge short-sell orders at 2:20 a.m. Monday morning triggered an avalanche of stop-loss selling, as shown in this graph of Monday’s (July 14) action (click on graph to enlarge):

Graph1

In the graph above, the first circled red bar shows the flash crash that was engineered at 2:20 a.m. EST, a typically low-volume, quiet period for gold trading. 13.5 tonnes of short-sales were unloaded into the Comex computer trading system. The second circled red bar shows a second engineered flash-crash right before the Comex floor opened at 8:20 a.m. EST. This was triggered by sales of futures contracts representing 27.5 tonnes of gold. A third hit (not shown) occurred at 9:01 a.m. This time contracts representing 40 tonnes of gold hit the market.

The banks use the selling from the hedge funds to cover the short positions they’ve amassed and book trading profits as they cover their short positions at price levels that are below the prices at which their short positions were established. This is insider trading and unrestrained financial terrorism at its finest.

As shown on the graph below, on Tuesday, July 15, another flash-crash in gold was engineered in the middle of Janet Yellen’s very “dovish” Humphrey-Hawkins testimony. Contracts representing 45 tonnes of gold were sold in 3 minutes, which took gold down over $13 and below the key $1300 price level. There were no apparent news triggers or specific comments from Yellen that would have triggered a sudden sell-off in gold — just a massive dumping of gold futures contracts. No other related market (stocks, commodities) registered any unusual movement up or down when this occurred:

Graph2

Between July 14 and July 15, contracts representing 126 tonnes of gold was sold in a 14-minute time window which took the price of gold down $43 dollars. No other market showed any unusual or extraordinary movement during this period.

To put contracts for 126 tonnes of gold into perspective, the Comex is currently reporting that 27 tonnes of actual physical gold are classified as being available for deliver should the buyers of futures contracts want delivery. But the buyers are the banks themselves who won’t be taking delivery.

One motive of the manipulation is to operate and control Comex trading in a manner that helps the Fed contain the price of gold, thereby preventing its rise from signaling to the markets that problems festering in the U.S. financial system are growing worse by the day. This is an act of financial terrorism supported by federal regulatory authorities. Another motive is to help support the relative trading level of the U.S. dollar, as we’ve described in previous articles on this topic. And, of course, the banks make money from the manipulation of the futures market.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the branch of government which was established to oversee the Comex and enforce long-established trading regulations, has been presented with the evidence of manipulation several times. Its near-automatic response is to disregard the evidence and look the other way. The only explanation for this is that the Government is complicit in the price suppression and manipulation of gold and silver and welcomes the insider trading that helps to achieve this result. The conclusion is inescapable: if illegality benefits the machinations of the US government, the US government is all for illegality.

President Xi Jinping arrived in Fortaleza, Brazil, on Monday for a summit of the BRICS countries. Before embarking on the trip, he gave a joint written interview to the major media organizations from Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba.

During his ongoing Latin America tour, Xi will also pay state visits to the four countries above and attend the China-Latin America and the Caribbean Summit in Brazil.

The media organizations include Brazil’s Valor Economico, Argentina’s La Nacion, Venezuela’s Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, and Cuba’s Agencia Informativa Latino Americana.

The following is the full text of the interview:

1. How do you evaluate BRICS cooperation in the past five years since its inception and how would it be strengthened in the future? What is your expectation of the upcoming BRICS Summit in Fortaleza? Given the slowdown or even stagnation of the developed economies, great hopes are placed on the BRICS countries. How could the BRICS countries overcome their diversity to become the engine of the global economy?

Over the past five years, BRICS has formed a pattern of multi-tiered and wide-ranging cooperation that is led by the leaders’ meeting. Among BRICS countries, there has been growing political mutual trust, expanding practical cooperation in economy, finance, trade, development and many other areas as well as increasing communication and coordination on important international affairs.

What has happened has proved that when BRICS countries, which account for 42.6% of the world population, enjoy economic growth and social stability and work together for common development, it conforms with the call of the times for peace, development and win-win cooperation and will thus facilitate a more balanced world economy, more effective global governance and more democratic international relations.

The Brazilian author Paulo Coelho once said, “The world is in the hands of those who have the courage to live their dreams with their talent.” Today, the international landscape continues to undergo intricate changes. The world economy is recovering steadily, but still faces many risks and challenges. Against this backdrop, the Fortaleza summit has great significance in advancing BRICS cooperation as it will take stock of past progress and plan for the future. I hope that the summit could deepen cooperation, display inclusiveness and convey confidence.

To deepen cooperation means we need to make strategic planning for BRICS’ future development. At the Durban summit last year, I proposed that “BRICS should move toward the goal of integrated markets, multi-tiered network, connectivity by land, air and sea, and greater cultural exchanges”. This is my keen expectation for closer economic partnership among BRICS. I hope that all the members could make full use of the beginning summit of a new cycle to come up with new vision, find new dynamism, and solidify BRICS cooperation through better institutions, more mature policy coordination and more substantive practical cooperation.

To display inclusiveness means that BRICS countries should learn from and complement each other while opening up further to the rest of the world in pursuit of win-win outcome. Given the different national conditions and culture, the BRICS countries may have different views on certain issues. But such diversity and differences should and can motivate rather than impede complementary and inclusive BRICS cooperation. BRICS cooperation is not solely aimed at self improvement. It is intended to bring about common development through concerted efforts with all other countries. On the sidelines of the Fortaleza summit, the BRICS leaders will have a dialogue with leaders of South American countries. It is hoped that the two sides will have an in-depth exchange of views on regional and international issues of mutual interest, enhance mutual understanding and collaboration, and explore practical cooperation in the economic, trade, people-to-people and cultural areas.

To convey confidence means we should have full confidence in the solidarity and mutual trust among the BRICS countries and in the prospect of BRICS, and also boost the confidence of the market and people in the BRICS economies. It is important to take a long-term perspective. The BRICS countries have the need to pursue economic restructuring and innovative development. We also share the desire to safeguard international justice and equity and uphold the common interests of emerging markets and developing countries. As long as the BRICS countries continue to build political mutual trust and strategic consensus, make our voice heard and propose more solutions, we will contribute more positive energy to world economic growth, better global economic governance and world peace and development.

Brazil plays an active role in BRICS cooperation and has done a great deal of work to make the Fortaleza summit possible. I am confident that with Brazil as the chair, the Fortaleza summit will become another success in the history of BRICS cooperation.

2. What is your view of the China-Brazil global strategic partnership? In which areas will China cooperate with Brazil? Will China increase investment in Brazil?

The Chinese side and I myself attach great importance to growing the global strategic partnership with Brazil. I am delighted to see that, thanks to joint efforts, our political and strategic trust has reached an unprecedented level, and bilateral practical cooperation has reached such a depth and breadth as never seen before.

Last year, President Rousseff and I had two bilateral meetings on multilateral occasions. We also stayed in contact through phone calls. We have had in-depth discussion on China-Brazil relations and issues of shared interest, and reached important agreement on enhancing our mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields.

Two-way trade volume exceeded US$90 billion last year. China remains Brazil’s largest trading partner, and Brazil has become China’s ninth largest trading partner. The two sides have conducted win-win, fruitful cooperation in energy, resources, manufacturing, finance and agriculture. The practical cooperation between China and Brazil has not only generated more and more real benefits for our two peoples, but also brought our two countries more closely together in the course of development.

As major emerging markets and developing countries, China and Brazil have been engaged in effective strategic coordination on major global issues. We are both committed to making the international order more just and equitable and upholding common interests of developing countries.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of China-Brazil diplomatic ties. Confucius once said, “One should have no more doubts when he is 40.” I am looking forward to my state visit to Brazil. During the visit, the Brazilian leaders and I will sum up the experience of growing our bilateral relations, discuss concrete steps to build closer cooperation and exchanges in all fields and upgrade our bilateral relations. Our two countries should continue to see each other as important partners. China is ready to work with Brazil under the principle of mutual benefit to promote sustained growth of two-way trade. At the same time, we could, bearing in mind our respective plans of development, carry out industrial investment cooperation and keep exploring new areas of cooperation so as to contribute more to economic and social development of our two countries.

3. How do you assess the current China-Argentina strategic partnership? What do you think are the major areas in which the two countries will be able to work together?

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations more than 40 years ago, our bilateral ties have moved forward rapidly thanks to the joint efforts of the two sides. As a line from the Argentine epic Martin Fierro goes, “Brothers have to be united, because this is the first law.” China and Argentina have become trustworthy friends and equal partners in win-win cooperation.

Last year, President Cristina and I met at the G20 St. Petersburg Summit. We had an in-depth exchange of views on increasing exchanges and cooperation between our two countries in all fields. The meeting is still vivid in my memory. China appreciates Argentina’s commitment to the one-China principle and supports Argentina’s claim on the sovereignty of the Malvinas.

In 2013, bilateral trade reached US$14.8 billion, more than 2,400 times of the amount in the early days of our diplomatic ties. China has become Argentina’s second largest trading partner and a major source of investment. Argentina has become China’s fifth largest trading partner in Latin America. The two sides have had productive cooperation in energy, resources, agriculture, infrastructure development and finance, bringing real benefits to the two peoples. Thanks to the rich programs of people-to-people exchanges, mutual understanding and friendship between the Chinese and Argentine people have deepened. On major international and regional affairs, China and Argentina have maintained close and sound strategic coordination, effectively upholding common interests of developing countries.

My country and I personally attach great importance to China-Argentina strategic partnership. I look forward to having an in-depth exchange of views with President Cristina on bilateral relations and issues of mutual interest to chart the course for the growth of bilateral relations, forge closer exchanges and cooperation in all fields, promote balanced and steady growth of bilateral trade and upgrade mutually beneficial cooperation in industrial investment and infrastructure development so as to bring China-Argentina strategic partnership to a new level.

4. How do you evaluate the contribution by President Hugo Chavez to Venezuela-China relations? What is China’s expectation of enhancing cooperation and growing strategic partnership for common development with Venezuela under the leadership of President Maduro?

President Chavez was a great friend of the Chinese people. He was deeply committed to growing relations with China and personally involved in advancing practical cooperation between the two countries. The Chinese people will always remember him for his tremendous dedication and enormous contribution to the establishment and development of China-Venezuela strategic partnership for common development.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between China and Venezuela. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties, especially the establishment of strategic partnership for common development in 2001, China-Venezuela relations have witnessed comprehensive, sustained and rapid growth. The two countries enjoy close high-level exchanges and ever-deepening political mutual trust. Our practical cooperation in energy, finance, infrastructure development, agriculture and hi-tech has been productive. Bilateral trade volume grew to US$19.2 billion last year from only US$1.4 million in the early days of diplomatic relations. China has become Venezuela’s second largest trading partner. Venezuela is China’s fourth largest trading partner in Latin America, an important partner for energy cooperation and a major market of contracted projects. The ever-closer people-to-people exchange has cemented popular support for the friendly relations between the two countries. Last September, President Maduro paid a successful state visit to China, giving a strong boost to China-Venezuela relations. Recently, the two sides have jointly organized a series of activities in celebration of the 40th anniversary, which have enhanced the mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples.

The relationship between China and Venezuela is at an important stage from which it will move to a new era based on past achievements. China highly values its relations with Venezuela and stands ready to work with Venezuela, taking the 40th anniversary as an opportunity, to upgrade bilateral relations, step up mutually beneficial cooperation in all fields and promote greater development of bilateral relations in the new era. I look forward to visiting Venezuela to have an in-depth exchange of views with President Maduro on all-dimensional cooperation between the two countries, draw plans for the future of bilateral relations, take our relations to a new level and bring more benefits to our two peoples.

5. How do you view the friendly and cooperative relationship between China and Cuba and its future development?

I visited Cuba in June 2011. During that visit, I had open and in-depth exchange of views with President Raul Castro and was deeply impressed by the warmth and hospitality of the Cuban people.

In 1960, Cuba took the lead among countries in the Western Hemisphere to establish diplomatic relations with New China, opening a new chapter for the growth of China’ s relations with Cuba and with Latin America and the Caribbean. Over the past half a century and more, the friendly relationship between China and Cuba has increasingly matured and our cooperation has been steadily enriched. Our two countries have progressed hand in hand along the path of socialism with our respective characteristics, supported each other on issues concerning our respective core interests and coordinated closely on major regional and international issues. This relationship has stood the test of constant changes in the international landscape and set an example of unity and cooperation between developing countries.

Cuban national hero Jose Marti said, “To be united: this is the word of the world.” China and Cuba are good friends, good comrades and good brothers who share the same visions and beliefs. Both countries have now come to a critical juncture in our development when opportunities must be seized for common development. We should maintain close high-level exchanges, share experience in governance, speed up cooperation in priority areas such as agriculture, infrastructure, energy and mineral resources, tourism, renewable energy and biotechnology, enhance people-to-people and local exchanges and conduct close coordination on multilateral arenas. I believe that with concerted efforts of the two sides, our high-level political relations will be translated into rich results in practical cooperation, and our mutually-beneficial and friendly cooperation will be lifted to new levels.

I look forward to meeting President Raul Castro during my visit to Cuba to take stock of experience in growing the bilateral relationship and chart the course for its future development.

6. How would you comment on the current level of relations between China and Latin America and the Caribbean? What are your plans and visions for the growth of the overall relationship between the two sides?

“Bosom friends make distance disappear.” This line from an ancient Chinese poem well captures the relations between China and Latin America and the Caribbean. China and Latin American and the Caribbean states are all developing countries in about the same development stage and face the same task of striving for development. We support each other in pursuing development paths that suit our respective national conditions and are committed to making the international order more just and equitable. These are the fundamental reasons which enable us to seek common ground while shelving differences and stand by each other’s side in our joint pursuit of development.

Since the beginning of the new century, China and Latin American and the Caribbean states, focusing on the theme of common development, have deepened mutual trust in the political field, expanded cooperation in economy and trade, learned from each other in cultural and people-to-people exchanges and coordinated closely in international affairs. This has made it possible for us to make big strides in our relations and set a model for South-South cooperation.

Practical cooperation in economy and trade is an important pillar for relations between the two sides. In recent years, two-way trade has continued to rise and reached a record high of US$261.6 billion in 2013. China has become the second largest trading partner and the third largest source of investment of Latin America and the Caribbean. Our cooperation in energy and resources, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, manufacturing and high-tech has produced rich results for mutual benefit, giving a strong boost to economic growth and improvement in people’ s wellbeing on both sides.

Now, we are presented with important opportunities and blessed with better conditions and a more solid basis to further grow our relations. China always views its relations with Latin American and the Caribbean states from a strategic height and long-term perspective, and stands ready to work together with them to advance the comprehensive and cooperative partnership featuring equality, mutual benefit and common development between the two sides to a higher level, so as to better benefit the people of China, Latin American and the Caribbean states, and the rest of the world.

To establish a forum between China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) for stronger cooperation between China and the region is consistent with the trend of regional and interregional cooperation. It is also the shared aspiration of China and Latin American and the Caribbean states.

At the second CELAC Summit held in Havana, Cuba in January this year, a special statement on the establishment of a China-CELAC forum was adopted, which laid an important foundation for promoting the overall cooperation and uplifting the relationship between the two sides. Cuba has played an important role in this regard, which is highly appreciated by China.

Now, conditions are ripe for the establishment of the China-CELAC forum. China is ready to work with CELAC to make good use of the platform for overall cooperation provided by the forum in the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, conduct dialogue and cooperation across the board, and strive for mutual complementarity and common development, so as to contribute to upholding the common interests of the two sides, advancing South-South cooperation, and promoting regional and world peace, stability and development.

7. Bolivarian Revolution advocates upholding and promoting a multi-polar world. How do you view the issue of democracy in international relations?

The international situation is undergoing profound and complex changes. The trend toward a multi-polar world is gathering momentum, multiple growth centers are emerging in various regions of the world, the overall strength of emerging markets and developing countries is rising, and the international balance of power is more favorable to maintaining world peace.

“When the great way is followed, all under the heaven will be equal.” Equality and justice is the noble goal pursued by people around the world in international relations. China resolutely upholds international justice and equality, and is committed to promoting a multi-polar world and democracy in international relations. We maintain that the destiny of the world must be taken into the hands of peoples of all countries and that world affairs can only be handled through consultation by governments and peoples around the world. All countries, regardless of their size, strength or wealth, are equal members of the international community and should work together for greater democracy in international relations.

The growth of China-Venezuela relations will help enhance the overall strength of developing countries and promote democracy in international relations. The two sides should step up coordination on the international stage and work with other developing countries to jointly uphold the overall interests of developing countries.

8. How would China further deepen reform? What is the significance of China’s development for its foreign policy? What kind of role does China hope to play in the world?

Despite the enormous achievements in its development, China remains a big developing country with a population of more than 1.3 billion. It remains and will continue to be at the primary stage of socialism for a long time. The Chinese people are striving to realize modernization, a great undertaking unprecedented in human history that requires painstaking efforts.

“Just as jade needs to be polished, one needs to go through trials and tribulations to be strong.” In the past 30 years and more, over 600 million Chinese have been lifted out of poverty, accounting for 70% of the global achievement in poverty reduction. The share of the Chinese economy in the world economy has risen from 1% to 12%, and China’s economic growth now contributes to nearly 30% of global growth. The most important reason for the tremendous accomplishments in China’s development is that we are committed to reform and opening-up in light of China’s national conditions and have embarked on a path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

The Chinese people have long had a strong inclination towards innovation. As ancient Chinese sayings go, “Even an established nation like Zhou still regards self-renewal as its mission;” and “As heaven maintains vigor through movements, a gentleman should constantly strive for self-perfection.” What has happened shows that without reform and opening-up, China could not have come to where it is today, nor can it have a future. Over the past 30 years and more, we have resolved a series of major issues through reform. Going forward, we will continue to meet the various difficulties and challenges through reform.

We have put forward “two centenary goals”, namely, to double the 2010 GDP and per capita income of urban and rural residents and complete the building of a society of moderate prosperity in all respects by 2020; and to build a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious and realize the Chinese dream of great national renewal by the middle of this century. We are now comprehensively deepening reform, improving and developing the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and modernizing the state governance system and capacity. We will promote reform of the economic, political, cultural, social and ecological systems and the Party’s development system in a balanced way.

We will advance reform with the political courage and wisdom of “venturing into the mountain despite the fact there might be tigers there”. When we step onto the stone, we will leave our footprints on it; and when we clutch a piece of iron, we will leave our handprints on it. This is the spirit we will uphold in pushing forward reform. By so doing, we strive to provide a stronger driving force for China’s modernization, bring more and greater benefits to the Chinese people and create new development opportunities for the world.

China’s basic national conditions and status as the most populous developing country remain unchanged and development is still our top priority. The purpose of China’s foreign policy is to uphold world peace, promote common development and foster a sound external environment for deepening reform and realizing the “two centenary goals” within China. The Chinese people love peace. It is not in the genes of the Chinese nation to invade other countries or seek world hegemony. China does not subscribe to the outdated logic that “a strong country is bound to seek hegemony”. Committed to the path of peaceful development, China actively seeks a peaceful international environment for its development and also promotes world peace through its own development. By committing itself to peaceful development, China will make a better use of the opportunities in the world and also enable the world to better share in the opportunities brought by China, so as to promote sound interactions and mutual benefits between China and other countries in the world.

As China develops, it will better play its role as a major responsible country. We will be more active in working to uphold world peace, advocate common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security and commit ourselves to peacefully resolving disputes through consultation and negotiation. We will firmly uphold the UN-centered post-war international order and actively participate in UN peacekeeping missions and regional security dialogue and cooperation.

We will play a more active role in international affairs, commit ourselves to improving international governance system, and make vigorous efforts to increase the representation and voice of developing countries in international affairs. We will offer more Chinese solutions, contribute Chinese wisdom and provide the international community with more public goods.

We will more actively promote common development, uphold the right approach to justice and interests with a priority to justice, and promote North-South dialogue and South-South cooperation. In particular, we will help other developing countries achieve self and sustainable development.

Today, not only the Russian mass media has raised the issue of the investigation of war crimes in Ukraine, but delegates of European media as well. Journalistic investigation led me to the Russian refugee camp, located not far from the place of military events. There is another world, though the planet is the same – the Earth. Water, food, light, absence of firing, a manifestation of humanity in everyday life allow people to feel safe again and with gratitude to accept the help and care in the neighboring state. All that they have lost overnight, continuing to remain citizens of Ukraine.

Before me there are those, who saw the war in the XXI century with their own eyes. I’m listening to them and internally I shudder at the thought that all this is experienced by the people whom 23 years ago we were unified with.

- For three days the relatives who remained in Lugansk haven’t slept. Happily you can still sleep at night as the sleep is impossible. Now there is a tank battle and a grenade attack. My mother called, crying.

Correspondent: Tell me, please, if the civilians tried to hang out any identification marks – the red cross flag or any flags so that they were not being bombed or shot.

-  It`s useless! We tried it many times. The grandfather took a white flag when he went with children.  They were all shot. They do not respond to any signs. The most terrible thing for those whose homes are near the mines is that they are destroyed. In settlements and in the city there are tipper-offs who orient mercenaries of the Kiev junta to bomb certain objects – shops, mines, hospitals. Snitches deliberately spread the rumors that the Chechens are located elsewhere. Since June 16, at 8 pm there have been bombed a military sports camp “Forest Dawns”, where there were only two watchmen and a granddaughter of one of the guards. I saw it with my own eyes how the aircraft dropped cluster bombs.

Correspondent: How did the armistice announced by Poroshenko go? Did the representatives of the National Guard suggest to hand over the weapon?

- There was armistice those days, they were shooting us as well. The weapon was never suggested to be handed over.  Informants were waiting at places for the representatives of the National Guard and when they arrived, they only pointed the finger at those who had a different opinion and who participated in the defense of the territory. At schools at the Farewell Bell the children of such informers threatened our children: “I`ll shoot you and I`ll kill you”. It was the feeling that this was a zombie uttering. In the village Novoukrainka, of Luhansk region my acquaintances were talking in the company of neighbors and one of them said that they are leaving to Russia with the family the following morning. At night they were found dead. Only a 5-year-old child got to the intensive care, but I don’t know at all, whether he survived. After canceling the truce the bombing became more fierce. In the village Makarovo the locals asked the volunteers to remove a checkpoint to pass up. As soon as militants departed, the civilians were opened fire at. They rushed back crying “militants, help.” They were fleeing with children. But the soldiers of the National Guard were shooting them ruthlessly. The houses of my relatives from the settlement were completely destroyed.  Now, being here, I don’t know what happened to my house at all.

Correspondent: How often do you communicate with your relatives who remain in Ukraine?

- Often, every day. But our calls are suppressed, the talk is permanently interrupted. When I call my relatives, they ask: “Don’t tell anything superfluous, talks are being monitored”. We try to communicate very quickly.

Correspondent: Tell me, what the relations between you, who are in favour of  the declaration of  the independence and those who are for the present Ukrainian power are?

- When we come across each other and have to communicate, everyone expresses their opinion. We treat them normally and quietly. They’ve got a completely different reaction. They are ready, figuratively speaking, “to scratch our eyes” and avoid any communication.

Correspondent: What do you think causes such aggression?

- First and foremost, they are defiantly against communicating in Russian. And second, after the referendum, when Poroshenko refused to recognize our voluntary decision.

Correspondent: Hasn’t the Ukrainian language become the national language for you during the years of independence of the republic?

- No. As many years as we have lived in our land for so many years we have been speaking only Russian. Someone on the outskirts of villages knows and can speak Ukrainian too, but it doesn’t cause any anger in us or desire to kill. Earlier the Ukrainian language was taught as a subject in schools, and now Russian is established as a separate subject, and all the lessons should be conducted in Ukrainian. It`s hard for children to study, they didn’t get used to it, many of them don’t understand the language. English is taught through Ukrainian. Children have to translate from English into Russian at first, and then into Ukrainian.  Why is there such a complexity?

Correspondent: How is the higher education organised?

–  The same.  Students must address the professors only in Ukrainian. All the subjects are taught only in Ukrainian.  The Russian groups of training aren’t present.  Though it is more convenient to many professors to teach in Russian, they are obliged to teach in Ukrainian.

Correspondent: Does the majority of people run to Russia?

- Yes. Where else can we go? Those who have relatives in other regions of Ukraine, go there. We have no one there. But our children can’t go, for example, to Western Ukraine even to study. The daughter of my sister after leaving school wanted to enter a Medical Academy to study to study to be a pharmacist. In Lugansk, it was also possible to study, but it`s considered that this specialization is better taught in Lviv university. The girl called Lviv to find out what documents were necessary for the admission. She was immediately asked where she was from. As soon as they heard that she was from Lugansk region, they responded:  “Prepare coffins.” And one more my acquaintance took out his wife to Ternopol to live at her aunt’s. At first, the wife was going shopping all by herself, but now she is afraid. Our dialect is different. You can hear the way we speak now.

Correspondent: It turns out, once defining your specific dialect, a feeling of hatred towards you is immediately erupted?

–  It turns out so. Therefore, we have nowhere to run. I used to have friends earlier in Lviv and Lviv region. Now none of them keeps in touch with me.

Correspondent: Do you think you will be able to return to the territory of Ukraine soon?

– Where to return now when the power station and the railroad are blown up? There is no light, no gas, no food. Children are deprived of lives to sell their organs. The Russian journalists and television operators are killed to get rid of the proofs of the criminal actions. It`s awfully to see the torn bodies and guts. If the National Guard want to take away the corpses of the soldiers, the militants always give them such an opportunity. As soon as the militants try to carry away the soldiers from the battlefield, the National Guard open fire straightaway. They even shot the grandfather Ostap who asked to take away the perished militants: “Sonny, in fact you are the same people as we are. Give them away. I will bury the guys”. He was walking with a stick, he had his hair and beard all gray, whom could he do any harm? For what? Do they want to starve us because of the slate gas? It is necessary to America to have it by the means of such bloodshed?

Correspondent: What TV channels are broadcast at your place? Which of the things you have told about above are shown on the Ukrainian television?

– The Ukrainian channels didn’t show the truth, the actual state of things. We stopped watching them. We watch Russia 24 and Lifenews.

Correspondent: How are you accepted in Russia?

– Oh, in Russia we were met very well. Here in the camp for refugees the staff is remarkable and the volunteers help us absolutely free of charge. They provide us with the humanitarian assistance. Each time they are carrying heavy packets, we see how their hands almost come off, they come every day. We have meals here three times a day. The food is nutritious. We were starving back in Ukraine, we really had nothing to eat. We shared a meal among all in small piece. Here a sponsor who would not give his name, gave the gifts to 217 people last week, not only some delicious surprises for children, but also for all the adults. You know, we are given everything: washing powder, clothes pegs, blankets, and clothes. People come and ask: “Tell us what is it exactly that you need? We will go and will buy everything! Just tell what is necessary for you.” I never expected that there would be such a warm attitude at the moment of grief in my life.

Correspondent: So do you really feel that you have met brothers and sisters here?

– Yes, that’s this very feeling! My car broke down on the way here. It was impossible to be towed by a bus, so the volunteers have towed it here. Now they’re helping with the repair. You can’t imagine how greatly I have been dressed here, I wasn’t wearing such things back at home. I was walking around in one shirt and a pair of trousers which already 5-6 years old, and here I was presented with everything new. I strongly ask to forgive us if we happen to be a little slow or if we say something wrong. Don’t take offense to us. Do understand that we are the same people as you are, we have children. We didn’t “horde”, we haven`t got anywhere to run!

” We haven`t got anywhere to run! ” This is the phrase I heard most often when, interrupting each other, people were sharing their pain with me. I could hardly fight back tears. There was a huge desire to embrace them. When the people have suffered such a severe psychological shock, you are afraid to show a lot of emotions, you are trying to be calm and to hand a feeling of peace over to them. I think I managed to do it a bit. I was delighted with the professional work of psychologists in Voronezh who for a short period of time managed to help the people recover from the shock.  If upon arrival, they feared the drone of the aircraft and hunched their shoulders, the children cried, ran to parents and hid themselves, on day of my conversation, little three-year-old Ksyusha was not at all scared of an aircraft flying over us. I asked the beautiful blue-eyed girl: “Ksyusha, are you afraid of the airplane?” The child looked up in the sky and said: “No. The plane is big and Ksyusha is already big.”

Looking round at a small group of people passing Ksyusha and me, I was surprised to know that the camp was visited by Zelmira Sinclair, Senior Legal Adviser to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. It turned out that Zelmira Sinclair was not invited but given a task of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to visit the border regions of Ukraine and to look at the conditions of the placement of the refugees. I managed to ask the Senior Adviser a few questions. Despite the fact that the massive influx of the refugees from South-Eastern Ukraine in Russia has increased significantly during the exacerbation of fighting between the supporters of pro-independence Donbass and Kiev`s security officers,  Zelmira Sinclair calmly reacted to this piece of news.  She believes that it won`t lead to a humanitarian catastrophe, as Russia is quite successfully coping with this problem. The Russian authorities take appropriate measures to ensure good conditions for the citizens of Ukraine, so no humanitarian catastrophe is expected in her opinion. Answering the question what measures the top management is going to take to reduce the number of the refugees in need the Senior Adviser responded that the assistance can only be provided in case of the official appeal of the Russian authorities. The issue of political matter – what other evidence of war crimes has still to be submitted to start an immediate investigation – appeared not to be in the competence of the UN representative. I heard hackneyed phrases: it is necessary to sit down at a negotiating table and to decide.

How long is it possible to carry on negotiations, solving nothing and taking no steps?

In Donbass region there is obviously a humanitarian catastrophe: medicines, essentials and food are not enough.  Refugees en masse have begun to arrive in Voronezh region which borders Lugansk region of Ukraine, since June, 8. According only to data of July, 3, the day  Zelmira Sinclair was visiting the refugee camps, in the region of Voronezh there came 1369 people. Generally they are inhabitants of Lugansk and Donetsk areas. On July, 1 there arrived over 150,000 refugees from Ukraine, who were adopted by 48 regions. According to the Ministry of Emergency Situations, there are almost 18,000 Ukrainian refugees in 252 centers of temporary accommodation in the Russian Federation. FMS reports that more than 14 thousand Ukrainians asked for a temporary shelter and a refugee status.

I don`t know what Zelmira Sinclair has reported to the top management after the completing her task. Perhaps communicating with the citizens of Ukraine, being in camp, she took them for tourists. On the day of the meeting with the adviser people were looking rested. It`s a pity that a Senior Legal Adviser did not visit the camp on the first day of their settlement and didn`t see the frightened, screaming, half-naked children whose parents didn`t have time to dress them when there started the bombing of their homes.

I want to believe that the mission of the UN representative is fundamentally different from the aims of the employees of the U.S. Department of State. America persistently continues to call the people running to Russia tourists, allegedly without knowing they were all threatened so much, that the people are afraid to ask for a status of refugees as they still have relatives as hostages. Their nearest and dearest were promised to be repressed if the people ask the status of refugees – this is the fact the USA doesn’t wish to notice and take into consideration. All this clearly demonstrates how the actions of the present authorities and power structures of Ukraine are coordinated by the intelligence services of the USA which gave them a task at any cost to achieve the state when the international organizations wouldn’t get to know the real number of people – namely of refugees, while tourists don’t need to be taken into consideration at all. After all, if the person is too intimidated to seek shelter in Russia, then the statistics of the war crimes won’t be challenged…

I express special gratitude to all the staff of Voronezh Children’s Health Camp “Bonfire”, on the basis of which the camp for refugees has been formed. The Russian children who were to spend their holiday there, refused to have rest there so that the brothers and sisters from relative Ukraine could be rescued. I’m proud of the people of Voronezh, among which there are also my parents. Here, in Voronezh land, I’ve met amazing sympathy, nobleness and true patriotism.

Lana Zoricheva is a Correspondent for Radio Bergen in Russia and the CIS

“Much of what passes today for diplomacy is not diplomacy at all; its propaganda … We are trying to use diplomacy for a task for which it has never been designed: propaganda and psychological warfare.”   - Theodore Sands

On December 8, 1953, President Eisenhower delivered a speech to the UN that was described as ‘a splendid piece of political theater’. President Eisenhower, Lewis L. Strauss, C.D. Jackson and John Foster Dulles worked on the final draft of the speech on a plane home from the Bermuda conference. Jackson had even kept the plane circling so that the finished document could be handed to the press as soon as they landed[i].

The speech was intended to make the atom ‘friendly’ and highlight its peaceful benefits, though it had a far more sinister intent. The speech was intended to counter the Soviet peace initiative. Washington was fearful that Moscow’s cooperation and its propensity for peace would underscore Washington’s baseless accusations that had painted the Soviet Union as the greatest threat to the world. With the Soviet peace initiative, Washington would risk losing reluctant allies or neutrals to an unthreatening USSR. The Atoms for Peace speech was intended to invalidate Soviet’s peace initiative[ii].

With this in mind, America proposed that Soviets and Americans contribute fissionable materials to the International Atomic Energy for peaceful uses, was a peace counteroffensive calculated on a Soviets decline. At the same time, the United States needed to appear eager to secure Soviet cooperation so as to place the failure of the negotiations on Soviet intransigence. But the Soviets upped the ante.

In response to the fissile pool, the official Soviet response stressed the “unconditional banning of atom and hydrogen weapons” – in other words, atomic disarmament. The United States found itself in an awkward position. Eisenhower’s speech was not a call to disarmament. It was a counter-peace initiative. In response, it resorted to the monopolization of  ‘atoms for peace’ by ensuring that the U.S. would be the first to establish nuclear presence in various countries that would make them dependent on the U.S. for every aspect of the nuclear program from design, construction, initial operation, educational material and so forth.

In this vein, Iran’s nuclear program was initiated under the former Shah of Iran. For as long as the Shah was a poster boy for General Electric nuclear reactors, America encouraged Iran’s civilian nuclear program.  In fact,  in 1975, according to National Security Decision Memorandum 292, the United States gave permission [emphasis added] for “U. S. material to be fabricated into fuel in Iran for use in its own reactors and for pass-through to third countries with whom we have Agreements. “

All changed with the Iranian revolution that ousted the Shah. In other words, the United States appointed itself interpreter and executioner of international laws and treaties, doling out favors to ‘allies’ and punishing nations that valued sovereignty. Iran was punished, and painted as a threat for pursuing its rights within the framework of international law and the NPT.

President Obama opted for ‘diplomacy’ taking a leaf from Eisenhower’s book. Disguising propaganda and psychological warfare as diplomacy, he feigned an interest in ‘negotiating’ Iran’s nuclear program as discussed with AIPAC. During his presidential campaign in 2008, he reassured AIPAC of his intentions, stating:

“Our willingness to pursue diplomacy will make it easier to join our cause.  If Iran fails to change course when presented with this choice by the United States it will be clear to the people of Iran and to the world that the Iranian regime is the author of its own isolation and that will strengthen our hand with Russia and China as we insist on stronger sanctions in the Security Council.” (See Geneva 3, Iran Nuclear Negotiations for Dummies).

In spite of the numerous obstacles placed in its path, Iran has demonstrated to the world that it wishes to pursue peace and transparency. It exercised ‘heroic flexibility’ to cooperate with the P5+1 and consistently and tirelessly demonstrated its goodwill, transparency, and cooperation. But as with the Eisenhower era, Iran’s cooperation has demonstrated to the world that it is not a threat. Its peaceful agenda is the greatest threat to Washington’s agenda.

For 34 years, Washington has been engaged in covert and overt operation to overthrow the government of the Iranian people. It has been complicit in war and war crimes. It has violated bilateral treaties, international laws, and even customary laws. For decades, Washington has demonized Iran in order to persuade friend and foe to forgo billions of dollars in trade and profit.  Its fear mongering has enabled it to recycle petrodollars and its expansion.  It has even committed acts of terror and has supported terrorism with the justification that Iran is the threat.

In light of Iran’s full cooperation, how can Washington explain its actions?  How can Washington live in peace? As Sun Tzu said, “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich is an independent researcher and writer with a focus on U.S. foreign policy and the role of lobby groups in influencing US foreign policy.

Notes:

[i] Cull, Nicholas, “The Cold War and the United States Information Agency  (FRUS 1952-1954, Vol. 2, part 2, Memo of discussion at NSC, 30 July 1953, pp. 1184-1185; Memo by Robert Cutler, 10 September 1953; Chronology, Atoms for Peace project, 30 September 1954).

[ii] Osgood, Kenneth. “Total Cold War; Eisenhower’s Secret Propaganda Battle at Home andAbroad”, University Press of Kansas, 2006 Pp 153-161

 How can I monitor what I need to monitor while still providing enough of a backstage for the ones who need it, enabling the alliances we want? John Neiditz, Big Data Tech Law, Jul 12, 2014

 A post by John Neiditz in Big Data Tech Law (Jul 12)[1] makes use of a pertinent concept to relations in the workplace. He draws on the work of sociologist Erving Goffman, who suggests that individuals need a “backstage” to ready themselves for interaction with each other.  The point about the latter hinges on performance, something of a theatrical display between thespians; the point on the former is inspired preparation, something that takes place privately, away from prying eyes, however judgmental they might be.

As Neiditz explains, “In some ways, what we have done by not (in the US) extending employee privacy rights from the private physical spaces (eg. lockers) to the employer-sponsored electronic media on which many employees live is to get rid of the backstage, and social media intensifies the self-expression.”  The less anthropologically minded might resort to plain legal terms: to what extent does workplace surveillance intrude, violate, and remove privacy?

The organisational language about the US workplace and performance is astonishingly Stakhanovite in its manner. The tone is heavy with performance credentials, units, “outputs” and that ridiculous notion of “feedback”, giving the impression that the worker is merely a computer processor keen to process, happy to be programmed.  Such a treatment, by its manner, has no room for private realms and creative “backstages” other than as pragmatic imports. You only care about a backstage if it has utility; you ignore it if the workers in question can work effectively with dozens of other working ants in the same, refrigerated room.

This is not the human value but the product value that matters.  A deeper understanding of such behaviour is likely to send us all to the British Library to become Marxists and contemplate the alienation of the individual with respect to labour. Battalions of consultants, dark suited human resource managers, and work plan fetishists have been busy eliminating the human in the equation while always talking about it.

In the workplace, there is every sense that the employee is treated as moveable and malleable commodity.  Another aspect of the same problem is whether such workers can be socialised into an appropriate regime.  Through new technological means, writes the New York Times (Jun 21), “companies have found, for example, that workers are more productive if they have more social interaction.” Examples include the introduction of a shared 15-minute coffee break by a bank’s call centre. More socialising leads to greater sales. Bravo!

Records of emails are stored. Conduct is monitored with needling obsessiveness. Behaviour can be filmed, recorded, and retained.  There is also a sense in legislation that supposedly regulates such environments that workers need monitoring.  A legal outline by the Australian lawyer firm Gilbert & Tobin[2] speaks of “a significant benefit to employers” in the area of monitoring emails.  One of these is noting, and intervening, in cases of harassment, where the playground supervisor separates and punishes the children. Another is that of standard criminal impropriety.

The cunning nature of such highly tuned surveillance is that it is turned on its head to make employees like it, or at the very least, endure it.  Jim Sullivan[3], manager of a Dallas restaurant, is a firm advocate of digital monitoring.  He wasn’t “stupid”, knowing it was there.  He simply learned to love it.  Such techniques noted his productivity, and padded out the resume for promotion. “When people know they are being watched, I believe that productivity improves” (New York Times, Jun 21).

Companies like Sociometric Solutions focus on what are termed “sensor-rich ID badges” that have microphones, location sensors, and accelerometers.  Sociometric Solutions’ Ben Waber is keen to suggest that he is on the side of the angels – well, the workers – noting that privacy is important, provided that the worker is given a choice about data collection.  The omission here is that workers who choose to opt out of the arrangement are bound to find themselves left behind in the vicious rat race.  Career suffers for the privacy vultures, even if, as some researchers[4] note, privacy might actually be more productive than open slather monitoring.

Such a vision, and rapidly emerging reality, resembles less the Orwellian notion of police state surveillance imposed by ruthless management and cruel repression. It resides more in the area of benign seduction akin to the Brave New World, one where pleasure is used as weapon and incentive.

When it comes to monitoring employees in the private sphere, Huxley’s pneumatic chair takes first place, a suggestion that people want that world, or at the very least, are persuaded to.  Controller Mustapha Mond has that exalted role. Operations can be “undergone voluntarily for the good of Society, not to mention the fact that it carries a bonus amounting to six months’ salary.”  The world is accordingly divided into “frightfully clever” Alphas, middle-of-the-road Betas and stupid Gammas – and the list goes on.  The world is your oyster, as long as you get into it.

Huxley is the animating spirit behind Waber’s policies.  He, and his employees, encourage pharmaceutical companies to readjust their social spaces and get in the furniture specialists.  The data gathered is thrilling, not merely for the number addicts – a café area, for instance, where workers congregate at large tables – is suggested.  Small tables involve fewer minds, and enthusiasts. Bigger tables, well, entails more minds, more chatter, and more dosh.

Every adduced ground is bound to have some merit if it is emphasised with robotic repetitiveness. There is always some “good” plastered across a catchy slogan or a justifying brief.  The principle that still sustains a battering here is that of private domains, and where standard relationships can be formed between employee and employer.

One thing is clear in this: the purses of consultants are being lined with gold, suggesting how that balance is struck. And their work remits usually open with the same dead wording: the employer’s expectation of sound performance and the employee’s right “that every sneeze or trip to the water cooler isn’t being recorded.”[5]  Hardly matters, if you are Jim Sullivan.

 Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: [email protected]

Notes

Obama’s Influence Abroad is Evaporating

July 17th, 2014 by Shamus Cooke

There was once a time, not too long ago, when the U.S. government’s ability to steer the policies of other nations was near absolute. A U.S. president needed only to make a public statement denouncing another nation’s economic or military policy, and the effects would be instant.

The countries that refused U.S. instructions were labeled pariahs, or enemies, and lumped together under the crosshairs of U.S. foreign policy, liable to attract economic sanctions or military invasion; the leaders of these “bad” governments were inevitably likened to Hitler.

These “axis of evil” type nations were once exceptions, but now appear like trendsetters. The world’s “policeman” is seeing its instructions increasingly ignored, while other nations defiantly spit in the cop’s face.

But like any officer with a long track record of brutality, the U.S. government will not quietly accept its fate as a second rate power, while the re-shuffling of the new international order will exacerbate global tensions as rising nations compete for influence over poorer countries once loyal to the U.S.

The most palpable sign of U.S. weakness is its policy toward Russia. Obama’s State Department promised “painful” sanctions for Russia’s policy on Ukraine, but the U.S. hasn’t even managed to inflict a bruise. To really “hurt” Russia economically, the U.S. needs its European allies to obey, and they are turning their backs to Obama’s anti-Russia plans.

The New York Times reports:

“Not only were they [the G7 nations] unwilling to snub the Russian leader entirely, as Mr. Obama sought, they were also reluctant to go along with other efforts to isolate the Kremlin. Most notably, the French government repeated that it would go ahead with the $1.6 billion sale of powerful warships to Moscow along with plans to train 400 Russian sailors in France this month. And other European leaders were cautious about setting further red lines threatening additional sanctions against Russia.”

The Obama administration was especially vexed by France. After France didn’t back down from the arms deal with Russia, the U.S. government fined France’s biggest bank $10 billion, ostensibly for money laundering.

 The Bush-like arrogance it takes for the U.S. to fine an overseas French bank has outraged the French government and public alike, and likely won’t make Obama more friends in Europe. But U.S. global domination of the global financial system — because of the U.S. dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency — is one of the last forms of U.S. foreign power, and it too is shrinking.

 As France was cursing Obama, another strong European ally, Germany, lashed out, too, by doing the unthinkable and expelling the head of U.S. intelligence (CIA) in Germany. The Huffington Post commented:

 “The scandal has chilled relations with Washington to levels not seen since Merkel’s predecessor opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.”

 Obama’s power has shrunk to such depths that he can’t politically control Afghanistan, even under the tremendous weight of U.S. military occupation. The recent Afghan election was marred by allegations of fraud — yet again — that threatened to tear the country into even tinier shreds, by ripping the patchwork alliances Obama had sewn together to maintain a semblance of “democracy” within strict pro-U.S. boundaries.

 The New York Times gave a timid explanation of events:

 “…the United States has far less leverage than it did in 2009. After years of watching American officials fold after being rebuffed by Mr. Karzai, few here give much credence to American threats to pull out troops and cut aid. And each successive crisis over election fraud — this year’s is the third in five years, including the parliamentary elections in 2010 — has diminished the faith of many Afghans in the government erected by the United States.”

In Iraq the vibrant failure of U.S. policy is blinding, itself the partial result of equally brilliant mistakes in Syria. Obama’s influence in Iraq is so weak that the U.S. establishment seems to be leaning towards a complete fragmentation of Iraq, which was their “solution” in Yugoslavia — create smaller, ethnically based nations that are easier to control. Vice President Joe Biden’s Iraq plan is a huge step in this direction, which Obama seems to be attempting to implement, even though he doesn’t say it out loud.

Obama’s biggest mistake in Syria was perhaps more damaging to U.S. power than his consorting with Gulf state dictators to fund and arm Sunni extremist groups.

When Obama drew a “red line” and told the world that Syria crossed it —itself a WMD-size lie — but yet did nothing in response, the world took note. A bully is powerful only as long as its threats are backed with consequences, and Obama was unable to “punish” Syria in the same way that it failed to discipline Russia. All of the “allies” Obama summoned to punish Syria realized that Obama wasn’t going to follow through, and thus future alliances will be harder to organize, as is happening now against Russia.

 It now seems that Obama is facing an avalanche of impudence where even tiny Bahrain is openly defying the U.S.

The New York Times article on the subject was “Bahrain’s Bad Decision”:

“Bahrain would seem an unlikely country to expel a senior American diplomat on a trumped-up complaint, since the Persian Gulf state is home to the United States Navy’s Fifth Fleet and depends on America for its defense, especially against Iran. Yet the government did just that…

“These outrageous moves call into question Bahrain’s commitment to its alliance with the United States…So far, the Obama administration, which has worked to maintain ties with the monarchy despite human rights concerns, has responded weakly. It must go further to show that such behavior is unacceptable.”

As more nations question U.S. authority, they’ll gravitate towards other countries — Russia and China, etc. — that have more to offer than threats, spying, and weapons sales. It’s inevitable that the above process of deteriorating U.S. power will continue, but what’s questionable is how far the U.S. government will go in response. Super powers do not relinquish their status — which is extremely profitable for the big U.S. corporations — without a fight.

As the U.S. government resorts to its trump card of military intervention to maintain its foreign power, working people in the U.S. will raise increased demands to use the hundreds of billions of annual tax payer dollars to instead fund schools, health care, infrastructural projects, and the rest of long-neglected U.S. civil society.

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

President Bashar al-Assad was sworn in Wednesday before the members of the People’s Assembly.

Following the swearing-in ceremony, the President delivered a speech in which he first saluted the Syrian people.

Below is the full text of the President’s speech following the swearing-in ceremony:

President al-Assad sworn in 1

Honourable Syrians, Free Syrian Revolutionaries,

Three years and four months have passed since some declared, on your behalf: “The People want.” Yes, The People wanted…. The People decided…The People took action.

A few years ago, some called for freedom – your response was to remain free in the age of subservience, to be masters in the age of slaves.  They patronised you with their calls for democracy – your response was to show your will in the most democratic manner possible and refuse foreign intervention in your national affairs; you chose your constitution, you chose your parliament, you chose your president.  Throughout, the decision was yours and your will has created our democracy.

They chanted: “The Syrian people are united”– your response was to facetheir storm of sedition, never allowing the winds of division to poison your hearts and minds;you were truly one people with one heart.

1

They preached: “They bow only before Allah”–your response was to never bow before their masters, to never surrender, to never give up.  You stood fast and held fast to your homeland, always believing in one God, a God who doesn’t share His powers with super-nations and who can never be substituted for oil or dollars. And when they said; “Allahu Akbar” – God was greater than them and their supporters, because God is always on the side of justice and justice is on the side of the people.

During these years, whilst they were talking, you were doing; they sank in their illusions, whilst you made today a reality.  They called for a revolution and you rose to be the true revolutionaries; so, congratulations to you all on your revolution and your victories and congratulations to Syria for her great people and their steadfastness.

Congratulations to Syria whose people defied all forms of hegemony and aggression with all the means available to them: with their reason, their intellect and patriotic consciousness. There are those who fought with weapons in their hands, others who fought by speaking the truth and others still who fought with their resilient hearts despite all the threats.

Congratulations to Syria whose people defied all forms of fear and terrorism and voted under fire in the referendum and the elections, thwarting the aggression, the aggressors and their machinery.  This steadfastness altered all expectations, circumstances and facts; positions changed, players withdrew, terminology dropped, alliances vanished, councils divided and other bodies disintegrated.  Many who were blinded to the truth, either out of ignorance or deception, regained their sense of direction.  True motives were revealed when their masks of freedom and revolution fell and they drove their fangs into Syrian flesh; killing, beheading and cannibalizing hearts and livers.  Every dirty trick was used; they left no perverse or deviant path untrodden. And still they failed.

2

They failed to assure you of their concern for the rights and interests of the people. They failed to convince you that you needed guardians to manage your own affairs and the affairs of your country.  And finally, they absolutely failed to brainwash you or break your will.

You defied the storm with your bear chests; you stood like spears in the face of treachery. You achieved your goal; you raised the voice of justice above all the lies, hypocrisy, distortion and deception.  You forced the whole world to see the truth, a truth they tried so hard, for three years, to bury and eradicate; by ensuring its survival this truth emerged to destroy, within hours, empires – political, oil and media.  Yes, the few hours in which you expressed your views and showed your determination were enough to erase all the falsifications and the psychological and moral terrorism exercised against Syria for years. These elections were not just a political procedure as in other parts of the world; they constituted a multi-dimensional battle for which they tried to do everything possible to ensure our defeat.

For the enemies of our homeland, these elections were the instruments they had been waiting for to deligitimise the state and to show the Syrian people as weak, disunited and unable to rule themselves or make independent decisions; all of this to create a justification for foreign intervention which they could legitimize under several pretexts.

For us citizens, these elections were a true declaration of belonging to our homeland that transcended far beyond an identity card or a passport. They were a battle to defend our sovereignty, legitimacy, national decision-making and the dignity of our people. The huge turnout was a referendum in favor of sovereignty against all forms of terrorism; for many people, what was important was not so much who won, but rather who fell as a result.  With your votes, you have brought down both the terrorists and the Syrian agents who gave them political cover. You have brought down their masters – the orchestrators, including superpowers and their satellite states, and decision makers and their obedient executors.

The results of the elections also brought down all the opportunists who used the crisis for personal gain at the expense of others, it brought down all those who distanced themselves from the battle waiting to see where the balance of power will settle; it brought down all those who stood against the will of the people by abstaining from this most important national duty or calling for abstaining or for its postponement, adopting – knowingly or ignorantly, the same line as those enemies of the people.

4

As for the elections that took place abroad and were of actual and symbolic importance, they constituted a slap in the face to the hostile media outlets that exerted their efforts to position all those who left Syria as being against the state and their homeland.  By expressing their views, Syrian expatriates and refugees astonished the world. They embodied the patriotic image of Syrians and their tenacity when it comes to upholding the independence of their decisions and the protection of their sovereignty. Their circumstances as expatriates or refugees did not hinder them from carrying out this crucial national duty.

They participated in huge numbers despite their physical and moral pains.  Some, despite their dire need, risked their livelihood and their residency and faced threats aimed at preventing them from participating.  Those against us could not imagine Syrians carrying their passports and choosing their candidate through the ballot box.  These simple steps panicked them because they knew and understood that these elections represented a stand to defend the homeland, its sovereignty and dignity. This is why they prevented the elections from taking place in their countries and other Arab states.  And here lies the hypocrisy of the West: they claim to defend the same people that they prevented from expressing their views, when it became apparent to them that these views contradict what they had been working so hard for three years to achieve.  Nevertheless, we thank them for preventing the elections from taking place in their countries because through their ignorance they have enhanced the legitimacy of the elections rather than undermined them.

Our fellow countrymen living outside Syria’s borders declared that they are Syrians – heart and soul, and validated our position from the beginning that they left their country because of the brutality and terrorism of the armed groups.  Otherwise, how can any reasonable person accept that the same citizens who had supposedly been attacked by the state and fled its oppression, would then support it with the enthusiasm and defiance of the Syrian expatriates that took part in the elections?  How could a citizen with such hate for his country – as some assumed, switch from being a dagger in the back of his homeland and a burden to it – as they tried to project, to the strong supporters we have seen them to be.

I would like to extend my best regards and appreciation to all those citizens and I want to stress that I am more optimistic than ever that the situation will be restored to a state where all the honorable and faithful Syrians can return. I am confident that they will be the first to return in order to support the country from the inside, as soon as the conditions that caused them to leave the country disappear.

Fellow citizens, you have proven throughout your history, that you do not fear challenges but rather embrace them, no matter who the challenger is. You have insured the failure of our foes and proved their artificiality and ignorance. Research and study centers will be busy for years looking for answers to questions about what happened, in order to identify their mistakes, miscalculations and bad judgments. They will never find real answers because they depended on lackeys and agents. They did not know or understand how to deal with masters and honorable and patriotic people, and that is why they are more capable of understanding the terms of subservience, humiliation and dependence. They are unable to interpret the true meaning of honor, sovereignty and freedom.  Those who want to predict the behavior and reaction of an ancient and civilized people should have the same historical and civilizational depth in order to fathom a great people’s strength and tenacity; this shows itself only in great national crises and at crucial historical junctures.

Today, you are more capable of teaching the subservient people in our Arab region concepts they do not know, like sovereignty, perseverance, defiance and dignity. You are more capable of teaching them lessons in democracy, in how people should take part in decision making and determining national destiny, and consequently make them aware of things they have not heard of previously like elections, freedom, rights, the state and civilization; they have only known suppression, extremism, subservience, dependence and exporting terrorism. The presidential elections have been, to many Syrians, a bullet fired at the hearts of terrorists and those who stood behind them. Millions of bullets were fired and hit their sick hearts and minds and settled in the ballot boxes. These bullets proved that all the empires of politics, oil and the media amount to nothing when faced with a true patriotic position; they proved that all their words and statements over the years, disintegrate within hours in front of an honorable and unified people. These bullets declared that all those enemies, with their terror, their terrorism and shells have no value or weight; they may be capable of inflicting harm and damage, but they are incapable of winning, they may threaten, but they cannot frighten us.

I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to Dr Hassan al-Nouri and Mr Maher Hajjar, who by running in the elections, expressed Syrians’ culture and maturity in exercising democracy and the rights of citizens, and in implementing the constitution.  Upholding the constitution is the surest way to protect our homeland, its unity and stability. I would like to thank them, because regardless of who won, the mere fact that they stood as candidates in these circumstances was a triumph for the people and the country.

I would also like to express my appreciation to every Syrian citizen who defied the shelling, the threats and the fear and went to a polling station; to that proud woman who stood from five o’clock in the morning carrying the photo of her martyred son and cast her vote, speaking on behalf of all the martyrs of the homeland; to the injured soldier who insisted on going to the polling station in a wheelchair despite his wounds; to the one hundred year-old woman who did not let her ailing body prevent her from casting her vote; to a whole people who carried their pains, hopes and aspirations and participated so that the world could hear their voice.

This victory would not have been possible without the blood of our martyrs, our wounded soldiers and their patient and steadfast families; without them we would not have been able to protect the country, the constitution, the law, the institutions and consequently Syria’s sovereignty. Without all of them, we would not be here today. They have taught us, and will continue to teach us the meaning of heroism, sacrifice and standing our ground. From them, we take strength and determination; our homeland was resilient because of their greatness and patriotism. They have fortified the whole country with their blood, and unified the pains and hopes of Syrians with their wounds. With their heroism, they have given the greatest meaning to power and tenacity and for that we will be forever grateful and will spare no effort to return even a small part of the debt we owe to these soldiers, their families and children.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The war waged against the Syrian people is a dirty war. Despite all the injustice and the pain inflicted on every Syrian household, and despite all the blood and destruction, Syrians didn’t give up or give in.  In fact, the exact opposite, as a people, we derive strength from adversity; the increased pressures drive us to be more defiant. We face attempts to humiliate us with more pride, dignity and self-confidence.

Here weare today, looking forward to the future and moving towards it with the determination and confidence that this future belongs to the people and nobody else. This country that has faced invaders since the dawn of history – the last of whom were the French colonizers who left less than seven decades ago – is still alive and capable of standing fast, building and regenerating life from the throes of catastrophes. This is how nations display their greatness, their history and their civilization. Countries are not measured by the size of their surface area or population, their wealth or their oil; they are measured by their culture and civilization, the role their people played in history, and by their will and their sovereignty in facing the challenges of the present and building the future.

Because of this role, Syria has always been targeted and continues to be so.  The aggression we face is not aimed at individuals or governments – as it appeared to some in the beginning, but rather at the structure of the country and its role, and conditioning the way people think in the long-term, to mere cattle driven by remote control. This aggression aims to preoccupy our people with never ending conflicts that last for generations rather than focusing on our national aspirations and greater prosperity, and strengthening our society and state. It was never intended to rid people of their problems, as was claimed and believed by the naïve. On the contrary, they rejoice in the weaknesses of any Arab society because they want to see these societies remain backward and dependent on them. The clearest evidence of this is that their allies in the region are the most backward, corrupt and oppressive countries. They didn’t target our weaknesses to help us overcome them, but rather our strengths to destroy them: our unique patriotism and sovereignty, our pan-Arab identity and the harmony and congruence between our true Islam and Christianity.

The colonialist West is still colonialist;the means may change, but its essence is still the same. If the West and its Arab flunkies have failed in executing their plans so far, this does not mean that they have stopped their destruction of Syria as an alternative goal.  This will achieve the same objective over the long term, but unfortunately with the help of those Syrians who have no honour and so sold their homeland.

Things were clear to us from the early days of the aggression. We all remember the reactions of those who did not believe or were not convinced of what I said at the beginning of the crisis. At the time, many people rejected terms like ‘plot’ and ‘aggression’. They were not convinced – until it was too late – that what was happening in the country had nothing to do with the legitimate demands of an oppressed people; nor were the demonstrations calling for freedom and democracy. It was a sinister plot for the whole region, which will not stop at our borders.

This spectacle started to unravel during the invasion of Iraq. Our position at the time was neither based on an irrational desire for confrontation nor on having an adversarial position to be applauded.

We rejected the invasion of Iraq because we saw it as the beginning of division and sectarianism. It was a real concern towards a dangerous situation we were convinced was inevitable. Today, we can see that it has become a reality and we are the ones paying its hefty price. We also warned, from the very beginning, all those we engaged with that what was happening would not stop at Syria’s borders. It would spread because terrorism doesn’t recognize national borders; at the time, I was accused of threatening the international community.

Isn’t what we are seeing today in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and all the countries that have been struck by the malady of the fake spring tangible evidence of the credibility of our repeated warnings?  Soon we shall see Arab and regional countries that have supported terrorism also paying a painful price. Many of them will understand, though too late, that the battles fought by the Syrian people in defense of their homeland transcend our national borders.  It is actually in defense of many other nations that, sooner or later, will suffer from the same terrorism, either as a result of the shortsightedness of their leaders and their absolute ignorance of the real interests of their nations, or due to their lack of understanding of our region and how to deal with it’s people.

The question here is: if the West and their allies do not learn, until too late, from the mistakes of their past experiences, are we also going to be late in our understanding of the events and issues which concern us in our region?  Did we need to wait three years and pay for the shortsightedness of some, by sacrificing our children’s blood, our lives, our economy, security and reputation in order to realize that what was happening was in fact a plot against our homeland, and not the so called ‘spring’ for freedom or democracy?  Did we need to pay such a hefty price, and still continue to do so, for those people to realize that as a result of their ignorance we now have incubators for terrorism and a springboard for aggression?  Did we need to wait twelve years to understand that invading Iraq would only bring terrorism and division to our region?  Wasn’t our experience with the criminal Muslim Brotherhood in the 1980’s enough for us to learn our lesson, or did we have to wait thirty years for the arrival of executioners and cannibals, to realize that terrorism and exploiting religion are two sides of the same coin?

If our current situation and the experiences from our recent history have not been enough to teach us, then we are not likely to learn anything and will not be able to protect our country, today or in the future; and those who do not protect their country, who do not defend it and preserve it, neither deserve it nor deserve to live in it.

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In light of the above, and based on our clear understanding of the scheme designed for Syria from the early days of the aggression, we took the decision to proceed on two parallel tracks: striking terrorism mercilessly on the one hand, and facilitating local reconciliations for those who were misled and wanted to abandon their wrong path on the other. We were convinced, from the very beginning, that effective solutions would have to be purely Syrian without any role for foreigners unless they were genuine supporters. All those who returned to the right path found the state to bea compassionate mother: angry with her ungrateful children, but forgiving when they genuinely repent. Today, I repeat my call to all those who have been misled to lay down their arms, because we will not stop fighting terrorism and striking at it until we restore safety and security to every inch of Syria.

Those who left as traitors, agents or corrupt individuals are of little concern; the country has been cleansed of those individuals and they no longer have a place or status among Syrians. Those who are waiting or a foreign solution to end the war are living in an illusion because the ‘political solution’, as it is called, can only be based on internal reconciliations, which have proven to be very effective on more than one occasion.  I stress that we will continue to proceed on this course because it saves Syrian blood, restores security, leads to the return of the displaced, the reconstruction of those are as and to thwarting any foreign schemes designed around internal shortcomings.

National reconciliations are not contradictory with, neither do they replace, the national dialogue, which the state has started with various political forces and social actors.  We will continue with this dialogue and remain open to all ideas, opinions and perspectives especially since this dialogue should not be limited to the current circumstances. It needs to be a dialogue about the future of the country, the structure of the state and all aspects of our society related or unrelated to the crisis, and regardless of whether they preceded it or are a consequence of it.

If the state had extended on open hand to all from the beginning of the crisis; today, and after this tough and highly costly national test, the dialogue will not include those who have proven their lack of patriotism by evading dialogue. Neither will it include those who bet on a change of the balance of power and when they lost, changed direction in the hope of not missing the train, nor will it include those who claimed concern for the country whilst giving, through their positions, cover to terrorists in exchange for favors or bribes received from abroad. As for the declared client forces, we do not engage in dialogue with them as Syrians but as representatives of the countries they swore allegiance to and became spokesmen for.

The crisis has validated the strong social cohesion among Syrians and refuted the malicious claims about a civil war, which they tried to promote as a political cover for their foreign aggression with internal tools. The term ‘civil war’ today is used as a political cover to legitimize the terrorists as one side in a Syrian – Syrian conflict rather than despicable instruments in the hands of external powers. A civil war has its clear geographical fault lines between sects, ethnicities and other warring factions; these fault lines manifest themselves in the division between various components of society resulting in a complete collapse of the state and society. Is this what we are seeing in Syria or rather what they tried to convince us of?

Today, I see the reality on the ground as being the exact opposite; we have surpassed the concepts of common or shared living, which prevailed before the events to a stage of full integration and social cohesion among Syrians.  This was abundantly clear from the scenes of Syrians across the national spectrum at the polling stations, and the popular consensus and high turnout during the elections.  The rich colours and different sectors of our society are all members of the same body: whilst they differ in shape, function and task, they are fully integrated in the service of each other and the body to which they belong. Today, there is no coexistence or tolerance, but full integration and harmony.

Moving forward towards the future cannot happen if we do not deal in all truthfulness and transparency with the root causes of the present situation. In as much as we have proudly witnessed a patriotic people, it has been equally painful and disgraceful that there are parts of our population -albeit a small portion -that were the foundation upon which this war was based, who made it possible for foreign terrorists to enter the country and who facilitated foreign economic, political and military intervention in Syria thus impinging on our sovereignty.

If the external factors are easy to recognize in what the aggressors say and in the instruments they use, the internal factors must remain the focus of every assessment or decision we make, not only to deal with the challenges today but also to protect ourselves for the future.  There is a near consensus among Syrians that the main reason for those who immersed themselves in the destruction of the country – directly or indirectly – is ignorance.  The bigger danger, which provided the foundation for the crisis and its different aspects, was the lack of morals by distorting religions, undermining honour, and selling out the homeland.  It is the greatest obstacle to the development of societies; development is not only dependent on laws and regulations, important as they are, but rather it is dependent on a culture based on morals. There can be no development without morals; they are inseparable. Good morals may ensure better enforcement of the law; good laws can help develop good morals but they cannot sow their seeds.

9

Without morals, there will be no patriotic feeling in our consciousness and public service loses its meaning. Without morals, we become a society of selfish individuals each working for their own interests at the expense of others; and we saw this happening on a large scale during this crisis.There are many in this crisis that did not carry arms but they nonetheless damaged people’s livelihoods and manipulated their future; they stole, blackmailed, ransacked and were as dangerous as the terrorists themselves. Without morals we are wasting our time trying to reach objectives we do not have the necessary tools to achieve.

Talking about morals, in this speech, is not an alternative to developing laws and regulations nor is it an excuse for exonerating the state of its responsibility. If our morals and culture provide the foundation, state administration and institutions constitute the building; and any building without a solid foundation will always remain fragile.

Building on the above, we also need to address corruption, which is the greatest challenge for any society or state. Financial and administrative corruption is based on moral corruption, both of which produce a more dangerous form: national corruption that creates people who sell their homeland and the blood of its children to the highest bidder.

Fighting corruption requires action on a number of parallel tracks. Punishment comes at the top of the corruption fighting strategy.  Striking with an iron fist every proven and convicted corrupt person is the most important element; however, when you punish a corrupt individual, society might produce tens of other corrupt and more devious individuals skilled at evading the law in a manner that cannot be detected or punished. In this case, time will play in favour of corruption and the corrupt.

Accountability is at the top of the corruption fighting strategy. In the middle comes administrative reform of state institutions, a process that has been on-going for a number of years.  Additionally, we need to focus on developing educational curricula in a manner that goes beyond education per se to include instilling moral values and appropriate conduct.

These components constitute the role of the state in the shortest and fastest form, i.e. fighting corruption, administrative reform and the role of the competent institutions.  However, the more important and sustainable role, which constitutes the base of the corruption-fighting pyramid, is the role of society and the family in particular. In order to produce an uncorrupt society, we all need to, as mothers and fathers, provide our children with a good upbringing.

Let us ask ourselves, would we have witnessed the corruption we have seen – the robbery, the exploitation, the kidnaping, treason and other horrendous crimes, had the parents of those deviant people given their children a sound upbringing?  On the other side of the horizon, what about the millions of honourable people working in state institutions and other entities? What about the hundreds of thousands of young people who took up arms to defend their country and were martyred? What about those citizens who decided to carry on with their national duties despite the threats, and the resilient families who remained rooted in the soil of the homeland despite their difficult circumstances?  All of these actions were not due to administrative directives, but rather because these people were given a sound upbringing which produced honest and patriotic citizens.

This foundation creates the difference between citizens who abide by the law out of conviction rather than fear of punishment, between the civil servant who serves the public for the benefit of society rather than for personal gain, and between the merchant who realizes that whilst a thief can steal from an individual, by not paying his taxes he is in fact stealing from twenty three million people.  This upbringing creates the difference between a citizen supporting his family and community in times of crisis rather than exploiting them and it prevents citizens becoming mercenaries to be used against their nation by conspirators or foreigners.

Let us make fighting corruption our priority in the next period, in state institutions and across society as a whole;let’s make it a priority not only for state officials, but also for every individual. Let every one of us move from talking about corruption fighting to actively working to confront it, to strike at its roots instead of wasting time pruning its branches.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The states that continue to support terrorism in Syria have tried to destroy all aspects of life within it.  The killing, which targeted Syrians from all walks of life without discrimination or exception was concurrent with the systematic destruction of our infrastructure, which took decades to build and consumed the efforts, money, sweat and blood of generations of Syrians.  There is no doubt that this widespread destruction, which has affected the entire nation, has also affected every individual, particularly in terms of people’s livelihood.

Since the greatest damage to our economy was inflicted on the vital material structures of economic growth and sustainability, our economic recovery should start from the same point by focusing on rebuilding these material structures: the buildings, houses, factories, roads, and all other forms of infrastructure that was destroyed or sabotaged.This in itself is a very wide sector that will benefit the different strata of society without exception, and will influence positively and strongly the other economic sectors, which will not recover fully without a comprehensive reconstruction.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, reconstruction is the title of the economy for the coming period. We need to concentrate our collective efforts on this area and should work, in parallel, to restore all other sectors that will be complementary to reconstruction especially craftsmen and the small and medium-sized industries that can grow and expand very quickly, creating jobs in a short period of time.  We will continue our strategic support of the public and agricultural sectors, which constitute the main lever of the Syrian economy and had a significant role in our resilience during the current crisis.  The reconstruction process and the associated economic recovery should not be linked in timing to the end of the crisis.  In fact, the state has already started to create the necessary legislations and regulatory framework that will facilitate and encourage investment in this area.

Let us all start, hand in hand, the process of rebuilding Syria in order to be worthy of her. Let our race against time be in favour of building not destruction; and let us continue to prove, as we have done during the past three years, that the will of Syrians is many folds stronger than the will and acts of terrorists and traitors.

Brothers and sisters,

Today, together, we start a new stage that is characterised by a consensus to protect our nation and to rebuild it morally, psychologically and materially and a consensus on eradicating terrorism and bringing back into the fold all those who have lost their direction

Today, we start a new stage having overcome dangerous and critical challenges, thanks to the steadfastness of our people in the face of a terrorist and psychological war, until we reached the presidential elections – the elections that expressed Syria’s full and unified independence.

Looking forward to the future, we need to address the large gaps that have appeared in our national fabric. This requires our concerted efforts and our standing shoulder to shoulder in the next stage, which means an interactive relationship between the people, their leadership and their government.  The role of a leadership does not eliminate the role and contribution of the people; similarly the presence of a leadership or a government should not imply total reliance upon it.  This interactive relationship means that we move forward together towards the desired future, if we mean to succeed in our endeavour.

Hence the word ‘Sawa’ or ‘together,’ which focuses on enhancing the sense of responsibility in every one of us ensuring we move forward as one nation. It means that we shall rebuild Syria together, that we shall continue to strike terrorism whilst concluding reconciliations so that no Syrian remains in temporary housing or refugee camps. It means that together we shall fight corruption with the necessary laws and morals, and strengthen our institutions by focusing on equal opportunities and eradicating nepotism.

There should be no excuse for negative thinking and negative attitudes in dealing with our national challenges; and we must acknowledge that many of the negative aspects in our society are the product of a common culture that has become ingrained in our minds, making it difficult to replace; the only way to do so is to build a proactive, cooperative and altruistic culture. Some people might be asking how possible this is when officials do not respond to initiatives and ideas. It is a legitimate question, but we cannot generalize; there are always those who listen and are interested. We must not tire or give up; we must continue to try every possible way to make our voice heard and contribute to the process of rebuilding, development and correcting our mistakes.

I know that expectations from this speech are very high; and many of these expectations are logical and legitimate and the areas that need to be addressed are far more than can be covered in one speech.  But wars impose their reality on the ground and we need to prioritize. There is a heroic army defending the country with many martyrs; on a daily basis, there are innocent victims because of terrorism in different parts of the country; there are those kidnapped and missing who have left behind families living on the hope that they will return; there are also those who have been displaced from their houses and become homeless; and there are those who have paid the price of this war with their livelihoods and are no longer able to provide the essentials for a decent living. No priority can be higher than dealing with these challenges at present. For overlooking these facts is tantamount to being separated from reality.

Brothers and sisters,

Your resilience constituted the official obituary of what was falsely called ‘the Arab spring’ and reset the course. Had this ‘spring’ been genuine, it should have started in the backward Arab countries. Had it been a revolution for more freedom, democracy and justice, it should have started in the most oppressive and tyrannical countries: the countries behind every catastrophe that befell this nation, behind every war against it, behind the intellectual and religious deviation and moral degradation.  The existence of these countries is the West’s most important achievement and the most significant cause for Israel’s successes and continued existence. There is no clearer evidence than their current stand regarding the Israeli aggression against Gaza. Where is the ‘alleged’ zeal and ardour that they showed towards Syria or the Syrian people? Why haven’t they supported Gaza with arms and money? Where are their jihadists; and why haven’t they sent them to defend our people in Palestine?

In order to know the answer, we should know that what is happening today in Gaza, ladies and gentlemen, is not a separate or passing event. It is an integrated chain of events: from the occupation of Palestine, to the invasion of Iraq and trying to divide it now and the division of the Sudan all planned by Israel and the West and always executed by the states of tyranny and backwardness in our Arab world.

Was it not Abdul Aziz Ibn Abdul Rahman al-Faisal who conceded to Britain that he does not object to giving Palestine to the ‘poor’ Jews in 1915?Did those states not incite the 1967 war, whose price we are still paying today, in order to get rid of the Abul Naser ‘phenomenon’? Did those states not support Iran under the Shah, only to stand against it when it decided to support the Palestinian people and turn the Israeli embassy into a Palestinian embassy after the revolution?

Those are the countries which made the ‘King Fahed Peace Initiative’ in 1981 and threatened the Palestinians with rivers of blood if they don’t accept it. When the Palestinian factions rejected it, and in less than a year, there was the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the ejection of the PLO from Lebanon, not out of concern for Lebanon, but for Israel.

Those same states surprised us in 2002 with their greatest concession: ‘normalization in return for peace,’which was later modified to become the ‘Arab Peace Initiative’in the Beirut summit.

When Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006, it was those same countries that encouraged Israel and the West not to accept a cease-fire until the Lebanese resistance was destroyed, describing them as ‘adventurous.’  Because these satellite countries succeeded in their tasks, they were charged with funding chaos under the name of the ‘Arab spring,’ and with leading the Arab League after other Arab countries abandoned their roles.  The Arab League itself was reduced to summoning NATO and imposing a siege on the Arab states that refused to comply.

All of these events constitute a strongly linked chain aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause; all the money spent by those countries since their creation has been for this purpose. And here they are today playing the same role: in Gaza through Israeli terrorism, and in Syria through terrorism belonging to 83 nationalities. The methods may differ but their objective is the same.

This leads meto another important issue. Some have expressed indifference towards Gaza, on the premise that we have our fair share of national problems; others have gloated at the Israeli aggression,asa reaction to the ingratitude and disloyalty of some Palestinians towards Syria and everything we have offered for decades.  Both cases however, reflect naïve thinking; what is happening in Syria and the region as a whole is strongly linked to what is happening in Palestine. Dissociating ourselves from these events would be like watching a neighbour’s house burning and not offering to help.

That is why those who believe that we can live in safety and distance ourselves from the Palestinian cause are illusioned. It will remain the central cause based on principles and the reality that links what is happening in Palestine with what is happening in Syria.  We need to distinguish between the resistant Palestinian people and the ungrateful Palestinians, between true resistance fighters – who we should support – and the amateurs who mask themselves in the mantle of resistance to serve their interests, improve their image or strengthen their authority;otherwise, we will be – consciously or unconsciously, serving Israel’s objectives of dividing us even further and making us believe that our crisis is local and isolated.

Ladies and gentlemen,

A people like you, who have fought, resisted and stood fast in a country which has been exposed to an aggression unparalleled in its ferocity, is worthy of respect and appreciation, worthy of their homeland, history and civilization. You have restored the true meaning of the word revolution and proved that Syrians live honourably and die as martyrs honourably, that their dignity is more important than life itself and that their faith in God is fully intertwined with their faith in the nation, its land and people.

Although we have made great achievements in our war against terrorism in the past period, we have not forgotten and will not forget our beloved ‘Raqqa,’ which, God willing, we will soon rid of the terrorists.  As to the resilient Aleppo and its heroic people, we will not rest until it restores its safety and security. The daily military operations and the martyrs from all over Syria, who have fallen for the sake of Aleppo, are clear and tangible evidence that Aleppo will remain in the heart of every Syrian.

I salute the Syrian Arab Army: officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers, who have spared nothing in defence of our homeland, including their lives and the families they left behind.  I salute all our National Defence Groups and the young men and women who carried arms in defence of their country, its dignity and honour, and who have provided a strong parallel support force to the Syrian Army in many regions. My biggest salute is to the great people; your embrace of our armed forces and their achievements has been at the core of their victory.

We should not forget to thank members of the faithful and heroic Lebanese resistance who stood shoulder to shoulder with the heroes in our army, fought honourable battles together on both sides of the border and provided martyrs in defence of the axis of resistance. I salute them and the families of every martyr who reciprocated our loyalty with loyalty and considered defending Syria a national duty like defending southern Lebanon.

We also thank Iran, Russia and China, these states that have respected the decision and will of the Syrian people over the course of three years and have truly upheld the UN charter in respecting States’ sovereignty and non-interference in their domestic affairs.

Honourable Syrians,

The challenges are huge and the tasks are burdensome. Our success in dealing with our difficulties and our self-confidence should not make us complacent. Our enemies are treacherous but our will is strong, and with this will we shall turn this ordeal into an opportunity. As long as we have the will to act, let our achievements in the future be of the same scale – and even greater – of the price we have paid.

The new stage has begun, and we are fully prepared for it. Syria deserves all our effort, sweat and work; we shall spare nothing in the same way that our heroes have not spared their blood or their lives. I will always beone of you, living amongst you, guided by your opinions and inspired by your awareness. Together, hand in hand, Syria will remain strong, proud, resilient and inviolable to any foreigner; and we Syrians shall remain the strongest fortification for Syria and her dignity.

Thank you.

#1 – 12:00 – July 16, 2014 – Briefing from the LPR Militia for the First Half of July 16, 2014

The past evening and night in the Lugansk region were relatively calm. Suffering substantial losses, the enemy continued its retreat from Provalye and Marinovka, heading toward Biryukovo, where it was also met by LPR units and sustained losses. Near Lugansk, the aggressor, on the one hand, continued to retreat from its positions near the settlements of Aleksandrovka, Yubileyniy and Ekaterinovka and, on the other hand, started to grow its grouping in the vicinity of Shchastye. In particular, at about 08:00, an enemy column, noted to include 6 Grad installations, passed through the Shchastye checkpoint. At night and in the morning, enemy fighter aircrafts ascended into the sky on several occasions. They flew at a substantial elevation, no less than 6,000 metres. The previous evening a Su-25 ground attack craft conducted an airstrike at the Ukrainian Ministry of Emergency base nominally controlled by Kiev, in the process destroying special equipment necessary in the event if a chemical leak were to affect the territory. At about 11:00, a saboteur group, operating from the territory of the Milam enterprise, conducted mortar strikes, presumably at the location where Battalion Zarya is quartered. However, the shells fell on the territory of a trolley depot.


Graphic: Marinovka has been taken by the Militia. The punitive forces have been totally encircled. The southern cauldron has been firmly sealed (courtesy of The Saker at The Vineyard of the Saker)

MAP

Graphic: Junta Defeat on LPR Territory - by Colonel Cassad @ Colonel Cassad in English

 


#2 – 15:06 – July 16, 2014 - Information from the Militia

Local resident of Avdeevka observed a small group of scruffy men in green camouflage in the Vinogradniki district. The men were inquiring about safe passage out of DPR. Clearly, they were the inmates of the airport and yet another group of deserters. Regarding how they manage to make it out, allow me to explain: the perimeter of the airport is fairly large and the boundaries of the airport area are directly adjacent to a wilderness area that contains a nearby forested zone. With respect to the destruction of the radio-location station – indeed, we conducted an operation to destroy communications on the tower (the tower itself will still be useful to us after victory), rather than to destroy the construction itself. Electrical power cables were taken out of commission. Ukies will not be able to restore them because the territory in the area, and not only there, is wide open to easy shelling. To ensure the safety of the Militia personnel, we are implementing preventive measures aimed at upsetting the enemy’s state of combat and psychological readiness.


#3 – 15:50 – July 16, 2014 – Briefing from the Militia

Marinovka has been taken by the Militia. The punitive forces have been totally encircled. The southern cauldron has been firmly sealed. The Ukrainian forces have only one chance to survive – to surrender to the Militia or to be interned on the territory of Russia.

On other areas of the southern front, the Militia also continues an active offensive. Artillery attacks on the Junta columns are being conducted. The Militia periodically uses Grad systems.


#4 - 17:05 – July 16, 2014 - Briefing from the Militia

We did a bit of damage to a Su jet over Gorlovka. It left in the direction of Mirgorod garnished with a thick black tail of smoke. Don’t think it will make it to the airfield with damage like that.

Near the Marinovka border checkpoint on the former Russian-Ukrainian border, a battle clash between the punitive forces and our assault group is ongoing.

The border checkpoint, controlled by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, was attacked with 10 tanks, 5 BTRs and 200 militiamen. Two Ukies soldiers were killed in the very first minutes of the battle.


#5 – 17:16 – July 16, 2014 – Infromation from Militiaman Prokhorov

I would like to inform you that the retreat of Ukie 72nd and 79th aeromobile and the 24th mechanized brigades from the Izvarino area is gradually turning into a flight. Officers and soldiers alike are spreading panic over their telephones and other means of communication. You should be soon expecting a tsunami of calls from their relatives to the mass media.

Thus, the Ukie “air force offensive” is simply a loud fart into a puddle.

On the Ukrainian side of the Izvarino border checkpoint, the word “Ukraine” has been refashioned into “Ruin”. LPR and USSR flags are flying over the buildings.

14:40 (MSK) – Fighting has commenced in the Metallist area (the suburb of Lugansk).

The Nazi bastards withdrew out most of their armoured vehicles from Shchastye, transferring them to Noviy Aidar.

A new wave is coming at Saur-Mogila. When will Ukies will finally exhaust their supply of Su-24s? PZRKs (Personal Anti-Aircraft Complex) in Snezhnoye already have already fired off their salvos at the Ukrainian aircraft. At least one Su gained serious health problems during the previous air assaults.

The claim that an assassination attempt was made on the life of Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Arsen Avakov is disinformation. He is Slavyansk, healthy as ever. Pure disinfo to distract the citizens from the Khokhlo-army’s defeats in the southern “intestine”.


#6 – 17:49 – July 16, 2014 – Briefing From the Militia

The DPR Militia claim two more Ukrainian jets near Saur-Mogila. The head of the DPR Militia Press-Service, Vladislav Brig, posted on his Facebook account:

“Two more Su jets were shot down. They were engaged in airstrikes at Saur-Mogila.”


#7 – 19:17 – July 16, 2014 – Information from Eyewitnesses

On the hottest parts of the front, Ukies have been observed throwing away their weapons, taking off their military markings, with some even removing their uniforms and changing into civilian clothes, and running toward the Russian border. Those who have no civilian clothes with them run with peeled-off epaulets. Some, and, in particular, members of the punitive battalions and Praviy Sector militants, have been seen stripping to their underwear.


#8 - 19:42 – July 16, 2014 - Briefing from Igor Strelkov

Heavy fighting continues near Marinovka. The village was twice bombed from high elevation. The enemy is concentrating its artillery and tanks against our grouping from the south and from the west. Battles are also continuing in the area south of Dmitrievka, where the enemy has concentrated an artillery grouping near Kozhevnya.

We lost 1 BTR (destroyed with a shot from an ATGM); the enemy suffered losses of 1 BTR and 1 BMP destroyed and 1 BMP-2 captured in working condition.


#9 – 19:34 – July 16, 2014 – Briefing from the Militia HQ

The enemy has been continuing its retreat from Provalye Marinovka (LPR), suffering substantial losses, heading in the direction of Biryukovo, where it was ambushed by LPR militiamen.

In the first half of the day, the enemy continued to increase its grouping on the approaches to Shchastye. MLRS Grad were pulled up to the location. Right now there is a withdrawal of Ukie forces to Novoaidar.


#10 – Good News from Donbass – Blog Entry by Colonel Cassad @ Colonel Cassad in English

From reliable sources in the DPR:

  • The junta military today rolled back from Izvarino and Krasnodon (a bit earlier the information arrived that the enemy is retreating from Alexandrovka and Schastye), without solving the main problem of blockading the former state border of Ukraine with the Russian Federation. After suffering large losses and having problems with supplies, on the 15-th day of the offensive the junta military retreated by about 30-40 km from Izvarino, south of which lies the self-styled “road of life”. This way, together with the growing defeat of the South punitive group and the failed attempt to unblock the Luhansk airport, the LPR militia won the strategic defensive operation which continued for more than two weeks, and the junta suffered its largest defeat since the start of the war. In essence, the charge of the mechanized forces to the rescue of the airport was a gamble by which they were trying to turn the failing operation around. In order to renew the offensive operation the junta urgently needs an operational pause, because the situation continues to get worse for it, which is why requests of cease-fire cannot be excluded in the nearest time, which of course will be rejected by the militia.
  • The story with Mr. Khodakovsky continues. Somewhat earlier he was stripped of the direct command of the “Vostok” battalion (which was reformed into a brigade, so it has to be called now the “Vostok” brigade), which was operationally reassigned to Strelkov and his headquarters that rely on the conceal of the commanders. Over Khodakovsky, who used to be the minister of the state security of the DPR, a representative of the “Bloody Gebnya” (i.e., KGB) emerged, lieutenant-general Antyufeev who is currently cleansing the consequences of the work of those who were involved with the attempts to surrender Donetsk. A few days ago Mr. Khodakovsky was explicitly offered to determine with whom he is – either with Akhmetov or with the DPR. Because no agreement in good faith was apparently reached, then according to the data of the source, Mr. Khodakovsky today scribbled a paper about resigning from all positions in the security block of the DPR, which was dropped on the table of the political leadership of the DPR. Will it be given motion is not yet clear, but it is quite probable that in the nearest time Mr. Khodakovsky may depart from the deck of the military and political leaders of the DPR, similarly to how recently the former Mayor of Donetsk Mr. Lukyanchenko fell out of it and ran into Kiev.
  • UPD: Mr. Strelkov already confirmed the fact of the resignation of Mr. Khodakovsky from the position of the Minister of State Security of the DPR, so the source once again confirmed its high degree of privity.
  • Strelkov: Indeed, Mr. Khodakovsky resigned from the position of the minister. But he continues to command “Vostok” and nobody is going to remove him.
  • This way Mr. Khodakovsky now remains just a field commander and dropped out of the political deck of the top of the DPR. One more consequence of the retreat from Slavyansk.
  • Restrained optimism reigns in the military leadership of the DPR and the LPR after the successes of the recent days. So things are moving.

#11 - Junta Defeat on LPR Territory - by Colonel Cassad @ Colonel Cassad in English

Continue Reading: Junta Defeat on LPR Territory - by Colonel Cassad @ Colonel Cassad in English


#12 – July 16, 2014 – Information from LifeNews

Sixteen wounded Ukrainian executioners were delivered across the border into Russia. The border guards and Junta servicemen wounded in the fighting are being treated at hospital of the Gukovo village in the Rostov region.

The number of Ukrainian soldier being attended to by Russian doctors has grown to 16 men. Three Ukrainian border guards are in intensive care; the all received wounds of various degrees of severity. The character of wounds varies – caused by shells, frags and shrapnel, as well as fractures and burns.

A source in the Militia provided information that the battle on the LPR territory is occurring only 10 kilometres away from the Russian village of Gukovo.


July 16, 2014 – Situation Report from the Militia 

An accumulation of disparate parts of Ukie forces can be observed in the area of Amvrosievka – this is the outcome of our morning liberation of Marinovka (DPR). In the corse of a haphazard retreat in the direction of Mariupol, significant numbers of armoured vehicles in disrepair is being abandoned “on the march” (in quotations, as it is difficult to equate this flight to a march). The evacuation of non-military personnel has been substantially hampered.

We have information that separate units of the Junta forces, in an attempt to breakout from the Saurovsk cauldron, are running, stripping of their camouflage and dropping personal arms, almost naked to their underwear. Those who have civilian clothes are hastily changing, hoping to get lost among the civilian population. In Lugansk, the situation remains tense. We have radio located and now are tracking an enemy fire corrector.

20:00 (MSK) – We have received and now are confirming information about the shooting down of a transport aircraft (An-26) over Lugansk. An intensive battle has ensued at the Lugansk airport. A KPVT can be heard working, there are explosions. Near the square adjacent to the airport terminal there is thick black smoke.

For more half a century, Israel has gotten away with breaking every international law and covenant in its treatment of Palestinians. “The material basis of the Israeli colonial project is dependent on the continued expansion and expropriation of Palestinian land and the subordination of Palestinian people.”

“Protective Edge,” the cartoonish name given to the latest Israeli military offensive against the occupied people of Palestine, is representative of the inverted reality whereby the 1.7 million captive and largely defenseless Palestinians in Gaza are the vicious aggressors against the peace-loving settlers of Israel. Similar to the inverted reality in the U.S., where the myth of the innocent settler was created to justify the systematic slaughter of Indigenous peoples, the genocidal policies of Israel are camouflaged by the transformation of its position from an armed colonial invader to one of victim.

This repositioning is aided and abetted in the U.S. by a corporate media whose worldview and angle of reporting is framed by the innocent settler narrative. This narrative simultaneously liquidates and normalizes the colonial relationship between the colonizer and the colonized so that the occupied territories are not occupied but transformed into “disputed” territories and all forms of resistance on the part of Palestinians becomes terroristic.

Informed by this imperial vision, the corporate media not only parrot Israel’s victim narrative but go even further with the creation of the two-equal-sides fiction. Mainstream coverage laments how both sides are locked in battle or a spiral of violence, giving the absurd impression that the violence in the occupied territories is a conflict between two forces with similar power and equal moral standing.

It should be clear that attempting to conceptually equate the force of the state of Israel, one of the most powerful militaries in the world, with a resistance movement of a captive people trapped by land and sea in an open-air concentration camp on one of the most densely populated strips of land on the planet is a position that is fundamentally immoral. Yet for most editors and reporters in the U.S., pro-Zionist liberals and their counterparts in the Christian Zionist movement as well as some elements of the European press and public, the conceptual blinders of white supremacist colonial consciousness makes it impossible to see the immorality inherent in this construction of the so-called conflict.

The position for most of the world is that the latest assault on the Palestinian people is a war crime and an ongoing crime against humanity. That position was affirmed by the international Court of Justice, which ruled that as an occupying military power Israel has an obligation under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to protect the rights of civilians under military occupation. i

Within this legal framework, the killing of civilians under occupation, indiscriminate shelling of Palestinian communities, collective punishments, house demolitions, arbitrary imprisonment, the theft of water and other natural resources and the building of settlements in occupied territories are all considered war crimes and crimes against humanity.ii

That is the real story that should be communicated to the general public in the U.S. But instead, the public is being led to believe that the Israeli military assault is a legally and morally justified response to aggression from Hamas. From this perspective there is no special responsibility on the part of the Israeli authorities to protect the rights of Palestinians under military occupation, and the actions of the Israeli government in response to the killings of the three Israeli teenagers is seen as a measured and rational response.

Only the most naive believe the current military assault has anything to do with “defense” issues related to the symbolic resistance offered from Hamas via the firing of rockets into Israel. Honest commentators on this issue know that Israel provoked the response from the Palestinian resistance with the mass repression it launched in Gaza after the killings of the three Israeli teenagers in order to use the response to justify its attack on Hamas. An attack meant to destroy the newly established unity government of the Palestinians.

The colonialist mentality sees any resistance, no matter the form, as illegitimate, punishable by death and unrelenting terror. That message is clear for Palestinians as their homes are reduced to dust and the people dig out the bodies of their children, spouses, fathers and grandmothers. The other message communicated to Palestinians, once again, and which they understand all too well, is that compared to the lives of the settlers their lives are worthless and there is no “responsibility to protect” for them.

The assault on the people and the institutions of Gaza has as its objective the eradication of the people of Gaza – not necessarily in the physical sense, only because at this stage in global consciousness any such attempt would galvanize universal opposition, but to erase Gaza as a functioning society, to destroy it politically, culturally, spiritually and psychologically. A process that IIan Pappe refers to as “incremental genocide,iii that whatever the label is terroristic in its’ most naked, brutal and devastating effect.

When genocide or systematic ethnic cleansing is not a viable option, reducing the indigenous population to a weak, terrorized and dependent condition is the next best thing for settler policy. The targeting of the civilian infrastructure and governing institutions by the Israeli military makes it clear that this is the objective of the current attack on Gaza.

The international community has failed to hold the Israeli state accountable for war crimes and other serious violations of international law over the last four decades. Human rights organizations and United Nations special procedures have produced detailed reports on the crimes committed by Israel over the last four decades without the perpetrators being brought to justice.iv And when it comes to Israel, humanitarian intervention and the responsibility to protect is exposed as the imperialist ideological construct that it is.

Images of Palestinian children being dug out of bombed-out residential buildings have not resulted in calls for humanitarian intervention to save a population that may be the most brutalized on the planet today. Instead, weak and pathetic calls are made for “both sides” to show restraint and protect “civilians” as though a distinction can be made or is ever made between combatants and non-combatants when it is the whole people who are seen as the enemy by Israeli authorities.

Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights points out the hypocrisy of the West when it comes to Israel.

“…instead of condemning such recourse to massive violence as ‘aggression’ that violates the UN Charter and fundamental international law principles, the reaction of Western diplomats and mainstream media has perversely sided with Israel. From the UN Secretary-General to the president of the United States, the main insistence has been that Hamas must stop all rocket attacks while Israel is requested ever so politely to show ‘maximum restraint’”.v

What is the future for Palestine? Is reconciliation possible within the context of an ongoing colonial relationship? Is a two-state solution still viable with more than 500,000 settlers occupying almost half of the land that was supposed to be the Palestinian state, a land base that is just 22 percent of original Palestine before the establishment of Israel?

Frantz Fanon argues that:

“One world, either that of the settler or that of the native, must be destroyed to bring the colonial system to an end. Not simply a military defeat or a political deal – the total destruction of the other mode of living.”

As the Israelis continue to steal Palestinian land, murder, degrade and humiliate Palestinian people, and create “facts on the ground” that make it impossible to establish a viable, independent Palestinian state, it is becoming clear that the only solution to the original sin of the Zionist project is authentic decolonization where the presence, humanity and sovereignty of the colonized is restored.

Authentic decolonization is the only solution because the inner logic of the colonial/capitalist process suggests that Fanon’s assertion is correct – that there can be no reconciliation of Palestinian self-determination and independent development with the continuation of the Israeli state as a settler state. Because even within the framework of the so-called two state solution, the material basis of the Israeli colonial project is dependent on the continued expansion and expropriation of Palestinian land and the subordination of Palestinian people.

So while some Palestinians and their supporters still hope for a two-state solution, Israeli rulers also understand Fanon’s position that “only one mode of living will survive” and are moving to destroy Palestinian resistance. This is the real story of Gaza and all of the occupied territories – an ongoing crime that degrades all of us who are forced to witness it.

Ajamu Baraka is a human rights activist, organizer and geo-political analyst. Baraka is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C. and editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report. His latest publications include contributions to two recently published books “Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA” and “Claim No Easy Victories: The Legacy of Amilcar Cabral.” He can be reached at [email protected] and www.AjamuBaraka.com

Notes:

i See “Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1677.pdf

ii For a summation of the relevant articles of the convention related to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, see Francis Boyld, “The International Laws of Belligerent Occupation,” http://www.ifamericansknew.org/cur_sit/boyle.html

iii http://electronicintifada.net/content/genocide-gaza/6397

iv The reports on Israeli violations are too numerous to detail here but the comprehensive UN examination of Israeli violations reflected here: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/12session/A-HRC-12-48.pdf is an example of detailed violations without any effective follow-up.

v Tormenting Gaza, Aljazeera, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/07/tormenting-gaza-201471362221821466.html

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited Haiti on Jul. 14-15 in an effort to resuscitate a stalled $2.2 billion UN plan to eliminate cholera from Haiti over the next decade.

Launched in December 2012, the UN “initiative” was really nothing more than the repackaging of the “Initiative for the Elimination of Cholera in the Island of Hispaniola” launched by the Haitian and Dominican governments in January 2012, as Jonathon Katz and Tom Murphy pointed out in a scathing “Foreign Policy” article.

Since the UN rebranded the plan, it has been unable in over 18 months to raise even the $400 million needed to fund the project for its first two years. Meanwhile, the UN spent some $609 million to deploy about 7,000 UN soldiers in Haiti during FY 2013/2014 as part of the thoroughly despised and almost weekly protested decade-old UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH).

It was, in fact, MINUSTAH soldiers from Nepal who imported cholera into Haiti by allowing sewage from their outhouses to flow into the headwaters of Haiti’s largest river in October 2010, at least ten scientific studies, including one commissioned by the UN itself, agree.

However, the UN has refused to accept legal responsibility for causing what is now the world’s worst cholera epidemic, which has killed over 8,500 and sickened over 704,000 Haitians. Three lawsuits have been filed in New York courts demanding reparations and an apology from the UN for its negligence in Haiti. The UN has claimed it has immunity, and UN officials have been hiding from court officers trying to serve them with papers, although one server caught up with Ban Ki-moon at The Asia Society in late June.

In Haiti, Ban Ki-moon and his wife, joined by Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, engaged in an extended photo-op to deflect criticism and say that the UN had a “moral duty” to help stop the spread of cholera in Haiti.

“This is a necessary pilgrimage for me,” Ban told villagers in a church in Los Palmas on Haiti’s Central Plateau near where the epidemic started. “My wife and I have come here to grieve with you. As a father and grandfather, and as a mother and grandmother, we feel tremendous anguish at the pain you have had to endure.”

Along with Lamothe, Ban also helped launch the Haitian government’s “Total Sanitation Campaign,” a five-year plan, already funded with $14 million from Canada and Japan, which aims to improve sanitation for 3.8 million Haitians in 20 cholera-plagued rural communes.

The Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Port-au-Prince-based Office of International Lawyers (BAI) were the first lawyers to bring a lawsuit in the New York courts on behalf of 5,000 cholera victims in October 2013. The lawsuit came after the UN claimed immunity after the IJDH/BAI lawyers attempted to seek redress through the UN’s own grievance system in November 2011.

On Jul. 7, the U.S. Justice Department wrote to the Judge J. Paul Oetken in the New York case to say that the “United States has consistently asserted the absolute immunity of the UN to lawsuits filed against it in U.S. courts” and “urges the Court to dismiss this action.”

The IJDH/BAI lawyers are trying to have the case litigated as a class-action lawsuit.

“Secretary-General Ban’s visit demonstrates why Haiti needs justice, not charity,” IJDH lawyer Brian Concannon, Jr. told Haïti Liberté.

His talk of ‘moral duty’ and new programs on this visit just add to his other empty gestures, such as the 2012 launch of the Cholera Free Hispaniola Initiative that has not started almost two years later. Haitians are dying of the UN cholera epidemic, the UN has a legal responsibility to stop that killing, and has the resources to do so. It is time for all of us to join with Haitian grassroots activists and make sure that the UN obeys the law.”

Ban also met with President Michel Martelly as well as the presidents of Haiti’s House of Deputies and Senate to discuss the political impasse over Haiti’s unconstitutional electoral council, which Martelly has sought to unilaterally impose.

On Jul. 15, about 50 protestors gathered outside a stadium being constructed on Route Neuf outside Cité Soleil, in which Ban, Martelly, and Lamothe took pictures with International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach. The protestors sang chants and held signs which said: “MINUSTAH = Cholera”, “Ban Ki-Moon Go Home”, and “Down with the UN Occupation of Haiti.”

“We are outraged that Ban Ki-Moon comes here to hypocritically say he cares about our plight while at the same time he refuses to take responsibility for unleashing cholera in Haiti,” said Oxygène David of the party Dessalines Coordination (KOD), whose militants made up more than half of the demonstrators at Route Neuf.

“We demand that UN troops to leave Haiti, and Ban is deaf. We ask for cholera reparations, and Ban is deaf. Through massacres carried out by their soldiers and the importation of cholera, the UN is responsible for thousands upon thousands of Haitian deaths. So don’t try to tell us that you’re the solution to the problems you’ve created.”

After Haiti, Ban Ki-moon travels to the Dominican Republic, where he will meet with President Danilo Medina.

Haiti: Despite Flawed Electoral Process, International Community Support Continues Unabated

July 16th, 2014 by Center for Economic and Policy Research

While Haitian President Michel Martelly has unilaterally scheduled long-delayed elections for October 26, 2014, the composition of the electoral council continues to cause controversy in Haiti. The current problems stem from the deeply flawed electoral process in 2010 that saw Martelly emerge victorious after the intervention of the international community. There have yet to be elections since then, with one-third of the 30 member Senate having their terms expire in 2011 while some 130 local mayors have been replaced by Martelly appointments. Another one-third of the Senate and the entire lower house will see their terms expire in January 2015 if elections are not held. In a “frequently asked questions” document released last week, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) provides a legal analysis of the reasons behind the delays and why the current electoral council is unconstitutional. In an accompanying press release, IJDH notes:

According to Mario Joseph, managing lawyer for the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, “Prompt elections are much needed, but elections will only remedy Haiti’s political crisis if they are run fairly by a constitutionally-mandated electoral council. President Michel Martelly has delayed elections for three years because he does not want to lose the political control he has enjoyed without full parliamentary oversight.”

Joseph explains that “The current Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) put into place by President Martelly per the El Rancho Accord is unconstitutional.” The El Rancho Accord, which rules the government’s plan for elections, has not been approved by Parliament and the procedure for selecting a CEP conflicts with the Haitian Constitution. The CEP only has seven of the required nine members due to these legitimacy concerns. Parliamentarians and political opposition call the El Rancho Accord a political coup d’état.

Despite the problems associated with the “El Rancho Accord,” the international community has been supportive of the process. After praising the accord in March, the U.N. issued a statement in early May, co-signed with the “Friends of Haiti” grouping of countries, warning “that certain important decisions to advance toward the holding of the elections have yet to be made.” Days later Martelly announced the formation of the electoral council, unilaterally. In early June, the date of October 26 was announced by the government, even though the electoral body is tasked with scheduling elections. Last week, after meeting with Martelly, the Secretary General of the OAS committed “to back the holding of free and fair elections, in a process planned for October.” The OAS also said they would send an electoral observation mission.

The international community is also providing the lion’s share of the funds for the election. IJDH, for its part, has called on the U.S. and other members of the international community to “support rule of law and democracy by conditioning election funding on a lawful and independent electoral council that can run fair and inclusive elections.” Haiti’s last several elections have been criticized for not being inclusive, as several political parties – including the most popular, Fanmi Lavalas – have been arbitrarily kept off the ballot under various pretexts.

The U.S. has pledged $10 million toward the elections, but a review of contract spending shows that a significant portion of this has already been allocated and spent in coordination with a previous electoral body that no longer exists. In April of 2013, USAID awarded $2.3 million to the International Federation of Electoral Systems (IFES) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) for “electoral process support.” In April 2014, the award was raised to $3.4 million. An IFES press release from October 2013, well before elections had been scheduled, notes that the organization had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Transitional College of the Permanent Electoral Council (CTCEP) to provide technical assistance. The CTCEP has since been replaced by the electoral body that emerged from the controversial “El Rancho Accord.” Repeated requests for comment to clarify IFES’s support have yet to be answered.

Additionally, a USAID factsheet reports that $6.5 million will go toward “pre-election planning and capacity building for the” CTCEP. Those funds are part of a multi-donor project run by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Previously called “Support to Electoral Process in Haiti: 2012-2013”, the only recent update to the project’s webpage has been to change to dates to “2013-2014.” Overall, the UNDP project will have a budget of $32 million and had already spent over a $1 million as of October 2013. It remains unclear if the donors – the U.S., Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the EU – have already deposited their contributions with the UNDP.

This article was published in August 2013, but it is even more relevant today, as the world witnesses more attacks on Gaza and an important propaganda operation from Israel.

In a campaign to improve its image abroad, the Israeli government plans to provide scholarships to hundreds of students at its seven universities in exchange for their making pro-Israel Facebook posts and tweets to foreign audiences.

The students making the posts will not reveal online that they are funded by the Israeli government, according to correspondence about the plan revealed in the Haaretz newspaper.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, which will oversee the programme, confirmed its launch and wrote that its aim was to “strengthen Israeli public diplomacy and make it fit the changes in the means of information consumption”.

The government’s hand is to be invisible to the foreign audiences. Daniel Seaman, the official who has been planning the effort, wrote in a letter on 5 August to a body authorising government projects that “the idea requires not making the role of the state stand out and therefore it is necessary to adhere to great involvement of the students themselves, without political linkage or affiliation”.

According to the plan, students are to be organised into units at each university, with a chief co-ordinator who receives a full scholarship, three desk co-ordinators for language, graphics and research who receive lesser scholarships and students termed “activists” who will receive a “minimal scholarship”.

Mr Netanyahu’s aides said the main topics the units would address related to political and security issues, combating calls to boycott Israel and combating efforts to question Israel’s legitimacy. The officials said the students would stress Israeli democratic values, freedom of religion and pluralism.

But Alon Liel, the doveish former director-general of the Israeli foreign ministry, criticised the plan as “quite disgusting”. “University students should be educated to think freely. When you buy the mind of a student, he becomes a puppet of the Israeli government grant,” he said. “You can give a grant to do social work or teach but not to do propaganda on controversial issues for the government.”

The US, Turkey, Israel “Triple Alliance”

July 16th, 2014 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

The following article was first published by GR on August 6, 2006. It is of particular relevance to an understanding both of the terrorist insurgency in Syria (supported by Turkey and Israel), Israeli threats directed against Iran as well as the ongoing Israeli attacks on the people of Gaza.

There was a deterioration of relations between Ankara and Tel Aviv in 2010 following the Marvi Marmara Gaza flotilla incident.

While ties were officially suspended after the UN released its report of the Mavi Marmara raid by Israel, in practice, senior Israeli and Turkish military and intelligence officials continued to collaborate under their longstanding bilateral military and intelligence agreement. In December 2013,  diplomatic relations were normalized. 

In relation to Israel’s July 2014 attacks on Gaza, Erdogan accused Israel of “continuing to carry out state terrorism in the region …“What’s the difference between this mentality and that of Hitler?” Erdogan asked. (Press TV, July 15 2014)

Despite official statements and Prime Minister Erdogan’s narrative regarding Israel’s attack on Gaza ( largely intended for Turkish public opinion), Turkey remains a firm ally of Israel.

Michel Chossudovsky, July 16, 2014

Highlights. Scroll down for Complete article

From the outset in 1992, the Israeli-Turkish military alliance has consistently been directed against Syria.  A 1993 Memorandum of Understanding led to the creation of (Israeli-Turkish) “joint committees” to handle so-called regional threats. Under the terms of the Memorandum, Turkey and Israel agreed “to cooperate in gathering intelligence on Syria, Iran, and Iraq and to meet regularly to share assessments pertaining to terrorism and these countries’ military capabilities.”

 Turkey agreed to allow IDF and Israeli security forces to gather electronic intelligence on Syria and Iran from Turkey. In exchange, Israel assisted in the equipping and training of Turkish forces in anti-terror warfare along the Syrian, Iraqi, and Iranian borders.” (Ibid)

In 1997, Israel and Turkey launched  “A Strategic Dialogue” involving a bi-annual process of high level military consultations by the respective deputy chiefs of staff. (Milliyet,  Istanbul, in Turkish 14 July 2006).   

Already during the Clinton Administration, a triangular military alliance between the US, Israel and Turkey had unfolded. This “triple alliance”, which is dominated by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, integrates and coordinates military command decisions between the three countries pertaining to the broader Middle East. It is based on the close military ties respectively of Israel and Turkey with the US, coupled with a strong bilateral military relationship between Tel Aviv and Ankara. Amply documented, Israel and Turkey are partners in the US planned aerial attacks on Iran, which have been in an advanced state of readiness since mid-2005. (See Michel Chossudovsky, May 2005)

The triple alliance is also coupled with a 2005 NATO-Israeli military cooperation agreement which includes “many areas of common interest, such as the fight against terrorism and joint military exercises. These military cooperation ties with NATO are viewed by the Israeli military as a means to “enhance Israel’s deterrence capability regarding potential enemies threatening it, mainly Iran and Syria.”

*     *     *

“Triple Alliance”: The US, Turkey, Israel and the War on Lebanon

by Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, August 6, 2006

While Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned Israel for the atrocities committed in Lebanon [2006], his government remains a staunch ally of Israel and a major military actor in the Middle East and Central Asia, with close ties to Washington, Tel Aviv and NATO headquarters in Brussels.

“This war is unjust… The Israeli war …is simply fueling hatred… It is not difficult to see that a terrible global war and a huge disaster await us.””, said Erdogan  at the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) meeting in Kuala Lumpur, in early August

In a cruel irony, Turkey, through its military alliance with Israel and the US, is a de facto partner in the “terrible global war” alluded to by Prime Minister Erdogan.

The Turkish head of government’s apparent indignation responds to strong anti-Israeli sentiment within Turkey and the Middle East. His Justice and Development Party (AKP), which dominates the ruling coalition is considered to be a “pro-Islamic political entity”. Yet beneath the gilded surface of Turkish party politics, the ruling AKP coalition government led Prime Minister Erdogan is complicit in Israeli war crimes.

Turkey’s condemnation of Israel is in blatant contradiction with the substance of its longstanding military cooperation agreement with Israel, which the ruling AKP government has actively pursued. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has not only supported Israeli interests, he had also developed a close personal rapport with (former) Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

 

The contradictions underlying Turkey’s foreign policy also relate to complex divisions within the ruling coalition as well as between the government and the Military hierarchy, which historically  has maintained a close rapport with the Pentagon and NATO. While the alliance with Israel may be the source of political contention in the Turkish parliament, it has, nonetheless, been accepted and endorsed, since the mid-1990s, by successive government coalitions.

The Israeli-Turkish Military Alliance 

A significant turnaround in Turkish foreign policy occurred in the immediate wake of the Cold War, which contributed to redefining the Turkey-Israel relationship. Initially forged under the helm of Prime Minister Tansu Çiller, the Israeli-Turkish military pact is characterized by the landmark 1994 Security and Secrecy Agreement (SSA). This strategic realignment of Turkey with Israel was part of Washington’s post Cold War agenda in the Middle East, which was also supported by US covert intelligence operations. In 1997, Mrs. Ciller was accused of having been recruited by the CIA and “of accepting money from foreign governments [the US] to work against Turkey’s national interests”. (Voice of America, 17 July 1997)

The 1994 Security and Secrecy Agreement emulates a defunct secret agreement between Israel and Turkey formulated in the late 1950s at the height of the Cold War, entitled the “Peripheral Pact”:

“By 1958, however, a fascinating secret agreement, sometimes referred to as the “peripheral pact”, had emerged between the two nations. It’s conceptual framework can be traced back even before the founding of the state [of Israel] to the ideology of Baruch ‘Uzel [Uziel], an Israeli leader who would later become a member of the Liberal Party.

Notably, exact details of the alliance remain hidden in numerous classified Israeli documents, and are obscured by Turkish secrecy, classified documents, and insistence that there was no actually documented pact between the countries. Nonetheless, it seems the alliance had three fundamental tenets. The diplomatic tenet involved joint public relations campaigns to influence general publics. The military aspect allegedly involved the exchange of intelligence information, joint planning for mutual aid in emergencies, and Turkish support in the Pentagon and at NATO for an improved Israeli military. Some also say that “highly sensitive” scientific cooperation as well as the export of Israeli military equipment to the Republic occurred. (See Washington Institute)

This 1958 bilateral military cooperation agreement, however, was short lived. In the course of the 1960s, Turkey pursued a rapprochement with both the Soviet Union and the Arab countries. (Ibid).

A protocol on Defense Cooperation was established in 1992 under the government of Süleyman Demirel, followed two years later by the signing of  the 1994 Security and Secrecy Agreement (SSA). Necmettin Erbakan succeeded  Tansu Çiller as Prime Minister in 1997 in  “an Islamic center-right coalition” with  Ciller’s True Path Party.

In 1997, the Erbakan government was forced to resign as result of pressures exerted by the Military in what was described as “a post- modern coup d’État”.

The US sponsored 1994 Security and Secrecy Agreement (SSA) implemented by the Çiller government, essentially set the stage for a firm and close relationship between Israel and Turkey in military and intelligence cooperation, joint military exercises, weapons production and training. The SSA is far-reaching in its implications. It also requires the exchange of military intelligence in what is described as the “guaranteed secrecy in the exchange and sharing of information”.

From the outset in 1992, the Israeli-Turkish military alliance has consistently been directed against Syria.  A 1993 Memorandum of Understanding led to the creation of (Israeli-Turkish) “joint committees” to handle so-called regional threats. Under the terms of the Memorandum, Turkey and Israel agreed “to cooperate in gathering intelligence on Syria, Iran, and Iraq and to meet regularly to share assessments pertaining to terrorism and these countries’ military capabilities.”

 Turkey agreed to allow IDF and Israeli security forces to gather electronic intelligence on Syria and Iran from Turkey. In exchange, Israel assisted in the equipping and training of Turkish forces in anti-terror warfare along the Syrian, Iraqi, and Iranian borders.” (Ibid)

In 1997, Israel and Turkey launched  “A Strategic Dialogue” involving a bi-annual process of high level military consultations by the respective deputy chiefs of staff. (Milliyet,  Istanbul, in Turkish 14 July 2006).

The 1994 SSA was followed in 1996 by a  Military Training and Cooperation Agreement (MTCA). Also in 1996, Turkey entered into a Military Industry Cooperation Agreement with Israel, which was in turn instrumental to the signing of  “a secret agreement” with Israel Military Industries to update its tank division, modernize its helicopter fleet and its F-4 and F-5 combat planes (Ibid). In turn, the two countries entered into negotiations with a view to establishing a Free Trade Agreement, which came into operation in 2000.

On the official agenda of recent Israeli-Turkish talks are joint defense projects, including the joint production of Arrow II Theater Missile Defense    and Popeye II missiles. The latter, also known as the Have Lite, are advanced small missiles, designed for deployment on fighter planes.

Israel’s Arrow II

More recently, the Eastern Mediterranean corridor, from the Red Sea, through Lebanon and Syria to the Syrian- Turkish border has, both from a strategic and economic standpoint, become an important factor in the evolving Israel-Turkey military alliance. It is intimately related to the proposed Ceyhan-Ashkelon oil pipeline project (to be implemented by Turkey and Israel), which would link the  Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan  pipeline to Israel’s Ashkelon-Eilat pipeline. (Michel Chossudovsky, The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil, July 2006)

The war on Lebanon ultimately seeks to establish joint Israeli-Turkish military control over a coastal corridor extending from the Israeli-Lebanese border to the East Mediterranean border between Syria and Turkey. What this militarization of the coastal Lebanese-Syrian corridor would signify is the control of almost the entire Eastern Mediterranean coastline by Turkey and Israel under the terms of the Israeli-Turkish military alliance. (Ibid)

Water is also part of this strategic relationship. Under a 2004 agreement, Turkey was to sell some 50 million cubic meters of water per annum to Israel over a 20 year period. In recent developments, the agreement has been revised. The water would to be channeled to Israel via an Israeli-Turkish water pipeline. (Ibid)

The NATO-Israel Security Agreement

In April 2001,  Israel entered into “a security agreement” with NATO as part of  NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue:

“This security agreement provides the framework for the protection of classified information, as defined by all 19 member countries, and is signed by countries that wish to engage in cooperation with NATO.”

In 2004, the decision was taken to “elevate” the 2001 Mediterranean Dialogue “to a genuine [military] partnership and to launch the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) with selected countries [including Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan. Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia] in the broader region of the Middle East.” The mandate of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, is to:

 ”contribute to regional security and stability, by promoting greater practical cooperation, enhancing the Dialogue’s political dimension, assisting in defense reform, cooperation in the field of border security, achieving interoperability and contributing to the fight against terrorism, while complementing other international efforts.” (NATO, emphasis added)

The Initiative “offers a ‘menu’ of bilateral activities” consisting of  “defense reform, defense budgeting, defense planning and civil-military relations; military-to-military cooperation to contribute to interoperability through participation in selected military exercises and related education and training activities,…”  ; cooperation in the fight against terrorism, including through intelligence-sharing; cooperation in the Alliance’s work on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction …  (NATO, The Istanbul Cooperation Initiative)

In practical terms, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) neutralizes Israel’s potential adversaries in the Arab World. It essentially grants a green light to Israel and its indefectible Turkish ally. It ensures that other member States (frontline Arab States) of the NATO sponsored ICI, will not intervene in a Middle East conflict instigated by Israel. This is the main purpose of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI): paralyze the Arab States at the diplomatic and military levels, to ensure that they will not act in any meaningful way against US-Israeli interests in the Middle East.

By late 2004, the “enhanced” Mediterranean Dialogue (Istanbul Cooperation Initiative), had evolved into a more cohesive military cooperation agreement. The member countries met in Brussels in November 2004. Senior Israeli IDF officers held discussions, under NATO auspices, with the top military brass of six members of the Mediterranean basin nations, including Egypt, Jordan, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania. The hidden agenda of this meeting was essentially to set the stage for a full-fledged NATO-Israel partnership, with the tacit consent of the frontline Arab States.

This partnership relationship was firmed up in bilateral NATO-Israel talks held in Tel Aviv in February 2005.

Joint NATO-Israel Military Exercises

In early 2005, the US, Israel and Turkey held military exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean, off the coast of Syria, which were followed by NATO military exercises with Israel, which included several Arab countries.

These joint war games were then followed in February 2005, by NATO’s Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer’s visit to Israel.  De Hoop Scheffer had talks with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Lt. General Moshe Ya’alon. (NATO Press Release, 24 February 2005).

The purpose of these meetings pertained to “possible ways of expanding current cooperation, particularly in the areas of military co-operation, the fight against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

The ongoing relationship between NATO and Israel was confirmed in NATO’s Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer’s  February 2005 speech in Tel Aviv:

“…At NATO’s Istanbul Summit [June 2004], we agreed, in close consultation with Israel and other partners in this process, to try to move our relationship to another level – in short, to move from dialogue to partnership. We want to further intensify our political dialogue; to promote greater interoperability between our military forces; and to encourage greater cooperation on defense reform, as well as in the critical fight against terrorism. … 

… Israel has … stepped forward with a list of concrete proposals for enhancing our cooperation. These proposals cover many areas of common interest, such as the fight against terrorism or joint military exercises, where Israel’s expertise is very much valued. They underline your country’s desire for a strengthened relation, and we are looking forward to working with Israel in the framework of an individual action programme. (NATO website, 24 February 2005, click for complete transcript of speech) (emphasis added)

These military cooperation ties were viewed by the Israeli military as a means to “enhance Israel’s deterrence capability regarding potential enemies threatening it, mainly Iran and Syria.”

It is worth noting that in February 2005, coinciding with the NATO mission to Israel, the government of Ariel Sharon dismissed General Moshe Ya’alon as Chief of Staff and appointed Air Force General Dan Halutz. This was the first time in Israeli history that an Air Force General was appointed Chief of Staff (See Uri Avnery, February 2005).

The appointment of Major General Dan Halutz as IDF Chief of Staff  was considered in Israeli political circles as “the appointment of the right man at the right time.” In retrospect, his appointment has a direct bearing on the planning of the air campaign directed against Lebanon, although at the time Maj General Halutz was slated to undertake the planning of possible aerial bombing raids on Iran, as part of a planned US-Israeli operation. These planned bombings on Iran would be coordinated by US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) in liaison with Israel, Turkey and NATO. (See Michel Chossudovsky, May 2005, February 2006, Jan 2006 ).

The Role of NATO in Relation to the War on Lebanon

NATO cannot under any circumstances play a “neutral stabilizing” role in Lebanon. NATO’s involvement would be dictated by the precise terms of the “NATO-Israel partnership”. A NATO “stabilization force”, pursuant to a UN Security Council Resolution would side with Israel against Lebanon.

The NATO-Israel partnership establishes NATO’s “responsibilities” in relation to its ally Israel: Israel is under attack and has “the legitimate right to defend itself”.  The terms of the NATO-Israel agreement as defined in the February  2005 consultations in Tel Aviv, specifically point to “the fight against terrorism”.

The 2005 Israel-NATO agreement is all the more important because it requires NATO, in the context of the Israeli led war on Lebanon, to support Israel. It also means that NATO would be involved in the triangular process of military consultations and planning, which link Tel Aviv to Washington and Ankara.

Meanwhile, the NATO-Israel partnership reached in 2005 was also viewed by the Israeli government as an opportunity to strengthen its military alliance with Turkey in relation to its main regional enemies (Syria and Iran) as well as boost the shattered image of Israel:

The more Israel’s image is strengthened as a country facing enemies who attempt to attack it for no justified reason, the greater will be the possibility that aid will be extended to Israel by NATO. Furthermore, Iran and Syria will have to take into account the possibility that the increasing cooperation between Israel and NATO will strengthen Israel’s links with Turkey, also a member of NATO. Given Turkey’s impressive military potential and its geographic proximity to both Iran and Syria, Israel’s operational options against them, if and when it sees the need, could gain considerable strength. ”

(Jaffa Center for Strategic Studies,  http://www.tau.ac.il/jcss/sa/v7n4p4Shalom.html )

New Pro-Israeli Turkish Chief of Staff

Another crucial and related development –which has a direct bearing on the current situation in Lebanon– is the timely appointment by the Erdogan government of a new Chief of Staff. Ground Forces Commander General Yasar Buyukanit, who is slated to succeed Gen. Hilmi Ozkok in late August.

General Buyukanit is pro-Israeli. He is a US approved appointee, firmly committed to America’s “War on Terrorism”. His timely appointment at the outset of Israel’s military campaign in Lebanon bears a direct relationship to the evolving Middle East war theater.

The appointment of General Buyukanit as Chief of Staff has been in the pipeline since December 2005, when he visited Washington for consultations with his US counterparts. At the Pentagon, General Buyukanit met the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace,  Army Commander General Francis Harvey Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman.

General Yasar Buyukanit also had discussions at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a Neo-conservative think tank with close ties to the Pentagon. AEI’s military analyst Thomas Donnelly was responsible for outlining and drafting the 2000 Neo-conservative military blueprint entitled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” published by the Project of the New American century (PNAC). 

The decision by the Turkish cabinet led by Prime Minister Erdogan, to appoint (with some reluctance) General Buyukanit as Chief of Staff, was ratified by President Ahmet Necdet Sezer in early August at the height of a judicial procedure, indirectly implicating General  Buyukanit,  in the alleged organization of  state-sponsored death squads targeting Kurdish rebels in Turkey’s southeastern region (The Independent, 21 April 2006).

Coinciding with General Buyukanit’s appointment as Chief of Staff, Prime Minister Erdogan’s government had already formulated the contours of Turkey’s participation in “an international force for stability in Lebanon” in anticipation of a UN Security Council resolution, which was being prepared by France and the United States.

Under the helm of General Buyukanit, the Turkish military could come play a more active role in the Israeli sponsored conflict. This role would be based on the terms of the military alliance between Israel and Turkey as well as on Israel’s partnership with NATO.

Meanwhile, General Buyukanit’s appointment as Chief of Staff is likely to be followed by purges within the Military, with a view to weeding out anti-Israeli sentiment among Turkey’s senior military brass. The first target of this streamlining could be Deputy Chief of Staff General Isik Kosaner, who refused to attend the bi-annual “Strategic Dialogue” with his Israeli counterparts in Tel Aviv in mid-July.

If the Lebanon war were to escalate into a broader conflict involving Syria, Turkish ground troops could be deployed under the terms of the Israeli-Turkish military alliance. It is worth mentioning that prime ministers Recep Erdogan and Ariel Sharon in a 2005 meeting in Tel Aviv decided to set up a “Hotline for the exchange of intelligence” as part of their evolving military alliance. What this suggests is that Turkey is a potential partner in the ongoing war on Lebanon.

“Triple Alliance”: US, Israel, Turkey

Already during the Clinton Administration, a triangular military alliance between the US, Israel and Turkey had unfolded. This “triple alliance”, which is dominated by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, integrates and coordinates military command decisions between the three countries pertaining to the broader Middle East. It is based on the close military ties respectively of Israel and Turkey with the US, coupled with a strong bilateral military relationship between Tel Aviv and Ankara. Amply documented, Israel and Turkey are partners in the US planned aerial attacks on Iran, which have been in an advanced state of readiness since mid-2005. (See Michel Chossudovsky, May 2005)

US-Turkey: “Shared Vision”

In recent developments, on July 6, barely a week before the bombing of Lebanon, a  so-called “Shared Vision” document was signed by the US and Turkey, which essentially confirms the “Triple Alliance”. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul was in Washington with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for the signing ceremony.

The “Shared Vision” agreement describes the relationship between Turkey and the United States as: “characterized by strong bonds of friendship, alliance, mutual trust and unity of vision. We share the same set of values and ideals in our regional and global objectives: the promotion of peace, democracy, freedom and prosperity.” more significantly, it implies Turkey’s unbending support of the US “war on terrorism”.

In practice, the document requires the Ankara government to endorse Washington’s foreign policy stance with regard to Israel’s right to “self defense” . This commitment was ratified barely a week before the onslaught of the war on Lebanon. According to Zaman (Istanbul) (July 6, 2006), the “Shared Vision” document is aimed at ensuring that:

” Turkey remains aligned with the United States and the West in strategic and tactical terms, adding that Ankara in turn wants to be part of the political planning processes in the Middle East rather than a ‘blind implementer’ of policies determined by global players.”

The document defines Turkey’s strategic and military alignment in the broader Middle East-Central Asian region as defined in Washington’s “Greater Middle East Initiative”:

“[The Shared Vision agreement] will encourage democracy and stability in Iraq, the Black Sea, Caucasus, Central Asia and Afghanistan [as well as support] “international efforts aimed at resolving the Middle East conflict; boosting peace and stability through democracy in the Greater Middle East Initiative; ensuring energy security; strengthening transatlantic relations; and enhancing understanding among religions and cultures.( Turkish Daily, 6 July 2006)

Escalation and Military Build-up

Israel is involved in a major military operation with the full deployment of its air force and ground forces. The target of the Israeli-led military operation is not Hizbollah but the destruction an entire country and the impoverishment of its population.

Israel is meeting fierce resistance not only from Hizbollah but from an armed civilian movement. The Israeli government has issued an order to mobilize as many as 40,000 additional reserve soldiers (Patrick Martin, July 2006)

In  contrast to the “shock and awe” March 2003 Blitzkrieg over Iraq, the Israelis have aimed systematically and almost exclusively civilian targets. Moreover, Lebanon is defenseless. It does not possess an air defense system and the Israelis know it. The number of declared targets is staggering, even when compared, for instance, to the 300 selected strategic targets identified in the 1991 Gulf war.

The civilian infrastructure has been destroyed: water, telecommunications, bridges, airports, gas stations, power plants, dairy factories, etc. Confirmed by the British press, in towns and villages across Lebanon, schools and hospitals have been targeted with meticulous accuracy. In an utterly twisted logic, the Israeli government has casually blamed Hizbollah for using the schools and hospitals as hideouts or launch pads to wage their terrorist activities. (ABC Australia, interview with Israeli Ambassador to Australia, Nati Tamir, 21 July 2006).

Israeli Stockpiling of  WMD

Recent developments in the war theater point towards escalation both within and beyond the borders of Lebanon. The Israeli government has confirmed that it is in for a “long war”. Patterns of weapons stockpiling by Israel support the long war agenda.  To meet shortfalls in current stockpiles of WMD, Israel’s IDF is to take delivery of an emergency shipment of precision guided bombs, including US made GBU-28 bunker buster bombs produced by Raytheon.

The proposed shipment is described by military observers as somewhat “unusual”. Israel already has a large stockpile of precision guided weapons. In addition to its own stockpiles, the IDF took delivery in 2005 of some 5000 US made “smart air launched weapons” including some 500 “bunker-buster” bombs.

While the report suggests that “Israel still had a long list of targets in Lebanon to strike”, the history of these deliveries of bunker buster bombs to Israel since 2004, suggests that they may be intended for use in the broader Middle Eastern region, including Syria and Iran.

The Broader Middle East War

The war in Lebanon is an integral part of the US Middle East war agenda. Over the last two years, US military documents and national security statements point quite explicitly  to Syria and Iran as potential targets of US military aggression. Escalation in relation to Syria is a strategic scenario, contemplated by US, Israeli and Turkish military planners.

In their  July Joint Press Conference at the White House, President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony  Blair renewed, in no uncertain terms, their threats against Syria and Iran. These threats are now backed by concrete military plans:

“The message is very, very simple to them. It is that, you have a choice. Iran and Syria have a choice. And they may think that they can avoid this choice; in fact, they can’t. And when things are set in train like what has happened in Lebanon over the past few weeks, it only, in my view, underscores the fact they have this choice. They can either come in and participate as proper and responsible members of the international community, or they will face the risk of increasing confrontation.” (White House, 28 July 2006)

This and other statements point to escalation, where Lebanon is slated to be used as a casus belli, a “just cause” for war on Syria and possibly Iran, due to their alleged support of Hizbollah.

On the other hand, the Syrian government has intimated that if Israel launches an all out invasion of Lebanon beyond the southern region, it would have no choice but to intervene in the conflict:.

“Syria issued a stark warning that an Israeli invasion of Lebanon would drag it into the spiraling Middle East conflict and called for an immediate ceasefire.

‘If Israel makes a land entry into Lebanon, they can get to within 20 km of Damascus,’ Information Minister Moshen Bilal told the Spanish newspaper ABC.

‘What will we do? Stand by with our arms folded? Absolutely not. Without any doubt Syria will intervene in the conflict.’” (AFX, 26 July 2006)

Moreover any encroachment or movement of Israeli troops inside Syrian territory could trigger the entry of Syria into the conflict. Syrian troops and air force are currently deployed and are “in an advanced state of readiness”.

If Syria were to be brought into the war, in all likelihood Turkey would intervene in accordance with the terms of the Israel-Turkey military alliance. NATO would send troops pursuant to its 2005 military partnership agreement with Israel.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration in close liaison with Britain is pushing for a UN Security Council Resolution on Iran’s nuclear program, which could lead in the months ahead to punitive bombings directed against Iran.

In relation to Lebanon, Iran’s president Ahmadinejad intimated at  the very outset of the bombing campaign that Iran would intervene if Syria is attacked:

Mr [Mahmud] Ahmadinezhad expressed grave concerns over the Zionist military’s attacks on Palestinian and Lebanese civilians. He described the aggressions as the sign of weakness on the part the illegitimate regime. He said despite what the Zionist officials may think, such actions cannot save the regime.

Commenting on the recent Israeli threats against Syria, the president said that the regime’s ever increasing aggressive measures would be interpreted as an attack on the whole of the Islamic world, adding that it would meet with a strong response.(Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Tehran, in Persian, 14 July 2006)

As the Middle East war escalates, the Resistance movements in the various countries will move closer together. Already a solidarity movement in favor of Hizbollah has developed in Iraq. In Lebanon, sectarian boundaries are breaking down between Sunni and Shiite.  Muslims and Maronite Christians are joining hands to defend their Homeland.

The US and Israel will not be able to handle this resistance on the ground without destroying the entire country with aerial bombardments. If Syria is brought into the war and Turkey intervenes, the entire Middle East will flare up. Turkey has a formidable military arsenal (with 393,000 ground troops,  56,800 Air Force and 54,000 Navy personnel). Yet at the same time, there is a very strong anti-Israeli sentiment in Turkey to the extent that the Erdogan government may have to present Turkey’s role to public opinion as part of a limited “peace-keeping” or humanitarian mandate under UN auspices.

The Anti-war Movement

The geopolitics behind the war on Lebanon must be addressed by the Antiwar movement. We are not dealing with a limited conflict between the Israeli Armed Forces (IDF) and Hizbollah as conveyed by the Western media. The Lebanese war theater is part of a broader US military agenda, which encompasses a region extending  from the Eastern Mediterranean into the heartland of Central Asia. The war on Lebanon must be viewed as “a stage” in this broader “military road-map”.

The structure of military alliances is crucial in understanding the evolution of the US sponsored Middle East war. The war on Lebanon is not strictly an Israeli military project, it is part of a coordinated military endeavor by Israel’s main partners and allies including the US, Britain, Turkey, and the member states of the Atlantic Alliance.

War Crimes 

While Israel is indelibly responsible for “Crimes against Peace” as defined in Article 6a of the Nuremberg Charter: for  “the planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties“, the same Article 6a  also extends to Israel’s military partners and allies.

Israel is responsible for “War Crimes” under Article 6b of the Nuremberg Charter .through the “plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity;” (Art. 6b). It is responsible for “Crimes against Humanity” through the perpetration of acts of : “murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war…”  (Article 6c).

Those Western heads of State and heads of government who overtly support Israel’s air raids and illegal occupation of Lebanon, are complicit in “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.” This pertains specifically to those Western political leaders who, at the outset of the war, turned down the “cease fire” proposal, which would have led to a halt to the Israeli aerial bombardments, largely directed against the civilian population.

The legitimacy of the main political and military actors and corporate sponsors  must be the target of a consistent anti-war movement which goes beyond the expression of anti-war sentiment and the holding of large public antiwar rallies. Under the Nuremberg Charter, Article 6,  Western leaders who support and/or pay lip service to Israel’s war crimes are categorized as accomplices:

“Leaders, organizers, instigators and accomplices participating in the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing crimes are responsible for all acts performed by any persons in execution of such plan.” 

The latter clause also applies to the permanent members of Security Council, who uphold Israel’s right to “self defense”. Article 7 of the Nuremberg Charter stipulates that “the official position of defendants, whether as Heads of State or responsible officials in Government Departments, shall not be considered as freeing them from responsibility or mitigating punishment.” 

There is a sense of urgency in reversing the tide of war.

Reversing the tide of war can not be limited to a critique of the US war agenda. What is at stake is the legitimacy of the political and military actors and the economic power structures, which from behind the scenes control the formulation, and direction of US foreign policy.

A war agenda is not disarmed through antiwar sentiment. One does not reverse the tide by asking President Bush or Prime Minister Olmert: “please abide by the Geneva Convention” and the Nuremberg Charter. Ultimately a consistent antiwar agenda requires unseating the war criminals in high office as a first step towards disarming the institutions and corporate structures of the New World Order.

To break the “war on terrorism” consensus, we must also break its propaganda apparatus, the pervasive structures of media disinformation, the fear and intimidation campaign, which galvanize public opinion into accepting the legitimacy of the Anglo-American military project.

This can only be effectively implemented by unseating the war criminals from the positions of authority which they quite legitimately occupy. It is this legitimacy of “war criminals” in high office in our respective countries, which has to be broken.

Sanctions against Israel

Sanctions against Israel must be adopted by member countries of the United Nations. And if they are not adopted or ratified by the relevant government or inter-governmental authorities, then the officials representing those authorities should be held responsible for “war crimes” under the Nuremberg Charter. If the national legislatures of UN member countries uphold governments which condone Israeli war crimes, then those members of parliament must also be unseated.

A UN Security Council resolution cannot override or erase the fact that Israel has violated international law and has committed extensive crimes. Moreover, the veto exercised by a permanent member which might temporarily uphold Israel’s actions, including its illegal occupation of Lebanon, has no legitimacy and cannot override the UN Charter and the tenets of international law (Nuremberg Charter).

In other words, if  appropriate sanctions against Israel are not adopted by the UN Security Council, due the encroachment of one or more permanent members of the Security Council, the heads of State and heads of government of those permanent member countries of the Security Council (e.g. US, UK, France) should be considered, under the Nuremberg Charter, accomplices of Israeli “crimes against the peace”, ” war crimes” and “crimes against humanity”. (Article 6).

Similarly, the adoption of a bogus “consensus” UN Security Council resolution brokered by the US, France and Britain, which protects the interests of Israel and/or upholds the illegal occupation, while calling for the disarmament of Hizbollah, does not alter the fact that Israel has committed those crimes. Moreover, it should be clear that if such a  resolution were to be adopted, those members who voted in favor of the resolution would, under Article 6 of the Nuremberg Charter, be considered accomplices of Israeli crimes. Ultimately what such as bogus resolution signifies is the “criminalization” of the United Nations Security Council.

But the more crucial and complex relationship to be addressed by the antiwar movement pertains to the powers operating behind the scenes: the Anglo-American oil giants, the so-called “defense contractors” which produce Weapons of Mass Destruction in the real sense of the word, the media conglomerates which fabricate the news and constitute an instrument of war propaganda, and the powerful financial institutions, whose interests are served in a profit driven war.

Michel Chossudovsky is the author of the international best seller “The Globalization of Poverty ” published in eleven languages. He is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Center for Research on Globalization, at   www.globalresearch.ca . He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.  His most recent book is entitled: America’s “War on Terrorism”, Global Research, 2005. 

To order Chossudovsky’s book  America’s “War on Terrorism”, click here.

Note: Readers are welcome to cross-post this article with a view to spreading the word and warning people of the dangers of a broader Middle East war.

Related article on the War Lebanon:

The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil - by Michel Chossudovsky – 2006-07-26


Annex

THE NUREMBERG CHARTER (EXCERPTS)

click her for complete text

II. JURISDICTION AND GENERAL PRINCIPLES

Article 6.

The Tribunal established by the Agreement referred to in Article 1 hereof for the trial and punishment of the major war criminals of the European Axis countries shall have the power to try and punish persons who, acting in the interests of the European Axis countries, whether as individuals or as members of organizations, committed any of the following crimes.

The following acts, or any of them, are crimes coming within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal for which there shall be individual responsibility:

(a) CRIMES AGAINST PEACE: namely, planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing;

(b) WAR CRIMES: namely, violations of the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include, but not be limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity;

(c)CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY: namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war; or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.

Leaders, organizers, instigators and accomplices participating in the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing crimes are responsible for all acts performed by any persons in execution of such plan.

Article 7.

The official position of defendants, whether as Heads of State or responsible officials in Government Departments, shall not be considered as freeing them from responsibility or mitigating punishment.

Article 8.

The fact that the Defendant acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior shall not free him from responsibility, but may be considered in mitigation of punishment if the Tribunal determines that justice so requires.

Article 9.

At the trial of any individual member of any group or organization the Tribunal may declare (in connection with any act of which the individual may be convicted) that the group or organization of which the individual was a member was a criminal organization.

After the receipt of the Indictment the Tribunal shall give such notice as it thinks fit that the prosecution intends to ask the Tribunal to make such declaration and any member of the organization will be entitled to apply to the Tribunal for leave to be heard by the Tribunal upon the question of the criminal character of the organization. The Tribunal shall have power to allow or reject the application. If the application is allowed, the Tribunal may direct in what manner the applicants shall be represented and heard.

Article 10.

In cases where a group or organization is declared criminal by the Tribunal, the competent national authority of any Signatory shall have the right to bring individual to trial for membership therein before national, military or occupation courts. In any such case the criminal nature of the group or organization is considered proved and shall not be questioned.

Article 11.

Any person convicted by the Tribunal may be charged before a national, military or occupation court, referred to in Article 10 of this Charter, with a crime other than of membership in a criminal group or organization and such court may, after convicting him, impose upon him punishment independent of and additional to the punishment imposed by the Tribunal for participation in the criminal activities of such group or organization.

Article 12.

The Tribunal shall have the right to take proceedings against a person charged with crimes set out in Article 6 of this Charter in his absence, if he has not been found or if the Tribunal, for any reason, finds it necessary, in the interests of justice, to conduct the hearing in his absence.

Article 13.

The Tribunal shall draw up rules for its procedure. These rules shall not be inconsistent with the provisions of this Charter.

American and Israeli War Crimes

July 16th, 2014 by Margaret Kimberley

How should one describe the U.S.-Israeli relationship? “Co-conspirators”? “Co-dependents”? “Frenemies”? “The corporate media in the United States and other western nations ignore, minimize or tell outright lies about the ongoing massacre” of Palestinians, but surely the Israeli media would do the same for the U.S. How about “Co-enablers in War Crimes”?

Of all the partners in international crime in existence right now, the United States and Israel are the worst. Along with their less powerful cohorts like Saudi Arabia they have instigated occupations and carnage on a mass scale. Yet while one hand washes the other, it isn’t always clear who controls whom. Israel uses the political and economic muscle of its supporters to keep American politicians in line, but it also doesn’t have to work very hard to find a receptive ear in Washington.

After killing American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in 2011, the Obama administration refused to disclose the legal rationale for the assassination. Fortunately, Freedom of Information Act lawsuits brought by the New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that Israel’s war crimes were used as pretexts for American wrong doing.

A Department of Justice memorandum written by David Barron, now an Obama-appointed federal judge, legitimizes extra judicial killings on the grounds that Israel does the same thing. A 2006 Israeli Supreme Court decision ruled that targeted assassination of hundreds of Palestinians were legal and did not violate international law.

Actions by foreign governments are rarely used to justify American policy decisions. On any other subject Obama claims that the United States is exceptional and must be not just a leader in the world, but THE leader in the world. Apparently, claims of exceptionality end when it comes to explaining away state sponsored terror.

Israel becomes the convenient excuse for American criminality but it also acts like this country’s worst enemy. Israel has been caught spying on the United States numerous times. It killed 34 sailors when it attacked the USS Liberty in 1967, murdered United States citizens Rachel Corrie and Furkan Dolgan and uses the threat of electoral defeat to keep American politicians in line. None of these outrages ever damage Israel’s ability to get its way in Washington. Even local and state legislators around the country are loath to stray from the Zionist party line.

Yet Israel is also the tool for American imperialism. Its purported need for security is used as an excuse to destroy the Iranian economy with sanctions, or anything else which also serves U.S. imperial interests. The two countries are true “frenemies,” dependent upon one another while also engaging in high level dysfunction.

Right now Israel is getting its way in Gaza as it kills men, women and children with impunity. The story is the same. Israelis in Sderot sit on a hilltop and watch bombs fall on homes, schools and hospitals that have now killed at least 185 people. Only one Israeli was killed by the Hamas rockets which Americans are told are a threat to Israel’s existence.

The corporate media in the United States and other western nations ignore, minimize or tell outright lies about the ongoing massacre. In the most egregious example, ABC news used video showing destruction in Gaza and claimed the footage came from Israel.

While it is true that the photos and videos of maimed and dead children are hardly top secret in the age of the internet, one must be extremely committed to finding information on the scale of the slaughter and of Israel’s policy of targeted assassinations of entire families. Certainly the networks and the major newspapers could make this same information available but they dare not oppose the political order.

Barack Obama and his other partners in world gangsterism such as the prime ministers of Canada, the United Kingdom and other NATO countries blurt out the same lying rhetoric. Like robots they report the same mantra that only Israel, the country with almost no casualties, has a right to defend itself. The Palestinians only have the right to be killed.

Americans are like the wronged lover who is the last to know. Thanks in large measure to media and government propaganda they have no idea who is the aggressor and who is the injured party. Millions of people all over the world are outraged and hate not just our president and congress, but all of us as individuals. The Israeli and American governments have put a bull’s eye on all of our backs and citizens of this country are largely ignorant of the risk to us all.

War crimes prosecutions are never meant for the powerful countries and their friends. If that were so, Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu and Tony Blair and King Abdullah and George W. Bush and Paul Kagame would all be in the dock. They are definitely criminals but they are the top ranked criminals or their henchmen. They never pay the price but people in Gaza still do.

Margaret Kimberley‘s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

From our fields to our forks, huge corporations have an overwhelming amount of power over our food supply every step of the way. Right now there are more than 313 million people living in the United States, and the job of feeding all of those people is almost entirely in the hands of just a few dozen monolithic companies. If you do not like how our food is produced or you don’t believe that it is healthy enough, it isn’t very hard to figure out who is to blame. These mammoth corporations are not in business to look out for the best interests of the American people. Rather, the purpose of these corporations is to maximize wealth for their shareholders. So the American people end up eating billions of pounds of extremely unhealthy food that is loaded with chemicals and additives each year, and we just keep getting sicker and sicker as a society. But these big corporations are raking in big profits, so they don’t really care.

If we did actually have a capitalist system in this country, we would have a high level of competition in the food industry.  But instead, the U.S. food industry has become increasingly concentrated with each passing year. Just consider the following numbers about the U.S. agricultural sector…

The U.S. agricultural sector suffers from abnormally high levels of concentration. Most economic sectors have concentration ratios around 40%, meaning that the top four firms in the industry control 40% of the market. If the concentration ratio is above 40%, experts believe competition can be threatened and market abuses are more likely to occur: the higher the number, the bigger the threat.

The concentration ratios in the agricultural sector are shocking.

-Four companies own 83.5% of the beef market.
-The top four firms own 66% of the hog industry.
-The top four firms control 58.5% of the broiler chicken industry.
-In the seed industry, four companies control 50% of the proprietary seed market and 43% of the commercial seed market worldwide.
-When it comes to genetically engineered (GE) crops, just one company, Monsanto, boasts control of over 85% of U.S. corn acreage and 91% of U.S. soybean acreage.

When so much power is concentrated in so few hands, it creates some tremendous dangers.

And many of these giant corporations (such as Monsanto) are extremely ruthless. Small farmers all over America are being wiped out and forced out of the business by the predatory business practices of these huge companies

Because farmers rely on both buyers and sellers for their business, concentrated markets squeeze them at both ends. Sellers with high market power can inflate the prices of machinery, seeds, fertilizers and other goods that farmers need for their farms, while powerful buyers, such as processors, suppress the prices farmers are paid. The razor-thin profit margins on which farmers are forced to operate often push them to “get big or get out”—expanding into mega-operations or exiting the business altogether.

Of course the control that big corporations have over our food supply does not end at the farms.

The distribution of our food is also very highly concentrated. The graphic shared below was created by Oxfam International, and it shows how just 10 gigantic corporations control almost everything that we buy at the grocery store…

10 Corporations Control What We Eat

And these food distributors are often not very good citizens either.

For example, it was recently reported that Nestle is running a massive bottled water operation on a drought-stricken Indian reservation in California

Among the windmills and creosote bushes of San Gorgonio Pass, a nondescript beige building stands flanked by water tanks. A sign at the entrance displays the logo of Arrowhead 100% Mountain Spring Water, with water flowing from a snowy mountain. Semi-trucks rumble in and out through the gates, carrying load after load of bottled water.

The plant, located on the Morongo Band of Mission Indians’ reservation, has been drawing water from wells alongside a spring in Millard Canyon for more than a decade. But as California’s drought deepens, some people in the area question how much water the plant is bottling and whether it’s right to sell water for profit in a desert region where springs are rare and underground aquifers have been declining.

Nestle doesn’t stop to ask whether it is right or wrong to bottle water in the middle of the worst drought in the recorded history of the state of California.

They have the legal right to do it and they are making large profits doing it, and so they are just going to keep on doing it.

Perhaps you are thinking that you can avoid all of these corporations by eating organic and by shopping at natural food stores.

Well, it isn’t necessarily that easy.

According to author Wenonah Hauter, the “health food industry” is also extremely concentrated

Over the past 20 years, Whole Foods Market has acquired its competition, including Wellspring Grocery, Bread of Life, Bread & Circus, Food for Thought, Fresh Fields, Wild Oats Markets and others. Today the chain dominates the market because it has no national competitor. Over the past five years its gross sales have increased by half (47 percent) to $11.7 billion, and its net profit quadrupled to $465.6 million. One of the ways it has achieved this profitability is by selling conventional foods under the false illusion that they are better than products sold at a regular grocery store. Consumers falsely conclude that these products have been screened and are better, and they are willing to pay a higher price.

The distribution of organic foods is also extremely concentrated. A little-known company, United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) now controls the distribution of organic and natural products. Publically traded, the company has a contract with Whole Foods and it is the major source of these products for the remaining independent natural food stores. This relationship has resulted in increasingly high prices for these foods. Small manufacturers are dependent on contracts with UNFI to get their products to market and conversely, small retailers often have to pay a premium price for products because of their dependence on this major distributor. Over the past five years, UNFI’s net sales increased by more than half (55.6 percent) $5.2. billion. Its net profit margin increased by 88 percent to $91 million.

Everywhere you look, the corporations are in control.

And this is especially true when you look at big food retailers such as Wal-Mart.

Right now, grocery sales account for about half of all business at Wal-Mart, and approximately one out of every three dollars spent on groceries in the United States is spent at Wal-Mart.

That is absolutely astounding, and it obviously gives Wal-Mart an immense amount of power.

In fact, if you can believe it, Wal-Mart actually purchases a billion pounds of beef every single year.

So the next time someone asks you where the beef is, you can tell them that it is at Wal-Mart.

On the restaurant side, the ten largest fast food corporations account for 47 percent of all fast food sales, and the love affair that Americans have with fast food does not appear to be in danger of ending any time soon.

Personally, if you do not like how these corporate giants are behaving, you can always complain.

But you are just one person among 313 million, and most of these big corporations are not going to consider the ramblings of one person to be of any significance whatsoever.

Collectively, however, we have great power.  And the way that we are going to get these big corporations to change is by voting with our wallets.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans seem quite satisfied with the status quo. So the population as a whole is likely going to continue to get sicker, fatter and less healthy with each passing year, and the big food corporations are going to keep becoming even more powerful.

The Separation Wall sits at eight metres tall in places, more than twice the height of the Berlin Wall. In Palestinian cities such as Bethlehem, Qalqilya, and Abu Dis the Wall looms over the local population who have spray-painted words and images alluding to comparisons between apartheid in South Africa and the current situation in the occupied West Bank.

Ten years ago on July 9, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) called for the Wall to be dismantled and labelled it illegal due to the overwhelming economic and social problems it caused for Palestinians. Today the Wall still stands.

Built by Israel under the pretence of security 12 years ago, the barrier was regarded by the ICJ as disproportionate in regards to Israel’s security needs, and a form of collective punishment against the whole Palestinian population in the occupied West Bank.

Snaking through the occupied West Bank, the Wall cuts off villages and people from their own land, and often splits communities in two. Because of the way the Wall weaves in and out, the barrier currently stands at over 700 kilometres long, twice the length of the Green Line, the 1949 ceasefire line that is regarded by many international organisations as the unofficial border between Israel and the occupied West Bank. Eighty-five per cent of the Wall’s route is located within the occupied West Bank.

In Bethlehem, the Wall has severely affected life for many. One Bethlehem family in particular has felt the brunt of the towering structure’s control. The life of the Anastas family was changed drastically when the Wall went up, dividing the Anastas’ from Rachel’s Tomb, which sits directly on the other side of the barrier.

In 2003, two weeks before Christmas, the Wall went up around Claire Anastas’ home within hours.

“They put the Wall around us in one day. I was alone here with my mother-in-law, and we were crying, and we couldn’t do anything,” Anastas said. “Who cares about civilians here? Nobody.”

The house now sits in an enclave of the Wall, surrounded on three sides. Anastas owns a tourist gift shop on the ground floor of the family home, which now gets little to no business. The Wall was built around 10 meters in front of Anastas’ building, and while the building sits on what used to be a busy main road, it has been an abandoned dead end for the past decade. The family are currently in heavy debt due to lack of income.

The Wall has not only affected the Anastas’ income, but also their freedom of movement and everyday life. When the structure went up, some of the Anastas’ family members ended up on the west side of the Wall, cutting them off from family who used to be neighbours. The proximity of the house to the Wall, and the height of the building, has also caused complications. The roof of the Anastas’ house is considered by Israel to be a security threat, and the family must get permission to go onto their own roof. Soldiers frequently occupy her house, using the roof as a vantage point for military operations into the nearby Aida Refugee Camp.

“We are still asking where are the internationals, where are the leaders who work for human rights – they write this title in their organisation’s name,” Anastas said. “Where are they?”

John Dugard, a professor of international law and a former ICJ judge, says even though the ICJ ruled against the barrier, the politics surrounding the United Nations means that their ruling is, in effect, completely impotent.

“The international community lacks the will to enforce opinion. The Security Council, because of the USA, has refused to endorse it. The Quartet has never endorsed it either, and the General Assembly has forgotten about it,” Dugard said. “The Palestinian Authority, under Abbas, is not really interested in invoking international law to support the Palestinian cause, and most states and most people, don’t give a damn.”

The path of the Wall itself annexes historical farmland from small Palestinian communities across the West Bank, in effect granting that land to illegal Israeli settlements that, with the creation of the structure, now lie on the west side of the Wall. Olive groves and other farming fields owned by Palestinian families for generations have been uprooted and seized.

In 2012, the village of Bil’in in the central West Bank managed to convince Israel to have the Wall taken down and moved several hundred metres west. The partial success allowed the village to reclaim a third of its annexed farmland, a victory unique to the village.

Still, much of the village’s land continues to lie on the other side of the Wall, and the village’s weekly Friday protests against the structure are regularly suppressed by the Israeli army through tear gas, rubber bullets and other crowd dispersal means.

“The bulldozer destroyed our land and our trees and took them when they built this Wall,” a member of the Burnat family in Bil’in told MEMO. “And Israel wants me to throw the army flowers.”

While the village’s protests produced an early victory, Burnat said he sees no end in sight for the towering structure that hems his village.

Despite the ICJ ruling 10 years ago, which stipulated the Wall was an illegal structure, it remains in place with no indication from Israel that it will abide by the court’s ruling in the near future. Professor Dugard remains adamant of the Wall’s illegality, and the form of control it is currently a part of.

“The Wall is illegal because it violates norms of international humanitarian law and human rights law. Israel is practicing a form of apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territories. And the Wall emphasises this.”

ISIL Leader Closely Cooperating with CIA

July 16th, 2014 by Fars News Agency

A Russian expert in oriental studies, Vyacheslav Matuzov, said that the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi has close ties and cooperation with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

“All facts show that Al-Baqdadi is in contact with the CIA and during all the years that he was in prison (2004-2009) he has been collaborating with the CIA,” Matuzov told Voice of Russia radio on Tuesday.

He noted that the US does not need to use drones against ISIL because it can easily have access to the ISIL leaders, adding that since the terrorist commanders are the US allies, Washington would never combat them as they are staging the US plans.

ISIL is a Takfiri extremist group which has its roots in the insurgency against the US-led invasion on Iraq in 2006, and was later developed to a bigger group in Syria in 2012.

The group is known to be responsible for mass murders and extremist acts of violence across Syria and Iraq.

ISIL leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who was a detainee at US Bucca prison in 2005, has announced himself as the caliph of the Muslim world.

Reports said late last month that Local Kurdish sources revealed that Pishmarga forces have discovered Israel-packed foodstuff and equipment in ISIL hideouts in Iraq.

They said that the foodstuff and equipment have been found at the ISIL headquarters were located in Mosul and Kirkuk cities.

The Kurdish sources refrained from revealing more details about their findings.

Earlier reports also indicated that Israeli hospitals are treating the injured ISIL militants fighting in Syria.

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu also has made a visit to the field hospital established by the Israeli authorities on the occupied Syrian territories to treat insurgents.

Reports said in May that some 283 terrorists have so far been treated in Zif Hospital in the occupied city of Safed, added to several other hundreds who have been receiving treatment at other Israeli hospitals after getting wounded while being chased by the Syrian army.

The EU has moral and legal obligations towards Iraq after several of its member states ignored the warnings of the anti-war voices not to attack the country in 2003.

The failure to protect the ordinary citizens of Iraq, the deliberate harm  inflicted on certain communities as well as the gross human rights violations being committed by the Iraqi government’s forces on a daily basis with total impunity have been met with silence. According to Human Rights Watch 255 Sunni prisoners were murdered mainly by militia supporting prison guards in the last four weeks. All detainees must be protected immediately!

The reality of the situation is bleak: Prime Minister Maliki has built an authoritarian state where ruthless paramilitary groups such as Assaib Ahel Al Haq  have more military weight than the regular army. These sectarian militias are given a free hand to terrorise communities, to commit kidnapping, to torture and to carry out extra judicial killings with impunity.  The militias have been carrying out sectarian cleansing in Baghdad against the Sunnis, as reported by the media and NGOs.  It is Maliki´s policies of discrimination, repression and exclusion that also bears responsibility for the increase of acts of terrorism by sectarian groups like ISIS. Neither Maliki nor his allies are really fighting terrorism but rather are using them as a pretext for their policies. These attempts are doomed to failure and have only alienated and terrorised even more communities.. Only the Iraqi people, united in defence of their nation, can defeat terrorism.

There are tens of other armed groups and militias – some of them linked to the Prime Minister’s Office - that are involved in indiscriminate killings and are responsible for creating a sectarian bloodbath in Iraq. The national, non-sectarian forces leading the uprising against Maliki have strongly condemned, as we do,  all terrorist actions.

The use of air strikes allegedly in order to fight terrorism is also a failed strategy. This policy has led to the indiscriminate killing of thousands of innocent civilians and the destruction of their homes. The US occupation tried it and the subsequent Green Zone governments of Iraq also tried it. Even as all observers agree that the solution in Iraq is not a military one, the US, Iran and others rush to aid Maliki with weapons and personnel. This strategy acts as a hatching machine for hatred and resentment as a result of the wholesale criminalisation of communities. We urge you therefore to speak up against the bombing of Iraqi villages, towns and cities.

One of the main reasons for the peaceful protests that began in Fallujah, Anbar, Tikrit, Mosul  and other places in December 2012 was the news that women, arrested arbitrarily in lieu of their men folk, were being tortured and raped in detention. The peaceful protesters had well documented, clear demands starting with the release of all female detainees, the cancelling of article 4 of the Terrorism Law which is often used as a pretext for arbitrary arrests/torture and rape (see HRW report No One is Safe), the repeal the de-baathification decree introduced by Paul Bremer, and an end to all sectarian/ethnic discrimination and the rejection of partition of the country. The government met the peaceful protests with bombs and even massacres,) including the assassination of unarmed and  injured protesters.

We call for :

1) the immediate ban on the flow of arms to Maliki’s government.

2) a halt all airstrikes and military operations in Iraqi towns and cities.

3) the creation of safe corridors to deliver aid and humanitarian supplies to the civilians in areas of conflict.

4) an end to all measures of collective punishments such as the cutting off of water/electricity/withholding food stuffs and payment of salaries.

5) the protection of prisoners, the  release all detainees not charged or tried and the end to all forms of arbitrary arrests, maltreatment and torture.

6) the undertaking of  immediate measures to protect civilians (especially the displaced) and the safeguarding of their human rights.

7) the establishment of a new, non-sectarian government that rejects the imposed political process and constitution imposed  by the occupation. Only such a government can guarantee Iraq´s borders and security.

8) the encouragement and active support from the EU, respecting the UN Security Council resolution to defend the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq, for immediate negotiations to establish such a government.

Through these measures the EU can assume its moral and legal responsibility to the people of Iraq. 

International Anti-Occupation Network and the BRussells Tribunal – July 14, 2014

Notes:

 (1)“The jihadi surge is the tragic, violent outcome of steadily deteriorating political dynamics. Instead of a rash military intervention and unconditional support for the Iraqi government, pressure is needed to reverse sectarian polarisation and a disastrous record of governance.” International Crisis Group http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/middle-east-north-africa/iraq-iran-gulf/iraq.aspx

(2)”.. the Obama administration has announced several waves of troop movement into the region and into Iraq specifically. As of last week, the announced number heading for Iraq now totals 770” How Nearly 800 U.S. Troops Spent Their Fourth Of July In Iraq http://thinkprogress.org/world/2014/07/06/3456225/iraq-american-troops/

(3)”Two battalions of the Quds Forces, which is the overseas branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, moved to Iraq on Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported. There they worked jointly with Iraqi troops to retake control of 85 percent of Tikrit, security forces from both countries told the Journal. “ RT: US airstrikes to support Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s offensive in Iraq? http://rt.com/usa/165612-us-iran-allies-iraq-insurgency/ Foreign combat aircraft pour into Iraq http://www.janes.com/article/40398/foreign-combat-aircraft-pour-into-iraq#.U7v-xcI9YRA.twitter

 (4) Toby Dodge Iraq from war to New Authoritarianism https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tydPC1L7kU “Years of ethnic cleansing have changed the sectarian balance of Baghdad strongly in favour of Shia” http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fd522be2-fdff-11e3-bd0e-00144feab7de.html#axzz363X8Ykyn  FT:City on edge as Baghdad residents await Isis attack #collectivepunishment article in English #Maliki army burn orchards and kill sheep http://tinyurl.com/mqqvubw

(5) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPgniPHvEc4 Torture session in Mousel Iraq: Government Blocking Residents Fleeing Fighting http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/05/03/iraq-government-blocking-residents-fleeing-fighting collective punishment: Iraqi government decided NOT to pay Salaries in ‘hot areas’ not under its control http://tinyurl.com/o747gss

50 sunni detainees in Baquba/at least 7 in Mousel/46 in Tel Afar (Amnesty report) have been killed by the Maliki forces before withdrawing. http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/07/11/iraq-campaign-mass-murders-sunni-prisoners

69 Sunni detainees executed http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/27/us-iraq-security-idUSKBN0F20S720140627

 (6)Though it received little global attention, unrest in Fallujah, a primarily Sunni city, began in late 2012 with protests against the hardline policies of Nouri al-Maliki, the Shiite prime minister. Like many residents, Wardi sees the military campaign, which began in January, as retribution. “This started under the banner of fighting terrorists but changed to attacking the city,” she said. “It’s punishment for the people.”  “They describe government artillery fire raining down on the city, targeting even the hospital, as Human Rights Watch documented in May. Army helicopters have also used barrel bombs — crude and inexact explosives that level surrounding homes along with intended targets when they fall from the sky. “They’re completely indiscriminate — if not actively targeting Sunni civilians,” Erin Evers, the Human Rights Watch researcher in Iraq, said of the government’s military campaign in Fallujah and elsewhere in Anbar, such as the city of Ramadi, which has seen a similar cycle of protests and violence.” Shades Of Syria: Fears Maliki Will Follow The Assad Model In Iraq. http://www.buzzfeed.com/mikegiglio/shades-of-syria-fears-that-maliki-will-follow-the-assad-mode Call on UN Security Council, U.S. and EU to prevent the bombardment of civilians in Iraq Struan Stevenson President, European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) http://iraq4allnews.dk/irak/index.php/news1532.html

(7) “Maliki never appointed a permanent, parliament-confirmed interior minister, nor a defense minister, nor an intelligence chief. Instead, he took the positions for himself.” “In short, Maliki’s one-man, one-Dawa-party Iraq looks a lot like [Saddam]Hussein’s one-man, one-Baath Party Iraq. But at least Hussein helped contain a strategic American enemy: Iran. And Washington didn’t spend $1 trillion propping him up. There is not much “democracy” left if one man and one party with close links to Iran control the judiciary, police, army, intelligence services, oil revenue, treasury and the central bank. Under these circumstances, renewed ethno-sectarian civil war in Iraq was not a possibility. It was a certainty” – Why we stuck with Maliki — and lost Iraq http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-we-stuck-with-maliki–and-lost-iraq/2014/07/03/0dd6a8a4-f7ec-11e3-a606-946fd632f9f1_story.html

(8)The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials state that security forces in policing situations shall “apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms.http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/01/03/iraq-investigate-violence-protest-camp Iraq: Investigate Violence at Protest Camp Fighting Erupts in Anbar Province After Security Forces, Protesters Clash.

Frustrated with living in fear and in constant violation of their rights, the people of Iraq took to the streets to demand that their basic human rights be respected. Their action took the form of peaceful demonstrations, which began on 25 December 2012 in Al-Anbar province. Since then, the demonstrations have grown in geography, expanding to cities throughout the country, and in number with hundreds of thousands of participants. The protests first called for the release of female detainees who are subjected to inhumane treatment, but now encompass a range of demands including the immediate release of fellow protestors; the abolition of anti-terrorist laws; the cessation of house raids without legal warrant and the end of financial, administrative and legal corruption. GICJ requests that an independent international investigation mission be dispatched to Iraq http://www.gicj.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=290&Itemid=41&mylang=english&redir=1

 “The main reason for the fall of the city of Mosul – the second largest city in Iraq – is that the Maliki government did not respond to the demands of the citizen protestors who demonstrated in Mosul, Anbar, Salahuddin, Diyala and Hawija over a year ago and so the citizens did not support the Iraqi army.The policy of the Iraqi government headed by Nouri al-Maliki has been totally sectarian in the way it has operated in the Iraqi provinces. The government has almost totally excluded representatives of the Sunni population from the sovereign ministries, or left them with no real authority. Even the new Iraqi army was formed on this basis. The Iraqi army unfortunately does not support a doctrine of loyalty to the homeland (or an Iraq that is inclusive of all people); instead it is loyal to the Madhhab or Shia doctrine. It deals with citizens according to their religious sect. The armed forces have attacked people in the cities of Mosul, Anbar, Salahuddin, Diyala and Hawija. They have carried out arrests, torture and extortion. There have also been many cases of rape by members of the army, both outside and inside prisons.” http://www.iraqicivilsociety.org/archives/3235

(9) http://www.hrw.org/reports/2014/02/06/no-one-safe

The former employee at US National Security Agency (NSA), Edward Snowden, has revealed that the British and American intelligence and the Mossad worked together to create the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Snowden said intelligence services of three countries created a terrorist organisation that is able to attract all extremists of the world to one place, using a strategy called “the hornet’s nest”.

NSA documents refer to recent implementation of the hornet’s nest to protect the Zionist entity by creating religious and Islamic slogans.

According to documents released by Snowden, “The only solution for the protection of the Jewish state “is to create an enemy near its borders”.

Leaks revealed that ISIS leader and cleric Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi took intensive military training for a whole year in the hands of Mossad, besides courses in theology and the art of speech.

Eric Holder wants to convey his all-consuming concern over “lone wolf homegrown violent extremists” who have “domestic concerns”.

On July 13 Holder remarked on ABC’s This Week that such bogeys keep him “up late at night” as he and his cohorts attempt “to monitor them, anticipate what it is that they are going to do.”[1]

-

The Attorney General’s hand wringing is compounded by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s most recent “research” report. The document seeks to inform “law enforcement about the increasingly hostile anti-government movement” the SPLC claims “has grown from 150 groups in 2008 to nearly 1,100 last year.”[2]

“In early June,” the study intones,

two rabid government haters who spent time at the [Bundy] ranch, Jerad and Amanda Miller, strolled into a Las Vegas pizza parlor, walked past a pair of police officers eating lunch, turned and executed the two men [sic]. Leaving a Gadsden “Don’t Tread on Me Flag,” a note saying the revolution had begun and a swastika on the officers’ bodies, the couple went on to murder another man before dying in a shootout with police.[3]

The overall publicity offensive comes one month after Holder announced the re-establishment of the DOJ’s Committee on Domestic Terrorism, initially begun following the bombing of the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building and scuttled in 2001.[4]

While Holder and the SPLC unsurprisingly promote the Vegas shooting as a genuine event, there are several uncertain features of the alleged massacre that have been left wholly unaddressed by major media–the foremost being that the Millers were police informants and probable provocateurs. Further, they had been kicked off of the Bundy ranch because of their unusual remarks and behavior.[5]

Despite the Vegas incident’s dubious features, it is a foremost element in cultivating an atmosphere of tension surrounding “extremist” attitudes and hostility toward police exhibited in social media. For example, the topic of “[e]escalating danger by anti-government extremists dominated a four-hour discussion on homeland security” held at the National Sheriffs’ Association conference in June. According to one sheriff in attendance, such extremism is “the single greatest concern that faces our deputies today.”[5]

But recent history strongly suggests how Holder’s crocodile fears and the SPLC’s associated terror mongering are grossly disingenuous. The DOJ’s foremost policing agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has since 9/11 been the nation’s greatest purveyor of “domestic terrorism.” What goes unstated in corporate news media coverage of the issue is the fact that the FBI’s wanton extremism is self-generated largely to marshal public opinion behind the so-called “war on terror” and thereby justify the broader police state’s continued existence and expansion.

As journalist Trevor Aaronson revealed after an extensive examination of the FBI’s post-9/11 “anti-terrorism” techniques, for over a decade the agency

has built the largest network of spies ever to exist in the United States—with ten times as many informants on the streets today as there were during the infamous Cointelpro operations under J. Edgar Hoover—with the majority of these spies focused on ferreting out terrorism in Muslim communities.[6]

With this in mind, one needn’t stretch their imagination very far to consider the designs the FBI is likely undertaking to foster its “war on [domestic] terrorism.” Such immense schemes are more than sufficient cause to further rethink the already ambiguous roles played by the “Vegas shooters” in last month’s apparent massacre.

Eric Holder and the SPLC are well aware of their own duplicity. The fact that they parade around waving the flag of civil rights should by no means place them beyond the deep scrutiny they so richly deserve. Moreover, their fear-based sermonizing is pitched to the most obtuse and impressionable sectors of the public—those the media routinely inoculate against historical reality, critical thought, and informed citizenship.

Notes

[1] “One-on-One with Eric Holder: Homegrown Terror Threat,” ABC’s This Week, July 13, 2014.

[2] Jason Sickles, “Online Rants, Antigovernment Fuel Fears of US Cop Killings,” Yahoo News, July 14, 2014.

[3] “War in the West: The Bundy Ranch Standoff and the American Radical Right,” Southern Poverty Law Center, Montgomery, Alabama, July 2014, 6. The methodology employed by the SPLC employs topurport a growth of “hate groups” is at best dubious. See James F. Tracy, “Extremist Publicity and Historical Reality,” Memory Hole Blog, March 14, 2013.

[4] “Statement by Attorney General Holder on Reestablishment of Committee on Domestic Terrorism,” US Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs, Washington DC, June 3, 2014.

[5] “Jerad and Amanda Miller: Were Vegas Shooters Informants ‘Gone Off the Reservation‘?” 21st Century Wire, June 23, 2014.

[6] Trevor Aaronson, The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism, New York: Ig Publishing, 2013, 16.

Stigma, pay cuts, and risk of radiation exposure are among the reasons why 3,000 employees have left the utility at the center of Japan’s 2011 nuclear disaster. Now there’s an additional factor: better paying jobs in the feel good solar energy industry.

Engineers and other employees at TEPCO, or Tokyo Electric Power Co, were once typical of Japan’s corporate culture that is famous for prizing loyalty to a single company and lifetime employment with it. But the March 2011 tsunami that swamped the coastal Fukushima Daiichi plant, sending three reactors into meltdown, changed that.

TEPCO was widely criticized for being inadequately prepared for a tsunami despite Japan’s long history of being hit by giant waves and for its confused response to the disaster. The public turned hostile toward the nuclear industry and TEPCO, or “Toh-den,” as the Japanese say it, became a dirty word.

Only 134 people quit TEPCO the year before the disaster. The departures ballooned to 465 in 2011, another 712 in 2012 and 488 last year. Seventy percent of those leaving were younger than 40. When the company offered voluntary retirement for the first time earlier this year, some 1,151 workers applied for the 1,000 available redundancy packages.

The exodus, which has reduced staff to about 35,700 people, adds to the challenges of the ongoing work at Fukushima Daiichi to keep meltdowns under control, remove the fuel cores and safely decommission the reactors, which is expected to take decades.

The factors pushing workers out have piled up. The financial strain of the disaster has led to brutal salary cuts while ongoing problems at Fukushima, such as substantial leaks of irradiated water, have reinforced the image of a bumbling and irresponsible organization.

“No one is going to want to work there, if they can help it”, said Akihiro Yoshikawa, who quit TEPCO in 2012.

After leaving he started a campaign called “Appreciate Fukushima Workers,” trying to counter what he calls the “giant social stigma” attached to working at the Fukushima plant.

Many of the workers were also victims of the nuclear disaster, as residents of the area, and lost their homes to no-go zones, adding to personal hardships. They also worry about the health effects of radiation on their children.

The Fukushima stigma is such that some employees hide the fact they work at the plant. They even worry they will be turned away at restaurants or that their children will be bullied at school after a government report documented dozens of cases of discrimination.

While TEPCO is out of favor with the public, the skills and experience of its employees that span the gamut of engineers, project managers, maintenance workers and construction and financial professionals, are not.

Energy industry experience is in particular demand as the development of solar and other green energy businesses is pushed along in Japan by generous government subsidies.

Currently the government pays solar plants 32 yen per kilowatt hour of energy. The so-called tariff for solar power varies by states and cities in the U.S., but they are as low as several cents. In Germany, it’s about 15 cents.

Sean Travers, Japan president of EarthStream, a London-based recruitment company that specializes in energy jobs, has been scrambling to woo TEPCO employees as foreign companies do more clean energy business in Japan.

“TEPCO employees are very well trained and have excellent knowledge of how the Japanese energy sector works, making them very attractive,” he said.

Two top executives at U.S. solar companies doing business in Japan, First Solar director Karl Brutsaert and SunPower Japan director Takashi Sugihara, said they have interviewed former TEPCO employees for possible posts.

Besides their experience, knowledge of how the utility industry works and their contacts, with both private industry and government bureaucracy, are prized assets.

“It’s about the human network and the TEPCO employees have all the contacts,” said Travers, who says he has recruited about 20 people from TEPCO and is hoping to get more.

Yoshikawa, the former TEPCO maintenance worker, said he has received several offers for green-energy jobs that paid far better than his salary at TEPCO of 3 million yen ($30,000) a year.

Since September 2012, all TEPCO managers have had their salaries slashed by 30%, while workers in non-management positions had their pay reduced 20%.

But last year, TEPCO doled out 100,000 yen bonuses to 5,000 managers as an incentive to stay on.

In another effort to prevent the loss of qualified personnel, TEPCO is reducing the pay cuts to 7% from this month, but just for those involved in decommissioning the Fukushima plant.

The departures, however, have not been arrested, partly because of ongoing financial pressure.

TEPCO was bailed out by the government after the disaster. Compensating the thousands of people forced to evacuate from the vicinity of the plant is expected to weigh on the company for years.

“We need people for decommissioning,” TEPCO spokesman Kohji Sasakibara said. “But we have caused a disaster, affecting not only Japan but the whole world. And so we must work harder to gain public understanding.”

Given such dire conditions, it’s inevitable that TEPCO workers are looking to build careers elsewhere, according to Naoyuki Takaki, professor of nuclear engineering at Tokyo City University.

Takaki recalled that Japan’s nuclear industry in its heyday had a magical allure like space exploration. He believes it is still a viable field of study and an important profession, bringing clear benefits for society.

Takaki, a former TEPCO researcher who quit in 2008, said the number of students entering the nuclear field has shrunk after the disaster. That means the shortage of nuclear professionals could become even more critical in coming years.

“TEPCO has grown into a target of people’s hate,” he said.

TTIP is the latest bid to capture policymaking by the profit-making interests of the 1%, with dire implications for anyone who upholds a vision of a more equitable and sustainable economic order. But campaign groups and activists are working hard to expose this trade agreement for what it is, and to build an overarching global movement that can prevent this massive transfer of power to transnational corporations.

As the next round of negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) take place in Brussels this week, civil society groups are continuing to mobilise against this ongoing free trade agreement between the U.S. and EU that poses a threat to our public services, environment, food, privacy and democracy. On Saturday, around a thousand people occupied the square in front of the European Union’s base in London, UK, and demanded an end to the trade deal that is being described by the #noTTIP coalition of activists and organisations as an unprecedented corporate power-grab.

Hundreds of thousands of people have signed petitions over the last few months that call on our political representatives to provide full transparency on the negotiations and oppose this new trade offensive, which is taking place largely in secret and without any input from civil society regardless of its potentially devastating consequences. The mainstream media may be highlighting the increased economic growth and jobs that will supposedly benefit EU and U.S. economies, but in reality it represents a corporate Trojan horse that could usher in a brave new world of almost total deregulation, liberalisation and privatisation.

As explained in The #noTTIP Times – a paper distributed at events held nationwide for the London day of action – the primary aim of TTIP is not to stimulate ‘free trade’ through the removal of tariffs between the two regions, as these are already at minimum levels. Rather, the real intention is to remove the regulatory barriers that restrict the profit-making potential of multinational corporations – despite the fact that these ‘barriers’ are in fact our most prized social standards and regulations, in everything from food standards and labour rights to environmental regulations.

The planned inclusion of an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism, otherwise known as the secret corporate courts, has received the most intense criticism. By granting corporations the right to sue governments in international arbitration tribunals over public policy decisions that ‘unfairly’ affect their bottom line, they could be empowered to overturn democratically decided laws and regulations. Through this provision, their legal status is effectively made equivalent to that of the nation state itself – making states accountable to corporations, rather than vice versa.

The alarming truth

Campaign groups have worked hard to expose this trade agreement for what it is, and to reveal the many reasons why we should all be worried about TTIP. In particular, further liberalisation of the trade in services will make it harder for governments to regulate private companies providing public services, such as in healthcare and education. And the ISDS mechanism could effectively prevent any future government from bringing these services back into public control, due to the entrenched threat of litigation. In the UK, there are already fears that this could enable the locking-in of the creeping privatisation of our schools and national health service.

Furthermore, it will become far more difficult to achieve positive alternatives to corporate food systems, such as food sovereignty, due to the even greater power that will be bestowed upon major agribusiness giants. Other progressive measures in the financial sector, such as a ‘Robin Hood Tax’ on financial transactions or controls of capital flows, will also be virtually impossible to implement due to the powers that multinationals wield through the ISDS mechanism. The Jubilee Debt Campaign is even forewarning the likelihood of a new international financial crisis being created, if proposed rules for TTIP are agreed that would prevent either the EU or the U.S. from bringing in regulations on banks.

TTIP is just one of three major so-called plurilateral trade agreements that are currently being negotiated among a range of countries, alongside the Trans‑Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), all of which could amount to the greatest transfer of power to transnational capital that we have seen in a generation. But as the World Development Movement (WDM) and other campaigning groups make clear, TTIP is a prospective future deal between two economic superpowers that, together, will form the largest free trade zone in the world. This deal could then set a new gold standard for all future trade agreements, and if pushed through successfully it could be used to force deregulation and neoliberal economic policies on poorer countries.

The implications are dire for anyone who upholds a vision of a more equitable and sustainable economic order. Not only does this new wave of trade agreements open the door to an aggressive corporate take-over of our common resources and services, but it also threatens to dramatically extend the powers of transnational capital and further hardwire ‘free market’ principles into the global economy. In short, TTIP is the latest bid to capture policymaking by the profit-making interests of the 1%, and to undermine and dismantle the established systems of economic sharing that currently exist on local, national and global levels. It remains impossible to conceive of a new economic paradigm based on sharing rather than competing for the world’s resources, so long as Trojan treaties like TTIP and TPP are promoted by our elected leaders no matter what the cost in terms of poverty, inequality and environmental destruction.

An alternative vision

Across both sides of the Atlantic, campaigners are trying to build a large scale movement that calls for a complete halt to these negotiations and similar agreements. In the words of WDM’s Nick Dearden, only a movement of the breadth and diversity of the alter-globalisation movement can bring these dangerous plans to a standstill. And there remains much hope and evidence that a conclusion of TTIP deal is far from a foregone conclusion, not forgetting the success of activists in helping to kill the Multilateral Agreement in Investment (MAI) back in 1996, or the stalling of the EU’s harmful Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) due in large part to the work of trade justice campaigners. Already, President Obama has been refused special powers to negotiate TTIP through Congress, while the European Commission has been forced to hold a public consultation.

According to the #noTTIP coalition, there is everything to play for. We now need a global movement that is strong enough to stand up against corporate powers, and TTIP encompasses so many issues that activists are fighting for that it provides fertile common ground for an overarching progressive campaign. To succeed, however, the movement cannot be left to existing campaign groups and must include a broad swathe of engaged citizens who understand what is stake. Most importantly, many activists recognise that united efforts should not remain focused on a position of ‘anti’, but must also embrace alternatives that offer a new vision of a trade and investment policy that upholds the common good. The Alternative Trade Mandate has done valuable work in spelling out the principles that should underpin this vision, which sees trade as “an instrument for the equitable distribution of the world’s wealth by giving people access to resources, goods and services which are needed for the fulfilment of their needs”.

In this way, the growing call for a fairer sharing of the world’s wealth, power and resources is gradually becoming a potent force for change on the international stage. Alongside the many important debates and experimentations that are currently being developed in different countries, from the commons discourse to new collaborative and co-operative economic models, there is every reason to believe that ‘we the people’ can bring about progressive social change. To be sure, the need for concerted opposition against the neoliberal agenda has never been more urgent or daunting. But at the same time, it has never been clearer that the hope for a better world rests with the solidarity, creativity and mass popular engagement of the 99%.

Corporate biotechnology monopolies like Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, and others have met increasing resistance to their attempts to patent and control global agriculture. They have spent untold fortunes attempting to sway the public but to no avail. Local, organic agriculture is growing in popularity and proliferating across all social-strata. The introduction of technology to automate and augment organic farming is making it as competitive and accessible or more so than the capital-intensive models of monopoly employed by big-ag. 

In response, big-ag has attempted several distasteful public relation stunts, including “super bananas for Africa” and “Golden Rice” to allegedly feed Asia’s poor.

They claim these initiatives are purely altruistic. Business Insider in its article, “A Miracle Rice Could Save Millions Of Lives,” claims:

Golden Rice, once it is widely released, will be much more cost-effective, as agricultural economist Alexander Stein has shown. Despite common misconceptions, no one stands to get rich when poor farmers start growing Golden Rice. Instead, it will represent a fundamentally different approach, an embodiment of the old “teach a man to fish” adage.

Business Insider’s source? Big-ag giant Syngenta and the “Golden Rice Humanitarian Board.” The board, of course, is stacked with big-ag-funded “NGOs,” USAID representatives, and representatives of big-ag itself. The board represents the revolving door between corporate monopolies and big-government – and their combined efforts to use every means necessary to advance their collective self-interests.

Contrary to their claims of altruism, the initial profit of selling the rice to farmers will be immense. Posing as an act of charity will secure taxpayer subsidized funding from governments around the world to “feed the children.”

Once the genetically engineered rice is being grown, big-ag herbicide, pesticide, and chemical fertilizer regiments will reap billions more, all likely to be subsidized as well - diverting state resources away from traditional, localized, and more effective nutritional and agricultural development programs.

There is also another profit to be made, one not of money directly, but in terms of public perception. Using the Trojan Horse of  ”charity” to proliferate genetically modified crops that are otherwise wholly rejected around the world, will constitute big-ag’s “foot in the door” in gaining wider acceptance for their monopolizing and destructive business model.

The very name, “Golden Rice Humanitarian Board” reflects the frequent ploy of inserting “humanitarian” anywhere exploitation and human rights are being violated the most. The “humanitarian war” for instance, is a term used to sell unpopular extraterritorial military aggression. For big-ag, “humanitarian crops” are used to push unpopular and dangerous biotech products on the planet’s most vulnerable people.

Don’t You Want to Save the Children?

The paid-for narrative of big-ag’s lobbying efforts to push Golden Rice revolves around portraying anti-GMO activists opposing the scheme as wanting to “starve children.” The simplistic propaganda ploy is as dishonest as it is insulting. The very concept of relieving suffering throughout the developing world with a monoculture of genetically altered ”super gruel” at face value is both undignified and untenable.

In Thailand for instance, one of the world’s leading producers of rice, those who grow rice – and would potentially grow Golden Rice – do so for the sole purpose of selling it. They do indeed consume part of their annual harvest – but the species they grow are determined by market demand.  Not only is there no demand for genetically modified rice species, nor will there ever be, Golden Rice contaminating the thousands of varieties of native, organic rice species Asia’s rice farmers do depend on for their livelihood would be an immeasurable catastrophe.

Tainting native species, however, will be a boom for big-ag – opening a door that cannot be closed again and inviting the rest of its business model into markets it was previously restricted from. Consumers unable to avoid genetically modified rice would have no choice but to accept it, along with other genetically modified products. This is the truth behind the tangibly desperate drive to push Golden Rice through.

Additionally, encouraging people to sustain themselves on a single crop is irresponsibly dangerous – with the practice of monoculture farming already responsible for miring thousands in debt when their single crop fails or market fluctuations make their single crop unprofitable. For farmers already existing along the edge of poverty and debt, depending on a single crop multiplies, not hedges the potential for disaster.

At every juncture big-ag claims its products are for the benefit of the impoverished, starving, and those who till the land. But today, most farmers still scratch a living at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum – particularly those who regularly buy into big-ag’s various monopolies over seeds, fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides.

How to Really Feed the Poor 

As Greenpeace and Grain.org have noted, the solution to malnutrition can be as simple as having farmers diversity their crops and for rural populations to grow their own personal or community gardens.Greenpeace stated in a statement on Golden Rice that:

…a range of projects, such as ecologically farmed home and community gardens, that increase access to healthy and varied diets can eradicate not only VAD, but simultaneously tackle other nutrient deficiencies. Ecological farming can in fact better contribute to healthy and diverse diets by empowering people to access and produce their own healthy and varied food, which is the real long-lasting solution populations affected by VAD need.

Grain.org reported in a paper titled, “Grains of delusion: Golden rice seen from the ground,” that:

IRRI says that the Green Revolution may have actually increased malnutrition among the poor. Consumption of vegetables in most Asian countries has remained stagnant since the Green Revolution and vegetable prices have increased in both real and relative terms. In India, annual rice and wheat production has more than tripled from pre-Green Revolution levels. On the other hand, household consumption of vegetables has dropped 12 percent over the last two decades. Pulse and legume consumption is down even more and is becoming more and more costly, and malnutrition remains high.

Monoculture farming for a globalized economy renders entire nations as producers for markets beyond their borders leaving less room and resources to cultivate what is needed for local populations. Net exporters are generally so because they work and sell for far less than nations that import goods.

Not only do community gardens and diversifying crops give farmers and the impoverished access to a more varied and dignified diet, it opens the door to polyculture – the growing of more than one crop for both personal consumption and for additional income. Organic polyculture is promoted in Thailand by the head of state as part of a national self-sufficiency program and those that practice both self-sufficiency and sustainable economic growth, avoid both the pitfalls of debt and the dangers of monoculture farming.

Education is also key. Raising awareness as to what causes malnutrition and how to prevent it will raise the demand for a variety of fruits and vegetables giving farmers added incentives to diversify their crops. It will also produce the political impetus to pursue other pragmatic solutions, such as community gardens and networks of local farmers’ markets.

Ultimately, if immense amounts of government funding must be spent to solve global malnutrition, why not spend it on initiatives that will give the poor access to the same variety and dignity in diet that the rest of the world enjoys? Why insist on an expensive, risky, and proven dangerous genetically modified monoculture model that will essentially feed the poor “GMO super gruel” instead? The benefits for big-ag and perpetuating their immense and unwarranted power over global agriculture is clear – so are the dangers and exploitation faced by the impoverished poor these monolithic corporations are pretending to help.

For years, homeowners have been battling Wall Street in an attempt to recover some portion of their massive losses from the housing Ponzi scheme. But progress has been slow, as they have been outgunned and out-spent by the banking titans.

In June, however, the banks may have met their match, as some equally powerful titans strode onto the stage.  Investors led by BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, and PIMCO, the world’s largest bond-fund manager, have sued some of the world’s largest banks for breach of fiduciary duty as trustees of their investment funds. The investors are seeking damages for losses surpassing $250 billion. That is the equivalent of one million homeowners with $250,000 in damages suing at one time.

The defendants are the so-called trust banks that oversee payments and enforce terms on more than $2 trillion in residential mortgage securities. They include units of Deutsche Bank AG, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, HSBC Holdings PLC, and Bank of New York Mellon Corp. Six nearly identical complaints charge the trust banks with breach of their duty to force lenders and sponsors of the mortgage-backed securities to repurchase defective loans.

Why the investors are only now suing is complicated, but it involves a recent court decision on the statute of limitations. Why the trust banks failed to sue the lenders evidently involves the cozy relationship between lenders and trustees. The trustees also securitized loans in pools where they were not trustees. If they had started filing suit demanding repurchases, they might wind up suedon other deals in retaliation. Better to ignore the repurchase provisions of the pooling and servicing agreements and let the investors take the losses—better, at least, until they sued.

Beyond the legal issues are the implications for the solvency of the banking system itself. Can even the largest banks withstand a $250 billion iceberg? The sum is more than 40 times the $6 billion “London Whale” that shook JPMorganChase to its foundations.

Who Will Pay – the Banks or the Depositors?

The world’s largest banks are considered “too big to fail” for a reason. The fractional reserve banking scheme is a form of shell game, which depends on “liquidity” borrowed at very low interest from other banks or the money market. When Lehman Brothers went bankrupt in 2008, triggering a run on the money market, the whole interconnected shadow banking system nearly went down with it.

Congress then came to the rescue with a taxpayer bailout, and the Federal Reserve followed with its quantitative easing fire hose. But in 2010, the Dodd Frank Act said there would be no more government bailouts. Instead, the banks were to save themselves with “bail ins,” meaning they were to recapitalize themselves by confiscating a portion of the funds of their creditors – including not only their shareholders and bondholders but the largest class of creditor of any bank, their depositors.

Theoretically, deposits under $250,000 are protected by FDIC deposit insurance. But the FDIC fund contains only about $47 billion – a mere 20% of the Black Rock/PIMCO damage claims. Before 2010, the FDIC could borrow from the Treasury if it ran short of money. But since the Dodd Frank Act eliminates government bailouts, the availability of Treasury funds for that purpose is now in doubt.

When depositors open their online accounts and see that their balances have shrunk or disappeared, a run on the banks is likely. And since banks rely on each other for liquidity, the banking system as we know it could collapse. The result could be drastic deleveraging, erasing trillions of dollars in national wealth.

Phoenix Rising

Some pundits say the global economy would then come crashing down. But in a thought-provoking March 2014 article called “American Delusionalism, or Why History Matters,” John Michael Greer disagrees. He notes that historically, governments have responded by modifying their financial systems:

Massive credit collapses that erase very large sums of notional wealth and impact the global economy are hardly a new phenomenon . . . but one thing that has never happened as a result of any of them is the sort of self-feeding, irrevocable plunge into the abyss that current fast-crash theories require.

The reason for this is that credit is merely one way by which a society manages the distribution of goods and services. . . . A credit collapse . . . doesn’t make the energy, raw materials, and labor vanish into some fiscal equivalent of a black hole; they’re all still there, in whatever quantities they were before the credit collapse, and all that’s needed is some new way to allocate them to the production of goods and services.

This, in turn, governments promptly provide. In 1933, for example, faced with the most severe credit collapse in American history, Franklin Roosevelt temporarily nationalized the entire US banking system, seized nearly all the privately held gold in the country, unilaterally changed the national debt from “payable in gold” to “payable in Federal Reserve notes” (which amounted to a technical default), and launched a  series of other emergency measures.  The credit collapse came to a screeching halt, famously, in less than a hundred days. Other nations facing the same crisis took equally drastic measures, with similar results. . . .

Faced with a severe crisis, governments can slap on wage and price controls, freeze currency exchanges, impose rationing, raise trade barriers, default on their debts, nationalize whole industries, issue new currencies, allocate goods and services by fiat, and impose martial law to make sure the new economic rules are followed to the letter, if necessary, at gunpoint. Again, these aren’t theoretical possibilities; every one of them has actually been used by more than one government faced by a major economic crisis in the last century and a half.

That historical review is grounds for optimism, but confiscation of assets and enforcement at gunpoint are still not the most desirable outcomes. Better would be to have an alternative system in place and ready to implement before the boom drops.

The Better Mousetrap

North Dakota has established an effective alternative model that other states might do well to emulate. In 1919, the state legislature pulled its funds out of Wall Street banks and put them into the state’s own publicly-owned bank, establishing financial sovereignty for the state. The Bank of North Dakota has not only protected the state’s financial interests but has been a moneymaker for it ever since.

On a national level, when the Wall Street credit system fails, the government can turn to the innovative model devised by our colonial forebears and start issuing its own currency and credit—a power now usurped by private banks but written into the US Constitution as belonging to Congress.

The chief problem with the paper scrip of the colonial governments was the tendency to print and spend too much. The Pennsylvania colonists corrected that systemic flaw by establishing a publicly-owned bank, which lent money to farmers and tradespeople at interest. To get the funds into circulation to cover the interest, some extra scrip was printed and spent on government services. The money supply thus expanded and contracted naturally, not at the whim of government officials but in response to seasonal demands for credit. The interest returned to public coffers, to be spent on the common weal.

The result was a system of money and credit that was sustainable without taxes, price inflation or government debt – not to mention without credit default swaps, interest rate swaps, central bank manipulation, slicing and dicing of mortgages, rehypothecation in the repo market, and the assorted other fraudulent schemes underpinning our “systemically risky” banking system today.

Relief for Homeowners?

Will the BlackRock/PIMCO suit help homeowners?  Not directly.  But it will get some big guns on the scene, with the ability to do all sorts of discovery, and the staff to deal with the results.

Fraud is grounds for rescission, restitution and punitive damages.  The homeowners may not have been parties to the pooling and servicing agreements governing the investor trusts, but if the whole business model is proven to be fraudulent, they could still make a case for damages.

In the end, however, it may be the titans themselves who take each other down, clearing the way for a new phoenix to rise from the ashes.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt. In The Public Bank Solution, her latest book, she explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her websites are http://EllenBrown.comhttp://PublicBankSolution.com, and http://PublicBankingInstitute.org.

The Swiss-based Bank for International Settlements has again sounded the alarm bell on the dangers to the global financial system posed by the ultra-loose policies of the world’s major central banks, which have boosted stock exchanges and other markets.

In an interview by Britain’s Telegraph, published on July 13, BIS chief Jaime Caruana indicated that the financial system may be even more vulnerable to a crisis than it was in 2007, because debt in emerging markets has increased markedly since the collapse of the Lehman Brothers investment bank in September 2008.

Caruana said investors seemed to be ignoring the risk of tightening monetary policies in their voracious search for yield. “Markets seem to be considering only a very narrow spectrum of potential outcomes,” he said. “They have become convinced that monetary conditions will remain easy for a very long time, and may be taking more assurance than central banks wish to give.”

In its annual report issued at the end of last month the BIS, a consortium of the world’s central banks, warned that the policies of “quantitative easing,” carried out in various forms by the US Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan and to some extent by the European Central Bank (ECB), had led to “euphoric” conditions in equity markets.

Amid low growth rates in the advanced countries and outright recession in parts of Europe, the BIS pointed to a “puzzling disconnect” between “the markets’ buoyancy and underlying developments globally.”

This warning was rapidly dismissed by the central banks and a range of media pundits, including New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who claimed the BIS report lacked any method and was an “attitude, looking for justification.”

In response to the BIS report, US Fed chairwoman Janet Yellen made clear that the policy of ultra-easy money would continue, claiming that so-called macro-prudential regulation would deal with any risks in the system. Yellen insisted that a tightening of monetary policy would only create increased unemployment. When questioned, however, about how effective regulations were, given that financial markets have a record of getting around them, she replied that she did not have a “great answer” to that question.

Yellen’s stance was backed by representatives of the Bank of England and ECB chief Mario Draghi. While not specifically naming his critics, Caruana’s July 13 interview was a reply to the dismissal of the BIS warnings.

Caruana noted that the international financial system was in some ways more fragile than in pre-Lehman days because of the build-up of debt. Debt ratios in the advanced economies had risen by 20 percent to reach 275 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), and 40 percent of syndicated loans were to sub-investment grade borrowers, a higher ratio than in 2007.

Caruana pointed out that rising economic powers in Asia were no longer in a position to provide a buffer as they had in 2008 because they may have become a source of risk themselves. The debt ratios of China, Brazil, Turkey and other “emerging” markets had risen by 20 percent and were now 175 percent of GDP. Emerging markets had increased their foreign currency debt by $2 trillion since 2008.

The BIS annual report pointed out that any crisis in emerging markets would have a much more serious impact than the Asian financial crisis of 1997–98 because these markets were much larger now and far more integrated into the global financial system. The ramifications would be particularly serious “if China, home to an outsize financial boom, were to falter.”

Caruana would not make a prediction as to when he thought the bubble might burst, but added: “As Keynes said, markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.”

It seems that the irrationality is going to continue. On Monday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued its annual report on the Eurozone. It said that while the region was “recovering,” deep-seated problems remained. The recovery had turned out to be weaker than expected, output and investment were still well below pre-crisis levels and large debt burdens, higher real interest rates in stressed economies, as well as weak banks and contracting credit, posed obstacles to a resurgence of economic activity.

With inflation still well below the ECB’s target range of 2 percent, the IMF said the central bank “may need to expand its balance sheet substantially as other central banks have done, to provide a strong signal that it will use every available tool to fulfil its price stability mandate.”

Inflation in Europe had been too low for too long and a failure to meet the inflation target could undermine central bank credibility, the IMF report said. “A negative external should tip the economy into deflation.”

While warnings of the BIS have been largely dismissed—just as similar warnings were ignored in the lead-up to the Lehman collapse—they received confirmation last week when supposedly minor problems at Portugal’s Banco Espirito Santo sent a tremor through European and global markets.

In his interview Caruana was dismissive of the claims by the Fed and other central bank officials that macro-prudential regulations should be the first line of defence against financial turbulence. “On their own there is little evidence that they can constrain financial imbalances,” he said.

A report that appeared in the Financial Times last month provides weight to this assessment. It said regulators around the world were “struggling to keep pace with the constantly evolving shadow banking sector” and while it was easy to sketch out the concept of shadow banking it was “proving far harder to write rules for the sector’s menageries of entities.”

The “shadow” banking system has evolved precisely in order to get around the regulations imposed by central banks and other financial authorities by means of “arbitrage”—taking advantage of very slight differences in two or more markets to gain a profit.

Former Bank of England deputy governor Paul Tucker told the Financial Times: “My issue is that it is not obvious that the current model of regulation we have around the world is equipped to keep up.”

Any misplaced conceptions that, based on the experiences of 2008, global regulators now have the financial system under control, were dispelled by David Wright, secretary-general of Iosco, an umbrella regulatory group.

“It is extraordinary that here we are, nearly seven years in [from the financial crisis] and we still have an inadequate understanding of some of the key aspects of financial markets,” he told the Financial Times. “How these markets interconnect with each other and the contagion channels is very difficult to calibrate.”

Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. … It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results. –Andrew Carnegie

Since this is a strategy conference of the peace and anti-war movement, and since it is being held against the background of the centenary of the First World War, I will confine my comments largely to issues the centenary should focus on and to the way in which the peace movement can contribute to the anniversary events which will be spreading out over the coming four years. The numerous commemorative events not only in Europe but around the world offer an opportunity to the anti-war and peace movement to publicise and advance its agenda.

It seems that so far this agenda is largely absent from the official commemorative programme, at least in Britain where the outlines of such a programme were first presented on 11th October 2012 by Prime Minister David Cameron in a speech at the Imperial War Museum in London[1]. He announced there the appointment of a special advisor, and advisory board, and also that the government was making available a special fund of £ 50 million. The overall purpose of the commemorations of the First World War were threefold, he said: ‘to honour those who served; to remember those who died; and to ensure that the lessons learnt live with us for ever’. We (i.e., the peace movement) may agree that ‘honouring, remembering, and learning lessons’ are indeed appropriate, but may disagree about the precise nature and content of what is being proposed under these three headings.

Before addressing this issue, it may be useful to indicate briefly what is being done in Britain. Of the £ 50 million, £ 10 million has been allocated to the Imperial War Museum of which Cameron is a great admirer. More than £ 5 million has been allocated to schools, to enable visits of pupils and teachers to the battlefields in Belgium and France. Like the government, the BBC also has appointed a special controller for the First World War Centenary. Its programming for this, announced on 16th October 2013, is larger and more ambitious than any other project it has ever undertaken.[2] The national radio and television broadcaster has commissioned over 130 programmes, with around 2,500 hours of broadcasting on radio and TV. For instance, the BBC’s flagship radio station, BBC Radio 4, has commissioned one of the biggest drama series ever, spanning 600 episodes, and dealing with the home front. The BBC, together with the Imperial War Museum, is building a ‘digital cenotaph’ featuring an unprecedented amount of archive material. It is inviting users to upload letters, diaries, and photographs of the experiences of their relatives during the war. The same website will also provide access for the first time to more than 8 million military service records held by the Museum. In July 2014, the Museum will hold the largest retrospective of World War I art ever seen (entitled Truth & Memory: British Art of the First World War).[3] There will be similar exhibitions in the Tate Modern (London) and the Imperial War Museum North (Salford, Manchester).

From the beginning, there was controversy in Britain about the nature of the commemoration, in particular, whether this was also a celebration – celebration, that is, of British resolve and eventual victory, thereby safeguarding freedom and democracy, not only for the country but also for the allies (but not necessarily for the colonies!). Government ministers, leading historians, military figures and journalists joined the debate; inevitably also the German ambassador became involved. If, as the Prime Minister indicated in his speech, the commemoration should have a theme of reconciliation, then this would suggest the need for a sober (rather than victorious gung-ho) approach.

The public debate so far, in Great Britain at any rate, has been characterised by a rather narrow focus, and has been conducted in parameters too narrowly drawn. What is missing so far are the following aspects and they may well apply elsewhere too.

1. Plus ca change … ?

FIRSTLY, and not surprisingly perhaps, the debate has concentrated on the immediate causes of the war and the issue of war responsibility. This should not obscure the fact that the seeds of war were sown well before the killings in Sarajevo. A more appropriate and constructive, and less divisive, approach would need to concentrate not on individual countries but on the international system as a whole which resulted in war. This will draw attention to the forces of nationalism, imperialism, colonialism, militarism which together prepared the ground for the armed confrontation. War was widely regarded as inevitable, necessary, glorious and heroic.

We should ask to what extent these systemic causes of war – which resulted in the First World War – are still with us today. According to several analysts, the situation the world finds itself in today is not dissimilar to that of Europe on the eve of war in 1914. Recently, the tensions between Japan and China have led several commentators to observe that if there is a danger of major war today, it is likely to be between these countries – and that it will be difficult to keep it limited to them and the region. Analogies with the summer of 1914 in Europe have been made. Indeed, at the annual World Economic Forum held in Davos in January 2014, the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, was given an attentive hearing when he compared current Sino-Japanese rivalry with the Anglo-German one at the beginning of the 20th century. [The parallel is that today China is an emergent, impatient state with a rising arms budget, like Germany was in 1914. The U.S., like Britain in 1914, is a hegemonic power in apparent decline. Japan, like France in 1914, is dependent for its security on that declining power.] Rival nationalisms, then as now, can spark war. According to Margaret Macmillan, a leading Oxford historian of the First World War, the Middle East today also bears a worrying resemblance to the Balkans in 1914.[4] The mere fact that leading politicians and historians can draw such analogies should be a cause for worry. Has the world learnt nothing from the catastrophe of 1914-1918? In one important respect this is undeniably the case: states continue to be armed, and to use force and the threat of force in their international relations.

Of course, there are now global institutions, first and foremost the United Nations, whose primary objective is to keep the world at peace. There is a much more developed body of international law and institutions to go with it. In Europe, the originator of two world wars, there is now a Union.

While this is progress, these institutions are weak and not without their critics. The peace movement can take some credit for these developments, and is committed to reform of the UN and to make key principles of international law both better known and better adhered to.

2. Remembering the peacemakers & honouring their legacy

SECONDLY, the debate so far has largely ignored the fact that an anti-war and peace movement existed before 1914 in many countries. That movement consisted of individuals, movements, organisations, and institutions which did not share the prevailing views regarding war and peace, and which strove to bring about a system in which war was no longer an acceptable means for countries to settle their disputes.

In fact, 2014 is not only the centenary of the start of the Great War, but also the bicentenary of the peace movement. In other words, a full one hundred years before the start of war in 1914, that movement had been campaigning and struggling to educate people about the dangers and evils of war, and the advantages and possibilities of peace. During that first century, from the end of the Napoleonic wars to the start of the First World War, the peace movement’s achievements were, contrary to widespread opinion, substantial. Obviously, the peace movement did not succeed in averting the catastrophe that was the Great War, but that in no way diminishes its significance and merits. Yet, this bicentenary is nowhere mentioned – as if that movement never existed, or does not deserve to be remembered.

The peace movement arose in the immediate aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, both in Britain and the USA. That movement, which gradually spread to the continent of Europe and elsewhere, laid the foundations for many of the institutions and innovations in international diplomacy which would come to fruition later in the century, and also after the Great War – such as the notion of arbitration as a more just and rational alternative to brute force. Other ideas promoted by the peace movement were disarmament, federal union, European union, international law, international organisation, decolonisation, women’s emancipation. Many of these ideas have come to the fore in the aftermath of the world wars of the 20th century, and some have been realised, or at least partly so.

The peace movement was especially productive in the two decades preceding World War I when its agenda reached the highest levels of government as manifested, for instance, in the Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907. A direct result of these unprecedented conferences – which followed an appeal (1898) by Tsar Nicholas II to halt the arms race, and to substitute war by peaceful arbitration – was the construction of the Peace Palace which opened its doors in 1913, and which celebrated its centenary in August 2013. Since 1946, it is of course the seat of the International Court of Justice of the UN. The world owes the Peace Palace to the munificence of Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-American steel tycoon who became a pioneer of modern philanthropy and who was also an ardent opponent of war. Like no one else, he liberally endowed institutions devoted to the pursuit of world peace, most of which still exist today.

Whereas the Peace Palace, which houses the International Court of Justice, guards its high mission to replace war by justice, Carnegie’s most generous legacy for peace, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), has explicitly turned away from its founder’s belief in the abolition of war, thereby depriving the peace movement of much-needed resources. This could partly explain why that movement has not grown into a mass movement which can exert effective pressure on governments. I believe it is important to reflect on this for a moment. In 1910 Carnegie, who was America’s most famous peace activist, and the world’s richest man, endowed his peace foundation with $ 10 million. In today’s money, this is the equivalent of $ 3,5 billion. Imagine what the peace movement – that is, the movement for the abolition of war – could do today if it had access to that kind of money, or even a fraction of it. Unfortunately, while Carnegie favoured advocacy and activism, the trustees of his Peace Endowment favoured research. As early as 1916, in the middle of the First World War, one of the trustees even suggested that the name of the institution should be changed to Carnegie Endowment for International Justice.

When the Endowment recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, its President (Jessica T. Mathews), called the organisation ‘the oldest international affairs think tank in the U.S.’[5] She says that its purpose was, in the words of the founder, to ‘hasten the abolition of war, the foulest blot upon our civilization’, but she adds, ‘that goal was always unattainable’. In fact, she was repeating what the president of the Endowment during the 1950s and 1960s had then already said. Joseph E. Johnson, a former U.S. State Department official, ‘moved the institution away from an unswerving support for the UN and other international bodies’ according to a recent history published by the Endowment itself. Also, ‘ … for the first time, a president of the Carnegie Endowment [described] Andrew Carnegie’s vision of peace as the artifact of an age gone by, rather than an inspiration for the present. Any hope of permanent peace was an illusion’.[6] The First World War forced Carnegie to reconsider his optimistic belief that war would ‘soon be discarded as disgraceful to civilized men’ but it is unlikely that he gave up his belief altogether. He enthusiastically supported Woodrow Wilson’s concept of an international organization and was delighted when the President accepted Carnegie’s suggested name for it, a ‘League of Nations’. Full of hope, he died in 1919. What would he say of those who have directed his great Endowment for Peace away from hope and from the conviction that war can and must be abolished? And thereby also have deprived the peace movement from vital resources necessary to pursue its great cause? Ban Ki-moon is so right when he says, and repeats saying, ‘The world is over-armed and peace is under-funded’. The ‘Global Day of Action on Military Spending’ (GDAMS), first proposed by the International Peace Bureau, is exactly addressing this issue (4th edition on 14th April 2014).[7]

Another legacy of the pre-World War I international peace movement is associated with the name of another successful businessman and peace philanthropist, who was also an outstanding scientist: the Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel. The Nobel Peace Prize, first awarded in 1901, is mainly the result of his close association with Bertha von Suttner, the Austrian baroness who at one time had been his secretary in Paris, albeit for one week only. She became the undisputed leader of the movement from the moment her bestselling novel, Lay Down Your Arms (Die Waffen nieder!) appeared in 1889, until her death, twenty-five years later, on 21st June 1914, one week before the shots in Sarajevo. On 21st June of this year (2014), we commemorate the centenary of her death. Let us not forget that this is also the 125th anniversary of the publication of her famous novel. I would like to quote what Leo Tolstoi, who knew a thing or two about war and peace, wrote to her in October 1891 after he had read her novel: ‘I greatly appreciate your work, and the idea comes to me that the publication of your novel is a happy augury. – The abolition of slavery was preceded by the famous book of a woman, Mrs. Beecher Stowe; God grant that the abolition of war may follow upon yours’.[8] Certainly, no woman did more to avert war than Bertha von Suttner.[9]

It can be argued that Lay Down Your Arms is the book behind the creation of the Nobel Peace Prize (of which the author became the first female recipient in 1905). That prize was, in essence, a prize for the peace movement as represented by Bertha von Suttner, and more specifically, for disarmament. That it should again become one has been forcefully argued in recent years by Norwegian lawyer and peace activist, Fredrik Heffermehl in his fascinating book, The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted.[10]

Some of the leading figures of the pre-1914 peace campaigns moved heaven and earth to persuade their fellow citizens of the dangers of a future great war and of the need to prevent it at all costs. In his bestseller, The Great Illusion: A Study of the Relation of Military Power in Nations to their Economic and Social Advantage, English journalist Norman Angell argued that the complex economic and financial interdependence of capitalist states had rendered war among them irrational and counter-productive, resulting in great economic and social dislocation.[11]

Both during and after the war, the sentiment most commonly associated with the war was ‘disillusionment’, abundantly vindicating Angell’s thesis. The nature of the war, as well as its consequences, were far removed from what had generally been expected. What had been expected, in short, was ‘war as usual’. This was reflected in the popular slogan, soon after the start of war, that ‘the boys would be out of the trenches and home by Christmas’. Meant was, of course, Christmas 1914. In the event, those who survived the mass slaughter only returned home four long years later.

One of the main reasons explaining the miscalculations and misconceptions regarding the war was the lack of imagination of those who were involved in its planning and execution.[12] They did not foresee how advances in weapons technology – notably, the increase in firepower through the machine gun – had made traditional battles among the infantry obsolete. Advances on the field of battle would henceforth hardly be possible, and troops would dig themselves in trenches, resulting in stalemate. The reality of war, of what it had become – viz. industrialised mass slaughter – would only be revealed whilst the war was unfolding (and even then commanders were slow to learn, as is well documented in the case of the British commander-in-chief, General Douglas Haig).

Yet, in 1898, a full fifteen years before the start of the war, the Polish-Russian entrepreneur and pioneer of modern peace research, Jan Bloch (1836-1902), had argued in a prophetic 6-volume study about the war of the future that this would be a war like no other. ‘Of the next great war one can speak of a Rendez-vous with death’ he wrote in the preface of the German edition of his great work.[13] He argued and demonstrated that such a war had become ‘impossible’ – impossible, that is, except at the price of suicide. This is exactly what the war, when it came, proved to be: the suicide of European civilisation, including the dissolution of the Austrian-Hungarian, Ottoman, Romanov and Wilhelmine empires. When it ended, the war had also ended the world as people had known it. This is well summed up in the title of the poignant memoirs of one who stood ‘above the battle’, the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig: The World of Yesterday.[14]

These pacifists (of whom Zweig was one, although he did not actively participate in the peace movement), who wanted to prevent their countries from becoming devastated in war, were true patriots, but often were treated with scorn and were dismissed as naive idealists, utopians, cowards and even traitors. But they were nothing of the kind. Sandi E. Cooper rightly entitled her study of the peace movement before the First World War: Patriotic Pacifism: Waging War on War in Europe, 1815-1914.[15] If the world had taken greater heed of their message, the catastrophe might well have been avoided. As Karl Holl, the doyen of German peace historians, has noted in his introduction to the splendid vade-mecum of the peace movement in German-speaking Europe:

‘much of the information about the historical peace movement will show sceptics how much suffering Europe would have been spared, had the warnings of pacifists not fallen on so many deaf ears, and had the practical initiatives and proposals of organised pacifism found an opening in official politics and diplomacy’.[16]

If, as Holl rightly suggests, an awareness of the existence and achievements of the organised peace movement before the First World War should inspire its critics to a measure of humility, it should at the same time also provide encouragement to the successors of that movement today. To quote Holl again:

‘The assurance to be standing on the shoulders of predecessors who, despite the hostility or apathy of their contemporaries, resolutely held firm to their pacifist convictions, will make the peace movement of today better able to withstand the many temptations to become dejected’.[17]

To add insult to injury, these ‘precursors of the future’ (in Romain Rolland’s felicitous phrase) have never been given their due. We do not remember them; they are not part of our history as taught in school textbooks; there are no statues for them and no streets are named after them. What a one-sided view of history we are conveying to future generations! It is largely thanks to the efforts of historians like Karl Holl and his colleagues who have come together in the Working Group Historical Peace Research (Arbeitskreis Historische Friedensforschung), that the existence of a very different Germany has been revealed in recent decades.[18] In this connection I would also like to pay tribute to the publishing house established in Bremen by peace historian Helmut Donat. Thanks to him, we do now have a growing library of biographies and other studies concerning the historical German peace movement of both the pre-1914 and interwar periods. The origins of his publishing house are interesting: Unable to find a publisher of his biography of Hans Paasche – a remarkable marine and colonial officer who became a critic of the German cult of violence and who was murdered by nationalist soldiers in 1920 – Donat published the book himself (1981), the first of many to appear in Donat Verlag.[19] Regrettably, since very little of this literature has been translated into English, it has not greatly affected the perception, widespread in Britain, of a country and a people steeped in Prussian militarism, and without a peace movement.

Also elsewhere, particularly in the USA, peace historians have come together in the last fifty years (stimulated by the Vietnam War) so that the history of the peace movement is increasingly well documented – providing not only a more accurate, balanced, and truthful account as regards the history of war and peace, but providing also an inspiration for peace and anti-war activists today. A milestone in this endeavour is the Biographical Dictionary of Modern Peace Leaders, and which can be seen as a companion volume to the Donat-Holl Lexikon, expanding its scope to the whole world.

I have so far argued that in the commemorations of the First World War we should pay attention, firstly, to the systemic factors which caused the war and, secondly, also should remember and honour those who, in the decades before 1914, made strenuous efforts to bring about a world from which the institution of war would be banished. A greater awareness and teaching of peace history is not only desirable, indeed vital, for students and young people, but extends to the society as a whole. Opportunities for conveying a more balanced view of history – and, in particular, for honouring opponents of war – should not be absent or ignored in the commemorations for the victims of war in the countless battlefield sites in Europe and throughout the world.

3. Heroes of non-killing

We come now to a THIRD consideration. As regards the First World War, we should ask how the neglect and ignorance (on the part of later generations) of those who warned against war, and did their utmost to prevent it, would be perceived by the millions of soldiers who lost their lives in that catastrophe. Would most of them not expect that society would honour above all the memory of those who wanted to prevent the mass slaughter? Is saving lives not more noble and heroic than taking lives? Let us not forget: soldiers, after all, are trained and equipped to kill, and when they fall victim to the opponent’s bullet, this is the inevitable consequence of the profession they have joined, or were forced to join. Here, we should mention again Andrew Carnegie, who detested the barbarity of war, and who conceived and instituted a ‘Hero Fund’ to honour the ‘heroes of civilization’ whom he contrasted with the ‘heroes of barbarism’. He recognised the problematic nature of the heroism associated with the spilling of blood in war, and wanted to draw attention to the existence of a purer kind of heroism. He wanted to honour civilian heroes who, sometimes at great risk to themselves, have rescued lives – not wilfully destroyed them. First established in his home town of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1904, in later years he established Hero Funds in ten European countries, most of which celebrated their centenary a few years ago[20]. In Germany, in recent years attempts have been made to revive the Carnegie Stiftung fuer Lebensretter.

In this connection it is relevant to mention the work of Glenn Paige and the Center for Global Nonkilling (CGNK) that he established at the University of Hawaii 25 years ago.[21] This veteran of the Korean War, and leading political scientist, has argued that hope and faith in humanity and human potential have the power to change society in major ways. Placing a person on the moon was long considered a hopeless dream but it quickly became a reality in our time when vision, willpower and human organisation combined to make it possible. Paige persuasively argues that a nonviolent global transformation can be achieved in the same way, if only we believe in it, and are determined to bring it about. Commemorating four years long the killings on an industrial scale, is insufficient and insincere if it excludes serious consideration of the question that CGNK poses, viz., ‘How far have we come in our humanity?’ While scientific and technological progress is stupendous, wars, murders and genocide continue unabated. The question of the need and possibility of a non-killing global society should receive the highest priority at this time.

4. Abolition of nuclear weapons

FOURTHLY, commemorations of the First World War which are limited to remembering and honouring those who died in it (when killing), should constitute only one, and perhaps not the most important, aspect of the remembrance. The death of millions, and the suffering of many more (including those maimed, whether physically or mentally, or both, including the countless widows and orphans), would have been slightly more acceptable if the war which caused this enormous loss and grief had indeed been the war to end all war. But that proved far from being the case.

What would the soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War say were they to return today, and when they would find that, instead of ending war, the war that started in 1914 spawned an even greater one, barely twenty years after the end of World War I? I am reminded of a powerful play by the American playwright, Irwin Shaw, called Bury the Dead. First performed in New York City in March 1936, in this short, one-act play, six dead US soldiers killed in the war refuse to be buried.[22] They bemoan what happened to them – their lives cut short, their wives widowed, their children orphaned. And all for what – for a few yards of mud, one bitterly complains. The corpses, standing up in the graves that have been dug for them, refuse to lie down and be interred – even when commanded to do so by generals, one of whom says in desperation, ‘They never said anything about this sort of thing at West Point.’ The War Department, informed of the bizarre situation, forbids the story from being publicised. Eventually, and as a last attempt, the dead soldiers’ wives, or girlfriend, or mother, or sister, are summoned to come to the graves to persuade their men to let themselves be buried. One retorts, ‘Maybe there’s too many of us under the ground now. Maybe the earth can’t stand it no more’. Even a priest who believes the men are possessed by the devil and who performs an exorcism is unable to make the soldiers lie down. At the end, the corpses walk off the stage to roam the world, living accusations against the stupidity of war. (The author, by the way, was later blacklisted during the McCarthy red scare and went to live in exile in Europe for 25 years).

I suppose it is fair to assume that these six soldiers would be even less prepared to stop raising their voices (and corpses) in protest against war if they would learn of the invention, use, and proliferation of nuclear weapons. Perhaps it is the hibakusha, the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, who today most resemble these soldiers. The hibakusha (whose numbers are rapidly dwindling owing to old age) narrowly escaped death in war. For many of them, the hell they have been in, and the great physical and mental suffering that has profoundly affected their lives, have only been bearable because of their deeply-rooted commitment to the abolition of nuclear weapons, and of war. Only this has given meaning to their ruined lives. However, it must be a cause of great anger as well as anguish to them that, even seventy years later, the world largely continues to ignore their cry – ‘No more Hiroshima or Nagasaki, no more nuclear weapons, no more war!’ Moreover, is it not a scandal that in all this time the Norwegian Nobel Committee has not seen fit to award even one prize to the main association of hibakusha devoted to the abolition of nuclear weapons? Nobel of course knew all about explosives, and foresaw weapons of mass destruction and feared a return to barbarism if war was not abolished. The hibakusha are living testimony of that barbarism.

Since 1975 the Nobel committee in Oslo seems to have commenced a tradition awarding the prize for nuclear abolition every ten years following: in 1975 the prize went to Andrei Sakharov, in 1985 to IPPNW, in 1995 to Joseph Rotblat and Pugwash, in 2005 to Mohamed ElBaradei and the IAEA. Such a prize is due again next year (2015) and appears almost like token-ism. This is all the more regrettable, and unacceptable, if we agree with the view, mentioned earlier, that the prize was meant to be one for disarmament. If she were alive today, Bertha von Suttner might well have called her book, Lay Down Your Nuclear Arms. Indeed, one of her writings on war and peace has a very modern ring: In ‘The Barbarisation of the Sky’ she predicted that the horrors of war would also come down from the skies if the maddening arms race was not halted.[23] Today, the many innocent victims of drone warfare join those of Gernika, Coventry, Cologne, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and other places around the world which have experienced the horrors of modern warfare.

The world continues to live very dangerously. Climate change is presenting new and additional dangers. But even those who deny that it is man-made cannot deny that nuclear weapons are man-made, and that a nuclear holocaust would be wholly of man’s own doing. It can only be averted by a determined attempt to abolish nuclear weapons. This is not only what prudence and morality dictate, but also justice and international law. The duplicity and hypocrisy of the nuclear weapons powers, first and foremost the USA, UK, and France, are blatant and shameful. Signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (signed in 1968, coming into force in 1970), they continue to ignore their obligation to negotiate in good faith the disarmament of their nuclear arsenals. On the contrary, they are all involved in modernising them, wasting billions of scarce resources. This is in flagrant breach of their obligations which were confirmed in the 1996 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice regarding the ‘Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons’.[24]

It can be argued that the apathy and ignorance of the population is to blame for this state of affairs. National and international campaigns and organisations for nuclear disarmament enjoy the active support of only a small part of the population. The award, on a regular basis, of the Nobel peace prize for nuclear disarmament, would have the effect of keeping the spotlight on this issue as well as providing encouragement and endorsement for the campaigners. It is this, more than the ‘honour’, which constitutes the real significance of the prize.

At the same time, the responsibility and culpability of governments and political and military elites is obvious. The five nuclear weapons states which are permanent members of the UN Security Council have even refused to participate in the conferences on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons hosted in March 2013 by the Norwegian government and in February 2014 by the Mexican government. They apparently fear that these meetings would lead to demands for negotiations outlawing nuclear weapons. In announcing a follow-up conference in Vienna later in the same year, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz pointedly observed, ‘A concept that is based on the total destruction of the planet should have no place in the 21st century … This discourse is especially necessary in Europe, where cold war thinking is still prevalent in security doctrines’.[25] He also said: ‘we should use the commemoration [of World War I] to make every effort to move beyond nuclear weapons, the most dangerous legacy of the 20th century’. We should hear this also from the foreign ministers of the nuclear weapons states – not least Britain and France whose populations suffered so greatly in that war. The Nuclear Security Summits, the third one of which is being held in March 2014 in The Hague, are aimed at preventing nuclear terrorism around the world. The agenda is careful not to refer to the real existing threat represented by the nuclear weapons and materials of the nuclear weapons powers. This is ironic, given that this summit is being held in The Hague, a city that is explicitly committed to the global abolition of nuclear weapons (as mandated by the UN’s supreme court based in The Hague).

5. Nonviolence vs the Military-Industrial Complex

Let us come to a FIFTH consideration. We are looking at the 100-year period from 1914 to 2014. Let us pause for a moment and recall an episode which is right in the middle, viz. 1964, which is 50 years ago. In that year, Martin Luther King, Jr., received the Nobel Peace Prize. He saw it as a recognition of nonviolence as the ‘answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time – the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression’. He received the prize for his leadership of the nonviolent civil rights movement, starting with the Montgomery (Alabama ) bus boycott in December 1955. In his Nobel lecture (11th December 1964), King pointed out the predicament of modern man, viz. ‘the richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually’.[26] He went on to identify three major and connected problems which grew out of ‘man’s ethical infantilism’: racism, poverty, and war/militarism. In the few remaining years that were left to him before he would be struck down by an assassin’s bullet (1968), he increasingly spoke out against war and militarism, notably the war in Vietnam. Among my favourite quotations from this great prophet and activist, are ‘Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows’, and ‘We have guided missiles and misguided men’. King’s anti-war campaign culminated in his powerful speech, entitled Beyond Vietnam, delivered in the Riverside Church in New York City on 4th April 1967.

With the award of the Nobel prize, he said, ‘another burden of responsibility was placed upon me’: the prize ‘was also a commission … to work harder than I had ever worked before for the brotherhood of man’. Echoing what he had said in Oslo, he referred to ‘the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism’. Regarding this latter point, he said that he could no longer be silent and called his own government ‘the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today’.[27] He criticised ‘the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long’. His message was that ‘war is not the answer’, and ‘A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death’. He called for a ‘true revolution of values’ which required that ‘every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole’.[28]

There are those who say that it is no coincidence that it was exactly one year to the day later, that M.L. King was shot dead. With his anti-war speech in New York, and his condemnation of the American government as ‘the greatest purveyor of violence’ in the world, he had begun to extent his campaign of nonviolent protest beyond the civil rights agenda and thereby threatened powerful vested interests. The latter can best be summed up in the expression ‘the military-industrial complex’ [MIC], coined by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his farewell address in January 1961.[29] In this courageous and only too prophetic warning, Eisenhower stated that ‘an immense military establishment and a large arms industry’ had emerged as a new and hidden force in US politics. He said, ‘In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence … by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist’. The fact that the retiring President had a military background – he was a five-star general in the US army during the Second World War, and had served as the first Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe (NATO) – made his warnings all the more remarkable. Towards the end of his poignant address, Eisenhower admonished the American public that ‘disarmament … is a continuing imperative’.

That his warnings have not been heeded, and that the dangers to which he called attention have materialised, is only too obvious today. Many analysts of the MIC argue that the US does not so much have a MIC as that the whole country has become one.[30] The MIC now also incorporates Congress, Academia, the Media, and the Entertainment industry, and this widening of its powers and influence is a clear indication of the growing militarisation of American society. The empirical evidence for this is indicated by facts such as the following:

* the Pentagon is the world’s largest consumer of energy;

* the Pentagon is the country’s greatest landowner, referring to itself as ‘one of the world’s largest “landlords”’, with about 1,000 military bases and installations abroad in more than 150 countries;

* the Pentagon owns or leases 75% of all federal buildings in the US;

*the Pentagon is the 3rd largest federal funder of university research in the US (after health, and science).[31]

It is well-known that the US annual arms expenditures surpass those of the next ten or twelve countries combined. This is indeed, to quote Eisenhower, ‘disastrous’, and madness, and very dangerous madness at that. The imperative for disarmament that he stipulated has been turned into its opposite. This is all the more remarkable when one takes into account that he was speaking at the time of the Cold War, when communism was seen as a serious threat to the US and the rest of the free world. The end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union and its empire have not hampered the further expansion of the MIC, whose tentacles now encompass the whole world.

How this is perceived by the world is made clear in the results of the 2013 annual ‘End of Year’ survey by the Worldwide Independent Network of Market Research (WIN) and Gallup International which involved 68,000 people in 65 countries.[32] In answer to the question, ‘Which country do you think is the greatest threat to peace in the world today?’, the US came first by a wide margin, receiving 24% of the votes cast. This is equal to the combined votes for the next four countries: Pakistan (8%), China (6%), Afghanistan (5%) and Iran (5%). It is clear that more than twelve years after the launch of the so-called ‘Global war on terror’, the US appears to be striking terror into the hearts of much of the rest of the world. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s courageous characterisation and condemnation of his own government as being ‘the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today’ (1967) is now, almost fifty years later, shared by many people around the world.

At the same time, there has been a massive increase in the proliferation of guns held by individual citizens in the US exercising their right (which is contested) to bear arms under the Second Amendment of the Constitution. With 88 guns for every 100 people, the country has by far the highest rate of gun ownership in the world. The culture of violence seems to be deeply ingrained in American society today, and the events of 9/11 have only aggravated the problem. Martin Luther King, Jr., a student and follower of Mahatma Gandhi, exemplified the power of nonviolence in his successful leadership of the civil rights movement in the US. The US is as much in need of rediscovery his legacy as India is in need of rediscovering Gandhi’s. I am often reminded of the answer Gandhi gave to a journalist when, during a visit to England during the 1930s, he was asked what he thought about western civilisation. Gandhi’s reply has not lost any of its relevance, 80 years later, on the contrary. Gandhi answered, ‘I think it would be a good idea’. Even though the veracity of this story is disputed, it has a ring of truth – Se non e vero, e ben trovato.

The West, and the rest of the world, would indeed be a great deal more civilised if war – ‘the foulest blot upon our civilization’ in the words of Andrew Carnegie – was abolished. When he said so, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were still Japanese cities like any other. Today, the whole world is threatened by the persistence of war and the new instruments of destruction that it has brought forth and continues to develop. The old and discredited Roman saying, si vis pacem, para bellum, must be replaced by a saying which has been attributed to both Gandhi and the Quakers: There is no way to peace, peace is the way. The world is praying for peace, but paying for war. If we want peace, we must invest in peace, and that means above all in peace education. It remains to be seen to what extent the large investments in war museums and exhibitions, and in untold programmes about the Great War (such as is happening now in Britain but also elsewhere), is education about and in favour of nonviolence, non-killing, abolition of nuclear weapons. Only such a perspective would justify the extensive (as well as expensive) commemorative programmes.

Commemorations of the centenary of the First World War during the next four years provide the peace movement with many opportunities to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence which, alone, will be able to bring about a world without war.

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. –Edmund Burke

 

Peter van den Dungen

Cooperation for Peace, 11th Annual Strategy Conference, 21-22 February 2014, Cologne-Riehl

Opening remarks

(revised, 10th March 2014)

 Notes

[1] The full text of the speech is at www.gov.uk/government/speeches/speech-at-imperial-war-museum-on-first-world-war-centenary-plans

[2] Full details at www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2013/world-war-one-centenary.html

[3] Full details at www.iwm.org.uk/centenary

[4] ‘Is it 1914 all over again?’, The Independent, 5th January 2014, p. 24.

[5] Cf. her foreword in David Adesnik, 100 Years of Impact – Essays on the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Washington, D.C.: CEIP, 2011, p. 5.

[6] Ibid., p. 43.

[7] www.demilitarize.org

[8] Memoirs of Bertha von Suttner. Boston: Ginn, 1910, vol. 1, p. 343.

[9] Cf. Caroline E. Playne, Bertha von Suttner and the struggle to avert the World War. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1936,and especially the two volumes edited by Alfred H. Fried bringing together von Suttner’s regular political columns in Die Friedens-Warte (1892-1900, 1907-1914) : Der Kampf um die Vermeidung des Weltkriegs. Zurich: Orell Fuessli, 1917.

[10] Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger-ABC-CLIO, 2010. An expanded and updated edition is the Spanish translation: La voluntad de Alfred Nobel: Que pretendia realmente el Premio Nobel de la Paz? Barcelona: Icaria, 2013.

[11] London: William Heinemann, 1910. The book sold over a million copies, and was translated into 25 languages. German translations appeared under the titles Die grosse Taeuschung (Leipzig, 1911) and Die falsche Rechnung (Berlin, 1913).

[12] See, for instance, Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory. New York: Oxford University Press, 1975, pp. 12-13.

[13] Johann von Bloch, Der Krieg. Uebersetzung des russischen Werkes des Autors: Der zukuenftige Krieg in seiner technischen, volkswirthschaftlichen und politischen Bedeutung. Berlin: Puttkammer & Muehlbrecht, 1899, vol. 1, p. XV. In English, only a one-volume summary edition appeared, variously entitled Is War Now Impossible? (1899), Modern Weapons and Modern War (1900), and The Future of War (US eds.).

[14] London: Cassell, 1943. The book was published in German in Stockholm in 1944 as Die Welt von Gestern: Erinnerungen eines Europaers.

[15] New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

[16] Helmut Donat & Karl Holl, eds., Die Friedensbewegung. Organisierter Pazifismus in Deutschland, Oesterreich und in der Schweiz. Duesseldorf: ECON Taschenbuchverlag, Hermes Handlexikon, 1983, p. 14.

[17] Ibid.

[18] www.akhf.de. The organisation was founded in 1984.

[19] For a concise biography of Paasche, see the entry by Helmut Donat in Harold Josephson, ed., Biographical Dictionary of Modern Peace Leaders. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1985, pp. 721-722. See also his entry in Die Friedensbewegung, op. cit., pp. 297-298.

[20] www.carnegieherofunds.org

[21] www.nonkilling.org

[22] The text was first published in New Theatre (New York), vol. 3, no. 4, April 1936, pp. 15-30, with illustrations by George Grosz, Otto Dix, and other anti-war graphic artists.

[23] Die Barbarisierung der Luft. Berlin: Verlag der Friedens-Warte, 1912. The only translation is in Japanese, published recently on the occasion of the essay’s 100th anniversary: Osamu Itoigawa & Mitsuo Nakamura, ‘Bertha von Suttner: “Die Barbarisierung der Luft”’, pp. 93-113 in The Journal of Aichi Gakuin University – Humanities and Sciences (Nagoya), vol. 60, no. 3, 2013.

[24] For the full text see International Court of Justice, Yearbook 1995-1996. The Hague: ICJ, 1996, pp. 212-223, and Ved P. Nanda & David Krieger, Nuclear Weapons and the World Court. Ardsley, New York: Transnational Publishers, 1998, pp. 191-225.

[25] The full press statement, released by the Foreign Ministry in Vienna on 13th February 2014, can be found at www.abolition2000.org/?p=3188

[26] Martin Luther King, ‘The Quest for Peace and Justice’, pp. 246-259 in Les Prix Nobel en 1964. Stockholm: Impr. Royale P.A. Norstedt for the Nobel Foundation, 1965, at p. 247. Cf. also www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1964/king-lecture.html

[27] Clayborne Carson, ed., The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. London: Abacus, 2000. See especially ch. 30, ‘Beyond Vietnam’, pp. 333-345, at p. 338. On the significance of this speech, see also Coretta Scott King, My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1970, ch. 16, pp. 303-316.

[28] Autobiography, p. 341.

[29] www.eisenhower.archives.gov/research/online_documents/farewell_address/Reading_Copy.pdf

[30] See, for instance, Nick Turse, The Complex: How the Military Invades our Everyday Lives. London: Faber & Faber, 2009.

[31] Ibid., pp. 35-51.

[32] www.wingia.com/web/files/services/33/file/33.pdf?1394206482

President Putin’s visit to Latin America is of transcendental importance at a time when the BRICS bloc is becoming something far more than a mere trade agreement, and where Russia is playing a key global geopolitical role.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in the midst of a truly historic tour of Latin America, visiting Cuba, Nicaragua, Argentina, and then on to Brazil for the 6th BRICS Summit being held in the cities of Fortaleza and Brasilia (with a quick Sunday stopover in glorious Rio de Janeiro where he watched the final World-cup match pitting Argentina and Germany).

Stopping the Western juggernaut

Ever since the tragedy of 9/11, the US, UK and its NATO allies (plus Israel) have become a danger to the world. Over the past thirteen years we have seen the overrunning of Iraq over false American and British accusations that it was harboring weapons of mass destruction that were never found; the destruction of Libya in 2011; the wanton engineered chaos of the “Arab Spring” that set countries like Egypt back decades; the near destruction of Syria; and the decade-long threats of preventive war against Iran over its non-existent military nuclear program.

Estimates of Iraqi dead run into the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, and yet there hasn’t been one single apology from the US, UK or NATO. Today Iraq together with Libya is in the throes of civil war; Syria is slowly coming out of civil war and, most dangerously, Egypt is has fast withdrawn from its stabilizing role in the Middle East.

All thanks to Western meddling and “engineered social chaos”, which is the new form of war being waged by the US, UK, NATO (and Israel). Confronted with growing failure in the Middle East, of late they have moved on to other latitudes: Ukraine, for example.

While the Western powers had their way in Iraq and Libya, maybe in Egypt too, in Syria and Iran the US has been licking its wounds since Russia became the key counterweight against “Western Imperial Global War”. No wonder then that we are seeing them engineering social chaos in Ukraine, prompting Russia to reintegrate Crimea.

Like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, we see the US, UK, NATO (and Israel) time and again wreaking havoc in the Middle East and Central Europe; not just military violence which is always very visible as we see today with Israel’s genocidal tactics in Occupied Palestine, but also on the more subtle economic and financial fronts, ever since the Wall Street collapse of September 2008 began its ripple effect throughout the global financial and economic system.

Sadly, after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, mankind has had to deal with other more complex “walls”. In the 90’s, for example, Israel began erecting its over 800 kilometer-long, 20 meter-high “Wall of Shame” around occupied Palestine, with its humiliating checkpoints, armed soldiers, tanks, and barbed wire fences, transforming Palestine into a veritable prison; notably in the Gaza Strip which has been made into the world’s largest open-air concentration camp: a veritable “Auschwitz” in the Middle East!

Historical walls

Throughout history, some walls have been offensive – the Berlin Wall erected by the former USSR in 1961 or Israel’s on-going Wall of Shame. Others, like Wall Street, have become a symbol of the global power elite’s protecting its immoral and criminal usurer mega-bankers against the working people.

Still other walls have been defensive: the Great China Wall that kept out Northern barbarians or, in Roman times Hadrian’s Wall erected to block the uncouth and uncivilized Picts of Caledonia from attacking Rome’s efforts to slowly civilize the hordes of Barbarians then running around half-naked in that part of the world…

Today, we see how over the past eight years, a new Wall is being silently erected and has become a symbol of hope for today’s distressed world. Although not physically a wall as such and not made of “stone or bricks”, the BRICS wall is definitely in place and here to stay.

The BRICS acronym was first coined by Goldman Sachs economist Terence “Jim” O’Neill back in 2001 to describe what they (and the Pentagon) identified as emerging markets that will become dominant by 2050. In economic terms for Goldman Sachs; in geopolitical and military terms for the Pentagon and their think-tanks worries. At the time, it encompassed four very important and diverse countries: Brazil, Russia, India and China; then in 2010, South Africa joined the group adding the “S” in BRICS and thus spanning four continents.

The idea caught on fast amongst the very countries concerned which are now coming increasingly together and most definitely not under the aegis of either Goldman Sachs or the Pentagon.

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner introduces her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin (L) to Uruguay's President Jose Mujica (R) before a banquet hosted by the Argentine government in Putin's honour at the Casa Rosada presidential palace in Buenos Aires July 12, 2014.(Reuters / Argentine Presidency)Image: Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner introduces her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin (L) to Uruguay’s President Jose Mujica (R) before a banquet hosted by the Argentine government in Putin’s honour at the Casa Rosada presidential palace in Buenos Aires July 12, 2014.(Reuters / Argentine Presidency)

You’ve come a long way baby

Since its first summit in Ekaterinburg, Russia in June 2009, BRICS has progressed a long way to becoming not just another trade-block bent on economic growth in US dollar terms and according to Western economic rules and philosophy.

Quite the contrary: after a further four summits held in Brazil (April 2010), China (April 2011), India (March 2012) and South Africa (March 2013); BRICS has grown into what it is today: an increasingly consolidated geopolitical alliance of powerful countries bent on neither allowing the Western powers to call the shots in today’s world, nor to threaten them. In fact, three of those countries suffered horrible Western aggression and colonialism over the past century: India, China and South Africa. BRICS will not continue to allow the West to impose its currencies, its debt-based economic philosophy, its moral “values” and its money-dependant “democracy” on everybody.

In its 6th summit in Brazil, BRICS will address many key issues that make the Western powers nervous and edgy. For example, they have agreed to kick-off a new financial architecture obeying a totally different set of imperatives: a Contingent Reserve Agreement (shutting the door to International Monetary Fund meddling) and a New Development Bank (closing the door on the World Bank)

The IMF and World Bank were for decades the West’s financial control kingpins working for the mega bankers and promoting Washington and London’s geopolitical agendas worldwide. In 2002, the IMF went as far as promoting the idea that countries like Argentina should be declared bankrupt and their “assets liquidated” when they go into debt default, citing US Chapter 11 bankruptcy legislation as the way to go against sovereign countries.

The IMF’s track-record bringing huge social hardship to countries like Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Indonesia, Malaysia, Greece, Cyprus and even Russia is only too well known.

BRICS’s new financial institutions will be capitalized to the tune of around $200 billion equivalents (with China putting in the lion’s share of $41 billion; Russia, India and Brazil $18 billion each, and South Africa around $8 billion).

BRICS wall geopolitics

Back in 2001, Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neil never dreamed his idea would catch on in the uncanny manner that it has (uncanny for Goldman Sachs and the West, that it). After all, the people paying his salary then and now are bent on achieving exactly the opposite: making everybody bow to the IMF, the US Dollar, the FED and European Central Bank, the Euro and Goldman Sachs. As a member of Europe’s “Bruegel” think-tank led by none other than former European Central Bank chairman and Trilateral Commission/Bilderberg member Jean-Claude Trichet, they had – and have – other plans in mind.

Today, he must surely feel like Dr. Frankenstein, seeing his “monster” break loose from the chains Master Goldman Sachs backed by Big Brother Pentagon hoped to tie BRICS down with.

And a huge “monster” it is!! Today, the five BRICS countries account for 43% of the earth’s population, 23% of global GDP, 20% of global investment, and enjoy some of the highest economic growth levels in 2013 figures: China 8.2%, India 5.9%, Russia 3.7%, Brazil 3.5% and South Africa 2.8%.

Add to that the 38.5 million square kilometers of their national territories and there can be little doubt that, at this pace, 2050 will mark the Age of BRICS. By then it will no doubt have chosen another name; by then the Western powers will have to put away their haughty “carrot-and-stick” tactics, becoming more humble, more cooperative, more serene, and more human in their actions and attitudes.

BRICS today runs the risk of seeing an avalanche of membership request forms raining on its desk. Country after country is toying with the idea of joining BRICS.

(L-R) Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chinese President Xi Jinping, South African President Jacob Zuma, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Russian President Vladimir Putin applaud at a family photo session during the fifth BRICS Summit in Durban, March 27, 2013.(Reuters / Rogan Ward)Image: (L-R) Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chinese President Xi Jinping, South African President Jacob Zuma, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Russian President Vladimir Putin applaud at a family photo session during the fifth BRICS Summit in Durban, March 27, 2013.(Reuters / Rogan Ward)

Take Argentina, for example, where Mr. Putin just met with President Cristina Kirchner, signing a cooperation agreement for an Argentine nuclear power plant. Although, it’s still too early for Argentina to join BRICS, it certainly seems to be a front-runner as next member. And rightly so!

Many a South American country would do well to consider the BRICS option, especially after seeing the chaos wrought by Western “chaos engineering” in the Middle East, aka “Arab Spring”. That same chaos will eventually target South American countries not docile to US/UK interests.

Latin America’s Pacific coast countries are traditionally pro-US/UK: Chile, Colombia (whose president Juan Manuel Santos is an Americas Society Rockefeller think-tank member), Mexico, Peru which are turning into America’s beachhead against the BRICS Wall going up in South America.

Brazil: take note. Argentina: start defending yourselves! Don’t forget: since 1982 the UK and US have a nuclear base on the usurped Falkland Malvinas Islands, and since 2008 Baby Bush reactivated the 8th South Atlantic Fleet (that had lain dormant since 1953).

The grand chessboard pieces are starting to fall into place in surprising ways that even Trilateral Commission founder and ideologue (and arch anti-Russian and pro-US) geopolitical egghead Zbigniew Brzezinski, never imagined.

Maybe that’s the name of the game: starting to take the Western powers by surprise; doing things faster than they can intelligently react to; better than they can understand; subtler than they can even notice.

Argentine President Juan Domingo Peron – himself a brilliant military strategist – once remarked that the key to a good strategy rests on two S’s: Secrecy & Surprise.

BRICS’s notable on-going success seems to be doing things quite well in terms of geopolitical timing. For the Western powers, after their massive defeats in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Asia in general and, increasingly, throughout Latin America, it’s probably already too late for them to react.

They may very well have cornered themselves into a dead-end, with little or no way out… As Obama did over Syria last September.

Danger: when wild beasts are cornered they become exceptionally violent, aggressive and menacing. The West still has many wildcards: the banker over-world, embedded Pentagon extremists, controlled collapsing the US Dollar and the Euro, Israel…

Might they use any one or a combination of them to kick the grand chessboard?

Even a small “kick” can have devastating results: look at what happened exactly a century ago when the “shot heard around the world” was fired in Sarajevo.

Let’s hope the BRICS wall continues to quickly strengthen, consolidate, grow and become so formidable, that no one will dare to trespass on it.

Adrian Salbuchi is a political analyst, author, speaker and radio/TV commentator in Argentina. www.asalbuchi.com.ar. He is also the Founder of the Second Republic Project – Proyecto Segunda República.

Newly-released documents from Edward Snowden show that the British spy agency GCHQ has developed numerous offensive digital tools.

But what exactly are they doing with these dirty tricks?

We think it’s important to think through the specific possibilities, in order to gain an understanding of how pernicious these manipulations can be.

We quote verbatim (in black) the names and descriptions of some of these tools – some of which Glenn Greenwald didn’t highlight in his report.  We then provide descriptions in blue of potential misuses of such tools.

Then we discuss how likely such misuses really are.

Tools and potential misuses

Here are the actual dirty tricks in the British spy agencies toolkit, with hypothetical examples of potential misuses …

CHANGELING: Ability to spoof any email address and send email under that identity. Fake an email from a privacy advocate to make it look like he’s proposing terrorism.

SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE: Perfect spoofing of emails from Blackberry targets. Fake an email from an opponent of bank bailouts to make it look like she’s proposing bombing a bank.

BURLESQUE: The capacity to send spoofed SMS messages. Fake a message from an an anti-war pacifist to make it look like he’s advocating sabotage of a military base.

IMPERIAL BARGE : For connecting two target phone together in a call. Fake a telephone connection to make it look like an opponent of genetically modified foods spoke with a leader of Al Qaeda.

BADGER : Mass delivery of email messaging to support an Information Operations campaign. Send out a fake, mass email pretending to be from a whistleblower “admitting” that he’s mentally unstable, disgruntled, dishonest and vindictive.

WARPATH: Mass delivery of SMS messages to support an Information Operations campaign. Send out a fake, mass message pretending to be from a whistleblower “admitting” he’s a Russian spy.

SPACE ROCKET: A programme covering insertion of media into target networks. Insert a fake video calling for jihad on a the website of a moderate American Muslim lawyer.

CLEAN SWEEP Masquerade Facebook Wall Posts for individuals or entire countries. Put up a bunch of fake wall posts praising the Islamic State on the Facebook page of a reporter giving first-hand reports of what’s really happening in a country that the U.S. has targeted for regime change.

HAVOK Real-time website cloning technique allowing on-the-fly alterations. Hack the website of a state politician critical of those who ignore the Constitution and post fake calls for terrorism against Washington, D.C.

SILVERLORD: Disruption of video-based websites hosting extremist content through concerted target discovery and content removal. Disrupt websites hosting videos espousing libertarian views.

SUNBLOCK: Ability to deny functionality to send/receive email or view material online. Block the emails and web functionality of a government insider who is about to go public on wrongdoing.

ANGRY PIRATE: A tool that will permanently disable a target’s account on their computer. Disable the accounts of an activist working for clean food and water.

PREDATORS FACE: Targeted Denial Of Service against Web Servers. Take down a website which is disclosing hard-hitting information on illegal government actions.

UNDERPASS: Change outcome of online polls. Change the results of an online poll from one showing that the American people overwhelmingly oppose a new war which is unnecessary for the defense of America’s national security to showing support for it.

GATEWAY: Ability to artificially increase traffic to a website. Make a website calling for more surveillance against the American people appear hugely popular.

BOMB BAY: The capacity to increase website hits, rankings. Make it look like a hate site is popular among a targeted local population which actually despises its views.

SLIPSTREAM: Ability to inflate page views on websites. Make it appear that an article saying that the Constitution is “outdated” and “unrealistic in the post-9/11 world” is widely popular.

GESTATOR: Amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube). Make a propaganda video – saying that we should just relax and trust Big Brother – go viral.

What is the likelihood of misuse?

We don’t know which of the above hypothetically forms of misuse are actually occurring. However, as we wrote in February:

We’ve warned since 2009 (and see this) that the government could be launching cyber “false flag attacks” in order to justify a crackdown on the Internet and discredit web activists.

A new report from NBC News – based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden – appear to confirm our fears, documenting that Britain’s GCHQ spy agency has carried out cyber false flag attacks:

In another document taken from the NSA by Snowden and obtained by NBC News, a JTRIG official said the unit’s mission included computer network attacks, disruption, “Active Covert Internet Operations,” and “Covert Technical Operations.” Among the methods listed in the document were jamming phones, computers and email accounts and masquerading as an enemy in a “false flag” operation. The same document said GCHQ was increasing its emphasis on using cyber tools to attack adversaries.

Later that month, we noted:

A new report from NBC News shows that the British spy agency used “false flag attacks” and other dirty tricks:

British spies have developed “dirty tricks” for use against nations, hackers, terror groups, suspected criminals and arms dealers that include releasing computer viruses, spying on journalists and diplomats, jamming phones and computers, and using sex to lure targets into “honey traps.”

***

The agency’s goal was to “destroy, deny, degrade [and] disrupt” enemies by “discrediting” them, planting misinformation and shutting down their communications.

Sound familiar? It should:

Between 1956 and 1971, the FBI operated a program known as COINTELPRO, for Counter Intelligence Program. Its purpose was to interfere with the activities of the organizations and individuals who were its targets or, in the words of long-time FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize” them.

NBC continues:

[The agency] also uses “false flag” operations, in which British agents carry out online actions that are designed to look like they were performed by one of Britain’s adversaries.

***

JTRIG used negative information to attack private companies, sour business relationships and ruin deals.

***

Changing photos on social media sites and emailing and texting colleagues and neighbors unsavory information.

And reporter Glenn Greenwald noted that Snowden documents showed:

Western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction.

***

These agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse …. Among the core self-identified purposes … are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums.

***

The discussion of many of these techniques occurs in the context of using them in lieu of “traditional law enforcement” against people suspected (but not charged or convicted) of ordinary crimes or, more broadly still, “hacktivism”, meaning those who use online protest activity for political ends.

The title page of one of these documents reflects the agency’s own awareness that it is “pushing the boundaries” by using “cyber offensive” techniques against people who have nothing to do with terrorism or national security threats, and indeed, centrally involves law enforcement agents who investigate ordinary crimes…. no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats.

***

Then there is the use of psychology and other social sciences to not only understand, but shape and control, how online activism and discourse unfolds. Today’s newly published document touts the work of GCHQ’s “Human Science Operations Cell”, devoted to “online human intelligence” and “strategic influence and disruption”….***

Under the title “Online Covert Action”, the document details a variety of means to engage in “influence and info ops” as well as “disruption and computer net attack”, while dissecting how human beings can be manipulated using “leaders”, “trust, “obedience” and “compliance”:

The U.S. government is also spending millions to figure out how to manipulate social media to promote propaganda and stifle dissenting opinions.

And any criticism of government policies is now considered “extremist” and potential terrorism. The government also considers anyone who tries to protect himself from government oppression and to claim his Constitutional rights a “extremist”. This is not entirely new … the CIA director in 1972. Indeed – for 5,000 years straight – mass surveillance of one’s own people has always been used to crush dissent.

The NSA is now also collecting and retaining the most intimate personal details of Americans, including nude and suggestive pictures and medical and financial records … even though they admittedly have no conceivable security value.

You may think you have “nothing to hide”, but you’re breaking the law numerous times every day … without even knowing it (update).

Indeed, top NSA whistleblowers say that the NSA is blackmailing and harassing opponents with information that it has gathered – potentially even high-level politicians – just like FBI head J. Edgar Hoover blackmailed presidents and Congressmen.

Moreover, if the NSA takes a dislike to someone, it can frame them. This has been CONFIRMED by top NSA whistleblowers.

And the following facts make it likely that British and U.S. spy agencies are misusing their powers:

Postscript: We don’t know whether or not the spy agencies are misusing their bag of tricks in the specific ways discussed above (in blue).  The whole point is that they have been caught lying time and again about what they’re doing, they’re running amok with no oversight, and the fact that they could be targeting government critics shows how bad things have become.

The Israeli government has seized on Hamas’s failure to immediately observe a cease-fire about which it was never consulted as the pretext for escalating its one-sided war against the nearly two million Palestinians confined to the narrow and densely populated Gaza Strip.

Fresh Israeli air strikes Tuesday sent the Palestinian death toll in Gaza climbing to the 200 mark, with another 1,400 or more wounded. Meanwhile, the crude and mostly homemade rockets fired from Gaza in response claimed their first victim on Tuesday. A civilian was mortally wounded by shrapnel while bringing candy to Israeli troops massed at the Erez crossing between Israel and the northern end of the Gaza Strip in preparation for a possible ground invasion.

Tuesday’s deaths raised Palestinian casualties in the current Israeli onslaught higher than those recorded in the 2012 war against Gaza, which stopped short of a ground invasion. This makes it the bloodiest attack on the territory since the Zionist regime launched its Operation Cast Lead, which sent troops and tanks into the crowded territory, leaving nearly 1,500 Palestinians dead.

According to figures recorded by the United Nations, nearly 80 percent of those killed in the current operation have been civilians, including dozens of children.

The casualties Tuesday included an elderly Palestinian killed in an air strike on agricultural land in the southern area of Khan Younis and a 25-year-old who died in a drone strike in the al-Zaytoun neighborhood of eastern Gaza City. In a separate air strike on the Jabaliya refugee camp, ten people, including three children and two women, were wounded.

Tuesday’s so-called cease-fire was unilaterally decreed by the US-backed Egyptian regime of military strongman Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi following talks with the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. There were no consultations whatsoever with Hamas, whose leaders said they first learned about it from media reports.

The “cease-fire” appears to have been deliberately designed to ensure Hamas’s rejection and provide Israel with a pretext for escalating its assault. General Sisi last year overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood government of President Mohamed Mursi and organized the massacre of thousands of Brotherhood supporters. He also jailed Mursi, along with tens of thousands of others. His regime is now providing tactical support to Israel in the hopes that it will exterminate Hamas, an offshoot of the Brotherhood, and thousands of Palestinian civilians along with it.

The cease-fire proposal was striking in that it included no references whatsoever to the demands made by Hamas, which included the release of hundreds of Palestinians taken prisoner in last month’s Israeli crackdown on the West Bank, an end to the seven-year blockade of the territory and reopening of border crossings sealed by Israel and Egypt, and Israel’s respect for a cease-fire agreement brokered by the Mursi government after the Israeli war on Gaza in 2012.

In statements Tuesday, Netanyahu indicated that the Egyptian agreement would also include the “disarmament” of Gaza.

The Hamas leadership appeared divided on the issue Tuesday. Senior Hamas leader Mussa Abu Marzuk said the organization was “still in consultation” on the Egyptian cease-fire maneuver and had “yet to take an official position.” But the Hamas military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, dismissed the proposal as a “surrender” and said its “battle with the enemy continues and will increase in ferocity and intensity.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas played his usual role as a subordinate of Washington and Tel Aviv, calling for unconditional acceptance of the Egyptian proposal. He is to meet with Egyptian officials in Cairo Wednesday.

In a statement broadcast Tuesday night, Netanyahu made clear what the Egyptian proposal was intended for all along. “It would have been preferable to have solved this diplomatically, and this is what we tried to do when we accepted the Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire, but Hamas leaves us no choice but to expand and intensify the campaign against it,” he said.

He insisted that Tel Aviv’s acceptance of the cease-fire and Hamas’s rejection would lend “international legitimacy” to an escalation of the Gaza bloodbath, and that he expected “full support from the responsible members of the international community.”

First and foremost of these “responsible” nations, of course, is the United States, with the Obama administration signaling the continuation of its unqualified support for Israel in a war in which Palestinian deaths outnumber Israeli by 200 to 1.

Washington responded as expected. Secretary of State John Kerry reserved his condemnation for Hamas, blaming it for continuing to fire rockets “at the time Israel and Egypt are working in good faith to get a cease-fire.” He predicted “an even greater escalation of violence,” insisting that “Israel has the right to defend itself.” A planned trip by Kerry to Cairo to promote the cease-fire was called off as the US cleared the decks for an Israeli escalation.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest also placed the full blame on Hamas for the continued bloodshed, delivering a blank check to Tel Aviv with the statement that Israel is “entitled to take the kinds of actions that are necessary to keep their citizens safe.”

The UN aid agency for Palestinians, UNRWRA, described the death and destruction wrought thus far by the Israeli blitz as “immense.” The destruction includes attacks on Gaza’s water and sewage systems, threatening the health of the entire population.

“The level of human losses and destruction is really immense,” said UNWRA spokesman Sami Mshasha. The agency said that over 560 houses had been totally demolished, with thousands of other buildings seriously damaged. These included 47 UNRWA facilities that are housing some 17,000 people who have been forced from their homes by Israeli attacks and threats.

This number is set to rise sharply as the Israeli military late Tuesday night issued warnings to some 100,000 people in two northern Gazan areas to leave their homes or face deadly attacks. The warnings are either a criminal form of psychological warfare or the preparations for a ground offensive.

Support for such an offensive was proclaimed in bellicose terms Tuesday by Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who called for the Israeli military to “go all the way” and “end this operation when the Israeli army is in control over the whole Gaza Strip.” In an attack on Netanyahu’s delay in ordering a ground offensive, he said, “All this hesitation works against us.”

The Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar interviewed Yasser, a young man from the Khan Younis area in southern Gaza, whose entire family was massacred in an Israeli air strike. He was about to enter his home, the newspaper reported, “but the Israeli bombing got to his family before him, turning them into charred corpses and scattered carnage.”

The report continued:

“Yasser thought his eyes were deceiving him when he saw his mother Bassima (53 years old), with her legs cut off by the bombing. He was looking hysterically for the limbs and the heads of his younger siblings. In a voice full of pain and sorrow, he told Al-Akhbar:

‘Life has no meaning after this death. I don’t know how I will adapt to this harsh reality. Everyone I shared my life and my feelings with are gone and I am left alone here.’

“He wonders: ‘What objectives did the Israeli government accomplish? Killing unarmed civilians while they are sleeping is going to eradicate the seed of Resistance. On the contrary, the Resistance will grow stronger and we ask the Resistance forces to take revenge. My family’s blood is not cheap.’”

These war crimes have provoked revulsion in at least some sections of the Israeli population. Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy published a column describing Israel’s pilots as individuals who “have never seen an enemy plane coming toward them—the last aerial battle of the Israel Air Force took place before most of them were born.”

Levy continued:

“They never saw the whites of the eyes and the red blood of their victims from up close. They are heroes who are battling the weakest, most helpless people who have no air force and no aerial defense, barely even a kite… and they are now perpetrating the worst, the cruelest, the most despicable deeds.”

The column prompted threats and provoked denunciations of the columnist as a “traitor.”

Santiago, Chile

Santiago, Chile

France

Metz, France

San Francisco, USA

San Francisco, USA

Tunisia

Tunisia

Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden

Chicago

Chicago,USA

Paris, France

Paris, France

Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow, Scotland

Lebanon

Lebanon (photo:AP)

Tokyo, ,Japan

Tokyo, ,Japan

London

London

Greece

Greece

Norway

Norway

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Columbus, Ohio

Columbus, Ohio

Milan, Italy

Milan, Italy

Seattle

Seattle

Seattle

Seattle

eattle

Seattle

BuenosAires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Sydney

Sydney, Australia

Spain

Italy

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San Francisco

Bogata, Columbia

Bogota, Colombia

Chicago

Chicago, USA

Germany

Germany

Frankfurt, Germany

Frankfurt, Germany

france

France

Houston, Texas

Houston, Texas

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Dublin, Ireland

Dublin, Ireland

Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria

Montreal, Canada. Photo courtesy of Under the Olive Tree which airs on CKUT 90.3 FM every Thursday from 11am – 12 noon. Learn more at http://www.mixcloud.com/UnderTheOliveTree/.

Montreal, Canada. Photo courtesy of Under the Olive Tree which airs on CKUT 90.3 FM every Thursday from 11am – 12 noon. Learn more at http://www.mixcloud.com/UnderTheOliveTree/

New York

New York

Montreal, Canada. Photo courtesy of Under the Olive Tree which airs on CKUT 90.3 FM every Thursday from 11am – 12 noon. Learn more at http://www.mixcloud.com/UnderTheOliveTree/

Montreal, Canada. Photo courtesy of Under the Olive Tree which airs on CKUT 90.3 FM every Thursday from 11am – 12 noon. Learn more at http://www.mixcloud.com/UnderTheOliveTree/

As a matter of faith, some people believe that God can see and hear everything. But as a matter of fact, the U.S. government now has the kind of surveillance powers formerly attributed only to a supreme being.

Top “national security” officials in Washington now have the determination and tech prowess to keep tabs on billions of people. No one elected Uncle Sam to play God. But a dire shortage of democratic constraints has enabled the U.S. surveillance state to keep expanding with steely resolve.

By the time Edward Snowden used NSA documents to expose — beyond any doubt — a global surveillance dragnet, the situation had deteriorated so badly because the Bush and Obama administrations were able to dismiss earlier warnings to the public as little more than heresy.

Eight years ago, in the book “State of War,” New York Times reporter James Risen devoted a chapter to the huge expansion of surveillance. A secret decision by President Bush “has opened up America’s domestic telecommunications network to the NSA in unprecedented and deeply troubling new ways, and represents a radical shift in the accepted policies and practices of the modern U.S. intelligence community,” Risen wrote.

Risen added: “The NSA is now tapping into the heart of the nation’s telephone network through direct access to key telecommunications switches that carry many of America’s daily phone calls and e-mail messages.”

More details on the surveillance state came in 2008 with James Bamford’s book “The Shadow Factory,” which illuminated the National Security Agency’s program for “eavesdropping on America.” And in August of 2012 — nearly 10 months before Snowden’s revelations began — filmmaker Laura Poitras released a mini-documentary on the New York Times website about the NSA’s mass surveillance program.

All three journalists relied on whistleblowers who balked at the NSA’s virtual mission to see and hear everything. Both books (especially “State of War”) depended on information from unnamed sources. The short documentary focused on a public whistleblower — former NSA executive William Binney, who continues to speak out.

Testifying to a committee of the German parliament in Berlin two weeks ago, Binney — whose 30 years at the NSA included work as a high-level intelligence official – said that the NSA has a “totalitarian mentality.”

Days later, speaking at a conference in London, Binney explained: “At least 80 percent of fiber-optic cables globally go via the U.S. This is no accident and allows the U.S. to view all communication coming in. At least 80 percent of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the U.S. The NSA lies about what it stores.”

Since last summer, a backup source of strength for the voices of Binney, Thomas Drake, Kirk Wiebe and other NSA whistleblowers — the fact that Snowden has provided the public with NSA documents — is exactly what has enraged U.S. officials who want to maintain and escalate their surveillance power. Because of those unveiled documents, clarity about what the NSA is really doing has fueled opposition.

NSA surveillance proliferates in a context that goes well beyond spying. The same mentality that claims the right to cross all borders for surveillance — using the latest technologies to snoop on the most intimate communications and private actions of people across the globe — is also insisting on the prerogative to cross borders with the latest technologies to kill.

When a drone or cruise missile implements an assumed right to snuff out a life, without a semblance of due process, the presidential emulation of divine intervention is implicit.

But, in military terms, dominating the world is a prohibitively expensive goal. In the digital age, surveillance has emerged as a cost-effective way to extend the U.S. government’s global reach and put its intelligence capacities on steroids — while tens of billions of taxpayer dollars in annual revenues go to corporate contractors servicing the NSA, CIA and other agencies of the military-industrial-surveillance complex.

So the trend line continues to move in the wrong direction. Speaking last month at a news conference that launched ExposeFacts.org (part of the Institute for Public Accuracy, where I work), Binney said that in recent years the NSA’s surveillance activity has “only gotten worse.” He added: “I mean it’s almost in everything that you do. If you do anything electronically, they’re in it and they’re watching you.”

The information being collected is so vast that NSA operatives face a huge challenge of figuring out how to sift through it on such a large scale — “because they have to manually look at this data,” Binney said. “But the point is, they’re setting the stage for this to continue to the point where everybody could be monitored almost constantly throughout the day. That is an oppressive, suppressive state.”

Since last summer, revelations about NSA programs have been so profuse and complex that it’s difficult to gain an overview, to see the surveillance state’s toxic forest for the digital trees. But the macro picture has to do with a mind-blowing agenda for monitoring the people of the world.

“For me, the most significant revelation is the ambition of the United States government and its four English-speaking allies to literally eliminate privacy worldwide, which is not hyperbole,” journalist Glenn Greenwald said at a news conference three months ago. “The goal of the United States government is to collect and store every single form of electronic communication that human beings have with one another and give themselves the capacity to monitor and analyze those communications.”

Such a goal, formerly reserved for the more fundamentalist versions of God, is now firmly entrenched at the top of the U.S. government — and at the top of corporate America. As Greenwald pointed out, “There almost is no division between the private sector and the NSA, or the private sector and the Pentagon, when it comes to the American ‘national security’ state. They really are essentially one.”

Now that’s the kind of monotheism the world can do without.

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, which recently launched ExposeFacts.org. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”

Saturday, 12th July, a group called Jews Against Genocide (JAG) held a memorial service for Palestinian children killed by Israel in its current attack on Gaza. JAG set aflame to a pile of dolls covered in red paint at Yad Vashem, Israel’s holocaust memorial museum. Jews Against Genocide (JAG) is a movement of Jews from all over the world, including Israelis, who are protesting against Israel’s intent to commit genocide against the non-Jewish indigenous people of Palestine.

The Yad Vashem security guard attempted to disrupt the memorial, confiscated JAG’s fire extinguisher, and called the Israeli police to arrest the participants.

We, Jews Against Genocide, came to Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial of the genocide committed against Jews, to honor the Palestinian children who are dying in a genocide committed by Jews.

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We brought dolls to symbolise the children of Gaza, and tried to bring a glimpse of the horror that Gazan’s face, to Israel’s doorstep. We hope to show Israel, and the world, the absurd reality of using the memory of one genocide to justify another.

We invite compassionate people from across the globe to join the outcry by staging similar protests in front of Israeli embassies and consulates around the world on Tuesday 15th and Wednesday 16th July, 2014.

Just as we honor the people who were murdered seven decades ago in Europe because they were Jews, we are here to honor the people who are being murdered at this very moment because they are the indigenous people of this land who are not Jews.

The UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines Genocide as,

“any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; [...]“

The children of Gaza, who are being systematically murdered as we write this article, constitute 52% percent of the population under siege in the strip. The vast majority of these children are descendants of refugees from historical Palestine.

In the current round of atrocities committed by the Israel occupation army, so far dozens of children have been murdered in their homes, with Israel’s war-making leadership vowing “much higher costs” on the Palestinian side as the bombing and shelling continues.

The war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Gaza today are the latest stage of an ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the indigenous people of this land.

The Jewish State was founded on the Zionist principle of “maximum Jews on maximum land, and minimum Arabs on minimum land”, which was made reality through sixty-six years of continued assault against Palestinians, denying them the right to live freely and peacefully in their historical homeland.

The Israeli regime has turned the beautiful Gaza strip into a densely populated ghetto, with unsafe water, untreated sewage, and insufficient resources and electricity. This ghetto has become a concentration camp, through repeated Israeli massacres in what the Goldstone Report described as an effort to, “humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish[ing] its local economic capacity.”

We express our support and solidarity for the Palestinian civil society’s call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, until it complies with the three basic demands of:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

Jews Against Genocide (JAG)

Notes:

United Nations, preventing Genocide:http://www.un.org/en/preventgenocide/adviser/genocide_prevention.shtml

Palestinian civil society call for BDS: http://www.bdsmovement.net/call

United Nations, human rights in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/12session/A-HRC-12-48.pdf

Sixth BRICS Summit: Fortaleza Declaration

July 16th, 2014 by Global Research News

Agreed Minutes of the BRICS Ministerial MeetingOn the occasion of the signature of the Agreement on the New Development Bank, Ministers from the BRICS countries met and decided the following in relation to the future functioning of the Bank:

a)      The order of rotation of Presidents of the Bank will be India/Brazil/Russia/South Africa/China.

b)     The establishment of the first regional office in Johannesburg will be launched concurrently with the headquarters.

c)      The subsequent regional offices will be established, as needed, in Brazil, Russia and India. The second regional office will be established in Brazil.

d)     A Special Fund will be created within the Bank at the earliest, with the participation of all founding members, for the purpose of helping project preparation and implementation. China will be the largest contributor.

e)      Appointments for the staff of the Bank will be made on the principle of merit according to requirements established by the Board of Directors.

Fortaleza, 15th July, 2014

Sixth BRICS Summit – Fortaleza Declaration

1. We, the leaders of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa, met in Fortaleza, Brazil, on 15 July 2014 at the Sixth BRICS Summit. To inaugurate the second cycle of BRICS Summits, the theme chosen for our discussions was “Inclusive Growth: Sustainable Solutions”, in keeping with the inclusive macroeconomic and social policies carried out by our governments and the imperative to address challenges to humankind posed by the need to simultaneously achieve growth, inclusiveness, protection and preservation.

2. In the aftermath of the first cycle of five Summits, hosted by every BRICS member, our coordination is well established in various multilateral and plurilateral initiatives and intra-BRICS cooperation is expanding to encompass new areas. Our shared views and commitment to international law and to multilateralism, with the United Nations at its center and foundation, are widely recognized and constitute a major contribution to global peace, economic stability, social inclusion, equality, sustainable development and mutually beneficial cooperation with all countries.

3. We renew our openness to increasing engagement with  other countries, particularly developing countries and emerging market economies, as well as with international and regional organizations, with a view to fostering cooperation and solidarity in our relations with all nations and peoples. To that effect, we will hold a joint session with the leaders of the South American nations, under the theme of the Sixth BRICS Summit, with a view to furthering cooperation between BRICS and South America. We reaffirm our support for the South American integration processes, and recognize in particular the importance of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) in promoting peace and democracy in the region, and in achieving sustainable development and poverty eradication. We believe that strengthened dialogue among BRICS and South American countries can play an active role in enhancing multilateralism and international cooperation, for the promotion of peace, security, economic and social progress and sustainable development in an interdependent and increasingly complex, globalizing world.

4. Since its inception the BRICS have been guided by the overarching objectives of peace, security, development and cooperation. In this new cycle, while remaining committed to those objectives, we pledge to deepen our partnership with a renewed vision, based on openness, inclusiveness and mutually beneficial cooperation. In this sense, we are ready to explore new areas towards a comprehensive cooperation and a closer economic partnership to facilitate market inter-linkages, financial integration, infrastructure connectivity as well as people-to-people contacts.

5. The Sixth Summit takes place at a crucial juncture, as the international community assesses how to address the challenges of strong economic recovery from the global financial crises, sustainable development, including climate change, while also formulating the post-2015 Development Agenda. At the same time, we are confronted with persistent political instability and conflict in various global hotspots and non-conventional emerging threats. On the other hand, international governance structures designed within a different power configuration show increasingly evident signs of losing legitimacy and effectiveness, as transitional and ad hoc arrangements become increasingly prevalent, often at the expense of multilateralism. We believe the BRICS are an important force for incremental change and reform of current institutions towards more representative and equitable governance, capable of generating more inclusive global growth and fostering a stable, peaceful and prosperous world.

6. During the first cycle of BRICS Summits, collectively our economies have consolidated their position as the main engines for sustaining the pace of the international economy as it recovers from the recent economic and financial global crisis. The BRICS continue to contribute significantly to global growth and to the reduction of poverty in our own and other countries. Our economic growth and social inclusion policies have helped to stabilize global economy, to foster the creation of jobs, to reduce poverty, and to combat inequality, thus contributing to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. In this new cycle, besides its contribution in fostering strong, sustainable and balanced growth, BRICS will continue to play a significant role in promoting social development and in contributing to define the international agenda in this area, building on its experience in addressing the challenges of poverty and inequality.

7. To better reflect the advancement of the social policies of the BRICS and the positive impacts of its economic growth, we instruct our National Institutes of Statistics and the Ministries of Health and Education to work on the development of joint methodologies for social indicators to be incorporated in the BRICS Joint Statistical Publication. We also encourage the BRICS Think Tanks Council to provide technical support in this task. We further request the BRICS National Institutes of Statistics to discuss the viability and feasibility of a platform for the development of such methodologies and to report thereon.

8. The world economy has strengthened, with signs of improvement in some advanced economies. Significant downside risks to this recovery remain, however. Unemployment and debt levels are worryingly high and growth remains weak in many advanced economies. Emerging market economies and developing countries (EMDCs) continue to contribute significantly to global growth and will do so in the years to come. Even as the global economy strengthens, monetary policy settings in some advanced economies may bring renewed stress and volatility to financial markets and changes in monetary stance need to be carefully calibrated and clearly communicated in order to minimize negative spillovers.

9. Strong macroeconomic frameworks, well regulated financial markets and robust levels of reserves have allowed EMDCs in general, and the BRICS in particular, to better deal with the risks and spillovers presented by the challenging economic conditions in the last few years. Nevertheless, further macroeconomic coordination amongst all major economies, in particular in the G20, remains a critical factor for strengthening the prospects for a vigorous and sustainable recovery worldwide. In this context, we reaffirm our strong commitment to continue working among ourselves and with the global community to foster financial stability, support sustainable, stronger and inclusive growth and promote quality jobs. The BRICS stand ready to contribute to the G20 goal of lifting our collective GDP by more than 2 percent above the trajectory implied by current policies over the coming 5 years.

10. We commend Russia for the successful work during its presidency of the G20 in 2013. The institution of the BRICS Summits largely coincided with the beginning of the global crisis, the first G20 Summits and the consolidation of that Group as the premier forum for economic coordination among its members. As a new round of BRICS Summits begins, we remain committed to deliver constructive responses to global economic and financial challenges and to serve as a strong voice for the promotion of sustainable development, inclusive growth, financial stability and of more representative international economic governance. We will continue to pursue our fruitful coordination and to promote our development goals within the international economic system and financial architecture.

11. BRICS, as well as other EMDCs, continue to face significant financing constraints to address infrastructure gaps and sustainable development needs. With this in mind, we are pleased to announce the signing of the Agreement establishing the New Development Bank (NDB), with the purpose of mobilizing resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging and developing economies. We appreciate the work undertaken by our Finance Ministers. Based on sound banking principles, the NDB will strengthen the cooperation among our countries and will supplement the efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global development, thus contributing to our collective commitments for achieving the goal of strong, sustainable and balanced growth.

12. The Bank shall have an initial authorized capital of US$ 100 billion. The initial subscribed capital shall be of US$ 50 billion, equally shared among founding members. The first chair of the Board of Governors shall be from Russia. The first chair of the Board of Directors shall be from Brazil. The first President of the Bank shall be from India. The headquarters of the Bank shall be located in Shanghai. The New Development Bank Africa Regional Center shall be established in South Africa concurrently with the headquarters. We direct our Finance Ministers to work out the modalities for its operationalization.

13. We are pleased to announce the signing of the Treaty for the establishment of the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) with an initial size of US$ 100 billion. This arrangement will have a positive precautionary effect, help countries forestall short-term liquidity pressures, promote further BRICS cooperation, strengthen the global financial safety net and complement existing international arrangements. We appreciate the work undertaken by our Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors. The Agreement is a framework for the provision of liquidity through currency swaps in response to actual or potential short-term balance of payments pressures.

14. We also welcome the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation among BRICS Export Credit and Guarantees Agencies that will improve the support environment for increasing trade opportunities among our nations.

15. We appreciate the progress our Development Banks have made in enhancing and strengthening the financial ties among BRICS countries. Given the importance of adopting innovation initiatives, we welcome the conclusion of the Cooperation Agreement on Innovation within the BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism.

16. We recognize that there is potential for BRICS insurance and reinsurance markets to pool capacities. We direct our relevant authorities to explore avenues of cooperation in this regard.

17. We believe that sustainable development and economic growth will be facilitated by taxation of revenue generated in jurisdictions where economic activity takes place. We express our concern over the harmful impact of tax evasion, transnational fraud and aggressive tax planning on the world economy. We are aware of the challenges brought by aggressive tax avoidance and non-compliance practices. We, therefore, affirm our commitment to continue a cooperative approach on issues related to tax administrations and to enhance cooperation in the international forums targeting tax base erosion and information exchange for tax purposes. We direct our relevant authorities to explore ways of enhancing cooperation in this area. We also direct our relevant authorities to strengthen cooperation in the field of customs.

18. We remain disappointed and seriously concerned with the current non-implementation of the 2010 International Monetary Fund (IMF) reforms, which negatively impacts on the IMF’s legitimacy, credibility and effectiveness. The IMF reform process is based on high-level commitments, which already strengthened the Fund’s resources and must also lead to the modernization of its governance structure so as to better reflect the increasing weight of EMDCs in the world economy. The Fund must remain a quota-based institution. We call on the membership of the IMF to find ways to implement the 14th General Review of Quotas without further delay. We reiterate our call on the IMF to develop options to move ahead with its reform process, with a view to ensuring increased voice and representation of EMDCs, in case the 2010 reforms are not entered into force by the end of the year. We also call on the membership of the IMF to reach a final agreement on a new quota formula together with the 15th General Review of Quotas so as not to further jeopardize the postponed deadline of January 2015.

19.       We welcome the goals set by the World Bank Group to help countries end extreme poverty and to promote shared prosperity. We recognize the potential of this new strategy in support of the fulfillment of these ambitious goals by the international community. This potential will only be realized, however, if the institution and its membership effectively move towards more democratic governance structures, strengthen the Bank’s financial capacity and explore innovative ways to enhance development financing and knowledge sharing while pursuing a strong client orientation that recognizes each country’s development needs. We look forward to initiating the work on the next shareholding review at the World Bank as soon as possible in order to meet the agreed deadline of October 2015. In this sense, we call for an international financial architecture that is more conducive to overcoming development challenges. We have been very active in improving the international financial architecture through our multilateral coordination and through our financial cooperation initiatives, which will, in a complementary manner, increase the diversity and availability of resources for promoting development and ensuring stability in the global economy.

20. We are committed to raise our economic cooperation to a qualitatively new level. To achieve this, we emphasize the importance of establishing a road map for intra-BRICS economic cooperation. In this regard, we welcome the proposals for a “BRICS Economic Cooperation Strategy” and a “Framework of BRICS Closer Economic Partnership”, which lay down steps to promote intra-BRICS economic, trade and investment cooperation. Based on the documents tabled and informed by the input of the BRICS Think Tanks Council (BTTC), we instruct our Sherpas to advance discussions with a view to submit their proposal for endorsement by the next BRICS Summit.

21. We believe all countries should enjoy due rights, equal opportunities and fair participation in global economic, financial and trade affairs, recognizing that countries have different capacities and are at different levels of development. We strive for an open world economy with efficient allocation of resources, free flow of goods, and fair and orderly competition to the benefit of all. In reaffirming our support for an open, inclusive, non-discriminatory, transparent and rule-based multilateral trading system, we will continue our efforts towards the successful conclusion of the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO), following the positive results of the Ninth Ministerial Conference (MC9), held in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2013. In this context, we reaffirm our commitment to establish by the end of this year a post-Bali work program for concluding the Doha Round, based on the progress already made and in keeping with the mandate established in the Doha Development Agenda. We affirm that this work program should prioritize the issues where legally binding outcomes could not be achieved at MC9, including Public Stock-Holding for Food Security Purposes. We look forward to the implementation of the Agreement on Trade Facilitation. We call upon international partners to provide support to the poorest, most vulnerable WTO members to enable them to implement this Agreement, which should support their development objectives. We strongly support the WTO dispute settlement system as a cornerstone of the security and predictability of the multilateral trading system and we will enhance our ongoing dialogue on substantive and practical matters relating to it, including in the ongoing negotiations on WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding reform. We recognize the importance of Regional Trade Agreements, which should complement the multilateral trading system, and of keeping them open, inclusive and transparent, as well as refraining from introducing exclusive and discriminatory clauses and standards.

22. We reaffirm the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) mandate as the focal point in the UN system dedicated to consider the interrelated issues of trade, investment, finance and technology from a development perspective. UNCTAD’s mandate and work are unique and necessary to deal with the challenges of development and growth in the increasingly interdependent global economy. In congratulating UNCTAD for the 50th anniversary of its foundation in 2014, which is also the anniversary of the establishment of the Group of 77, we further reaffirm the importance of strengthening UNCTAD’s capacity to deliver on its programs of consensus building, policy dialogue, research, technical cooperation and capacity building so that it is better equipped to deliver on its development mandate.

 

23. We acknowledge the important role that State Owned Companies (SOCs) play in the economy and encourage our SOCs to continue to explore ways of cooperation, exchange of information and best practices. We also recognize the fundamental role played by small and medium-sized enterprises in the economies of our countries as major creators of jobs and wealth. We will enhance cooperation and recognize the need for strengthening intra-BRICS dialogue with a view to promote international exchange and cooperation and to foster innovation, research and development.

24. We underline that 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations (UN) and the end of the Second World War. In this connection, we support the UN to initiate and organize commemorative events to mark and pay tribute to these two historical moments in human history, and reaffirm our commitment to safeguarding a just and fair international order based on the UN Charter, maintaining world peace and security, as well as promoting human progress and development.

25. We reiterate our strong commitment to the UN as the fundamental multilateral organization entrusted with helping the international community maintain international peace and security, protect and foster human rights and promote sustainable development. The UN enjoys universal membership and is at the very center of global governance and multilateralism. We recall the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document. We reaffirm the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more representative, effective and efficient, so that it can adequately respond to global challenges. China and Russia reiterate the importance they attach to Brazil, India and South Africa’s status and role in international affairs and support their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN.

26. We recall that development and security are closely interlinked, mutually reinforcing and key to attaining sustainable peace. We reiterate our view that the establishment of sustainable peace requires a comprehensive, concerted and determined approach, based on mutual trust, mutual benefit, equity and cooperation, that addresses the root causes of conflicts, including their political, economic and social dimensions. In this context, we also stress the close interrelation between peacekeeping and peacebuilding. We also highlight the importance of bringing gender perspectives to conflict prevention and resolution, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts.

27. We will continue our joint efforts in coordinating positions and acting on shared interests on global peace and security issues for the common well-being of humanity. We stress our commitment to the sustainable and peaceful settlement of disputes, according to the principles and purposes of the UN Charter. We condemn unilateral military interventions and economic sanctions in violation of international law and universally recognized norms of international relations. Bearing this in mind, we emphasize the unique importance of the indivisible nature of security, and that no State should strengthen its security at the expense of the security of others.

28. We agree to continue to treat all human rights, including the right to development, in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and with the same emphasis. We will foster dialogue and cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual respect in the field of human rights, both within BRICS and in multilateral fora – including the United Nations Human Rights Council where all BRICS serve as members in 2014 – taking into account the necessity to promote, protect and fulfill human rights in a non-selective, non-politicized and constructive manner, and without double standards.

29. We commend the efforts made by the United Nations, the African Union (AU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP), among others, in support for the realization of legislative and presidential elections in Guinea Bissau, paving the way for the return to constitutional democracy in the country. We recognize the importance of promoting long-term political stability in Guinea-Bissau, which necessarily encompasses measures to reduce food insecurity and to advance a comprehensive security sector reform, as proposed by the Guinea-Bissau Configuration of the UN Peacebuilding Commission. Similarly, we also welcome the efforts of the UN, AU and Southern African Development Community (SADC) in support of legislative and presidential elections in Madagascar, assisting in the return of constitutional democracy in the country.

30. We commend the efforts of the international community in addressing instability in Africa through engagement with, and coordination by, the AU and its Peace and Security Council. We express our deep concern at the deterioration of the security and the humanitarian situation in West Africa. We call upon all parties in these conflicts to cease hostilities, exercise restraint and engage in dialogue to ensure return to peace and stability. However, we also note the progress that has been made in areas of the region in addressing political and security challenges.

31. We also express our concern with the plight of the abducted women and children of Chibok and call for an end to the continued terrorist acts perpetrated by Boko Haram.

32. We support the efforts of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in its task to help the Government of Mali fully stabilize the country, facilitate national political dialogue, protect civilians, monitor the human rights situation, create conditions for the provision of humanitarian assistance and the return of displaced persons, and extend the State authority in the whole country. We emphasize the importance of an inclusive political process; the immediate implementation of a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process; and political, economic and social development in order for Mali to achieve sustainable peace and stability.

33. We express our concern about the ongoing political and humanitarian crises in South Sudan. We condemn the continuation of violence against civilians and call upon all parties to ensure a safe environment for the delivery of humanitarian assistance. We also condemn the continuation of confrontations despite the successive commitments to the cessation of hostilities and express our belief that a sustainable solution to the crisis is only possible through an inclusive political dialogue aimed at national reconciliation. We support, in this regard, the regional efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis, especially the mediation process led by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). We welcome the “Agreement to Resolve the Crisis in South Sudan”, signed on May 9, and expect the political leaders of South Sudan to remain committed to the negotiation process and to the completion of dialogue on the formation of a transitional government of national unity within 60 days, as announced by IGAD on June 10. We commend the efforts of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan to fulfill its mandate and express our deep concern about the armed attacks that were led against UN bases in the country.

34. We reiterate our grave concern with the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR). We strongly condemn the abuses and acts of violence against the civilian population, including sectarian violence, and urge all armed groups to cease hostilities immediately. We recognize the efforts of the Economic Community of Central African States and the AU to restore peace and stability in the country. We commend the establishment of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA). We express our support for a successful transition from the African-led International Support Mission to the CAR (MISCA) to MINUSCA by 15 September 2014. We urge the transitional authorities in the CAR to adhere strictly to the N’Djamena Roadmap. We call upon all parties to allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access to those in need. We reaffirm our readiness to work with the international community to assist the CAR in accelerating the implementation of the political process of the country.

35. We support the efforts by the UN, in particular the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), deployed under UN Security Council resolution 2098, and the regional and sub-regional organizations to bring peace and stability to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and we call upon all involved to honor their obligations in order to achieve lasting peace and stability in the DRC.

36. We welcome the AU Malabo Summit decision to establish an interim African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC) by October 2014 to respond quickly to crisis situations as they arise. We stress the importance of adequate support to ensure the timely operationalization of the ACIRC, pending the final establishment of the African Stand-by Force.

37. We express deep concern about the ongoing violence and the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Syria and condemn the increasing violations of human rights by all parties. We reiterate our view that there is no military solution to the conflict, and highlight the need to avoid its further militarization. We call upon all parties to commit immediately to a complete cease-fire, to halt violence and to allow and facilitate immediate, safe, full and unimpeded access for humanitarian organizations and agencies, in compliance with the UN Security Council resolution 2139. We recognize practical steps undertaken by the Syrian parties in implementing its requirements, including the practice of local cease-fire agreements reached between the Syrian authorities and the opposition forces.

We reiterate our condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, wherever it occurs. We are gravely concerned at the continued threat of terrorism and extremism in Syria. We call on all Syrian parties to commit to putting an end to terrorist acts perpetrated by Al-Qaeda, its affiliates and other terrorist organizations.

We strongly condemn the use of chemical weapons in any circumstances. We welcome the decision of the Syrian Arab Republic to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention. In accordance with related Organization for the Proscription of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Executive Council decisions and UN Security Council resolution 2118, we reiterate the importance of the complete removal and elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons. We commend the progress in that regard and welcome the announcement that the removal of declared chemicals from the Syrian Arab Republic was completed. We call on all Syrian parties and interested external actors with relevant capabilities to work closely together and with the OPCW and the UN to arrange for the security of the monitoring and destruction mission in its final stage.

We support the mediation role played by the UN. We appreciate the contribution made by former Joint UN – Arab League Special Representative for Syria, Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, and welcome the appointment of Mr. Staffan De Mistura as UN Special Envoy to Syria, and express our hope for his active efforts to promote an early resumption of comprehensive negotiations.  We recall that national dialogue and reconciliation are key to the political solution for the Syrian crisis. We take note of the recent Syrian presidential elections. We stress that only an inclusive political process, led by the Syrians, as recommended in the Action Group on Syria Final Communiqué of 2012, will lead to peace, effective protection of civilians, the realization of the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian society for freedom and prosperity and respect for Syrian independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty. We emphasize that a national reconciliation process needs to be launched as early as possible, in the interest of the national unity of Syria. To that end, we urge all parties in Syria to demonstrate political will, enhance mutual understanding, exercise restraint and commit to seeking common ground in accommodating their differences.

38. We reaffirm our commitment to contribute to a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict on the basis of the universally recognized international legal framework, including the relevant UN resolutions, the Madrid Principles and the Arab Peace Initiative. We believe that the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a fundamental component for building a sustainable peace in the Middle East. We call upon Israel and Palestine to resume negotiations leading to a two-State solution with a contiguous and economically viable Palestinian State existing side by side in peace with Israel, within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders based on the 4 June 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital. We oppose the continuous construction and expansion of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories by the Israeli Government, which violates international law, gravely undermines peace efforts and threatens the viability of the two-State solution. We welcome recent efforts to achieve intra-Palestinian unity, including the formation of a national unity government and steps towards conducting general elections, which is key element to consolidate a democratic and sustainable Palestinian State, and call on the parties to fully commit to the obligations assumed by Palestine. We call on the UN Security Council to fully exercise its functions under the UN Charter with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We recall with satisfaction the decision of the UN General Assembly to proclaim 2014 the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, welcome the efforts of UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in providing assistance and protection for Palestine refugees and encourage the international community to continue to support the activities of the agency.

39. We express our support for the convening, at the earliest possible date, of the Conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction. We call upon all states of the region to attend the Conference and to engage constructively and in a pragmatic manner with a view to advancing that goal.

40. Noting the open-ended consultations on a draft International Code of Conduct on Outer Space Activities, and the active and constructive engagement of our countries in these consultations, we call for an inclusive and consensus-based multilateral negotiation to be conducted within the framework of the UN without specific deadlines in order to reach a balanced outcome that addresses the needs and reflects the concerns of all participants. Reaffirming our will that the exploration and use of outer space shall be for peaceful purposes, we stress that negotiations for the conclusion of an international agreement or agreements to prevent an arms race in outer space remain a priority task of the Conference on Disarmament, and welcome the introduction by China and Russia of the updated draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects.

41. While reiterating our view that there is no alternative to a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, we reaffirm our support to its resolution through political and diplomatic means and dialogue. In this context, we welcome the positive momentum generated by talks between Iran and the E3+3 and encourage the thorough implementation of the Geneva Joint Plan of Action of 24 November 2013, with a view to achieving a comprehensive and long-lasting solution to this issue. We also encourage Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to continue strengthening their cooperation and dialogue on the basis of the Joint Statement signed on 11 November 2013. We recognize Iran’s inalienable right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy in a manner consistent with its international obligations.

42. Recognizing that peace, security and development are closely interlinked, we reaffirm that Afghanistan needs time, development assistance and cooperation, preferential access to world markets and foreign investment to attain lasting peace and stability. We support the commitment of the international community to remain engaged in Afghanistan during the transformation decade (2015-2024), as enunciated at the Bonn International Conference in December 2011. We stress that the UN should play an increasingly important role in assisting Afghanistan’s national reconciliation, recovery and economic reconstruction. We also reaffirm our commitment to support Afghanistan’s emergence as a peaceful, stable and democratic state, free of terrorism and extremism, and underscore the need for more effective regional and international cooperation for the stabilization of Afghanistan, including by combating terrorism. We extend support to the efforts aimed at combating illicit traffic in opiates originating in Afghanistan within the framework of the Paris Pact. We expect a broad-based and inclusive peace process in Afghanistan which is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. We welcome the second round of the presidential elections in Afghanistan which contribute to the democratic transfer of power in this country. We welcome China’s offer to host the Fourth Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference in August 2014.

43. We are deeply concerned by the situation in Iraq. We strongly support the Iraqi government in its effort to overcome the crisis, uphold national sovereignty and territorial integrity. We are concerned about spillover effects of the instability in Iraq resulting from increased terrorist activities in the region, and urge all parties to address the terrorist threat in a consistent manner. We urge all regional and global players to refrain from interference that will further deepen the crisis and to support the Iraqi government and the people of Iraq in their efforts to overcome the crisis, and build a stable, inclusive and united Iraq. We emphasize the importance of national reconciliation and unity in Iraq, taking into consideration the wars and conflicts the Iraqi people have sufferedand in this context we commend the peaceful and orderly holding of the latest parliamentary elections.

44. We express our deep concern with the situation in Ukraine. We call for a comprehensive dialogue, the de-escalation of the conflict and restraint from all the actors involved, with a view to finding a peaceful political solution, in full compliance with the UN Charter and universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms.

45. We reaffirm our commitment to continue to tackle transnational organized crime, with full respect for human rights, in order to reduce the negative impact it has on individuals and societies. We encourage joint efforts aimed at preventing and combating transnational criminal activities in accordance with national legislations and international legal instruments, especially the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. In this regard, we welcome BRICS cooperation in multilateral fora, highlighting our engagement in the ECOSOC Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

46. Piracy and armed robbery at sea are complex phenomena that must be fought effectively in a comprehensive and integrated manner. We welcome the efforts made by the international community to counter maritime piracy and call upon all stakeholders – civilian and military, public and private – to remain engaged in the fight against this phenomenon.  We also highlight the need for a transparent and objective review of the High Risk Areas, with a view to avoiding unnecessary negative effects on the economy and security of coastal states.  We commit to strengthen our cooperation on this serious issue.

47. We are deeply concerned by the world drug problem, which continues to threaten public health, safety and well-being and to undermine social, economic and political stability and sustainable development. We are committed to countering the world drug problem, which remains a common and shared responsibility, through an integrated, multidisciplinary, mutually reinforcing and balanced approach to supply and demand reduction strategies, in line with the three UN drug conventions and other relevant norms and principles of international law. We welcome the substantive work done by Russia in preparing and hosting the International Ministers Meeting on 15 May 2014 to discuss the world drug problem. We take note of the proposal for the creation of an Anti-Drug Working Group presented at the Second Meeting of BRICS Heads of Drug Control Agencies.

48. We reiterate our strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and stress that there can be no justification, whatsoever, for any acts of terrorism, whether based upon ideological, religious, political, racial, ethnic, or any other justification. We call upon all entities to refrain from financing, encouraging, providing training for or otherwise supporting terrorist activities. We believe that the UN has a central role in coordinating international action against terrorism, which must be conducted in accordance with international law, including the UN Charter, and with respect to human rights and fundamental freedoms. In this context, we reaffirm our commitment to the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. We express our concern at the increasing use, in a globalized society, by terrorists and their supporters, of information and communications technologies (ICTs), in particular the Internet and other media, and reiterate that such technologies can be powerful tools in countering the spread of terrorism, including by promoting tolerance and dialogue among peoples. We will continue to work together to conclude as soon as possible negotiations and to adopt in the UN General Assembly the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. We also stress the need to promote cooperation among our countries in preventing terrorism, especially in the context of major events.

49. We believe that ICTs should provide instruments to foster sustainable economic progress and social inclusion, working together with the ICT industry, civil society and academia in order to realize the ICT-related potential opportunities and benefits for all. We agree that particular attention should be given to young people and to small and medium-sized enterprises, with a view to promoting international exchange and cooperation, as well as to fostering innovation, ICT research and development. We agree that the use and development of ICTs through international cooperation and universally accepted norms and principles of international law is of paramount importance, in order to ensure a peaceful, secure and open digital and Internet space. We strongly condemn acts of mass electronic surveillance and data collection of individuals all over the world, as well as violation of the sovereignty of States and of human rights, in particular the right to privacy. We take note of the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet, held in São Paulo, on 23-24 April 2014. We thank Brazil for having organized it.

50. We will explore cooperation on combating cybercrimes and we also recommit to the negotiation of a universal legally binding instrument in that field. We consider that the UN has a central role in this matter. We agree it is necessary to preserve ICTs, particularly the Internet, as an instrument of peace and development and to prevent its use as a weapon. Moreover, we commit ourselves to working together in order to identify possibilities of developing joint activities to address common security concerns in the use of ICTs. We reiterate the common approach set forth in the eThekwini Declaration about the importance of security in the use of ICTs. We welcome the decision of the National Security Advisors to establish a group of experts of BRICS member States which will elaborate practical proposals concerning major fields of cooperation and coordinate our positions in international fora. Bearing in mind the significance of these issues, we take note of Russia’s proposal of a BRICS agreement on cooperation in this field to be jointly elaborated.

51. We reiterate our commitment to the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity and its Protocols, with special attention to the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Targets. We recognize the challenge posed by the agreed targets on conservation of biodiversity and reaffirm the need to implement the decisions on resource mobilization agreed to by all parties in Hyderabad in 2012, and set resource mobilization targets that are ambitious in order to allow for their fulfillment.

52. Acknowledging that climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humankind, we call on all countries to build upon the decisions adopted in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) with a view to reaching a successful conclusion by 2015, of negotiations on the development of a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties, in accordance with the principles and provisions of UNFCCC, in particular the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. In this regard, we reiterate our support to the Presidency of the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties and the 10th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, to be held in Lima, Peru, in December 2014. We also note the convening of the UN Climate Summit 2014 to be held this September.

53. While bearing in mind that fossil fuel remains one of the major sources of energy, we reiterate our belief that renewable and clean energy, research and development of new technologies and energy efficiency, can constitute an important driver to promote sustainable development, create new economic growth, reduce energy costs and increase the efficiency in the use of natural resources. Considering the dynamic link between renewable and clean energy and sustainable development, we reaffirm the importance of continuing international efforts aimed at promoting the deployment of renewable and clean energy and energy efficiency technologies, taking into account national policies, priorities and resources. We stand for strengthening international cooperation to promote renewable and clean energy and to universalize energy access, which is of great importance to improving the standard of living of our peoples.

54. We are committed to working towards an inclusive, transparent and participative intergovernmental process for building a universal and integrated development agenda with poverty eradication as the central and overarching objective. The agenda should integrate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in a balanced and comprehensive manner with concise, implementable and measurable goals, taking into account differing national realities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities. The Post-2015 Development Agenda must also be based on and fully respect all Rio principles on sustainable development, including the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. We welcome the outcome document of the UN General Assembly Special Event on the Millennium Development Goals, which decided to launch an intergovernmental process at the beginning of the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly that will lead to the adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

55. We reiterate our commitment to the UN General Assembly Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to working together to achieve a consensual and ambitious proposal on SDGs. We emphasize the importance of the work by the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing and highlight the need for an effective sustainable development financing strategy to facilitate the mobilization of resources in achieving sustainable development objectives and supporting developing countries in the implementation efforts, with ODA as a major source of financing. We support the creation of a facilitation mechanism for the development, transfer and dissemination of clean and environmentally sound technologies and call for the establishment of a working group within the UN on this proposal, taking into account the Rio+20 outcome document and the Secretary General’s reports on the issue. In this regard, we reaffirm that the outcome of each of these processes can contribute to the formulation of Sustainable Development Goals.

56. We recognize the strategic importance of education for sustainable development and inclusive economic growth. We reaffirm our commitment to accelerating progress in attaining the Education for All goals and education-related Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and stress that the development agenda beyond 2015 should build on these goals to ensure equitable, inclusive and quality education and lifelong learning for all. We are willing to strengthen intra-BRICS cooperation in the area and welcome the meeting of Ministers of Education held in Paris, in November 2013. We intend to continue cooperation with relevant international organizations. We encourage the initiative to establish the BRICS Network University.

57. In March 2014 we agreed to collaborate through dialogue, cooperation, sharing of experiences and capacity building on population related matters of mutual concern to member states. We recognize the vital importance of the demographic dividend that many of us possess to advance our sustainable development as well as the need to integrate population factors into national development plans, and to promote a long-term balanced population and development. The demographic transition and post-transition challenges, including population ageing and mortality reduction are amongst the most important challenges facing the world today. We confirm our strong commitment to address social issues in general and in particular gender inequality, women’s rights and issues facing young people and we reaffirm our determination to ensure sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights for all.

58. We recognize that corruption negatively affects sustainable economic growth, poverty reduction and financial stability. We are committed to combat domestic and foreign bribery, and strengthen international cooperation, including law enforcement cooperation, in accordance with multilaterally established principles and norms, especially the UN Convention Against Corruption.

59. Considering the link between culture and sustainable development, as well as the role of cultural diplomacy as a promoter of understanding between peoples, we will encourage cooperation between BRICS countries in the cultural sector, including on the multilateral basis. Recognizing the contribution and the benefits of cultural exchanges and cooperation in enhancing our mutual understanding and friendship, we will actively promote greater awareness, understanding and appreciation of each other’s arts and culture. In this regard, we ask our relevant authorities responsible for culture to explore areas of practical cooperation, including to expedite negotiations on the draft agreement on cultural cooperation.

60. We are pleased with progress in implementing the eThekwini Action Plan, which further enhanced our cooperation and unleashed greater potential for our development. In this regard, we commend South Africa for the full implementation of the eThekwini Action Plan.

61. We are committed to promoting agricultural cooperation and to exchange information regarding strategies for ensuring access to food for the most vulnerable population, reduction of negative impact of climate change on food security and adaptation of agriculture to climate change. We recall with satisfaction the decision of UN General Assembly to declare 2014 the International Year of Family Farming.

62. We take note of the following meetings which were held in preparation for this Summit:

- Third BRICS Think Tanks Council (BTTC);

- Third BRICS Business Council;

- Sixth Academic Forum;

- Fifth Business Forum;

- Fourth Financial Forum.

63. We welcome the outcomes of the meeting of the BRICS Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors and endorse the Joint Communiqué of the Meeting of the BRICS Trade Ministers held in preparation for the Summit.

64. The 5th edition of the BRICS Business Forum provided an opportunity for match-making and for in-depth discussion of highly relevant issues of the trade and investment agenda. We welcome the meeting of the BRICS Business Council and commend it for its Annual Report 2013/2014. We encourage the respective business communities to follow-up the initiatives proposed and to deepen dialogue and cooperation in the five areas dealt with by the Industry/Sector Working Groups with a view to intensifying trade and investment flows amongst BRICS countries as well as between BRICS and other partners around the world.

65. We reiterate our commitment made during the BRICS Leaders-Africa Retreat at the 5th BRICS Summit to foster and develop BRICS-Africa cooperation in support of the socioeconomic development of Africa, particularly with regard to infrastructure development and industrialization. We welcome the inclusion of these issues in discussions during the BRICS Business Council Meeting, held in Johannesburg in August 2013.

66. We welcome the BTTC Study “Towards a Long-Term Strategy for BRICS: Recommendations by the BTTC”. We acknowledge the decision taken by the BTTC, taken at its Rio de Janeiro meeting in March 2014 to focus its work on the five pillars upon which the BRICS long-term strategy for cooperation will rest. The BTTC is encouraged to develop strategic pathways and action plans that will lead to the realization of this long-term strategy.

67. We welcome the holding of the first Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Science, Technology and Innovation and the Cape Town Declaration, which is aimed at: (i) strengthening cooperation in science, technology and innovation; (ii) addressing common global and regional socio-economic challenges utilizing shared experiences and complementarities; (iii) co-generating new knowledge and innovative products, services and processes utilizing appropriate funding and investment instruments; and (iv) promoting, where appropriate, joint BRICS partnerships with other strategic actors in the developing world. We instruct the BRICS Ministers of Science and Technology to sign at their next meeting the Memorandum of Understanding on Science, Technology and Innovation, which provides a strategic framework for cooperation in this field.

68. We welcome the establishment of the BRICS Information Sharing and Exchange Platform, which seeks to facilitate trade and investment cooperation.

69. We will continue to improve competition policy and enforcement, undertake actions to address challenges that BRICS Competition Authorities face and further enable competitive environments in order to enhance contributions to economic growth in our economies. We note South Africa’s offer to host the 4th Meeting of BRICS Competition Authorities in 2015.

70. We reiterate our commitment to fostering our partnership for common development. To this end, we adopt the Fortaleza Action Plan.

71. Russia, India, China and South Africa extend their warm appreciation to the Government and people of Brazil for hosting the Sixth BRICS Summit in Fortaleza.

72. Brazil, India, China and South Africa convey their appreciation to Russia for its offer to host the Seventh BRICS Summit in 2015 in the city of Ufa and extend their full support to that end.

Fortaleza Action Plan

1. Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs / International Relations on the margins of UN General Assembly.

2. Meeting of BRICS National Security Advisors.

3. Mid-term meeting of BRICS Sherpas and Sous-Sherpas.

4. Meetings of BRICS Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors on the margins of G20 meetings, WB/IMF meetings, as well as stand-alone meetings, as required.

5. Meetings of BRICS Trade Ministers on the margin of multilateral events, or stand-alone meetings, as required.

6. Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Agriculture and Agrarian Development, preceded by the Meeting of BRICS Agricultural Cooperation Working Group.

7. Meeting of BRICS Health Ministers.

8. Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Science, Technology and Innovation.

9. Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Education.

10. Meeting of Ministers or Senior Officials responsible for social security, on the margins of a multilateral meeting.

11. BRICS Seminar of Officials and Experts on Population Matters.

12. Meeting of BRICS Cooperatives (held in Curitiba on 14-16 May 2014).

13. Meetings of financial and fiscal authorities on the margins of WB/IMF meetings as well as stand-alone meetings, as required.

14. Meetings of the BRICS Contact Group on Economic and Trade Issues (CGETI).

15. Meeting of the BRICS Friendship Cities and Local Governments Cooperation Forum.

16. Meeting of the BRICS Urbanization Forum.

17. Meeting of BRICS Competition Authorities in 2015 in South Africa.

18. Meeting of BRICS Heads of National Statistical Institutions.

19. Meeting of Anti-Drug Experts.

20. Meeting of BRICS Experts on Anti-corruption cooperation, on the margins of a multilateral meeting

21. Consultations amongst BRICS Permanent Missions and/or Embassies, as appropriate, in New York, Vienna, Rome, Paris, Washington, Nairobi and Geneva, where appropriate.

22. Consultative meeting of BRICS Senior Officials on the margins of relevant sustainable development, environment and climate related international fora, where appropriate.

23. Sports and Mega Sporting Events.

New areas of cooperation to be explored

- Mutual recognition of Higher Education Degrees and Diplomas;

- Labor and Employment, Social Security, Social Inclusion Public Policies;

- Foreign Policy Planning Dialogue;

- Insurance and reinsurance;

- Seminar of Experts on E-commerce.

The 4th Meeting of the BRICS Trade Ministers – Joint Communiqué – Fortaleza, 14 July 2014

The Ministers responsible for trade of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa met in Fortaleza, Brazil, on 14 July 2014, on the eve of the Sixth BRICS Summit.

Global economic developments and their impact on trade and investment

1. The BRICS Trade Ministers reviewed the global economic situation and expressed concern at the slow pace of recovery, which continues to hinder trade and investment flows. They noted that the uncertainty regarding economic growth and policy responses in developed countries could lead to increased volatility in financial markets and further affect the international economy. They emphasized that updating international governance structures remains a necessity for better policy coordination and for the promotion of global economic prosperity.

2. The Ministers expressed their confidence that, in spite of the challenging economic environment, the BRICS countries will continue to contribute to the global economic recovery. They welcomed the expansion of trade and investment among the BRICS countries and vowed to continue to work to further strengthen their economic relations. In this context, they reaffirmed their commitment to refrain from trade protectionist measures that are incompatible with WTO obligations, while respecting the special and differential treatment for developing countries.

Current state of play in the WTO and the way forward

3. The BRICS Trade Ministers noted the succesful outcome of the WTO Ministerial Conference held in Bali in December 2013. They undertook to pursue vigourously the achievement of the objectives and timelines set out in the Bali Ministerial decisions. They reaffirmed the importance of an open and rules-based multilateral trading system and underlined the central role of the WTO in setting rules for global trade.

4. The Ministers emphasized that the conclusion of the Doha Round on the basis of its development mandate remains central to the objective of promoting the full integration of developing countries into the global trading system.

5. The Ministers affirmed their commitment to coordinate efforts with a view to ensuring that the efforts to establish a work programme in the WTO will lead to a balanced, transparent, inclusive and development-oriented outcome in all pillars. The Ministers also reaffirmed that the work programme should reflect the centrality of agriculture and of the development dimension and the commitment to prioritise the issues where legally-binding outcomes could not be achieved at the Bali Ministerial Conference. The Ministers also noted the importance of NAMA and services and the need to work on the existing Doha texts.

BRICS cooperation on trade and investment matters

6. The Ministers noted that trade and investment make a vital contribution to the creation of jobs and to the promotion of strong, sustainable and balanced growth and development.

7. The Ministers welcomed the Joint Trade Study prepared by the Contact Group for Economic and Trade Issues (CGETI). The Study makes important recommendations for promoting value-added exports among our countries and ensuring that intra-BRICS trade is more sustainable. They have noted the Report and instructed the CGETI to continue working on its recommendations.

8. The Ministers took note of the discussions in the CGETI on a range of actions to foster economic cooperation and to promote trade and investment between the BRICS.

9. The Ministers endorsed the BRICS Trade and Investment Facilitation Action Plan developed by the CGETI. They noted that it built upon the BRICS Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework and encouraged BRICS members to implement it on a voluntary basis.

10. The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of a continued dialogue on international investment agreements. They noted the principles outlined in the document “A BRICS Perspective on International Investment Agreements” as a voluntary reference for countries to advance a more balanced approach to investment treaties.

11. The Ministers emphasized the importance of strengthening intra-BRICS cooperation in e-commerce, with a view to extending the opportunities for intra-BRICS trade and enhancing closer economic cooperation. They welcomed the proposal to establish a BRICS Expert Dialogue on Electronic Commerce. They instructed the CGETI to elaborate terms of reference for the Expert Dialogue.

12. The Ministers acknowledged the documents “BRICS Economic Cooperation Strategy” and “Framework of BRICS Closer Economic Partnership” and welcomed the efforts to establish guidelines for a coordinated approach to economic cooperation among the BRICS, especially on trade and investment.

13. The Ministers highlighted the potential for forging closer links between the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) of the BRICS. They instructed their officials to explore ways to promote cooperation in this field, such as sharing information on the MSME regulatory framework, promoting business to business contacts and identifying the appropriate institutional framework for MSME cooperation.

Gaza, il gas nel mirino

July 16th, 2014 by Manlio Dinucci

Per capire qual è uno degli obiettivi dell’attacco israeliano a Gaza bisogna andare in profondità, esattamente a 600 metri sotto il livello del mare, 30 km al largo delle sue coste. Qui, nelle acque territoriali palestinesi, c’è un grosso giacimento di gas naturale, Gaza Marine, stimato in 30 miliardi di metri cubi del valore di miliardi di dollari. Altri giacimenti di gas e petrolio, secondo una carta redatta dalla U.S. Geological Survey (agenzia del governo degli Stati uniti), si trovano sulla terraferma a Gaza e in Cisgiordania. Nel 1999, con un accordo firmato da Yasser Arafat, l’Autorità palestinese affida lo sfruttamento di Gaza Marine a un consorzio formato da British Gas Group e Consolidated Contractors (compagnia privata palestinese), rispettivamente col 60% e il 30% delle quote, nel quale il Fondo d’investimento dell’Autorità ha una quota del 10%. Vengono perforatidue pozzi, Gaza Marine-1 e Gaza Marine-2. Essi però non entrano mai in funzione, poiché sono bloccati da Israele, che pretende di avere tutto il gas a prezzi stracciati. Tramite l’ex premier Tony Blair, inviato del  «Quartetto per il Medio Oriente», viene preparato un accordo con Israele che toglie ai palestinesi i tre quarti dei futuri introiti del gas, versando la parte loro spettante in un conto internazionale controllato da Washington e Londra. Ma, subito dopo aver vinto le elezioni nel 2006, Hamas rifiuta l’accordo, definendolo un furto, e chiede una sua rinegoziazione. Nel 2007, l’attuale ministro della difesa israeliano Moshe Ya’alon avverte che «il gas non può essere estratto senza una operazione militare che sradichi il controllo di Hamas a Gaza». Nel 2008, Israele lancia l’operazione «Piombo Fuso» contro Gaza. Nel settembre 2012 l’Autorità palestinese annuncia che, nonostante l’opposizione di Hamas, ha ripreso i negoziati sul gas con Israele. Due mesi dopo, l’ammissione della Palestina all’Onu quale «Stato osservatore non membro»  rafforza la posizione dell’Autorità palestinese nei negoziati. Gaza Marine resta però bloccato, impedendo ai palestinesi di sfruttare la ricchezza naturale di cui dispongono. A questo punto l’Autorità palestinese imbocca un’altra strada. Il 23 gennaio 2014, nell’incontro del presidente palestinese Abbas col presidente russo Putin, viene discussa la possibilità di affidare alla russa Gazprom lo sfruttamento del giacimento di gas nelle acque di Gaza. Lo annuncia l’agenzia Itar-Tass, sottolineando che Russia e Palestina intendono rafforzare la cooperazione nel settore energetico. In tale quadro, oltre allo sfruttamento del giacimento di Gaza, si prevede quello di un giacimento petrolifero nei pressi della città palestinese di Ramallah in Cisgiordania. Nella stessa zona, la società russa Technopromexport è pronta a partecipare alla costruzione di un impianto termoelettrico della potenza di 200 MW. La formazione del nuovo governo palestinese di unità nazionale, il 2 giugno 2014, rafforza la possibilità che l’accordo tra Palestina e Russia vada in porto. Dieci giorni dopo, il 12 giugno, avviene il rapimento dei tre giovani israeliani, che vengono trovati uccisi il 30 giugno: il puntuale casus belli che innesca l’operazione «Barriera protettiva» contro Gaza. Operazione che rientra nella strategia di Tel Aviv, mirante a impadronirsi anche delle riserve energetiche dell’intero Bacino di levante, comprese quelle palestinesi, libanesi e siriane, e in quella di Washington che, sostenendo Israele, mira al controllo dell’intero Medio Oriente, impedendo che la Russia riacquisti influenza nella regione. Una miscela esplosiva, le cui vittime sono ancora una volta i palestinesi.  

Manlio Dinucci

US-NATO Diplomats at United Nations Security Council Resort to Slander in Response to Shameful Fact

Backflash to 1971

Washington D.C. White House tape recordings, April 25, 1971:

President Nixon: “How many did we kill in Laos?”
National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger: “In the Laotian thing, we killed about ten, fifteen thousand”

President Nixon: “See, the attack in the North Vietnam that we have in mind…power plants, whatever’s left, POL (Petroleum), the docks…and I think we ought to take the dikes out. Will that drown people?”
Kissinger: “About two hundred thousand people.”

Nixon: “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, for Christ sakes.”

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 going to bomb those bastards all over the place. Let it fly, let it fly.”

Future Fast Forward. Today, July 14, 2014

The United Nations Security Council adopted, by consensus, Resolution 2145 facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid to Syria. The resolution is not adopted under Chapter VII, and is technically, therefore, not authorization for any military action. Under “11.” The resolution “Affirms that it will take further measures in the event of non-compliance with this resolution or resolution 2139 (2014) by any Syrian party.” Any “further measures” will require another Security Council meeting, the outcome of which will depend on what “further measures” are proposed. The meeting did not involve any immediate or explicit threats of “regime change,” and did not involve any serious disagreement or debate, unlike the previous draft resolution, which was voted on May 22, 2014.

On May 22, 2014 the United Nations Security Council held its 7180 meeting on Syria, to vote on the French draft resolution S/2014/348 on ICC/Syria. The draft resolution invoked Chapter VII, which authorizes military action, and the draft resolution was vetoed by Russia and China.

Prior to this meeting, French Ambassador Araud held a press conference presenting the “Caesar” photographs, the authenticity of which was not independently confirmed. Ambassador Araud’s letter to the President of the Security Council stated: “These horrific photos suggest that some 11,000 Syrians have been tortured and executed in the regime’s prisons since the start of the conflict.”

During the press conference, the French Ambassador stated, unequivocally that “these were the most terrible crimes in the history of humanity,” a statement grossly discrediting the Ambassador’s knowledge of modern – or ancient history – and ignoring the enormity of the atrocities perpetrated upon more than 40 million Europeans by the Nazis during World War II, as well as the millions of Chinese civilians tortured and murdered by Japan during that same war, and insulting the intelligence of many members of the press in his audience. The Ambassador ignored, of course, the atrocities committed by imperialist powers throughout the twentieth century, and, indeed well into the present century. But the irresponsibility of his remark was not unique.

When a journalist from Lebanon reminded the French Ambassador of the atrocities and murder of a huge number of Algerian citizens, perpetrated by the French during the second half of the twentieth century, the French Ambassador accused the Lebanese journalist of being an “agent.” Confronted with the shameful truths about his country’s history, the Ambassador’s response degenerated to smear tactics. This was slander that would be legally actionable, in normal circumstances, but the Ambassador holds immunity. (Indeed, one seldom hears so many demands for “accountability” as one hears spoken by these diplomats who can never be held accountable.)

The French Ambassador then stated that viewing these photographs was the most terrible experience of his entire life. My own thought in response to that comment was that Ambassador Araud must have led a very sheltered and privileged life, exposed to very little reality.

This farcical press conference was followed by the Security Council meeting 7180 in which the U.S. Ambassador’s deceitful remarks betrayed either gross ignorance or deliberate indifference to the crimes perpetrated by her own government, and she indulged in wanton defamation of two of her colleagues on the Security Council. She stated, melodramatically:

“Today is about accountability for crimes so extensive and so deadly that they have few equals in modern history.”

One would expect the U.S. Ambassador to have greater knowledge of very recent heinous crimes for which her own government must be held accountable.

In 2008 “The Dark Side,” written by Jane Mayor documents the fact that: “U.S. held prisoners, some of them completely innocent, were subjected to treatment more reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition than the Twenty-First Century. On July 11, 2008, The New York Times reported:

“Red Cross investigators concluded last year in a secret report that the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation methods for high-level Qaeda prisoners constituted torture and could make the Bush Administration officials who approved them guilty of war crimes, according to a new book on counterterrorism efforts since 2001…the Red Cross document “warned that the abuse constituted war crimes, placing the highest officials in the U.S. government in jeopardy of being prosecuted.”

On page 148 (The Dark Side):

“For the same reason that the White House could argue that Afghanistan was a ‘failed state,’ unbound by international law, it was also an ideal spot for secret CIA prisons. Several other allied countries, including a number of former soviet satellite states who were hoping to win U.S. favour for their ambitions to join NATO, also agreed to host ghost prisons. Although their leaders have denied it, multiple credible reports have identified Poland and Romania in particular as host countries, however. One year of the Afghan prison operation alone cost $100 million, which Congress hid in a classified annex of the first supplemental Afghan appropriations bill in 2002. Among the services that U.S. taxpayers unwittingly paid for were medieval-like dungeons, including a reviled former brick factory outside of Kabul, known as the ‘salt pit.’ In 2004, a still unidentified prisoner froze to death there after a young CIA supervisor ordered guards to strip him naked and chain him overnight to the concrete floor. The CIA has never accounted for the death, nor publicly reprimanded the supervisor. Instead, the agency reportedly promoted him.”

On page 153 “The Dark Side” recounts:

“John Yoo (a deputy chief in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel) stated: ‘Congress doesn’t have the power to tie the President’s hand in regard to torture as an interrogation technique.’ Yoo expanded on this theory when questioned about it by the director of Notre Dame’s Center for Civil and Human Rights, law school professor Doug Cassel. ‘If the President’s right to torture is so absolute,’ Cassel asked, ‘could no law stop him from crushing the testicles of the person’s child?’ Yoo responded: ‘No treaty.’ Pressed on whether a law rather than a treaty could prohibit the president from doing so, Yoo wouldn’t rule out the possibility that no law could restrain the president from barbarism.”

Recent U.S. perpetrated atrocities in Afghanistan, alone, were horrific enough for the highest officials of the U.S. government to be prosecuted for war crimes. Photos of Iraqi prisoners being bestially tortured by U.S. soldiers who looked on, laughing, caused revulsion throughout the world.

Under the circumstances, simple discretion and basic decency would have dictated that the U.S. Ambassador mute and restrain her remarks. Instead, in flagrant disregard of the crimes for which history will hold her own government accountable, she indulged in defamatory personal attacks against the two ambassadors who opposed her:

“Our grandchildren will ask us years from now how we could have failed to bring justice to people living in hell on earth. The history books may well depict photographs taken by “Caesar” of emaciated acid-scarred corpses juxtaposed with a photo of the two members of the council that prevented justice for the victims, such as Qusar, who longed to see the end of such horrors.”

Her egregious remarks leave her “hoist on her own petard,” as history books will be far more likely to show photographs of agents of her own government crushing the testicles of a child as a method of torturing his parent, juxtaposed with a photograph of her own face.

Former President Jimmy Carter recently stated that “more than any nation in the world, the U.S. has been involved in armed conflict and has used war as a means of resolving disputes…I listed 10 or 15 wars and I could have listed 10 or 15 more…The rest of the world, almost unanimously, looks at America as the No. 1 warmonger. That we revert to armed conflict almost at the drop of a hat.”

In an interview with David Daley on April 10, 2014, Daley remarked to President Carter: “John Kerry goes on “Meet the Press” after the Russian actions in Crimea and says, with a straight face, that “it’s the 21 Century, you can’t just invade another country anymore.” And I think a lot of us said, “Well, wait a second. That sounds a lot like something we did in Iraq, you know, during the 21 Century.

President Carter replied: “Right. We did. We do it all the time. That’s Washington. Unfortunately. And we have for years.”

Following the remarks by the U.S./NATO ambassadors at the May 22 Security Council meeting, 7180, Chinese Ambassador Wang Min replied:

“What is most urgently needed now is to urge the Government of Syria and the opposition to immediately implement a ceasefire and put an end to the violence in order to start a third round of negotiations in Geneva so as to advance the political process and embark on a political transition. In the current circumstances, to forcibly refer the situation in Syria to the ICC is not conducive either to building trust among all parties in Syria or to an early resumption of the negotiations in Geneva. It will only jeopardize the efforts made by the international community to push for a political settlement.”

Ambassador Wang Min continued:

“For some time now, the Security Council has maintained unity and coordination on the question of Syria, thanks to efforts by Council members, including China, to accommodate the major concerns of all parties. At a time when seriously diverging views exist among the parties concerning the draft resolution, we believe that the Council should continue holding consultations, rather than forcing a vote on the draft resolution, in order to avoid undermining Council unity or obstructing coordination and cooperation on questions such as Syria and other major serious issues. Regrettably, China’s approach has not been taken on board; China therefore voted against the draft resolution. I have already clearly elaborated my country’s position and explicitly highlighted the facts and reasons. Just now, the United States, the United Kingdom and other Western countries have made totally unfounded accusations against China. That is irresponsible and hypocritical. China firmly rejects the slander expressed by those Western countries against China.”

He ended:

“China attaches great importance to the legitimate concerns of all sides and of the Arab countries on the question of Syria. We remain willing to maintain close contact with all parties and promote active efforts to seek a political solution to the question of Syria and to maintain peace and stability in the Middle East region.”

The Russian Ambassador stated:

“It is difficult to discern the motives that led France to initiate the draft and put it to a vote, fully aware in advance of the fate it would meet…Why deal such a blow to P5 unity at this stage? Is it just to try once again to create a pretext for armed intervention in the Syrian conflict?…What justice can one talk about when the overriding policy is aimed at escalating the conflict? The draft resolution rejected today reveals an attempt to use the ICC to further inflame political passions and lay the ultimate groundwork for eventual outside military intervention. It should be noted that the so-called Caesar report (S/2014/244, annex), which was used to build up tension in the run-up to the introduction to the draft resolution, was based on unconfirmed information obtained from unverifiable sources and therefore cannot serve as a platform for taking such a serious decision.”

There have been honourable voices of dissent within the United States government (frequently just prior to the dissenter’s “resignation” from government):

May 19, 1967, just prior to his resignation, United States Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara stated (The Pentagon Papers, page 577, Bantam Books):

“There may be a limit beyond which many Americans and much of the world will not permit the United States to go. The picture of the world’s greatest superpower killing or seriously injuring 1,000 non-combatants a week, while trying to pound a tiny backward nation into submission on an issue whose merits are hotly disputed, is not a pretty one. It could conceivably produce a costly distortion in the American national consciousness and in the world image of the United States – especially if the damage to North Vietnam is complete enough to be “successful.”

Secretary McNamara’s main and most trusted adviser was the brilliant Assistant Secretary of Defense John T. McNaughton, who, early in May, 1967 wrote to McNamara:

“A feeling is widely and strongly held that ‘the Establishment’ is out of its mind. The feeling is that we are trying to impose some U.S. image on distant peoples we cannot understand (any more than we can the younger generation here at home) and that we are carrying this thing to absurd lengths. Related to this feeling is the increased polarization that is taking place in the United States with seeds of the worst split in our people in more than a century.”

Two months following McNaughton’s recommendation (just quoted above) to the Secretary of Defense, and one week before he was to be sworn in as Secretary of the Navy, John T. McNaughton, his wife and younger son were killed in a plane collision near Asheville, North Carolina. There remain disturbing questions about the midair collision. Shortly after a normal takeoff of the Boeing 727 carrying McNaughton and his family, a small red Cessna 310 suddenly came “out of nowhere” and crashed into the plane carrying McNaughton, killing everyone aboard. Harold Roberts, chief of the FAA tower at Asheville Airport said the Cessna 310 “was about 12 miles south of where it should have been.” According to the NTSB report, the pilot of the Cessna 310 should have been able to see the Boeing 727 at least 35 seconds before the collision (NTSB report PB177339). This should have been plenty of time for him to maneuver to a position below the flight path of the Boeing 727. It seems the actual pilot of the Cessna 310 directed the Cessna 310 into the flight path of the Boeing 727 causing a midair collision.

It should be noted that it was John T. McNaughton who invited Daniel Ellsberg to join the US Defense Department in 1964 as Special Assistant to Assistant Secretary of Defense John McNaughton.

Africa and Globalization

July 16th, 2014 by Prof. Martin Hart-Landsberg

Economists continue to celebrate the free movement of goods, services, and capital. However, faced with slowing economic conditions in core countries, it is now third world growth that is highlighted as proof of the gains from unregulated globalization. As the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development points out:

“The crisis and its fallout have accelerated the trend toward a greater role of developing countries in the world economy. Between 2006 and 2012, 74 per cent of world GDP growth was generated in developing countries and only 22 per cent in developed countries. This is in sharp contrast to their respective contributions to global growth in previous decades: developed countries accounted for 75 per cent of global growth in the 1980s and 1990s, but this fell to a little over 50 per cent between 2000 and 2006.”

Africa, in particular, has become the new toast of investors. A 2011 African Development Bankreport celebrating the rise of the African middle class offers the following reason:

“Strong economic growth in Africa over the past two decades has been accompanied by the emergence of a sizeable middle class and a significant reduction in poverty. Also rising strongly has been a robust growth in consumption expenditures as a result of this growing middle class.”

Estimating the Growth of the Middle Class

The report estimates that Africa’s middle class reached “nearly 350 million people” in 2010. And, as Jacques Enaudeau comments:

“Since then the estimated number of middle class Africans has been arbitrarily set at 350 million, sometimes delivered as the more dramatic sound bite ‘one in three Africans.’ The African Development Bank goes on to explain that, given their higher revenues from salaried jobs or small business ownership, and the ensuing economic security, ‘Africa’s emerging consumers are likely to assume the traditional role of the U.S. and European middle classes as global consumers’.”

Marketing is everything, well almost everything. There are two big problems with this growing celebration of African progress and the free trade process said to be responsible.

Defining the Middle Class

The first problem concerns the African Development Bank’s definition of middle class. The Bank defines the middle class as those with a daily consumption of between $2 and $20 in 2005 PPP (purchasing power parity) dollars. At the lower end we are talking about a U.S. life style based on a yearly expenditure of $730! It takes quite a stretch of imagination to see that as a middle class life style.

It turns out, according to Bank statistics, that 61 per cent of Africans still live below the $2 a day poverty line. Approximately 21 per cent more live just above that amount, between $2 and $4 a day. The Bank, while including them in the middle class, also calls them a “floating class.” If we are being honest we would have to acknowledge that after decades of growth, more than 80 per cent of Africa’s population still struggles with poverty.

Moreover, as Enaudeau also points out:

“Also sobering is the geographical dispersion of the African Development Bank’s middle class: most of the African upper middle class (spending $10-$20 per day) lives in North Africa, which does not bode well with all the talk of frontier markets stimulated by a new white collar generation south of the Sahara.”

The second problem concerns the forces driving Africa’s recent growth. Africa remains highly dependent on the export of primary commodities. China’s massive drive to export manufacturers has turned the country into a major consumer of primary commodities, pushing up their prices and serving as Africa’s main source of growth. As the Asian Development Bank explains:

“Developing Asia became a major commodity-consuming region during the last decade, turning the region into a net commodity importer. Its relative importance has increased even more since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis started, as the economies of the major industrial countries slowed significantly. . . .

“The PRC [People's Republic of China] is Asia’s largest commodity consumer by far. It even overtook the U.S. in the consumption of major metals and agricultural commodities in the late 2000s, making it the world’s largest consumer of many commodities. The PRC consumed in 2011 about 20 per cent of nonrenewable energy resources, 23 per cent of major agricultural crops, and 40 per cent of base metals.

“The PRC’s share of consumption of agricultural products, such as oilseed soybeans, doubled over the past decade, driven by a change in diet to foods richer in oil.”

Unfortunately, growth based on the export of primary commodities tends to create few jobs. Take Nigeria as an example. As Jumoke explains:

“While the last decade was marked by higher economic growth, the unemployment rate actually increased from 5.8 per cent in December 2006 to 23.9 per cent in January 2012. Note that this number measures the percentage of workers actively looking for work, and does not include the rate of the chronically unemployed who have stopped looking, and the underemployed working poor. Tellingly, the poverty rate actually doubled over the last five years and now affects 112 million Nigerians, meaning that 112 million Nigerians are consistently without food, clean water, sanitation, clothing, shelter, healthcare and education.”

Moreover, the steady decline in U.S. growth has meant a decline in Chinese exports to the United States and a fall in key commodity prices (see chart). Thus, Africa’s boom, such as it was, appears nearing the end.

Relying on market forces is not going to do it for Africa, or for that matter Latin America, whose growth was also fueled by primary commodity exports to Asia and is now declining, quickly undermining the economic gains of the past decade. As the Wall Street Journal reports:

“A decade long commodity boom in Latin America that lifted millions out of poverty is showing signs of fatigue, as fading demand in China hits consumers and corporate earnings from Bogotá to Brasilia.”

If economists are looking to the third world to lead the way growth-wise, we are all going to be disappointed.

Martin Hart-Landsberg is Professor of Economics and Director of the Political Economy Program at Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon; and Adjunct Researcher at the Institute for Social Sciences, Gyeongsang National University, South Korea. He blogs at Reports from the Economic Front where this article first appeared.

How Many People have Died from Gaza Rockets into Israel?

July 16th, 2014 by Global Research News

Fatalities from rocket and mortar attacks in Israel from the Gaza Strip, 2001–present (up-to-date as of July 15, 2014)

This page provides a current listing of total fatalities resulting from Gaza rockets and mortar shells into Israel and will be updated when necessary.

Total Israel fatalities over a ten year period of 28 compared to more than 200 Palestinian deaths in the last 2-3 week. (M. Ch. GR Editor)

Refer to the bottom of the page for notes and sources.)

Throughout news coverage of Israeli strikes into Gaza and rocket into Israel, certain numbers and infographics are bandied about frequently:

However, there is little attempt to describe other equally relevant data:

  • amount of ordnance fired by Israel into Gaza
  • types of weapons utilized by Israel, along with their firepower and range
  • a display of the potential reach of Israeli armaments superimposed on a map of the Gaza Strip

And perhaps most surprisingly,

  • the total number of people of who have been killed by Gaza rockets and mortars into Israel

The last count is especially important because of the rhetoric that relies on the threat level from Gaza rockets and mortars.

Additionally, discussion of the efficacy of Iron Dome has been almost exclusively relegated to the number of projectiles intercepted but not to the number of lives saved, which is presumably the ultimate goal. When a correlation is made between Iron Dome’s efficacy and the number of lives saved, it is often expressed in vague or implausible terms, such as “countless lives saved”“hundreds of lives saved,” and even “thousands of lives saved.”  However, Iron Dome was rolled out in stages beginning March 27, 2011. In the ten years prior to Iron Dome, only 17 fatalities were incurred.

Outside of this site, there is no easily accessible listing of fatalities resulting from Gaza rockets and mortars into Israel. A previous listing prepared by me was written before the conclusion of Israel’s November 2012 offensive and is now out of date.

Therefore I strive to maintain an up-to-date listing on this page for the benefit of journalists and analysts.

Faulty numbers on the internet

As I noted in my previous rocket fatality count, numbers distributed by Israeli agencies are wildly inaccurate and often contradictory. This is propounded by sources such as Wikipedia, which at the time of this writing repeats the discredited and unaccounted numbers provided by Israeli agencies.

As I also reported, injuries resulting from rocket and mortar strikes are exaggerated. Israel’s casualty counts always incorporate numbers of people who have been treated for “shock and anxiety,” as well as “light injuries” resulting from the rush to safety, such as “falling down the stairs.”

This practice is not employed in Gaza, nor for any other conflict.

Journalists are urged to take these factors into account when reporting on numbers.

Changes from the previous table

In addition to adding the three fatalities that occurred after publication of my earlier listing, I have reformatted the table to indicate the number of fatalities resulting from each strike.

In order to prevent confusion, I have also separated the two fatalities that resulted from handling unexploded ordnance.

Notes

Sources include, but are not limited to, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Officethe Israel Project, the Jerusaelm PostB’Tselem, and numerous press articles. I made a point of referring to official Israeli and pro-Israeli sources (which were less likely to undercount), and then cross-checking them with one another. Some ages and spellings of names vary among reports. The dates refer to when the victim was struck, not necessarily when the victim succumbed to injuries.

* Six of the fatalities were non-Jewish: Salam Ziadin, Khalid Ziadin, Hani al Mahdi, and Eliyan Salem el Nabari were Bedouin; Lutfi Nasraladin was Druze; Manee Singueanphon was a Thai national.

† Three of the fatalities were military personnel, while a fourth was a civilian killed at a military installation. Sgt.-Major Lutfi Nasraladin was killed in a mortar attack on an IDF base near Nahal Oz. Cpl. Yosef Partok, Lt. Boris Yarmolnik, and Eliyan el-Nabari were each killed in separate incidents in military posts in the Eshkol Regional Council. El-Nabari had been contracted by the Israeli Defense Ministry to build tents for soldiers who were awaiting ground deployment.

‡ Salam and Khalid Ziadin were killed while handling an unexploded Qassam rocket for salvaging. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not include the Ziadins in its list of “Victims of Palestinian Violence and Terrorism.”

This list does not include:

1. Palestinians killed by rocket or mortar misfire in the Gaza Strip.

2. People killed by Gaza rockets and mortars targeted inside the Gaza Strip. Prior to the Gaza “disengagement,” illegal Israeli settlements within the Gaza Strip were targeted by rockets and mortars. They were not aimed inside Israel. They also do not form part of the rhetoric that rockets and mortars from Gaza constitute an “existential threat” to Israel.

In Gaza settlements and the Erez Industrial Zone, rocket and mortar attacks inflicted eight civilian fatalities: three Israeli Jews, three foreign laborers from Thailand and China, and two Palestinian laborers from Khan Younis.

Additionally there were two IDF fatalities in Gaza settlements, including a soldier killed while on his way to guard duty in Kfar Darom and a soldier killed at an IDF outpost in the Morag settlement.

All other rocket and mortar fatalities within Gaza were directed against IDF soldiers engaged in military operations outside of settlements.

3. One fatality in Israel by anti-tank missile. The rockets-and-mortars rhetoric refers to high-trajectory ordnances deployed with the following qualities: indirect fire, which coupled with a high inaccuracy rate results in nondiscriminatory targeting; a wide range that encompasses significant portions of southern Israel; and a high deployment frequency.

Anti-tank missiles are direct-fire ordnances with a more limited range and have been used infrequently against civilian targets by Gazan armed groups. There has been one civilian fatality from an anti-tank missile fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel (Daniel Viflic, age 16, killed on April 7, 2011, near Kibbutz Sa‘ad, by an anti-tank missile that struck the bus he was riding in). B’Tselem does not include this instance in its count of rocket and mortar fatalities.