There have been now several alleged “violations” of Turkish airspace by Russian warplanes operating from within and across Syrian territory. Conflicting reports have come out regarding how these alleged violations are actually being interpreted and responded to by Turkey itself, with the United States and its well-oiled media machine claiming armed confrontation between the NATO member and Russia is imminent, while other sources claim Turkey and Russia are in close communication and apparent violations have been excused by Ankara.

Depending on whose point of view the ongoing alleged violations are seen from, an array of interests present themselves compelling different players to either play them down or exploit them to widen what is already a volatile regional conflict.

From Ankara 

Russian warplanes are obviously not operating in the region with the intention of threatening Turkey, its people or its military forces. Russian proximity to Turkey’s border is born out of necessity to counter terrorist forces long-operating near it and even across it. Turkey is no stranger to crossing borders in pursuit of what it calls terrorists, and thus one would expect Turkey to appreciate Russia’s current rules of engagement in the region.

Even if Russian warplanes are crossing the border accidentally or in hot pursuit of terrorist forces, belligerence from Turkey would be widely interpreted now as unreasonable. The legitimacy of claims that terrorist forces in Syria, backed by a wide axis of regional players orchestrated by Washington, are ‘moderates’ has withered in the eyes of the general public. Russia’s anti-terror coalition in Syria is steadily expanding both in operational dimensions and in terms of political support from around the world. While Washington’s scorn is to be expected, attempts by Turkey to disrupt ongoing anti-terror operations undertaken by Russia in coordination with the Syrian government would be perceived globally as an act of unwarranted aggression and spite in defense of terrorists, not its own territory or people.

Iran, Iraq, Syria and various forces within Lebanon have already openly joined the effort with China signaling interest. Unified and focused, this Russian-led effort stands a good chance of suceeding. Turkey as a nation may still emerge out of the other side of this conflict with its legitimacy and influence in the region intact, though the same may not be said for the current ruling factions that have collaborated with Washington in regards to destabilizing the region in the first place.

Turkey’s understanding, even cooperation with securing its border and eliminating terrorist forces operating along it, be they labeled the Islamic State or Al Qaeda or ‘moderates,’ could be the first step toward divesting from Washington’s losing proposition and investing in Turkey’s future among the new regional order being formed before our eyes.

From Washington 

For Washington, fighting Russia down to the last Turk is an appealing proposition. Like Washington has accomplished upon the Arabian Peninsula where its allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have committed sizable military forces to be ground to a pulp inside Yemen, there may be hopes that Turkey can be convinced to confront the growing coalition in Syria to reverse or at least mire in perpetual chaos, what now appears to be the inevitable defeat for the West’s regime change scheme. Any confrontation between Turkey and Russia would be costly for Ankara in military, political and even economic terms, denying Ankara alternatives to its Western ties and increasing its dependency on the West both in military and economic terms.

That such desperate and risky options are all that is left for Washington and its various regional partners speaks volumes regarding just how far lost its original plans have become. To Ankara, and indeed all of  Washington’s partners in the region, immediate and incremental divestment appears to be the only viable option.

Washington knows this, and so the game they play now is provocation on one hand, and entrenchment and doubling-down on the other. In the media, and perhaps even on the ground, Washington appears increasingly interested in provoking a conflict with Russia either inside Syria, or near Syria’s borders where Russia warplanes are operating. And as always, Washington prefers that this confrontation take place not between US forces and Russia directly, but through one of its many regional proxies, including Turkey.

From Moscow 

For Russia, there is virtually nothing to be gained by provoking a conflict with Turkey. The two nations could be potent strategic and economic partners, providing Ankara with options should Washington’s meddling within and along Turkey’s borders become unbearable. And while Russia can be a powerful ally, it can also be a punishing enemy. The Russian military footprint in the region is growing, with cruise missiles now raining in from the Caspian Sea from the east, and Russian warplanes carrying out an expanding military campaign from Syria’s western shores.

Any confrontation with Russia triggered by Ankara’s belligerence would result in Russian forces slowly moving up to the Turkish border both with its air assets and its anti-air assets. Together with the Syrian military, the prospect of establishing a no-fly-zone along and even over Syria’s border with Turkey would be a humiliating reversal for Turkey who on Washington’s behalf has maintained a defacto no-fly-zone over parts of northern Syria for years now.

Russia has seemingly offered the various partners in the region a second chance, a chance to divest from Washington’s schemes and to play a constructive role in a new Middle East where progress trumps perpetual provocations. Even the Saudis have been offered an exit from the self-destructive course Washington has set Riyadh on. They have unwisely refused it, and now face a growing battle on their own borders with Yemen, while their proxy forces abroad fighting in Syria face mostly decimation and for those that escape, a scurrilous homecoming back to the Arabian Peninsula where their support has originated.

What will form in the vacuum of Washington’s collapsing schemes is an arc of power that will isolate and overwhelm those forces destabilizing the region. Who those forces will be once this arc is established depends on who continues toeing Washington’s failed agenda, and those who wisely begin divesting and cooperating with deconflicting the region.

Ulson Gunnar is a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

“We have the chance to open up more markets to goods and services backed by three proud words: Made in America.” – President Barack Obama, Feb 18, 2015

The estranged political classes continued their defiance of democratic practice by signing, again without the involvement of non-trade interests, a document that has been sold as a choice between the rash and the damned.  The delegates at the Atlanta round of talks for the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement came from twelve states, and some of them were acutely aware that domestic matters were pressing. The election cycle in the United States is starting to gain steam.  Canada faces a close election on October 19.  Australia’s new prime minister is hunkering down.

The TPP is a monster in design on several levels. While it has been reported that China “cautiously” welcomes the agreement, there is little doubt that it has been shaped as a form of financial weaponry against the giants of the Asia-Pacific.  Towards Russia, there is the Trans Atlantic Investment Agreement, framed to incorporate the European Union.  Then comes the enveloping Trade Services Agreement.

The chatter in advance of the agreement has been filled with astrological predictions about wealth creation. Crystal ball gazers have decided to abandon any recourse to evidence.  The tendency in free trade is to gut local industries in favour of capital penetration by foreign companies.  Local labour forces are reconstituted, a euphemistic way of describing job flight, with labour skirting away to cheaper sources of production.  The observation by Ross Perot about the “sucking sound” of jobs from the United States if such agreements were implemented is still pertinent.

Despite this, President Barack Obama would have us believe that the agreement is a brilliant contribution to labour, that it somehow harmonises standards.  (Do free trade agreements actually ever harmonise anything?)  “The TPP,” tweeted the President, “establishes the highest labour standards of any trade agreement in history.”

This is where a juicy, refuting case study is in order, a cold water dose of evidentiary proof.  Australia’s gains from its own free trade agreement with the United States have shown up as mind numbing losses. The pattern is familiar: predictions of growth and obscure references to benefits despite incompetent analysis and an inability to describe “the national interest”.[1]  US negotiators, however, knew exactly what they wanted on that score.

Analysis conducted on the implications of the AUSFTA by the Australian National University this year suggest that both Australia and the United States actually reduced their trade with the rest of the world by a staggering $53 billion.[2]  Preferential treatment for US goods, services and investment seemed to have one notable effect: diverting trade away from more efficient and competitive suppliers.

Free trade, in this case, ceases to be truly free in encouraging a distinct lack of competition, something that repeats itself in the intellectual property chapter of the TPP regarding patents and biologics.  Graphs happily delved out by the White House promising a 48 percent increase of US exports within a time frame should be regarded, not merely with caution but withering disdain.

Even prior to the ill-tidings brought by AUSFTA, the United States was engaging in its own bit of free trade delusions with the North American Free Trade Agreement, an agreement driven by President Bill Clinton till it became law in 1993. While there are expected disagreements among economists over the consequences, a good number point to the evisceration of local manufacturing and a thriving US trade deficit.[3]

Such are the outcomes of liberalising trade dogmas.  As ever, the prediction acts as the staying mechanism of belief, the fanatic’s code.  The economic star gazing Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) looked at their own set of Tarot cards in the 1990s and saw a trade surplus with Mexico, and 170,000 new US jobs by 1995.[4]

It took two briefest years to see a revised total of zero in terms of job growth.  Mexico and Canada duly registered agricultural surpluses.  US companies involved with food production and processing shot over to Mexico to the sound of money – capital migrating to areas of lower wages.  But as dogma reasserts itself, Peter Peterson of the corporatocracy has again promised what he cannot deliver: accurate projections about job and export increases with the TPP.[5]

The other features of deceptive harmonising stem from the illusion that areas such as the environment are somehow protected by the agreement.  This is certainly the position from the Whitehouse, with suggestions that some environmental groups have swallowed the pill regarding the “fluffy” narrative of trade and conservation.

In a distributed message, the White House took the rather distasteful measure of claiming that the TPP agreement would actually combat wildlife trafficking, illegal logging and illegal fishing.  It would make core “environmental protections” enforceable “through the same type of dispute settlement as other obligations.”[6]  A closer reading of what has been made available via Wikileaks suggests that the environment is set for a battering, a trade-off for solid corporate profits.

As Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune argues, the TPP effectively empowers “big polluters to challenge climate change environmental safeguards in private trade courts and would expand trade in dangerous fossil fuels that would increase fracking and imperil our climate” (Salon, Oct 7).

From the start of the TPP, a broader agenda for the control of trade from Washington’s perspective was pushed.  Obama has never shied away from the feeling that the Chinese economic juggernaut will, at some point, pry away American power, counting it among countries “that would like to take away America’s mantle of economic leadership.”[7]

Such parochialism finds expression in an email from the president to the White House email list in February. “My top priority as President is making sure that more hardworking Americans have a chance to get ahead.  That’s why we have to make sure the United States – and not countries like China – is the one writing this century’s rules for the world’s economy.”[8] Never could a more startlingly direct statement on hegemony be stated.

That said, such enunciations of US hegemony show bloody minded determination and daftness. Both come in equal measure – the pugilist’s determination to bloody opponents who might get the better of you, claiming that pockets will be filled; and the self-delusion that you are actually benefiting yourself in embracing such a policy.

Obama’s persistence on emphasising the sanctity of the US work force in the face of the global market is discordant: the policy of the boardroom tends to often cut through the politics of labour and parliamentary representation.  Wealth may well be created, but it remains corporate, concentrated and distant.  Those citizens who trudge on Main Street remain the squeezed, the patronised and the belittled.

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

Notes

 

David Cameron has lambasted Jeremy Corbyn as a “security threatening, terrorist-sympathising, Britain-hating” ideologue in his most vocal attack yet on the newly appointed Labour leader, which was designed to show that he is wholly unsuitable to lead Britain.

This is a far cry from Cameron welcoming Corbyn to the first of PMQ’s exchanges in parliament just one month ago where he urged working together in the national interest. “If we can change PMQs, nobody would be more delighted than me.” The session then descended as usual.

Cameron’s speech to the Conservative conference in Manchester on Wednesday was designed to show his determination to occupy the centre ground in the wake of Corbyn’s emphatic victory in the Labour leadership contest by setting out an optimistic framework. He pledged to launch an all-out assault on the “scourge of poverty” and to turn the Tories into the party of the “equal shot” by eradicating all forms of discrimination.

A strange statement from a man who has presided over the fastest growth in poverty in Britain in decades. And it is not as though Cameron was not aware of this fact. From the charity Poverty and Social Exclusion (PSE) – Current government policy will result in a rise in poverty in the UK, according to forecasts by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) in Child and Working-Age Poverty from 2010 to 2020. Child poverty will rise to 24 per cent by 2020/21, considerably higher than the 10 per cent target in the Child Poverty Act enshrined into law in 2010 and then scrapped just three months ago.

The prime minister said to treat Corbyn with kid gloves by saying he could not be trusted with Britain’s security. Cameron illustrated this point by highlighting the reported remarks by the Labour leader that the death of Osama bin Laden had been a tragedy.

A tragedy is nearly 3,000 people murdered one morning in New York,” he said. “A tragedy is the mums and dads who never came home from work that day. A tragedy is people jumping from the towers after the planes hit. My friends – we cannot let that man inflict his security-threatening, terrorist-sympathising, Britain-hating ideology on the country we love.”

David Cameron has once again deceived by his use of language. In 2011 Mr Corbyn, then a backbench Labour MP, being interviewed on television by was highly critical of the lack of any apparent effort to put Osama Bin Laden on trial for his crimes, saying the solution “has got to be law, not war” – and it is that which he describes as a “tragedy”.

Mr Corbyn goes on to state:

There was no attempt whatsoever that I can see to arrest him (Bin Laden), to put him on trial, to go through that process. This was an assassination attempt, and is yet another tragedy, upon a tragedy, upon a tragedy. The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy. Tens of thousands of people have died. Torture has come back on to the world stage, been canonised virtually into law by Guantanamo and Bagram”.

Corbyn ended with “Can’t we learn some lessons from this? That we are just going to descend deeper and deeper…

And, descend deeper and deeper is exactly what has happened under Cameron. Corbin even predicted that Gaddafi would be killed in this interview, which he was after Cameron’s intervention and grand-standing in Tripoli.

The prime minister made clear that the fight against extremism would be one of the defining features of his second term in office.

Fighting extremism at home means he has refused to share with law enforcement agencies or communications companies the full details of the “snooper’s charter”, raising fresh fears that he is seeking to limit dissent in order to steamroller the controversial laws through parliament. This revelation was described as “extraordinary” by the recently retired leader of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Sir Hugh Orde.

In the meantime, privacy and human rights organisations are being illegally monitored, key individuals and peaceful groups targeted, journalists watched. Cameron is governing a party that is about to destroy the human rights act, has walked over the centuries old Habeas Corpus law and is now plotting to dismantle the Freedom of Information Act. Fighting extremism also means defying the will of parliament, lying to British citizens and bombing foreign nations and then calling them terrorists.

We should all be fearful of Cameron’s second term.

He made no mention of George Osborne’s controversial plans to cut tax credits, which will mean a loss of £1,000 for 3 million of the lowest paid workers already on the brink. And he cynically said he would seek to tackle the “scourge of poverty”.

So embarrassing are the poverty figures for the Conservatives that David Cameron is looking to change the way that child poverty is measured. This was because  the figures showed an has increased for the first time whilst on his watch.

“You can’t have true opportunity without real equality,” the prime minister said, whilst conveniently forgetting that Britain is the only country in the G7 group of leading economies where inequality has increased this century. Even The Telegraph agrees that inequality is now ruining Britain. It must be bad.

And I want our party to get this right. Yes us, the party of the fair chance; the party of the equal shot, the party that doesn’t care where you come from. I want us to end discrimination and finish the fight for real equality in our country today.” This, of course amid a New report that reveals a dramatic increase in hate crimes. We now live in times where there are concerns that growing hostility to immigrants and widespread Islamophobia are setting community relations back 20 years.

Cameron, who knows he has been defined largely by his privileged background, said he recognised that the reality that someone’s salary depended on what their father’s was was more prevalent in the UK than in any other country in the developed world.

How true that is – and his government have done nothing about it. At all. In fact, quite the opposite.

He hailed campaigners for gay rights and suffragettes, saying:“Freedom. Democracy. Equality. These are precious. People fought for them – many died for them in the trenches a century ago; on the beaches, 30 years later; in the suffragettes, in gay pride.

Half the world is crying out for these freedoms – they see what we’ve achieved with them.” Cameron said he would stand up for the British values of “freedom, democracy and equality.”

The Prime Minister fails to see the damage to democracy, freedom, equality and rights done by his government.

Destructive economic policies, sold to us as ‘trickle down economics’ has clearly failed if poverty rises so dramatically. The long assured expansion of wealth and prosperity has simply failed to materialise for the middle classes and vaporised for everyone else – except the privileged.

An oligarchy has emerged in Britain. Unfettered capitalism is exploiting everything in its path – people especially. Only one in forty jobs created today is full-time and permanent. The rest are part-time or worse zero-hours, of which, there are now nearly two million people who go to work with no idea if there is any. Great if your a corporate employer. Britain is heading towards one quarter of all working families in Britain being on poverty pay causing another social and economic crisis.

This is not what our young men died for in the trenches; our British values are being dismantled – it’s an insult to their memory.

The prime minister confirmed his plan to step down by the election scheduled for 2020, and said he wanted his time in power to be seen as a “turnaround decade” when the UK not only sorted out its economy but dealt with entrenched social problems. He said the Tories should be proud of their journey as a “modern, compassionate, one-nation Conservative party.”

Much of David Cameron’s speech was littered with untruths as determined by FullFact

Compassion and the Tories – in the same sentence? Theresa May’s speech was described by the British press, even the right-wing as “bitter and chilling’, and ‘back to the nasty party’. This is a party governed by someone who was criticised for saying that desperate fleeing refugees was nothing more than a “swarm” trying to reach Britain. Just three weeks ago there were headlines such as “Where is your compassionate Conservatism now, David Cameron?”

Of course in David Cameron’s speech, Michael Gove’s speech, Theresa May’s speech and George Osborne’s speech there was no mention of human rights act about to be abolished. Neither was there a word about the fact that Health trusts are haemorrhaging chief executives under pressure to balance the books and deliver high-quality care, junior doctors and nurses are quitting in droves, GP surgeries are closing at an unprecedented rate and two thirds of all contracts were given to private healthcare companies.

If David Cameron continues to bomb foreign countries and waging war with no domestic mandate or international authority he is threatening the security of Britain.

If David Cameron continues to follow the Obama administration in unwarranted, illegal executions of its own citizens and innocent civilians as described HERE and HERE, then he is inciting and inviting terrorism in our own country. If he continues to embrace the idea that killing millions of civilians in the middle east is the way to secure our country then Britain will only experience more terrorism at home.

If David Cameron, under the guise of terrorism, continues to strip citizens of personal security and privacy, destroy decades of laws designed to protect citizens from government over-reach, then he must hate Britain with a passion.

If David Cameron’s government continues its spiteful attack on the most vulnerable, hard-working families and middle classes in a class war designed to enrich a country run by oligarch’s, many of whom are not British, do not live in Britain and don’t pay taxes in Britain (as in HERE) – then he must hate Britain with a passion.

Here, stands before you what many would describe as a security threatening, terrorist-sympathising, Britain-hating” ideologue and his name is not Jeremy Corbyn.

Graham Vanbergen writes for TruePublica

In over a year of Washington’s phony war on ISIS, they’re stronger with more territory than when US bombing began – targeting Syrian and Iraqi infrastructure, not terrorist forces or facilities.

On September 30, things changed markedly. Washington wants no interference in its policies. Putin’s intervention leveled the playing field.

ISIS forces are panicking, retreating, hiding in residential areas and mosques, using area residents as human shields – knowing Russia won’t attack noncombatants or civilian infrastructure, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov explained, citing video evidence.

Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said terrorists may bomb mosques or other civilian targets, blaming Russia for their crimes, eagerly reported by Western media – spreading Big Lies their specialty, governments they represent doing the same thing.

War strategy includes winning heart and minds, no matter how deceptively. Effective propaganda works this way, especially with proliferators like The New York Times and US cable TV channels, blasting out Big Lies round-the-clock – in print, on air and online.

Antonov said Russia uses information from reconnaissance, satellites, and Syrian military intelligence before choosing targets – checking and rechecking to be “100% sure” the right ones are struck, so far with impressive results, Washington getting a closeup view of Moscow’s formidable military strength.

On October 7, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said 112 ISIS targets were struck since September 30. “The intensity of strikes is growing,” he explained.

“Many targets were discovered in the past two days, command posts, ammunition and military hardware depots, militant training camps. All the targets were destroyed, no civilian facilities were damaged” – including “19 command posts, 12 ammunition caches, 71 military hardware pieces and six explosive device making facilities.”

On Wednesday morning, 23 aircraft struck terrorist positions. Russia’s navy is involved. Four warships fired 26 cruise missiles from Caspian Sea positions, 1,500 km away, hitting 11 targets with pinpoint accuracy, destroying them, harming no civilians, an impressive display of military might, perhaps enough to give Pentagon commanders pause on challenging Russia head-to-head, madness if dared.

Flight paths passed through Iraqi and Iranian airspace with their permission, all three countries working cooperatively with Syria against ISIS and other takfiri terrorists.

Putin praised initial results so far. He’s coordinating Moscow’s efforts with Damascus, Iran and Iraq – partnered against terrorism, waging real war to defeat it, challenging Washington’s phony war, an agenda for conquest, domination and exploitation.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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

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

 

ISIS has many faults, but it sure knows a good car when it sees one. The US Treasury is now pressing Toyota about why so many of its vehicles are being driven around by the terrorist group, as evidenced in their propaganda videos.

Toyota has issued a statement to explain that this is part of a wider probe into terrorist supply chains and capital flow, according to ABC. The company also says it does not know how its trucks ended up in ISIS hands in such a quantity, and is “supporting” the inquiry.

The model most popular with Islamic State drivers seems to be the Hilux, similar to Tacomas and Land Cruisers. This overseas version is a mainstay in ISIS propaganda videos, often loaded to the brim with heavy weapons.

The company says the cars in the videos aren’t recent models, but ABC spoke to the Iraqi ambassador to the US, Lukman Faily, who said that in addition to re-purposing old vehicles, the terrorist group has been acquiring “hundreds” of “brand new” ones in recent years.

“This is a question we’ve been asking our neighbors,” the ambassador said. “How could these brand new trucks… these four-wheel drives, hundreds of them – where are they coming from?”

Some of the other cars paraded in victory parade videos include Mitsubishi, Hyundai and Isuzu.

“Regrettably, the Toyota Land Cruiser and Hilux have effectively become almost part of the ISIS brand,” said Mark Wallace, a former US ambassador to the United Nations. Wallace is CEO of the Counter Extremism Project, a group specializing in tracking terrorist finance channels.

“ISIS has used these vehicles in order to engage in military-type activities, terror activities, and the like,” he said. “But in nearly every ISIS video, they show a fleet – a convoy of Toyota vehicles and that’s very concerning to us.”

But according to Lewis, “It is impossible for Toyota to completely control indirect or illegal channels through which our vehicles could be misappropriated.”

The current inquiry isn’t the first time somebody’s asked about Toyota popping up frequently in IS hands. A report last year by Public Radio International exposed a delivery by the US State Department of 43 Toyota trucks to Syrian rebels – the“moderate” ones, as has been the Western line since the start of the Syrian war in 2011. Australian media has also this year been circulating reports of some 800 vehicles stolen, and authorities believing they may have been shipped to war zones in the Middle East.

 

As this goes on, Toyota’s sales of Hiluxes and similar models appear to be going through the roof. Since 2011, the figures for Iraq have tripled in 2013 to 18,000 vehicles sold. The number has been fluctuating since.

Brigadier General Saad Maan with the Iraqi army suspects an outside middleman was used to smuggle the trucks into Iraq.

Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo, responsible for shipping the vehicles to the region, told ABC news in an email they have “no way to know” how to track vehicles appropriated by illegal means. Whereas a spokesman for the dealership in Syria said all operations with the country were halted in 2012.

Although he doesn’t think Toyota is making any profit from it, Wallace believes the company should do more to investigate and disclose the illegal channels, and to put in place the regulations that would “make sure we don’t see videos of ISIS using Toyota trucks in the future.”

 

The company wrote back to Wallace in response to his comments, saying, again, that it halted all operations, and that it’s actively working with US authorities, but won’t provide further details of the cooperation so as not to “compromise its efforts to understand and prevent diversion, or make it easier for illicit groups to penetrate our supply chains or those of any other company.”

“We briefed Treasury on Toyota’s supply chains in the Middle East and the procedures that Toyota has in place to protect supply chain integrity,” said Ed Lewis, the car giant’s Washington-based director of public policy and communications.

The company says it has a “strict policy to not sell vehicles to potential purchasers who may use or modify them for paramilitary or terrorist activities,” Lewis said.

The Russian military has launched airstrikes against Islamic State militant targets in Syria. The move was approved after a request from President Bashar Assad to Vladimir Putin, who has also expressed concern about the number of Russian extremists in the country. 

  • 07 October 2015

    21:00 GMT

    The United States has not yet received an answer from Russia to their proposals concerning a number of practical steps aimed at avoiding potential conflicts between the two sides in Syria, the White House press-secretary, Josh Ernest, told journalists.

    He added that the US would only engage in military cooperation with Russia if it stopped supporting Assad and constructively contributed to the US-led coalition efforts.

    Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Konashenkov said that the Pentagon’s proposals were being considered and “could be accepted for realization,” although some “technical details” still had to be “discussed by the Russian Defense Ministry and the Pentagon at the level of experts.”

  • 20:56 GMT

    The Russian and Turkish militaries have established direct contact in order to avoid any incidents on the border between Turkey and Syria, Russia’s defense minister has announced.

    “Today, at the level of the Turkish army’s central control and our [Russian] National Defense Center, a direct contact was established in order to secure our operations near Turkey’s border and to avoid incidents involving border crossings in mid-air,” Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said at the meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

  • 20:53 GMT

    Aircraft of the US-led coalition conducting strikes against Islamists in Syria were re-routed at least once during the last week in order to avoid a close encounter with Russian planes, the Pentagon has said.

    “We’ve had an instance at least where there’s been action taken to make sure we didn’t have an unsafe separation of space,”said Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.

    “We have had to do re-routing of the course of an airplane,” he added, although he gave no specific details on whether the aircraft involved was manned or a drone or where the incident had taken place.

  • 20:49 GMT

     

  • 15:30 GMT

    Russian Su-24 attack aircraft have destroyed ISIS armored vehicles near Aleppo, which were captured by jihadists from the Syrian and Iraqi armies, Russia’s Defense Ministry said.

  • 15:28 GMT

    Russian armed forces are using precision-guided munitions in airstrikes against Islamic State, which have “a maximum deviation from the target of less than 5 meters,” Lieutenant General Andrey Kartapolov, head of the Main Operation Directorate of the General Staff of Russia’s armed forces, said.

    “All the targets are being thoroughly studied, using the data from space and radio-electronic intelligence, drone footages, the information received from radio intercepts. We are also using data from Syrian, Iranian and Iraqi intelligence, including undercover sources,” Kartapolov said.

    Each bombing is carried out after a review of all available information and “a computer simulation of the future attack,” he added.

  • 14:42 GMT

    In his speech at a European Parliament plenary session, French President François Hollande urged European countries as well as all parties concerned, including Russia and Iran, to unite to find a political resolution to the Syrian crisis.

    “The whole of Europe should join forces for a humanitarian, political and diplomatic plan,” the French president said, as quoted by RIA Novosti.

    “I call on the whole of Europe to make effort in order to make a political solution possible. It is necessary that all those willing to find a solution to the crisis – Russia, Iran, the Gulf countries, the USA and Europe – continue to act,” he said.

  • 14:17 GMT

    All missiles and bombs fired by the Russian military hit their targets and not a single civilian facility was harmed, the commander of Russia’s airspace force, Colonel-General Viktor Bondarev said.

    “Flight personnel has demonstrated high skills over the elapsed period of time. All bombs and missiles hit targets, without deviations.”

  • 14:03 GMT

     

  • 13:46 GMT

    Russia has coordinated the timing of its missile strikes from the Caspian Sea with its partners, the Russian General Staff reported.

    “On October 5 and 6, our intelligence located several important Islamic State objectives to be immediately annihilated,” said Lieutenant General Andrey Kartapolov, head of the Main Operation Directorate of the General Staff of Russia’s armed forces. He added that “it was decided to use long-range cruise missiles to strike these targets.”

    “The cruise missile strikes were coordinated with our partners in advance,” he said.

“The New Middle East”: Russian Style

October 8th, 2015 by Andrew Korybko

The US’ plan to construct a “New Middle East”, announced during the failed 2006 Israeli War on Lebanon, has been totally offset by Russia’s game-changing anti-terrorist intervention in Syria. Although no formal details were ever officially provided as to what this “New Middle East” would look like, many caught on that it would likely follow the destructive contours of Ralph Peters’ “Blood Borders”, in which the entire region falls apart along ethnic and sectarian lines in a Yinon-esque scenario. In fact, the fulfillment of this strategy is one of the main reasons why the “Arab Spring” theater-wide Color Revolutions and the War on Syria were unleashed, but all of that is proving to be for naught now that Russia brilliantly flipped the initiative and has indisputably become the leading actor in the Mideast.

Moscow’s “Mideast Pivot” is geared towards restoring the principles of order in the region that Washington had so wantonly disregarded as it blindly sought to destroy the status quo and chaotically remake the Mideast according to its own desired vision. With the tables having dramatically been turned, however, it’s time to explore another vision of the future, albeit one in which Russia, not the US, plays the guiding role over events. This “New Middle East” is a lot different than the one the US had intended, and it eliminates just about every lever of influence that Washington had previously employed in attempting to keep the region servilely under its strategic command.

The article’s premise is predicated on the Coalition of the Righteous (Russia-Syria-Iraq-Iran) succeeding in its extermination campaign against ISIL, and Part I proceeds to describe the paradigm shift that the Allies have enacted through their actions. Part II is then broken up into two separate sections that uncover the wide-ranging geopolitical consequences of a coalition victory, with the first one discussing the Lebanon-to-Iran Resistance Arc and the second one detailing the resultant destabilization of Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Finally, in response to this historical defeat inflicted against unipolarity, the article concludes by forecasting the ways in which the US will seek geopolitical revenge against Russia for unseating it from its prized perch at the crossroads of Afro-Eurasia.

Out With The Old, In With The New

The Coalition of the Righteous (COR) has completely upended the previous US-led order in the Mideast, and not much of the strategic architecture that Washington created over the past two and a half decades is expected to remain by the time its campaign is concluded. Here are the most notable elements that define this paradigm shift:

Russian Leadership

First off, the most visible difference is that Russia has assumed the key role of setting the region’s agenda, and it’s Moscow, not Washington, that’s affecting the most tangible change in the Mideast. This development didn’t come out of nowhere, as despite the surprised reaction of many observers (especially Western ones), Russia had been steadily growing its regional clout for decades through the management of two ultra-strategic partnerships with Syria and Iran. The one with Iran is relatively new and mostly goes back to the early 2000s, but the relationship with Syria began in the early 1970s and is remarkably the only Soviet-era friendship to remain unscathed by Russia’s international drawdown in the 1990s. Through the simultaneous leveraging and strengthening of each of these bilateral partnerships, plus the unified strategic overlap between them (i.e. the Syrian-Iranian Strategic Partnership), a super nexus of interests has been established, thereby setting the strategic backdrop for the COR and the multilateral pushback against the US’ “New Middle East” of chaotic destruction. Unlike the US, Russia leads from the front, not from behind, and this fearless example has energized its coalition and raised the hopes of the entire multipolar world.

The Iraqi War Of Independence

One of the most prominent elements of the Russian-led “New Middle East” is the inclusion of Iraq in the COR, which can be read as nothing less than the country’s desire to liberate itself from American proxy domination and truly experience its first sense of independence since 2003. Most Iraqis, and especially their government (as can be inferred by their membership in the COR), are cognizant of the fact that the US had been using ISIL as its strategic wrecking ball for actualizing Ralph Peters’ “Blood Borders”, and whether Sunni, Shia, or Kurdish, they appear to have finally had enough. Over 13 years of full-on destruction and countless false promises are enough to make even the most stalwart pro-American forces falter in their loyalty, and the Iraqi experience is the most striking global example of the grave perils that befall all of America’s second-rate, non-Western ‘partners’. The Iraqi War of Independence, which is what its COR anti-ISIL campaign basically amounts to, powerfully demonstrates that even the most abused proxy states have the real potential to fight back, provided that the political will is there at the highest levels and that the population is truly fed up with the prior state of affairs.

Syria Comes Full Circle

Syria, the scene of the present global attention, ironically just so happens to be the first battleground of the New Cold War, and it makes for a certain sense of poetic justice that the most epic geopolitical resistance that the US has ever experienced is taking place right there. The Pentagon’s power ploy in wrestling full control of the region by means of the “Arab Spring” Color Revolutions was the opening salvo of the New Cold War, as the US had originally planned to carry the chaotic regime change momentum all the way to Central Asia the thenceforth to the Resistant & Defiant (R&D) states of Russia, China, and Iran. It goes without saying that all three of these actors understood the global power grab that the US was undertaking even if they were slow in coordinating their response, and had it not been for fierce and patriotic Syrian resistance to this scheme, it’s possible that they would have been in a much less advantageous and more disorganized position in confronting it today.

Bagdad_28_09_15_620Syria’s sacrifices stopped the tidal wave of terror from slamming into the R&D states, and Russia’s gratitude was expressed through its 2013 diplomatic intervention in staving off an American bombing campaign against the country. This bought the R&D states a bit more time to prepare before the next imminent onslaught, but it unwittingly provoked the US into moving forward its regime change plans for Ukraine and deploying them a year ahead of schedule. This vengeful attempt was meant to ‘punish’ Russia for the global embarrassment that it inflicted on the US in Syria, and it’s what most people mistakenly think set off the New Cold War, overlooking that it was Syria, not Ukraine, where the first battle was fought. Incidentally, everything has come full circle, and the most important stage of the New Cold War is presently being played out in Syria, as the COR smashes the terroristic instruments of unipolar hegemony and midwifes the birth of the multipolar world order, and more than likely, it won’t limit its successes to the Mideast either.

Chasing Evil

The largest uncertainty facing American strategists is exactly how far the COR will geographically go in fighting back against global terrorism. The present focus is obviously on the Syrian-Iraqi theater, but after the conclusion of that campaign, one must realistically ponder whether the Allies could repeat their success in Libya or Afghanistan, pending of course an official request from those countries’ leaders. Of corroborating note, it’s hugely significant that shortly after the COR’s anti-terrorist intervention in Syria, Kerry urgently pleaded with Libya’s leaders (both de-jure and de-facto) to form a government as soon as possible so as to stop ISIL from taking further hold of the country. One could venture to guess that the US is seriously worried about the possibility that an expanded COR, this time including Egypt (which has selectively intervened in Libya in the past), could intervene in the failed state in order to root out the Pentagon’s proxy forces and save the country from following The New York Times’ “Blood Borders”-like scenario of trilateral state fragmentation.

Concerning Afghanistan, if ISIL ever manages to establish a destabilizing enough foothold there, it’s possible that Kabul, having been witness to the efficiency of the COR’s anti-terrorist airstrikes in Syria, could request similar assistance in dislodging the terrorist group. If that happened, then it would be the final nail in the US’ Central-South Asian coffin of chaos, as Afghanistan would thus be signaling the beginning of its own War of Independence in removing the US’ presence. With the proxies go the patron, so it’s expected that as soon as the terrorists are extinguished from Libya and Afghanistan (potentially with COR assistance), the US will also be shown the door as well and these two states can finally regain the sovereignty that they had earlier lost.

Additionally, as a tangent of the Afghan scenario, if some type of terrorist threat emanating from the country was directed towards Central Asia (most realistically Tajikistan), it’s unquestionable that Russian-led COR-CSTO airstrikes will immediately be used to stop it. Likewise, Uzbekistan might even entertain the possibility of requesting multilateral Russian-involved assistance if a similar incident happens along its borders and spirals out of control, but only, of course, in very specific circumstances and if absolutely necessary for its survival. The problem in this operational Central-South Asian theater, however, is if a multitude of threats emerges simultaneously, which in that case could prove overwhelming for Russia’s military-strategic planners and will be addressed in Part IV of the article.

Crushing The US’ Pillars Of Power

Not counting Israel (which is in a special category of its own), US influence over the Mideast had rested on two primary pillars of power, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, but this construction is now crumbling as Russia returns to the region. In a twist of geopolitical fate, what the US had previously assumed to be the most stable countries in the region are now the two on the greatest verge of destabilization, and ironically, the two which the US had tried the most to destabilize (Syria and Iraq) are now the ones which look to have one of the most stable futures. Addressing the former, Erdogan’sbumbling miscalculations have returned Turkey to a state of de-facto civil war, while Saudi Arabia’s disastrous War on Yemen has given rise to a ‘rogue royal’s’ plan for regime change (to say nothing about the separate threats of ISIL and an Eastern Province revolt).

Looking at Syria and Iraq, one of the COR’s geopolitical intentions is to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its members, and the elimination of ISIL goes a far way in accomplishing that goal. Furthermore, concerning the previous fears of Kurdish separatism, it’s safe to say that Russia’smilitary assistance to the group has quelled this sentiment and endeared Moscow with a certain degree of influence in Erbil, which could of course be used to temper any secessionist thoughts that would play out to the US’ strategic advantage. With the Kurdish issue being dealt with, and the Wahhabist terrorists on the run, Syria and Iraq have a lot more to look forward to in their futures than civil war-struck Turkey and (royally and domestically) divided Saudi Arabia do, and this has of course weakened American grand strategy in the Mideast unlike any other series of events that has come before it and will be fleshed out more in Part II.

The Defeat Of The Reverse Brzezinski

The COR’s carefully delegated application of force in Syria – Russian support remains limited to air missions, the Syrian Arab Army and Kurdish militias take care of the full ground component – presents a disciplined way to prevent the temptation of mission creep, the core of the Reverse Brzezinski. If Russia and Iran can avoid this strategic pitfall, then they’d have nullified one of the US’ most innovative policies and won themselves much-needed breathing room for addressing future regional security threats. The more one reflects upon it, the more it becomes clear that the key to beating the Reverse Brzezinski is to assemble the proper coalition of forces for intervening in the “quagmire” zone. If either Great Power attempted to do so on its own and without self-restraint, then it’s chances of falling for the dupe would have greatly increased, but in the current case of Syria (and soon to be, Iraq), they’ve proven themselves more than able to patiently and multilaterally address the situation and steer clear of the US’ trap. If they can maintain this state of mind and inclusive operational behavior going forward (and there’s no reason to think that they can’t), as well as carry these lessons over to any forthcoming Reverse Brzezinski scenarios such as the South Caucasus orCentral Asia, then the US’ formerly flexible strategy of entrapment would become a lot more rigid and much less likely to be employed in the future.

To be continued…

Andrew Korybko is the American political commentaror currently working for the Sputnik agency.

The Double-Speak of American Civilian Humanitarianism

October 8th, 2015 by Luciana Bohne

They suffer without voices. Giles Duley

While Russia was bombing ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria, the US was bombing a hospital in northern Afghanistan.

In the early hours of Saturday last, a day after the US warned Russia not to target civilians in Syria, a US airstrike killed twenty-two aid workers and patients—three of them children— at the health facility in Kunduz, run by the humanitarian assistance organization, Medicins sans Frontieres–Doctors without Borders (DWB).

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The bombardment lasted thirty minutes, despite frantic appeals by the staff to Washington and Kabul. GPS co-ordinates had recently been supplied to all parties in the fighting.

On Sunday, Christopher Stokes, general director of DWB, called the strike a “war crime.” On 4 October, The Washington Post wrote, “U.S. forces may have mistakenly bombed a hospital.” Hamdullah Danishi, acting governor in Kunduz, said, “The hospital campus was 100 percent used by the Taliban.” DWB officials contested in a statement the charge that Taliban forces were posted in the garden, at the center of the charity hospital: “The gates of the hospital were all closed so no one that is not a staff, a patient or a caretaker was inside the hospital when the bombing happened.”

By a curious coincidence, only a week before the bombing of the hospital compound in Kunduz, DWB in Yemen had discredited the claim by the Saudi government that the massacre of a wedding party on 28 September had been a mistake and that the target of the Saudi coalition forces had been the rebels, not the 131 civilians (80 of them women) who were killed. DWB officially stated that there had been no military presence in the vicinity of the wedding party.

The United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) underscores the critical role   that DWB performs in Yemen in saving lives:

Médicines Sans Frontières continues to operate its surgical centre in Aden, and has played a crucial role in saving the lives of many severely injured people. The continuity and scaling up of this centre is critical in ensuring an effective health response in Aden.

WHO reports that all governorates in Yemen are in dire need of trauma and surgical medicines; of fuel for ambulances and generators in health facilities; of medicines for chronic diseases; of safe water in health facilities; of food, particularly as 170,000 children in Yemen are already suffering from malnutrition after six months of the US-backed war; of more ambulances and more medical teams in Southern Yemen. Yet, WHO laments that attacks on existing medical personnel and facilities have been ongoing:

On 4 April, two volunteer paramedics with the Yemen Red Crescent Society in Aden were shot when their ambulance was hit by gunfire. The paramedics, who were brothers, died from their injuries on their way to hospital. On 30 March, a volunteer ambulance driver with the Yemen Red Crescent Society was killed after his vehicle was hit by gunfire in Al Dhale’a.

Although WHO is careful not to reveal the agency of the attackers on medical teams and facilities, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, reports that thirty-eight Yemeni civilians were killed on average every day between 25 March and 12 April by the Saudi-led bombing campaign:

Two-thirds of the reported civilian deaths during the conflict since March were caused by airstrikes. When you’re getting this very high toll of civilians, it suggests something may be going badly wrong or perhaps not enough care is being taken.

Indeed, in recent days, the US-backed Saudi coalition has become a source of embarrassment to the American political establishment. In the New York Times, US Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter is credited with saying that the US-backed Saudi bombing campaign has strengthened Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). This is a tergiversation for the cold truth: the campaign has not succeeded in quelling the Houthi rebellion, but it has succeeded in wreaking civilian chaos on Yemen.

Though seldom front-page news, the Saudi airstrikes have destroyed hospitals, schools, neighborhoods, and refugee camps. On 30 March, in Northern Yemen, an airstrike at a camp for displaced people killed dozens of internal refugees. Shortly afterwards, an airstrike destroyed an Oxfam warehouse, storing humanitarian aid. An airstrike on the Mazraq camp for displaced persons in Hajiah province killed forty people and wounded two hundred, as reported by the International Organization for Migration, which provides assistance in the camps.

Not that all grief in Yemen can be laid at Saudi doors. Yemen has been subjected to US drone strikes since December 2009, when President Obama authorized the first known strike, killing fourteen women and twenty-one children. On December 12 last, a drone hit a wedding convoy, killing twelve men. From 2011 to the present, Obama has sold the Saudis $80 billion in arms.

In the context of these atrocities against civilian persons and social structures in Yemen, it becomes absurd to hold up the lamp of humanitarian righteousness against the supposed motivational dark perfidy of the Russian intervention in Syria, which anyway appears to be making short shrift of the ISIS hordes in less than a week. When ISIS beheads people the media whips up the public into berserker frenzy; when Russia beheads ISIS, the media responds morosely.

Quite frankly, the whole treatment of civilians in Yemen since 2009 turns American protests against week-long Russian strikes killing civilians in Syria a farce—not to mention that such accounts are reported by the dubiously “neutral” Syrian Observatory on Human Rights, which, excluding unnamed “activists” and “activist groups,” appears to be the single source available to and quoted for evidence by the Western press and media.

Trevor Timm in the Guardian implicitly sums up for readers the difficulty the US has in selling the Orwellian ritual of the daily two-minute-of-hate-Russia, based on a count of Russian atrocities to civilians in Syria vis-à-vis longstanding, largely American atrocities in Yemen:

While the crisis in Syria continues to garner front-page headlines and ample television coverage, the media has largely turned a blind eye to the other travesty unfolding in the Middle East: Yemen has turned into a humanitarian disaster, where thousands of bombs are being dropped, 1.5 million people are displaced and more than 90% of the population is in need of assistance. The major difference? In Yemen, the US is one of the primary causes of the problem.

American humanitarianism is just plain double-speak. British news photographer, Giles Duley, who lost three limbs in Afghanistan in February of 2013 while documenting the work of the Italian war-surgery hospital of Emergency in Kabul, puts it trenchantly:

After more than 10 years of being in Afghanistan, during a so-called “nation building process,” we are yet to build one functioning hospital.

The director of Emergency, heart and lung transplant surgeon, Gino Strada, has just been awarded the Right Livelihood Award, the alternative to the Nobel Prize. Emergency runs a worldwide network of charity war-injuries hospitals based on “the right to be cured,” in accordance with The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Paris, 10 December 1948). On the medical situation in Afghanistan, the website of Emergency writes:

The number of hospitalized injured has increased in a frightening way: from 2010 to now, the admissions to our war-surgery hospitals have more than doubled. The deterioration in the security situation was also registered by the United Nations. According to the latest report from Unama (United Nation Assistance Mission in Afghanistan), in the first 6 months of 2015, there have been at least 4.921 victims between dead and injured, the highest number ever, considering the same period in previous years.

To expose the ludricous argument that refugees flee “dictators,” we need only turn to Iraq, where the US removed a “dictator” twelve years ago. As the website of Emergency notes,

From 1 January 2014 to 30 April 2015, 14.947 civilians in Iraq have lost their lives; 29.189 were injured. In the same period, more than 2.8 million people have been forced to abandon their home. Among these, there were 1.3 million children (Report, United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq).

It is a moral trial for me to accept the objections of my brothers and sisters on the left to any intervention that would begin to challenge the serial provider of all this suffering. Admittedly, I am prejudiced by experience. When the Allies bombed Italian cities, we cursed the bombs but not the bombers. Frankly, it made no difference who the bombers were. They could have been 13th-century flying Mongols. They were bringing the war to an end. That’s all that mattered, for war makes unscrupulous survivors of us all.

Meanwhile on Monday, Gino Strada’s Emergency received twenty-one patients from Kunduz:

At the Emergency hospital in Kabul yesterday 25 patients arrived from the city of Kunduz and the hospital of Médecins sans Frontières, bombed by Nato on Saturday night. Nineteen were hospitalized, the other 6 were treated and discharged. The Emergency hospital in Kabul was already full: in the last 3 days 60 wounded arrived, 320 in the last month, 1.719 in the last 5 months. Our staff is preparing more space, in anticipation for the arrival of other wounded [my translation].

And so it goes. Every horror story has its heroes.

Sources

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/03/kunduz-charity-hospital-bombing-violates-international-law

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/04/afghanistan-hospital-airstrike-us-military-investigation-msf-doctors-without-borders

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/afghan-official-hospital-in-airstrike-was-a-taliban-base/2015/10/04/8638af58-6a47-11e5-bdb6-6861f4521205_story.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/afghan-official-hospital-in-airstrike-was-a-taliban-base/2015/1

http://mondoweiss.net/2015/09/coalition-killing-civilians?utm_source=Mondoweiss+List&utm_campaign=194ce0ca76-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b86bace129-194ce0ca76-398530681

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/09/29/world/middleeast/ap-ml-yemen.html?_r=0

http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/america-tonight-blog/2014/1/17/what-really-happenedwhenausdronehitayemeniweddingconvoy.html

http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-widens-role-in-saudi-led-campaign-against-yemen-rebels-1428882967

https://soundcloud.com/bbc-world-service/unsafe-streets-of-yemen?ocid=socialflow_twitter

http://www.emro.who.int/images/stories/yemen/WHO_Yemen_sitrep2_7_April_2015.pdf?ua=1

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/06/us-backed-airstrikes-yemen-kill-civilians-hopes-peace#_=_

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/cia-seeks-new-authority-to-expand-yemen-drone-campaign/2012/04/18/gIQAsaumRT_story.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/14/opinion/how-drones-help-al-qaeda.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/09/world/middleeast/ashton-carter-us-defense-secretary-warns-of-al-qaeda-gains-in-yemen.html?_r=0

http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/10/01/444912621/u-s-backed-saudi-bombing-campaign-blamed-for-civilian-deaths-in-yemen

Lies and Truth: Obama’s UN General Assembly Speech Dissected

October 8th, 2015 by F. William Engdahl

To those who bothered to listen to President Obama’s UN General Assembly speech without falling asleep like Secretary John Kerry clearly wished to do, there was a stark contrast to that speech which followed from the Russian President. First before Barack Obama completed his first sentence we could feel his emotion. It was projecting a contempt and arrogance of a special variety: “We have the biggest, baddest military; we call the shots, you peons of the nations of the world.”

Going through the official Obama text it’s difficult to find even one sentence where he speaks honestly. It’s an example not of grey propaganda but black. I cite several of the most egregious instances.

Near the start after the usual pious homage to the 70-year history of the United Nations, Mr. Obama says, “the United States has worked with many nations in this Assembly to prevent a third world war — by forging alliances with old adversaries; by supporting the steady emergence of strong democracies accountable to their people instead of any foreign power.”

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I am challenged to think of one single strong democracy accountable to their people that US interventions of the past years have supported. On the contrary look at the actual record since the US invasion and destruction of Afghanistan in 2001 and then Iraq in 2003. Then we have seen the US State Department’s launching, under Hillary Clinton, of the NGO and social media-steered Arab Spring destabilizations under the false flag of installing democracy. ThenWashington went on to the destruction of Africa’s most stable, peaceful state, Qaddafi’s Libya. And in 2013 the US-directed Maidan coup d’etat to install a neo-nazi band of hooligans in Kiev to try to destabilize Russia. Every covert and overt US intervention has brought the world a giant step closer to World War III. The latest move in that direction is US insistence on placing the most advanced nuclear bombs on German soil making a major destabilization of the current status quo between NATO and Russia.

Further on in the Obama speech, after nice sounding words about the wonderful principles of the UN Charter, “collective endeavor,” and of “diplomatic cooperation between the world’s major powers,” he inserts a bizarre non-sequitur: “I lead the strongest military that the world has ever known, and I will never hesitate to protect my country or our allies, unilaterally and by force where necessary.” A kind of modern cover version of the 1970’s Jim Croce song that might be titled, “You don’t mess around with Barack…” So much for the UN Charter. Here is the mailed fist under the velvet glove that all too often these last decades is the substance of US foreign political and military policy.

Then Mr. President goes on to speak of dictators and tyrants. Trying to deflect accusations that the US creates regime change via NGOs, Barack Obama declares, “It is not a conspiracy of US-backed NGOs that expose corruption and raise the expectations of people around the globe; it’s technology, social media…” The truth is just that of US-backed NGOs as most in the UN audience know from personal experience with US-Congress financed NGOs like National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, and the Soros Open Society Foundations. It is precisely this Washington regime change by “US-backed NGOs that expose corruption,” via the “weaponization of democracy and human rights,” which is toppling legitimate regimes that refuse to bow to Washington’s agenda, from Brazil to Syria. As the recent Snowdon and other revelations confirm, precisely the US-based social media such as Facebook, Twitter and others are tied to or work closely with the CIA, State Department, NSA, and facilitate the NGO regime change.

Now comes a whopper. The President of the United States states,

 “No matter how powerful our military, how strong our economy, we understand the United States cannot solve the world’s problems alone. In Iraq, the United States learned the hard lesson that even hundreds of thousands of brave, effective troops, trillions of dollars from our Treasury, cannot by itself impose stability on a foreign land.”

With due respect, Mr President, if you learned that hard lesson after wasting “trillions of dollars,” not from your Treasury, but from US taxpayers and Chinese and others invested in your US Treasury bonds, to finance that debacle called the Iraq War, why are you in Syria today? What are you doing training the Ukraine military today? Why are you meddling all over the world to stir people up? Why are you building military bases on every piece of dirt around the world where you can dig a hole to plant the American flag? You even admit it was a total fiasco. There is a significant reality disconnect in Washington today.

Finally the US president hits the real point of his current discontent: Russia. “Consider Russia’s annexation of Crimea and further aggression in eastern Ukraine. America has few economic interests in Ukraine…we cannot stand by when the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation is flagrantly violated. If that happens without consequence in Ukraine, it could happen to any nation gathered here today. That’s the basis of the sanctions that the United States and our partners impose on Russia.” This statement skillfully ignores the reality of the Ukraine events of 2013-2014.

It is a documentable matter of record that it was a Washington-sponsored Color Revolution that launched the November, 2013 Maidan Square protests against the legal, elected government of corrupt-but-legitimate President Viktor Yanukovich. It was ignited by US-backed NGOs of George Soros and others within seconds after a tweet from US-backed now Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, calling for “EuroMaidan” protests against the legitimate decision of the Yanukovich cabinet to accept an offer, a very economically attractive one, from Russia to join their emerging Eurasian Economic Union, receive a reduction of Russian gas costs of 30% and an offer to buy $15 billion of Ukraine state debt.

It was neo-conservative Assistant State Secretary, Victoria “Fuck the EU” Nuland (who says Washington today has forgotten the fine art of diplomacy?), who, together with Vice President Joe Biden and US Ambassador in Kiev, Jeffrey Pyatt, and droves of CIA agents, who made what George Friedman, US CEO of Stratfor, termed “the most blatant coup in history,” in Ukraine inFebruary 2014. Washington has gone on to hand-pick the Ukraine government, even placing an American citizen, a US State department veteran as Finance Minister, and named the son of Vice President Biden to the board of the Ukraine state gas company and other such “US interests.”

The Syrian Fraud

Finally Barack Obama comes directly to Syria, the issue that Russian diplomacy has recently exposed to world scrutiny. President Obama states, “Nowhere is our commitment to international order more tested than in Syria. When a dictator slaughters tens of thousands of his own people, that is not just a matter of one nation’s internal affairs — it breeds human suffering on an order of magnitude that affects us all. “

First it has never been established that Assad has killed “tens of thousands” of Syrian citizens. Secondly, it’s a sly way to attempt to justify an insidious idea, “Responsibility to Protect,” (RTP) that was used by Washington in Libya in 2011 to destroy that country. RTP is a direct violation of the UN Charter. Washington’s “coalition” bombing of Syria allegedly to destroy IS is also in violation of the UN Charter, as it is bombing a sovereign nation without being invited officially by their government as required in the Charter Washington drafted in 1944 at Dumbarton Oaks.

Moderate Syrian Opposition?

The Washington game is first to force elected President Assad out, at the same time it claims it wants to destroy ISIL (or IS or ISIS or DAESH depending on your choice of the many names). Russia’s position is clear: The only organized force in Syria today capable of destroying terrorist Salafists, all terrorist Salafists, is Bashar al Assad’s government and the Syrian National Army and intelligence services that remain loyal to him.

The Obama speech talks of the US support for “moderate” opposition rebels. Yet as far back as April 2013, when ISIS was called Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria, and run now by Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, the US-trained lieutenant of the late Osama bin Laden, the New York Times, quoting numerous US officials, documented that virtually all of the rebel fighters in Syria are hardline Islamic terrorists. There are no “moderate” oppositionists fighting today. The so-called “moderate” Free Syrian Army has also signed a non-aggression pact with ISIS since 2014.

On September 16, 2015, almost two weeks before the Obama UN speech, Gen. Lloyd Austin III, head of the US “war against ISIS,” during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Syria, admitted that the military program intended produce 5,400 trained fighters a year has so far only resulted in “four or five” who still remain on the ground and active in combat. The rest have all joined ISIS or Al Nusra Front of Al Qaeda, the US-backed “moderate opposition” to ISIL. At the same Senate hearings, Christine Wormuth, the Pentagon Undersecretary responsible for the Syrian war confirmed recent Russian statements, noting that Assad’s military “still has considerable strength,” adding, “it’s still the most powerful military force on the ground. The assessment right now is the regime is not in imminent danger of falling.”

There is a Russian joke currently making the rounds in Moscow. Russia’s Putin arrives back in the Kremlin after his September New York meeting with President Obama on Syria and other topics. A trusted aide asks how the talk with Obama went. Putin tells his aide that, in a bid to lower the temperature and calm the nerves before turning to grave topics like the wars in Syria and Ukraine, the Russian president proposed they first sit down to a game of chess. Putin tells his aide what it’s like playing chess with Obama. “It’s like playing with a pigeon. First it knocks over all the pieces, then it shits on the board and finally struts around like it won.”

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Este texto es la traducción del primer capitulo del libro de Michel Chossudovsky, La Globalizacion de la Guerra, La Guerra prolongada de Estados Unidos en Contra la Humanidad  

Titulo en ingles: The Globalization of War, America’s Long War against Humanity, Global Research, Montreal, 2015 .

Este texto constituye el documento de apoyo a la presentación de Michel Chossudovsky al II Conferencia de Estudio Estrategicas, intitulado:

“Cuba y la Política Exterior de los Estado Unidos” 

II Conferencia de Estudio Estrategicas,

Transicion geopolitica del poder global: entre la cooperación y el conflicto,

Centro de investigacion de Politica Internacional (CIPI),

La Havana, Cuba, 14-16 de Octubre de 215

La publicación del libro de Michel Chossudovsky en español esta prevista para enero 2016.

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Introducción 

Estados Unidos y sus aliados en la OTAN se han embarcado en una aventura, una “guerra prolongada” que amenaza el futuro de la humanidad. Esta “guerra sin fronteras” está íntimamente relacionada con el proceso mundial de reestructuración económica, la que ha conducido al colapso de economías nacionales y al empobrecimiento de amplios sectores de la población mundial. El Departamento de Defensa de EE.UU. otorga muchos miles de millones de dólares a los fabricantes de armas en concepto de contratos para la adquisición de sistemas de armas avanzadas. A su vez, “la batalla por el petróleo” en Oriente Medio y Asia Central conviene directamente a los intereses de las grandes empresas petrolíferas angloestadounidense. Estados Unidos y sus aliados hacen “resonar los tambores de la guerra” en los momentos álgidos de una depresión económica global.

El desplazamiento militar de las fuerzas de EE.UU. y la OTAN aunado a la “guerra no convencional” – la cual abarca operaciones de inteligencia encubierta, sanciones económicas y la imposición del “cambio de régimen” – ocurren de forma simultánea en varias regiones del mundo.

Es crucial para la comprensión de cómo se libra una guerra, entender la campaña mediática que le otorga legitimidad a los ojos de la opinión pública. Las operaciones militares se disfrazan con un mandato humanitario llamado la “Responsabilidad de Proteger” (R2P). Así es que se retrata a las víctimas como las causantes de las guerras de EE.UU. Los civiles en Yugoslavia, Palestina, Ucrania, Libia, Siria e Irak son los responsables de sus propias muertes.

Mientras tanto, el Comandante en Jefe de la fuerza militar más grande del planeta es presentado como un pacificador mundial. La entrega del Premio Nobel de la Paz al Presidente Barack Obama en 2009 se ha vuelto parte integral de la maquinaria propagandística del Pentágono. Da un rostro humano a los invasores y sirve para satanizar a quienes se oponen a las invasiones militares estadounidenses.

El Comité Nobel dice que el Presidente Obama le ha dado al mundo “la esperanza de un futuro mejor”. El premio se le otorgó por sus extraordinarios esfuerzos por fortalecer la diplomacia internacional y la cooperación entre los pueblos. El Comité concede una importancia especial a la visión de Obama y su trabajo en pro de un mundo sin armas nucleares.

Su diplomacia se fundamenta en el concepto de que aquellos que son llamados a liderar el mundo deben hacerlo basándose en valores y actitudes que son compartidas por la mayoría de la población mundial.

Las realidades se plantean al revés. “Guerra es paz” dijo George Orwell. Los medios hacen coro y argumentan que las contiendas armadas son una empresa humanitaria. El Washington Post escribe que “Las guerras nos hacen más seguros y más ricos”.

La Gran Mentira se vuelve La Verdad. Por otra parte, defender la Verdad – por medio de una cuidadosa documentación y análisis investigativo de los horrores de las operaciones militares lideradas por EE.UU. – no se toma en serio y se descalifica como “teoría de conspiración”.

Mientras Washington lleva a cabo su “guerra global contra el terrorismo” (GGCT), aquellos que se oponen enérgicamente a la agresión de Estados Unidos son calificados como terroristas. A la guerra se le llama paz, una “empresa humanitaria” digna de encomio. El disenso pacífico se considera una herejía.

El desarrollo de los acontecimientos en curso hoy día en Ucrania y Oriente Medio es síntoma de que la humanidad se encuentra en una peligrosa encrucijada. En ningún otro momento desde la crisis de los misiles en Cuba ha estado el mundo más cerca de lo impensable: el escenario de la Tercera Guerra Mundial, un conflicto global militar con uso de armas nucleares.

La maquinaria asesina está desplegada en todo el mundo en el marco de una estructura de comando de combate unificado, y los  entes  gubernamentales, los medios corporativos y los mandarines e intelectuales del Nuevo Orden Mundial que conforman los grupos de expertos en Washington e institutos de estudios estratégicos la defienden rutinariamente como un incuestionable instrumento de paz y prosperidad global.

Una cultura de asesinatos y violencia se ha incrustado en la conciencia humana.

La contienda armada es ampliamente aceptada como parte de un proceso social: se debe “defender” y proteger la Patria.

Las democracias occidentales consideran que la “violencia legitimada” y los asesinatos extrajudiciales dirigidos contra “terroristas” son instrumentos necesarios de la seguridad nacional.

La “guerra humanitaria” goza del apoyo de la así llamada comunidad internacional. No se juzgan como actos criminales. Sus principales arquitectos son recompensados por su contribución a la paz mundial.

El gobierno de Estados Unidos proclama las armas nucleares son instrumentos de paz. El uso preventivo de armas nucleares es categorizado como un acto de “autodefensa” que contribuye a un elusivo concepto de “seguridad global” (véase el capítulo II).

El así llamado “escudo de defensa antimisiles” o “Guerra de las Galaxias” es una iniciativa basada en el desencadenamiento de un primer ataque nuclear, y ha sido desarrollado en diferentes partes del mundo. El escudo antimisil va dirigido principalmente contra Rusia, China, Irán y Corea del Norte.

Mientras tanto, en el contexto de los acontecimientos en curso en Siria y Ucrania, ha colapsado la diplomacia internacional. En Kiev se ha instalado un régimen neonazi con el apoyo directo de occidente, pero es la Federación Rusa que se encuentra bajo amenaza por la acción militar desplegada por  EE.UU. y la OTAN en su frontera occidental (véase el capítulo IX).

¿Una nueva Guerra Fría?     

La renovada confrontación entre este y oeste ha sido denominada “Nueva Guerra Fría”, etiqueta equivocada en parte porque ya no se cuenta con ninguna de las salvaguardas de la Guerra Fría. Rusia ha sido excluida del Grupo de los Ocho (G-8), que ha vuelto a ser un grupo de siete naciones. La diplomacia ha dejado de funcionar. No hay un diálogo este-oeste al estilo de la Guerra Fría entre superpotencias que si bien competían, también se esforzaban por evitar una confrontación militar. Por su parte, el Consejo de Seguridad de las Naciones Unidas se ha convertido en un portavoz de facto del Departamento de Estado de EE.UU.

Además, las armas nucleares ya no son vistas como “armas de último recurso”, como en la doctrina de Destrucción Mutua Asegurada que prevaleció durante la Guerra Fría. Más bien el Pentágono las exalta por como “inocuas para la población circundante debido a que la explosión es subterránea”. En 2002, el Senado de EE.UU. dio luz verde para el uso de armas nucleares en un escenario de guerra convencional. Ahora las bombas nucleares forman parte de la “caja de herramientas militares” que se pueden utilizar a la par de las armas convencionales.

La amenaza mundial del “terrorismo islámico” ha reemplazado  la “amenaza comunista” del periodo de la Guerra Fría. Aunque Rusia y China son ahora economías capitalistas de “libre mercado”, todavía se contempla la posibilidad de un ataque nuclear preventivo contra ambos países.

Hoy ya no se piensa que China y Rusia sean “una amenaza para el capitalismo”. Todo lo contrario. Lo que está en juego es más bien la rivalidad económica y financiera entre potencias capitalistas. La alianza chino-rusa en la Organización de Cooperación de Shanghái (OCS) constituye un “bloque capitalista competitivo” que socava la hegemonía económica de EE.UU.

En Asia, EE.UU. ha contribuido con su “giro hacia Asia” a que sus aliados de Asia-Pacífico, incluidos Japón, Australia, Corea del Sur, las Filipinas y Vietnam, amenacen a China y la aíslen como parte del proceso de “cercamiento militar”, que tomó impulso a finales de la década de los noventa.

Mientras tanto, la propaganda guerrerista se ha vuelto cada vez más generalizada.  La contienda armada se vende como un proceso de consolidación de la paz.

Cuando la guerra se vuelve paz, el mundo está patas arriba y ya no es posible conceptualizarla. Surge un sistema social inquisitorial (véase el capítulo X). El consenso es que se debe librar la guerra. La gente ya no puede pensar por sí misma. Acepta lo que dice la autoridad y la sabiduría del orden social establecido.

La comprensión de eventos sociales y políticos fundamentales es reemplazada por un mundo de pura fantasía, en el que acechan “los malhechores”. El objetivo de la narrativa de “guerra global contra el terrorismo” – cuidadosamente promovida por el gobierno de Estados Unidos – ha sido incitar al público para que apoye una campaña mundial contra la herejía.

Guerra mundial

El diseño global militar del Pentágono es uno de conquista mundial. El despliegue militar de las fuerzas de EE.UU. – OTAN ocurre simultáneamente en diferentes regiones del mundo.

El concepto de una “guerra prolongada” ha caracterizado la doctrina militar estadounidense desde finales de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. La militarización global forma parte de una agenda económica global.

Se instrumenta la militarización mundial por medio de la estructura de Comando Unificado de las fuerzas armadas de EE.UU.: todo el planeta ha sido dividido geográficamente en Comandos Combatientes controlados por el Pentágono. La sede del Mando Estratégico de EE.UU (U.S. STRATCOM) en Omaha, Nebraska tiene un papel central en la coordinación de operaciones militares.

En el proceso de cercar y confrontar a Rusia y China, se han construido  nuevas bases militares, con vistas a establecer esferas de influencia de EE.UU. en todas las regiones del mundo. Se ha fortalecido a los seis mandos geográficos, incluyendo la creación del Mando África de EE.UU. (AFRICOM) en 2008.

Según lo pregonado por el Pentágono, AFRICOM se ha vuelto un “comando combatiente de pleno espectro”, responsable de las operaciones de “defensa” y “seguridad nacional” de EE.UU. “por medio de un compromiso centrado en nuestros objetivos de seguridad compartidos y sostenido con el apoyo de los socios”. El área de jurisdicción de AFRICOM abarca “todo el continente africano, sus naciones insulares y aguas circundantes”.

Esta militarización de África por parte de EE.UU. sirve de sostén para la conquista económica del continente, el saqueo de sus recursos naturales, la adquisición de sus extensas reservas de petróleo y gas, y así por el estilo.

AFRICOM es un instrumento de un proyecto neocolonial liderado por EE.UU. en alianza con el Reino Unido, que consiste en la expansión del área de influencia angloestadounidense las antiguas colonias francófonas de África Central, Occidental y Septentrional, en gran medida a expensas de Francia.

EE.UU. tiene bases militares y/o instalaciones en más de 150 países, con 160,000 personas en servicio activo. Se planifica la construcción de nuevas bases militares en América Latina, incluso en Colombia, en una zona adyacente con Venezuela.

La ayuda militar a Israel ha aumentado y la administración Obama ha expresado su inquebrantable apoyo a este país y sus fuerzas armadas, las que están programadas para desempeñar un papel primordial en las intervenciones militares lideradas por EE.UU.-OTAN en Oriente Medio. La agenda oculta es la eliminación total de Palestina y el establecimiento del “Gran Israel”.

“Guerra sin fronteras” 

El Proyecto para el Nuevo Siglo Americano (PNAC, 2000), formulado inicialmente por los neoconservadores, se basaba en “librar una guerra sin fronteras”. El PNAC es un centro de estudios vinculado a los estamentos de defensa e inteligencia, el Partido Republicano y el poderoso Consejo de Relaciones Exteriores (CFR), que desempeña un papel importante tras bambalinas en la formulación de la política exterior de EE.UU.

En septiembre de 2000, pocos meses antes de la llegada de George W. Bush a la Casa Blanca, el PNAC publicó un plan de acción para la dominación global titulado “La reconstrucción de las defensas de Estados Unidos”.

Los objetivos declarados del PNAC son los siguientes:

  • defender la patria estadounidense
  • luchar y ganar decisivamente al mismo tiempo en múltiples y grandes escenarios de guerra;
  • realizar sus obligaciones “policíacas” asociadas con la formación del entorno de seguridad en áreas críticas; y
  • transformar a las fuerzas armadas de EE.UU. para que aprovechen al máximo la “revolución en asuntos militares”.

El antiguo secretario adjunto de Defensa Paul Wolfowitz, el secretario de Defensa Donald Rumsfeld y el vicepresidente Dick Cheney (administración de G.W. Bush) habían encargado el plan al PNAC ya desde antes de las elecciones presidenciales del año 2000.

El PNAC diseña un hoja de ruta para la conquista militar. Hace un llamado a “la imposición directa de bases militares estadounidenses de avanzada” en toda Asia Central y Oriente Medio, “con vistas a garantizar la dominación económica del mundo, al mismo tiempo que se ahoga a cualquier posible rival” o se torpedea toda alternativa viable a la versión estadounidense de lo que debe ser una “economía de libre mercado”.

A diferencia de los escenarios de guerra, las así llamadas “funciones policíacas” llevan implícita una manera de patrullaje militar global por medio del uso de varios instrumentos de intervención militar, como bombardeos punitivos, el envío de las fuerzas especiales de EE.UU. y otras medidas similares. Estas funciones policíacas globales también incluyen operaciones encubiertas y “cambios de régimen”, los cuales se realizan de acuerdo con un “mandato humanitario”.

Las acciones militares se pueden ejecutar de forma simultánea en diferentes partes del mundo (según lo describe el PNAC), así como de manera consecutiva.

Esta agenda militar, emprendida bajo la bandera de la “responsabilidad de proteger”, prevalece en gran medida también en el gobierno presidido por Obama. La propaganda mediática ha sido determinante para sostener la ficción de que existe tal cosa como una “guerra humanitaria”.

Nuevos sistemas de armamento

La “revolución en asuntos militares” a la que hace referencia el PNAC se puede traducir como “desarrollo de nuevos sistemas de armamento”, y consiste en la Iniciativa de Defensa Estratégica, la instalación concurrente de armamento en el espacio y una nueva generación de armas nucleares.

La Iniciativa de Defensa Estratégica, conocida popularmente como “Guerra de las Galaxias” incluye no solo el controvertido “escudo antimisiles” sino también una amplia gama de armas ofensivas guidas por láser con capacidad de atacar  cualquier parte del mundo. Asimismo, abarca instrumentos de guerra meteorológica y climática, desarrollados por el Programa de Investigación de Alta Frecuencia Activa Auroral (HAARP). Este último es ya plenamente operativo y tiene la capacidad para desencadenar inundaciones, sequías, huracanes y terremotos. Desde una perspectiva militar, HAARP es un arma de destrucción masiva. Constituye un arma de conquista con potencial para desestabilizar selectivamente los sistemas agrícolas y ecológicos de regiones enteras.

Asimismo está contemplado el Programa FALCON, otra creación del Pentágono. Fue formulado durante la administración de George W. Bush Jr. y es el sistema de armamento más reciente del Nuevo Orden Mundial. Su objetivo es la dominación económica y política del planeta. Desde Estados Unidos continental puede alcanzar cualquier parte del mundo. Se describe como un arma de “alcance global” para “reaccionar de manera rápida y decisiva ante acciones desestabilizadoras o amenazantes por parte de países hostiles y organizaciones terroristas”.

Este sistema de misiles de crucero hipersónico, desarrollado por la empresa  Northrop Grumman, “permitiría que EE.UU. condujera misiones de ataques de urgencia efectivos a escala global, sin depender de bases militares en el extranjero”.

A través de FALCON, EE.UU. podría atacar en apoyo a fuerzas de combate en un escenario de guerra convencional o por medio de  bombardeos punitivos dirigidos en contra de países que no obedecen los dictados económicos y políticos de EE.UU.

La hoja de ruta militar en Oriente Medio

Según el antiguo comandante de la OTAN, el general Wesley Clark, la hoja de ruta del Pentágono consiste en una secuencia de países. En Winning Modern Wars (Para Ganar Guerras Modernas), el general Clark declara lo siguiente:

“Cuando caminaba por el Pentágono en noviembre de 2001, uno de los altos oficiales del personal militar se detuvo para charlar. Me contó que todavía estábamos encarrilados para atacar Irak. Pero había más. Esta invasión ahora se discutía como parte de una campaña de cinco años duración que contemplaba un total de siete países, empezando por Irak para continuar en Siria, Líbano, Libia, Irán, Somalia y Sudán”. 

Siria e Irán  

La agresión actual contra Palestina, Siria e Irak es el trampolín para una intervención en Irán, que podría conducir a un proceso de escalamiento militar. Rusia y China, que son aliados tanto de Siria como de Irán, también son blanco de EE.UU.-OTAN. En Irak, bajo la bandera de una “guerra civil”, se libra una intervención encubierta que en su esencia contribuye a la destrucción de todo un país, sus instituciones y su economía. Esta operación encubierta forma parte de una agenda de inteligencia y es un proceso guiado que consiste en transformar Irak en un territorio abierto.

No obstante, se ha hecho creer a la opinión pública que está en juego una confrontación entre los chiítas y los sunitas. La ocupación militar estadounidense de Irak ha sido reemplazada por formas no convencionales de hacer la guerra. Las realidades se vuelven borrosas. Una amarga ironía es que el país agresor es presentado al mundo como el que viene al rescate de un “Irak soberano”.

El resquebrajamiento de Irak y Siria por divisiones sectarias es una vieja política de  Estados Unidos y sus aliados. La partición propuesta tanto de Irak como de Siria tiene como modelo general lo que ocurrió con la Federación de Yugoslavia, que fue desmembrada en siete “Estados independientes” (Serbia, Croacia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Eslovenia, Montenegro y Kosovo).

La geopolítica del petróleo

La geopolítica del petróleo y de los oleoductos es crucial para la conducción de las operaciones militares de EE.UU.-OTAN. La región de Oriente Medio-Asia Central en su conjunto concentra más de un sesenta por ciento de las reservas petrolíferas del mundo.

El escenario de guerra en Oriente Medio

Actualmente hay cinco escenarios de guerra en la región de Oriente Medio – Asia Central: Afganistán-Pakistán; Irak; Palestina, Libia y Siria. Un proceso de escalada militar podría conllevar a la fusión de estos escenarios de guerra actualmente separados, lo cual desembocaría en una conflagración más amplia que abarcaría toda la región, desde el norte de África y el Mediterráneo hasta Afganistán, Pakistán y la frontera occidental de China.

El legado de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Traspaso entre poderes imperialistas en pugna

Lo que eufemísticamente se llama la “era de postguerra” ha sido en realidad un periodo de enfrentamiento y militarización continuos. Es importante tenerlo en cuenta para entender las guerras contemporáneas lideradas por Estados Unidos.

Estados Unidos salió ileso de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. La mayor parte de las batallas fueron libradas por sus aliados, una estrategia que ha utilizado desde entonces en los conflictos subsiguientes de postguerra. Además, un análisis cuidadoso de la Segunda Guerra Mundial plantea que los intereses corporativos de Estados Unidos, entre ellos la Standard Oil de Rockefeller, dieron su apoyo tanto a los aliados de Estados Unidos como a sus enemigos, incluyendo la Alemania nazi, aun mucho después de la entrada de EE.UU. al conflicto en diciembre de 1941. El objetivo estratégico era debilitar a ambos lados para así desestabilizar a las potencias imperialistas.

Al emerger de la Segunda Guerra Mundial como la nación menos afectada, EE.UU. pudo determinar el perfil político y económico de la Europa occidental de postguerra. Sus tropas se encuentran estacionadas en varios países europeos hasta el día de hoy. Tanto sus adversarios en el conflicto bélico (Alemania, Japón e Italia) como sus aliados (Francia, el Reino Unido, Bélgica, Holanda) se han debilitado. Con la excepción del Reino Unido, que forma parte del eje angloestadounidense, estos países son potencias colonialistas en declive, desplazados por la hegemonía estadounidense. Los territorios que fueron sus colonias antes de la Segunda Guerra abarcan Indonesia, el Congo, Indochina y Ruanda, entre otros, y han sido integrados a lo largo de un periodo de medio siglo a la esfera de influencia dominante de Estados Unidos.

En África, continúa el proceso de desplazamiento de la esfera de influencia de Francia. En la actualidad Estados Unidos ha tomado el control de las antiguas colonias francesas y belgas en África central y occidental. Asimismo, Washington ejerce un papel decisivo en el Magreb (véase el capítulo VIII).

“Colonialismo interno” en la Unión Europea

Asimismo, ha empezado a surgir una forma compleja de “colonialismo interno” en la Unión Europea (UE). Junto con sus socios europeos, las instituciones financieras y conglomerados de negocios de EE.UU. son los que prevalecen al establecer la agenda monetaria, comercial y de inversión.

La política se encuentra subordinada a los intereses financieros dominantes. Lo que ocurre en términos de negociaciones comerciales secretas (bajo la Asociación Transatlántica para el Comercio y la Inversión y el Acuerdo Integral de Economía y Comercio) es un proceso de integración económico y político entre la UE y América del Norte (Estados Unidos y Canadá). Estos acuerdos, junto con la Asociación Transpacífica (ATP), constituyen las piedras angulares de un proceso de dominación económica global.

Mientras tanto, las elecciones presidenciales y parlamentarias en la UE, incluyendo las de Alemania, Italia y Francia (por ejemplo, los casos de Sarkozy y Hollande), son cada vez más objeto de interferencia política encubierta de EE.UU. (según el modelo las “revoluciones de colores”). O sea que Estados Unidos propicia también cambios de régimen en países de la Unión Europea.

La cuestión fundamental, por lo tanto es ¿hasta qué punto los líderes europeos son sus apoderados o representantes políticos?

Las guerras auspiciadas por EE.UU. y las operaciones de inteligencia militar

Todo el período de 1945 hasta el presente ha sido caracterizado por una sucesión de guerras auspiciadas por Estados Unidos e intervenciones militares y de inteligencia en las principales regiones del mundo.

No se trata de operaciones militares fragmentarias y pertinentes a países o regiones específicas. Existe más bien una hoja de ruta militar que describe una secuencia de operaciones militares. En lugar de escenarios de guerra establecidos, se han desplegado formas no convencionales de intervención, por ejemplo ataques terroristas auspiciados por el Estado.

La guerra prolongada que libra Estados Unidos se fundamenta en un plan cohesivo y coordinado de conquista militar mundial que conviene a los intereses dominantes financieros y corporativos. La estructura de las alianzas, entre ellas la OTAN, es crucial para su éxito.

La Unión Europea desempeña un papel central en esta agenda militar. Los Estados miembro de la UE son aliados del eje angloestadounidense, pero al mismo tiempo ocurre un proceso de reestructuración, según el cual países que antes eran soberanos se encuentran cada vez más sujetos a la jurisdicción de poderosas instituciones financieras.

La imposición de las drásticas reformas económicas del FMI a varios países europeos es un síntoma de la interferencia de Estados Unidos en sus asuntos internos. Lo que está ocurriendo es un cambio profundo en las estructuras políticas y económicas de la UE, según el cual los Estados miembro son reclasificados de facto por el FMI y tratados como un país endeudado del Tercer Mundo.

Acción militar en apoyo a la guerra económica

Estados Unidos ha intervenido militarmente en las principales regiones del mundo, pero el objetivo de su política externa es que las operaciones militares las lleven a cabo los aliados, o en su defecto, que pueda recurrir a formas no convencionales de intervención.

Esta agenda tiene dos pilares:

  1. El poderío militar de EE.UU. combinado con el de la “OTAN global”, que incluye a Israel (miembro de facto de la Alianza Atlántica), representa una fuerza formidable en términos de sistemas de armas avanzadas. Estados Unidos ha establecido bases militares en todas las regiones importantes del mundo, con una estructura de mando geográfico. En tiempos recientes se ha añadido el Mando África de EE.UU. (AFRICOM).
  2. La acción bélica sirve de apoyo a poderosos intereses económicos y financieros. La estrategia de “guerra económica” contemplada en la agenda neoliberal es ejecutada en estrecha coordinación con la planificación militar.

El propósito de las contiendas armadas no es la conquista per se. EE.UU. perdió la guerra de Vietnam, pero se logró la meta fundamental que era destruir Vietnam como país soberano. Hoy día Vietnam y Camboya forman parte de una nueva frontera empobrecida de la economía global basada en mano de obra barata.

Además, los países que lucharon por su soberanía y contra el imperialismo de EE.UU. en Asia (Vietnam, Camboya, Corea del Sur, Indonesia y las Filipinas) han sido integrados en acuerdos bilaterales de cooperación militar con el Pentágono. EE.UU. utiliza esta estructura de alianzas impuesta a los países derrotados para fomentar el conflicto con China.

El proyecto imperial se fundamenta en la conquista económica, lo cual implica la confiscación y apropiación de la riqueza y los recursos de países soberanos. Sucesivas operaciones militares en Oriente Medio han tenido por objeto confiscar las reservas de petróleo y gas.

Los países son destruidos, a menudo transformados en territorios, y se pierde todo vestigio de soberanía. Las instituciones nacionales colapsan y la economía nacional es destruida por medio de la imposición de reformas de “libre mercado” bajo la tutela del FMI, campea el desempleo, se desmantelan los servicios sociales, los salarios colapsan y la gente es empobrecida.

En estos países, las élites capitalistas gobernantes son subordinadas a las de EE.UU. y sus aliados. Los activos y recursos naturales del país se transfieren a manos de inversores extranjeros por medio de programas de privatización impuestos por las fuerzas invasoras en coordinación del FMI y del Banco Mundial.

La historia de las armas nucleares: el legado de Hiroshima y Nagasaki

Al inicio, la doctrina sobre armas nucleares durante el periodo del Proyecto Manhattan no se basaba en las ideas nacidas de la Guerra Fría, como “disuasión” o “destrucción mutua asegurada”. Además, la doctrina nuclear de EE.UU. después de la Guerra Fría se fundamenta en la noción que las armas nucleares se pueden utilizar en escenarios de guerra convencionales y que estas armas son “inofensivas para civiles”.

El objetivo estratégico de usar tanto ataques convencionales como nucleares ha sido desencadenar “eventos causantes de bajas masivas”, o sea, decenas de miles de muertes.

Esta estrategia se puso en práctica por primera vez hacia finales de la Segunda Guerra Mundial en Japón y Alemania, y su propósito era aterrorizar toda una nación, como medio para la conquista militar.

En Japón, el principal objetivo no eran blancos militares: la noción de “daño colateral” fue utilizada como una justificación para el asesinato masivo de civiles, con el pretexto oficial de que Hiroshima era una “base militar” y que los civiles no eran los blancos.

Para citar al presidente Harry Truman:

Hemos descubierto la más terrible bomba en la historia del mundo… Esta bomba se utilizará contra Japón… La emplearemos de tal manera que militares, soldados y marinos sean los blancos y no mujeres y niños. Aunque los japoneses sean salvajes, crueles, desapiadados y fanáticos, nosotros como líderes de un mundo en pro del bienestar común no podemos bombardear ni la vieja ni la nueva capital… El blanco será netamente militar…

Parece ser lo más terrible que se haya descubierto jamás, pero puede que sea lo más útil.

El mundo notará que la primera bomba atómica fue lanzada contra una base militar en Hiroshima. Se hizo así porque en este primer ataque quisimos evitar, hasta donde fuera posible, matar a civiles.

[Nota: La primera bomba cayó sobre Hiroshima el día 6 de agosto de 1945 y la segunda sobre Nagasaki tres días más tarde, el 9 de agosto, el mismo día en que Truman brindó su alocución radial a la nación.]

Harry Truman

Nadie en las altas esferas del gobierno y fuerzas armadas de EE.UU. creía que Hiroshima fuera una base militar. Truman se engañaba a sí mismo y mentía al público estadounidense.

Hasta hoy se sigue justificando el uso de armas nucleares contra Japón en 1945 como un costo necesario para poner fin a la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Según esta tesis, al fin y al cabo “se salvaron vidas”.

Ya desde antes de Hiroshima, EE.UU. venia bombardeando Japón sin cesar, con un alto costo en vidas civiles. Hacia el final de la guerra en Europa, las fuerzas aliadas bombardearon también extensamente varias ciudades alemanas, donde utilizaron dispositivos incendiarios que desataron una tormenta de fuego y  destruyeron su centro histórico. No cabe duda que los objetivos eran civiles y no instalaciones militares.

La era después de la Guerra Fría: guerra nuclear preventiva 

El arsenal estadounidense ha aumentado considerablemente. En la era después de la Guerra Fría, ArmsControl.org (abril de 2013) confirma que Estados Unidos

posee 5,113 ojivas nucleares, entre armas tácticas, estratégicas y no desplegadas.11

Según la declaración oficial (2013) del nuevo START, de las más de 5,113 armas nucleares

EE.UU. tiene desplegadas 1,654 ojivas nucleares estratégicas en 792 ICBMs, SLBMs y bombarderos estratégicos…   

Además, según la Federación de Científicos Americanos (FAS), EE.UU. posee 500 ojivas nucleares tácticas, muchas de las cuales se encuentran desplegadas en países no nucleares como Alemania, Italia, Turquía, Bélgica y Holanda.

En el Análisis de Postura Nuclear (NPR), presentado al Senado de Estados Unidos por la administración Bush a inicios del año 2002, se establecieron unos así llamados “planes de contingencia” para un “primer ataque ofensivo” con armas nucleares, no solo contra el “eje del mal” (Iraq, Irán, Libia, Siria y Corea del Norte), sino también contra Rusia y China. En el gobierno de Obama, la doctrina nuclear de EE.UU. también abarca la posibilidad de un “primer ataque” con armas nucleares contra Estados no nucleares.

La historia de crímenes de guerra de EE.UU.

La idea de “eventos causantes de bajas masivas” persiste hasta el día de hoy en las estrategias militares estadounidenses. Invariablemente, como en el caso de Siria, se culpa a las víctimas por las bajas civiles causadas por los agresores.

El periodo que va desde la guerra de Corea (1950-1953) hasta el presente se caracteriza por una sucesión de escenarios de guerra auspiciados por EE.UU. (Corea, Vietnam, Camboya, Afganistán, Yugoslavia e Irak) y diferentes versiones de intervención militar, incluyendo conflictos de baja intensidad o “guerras civiles” en Angola, Mozambique, Nicaragua, el Congo, Somalia, Etiopía, Ruanda, Sudan); golpes de Estado, escuadrones de la muerte y masacres (Chile, Argentina, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Irán, Indonesia, Tailandia y Filipinas); guerras encubiertas en apoyo de los “luchadores por la libertad” conocidos más adelante como Al Qaeda  (ocupación soviética de Afganistán) y el uso posterior de soldados de esta agrupación  en Siria; e intervenciones militares “humanitarias” en Libia en 2011 (bombardeo aéreo combinado con apoyo a rebeldes de Al Qaeda).

El objetivo no era tanto ganar estas guerras sino en esencia desestabilizar estos países como Estados nación e imponer un gobierno que actúe como agente de los intereses de Occidente.

Un conteo de estas diferentes operaciones militares revela que desde agosto de 1945 Estados Unidos ha atacado, directa o indirectamente, a 44 países en diferentes regiones del mundo en vías de desarrollo, en algunos casos varias veces…

El objetivo declarado de estas intervenciones militares ha sido efectuar un “cambio de régimen”. Invariablemente se ha citado los “derechos humanos” y la “democracia” como fachadas para justificar lo que eran a todas luces actos unilaterales e ilegales.12 

Todo el “periodo de postguerra” se caracteriza por extensos crímenes de guerra que han provocado la muerte de millones de personas. Lo que vemos aquí es una agenda de política externa criminal por parte de Estados Unidos. Estos crímenes no son exclusivos de uno o más jefes de Estado. Más bien forman parte de todo un sistema estatal, sus diferentes instituciones civiles y militares, así como de los poderosos intereses corporativos que están detrás de la formulación de la política externa de Washington, las instituciones de investigación y los entes acreedores que financian la maquinaria militar.

Lo que diferencia a los gobiernos de Bush y Obama con relación al historial de crímenes y atrocidades cometidos por Estados Unidos es que los campos de concentración, los asesinatos selectivos y las cámaras de tortura son ahora reconocidos abiertamente como formas legítimas de intervención que sostienen la “guerra global contra el terrorismo” y sirven como herramientas para promover la democracia occidental.

Los crímenes auspiciados por EE.UU. no se limitan a los muertos o las bajas en las guerras y la destrucción de la infraestructura de la nación, sino que los países quedan destruidos, colapsados y empobrecidos. Y como ya dijimos más arriba, los activos y recursos naturales del país se transfieren a manos de inversores extranjeros por medio de programas de privatización impuestos por las fuerzas invasoras.

 La destrucción del internacionalismo: la Doctrina Truman

Terminada la Segunda Guerra Mundial, la administración Truman formuló el objetivo del dominio militar global, en apoyo a un proyecto imperial a finales de la década de los cuarenta, al inicio de la Guerra Fría. Este objetivo fue reafirmado en 1990 por el Presidente George Herbert Walker Bush en un discurso histórico ante una sesión conjunta del Congreso y Senado de EE.UU., en el que proclamó el Nuevo Orden Mundial luego de la caída del Muro de Berlín y la desintegración del bloque soviético.

Los fundamentos ideológicos de esta agenda se encuentran en lo que se conoce como la “Doctrina Truman”, formulada por primera vez en 1946 por el asesor de política exterior George F. Kennan en un informe del Departamento de Estado.

Lo que nos llama la atención al leer este documento es la continuidad que hubo en la política externa de EE.UU., desde la estrategia de “contención” durante la Guerra Fría hasta la guerra “preventiva” y la “guerra contra el terrorismo” en la actualidad. En el fondo, el texto de Kennan dice en términos corteses que EE.UU. debe buscar el dominio económico y estratégico por medios militares:

“Además, contamos con alrededor del 50% de la riqueza mundial, pero solo con el 6.3% de su población. Esta disparidad es particularmente grande entre nosotros y los pueblos de Asia. En esta situación  no podemos dejar de ser objeto de envidia y resentimiento. Nuestra tarea real en la época venidera es la de crear un plan de relaciones que nos permita mantener esta posición de disparidad sin menoscabo de nuestra seguridad nacional. Para hacerlo tendremos que dejar a un lado el sentimentalismo y las quimeras; y nuestra atención tendrá que estar concentrada en nuestros objetivos nacionales inmediatos en todas partes. No debemos engañarnos con la idea de que hoy en día podemos permitirnos el lujo del altruismo y ser los benefactores del mundo. 

… Ante esta situación, nos favorece prescindir de inmediato de varios conceptos que han apuntalado nuestra manera de pensar con relación al Oriente Lejano. Debemos abandonar la aspiración de “caer bien” o ser reconocidos como el repositorio del más alto altruismo internacional. Debemos dejar de ponernos en la posición de guardián de nuestros hermanos y dejar de ofrecer consejos morales e ideológicos.  Debemos dejar de hablar de objetivos vagos e irreales– sobre todo respecto al Lejano Oriente –tales como los derechos humanos, el crecimiento de los niveles de vida y la democratización. No está muy lejos el día en que tendremos que manejar conceptos del poder puro. Para entonces cuanto menos estemos atados por consignas idealistas, mejor.13 

La desintegración planificada del sistema de las Naciones Unidas (ONU) como un organismo internacional independiente e influyente ha estado en el tablero de la política externa de Estados Unidos desde su fundación en 1945. Su desaparición  planificada formó parte integral de la Doctrina Truman, según se definió en 1948. Desde el primer momento, Washington ha procurado por un lado controlar la ONU para sacarle provecho y, por el otro,  busca debilitarla y finalmente destruirla.

En las palabras de George Kennan:

Ocasionalmente, [las Naciones Unidas] ha tenido un propósito útil. Pero, en general, ha creado más problemas de los que ha resuelto y ha dado lugar a la dispersión de nuestros esfuerzos diplomáticos. Y en el empeño por obtener la mayoría de votos en las Naciones Unidas para lograr nuestros principales propósitos políticos, jugamos con un arma peligrosa que algún día puede volverse contra nosotros. Esta es una situación que amerita un estudio muy cuidadoso y de previsión de nuestra parte.14  

Aunque comprometido oficialmente con la “comunidad internacional”, Washington habla de boquilla sobre las Naciones Unidas. Hoy, la ONU es en muchos sentidos un apéndice del Departamento de Estado de EE.UU. En lugar de socavar la ONU como institución, como lo propusiera George Kennan a finales de la década de los cuarenta, EE.UU. y sus aliados ejercen el control de la Secretaría y los organismos más importantes de la ONU.

Desde la primera Guerra del Golfo, la ONU ha servido principalmente para autorizar las actuaciones de Estados Unidos de manera rutinaria y sin mayores cuestionamientos. Ha cerrado los ojos ante los crímenes de guerra de Estados Unidos y  ha puesto en marcha las así llamadas operaciones de mantenimiento de la paz en nombre de los invasores angloestadounidenses, en violación de la Carta de la ONU. Tras el “despido” de facto del secretario general de la ONU Boutros Boutros Ghali, los secretarios generales que le sucedieron, tanto Kofi Annan como Ban Ki-moon, se  convirtieron en herramientas de la política exterior de EE.UU., tomando sus órdenes  directamente de Washington.

Demás está decir que los sucesivos gobiernos demócratas y republicanos, desde Harry Truman hasta George W. Bush y Barack Obama, han estado involucrados en este proyecto hegemónico de dominación que el Pentágono ha denominado “guerra prolongada”.

Los escritos de Kennan apuntan a la importancia de construir una alianza dominante angloestadounidense basada en “buenas relaciones entre nuestro país y el imperio británico”. En el mundo de hoy, esta alianza caracteriza en gran medida el eje militar que existe entre Washington y Londres, que desempeña un papel dominante en la OTAN, en detrimento de los aliados europeos del primero. Kennan también señaló la importancia de incluir a Canadá en la alianza angloestadounidense, una política que en efecto ha sido mayormente  ejecutada (por medio del CAFTA y la integración de las estructuras de mando militar). El papel de Canadá fue concebido como el de un intermediario entre EE.UU. y Gran Bretaña, y como medio para que Estados Unidos influyera en las colonias británicas, que más tarde llegarían a formar la Mancomunidad.

“La Europa federada” 

En la Doctrina Truman ya se avizoraba un proyecto de unión europea con una “Alemania debilitada”. George F. Kennan  concibió la formación de una “Europa federada” que estaría basada en el fortalecimiento de la alianza dominante angloestadounidense entre Gran Bretaña y Estados Unidos, el debilitamiento de Alemania como un poder europeo y la exclusión de Rusia.

A la luz de los acontecimientos recientes en Ucrania y Europa del Este, es pertinente señalar que en el informe del Departamento del Estado, citado más arriba, Kennan apunta explícitamente a una “política de contención de Alemania, dentro de Europa occidental”. Lo que sugieren las observaciones de Kennan es que EE.UU. debe apoyar un proyecto europeo, pero solamente en la medida en que favorezca a los intereses hegemónicos de EE.UU.

En este sentido, vale la pena recordar que la alianza francoalemana fue la que, por lo general, prevaleció antes de la arremetida angloestadounidense contra Irak en 2003, a la que tanto Francia como Alemania se opusieron.

La invasión de Irak marcó un punto de inflexión. La elección de líderes políticos pro-EE.UU. (el presidente Sarkozy en Francia y la canciller Angela Merkel en Alemania) conllevó a un debilitamiento de la soberanía nacional y, por ende, al declive de la alianza francoalemana.

Hoy día tanto el presidente francés como la canciller alemana reciben sus órdenes desde Washington.

Lo que es más, en el contexto actual, EE.UU. está empeñado en evitar que Alemania y Francia desarrollen relaciones políticas y económicas con Rusia, algo que a los ojos de Washington socavaría sus ambiciones hegemónicas sobre la Unión Europea.

La construcción de una esfera de influencia de EE.UU. en el Este y Sudeste de Asia 

Como ya hemos visto, la Doctrina Truman fue la culminación de una estrategia militar desarrollada después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial por EE.UU., pero que tuvo su génesis con el bombardeo nuclear de Hiroshima y Nagasaki en agosto de 1945 y la rendición de Japón.

En Asia del Este, esta consistió en la ocupación de Japón después de la guerra, así como la toma de posesión del imperio colonial japonés, incluyendo Corea del Sur (Corea había sido anexada a Japón bajo el Tratado de Anexión Japón-Corea de 1910).

Tras la derrota de Japón imperial en la Segunda Guerra Mundial, se estableció una zona de influencia de  EE.UU. en el este y sudeste de Asia,  específicamente en los territorios de la antigua “Esfera de Coprosperidad de la Gran Asia Oriental” del Japón imperial.

Asimismo, la hegemonía de Estados Unidos en Asia se basó en gran medida en la creación de una esfera de influencia en los países bajo la jurisdicción colonial de Japón, Francia y los Países Bajos.

La esfera de influencia en Asia y EE.UU., que fue construida a lo largo de un período de más de 20 años, abarcó Filipinas (un territorio de EE.UU. que fue ocupado por Japón durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial), Corea del Sur (anexado a Japón en 1910 y un Estado cliente después de la Segunda Guerra), Tailandia (un protectorado japonés durante la Segunda Guerra), Indonesia (una colonia holandesa ocupada por Japón durante la Guerra y que se vendría a convertir en un Estado cliente de facto de EE.UU. tras el golpe militar que instaló a la dictadura de Suharto en el poder en 1965).

Esta esfera de influencia de EE.UU. en Asia también extendió su control a las antiguas posesiones coloniales de Francia en Indochina, incluyendo Vietnam, Laos y Camboya, que habían sido ocupadas militarmente por Japón durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial.

El “giro hacia Asia” de Obama, que amenaza abiertamente a China, es el desenlace de este proceso histórico.

La guerra de Corea y la Doctrina Truman 

La Guerra de Corea (1950-1953) fue la primera gran operación militar llevada a cabo por  EE.UU. después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, y empezó casi al inicio de lo que eufemísticamente se llamó  la “Guerra Fría”. En muchos aspectos, era una continuación de la Segunda Guerra Mundial,  cuando las tierras de Corea bajo ocupación colonial japonesa fueron, de un día para otro, entregadas a un nuevo poder colonial en la región, Estados Unidos de América. La entrega de Corea de Sur a EE.UU. tuvo lugar el día 8 de septiembre de 1945, tan solo tres semanas después de la rendición de Japón el 15 de agosto de 1945.

En la Conferencia de Potsdam, celebrada en julio y agosto de 1945, Estados Unidos y la Unión Soviética acordaron dividir Corea a lo largo del paralelo 38. No hubo ninguna “liberación” cuando entraron las tropas estadounidenses. Más bien fue todo lo contrario.

El 8 de septiembre de 1945 se instaló un gobierno militar de Estados Unidos en Corea del Sur. Es más, oficiales japoneses en este país colaboraron con Gobierno Militar del Ejército de Estados Unidos (USAMG) (1945-1948), bajo el mando del General John Hodge, para garantizar la transición. Los administradores coloniales de Japón en Seúl, así como los oficiales de la policía coreana trabajaron de la mano con sus nuevos amos coloniales.

Desde el comienzo, el gobierno militar de EE.UU. se rehusó a reconocer al gobierno provisional de la República Popular de Corea (RPK) (en Corea del Sur), el cual estaba comprometido con unas profundas reformas sociales, como la distribución de la tierra, leyes para proteger a los derechos de trabajadores, leyes para establecer un salario mínimo y la reunificación de las dos Coreas.

El RPK era un gobierno no alineado, con un mandato anticolonial que postulaba “el establecimiento de relaciones estrechas con EE.UU., la URSS, Inglaterra y China, y oposición a cualquier influencia extranjera que interfiriese en los asuntos internos del Estado”.15

El RPK fue abolido por decreto militar en septiembre de 1945 por el USAMG, No hubo  democracia, ni liberación, ni independencia.

Mientras que Japón fue tratado como un imperio derrotado, Corea del Sur fue identificado como un territorio colonial para ser administrado bajo el régimen militar de EE.UU. y las fuerzas de ocupación estadounidenses. El nuevo Jefe de Estado,  Syngman Rhee, fue nombrado al dedazo por Estados Unidos y llegó a Seúl en el avión personal del general Douglas MacArthur en octubre de 1945.

Crímenes de guerra contra el pueblo coreano 

Los crímenes de guerra cometidos por EE.UU. contra el pueblo coreano en el transcurso de la guerra de Corea y posteriormente, no tienen parangón en la historia moderna.

Además, es importante entender que estos crímenes contra la humanidad auspiciados por Estados Unidos y acaecidos en los años cincuenta han contribuido, con el pasar de los años, a establecer “un patrón de matanzas” y violaciones de los derechos humanos en diferentes partes del mundo.

La guerra de Corea se caracterizó también por la práctica de asesinatos selectivos de disidentes políticos, algo que luego fue implementado por la CIA en muchos otros países, entre ellos Indonesia, Vietnam, Argentina, Guatemala, El Salvador, Afganistán e Irak.

Estos asesinatos selectivos fueron perpetrados invariablemente por instrucciones de la CIA y llevados a cabo por agentes de los gobiernos o dictaduras militares clientes de EE.UU. En tiempos recientes, asesinatos selectivos de civiles han sido “legalizados” por el Congreso y son ahora el “la nueva norma”.

Según el libro escrito por I. F. Stone titulado “La historia secreta de la guerra en Corea”, publicado por vez primera en 1952 (durante el auge de la guerra), EE.UU. buscó de manera deliberada un pretexto, un acto de engaño que incitara a Corea del Norte a cruzar el paralelo 38, lo cual conllevó a una guerra total.

El libro de I. F. Stone plantea interrogantes sobre el origen de la guerra en Corea, y argumenta que en su afán por atizar la guerra, el gobierno de Estados Unidos había manipulado a las Naciones Unidas. Asimismo, puso en evidencia que las fuerzas armadas de EE.UU. y la oligarquía de Corea de Sur retrasaron el fin de la guerra más de lo necesario al sabotear deliberadamente las conversaciones de paz”.

En la versión de Stone, el General Douglas MacArthur “hizo todo lo posible para evitar la paz”.

Las guerras de agresión de EE.UU. son libradas bajo el manto de la “autodefensa” y ataques preventivos. Sesenta años más tarde, haciéndose eco de la declaración histórica de I.F. Stone con referencia al general MacArthur, el presidente Barack Obama y su secretario de Defensa Chuck Hagel también están “haciendo todo lo posible para evitar la paz”.

Este patrón de provocar al enemigo para que “tire el primer tiro” es una práctica bien establecida en la doctrina militar de EE.UU. La idea es crear un “pretexto para la guerra” que le brinda al agresor la justificación para intervenir con el argumento de que actúa en “defensa propia”. Este fue el caso cuando los japoneses atacaron Pearl Harbor en Hawái en 1941, inducidos por trampas y engaños. Los funcionarios de Estados Unidos sabían con anticipación que habría un ataque, pero lejos de buscar cómo evitarlo, permitieron que tuviera lugar para así justificar la entrada de EE.UU. en la Segunda Guerra Mundial.

El incidente en el Golfo de Tonkín en agosto de 1964 fue el pretexto que buscaba EE.UU. para atacar Vietnam del Norte, luego de que el Congreso adoptara la Resolución del Golfo de Tonkín, que autorizaba al presidente Lyndon B. Johnson a ir a la guerra contra los comunistas de Vietnam del Norte.

El análisis de I. F. Stone refuta “la versión oficial” de que la guerra de Corea ocurrió a raíz de una agresión no provocada por parte de los coreanos del norte el día 25 de junio de 1950, realizado por instigación de la Unión Soviética con el fin de expandir su esfera de influencia a toda la península, y que la agresión tomó completamente por sorpresa a los coreanos del sur,  Estados Unidos y las Naciones Unidas. ¿Pero fue realmente una “sorpresa”? ¿Podría un ataque con 70,000 hombres y, al menos, 70 tanques avanzando simultáneamente en cuatro puntos diferentes haber sido una sorpresa?

Stone recopila informes de la época encontrados en fuentes sudcoreanas, estadounidenses y de las Naciones Unidas que documentan lo que se sabía antes del 25 de junio. Se ha informado que el titular de la CIA en aquél entonces, el contraalmirante Roscoe H. Hillenloetter dijo de manera oficial  que “la inteligencia estadounidense sabía que existían condiciones en Corea que podrían significar una invasión en esta semana o la otra” (p.2). Stone escribe que “el principal comentarista militar de Estados Unidos, Hanson Baldwin del New York Times, un periodista de confianza del Pentágono, reportó que [los documentos militares de EE.UU.] mostraban ‘desde los primeros días de junio un aumento sustancial del Ejército Popular de Corea” a lo largo del paralelo 38’.16  (p. 4)

¿Cómo y por qué el Presidente Truman decidió tan rápidamente el 27 de junio que el ejército de EE.UU. intervendría en la guerra en Corea del Sur? Stone sostiene que algunos en el gobierno y las fuerzas armadas de EE.UU. consideraban que una guerra en Corea y la resultante inestabilidad en Asia Oriental favorecían los intereses de Estados Unidos.17

Según el editor de la revista semanal francesa Le Nouvel Observateur Claude Bourdet:

Si la tesis de Stone está en lo correcto, estamos en presencia del mayor engaño jamás perpetrado a lo largo de la historia militar mundial… no [sería]  cuestión de un fraude inofensivo sino de una terrible maniobra en la que se utiliza conscientemente la mentira para obstaculizar la paz, en un momento cuando ésta es una posibilidad.18 

En las palabras de los reputados autores estadounidenses Leo Huberman y Paul Sweezy:

Hemos llegado a la conclusión de que el presidente Syngman Rhee [de Corea del Sur] ha provocado deliberadamente a los norcoreanos, precisamente para que tomaran represalias y cruzaran el paralelo en masa.  Y los norcoreanos cayeron fácil en la trampa.19

El día 25 de junio de 1950, luego de la adopción de la Resolución 82 del Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU, el general Douglas MacArthur, quien encabezara el gobierno militar de EE.UU. en el Japón ocupado, fue nombrado comandante en jefe del así llamado Mando de las Naciones Unidas (UNCOM). De acuerdo con Bruce Cumings, la guerra coreana “tenía una fuerte similitud con la guerra aérea librada contra el Japón Imperial durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, y muchas veces fue dirigida por los mismos líderes militares estadounidenses”, incluyendo a los generales Douglas MacArthur y Curtis LeMay.

Si bien no se utilizaron armas nucleares en la guerra de Corea, lo que prevaleció fue la estrategia de “asesinatos masivos de civiles”, que ya se había formulado y probado durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial. La política de causar masivamente bajas de civiles inocentes fue ejecutada por medio de ataques aéreos y bombardeos masivos de ciudades alemanas por fuerzas estadounidenses y británicas durante las últimas semanas de la guerra. La ironía es que los blancos militares fueron más bien resguardados.

Esta doctrina no oficial de matar a civiles so pretexto de atacar objetivos militares caracterizó en gran medida las acciones militares de EEUU en el transcurso de la guerra de Corea y en lo que vino después. Como escribió Bruce Cumings en su libro Korea: Forgotten Nuclear Threats (Corea: amenazas nucleares olvidadas):

El día 12 de agosto de 1959, la Fuerza Aérea de Estados Unidos dejó caer 625 toneladas de bombas sobre Corea del Norte; dos semanas después el tonelaje diario aumentó a unas 800 toneladas. Los bombarderos de Estados Unidos lanzaron más napalm y bombas sobre Corea del Norte que en toda la campaña del Pacífico durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial.20

Los territorios al norte del paralelo 38 fueron objeto de bombardeos de saturación que provocaron la destrucción de 78 ciudades y miles de pueblos:

Lo indeleble en la guerra de Corea de 1950-1953 fue la extraordinaria capacidad destructora de las campañas aéreas de Estados Unidos contra Corea del Norte, desde un uso extenso y continuo de bombas incendiarias (principalmente con Napalm), hasta amenazas de utilizar armas nucleares y químicas, y la destrucción de enormes represas en Corea del Norte durante las últimas etapas de la guerra…

Como resultado, prácticamente todo edificio de cierto tamaño en Corea del Norte fue destruido.21

El general de división William F. Dean dio a conocer que “la mayoría de las ciudades y pueblos de Corea del Norte que vio [durante su estadía] no eran más que escombros o terrenos baldíos cubiertos de nieve”.

El general Curtis LeMay, quien coordinó los ataques aéreos en contra de Corea del Norte reconoció sin el más mínimo empacho que:

“Durante un período de tres años más o menos matamos – ¿qué? – como el veinte por ciento de la población. … Quemamos todos las pueblos de Corea del Norte y de Corea del Sur también”.22

Según Brian Willson:

Ahora se cree que la población al norte del paralelo 38 que les fue impuesto perdió casi un tercio de su población de 8 a 9 millones de personas durante los 37 meses de guerra “caliente” entre 1950 y 1953, quizá un porcentaje sin precedentes de  mortalidad sufrida por una nación debido a la agresividad de otra”.23

Corea del Norte ha sido amenazada por Estados Unidos con un ataque nuclear durante más de 60 años.

De la Doctrina Truman hasta Clinton, Bush y Obama

Ha habido una continuidad a lo largo de la era posterior a la guerra, desde Corea y Vietnam hasta el presente.

La agenda neoconservadora bajo la administración Bush debe ser vista como la culminación de un marco bipartidista de política exterior de “posguerra”, que proporcionó la base para la planificación de las guerras y atrocidades contemporáneas, incluyendo la construcción de cámaras de tortura, campamentos de concentración y el uso extenso de armas prohibidas contra civiles.

Bajo Obama, esta agenda se ha convertido cada vez más cohesionada, con la legalización de ejecuciones extrajudiciales de ciudadanos estadounidenses bajo la legislación antiterrorista, el uso extenso de ataques con aviones no tripulados (drones) contra civiles, y masacres  ordenadas por la alianza Estados Unidos-OTAN-Israel dirigidos contra civiles sirios e iraquíes.

Desde Corea, Vietnam y Afganistán hasta los golpes militares apoyados por la CIA en América Latina y el Sudeste de Asia, el objetivo ha sido siempre el de asegurar la hegemonía militar de EE.UU. y la dominación económica global, como se formuló inicialmente bajo la Doctrina Truman.

A pesar de las profundas diferencias políticas entre ellos, los sucesivos gobiernos de  demócratas y republicanos, desde Harry Truman a Obama, han llevado a cabo esta agenda militar global.

Todo este “período de posguerra” se caracteriza por  crímenes de guerra que provocaron la muerte de más de veinte millones de personas. Esta cifra no incluye a los que murieron como consecuencia de la pobreza, el hambre y las enfermedades.

La naturaleza criminal de la política exterior de Estados Unidos 

Aquí estamos tratando nada menos que con la agenda criminal de política exterior de EE.UU. La propaganda mediática ha servido para ofuscar las cosas. El intervencionismo de EE.UU. es invariablemente defendido como una labor   humanitaria. Mientras tanto, la así llamada “izquierda progresista” y los “activistas antiguerra” reciben el apoyo de fundaciones corporativas y también argumentan motivos humanitarias en apoyo a esta política (véase el capítulo XI).

Su naturaleza criminal no atañe solo a uno o varios jefes de Estado. Forma parte intrínseca de todo el sistema estatal, sus distintas instituciones civiles y militares, así como los poderosos intereses corporativos detrás de la formulación de la política exterior de EE.UU., los institutos de investigación en Washington y las instituciones acreedoras que financian la maquinaria militar.

Los crímenes de guerra son el resultado de la naturaleza criminal del Estado de EE.UU. y su  aparato de política exterior. No se trata solo de criminales de guerra individuales, sino de todo un proceso que involucra a tomadores de decisiones que actúan a distintos niveles, con el mandato de llevar a cabo crímenes de guerra, según pautas y procedimientos establecidos.

Lo que distingue a las administraciones de Bush y Obama con relación al registro histórico de los crímenes y atrocidades perpetrados por EE.UU., es que los campos de concentración, los asesinatos selectivos y las cámaras de tortura son ahora consideradas abiertamente como formas legítimas de intervención que apoyan la “guerra global contra el terrorismo” y promueven la difusión de la democracia occidental.

EE.UU. apoyó la “guerra sucia” en América Latina 

El Secretario de Estado Henry Kissinger desempeñó un papel importante tras bambalinas en el golpe militar en Argentina, así como en la formulación de la Operación Cóndor, que consistió en una campaña llevada a cabo con la colaboración de los gobiernos militares en los diferentes países de América Latina durante la década de los años setenta y ochenta para perseguir, torturar y asesinar a decenas de miles de opositores a estos regímenes.

El lugarteniente de Kissinger en América Latina, William Rogers, le dijo dos días después del golpe que:

En Argentina debemos esperar dentro de poco cierta represión y probablemente una buena cantidad de sangre.24 

Las guerras del siglo 21: de la Guerra Fría a la “guerra global contra el terrorismo”

El presunto autor intelectual de los ataques terroristas del 11 de septiembre de 2001 contra las Torres Gemelas en Nueva York y el Pentágono en Washington fue Osama bin Laden, de origen saudita, quien irónicamente fue reclutado por la CIA durante la guerra afgano-soviética  “para luchar contra los invasores soviéticos”.

Desde el comienzo de la guerra en Afganistán a principios de la década de 1980, el aparato de inteligencia de EE.UU. ha apoyado la formación de “brigadas islámicas”.

La teoría de la guerra justa

La teoría de la “guerra justa” (jus ad bellum) tiene una larga tradición. Ha sido utilizada a lo largo de la historia para mantener el orden social dominante y justificar sus guerras. Asimismo, ha servido para camuflar la naturaleza de la política exterior de EE.UU., al mismo tiempo que brinda un “rostro humano” al país invasor.

En el caso de Afganistán, los ataques del 9 de septiembre tuvieron un papel importantísimo al ser utilizados para justificar la invasión. Las guerras lideradas por la OTAN en Yugoslavia, Afganistán y Libia son presentadas como “guerras justas” libradas por motivos humanitarios según la Doctrina de Responsabilidad de Proteger (R2P) adoptada por la Alianza Atlántica.

Los ataques del 11 de septiembre de 2001 y la invasión de Afganistán

Los ataques del 11-S ofrecieron una justificación para hacer una guerra sin fronteras. La agenda de Washington consiste en extender las fronteras del American Empire con el fin de facilitar el control corporativo absoluto de EE.UU. y al mismo tiempo instalar las instituciones del Estado de Seguridad Nacional en el país.

Los ataques de 11-S 2001 también han desempeñado un papel crucial en la formulación de la doctrina militar de EE.UU., específicamente para sustentar la leyenda de que Al Qaeda es un enemigo del mundo occidental, cuando en realidad es un constructo de los servicios de inteligencia de EE.UU. que se utiliza no sólo como pretexto para hacer la guerra por motivos humanitarias sino también como un instrumento de guerra no convencional.

El 12 de septiembre de 2001, la OTAN invocó por primera vez en su historia el artículo 5 del Tratado de Washington, su cláusula de defensa colectiva, y declaró que los ataques del 11-S al WTC y el Pentágono constituían “un ataque a todos los miembros de la OTAN”.

Sin una pisca de evidencia y antes siquiera de que se llevara a cabo una investigación al respecto, Afganistán fue declarado como el “Estado patrocinador” de los ataques. La invasión de Afganistán a inicios de octubre de 2001 fue presentada como una operación contraterrorista dirigida contra los autores de los ataques y sus patrocinadores estatales.

Los sindicatos, organizaciones no gubernamentales (ONG) y muchos intelectuales progresistas apoyaron la invasión encabezada por EE.UU. y la OTAN. Los eventos del 11-S fueron de fundamental importancia para lograr el apoyo de varios sectores de la sociedad estadounidense, incluyendo a opositores y críticos de la política exterior del gobierno de Bush.

La guerra en contra de Afganistán ya estaba planificada mucho antes del 11-S. Las preparaciones ya estaban en un avanzado estado de disposición. En menos de 24 horas después de los ataques, se dio luz verde para que Estados Unidos y la OTAN atacaran Afganistán.

Los informes de prensa jamás revelaron un hecho que es conocido y reconocido por los analistas militares: es imposible, en cualquier circunstancia, planificar y poner en práctica un elaborado escenario de guerra en apenas cuatro o cinco semanas.

El argumento jurídico utilizado por Washington y la OTAN para invadir Afganistán a principios de octubre de 2001 fue que los ataques del 11-S constituyeron un “ataque armado” no declarado “desde el exterior” por una potencia extranjera no nombrada y que, en consecuencia, eran aplicables “las leyes de la guerra”, que permiten a una  nación bajo ataque contraatacar en nombre de la “defensa propia”.

La “guerra global contra el terrorismo” fue lanzada oficialmente por el gobierno de Bush el mismo 11 de septiembre de 2001. A la mañana siguiente, el Consejo del Atlántico Norte de la OTAN en Bruselas adoptó el siguiente acuerdo:

“Si se determina que el ataque del 11 de septiembre 2001 en contra de Estados Unidos fue dirigido desde el extranjero [Afganistán] en contra de la región del Atlántico Norte, será considerado como una acción contemplada en el artículo 5 del Tratado de Washington”.25

Afganistán fue invadido el 7 de octubre de 2001, de acuerdo con la doctrina de seguridad colectiva de la OTAN: un ataque a uno de los miembros de la Alianza Atlántica es considerado un ataque a todos sus miembros. Esta premisa supone que en este caso EE.UU. había sido atacado por Afganistán el 11 de septiembre de 2001, una propuesta absurda.

Es decir que para defender la patria se requiere de una guerra preventiva dirigida contra los “terroristas islámicos”. Las realidades se invierten: Estados Unidos y el mundo occidental son los que están bajo ataque.

A raíz de los ataques del 11-S, la creación de este “enemigo exterior” sirvió para ocultar los verdaderos objetivos económicos y estratégicos detrás de las guerras encabezadas por Estados Unidos en Medio Oriente y Asia Central, que abarcan países donde se concentra más del sesenta por ciento de las reservas de petróleo y gas.

Librada por supuestos motivos de defensa propia, la guerra preventiva se presenta al mundo  como una “guerra justa” con un mandato humanitario.

La propaganda pretende borrar la historia de Al Qaeda, una creación de la CIA, ahogar la verdad y “matar la evidencia” de cómo este “enemigo exterior” fue primero inventado y luego transformado en el “enemigo número uno”.

Lo que los medios nunca mencionan es que los terroristas son en esencia asesinos a sueldo  que actúan con el apoyo de EE.UU., la OTAN e Israel.

Guerra no convencional: el uso de los rebeldes de Al Qaeda como soldados de infantería de la alianza militar occidental

La estrategia de utilizar los rebeldes de Al Qaeda como soldados de infantería de las fuerzas armadas de Occidente es de crucial importancia. Ha caracterizado las intervenciones de Estados Unidos y de la OTAN en Yugoslavia, Afganistán, Libia y Siria. Actualmente forma parte de una agenda encubierta para desestabilizar Irak al apoyar al Estado Islámico en Irak y al-Sham (EIIS).

El Estado islámico 

Mientras Washington acusa a varios países de “albergar a terroristas”, Estados Unidos es el principal “patrocinador estatal del terrorismo”: el Estado Islámico de Irak y al-Sham (EIIS) – que opera tanto en Siria como en Irak – recibe de manera encubierta el apoyo y financiamiento de EE.UU., y entre sus aliados se cuentan Turquía, Arabia Saudita y Qatar. Además, el proyecto de EIIS de establecer un califato sunita coincide con la agenda de larga data que ha tenido EE.UU. de repartir Irak y Siria en diferentes territorios separados: un Califato Islámico Sunita, una República Árabe Chiíta, una República de Kurdistán, entre otros.

Brigadas terroristas de Al Qaeda patrocinadas por EE.UU. (y apoyadas de manera encubierta por la inteligencia occidental) también se han desplegado en Malí, Níger, Nigeria, la República Centroafricana, Somalia y Yemen.

El objetivo es crear tantas divisiones sectarias y étnicas como sea posible, con miras a desestabilizar o fracturar países soberanos, según el modelo exitoso utilizado en la antigua Yugoslavia.

El plan de ataque global de EE.UU.: el papel del Comando Estratégico (U.S.STRATCOM)

La guerra global moderna requiere una estructura de mando centralizada y unificada.

Las operaciones militares globales después del 11-S son coordinadas desde la sede del Comando Estratégico de EE.UU. (U.S.STRATCOM), ubicada en la base aérea de Offutt en el estado de Nebraska, en colaboración con los comandos combatientes unificados (COCOM), así como con las unidades de mando de la coalición estacionadas en Israel, Turquía, el Golfo Pérsico y la base militar en la isla de Diego García en el Océano Índico.

La planificación y toma de decisiones militares a nivel de país por los aliados individuales de EE.UU.-OTAN, así como las “naciones socias” están plenamente integradas a un diseño militar global que abarca también la militarización del espacio.

Bajo su nuevo mandato, U.S. STRATCOM tiene la responsabilidad de “supervisar un plan de ataque global” que consiste en armas convencionales y nucleares. En la jerga militar, está programado para desempeñar el papel de integrador global encargado de las misiones de operaciones espaciales; operaciones de información; defensa integral antimisiles; comando y control global; inteligencia, vigilancia y reconocimiento; ataque global; y disuasión estratégica… 26   

Las responsabilidades de U.S. STRATCOM abarcan “liderar, planificar y ejecutar operaciones de disuasión estratégica” a escala global, “la sincronización de planes de combate regionales”, “la sincronización de planes de combate regionales” y así por el estilo.  U.S.STRATCOM es la agencia líder para la coordinación de la guerra moderna.27       

Por otra parte, U.S. STRATCOM se encuentra en coordinación permanente con la sede regional del sistema de mando de combate unificado, el que consiste en seis “áreas de responsabilidad”. Los mandos regionales están encabezados por generales de cuatro estrellas que tienen el mandato de poner en práctica los planes de guerra de EE.UU. dentro de su área geográfica de responsabilidad. El Mando Europeo de EE.UU. (U.S. EUCOM) es responsable de operaciones militares en Europa, Rusia y Turquía. El Mando Central (US CENTCOM) coordina las operaciones militares en el Oriente Medio y Asia Central. La jurisdicción del Mando Pacífico de EE.UU. incluye Asia del Sur, el Sudeste de Asia, China, Japón, Corea y Australia.

El escenario de guerra contemporáneo: ¿hacia una Tercera Guerra Mundial?

En 2005, al inicio del despliegue y escalada militar dirigido contra Irán, U.S. STRATCOM fue identificado como “el mando combatiente para la integración y sincronización de todos los esfuerzos realizados el Departamento de Defensa para combatir las armas de destrucción masiva” (véase el capítulo 3, abajo).28 El papel central de U.S. STRATCOM es aplicable a Irán y el Oriente Medio amplio, así como a China, Rusia y Corea del Norte.

De forma simultánea con el despliegue de sus fuerzas en Oriente Medio, dirigido contra Siria e Irán, EE.UU.-OTAN han aumentado su arsenal y presencia en Polonia y la frontera occidental de Rusia (Kaliningrado). El despliegue de fuerzas de EE.UU. en Polonia empezó en julio de 2010 (a 40 millas de la frontera), con vistas a capacitar a las fuerzas polacas en el uso de misiles estadounidenses Patriot.28En agosto de 2014, el Pentágono anunció el despliegue de tropas estadounidenses y las fuerzas de la Guardia Nacional en Ucrania. Asimismo, EE.UU.-OTAN planean despliegues adicionales de fuerzas terrestres en Polonia, Letonia, Estonia, Lituania, Georgia y Azerbaiyán, en la frontera sur de Rusia.

Estos despliegues militares, que ya estaban previstos desde el borrador del texto de la Ley de Prevención contra la Agresión Rusa (RAPA) (S.2277 – Congreso 113 (2013-2014)) también forman parte de la estrategia “defensiva” de la OTAN en el caso de una “invasión rusa”.

El despliegue en la frontera sur de Rusia deberá ser coordinada por medio de un acuerdo entre tres países firmado en agosto de 2014 por Turquía, Georgia y Azerbaiyán:

Luego de la reunión trilateral de los ministros de defensa de Turquía, Georgia y Azerbaiyán, Tiflis anunció que los tres países están interesados en trabajar en un plan para fortalecer sus capacidades defensivas.

“Los representantes de los gobiernos de estos tres países han empezado a pensar en un plan para fortalecer sus capacidades defensivas”, dijo [el Ministro de Defensa de Georgia Irakli] Alasania, y añadió que conviene a los intereses de Europa y de la OTAN, “puesto que esta ruta de tránsito [Baku-Tiflis-Kars] es utilizada para transportar los cargamentos de la alianza a Afganistán”.

Alasania también hizo notar que estas acciones no van dirigidas en contra de nadie.29

Rusia y el “giro hacia Asia” de Obama 

Desde una perspectiva militar el “giro hacia Asia” consiste en expandir los despliegues militares de EE.UU. en Asia-Pacífico, así como aprovechar la participación de los aliados de Washington en la región, como son Japón, Corea de Sur y Australia. La preparación militar para el giro hacia Asia supone una amenaza para China, Rusia y Corea del Norte.

Los primeros han firmado acuerdos bilaterales de cooperación militar con Washington. Como aliados de Estados Unidos forman parte de los planes de guerra del Pentágono que van dirigidos contra Rusia, China y Corea del Norte.

Además, Japón y Corea del Sur forman parte del gran proyecto militar estadounidense de estacionar sistemas de misiles y tropas de despliegue rápido a escala global, como se avizoró durante el gobierno de Reagan.30 

En agosto de 2014, EE.UU. y Australia firmaron un acuerdo militar, luego del despliegue de tropas estadounidenses en Australia. Este acuerdo forma parte del giro hacia Asia de Obama.

La estrategia del Pentágono de cercar militarmente a China y Rusia requiere tanto la toma de decisiones militares centralizada (Pentágono, U.S. STRATCOM) como la coordinación con la OTAN y los varios mandos regionales de EE.UU.

La Federación Rusa es el país más grande del mundo, con fronteras marítimas en los océanos Pacífico y Ártico. Los planes de guerra de EE.UU. referentes a Rusia son coordinados desde la Sede del Mando Estratégico (U.S. STRATCOM) en Omaha, Nebraska, el cual a su vez se coordina con el Mando Europeo de EE.UU. (U.S. EUCOM), así como con los otros cinco mandos de combate geográficamente distribuidos por todo el planeta.

Aunque formalmente Rusia se encuentra dentro de la “jurisdicción” del Mando Europeo, en caso de guerra participarían los tres mandos de combate regionales (Europa, del Pacífico y del Norte). En la práctica,  el Comando Norte de Estados Unidos (U.S. NORTHCOM) es una extensión del Mando Norteamericano de Defensa Aeroespacial (NORAD). A su vez, las diferentes estructuras se encuentran en coordinación permanente con la sede de la OTAN en Bruselas.

Los peligros de una Tercera Guerra Mundial 

Si bien esta renovada confrontación este-oeste ha sido etiquetada de manera equivocada como una “nueva Guerra Fría”, no se cuenta con ninguna de las salvaguardas que existían durante la Guerra Fría.

La diplomacia internacional ha colapsado. Rusia ha sido excluida del Grupo de 8 Naciones (G-8), que ha vuelto a ser el G-7. No hay un diálogo este-oeste como sí lo hubo durante la Guerra Fría entre las superpotencias rivales y que tenía como objetivo evitar la confrontación bélica. A esto se suma que el Consejo de Seguridad de las Naciones Unidas se ha vuelto un portavoz de facto del Departamento de Estado de EE.UU.

No obstante, EE.UU.-OTAN no podrán ganar una guerra convencional contra Rusia, lo cual encierra el peligro de que una confrontación militar pudiera desembocar en una guerra nuclear.

Sin embargo, en la época después de la Guerra Fría, las armas nucleares ya no son consideradas un “arma de último recurso”, como sucedió con la doctrina de “Destrucción Mutua Asegurada”. Por el contrario, las armas nucleares son ahora proclamadas por el Pentágono como “inocuas para las poblaciones civiles circundantes, debido a que la explosión es subterránea”. En 2002, el Senado de EE.UU. dio luz verde al uso de armas nucleares en un escenario de guerra convencional. Las bombas nucleares son hoy día parte de la “caja de herramientas militares” utilizadas a la par de armas convencionales.

El mundo está al revés cuando se llama paz a la guerra. Es irónico que Washington defienda ahora las armas nucleares como “instrumentos de paz”.

El público desconoce en gran medida las graves implicaciones que tienen estos planes de guerra. Además, la tecnología militar del siglo veintiuno combina un despliegue de armas sofisticadas cuyo poder destructivo supera con mucho los holocaustos nucleares de Hiroshima y Nagasaki. No olvidemos que Estados Unidos es el único país del mundo que ha utilizado armas nucleares contra poblaciones civiles.

El peligro de que estalle una Tercera Guerra Mundial no es noticia de primera plana. Los grandes medios de comunicación han excluido un análisis a fondo y siguen obviando el debate sobre las implicaciones que acarrean estos planes de guerra.

Notas

On October 6, the Syrian army and the Lebanese stormed the positions of the militant groups in the nearby areas of Tal-Ahmar and retook full control over this strategic hilltop. Arab sources further added that scores of the militant groups’ members were killed or wounded. However, it’s more likely that militants just retreated from the positions captured only two days ago.

Meantime, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Hezbollah carried out operation against the strongholds of the militant groups in Ayn al-Nuriyeh area in Quneitra province. A convoy loaded with weapons and ammunitions was destroyed near al-Hamidiyeh in Quneitra. The convoy belonged to the moderate terrorist group, Free Syrian Army.

Last night, the SAA conducted operation against positions of al-Nusra Front and its allies in the villages of Jibbata al-Khashab and Tranjeh. Reportedly, the militants’ ammunition depot was destroyed. The clashes were also observed at the village of Tranjeh.

Separately, the SAA’s special forces attacked ISIS positions in Deir Ez-zour, and regained control of several terrorists’ checkpoints in an area of Deir Ez-zour airport. The militants tried to take control of areas in Deir Ezzur province in September, but they lost the momentum and faced the government forces’ counter attack. The Syrian Air Forces conducted airstrikes around the villages of al-Mraeyeh, al-Jafrah and Hatlah targeting ISIS postions. The operation in Deir Ez-zour province has been continuing.

Large groups of soldiers from the SAA, the National Defense Forces (NDF), and other pro-government militias are concentrated in the provinces of Aleppo and Homs. They prepare for massive offensives against Jabhat Al-Nusra and ISIS.

The first wave of reinforcements was sent from the National Defense Forces stronghold of Masyaf in east Tartous to Al-Safira in the east Aleppo. These fighters joined the SAA’s “Cheetah Forces” that have already began an operation to lift the ISIS siege of the Kuweries Military Airport. According to reports, the total number of soldiers deployed at the Deir Hafer Plains is as high as 4,500 military personnel.

In the Homs Governorate’s northern countryside, over 300 additional military personnel arrived to the Hama-Homs axis in order to reinforce the soldiers that are preparing to launch a full-scale operation to capture the Al-Rastan Plains of Homs.

The Russian Air Force is providing the Syrian Arab Army with necessary air cover against the ISIS terrorists that are located inside the Deir Tafer Plains and around the provincial capital of the Aleppo Governorate.

Separately, Russian warplanes have been continued raids against militant targets over the country. Yesterday, they destroyed an ISIS command center near the town of As Sukhnah 28 km away from Palmyra. Several pickup trucks and armored vehicles and 40 militants were also destroyed.

For the second part in this two-part series, go here.

A friend of mine told me the following curious story. In the early 1990s, while taking a course at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, he sat next to an ordinary-looking older man, a soft-spoken, pudgy fellow, who said he was from Guatemala. After a few weeks into the term, he came to class one day and found the man sitting alone, far from the other students, who seemed to be avoiding him.

Another student explained to my friend who the man was: Hector Gramajo, a former Guatemalan general and defense minister who was there on a Mason fellowship, studying for a degree in public administration. While he was Army Vice-Chief of Staff and Director of the Army General Staff, the Guatemalan army massacred more than 75,000 Mayans in what a United Nations Truth Commission later (1999) called genocide.

Otto Perez Molina, former President of Guatemala. Photo credit: Michael Wuertenberg / World Economic Forum / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Otto Perez Molina, former President of Guatemala. Photo credit: Michael Wuertenberg / World Economic Forum / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

On graduation day, while in his academic gown, Gramajo was handed court papers informing him that he was being sued in the US by eight Guatemalans who together with family members had been abused by soldiers under his command. Later, the lawsuit was joined by one from Sister Dianna Ortiz, an American nun, who had been raped and tortured by Gramajo’s men.

He didn’t contest the lawsuit; he just ignored it, and left the US for Guatemala to run for – what else! – the presidency. Before he left, however, he gave a public lecture at Harvard and, blessed by that august institution, and with his prestigious degree in hand, went to his other alma mater, the School of the Americas (SOA), which some refer to as the “School of Assassins,” at Ft. Benning, where he gave the commencement address. (More on this “educational” organization below.)

In 1995, a federal judge in Boston awarded $47.5 million to the plaintiffs. Gramajo never paid. He was back in Guatemala, where, in 2004, in a fitting twist of fate, he was killed by a swarm of Africanized bees.

Another Soft-Spoken Man, Otto Perez Molina

Secretary Kerry with Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina in 2013. Photo credit: U.S. Department of State / Wikimedia (Public Domain)

Secretary Kerry with Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina in 2013. Photo credit: U.S. Department of State / Wikimedia (Public Domain)

Joy erupted in the streets of Guatemala in early September, after months of demonstrations had forced the congress to strip presidential immunity from President Otto Perez Molina, who then resigned and was subsequently jailed on corruption charges.

The fraud, conspiracy, and bribery charges against Molina, 64, a former army general and intelligence chief, are dubbed “La Linea,” or “The Line,” because a network, or long line of government officials is involved. The case concerns bribes paid by businesses to customs officers and government officials in order to evade import duties. Molina is alleged to have profited handsomely, but he denies the charges. His former vice president, Roxanna Baldetti, was jailed on August 21st on similar charges.

Molina is implicated in many massacres and murders while he was an army general, and chief of military intelligence while on the CIA payroll. One of these many victims was the husband of the Harvard-trained American lawyer Jennifer Harbury.

The corruption charges were the result of an investigation conducted by the United Nations International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) in collaboration with the Guatemalan Justice Department.

The huge street demonstrations in Guatemala City and around the country, fueled by indignation at long-standing systemic corruption, put enormous pressure on the judiciary to finally arrest Molina. His September 3rd arrest brought optimism to a country sorely in need of some good news.

But then, three days later, a television comedian (shades of US election theatrics), Jimmy Morales — backed by military officers implicated in torture, assassinations, and massacres — won the first round of the presidential elections, despite widespread remonstrations to postpone an election considered rigged by corrupt oligarchs and drug lords.

The US mainstream media has reported the basics of these events. But, as usual, what they haven’t done is report on the deeper back story to all this, and how the US government is involved in nefarious ways that stretch back many years.

For example, the fact that Molina was trained at the SOA at Ft. Benning, GA, in torturous interrogation techniques, and is implicated in many killings, is never mentioned in the The New York Times story of his resignation, nor in any subsequent story, as of the date of this publication.

For a long time, the United States government has been deeply involved in the support and training of death squads, and corrupt military officers, not only in Guatemala, but throughout Latin America.

Corruption is child’s play compared with the massacres, acts of torture, assassinations, and disappearances that were carried out across Latin America by personnel trained and supported by the US. Carolyn Forche, an American poet and activist, got a rare, intimate glimpse of the kind of monster who was involved in these acts when, in 1978, she had dinner at the home of an unnamed Salvadoran colonel. This event inspired a prose poem — The Colonel — that you can listen to here. Below is an excerpt from it. It is not for the squeamish:

Broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house to scoop the kneecaps from a man’s legs or cut his hands to lace… We had dinner, rack of lamb, good wine… I was asked how I enjoyed the country… There was some talk of how difficult it had become to govern. The parrot said hello on the terrace. The colonel told it to shut up, and pushed himself from the table. My friend said to me with his eyes: say nothing. The colonel returned with a sack used to bring groceries home. He spilled many human ears on the table. They were like dried peach halves. There is no other way to say this. He took one of them in his hands, shook it in our faces, dropped it into a water glass. It came alive there. I am tired of fooling around he said. As for the rights of anyone, tell your people they can go fuck themselves. He swept the ears to the floor with his arm and held the last of his wine in the air. Something for your poetry, no? he said. Some of the ears on the floor caught this scrap of his voice. Some of the ears on the floor were pressed to the ground. May 1978

Expertise in Torture and Murder

As for Molina — like the Salvadoran death squad leader of the period of Forche’s poem, Roberto D’Aubuisson, who ordered the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, the defender of the poor — he, too, was trained by the US at the SOA.

This is where for more than half a century the US has trained Latin American and Caribbean military in the most efficient techniques for torturing and killing their own people. Trained by the US, these soldiers have returned to their countries where they have tortured and killed peasants, students, priests, nuns, opposition leaders, et al. by the thousands. Far too many Americans are blissfully unaware of what is done in their name. (In 2001, it was euphemistically renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation [WHINSEC] — pure Orwell.)

For years, Roy Bourgeois, a former US naval officer and Maryknoll priest, has led an effort to inform the American people of what is occurring at the SOA, and to have the US government shut it down.

At the website he founded, one can find extensive documentation on the people who have graduated from this “Institute” for lower learning, and on their murderous histories. In Guatemala alone, conservative estimates put the number at well above 200,000 killed. This is not simply Guatemalan history, but the secret history of the United States.

Despite its notorious and well-documented history, here is how the New York Times described the SOA on April 1, 1985:

Col. Michael J. Sierra, the commandant of the school, said that later this year courses in medicine, engineering, psychological operations and maintenance would be offered for the first time as the curriculum goes beyond standard military operations.

‘We have been been teaching military science,’ Colonel Sierra said. ‘Now we’ll start teaching courses that can contribute to national development….’

In many Latin American nations, military officers have been far more involved in political and economic development than have soldiers in the United States….

The school, the basic purpose of which is to build ties between the United States and Latin America, has sought to expose Latin American officers and their families to life in the United States,…

Build ties between the United States and Latin America? They certainly have achieved that.

Molina is implicated in many massacres and murders while he was an army general and chief of military intelligence — and on the CIA payroll. One of his many victims was Efrain Bamaca Velasquez, known as “Everado,” who fought against the US-backed government that massacred hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans. Captured in 1992, he was tortured for years, then killed under Molina’s auspices. His wife, the Harvard-trained American Lawyer and activist Jennifer Harbury, has done much to publicize his case.

Other victims tied to Molina are Judge Edgar Ramiro Elias Ogaldez, and Bishop Juan Gerardi. See Francisco Goldman’s intriguing story on the Gerardi assassination. He reports that once the death squads and military killers were exposed by the UN for genocide and widespread assassinations, they mutated into the criminal mafia and drug cartels. In 2007 he published his authoritative book — The Art of Political Murder — on the Gerardi case.

Molina is currently being charged with corruption, not murder — at least not yet. As with the recent corruption charges, Molina denies all.

NEXT: Why Americans Should Closely Watch Unfolding Events in Guatemala, Part 2

The Memory Hole of Continuous Proven Fraud  over Nine Years

Canadians are within a few days of stopping or allowing the Harper regime to continue to destroy the democracy and life fabric of Canada. But the dots are taboo to connect. The PR-led opposition has joined the corporate media in a public stage ritual of forgetting. The endless lies, election cheats, and bullying abuses through nine years of PMO civil destruction go scot free.

The Harper regime has cheated or stole every election. Yet not even the Conservative robo-call fraud to deprive up to 500,000 citizens of their votes in the 2011 election has been raised in the official campaign. No-one on stage remembers any of it back to the first Harper theft of power in 2006, featuring the Harper-RCMP deal to falsely accuse the Liberal Finance Minister Ralph Goodale in criminal investigation just prior to the election. Nor is Harper’s violation of his own Election Act in calling the 2008 election and its massive illegal spending on attacks ads filling the airwaves with public hate just before the vote. All has been proven off the campaign stage, but all has been silenced on it. The regime’s near-daily record of lies, scandals and violations has gone the memory hole of the electoral campaign, with $54 million on hand for attack ads.

Nothing sticks because public information is repressed in every form by the Harper PMO, the corporate media publish only transient details and flattering pictures, and the mainstream parties silently submit to the rule of amnesia. Yet every destruction tracks back to the Mafia-like despotism of the Harper PMO whose rule of fear, division, lies, character assassination and public sector dismantling runs free with no connection on stage. Even as I write, Harper tells more public lies that “there are no cuts at the CBC” and that “marijuana is far more dangerous than tobacco’.

The Wheat Board clause is the addition replacing the gagging clause (which comes in enough). We may recall how the proven big liars and war criminals of the US Republican party getting re-elected there despite their crimes against democracy and law. Harper is the branch-plant version with more years allowed to strip the country’s public accountability and wealth to serve the rich. Constituencies of bigotry and greed provide the energies of attack always in motion.

From Fraud, War against Science and Dispossession of the Poor to tthe Niqab Sting

Fraud, war against public knowledge, and dispossession of the poor are the hallmarks of the Harper regime exposed in many forms off stage from an aroused Canadian public. But they are amnesiac in the official campaign. They continue with impunity and the tacit support of official opposition silence. The clear majority of citizens loathe the man destroying Canada’s common life substance and identity. But the pathological meaning is taboo to name on the public stage.

In the turning point of the election campaign that Harper was losing on the ground, national  attention was suddenly diverted to the veil rights of two indoctrinated women claiming duty to Allah and the Prophet to keep their faces hidden in citizenship ceremony. How could such a red herring reverse the Harper defeat overnight when not even the Koran prescribes veils?

Yet a feudal harem duty became solemnly claimed as a public right by the politically correct even in swearing citizen allegiance to Canada. Incredibly the leader of the Quebec stronghold of the opposition NDP took  the bait. Playing against the role that had been long fit up for him by the corporate press – the angry man – he donned the image of liberal tolerance. He stood up for the symbol of an ancient, foreign right of possession of women, and predictably alienated his Quebec support. Along with the NDP’s me-too neo-liberalism of “no deficit”, the party blew the national election lead into third place within days.

Public relations and political correctness are dear to marketing men and pollsters running the NDP too. But they do not work with citizens who dislike turncoats to neo-liberal dogma and are used to seeing people’s faces as fellow citizens.

Thus dragged into a stand enabling no-one’s life in the country, the campaign for the working people of Quebec and Canada became weak and alien – a betrayal of its voter base. In truth, the stand does not even protect the veiled immigrants. Their fathers and husbands can now demand the right of their proprietorship over them as a sacred right in Canada itself against long evolved citizen norms of openness and trust. Thus the entire Harper record of perpetual lies and harms against the common life interest of Canada disappeared into the memory hole over a false right serving no-one’s better existence in the country.

Thus a total diversion to a sectarian demand in citizenship oath itself succeeded. It completely switched the life-and-death of the 2015 election to an unconscious visceral plane where emotional knee-jerk was guaranteed – the master psych-op of the Harper regime. The fact that the issue is still before the courts known to rule against Harper over-stepping laws of every kind was ignored. But Harper rule won again by appeal to the knee-jerk unconscious of the masses.

This is in fact the crypto-fascist key of all Harper public appeal. Play the primeval fear card and step up PMO command to stop the fabricated danger to the country. Transnational attack dog Lynton Crosby, “master of the dark arts of dirty politics”, was on hand to orchestrate the diversion in the midst of a losing election. Simultaneously Harper’s-re-jigged Election Commission overrode the Election Act that says no non-Canadian may “induce anyone to vote” one way rather than another. Anything goes in this regime of corruption all the way down.

The Underlying Grammar of Amnesia and Illusion

The underlying deep structure of amnesia and illusion can be formulated in one sentence. National elections are increasingly reduced to a corporate market game of propagandas to sell one product rather others to targeted private-interest groups who will behave predictably as an aggregate as buyers of commodities for sale. The first premise here is that public intelligence does not exist, and the second is that any lie and fraud you can get away with is smart. .

No-one seems to see the entailment that the common life interest of citizens is ruled out a priori. Slogan rhetoric and partisan hype is all there is for the P-R managers of the game. “Middle class” can be asserted as vehemently by one party as the other with no meaning. The health, home and literacy of all citizens, not just the middle class having more money, is repelled by the marketing mind. Here the common interest is the latest opinion poll of selves with no facts involved.

The deciding force is private money, but this too is taboo to speak on the public stage. So is is the predictable  result. Those who control more money more fund the party that wins even it cumulatively destroys the collective life capital of society and world.

The party meant to oppose this refuses to say it nd the mass media never allow it into their ad vehicles. So the ‘left’ party buys in and presses everyone on its lists to give more money to pay corporate media for more ads. One X on a card at the end decides it all in the end. Yet ever more people cannot access even that.  This is the design of Harper’s Orwellian ‘Fair Elections Act’, excluding all those without an official identification resident address – in short, the poor and native citizens. Buttressing this fix of the election, Harper rule redefines electoral boundaries at the same time so that his party picks up an extra 22 seats, compared to the NDP and the Liberals adding six and two seats respectively. The riggings and frauds never stop.

In the dominant value system, the underlying formula is that more money in private pockets is the final good. Worship of riches that contribute no life function and increasingly pollute and deplete the world are kept out of public view. That the global gold baron patron of the Munk Institute debate been featured in this election is a metaphor of this regime’s total corruption. The instant institute becomes the private corporate ground for where Harper is willing to debate. No media or even opposition party reports that the Munk institute is a special recipient of many millions from Harper’s government, lavishes Tory front-men with rich company positions when they step down, helps to reset University of Toronto to a transnational corporate propaganda site, and causes continual human rights abuses in poor countries by its world-leading gold extractions from their lands. The right-wing audience repeatedly applauded Harper alone, and no mass media reported the fix.

This is one way in which the Harper regime reduces the country to a looting basin for borderless corporate market vehicles. His “economic record” never deviates from this outcome, but this again is taboo to say in the campaign. Mass ignorance rules along with absolute power to command. But no-one names the game. What distinguishes the Harper regime, from prior administrations is its war on public knowledge and democracy at every plane  – its market-fascist logic. But who thinks through the meaning of every step?  None is seen or connected on stage. Aan Orwellian propaganda field is the ocean to the voters and citizens surrounded by it.

As always in this totalizing corporate game, images are the only reality. Corporate media carry the only common messages the majority see. The truth becomes whatever sells.

Yet which contending party does not buy in?  For the Harper regime, taxes like death are bad by definition, and the more money in private pockets is the ruling public value. One meta law governs the war of movement – to feed without limit on the public purse and expropriate all life-serving programs outside private profit and control.

The Harper Corruption of Canada Spreads by the Taboo Against Naming It.

Even the official opposition with the most progressive tradition of the three major parties has played the corporate-ad game instead of naming the proven despot, liar, and fraud in the PMO.  As in BC in 2013, the NDP snatches defeat from the jaws of victory by empty advertising logic with no life substance. And as with Jack Layton who first let the fanatic Harper in the door by attacking only Liberals in the 2006 debates, the NDP is too busy going after Liberals to expose the usurper destroying the country.

A narcissism of small differences prevails, with the Liberals now outflanking the NDP to the left. The NDP’s leader, Thomas Mulcair, has the capacities of an ace prosecuting attorney to expose the Harper regime as tyrannically corrupt. Yet there has been no mention of the Harper record of continual public lies, cheating, criminal behaviors, war-mongering, and – most lethal to democracy – stripping of public science, communications and accountability at every level.

Consequences follow. The Harper regime has not only torn up the Kyoto Protocol. It has closed down scientific monitorings of everything from freshwater fish and contaminants to unique carbon load detectors, fired 2000 federal scientists, shut down and destroyed public archives of fisheries and oceans, prohibited any public communication of scientific information by those remaining, and abolished habitat-protecting laws 99% of Canada’s waterways.

Not only Canada’s environment and environmental knowledge, laws and resources have been attacked non-stop by the Harper regime. It wages war against all life-protective intelligence and knowledge that can recognize the disastrous consequences. Its master goal is to serve the runaway global corporate juggernaut that devours the world to maximize private money demand as the only value there is.

Try to think of an exception. The long train of lies, abuses, interferences, public information destructions, criminal appointments, violations of laws, and vengeful uses of the state beggars belief in its perversion of the democratic process. Even more deeply, the collective life capital bases on which every one of us depends from the atmosphere to the ocean bottoms to the rule of life-protective law and common knowledge are exactly what are targeted and defunded to turn all of government into more private market riches at the top.

Yet the near-daily Harper outrages have already come and gone with no connected tracking of them in the official campaign. So silenced have the public positions of the opposition parties been that a complicity under partisan appearances seems hard to deny. Yet we need to know the depth of the corruption that has spread into Canada’s very metabolism and marrow. Unconscious submission to the ruling game of corporate mass sales has become the way we decide how to live even if it increasingly destroys Canada and life on earth.

Tracking the Beast Not Named

We need to recall out of the memory hole of all that has been forgotten in the 2015 election what destruction Harper has wrought on Canada’s abilities to function as a democratic society and intelligent civilisation. In fact, his meta program is to destroy everything that cannot be bought and sold for private profit – the underlying fanatic goal that is not seen.

It includes what is not publicly tracked or connected – destroying the public post delivery and financially gutting the nation’s only public broadcaster CBC; attacking the prairie family farm by dismantling the Canadian Wheat Board; continuous gaggings of elected representatives; continual appointment of criminals to office; stripping Statistics Canada and the mandatory Canada Census that are the recording memory of the nation; destroying the country’s gun registry against provincial and law-enforcement requests; continual anti-union interference in collective bargaining; smearing of veteran advocates resisting abuse and dismissal of their federal ombudsman; tax agency attacks on venerable social charities not towing the Harper line; gag orders on any federal civil servant not controlled by partisan public relations officers; lying attack ads without remission on any opposition leader who may compete against Harper; putting protestors under blanket state surveillance with black lists of their leaders; covering up torture and lawless police and armed-force killings across continents; risking the lives of Canada’s foreign troops for Harper photo-ops (he forbids any photographers but his own at press conferences); continuously false cost estimates of public money for new institutional violence, dispossession and caging policies; falsification or disappearance of documents across jurisdictions; use of Government of Canada identifiers and publication channels for party propaganda including even government cheques, altogether costing over $700 million of taxpayer funds;  implicitly accepting bribes in return for public offices on the public purse for significant donors in every possible form of partisan pay-off; public contempt of parliament twice as prime minister with endless parliamentary abuses; fixed blocking of parliamentary and individual access to public information; silencing of the public service in every domain; forced loyalty oaths to political incumbents; omnibus bills that sneak through fascist-style overwhelming of any debate; secret trade deals that ruin the productive lives of countless thousands of citizens; dismembering Statistics Canada and lying about it;  arbitrary shut-downs of Parliament when convenient for continued rule; incessant interferences in independent bodies like the National Energy Board, the CRTC, the Integrity Office  and  - for reporting vast sums of illegal spending – the Parliamentary Budget Office itself.

As for foreign affairs, Harper’s attack-dog regime has been by far the most war-mongering administration in Canada’s history. It has declared without any evidence Iran as the “greatest threat in the world” while applaudingd the continuously war-criminal actions of the Israel state. It has led the NATO  bombing of once thriving Libya to irreversible ruin. It has jumped to recognise the violent and neo-Nazi-led coup in Ukraine and blame Russia for the resulting civil war and failed state. It has constructed endless false claims of Islamic terror threats and rushed to bomb in the Middle East to “stop ISIS” in ignorance of its Saudi-CIA funding, arming and creation. It has completely reversed Canada’s tradition as a peacemaker nation, voted off even the UN Human Rights Commission.

All follows the fascist pattern not named. Harper long ago gave notice of his readiness to commit the supreme crime under law in demand that Canada join the war-criminal bombing and genocide of Iraq on completely false pretexts in 2003. Here again, however, he has been given a free pass by the opposition parties in Parliament and on the 78-day campaign.

The Cover-Up Not Seen

Marketing elections run by private money for private money can override or silence all that a society needs for its better life. Once the corporate media control all perceptions to serve self-maximizing marketers from the top down with no common life interest binding across differences, no shared life value or ground can be seen.

If corporate-market PR machinations capture opposition parties themselves, there is no centre of gravity of the common good. There are only sales pitches to targeted consumers. Nothing else gets in. Since private money alone can buy the media time to pitch political products, the competition becomes over who has more money to buy ads.  That the election is won by those with most private money backing is an underling meaning that disappears into the frenetic contest to get more of it to win.  Nothing else is defined but more-money-needed in the 2015 campaign of the NDP even after all the evidence is in.

The shared life infrastructures of air to breathe, green space to enjoy and vocations to serve disappear from the conversation. Even the continuous frauds, lies, civil society destructions, and giveaways to the corporate rich are forgotten in this cover-up process not seen. Incredibly, no-one charges Harper for his proven record to destroy the very fabric of Canada’s democracy and capacity to govern for the public. It does not exist in this field of meaning. Only the memory hole remains on the campaign stage.

Do You Trust this Man? 

The electoral opposition to the Harper regime’s decade of society destruction and transfer of public wealth to the rich has one more big lie to consider. Just 12 days before the election, it was announced that the TPP (‘Trans-Pacific Partnership’) had been rammed through before the election and before Canadians or Parliament have had a chance even to read it. No matter. Harper proclaims he “is 100% certain that it is good for Canada and all Canadians”. All the terms and details remained secret and inaccessible. Not one of the factually certain costs to Canadians is admitted as an issue. No citizen or party and knows any more than allowed to be told to them. The Trade Minister refused to be interviewed.  All the certain life sacrifices of local economies, people’s secure livelihoods, food security, and vast new transportation pollution and carbon loads  are simply erased from the ledger. They do not exist to this mind-set.

The TPP was announced the day I complete this analysis. But already one can recognize that every step follows in the tracks of Harper’s absolutely unaccountable and fraudulent rule – unlimited central control, complete secrecy, exclusion of public information in every detail, silencing of everyone else around including his own party’s elected MP’s, worship of the transnational corporate system of ever more profit as infallible, omnipotent boast of knowing the future for all citizens, and a very big-lie core of all he proclaims.

One might say Harper is a fanatic beyond all precedent in Canada’s prime ministry, and a pathological liar by demand of the corporate market doctrine of which he is a creature. This is why the life-blind inner logic of what drives him is not available to his mind. What sustains him are the corporate media barons and the extreme right-wing business roundtables from which he graduates. This is why he must always have them around in debates, as at the Munk centre. They pump him on in the CEO-despotism and greed they all bow to that destroys the world.  The same happens across oceans in different variations. The TPP organizes corporate rule across the most distant continents into global dictatorship over all sovereign governments involved, over new and old unions of organized workers who can withdraw labour, over public policy shifts to serve people instead of endless foreign profits out of their countries, and over evolved recourses of democracy and  government by collective life need.

This is the covered up meaning of Harper’s certitude of better lives for all. What life-blind doctrine has ever been so mindlessly ignorant of the facts of human life and the common life support systems of our planet?  They simply do not exist to this corruption of mind. A borderless corporate market ever larger and more unaccountable to the public, human life and the biosphere itself is the God of the world destruction.

Masked in the absurd slogan of “free trade” which is free for none but transnational corporations – and why they always love it – no media challenges this deranged mind-set any more than its big advertisers. And the two mainstream parties are always funded by its agents.  This is why the evil consequences are always ignored even though they follow necessarily from these one-sided treaties of transnational corporate rights. These are the real certainties that even the money masters and  their servants cannot deny – that big transnational foreign corporations will always displace and ruin small and local businesses in every sphere they enter; that jobs and wages will always be lost, lower and less secure in the aggregate; that organized workers in unions will always be smashed or reduced further; that environmental restraints and regulations will always be eliminated if they do not conform to corporate rights to the profits they expect;  that no-one except corporate lawyers will be able to judge by secret tribunal operations accountable to no one or no international law whether a public policy is valid if a private corporation sues it at public expense; and that every penalty for not conforming to this corporate treaty mechanism, with no non-profit public body allowed to dispute it, is without upper limit of money punishment to be paid by the taxpayers of the country that has disobeyed the new global corporate rights as judged by the private and unelected corporate-lawyer tribunal made up of the same people who wrote the treaty in secret and without public debate.  

This is the already established format of the ‘Trans-Pacific Partnership’ which no-one can truthfully deny, and this what Stephen Harper is “certain is good for Canada and Canadians” as he gives away Canada’s sovereignty and imposes still secret foreign terms on the country in the middle of an election. Official Opposition leader Thomas Mulcair has for the first time in this election stood against the job-destroying, hollowing-out system that Harper leads with big lies – just as Brian Mulroney did before him with NAFTA promising “jobs, jobs, jobs” when 500,00 secure manufacturing  jobs with living salaries and benefits were soon destroyed in fact.

The Harper regime has already lost 400,000 jobs under its watch. But the TPP will disemploy more than that when race-to-the-bottom Asian wages, safety, financial and environmental regulations are available to transnational corporations and banks to feed on at the expense of Canadian society, sovereignty, family security, youth opportunities and natural life and resources. This is the competition to the lowest denominators of life and life ruin that Harper adores as his ideal, ‘the free market’ of private corporate money sequence that override all else. .

Yet the real Canada beneath corporate-money functions sees through the endless lies and betrayals that are masked as “Conservative”. This worse-than-Mulroney despot and quisling of money power might come unstuck in his latest destruction of the common life bases of the country. Recall that this party of sell-out to private and transnational money powers ended up with two seats once the people caught on to the fraud.

Professor John McMurtry is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada whose work is translated from Latin America to Japan. He is the author of the three-volume Philosophy and World Problems published by UNESCO’s Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), and his last book is The Cancer Stage of Capitalism/ from Crisis to Cure.

Editor’s note: This article was first published in 2014.

Eventually the tired game will exhaust itself.  Beneath the billions of dollars U.S. elections are lifeless events. The predictable flopping from Democrat to Republican and back again, with voters given no real choice but to punish the party in power — by electing the party that was punished previously. This endless, irrational dynamic is the foundation of the U.S. electoral system.

The motor force pushing this logic is money, billions worth per cycle. The richest 1% threw nearly $4 billion to influence voters and to prepay for political favors from the winning candidates.

U.S. Elections have become corporate PR campaigns, with corporations doling money out equally to both parties. This bi-partisan vote buying guarantees that, aside from a couple of fervently debated social issues, a consistent, core economic agenda is firmly in place that favors the 1%.

This is why voters always punish the party in power. The ruling party earns the hatred of working-class voters by proving their love for the corporations and billionaires. The economy — and specifically jobs — has always been a priority for voters, but the economy is used by politicians to enrich the already-rich, who under Obama have received 95 percent of wealth created since he began as president.  Such brazen inequality doesn’t happen by accident, but by policy, and no politicians are complaining about it.

During the “heated” debates of the midterm election, there was virtually no discussion of the economy. The two parties have nothing to debate about on this issue; they’re in total agreement. The same is true about foreign policy and the $700 billion dollars annually spent on the military.

Neither party complains that U.S. taxpayers have spent, according to a reputable study, $4-6 trillion dollars on the ongoing wars of Afghanistan and Iraq. Bi-partisan consensus prevented the topic from reaching the campaign trail, while guaranteeing that the insane and completely futile war policy continues.

Most Americans understand that U.S. politics equals legalized corruption.  And consequently voter turnout sank to a new historic low of 38 percent. But even this number is highly misleading. One need only imagine if national congressional elections were voted on separately, instead of sharing the ballot with state elections and local ballot initiatives that voters actually care about. If this happened voter turnout would plummet to the teens, or lower, and could not be mislabeled “democracy.” The popularity of the U.S. Congress hovers around 10 percent, which means that 90 percent of the population consistently views this body as an alien entity, serving the interests of the parasitic super-rich.

The money that has stolen U.S. elections still provokes quite the fight between the Democrats and Republicans, who have their individual self-interests to protect. This is because the election winners get to reward their party campaigners with government positions and their donors with for-profit legislation. And after “following through” with passing legislation, the politician is rewarded yet again.

For example, when the politician inevitably becomes hated by everyone except the rich, the big money injects millions into the politician’s re-election campaign. And if the politician ends up losing he is rewarded for being loyal and is hired and paid millions as a “consultant” for the corporation, in effect a glamorized lobbyist.

What can we expect from the new Republican-controlled Congress? Many people will likely be surprised at the high level of cooperation between Obama and the Republicans, who have much in common. Most likely, a quick bi-partisan consensus will be reached on continuing and expanding the wars in the Middle East, with the ultimate and insane goal of toppling the Syrian and Iranian governments.

A new consensus will be reached regarding the U.S. economy, as both parties will “work together” to lower the U.S. corporate tax rate and give other “incentives” to the corporations and rich investors to actually invest their money in something productive other than their Wall Street gambling.

Obama and the Republicans will continue to work on their bi-partisan public school agenda, which aims to privatize the public schools through charters schools, an idea first proposed by the Reagan administration.

And while Republicans moan about Obamacare, they agree with its central feature, that “the market” should determine who gets health care and of what quality, based on what you can afford. The Republicans will loudly crow about this or that aspect of Obamacare they want eliminated, but the central logic is bi-partisan.

Ironically, as Obama continues to act in favor of the very wealthy, the Republican-controlled congress will give the president a chance to regain his lost popularity among Democrats. The Republicans are likely to use their control of the House and Senate to put forward legislation to appease their Christian fundamentalist base, targeting either abortions, immigrants, homosexuals, etc.

Obama will then get a chance to act as a “progressive” by using his veto power. After doing nothing for working people during his six years as president, Obama can become a “hero” again over a couple of social issues, just in time to re-energize Democratic voters for the 2016 election, which will falsely be labeled “the most important election of our lifetime.”

The veins of the U.S. body politic are too clogged with cash to be cleansed. Many progressive activists are demanding the repeal of the Supreme Court decision Citizens United, which opened the floodgate to corporate cash into elections. But in reality this floodgate already existed, Citizens United merely legalized what was happening on a hundred different levels. Massive accumulation of money will find its way into politics, one way or another.

Labor unions have an unfortunate role in propping up this two party dynamic of corporate cancer, since unions give undeserved legitimacy to this process by funding Democrats and telling their millions of union members to campaign and vote for a party that has participated along with the Republicans in attacking unionized and non-unionized working people for the last 30 years.

Third parties don’t spring out of the air. They are built by organizations with pre-existing resources and large memberships, like labor unions and other large community organizations. The various failed attempts at creating third parties in the U.S. can be blamed on the lack of any large national working class organization investing in them.

A workers’ party financed and co-organized by the unions has that ability to smash the two-party system. Such a party can’t compete with the Wall Street cash, but it can use its resources and membership to rally the broader country around a progressive platform of green job creation to fight climate change, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and taxing the rich and big corporations to pay for better schools and other vital social programs. Such demands would reverberate across the country in a political landscape where working people’s aspirations are complete ignored.

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

 

 

Selected Articles: ISIS, War on Syria, NSA, Renewable Energy

October 7th, 2015 by Global Research News

5614116dc3618862708b45dbRussian Drone Films ISIS Militants Hiding Weapons, Munitions near Syrian Mosques

By RT News, October 07 2015

The Russian Ministry of Defense has released a video showing Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants moving their military hardware to residential areas, including one near a mosque, in an apparent attempt to save it from airstrikes.

SyriaRussiaFlagRussia’s Surgical Strikes in Syria: 80 Military Targets including Terrorist Command Posts, ISIS Training Camps, Ammunition Depots

By Vladimir Kozin, October 07 2015

For almost a week Russian military jets are carrying out effective surgical strikes on the military targets of terrorist groups Daesh (Arabic acronym for IS), the Islamic Front, Jaish al-Fatah, Jaish al-Haramoun, and other Al-Qaeda-like conglomerates in Syria.

Russian SoldiersThe Russians are Coming, Sending Troops to Syria, Says the New York Times. It’s a Lie

By Stephen Lendman, October 07 2015

The New York Times is an over-the-top lying machine, systematically suppressing hard truths. Its latest misinformation piece falsely headlined “Russian Soldiers Join Syria Fight,” claiming Moscow “said Monday that its ‘volunteer’ ground forces would join the fight and NATO warned the Kremlin after at least one Russian warplane trespassed into Turkey’s airspace.”

NSA Surveillance_Cham640How the National Security Agency (NSA) Built Its Own Secret Google

By Ryan Gallagher, October 07 2015

The National Security Agency is secretly providing data to nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies with a “Google-like” search engine built to share more than 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats, according to classified documents obtained by The Intercept.

solar-panels-wikimediaJapan’s Bid to Become a World Leader in Renewable Energy

By Andrew Dewit, October 07 2015

[...] beneath the radar, [Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s] government has begun to vigorously promote renewable energy and efficiency. Its initiatives accelerated over the summer of 2015, and the momentum continues to increase.

¿Ha perdido el norte Amnistía Internacional? (tercera parte)

October 7th, 2015 by Norman Finkelstein

Parcialidad de las pruebas

El hecho de que Amnistía Internacional (AI) cite fuentes oficiales israelíes produce unos resultados sesgados que otorgan validez a la propaganda israelí en perjuicio de Hamas. En algunos casos más creíbles simplemente se ignoran las pruebas contrarias. En su exagerado repertorio del arsenal de Hamas, AI cita la acusación hecha por Israel de haber interceptado un barco que transportaba cohetes iraníes “destinados a Gaza”. Omite las conclusiones de un equipo de expertos de la ONU (de las que se informó ampliamente) según las cuales las armas no iban destinadas a Gaza sino a Sudán [1]. AI también repite la afirmación oficial israelí de que la invasión por tierra se emprendió para “destruir el sistema de túneles […], en particular aquellos en los que se había descubierto salidas cerca de zonas residenciales localizadas en Israel”, y de que los soldados israelíes evitaron en varias ocasiones que los infiltrados de Hamas atacaran comunidades civiles. Ignora pruebas contundentes, entre las que se incluyen declaraciones de una fuente procedente de un alto cargo del ejército y de un analista militar israelí que afirman que los combatientes de Hamas que salían de los túneles atacaban a los soldados israelíes, no a los civiles [2]. Según [el informe del gobierno israelí] 2014 Gaza Conflict, la salida de los túneles estaba “en comunidades residenciales o cerca de ellas” [3] a pesar de que cada caso de filtración de Hamas a través de los túneles acabó no un precipitado ataque a civiles sino en un enfrentamiento armado con combatientes israelíes.[4]

El uso que hace AI de fuentes oficiales israelíes es particularmente problemático cuando su efecto global es magnificar la culpabilidad criminal de Hamas y reducir la de Israel. Esta distorsión proviene en parte del hecho de que AI “equilibre” estratégicamente los actos. Israel prohibió a AI (y a otras organizaciones de derechos humanos) entrar en Gaza después de la OMP. Amnistía Internacional, “por consiguiente, tuvo que llevar a cabo la investigación en Gaza a distancia, con la ayuda de dos investigadores que estaban en Gaza”. En la práctica, esta restricción impuesta por Israel impidió en muchas ocasiones a AI comprobar la veracidad de exculpaciones oficiales israelíes. ¿Cómo resolvió AI este difícil reto? Normalmente AI informa de la acusación de un crimen de guerra israelí, después del desmentido israelí y a continuación pasa “neutralmente” a pedir una investigación adecuada sobre el terreno la cual, AI lo sabe muy bien, Israel nunca va a permitir. De este modo se deja al lector en un limbo perfecto y permanente respecto a la verdad. Cuando AI evaluó las acusaciones de que Hamas había violado el derecho internacional durante la OMP considera una prueba corroborante la anterior conducta incriminatoria de Hamas [5]. ¿AI debería haber contextualizado también las negaciones de culpabilidad de Israel con la salvedad de que cuando en el pasado se investigaron estas negaciones sistemáticamente resultaron ser mentiras flagrantes? De hecho, la investigación que llevó a cabo la Comisión de Investigación de la ONU sobre los ataques israelíes a las instalaciones de la ONU durante la OMP desmintió reiteradamente las afirmaciones de inocencia hechas por Israel. La neutralidad de AI acaba fomentando la falta de cooperación de Israel: si el hecho de permitir la entrada en Gaza de las organizaciones de derechos humanos les permite documentar los crímenes israelíes [6], ¿no es una prudente política de Estado el prohibir la entrada a todas estas organizaciones en conjunto y conformarse con un veredicto agnóstico de estas? Por último, hay un aspecto de la postura equidistante de AI que merece una atención especial. Cita profusamente las afirmaciones basura de la hasbara(propaganda) israelí, pero no informa ni una sola vez de las pertinentes conclusiones de respetadas organizaciones de derechos humanos de Gaza, como el Centro al-Mezan para los Derechos Humanos y el Centro Palestino para los Derechos Humanos (PCHR, por sus siglas en inglés) [7]. La sección metodológica del informe Unlawful and Deadly afirma: “Amnistía Internacional estudió documentación pertinente elaborada por agencias de la ONU, el ejército israelí y organismos gubernamentales israelíes, ONG israelíes y palestinas, grupos armados palestinos e informes de los medios de comunicación, entre otras fuentes, y consultó a relevantes expertos y profesionales antes de redactar el informe. Amnistía Internacional desea agradecer a las ONG israelíes y otros organismos israelíes que ayudaron a sus investigadores” [8]. Mientras que el informe presenta por extenso las afirmaciones del ejército israelí y de los organismos gubernamentales israelíes, uno busca en vano una sola referencia a las ONG palestinas.

El uso sesgado que hace AI de las pruebas en Unlawful and Deadly sutilmente atribuye a Hamas parte de la culpa de los crímenes más atroces cometidos por Israel durante la OMP:

Hospitales. Durante la OMP fueron totalmente destruidos o dañados diecisiete hospitales y 56 centros de atención primaria [9]Unlawful and Deadly señala el supuesto mal uso que hizo Hamas de tres de estas instalaciones:

1. Al-Wafa. Israel atacó reiteradamente y redujo a escombros el hospital al-Wafa, el único centro de rehabilitación de Gaza. No era la primera vez que Israel atacaba el hospital. Durante la Operación Plomo Fundido el hospital al-Wafa sufrió los impactos directos de ocho proyectiles de tanques, dos misiles y miles de balas, aunque Israel declarara, en flagrante contradicción, no haber tenido por objetivo a “terroristas” que emprendieran ataques “en las proximidades de un hospital” [10]. En esta ocasión AI cita la acusación de Israel de que el hospital al-Wafa era un “centro de mando”. Podría haber observado que el ser un “centro de mando” fue la coartada por defecto de Israel para atacar centros civiles durante la OMP [11] y que en otros contextos la propia AI había considerado que este pretexto era infundado [12]. Basándose en una fotografía aérea Israel afirmó que Hamas disparó un cohete al lado de al-Wafa. Sin embargo, AI concluyó que “la imagen twiteada por el ejército israelí no coincide con las imágenes de satélite del hospital al-Wafa y parece representar a un lugar diferente”. Parecería que esta conclusión echa por tierra la coartada de Israel, a no ser porque, siempre tan ecuánime, Amnistía concluye que “no ha podido verificar la afirmación israelí de que el hospital se utilizó para lanzar cohetes” y que se debería “investigar independientemente” la afirmación de Israel. En otras palabras, aunque se pueda demostrar que la única prueba en la que Israel basa su acusación es falsa, sigue estando abierto si la afirmación es cierta o no. Como suele suceder, finalmente el propio Israel dejó caer la acusación del [lanzamiento de un] cohete [13]. AI señala además que “según informes de los medios de comunicación [...] se disparó un misil antitanque desde al-Wafa.” Los “informes de los medios de comunicación” citados por AI resultaron ser poco más que un comunicado de prensa oficial israelí puntualmente reproducido por el Jerusalem Post [14]. Resulta igual de instructivo lo que AI decide no citar. Si AI aduce la hasbara israelí como prueba creíble, ¿no debería haber citado también al director del hospital al-Wafa, que declaró a Haaretz que las afirmaciones israelíes eran “falsas y llevaban a error”, o al representante de la Organización Mundial de la Salud en Gaza, que reconoció la probable presencia de una “base de lanzamiento de cohetes en los alrededores” de al-Wafa, aunque mantuvo que estaba “a más de 200 metros del hospital”? [15] “Las fuerzas israelíes negaron haber apuntado directa e intencionadamente al hospital [al-Wafa] y afirmaron que trataban de neutralizar los ataques con cohetes desde las proximidades del hospital”, observó una delegación de la Federación Internacional para los Derechos Humanos (FIDH, por sus siglas en inglés) después de entrar en Gaza y analizar las pruebas. “Sin embargo, varios elementos indican que el hospital fue de hecho el blanco de un ataque directo e intencional por parte de las fuerzas armadas de Israel” [16]. Pero, disipando las dudas que pudieran poner en entredicho la inocencia de Israel, AI informa de que “una investigación interna del ejército israelí sobre sus ataques a al-Wafa […] concluyó que los ataques se habían llevado a cabo de acuerdo con el derecho internacional”. ¿No debería haber mencionado también que todas las principales organizaciones internaciones de derechos humanos, incluida AI, han desechado los resultados de las investigaciones internas israelíes por carecer de valor? [17].

2. Al-Shifa. Basándose en la prueba “creíble” de que Hamas había disparado un cohete desde la parte de atrás del hospital al-Shifa, AI pidió una investigación independiente. A continuación pasó a pedir una investigación sobre “otros informes y afirmaciones de que dirigentes y fuerzas de seguridad de Hamas habían utilizado las instalaciones del hospital con fines militares y para hacer interrogatorios durante las hostilidades”. Durante la Operación Plomo Fundido Israel había hecho acusaciones similares a esta, pero las pruebas que adujo para apoyarlo eran muy endebles [18]. En esta ocasión AI cita muchas fuentes de diferente calidad [19]. Sin embargo, lo que rotundamente no hace es citar fuentes que pongan en tela de juicio esta acusación. Ignoró el minucioso y convincente testimonio de dos respetados cirujanos extranjeros que habían trabajado como voluntarios en el hospital al-Shifa durante la OMP: aunque “pudieron moverse libremente por el hospital” no vieron indicios de que fuera un “centro de mando de Hamas” [20]. A petición de este escritor, una de las principales especialistas académicas mundiales sobre Gaza, Sara Roy de la Universidad de Harvard, consultó a varias de sus propias fuentes en Gaza, cuya integridad personal y profesional ella garantizaba. Todas ellas coincidían en que, aunque se habían disparado cohetes en los alrededores de al-Shifa (pero no desde el terreno del hospital), era extremadamente improbable que Hamas hubiera utilizado militarmente el edificio del hospital [21]. ¿Cómo fue que AI no diera cabida a estas opiniones contrarias de fuentes intachables? AI también informa del supuestamente incriminatorio rumor de que “un periodista palestino […] fue interrogado por agentes de la Seguridad Interna de Hamas en una parte abandonada del hospital”. Durante la OMP el hospital al-Shifa estuvo abarrotado hasta los topes con 13.000 personas sin hogar. Dado que el hospital permitía el acceso al equipamiento de noticias vía satélite (SNG), también sirvió de centro para los medios de comunicación, los portavoces políticos, funcionarios de la ONU, organizaciones de derechos humanos y otras ONG. Uno no puede dejar de preguntarse por qué en medio de una mortífera invasión extranjera se debería considerar intrínsecamente siniestro justificar una investigación de derechos humanos si la parte asediada pregunta (no maltrata o intimida físicamente, solo pregunta) a alguien en unas instalaciones abarrotadas por una enorme cantidad de personas, algunas de las cuales se supone que son espías, saboteadores y provocadores que deseaban la derrota de Hamas, rezaban por ello y se esforzaron activamente por lograrlo [22]. ¿Ni siquiera se le permitía a Hamas llevar a cabo las funciones ordinarias de seguridad? AI afirma rotundamente en su informe “Strangling Necks”: Abductions, torture and summary killings of Palestinians by Hamas forces during the 2014 Gaza/Israel conflict: “Las fuerzas de Hamas utilizaron las zonas abandonadas del hospital al-Shifa en la ciudad de Gaza, incluida la zona clínica para pacientes externos, para detener, interrogar, torturar y maltratar de otros modos a sospechosos”. La prueba que aduce AI para la más sensacionalista de estas afirmaciones (esto es, que Hamas torturó sistemáticamente a los sospechosos en al-Shifa) no es convincente [23]. También resulta sorprendente cómo esta cámara de tortura pudo pasar desapercibida a una multitud de periodistas, funcionarios de la ONU y ONG instalados en al-Shifa hasta que el solitario trabajador sobre el terreno en Gaza de AI llegó para adelantarse a todos ellos con la primicia. De hecho, ni siguiera [el informe israelí] 2014 Gaza Conflict, que está repleto de la propaganda y las mentiras más mayúsculas, llega a afirmar que Hamas utilizara al-Shifa para “interrogatorios del servicio de seguridad” [24]. No podemos dejar de recordar lo que vendió AI acerca de la sensacionalista propaganda de las “incubadoras” de Kuwait durante la preparación de la Primera Guerra del Golfo en 1991 [25]. Pero sea cual sea la verdad, en todo caso no tiene relación con la cuestión que nos ocupa, a menos que AI quiera afirmar que Israel atacó los hospitales de Gaza como gesto humanitario para proteger a supuestos colaboradores.

Norman G. Finkelstein

Fuente:   Has Amnesty International Lost Its Way? (Part 3) – Byline

Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

 

Notas

[1] Louis Charbonneau, “UN Panel: Arms ship seized by IDF came from Iran, but not bound for Gaza”, Haaretz (28 de junio de 2014). [El informe del gobierno israelí] 2014 Gaza Conflict repite este dato erróneo respecto a las armas destinadas a Sudán (párrafo 54).

[2] Emanual Yelin, “Were Gaza Tunnels Built to Harm Israeli Civilians?”, +972 (11 de agosto de 2014), cita a Alon Ben David, “Inquiry Nahal Oz: The gate of the military post was unlocked, the pillbox door was open”, Channel 10 News (July 30, 2014; http://news.nana10.co.il/Article/?ArticleID=1072726), y a Tal Lev Ram, “‘It is Possible to Accomplish the Destruction of the Tunnels within 48 Hours’”, Army Radio (31 de julio de 2014; http://glz.co.il/1064-47425-he/Galatz.aspx). Véase también Amos Harel, “The Last War—and the Next”, Haaretz (1 de julio de 2015).

[3] 2014 Gaza Conflict, párrafos 91, 109, 119 (cf. párrafos 56, 85, 91, 220, y p. 42n130).

[4] Ibid., párrafos 96, 119.

[5] “[...] Los muchos incidentes específicos de ataques emprendidos muy cerca de edificios civiles de los que informaron las autoridades israelíes junto con relatos de periodistas en Gaza durante en conflicto y las conclusiones de investigadores de Amnistía Internacional que documentan rondas previas de hostilidades, indican que los ataques de grupos armados de Gaza lanzados desde dentro de zonas residenciales están lejos ser incidentes aislados”. (Unlawful and Deadly, la cursiva es nuestra).

[6] La propia AI señala que los “gobiernos que quieren ocultar al mundo exterior sus violaciones de derechos humanos han prohibido frecuentemente a AI acceder a los lugares en los que las han cometido” (Amnesty International, Families under the Rubble).

[7] La Misión Médica de Investigación rindió homenaje a la “independencia y credibilidad de los grupos locales de la sociedad civil como Al Mezan, PCHR” (p. 100).

[8] Se omite la lista de las organizaciones israelíes específicas que ayudaron a AI.

[9] Véase en especial Al Mezan Center for Human Right et al., No More Impunity: Gaza’s health sector under attack (2015).

[10] Finkelstein, “This Time,” p. 76.

[11] 2014 Gaza Conflict, párrafos 54, 129, 145, 151, 153, 254, 275, 277, 278, 280.

[12] Amnesty International, “Nothing Is Immune.

[13] 2014 Gaza Conflict, párrafo 129. Por cierto, el informe describe la destrucción del hospital al-Wafa por parte de Israerl como una “respuesta al disparo de una manera precisa y discriminada” (párrafo 285).

[14] “Los terroristas de Gaza lanzaron un misil antitanque contra las Fuerzas de Defensa de Israel desde el hospital Al-Wafa el jueves utilizando la estructura como base de ataque a pesar del ataque aéreo de Israel contra la estructura el miércoles tras disparos y misiles lanzados por Hamas desde ella. Las Fuerzas de Defensa de Israel respondieron al atraque y mataron a dos terroristas, y posteriormente la fuerza aérea atacó el edificio desde el que se había lanzado el misil. La fuerza aérea también atacó una estructura cerca del hospital Al-Wafa utilizada para almacenar armas y como centro de mando y de control” (Yaakov Lappin, “Terrorists Fire Anti-Tank Missile from al-Wafa Hospital in Gaza”, Jerusalem Post, 25 de julio de 2014).

[15] Gili Cohen et al., “Israel Bombs Empty Gaza Hospital, Calling It Hamas Command Center,” Haaretz (23 de julio de 2014); Medical Fact-Finding Mission [Misión Médica de Investigación], p. 50. En otro contexto de Unlawful and Deadly, AI cita a “un alto cargo de Hamas” referente a que los cohetes se dispararon “desde 200 o 300 metros” desde escuelas o hospitales, y también que “se cometieron algunos errores que se abordaron rápidamente”. Por supuesto, el valor probatorio de una declaración interesada de “un alto cargo de Hamas” es igual que el de una declaración de prensa del ministerio israelí de Exteriores, [es decir] nulo.

[16] International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Trapped and Punished: The Gaza civilian population under Operation Protective Edge (abril de 2015), p. 40.

[17] Véase e.g., B’Tselem (Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories), Israeli Authorities Have Proven They Cannot Investigate Suspected Violations of International Humanitarian Law by Israel in the Gaza Strip (http://www.btselem.org/accountability/20140905_failure_to_investigate). En su carta adjunta al resumen del informe del Comisión de Investigación de la ONU, Ban Ki-moon “saluda el esfuerzo del gobierno de Israel para establecer investigaciones criminales sobre determinados incidentes que ocurrieron durante el conflicto”. No está claro por qué está tan entusiasmado por unas “investigaciones” que, según toda la experiencia anterior, serán una farsa.

[18] Finkelstein, “This Time,” p. 76.

[19] Un corresponsal extranjero en el que se basaron tanto AI como 2014 Gaza Conflict (p. 76n234, p. 91n269, p. 214n496) para sus acusaciones más sensacionalistas contra Hamas era William Booth del Washington Post. El periodismo creativo de Booth ya había podido anteriormente con él cuando fue expulsado temporalmente del Post por plagio (Paul Farhi, “Washington Post to Suspend William Booth over Panama Canal Story” Washington Post (18 de enero de 2013).

[20] “He podido moverme libremente por el hospital y hacer las fotos que quise, y hablar con quien me pareció. Por supuesto, no puedo decir que estuve en cada rincón del hospital, pero por lo que se refiere a lo que vimos tanto yo como [el Dr.] Erik Fosse, ninguno de nosotros hemos visto que sea un centro de mando de Hamas” (palabras del cirujano noruego Mads Gilbert citadas en (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Shifa_Hospital)

[21]Correos electrónicos de los días 15 y 17 de abril de 2015 reenviados por Sara Roy de tres de sus contactos.

[22] Hamas afirmó que la Autoridad Palestina proporcionó a Israel información sobre objetivos que había recopilado por medio de sus agentes en Gaza. Elhanan Miller, “Hamas: PA gave Israel nearly a third of its Gaza targets”, Times of Israel (5 de febrero de 2015).

[23] De los 17 casos documentados en el informe, los más relevantes que mencionan al-Shifa son los siguientes:

1. “Los agentes llevaron a Saleh Swelim a su centro de detención de Jabalia, conocido como centro al-Sisi, y después a la clínica para pacientes externos en el hospital al-Shifa de la ciudad de Gaza, que las fuerzas de Hamas utilizaban para detener e interrogar a sospechosos. M.S., un hermano más pequeño de Saleh Swelim, dijo a Amnistía Internacional que los agentes de la Seguridad Interna también lo detuvieron aquel día y que vio a Saleh Swelim tanto en el centro al-Sisi como en el hospital al-Shifa, y que los agentes de la Seguridad Interna los torturaron a ambos. [Sigue un largo testimonio de M.S. describiendo las torturas, pero acaba con esta nota:] ‘Se nos obligó a confesar a los dos a base de golpes. Permanecimos en el campo de al-Sisi hasta el día siguiente y después nos llevaron al hospital al-Shifa. Allí se nos recibió respetuosamente en la clínica para pacientes externos. No nos golpearon y nos trataron con respeto, especialmente cuando vieron las quemaduras que tenía en el cuerpo y las marcas de los golpes. Me aplicaron pomada en las heridas y me dieron un tratamiento médico’”.

2. “Los tres hombres se llevaron a Ali Da’alsa y a M.D. en un coche Hyundai negro, pero al cabo de unos 10 minutos, durante los cuales le agredieron, los tres dejaron ir a M.D., a quien dejaron cerca de la Universidad abierta al-Quds. Al día siguiente M.D. acudió a la parte del hospital al-Shifa utilizada por la Seguridad Interna para preguntar por Ali Da’alsa. Contó a Amnistía Internacional: ‘Fui a la clínica para pacientes externos del hospital al-Shifa donde la Seguridad Interna tenía una habitación. Llamé a la puerta y nadie contestó. Seguí llamando hasta que por fin llegó [Seguridad Interna]. Me agarraron, me pegaron, me insultaron, me trataron duramente y me golpearon más fuerte’”.

3. “ A.H., de 43 años, miembro de Fatah, activista y ex funcionario de la Autoridad Palestina, dijo a Amnistía Internacional que miembros de las fuerzas de la Seguridad Interna de Hamas lo detuvieron cuando salía de la mezquita en la zona este de la ciudad de Gaza el 17 de agosto de 2014 y lo llevaron a la clínica para pacientes externos del hospital al-Shifa. Allí, afirmó, lo torturaron durante unas dos horas atándole las manos a la espalda, tapándole los ojos y pegándole, incluso con un martillo y tubos de plástico, lo que hizo que se quedara inconsciente varias veces, y lo maltrataron verbalmente antes de preguntarle por sus relaciones con las fuerzas de seguridad de la Autoridad Palestina: ‘No eran realmente preguntas, simplemente una sesión de tortura’”.

El segundo de estos testimonios no parece presentar la práctica de la tortura, al menos tal como la definen las organizaciones de derechos humanos, de lo contrario cada soldado israelí que da una paliza a un palestino en Cisjordania sería culpable de tortura, una acusación que, sensatamente, AI nunca ha formulado. Así, solo el tercer testimonio parecería ser una prueba de tortura, pero proviene de un “miembro de Fatah, activista y ex funcionario de la Autoridad Palestina”, que no es forzosamente la más fidedigna de las fuentes.

[24] 2014 Gaza Conflict, párrafo 129.

[25] John R. MacArthur, Second Front: Censorship and propaganda in the 1991 Gulf war (Berkeley: 2004).

 

 

Russia’s sovereign independence sticks in Washington’s craw, long-term US policy determined to replace it with governance it controls – even at the risk of WW III.

Putin’s policies are bashed, notably his forthright efforts to end conflicts in Ukraine and Syria diplomatically – now his real war on terrorism, polar opposite Washington’s phony one, a pretext for ravaging one country after another.

Deputy State Department spokesman Mark Toner lied saying the Obama administration “welcome(s) a constructive role for Russia if it takes the fight to ISIS” – precisely what it’s doing as Toner knows.

Instead of acknowledging and praising its effort, he lied saying “we’ve not seen that that’s the case. We’ve seen no indication that they’re actually hitting ISIL targets.”

He persists in the Big Lie about Moscow targeting nonexistent anti-Assad moderates. Sergey Lavrov explained clearly what Russia has been doing for the past week, saying if it walks and talks and squawks like a terrorist, it’s a terrorist vital to eliminate – to keep its danger from spreading.

Lunatics like presidential aspirant Carly Fiorina wants Washington enforcing a no-fly zone in Syria – even if it means shooting down Russian aircraft, claiming:

“Russian jets have been basically conducting dangerous and unpredictable maneuvers around our (sic) water and our (sic) borders and our (sic) territory.”

Does she means planet earth, its oceans, airspace and outer space? Does she consider Russian territory “ours?”

Would anyone want this woman’s finger on the nuclear trigger? Would you trust her with safeguarding life on earth? Would we avoid WW III with her in the White House?

Marco Rubio supports establishing so-called safe and no-fly zones in Syria – enforcing them “against anyone who would dare intrude on” them, including Russia. He’s willing to risk nuclear war to enforce US policy.

Last May, Ben Carson said he would not rule out military confrontation with Russia. “I would do whatever is necessary,” he said.

Earlier, Ted Cruz said he’d ramp up tensions with Russia and China if he became America’s commander-in-chief – risking nuclear war to pursue America’s hegemonic agenda.

All Republican and Democrat candidates support endless US wars of aggression. All might risk direct confrontation with Russia. Don’t let Trump’s rhetoric fool you, saying “(l)et Russia fight ISIS.”

Separately, he calls himself “the most militaristic” presidential aspirant. Hillary Clinton supports establishing safe and no-fly zones in Syria.

Bernie Sanders is militantly anti-Russian. “The entire world has got to stand up to Putin,” he blustered. Would he risk direct confrontation, possible nuclear war?

In a Financial Times op-ed, former Carter administration national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski irresponsibly said Russia “launched air attacks at Syrian elements that are sponsored, trained and equipped by the Americans, inflicting damage and causing casualties.”

“At best, it was a display of Russian military incompetence; at worst, evidence of a dangerous desire to highlight American political impotence.”

Washington has “only one real option,” he claimed, to protect its regional interests – “to convey to Moscow the demand that it cease and desist from military actions that directly affect American assets.”

He stopped short of explaining they’re ISIS and other imported terrorists, not moderate Syrian opponents, one of many Big Lies about Obama’s war, systematically destroying another country. Putin wants Syria saved. He wants the scourge of terrorism eliminated.

Instead of applauding his righteous efforts, Brzezinski urged “prompt US retaliation.” Is he suggesting possible nuclear war?

He’s one of many neocon lunatics infesting Washington. His call for “strategic boldness” sounds like a declaration of war, madness at a time cools heads are desperately needed.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html . Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

¿Ha perdido el norte Amnistía Internacional? (Segunda parte)

October 7th, 2015 by Norman Finkelstein

Un arsenal que no presagia nada buenoPara justificar la desmesurada violencia contra Gaza, Israel invariablemente pone de relieve el arsenal de cohetes que supuestamente acumuló Hamas. Amnistía Internacional (AI) se hace eco de esta argumentación y así el lector aprende en Unlawful and Deadly que ya en 2001 Hamas había hecho acopio de cohetes de corto alcance, que después “desarrolló los cohetes Qassam de mayor alcance”, que “más recientemente grupos armados de Gaza han producido, modernizado o comprado de contrabando miles de cohetes BM- 21 Grad de diferentes tipos de alcances que van 20 a 48 kilómetros, y ha adquirido o producido cantidades menores de cohetes de largo y medio alcance” incluidos “el Fajr 5 iraní y el M-75 fabricado localmente (ambos de un alcance de 75 kilómetros), y los cohetes J-80 de fabricación local con un alcance de 80 kilómetros”, y que “durante la Operación Margen Protector (OMP) la Brigadas al-Qassam afirmaron haber disparado cohetes R-160, una versión de fabricación local del M-302, también con un alcance de 160 kilómetros” [1]. “La mayoría de los 8.3 millones de habitantes de Israel y todos los 2.8 millones de palestinos de la ocupada Cisjordania”, concluye de forma alarmante AI, “se encuentran dentro del alcance de al menos algunos de los cohetes que tienen los grupos armados palestinos en la Franja de Gaza. […] El círculo del miedo se ha ampliado”. Pero, ¿hasta qué punto ha sido real la amenaza que supone para Israel el arsenal de cohetes de Hamas? (Por caridad dejamos de lado la extraña conclusión de AI de incluir a los palestinos de Cisjordania en el “círculo del miedo”).

 

Según se informó, Hamas lanzó 5.000 cohetes y 2.000 proyectiles de mortero contra Israel durante la OMP [2]. Se suele atribuir al maravilloso sistema de defensa antimisiles de Israel denominado Cúpula de Hierro la discrepancia entre las miles de armas lanzadas por Hamas contra Israel y la muerte y destrucción mínimas que infligieron. Así, AI informa que “el sistema de defensa antimisiles de Israel, Cúpula de Hierro, contribuyó a limitar las víctimas civiles en muchas zonas” y se utilizó “para proteger las zonas civiles de los proyectiles lanzados desde la Franja de Gaza”. Pero esta explicación es poco convincente. Israel afirma que Cúpula de Hierro interceptó 740 cohetes, mientras que el Departamento de Seguridad de las Naciones Unidas (citado por AI) da la cifra de 240. Extrañamente, AI omite las críticas conclusiones de una de las principales autoridades mundiales en defensa antimisiles, Theodore Postol del MIT [3] (anteriormente Postol había desacreditado las triunfantes afirmaciones acerca del sistema de defensa antimisiles Patriot durante la Primera Guerra del Golfo en 1991 [4]). Postol concluyó que Cúpula de Hierro logró interceptar un 5 % de los cohetes lanzados por Hamas o, según los datos de Israel, solamente 40 de estos cohetes [5]. En general, Cúpula de Hierro ha servido de accesorio polivalente en las diferentes campañas hasbara (propaganda) de Israel. Tras la Operación Pilar Defensivo (OPD, 2012), Israel promocionó el éxito de su sistema de defensa antimisiles para compensar los magros resultados del ataque [6]. Pero Israel minimizó la eficacia de Cúpula de Hierro en su informe oficial postmortem sobre OMP, The 2014 Gaza Conflict, 7 July-26 August 2014, de la misma manera que exageró la vulnerabilidad de su frente interno para justificar la muerte y destrucción que Israel había provocado durante la operación. Este informe, que se publicó en 2015 para adelantarse a las críticas conclusiones de la investigación del Comité de Derechos Humanos de la ONU y que no es sino repetitivo, solo dedica dos de los 460 párrafos a Cúpula de Hierro y pone el énfasis no en los brillantes resultados de Cúpula de Hierro sino en el hecho de ser “falible” e incapaz de impedir “amplios daños a vidas y propiedades civiles” [7].

Incluso, según los cálculos oficiales israelí según los cuales interceptaron 740 cohetes, sigue siendo sorprendente que los cientos de cohetes no interceptados por Cúpula de Hierro causaran tan pocos daños. En efecto, antes incluso de que Israel desplegara por primera vez Cúpula de Hierro durante la Operación Pilar Defensivo, apenas se registraron proyectiles de Hamas. Cuando Hamas disparó 13.000 cohetes y proyectiles de mortero contra Israel entre 2001 y 2012, murieron un total de 23 civiles israelíes o un civil cada 500 proyectiles disparados [8]. Durante la Operación Plomo Fundido (2008-9), el ataque más violento de Israel con Gaza antes de la OMP y antes de Cúpula de Hierro, Hamas lanzó 900 proyectiles [9] aunque hubo un total de solo tres civiles muertos. Por otra parte, durante OMP, 2.800 proyectiles de Hamas o un 40 % de la cantidad total cayó en las regiones fronterizas de Israel [10] en las que no se había desplegado Cúpula de Hierro, a pesar de lo cual solo murió un civil israelí a causa de un proyectil [11] (la mayoría de los israelíes habitantes de las zonas fronterizas “permanecieron en sus comunidades de origen” durante al OMP [12]).

Postol achaca las escasas muertes de civiles israelíes durante la OMP fundamentalmente (pero no exclusivamente) al sistema de alerta precoz y de refugios de Israel [13] que ha ido mejorando considerablemente en los últimos años [14]. Pero esto sigue sin servir para explicar el reducido número de víctimas civiles antes de las mejoras de la defensa civil y, lo que aún es más elocuente, no puede explicar los daños materiales mínimos. Durante la OMP una página web del ministerio israelí de Asuntos Exteriores inventarió diariamente los daños materiales causados por los cohetes de Hamas [15]. En la Tabla 2 se resumen sus entradas:

TABLA 2 Daños materiales en Israel causados por ataques con cohete de Hamas

Fecha Descripción
7 de julio
8 Propiedad dañada
9 Un edificio cerca de una guardería afectado
10
11 Una casa completamente destruida, otras dos dañadas
12
13 Un cohete cae en la central eléctrica israelí que suministra electricidad a Gaza
14
15 Daños significativos a coches y propiedades; una escuela de niños con necesidades especiales afectada
16 Una casa dañada
17 Una casa dañada
18 Una guardería y una sinagoga dañadas
19 Daños generalizados en una zona residencial
20
21 Una casas afectada, un edificio dañado
22 Una casa dañada
23
24
25
26
27 Dos casas afectadas
28
29
30
31
1 de agosto
2
3 Un patio de escuela afectado
4
5 Una casa afectada
6
7
8 Una casa afectada
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19 Un centro comercial afectado
20
21 Un edificio afectado
22 Una casa y una sinagoga afectadas
23
24
25
26 Una casa y un patio afectadas

 

Unlawful and Deadly informa de que “decenas de cohetes y proyectiles de mortero caídos en zonas construidas dañaron propiedades civiles, incluidas viviendas, infraestructuras, edificios públicos e instituciones educativas”, mientras que 2014 Gaza Conflict afirma que “varias comunidades residenciales en la frontera con la Franja de Gaza […] fueron acribilladas por los disparos de cohetes y de proyectiles de mortero” [16]. Sin embargo, ¿no es algo extraordinario y digno de ser contado que los miles y miles de cohetes de Hamas causaran un daño insignificante, incluso admitiendo que determinado porcentaje de proyectiles cayera en zonas abiertas? ¿Cómo pudo quedar destruida nada más que una casa israelí y otras 11 afectadas o dañadas por un descomunal aluvión de cohetes? [17]. La respuesta obvia y más plausible es que la mayoría de estos llamados cohetes no eran más que fuegos artificiales mejorados. AI hacer surgir unos escenarios de pesadilla a partir de los cohetes de larga distancia de Hamas. Pero los cohetes de larga distancia de Hamas lanzados durante Pilar Defensivo carecían de explosivos; un alto cargo israelí los ignoró calificándolos de “tubos, básicamente” [18]. Es poco probable que Hamas mejorara de forma significativa la tecnología de sus cohetes en el lapso de tiempo de solo 20 meses que separa Pilar Defensivo de OMP y probablemente no pudo comprar de contrabando una cantidad significativa de cohetes más sofisticados (ocho meses después de Pilar Defensivo, en julio de 2013, se produjo el golpe de Estado en Egipto y uno de los primeros actos del autor del golpe fue sellar casi todos los túneles entre el norte del Sinaí y Gaza, que era la ruta principal de contrabando). Al hacer suyo el guión de Israel acerca de que Hamas poseía un arsenal letal de cohetes y aunque los proyectiles causaran algo de miedo entre la población civil israelí, Amnistía Internacional se convirtió, deliberadamente o no, en altavoz de la propaganda de Estado.

Norman G. Finkelstein

Fuente : https://www.byline.com/project/13/article/163

Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

Notas 

[1] Aunque AI no proporciona la fuente de sus datos, casi con toda seguridad provienen de fuentes oficiales israelíes. Resulta difícil decir cuánta credibilidad se puede otorgar a estas fuentes. El informe 2014 Gaza Conflict afirma que en vísperas de la Operación Pilar Defensivo (OPD, 2012), Hamas “había almacenado más de 7.000 cohetes y proyectiles de mortero” mientras que antes de OMP “había adquirido 10.000 cohetes y proyectiles de mortero” (párrafos 51, 54). También proporciona un desglose detallado de estos cohetes (“6.700 de alcance superior a 20km, 2.300 de alcance superior a 40km…”). Es una incógnita cómo logró Israel esta información y por qué, dado que la poseía, no actuó militarmente para evitar que Hamas usara estos proyectiles ya que si sabía cuantos proyectiles había acumulado Hamas, también debía de saber dónde los almacenaba. El informe israelí también afirma que Hamas “hizo una fuerte inversión en armamento tras la operación en Gaza de 2008-2009 y los compromisos de Gaza de 2012 que redujeron sustancialmente sus reservas de armas” (p. 61n186). Pero si había acumulado 7.000 proyectiles justo antes de Pilar Defensivo y disparado 1.500 de ellos durante Pilar Defensivo (párrafo 51), su arsenal solo se había reducido un 20 %. La deducción razonable de esto es que Israel se saca la mayoría de las cifras de la manga. 

[2] Departamento de Seguridad de las Naciones Unidas (UNDSS, por sus siglas en inglés), citado en Addendum to Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights(A/HRC/28/80/Add.1, 26 December 2014), p. 8. Gaza Conflict 2014 informa de que Hamas lanzó 4.000 cohetes y proyectiles de mortero a Israel, y otros 500 proyectiles que cayeron dentro de Gaza (párrafos 103, 112).

[3] Theodore Postol, “The Evidence That Shows Iron Dome Is Not Working”, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (19 de julio de 2014; http://thebulletin.org/evidence-shows-iron-dome-not-working7318); “Iron Dome or Iron Sieve?”, Democracy Now! (31 de julio de 2014; http://www.democracynow.org/2014/7/31/iron_dome_or_iron_sieve_evidence,http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2014/7/31/part_two_theodore_postol_asks_is).

[4] Theodore A. Postol, “Lessons of the Gulf War Patriot Experience”, International Security (Invierno de 1991/92).

[5] Israel afirmó que se había interceptado el 90 % (740) de los cohetes de Hamas lanzados contra zonas pobladas en las que estaba desplegada Cúpula de Hierro, lo que haría ascender la cantidad total de cohetes lanzados contra estas zonas a 820. Yoav Zitun, “Iron Dome: IDF intercepted 90 percent of rockets”, Ynetnews.com (15 de agosto de 2014;http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4558517,00.html).

[6] Finkelstein, Method and Madness, pp. 128-29.

[7] 2014 Gaza Conflict, párrafos 189-90 (cf. párrafos 4, 113, 190).

[8] Basado en 2014 Gaza Conflict, que informa de que Hamas lanzó 13.000 proyectiles contra Israel entre 2001 y el inicio de Pilar Defensivo (párrafos 44, 51, p. 58n174). B’Tselem (Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories), Attacks on Israeli Civilians by Palestinians (http://www.btselem.org/topic/israeli_civilians).

[9] 2014 Gaza Conflict, p. 58n174.

[10] Ibid., párrafo 114, p. 122n361. Este informe afirma que “más del 60 %” de los proyectiles de Hamas cayeron en zonas fronterizas, pero afirma que la cantidad total de proyectiles de Hamas lanzados durante la OMP fue de 4.000, mientras que la cifra del UNDSS, utilizado en esta monografía, es de 7.000.

[11] Otros cinco civiles murieron en Israel a consecuencia de proyectiles de mortero (ibid., pp. 112-13nn328-32).

[12] Ibid., para. 210.

[13] Algunas pruebas circunstanciales dan credibilidad a la postura de Postol. Aunque los ataques con cohetes de Hamas solo mataron a un civil en dos de las regiones fronterizas israelíes que carecían de Cúpula de Hierro, los proyectiles de mortero mataron a otros cuatro. El resultado diferente puede que se deba al hecho de que el sistema de avisos de Israel proporciona un plazo de 15 segundos a quienes buscan refugio en caso de un cohete pero de solo 3-5 segundos en el de un ataque con mortero. Postol también menciona como factor el modesto tamaño de las ojivas de los cohetes de Hamas.

[14] 2014 Gaza Conflict, párrafo 183, p. 111n327; Itay Hod, “The Israeli App Red Alert Saves Lives”, Daily Beast (14 julio 2014).

[15] http://mfa.gov.il/MFA/ForeignPolicy/Terrorism/Pages/Israel-under-fire-July-2014-A-Diary.aspx.

[16] 2014 Gaza Conflict, p. 65.

[17] Lo mismo era válido en el pasado. Solo una casa israelí fue “destruida casi por completo” durante Plomo Fundido y antes de esa operación prácticamente tampoco hubo daños materiales. Norman G. Finkelstein, “This Time We Went Too Far”: Truth and consequences of the Gaza invasion, edición en bolsillo revisada y aumentada (New York: 2011) p. 63; Human Rights Watch,Indiscriminate Fire: Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel and Israeli artillery shelling in the Gaza Strip(June 2007), pp. 24-28.

[18] Dan Williams, “Some Gaza Rockets Stripped of Explosives to Fly Further”, Reuters (18 de noviembre de 2012).
Fuente: https://www.byline.com/project/13/article/163 http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=202332

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive.” (Walter Scott, 1771-1832, “Marmion.”)

How speedily the lies of the “international community” in general and those of the US and UK in particular about the Syrian situation are unraveling since the participation of Russia.

Take UK Prime Minister David Cameron. On 24th September last year he addressed the United Nations, committing British aircraft to targeting IS/ISIL/ISIS in Iraq adding unequivocally that there would be no similar action in Syria and absolutely no “boots on the ground.”(1)

Referring to Iraq he added that the West should not be frozen by “past mistakes.” If Iraq is a “mistake” Heaven alone knows what a catastrophe would look like.

Cameron of course was being economical with the truth. In 2013 Parliament voted not to be involved in Syria, making Cameron the first Prime Minister in 200 years to lose a Parliamentary war vote. It would anyway have been another illegal action, since they had not been invited by the Syrian President or government and had no UN mandate. However, in July this year it transpired that pilots of Britain’s Air Force have been “embedded” with US and Canadian Air Squadrons and been involved in flying: “intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and strike missions …” according to the Ministry of Defence. (2)

On 7th September Cameron also announced that a British drone strike in Syria had killed two UK citizens fighting with ISIS. What an irony, the UK has enjoined wiping out entire nations having accused their leaders of “killing their own people”, terrorists or not, now Cameron kills his “own people” in what Michael Clarke, Director General of London’s hawkish Royal United Services Institute has called a “targeted assassination.”

Those killed were : “… targeted in an area that the UK does not currently regard, legally, as an operational theatre of war for UK forces”, Clarke commented, adding: “The government insisted that, unlike CIA drones, they were never used for targeted assassinations in territories where we were not militarily engaged.” (3) Another government lie pinned.

As for “no boots on the ground”, another seemingly whopping untruth. As Stephen Lendman has written (4): “On 2nd August The Sunday Express revealed: ‘SAS dress as ISIS fighters in undercover war on jihadis’ expanding that:

“ ‘More than 120 members belonging to the elite regiment are currently in the war-torn country’ covertly ‘dressed in black and flying ISIS flags’ engaged in what is called Operation Shader – attacking Syrian targets on the pretext of combatting ISIS.”

A mirror image of Basra, Iraq, exactly ten years ago, September 2005, when British Special Forces, dressed in Arab clothing, were arrested by Iraqi police in an explosive laden car. Had the car detonated, “Iraqi insurgents” would, of course, have been blamed. The British military demolished the police station in order to free the would-be bombers. (5) How many were not caught and “insurgency” for which Iraqis were blamed, killed, tortured, was actually “made in Britain” and the US, as Syria now?

In August it was reported that SAS troops in Syria “dressed in US uniforms, joined US special forces” in the assassination of alleged ISIS financier Abu Sayyaf and the kidnapping of his wife (Independent, 10th August.) It appears the British government only ever acts with, or at US behest, whilst sidelining it’s own Parliament.

Moreover: “Around 800 Royal Marines and 4,000 US counterparts were on standby to intervene on short notice if ordered”, wrote Lendman.

No wonder the Russians are being castigated for targeting the wrong kind of terrorists. In addition to being non-discriminatory and regarding a terrorist as simply that, they might also take the black flag waving SAS soldiers in fancy dress as terrorists. A “tangled web”, indeed.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is anything but selective about the head chopping, culture erasing monsters besieging Syria – CIA trained or not – stating last week: “If it looks like a terrorist, if it acts like a terrorist, if it walks like a terrorist, if it fights like a terrorist, it’s a terrorist, right?” (6)

In a response which stunningly illuminated Washington’s selective stance towards terrorism US Secretary of State, John Kerry stated: “What is important is Russia has to not be engaged in any activities against anybody but ISIL”, he said: “That’s clear. We have made that very clear.” Breathtaking, it is for the Syrian government to specify the parameters.

The US and UK of course are both bombing and supporting insurgents entirely illegally in Syria, having no UN mandate and no request from the country’s governing body. Did Kerry even blush when Lavrov remarked – over the unspoken questions as to whether Russia would extend it’s air coverage to terrorist groups in Iraq – that they had no such plans: “We are polite people, we don’t come if not invited”, he said.

Vladimir Putin had said: “We have … an invitation and we intend to fight against terrorist organizations and them only”, possibly referring to allegations that the US has been targeting Syrian government sites and military personnel.

Russia’s diplomatic envoys were reasonably polite to the US too. Before embarking on air strikes, according to US State Department spokesman John Kirby: “A Russian official in Baghdad this morning informed US Embassy personnel that Russian military aircraft would begin flying anti-ISIL missions today over Syria.

“He further requested that US aircraft avoid Syrian airspace during these missions.” Russia had, in effect given the US one hour’s notice to leave Syria. The US speedily responded with a report of Russian attacks causing civilian casualties. Sadly it transpired that at the time of the reported attacks, Russian ‘planes had not yet left the ground. By 2nd October, it seems panic has set in amongst the “US led coalition” which: “ … released a joint statement calling on Moscow to immediately cease attacks on the Syrian opposition and to focus on fighting ISIS.” (Guardian 2nd October 2015.)

The statement was issued by France, Turkey, the United States, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Britain.

However the US cat had already escaped from the Pentagon bag and made it’s way to no less than the Wall Street Journal which, the previous day had a header: “Russian Airstrike in Syria Targeted CIA-Backed Rebels, U.S. Officials Say.

“One area hit was location primarily held by rebels receiving funding, arms, training from CIA and allies.” Oooops.

Michel Chossudovsky has succinctly unraveled (7) the unholy morass of the various groups coupling his piece with the WSJ story:

“Affiliated to Al Qaeda, Al Nusra is a US sponsored  “jihadist” terrorist organization which has been responsible for countless atrocities. Since 2012, AQI and Al Nusra — both supported by US intelligence– have been working hand in glove in various terrorist undertakings within Syria.

“In recent developments, the Syrian government has identified its own priority areas for the Russian counter-terrorism air campaign, which consists essentially in targeting Al Nusra.  Al Nusra is described as the terrorist arm of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

“While Washington has categorized Al Nusra as a terrorist organization (early 2012), it nonetheless provides support  to both Al Nusra and it’s so-called ‘moderate rebels’ in the form of weapons, training, logistical support, recruitment, etc. This support is channeled by America’s Persian Gulf allies, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia as well as through Turkey and Israel.

“Ironically, The UN Security Council in a May 2012 decision’, namely the ISIL …”

At the Russian intervention, US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power took to Twitter, stating: “We call on Russia to immediately cease attacks on Syrian opposition and civilians.” Such action, she warned: “will only fuel more extremism and radicalization.” Chutzpah outdone – until 2003 and the US-UK blitzkrieg there were no US sponsored organ eating, dismembering lunatics. Syria and Iraq were of the most secular countries in the region.

Syria, from lies, to heartbreak, to cultural destruction has become a microcosm of the demented, ridiculous “war on terror.” The lies and subterfuge to justify the horror have become more desperate but only the most obtuse can avoid noticing that terrorists R US.

Notes

Predatori Usa in Lettonia

October 7th, 2015 by Manlio Dinucci

Alla vigi­lia dell’esercitazione «Tri­dent Junc­ture 2015», il 2 otto­bre, la Nato ha annun­ciato «il primo spie­ga­mento Usa in Europa di droni ad alta tec­no­lo­gia». Non solo nel periodo dell’esercitazione, ma in modo permanente.

Il video uffi­ciale mostra un Pre­da­tor (Pre­da­tore) nella base aerea di Liel­varde, in Let­to­nia a ridosso del ter­ri­to­rio russo, appena «rin­no­vata» per acco­gliere i droni e altri veli­voli mili­tari Usa/Nato. (link Nato Tri­dent Junc­ture 2015)

Il Pre­da­tor che viene mostrato è quello da «rico­gni­zione», ossia da spio­nag­gio e indi­vi­dua­zione degli obiet­tivi da col­pire. Può ope­rare dalla base in Let­to­nia, però, anche il Pre­da­tor Rea­per (Mie­ti­tore, ovvia­mente di vite umane), armato di 14 mis­sili Hell­fire (Fuoco dell’inferno) e di due bombe a guida laser o satel­li­tare. I tele­pi­loti, seduti alla con­solle a migliaia di km di distanza in una base negli Usa, una volta indi­vi­duato il «ber­sa­glio», coman­dano con il joy­stick il lan­cio dei mis­sili e delle bombe.

I «danni col­la­te­rali» sono ine­vi­ta­bili: per col­pire un pre­sunto ter­ro­ri­sta, i droni kil­ler distrug­gono spesso una intera casa, ucci­dendo donne e bam­bini con il «Fuoco dell’inferno» a testata ter­mo­ba­rica o a fram­men­ta­zione. Ciò è avve­nuto ripe­tu­ta­mente in Afgha­ni­stan, Paki­stan, Iraq, Yemen, Soma­lia e altri paesi.

Alla ceri­mo­nia svol­tasi alla base di Liel­varde per festeg­giare l’arrivo dei Pre­da­tori Usa, ha par­te­ci­pato il pre­si­dente della Let­to­nia Vējo­nis, che lo ha defi­nito «un esem­pio impor­tante di smart defence (difesa intel­li­gente)». Gli uffi­ciali Usa hanno dichia­rato che per­so­nale let­tone sarà adde­strato all’uso dei Pre­da­tor, il cui con­trollo resterà però in mani statunitensi.

Insieme al Pre­da­tor è stato esi­bito, in volo sulla base di Liel­varde, un A-10 Thun­der­bolt per l’attacco rav­vi­ci­nato al suolo, pro­ba­bil­mente uno dei 12 appena tra­sfe­riti dagli Usa nella base di Amari in Esto­nia, anch’essa a ridosso del ter­ri­to­rio russo.

Sem­pre il 2 otto­bre, la Nato ha dato un altro impor­tante annun­cio: l’arrivo nella base navale di Rota, in Spa­gna, del cac­cia­tor­pe­di­niere lan­cia­mis­sili USS Car­ney, per «raf­for­zare la difesa mis­si­li­stica Nato in Europa». Oltre che da 24 mis­sili SM-3 del sistema Aegis instal­lati in Polo­nia e altret­tanti in Roma­nia, lo «scudo» mis­si­li­stico com­prende lo schie­ra­mento nel Medi­ter­ra­neo di navi da guerra dotate di radar Aegis e mis­sili SM-3. La USS Car­ney è la quarta unità di que­sto tipo, dallo scorso feb­braio, ad essere tra­sfe­rita dagli Usa nel Medi­ter­ra­neo, più pre­ci­sa­mente nel Mar Nero in Roma­nia come ha pre­ci­sato l’ammiraglio Usa Fer­gu­son, coman­dante del Jfc Naples (con quar­tier gene­rale a Lago Patria). È pro­ba­bile che il numero di que­ste navi nel Medi­ter­ra­neo aumen­terà, dato che la US Navy ne ha già una trentina.

È ormai chiaro che lo «scudo» Usa in Europa non è diretto con­tro la «minac­cia dei mis­sili nucleari ira­niani» (ine­si­stenti), ma mira ad acqui­sire un deci­sivo van­tag­gio stra­te­gico sulla Rus­sia: gli Usa potreb­bero tenerla sotto la minac­cia di un «first strike» nucleare, fidando sulla capa­cità dello «scudo» di neu­tra­liz­zare gli effetti della rap­pre­sa­glia. E poi­ché sono gli Usa a con­trol­lare i mis­sili dello «scudo», schie­rati in Europa e nel Medi­ter­ra­neo, nes­suno può sapere se sono inter­cet­tori o mis­sili nucleari.

La marina spa­gnola dispone già di quat­tro fre­gate dotate del sistema Aegis, che le rende inte­ro­pe­ra­tive con le navi Usa.

Lo stesso si sta facendo con le fre­gate Fremm della marina mili­tare ita­liana. Tutte le unità navali Aegis nel Medi­ter­ra­neo, informa la Nato, sono «sotto comando e con­trollo Usa». Ciò signi­fica che la deci­sione di lan­ciare i mis­sili inter­cet­tori, o pre­sunti tali, è di esclu­siva per­ti­nenza del Pentagono.

Manlio Dinucci

Trident Juncture 2015. La Nato prepara altre guerre

October 7th, 2015 by Tomasso Di Francesco

Trident Juncture 2015. Al via oggi la più grande esercitazione dalla caduta del Muro di Berlino. In Italia, Spagna e Portogallo. 36 mila uomini, 60 navi e 200 aerei da guerra. Più l’Ucraina

Prende il via oggi in Ita­lia, Spa­gna e Por­to­gallo, dopo due anni di pre­pa­ra­zione, la Tri­dent Junc­ture 2015 (TJ15), una delle più grandi eser­ci­ta­zioni Nato. Vi par­te­ci­pano oltre 230 unità ter­re­stri, aeree e navali e forze per le ope­ra­zioni spe­ciali di 28 paesi alleati e 7 part­ner, con 36 mila uomini, oltre 60 navi e 200 aerei da guerra, anzi­tutto cac­cia­bom­bar­dieri a duplice capa­cità con­ven­zio­nale e nucleare.

La prima fase (3–16 otto­bre) testerà la capa­cità stra­te­gica e ope­ra­tiva dei comandi Nato; la seconda (21 ottobre-6 novem­bre) si svol­gerà «dal vivo» con l’impiego delle unità mili­tari. La TJ15, annun­cia un comu­ni­cato uffi­ciale, «dimo­strerà il nuovo accre­sciuto livello di ambi­zione della Nato nel con­durre la moderna guerra con­giunta». Dimo­strerà in par­ti­co­lare «la capa­cità della Forza di rispo­sta della Nato nel pia­ni­fi­care, pre­pa­rare, dispie­gare e soste­nere forze nelle ope­ra­zioni di rispo­sta alle crisi non pre­vi­ste dall’articolo 5, al di fuori del ter­ri­to­rio dell’Alleanza».

Quale sia il rag­gio d’azione della «Grande Nato», che dal Nord Atlan­tico è arri­vata sulle mon­ta­gne afghane e mira oltre, lo dimo­stra il fatto che alla Tri­dent Junc­ture 2015 par­te­cipa l’Australia. Signi­fi­ca­tivo è che vi prenda parte anche l’Ucraina, paese che la Nato sta ormai incor­po­rando, dopo essersi estesa a sette paesi dell’ex Patto di Var­sa­via, tre dell’ex Urss e due della ex Jugo­sla­via (demo­lita con la guerra nel 1999). Gli altri paesi non-Nato par­te­ci­panti alla TJ15 sono Austria, Sve­zia, Fin­lan­dia, Bosnia-Erzegovina e Mace­do­nia. Nell’esercitazione, la Nato coin­volge alcune orga­niz­za­zioni e agen­zie inter­na­zio­nali (come la Croce Rossa e la Usaid). Si sco­pre così una «Nato uma­ni­ta­ria», impe­gnata nel «man­te­ni­mento della pace»: il segre­ta­rio gene­rale Stol­ten­berg, il 28 set­tem­bre a New York, ha assi­cu­rato che «la Nato è pronta ad appog­giare le Nazioni Unite per ren­dere le sue ope­ra­zioni di pea­ce­kee­ping più sicure ed efficaci».

Coin­volta la Ue

Par­te­cipa alla prima fase della TJ15 anche l’Unione euro­pea. Il coin­vol­gi­mento della Ue nella grande eser­ci­ta­zione di guerra della Nato riporta in primo piano la que­stione poli­tica di fondo. L’art. 42 del Trat­tato sull’Unione euro­pea sta­bi­li­sce che «la poli­tica dell’Unione rispetta gli obbli­ghi di alcuni Stati mem­bri, i quali riten­gono che la loro difesa comune si rea­lizzi tra­mite l’Organizzazione del Trat­tato del Nord Atlan­tico». Poi­ché sono mem­bri della Alleanza 22 dei 28 paesi dell’Unione euro­pea, è evi­dente il pre­do­mi­nio della Nato.

Inol­tre, il pro­to­collo n. 10 sulla coo­pe­ra­zione isti­tuita dall’art. 42 sot­to­li­nea che la Nato «resta il fon­da­mento della difesa col­let­tiva» della Ue, e che «un ruolo più forte dell’Unione in mate­ria di sicu­rezza e di difesa con­tri­buirà alla vita­lità di un’Alleanza atlan­tica rin­no­vata». Rin­no­vata sì, ma rigi­da­mente anco­rata alla vec­chia gerar­chia: il Coman­dante supremo alleato in Europa è sem­pre nomi­nato dal pre­si­dente degli Stati uniti e sono in mano agli Usa tutti gli altri comandi chiave.

Tra­mite la Nato, al cui interno i governi dell’Est sono legati più a Washing­ton che a Bru­xel­les, gli Usa influi­scono non solo sulla poli­tica estera e mili­tare della Ue, ma com­ples­si­va­mente sui suoi indi­rizzi poli­tici ed eco­no­mici. Sono così riu­sciti a tra­sfor­mare l’Europa in prima linea di una nuova guerra fredda, che si sta allar­gando alla regione Asia/Pacifico, con­ti­nuando allo spesso tempo a usarla come ponte di lan­cio delle ope­ra­zioni mili­tari Usa/Nato in Medio­riente e Africa. Con la col­la­bo­ra­zione delle oli­gar­chie poli­ti­che ed eco­no­mi­che euro­pee che, pur in con­cor­renza con quelle sta­tu­ni­tensi e anche l’una con l’altra, con­ver­gono (pur a dif­fe­renti livelli) quando si tratta di difen­dere l’«ordine eco­no­mico mon­diale» domi­nato dall’Occidente, oggi messo in discus­sione dai Brics e altri paesi emergenti.

La fedeltà italiana

In tale qua­dro l’Italia con­ti­nua a distin­guersi per la sua subal­ter­nità agli Stati uniti e quindi per la sua «fedeltà atlan­tica». Riguardo alla Tri­dent Junc­ture 2015, comu­nica il governo, «sin dal 2013 l’Italia aveva anti­ci­pato all’Alleanza una prima offerta di assetti, basi e poli­goni»: il cen­tro di Pog­gio Rena­tico (Fer­rara), il primo dive­nuto ope­ra­tivo del nuovo Sistema di comando e con­trollo aereo Nato, che potrà lan­ciare ope­ra­zioni di guerra aerea in un’area di oltre 10 milioni di km qua­drati, dall’Europa orien­tale all’Asia e all’Africa; e, per il dispie­ga­mento delle forze aeree, «le basi di Tra­pani, Deci­mo­mannu, Pra­tica di Mare, Pisa, Amen­dola e Sigo­nella». Par­te­ci­pano alla TJ15 anche le navi impe­gnate nell’esercitazione «Mare Aperto» e unità dell’esercito inviate a Capo Teu­lada (Sar­de­gna), in Spa­gna e Portogallo.

Il governo nega il coin­vol­gi­mento del Joint Force Com­mand di Napoli (con uno staff di 800 mili­tari al quar­tier gene­rale di Lago Patria), in quanto la TJ15 è gui­data dal Joint Force Com­mand di Bruns­sum (Olanda). Scon­fes­sato dalla stessa Nato: il comando Nato di Napoli – diretto dall’ammiraglio Usa Fer­gu­son che è anche coman­dante delle Forze navali Usa in Europa, delle Forze navali Usa del Comando Africa e delle Forze Nato in Kosovo – svolge nel 2015 il ruolo di comando ope­ra­tivo della «Forza di rispo­sta» (40mila effet­tivi) che viene testata nella Tri­dent Juncture.

Nel 2016 il comando pas­serà a Bruns­sum, alter­nan­dosi annual­mente con Napoli.

Con le indu­strie della difesa

Dul­cis in fundo, la Nato annun­cia che ha «invi­tato quest’anno alla Tri­dent Junc­ture, per la prima volta, un gran numero di indu­strie della difesa per­ché, par­te­ci­pando all’esercitazione, tro­vino solu­zioni tec­no­lo­gi­che per acce­le­rare l’innovazione mili­tare». La Tri­dent Junc­ture 2015, il cui costo è segreto ma sicu­ra­mente ammonta a miliardi di dol­lari, pre­para così altre enormi spese per l’acquisto di arma­menti. Il tutto pagato con denaro pub­blico, ossia diret­ta­mente e indi­ret­ta­mente dai cittadini.

Tomasso Di Francesco

Manlio Dinucci

 

 

Como ressalta o representante dos militares no vídeo apresentado vêem-se ataques muito precisos. Os aviões que fazem parte dessa operação foram modernisados – nesses foram instalados os melhores sistemas atuais. Mostrando a sequência das imagens o representante do departamento comentou detalhadamente o que se mostrava, e o que estava sendo destruído. Para melhores esclarecimentos os jornalistas tinham sido convidados ao centro de comando militar de onde essa missão aérea tinha sido dirigida. [Esse vídeo poderá ser visto no artigo original ao qual anexo aqui o link – CLICK ]*
Detalhes sobre o principal – Cada um dos ataques feitos pelos pilotos russos foram mostrados e explicados aos jornalistas. As atividades dos pilotos foram sempre coordenadas do centro nacional de gerenciamento de defesa em Moscou. De lá também vieram todas as informações e resultados dos raids aéreos. As primeiras operações ocorreram ao longo de 24 horas. Nesse tempo foram feitos mais de 20 saídas aéreas as bases dos combatentes do denominado “Estado Islâmico”.

‘A aviação de ataque ao solo destruiu o depósito de munições do “Estado Islâmico” na região sudoeste da cidade de IDLIB. Na fotagem do vídeo vê-se muito bem o foco do incêndio e do resultante das detonações do depósito de munições dos terroristas. Na filmagem que segue a essas vê-se o resultado do uso do avião Cy-25, no ponto de comando dos agrupamentos de militantes, na zona não-residencial, dos arredores da cidade de El-Latamna. Uma construção de concreto armado bem reforçada de um tipo de três níveis foi destruída por um ataque direto das bombas aéreas de demolição FA-500. Nas imagens vê-se que construções próximas não foram atingidas’. Essa apresentação foi feita pelo chefe dos serviços de informação de imprensa do Ministério da Defesa da Federação Russa Igor Konachenkov. [NT. Favor notar que entre-aspas significando quotação direta não foram colocadas por dificuldades de estabelecer tradução direta ao pé da letra. Esse tipo de entre-aspas serão sempre aqui nesse artigo substituidas por ‘ ’]

Nas imagens a partir de El-Latamna vê-se muito bem que numa área muito grande não se vêem nem ruas nem edifícios. Todas as construções residênciais encontram-se no outro lado da estrada. Olhando-se para o mapa do lugar, o que se consegue facilmente na internet, é fácil de assegurar-se que aqui trata-se exatamente da cidade El-Latamna. As ruas e o tamanho da cidade mostrados nesse mapa coincidem completamente com os quadros, imagens e filmes da apresentação feitas pelos nossos drones.

Tem-se aqui um detalhe importante de ser notado em relação aos lugares que Igor Konachenkov mostrou em todas as 12 localizações dos alvos. Vê-se que no mapa destacam-se os lugares nos quais sucederam-se os ataques. Quatro objetos aqui apresentados foram destruidos durante a noite. A aviação síria não podia levantar voo durante a noite e portanto, os militantes armados podiam mudar suas posições ou avançar contra o exército do país nesse meio tempo. Hoje eles foram pegos de surpresa.

‘Aqui vêem-se armamentos, depósitos militares e de combustíveis assim como um ponto de equipamentos militares [tanques, blindados, etc.]dirigido a um nó de conexão, um entroncamento, relatado ao transporte de meios para os combatentes do Estado Islâmico. Todos os alvos foram destruidos. Alvos como pontos de comando assim como as sedes de comando das formações terroristas que se encontravam nessa área da cidade foram completamente destruídos’, disse o representante oficial da força aérea-espacial da Federação Russa Igor Klimov.

Tem-se imagens nas quais militares estão a colocar e ajustar bombas nos aviões, onde também se vê a sua denominação – FAB-250, essas são as bombas de demolição. Elas tem um corpo robusto e muito estável e podem destruir alvos que se encontrem não só sobre a superfície. Muitas vezes os combatentes escondem-se em túneis subterrâneos, onde o exército sírio não consegue os atacar. Para determinar o exato ponto de localização dos terroristas foram usados meios espaciais de reconhecimento e drones. Também foi de boa ajuda a nossa atividade conjunta com militares do Iraque e do Irã no centro de informações de Bagdá.

‘Ataques diretos com aviões bombardeiros destruiram completamente uma fábrica de preparação de substâncias, e um depósito militar no norte de Homs. Foi exatamente nessa fábrica que se iniciou a montagem de  explosivos em meios de transporte para depois serem usados para atos terroristas, entre eles os suicidas dos denominados homens-bombas. Ressalta-se que nunca foi feito qualquer ataque na infraestrutura do país nem em qualquer outro edifício onde se poderiam encontrar civis’ declarou Igor Konachenkov.

Na linha de frente estiveram os modernizados bombardeiros de alvos CY-24M e os aviões de assalto CY-25. Isso significa que foram montados  nos aviões os melhores sistemas atuais de alinhamento e mira. A base aérea é da guarda do corpo de fuzileiros navais.

‘A instalação do grupo da aeronáutica foi feita rapidamente. Nós pudemos fazer isso assim porque o armazenamento fundamental de materiais, assim como do estoque militar encontravam-se no ponto de provisão de material-técnico em Tartus. Restava sómente o re-basear a aviação e transportar alguns instrumentos e equipamentos. A nossa base aeronáutica é completa e estritamente provida só com material fornecido pela Federação Russa’ – disse Igor Konachenkov.

Os resultados dos ataques aéreos serão apresentados todos os dias no departamento militar.

Material da 1tv.ruFonte:  Фонд Стратегической Культуры – Fondsk.ru

Referências e Notas:

* Veja o vídeo no original russo em www.fondsk.ru 

02.10.2015 | Ближний и Средний Восток | Россия и СНГ

Минобороны России обнародовало новые кадры ударов, которые наша авиация наносит по позициям “ИГ”

Traduzido do russo por Anna Malm – https://artigospoliticos.wordpress.com para Mondialisation.ca

 

 

US foreign policy expert Zbigniew Brzezinski says the United States should retaliate if Russia does not stop bombing its assets in Syria.

Brzezinski, the national security adviser for former President Jimmy Carter, advised President Barack Obama to attempt to disarm the Russians if they keep attacking the CIA-trained militants in Syria.

“The Russian naval and air presences in Syria are vulnerable, isolated geographically from their homeland,” Brzezinski wrote in an article published by the Financial Times on Sunday. “They could be ‘disarmed’ if they persist in provoking the US.”

“But, better still, Russia might be persuaded to act with the US in seeking a wider accommodation to a regional problem that transcends the interests of a single state,” he added.

A new US intelligence assessment has found Russia has targeted militant groups backed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Syria.

The assessment, shared by commanders on the ground, has led American officials to conclude that Russian warplanes have intentionally struck CIA-backed militants in a string of attacks running for days, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Moscow’s apparent decision to strike CIA’s militants “at best” reflects “Russian military incompetence,” and worst, “evidence of a dangerous desire to highlight American political impotence,” wrote Brzezinski.

He added that if Moscow continues to target these people, then Washington should retaliate against Russians.

“In these rapidly unfolding circumstances the US has only one real option if it is to protect its wider stakes in the region: to convey to Moscow the demand that it cease and desist from military actions that directly affect American assets,” he said.

Obama administration officials are debating how the United States can come to the aid of its proxy forces on the ground without risking a broader conflict, according to the Wall Street Journal.

US officials said Russia’s moves in Syria posed a direct challenge to the Obama administration’s foreign policy on the Middle East.

Moscow’s commitment to the Syrian government runs counter to current US policy, which calls for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia has been beefing up its military presence in neighboring Syria, deploying warplanes, tanks and personnel to an airfield in the western port city of Latakia. It launched a coordinated air campaign to fight Daesh (ISIL) and other terrorists.

Senior Russian officials have said the current campaign is limited to airstrikes, but have not ruled out “volunteers” on the ground.

Syria has been gripped by a foreign-backed militancy since March 2011 aimed at toppling the Assad government. The violence has claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people so far.

Here is the US changing its story for the FOURTH time of why it launched an air strike on the Doctors without Borders hospital in the Afghan town of Kunduz at the weekend, massacring at least 22 patients and hospital staff.

As Glenn Greenwald has doggedly pointed out, the western media have been faithfully changing their account repeatedly and largely uncritically of what happened to keep in line with US claims. CNN and the New York Times have been particularly egregious offenders. The media monitoring group FAIR has also produced a revealing overview of the NYT’s coverage of the strikes on the hospital.

Almost all of the corporate media began by distancing the US from the attack, with some indicating that it was possible the hospital’s destruction simply coincided with US air strikes in that area. The BBC used the painfully evasive “Afghan air strike” in an early headline, suggesting the possibility of an illusory Afghan air force, to keep the US out of the picture.

Then, the US admitted it was responsible but claimed the strike was an accident. The problem, however, was that this story too was not credible: Doctors without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) had given the US and Afghan forces the GPS coordinates of the hospital and called the US military to tell them of the attack during the strike to no avail.

Kenneth Roth, director of Human Rights Watch, exemplified the western liberal community’s torturous efforts to avoid considering US responsibility for such a serious war crime. He wanted us to think about Assad rather than Kunduz in this astonishing, deflectionary tweet (since deleted).

(Note that this a familiar practice by the HRW team: I wrote at length about similar efforts by their investigators to try to accuse Hizbollah of more serious breaches of international law than Israel when considering the same war crimes.)

Next, the US admitted it had intentionally targeted the medical facility, but did so because, it claimed, there were Taliban fighters using it as a base, even though no evidence was produced and Doctors without Borders staff absolutely denied that had been the case.

Now a US general is blaming Afghan forces for directing the US to strike the hospital.

This slipperiness by the US is visible only because Doctors without Borders, a western organisation, ran the hospital, their staff were among those killed, and they have been waging a relentless campaign exposing the US authorities’ mendacity, forcing the army – and its media stenographers – to keep changing tack.

Had this been a local Afghan-run hospital, or a wedding party, the US claims would have gone entirely unchallenged, and the media would have treated them unquestioningly, as they initially tried to do here.

Thanks to the Doctors without Borders, we have now reached the point where the US has been forced both to admit and justify a very serious war crime.

The intense reluctance of the western media to use the same language of outright condemnation faced with the fact of a US war crime that it regularly employs when offered (usually by the same US authorities) an allegation of a similar war crime by an official enemy – say, Russia or Syria’s Assad – exposes quite how much of a propaganda role our media willingly fulfils.

War crimes are war crimes, except, it seems, when they are committed by us and reported by our media.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has released a video showing Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants moving their military hardware to residential areas, including one near a mosque, in an apparent attempt to save it from airstrikes.
“Having realized the high efficiency of our reconnaissance assets in detecting masked equipment storage bases and the real threat of their destruction, terrorists are making efforts to move their weapons in residential areas. Vehicles are usually deployed near mosques as the terrorists know that the Russian Air Force will never target them,” the Ministry of Defense commented on the issued video.

 

After five years of negotiations, this week in Atlanta the trade ministers from all twelve nations finally arrived at an agreement to the biggest economic treaty in human history, co-opting their masters’ Trans-Pacific Partnership after hashing out their final bones of contention and bringing their New World Order one giant step closer to mankind.

Sending their final 30 chapter product for each of the dozen national governments to now sign off and ratify, once that hurdle is navigated, enter the Brave New World Order of a one world government. Back in May US Congress already voted to give up its oversight role by handing its reigns of authority over to presidential dictator Obama to personally fast track it. To accomplish the passage of the May fast track bill, Big Business bribed US Senators to vote in favor by a 65-33 margin with a carrot stick sum of $1,148,971 between January and March 2015 when the bill was debated on the floor. This sadly is how business as usual gets done in Washington.

Meanwhile, citizen movements that bring pressures to bear on national governments to protect the people and the environment are rendered defenseless amidst the onslaught of corporatized dominance over nations and their populations. The Philip Morris tobacco company is suing Uruguay for imposing health warnings on cigarette packaging. A Canadian mining company is taking El Salvador to court due to citizens’ grassroots efforts to halt mining operations from pouring poisonous chemicals into the ground to extract gold. If TPP is passed, governments will no longer be able to protect its citizens and any democratic rights of the people will be completely destroyed.

If the fate of humans is to somehow avoid this totalitarian horror and nightmarish tyranny of a fascist one world government, then the time to stand up and be counted is now. Citizens of the 12-nation Pacific Rim that include the US, Canada and Mexico as well as Chile and Peru along with Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Brunei must demand that their government representatives refuse to pass TPP. Obviously our work is cut out for us and it will not be easy.

Last year a Princeton-Northwestern study officially declared the United States an oligarchy after determining that Congress operates on behalf of the ruling elite that pours billions into politicians’ pockets effectively bribing and buying them off to vote for its self-interest rather than the American people who voted them into office. But despite the rigged political system stacked against American citizens and this same blatant, in-our-face corruption pervasively entrenched now in virtually every nation on earth, it is up to us citizens of the world to ultimately band together in solidarity in order to make sure that this Trojan horse of a Trans-Pacific Partnership does not become NWO law.

Regardless of what happens, the 21st century has to go down in history as the age of global deception when Orwellian doublespeak is the universally uttered language spoken by all the most prominent political leaders on the planet. But really the globalists who’ve long been perched at the highest echelons of US power have been speaking in fork tongue for centuries. Fresh off their Jekyll Island conspiracy in 1910, the globalist bankers achieved their first coup de tat in Washington when they snuck through Congress another bill no one read just prior to Christmas recess in 1913.

Just as 2002’s Patriot Act subsequently undermined and destroyed the US Constitution from being upheld and practiced as America’s rule of law, the two most subversive pieces of legislation in US history effectively destroyed the United States as a democratic republic – the deceitfully privatized Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and the unconstitutional Federal Income Tax Act of 1913. In their third attempt at establishing for good a central banking system within America, the globalists adopted the same economic system that had been operating with Rothschild money in Europe since the Bank of England began in 1694.

No sooner did the Wall Street bankers wield power over the US government seizing control over America’s money supply, usurping the function of the US Treasury, they were able to lock in an unconstitutional financial system whereby they were handed authority to create money out of thin air in order to charge interests on loans to the US government so wars that bankers actually caused could be conveniently financed at a handsome profit. Additionally, the globalist banksters were able to bludgeon both commercial businesses and private citizens with usury debt through interests accruing on bank loans also cut out of thin air. And then with the annual collection of Americans’ federal income tax used to pay off mostly the government’s interests on war loans, the bankers had manipulated both Congress and Americans into their elaborate Ponzi scheme of a feudal debtor system.

Just months later the only thing left in 1914 was to immediately plunge allied nations into the first world war against a globalist funded militarized Germany, always ensuring major dividends from war profiteering by financing both sides of both World Wars as had been the European-Rothschild custom for centuries. Thus, bent on killing fair free market competition and indeed the free enterprise system itself for the sake of establishing a cartel of overriding monopolies, a handful of elitist families – the Rockefellers, the JP Morgans, the Fords, the Carnegies and the Bushes to name but a few – proceeded to make their killings off the blood, sweat, and tears of the American population, sacrificing our fallen soldiers for obscene profiteering while turning the rest of us still alive into the robotic walking dead sentenced to a lifetime of indentured servitude.

And to seize even more control over Washington and its foreign policy in particular, guaranteeing virtual nonstop war by globalist design, in 1921 the elite’s most public face credited as the NWO architects was born in the Council on Foreign Relations. Over this last century nearly every Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense and over half the US presidents have all been card carrying members of the CFR. After all, war’s always been most profitable to globalist bankers. Hence, it’s no accident that 93% of its time as a nation, the US has been killing other humans somewhere on the planet 222 of its 239 years in existence. No other nation on earth can dare boast such dubiously shameful bragging rights.

So through nearly two and a half centuries of nonstop war, and now after the 21st century “Pearl Harbor event” of 9/11 that was planned years earlier by the neocon Project for the New American Century, their demonic agenda has become reality. They’ve taken down America and its constitutional freedoms as the world’s strongest nation by overextending its fighting war machine, decimating its middle class, and in effect destabilizing every nation and region on earth by manufacturing a permanent war of global terror, an unsustainable global economy driven by a gluttonous military industrial complex, and establishing their New World Order tumultuously operating under public radar behind US Empire’s full spectrum dominance on their geopolitics chessboard.

After all, when the richest 1% of the global population is able to steal so much wealth that they actually own more than the rest of the 99% of the entire 7 plus billion population combined, at the global masses’ expense their New World Order’s already been fulfilled. The only thing left is to codify the NWO into formal existence by writing laws that multiple national governments will co-sign into effect relinquishing and destroying all national sovereignty. If TPP passes, transnational corporations will supersede all national and state laws and courts.

We are at this final stage right now, and their puppet-in-chief wearing blackface backed by his GOP pro-globalist Congress is rushing to finalize these trade agreements as foremost on Obama’s lame duck schedule just under the wire before the US dollar gets blown up by the collapsing bubble burst of the bankrupted global economy and a cast of neocon madmen drag us all into yet another world war. The death and destruction that awaits if we allow it is the globalist ticket for thinning the global pop. down to a “sustainable” UN Agenda sized 21 of a half billion humans while gaining absolute totalitarian microchip control over every earthling left alive on the planet.

And now a century after the fork tongued globalists hijacked Washington, they’re still at it, but today the stakes are graver than ever. Their treasonous thievery couched in obscure doublespeak language touts “free trade” as their main selling point when it’s anything but free trade. Only five of the thirty chapters even have anything to do with trade. The unholy trio of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) economically merging North America with the European Union, are now being fast tracked under the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) that Congress yielded to Obama in May.

Just like they did 100 years earlier, now they’re far more skilled and experienced at fooling the public than ever before. At this point the globalists are counting on the average American Joe to be so dumbed down and confused as to not even try and stop them. They’re counting on us not understanding what’s at stake here, allowing their doublespeak lingo buried in technocratic legalese deceit and propaganda to con us into passively believing TPP may actually be good for us.

After all, if you believe the lies from the minion spin, TPP will knock down all the red tape barriers that have made “free trade” so impossible for the dozen nations responsible for 40% of the total world economy. Ostensibly TPP will streamline and standardize “free trade” products for global consumption. These are the lies they propagate in selling TPP to the public. However, history already foretells a grim TPP outcome if it passes. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was hyped early in globalist Clinton’s first term in office as a guaranteed boom for the American economy promising more jobs but all it did was provide a cover for outsourcing American manufacturing jobs to Mexico.

The TPP intends on just more of the same, for all intents and purposes simply expanding NAFTA eastward to Asia in an effort to hedge China as the emerging global economic giant due to eclipse the US as the economic kingpin. Similarly to Clinton, the known pathological liar Obama who as presidential candidate vowed to be the most open and transparent president in US history but proved the most secretive and deceptive claims TPP will “level the playing field” for American workers and businesses, adding that the US public will have months to openly review the deal prior to his signing it into law. Obama is a psychopathic master of doublespeak deceit.

In actuality TPP will allow oil companies and other multinational corporations to sue governments for obstructing their further rape of the planet. It will only increase fracking and drilling worldwide. The fast tracking component effectively bypasses any chance of public debate and mobilizing citizen opposition. It will permit foreign transnationals to legally challenge any existing domestic environmental regulation. TPP has been written by the globalists to serve only their own special interests. Globalists have both history and ultra-secrecy on their side. By calculated design they’ve carefully withheld virtually the entire 30 chapters of detailed critical information even from Congress members needed to sign off on the agreement. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) had this to say about how TPP has been handled:

The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations – like Halliburton, Chevron, PHRMA, Comcast, and the Motion Picture Association of America – are being consulted and made privy to details of the  agreement.

Fortunately WikiLeaks managed to intercept limited portions of TPP to gain a glimpse at its ambitious aim to codify New World Order into supreme law. Some of the concealed fine print spells a foreboding blueprint for setting back both human rights and workers’ rights centuries, plunging us into another dark aged feudalism. In recent years labor unions in America have already taken a major hit in protecting workers’ rights. But TPP also threatens to throwback worker safety standards to the cold winds of hell as well. Worker conditions today are becoming so dire that owner-management has taken full advantage. Knowing that for every job opening, dozens of desperate job seeking applicants are available, owners exploit these stacked numbers working against American employees to grossly underpay and view their workers as mere expendable commodities. Job loyalty and dedication are largely overlooked.

American workers in the current permanently stagnated economy ready to go bust are working far longer hours for less wages that carry far less buying power than in multiple decades. In this increasingly austere culture and climate, the actual numbers are astoundingly scary. An estimated over a quarter of the total US working population isn’t even looking for work anymore, one fifth of all US households don’t have anyone employed and over 101 million working age Americans are without work. Those still holding down fulltime jobs have been made to feel fortunate just having a job to attend each day. Job security is another dead and gone relic from our past. For decades large corporations have been outsourcing US jobs to overseas markets like China for cheaper slave labor and higher corporate profits. TPP will only bring more lost American jobs and even more dire conditions.

Media censorship will eliminate internet access to billions of us globally. The powers-that-be are well aware that fewer and fewer people are paying attention to mainstream media as it’s finally been recognized for what it is – nothing more than gov.corps’ propaganda department. Truth is their enemy and the globalists are fuming over the ugly truth about them getting out to the public by way of independent alternative media found primarily on the internet. Hence, TPP has the internet targeted in its crosshairs for elimination, completely controlling all outflow of news and information to the public masses worldwide. Net neutrality is due to be scrapped as yet another NWO graveyard fatality if TPP gets passed. Additionally Hollywood’s been gunning to restrict copyrighted material from internet access in countries like New Zealand in effect attempting to usurp New Zealand laws.

TPP will allow Monsanto’s genetically modified organisms full toxic reign by restricting all government labeling of food. Despite increasing numbers of countries around the world passing laws prohibiting GMO products from entering their borders, TPP for the dozen nations it affects will trample over consumers’ rights to accessing healthy foods. Under TPP, health conscious states like Vermont that already passed a law last year requiring food labeling due to go into effect in 2016 will again become null and void.

The US pro-Pharma lobbying delegation pushing its 12-year monopoly on Big Pharma drugs being price inflated immune from any generic competition for a dozen years was one of the contentious issues holding up the trade ministers’ agreement. Despite US Congress already granting Big Pharma its power to charge absorbent, overpriced costs unaffordable to consumers to remain unchallenged for a full 12-year period, in the end the trade ministers agreed that the years of monopolized thievery for TPP were reduced to a range from 5 to 8 years of exclusive rights for the pharmaceutical manufacturers. This compromised feature is still being called a win for Big Pharma as it will continue seriously limiting access to affordable, potentially lifesaving medication for millions if not billions of people on this planet.

Yet another not so hidden negative consequence of TPP will be to specifically ban any movements, campaigns or policies promoting at either the national down to the community level the purchasing of locally owned goods and services. Again, this ensures enforceable removal of all fair open market competition placing the smaller locally owned businesses at a severely rigged, too often lethal disadvantage.

Despite Obama and his rabid Republican backers in Congress, the globalist puppet president does not have strong support from congressional members from his own party. Though he finagled Congress to cave in to his fast tracking TPA earlier this year, it was not without formidable opposition generated from an anti-TPP activist movement that had successfully pressured politicians to not support it. Also with next year’s presidential election up for grabs, the shifting sands of fickle election year politics may cast changing loyalties to either side whichever way the wind blows. Though generally the money holders hold court, there are no guarantees. The vote will not even come up for another four months from now, plenty of time to demand action from our elected representatives to kill TPP once and for all.

Meanwhile, the EU-US’ TTIP appears to be unraveling in the face of defectors mainly from France and Germany abandoning US Empire’s house of cards hegemony. At the same time a stiffening groundswell of increasing vocal opposition to TTIP rising from Europeans long fed up with the EU technocrats out of Brussels calling the shots that counter their own localized self-interests have been galvanizing in resolute commitment to defeat the globalists on the Euro-front. They also justifiably fear that their own health standards for food products will be lowered by the fast and loose US market that permits far higher toxin levels. As informed and empowered citizen activists, we collectively have no other choice but in good conscience to exert our full unified efforts across continents toward derailment of the globalists’ sinister agenda that’s been specifically designed to fatally harm us as both sovereign nations and sovereign people. Together as a world citizenry we must break the yoke of oppression gripping our planet. Defeating TPP is one urgent place to start.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer. He has written a manuscript based on his unique military experience entitled “Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down.” It examines and focuses on US international relations, leadership and national security issues. After the military, Joachim earned a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and worked as a licensed therapist in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now concentrates on his writing and has a blog site athttp://empireexposed.blogspot.co.id

War propaganda often demands the abandoning of ordinary reason and principle, and the Dirty War on Syria demonstrates this in abundance. A steady stream of atrocity stories – ‘barrel bombs’, chemical weapons, ‘industrial scale’ killings, dead babies – permeate the western news on Syria. They all have two things in common: they paint the Syrian President and the Syrian Army as monsters slaughtering civilians, including children; yet, when tracked back, all the stories come from utterly partisan sources. We are being deceived.

Normal ethical notions of avoiding conflicts of interest, searching for independent evidence and disqualifying self-serving claims from belligerent parties have been ignored in much of the western debate. This toxic atmosphere invites further fabrications, repeated to credulous audiences, even when the lies used to justify previous invasions (of Iraq in 2003) and dirty wars (in Libya, 2011) are still relatively fresh in our minds. As in previous wars, the aim is to demonise the enemy, by use of repeated atrocity claims, and so mobilise popular support behind the war (Knightley 2001).

Yet in circumstances of war adherence to some key principles is necessary when reading contentious evidence; at least if we wish to understand the truth of the matter. A belligerent party always has a vital interest in discrediting and delegitimising its opponent. For that reason, we must always view belligerent party ‘evidence’ against an opponent with grave suspicion. It is not that a warring party is incapable of understanding its opponent, rather what they say will always be conditioned by their special interest. We must assume bias. If there is no way to check the origin of that evidence, and if it is partisan and ‘self-serving’, it should be rejected as forensically worthless. This exclusion of ‘self-serving’ evidence follows broad principles applied in civil and criminal law. Such evidence only has value when it goes against the interest of the warring party, as with admissions, or when it says something about the mentality of the party putting it forward.

These principles apply whether speaking of the nature of wartime violence, of public opinion or political allegiance. So, for example, when Islamist armed groups and their associates claim that their mortal enemy the Syrian Arab Army is slaughtering civilians (e.g. AP 2015), that claim by itself is next to meaningless. We expect armed opponents to attack each other, with words as well as weapons. False stories of Government atrocities were in play from the beginning of the conflict. The head of a monastery in Homs, Mother Agnes-Mariam, denounced ‘false flag’ crimes by ‘Free Syrian Army’ groups back in 2011, where the images of murder victims were recycled in media setups by sectarian Islamists (SANA 2011). Similarly, US journalist Nir Rosen wrote of ‘dead opposition fighters … described as innocent civilians killed by security forces’ (Rosen 2012). What is the lesson here?  Beware of partisan atrocity stories. They might at best serve as a flag, an accusation which might set in train a search for independent evidence.

For the same reason, when the Qatari monarchy (which has invested billions of dollars in the armed attacks on Syria) presents an anonymous, paid witness ‘Caesar’, with photos of numerous dead and tortured bodies, blaming the Syrian Army for ‘industrial scale killing’ (O’Toole 2014; Jalabi 2015), it should be plain that that ‘evidence’ is partisan and unreliable (Smith-Spark 2014; MMM 2014). The fact that this story was presented by a belligerent party just before a Geneva peace conference should give further cause for suspicion. But without genuinely independent evidence to corroborate the witness we have no way of verifying in which year, circumstance or even which country the photos were taken. Those who finance and arm the sectarian groups have slaughtered hundreds of thousands in recent years, in the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. There is no shortage of photos of dead bodies. The fact that western media sources run these accusations, using lawyers (also paid by Qatar) to provide ‘bootstrap’ support (Cartalucci 2014; Murphy 2014), merely shows their limited understanding of independent evidence.

Similar principles apply to claims over legitimacy. Assertions by US Government officials, openly (and contrary to international law) seeking ‘regime change’ in Syria, that President Assad has ‘lost all legitimacy’ (e.g. Hilary Clinton in Al Jazeera 2011) should be seen as simply self-serving, partisan propaganda. In the case of Washington’s claims about the August 2013 chemical weapons attack in East Ghouta, the US Government and some of its embedded agencies attempted to use telemetry and some other circumstantial evidence to implicate the Syrian Army (Gladstone and Chivers 2013; HRW 2013). However, after those claims were destroyed by a range of independent evidence (Lloyd and Postol 2014; Hersh 2014; Anderson 2015), Washington and its media periphery simply kept repeating the same discredited accusations. In the climate of war, few were bold enough to say that the emperor ‘had no clothes’.

We might pay a little more attention when evidence from belligerent parties goes against their own interest. For example, in 2012 western media interviewed three Free Syrian Army (FSA) commanders in Aleppo. They all admitted they were hated by the local people and that the Syrian President had the loyalty of most. One said President Assad had about ‘70 percent’ support (Bayoumy 2013) in that mainly Sunni Muslim city. A second said the local people, ‘all of them, are loyal to the criminal Bashar, they inform on us’ (Abouzeid 2012). A third said they are ‘all informers … they hate us. They blame us for the destruction’ (Abdul-Ahad 2012).  Although this is simply anecdotal evidence, because it runs against the interests of its sources it has greater significance than self-serving claims. Similarly, while NATO heads of government were claiming President Assad had ‘lost all legitimacy’, an internal NATO report estimated that 70% of Syrians supported the President, 20% were neutral and 10% supported the ‘rebels’ (World Tribune 2013; BIN 2013). While there is no public detail of the method behind this estimate, it has some significance in that it also runs against self-interest. It also roughly matches the outcome of the June 2014 Presidential elections, where Bashar al Assad gained 65% support from all eligible voters, that is, 88.7% of the vote from a 73.4% participation rate (Idea International 2015).

Perhaps the most common and profound error of the western media, reporting on the Syrian crisis, has been the extraordinary reliance on a single person, a man based in Britain who calls himself the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). Many of the stories about Syrian body counts, ‘regime’ atrocities and huge collateral damage come from this man. Yet Rami Abdul Rahman has always flown the flag of the Muslim Brotherhood led ‘Free Syrian Army’ on his website (SOHR 2015). He claims to collect information from a network of associates in and around Syria. It is logical to assume these would also be mostly anti-Government people. Media channels which choose to rely on such an openly partisan source undermine their own credibility. Perhaps they don’t care? The fact that western governments generally support the Muslim Brotherhood line on Syria (a sectarian narrative against the secular state) may make them less concerned. They regularly present the SOHR stories, often with impressive-sounding casualty numbers, as though they were fact (e.g. AP 2015; Pollard 2015). A ‘regime’ denial may be added at paragraph 7 or 8, to give the impression of balanced journalism. Abdul Rahman’s occasional criticism of rival Salafist groups (such as DAESH-ISIL) perhaps adds a semblance of credibility. In any case, the unthinking adoption of these partisan reports has been important in keeping alive the western myth that the Syrian Army does little more than target and kill civilians.

Much the same problem can be seen in the campaigns over 2014-2015 against ‘barrel bombs’, where it has been said that a particular type of Syrian Air Force bomb (which includes fuel and shrapnel) has been responsible for massive civilian casualties. Robert Parry (2015) makes the point that any sort of improvised bomb ‘dropped from helicopters’ would be far less devastating and indiscriminate than most missile attacks, not to speak of the depleted uranium, napalm, white phosphorous and cluster munitions used by Washington. However the point here is not to do with the technology, it is simply a new way to generate horror and backing for the war, by claiming that the Syrian Army only ever kills civilians. The supposedly ‘indiscriminate’ nature of this ‘new’ weapon is merely suggested by repetition of the slogan.

Yet the great majority of sites of these alleged ‘barrel bomb’ attacks, over 2014-2015, have been places occupied for years by sectarian Islamist gangs: north-eastern Aleppo, Douma in north-eastern Damascus and Raqqa in the eastern desert. The Washington-based Human Rights Watch (tightly linked to the US foreign policy body, the Council on Foreign Relations) published a map showing the sites of literally hundreds of these barrel bomb attacks in ‘opposition held’ north-east Aleppo (HRW 2014). The ‘opposition’ in these areas has been the official al Qaeda franchise in Syria, Jabhat al Nusra, allied with the Saudi-backed Islamic Front (a merger of former Free Syrian Army groups Harakat Ahrar as-Sham, Suqur as-Sham, Liwa at-Tawhid, Jaysh al-Islam, Jabhat al-Kurdiyya, Liwa al-Haqq and Ahrar as-Sham), then later the ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL), the Turkistan Islamic Party and the Army of Conquest. Virtually all of these groups are internationally proscribed terrorist organisations responsible for multiple atrocities in Syria. It is hardly surprising, then, that the Syrian Army regularly bombs the armed groups in these areas.

Contrary to the myth of the ‘moderate rebel’, the terrorist groups most often work together. For example, a top US-backed leader of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Abdel Jabbar el-Okaidi, is quite open about the fact that he works closely with ISIL-Daesh (see Eretz Zen 2014). The FSA has worked closely with the other main al Qaeda group, Jabhat al Nusra, from the beginning.

The source of the ‘civilian’ death claims comes almost exclusively from the Islamist groups themselves, or ‘activists’ embedded with them. Those claims are then magnified by the western media and by some human rights NGOs which are effectively ‘embedded’ with western governments’ foreign policies. Casualty numbers are typically provided by the British-based ‘Syrian Observatory on Human Rights’ (SOHR 2015), the British-based Syrian Network for Human Rights (SN4HR 2015), or the Istanbul-based Violation Documentation Center in Syria (VDC 2015; Masi 2015). All these centres are allied to the Islamist gangs, but usually maintain some public distance from ISIL. The VDC has listed some ISIL causalities in Syria as ‘martyrs’ for the revolution (see Sterling 2015b.); but the key point is that they are all partisan voices, sectarian Islamists committed to overthrow of the Syrian state and thus highly motivated to vilify and lie about the Syrian Army.

Commander in Chief of the propaganda war, US President Obama, leads the way, claiming his Syrian counterpart ‘drops barrel bombs to massacre innocent children’ (Obama in Mosendz 2015). As there has never been any evidence that President Assad had any such intent, Parry (2015) is right to call this statement ‘crude and deceptive propaganda’. The White House is backed up by ‘embedded watchdog’ Human Rights Watch, whose boss Kenneth Roth obsessively repeats the words ‘barrel bombs’, and has even been exposed posting photos of devastated Gaza and Kobane, falsely claiming that both showed Aleppo after ‘Assad’s barrel bombing’ (MOA 2015; Interventions Watch 2015). In fact those photos showed the results of Israeli, US and ISIL bombing. The recycling of war dead photos seems to have become routine. Yet the foundation of western war propaganda is the consistent reliance on partisan sources. The ‘barrel bomb’ campaign is clearly designed to delegitimise the Syrian Government and the Syrian Army, and also perhaps to deter or slow the attacks on Islamist groups. However the Syrian Army does not apologise to anyone for bombing terrorist held areas.

Most civilians in the areas said to have been ‘barrel bombed’ left a very long time ago. In January 2015 Reuters (2015a) showed video of some of the last large evacuations of Douma by the Syrian Army. Several months later the same agency decried a massacre of ‘civilians’ in Douma, using the ‘activists’ of the SOHR as their source (Reuters 2015b). Repetition of these fake claims by the Islamists, their associated ‘activists’ and their western backers (for information on Avaaz, The White Helmets and the Syrian Campaign, see Sterling 2015a and Mint Press 2015) has led to headlines like: ‘The Syrian Regime’s Barrel Bombs Kill More Civilians than ISIS and Al Qaeda Combined’ (Masi 2015). Such stories suggest the need for more war on Syria. The photos of dead and injured women and children in the ghost towns inhabited by the armed groups are simply borrowed from other contexts. Amnesty International (USA) largely adopted the barrel bomb story, along with the invented ‘civilian’ casualty numbers. Yet Amnesty shares that same weakness in method: relying on partisan sources like the VDC, the SN4HR and the SOHR. Amnesty’s pro-western bias has led it into repeating NATO-contrived falsehoods in other conflicts, such as those in Kuwait and Libya (see Sterling 2015b).

None of this is to say that the Syrian Army has not killed civilians, particularly those embedded with the terrorist groups. However many Syrians, whose families have been directly affected by the terrorist attacks, question why the Government has not carpet-bombed areas like Douma, north-east Aleppo and Raqqa. They say the only civilians remaining there are those that support the throat-cutting gangs. The US certainly did not hesitate to carpet bomb the Iraqi resistance in Fallujah (Iraq), back in 2004 (Democracy Now (2005). Yet in Syria, as one former Russian-Syrian member of the Government militia said, things have been different:

‘Islamists [do] hide behind civilians. But if we really killed everyone who supported the enemy, the Douma district would have been destroyed long ago – simply leveled with tanks in a single day, like some [Syrian] hotheads have been [demanding] for a long time already. But Assad doesn’t want that … our task is to reunite the country. Therefore, before each mission, we were told that we should not shoot at civilians under any circumstances. If a civilian dies, there is always an investigation and, if necessary, a court-martial’ (Mizah 2015).

Such concerns are simply ignored in the self-obsessed and reckless western debate.

Great care is also needed with the claims of outsiders who run opinion polls in war-turn Syria. For example, although the British-based ORB International is not a government agency, it is financed within a hostile state and engages with debates of concern to the belligerent parties. Case in point: its mid-2014 poll suggested that ‘Three in Five Syrians Support International Military Involvement’ (ORB 2014: Table 1). This proposal is an issue that only really preoccupies western governments and the figure is implausible. First of all, those Syrians who support the government (by most accounts a strong majority of the population) have always opposed foreign intervention.

Second, most of the Syrian Opposition also opposes foreign intervention. The most comprehensive Syrian opposition document, the Damascus Declaration (2005), opposed both armed attacks on the government and foreign intervention. Only the Muslim Brotherhood, some exile figures and some of the Kurdish groups later split from this position. The suggestion that, after three years of war and tremendous suffering, which has already involved high levels of NATO and Gulf Monarchy intervention, 60% of Syrians want more of that sort of foreign intervention just does NOT sit with the known facts. It does fit with an unrepresentative poll which elevates the voices of those backing the armed groups. We need to look at the way ORB collects information.

Their methods are rather opaque. The British group carries out polls in Syria by employing small numbers of Syrians with whom they communicate by phone and internet. These local agents are then trained to select and interview small groups of people across Syria. ORB provides little information on how they select their agents or on how those people, in turn, select their interviewees.

They simply assert that their poll was representative. The mid-2014 poll claimed to have that found that 4% of Syrians said the [Saudi Arabia-backed Islamist group] ISIS/Daesh ‘best represented the interests and aspirations of the Syrian people’ (ORB 2014). ISIL was, by then, the most prominent armed anti-Government group. That result (4% support) does seemed plausible, and not inconsistent with other information. But its reliability is undermined by the implausibly high level of support for foreign military intervention. A further anomaly is that the ORB poll of July 2015 showed ISIL to be viewed positively by 21% of Syrians (ORB 2015: Table 3). Although this was not exactly the same question, the difference between these figures (4% and 21%) is huge and hardly explicable by anything that had occurred between 2014 and 2015. No-one else has suggested that the fanatics of ISIL-Daesh are anything close to that popular. The 35% ‘net positive view’ of the terrorist group Jabhat al Nusra (ORB 2015), notorious for its suicide truck bombings and beheadings is also implausible. Indeed, how could one third of any society view ‘positively’ these terrorist organisations, best known for their atrocities? Something is very wrong here.

The only reasonable explanation is that serious bias affects the ‘representativeness’ of the ORB surveys. ORB was previously criticised by an academic paper for its opaque and ‘incomplete disclosure’ of method and ‘important irregularities’ in their estimates of deaths from the war in Iraq (Spagat and Dougherty 2010). That unreliability is present in their Syrian data. Despite what seems like highly inflated support for the al Qaeda groups, the 2015 poll still shows President Assad as the most positively viewed force in the country, although at only 47% (ORB 2015: Table 3), a figure much lower than that of any other poll (Syrian or non-Syrian) during the crisis. Interestingly, the ORB 2015 poll says 82% of Syrians believe ISIL was created by the US (ORB 2015: Table 20). However given the other anomalies of the survey it is not possible to place any reliance on this figure. It seems plain that the ORB polls, through their mostly undisclosed selection processes, have given an enhanced voice to anti-government people. That is perhaps not surprising, for a British company, and it may help reinforce popular discussion in western countries. However it does not help foreign understandings of Syria.

While it is important to recognise the sources of bias, the repetition of anti-Syrian stories based on partisan sources cannot be a matter of simple bias. We know from independent evidence that earlier claims of massacres were fabricated by the sectarian groups, then backed by Washington. This has been documented with respect to mass killings at Houla, Aqrab, Daraya, and East Ghouta (see Anderson 2015a and 2015b). After these exposures, there were no apologies or admissions either from the White House or the western media channels which ran the initial stories. This pattern means that other fabrications are likely. So while genuine students of the crisis must revert to principled study of claims and counter-claims, we should also recognise this industrial scale propaganda machine, which is likely to maintain its production into the foreseeable future.

References

Al Jazeera (2011) ‘Clinton says Assad has ‘lost legitimacy’, 12 July, online: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2011/07/201171204030379613.html

Anderson, Tim (2015a) ‘The Houla Massacre Revisited: ‘Official Truth’ in the Dirty War on Syria’, Global Research, 24 March, online: http://www.globalresearch.ca/houla-revisited-official-truth-in-the-dirty-war-on-syria/5438441

Anderson, Tim (2015b) ‘Chemical Fabrications: East Ghouta and Syria’s Missing Children’, Global Research, 12 April, online: http://www.globalresearch.ca/chemical-fabrications-east-ghouta-and-syrias-missing-children/5442334

AP (2015) ‘Syrian army barrel-bomb attacks kill at least 70 in Aleppo, activists say’, The Guardian, Associated Press, 31 May, online: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/30/syrian-army-air-strikes-aleppo-islamic-state

Cartalucci, Tony (2014) ‘US Feigns “Horror” Over Cooked-Up Report on Syrian War They Engineered’, Land Destroyer Report, January, online: http://landdestroyer.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/us-feigns-horror-over-cooked-up-report.html

Damascus Declaration (2005) ‘The Damascus Declaration for Democratic National Change’, English version in Joshua Landis blog ‘Syria Comment’, 1 November, online: http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/L/Joshua.M.Landis-1/syriablog/2005/11/damascus-declaration-in-english.htm

Democracy Now (2005) ‘Pentagon Reverses Position and Admits U.S. Troops Used White Phosphorus Against Iraqis in Fallujah’, 17 November, online: http://www.democracynow.org/2005/11/17/pentagon_reverses_position_and_admits_u

Eretz Zen (2014) ‘US Key Man in Syria Worked Closely with ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusra’, Youtube, 17 August, online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piN_MNSis1E

Gladstone, Rick and C.J Chivers (2013) ‘Forensic Details in U.N. Report Point to Assad’s Use of Gas’, New York Times, 16 September, online: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/17/world/europe/syria-united-nations.html?_r=0&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1387381766-55AjTxhuELAeFSCuukA7Og

Hersh, Seymour (2014) ‘The Red Line and the Rat Line’, London Review of Books, 17 April, online: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line

HRW (2013) ‘Attacks on Ghouta: Analysis of Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria’, Human Rights Watch, Washington, 10 September, online: http://www.hrw.org/reports/2013/09/10/attacks-ghouta

HRW (2014) ‘Syrian Government Bombardment of Opposition-held Districts in Aleppo’, Human Rights Watch, 30 July, online: https://www.hrw.org/video-photos/image/2014/07/30/syrian-government-bombardment-opposition-held-districts-aleppo

Idea International (2015) ‘Voter turnout data for Syrian Arab Republic’, online: http://www.idea.int/vt/countryview.cfm?id=210#pres

Interventions Watch (2015) ‘CEO of Human Rights Watch misattributes video of Gaza destruction’, 9 May, online: https://interventionswatch.wordpress.com/2015/05/09/ceo-of-human-rights-watch-misattributes-video-of-gaza-destruction/

Jalabi, Raya (2015) ‘Images of Syrian torture on display at UN: ‘It is imperative we do not look away’, The Guardian, 12 March, online: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/11/images-syrian-torture-shock-new-yorkers-united-nations

Knightley, Phillip (2001) ‘The disinformation campaign’, The Guardian, 4 October, online: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2001/oct/04/socialsciences.highereducation

Lloyd, Richard and Theodore A. Postol (2014) ‘Possible Implications of Faulty US Technical Intelligence in the Damascus Nerve Agent Attack of August 21, 2013’, MIT, January 14, Washington DC, online: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1006045-possible-implications-of-bad-intelligence.html#storylink=relast

Masi, Alessandria (2015) ‘The Syrian Regime’s Barrel Bombs Kill More Civilians than ISIS and Al Qaeda Combined’, IBTimes, 18 August, online: http://www.ibtimes.com/syrian-regimes-barrel-bombs-kill-more-civilians-isis-al-qaeda-combined-2057392

Mint Press (2015) ‘US Propaganda War in Syria: Report Ties White Helmets to Foreign Intervention’, 11 September, online: http://www.mintpressnews.com/us-propaganda-war-in-syria-report-ties-white-helmets-to-foreign-intervention/209435/

Mizah, Michel (2015) ‘A Russian-Syrian volunteer talks about his experience in the “Shabiha” pro-Assad paramilitary’, interviewed by Arthur Avakov, Live Leak, 15 September, online: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=992_1442362752

MOA (2015) ‘Human Rights Watch Again Accuses Syria Of “Barrel Bomb” Damage Done By Others’, Moon of Alabama, 9 May, online: http://www.moonofalabama.org/2015/05/human-rights-watch-again-accuses-syria-of-barrel-bomb-damage-done-by-others.html

Mosendz, Poll (2015) ‘The Full Transcript of President Obama’s Speech at the United Nations General Assembly’, Newsweek, 28 September, online: http://www.newsweek.com/read-full-transcript-president-obamas-speech-united-nations-general-assembly-377504

MMM (2014) ‘Fail Caesar: Exposing the Anti-Syria Photo Propaganda’, Monitor on massacre marketing’, 8 November, online: http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/fail-caesar-exposing-anti-syria-photo.html

Murphy, Dan (2014) ‘Syria ‘smoking gun’ report warrants a careful read’, Christian Science Monitor, 21 January, online: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Security-Watch/Backchannels/2014/0121/Syria-smoking-gun-report-warrants-a-careful-read

ORB (2014) ‘Three in Five Syrians Support International Military Involvement’, ORB International, July, online: http://www.opinion.co.uk/article.php?s=three-in-five-syrians-support-international-military-involvement

ORB (2015) ‘ORB/IIACSS poll in Syria and Iraq gives rare insight into public opinion’, ORB International, July, online: http://www.opinion.co.uk/article.php?s=orbiiacss-poll-in-iraq-and-syria-gives-rare-insight-into-public-opinion

O’Toole, Gavin (2014) ‘Syria regime’s ‘industrial scale killing’, Al Jazeera, 22 January, online; http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/01/syria-regime-industrial-scale-killing-2014122102439158738.html

Parry, Robert (2015) ‘Obama’s ludicrous ‘barrel bomb’ theme’, Consortium News, 30 September, online: https://consortiumnews.com/2015/09/30/obamas-ludicrous-barrel-bomb-theme/

Pollard, Ruth (2015) ‘Assad regime’s barrel bomb attacks caused many civilian deaths in Syria: UN Envoy’, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 July, [the headline suggests the UN envoy is the source of the ‘barrel bomb’ kills civilians story, in fact the SOHR is the source] online: http://www.smh.com.au/world/assad-regimes-barrel-bomb-attacks-caused-many-civilian-deaths-in-syria-un-envoy-20150722-giihvw.html

Reuters (2015) ‘Over 1,000 Syrian civilians evacuated from near Damascus’, Youtube, 17 January, online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-DstETWlTY

Reuters (2015b) ‘Air strikes near Damascus kill at least 80 people: activists’, 16 August, online: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/08/16/us-mideast-crisis-syria-idUSKCN0QL0E320150816

Rosen, Nir (2012) ‘Q&A: Nir Rosen on Syria’s armed opposition’, Al Jazeera, 13 Feb, online: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/02/201221315020166516.html

SANA (2011) ‘Mother Agnes Merriam al-Saleeb: Nameless Gunmen Possessing Advanced Firearms Terrorize Citizens and Security in Syria’, Syrian Free

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2015/05/human-rights-watch-again-accuses-syria-of-barrel-bomb-damage-done-by-others.html

Mosendz, Poll (2015) ‘The Full Transcript of President Obama’s Speech at the United Nations General Assembly’, Newsweek, 28 September, online: http://www.newsweek.com/read-full-transcript-president-obamas-speech-united-nations-general-assembly-377504

MMM (2014) ‘Fail Caesar: Exposing the Anti-Syria Photo Propaganda’, Monitor on massacre marketing’, 8 November, online: http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/fail-caesar-exposing-anti-syria-photo.html

Murphy, Dan (2014) ‘Syria ‘smoking gun’ report warrants a careful read’, Christian Science Monitor, 21 January, online: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Security-Watch/Backchannels/2014/0121/Syria-smoking-gun-report-warrants-a-careful-read

ORB (2014) ‘Three in Five Syrians Support International Military Involvement’, ORB International, July, online: http://www.opinion.co.uk/article.php?s=three-in-five-syrians-support-international-military-involvement

ORB (2015) ‘ORB/IIACSS poll in Syria and Iraq gives rare insight into public opinion’, ORB International, July, online: http://www.opinion.co.uk/article.php?s=orbiiacss-poll-in-iraq-and-syria-gives-rare-insight-into-public-opinion

O’Toole, Gavin (2014) ‘Syria regime’s ‘industrial scale killing’, Al Jazeera, 22 January, online; http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/01/syria-regime-industrial-scale-killing-2014122102439158738.html

Parry, Robert (2015) ‘Obama’s ludicrous ‘barrel bomb’ theme’, Consortium News, 30 September, online: https://consortiumnews.com/2015/09/30/obamas-ludicrous-barrel-bomb-theme/

Pollard, Ruth (2015) ‘Assad regime’s barrel bomb attacks caused many civilian deaths in Syria: UN Envoy’, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 July, [the headline suggests the UN envoy is the source of the ‘barrel bomb’ kills civilians story, in fact the SOHR is the source] online: http://www.smh.com.au/world/assad-regimes-barrel-bomb-attacks-caused-many-civilian-deaths-in-syria-un-envoy-20150722-giihvw.html

Reuters (2015) ‘Over 1,000 Syrian civilians evacuated from near Damascus’, Youtube, 17 January, online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-DstETWlTY

Reuters (2015b) ‘Air strikes near Damascus kill at least 80 people: activists’, 16 August, online: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/08/16/us-mideast-crisis-syria-idUSKCN0QL0E320150816

Rosen, Nir (2012) ‘Q&A: Nir Rosen on Syria’s armed opposition’, Al Jazeera, 13 Feb, online: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/02/201221315020166516.html

SANA (2011) ‘Mother Agnes Merriam al-Saleeb: Nameless Gunmen Possessing Advanced Firearms Terrorize Citizens and Security in Syria’, Syrian Free Press Network, 19 November, online: http://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/mother-agnes-merriam-al-saleeb-nameless-gunmen-possessing-advanced-firearms-terrorize-citizens-and-security-in-syria/

Smith-Spark, Laura (2014) ‘Syria: Photos charging mass torture by regime ‘fake’’, CNN, 23 January, online: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/01/22/world/meast/syria-torture-photos/

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Sterling, Rick (2015a) ‘Humanitarians for war on Syria’, Counter Punch, 31 March, online: http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/31/humanitarians-for-war-on-syria/

Sterling, Rick (2015b) ‘Eight Problems with Amnesty’s Report on Aleppo Syria’, Dissident Voice, 14 May, online: http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/05/eight-problems-with-amnestys-report-on-aleppo-syria/

SOHR (2015) ‘Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’, online: http://www.syriahr.com/en/

Spagat, Michael and Josh Dougherty (2010) ‘Conflict Deaths in Iraq: A Methodological Critique of the ORB Survey Estimate’, Survey Research Methods, Vol 4 No 1, 3-15

VDC (2015) ‘Violation Documentation Center in Syria’, online: https://www.vdc-sy.info/index.php/en/

 

 

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA), the National Defense Forces (NDF) and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) is preparing for a full-scale ground offensive  in the northern Homs region. The Al-Houla and Al-Rastan Plains are the first target of government forces.

Since October 3, Syrian forces conducted a preparation fire on the militants’ positions at Al-Rastan and Talbieseh. The Syrian Al-Qaeda branch, Jabhat Al-Nusra, and its ally Free Syrian Army (FSA) hold the ground there.

The ground offensive in northern Homs is supported by the Russian Air Force targeting the large concentration of Al Nusra militants inside this area. To the east of Homs, not far from Tudmur, a pair of Su-25M attack aircraft and a Su-24 bomber attacked two areas of concentration of ISIS military hardware. In total, about 20 T-55 tanks seized earlier from the Syrian army were destroyed. Detonation of the fuel and munitions caused multiple fires.

Complete transcript below

VIDEO

One of the most important strategic mistakes of the Syrian headquarters in this war was that they conceded the existence of the numerous militants’ enclaves in the government-controlled territory. These encircled fortifications draw back the pro-government forces’ from the main frontline.

If the Syrian forces take control of the Al-Houla and Al-Rastan Plains, Al Nusra militants will be locked inside the Al-Wa’er District of Homs City. It’s questionable that the SAA and its allies will be able to deliver the final blow to the terrorist there, in the fortified and mine studded residential areas. Nonetheless, it will allow the Assad’s government to release additinal military resources and capabilities for other areas.

Meanwhile, ISIS launched a full-scale assault on the provincial capital of the Deir Ez-zour Governorate The Syrian Armed Forces’ positions at the Military Airport, the Al-Sina’a, Al-Haweeqa, Al-‘Amal Districts and the village of Al-Muri’iyah came under pressure.

According to the Syrian military sources, ISIS’ offensive was ill-prepared and ended as a disaster. The militant forces were crushed by the Syrian Arab Army assisted by the Russian Air Forces. Russian warplanes played an integral role pounding the terrorist group with airstrikes.

The Syrian Arab Army’s 42nd and 63rd Brigades of the 4th Mechanized Division supported by the NDF and the SSNP started an advance on Jabhat Al-Nusra, FSA and Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham at the village of ‘Ayn Al-Dawlah in the East Hills of Al-Zabadani. At the moment clashes are going at the village of ‘Ayn Al-Dawlah.

The very same time, the SAA faced a group of ISIS militants at North of Al-Zabadani. The clashes are oing along the Qarah-Deir ‘Atiyah Road that leads to the imperative Damascus-Aleppo Highway.

The fights were observed at the southern Damascus districts of Al-Taqadam, Yarmouk Camp, and Al-Tadamon. SAA launched a series of airstrikes against ISIS positions there. Then the Palestine Liberation Army (PLA) – in coordination with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), Fatah Al-Intifada, and the NDF carried out an attack against ISIS on 30th Street in the Yarmouk Camp District.

Thus, it became clear that the Russain Aerospace Defence Forces were a game changer in Syria. The air-support allowed the Syrian government to go on offensive in a number of important areas and start preparation actions for the full-scale ground operation in Homs.

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As of 5 October 2015, a super-secret 12-nation treaty called TPP is set to be signed by the 12 nations, and the terms of this massive international contract will be kept secret until the contract has been in force for four years, at which time the contents might (but won’t necessarily) be revealed.

This will be a large new international government that has been negotiated for years by international corporations, and which is now to be rubber-stamped by corrupt politicians on their behalf. Whereas those international corporations know the contract’s terms, the people who elected and are ruled by those politicians don’t, and (for four years, at least) they won’t.

These are the 12 nations:

 Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, Vietnam

Everyone who has seen the agreement (the negotiators for those international corporations, and their politicians) has signed a form promising:

“to treat negotiating texts and other documents exchanged in the course of the negotiations as confidential government information,” and “that these confidentiality requirements shall apply for four years after entry into force of the TPP.”

The reason why the publics in these ‘democratic’ countries will not know until four years have passed under those secret terms, what their government had signed to, is that their government will have signed to allow international corporations to sue their government (those taxpayers themselves) for potentially crippling sums, not in a court of law in a democracy to which the public had elected the judges or had elected the people who had appointed the judges, but instead in a panel of, typically, three ‘arbitrators,’ who will be selected in accord with something called the “ICSID Convention”; and “the ICSID Convention provides that the majority of arbitrators should not be the nationals of the parties having dispute” — in other words: most of the arbitrators will be foreigners; all but one of the arbitrators will be chosen by international corporations; and, even the one arbitrator who isn’t, won’t necessarily be chosen by one’s own country; but, in any case, no more than one of the arbitrators can possibly be selected by one’s own country.

If the non-corporate arbitrator happens to be selected by a foreign country, then one’s own country will not possibly be represented at all in these proceedings, which might set fines that will cripple the sued nation, and that might enormously enrich the suing international corporation. This will not necessarily mean that the fine, if any, will be higher than it ought to be, but simply that there is no democratic accountability in the process of determining what, if any, fine will be imposed upon the sued country.

Furthermore, the decisions that are reached in these panels, unlike court decisions which may be appealed to a higher court, cannot be appealed (53.1 in the ICSID Convention).

Furthermore, in this TPP contract, no nation will possess the right to sue any international corporation — the right to sue is alotted only to international corporations, and they may, in these proceedings, sue only a national government.

Most of these panels will consist of three arbitrators. The ICSID states (37.2.b): “Where the parties do not agree upon the number of arbitrators and the method of their appointment, the Tribunal shall consist of three arbitrators, one arbitrator appointed by each party and the third, who shall be the president of the Tribunal, appointed by agreement of the parties.” So: two of the panel-members will be private, one will be the sued government, and the third will be some individual whom both of the other two arbitrators believe will be acceptable. That choice of the third person will be crucial, and will introduce an unpredictable element, which likely will determine the outcome. There is no resemblance in this to decisions that are made in a court of law in a democratic country. Each and every case will therefore be more like a coin-toss. However, since corporations cannot be sued in these proceedings, the weight can only be against the signatory nations themselves, which have chosen, through secret and undemocratic process, to submit themselves permanently to this form of international corporate tyranny.

The purpose of these arbitration panels isn’t specifically to enrich international corporations at the expense of a sued nation’s taxpayers. (Though it certainly does that.) It’s not mainly a means directly to provide yet another source of income to stockholders. It is instead to terrorize legislators and regulatory agencies within each member nation, to issue only laws and regulations that are no stricter in limiting what the international corporation is allowed to do under the (secret) terms of the TPP, than the maximum requirement that is set forth in the TPP agreement. What those requirements are in the TPP is what will be kept secret for four years. For example: there might be a requirement to place no more than a certain standard for the safety of drugs, chemicals, foods, or other products; so that, if the sued nation issues a stricter safety-standard, than that, then the nation’s taxpayers will have to pay to any suing international corporation, a fine for violating that suing corporation’s ‘rights’ under the TPP agreement, as interpreted by these arbitrators.

TPP, in any member-nation that signs it, will, basically, set in stone how strict each given standard can be; and, if subsequent scientific findings concerning that standard turn out to indicate that the standard should have been stricter (for example, that CO2 emissions should be even less than previously thought), then that’s just unfortunate, but modifying the standard will be virtually impossible, because it would require renegotiating the TPP, with all of the participating countries.

In short: laws and regulations restraining corporations, will be crippled, essentially permanently, within the TPP area, if TPP gets signed. The benefits to stockholders in international corporations will be that TPP will terrorize member-nations not to raise any given safety, labor, or environmental standard, in addition to (of course) the fine awarded, which the taxpayers of the charged country will pay to the given corporation for the alleged trangression of the terms (which, at least for four years, are secret) of the TTP.

Furthermore, the vast majority — over 70% — of ICSID appointments of arbitrators, the decisions that likely will control the outcomes in these cases, are appointments that are made by people from “developed” countries; fewer than 30% are by individuals from “developing” ones. (See footnote 23 here.) Consequently, for example, Peruvians are far likelier to be exploited under the TPP than Canadians or Americans are.

Also, ICSID arbitrators are a more closed, tightly-knit, group of people than are arbitrators in other types of economic disputes such as WTO cases; and, whereas WTO arbitrators tend to come from government, ICSID arbitrators tend to come from the private sector. So: this system works for more concentrated economic power, the benefits of which will go to stockholders in the developed world, and the losses from which will go to consumers, taxpayers, and especially to the residents in underdeveloped countries. (Of course, the higher pollution and the more toxic foods etc. will diminish lives in all  of the participating countries.)

Additionally, ICSID arbitrators are paid an average of $200,000 per case, whereas WTO arbitrators get paid only 20% as much if they’re from the private sector, and zero if they’re government officials; so, the profits from arbitrating in the ICSID system are far higher — yet another example of privatizing the benefits.

What will make this treaty — and, if they also get passed, then also Obama’s proposed TTIP treaty with Atlantic nations, and also Obama’s TISA treaty regarding financial and other services — “the most criminal treaties in history,” will be not only the collapse of democratic national sovereignty regarding these regulatory and legal matters, but, also, the huge size of the market-area that’s to be corrupted in this systematic treacherous (profoundly anti-democratic) fashion, which privatzes ‘justice’ in ways that will funnel wealth from the many to the very few.

How Putin will Win in Syria

October 7th, 2015 by Mike Whitney

The reason Putin will succeed where the US failed in its war on ISIS, is because the Russian air-strikes are going to be accompanied by a formidable mop-up operation that will overpower the jihadi groups on the ground. This is already happening as we speak.

The Russian Air Force has been pounding terrorist targets across the Idlib Governorate for the last few days as well as ISIS strongholds in the East at Raffa.  On Sunday, according to a report filed by South Front,  roughly 700 militants surrendered to members of the 147th Syrian tank brigade shortly after bombers had attacked nearly cities of Mardeij, Ma’arat Al-Nu’man, Jisr Al-Shughour, Saraqib and Sarmeen. This is the pattern we expect to see in the weeks ahead. Russian bombers will soften targets on the frontlines, ground troops will move into position, and untold numbers of jihadis will either flee, surrender or get cut down where they stand. Bottom line: Syria is not going to be a quagmire as the media has predicted.  To the contrary, Putin is going to cut through these guys like crap through a goose.

According to South Front:

“Lieutenant General Andrey Kartapolov, head of the Main Operation Directorate of the General Staff of Russia’s armed forces, said the strikes have significantly reduced the terrorists’ combat capabilities.” In other words, the Russian offensive is already producing positive results. This is no small matter. By most accounts, the conflict had deteriorated into a stalemate. Now, with Russia in the picture, that’s changed. Now the table is clearly tilted in Syria’s favor.

Also, according to an earlier report: “The positioning of Russian aircraft in Syria gives the Kremlin the ability to shape and control the battle-space in both Syria and Iraq out of all proportion to the size of the Russian force.” (“International Military Review – Syria, Oct 5, 2015“, South Front)

The Russian air-base at Latakia is perfectly situated for providing air cover or bombing terrorist targets across the country. The Russian airforce will also make every effort to cut off supply lines and escape routes so that as many jihadis as possible are liquidated within Syria’s borders. This is why ISIS positions along the main highway to Iraq were destroyed on Sunday. The jihadi thugs will be given every chance to die in battle as they wish, but getting out alive is not going to be so easy.

There was an article in the Guardian on Sunday that caused quiet a stir among people who are following events in Syria. Here’s a clip:

“Regional powers have quietly, but effectively, channeled funds, weapons and other support to rebel groups making the biggest inroads against the forces from Damascus…..In a week when Russia made dozens of bombing raids, those countries have made it clear that they remain at least as committed to removing Assad as Moscow is to preserving him.“There is no future for Assad in Syria,” Saudi foreign minister Adel Al-Jubeir warned, a few hours before the first Russian bombing sorties began. If that was not blunt enough, he spelled out that if the president did not step down as part of a political transition, his country would embrace a military option, “which also would end with the removal of Bashar al-Assad from power”. With at least 39 civilians reported dead in the first bombing raids, the prospect of an escalation between backers of Assad and his opponents is likely to spell more misery for ordinary Syrians.“The Russian intervention is a massive setback for those states backing the opposition, particularly within the region – Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – and is likely to elicit a strong response in terms of a counter-escalation,” said Julien Barnes-Dacey, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.” (“Gulf states plan military response as Putin raises the stakes in Syria“, Guardian)

Saudi Arabia poses no real threat to Putin’s operation in Syria. The Saudis may talk tough, but they already have their hands full with a crashing economy (due to plunging oil prices) and a war in Yemen they have no chance of winning. They’re certainly not going to get more deeply involved in Syria.

It is possible, however, that the Obama administration is planning to use the Saudis as cover for shoring up their support for opposition groups within Syria. There is a high probability that that will happen. Even so, there’s not an endless pool of crackpot mercenaries who want to face a modern airforce with precision-guided munitions for a couple hundred bucks a week. That’s not what you’d call “a job with a future”. Keep in mind, the various Intel agencies have already called in their chits and attracted as many of these dead-enders as they possibly could from far-flung places like Chechnya, Kosovo, Somalia, Afghanistan etc. And while I’m sure Langley keeps a lengthy file of potential candidates for future assignments, I’m also sure that there are a limited number of people who are willing to meet their Maker just so they can belong to some renegade organization and die with a machine gun in their hands. In fact, we may have already reached “peak terrorist” after which there could be a steady falloff following the downward trajectory of US power in the Middle East and around the world. As we shall undoubtedly see in the months ahead, Syria could very well be the straw that broke the Empire’s back.  Here’s more from the Guardian:

“The best way to respond to the Russian intervention is to engage the rebels more and step up support so they can face down the escalation and create a balance on the ground,” he said. “The Russians will [then] realise there are limits to what they can achieve in Syria, and modify their approach.” But the wider regional struggle for influence between Saudi Arabia and Iran makes it almost impossible for Riyadh to walk away, whatever the cost.” (Guardian)

Is it just me or does the author of this piece sound positively elated at the prospect of a bloodier war?

Also, it would have helpful if he had mentioned that arming, funding and training disparate jihadi organizations to effect regime change in a sovereign nation is a violation of international law and the UN Charter. Of course, maybe the author thought that would have made his article too stuffy or pedantic? In any event, the idea that the enfeebled Saudis are going to derail the Russia-Iran-Syria-Hezbollah alliance in their drive to annihilate ISIS and al-Qaida-linked groups is a pipe-dream. The only country that could make a difference in the outcome, is the United States. And, the fact is, Washington’s neocons don’t have the cojones to take on Moscow mano-a-mano, so Putin’s clean-up operation is going to continue on schedule.

By the way, the pundits were wrong about the way the Russian people would react to Moscow’s involvement in Syria, too. As it happens, they’re quite proud of the way their forces have been conducting themselves. Of course, who wouldn’t be? They’ve been kicking ass and taking names since Day 1. Check out this report from CBS News:

“Whatever effect Russia’s airstrikes are having on the ground in Syria, their impact at home is clear: They prove to Russians that their country is showing up the United States and reclaiming its rightful place as a global power….Channel One’s evening news program on Saturday opened with dramatic cockpit videos of Russian jets making what were described as direct hits on terrorist training camps and weapons stores. The bombs were never off by more than five meters, a military spokesman said, because of the jets’ advanced targeting capabilities.This was followed by a report of the disastrous airstrike in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz that destroyed a hospital and killed at least 19 people, including international medical staff. U.S. responsibility for the airstrike had not been proven, but Russian viewers were left with little doubt of who was to blame or of whose military capabilities were superior.” (“Russia’s airstrikes in Syria are playing well at home”, CBS News)

So the Russian people are proud of the way Putin is fighting the war on terror. Is there something wrong with that? Many Americans are old enough to remember a time when they were proud of their own country too, when it actually stood up for the principles it espouses in its founding documents.  That was quite a while ago though,  sometime back in the “pre-Gitmo” era”.

One last thing: There’s an extraordinary article by author Aron Lund of the Carnegie Endowment titled “Putin’s Plan: What Will Russia Bomb in Syria?”  What’s so interesting about the piece is that it was published on September 23, a full week before Russia entered the war, and yet, Lund seems to have anticipated Putin’s actual battle plan.  Military geeks are going to love this piece which is well worth reading in full.  Here’s a short blurb from the text:

“If at some point Putin decides to target other groups than the Islamic State, he’s not likely to stop at the Nusra Front. Whether right off the bat or after a while, he could easily widen the circle of attacks from al-Qaeda and start blasting away at every rebel group in Idlib, Hama, and Latakia under the pretext that they are either “terrorists” or “terrorist allies.” … the Kremlin has every reason to continue blurring the already indistinct dividing line between “extremist” and “moderate” rebels upon which Western states insist. Even though this neatly black and white categorization of Syria’s murky insurgency is at least partly fiction, it remains a politically indispensable formula for Western states that wish to arm anti-Assad forces. Which is precisely why erasing this distinction by extending airstrikes against all manners of rebels as part of an ostensibly anti-jihadi intervention, may turn out to be Putin’s long-term plan.Blanket attacks on Syrian rebels on the pretext that they are all “al-Qaeda” would lead to much outraged commentary in the Western and Arab press. But to the Russian president it doesn’t matter if you think he’s Mad Vlad or Prudent Putin. He isn’t trying to win hearts and minds, least of all those of the Syrian rebels or their backers. Rather, he is trying to change the balance of power on the ground while firing missile after missile into the West’s political narrative. Whatever one thinks of that, it is a big and bold idea of the sort that sometimes end up working.” (“Putin’s Plan: What Will Russia Bomb in Syria”, Aron Lund, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace“)

We couldn’t agree more. Putin is not going to stop for anything or anyone. He’s going to nail these guys while he has them in his gun-sights, then he’s going to wrap it up and go home. By the time the Obama crew get’s its act together and realizes that they have to stop the bombing pronto or their whole regime change operation is going to go up in smoke, Putin’s going to be blowing kisses from atop a float ambling through Red Square in Moscow’s first tickertape parade since the end of WW2.

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

For almost a week Russian military jets are carrying out effective surgical strikes on the military targets of terrorist groups Daesh (Arabic acronym for IS), the Islamic Front, Jaish al-Fatah, Jaish al-Haramoun, and other Al-Qaeda-like conglomerates in Syria.

Over the past days, Russian warplanes have flown more than 100 air raids, hitting around 80 military targets. The air strikes hit command posts, ammunition and fuel depots, terrorist training camps, heavy weapons, and munitions factories. Russian pilots have already and quite successfully used a concrete-penetrator bombs “BETAB-500” and satellite-guided “KAB-500” bombs against hardened targets . The Russian air forces are carefully respecting, and will continue to respect, one fundamental rule: no attacks on civilian targets or Syrian civilians. Based on objective data from satellite intelligence, as well as statements by senior Syrian leaders, not a single civilian in the country has been harmed during Russia’s bombing campaign of militant targets.

Strength, mission and aims

According to official data from the Russian Defense Ministry, the Russian air forces consist of 50 combat aircraft and helicopters. The total military contingent deployed at Hmeymim airbase near Tartus and at Naval facility near Latakia does not exceed 3,000 men. Compare this figure with the NATO forces’ strength in Afghanistan during the acme of their presence – 130,000 GIs or with October-November 2015 NATO military drills in Southern Europe code-named “Trident Juncture” involving 36,000 troops. Russia assured that no Russian soldier will be deployed to fight alongside Syrian Army on the ground.

1.RF aircraft in Syria. Photo Russian DefMin

This is only one-fourth of the arsenal Russia deployed during the peacekeeping operation in Georgia in 2008 when that country was engaged in armed aggression against South Ossetia. And, in another example, this is only one-twentieth of the number of warplanes flown by NATO countries during their massive bombardment of the former Yugoslavia in 1999, which was conducted without authorization from the UN Security Council and without any request to do so from Yugoslavia’s leaders – a campaign during which homes, schools, hospitals, bridges, and television stations were subjected to indiscriminate bombing.

Unlike NATO’s air force, which launched massive air strikes over Yugoslavia in 1999 (during which the Chinese embassy in Belgrade was hit, and even the building housing the UN office in the city of Priština in Kosovo was damaged), Russian aircraft in Syria use precisely verified information about the location of Islamic State military targets, employing data collected from military aircraft and satellites, intelligence gathered from the Syrian, Iranian, and Iraqi armed forces, as well as making active use of drones to obtain photo and video images of the location.

When the American, French, and Australian air forces delivered their air strikes over Syria, they never adapted their efforts to coordinate with the military of the Syrian Arab Republic. On the contrary, using the rationale that an IS armed group “needs to be punished,” those Western warplanes dropped their bombs and missiles on the Syrian armed forces as well as on the country’s civilians. And in order to protect their own protégés within IS, the leading Western states even invented the term “the moderate opposition,” who are to be seen as inviolable. Of course their “moderation” has long been the butt of many jokes.

It should be kept in mind that Moscow has a legal basis for conducting its anti-terrorist operation in Syria, since Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was legitimately elected and has asked Russia’s leaders to provide the Syrian people with immediate military and technical assistance. Was such a request justified? Of course it was. IS militants and other anti-government groups have already seized 60% of that country. Currently many Syrian cities look more like Stalingrad, which lay in smoking ruins after WWII. Militants have already reached the suburbs of Damascus …

Russia’s military air support for Syria was the object of an agreement between two sovereign UN members. It has been provided in accordance with the most basic, inherent right to individual or collective self-defense, as stipulated in Article 51 of the UN Charter.

The Russian military air campaign, unofficially named as Operation Hmeymim, will also be limited in its duration. Judging by the efficacy of the air strikes that have already landed on the military targets and buildings of the emergent “Caliphate,” it could all be over in a month or two,when the entire catalogue of the 450-500 terrorist military targets are wiped out by the sophisticated all-weather combat fighter-bombers Su-34 “Fullback”, Su-24M “Fencer” and Su-25 “Frogfoot” fully modernized and equipped with high-tech precision-guided munitions so that the civilians and their infrastructure are out of danger.

First, technically is it quite possible to avoid any undesirable “collateral damage”: all aircraft are fitted with cutting-edge precision strike weapons – the circular error probable (CEP) of the Russian newly developed air-dropped guided bombs is less than 5 meters from the center of any potential military target while air-launched KH-25 laser-guided missiles have CEP less than 2 meters.

Second, all terrorist military installations are chosen upon carefully gathered data by electronic and human intelligence, including air surveillance and drone observation, gathered and verified by Russia and Syria, and in coordination with Iraqi and Iranian military personnel currently assembled at Bagdad Information Center. All four nations share equal rights and responsibilities stemming from this interoperability. Syrian Ambassador to Russia Riad Haddad confirmed that the Syrian Army had the exact grids and geographic coordinates of extremist group assets scattered in the country.

Once terrorist military installations are irreparably damaged, the Operation Hmeymim will come to a complete halt.

Kozin Situation in Syria Slide 2

Chart of the Russian military operations in Syria, Oct 2015

From September 30th till October 5th, 2015 there have not any official reports from the Syrian Government that there have been any casualties amongst civilian population. No governmental or public buildings, no schools or hospitals have been destroyed (unlike a hospital in Kunduz, Northern Afghanistan, that was hit by the U.S. aircraft on October 3rd  where 19 people have been killed and 37 – heavy wounded).

As the result of these carefully planned attacks the rebels are deserting from their strongholds en mass with an uninterrupted panic sweeping their ranks, Russian General Staff reported October 3rd. So far nearly 700 armed men from radical groups have laid their arms and surrendered to the Syrian troops in Deraa 110 km from Damascus after the air raids began September 30th. There are reports that rebels have ceased resistance in some other areas.

“Russia’s entry into this struggle [with IS], with its [Russia’s] potential and opportunities … will contribute to reduction of the terrorism in Syria, and its eradication,” Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s Foreign Minister, said in an interview with the Saudi “Al Arabiya” broadcaster.

Air sorties will be intensified

General Colonel Andrey Kartapolov, the Head of the Main Operational Department, Russian General Staff, said October 3rd in the newly-enacted state-of-the art National Defense Command Center that Moscow plans even to intensify its air power mission in Syria. It is a logic option.

A US-led international coalition comprised of 60 nations has been pounding IS targets in Syria for over a year, but the lack of coordination with Damascus stalled the progress: Allies receive no intelligence on the IS targets from the ground, while the regular Syrian army gets no chance of benefiting from U.S. air support. As Russian MP Alexei Pushkov put it: the Western coalition has been bombing non-populated desert areas or dummy barracks day in-day out with no results. It looks like that the U.S.-led Western coalition simply imitated the activity versus IS.

More than that: the coalition has been bombing Syria without getting advice and consent from the UN Security Council or from the Syrian Government. It is a gross violation of the UN Charter. On the other hand Moscow is militarily acting in Syria in accordance of the Article 51 of the UN Charter on individual and collective defense, because it was asked by Damascus to do so when the existence of the Syrian nation was at stake. It is a striking difference between what some Western and Arab nations have done in Syria so far and what Russia is doing today.

Last week, the Turkish Foreign Ministry released a statement calling on Russia to stop air strikes against Syrian opposition factions and civilians, and to focus its efforts on the fight against Islamic State militants. The statement expressing “concerns” was endorsed by France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States. But are these nations capable to suppress IS without Russia? No, they are not.

How can France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States can do it in general terms? If they financially, militarily and morally are extending helping hand to that quasi-Islamic “caliphate” with the only purpose: to oust Bashar al-Assad from his presidential post at any cost however high it is, even at the expense of creating additional influx of “refugees of war” to the European continent. In what way Qatar and Saudi Arabia will do it if they supply IS with money and weapons? No, they cannot. But, instead of expressing “concerns” they might join in an emerging bona fide coalition to resist a menace of IS that is still alive, though already suffered immensely.

Warning and perspective

In these circumstances it is very strange to hear voices to supply “moderate” IS members with MANPADS to shoot down Russian aircraft. But are those IS terrorists heavily equipped with weapons and beheading their captive people or burning them alive really “moderate”? No, all of them are “non-moderates”, and therefore must not be backed with any type of weaponry. As a high-ranking Russian military official told the RISS, Moscow will react strongly if it finds out that any MANPADS are given by any state to IS militants or to any other subversive elements in the Middle East. The USA has already assured Moscow that it would not transfer such systems to IS. Nobody should forget that IS has got chemical warfare agents as well.

2. RF aircraft in Syria. Photo RF DefMinThe Kremlin does not conceal the main aim of its military operation in Syria: The aim of Russia’s air campaign is to prepare the ground for offensive by the Syrian regular army and allied Syrian armed opposition forces who hope to regain control of IS-infested lands and restore peace and stability in the country.

Russia will welcome any assistance from the outside world in suppressing this highly virulent disease. It will be a strong backer of Bashar al-Assad as a single leader in Syria who can actually save it from a nation-wide collapse facing large-scale terrorist threat. Therefore, Moscow will not accept any interference into Russo-Syrian affairs. In other words: either cooperation with Russia, Syria, Iran and Iraq or abstention from any wrong-doing to undermine their interaction.

Russians and Syrians believe: sooner or later Syria will again become peaceful and stable.

Vladimir Kozin is Head of Advisers’ Group at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and Professor of the Academy of Military Sciences of the Russian Federation.

Yes, There is an Imperialist Ruling Class

October 7th, 2015 by Paul Street

Contemporary history is neither a series of random occurrences nor the predetermined plaything of a small cabal of super-empowered conspirators. The truth is somewhere in-between. A sizeable cadre of class- and system-conscious deep-state and imperial planners from the heights of concentrated private and governmental power join together to shape the outlines of much of recent history. Along with professional class “experts” agreeable to their basic aims, they do so in accord with their shared interests in the endless upward accumulation of wealth and power. They serve the profits system that is still headquartered primarily in the United States even as it develops ever more and varied outposts across a globalizing world.

They exercise vastly disproportionate influence on the course of events and policy largely behind the scenes, in the darkly deceptive name of democracy. But it isn’t about conspiracy. The planners in question are numerous. Their names, activities, and backgrounds and the record of their influence are all open to investigation by those with the time, skill, energy, and willingness to make the connections.

It’s about class power and the unelected and interrelated dictatorships of money, wealth, and empire that rule beneath and beyond the pretense of popular governance. (“We must make our choice,” the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote in 1941: “We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we cannot have both.”) It’s about capitalism and its evil twin imperialism, with strong doses of racism, patriarchy, nationalism, police-statism, and eco-cide thrown in. It’s about what Karl Marx called “the bourgeoisie’s…need of a constantly expanding market …over the whole surface of the globe.” “Capital,” the German left Marxist Rosa Luxemburg once observed, “needs the means of production and the labor power of the whole world for untrammeled accumulation.”

Nowhere is the planning and influence of the ruling class of the world’s and history’s most powerful capitalist state, the United States, more evident than in the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR). There are hundreds of institutions and organizations in which elite planning and networking occurs both at home and abroad. But, as the left historian Shoup shows in his indispensable new book Wall Street’s Think Tank: The Council of Foreign Relations and the Empire of Neoliberal Geopolitics, 1976-2014 (Monthly Review Press, 2015), no such group remotely approximates the CFR in scale, reach, and influence when it comes to articulating the national and global class interests of the U.S. capitalist elite and a growing transnational capitalist ruling class. With an individual membership of 5000 (boasting an average household worth of $1.4 million), a top Fortune 500 corporate membership of 170, a staff over 330, a budget of $60 million, and assets of $490 million, the Council is “the largest and most powerful of all U.S. private think tanks that presume to discuss and decide the future of humanity in largely secret meetings behind closed doors in the upper-class neighborhoods of New York and Washington. During the last four decades,” Shoup observes, “the CFR has not only successfully continued its central position as the most important private organization in the United States, one with no real peer in the country. It has succeeded in expanding its key role, and remains at the center of the small plutocracy that runs the United States and much of the world.”

Consistent with that description, CFR members have long played prominent roles in the U.S. executive branch. Some among the many examples (what follows is a small sample) include President Jimmy Carter’s secretary of treasury (Michael Blumenthal), national security adviser (Zbigniew Brzezinski), secretary of state (Cyrus Vance), and arms control director (Paul Warnke), vice president (Walter Mondale), secretary of defense (Harold Brown), and CIA director (Stansfield Turner); President Ronald Reagan’s secretaries of state (Alexander Haig and George Schultz), national security advisers (Colin Powell and Frank Carlucci), secretary of treasury (Donald Regan), secretaries of defense (Casper Weinberger and Frank Carlucci) and CIA directors (William Casey and William Weber); ten of CFR member George H.W. Bush’s eleven top foreign policymakers; fifteen of CFR member Bill Clinton’s top seventeen foreign policymakers along with two of three of Clinton’s treasury secretaries; fourteen of George W. Bush’s top foreign policy officials; twelve of Obama’s top foreign policy positions along with CFR members in five of his domestic policy cabinet positions.

The CFR possesses an unrivalled and vast domestic network of overlapping membership and directors with other leading “nonprofit” think-tanks and policy groups (Brookings, Carnegie, the Wilson Center, the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the RAND Corporation. and many more), other private policy groups (including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Council, and the Business Roundtable), leading lobbying firms, top Fortune 500 corporations, top private equity and other non-bank investment firms, the top for-profit strategic political risk and advisory corporations (including Kissinger Associates and the Albirght-Stonebridge Group), leading universities (Harvard and Yale above all), major foundations (led especially by the Rockefeller Foundation), and top corporate media including numerous key connections with the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

The CFR’s Studies Program generated more than 180 books between 1987 and 2014 and just less than 1800 academic journal articles between 1993 and 2014. The CFR’s regular monthly journal Foreign Affairs is the single most influential of all print media publications among government policymakers. CFR Fellows regularly publish Opinion-Editorials and appear in broadcast media to advance the CFR’s neoliberal (see note 1 below for Shoup’s useful definition of “neoliberalism”) and imperial agenda. The organization holds nearly a thousand meetings a year, mainly in New York and Washington but also in numerous other large cities across the U.S. And CFR leaders engage in countless informal consultations and briefings with U.S. and foreign government leaders at home and abroad.

Consistent with the emergence over the past four decades of a “small but increasingly integrated transnational capitalist class….in some respects a worldwide ruling class” (Shoup), the CFR has since the 1970s developed a large number of international networks with wealthy and powerful “superclass” individuals and groups around the world. Relevant institutions here include its British counterpart and sister group The Royal Institute of International Affairs, the elite European Bilderberg Group, the heavily corporate-permeated Trilateral Commission (combining U.S., European, and Japanese elites who joined together to combat the “excess of democracy” in the early 1970s), the G30 (the Group of Thirty, a private gathering of top private and public financial authorities from across the U.S., Europe, and Asia), the CFR’s International Advisory Board (headed by super-wealthy capitalists from across the world), and a global CFR “Council of Councils” bringing together the top neoliberal think-tanks from the world’s richest 20 nations.

No societal stratum has been more prominently and influentially represented in the CFR than the top section of the U.S. capitalist class, Shoup shows. With one possible partial exception, all of the organization’s top ten leaders over the last four and a half decades have come from the capitalist elite “and especially represent the financial sector known as Wall Street.” Examples include CFR chairs David Rockefeller (heir to the greatest family fortune in history, head of Chase Manhattan Bank, and CFR chair from 1970 to 1985), Peter Peterson (the billionaire co-founder of the private equity Blackstone Group and CFR chair from 1985 to 2007), and current CFR chair Robert Rubin (former CEO of Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary, adviser to top Obama administration economic policymakers, and CFR co-chair since 2007).

The capitalist, Wall Street-oriented nature of the CFR is something the body does not like to advertise about itself. One of its longtime Senior Fellows and top intellectuals, Michael Mandelbaum readily acknowledged ten years ago that “a relatively small foreign policy elite…sets the general course of [U.S.] foreign policy….with little or no input from the wider public.” But, Shoup notes, “what [Mandelbaum] refers to as an ‘elite’ is actually a capitalist ruling class led by his own organization, the CFR.”

“There are only a relatively few important domestic institutions not connected or [at least] minimally tied to the Council,” Shoup notes, “and those are generally on the far-right side of the political spectrum.” The most prominent example is “the Koch Brothers economic and political empire,” which does not share the CFR’s faith in “a powerful state” – one that provides the capitalist elite with “government protection, intervention, and largess.” The CFR has little interest in association with any institutions and actors “that are at least a little left of center, such as most of today’s labor movement…considered irrelevant by the Council.”

To be clear, the CFR’s ideal “powerful state” is capitalist-neoliberal and imperial. It is one in which what the left sociologist Pierre Bourdieu called “the right hand of the state” (the parts of government that work to redistribute wealth and power yet further upward, fight wars, and discipline the working and lower class majority) is far more potent and well-funded than “the left hand of the state”: the parts of government, won by past popular movements, that protect and advance the interests of workers, the poor, and the common good. The CFR’s recent and deceptively named “Renewing America Initiative” for “restoring U.S. global power at home” advocates federal debt reduction not through progressive taxation or cutting back the giant Pentagon budget (a massive subsidy to high-tech corporations that accounts for 54% of U.S. federal discretionary spending) but through major rollbacks of so-called entitlements like Social Security and Medicare (Shoup explains that both programs “are actually not gifts but the earned savings from the millions of workers, held in trust by the federal government”). It calls for tying immigration policy more directly to “the market needs of corporations,” for the rollback of public sector union membership and power, and for increased domestic and eco-cidal oil and gas drilling (including hydraulic fracturing) and strip mining. All of this is contrary to majority public U.S. opinion.

In his influential 2013 book Foreign Policy Begins at Home: The Case for Putting America’s House in Order, CFR President Richard Haass (a director of a leading global investment management firm, Fortress Management) called for a significant extension of the U.S. retirement age. He looked forward to a time “when people [who] turn sixty…will still be ‘facing as many as ten to twenty years of work.’” Like most CFR officials and many of the organization’s members, Haass, a privatization advocate, doesn’t have to work another day in his life if he doesn’t want to.

It is all very consistent with the argument of CFR member and Harvard professor Samuel P. Huntington’s argument in 1975 book The Crisis of Democracy: Report on the Governability of Democracies to the Trilateral Commission. Acknowledging candidly that capitalism is opposed to popular governance, Huntington argued that the U.S. was suffering from an “excess of democracy” and a “democratic distemper” resulting from disorderly citizen upsurges during the 1960s. To calm this dangerous overindulgence of popular sovereignty, Huntington recommended, among other things, a weakening of government expenditures and regulations and an expansion of private “free market” capitalism’s role. As Shoup notes, “The bluntness of Huntington’s and direct advocacy of the neoliberal[1] gospel violated a taboo among the powerful of U.S. society, namely that the rhetoric of the United States as a wonderful and exceptionally democratic society should never be openly challenged.”

Who will save us from the calamitous relevance of the CFR? The CFR’s fingerprints, Shoup shows, are all over domestic U.S. and global history since the 1970s, Shoup shows. The drastic upward concentration of wealth and power that has taken place both within and beyond the U.S. (the top U.S. 1 % currently possesses more wealth than the nation’s bottom 90%) over the last four decades traces directly to the neoliberal – extreme capitalist (post-Keynesian, “post-Fordist,” and even “Millennial” capitalism in the language of top class- and system-conscious CFR intellectuals like Yale’s Walter Russell Mead[2]) – world view and policies that CFR directors and experts have powerfully and relentlessly advanced in accord with the organization’s corporate and financial essence over the last four decades. The monumental, mass-murderous, and globally significant U.S. destruction of Iraq – the most important and disastrous U.S. foreign policy action since “the Vietnam war” (the U.S. war on Southeast Asia) – was carried out in accord with the CFR’s openly imperial and neoliberal calls for Washington to seize control of Iraq’s vast oil resources (understood by top CFR experts as a critical weapon of hegemonic geopolitical leverage in the world capitalist economic and military system) and turn Iraq into a “free market paradise.”[3]

Undeterred by Washington’s criminal failures in Iraq, the CFR relentlessly pushes forward the imperial, US-led expansion of “the empire of neoliberal geopolitics.” It advances the expansion of NATO, investor rights “free trade” measures (the arch-corporatist-globalist Trans Pacific Partnership [TPP] and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership [TTIP]), a growing and dangerous military rivalry with China in the western Pacific, the drive to incorporate Ukraine and other former Soviet states into Western capitalism (helping stoke a potentially deadly conflict with Russia), the destruction of Syria, the protection of key imperial partner Israel, the terrorization and militarization of the vast darker-skinned “developing world” through the far-flung deployment of jihad-fueling Special Operations Forces and drone strikes (among numerous other murderous and racist U.S.-imperial means), the spread of dispossession-inducing forms of genetically engineered agriculture, and the advocacy of destructive neoliberal social policies in the vast and deeply impoverished global South.

Meanwhile, the scourge of anthropogenic climate change emerges as the leading threat to human survival and a decent future with no serious acknowledgement or opposition from the CFR, consistent with its fierce neoliberal opposition to any serious restrictions on capital. As Shoup notes, “The facts of the global ecological crisis are ones that a capitalist-class organization like the CFR do not want to face: to save the planet and its existing life-forms, fossil-fuel mining and burning has to be severely restricted by government fiat. This conclusion goes against the entire neoliberal free-market monopoly finance capitalist world order that the CFR has sponsored.”

The at once capitalist and imperialist commitments of the CFR trump the basic material requirements of human and survival, making it an existential imperative for humanity to undertake a popular-democratic revolution to bring into being “nation states controlled by the people” instead of plutocracies run by capitalist “deep states” made up in the U.S. by the CFR and its many power elite partner groups. It’s popular, participatory and democratic eco-socialism or barbarism if we’re lucky – or extinction, it appears.

Notes

1 By Shoup’s analysis the former dominant Western capitalist paradigm of Keynesianism has “been replaced” over the last four decades “by the doctrinal cluster of ideas called ‘neoliberalism,’ formally dedicated to the free movement of capital and goods worldwide (free markets) and multinational and transnational corporate globalization, promoted and enforced by state power. This is capital’s default position, the direction that the system always pushes toward, taking into account the level of class struggle from below. Besides being an economic prescription, the corporate liberation project of neoliberalism also represents an ideological attack on the ideas of collective property (socialism), national development (national liberation), and social solidarity (trade unionism and community). Instead, individualism is exalted.” In the “Keynesian scheme” and “system” that the Western capitalist elite briefly and contingently accepted to a significant degree in the middle third of the last century, “unions for workers were accepted with the ‘class compromise’; state-imposed regulations restrained some actions of capital; taxes on corporations and the wealthy were relatively high; state planning, industrial policy, and state ownership existed in many cases; and there was some attempt at achieving full employment and a level of social welfare of rank-and-file citizens through varied forms of social welfare.”  Shoup, Wall Street’s Think Tank, 163-164.

2 In his 2004 book Power, Terror, Peace, and War: America’s Grand Strategy in a World at Risk, Mead, the CFR’s Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow in U.S. Foreign Policy “discusses the transition from what he calls the ‘Fordist’ era of capitalist development dominant from the 1910s to the 1970s to our current era of what he calls ‘Millennial Capitalism,’ almost entirely avoiding the more useful and accurate terms ‘Keynesianism’ and ‘neoliberalism.’ The term ‘Fordism,’ as used by Mead, is simply the policy of certain capitalists, one of the first being Henry Ford, to pay their mass production workers enough to purchase the goods they, the workers, produce. Mead does not mention the intense and costly class struggles that workers engaged in over many decades to achieve even some level of unionization and the resulting higher wages, better working conditions, and benefits in a given industry. He simply presents it as a given that eventually some capitalists accepted unions, resulting in a more administered, regulated, and stable socioeconomic system, characterized by some state planning, a level of class compromise and less income equality…Mead points out that Fordism/Keynesianism ‘has gradually been yielding to …a new more vigorous form of capitalism’ which is now being invented and explored…what he calls ‘Millennial Capitalism.’” Shoup, Wall Street’s Think Tank, 193. (Amongst themselves, ruling and professional class “elites” are not entirely averse to communicating in significantly class- and system-conscious ways about capitalism as they understand it.)

3 For the CFR’s neoliberal, war-mongering, and petro-imperialist geo-political thinking in support of the calamitous, arch-criminal, and mass-murderous occupation and destruction of Iraq, see the following essays cited and quoted by Shoup: CFR President Richard Haass, “What to Do With American Primacy,” Foreign Affairs (Sept-Oct. 1999); Fouad Ajami, “The Sentry’s Solitude,” Foreign Affairs (November-December 2001); CFR Senior Fellow Kenneth Pollack, “Next Stop Baghdad?,” Foreign Affairs (March-April 2002); Sebastian Mallaby, “The Reluctant Imperialist: Terrorism, Failed States, and the Case for American Empire,” Foreign Affairs (March-April, 2002); Donald Rumsfeld, “Transforming the Military,” Foreign Affairs (May-June 2002); Elliot Cohen, “A Tale of Two Secretaries,” Foreign Affairs (May-June 2002); CFR Senior Fellow Michael Mandelbaum, “U.S. Most Plan Post-Hussein Iraq,” Newsday, August 1, 2002; Kenneth Pollack, The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq (New York: A Council of Foreign Relations Book, Random House, 2002); Pollack, “Securing the Gulf,” Foreign Affairs (July-August 2003, published under the heading “It’s the Oil, Stupid”). I recall reading the essays listed above before and after George W, Bush’s invasion and being struck by how openly imperial and oil-focused (petro-imperial) the CFR’s intra-elite discussion was – all quite contrary to the official American Exceptionalist doctrine holding that the U.S. never behaves in imperial ways. (Empire, too, is not a taboo topic amongst leading power elite planners.) Top CFR thinker Michael Mandelbaum (a leading Iraq invasion advocate), however, explains that “if America is a Goliath, it is a benign one”: a benevolent empire that acts out of a noble and selfless desire to make the world, a better, safer, and more democratic place. See Michael Mandelbaum, The Case for Goliath: How America Acts as the World’s Government in the 21st Century (2005). The millions of Iraqis killed, murdered, and displaced by compassionate Uncle Sam in this century (and in the last one) do not match the thesis – along with much else.

Paul Street’s latest book is They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy (Paradigm, 2014)

Israeli Fascist Brutality

October 7th, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

Let’s not mince words. Israel is a fascist police state, masquerading as a democracy. How when state terror is official policy, when soldiers, police and Zionist zealots brutalize and murder Palestinians unaccountably, when institutionalized apartheid exceeds the worst of South Africa’s regime.

Palestine is a free-fire zone, unsafe to live in for Arabs. Israeli security forces rampage with impunity, licensed to kill at their discretion, taking full advantage, rewarded for shocking brutality.

In the last five days alone, three Palestinian youths were gunned down in cold blood, two aged 13. Another 500 were injured, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS).

It declared a state of emergency in the West Bank and East Jerusalem following days of Israeli violence, in Occupied Palestine an endless pogrom of racist hate, violence, mass arrests and cold-blooded murders.

PRCS activated its Al-Bireh HQ central Operations Room- its “staff, teams and volunteers put on standby.” It said Israeli forces attacked its personnel, ambulances and other vehicles 14 times in the past 72 hours while they tried aiding wounded Palestinians – preventing them from providing humanitarian care.

Ambulance crew members were beaten and wounded. A PRCS statement condemned Israeli violence, saying it “constitute(s) a blatant violation of key IHL (international humanitarian law) provisions” – mainly Fourth Geneva, requiring the protection of civilians in time of war.

Article 2 states “the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war is not recognized by one of them.”

The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party, even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance.

Fourth Geneva protects all personnel involved in aiding, transporting and treating wounded or sick individuals.

Israel enforces vicious occupation harshness, waging war on an entire population. Since last week, dozens of Palestinians were shot with live fire. Numerous others were physically assaulted.

Tensions were high following Israeli soldiers and police desecrating the Al-Aqsa Mosque (Islam’s third holiest site) multiple times in recent days – damaging it deliberately, brutalizing peaceful worshipers, making numerous arrests.

Things spun out-of-control following the killing of four Israelis. In just societies, police conduct investigations without brutalizing entire communities. Israel imposes collective punishment. Horrific Palestinian suffering follows.

A PLO statement said Israel “is deliberately creating a situation of violence and instability that threatens to spiral out-of-control.”

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) accused Israel of crimes of excessive force and extreme brutality – carried out by soldiers, police and lunatic settlers.

Abused Palestinians respond justifiably to provocative Israeli tear gas, rubber bullets, live fire, beatings and other forms of abuse, using stones and empty bottles – hardly a fair fight.

PCHR said over 170 Palestinians wounded or killed by “live bullets and shrapnel in Jerusalem.” Israeli collective punishment policy willfully targets defenseless civilians.

World leaders able stop these horrors do nothing more than urge both sides to show restraint – effectively condoning Israeli violence, hate crimes, an appalling disregard for Palestinian rights, safety and welfare.

Netanyahu is a fascist thug, calling legitimate Palestinian resistance terrorism, vowing no letup in extreme police state violence.

“(J)ust as we’ve smashed previous waves of terrorism, we will also smash this wave of terrorism,” he blustered.

He convened a Monday evening security cabinet meeting to discuss ways to escalate violence against defenseless Palestinians. He ordered thousands more soldiers and police as shock troops throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Zionist zealots demanded increased toughness, including fascist cabinet ministers. Extremist tourism minister Yariv Levin said “(t)hose who think that terror can defeat the spirit of the nation of Israel and can stop us implementing our historical rights in every part of the land of Israel, should see us here today and understand that we will not be beaten.”

Social affairs minister Haim Katz urged accelerated settlement construction. “The prime minister is the only one who can defeat terrorism and build the land of Israel, and we expect him to do so,” he said.

He called for tougher penalties on parents of children arrested for stone-throwing. PLO member Hanan Ashrawi said “who think that terror can defeat the spirit of the nation of Israel and can stop us implementing our historical rights in every part of the land of Israel, should see us here today and understand that we will not be beaten.”

Palestinians want rights everyone deserves. Israel wants endless violence and instability, blaming Palestinians for its high crimes, maintaining occupation harshness in response, including cold-blooded murder – with full US support and encouragement.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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

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

 

Europe to Build Up New Centers of Power

October 7th, 2015 by South Front

People, who believe that the European Union is a monolithic entity that conducts business that benefits individual European nations, have made a huge mistake. Today, the EU is a crumbling bureaucratic intergovernmental organization with several centers of power serving their own interests.

Each of these are seeking to convert the EU into a super state controlling Western Eurasian, exploiting its nations, borderlands and a number of third world countries through a sophisticated set of economic and political tools. The competition among European and external players affecting developments of the union is ongoing for the right to become the main control center of the arising super state. So it was yesterday and so it is today. But, very soon, the EU political model will be changed under the influence of sharp internal circumstances and external crisises.

There are 4 well-known projects shaping and distorting the face of Europe:

The first project is the so-called Fourth Reich or a project related to supreme German dominance and above all, German economic control over the European Union. During the ongoing Eurozone Crisis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was accused of having pushed for Germany to have a greater say in the domestic governance of the Eurozone’s then-18 members, as part of a deal which saw Germany provide a significant part of the Euro Bailout program. Among other measures meant to reduce the likelihood of another Euro Crisis, she called for greater European power over individual countries budgets. The recent developments of the Greek Crisis have shown once again that Germany has enough power to impose its own rules upon recalcitrant governments.

This economic power allows Germany to dominate over Southern and Eastern Europe and implement measures over countries in order to impose its economic doctrine, for example, as an export policy. In 2011, former Polish Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński went so far as to state in his book that “Germany wants to annex part of Poland”. However, currently,Poland is far away from the role of being sacrificed to Germany.

Poland is a part of another EU project- the Anglo-Saxon North Atlantic project, whose goal is the dividing of Europe and Russia by utilizing the zone of buffer states or their confederation. This confederation includes Poland, Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Ukraine, Belorussia and the Baltic States and heavily resembles the shape of the former Greater Poland or the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth, as it’s core. The US and the UK are the main beneficiaries of this strategy. It is not surprising that they want to protect themselves from the restoration of Russian power or the occurrence of a strong European project with any real independence from the US and UK. The current French political establishment seems to support this plan also. Unfortunately, since Sharl Degole, French elites are heavy influenced by Anglo-Saxons. However, France also has a chance of renewing its own national goals. The leader of the National Front Party, Marine Le Pen, aspires in this particular direction.

The third power shaping the European Union is the Euro bureocracy. In large part, the EU is a bureaucratic organization developed and established by government entwined business and corporations. The essence of this power is an unorthodox combination of US influence, career bureaucrats and corporate interests. The important point is the European bureaucracy is largely administered by the leaders of the Benelux and small europeans states. They promote the interests of transnational corporations established in the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands such as Royal Dutch Shell, Unilever, Philips, EXMAR and others.

The fourth project is the wishful project to establish Turkey as a full member of the European Union. It will lead to a boost for Europe by adding the large Turkish population which, is claimed, is close to European culture historically. This would also propel Europe into a new geopolitical sphere and would strengthen European security from the direction of the Middle East. In turn, Turkey would gain full access to the European markets including new military technology and assorted energy sectors.

The ongoing migration and economic crisis along with the destructive US-NATO military actions around the world and a number of exogenous factors include the growth of Chinese influence and Russia’s readiness to defend its own interests and sphere of influence, set the ground for a buildup of new centers of political power in the European Union and forces that combine to act in the rapidly changing world.

This is particularly occurring in the border states affected by migration flows, economic recession and those countries with a lack of resources and the inability to resist independently. At the moment, the situation is escalating in the territory of the South-Eastern Europe. Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and neighboring states are currently being overwhelmed with hundreds of thousands of migrants fromthe Middle East and the North Africa.

Existing European decision-making centers don’t have the political will, and ability, or just simply aren’t interested in solving the serious problems due to the US and EU policies being implemented against their own interests and around the world. Therefore, the European periphery needs to solve the problem via their own methods. In the short run, this will lead to 2 important changes: the strengthening of borders between EU member states and a growth of the EU border states’ political independence from the main european powers and Brussels Eurocracy.

Hungary has constructed a fence on the Serbian border and is now strengthening the border with neighboring Croatia. On September 21st, Hungary’s parliament authorized the government to deploy the army to help subdue a wave of migrants, granting the military the right to use rubber bullets,pyrotechnical devices, tear gas grenades and net guns. Prime Minister Viktor Orban stated Hungary would act on its own accord until the EU found common ground on how to handle the migration crisis. On September 22nd, German rail operator Deutsche Bahn suspended services to Austria and Hungary until October 4th, citing border controls introduced to manage the record surge of refugees. Meanwhile, Austria raised the number of police patrols in preparation of additional migrant flows.

The EU bureaucracy reacted in short thrift by approving a relocation plan for distributing refugees among member states. Under the plan, refugees will be relocated from Italy, Greece, and Hungary to other countries in the EU. Eastern Europe, represented by the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary, voted against the plan. However, under European law, three of the countries that voted against the proposal would be required to accept migrants against their will. Matters such as these highlight the fact that European countries no longer have independence and have relegated their vital democratic decision making processes to Brussels eurocrats who do not to have the particular states best interests at heart.

Thus, the migration crisis has already triggered disputes between member states highlighting the contrasts between the European periphery and the controlling center. Therefore, Eastern Europe is faced with a dilemma: to surrender under the pressure of the main European powers and the eurocracy or try to defend what remains of their unique national soveregnity. At the moment, Hungary and Austria are showing a similar approach to security threats. The majority of Hungarian elites are oriented towards Hungary’s ownnational interests. This could lead to a new political union based upon the cultural and historical references which have played a strong role in the region since the times of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In this case, Hungary and Austria would try to concentrate power and resources to their own borders. Slovakia, the Czech Republic and some of Balkan states may arrive under the influence of such an idea. It would mark the beginnings of the project of the new South-East European Fortress. And it could become a tipping point in the changing future of the European Union.

After All We Did For Them in Fallujah!

October 7th, 2015 by Edward S. Herman

I was a bit surprised as well as appalled at the reported reaction of U.S. military personnel who had participated in the November 2004 destruction of Fallujah under Operation Phantom Fury, to the January 2014 taking control of the city by Sunni insurgents. The New York Times reporter covering this story says that “watching insurgents running roughshod through the streets they once fought to secure, often in brutal close quarters combat, has shaken their faith in what their mission achieved.”1 Marine Corps sergeant Adam Banotai is quoted as saying that “It made me sick to my stomach to have that thrown in our face, everything we fought for so blatantly taken away.” Former State Department official Kael Weston, who worked with the Marines fighting in Iraq, and talked with them about this development, says that “This has been a gut punch to the morale of the Marine Corps and painful for a lot of families who are saying ‘I thought my son died for a reason’.”

There is a vagueness in these references to a supposed “mission” and “reasons.” We should not forget that the U.S. leader in this Iraq enterprise, U.S. President George W. Bush, had originally claimed that the sole reason for invading Iraq was its possession of weapons of mass destruction and the threat that this posed to international peace and security. Once that was admitted to have been a fraud the mission and its purported reasons would seem to have disappeared and immediate withdrawal should have been called for. However, this was quickly adjusted to the mission of bringing democracy to Iraq, presumably to help the Iraqi people improve their lives as well as reduce the external threat of dictatorship. But any sensible person should recognize that a U.S. leadership that stands firmly with Saudi Arabia, and had earlier supported Saddam Hussein when he was attacking Iran, couldn’t be expending resources for any democratic objective. There must be material or other semi-hidden objectives that can’t be made explicit, except in unpublicized documents like the neo-con Project for the New American Century’s Rebuilding America’s Defenses or claims by disaffected insiders like former Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill that a plan for regime change in Iraq was firmed up well before 9/11.2

Sensible and aware people could also not swallow the notion that you could be helping the Iraqi people by destroying one of their major cities and making it into a free fire zone. It is true that by the time the U.S. military unleashed its full fury on Fallujah in early November, 2004, a majority of its 350,000 civilians had fled, but thousands remained and thousands were killed. According to Dr. Hafidd al-Dulzanni, head of the Commission for the Compensation of Fallujah Citizens, the U.S. assault destroyed some 7,000 houses, 840 stores, workshops and clinics, 65 mosques and religious sanctuaries, 59 schools, 13 government buildings, two electricity stations, three water purification plants, along with several railroad stations and sewage purification plants, among other things. Hospitals were an explicit target and weapons like white phosphorus and uranium-larded projectiles (see below) were used, all adding up to massive violations of the laws of war.

This was clearly not a campaign for the benefit of the people of Iraq, large numbers of whom were under deliberate attack or were considered expendable collateral damage in the U.S. war project. In the larger Iraq war picture we should note that perhaps a million were killed and 4 million turned into refugees, and we may recall the 500,000 Iraqi children killed via the “sanctions of mass destruction” in the 1990s. Iraqi civilian welfare was not an objective of U.S. policy toward Iraq at any time over the past several decades, and the U.S. impact on that welfare has been highly negative and criminal. In fact, with an unbiased system of international justice, there would be a need for many courtrooms and prison cells to accommodate the trials and incarceration of U.S. and U.K. officials and military personnel.

The media’s role in this aggression and mass murder operation has been extremely important. While reporting on the shaken faith of the Marines who fought in Fallujah in 2004, the media don’t explore what that “mission” was and put it into meaningful context. You may be certain that they won’t hark back to those alleged but non-existent weapons of mass destruction that the initially claimed mission was supposedly designed to eliminate, nor will they discuss the hypocrisy and dishonesty of the claim of an alleged new mission of bringing democracy to Iraq. And you may be even more certain that they won’t discuss how all this conflicts with the express norms of the UN Charter and international law. They’ll save that for Putin in Ukraine!

Equally illuminating is the media’s neglect, now and earlier, of the U.S.-UK’s own use of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The U.S. military admittedly used white phosphorus in Operation Phantom Fury, but there is evidence that they also employed weaponized uranium that may plausibly explain dramatic increases in rates of cancer, birth defects and infant mortality, and what Chris Busby, the author and co-author of two studies on the Fallujah health crisis called “the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied.” This came to public notice when reports out of Fallujah after 2004 described a major and rapid increase in the incidence of cancer and congenital birth defects. A population based epidemiological study published in July 2010 by Malak Hamden and Chris Busby, “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Irqq, 2005-2009,” found a huge rise in infant mortality, and types of cancer “similar to that in the Hiroshima survivors” (breast cancer, lymphoma, brain tumors, leukemia). The leukemia increase was 38-fold in Fallujah versus 17-fold in Hiroshima survivors. This report was mentioned by BBC and written up by Patrick Cockburn in “Toxic Legacy of US Assault on Fallujah ‘Worse Than Hiroshima’,” in The Independent (July 24, 2010).

But the New York Times has never mentioned this study, nor has any other major mainstream media source in the United States.

Busby found, to his surprise, that environmental samples of soil, water and human hair in Fallujah contained slightly enriched uranium, which is more powerful and damaging than depleted uranium. This enriched uranium is man-made and is very possibly a constituent of new undisclosed uranium weapons now secretly employed by the Pentagon. If valid, the United States has carried out a nuclear attack on Fallujah, and presumably elsewhere as well. Scary and clearly worthy of examination in a free press, but while it is discussed in an interview with Busby on RT3, the Busby studies and the uranium connection have not been mentioned by U.S. politicians or found fit to discuss in America’s newspaper of record.

In contrast, allegations of the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons. upset the sensitive and highly moral (and supremely hypocritical) U.S. leadership and caused it to draw a “red line” beyond which Syria might be openly bombed. Here was news fit to print, with Nexis showing 686 articles mentioning Syria and sarin and/or chemical weapons in the New York Timesbetween August 19, 2013 and August 27, 2015. A ratio of 686 for the politically helpful to 0 for dramatic facts that don’t fit shows a remarkable propaganda system at work.

The response to the 2004 Fallujah massacre and its capture by insurgents in 2014 quickly brings to mind the Vietnam war experience with its confused “mission” and even more blatant anti-people war. Perhaps the most famous quote coming out of that war was the U.S. officer commenting on the destruction of Ben Tre: “We had to destroy the town in order to save it.” Save it for whom? It was periodically claimed that we were protecting the Vietnamese people’s “right to choose” and their self-determination, but this was long subordinated to high level war-makers’ and war intellectuals’ preoccupation with stopping the march of communism and alleged communist aggression. The leaders, intellectuals and pundits were fuzzy on whether the aggression was sponsored by the Soviet Union, China or was just reflecting expansionist Communist ideology, but, of course, North Vietnam was the acknowledged front line aggressor. That the United States was the aggressor was suggested only by the wild persons in the wings who couldn’t be taken seriously or admitted to in mainstream debates.

That the United States was truly the aggressor was supported by the fact that Ho Chi Minh and the communists didn’t control all of Vietnam before the U.S. war only because U.S. force and derived diplomacy wouldn’t allow it. After the communists had forced out the French, the settlement at Geneva in 1954 provided for a unifying election in 1956 between the southern and northern parts of the country. The United States refused to allow this, clearly because the prominent Vietnamese communist Ho Chi Minh would have won. This was acknowledged by U.S. President Eisenhower in his autobiography where he admitted that Ho would have captured 80 percent of the votes in a free election. Thereafter the United States underwrote a war of pacification in the south and then attacked the North and invaded Vietnam directly in 1965. But it and its mercenary army progeny in the southern part of Vietnam could not subdue the populace or defeat the National Liberation Front in the south or the North Vietnamese forces when they entered the fray in 1965. The U.S.-supported faction in the south had no political base, which is why they couldn’t have won the 1956 election and why they couldn’t fight effectively thereafter. Their puppet role helped further alienate the populace.

The U.S. methods of fighting further disaffected the people and consolidated the political strength of the communists. It was a merciless war against a people. And while killing literally millions of Vietnamese, mostly civilians, it was a failure. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan show that the U.S. military has not learned a lesson and continues to create enemies faster than it kills them. Sadly, this does not result in their leaders being brought to justice, so that the lesson is not learned and their successors are able to kill on a large scale once again, perhaps creating an Iraq syndrome to be overcome in the future as this country has overcome its Vietnam syndrome (with the help of using a mercenary army).

• First published in Z Magazine, October 2015

Edward S. Herman is an economist and media analyst with a specialty in corporate and regulatory issues as well as political economy and the media.

Notes

  1. Richard A. Oppel, Jr., “Falluja’s Fall Stuns Marines Who fought There,” New York Times, January 10, 2014. 
  2. Julian Borger, “Bush decided to remove Saddam ‘on day one’,” Guardian, January 11, 2004. 
  3. “US uranium to blame for deformed babies in Fallujah?,” October 25, 2011

Polish-Russian Relations and World War II

October 7th, 2015 by Michael Jabara Carley

Recently the Russian ambassador in Warsaw, Sergei Andreyev, gave an interview on a Polish television station about the lamentable state of Polish-Russian relations. World War II came up as a point of discussion, as it often does these days in the western Mainstream Media. 

The Red Army accounted for 80% or more of all the casualties inflicted on the Wehrmacht during the war. But don’t ask for gratitude. Hooligans recently desecrated a Red Army cemetery in eastern Poland. Lucky for them dead soldiers can’t defend themselves. Red Army monuments are being torn down in Poland where Soviet symbols are banned, whilst in the Baltic states local residents offer flowers and beer to Nazi SS veterans. And what can one say about the Ukraine, now a fascist state, where a murderous Nazi collaborator, Stepan Bandera, has been elevated to the status of father of the nation.

Ambassador Andreyev deplored the desecration of the Red Army cemetery, but what really aroused controversy in the Polish foreign ministry were his comments about Poland’s responsibility for the outbreak of World War II. «Throughout the 1930s», the ambassador commented,

«Poland repeatedly blocked the creation of a coalition against Nazi Germany. Therefore, Poland can be said to be partly responsible for the catastrophe which occurred in September, 1939».

The Polish foreign minister, Grzegorz Schetyna, reacted with indignation and summoned the ambassador to the foreign ministry to explain himself. «Unjust and untrue», claimed Schetyna: «These are deplorable statements, arising from a failure to understand history». But how well does the Polish foreign minister know the history of his country? It was this same Mr Schetyna who claimed that Ukrainians, not the Red Army, liberated Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp. In fact, there were Ukrainians in Poland in 1944 and 1945, but they were renegades, Nazi collaborators killing Poles.

So how accurate was Ambassador Andreyev’s comment about Polish policy during the interwar years?

In January 1934 Poland signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany, almost at the same time that the USSR began its long efforts to organise an anti-Nazi defensive alliance. It was a blow against Soviet collective security even as  Maksim M. Litvinov, the Commissar for Foreign Affairs, sought to strengthen relations with Poland. Litvinov warned Polish Foreign Minister, Józef Beck, of the danger of courting Nazi Germany, but Beck would not listen. The French, who had an alliance with Poland, were not happy with the turn in Polish policy. «We will count on Russia», French foreign minister Louis Barthou said in 1934, «and not bother any more about Poland». Barthou was assassinated a short time later, and the French never followed through on dropping Poland, though Barthou might have had the courage to do it.

The Poles made excuses to the French. Russia is the enemy. Every step France takes toward the USSR, advised the French ambassador in Warsaw, will provoke a Polish step toward Nazi Germany. The Polish elite was badly infected with Russophobia, a condition from which it still suffers today.

In 1934-1935 as Commissar Litvinov sought to consolidate European collective security, Poland resisted every step of the way. The Poles were not the only saboteurs however.Pierre Laval,  Barthou’s successor as foreign minister, was a dyed-in-the-wool Sovietophobe and future Nazi collaborator, who preferred better relations with Nazi Germany than collective security in cooperation with the USSR. Litvinov continued nevertheless, attempting to negotiate a collective security pact in Eastern Europe, which Foreign Minister Beck rejected, and then a mutual assistance pact with France. Laval eventually agreed but only after he had reduced the pact to an empty shell. Poland was not the only place where Sovietophobia swayed foreign policy.

Then came the Czechoslovak crisis in 1938. In the spring of that year everyone could see the writing on the wall. Czechoslovakia was in Hitler’s gun sights. In May the French foreign minister asked the Polish ambassador in Paris what Poland would do in the event of a crisis. «We’ll not move», came the reply. Poland considers «the Russians to be enemies…», said the ambassador, «we will oppose by force» any attempt by the USSR to go to the aid of Czechoslovakia across Polish territory on land or in the air. Russia, no mattered who governed it, is «enemy no. 1», said Field Marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły: «If the German remains an adversary, he is not less a European and a man of order; for Poles, the Russian is a barbarian, an Asiatic, a corrupt and poisonous element, with whom any contact is perilous and any compromise, lethal». Don’t push us, said the Poles, or we will side with Nazi Germany. Soviet diplomats launched a press campaign to warn the Poles of their folly, but to no avail. «Not only can we not count on Polish support», French Premier Édouard Daladier confessed at the time, «but we have no faith that Poland will not strike [us] in the back». «Tant pis pour la Pologne – tough luck for Poland», said one French general, if Warsaw sides with Hitler.

Not that France could boast of being a faithful ally through thick and thin – just ask the Czechoslovaks – but the Poles were like a cartoon caricature of the proverbial snake in the grass. The French ambassador in Berlin told his Soviet counterpart that the Polish government was «clearly helping Germany» to destabilise Czechoslovakia. The issue of Teschen, a Czechoslovak district with a large Polish population, was the bee in Warsaw’s bonnet. If Hitler gets the German populated Sudeten territories, said Polish diplomats, we won’t be satisfied with empty hands. We want Teschen. They got it too because Britain and France sold out Czechoslovakia at Munich. What a tawdry spectacle of funk and betrayal. Poland was Hitler’s accomplice in 1938 before Poland became Hitler’s victim a year later.

Soviet diplomats, and not least of all Stalin, had no illusions about Poland or France and Britain for that matter, but they made one last try in 1939 to establish an anti-Nazi war-fighting alliance. Even then Poland played the role of spoiler. In January the French ambassador in Warsaw reported that many Poles, forced to a choice between Germany and the USSR, would opt for Berlin. «Let them go; call their bluff» would have been the right response. In late March the Polish government refused to sign a Four Power declaration with the USSR to consult in the event of a threat to the independence of another European state. Then, in one last-ditch effort in April 1939, Litvinov proposed to Paris and London a political and military alliance against Nazi Germany. And still the Anglo-French dragged their feet. British Foreign Office officials sneered at and belittled Litvinov.

That was enough for Stalin, and he sacked Litvinov in early May, naming Vyacheslav M. Molotov to replace him. One of Molotov’s first acts was to offer a hand to Warsaw. The door to Soviet-Polish collaboration was still open. «You may hint that if Poland wishes», Molotov cabled to Warsaw, «the USSR can give them support». Within 24 hours the Poles slammed the open door shut, refusing any cooperation with Moscow.

The last act of Polish self-destruction came in August 1939 when French and British delegations went to Moscow to discuss an anti-Nazi alliance. «Will the Poles cooperate?» the Soviet side wanted to know. «Would the British?» was a more pertinent question. «Go very slowly» said British directives for its delegation. Fast or slow did not matter to the Poles, they gave the same negative response they always gave when it came to cooperation with the USSR against Nazi Germany. Remember how Field Marshal Rydz-Śmigły put it: Russians are «barbarians» and «Asiatics». The Poles would not consider passage rights for the Red Army across Polish territory to fight the common foe. This had been the Polish position since 1934, and it did not change even before the peril of an imminent German invasion.

When news broke of the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact, after the failure of the Anglo-Franco-Soviet negotiations, the Poles shrugged it off. «Really not much had changed», opined Foreign Minister Beck. The Polish «man in the street» in Warsaw, reported the British ambassador, took the news of the non-aggression pact with «a half-amused shrug». «Isn’t Vasily a swine», was a common reaction. Poland’s «folly», the French Premier Daladier said.

No novelist could have made up these astonishing stories of Polish recklessness during the 1930s. As a historian, I can assure you that nothing here is invented, as implausible as it all may seem. Read my 1939: The Alliance that Never Was or my more recent essay «Only the USSR has Clean Hands» for the details and the archival references. Russian Ambassador Andreyev said Poland bore some responsibility for the «catastrophe, which occurred in September 1939». Given the archival record, one would have to say that the Russian Ambassador was being polite and understated the case. Polish Minister Schetyna may attempt to «rewrite» history all he likes, but I can advise him that he is wasting his time.

The evidence trail in the archives is too deep to hide. It is not a pretty picture, Poland in the 1930s. More introspection and less Russophobia would serve the Polish government well in these dangerous times. Minister Schetyna could start by reading the correspondence of his distant predecessor Beck as an example of how not to conduct Poland’s foreign policy. Only the British bore a greater responsibility than Poland for the failure of cooperation with the USSR against Nazi Germany in the last half of the 1930s. This lost opportunity I call the «Grand Alliance That Never Was».

Documents released in September 2015 by the Pentagon under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that Agent Orange dioxin was discovered at the U.S. Army’s Machinato Service Area (MSA), Urasoe City, Okinawa, in the 1970s.1 The 82 pages of reports produced by the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps focus on a 46,000 square-metre outdoor storage area within the base which was used to store “retrograde shipments from Viet-Nam” (1) – including herbicides – during the 1960s and 1970s. Following tests of the soil and water in the mid-1970s, USMC documents cite the discovery of a “high concentration” of dioxin in the area (77); a United States Forces Japan report specifies the detection of “dioxin (agent orange component)” in 1975 (2). The findings contradict Pentagon assertions as recently as 2015 that Agent Orange was never stored on Okinawa.2

Hundreds of U.S. veterans who served on Okinawa during the Vietnam War believe they were sickened by exposure to military defoliants on the island; many of them claim that there was a large stockpile of Agent Orange at MSA.3 Due to Pentagon denials that these chemicals were present on Okinawa, the Department of Veterans Affairs has refused to award compensation to the vast majority of these former service members.

The revelation that the Agent Orange dioxin was discovered at MSA – which is known today as Camp Kinser – comes at the end of an 18-month struggle under the Freedom of Information Act during which the Pentagon initially refused to release the records for reasons which included the need “to protect against public confusion.”4 On September 23rd, United States Pacific Command finally released the package, titled “Talking Paper on Possible Toxic Contamination at Camp Kinser,” dated 30 July 1993. The FOIA release is believed to be the first time such comprehensive records regarding U.S. military contamination in Japan have been made public. In addition to dioxin contamination, the reports also reveal deaths of sea life, burials of toxic chemicals and the possible exposure of base workers at MSA. Furthermore, they highlight the frustrations of the U.S. military struggling to tackle contamination in the face of previous failed clean-ups and bureaucratic obstacles.

Pages from recently-released documents reveal a legacy of contamination – including from Agent Orange dioxin – at Camp Kinser, Okinawa.

During the Vietnam War, Okinawa – under U.S. jurisdiction until 1972 – served as the military’s most important staging post for the conflict. Supplies were funneled through the island on the way to Southeast Asia – but also surplus and damaged materiel was returned to Okinawa for processing or disposal.5According to the documents, among the substances stored were “insecticides, rodenticides, herbicides, inorganic and organic acids, alkalis, inorganic salts, organic solvents, and vapor degreasers” (33). The FOIA-released reports explain these chemicals were stored outdoors along the shoreline of MSA where their condition deteriorated. Okinawan officials visiting the yard described hundreds of barrels, boxes and plastic bags of unknown substances: “Chemicals leaked from the rusted vessels contaminated the area. Marks of leaked chemical meet eyes at every turn” (22).

The military apparently told Okinawan officials that most of the containers held the comparatively non-toxic insecticide, malathion. A 1991 USMC report also reveals that U.S. authorities had attempted to sell surplus chemical stocks to Okinawan civilians, but “Many containers were in such poor condition that bidder refused to pick them up” (33). In 1974 and 1975, large “fish kills” on the nearby coast prompted the U.S. Army Pacific Environmental Health Engineering Agency to conduct surveys of the sea and soil. The results “indicated high concentration of chlordane, DDT, malathion, dioxin and polychlorinated biphenyl” (77). The pesticides chlordane and DDT have both been banned due to health risks; dioxins and PCBs have long been recognised as harmful and they can remain dangerous for decades when buried. Subsequent tests on Camp Kinser in 1978 also revealed high levels of carcinogenic heavy metals such as lead and cadmium (42).

According to the FOIA-released records, in an attempt to mitigate the contamination, large quantities of the stockpiled chemicals were buried or “flushed” on the base – including sludge from neutralised cyanide compounds, inorganic acids and alkalis and 12.5 tons of ferric chloride. Pesticides were also buried at USMC Camp Hansen, Kin Town (2). In total, the documents reveal three areas of large scale contamination and four dumpsites (5). Reports show how the military’s optimism that these initial cleanup attempts had been successful soon turned to dismay. In the mid-1980s, during a civilian landfill project, toxins again seeped from the base resulting in the further death of marine life (35). Documents written by military personnel in the 1980s and 1990s reveal their dissatisfaction with predecessors’ remediation attempts. Labeling the surveys “superficial” (5) and “cursory” (6), they criticize the lack of follow-up checks and the failure to record whether the contaminated soil was ever removed from the installation (77).

A September 1984 report written by the Commanding Officer of Navy hospital on Okinawa raises concerns that construction workers might have been exposed to toxins during the building of a new medical centre on the base. The commander appeared particularly concerned about high levels of PCBs which he described as “highly toxic, a suspected carcinogen, extremely persistent and virtually indestructible in the natural environment”(49). In December 1984, the discovery of elevated heavy metal levels on the shore 2.2 km from the storage site also seems to have compounded fears of the potential impact on communities beyond the installation (52). In 1984, the Navy reported that no herbicides were “found or detected” (53) but it appears to have taken the threat of defoliant contamination seriously enough to order a series of dioxin checks for the base. The reports do not specify on which part of Camp Kinser these checks were conducted; the tests came back negative (59).

As recently as 1990, one Navy commander wrote that he suspected toxic “hot spots” still existed within Camp Kinser. “Detection of these hot spots would be extremely difficult and require extensive sampling,” he explained (73). At the time, the military was considering building a pleasure beach for service members on the base. The military abandoned the plan in 1990: “The use of a former hazardous material storage site where past release is known to have occurred is not recommended because of the large potential liability in the event a user developed adverse health problems” (73).

Included in the FOIA package are several charts pinpointing the contaminated area (8 ~ 13). Crosschecked against current maps of Camp Kinser, it appears that today a bowling alley, medical centre and baseball field sit upon the site. Additionally, civilian reclamation work has filled in the sea neighboring the former storage yard.

Crosschecked with modern maps, charts of the hazardous chemical storage site at Camp Kinser correlate with current on-base medical facilities and a baseball field. Some of the land is also slated for imminent return.

Under plans to consolidate the U.S. presence on Okinawa, Tokyo and Washington intend to return the bulk of Camp Kinser in 2024 “or later”. However, the return of a 2-hectare parcel of land, near the base’s Gate 5, is now overdue its scheduled return date of 2014.7 That land appears to be located within – and directly adjacent to – the contaminated zone. Komichi Ikeda, adviser at Environmental Research Institute Inc., Tokyo, expressed concerns that, given the persistence and toxicity of the chemicals involved, the land may still be polluted. “Depending on the concentration of the substances and their interaction with the environment, they might still pose a danger. It’s important for the U.S. to follow current EPA guidelines and survey the land for possible contamination before it is returned to civilian use,” she said.

In addition to scientific data, the FOIA-released reports also provide insight into the hurdles the U.S. military faces dealing with contamination on its bases in Japan. In 1990, the Navy estimated that a full survey of the former storage site would cost more than $500,000 (approx. 112 million yen in 2015 terms), but it warned any actual remediation would cost much more (73). According to the reports, such funding would be difficult to obtain because some Pentagon clean-up budgets were reserved for projects within the U.S. Furthermore, there were not enough personnel available to conduct a survey of the size required for Camp Kinser (74). Then – as today – the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement relieves Washington of all costs of remediating land returned to public usage.

On September 28, Tokyo and Washington inked a new environmental pact which will theoretically allow Japanese officials to request access to U.S. bases in the case of chemical spills or to conduct surveys of land scheduled for return.8 Dr. Kawamura Masami, director of Citizens’ Network for Biodiversity in Okinawa, has been leading efforts to ensure Tokyo and Washington are more transparent about the environmental impact of U.S. bases on the island. “The new pact has been described as a way to reduce Okinawa’s military burden but it will do nothing to solve environmental problems. The wording is vague and it still gives the U.S. strong discretionary powers. USFJ and Tokyo ought to prioritize the rights of the people affected by contamination,” she said. Kawamura also criticised the timing of the announcement and the way the pact was formulated. “The U.S. and Japan released the news of the pact when the Governor of Okinawa was to cancel the approval of the reclamation of Oura Bay for the new base at Henoko.It appears that the two governments are using this pactas a political tool. Secondly, the process of finalizing the pact was unacceptable.They failed to make public the details – indicating that the two governments ignored the needs of the affected communities.” Kawamura expressed concerns not only for 114,000 Okinawans residing in Urasoe City alongside Camp Kinser but also the service members and their families – past and present – stationed on the installation. Today, Camp Kinser contains an elementary school and accommodation for service members and their dependents; approximately 1000 base employees work on the base.

In recent years, the environmental safety record of Camp Kinser has been under the spotlight. In 2009, six Japanese workers fell ill following exposure to an unknown substance at a warehouse on the base.9 In 2013, mongooses caught near the installation showed high levels of poisonous PCBs while, in September 2015, scientists from Meio University and Ehime University reported that habu snakes in the vicinity of Camp Kinser were also found to contain elevated concentrations of PCBs and the banned insecticide, DDT. In response to the habu report, the mayor of Urasoe, Tetsuji Matsumoto, ordered tests on local water and announced he’d ask Tokyo for a full investigation.10

Two more Okinawa veterans win compensation

Despite Pentagon assertions that Agent Orange was never present on Okinawa, the U.S. government has awarded compensation to two more service members who believe they were sickened by the substance while stationed on the island. In April 2015, the Board of Veterans Appeals ruled that a former U.S. marine had developed multiple myeloma due to herbicide exposure.11 The unnamed veteran – a member of the 3rd Marine, 9th Motors, 3rd Fort Service Support Group – was stationed on an unspecified base on Okinawa between 1976 and 1977. The veteran claims to have come into contact with Agent Orange in a number of ways. He testified that barrels of defoliants passed through the island on the way for final disposal in Johnston Island and he was also tasked with processing contaminated equipment from the war in Vietnam. In addition, he sprayed his installation in order to kill vegetation. Following his service on Okinawa, the veteran was stationed at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, where he also came into contact with herbicides. In support of his winning claim, the veteran supplied EPA memoranda related to Fort A.P. Hill and photographs of the vehicles which he drove on Okinawa to transport the barrels of herbicides.

The second veteran to win compensation is retired Lt. Col. Kris Roberts, the Marine at the centre of allegations that Agent Orange had been dumped on Futenma Air Base, Ginowan City.12 On August 10, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals ruled that Roberts, chief of maintenance at the installation in the early 1980s, had developed prostate cancer due to “exposure to hazardous chemicals.” The presiding judge based the decision on evidence which included medical reports, statements and “photographs of barrels being removed from the ground.” However, the carefully worded ruling avoids specific reference to Agent Orange. Now, Roberts is urging the military to come clean about what really happened at Futenma. “The Marine Corps has a moral and ethical obligation to alert others who may have been exposed,” he said in an interview with the author.

According to Roberts, in 1981 he was ordered to investigate high chemical readings detected in waste water running from the installation into neighboring communities. After checking the area of concern near one of the base’s runways, Roberts and his team unearthed more than 100 chemical barrels – some marked with the tell-tale orange stripes of defoliants. On orders from Futenma’s top brass, the barrels were moved by Okinawan base workers to an undisclosed location. After the discovery, Roberts developed a number of serious illnesses, including heart disease and prostate cancer.

Roberts, who is a state representative in New Hampshire, believes that the Marine Corps has a duty to track down the service members and Japanese military employees who handled the toxic barrels. He also called on USFJ to inform local residents. “The base’s drainage pipes distributed the contaminated water all around the civilian communities near Futenma – not only in Ginowan City. USFJ needs to warn them of the dangers – and doctors need to look for clusters of diseases similar to the ones I have,” he said.

Asked whether USFJ would notify others potentially poisoned, on September 16, Tiffany Carter, USFJ Media Relations Chief, replied “We are aware of the news reports, but will refer you to the Veterans Administration for further comments.”13

According to publicly available Department of Veterans’ Affairs records, more than 200 U.S. veterans believe they were poisoned by Agent Orange while serving on Okinawa. Their sicknesses include multiple myeloma, Parkinson’s disease and peripheral neuropathy – illnesses for which the Department of Veterans’ Affairs compensates Americans exposed to defoliants in Vietnam, Thailand and the Korean DMZ.

Although photographs and military documents corroborate claims that defoliants were present on Okinawa, Washington maintains no such evidence exists – and has not yet commented on the FOIA-release citing Agent Orange dioxin. To date, only a handful of U.S. veterans have been awarded compensation for exposure to Agent Orange on Okinawa.14

Civilian workers struggle to clear
flood water fromthe military’s
dioxin dumpsite in Okinawa City in
August. Ken Nakamura-Huber.

As well as the Camp Kinser report package, veterans’ hopes have been buoyed by the discovery of more than 100 buried barrels in Okinawa City on land that used to be part of Kadena Air Base, the Pentagon’s busiest Okinawa installation during the Vietnam War. Some of the barrels – which first began to be unearthed in June 2013 – contained traces of Agent Orange’s three ingredients: the herbicides 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D, and TCDD dioxin. Japanese and international experts assert that the discovery proves that military defoliants were present on Okinawa.15

In June, the most recent tests revealed that some of the standing water near the barrels contained levels of dioxin thousands of times higher than environmental standards.16 Meanwhile, the Okinawan authorities’ handling of the ongoing cleanup has come under fire. Construction workers at the dumpsite wear little protective clothing and the plastic tarpaulins covering the excavation allow water to accumulate. In July, a typhoon flooded the site – and the water was apparently pumped into a nearby river without first being checked for contamination.17

Parts of this article originally appeared in The Japan Times on August 17, September 16 and September 29.

In May 2015, Welsh journalist, Jon Mitchell, was awarded the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan Freedom of the Press Award for Lifetime Achievement for his reporting about human rights issues – including military contamination – on Okinawa. He is the author of Tsuiseki: Okinawa no Karehazai (Chasing Agent Orange on Okinawa) (Koubunken 2014) and a visiting researcher at the International Peace Research Institute of Meiji Gakuin University, Tokyo. Mitchell is an Asia-Pacific Journal contributing editor.

Recommended citation: Jon Mitchell, “FOIA Documents Reveal Agent Orange Dioxin, Toxic Dumps, Fish Kills on Okinawa Base. Two Veterans Win Compensation, Many More Denied”, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 13, Issue 39, No. 1, October 5, 2015.

Notes

1. Page references in this paper correspond to the pdf file released by PACOM under FOIA titled “Joint Environmental Investigative Committee, Talking Paper on Possible Toxic Contamination at Camp Kinser, Environmental Branch (J42E); U.S. Forces Japan, Yokota Air Base, Japan (30 July 1993)”. The document is available here. USPACOM have given assurances that this is the full report and the best quality available. However, there are a number of concerns with the released documents: the legibility of some pages is poor, some reports appear to have been cut during reproduction, sections are missing and, most significantly, the 12 enclosures do not correspond to those outlined in pages 1 to 6.

2. In an email to the author dated 5 October 2011, USFJ stated: “In response to the Embassy of Japan request on August 10, DOD has once again searched and once again been unable to locate any record of Herbicide Orange or its component ingredients being used in Okinawa.” The recently released FOIA records – with their specific mention of the discovery of “dioxin (agent orange component)” – suggest that the Pentagon may have been misleading the Japanese government on the issue.

For a wider discussion of the Pentagon’s ongoing denials of this issue, see Jon Mitchell, “‘Deny, deny until all the veterans die’ – Pentagon investigation into Agent Orange on Okinawa,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 23, No. 2. June 10, 2013. Available here.

3. Jon Mitchell, “US Military Defoliants on Okinawa: Agent Orange,”The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 37 No 5, September 12, 2011. Available here.

4. Jon Mitchell, “Pentagon blocks report on ‘toxic contamination’ at base outside Okinawa capital”, The Japan Times, September 16, 2015. Available here.

5. Jon Mitchell, “Okinawa – The Pentagon’s Toxic Junk Heap of the Pacific,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 47, No. 6, November 25, 2013. Available here.

6. In 1987, PCB-contamination at Kadena Air Base was concealed by the Pentagon; the truth emerged after a whistle-blower released internal documents related to the incident. Jon Mitchell, “Military Contamination on Okinawa: PCBs and Agent Orange at Kadena Air Base”, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 12, No. 1, March 24, 2014. Available here.

7. “Consolidation Plan for Facilities and Areas in Okinawa”, MOFA, April 2013, Available here.

8. For further information on the pact – and its inadequacies – see Masaaki Kameda, “U.S.-Japan environmental agreement on U.S. bases flawed, experts say”, The Japan Times, September 29, 2015. Available here.

9. David Allen, “Hazmat Team Investigates Odor at Kinser Warehouse”, Stars and Stripes, April 30, 2009.

10. For example, see the September 7, 2015 letter from the Mayor of Urasose City to the Commanding General of III Marine Expeditionary Force here.

11. The BVA ruling – Citation Nr: 1516681 – can be read here.

12. Jon Mitchell, “Agent Orange at Okinawa’s Futenma Base in 1980s,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 25, No. 3, June 18, 2012. Available here.

13. Email exchange with the author dated September 16, 2015.

14. Jon Mitchell, “Ailing U.S. veteran wins payout over Agent Orange exposure in Okinawa,” The Japan Times, March 17, 2014. Available here.

15. Jon Mitchell, “Okinawa Dumpsite Offers Proof of Agent Orange: Experts Say,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Issue 38, No. 1, September 23, 2013. Available here.

16. For example, see this Ryukyu Shimpo article – “Dioxin 21,000 times regular levels in Okinawa City barrel” – June 30, 2015, available here.

17. For example, see this QAB news report – “Possible contamination of flooded soil at Okinawa City soccer pitch” – July 13, 2015, available here.

For nearly three years, global attention has focused on the three arrows of Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s “Abenomics” as well as his aggressive new security policies. Yet beneath the radar, his government has begun to vigorously promote renewable energy and efficiency. Its initiatives accelerated over the summer of 2015, and the momentum continues to increase. The measures include not just ample fiscal, regulatory and other policy support for renewable generation and energy-harvesting technology. The Abe regime is also investing heavily to build a renewable-based hydrogen economy as well as expand the smart-grid and district heating systems that are core network infrastructures for a low-carbon economy. Moreover, the Abe regime is adopting new governance mechanisms, including inter-ministerial task forces and widening the ambit of local public corporations, to accelerate the deployment of renewables. In addition, de facto energy policymaking is becoming more inclusive, eroding the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry’s (METI) dominance while simultaneously advantaging pro-renewable factions in other ministries as well as within METI itself.

PM Abe at the Fukushima Renewable
Energy Research Institute, May 31, 2015

These claims will surely seem dubious, if not absurd, in light of Abe’s support for nuclear energy and the recent restart of the Sendai nuclear reactor in the face of majority public opposition.1 Indeed, most Japanese left-liberal commentary on the Abe regime’s energy strategy – especially as codified in the 2014 Energy Basic Plan and its targets for 2030 – derides it as reliant on nuclear and coal,2 inadequately supportive of efficiency, and “less accommodating to renewables” than the previous Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) administration.3 Some overseas analysts also dismiss Japan’s hydrogen strategy as a “fraud” based on “low-grade coal” in Australia.4

The present article argues that the dismissive approach overlooks important fiscal, organizational and other evidence, which we shall explore below. The LDP’s green-energy proponents aim at revitalizing local economies through renewable energy, growing strategic sectors of the economy, bolstering national security (especially energy security), enhancing resilience in the face of natural and other disasters, as well as dealing with the threat of climate change. Their ranks include such LDP heavyweights as Ishiba Shigeru, current Minister for Local Revitalization and possibly the next LDP President. Given their conservative politics, they are elaborating a national-security, “local revitalization”-focused paradigm of green power, quite distinct from the idealistic, small-is-beautiful emphasis common among Japan’s left-liberal proponents of renewable energy. Yet the LDP’s approach to diffusing renewables also centres on local-government agency, which could not only accelerate the diffusion of renewable energy but also bolster Japanese democracy in the bargain. In light of the alarming state of global climate change, energy markets, and economic inequality, this article asserts that what the LDP are doing is far too important to ignore.

The Evidence: Budgets

Opposition to the Sendai nuclear restart,
August 10, 2015

Some of the most persuasive evidence of the LDP’s expanding commitment to renewable energy and efficiency is found in the central government’s budget, particularly the central agencies’ requests for the coming fiscal year (April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017). During the summer of 2015, Japan’s fiscal process was notable for energy-related requests that mushroomed over the previous year. One standout example is the Ministry of Environment’s (MoE) submission for renewable energy and efficiency projects, which is fully 62% higher than its fiscal year 2015 spending.5 We shall explore these and related requests in greater detail presently, comparing them with budgets under the DPJ. But first, it is important to point out that these budget outlines are preliminary. In Japan’s fiscal process, central agencies submit their initial budget requests to the Ministry of Finance (MOF) by the end of August, which is followed by negotiations among MOF’s budget examiners and the various ministries and agencies. These negotiations generally last until about December, and result in a draft budget. It is likely that about YEN 5 trillion will be trimmed from the YEN 102 trillion budget request. But according to an analysis in the September 5, 2015 Asahi Shimbun these cuts are likely to be centred on social security.6 It is highly unlikely that the Abe cabinet did not approve the dramatic increases in proposed spending on renewable energy and efficiency, and thus they are probably not going to be sacrificed.

In addition, the expanded energy-related project requests are in part to be funded by extra revenues gleaned by increased “green” taxation of fossil fuels. This gives the spending programmes additional protection, because one rationale for the taxes is to increase incentives for the development and deployment of alternative energy. In spite of continuing steel-industry pressure to have such taxes axed,7 the LDP did not roll back the carbon taxes that were introduced in October of 2012, and have since been raised in stages. The taxes are set to reach YEN 289/ton of CO2 with the scheduled April 1, 2016 increase.8

Local Revitalization Minister Ishiba Shigeru
inspecting a biomass plant in Okayama
Prefecture, June 13, 2015

As described above, the MoE’s energy-related fiscal request for 2016 was 62% higher than its fiscal 2015 initial budget. The MoE’s total request for 2016 was YEN 1.68 trillion, a 33% increase over the fiscal 2015 appropriation. One of the factors driving this overall increase is the Japanese government’s commitment to reducing its carbon emissions by 26% by 2030 versus 2013 levels. As a major part of this overall aim, the MoE’s renewable and efficiency-related spending requests for 2016 amount to just under YEN 176 billion.

The MoE is, of course, not the only central agency with a prominent role in directing public finance at renewable energy and efficiency projects undertaken by Japan’s local governments, private firms, NPOs and other actors. The METI is another major supplier of subsidies for such projects. In the energy field, the METI’s requests for 2016 total just under YEN 976 billion. This figure is a significant increase on the YEN 796.5 billion in the fiscal 2015 initial budget, and efficiency and renewables receive striking increases. To be sure, one of Japan’s leading journalists on energy-related matters, Ishida Masaya, criticizes the METI’s fiscal 2016 request for including about YEN 200 billion in spending on nuclear (including YEN 133 billion in support to local sites of nuclear reactors). This figure is roughly the same as the nuclear spending in fiscal 2015, which totals YEN 185 billion. Ishida regards maintaining this level of support for nuclear as being inconsistent with the new (from 2014) energy basic plan’s explicit commitment to maximize renewables and minimize nuclear.

But Ishida devotes considerably more attention to the METI’s aim to nearly double its support of efficiency and conservation, raising its fiscal 2015 YEN 127.7 billion spending in this category to YEN 242.9 billion. He adds that this spending to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce power consumption is largely targeted at factories, which are the most costly venues for achieving gains in energy efficiency and conservation. The METI’s spending on this category will thus nearly triple, from YEN 50 billion in 2015 to YEN 135.6 billion in 2016. Ishida rightly focuses on this initiative, as the METI itself describes the current need for efficiency and conservation as comparable to the period in the immediate wake of the 1970s oil shocks.9

METI is generally seen as powerfully influenced by vested energy interests, including the nuclear village and those focused on fossil fuels. So it is also telling that METI plans to more than double its spending in support of renewable-energy projects, from YEN 35.8 billion in 2015 to YEN 81.8 billion in 2016. METI will also raise its R&D on efficiency from YEN 50.7 to YEN 63.2 billion and its R&D on renewables from YEN 49.3 to YEN 53.7. METI is also asking for a tripling in its funding on hydrogen-related deployment (fuel cells and hydrogen stations) and research (including renewable power to gas10), from fiscal 2015’s YEN 11.9 billion to YEN 37.1 billion.11

Another central agency with a strong role in fostering the diffusion of renewables and efficiency is the Ministry of Infrastructure, Land, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). Since 2011, it has been undertaking one of the most interesting of Japan’s waste-heat related initiatives, through its “B-DASH” (Breakthrough by Dynamic Approach in Sewage High Technology) Project.12 Japan’s potential for waste-heat capture in its sewerage systems has been assessed at 15 million households’ worth of heat-energy use.13 The fiscal 2016 request for the B-DASH project aimed at exploiting this energy potential is YEN 3.6 billion, and via the initial fiscal 2015 budget the MLIT already has a YEN 901.2 billion fund for waste-heat recovery and other renewable-energy (e.g. methane) from Japan’s 460,000 kilometres of sewers, via the MLIT social infrastructure development disbursements.14 This project has already led to such initiatives as Toyota City’s “Future Challenge City” partnership, announced on August 26, 2015, with Sekisui Chemical on heat-recovery in the city’s sewers.15

August 26, 2015: Toyota City teams up
with Sekisui Chemical to recover
waste heat from its sewers

Moreover, one of the increased efficiency-related fiscal requests by the MLIT is for housing and building stock. The MLIT fiscal 2015 budget for this category totals YEN 116 million, but the request for 2016 is YEN 32.2 billion, or well over 300 times more. This prodigious increase apparently reflects a powerful commitment to raise efficiency in the country’s building stock after new, but non-obligatory, efficiency standards introduced in 2013 had little effect.16

Other central agencies with a direct interest in the diffusion of renewable energy and efficiency include the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) as well as the Ministry of Agriculture, Farms and Forestry (MAFF). Their roles in fostering the deployment of renewable energy focus less on the technology per se than on the coordination of local governments (MIC) as well as primary-sector producers, such as forestry firms in biomass (MAFF). Their proposed spending on energy projects generally did not leap as noticeably as the cases surveyed above, save for the MIC’s special programme of fostering the deployment of largely biomass-fired district heating and cooling systems in local areas. This programme is the “Distributed energy infrastructure project.” It received YEN 240 million in fiscal 2015, but is slated to more than triple to YEN 700 million in fiscal 2016. The bulk of MIC’s large-scale spending increases are centred on the ICT infrastructure that is one of the core network technologies in Japan’s nationwide rollout of the smart community, internet of things, and related projects that cross multiple agency jurisdictions.17 The MIC spending on ICT in the fiscal 2015 initial budget is YEN 115.3 billion but is slated to increase to YEN 137.8 in fiscal 2016.18

Screen Shot from Takaichi Sanae’s
October 18, 2011 well-informed talk
(in Japanese) on “The Potential for
Renewable Energy and Efficiency”

The above projects are in themselves good reasons to pay close attention to the MIC. But in addition, the current MIC Minister, Takaichi Sanae, has been a very strong proponent of renewable energy for several years. Under her leadership, the MIC bureaucracy have continued with their significant organizational initiatives to put local governments in charge of energy. We shall examine these initiatives in the subsequent section on institutional changes the LDP has made to foster the accelerated diffusion of renewables and efficiency. But for the present, note that the MIC collated the distributed and renewable-energy project spending – by the MIC itself as well as METI, MoE, and MAFF – relevant to local government. Takaichi presented the results of the MIC survey on these matters at a September 4, 2015 press conference. She pointed out that there are 31 subsidy programs, worth a total of YEN 102.7 billion in fiscal 2015 as well as an additional YEN 126 billion via the 2014 fiscal year’s supplementary budget.19

Was the DPJ More Renewable-Friendly than the Abe Regime?

The recent budget requests, described above, are not the entirety of the Abe regime’s planned investments in renewables, efficiency and related projects. There are several other central agencies – such as the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology (MEXT) – whose programmes are important. Even so, these preliminary budget numbers for 2016 offer an instructive contrast with Japan’s central-government fiscal expenditures on renewable energy between 2009, the first year of the DPJ government, and 2013, the first year of the Abe government. Those expenditures were analyzed in an October, 2014 report by the Board of Audit of Japan, which surveyed renewable energy subsidies by Japan’s 7 main central agencies (METI, MoE, MAFF, MLIT, MEXT, the Cabinet Office, and NEDO). Some of its findings are presented in table 1, which displays the 7-agency totals for each year between 2009 and 2013, in addition to the total over the five years. The survey found that total spending on renewable energy deployment by the 7 main central agencies for the entire 5 year period was YEN 468 billion, with 56.7% of the spending, or YEN 265.6 billion, represented by METI, followed by MoE at 16.6%, or just under YEN 78 billion.

Table 1: Japanese Central Agency Subsidies for Renewable Energy Projects, 2009 to 2013 (units: billion YEN)
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Total: 2009-2013
          70.8 134.8 92.0 78.1 82.3 468.0
Source: “Concerning the Development of Projects in Renewable Energy,” Board of Audit of Japan, October 2014: figure 1-1-1, p. 22

As we also see in table 1, the peak year for renewable spending under the DPJ was 2010, when a total of YEN 134.8 billion was devoted to renewable-energy projects by the 7 central agencies. This figure was nearly double the previous fiscal 2009 total of YEN 70.7 billion. The gap between the two figures suggests that there was a strong contrast between the LDP, under whose government the 2009 budget was drafted, and the DPJ. The DPJ was committed to nuclear prior to 3-11, but it also included strong advocates of renewable energy.20 Hence, we should not be surprised at the increase.

Yet note that under the current Abe regime, the fiscal 2016 request for renewables by the METI alone totals YEN 81.8 billion. The figure would be considerably greater were we able to take the Board of Audit of Japan’s approach and add the MoE and other agencies’ and ministries’ slated spending to that of the METI. That calculation will have to await the passage of the 2016 budget, early next year. But the numbers at present strongly suggest that the LDP in 2015 has changed quite strikingly in its approach to renewable energy, compared to 2009 as well as 2013 (when the LDP intervened late in the budget cycle to reshape fiscal priorities by increasing public works).21 At least on some measures, the LDP of 2015 may even be more pro-renewable than the DPJ was.

The Evidence: Institutional Changes

As we shall see below, institutional changes undertaken by the Abe regime are also increasingly important in promoting renewable energy and efficiency. Virtually none of these changes have caught the attention of the regime’s many critics or even the many business analysts hoping to divine Japanese policymakers’ intentions on energy policy.

Admittedly, recent official Japanese government policy decisions concerning mid-term targets for nuclear, renewables, and other power generation would seem to indicate an LDP coolness towards renewables. That is, on June 1, 2015, the METI released its targets for Japan’s “best mix” of power generation for 2030. This report supplements the April 2014 Basic Energy Plan, which lacked specific targets. As seen in figure 1, the new targets for 2030 include securing between 20-22 percent of total power by nuclear generation. Other elements of the projected 2030 power mix include a 27 percent share for liquid natural gas (LNG), 26 percent for coal, and 3 percent for oil.

Figure 1: Japan’s 2030 “Best Mix” Targets

Source: Movellon Junko, 2015

As for renewables in the 2030 power mix, their total share is set at 22-24 percent of power. The smaller sphere in figure 1 shows that much of this renewable energy is to be conventional hydro (meaning large dams), which is forecast to supply between 8.8 percent and 9.2 percent of power. Solar, wind and other renewable sources are limited to between 13.4 percent and 14.4 percent of the power mix, with solar being 7 percent, wind 2 percent, biomass under 4 percent and geothermal less than 1 percent. Thus, the previous 2010 Basic Energy Plan’s aim of securing roughly 20 percent of power from renewables (including hydro) by 2030 was only marginally increased under the new plan, to a maximum of 24 percent. The new plan also foresees intermittent solar and wind comprising just 9 percent of the 2030 power mix whereas conventional hydro, small hydro, geothermal, biomass and other non-intermittent renewables are slated to be as much as 15 percent of the mix.22 The new energy plan’s proposal to increase the renewable share roughly 4 percent, compared to the 2010 plan, certainly does not suggest the LDP is going green with gusto. Indeed, many Japanese renewable-power supporters lamented that the revised policy represented “a total defeat of the sustainable energy camp.”23

The Politics of the 2030 “Best Mix”

Yet the 2030 “best mix” targets reflected desperate lobbying by vested energy interests. They remain influential in key committees in METI, and were able to shape the outcome during several months (from January to June of 2015) of vigorous debate over the power mix, resulting in these numbers for the 2030 power-mix. Yet their victory, so to speak, may have been pyrrhic. For one thing, few observers – even within METI – expect nuclear power’s share to reach the 20% target let alone get past it. And even were the target to be achieved, the 20-22 percent nuclear share in the 2030 power mix represents a significant reduction in nuclear power. This reduction is both relative to the actual 28.6 percent share that nuclear had just before 3-11 (as shown in figure 2) as well as to the over 50 percent share nuclear was to achieve by 2030 under the 2010 Basic Energy Plan. It is very likely that, at best, only 20 reactors (of Japan’s 43 viable reactors) will be restarted between 2015 and 2024. This would leave nuclear power providing perhaps 10 percent of total power generation by 2030.24 Indeed, the August 11, 2015 Wall Street Journal, warned that more stringent nuclear safety measures and an independent regulator had resulted in only 5 of Japan’s 43 potentially viable reactors being approved for restart as of August 2015.25 As Temple University Professor Stephan Lippert suggests in a July 15, 2015 analysis of the new energy plan and its predecessor, the new version needs to be read in light of its very different political context. Lippert argues that Abe’s LDP is trying to find a politically viable path between aggressive re-nuclearization and a German-style exit from nuclear: public opposition prevents a return to the ambitious nuclear targets that preceded 3-11, but at the same time Japan lacks an organized and influential political force (like the German Greens) that could compel a complete exit from nuclear. By choosing a compromise path, one of “small-scale re-nuclearization,” the Abe regime avoids, on the one hand, unduly alienating public opinion as well as, on the other hand, losing the support of the utilities and other business interests that want restarts.26

Political calculations are often like that, which is one reason America’s Obama administration has professed an “all of the above” energy strategy27 while making incremental moves to marginalize coal and maximize renewables. But Japan has minimal conventional energy resource endowments and a deeply delegitimated nuclear fleet. In order to “keep the lights on,” while limiting costs and risks, it has to grapple with tough choices that restrict its ability to finesse for long in day-to-day power policy as opposed to targets 15 years away. And unlike the Obama White House, which is part of a fragmented federal system with no clear locus of effective authority on energy, the buck stops at Japan’s central government. The cabinet is thus compelled to make fiscal and institutional choices in the here and now. So it is no surprise that the Abe regime’s political compromise on the power mix is belied by the fiscal and institutional initiatives we examine in this article.

This trail of facts leads to another reason the “victory” of Japan’s vested energy interests may have been pyrrhic: policymakers and analysts learned a great deal during the months of debate over the power mix. Their cynicism about the feasibility of the nuclear numbers is now a corrosive element at work on the fiscal and regulatory institutions that shape Japan’s power economy, still the world’s fifth largest. Expectation for renewables and efficiency provide a strong contrast to the dubious attitudes towards the nuclear role. Most energy analysts believe the renewable share of the power mix could easily exceed the new Basic Energy Plan’s 22-24%, and reach well over 30%. The MoE itself released a study (done by the Mitsubishi Research Institute) that projected renewables could reach between 33-35 percent of the power mix by 2030.28 On May 5, 2015, the Governor of Kanagawa Prefecture, Kuroiwa Yuuji, wrote directly to the Abe government’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, Suga Yoshihide, arguing that 35 percent renewables by 2030 should be made the target.29 The respected Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies even argued that Japan could achieve 50% renewable energy by 2030.30 And one of Japan’s formerly quite pro-nuclear energy experts, Kikkawa Takeo, a member of the METI power-mix committee, has quite publicly and repeatedly insisted that renewables could achieve at least a 30 percent share and that the new Energy Plan’s numbers derive from furious lobbying by the nuclear village rather than an objective assessment of Japan’s best options on energy.31

The Geopolitical Context of the 2030 “Best Mix”

So consider where Japan is. The country has just adopted mid-term energy targets that few find credible. It has also done this in the midst of enormous uncertainty on conventional energy supplies, prices, geopolitics and other factors. It bears keeping in mind that Japan is not just the world’s fifth-largest power market, but also the world’s largest importer of LNG, the second largest importer of coal, and the third-largest net importer of oil and oil products.32 Figure 2 on “Changes in Japan’s Power Mix” shows that the country’s import dependence on conventional fuels to produce power greatly increased between 2010 to 2013, when nuclear’s share shrank and LNG’s role ballooned from 29.3 percent of power to 43.2 percent, coal increased from 25 percent to 30.3 percent, and oil and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) more than doubled from 6.6 to 13.7 percent. Virtually all of these fuels are imported, so Japan’s import dependence increased dramatically, from 62 percent in 2010 to 88 percent in 2013. The comparison with the average EU power mix in 2011 is striking, as the EU’s overall dependence on imports is 49 percent.

Figure 2 shows that Japan in 2013 was even more import dependent than it was in 1973. That was the year of the first oil shock, which is still such a benchmark for vulnerability among Japanese policymakers that – as noted earlier – the METI emphasizes it in its fiscal and regulatory planning for efficiency and conservation and indeed uses when it produces figures (figure 2 is a direct translation of METI’s work). Admittedly Japan’s power mix in 2013 was less dependent on a single energy source, in contrast to the over 70 percent dependence on oil and LPG in 1973. At the same time, the geopolitical, climate and other risks of using fossil fuels in the present far exceed those of 1973.

Indeed, it is hard to exaggerate the scale of contemporary risks. For example, the September 21, 2015 Financial Times warns that current low prices for oil have put as much as USD 1.5 trillion of investment in energy projects in question. This constriction in the infrastructure of supply brings profound risks of dramatic price escalations as early as 2017.33 And in spite of continuing optimism concerning unconventional oil and gas reserves, especially the US “shale revolution,” a growing number of objective and rigorously empirical studies of the actual resource base and costs of production suggest that shale’s important addition to the global supply portfolio is better measured in years than decades.34 Indeed, the shale boom was in large measure driven by a doubling of US high-yield “junk bond” debt to USD 2 trillion, a bubble that appears to be imploding.35 Meanwhile, demand for energy continues to grow: China’s gasoline consumption in July of 2015 was up 17 percent over the previous year.36 One respected expert’s extrapolation of present trends in oil warns that just China and India alone will be “theoretically consuming 100% of global net exports around the year 2032.”37

In short, 3-11 and all that has happened since has reduced nuclear to at best a minor role in Japan’s power mix. Certainly nuclear appears incapable of displacing much of Japan’s environmentally damaging, expensive and geopolitically risky reliance on fossil fuels in the power mix. So the real question for LDP policymakers is whether they will allow vested energy interests to dominate investment decisions and income streams in the country’s power economy, its most critical infrastructure. The energy vested interests’ performance during the 2030 “best mix” debate showed that unchecked, their self-interest would turn Japan into an energy- and climate-technology Galapagos while the rest of the world embraces renewable energy and efficiency. This argument is not wishful thinking: on October 2, 2015, the International Energy Agency (IEA) announced that “[r]enewable energy will represent the largest single source of electricity growth over the next five years, driven by falling costs and aggressive expansion in emerging economies.” The IEA believes the coming five years will see renewables provide two-thirds of net additions to global power systems, representing over 700 gigawatts or over twice Japan’s installed power capacity. This forecast suggests that by 2020 renewable power generation will be supplying a volume of electricity “higher than today’s combined electricity demand of China, India and Brazil.”38

The budget numbers reviewed above suggest that the LDP’s renewable-energy supporters are determined not to allow vested interests and incrementalism to ruin the country’s fortunes. They are using the Abe regime’s explicit commitment to maximize the share of renewables as an opportunity to use state finance to accelerate the diffusion of renewable energy and efficiency. But they are not doing this willy-nilly. It would seem that the Abe regime and Japan’s energy bureaucracy have also learned important lessons from various experiences, including the Board of Audit of Japan survey noted above. The survey assessed the return on directly subsidized renewable project spending. It found that 63.7% of total spending was devoted to solar, producing only 38.6% of total installed capacity. By contrast, a mere 0.8% of total subsidies spent on geothermal has resulted in projects that (once in operation) will represent 19.5% of installed capacity. For biomass, the return was not as powerful as geothermal. But even then, 25.3% of subsidy spending resulted in 17.6% of total installed capacity. And with both geothermal and biomass, the power output does not depend on the time of day or the weather.39

Balancing the Blend of Renewables

Hence, the LDP renewable energy initiatives also seek to balance the country’s portfolio of renewables. For example, one of the especially noteworthy items in the MoE’s programme request is a new initiative, in tandem with the METI, for a YEN 7 billion “Renewable Energy Electricity and Heat Autonomous Diffusion Promotion Works.” This collaborative item not only reflects increased inter-agency collaboration (on which, more below), but is also a very innovative programme for supporting the non-standard deployment of renewable-energy projects as well as incentivizing the exploration of local biomass, geothermal, ground-source heat and other heat-energy initiatives. It is aimed at fostering the diffusion of renewable power generation and heat-related projects that do not rely on the feed in tariff (FIT)40 system of incentivizing renewable deployments and do not require connection to the traditional power grid. The policy rationale is to use subsidies to encourage green-energy projects whose potential is significant, in terms of resource endowments, but have not yet developed to any significant extent for lack of the catalyzing intervention of fiscal incentives to encourage cooperation among local government, business and other actors.41

These projects will help relieve pressure on the FIT, whose costs are already up to about YEN 1 trillion in 2015, or roughly YEN 350/month per household, based on an average household power charge of YEN 7000. This burden is not enormous, but it is a significant increase over the 2012 cost of YEN 190 billion (YEN 87/month per household).42Measures that expand non-intermittent renewables while also not further burdening the FIT and extant transmission infrastructure make eminent sense at any time. But they are especially valuable when vested-energy interests are still keen to suppress the diffusion of distributed, renewable energy.

Another aim of such projects is to expand the local-government role in power and heat businesses. As the MoE’s Environmental White Paper of 2015 pointed out, in a detailed survey of the city of Minamata, local energy demand is roughly 8% of the local economy. The MoE underscores the fact that most of the local-area money spent on energy (power as well as fuels) flows to the regional power monopoly and other external suppliers, including overseas sources of fossil fuels.43The MIC and other agencies have been collaborating to remedy this, taking advantage of the upcoming (April 2016) deregulation of Japan’s retail power markets as an opportunity to expand the local public corporations’ role in energy as well as otherwise maximize local returns from energy. They are well aware that the more local public corporations enter the power economy, the greater the access to finance for infrastructure, the more effective is lobbying pressure in the face of the power monopolies, and the more equitable the energy shift (since local public corporations represent the local community). The policy streams involved in this overall initiative are quite numerous, and come under such rubrics as “disaster-resilient community building,” “local revitalization,” “national resilience,” “distributed energy,” and several others.

Local Revitalization Via Energy

Indeed, while following Japan’s 2015 fiscal process as it related to energy projects, it proved useful to read an August 7, 2015 research report, titled (in Japanese) “Local Economic Revitalization Via the Comprehensive Use of Renewable Energy.” The report, by Fujitsu senior research analyst Watanabe Yuko, argues that Japan is in the midst of restructuring its policy support for renewable energy. Watanabe detailed the problems ensuing from the fact that, in the four years since 3-11, Japan’s deployment of renewable energy has focused almost entirely on solar power. The FIT incentive system that was adopted in the wake of 3-11 and came into effect from July 1 of 2012 has – as of the end of March 2015 – subsidized the deployment of 8263 kW of solar power generating capacity. This is about 95% of total renewable power generation capacity supported by the FIT. Wind, geothermal, biomass and other forms of renewable power generation are supported by the FIT, but the highest level of support is given to solar power. In addition, solar power is relatively quick to install. The result is that solar projects have received the bulk of private-sector investor attention.

However, from 2015, policy changes saw the FIT’s special tax measures eliminated, together with deep cuts in the support for solar power. Subsidization rates for solar power projects above 10 kW dropped from YEN 40 per kilowatt in July 2012 to YEN 27 per kilowatt in July 2015. In addition, from mid-2014 the power monopolies argued that they were facing grid stability problems, and began en masse to reject applications to the power grid.44 In consequence, the FIT power purchase guarantee was amended to allow extended periods during which the utilities may, pleading capacity limits, refuse the purchase of FIT-sponsored renewable energy. Watanabe’s analysis suggests that the increased business risk is likely to strongly undermine the incentives for installing large-scale solar power.

Watanabe’s report also points out that significant endowments of renewable energy resources are distributed among local areas. Solar and wind are very attractive to private-sector businesses because installation times are short and thus it is possible to earn revenues from the FIT quickly. At the same time, the initial investment costs of these installations are high and it is not easy to arrange the financing. Therefore, the projects tend to be initiated by large businesses. As a result, local areas have limited capacity to participate in planning projects and to derive returns from them. Local governments extend various tax exemptions and other special measures to attract private-sector renewable projects, but the local area’s direct economic benefit is in fact rather small.

By contrast, biomass has a very strongeconomic impact on the local area. Local sourcing of the raw materials, such as wood thinnings, delivers a stimulus to the local farming and forestry industries. Watanabe points out that Japan’s potential for biomass is very high. The country has roughly 6 billion cubic metres of forestry resources, among the highest in the world. It also has ample supplies of biogas throughout the country, via waste products from livestock as well as leftover food resources and the like. In addition, biomass projects are more efficient and make better use of otherwise wasted heat (from combustion) the more localized they are.

Admittedly, developing biomass projects takes time as well as significant investment. On the other hand, because they are based on local resources and the demand for the energy generated is permanent, returns are not subject to the vagaries of the economic cycle and prices of imported energy. In addition, and probably most important, the local area itself can be the central player in planning.

Watanabe echoes many of Japan’s energy technocrats in arguing that key to the local area’s success is selecting renewable energy projects most appropriate for local development and undertaking them through public agency.45 She argues that those that can be undertaken quickly should be. On the basis of such projects, a portion of the revenues derived by the FIT can be used as a fund to finance future energy investments, thus stimulating local industrial development. Conceding that these projects are small-scale, she adds that they are also potentially numerous and therefore in the aggregate can deliver a strong benefit to local economic development. Watanabe stresses that it is most important to look beyond the immediate economic return from the FIT and emphasize the long-term benefits to the local community’s economic revitalization. As the focus broadens beyond solar to the full range of renewable energy options, comprehensive deployment of renewable energy projects can be used to foster the sustainable development of local areas.46

As of August 26, 2015, the LDP Policy Affairs Research Council (PARC) made this policy approach official. The LDP “Committee on Expanding the Diffusion of Renewable Energy” drafted a proposal for “A Strategy of Local Revitalization Via Renewable Energy: Local Abenomics.” The Committee is chaired by the LDP Dietmember (and former MIC Vice-Minister) Shibayama Masahiko. Its proposal is quite detailed and emphasizes the value of the broad portfolio of renewable options (including the gamut of heat sources) to local revitalization at a time when Japan’s YEN 18 trillion power market (in 2013) is being deregulated. The submission emphasizes that even the official 2030 power-mix figure of 24 percent renewables equates to a YEN 4.3 trillion business, while 30 percent is YEN 5.4 trillion. The PARC approved the submission on August the 25th and then submitted it to Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga as well as the central agencies of government.

Building Local Power

Moreover, Japan is already making headway on setting up local energy businesses. In 2013, the above-noted MIC program for district heating systems and other decentralized energy infrastructure selected 31 local communities for a survey of their energy potential. In 2014, 14 of these communities that had been deemed to have a high potential for decentralized energy development were selected. In both cases, the emphasis was on developing energy businesses thatfocus on the community’s internal demand for power and heat as the focus of local renewable energy projects. Another aim is to develop highly autonomous energy systems that are robust in the face of disasters and other potential disruptions to the conventional grid. Figure 3 on the “Overview of Community Heat and Power Infrastructure” illustrates the generalized model that MIC seeks to deploy in Japan’s local communities. As the figure shows, the systems include smart power and heat grids linking local community government facilities, businesses, and residences.

Figure 4 displays an “Example of a Distributed Energy Project,” showing the supply and demand parameters that the MIC-led committee aims at for local areas. The itemization of supply factors shows that energy inputs are diverse as well as geographically dispersed, spreading the economic opportunity across the community and out into the rural areas. As envisioned by the MIC, the local energy projects have their head offices situated in the local community and focus on developing local energy resources as well as local human resources. They also pull the investment from within the community as well as outside, and therefore make a significant economic contribution to the local area.

Quantifying the Benefits

In April of 2015, the Japan Research Institute’s Takiguchi Shinichiro reported in detail on the MIC’s initiatives. He noted that assessments of the benefits from this kind of energy development were based on Japan’s roughly 200,000-person population centers in all regions of the country (there are about 200 local areas nationwide with populations between 100,000 and 300,000 residents). One that is undertaking this kind of energy program is the city of Tottori in TottoriPrefecture. Takiguchi’s paper analyzed in detail the extent to which the benefits from this project extend beyond the city and throughout the prefecture.

The calculation in Takiguchi’s paper assume (based on the German model of “stadtwerke” local public corporations) the local energy businesses to have a 20% share of electricity sales, with 40,000 residents (about 20% of all residents) serviced by the energy firm in 2030. In addition, public facilities and participating businesses are assumed to represent about 10,000 kW of demand. The result is that by 2030 power sales reach YEN 2 billion, and over the 15-year period 2016 to 2030 represent an average of YEN 1 billion per year. Moreover, assuming that 80% of the power is produced through cogeneration with a 50% efficiency of heat to power, heat sales over the 15-year period from 2016 to 2030 are an annual YEN 370 million.

In other words, even under conservative estimates, a locally established energy business in a community of roughly 200,000 residents, one that installs both heat and power infrastructure, could provide an annual direct economic benefit of YEN 1.4 billion to the community. Infrastructure investment – spending on biomass, small hydro, cogeneration and other infrastructure – both within the city as well as in the surrounding area would amount to about YEN 500 million. In addition to the cogeneration of heat and power, investment in energy efficiency equipment to encourage the efficient use of energy is estimated to be roughly YEN 100 million. The above assumptions lead to a total direct economic benefit of about YEN 1.9 billion.

This direct economic benefit leads to a YEN 600 million result in primary stimulus effect (the inducement of production internal to the prefecture). For example, substitution of locally sourced forest biomass for imported fossil fuel is a positive effect for the forestry industry. (This effect has been calculated on the basis of using biomass for 12% of fuel, which is a conservative assumption.) In addition, the local energy firm’s investments in power facilities and other construction also produce a stimulus effect. This economic stimulus is assumed to provide a YEN 400 million secondary stimulus effect to service industries (a production stimulus effect within the prefecture). Added together, the direct effect as well as the primary and secondary ripple effects are expected to amount toYEN 3 billion per year, or YEN 43 billion over 15 years, for Tottori City and its neighboring local communities.

In terms of employment effects, the local energy firm directly employs about 80 people, with roughly 50 people employed through primary ripple effects and a further 30 employed through secondary ripple effects in the service sector. This leads to a total of 160 persons employed, and over 15 years of employment for just under 2500 people, a considerable employment benefit for the locality.

A further special feature of the local energy business is that these effects extend over the long term. This is quite different from the short-term economic stimulus effects of public works, and is yet another reason local energy is of great interest to the LDP and bureaucracy. Energy infrastructure delivers a continuing benefit to the local community. In addition, if forest biomass is used as fuel, the income is recycled through the forest industry and leads to a revival of the forestry sector. Since Japan is roughly two-thirds forested, many local areas can reasonably expect benefits from this kind of program.47

And as already noted, the potential portfolio of renewables is much larger than biomass from forestry or farming. The diversity of Japan’s renewable-energy endowments exceeds that of most countries, as Amory Lovins and other experts highlight. Lovins and his researchers at the Rocky Mountain Institute combined assessments of all renewable resources, including the intensity of sunlight, average wind speeds, geothermal potential, available biomass, and other pertinent elements. They converted the totals into one common comparison of the annual number of gigajoules of renewable energy potential per square meter (GJ/y/m2). The result shows that Japan is a global leader: Japan’s endowment of 63.1 GJ/y/m2 is far more plentiful than the18.8 in China, India’s 45.5, the EU’s 20.4, North America’s 30.4, and South America’s 28.1.48

What has been lacking is robust agency to exploit these resources. Alienated from the state, and with no serious party vehicle, the Japanese liberal-left idealizes people-power initiatives that lack the deep pockets and organizational discipline to build and maintain large-scale energy infrastructure. And private business evidently finds it difficult to overcome the regulatory and other strategies deployed by the power monopolies, which exacerbate business risk. Moreover, private businesses are not incentivized to act on behalf of the public interest. It is telling in this respect that Softbank, once seen as the spearhead agent for eviscerating the bloated monopolies of Tepco and the rest, is in fact now collaborating with Tepco.49

Certainly there are new energy firms springing up. But they are overwhelmingly devoted to solar and too small to play a powerful role in investment as well as push back against the various stratagems of vested energy interests. An August 27, 2015 news release from Tokyo Shoko Research (TSR) indicates that between January and December 2014 there were 3,283 new firms created in the electric power industry. This represented an increase of 180 percent over the previous year, and nearly 50 times the 66 new firms in 2011. Yet the TSR survey also shows that 2536 (77.2 percent) of these new firms were in solar. Much smaller numbers were involved in other areas of renewable energy. Wind energy saw only 251 (7.6 percent) new firms. Small hydro attracted only 122 (3.7 percent) new business starts. And only 84 new firms (2.5 percent) were in biomass and other bio-related renewable energy business areas.

And most were far too small to be effective. There were 1,805 firms capitalized at less than YEN 1 million, or 54.9% of the total number of new starts. Only 232 firms (7 percent) were capitalized at over YEN 10 million, and just 65 (1.9 percent) with over YEN 100 million. The report points out that this predominance of very small, scantily capitalized firms reflects the low barriers to entry.50

There will clearly be a lot of destruction of power businesses in Japan, in the wake of deregulation. Whether it will be a Schumpeterian, creative destruction is an open question. So the LDP’s effort to make the community the engine of deploying renewable energy, by putting fiscal and institutional resources into the hands of local governments and their public corporations, is very promising indeed.

The MIC and the Energy Task Force

The institutional changes, and their implications, do not stop there. In her September 4, 2015 policy statement, noted earlier, MIC Minister Takaichi pointed out that the ministry is assisting local governments in developing master plans. She described them as templates through which communities can not only make use of their respective energy resource endowments, but also take a leadership role in working with regional financial institutions and other actors in developing distributed energy infrastructure. As pointed out above, Takaichi also detailed that her ministry’s survey of its and other central agencies’ (METI, MAFF, and MoE) subsidy programs for the diffusion of renewable energy found that there are 31 separate programmes that totaled YEN 102.7 billion in fiscal 2015 on top of YEN 126 billion in the fiscal 2014 supplementary budget.

What is particularly important for this section on institutional changes is that Takaichi also announced new collaborative measures: in order to further the efficient deployment of energy across the regions, the relevant central agencies have set up a task force and have agreed to pool their resources in order to focus most effectively on achieving the desired result of energy deployment. The task force is composed of the METI’s natural resources and energy agency, the Forestry Agency, the MoE, and the MIC. She also stressed that efforts will be made in conjunction with local financial institutions and business groups to set up local energy business platforms at the prefectural level. She describes this coordination among central agencies as maximizing the prospects for local areas. The aim is to help local communities seize the opportunity afforded by the April, 2016 liberalization of power markets, revitalizing local economies as quickly and as maximally as possible. Takaichi refers to this MIC-centred initiative as a new element of “local Abenomics, echoing the LDP Committee on Expanding the Diffusion of Renewable Energy’s “Strategy of Local Revitalization Via Renewable Energy: Local Abenomics.”51

National Resilience and Distributed Energy

As noted earlier, the Abe government has initiated a variety of policy streams, including “disaster-resilient community building,” “local revitalization,” “national resilience,” “distributed energy,” and several others. These programmes have received virtually no attention from enthusiasts of Abenomics, from Japanese liberal-left critics of the Abe, or virtually all other actors. Outside of specialist analyses that do understand the significance of these projects, and how they are coalescing on building robust smart communities, the reigning assumption appears to be that they are simply wasteful porkbarrel spending.

Yet the Abe regime is quite serious about “national resilience.” From 2012, it engineered several reversals of DPJ-era decentralization of intergovernmental finance, in order to put subsidies back into the hands of MLIT and other agencies. The rational was the need to bolster the nation in the face of climate and other threats. The LDP has since evolved a well-funded national resilience strategy that incorporates renewable energy and smart grids as a means of ensuring power is available in disasters.52

The Japanese Cabinet office published the budget requests for national resilience-related expenditures for fiscal 2016 during the month of August. The total fiscal request for 2016 isa little over YEN 4.53 trillion, which represents a substantial increase over the previous year’s expenditure of slightly more than YEN 3.8 trillion. The amount devoted to public works in the fiscal 2016 requests is just under YEN 3.77 trillion, again a substantial increase over the previous year’s YEN 3.15 trillion expenditure in public works.

The MLIT is the single largest recipient agencyin the budget allocation, as its appropriation is slated to total just under YEN 3.36 trillion, a 120% increase over the previous year’s figure of just under YEN 2.8 trillion. The available documents do not yet break down the MLIT expenditures into specific categories complete with numbers, the description of where the spending is directed highlights first and foremost measures to deal with the increasing threat of floods and landslides due to climate change and other factors. These measures to be taken in the face of flood and landslide threats from climate change are itemized as YEN 788.2 billion, a substantial increase over the previous year’s allocation of YEN 664.5 billion.

It is not only MLIT that is to receive allocations for bolstering the nation’s communities and infrastructure in the face of natural disasters and other threats. Another significant recipient of funding is the MAFF. This ministry’s appropriations are second to the MLIT, and total YEN 545.8 billion for 2016, a 121% increase over the previous year’s allocation of just over YEN 450 billion. Some of the projects to which the MAFF’s funding is devoted include the production of “hazard maps” around ponds and reservoirs that are subject to flooding. The budget for this activity is the lion’s share of YEN 179 billion, which in itself is a significant increase over the previous year’s YEN 139.5 billion (in this case, the entire budget is not devoted to this particular allocation. The Japanese usage is “uchisuu,” which means “inclusive of” rather than a total per se). Other expenditures included in the MAFF’s budget is bolstering of afforestation to reduce disaster threats. One example is the strengthening of seaside forests to deal with such natural disaster threats as tsunami. This expenditure totals YEN 66 billion (inclusive), versus the 2015 total of YEN 55.8 billion (again, inclusive).

An important expenditure category where both the MLIT and MAFF have significant expenditures is in the construction of roads and facilities to be used in the event of evacuation. The MAFF budget for this particular set of activities totals YEN 355.6 billion (inclusive), versus the previous year’s expenditure total of YEN 292.5 billion (again inclusive). The MLIT’s expenditure for roads and facilities to be used in the event of evacuation totals just under YEN 1.265 trillion (inclusive) for 2016, versus just over YEN 1.08 trillion (inclusive) for 2015.

Again, an important feature of the national resilience program is its progressive integration with programs for local revitalization, distributed energy, and the like. The minister for “Building National Resilience,” Yamatani Eriko, made this link explicit in an August 12, 2015 interview in the SME-oriented magazineHanjoHanjo.53

Conclusions

The evidence indicates that core elements of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are increasingly enthusiastic about the potential for renewable energy and efficiency. After the March 11, 2011 (3-11) natural and nuclear disasters in the Tohoku region made “Fukushima” as notorious as “Chernobyl,” the pro-renewable faction’s numbers and influence expanded. With the exception of such LDP Dietmembers as Kono Taro,54 they are not opposed to nuclear power, which has rendered them politically invisible in the deeply polarized “nuclear vs solar” post-3-11 debate over Japanese energy policy and politics. But they are now quite openly using the power of the state against vested energy interests and on behalf of local governments and their residents.

Japan’s evolving strategy seems a pragmatic response to extreme import dependence on energy (especially fossil fuels), vulnerability in the face of extreme weather and natural disasters, and the desperation of Abenomics. In addition, the powerful discourse of “disaster resilience” has presumably helped sell renewables and their associated networks (local grids, district heating, etc) within the conservative LDP. If so, it may also be helping to override opposition from the monopolies, the nuclear village, and other interests potentially threatened by the shift to local agency. In any event, it is certainly instructive, and encouraging, to watch Abenomics be driven in a potentially sustainable direction.

Andrew DeWit is Professor in Rikkyo University’s School of Policy Studies and an editor of The Asia-Pacific Journal. His recent publications include “Climate Change and the Military Role in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response,” in Paul Bacon and Christopher Hobson (eds) Human Security and Japan’s Triple Disaster (Routledge, 2014), “Japan’s renewable power prospects,” in Jeff Kingston (ed) Critical Issues in Contemporary Japan (Routledge 2013), and (with Kaneko Masaru and Iida Tetsunari) “Fukushima and the Political Economy of Power Policy in Japan” in Jeff Kingston (ed) Natural Disaster and Nuclear Crisis in Japan: Response and Recovery after Japan’s 3/11 (Routledge, 2012). He is lead researcher for a five-year (2010-2015) Japanese-Government funded project on the political economy of the Feed-in Tariff.

Notes

1 See Aaron Sheldrick and Issei Kato “Japan restarts reactor in test of Abe’s nuclear policy,” Reuters, August 11, 2015.

2 See, for example Japan Renewable Energy Federation Executive Director Ohno Teruyuki (in Japanese) “Coal-Fired Generation New Build is a Risky Business that Runs Contrary to International Promises,” JREF Natural Energy Update, June 11, 2015.

3 Note the comments from Japan’s Kiko Network and other observers cited in David McNeill “Japan’s emissions have soared since Fukushima nuclear disaster,”The Irish Times, September 21, 2015.

4 On this, see Steve Hanley “Japan Pushes Forward With Hydrogen Society Ahead Of Olympics,” Gas2, September 18, 2015.

5 See (in Japanese) “Ministry of Environment 2016 budget for energy-related spending up 62%, for renewable and efficiency projects in local areas,” Kankyou Bijinesu Onrain, September 2, 2015.

6 See (in Japanese) “Initial budget requests at highest even YEN 102 trillion, with special account of YEN 3.8 trillion,” Asahi Shimbun, September 5, 2015.

7 See (in Japanese) “Japan Iron and Steel Federation presents requests for reductions in corporate tax burden in 2016 tax reform,” Nikkan Kougyou Shimbun, September 17, 2015.

8 On the taxes, and Japan’s green taxes in comparative perspective, see (in Japanese) Motoki Yuko and Naitou Aya, “Recent Developments in Japan and European Greening of the Tax System,” Mizuho Information Research Report Vol 9, 2015.

9 A thorough discussion of METI’s spending plans and institutional changes to enhance their effectiveness can be found (in Japanese) in Yoshioka Hi, “Subsidies for efficiency to YEN 126 billion: METI resolved to triple them,” Nikkei Ecology,October 2015.

10 On the use of renewable power to generate hydrogen gas, see the 4-minute video at “Power to Gas,” Deutsche Welle, June 28, 2015.

11 See (in Japanese) Ishida Masaya, “METI’s fiscal requests for 2016 centre on efficiency, with spending on energy overall at YEN 975.7 billion,” Smart Japan, September 1, 2015. The detailed METI request (in Japanese) is available here.

12 The B-DASH project is described (in Japanese) here.

13 On this, see (in Japanese) “Using the 15 million households’ worth of heat energy buried in the cities,” Nikkei Smart City Consortium, January 30, 2015

14 See the itemization (in Japanese) on p. 9 of the material studied at the May 11, 2015 meeting MIC research committee on Local-Government-Led Local Energy Systems

15 See (in Japanese) “A sewerage heat-recovery test project with Sekisui Chemicals: Toyota City’s future-challenge city partnership is concluded,” Toyota City News Release, August 27, 2015

16 See (in Japanese) “The 2016 solar subsidies are for self-consumption and zero-energy homes? We explain the METI and MLIT budget requests,” Solar Partners, September 11, 2015

17 On these, see Andrew DeWit, “Japan’s Resilient, Decarbonizing and Democratic Smart Communities”, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 50, No. 3, December 15, 2014

18 On this, see (in Japanese) p. 3 of “Fiscal 2016 MIC ICT-related major projects,” Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan, August, 2015

19 On this, see (in Japanese) the transcript of the September 4, 2015 press conference with MIC Minister Takaichi Sanae

20 On this, see Andrew DeWit and Iida Tetsunari, The “Power Elite” and Environmental-Energy Policy in Japan, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 4 No 4, January 24, 2011

21 On this, see (in Japanese) “The LDP proceeds towards the Abe government with a budget revision that increases public works,” Yomiuri Shimbun, December 14, 2012

22 See “Japan plans more renewables, less nuclear,” April 29, 2015

23 The comment is by Arakawa Chuichi, University of Tokyo professor of engineering, and is cited in Martin Foster, “Best-Mix a Misnomer for Japanese Energy Future,” The Journal, June 2015

24 On this, see BMI “Japan Renewable Report,” Business Monitor International, October 1, 2015.

25 Alexander Martin, “Japan Restarts Nuclear Power After Two-Year Shutdown,” Wall Street Journal, August 11, 2015

26 See Stephan Lippert, “Energy: Uncertainty over nuclear reactors in Japan’s 15-year energy strategy,” United Europe, July 7, 2015

27 See Jason Furman and Jim Stock, “New Report: The All-of-the-Above Energy Strategy as a Path to Sustainable Economic Growth,” The White House, United States, May 29, 2014

28 An English-language summary of the study and its background is available at “MOE Forecasts 33% Renewables by 2030, Nuclear Plants Not Prerequisite for Energy Mix,” Japan for Sustainability, July 3, 2015

29 See (in Japanese) “Concerning the Target for Renewable Energy,” Kuroiwa Yuuji, Governor of Kanagawa Prefecture, May 13, 2015

30 See (in Japanese) ISEP, “Towards an Energy Shift in Line With Historic Trends: A Policy Submission on the Energy Mix,” Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies, April 28, 2015

31 See, for example, Kikkawa Takeo (in Japanese) “The Government’s Calculations and the 2030 Level of Nuclear Power,” Politas, May 23, 2015

32 See “Japan: International energy data and analysis,” Energy Information Agency, January 30, 2015

33 See Christopher Adams, “Plunging oil prices put question mark over $1.5tn of projects,” Financial Times, September 21, 2015

34 See for example the analysis by Art Berman and Ray Leonard, “Years Not Decades: Proven Reserves and the Shale Revolution,” Presentation to Houston Geological Society Houston, Texas, February 23, 2015

35 See Jesse Colombo, “Keep your eyes on this junk bond chart,” Forbes, September 30, 2015

36 See “China’s Oil Refining Climbs to Satisfy Robust Gasoline Demand,” Bloomberg News, September 13, 2015

37 The calculation can be found in the transcript of a September 13, 2015 interview of Jeffrey Brown, the originator of the “Land Export Model” in oil studies. See Adam Taggart, “Jeffrey Brown: To Understand The Oil Story, You Need To Understand Exports,” September 13, 2015

38 On this, see “Renewables to lead world power market growth to 2020,” International Energy Agency, October 2, 2015

39 See (in Japanese) “Concerning the Development of Projects in Renewable Energy,” Board of Audit of Japan, October 2014

40 On the FIT, see Andrew DeWit, “A New Japanese Miracle? Its Hamstrung Feed-in Tariff Actually Works”, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 38, No. 2, September 22, 2014

41 A Japanese-language description of the programme is available here.

42 See (in Japanese) p. 14 of “Energy, Environment and SME-related materials,” Budget Bureau, Ministry of Finance, Japan, November 7, 2014

43 See (in Japanese) “Environment White Paper 2015,” MoE, , pp. 53-5

44 See James Topham, “Japan’s Kyushu Electric shuts off renewable suppliers from grid,” Reuters, September 25, 2015

45 See Andrew DeWit, “Japan’s Radical Energy Technocrats: Structural Reform Through Smart Communities, the Feed-in Tariff and Japanese-Style ‘Stadtwerke’”, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 48, No. 2, December 1, 2014

46 Watanabe Yuko (in Japanese), “Local Economic Revitalization Via the Comprehensive Use of Renewable Energy,” Fujitsu Research Institute, August 7, 2015

47 See (in Japanese) Takiguchi Shinichiro, “Local Energy Works Responding to Local Revitalization and Energy Deregulation,” Japan Research Institute, April 2015

48 Cited in Andrew DeWit, “A New Japanese Miracle? Its Hamstrung Feed-in Tariff Actually Works”, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 38, No. 2, September 22, 2014

49 See (in Japanese) Weekly Daimond Editors, “Tepco and Softbank to set up a new firm in the small-retail power sector,” Weekly Daimond, May 11, 2015

50 See (in Japanese) “The 2014 Survey of new firms in the power sector,” Tokyo Shoko Research, August 27, 2015

51 On this, see (in Japanese) the transcript of the September 4, 2015 press conference with MIC Minister Takaichi Sanae

52 Andrew DeWit, “Japan’s “National Resilience Plan”: Its Promise and Perils in the Wake of the Election”, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 51, No. 1, December 22, 2014

53 See (in Japanese) “Interviewing National Resilience Minister Yamatani: Bolstering the Government’s Policies for National Lands Management and Local Revitalization,” HanjoHanjo, August 12, 2015

54 See for example, Cheng Herng Shinn, “Taro Kono, LDP Rebel with a Cause,” Wall Street Journal, August 12, 2011

The New York Times is an over-the-top lying machine, systematically suppressing hard truths.

Its latest misinformation piece falsely headlined “Russian Soldiers Join Syria Fight,” claiming Moscow “said Monday that its ‘volunteer’ ground forces would join the fight and NATO warned the Kremlin after at least one Russian warplane trespassed into Turkey’s airspace.”

More on the so-called air space violation below. The Times accused Moscow of “saber-rattling,” challenging Obama’s Syria agenda, ignoring its lawlessness, saying “(a) Russian ground force could fundamentally alter the conflict.”

Putin categorically ruled out using ground troops in Syria. Russian upper house Federation Council foreign affairs committee chairman Konstantin Kosachev said “(w)e would not risk getting stuck in a long conflict and threaten the lives of our troops. The operation is aerial only. Certainly, in coordination with the ground operation of the Syrian army.”

Putin called for an international anti-terrorist coalition to fight its scourge, cooperatively with Syrian armed forces, boots on the ground directly engaging ISIS and other takfiri terrorists.

Accusing Moscow of using ground troops in Syria repeats the Big Lie about nonexistent “Russian aggression” in Ukraine.

On Monday, lower house State Duma defense committee head Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov said it’s “likely that groups of Russian volunteers will appear in the ranks of the Syrian army as combat participants” – not active duty military personnel and not sent by Moscow.

He stressed the Kremlin has no plans to use ground forces in Syria. His comments came after Russian Chechnya republic head Ramzan Kadyrov expressed willingness to send Chechen forces to conduct “special operations” if Putin OKs it.

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet may block Syria’s coastline, Komoyedov added, saying:

Regarding the large-scale use of the Black Sea Fleet in this operation, I don’t think it will happen, but in terms of a coastal blockade, I think that it’s quite (possible).

The delivery of artillery strikes hasn’t been excluded. The ships are ready for this, but there is no point in it for now. The terrorists are in deep, where the artillery cannot reach.

The Times accused Russia of using troops disguised as volunteers – the same “little green men” Big Lie claim about Ukraine – “stealth tactics…using (Russian) soldiers to seize Crimea…and aid pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine,” said The Times – polar opposite clear, hard truths.

It cited unnamed US military officials, claiming hundreds of “Russian military personnel” are in Syria, preparing for many more to come.

The only “Russian military personnel” are ones Moscow publicly explained – advisors and others involved in training Syrian forces to use weapons supplied.

The Times repeated the Big Lie about Russia mainly targeting US-supported anti-Assad forces, not ISIS. Sergey Lavrov called the so-called Free Syrian Army a “phantom…(W)here is it,” he asked?

(N)othing is known about it. We will be ready to establish contact with it if it’s really a capable military group of patriotic opposition consisting of Syrians.

We do not hide this fact. But this structure is already a phantom. I have asked John Kerry to provide us with information about the whereabouts of this Free Syrian Army and who commands it.

So far no one has told us where and how this Free Syrian Army operates or where and how other units of the so-called moderate opposition operate.

The vast majority of anti-Assad elements are imported terrorists, ISIS and others. Washington maintains the fiction of a moderate opposition. Its bombing campaign strikes Syrian targets, supporting these groups, not fighting them.

The Times consistently reports state propaganda, press release journalism, regurgitating what unnamed US officials say – suppressing hard truths readers deserve to know.

Russia admitted one or more of its aircraft may have inadvertently violated Turkish airspace bordering Syria. Irresponsible Times and other media reports blew the incident out of proportion, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu saying:

Our position is very clear. We’ll warn any country that violates our borders in a friendly way. Russia is our friend and neighbor. There is no tension between Turkey and Russia in this sense. The issue of Syria is not a Turkish-Russian crisis.

“What we have received from Russia this morning is that this was a mistake and that they respect Turkey’s borders and this will not happen again.” These type errors are commonplace, not provocative actions.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg represents mainly US along with other Western interests. He’s a notorious irresponsible Russia-basher.

He called meaningless incidents “unacceptable violations of Turkish air space. Russia’s actions are not contributing to the security and stability of the region. I call on Russia to fully respect NATO airspace and to avoid escalating tensions with the alliance.”

A separate US-drafted NATO statement said “(a)llies strongly protest these violations of Turkish sovereign airspace, and condemn these incursions into and violations of NATO airspace.”

Allies also note the extreme danger of such irresponsible behavior. They call on the Russian Federation to cease and desist, and immediately explain these violations.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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

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

 

The National Security Agency is secretly providing data to nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies with a “Google-like” search engine built to share more than 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats, according to classified documents obtained by The Intercept.

The documents provide the first definitive evidence that the NSA has for years made massive amounts of surveillance data directly accessible to domestic law enforcement agencies. Planning documents for ICREACH, as the search engine is called, cite the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration as key participants.

ICREACH contains information on the private communications of foreigners and, it appears, millions of records on American citizens who have not been accused of any wrongdoing. Details about its existence are contained in the archive of materials provided to The Intercept by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Earlier revelations sourced to the Snowden documents have exposed a multitude of NSA programs for collecting large volumes of communications. The NSA has acknowledged that it shares some of its collected data with domestic agencies like the FBI, but details about the method and scope of its sharing have remained shrouded in secrecy.

architecture

ICREACH has been accessible to more than 1,000 analysts at 23 U.S. government agencies that perform intelligence work, according to a 2010 memo. A planningdocument from 2007 lists the DEA, FBI, Central Intelligence Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency as core members. Information shared through ICREACH can be used to track people’s movements, map out their networks of associates, help predict future actions, and potentially reveal religious affiliations or political beliefs.

The creation of ICREACH represented a landmark moment in the history of classified U.S. government surveillance, according to the NSA documents.

“The ICREACH team delivered the first-ever wholesale sharing of communications metadata within the U.S. Intelligence Community,” noted a top-secret memo dated December 2007. “This team began over two years ago with a basic concept compelled by the IC’s increasing need for communications metadata and NSA’s ability to collect, process and store vast amounts of communications metadata related to worldwide intelligence targets.”

The search tool was designed to be the largest system for internally sharing secret surveillance records in the United States, capable of handling two to five billion new records every day, including more than 30 different kinds of metadata on emails, phone calls, faxes, internet chats, and text messages, as well as location information collected from cellphones. Metadata reveals information about a communication—such as the “to” and “from” parts of an email, and the time and date it was sent, or the phone numbers someone called and when they called—but not the content of the message or audio of the call.

ICREACH does not appear to have a direct relationship to the large NSA database, previously reported by The Guardian, that stores information on millions of ordinary Americans’ phone calls under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Unlike the 215 database, which is accessible to a small number of NSA employees and can be searched only in terrorism-related investigations, ICREACH grants access to a vast pool of data that can be mined by analysts from across the intelligence community for “foreign intelligence”—a vague term that is far broader than counterterrorism.

large-scale-expansion

Data available through ICREACH appears to be primarily derived from surveillance of foreigners’ communications, and planning documents show that it draws on a variety of different sources of data maintained by the NSA. Thoughone 2010 internal paper clearly calls it “the ICREACH database,” a U.S. official familiar with the system disputed that, telling The Intercept that while “it enables the sharing of certain foreign intelligence metadata,” ICREACH is “not a repository [and] does not store events or records.” Instead, it appears to provide analysts with the ability to perform a one-stop search of information from a wide variety of separate databases.

In a statement to The Intercept, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence confirmed that the system shares data that is swept up by programs authorized under Executive Order 12333, a controversial Reagan-era presidential directive that underpins several NSA bulk surveillance operations that monitor communications overseas. The 12333 surveillance takes place with no court oversight and has received minimal Congressional scrutiny because it is targeted at foreign, not domestic, communication networks. But the broad scale of 12333 surveillance means that some Americans’ communications get caught in the dragnet as they transit international cables or satellites—and documents contained in the Snowden archive indicate that ICREACH taps into some of that data.

Legal experts told The Intercept they were shocked to learn about the scale of the ICREACH system and are concerned that law enforcement authorities might use it for domestic investigations that are not related to terrorism.

“To me, this is extremely troublesome,” said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice. “The myth that metadata is just a bunch of numbers and is not as revealing as actual communications content was exploded long ago—this is a trove of incredibly sensitive information.”

Brian Owsley, a federal magistrate judge between 2005 and 2013, said he was alarmed that traditional law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and the DEA were among those with access to the NSA’s surveillance troves.

“This is not something that I think the government should be doing,” said Owsley, an assistant professor of law at Indiana Tech Law School. “Perhaps if information is useful in a specific case, they can get judicial authority to provide it to another agency. But there shouldn’t be this buddy-buddy system back-and-forth.”

Jeffrey Anchukaitis, an ODNI spokesman, declined to comment on a series of questions from The Intercept about the size and scope of ICREACH, but said that sharing information had become “a pillar of the post-9/11 intelligence community” as part of an effort to prevent valuable intelligence from being “stove-piped in any single office or agency.”

Using ICREACH to query the surveillance data, “analysts can develop vital intelligence leads without requiring access to raw intelligence collected by other IC [Intelligence Community] agencies,” Anchukaitis said. “In the case of NSA, access to raw signals intelligence is strictly limited to those with the training and authority to handle it appropriately. The highest priority of the intelligence community is to work within the constraints of law to collect, analyze and understand information related to potential threats to our national security.”

One-Stop Shopping

The mastermind behind ICREACH was recently retired NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander, who outlined his vision for the system in a classified 2006 letter to the then-Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte. The search tool, Alexander wrote, would “allow unprecedented volumes of communications metadata to be shared and analyzed,” opening up a “vast, rich source of information” for other agencies to exploit. By late 2007 the NSA reported to its employees that the system had gone live as a pilot program.

The NSA described ICREACH as a “one-stop shopping tool” for analyzing communications. The system would enable at least a 12-fold increase in the volume of metadata being shared between intelligence community agencies, the documents stated. Using ICREACH, the NSA planned to boost the amount of communications “events” it shared with other U.S. government agencies from 50 billion to more than 850 billion, bolstering an older top-secret data sharing system named CRISSCROSS/PROTON, which was launched in the 1990s and managed by the CIA.

To allow government agents to sift through the masses of records on ICREACH, engineers designed a simple “Google-like” search interface. This enabled analysts to run searches against particular “selectors” associated with a person of interest—such as an email address or phone number—and receive a page of results displaying, for instance, a list of phone calls made and received by a suspect over a month-long period. The documents suggest these results can be used reveal the “social network” of the person of interest—in other words, those that they communicate with, such as friends, family, and other associates.

increases-number

The purpose of ICREACH, projected initially to cost between $2.5 million and $4.5 million per year, was to allow government agents to comb through the NSA’s metadata troves to identify new leads for investigations, to predict potential future threats against the U.S., and to keep tabs on what the NSA calls “worldwide intelligence targets.”

However, the documents make clear that it is not only data about foreigners’ communications that are available on the system. Alexander’s memo states that “many millions of…minimized communications metadata records” would be available through ICREACH, a reference to the process of “minimization,” whereby identifying information—such as part of a phone number or email address—is removed so it is not visible to the analyst. NSA documents define minimization as “specific procedures to minimize the acquisition and retention [of] information concerning unconsenting U.S. persons”—making it a near certainty that ICREACH gives analysts access to millions of records about Americans. The “minimized” information can still be retained under NSA rules for up to five years and “unmasked” at any point during that period if it is ever deemed necessary for an investigation.

The Brennan Center’s Goitein said it appeared that with ICREACH, the government “drove a truck” through loopholes that allowed it to circumvent restrictions on retaining data about Americans. This raises a variety of legal and constitutional issues, according to Goitein, particularly if the data can be easily searched on a large scale by agencies like the FBI and DEA for their domestic investigations.

“The idea with minimization is that the government is basically supposed to pretend this information doesn’t exist, unless it falls under certain narrow categories,” Goitein said. “But functionally speaking, what we’re seeing here is that minimization means, ‘we’ll hold on to the data as long as we want to, and if we see anything that interests us then we can use it.’”

A key question, according to several experts consulted by The Intercept, is whether the FBI, DEA or other domestic agencies have used their access to ICREACH to secretly trigger investigations of Americans through a controversial process known as “parallel construction.”

Parallel construction involves law enforcement agents using information gleaned from covert surveillance, but later covering up their use of that data by creating a new evidence trail that excludes it. This hides the true origin of the investigation from defense lawyers and, on occasion, prosecutors and judges—which means the legality of the evidence that triggered the investigation cannot be challenged in court.

In practice, this could mean that a DEA agent identifies an individual he believes is involved in drug trafficking in the United States on the basis of information stored on ICREACH. The agent begins an investigation but pretends, in his records of the investigation, that the original tip did not come from the secret trove. Last year, Reuters first reported details of parallel construction based on NSA data, linking the practice to a unit known as the Special Operations Division, which Reuters said distributes tips from NSA intercepts and a DEA database known as DICE.

Tampa attorney James Felman, chair of the American Bar Association’s criminal justice section, told The Intercept that parallel construction is a “tremendously problematic” tactic because law enforcement agencies “must be honest with courts about where they are getting their information.” The ICREACH revelations, he said, “raise the question of whether parallel construction is present in more cases than we had thought. And if that’s true, it is deeply disturbing and disappointing.”

Anchukaitis, the ODNI spokesman, declined to say whether ICREACH has been used to aid domestic investigations, and he would not name all of the agencies with access to the data. “Access to information-sharing tools is restricted to users conducting foreign intelligence analysis who have the appropriate training to handle the data,” he said.

CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, 2001.

CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, 2001.

Project CRISSCROSS

The roots of ICREACH can be traced back more than two decades.

In the early 1990s, the CIA and the DEA embarked on a secret initiative called Project CRISSCROSS. The agencies built a database system to analyze phone billing records and phone directories, in order to identify links between intelligence targets and other persons of interest. At first, CRISSCROSS was used in Latin America and was “extremely successful” at identifying narcotics-related suspects. It stored only five kinds of metadata on phone calls: date, time, duration, called number, and calling number, according to an NSA memo.

The program rapidly grew in size and scope. By 1999, the NSA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the FBI had gained access to CRISSCROSS and were contributing information to it. As CRISSCROSS continued to expand, it was supplemented with a system called PROTON that enabled analysts to store and examine additional types of data. These included unique codes used to identify individual cellphones, location data, text messages, passport and flight records, visa application information, as well as excerpts culled from CIA intelligence reports.

An NSA memo noted that PROTON could identify people based on whether they behaved in a “similar manner to a specific target.” The memo also said the system “identifies correspondents in common with two or more targets, identifies potential new phone numbers when a target switches phones, and identifies networks of organizations based on communications within the group.” In July 2006, the NSA estimated that it was storing 149 billion phone records on PROTON.

According to the NSA documents, PROTON was used to track down “High Value Individuals” in the United States and Iraq, investigate front companies, and discover information about foreign government operatives. CRISSCROSS enabled major narcotics arrests and was integral to the CIA’s rendition program during the Bush Administration, which involved abducting terror suspects and flying them to secret “black site” prisons where they were brutally interrogated and sometimes tortured. One NSA document on the system, dated from July 2005, noted that the use of communications metadata “has been a contribution to virtually every successful rendition of suspects and often, the deciding factor.”

However, the NSA came to view CRISSCROSS/PROTON as insufficient, in part due to the aging standard of its technology. The intelligence community was sensitive to criticism that it had failed to share information that could potentially have helped prevent the 9/11 attacks, and it had been strongly criticized for intelligence failures before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. For the NSA, it was time to build a new and more advanced system to radically increase metadata sharing.

A New Standard

In 2006, NSA director Alexander drafted his secret proposal to then-Director of National Intelligence Negroponte.

Alexander laid out his vision for what he described as a “communications metadata coalition” that would be led by the NSA. His idea was to build a sophisticated new tool that would grant other federal agencies access to “more than 50 existing NSA/CSS metadata fields contained in trillions of records” and handle “many millions” of new minimized records every day—indicating that a large number of Americans’ communications would be included.

The NSA’s contributions to the ICREACH system, Alexander wrote, “would dwarf the volume of NSA’s present contributions to PROTON, as well as the input of all other [intelligence community] contributors.”

Alexander explained in the memo that NSA was already collecting “vast amounts of communications metadata” and was preparing to share some of it on a system called GLOBALREACH with its counterparts in the so-called Five Eyes surveillance alliance: the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

ICREACH, he proposed, could be designed like GLOBALREACH and accessible only to U.S. agencies in the intelligence community, or IC.

A top-secret PowerPoint presentation from May 2007 illustrated how ICREACH would work—revealing its “Google-like” search interface and showing how the NSA planned to link it to the DEA, DIA, CIA, and the FBI. Each agency would access and input data through a secret data “broker”—a sort of digital letterbox—linked to the central NSA system. ICREACH, according to the presentation, would also receive metadata from the Five Eyes allies.

The aim was not necessarily for ICREACH to completely replace CRISSCROSS/PROTON, but rather to complement it. The NSA planned to use the new system to perform more advanced kinds of surveillance—such as “pattern of life analysis,” which involves monitoring who individuals communicate with and the places they visit over a period of several months, in order to observe their habits and predict future behavior.

The NSA agreed to train other U.S. government agencies to use ICREACH. Intelligence analysts could be “certified” for access to the massive database if they required access in support of a given mission, worked as an analyst within the U.S. intelligence community, and had top-secret security clearance. (According to the latest government figures, there are more than 1.2 million government employees and contractors with top-secret clearance.)

In November 2006, according to the documents, the Director of National Intelligence approved the proposal. ICREACH was rolled out as a test program by late 2007. It’s not clear when it became fully operational, but a September 2010 NSA memo referred to it as the primary tool for sharing data in the intelligence community. “ICREACH has been identified by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence as the U.S. Intelligence Community’s standard architecture for sharing communications metadata,” the memo states, adding that it provides “telephony metadata events” from the NSA and its Five Eyes partners “to over 1000 analysts across 23 U.S. Intelligence Community agencies.” It does not name all of the 23 agencies, however.

The limitations placed on analysts authorized to sift through the vast data troves are not outlined in the Snowden files, with only scant references to oversight mechanisms. According to the documents, searches performed by analysts are subject to auditing by the agencies for which they work. The documents also say the NSA would conduct random audits of the system to check for any government agents abusing their access to the data. The Intercept asked the NSA and the ODNI whether any analysts had been found to have conducted improper searches, but the agencies declined to comment.

While the NSA initially estimated making upwards of 850 billion records available on ICREACH, the documents indicate that target could have been surpassed, and that the number of personnel accessing the system may have increased since the 2010 reference to more than 1,000 analysts. The intelligence community’s top-secret “Black Budget” for 2013, also obtained by Snowden,shows that the NSA recently sought new funding to upgrade ICREACH to “provide IC analysts with access to a wider set of shareable data.”

In December last year, a surveillance review group appointed by President Obama recommended that as a general rule “the government should not be permitted to collect and store all mass, undigested, non-public personal information about individuals to enable future queries and data-mining for foreign intelligence purposes.” It also recommended that any information about United States persons should be “purged upon detection unless it either has foreign intelligence value or is necessary to prevent serious harm to others.”

Peter Swire, one of the five members of the review panel, told The Intercept he could not comment on whether the group was briefed on specific programs such as ICREACH, but noted that the review group raised concerns that “the need to share had gone too far among multiple agencies.”

Here are some State Department talking points on Syria for cable news anchors:

1) Keep mentioning the barrel bombs. Do not mention how their use was pioneered by the Israeli Air Force in 1948, and how they were used by the US Air Force in Vietnam in Operation Inferno in 1968. Keep repeating, “barrel bombs, barrel bombs” and stating with a straight face that the Syrian regime is using them “against its own people.” Against its own people. Against its own people. Against its own people.

2) Keep mentioning “200,000.” (The UN estimates that 220,000 have been killed in the conflict since 2011.) Declare like you really believe it that this is the number of civilians the Syrian government of Bashar Assad has killed during the war. (Do not be concerned about any need to back the figure up. No one is ever going to call you on it publicly.)

Do NOT mention that around half of the war dead (estimates range from 84,000 to 133,000) are Syrian government forces waging war against an overwhelmingly Islamist opposition, and an additional 73,000 to 114,000 are anti-government combatants.

Do not discuss these figures because they would call into question the claim that the Syrian government is targeting and killing tens of thousands of civilians willy-nilly. (If feeling any qualms of conscience, recall Karl Rove’s immortal dictum that “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.”)

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3) Keep mentioning the “Arab Spring” and how in 2011 Syrians peacefully mobilized to challenge the regime were violently repressed. But don’t dwell on the Arab Spring too much. Realize that the State Department was actually shocked by it, particularly by its repercussions in Egypt, where democratization brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power before the US-backed military drowned its opponents in blood.And recall but do NOT mention how in Bahrain, peaceful demonstrations by the majority Shiites against the repressive Sunni monarchy were crushed by a Saudi-led invasion force tacitly supported by the US. And NEVER mention that the bulk of the peaceful protesters in the Syrian Arab Spring want nothing to do with the US-supported armed opposition but are instead receptive to calls from Damascus, Moscow, and Tehran for dialogue towards a power-sharing arrangement.Do NOT explain that the pro-democracy student activists and their allies fear most is the radical Islamists who have burgeoned in large part due to foreign intervention since 2011.

4) Keep mentioning the “Free Syrian Army” and the “moderate opposition” to give the impression that they actually exist in the real world.

Do NOT point out that the FSA organization is actually a joke; that its leaders live in Turkey; that its remaining units are headed by CIA officers; that US efforts to train over 5,000 FSA troops have been an utter failure; that the tiny group of 54 recently sent to the front were immediately captured by the al-Nusra Front and another 70 dispatched from Turkey immediately turned over their arms to that al-Qaeda-linked group; that their chief of staff has resigned protesting US incompetence; that Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the top American commander in the Middle East, told Congress last month that only “four or five” Syrians had been trained by the US to fight ISIL; and that the US-trained forces have been accused of multiple human rights abuses.

Do NOT mention these things. They are so totally embarrassing that the State Department officials responsible just want to curl up into a ball and roll into a corner. Your mission is to put a bright face on this and continue to pretend there’s something in Syria, supported by the US, that falls between the terrorists and the Assad regime.

5) Keep expressing consternation if not outrage that Russia is “interfering” in Syria. Scrunch up your face and act like you think it’s puzzling.

Do NOT mention that Syria is much closer to Russia than to the US and that Russia faces a much greater threat of Islamist terror than the US (in places like Chechnya and Dagestan that your viewers can’t locate on a map).

Downplay the fact that Russia has had a military relationship with Syria since the 1950s no more nor less legitimate that the US military relationship with Saudi Arabia. (And avoid any objective comparisons of the human rights records of Saudi Arabia and Syria since the former’s is manifestly so much worse than the latter’s!)

Do NOT imply any moral equivalence between Russia’s desire to prevent US-backed regime change in Syria and the US’s desire to inflict another Iraq or Libya-type regime change on that tragically war-torn country.

6) Keep treating the Assad regime as an obvious pariah, whose leader has “lost legitimacy.” Say that with an air of authority, like you really believe that US presidents—like Chinese emperors of the past or medieval popes— enjoy so much “legitimacy” that they can confer this on, or remove it from, anybody else.

Study CNN anchor Chris Cuomo’s facial expressions and body language when he announces—so matter-of-factly, as a self-evident fact, as a done deal—that (come on, everybody!) “Assad hast lost legitimacy.”

(Chris is your model. He’s the State Department’s pleasantly vapid headed scion-of-privilege poster boy, whose occasional dark flashes of indignation—especially those directed towards anyone questioning the official talking points on Russia—embody the attitude Foggy Bottom seeks to encourage in the corporate press.)

Do NOT remind viewers that the Syrian government is internationally recognized, holds a UN seat, retains cordial relations with most nations, and is engaged in a life-and-death struggle against people who enslave, crucify, behead, bury alive, and burn alive people and want to replace Syria’s modern secular government with a medieval religious one intolerant of any diversity.

7) Keep insisting that the Assad regime somehow is responsible for, and even in league with, the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front and ISIL. Since this makes no logical sense, just have faith in the ignorance of the viewership and its disinclination to distinguish one Arab from another and to assume that they’re all linked in ways that aren’t worth even trying to sort out. Imply that by staying in power (and not complying with Obama’s demand that he step down) Assad has actually invited the presence of radical Islamists to his country, or provoked their emergence.

Do NOT mention that al-Qaeda offshoots have proliferated globally since the US invaded and wrecked Iraq in 2003, in a war based entirely on lies, and that there was no al-Nusra Front or ISIL until the US set out to effect regime change throughout the Middle East. Do NOT let on that State Department PR strategy is precisely to obfuscate the real causal relationship, and to impute to the beleaguered Assad phenomena actually generated by US aggression in the region.

8) Keep treating Russian President Vladimir Putin as America’s Enemy Number One, an ally of a Syrian government that US has said must go, deploying force in Syria to bolster Assad rather than (as Moscow claims) to target ISIL.

Do NOT lend any credence to the Russian assertion that the Syrian Army is the force best placed to defeat ISIL. Do NOT point out the incongruity of the US invading and attacking countries from Pakistan to Libya since 2001 while expressing alarm that Moscow is (after much hesitation) taking action against Islamist terrorists at Damascus’s invitation.

9) Do not harp on the past, revisit history, or attempt to place the contemporary situation in Syria in perspective. Do NOT complicate the storyline by mentioning Damascus’s cooperation in the “War on Terror” and the US use of Syrian torture chambers in its “special renditions” program after 2001. Do NOT mention Syria’s large Christian minority or its historical support for Assad’s Baath party, which was co-founded by a Syrian Christian.

Please keep everything simple, following the examples set by MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Scarborough and CNN’s Cuomo, and inculcate in the mind of the viewer that Assad is the main problem and most horrible actor in the Syrian situation. Tell them that Putin, while striving to revive the tsarist empire, is backing Assad as a loyal ally and using his military to prolong his rule that Washington condemns rather than (as he states) taking action against ISIL.

If you do all this, you will demonstrate your loyalty to the State Department, the bipartisan foreign policy consensus, the military-industrial complex, the One Percent, your advertisers, your producers and editors, and the unsung heroes behind the scenes who arrange your teleprompter scripts.

You too could be an Andrea Mitchell, or Christiane Amanpour, posturing as an “expert” while trotting out our talking points. And even after they’re exposed as bullshit, you won’t have to say you’re sorry. People will soon forget anyway.

Those unconscionable barrel bombs! 200,000 civilians killed by the illegitimate regime! US support for the moderate opposition! Russia up to no good, supporting Assad and not really targeting ISI!. Russian moves “worrisome” (whereas US moves are not.)

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion.

 

The fact that the US couldn’t do this for a full year is yet more proof they didn’t really want to

One question that’s been asked repeatedly over the past thirteen months is why Washington has been unable to achieve the Pentagon’s stated goal of “degrading and defeating” ISIS despite the fact that the “battle” pits the most advanced air force on the planet against what amounts to a ragtag band of militants running around the desert in basketball shoes. 

Those of a skeptical persuasion have been inclined to suggest that perhaps the US isn’t fully committed to the fight. Explanations for that suggestion range from the mainstream (the White House is loathe to get the US into another Mid-East war) to the “conspiratorial” (the CIA created ISIS and thus doesn’t want to destroy the group due to its value as a strategic asset).

The implication in all of this is that a modern army that was truly determined to destroy the group could likely do so in a matter of months if not weeks and so once Russia began flying sorties from Latakia, the world was anxious to see just how long the various rebel groups operating in Syria could hold up under bombardment by the Russian air force.

image

The answer, apparently, is “less than a week.”

On Saturday, the Russian Ministry of Defense said it has conducted 60 bombing runs in 72 hours, hitting more than 50 ISIS targets.

According to the ministry (Facebook page is here), Islamic State fighters are in a state of “panic” and more than 600 have deserted. 

Here’s what happens when the Russians locate a terrorist “command center”:

 

 

According to The Kremlin, the structure shown in the video is (or, more appropriately, “was”) “an ISIS hardened command centre near Raqqah.” Su-34s hit it with concrete-piercing BETAB-500s setting off a series of explosions and fires that “completely destroyed the object.”

Here’s RT:

Surgical airstrikes by Russian fighter jets have knocked out a number of Islamic State installations in Syria, including the battle headquarters of a jihadist group near Raqqa, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

“Over the past 24 hours, Sukhoi Su-34 and Su-24M fighter jets have performed 20 sorties and hit nine Islamic State installations,” Igor Konashenkov, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman, reported.

Konashenkov added that yesterday evening Russian aircraft went on six sorties, inflicting strikes on three terrorist installations.

“A bunker-busting BETAB-500 air bomb dropped from a Sukhoi Su-34 bomber near Raqqa has eliminated the command post of one of the terror groups, together with an underground storage facility for explosives and munitions,” the spokesman said.

Commenting on the video filmed by a Russian UAV monitoring the assault near Raqqa, Konashenkov noted, “a powerful explosion inside the bunker indicates it was also used for storing a large quantity of munitions.

“As you can see, a direct hit on the installation resulted in the detonation of explosives and multiple fires. It was completely demolished,” the spokesman said.

And here’s the Russian Defense Ministry taking a page out of the US Postal Service’s “neither rain, sleet, snow, nor hail” book on the way to serving notice that nothing is going to stop the Russian air force from exterminating Assad’s enemies in Syria:

Twenty-four hours a day #UAV’s are monitoring the situation in the ISIS activity areas. All the detected targets are effectively engaged day and night in any weather conditions.

Now obviously one must consider the source here, but Kremlin spin tactics aside, one cannot help but be amazed with the pace at which this is apparently unfolding. If any of the above is even close to accurate, it means that Russia is on schedule to declare victory over ISIS (and everyone else it looks like) in a matter of weeks, which would not only be extremely embarrassing for Washington, but would also effectively prove that the US has never truly embarked on an honest effort to rid Syria of the extremist groups the Western media claims are the scourge of humanity.

Summed up in 10 priceless seconds…

 

Hillary’s Surprising Ties to Tony Blair

October 6th, 2015 by Sarah Westwood

Hillary Clinton and Tony Blair, the former prime minister of Britain, enjoyed a close personal relationship that allowed them to collude on a number of foreign policy issues behind the scenes.

Blair went from helping the former secretary of state make moves in the Middle East to joining former Clinton insiders at a well-connected consulting firm whose work has stoked concerns that the Clintons help their friends profit off their personal ties.

Additional details about Blair’s relationship with Clinton have emerged in several batches of private emails that have been released by the State Department at the end of each month, including those published Wednesday.

Clinton’s foreign policy partnership with Blair seems all the more unusual given Blair’s past support of President George W. Bush and the invasion of Iraq, a war Clinton voted for in the Senate but has since criticized.

Many of the conversations between Blair and Clinton are classified.

But unredacted emails paint a picture of a mutually beneficial relationship between the two former leaders.

“It’s great having you on the team,” Clinton wrote to Blair in September 2010.

Clinton evidently asked Blair to “go to Israel as part of our full court press on keeping the Middle East negotiations going,” according to an email between the former secretary of state and Lynn Forester de Rothschild, a top Democratic donor.

“Just spent 3 hours with BB,” Blair wrote to Clinton after his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Ready to speak when convenient but should do it on secure line.”

At the time, Blair served as the special envoy to the “Middle East Quartet,” a diplomatic arrangement involving the U.S., the United Nations, the European Union and Russia that was established to assist in Israeli peace talks.

Blair was also heavily involved in Clinton’s work on Libya in 2011, as the country faced an escalating civil war aimed at deposing its authoritarian regime.

Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s former director of policy planning, flagged an article of concern to Clinton in Sept. 2011 that alleged, among other things, that Blair had met secretly with Moammar Gadhafi, ousted Libyan dictator.

The Israeli article reported Blair had nurtured a friendship with the authoritarian leader, even flying on Gadhafi’s private jet.

Earlier emails indicate Blair and Gadhafi did indeed speak directly when the Libyan leader still held power. In Feb. 2011, a Blair aide sent Sullivan a memo marked “URGENT- PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL” that described a phone call between Blair and Gaddafi.

“Gadhafi asked Tony Blair several times to come to Libya to see for himself that there is no violence,” Catherine Rimmer, the Blair aide, wrote to Sullivan. “Tony Blair said he didn’t know if he could do that but again repeated that the important thing was for the violence to stop.”

Blair also urged the dictator to find a “safe place” to hide amid rising tensions within the North African nation.

“If you have a safe place to go then you should go there, because this will not end peacefully unless that happens and there has to be a process of change,” Blair warned Gaddafi, according to the email. “That process of change can be managed and we have to find a way of managing it.”

Emails released in previous batches indicate Clinton was encouraged to lobby foreign leaders for Blair when he was angling to be the president of the European Council.

Sidney Blumenthal, Clinton’s divisive confidante and informal advisor, sent Clinton updates about Blair’s chances in the high-profile race in 2009. Blair ultimately did not secure the position.

Clinton forwarded one Blumenthal memo to Doug Band, an aide to her husband, and asked whether Bill Clinton had any ideas to help Blair.

Blair also reportedly asked Clinton to lobby Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, on his behalf in the fall of 2009.

Cherie Blair, the former prime minister’s wife, apparently knew Clinton’s private email address and spoke to her directly while she served as secretary of state.

For example, in June 2010, Cherie Blair asked Clinton to meet with the crown prince of Qatar in order to help the food security organization of which the prince was in charge. Clinton said she would be “happy to meet with him.”

“As you know I have good links to the Qataris,” Cherie Blair wrote to Clinton.

Cherie Blair noted that the prince had been appointed head of the Qatar National Food Security Programme, which has donated between $25,000 and $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation. She said her Qatari friend was “keen to talk more generally about U.S./Qatari cooperation.”

Cherie Blair followed up in Jan. 2011, when Clinton was visiting Qatar, to remind her that the food security program was “looking to invest $10 million into food security over the next few years.”

Tony Blair joined forces with Band and others in the Clintons’ inner circle to form Teneo Strategies in 2011, a consulting firm whose close ties to the former first couple have drawn scrutiny since its inception.

Most recently, Teneo has made headlines for employing Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff, while she also worked for the State Department and the Clinton Foundation.

Bill Clinton was even on Teneo’s payroll during its first months.

The firm managed to benefit from its close ties to State Department leadership, securing a consulting contract with the agency in June 2011.

The State Department severed its ties with Teneo eight months later, after MF Global, a client of the firm, collapsed and took millions of dollars in investors’ funds with it.

The close friendship between Hillary Clinton and Tony Blair is one of several relationships exposed in greater detail by the Clinton emails. For her part, Hillary Clinton has embraced the steady drip of published emails as a way for people to catch a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the State Department’s inner workings.

An estimated 3,000 Islamic State fighters as well as militants from other extremist groups have fled Syria for Jordan fearing a renewed offensive by the Syrian army in addition to Russian airstrikes, a military official has told RIA news agency.

“At least 3,000 militants from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), al-Nusra and Jaish al-Yarmouk have fled to Jordan. They are afraid of the Syrian army having stepped up activities on all fronts and of Russian airstrikes,” the RIA source said.

The official added that on Sunday the Syrian army had carried out a number of attacks on Islamic State and al-Nusra fighters on the outskirts of Damascus as well as in the provinces of Deir ez-Zor and Homs.

In Deir ez-Zor, 160 militants were killed in an army assault that aimed at driving extremists away from several settlements.

 

In the province of Homs, the army destroyed two IS convoys near the city of Palmyra and 17 terrorists were reported killed in an artillery barrage.

Syrian artillery also attacked several extremist groups, including al-Nusra, in the province of Homs where, according to the military source, a conflict between Syrian and foreign fighters erupted. Syrian militants insisted on retreating from a number of settlements fearing a large-scale offensive by the Syrian army and Russian airstrikes, while the foreigners refused to withdraw.

LISTEN MORE:

Russia’s military operation in Syria has provoked a strong reaction from the terrorist groups, Syrian information minister Omran al-Zoubi has said, as cited by the Syrian TV.

 

“Russian airstrikes have led to strong statements from terrorist groups and their backers. At the same time terrorist groups said nothing when the US-led coalition launched its operation,” he said. He also added that the US airstrikes against the IS are not effective as “the coalition wants terrorists to stay in Syria as long as possible”.

LISTEN MORE:

Russia launched its military operation against IS and other terrorist groups at the request of the Syrian government on September 30. It has been carrying out airstrikes in close cooperation with the Syrian army to ensure the attacks are maximally effective.

First published in December 17, 2014.

This article by Professor Michel Chossudovsky was granted the 2015 Project Censored Award.

Ranked No. 5 among the 25 most censored news stories.

Nuclear radiation resulting from the March 2011 Fukushima disaster –which threatens life on planet earth– is not front page news in comparison to the most insignificant issues of public concern, including the local level crime scene or the tabloid gossip reports on Hollywood celebrities.

The shaky political consensus both in Japan, the U.S. and Western Europe is that the crisis at Fukushima has been contained. 

The truth is otherwise. Known and documented, the ongoing dumping of highly radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean constitutes a potential trigger to a process of global radioactive contamination. 

This water contains plutonium 239 and its release into the Ocean has both local as well as global repercussions.  A microgram of plutonium if inhaled, according to Dr. Helen Caldicott, can cause death:

Certain isotopes of radioactive plutonium are known as some of the deadliest poisons on the face of the earth. A mere microgram (a speck of darkness on a pinhead) of Plutonium-239, if inhaled, can cause death, and if ingested, radioactive Plutonium can be harmful, causing leukemia and other bone cancers.

“In the days following the 2011 earthquake and nuclear plant explosions, seawater meant to cool the nuclear power plants instead carried radioactive elements back to the Pacific ocean. Radioactive Plutonium was one of the elements streamed back to sea.” (decodescience.com).

It would appear that the radioactive water has already penetrated parts of the Japanese coastline:

Environmental testing of shoreline around the nuclear plant (as well fish, especially Tuna) showed negligible amounts of Plutonium in the seawater. The Plutonium, from what little is reported, sank into the sediments off the Japanese coast.”  (Ibid)

A recent report suggests that the Japanese government is intent upon releasing the remaining radioactive water into the Ocean. The proposed “solution” becomes the cause of radioactive contamination of both the Japanese coastline as well as the Pacific Ocean, extending to the coastline of North America.

While the chairman of the Nuclear Radiation Authority recognizes that the water in the tanks is heavily “tainted”, a decision has nonetheless been taken to empty the tanks and dump the water into the Ocean:

The head of Japan’s nuclear watchdog said contaminated water stored at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant should be released into the ocean to ensure safe decommissioning of the reactors.

Shunichi Tanaka, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, made the comment Dec. 12 after visiting the facility to observe progress in dismantling the six reactors. The site was severely damaged in the tsunami generated by the 2011 earthquake.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of tanks (holding water tainted with radioactive substances),” Tanaka told reporters, indicating they pose a danger to decommissioning work. “We have to dispose of the water.”

With regard to expected protests by local fishermen over the discharge, Tanaka said, “We also have to obtain the consent of local residents in carrying out the work, so we can somehow mitigate (the increase in tainted water).”

Tanaka has said previously that to proceed with decommissioning, tainted water stored on the site would need to be released into the sea so long as it had been decontaminated to accepted safety standards.

“While (the idea) may upset people, we must do our utmost to satisfy residents of Fukushima,” Tanaka said, adding that the NRA would provide information to local residents based on continuing studies of radioactive elements in local waters.

The inspection tour was Tanaka’s second since he became NRA chief in September 2012. He last visited in April 2013.

During his visit, Tanaka observed work at a trench on the ocean side of the No. 2 reactor building, where highly contaminated water is being pumped out. He also inspected barriers set up around the storage tanks to prevent leaks of tainted water.

Tanaka praised the completion in November of work to remove all spent nuclear fuel from the No. 4 reactor building, as well as changes to work procedures that he said allows for the completion of the work at the No. 2 reactor trench.  Hiromi Kumai , NRA Head Signals Massive Release of Tainted Water to Help Decommission Fukushima Site Asahi Shimbun December 13, 2014

The contradictory statements of  the NRA chief  avoid addressing the broader implications, by giving the impression that the issue is local and that local fishermen off the Fukushima coast will be consulted.

Additional articles and videos on Fukushima and Nuclear Radiation are available at Global Research’s Dossier on The Environment


TEXT BOX

 Nuclear Radiation: Categorization

At Fukushima, reports confirm that alpha, beta, gamma particles and neutrons have been released:

“While non-ionizing radiation and x-rays are a result of electron transitions in atoms or molecules, there are three forms of ionizing radiation that are a result of activity within the nucleus of an atom.  These forms of nuclear radiation are alpha particles (α-particles), beta particles (β-particles) and gamma rays (γ-rays).

Alpha particles are heavy positively charged particles made up of two protons and two neutrons.  They are essentially a helium nucleus and are thus represented in a nuclear equation by either α or .  See the Alpha Decay page for more information on alpha particles.

Beta particles come in two forms:  and  particles are just electrons that have been ejected from the nucleus.  This is a result of sub-nuclear reactions that result in a neutron decaying to a proton.  The electron is needed to conserve charge and comes from the nucleus.  It is not an orbital electron.  particles are positrons ejected from the nucleus when a proton decays to a neutron.  A positron is an anti-particle that is similar in nearly all respects to an electron, but has a positive charge.  See the Beta Decay page for more information on beta particles.

Gamma rays are photons of high energy electromagnetic radiation (light).  Gamma rays generally have the highest frequency and shortest wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum.  There is some overlap in the frequencies of gamma rays and x-rays; however, x-rays are formed from electron transitions while gamma rays are formed from nuclear transitions. See the Gamma Rays  for more” (SOURCE: Canadian Nuclear Association)

A neutron is a particle that is found in the nucleus, or center, of atoms. It has a mass very close to protons, which also reside in the nucleus of atoms. Together, they make up almost all of the mass of individual atoms. Each has a mass of about 1 amu, which is roughly 1.6×10-27kg. Protons have a positive charge and neutrons have no charge, which is why they were more difficult to discover.” (SOURCE: Neutron Radiation)

“Many different radioactive isotopes are used in or are produced by nuclear reactors. The most important of these are described below:

1. Uranium 235 (U-235) is the active component of most nuclear reactor fuel.

2. Plutonium (Pu-239) is a key nuclear material used in modern nuclear weapons and is also present as a by-product in certain reprocessed fuels used in some nuclear reactors. Pu-239 is also produced in uranium reactors as a byproduct of fission of U-235.

3. Cesium (Cs-137 ) is a fission product of U-235. It emits beta and gamma radiation and can cause radiation sickness and death if exposures are high enough. …

4. Iodine 131 (I-131), also a fission product of U-235, emits beta and gamma radiation. After inhalation or ingestion, it is absorbed by and concentrated in the thyroid gland, where its beta radiation damages nearby thyroid tissue  (SOURCE: Amesh A. Adalja, MD, Eric S. Toner, MD, Anita Cicero, JD, Joseph Fitzgerald, MS, MPH, and Thomas V. Inglesby MD, Radiation at Fukushima: Basic Issues and Concepts, March 31, 2011)

 

The Secret History of Cannabis in Japan

October 6th, 2015 by Jon Mitchell

Experts point out the plant’s cultural significance. 

Today Japan has some of the strictest anti-cannabis laws in the world.

Punishment for possession is a maximum 5 years behind bars and illicit growers face 7-year sentences. Annually around 2000 people fall foul of these laws – their names splashed on the nightly news and their careers ruined forever. The same prohibition which dishes out these punishments also bans research into medical marijuana, forcing Japanese scientists overseas to conduct their studies.

For decades, these laws have stood unchallenged. But now increasing numbers of Japanese people are speaking out against prohibition – and at the heart of their campaign is an attempt to teach the public about Japan’s long-forgotten history of cannabis. [1]

Although not updated since 2010, the most detailed English website about cannabis in Japan is at taima.org accessible here.

Junichi Takayasu, curator of Taima Hakubutsukan, Japan’s only cannabis museum. (Photo by Hiroko Tanaka)

Junichi Takayasu, curator of Taima Hakubutsukan, Japan’s only cannabis museum. (Photo by Hiroko Tanaka)

“Most Japanese people see cannabis as a subculture of Japan but they’re wrong. For thousands of years cannabis has been at the very heart of Japanese culture,” explains Junichi Takayasu, one of the country’s leading experts.

According to Takayasu, the earliest traces of cannabis in Japan are seeds and woven fibers discovered in the west of the country dating back to the Jomon Period (10,000 BC – 300 BC). Archaeologists suggest that cannabis fibers were used for clothes – as well as for bow strings and fishing lines. These plants were likely cannabis sativa – prized for its strong fibers – a thesis supported by a Japanese prehistoric cave painting which appears to show a tall spindly plant with cannabis’s tell-tale leaves.

“Cannabis was the most important substance for prehistoric people in Japan. But today many Japanese people have a very negative image of the plant,” says Takayasu.

In order to put Japanese people back in touch with their cannabis roots, in 2001 Takayasu founded Taima Hakubutsukan (The Cannabis Museum) – the only museum in Japan dedicated to the much-maligned weed. [2]

The Cannabis Museum

Junichi Takayasu, curator of Taima Hakubutsukan, stands outside Japan’s only cannabis museum. (Photo by Hiroko Tanaka)

 Junichi Takayasu, curator of Taima Hakubutsukan, stands outside Japan’s only cannabis museum. (Photo by Hiroko Tanaka)

The museum is located in a log cabin 100 miles from Tokyo in Tochigi Prefecture – an area long-associated with Japanese cannabis farming. The prefecture borders the Tohoku region which was devastated by the March 11 2011 earthquake – but being inland from the tsunami and shielded by mountains from radioactive fall-out, it largely escaped the effects of the disaster.

The museum is packed with testimony to Japan’s proud cannabis heritage. There are 17th century woodblock prints of women spinning fibers and photos of farmers cutting plants. In one corner sits a working loom where Takayasu demonstrates the art of weaving. He points to a bail of cannabis cloth – warm in winter, cool in summer, it’s perfectly suited to Japan’s extreme climate.

A woodblock print from the 17th century shows women preparing the fibers from cannabis plants. (Photo by Hiroko Tanaka)

A woodblock print from the 17th century shows women preparing the fibers from cannabis plants. (Photo by Hiroko Tanaka)

Hemp products on display at Taima Hakubutsukan (Photo by Hiroko Tanaka)

Hemp products on display at Taima Hakubutsukan (Photo by Hiroko Tanaka)

“Until the middle of the twentieth century, Japanese cannabis farming used to be a year-round cycle,” explains Takayasu. “The seeds were planted in spring then harvested in the summer. Following this, the stalks were dried then soaked and turned into fiber. Throughout the winter, these were then woven into cloth and made into clothes ready to wear for the next planting season.”

Playing such a key role in agriculture, cannabis often appeared in popular culture. It is mentioned in the 8th century Manyoshu – Japan’s oldest collection of poems and features in many haiku and tanka poems. Ninjas purportedly used cannabis in their training – leaping daily over the fast-growing plants to hone their acrobatic skills.

According to Takayasu, cannabis was so renowned for growing tall and strong that there was a Japanese proverb related to positive peer pressure which stated that even gnarly weeds would straighten if grown among cannabis plants.

Baby clothes decorated with a traditional hemp pattern. (Photo by Hiroko Tanaka)

Baby clothes decorated with a traditional hemp pattern. (Photo by Hiroko Tanaka)

In a similar way, school songs in cannabis growing communities often exhorted pupils to grow as straight and tall as cannabis plants. Due to these perceived qualities, a fabric design called Asa-no-ha based upon interlocking cannabis leaves became popular in the 18th century. The design was a favorite choice for children’s clothes and also became fashionable among merchants hoping for a boom in their economic fortunes.

Accompanying these material uses, cannabis also bore spiritual significance in Shintoism, Japan’s indigenous religion which venerates natural harmony and notions of purity. Cannabis was revered for its cleansing abilities so Shinto priests used to wave bundles of leaves to exorcise evil spirits. Likewise, to signify their purity, brides wore veils made from cannabis on their wedding days. Today, the nation’s most sacred shrine – Ise Jingu in Mie Prefecture – continues to have five annual ceremonies called taima dedicated to the nation’s sun goddess. However many modern visitors fail to connect the names of these rituals with the drug so demonized by their politicians and police. [3]

Early 20th century American historian, George Foot Moore, also recorded how Japanese travelers used to present small offerings of cannabis leaves at roadside shrines to ensure safe journeys. Families, too, burned bunches of cannabis in their doorways to welcome back the spirits of the dead during the summer obon festival.

Was it smoked?

Given this plethora of evidence that cannabis was essential in so many aspects of Japanese life, one question remains in doubt: Was it smoked?

Takayasu isn’t sure – and nor are many other experts. Historical archives make no mention of cannabis smoking in Japan but these records tends to focus primarily on the lifestyles of the elite and ignore the habits of the majority of the population. For hundreds of years, Japanese society used to be stratified into a strict class system. Within this hierarchy, rice – and the sake wine brewed from it – was controlled by the rich so cannabis may well have been the drug of choice for the masses.

Equally as important as whether cannabis was smoked is the question of could it have been? The answer to that is a clear yes. According to a 1973 survey published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, THC levels of indigenous Japanese cannabis plants from Tochigi measured almost 4%. In comparison, one study conducted by the University of Mississippi’s Marijuana Potency Monitoring Project found average THC levels in marijuana seized by U.S. authorities in the 1970s at a much lower 1.5%. [4]

Until the early 20th century, cannabis-based cures were available from Japanese drug stores. Long an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine, they were taken to relieve muscle aches, pain and insomnia.

Meanwhile the Tohoku region was renowned for wild wariai kinoko (laughing mushrooms). In a country in love with its fungi – think shiitake, maitake and thousand-dollar matsutake – the sale of a range of psychedelic mushrooms was legal until 2002 when they were prohibited to improve the country’s international image prior to the Japan-South Korea World Cup. [5]

Prohibition of cannabis in Japan

The prohibition against the Japanese cannabis industry also has a foreign origin.

According to Takayasu, the 1940s started well for cannabis farmers as the nation’s military leaders – like those in the U.S. – urged farmers to plant cannabis to help win World War Two.

“The Imperial navy needed it for ropes and the air force for parachute cords. The military categorized cannabis as a war material and they created patriotic war slogans about it. There was even a saying that without cannabis, the war couldn’t be waged,” says Takayasu.

However after Japan’s surrender in 1945, U.S. authorities occupied the country and they introduced American attitudes towards cannabis. Having effectively prohibited its cultivation in the States in 1937, Washington now sought to ban it in Japan. With the nation still under U.S. control, it passed the 1948 Cannabis Control Act. The law criminalized possession and unlicensed cultivation – and more than 60 years later, it remains at the core of Japan’s current anti-cannabis policy.

At the time, the U.S. authorities appear to have passed off the Act as an altruistic desire to protect Japanese people from the evils of drugs. But critics point out that occupation authorities allowed the sale of over-the-counter amphetamines to continue until 1951. Instead, several Japanese experts contend that the ban was instigated by U.S. petrochemical lobbyists who wanted to overturn the Japanese cannabis fiber industry and open the market to American-made artificial materials, including nylon.

Workers harvest cannabis at a licensed farm in Tochigi Prefecture. (Photo by Junichi Takayasu).

Workers harvest cannabis at a licensed farm in Tochigi Prefecture. (Photo by Junichi Takayasu).

Takayasu sees the ban in a different light, situating it within the wider context of U.S. attempts to reduce the power of Japanese militarists who had dragged Asia into war.

“In the same way the U.S. authorities discouraged martial arts such as kendo and judo, the 1948 Cannabis Control Act was a way to undermine militarism in Japan. The wartime cannabis industry had been so dominated by the military that the new law was designed to strip away its power.”

Regardless of the true reasons, the impact of the 1948 Cannabis Control Act was devastating. From a peak of more than 25,000 cannabis farms in 1948, the numbers quickly plummeted – forcing farmers out of business and driving the knowledge of cannabis cultivation to the brink of extinction. Today there are fewer than 60 licensed cannabis farms in Japan – all required to grow strains of cannabis containing minimal levels of THC – and only one survivor versed in the full cannabis cycle of seed-to-loom – an 84 year-old woman.

Simultaneously, a sustained propaganda campaign has cleaved the Japanese public from their cannabis cultural roots – brainwashing them into perceiving marijuana as a poison on a par with heroin or crack cocaine.

These campaigns might have stamped out all traces of Japan’s millennia-long history were it not for one factor – the resilience of the cannabis plants themselves. Every summer millions of these bushes – the feral offspring of cannabis legally cultivated before 1948 – pop up in the hills and plains of rural Japan. In 2006, 300 plants even sprouted in the grounds of Abashiri Prison in Hokkaido – much to the embarrassment of the powers-that-be. [6]

Every year, the Japanese police wage well-publicized eradication campaigns against these plants. On average, they discover and destroy between one and two million of them. But like so many other aspects of the drug war, theirs is a losing battle and the next year, the plants grow back in larger numbers than ever.

Waste of resources?

Due to the taboos surrounding discussions of cannabis, many people had been reluctant to condemn these police campaigns. But now critics are beginning to attack both the waste of public resources and the needless destruction of such versatile plants.

Nagayoshi Hideo, author of the 2009 book, _Taima Nyuumon – An Introduction to Cannabisargues for the wild cannabis plants to be systematically harvested and put to use as medicines, biomass energy and in the construction industries.

Yukio Funai – another advocate and author of Akuhou! Taima Torishimarihou no Shinjitsu – Bad Law! The Truth Behind the Cannabis Control Act (2012) – calls cannabis a golden egg for Japan. In a detailed breakdown of the potential economic benefits of legalization, he factors in savings from reduced policing and incarceration – concluding the country could reap as much as 300 billion dollars in the long term.

In a nation facing unprecedented economic problems, it appears these arguments are striking a chord. Recently Japan slipped behind China as the world’s third economic power and the country owes more than ten trillion dollars in debt – double its GDP. These problems contribute to the human toll of an estimated 6.5 million alcoholics and a suicide rate that hovers at around 30,000 a year.

The legalization of cannabis could solve some of these problems. By luring young entrepreneurs back to the land, it could counter agricultural decline – particularly in post-earthquake Tohoku. It might improve the quality of care for thousands of cancer patients and halt the brain drain of scientists forced overseas to research medical cannabis. Legalization would also prevent the annual arrests of 2000 Japanese people – many in their 20s and 30s – whose lives are destroyed by their nation’s illogical and ahistorical laws.

In years to come, Taima Hakubutsukan might be seen as a true beachhead in this struggle.

“People need to learn the truth about the history of cannabis in Japan,” says Takayasu. “The more we learn about the past, the more hints we might be able to get about how to live better in the future. Cannabis can offer Japan a beacon of hope.”

Cannabis: What’s in a name?

Botanists usually divide the cannabis family into three broad categories – tall cannabis sativa, bushy cannabis indica and small cannabis ruderalis. However this simple taxonomy is often frustrated by the interfertility of these three types which allows them to be crossbred into limitless new varieties.

The desired properties of these hybrids tend to determine the name by which they are commonly known.

Marijuana, for example, usually refers to cannabis plants which are grown to be ingested for medical or recreational uses. Cannabis sativa is said to give users a feeling of energetic euphoria and can be prescribed for depression, whereas cannabis indica is apparently more sedating so can be used as a muscle relaxant or to treat chronic pain.

Hemp, is the name often applied to tall plants from the cannabis sativa category which are primarily grown for their strong fibres – but may also contain significant levels of THC.

Most recently, the term industrial hemp has been coined in the U.S. to refer to cannabis plants which have been specially-bred to contain very low levels of THC (less than 1%) in order to conform to current drug laws. Today, many of Japan’s licensed cannabis farms grow a low-THC strain called Tochigi shiro which was first developed in the post-War period.

Notes

[1] Two of the best Japanese texts for information about the nation’s cannabis history are Nagayoshi Hideo, Taima Nyuumon (An Introduction to Cannabis), Gentosha, 2009 and Yukio Funai, Akuhou! Taima Torishimarihou no Shinjitsu (Bad Law! The Truth Behind the Cannabis Control Act), Business Sha, 2012.

[2] For more information on the museum, see here . For a Japanese interview with Takayasu about the origins of the museum, see here.

[3] For more details about the religious role of cannabis in Japan, see here.

[4] For the text of the UN report, see here; for the THC levels in the 1970s, see for example here.

[5] CBC News, “Japan stuffs magic mushroom loophole”, May 14 2002. Available here.

[6] Sydney Morning Herald, “Japanese jail bugged by marijuana plants”, August 29 2007. Available here

 

 

Jon Mitchell is a Welsh journalist based in Japan. He writes about human rights issues – particularly on Okinawa – and more of his work can be found atwww.jonmitchellinjapan.com

How involved is the US national security machinery in Ukraine? The answer to that question is contained in a sampling of information available from the US embassy in Ukraine and the Pentagon’s contract awards announcements.  Other publications (links provided below) have also been consulted.

Vietnam 2.0 is in the making in Ukraine. The US civil-military establishment, Republicans and Democrats alike, want a shooting war with Russia, even though it was the US that caused the carnage in Ukraine, not the Russians. Yet, that inconvenient reality has been nullified by the US propaganda campaign which, of course, the Russians have responded to with their own.

Surreptitious escalation of US military involvement in Ukraine is the order of the day.  Consider this comment from US Senator Jack Reid (Democrat): “One step that should be explored, he said, is taking Ukrainian forces outside the country and training them on the provided weapon systems, “so they’re ready.”  “Second is the possibility of transferring some of these systems from other countries into Ukraine, which doesn’t raise quite the visibility of the transfer,” he said.  “And then there’s the possibility of taking some of our systems and beginning to…deploy them to training areas particularly so that they can train on them and have them ready to move into areas of conflict,” he said… He also said Ukraine has an extensive military industrial base that could be used to produce the weapons, but that would take time and financing.”

It’s becoming apparent that the US Army, US Air Force and US Navy want, respectively, the 21st Century versions of the Battle of Prokhorovka, Hiroshima/Nagasaki, and the Battle of Midway. Maybe the plan is to make proxy wars so hot that world war will follow with Russia (and China). It’s doubtful that the US Marines want another Iwo Jima or that US special operations warfighters want to be dropped into no-win situations (they are smarter than that).

No matter, Americans shoot up war like a junkie shoots up heroin. Destroying Syria and Iraq as functioning states did not provide the high, nor did the War on Terror, or the War on Drugs, or Afghanistan (10,000 US soldiers remain there). The next score needs to be higher-dose, longer lasting, “real man, you know what I’m saying.”

California-Ukraine (US Embassy website)

So California is Ukraine’s buddy? Just great.

California–Ukraine State Partnership Program: SPP Mission is to promote democracy, free market economies and military reform, by establishing long-term institutional affiliations and personal relationships at the state and local level. The California – Ukraine partnership directly supports both the goals of the US Ambassador to Ukraine and Commander, U.S. European Command. As part of the Governor’s Cabinet, the Adjutant General of the California National Guard facilitates partnerships throughout the state and local governments in California as well as the private sector.  Recently, a tuberculosis clinic in Odessa was renovated with funds provided by this office

Defense Cooperation between US and Ukraine (US Embassy website)

Joint Contact Team Program-Ukraine (JCTP). The mission of the Joint Contact Team Program (JCTP) is to deploy US military teams to Ukraine to acquaint the Ukrainian military with various aspects of western militaries. The program was developed in 1992 to assist the armed forces of Ukraine, as the military of one of the emerging democracies of Central and Eastern Europe.

International Military Education and Training (IMET): The IMET Program provides training in the United States to selected foreign military and related civilian personnel. The overarching security cooperation objective is to promote stability, democratization, military professionalism, and closer relationships with NATO.

Foreign Military Sales/Foreign Military Financing: The FMF program assists the Ukrainian military in conducting defense reform by providing funds for Ukraine to purchase US military equipment and services.

Defense Contracts for Ukraine (Pentagon Website)

September 2015: Aerovironment Inc., Monrovia, California, was awarded a $9,049,306 firm-fixed-price foreign military sales contract (Ukraine) for the small UAV RQ-11B Raven analogy system.  Work will be performed in Monrovia, California, with an estimated completion date of May 11, 2016.  One bid was solicited with one received.  Fiscal 2010 other procurement funds in the amount of $9,049,306 were obligated at the time of the award. Army Contracting Command, Natick, Massachusetts, is the contracting activity (W911QY-15-C-0102).

September 2015: Harris Corp., Rochester, New York, was awarded a $65,669,054 firm-fixed-price, incrementally funded foreign military sales contract (Ukraine, Lithuania, Lebanon, Chad, Niger, Mauritania, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Ethiopia) with options for Harris Radio Systems, (multiband (AN/PRC-152A: AN/PRC-117G), high frequency (HF) and dismount), antennas, BMS software, data terminals, touch tablets, field service representatives, and training for installation, operation and maintenance.  Work will be performed in Rochester, New York, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2016.  One bid was solicited with one received.  Fiscal 2015 operations and maintenance funds in the amount of $38,950,534 were obligated at the time of the award. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen, Maryland, is the contracting activity (W91CRB-15-C-5029).

July 2015: AM General, South Bend, Indiana was awarded a $372,936,476 firm-fixed-price multi-year foreign military sales contract (Afghanistan, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Ukraine, Tunisia) with options for 2,082 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs) and contractor unique spare parts. Work will be performed in Mishawaka, Indiana with an estimated completion date of April 29, 2016. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Fiscal 2015 other procurement funds in the amount of $372,936,476 were obligated at the time of the award. Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity (W56HZV-15-C-0155).

Training the Ukrainian Military

July 2015 (from Defense Industry Daily): Ukraine will receive external link an additional $500 million from the US government to finance the training of Ukrainian military personnel. The Obama administration modestly increased US training to include Defense Ministry forces in June external link, after US personnel were first deployed to train Interior Ministry troops in April. The announcement comes several days after a report external link published by the Center for New American Security identified several strategic deficiencies with US policy on defense assistance.

Propaganda Generates Profits: Bellicose Neighbor=Joint Procurement

The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are discussing external link the possibility of collaborative defense procurement. The NATO states border an increasingly belligerent Russia and may also seek to join the development activities of the Nordic Defence Cooperation’s external link (NORDEFCO) Military Cooperation Areas in a bid to maximize rising defense investment. Estonia already meets NATO’s target defense spend of 2% GDP, with Latvia and Lithuania planning to meet this target by 2020. Lower per-unit costs through larger equipment buys are likely to drive joint investment, with air defense systems specifically mentioned. The US and Poland have been keen to develop the Baltics’ air defense systems, with Sweden also planning a revamp of its capabilities.

John Stanton is a Virginia based writer. Reach him at [email protected]

Selected Articles: Oregon Shooting, TTIP, Israel, Burkina Faso

October 6th, 2015 by Global Research News

Police-murders-USAMass Shootings at Oregon College. “This Has Become Routine” Says Barack Obama. So have Police Shootings of Innocent Americans

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, October 06 2015

In his comment on the mass shootings at the Oregon community college, President Obama said: “This has become routine.” So have police shootings of unarmed and unresistant Americans. So have numerous other undesirable and deplorable happenings…

us-euro-flagsTransatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Negotiations Fall Apart Following Mass Protest in the EU

By Graham Vanbergen, October 06 2015

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron is accusing those who oppose the expansive trade deal with the United States of making up horror stories about the agreement in order to poison the pact.

Netanyahu (1)David Slews the Giant Goliath with a Slingshot, Netanyahu Attempts to Rewrite the Bible Story by Declaring war on Palestinian “Terrorism by Stones”.

By Jonathan Cook, October 06 2015

Since a boy named David slew the giant Goliath with a slingshot, the stone has served as an enduring symbol of how the weak can defeat an oppressor.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. © Ammar Awad / ReutersHuman Rights Suffer as Prime Minister Cameron “Climbs Into Bed” with Netanyahu

By Anthony Bellchambers, October 06 2015

By amending legislation to prevent local government from incorporating the concerns of human rights campaigners into their pension and procurement policies the British government under Prime Minister David Cameron associates Britain with Netanyahu’s illegal settlement policy in the Occupied Territories that is in gross violation of the Geneva Conventions and has been condemned by both the EU and the UN.

By Abayomi Azikiwe, October 06 2015

Pressure from the masses and international community compels elite military unit to return to the barracks Gen. Gilbert Diendere. who led a coup aimed at derailing upcoming elections in Burkina Faso, was arrested in the capital of Ouagadougou on September 30.

A Poor Country is Really Quite a Prize

How many times over the years have we heard promises that the United States would get out of Afghanistan by such-and-such a date, only to have those promises retracted due to exigent circumstances of one kind or another? Too many to count.

And now, just when we thought the longest war in American history was finally at an end, comes this headline:

US Military Commanders Favor Keeping Troops In Afghanistan Beyond 2016

US Army Sargent and Afghan National Police officer during training at Chahar Dara, Afghanistan, on Aug. 28, 2010. Photo credit:  US Navy / Wikimedia (Public Domain)

US Army Sargent and Afghan National Police officer during training at Chahar Dara, Afghanistan, on Aug. 28, 2010. Photo credit: US Navy / Wikimedia (Public Domain)

Here’s the Associated Press lead on that story:

With the Taliban gaining new ground, US military commanders are arguing for keeping at least a few thousand American troops in Afghanistan beyond 2016, a move that would mark a departure from President Barack Obama’s current policy.

How fearsome a threat are the Taliban to “US interests,” compared to, say, any of the myriad other armies roaming the earth? The impact on our national security is debatable, to say the least. As for humanitarian concerns, we know that brutality and corruption characterize both sides in what is essentially a civil war — if it can be said that there are just two “sides” in that desperately poor country long riven by ethnic and clan rivalries.

We see how complex and tragic it all is every day. On the weekend, it was yet another example of what the US military obscenely calls “collateral damage” to innocents in the wrong place at the wrong time — the staff injured and killed by US bombs at the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz.

Why the never-ending carnage?

For another perspective on the importance of Afghanistan — the strategic importance — we invite you to click here and view an interesting treasure map of the region. We’ve run it in the past but it surely warrants renewed attention, given this latest proposal to commit American boots on the ground there for an indefinite future.

A good look at the map, which details the wealth of natural resources buried beneath the soil of Afghanistan, raises the question: Which “interests” actually stand to benefit from a prolonged US military presence in Afghanistan? When these troops are drawn, as they inevitably will be, into deadly combat, what exactly will they be sacrificing their lives for: the defense of liberty in the name of US security or the fattening of some corporation’s bottom line?

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: Global Schizophrenia

October 6th, 2015 by Dr. Glen T. Martin

The UN Sustainable Development Summit last week projected a new set of 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) for the next 15 years to replace the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were in place from 2000 to 2015.

The U.N. website tells us that the SDGs address five critical areas of “people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership.” U.N. Development program administrator Helen Clark stated that “This agreement marks an important milestone in putting our world on an inclusive and sustainable course. If we all work together, we have a chance of meeting citizens’ aspirations for peace, prosperity, and wellbeing, and to preserve our planet.” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that the adoption of the SDGs was “a defining moment in human history,” calling it a “universal, integrated and transformative vision for a better world.” President Obama pledged his support.

The Guardian reported that the general consensus of the conference was that the MDGs “failed to consider the root causes of poverty and overlooked gender inequality as well as the holistic nature of development. The goals made no mention of human rights and did not specifically address economic development. While the MDGs, in theory, applied to all countries, in reality they were considered targets for poor countries to achieve, with finance from wealthy states. Conversely, every country will be expected to work towards achieving the SDGs. The new agenda, with 17 sustainable development goals at its core, recognizes that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with a plan that builds economic growth and addresses a range of social needs, while tackling climate change.” (See http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jan/19/sustainable-development-goals-united-nations.)

The U.N. website summarizes the SDGs, each of which has a set of sub-goals: 1. No poverty, 2. Zero hunger, 3. Good health and well-being, 4. Quality education, 5 gender equity, 6. Clean water and sanitation, 7. Affordable and clean energy, 8. Decent work and economic growth, 9. Industry, innovation, and infrastructure, 10. Reduced inequalities, 11. Sustainable cities and communities, 12. Responsible consumption and production, 13. Climate action, 14. Life below water, 15. Life on land, 16. Peace, justice, and strong institutions, 17. Partnerships for the goals.

What is most striking in all of this is the total bracketing of reality; its nearly complete disjuncture from the world in which we actually live. Schizophrenia is commonly defined as a psychological disorder characterized by failure to recognize what is real. Common symptoms include confused thinking and clinging to false beliefs in the face of clearly contradictory evidence. Rather than accuse those who developed these SDGs of conscious deceit and falsification, it seems more reasonable to diagnose them with schizophrenia.

The overwhelming reality of our planetary situation, obvious to anyone who is half awake, is that of progressively developing global military empire in the service of a tiny capitalist ruling class. This global empire is neo-colonial. It operates through proxies. It supports dictatorships (like Saudi Arabia), friendly lap-dogs and lackeys (like Great Britain), and tiny capitalist ruling classes in nations throughout the world that ally themselves with the global imperial center. As Michael Parenti describes our world system in The Face of Imperialism, any country in the world that shows signs of electing a genuinely left-oriented government becomes a possible target for regime-change.

Any country in the world, no matter how peaceful or prosperous internally, that is critical of the world system under the imperial dominator, is also a target for regime-change. A well-known 2007 Democracy Now interview quotes retired General Wesley Clark as stating “We’re going to take out 7 countries in 5 years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.” Most persons in touch with reality understand that 9/11 was an inside job with the goal of actualizing the total military domination of “the New American Century.” World-systems scholars James Petras and Henry Veltmeyer write that “the power of the imperial state is extended to international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Asian Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Trade Organization. The imperial states provide most of their funds, appoint the leaders of the IFIs and hold them accountable for implementing policies that favor the multinational corporations for their respective countries” (2005: 35). The reality of our planet is the drive toward total military and economic domination by a tiny elite.

Former American diplomat and Far East scholar, Chalmers Johnson (hardly known as a “radical”), wrote a series of four books chronicling the destruction of “the republic” by the ever-growing “empire.” One of these volumes (2006) chronicled the U.S. drive for total control of space as “the ultimate high ground” from which to dominate and control the entire planet. Canadian scholar of global affairs, Michel Chossudovsky, has published a new comprehensive book entitled The Globalization of War: America’s “Long War” against Humanity (2015) documenting that the system of war and militarized domination has no intention of ever coming to an end. Global scholar F. William Engdahl describes our world system in detail in Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order (2009) showing the totalized nature of the drive to control every aspect of the planet, including outer space. Naomi Klein in The Shock Doctrine (2007) shows how “disaster capitalism” promoted by the U.S. has devastated the well-being of country after country around the planet.

Where does any of this reality appear in the pronouncements, analyses, or programs of the United Nations? Where does any of this reality appear in the new Sustainable Development Goals? Nowhere. The entire thought pattern of the U.N. system and its Sustainable Development Goals is in denial of our planetary reality. This is likely not an accident, since the U.S. has also worked to colonize the U.N. and bend its programs to its imperial propaganda and intentions. Global peace thinker Johan Galtung calls this: “Crippling the United Nations: controlling the Security Council through veto; controlling the UNGA against uniting for peace resolutions; controlling by spying on delegations and arm-twisting; controlling the budget through 25% clause, non-payment, and GAO, the General Accounting Office, an arm of the US Congress; controlling the U.N. civil servants through short-term contracts; showing who is in charge through material breach, illegality; and getting away with it all, because of all of the above” (2009: 38). No one dares mention the elephant in the room.

An examination of the 17 SDGs in the light of these facts, makes this very clear. Goal 8 is “decent work and economic growth,” an ideological ruse that associates economic well-being with “growth” in the face of the many economists of sustainable development, such as Herman E. Daly in his book Beyond Growth (1996), who proclaim rightly that you cannot have unlimited capitalist growth on a finite planet. Nor can you have the “free trade” of global capitalist exploitation if you want to achieve any of the first three goals: “no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being,”  There is nothing in the 17 goals about the absolute need to transform the world economy into one that serves humanity rather than the rich, nor is there anything about finding ways to limit the population on our planet, something that is absolutely necessary if we are to achieve any of these goals. There is not one word in the SDGs about eliminating militarism and converting the planet to a world of common laws enforced by non-military civilian police. Yet without eliminating militarism, none of these goals can possibly be accomplished.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in 2014 the world spent 1.767 trillion U.S. dollars in military expenditures, more than half of this by the U.S. The empire is responsible for considerably more than half of this, however, since it encourages militarization in its numerous proxy and lackey countries around the planet (and is the major supplier of weapons). A number of the SDGs are about sustainability, but sustainability cannot possibly be achieved without converting this immense waste of our planet’s wealth to designing a sustainable global economy. Not only do the SDGs ignore this immense waste of money, they ignore the fact that this militarism is destroying nations and communities across the globe: Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Syria, not to mention dozens of other secret operations in countries around the world (see Engelhardt: 2014).

In his book The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism, Barry Sanders documents the immense environmental costs of all forms of military production, and the immense environmental destruction from all use of military weapons. The reality of our world is not only a devastating waste of the resources necessary to achieve the SDGs. And it is not only destruction of nations and cultures worldwide through endless wars, obstructing the possibility of realizing these goals. The reality is also that the very production and deployment of military systems blocks the possibility of dealing with climate collapse or achieving any of these SDGs. Is this not total schizophrenia? SDG number 16 gives us the goal of “peace, justice, and strong institutions.” Yet examination of its 10 itemized sub-goals makes it clear that these goals are formulated in complete denial of the empire, its planetary militarization, and its implacable resistance to peace. In fact, none of the SDGs can be achieved without a genuine transformation to planetary peace.

These SDGs serve as an ideological cover for the reality of empire and global domination. If we really want to achieve these worthy goals, we must transform the structure of the world system into one that makes their achievement possible. The Constitution for the Federation of Earth is structured directly for the achievement of all of these goals, the very first of which, as stated in Article 1, is to “end war, and secure disarmament” (www.earth-constitution.org). As I show in my new book, One World Renaissance: Holistic Planetary Transformation through a Global Social Contract (IED Press, 2015), this is the key and the linchpin to all other possibilities for creating a decent future for humanity. We can only achieve these SDGs if we transcend the fragmented system of militarized nation-states and unite together under the unity in diversity of a democratic world parliament and enforceable world law.

The world system itself, with a militarized imperial center promoting unrestrained global capitalism, is the one most fundamental impediment to peace, justice, freedom, and sustainability. We need to overcome our schizophrenia and wake up from our delusion that a decent future can be created through the present failed world system. Valuable agencies of the U.N. can easily be transferred to the Earth Federation. Our global problems are structural, and the solution to these problems is to transform the structural impediments to peace into structures founded on a system of peace and sustainability. The most available and practical model for this transformation is the Earth Constitution.

Glen T. Martin is professor of philosophy and chair of the program in Peace Studies at Radford University. He is President of the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA) and the Institute on World Peace (IOWP). He is author of 10 books and dozens of articles on the spiritual and structural aspects of human liberation, including the philosophical and practical foundations of democratic world law.

Citations:

Chossudovsky, Michel (2015). The Globalization of War: America’s “Long War” against Humanity. Global Research.

Daly, Herman E. (1996). Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development. Beacon Press.

Engdahl, F. William (2009). Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order. Engdahl Press.

Engelhardt, Tom (2014). Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. Haymarket Books.

Galtung, Johan (2009). The Fall of the US Empire—And Then What? Successors, Regionalization or Globalization? US Fascism or US Blossoming? Kolophon Press.

Johnson, Chalmers (2000). Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire. Henry Holt.

_________ (2004). The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic. Metropolitan Books.

_________ (2006). Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic. Metropolitan Books.

_________ (2010). Dismantling the Empire: America’s Last Best Hope. Metropolitan Books.

Klein, Naomi (2007). The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Metropolitan Books.

Martin, Glen T. (2016). One World Renaissance: Holistic Planetary Transformation and Our Global Social Contract. Institute for Economic Democracy Press. www.oneworldrenaissance.com  

________ (2010). A Constitution for the Federation of Earth: With Historical Introduction, Commentary, and Conclusion. Institute for Economic Democracy Press.

Parenti, Michael (2011). The Face of Imperialism. Paradigm Publishers.

Petras, James and Veltmeyer, Henry (2005). Empire with Imperialism: The Globalizing Dynamics of Neo-liberal Capitalism. Zed Books.

Sanders, Barry (2009). The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism. AK Press.


How Syrians View Russia versus U.S.

October 6th, 2015 by Eric Zuesse

U.S. President Obama’s chief aim in Syria is not to defeat the fundamentalist ISIS and Al Qaeda there, but to replace that country’s secular leader Bashar al-Assad, who is, on the basis of the above-cited evidence, far more popular in Syria than Obama is. Yet Obama says that militarily overthrowing Assad would be the ‘democratic’ thing to do.

British TV Interviews Syrians About Russia’s Airstrikes

Polls Show Syrians Overwhelmingly Blame U.S. for ISIS

Obama ‘introduced democracy’ into Libya by militarily overthrowing Muammar Gaddafi and sparking civil war there; and he ‘introduced democracy’ into Ukraine by a violent U.S.-planned coup getting rid of Viktor Yanukovych and sparking civil war there.

Before Obama, George W. Bush had brought ‘democracy’ to Iraq by overthrowing Saddam Hussein and sparking civil war there.

Is the ‘democracy’ in the United States itself still authentic, or is it instead now fake, such as America’s former President Jimmy Carter recently said — that the U.S. is no longer a democracy? If the U.S. is no longer a democracy, and yet accuses other governments of being dictatorships that the U.S. has a right to overthrow, then would that hypocrisy indicate a disrespect for the public’s intelligence? How much should a person trust Mr. Obama’s honesty?

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Land Claims: An Indigenous People’s History of the United States

October 6th, 2015 by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

With a large part of Indigenous nations’ territories and resources in what is now the United States taken through aggressive war, outright theft, and legislative appropriations, Native peoples have vast claims to reparations and restitution. Indigenous nations negotiated numerous treaties with the United States that included land transfers and monetary compensation, but the remaining Indigenous territories have steadily shrunk due to direct federal appropriation by various means as well as through government failure to meet its obligation to protect Indigenous landholdings as required under treaties. The U.S. government has acknowledged some of these claims and has offered monetary compensation. However, since the upsurge of Indian rights movements in the 1960s, Indigenous nations have demanded restoration of treaty-guaranteed land rather than monetary compensation.

Native Americans, including those who are legal scholars, ordinarily do not use the term “reparations” in reference to their land claims and treaty rights. Rather, they demand restoration, restitution or repatriation of lands acquired by the United States outside valid treaties. These demands for return of lands and water and other resource rights illegally taken certainly could be termed “reparations,” but they have no parallel in the monetary reparations owed, for example, to Japanese Americans for forced incarceration or to descendants of enslaved African Americans. No monetary amount can compensate for lands illegally seized, particularly those sacred lands necessary for Indigenous peoples to regain social coherence.

AIM demonstration, October 11, 1992: 500 Years of Resistance.

AIM demonstration, October 11, 1992: 500 Years of Resistance.

Cobell v. Salazar

One form of Native claim does seek monetary compensation and might provide a template for other classes. Of the hundreds of lawsuits for federal trust mismanagement that Indigenous groups have filed, most since the 1960s, the largest and best known is the Cobell v. Salazarclass-action suit, initially filed in 1996 and settled in 2011. The individual Indigenous litigants, from many Native nations, claimed that the U.S. Department of the Interior, as trustee of Indigenous assets, had lost, squandered, stolen and otherwise wasted hundreds of millions of dollars dating back to the forced land allotment beginning in the late 1880s. By the end of 2009, it was clear that the case was headed for a decision favoring the Indigenous groups when the lead plaintiffs, representing nearly a half-million Indigenous individuals, accepted a $3.4-billion settlement proposed by the Obama administration. The amount of the settlement was greater than the half-billion dollars that the court would likely have awarded. However, what was sacrificed in the settlement was a detailed accounting of the federal government’s misfeasance. As one reporter lamented: “The result will see some involved with the case, especially lawyers, become quite rich, while many Indians – the majority, in all likelihood – will receive about a third of what it takes to feed a family of four for just one year.”

Another important form of reparations is the repatriation of remains of dead ancestors and burial items. After considerable struggle on the part of Indigenous religious practitioners, Congress enacted the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA), which requires that museums return human remains and burial items to the appropriate Indigenous communities. It is fitting that Congress used the term “repatriation” in the act. Before NAGPRA, the federal government had used “repatriation” to describe the return of remains of prisoners of war to foreign nations. Native American nations are sovereign as well, and Congress correctly characterized the returns as repatriations.

Although compensation for federal trust mismanagement and repatriation of ancestral remains represent important victories, land claims and treaty rights are most central to Indigenous peoples’ fight for reparations in the United States. The case of the great Sioux Nation exemplifies the persistence among Indigenous nations and Communities to protect their sovereignty and cultures. The Sioux have never accepted the validity of the U.S. confiscation of Paha Sapa, the Black Hills. Mount Rushmore is controversial among Native Americans because it is located in the Black Hills. Members of the American Indian Movement led occupations of the monument beginning in 1971. Return of the Black Hills was the major Sioux demand in the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee. Due to a decade of intense protests and occupations by the Sioux, on July 23, 1980, in United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Black Hills had been taken illegally and that remuneration equal to the initial offering price plus interest – nearly $106-million – be paid. The Sioux refused the award and continued to demand return of the Black Hills. The money remained in an interest-bearing account, which by 2010, amounted to more than $757-million. The Sioux believe that accepting the money would validate the U.S. theft of their most sacred land.

The Sioux Nation’s determination to repatriate the Black Hills attracted renewed media attention in 2011. A segment of the PBS NewsHour titled “For Great Sioux Nation, Black Hills Can’t Be Bought for $1.3 Billion” aired on Aug. 24, 2011. The reporter described a Sioux reservation as one of the most difficult places in which to live in the United States:

“Few people in the Western Hemisphere have shorter life expectancies. Males, on average, live to just 48 years old, females to 52. Almost half of all people above the age of 40 have diabetes. And the economic realities are even worse. Unemployment rates are consistently above 80 per cent. In Shannon County, inside the Pine Ridge Reservation, half the children live in poverty, and the average income is $8,000 a year. But there are funds available, a federal pot now worth more than a billion dollars. That sits here in the U.S. Treasury Department waiting to be collected by nine Sioux tribes. The money stems from a 1980 Supreme Court ruling that set aside $105-million to compensate the Sioux for the taking of the Black Hills in 1877, an isolated mountain range rich in minerals that stretched from South Dakota to Wyoming. The only problem: The Sioux never wanted the money because the land was never for sale.”

That one of the most impoverished communities in the Americas would refuse a billion dollars demonstrates the relevance and significance of the land to the Sioux, not as an economic resource but as a relationship between people and place, a profound feature of the resilience of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas. •

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz has been active in the international Indigenous movement for more than four decades and is known for her lifelong commitment to national and international social justice issues. Her 1977 book The Great Sioux Nation was the fundamental document at the first international conference on Indigenous peoples of the Americas, held at the United Nations’ headquarters in Geneva. Dunbar-Ortiz is the author or editor of seven other books, including Roots of Resistance: A History of Land Tenure in New Mexico. She publishes at www.reddirtsite.com.

This article is an excerpt from An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, published by Beacon Press, 2015. Originally published on In These Times website.

At least 499 Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli soldiers and settlers across the occupied Palestinian Territory since Saturday, the Palestinian Red Crescent said on Monday.

Spokesperson Errab Foqoha told Ma’an that at least 41 Palestinians had been shot with live rounds, while 143 were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets.

She said that some 297 Palestinians had suffered excessive tear gas inhalation, while another 18 were injured when they were physically assaulted.

Israeli soldiers east of the West Bank city of Nablus, on October 3, 2015, during a search for the suspected Palestinian killers of a settler couple. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh/File)

Israeli soldiers east of the West Bank city of Nablus, on October 3, 2015, during a search for the suspected Palestinian killers of a settler couple. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh/File)

Israeli forces have also killed two Palestinians, including a 13-year-old boy, in fierce clashes that have swept across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since Friday.

The Palestinian Red Cross on Sunday declared a state of emergency across the occupied Palestinian territory, and said it was putting all its staff, teams and volunteers on standby.

It decried Israeli “violations” of humanitarian law, and called on the international community to take the “necessary steps” to make Israel comply with international law.

Tensions had been steadily mounting in recent weeks due to Israeli restrictions on Palestinians seeking to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem.

However, it was violent Israeli reprisals that were carried out in the wake of two separate attacks that killed four Israelis last week, that prompted the latest clashes.

There have been warnings in Israeli media of a “third intifada,” with Israeli daily Haaretz writing: “Perhaps it will take just one more death, on either side, for all hell to break loose in a cycle of vicious retribution.”

However, the newspaper also noted that “the extent of current violence doesn’t come close to that which took place in 1987 and 2000, when the previous two intifadas broke out.”

On Sunday, the PLO warned that attacks by both Israeli soldiers and settlers indicated “the Israeli government is deliberately creating a situation of violence and instability that threatens to spiral out of control.”

Britain’s Secret Widespread Use of Torture

October 6th, 2015 by Graham Vanbergen

The last British prisoner in Guantanamo Bay has claimed that Britain knew flawed evidence, used to justify the Iraq War, had been obtained under torture – and said his lengthy detention was a result of fears that he would go on the record if released.

Shaker Aamer, who is due to be freed from the US military prison after 13 years without charge, said he witnessed British agents at Bagram Air Base when a prisoner wrongly told interrogators that Iraqi forces had trained al-Qaeda in the use of weapons of mass destruction.

The evidence of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, which was later disproven, was used by George W Bush in 2002 during a hawkish speech calling for the removal of Saddam Hussein, in which he said: “We’ve learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases.”

TruePublica

Mr Aamer said that despite guarantees he would be released within days, he feared he would still die in the prison, adding: “I know there are people who, even now, are working hard to keep me here.”

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “The UK does not participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment for any purpose.

Aamer gave statements to the Metropolitan police two years ago in which he detailed the alleged brutality he has faced, that included torture. He said he was interrogated by British agents at Bagram airbase, who knew he and others were being tortured there.

Britain has a long, dark history of torture and it has gone to extraordinary lengths to hide it. A normal functioning democracy would stand resolute that torture of any kind is not just illegal and immoral, it simply doesn’t work.

David Whyte’s recent book “How Corrupt is Britain” covers some pivotal moments in the UK’s history of torture.

In June 1975 an eminent Harley Street doctor flew to Dublin. The patient was suffering from severe angina, a condition which is ‘always associated with the risk of sudden death according to the doctor. The doctor was Dr Denis Leigh, a leading consultant psychiatrist at the Bethlem Royal and the Maudsley Hospitals in London, and more importantly, medical consultant to the British Army.

The patient, Sean McKenna, was a former member of the IRA who had been subjected to so-called ‘in-depth interrogation’ following the introduction of internment without trial in August 1971, He was one of the 14 ‘hooded men’ whose infamous treatment forced the lrish state to launch a case alleging torture against the UK government at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Leigh’s medical examination was being carried out on behalf of the Crown to bolster the UK defence that the men had not suffered long-term physical or psychiatric damage as a result of their interrogation.

The ‘in-depth interrogation’ that McKenna and the others were subjected to consisted of five techniques that had been widely used by the British army in counter-insurgency campaigns in Aden, Cyprus, Malaya, Palestine and elsewhere – hooding, white noise, wall standing in a stress position and of course regular beatings.

Dr Leigh found that McKenna’s condition was known to British army doctors before the interrogation went ahead, and ‘it would be hard to show that it was wise to proceed with the interrogation, and that the interrogation did not have the effect of worsening his angina’.

In fact McKenna’s psychiatric condition was such that he had been released from Long Kesh internment camp in May 1972 directly into the care of a psychiatric unit. His daughter described ‘a very broken man, sitting crying, very shaky’. Four days after the June 1975 medical examination Sean McKenna died. He had suffered a massive heart attack.

In 1976 the European Human Rights Commission (EHRC) upheld a complaint by Ireland that the treatment of the ‘hooded men’ constituted torture, and referred the case to the European Court of Human Rights for judgement. The Commission had condemned the five techniques as a ‘modern system of torture’.

Britain was one of the original signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights, had been found to have sanctioned torture.

Successive UK governments, rather than comply with their legal obligation to ‘search and try’ allegations of torture, adopted a policy more akin to ‘hide and lie’. This was to have consequences many years later. The inquiry into the 2003 murder of an Iraqi civilian, Baha Mousa, by British soldiers was told that the five techniques had again been used in Iraq by every single battle group in the field.

ln ‘Cruel Britannia: A Secret History of Torture‘, Guardian journalist Ian Cobain provides damning evidence that the UK government did in fact ‘do’ torture, and had been doing so for decades in counter-insurgency wars from Brunei to Aden, and from Ireland to lraq. In June 2013 UK foreign secretary William Hague apologised in Parliament for the torture of Mau Mau suspects in Kenya during the 1950s. Over £50 million was paid out in compensation to some 5,000 Kenyan victims. ln 1972 prime minister Edward Heath had promised Parliament that the ‘five techniques’ torture techniques would never be used again.

As declassified documents now show, prime ministers and cabinet colleagues over the decades actually went to great lengths to ensure that those responsible for torture would not face sanction or prosecution and actively covered up these crimes.

In another case in Afghanistan, among the Britons who were picked up was a man called Jamal al-Harith. Born Ronald Fiddler in Manchester in 1966, Harith had converted to Islam in his 20s and travelled widely in the Muslim world before arriving in Afghanistan. After 9/11, he had been imprisoned by the Taliban, who suspected him of being a British spy. A British journalist found Harith languishing in the prison in January 2002 and alerted British diplomats in Kabul, believing they would arrange his repatriation. Instead, they arranged for him to be detained by US forces, who took him straight to an interrogation centre at Kandahar.

Harith then spent two years at Guantánamo, being kicked, punched, slapped, shackled in painful positions, subjected to extreme temperatures and deprived of sleep. He was refused adequate water supplies and fed on food with date markings 10 or 12 years old. On one occasion, he says, he was chained and severely beaten for refusing an injection. He estimates he was interrogated about 80 times, usually by Americans but sometimes by British intelligence officers.

In all, nine British nationals were sent to the maximum-security prison atGuantánamo, along with at least nine former British residents. All were incarcerated for years, and from the moment they arrived they suffered torture including regular beatings, threats and sleep deprivation. All were interrogated by MI5 officers and some also by MI6.

In December 2005, the full truth about British complicity in rendition and torture was still such a deeply buried official secret that Jack Straw felt able to reassure MPs on the Commons foreign affairs committee about the allegations starting to surface in the media. “Unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories,” he said, “there simply is no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition or that behind this there is some kind of secret state which is in league with some dark forces in the United States”. Straw was lying.

Over the next few years, men were rendered not only from the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, but from Kenya, Pakistan, Indonesia, Somalia, Bosnia, Croatia, Albania, Gambia, Zambia, Thailand and the US itself. The US was running a global kidnapping programme on the basis of agreements reached at a Nato meeting.

Quietly, Britain pledged logistics support for the rendition programme, which resulted in the CIA’s jets becoming frequent visitors to British airports en route to the agency’s secret prisons on at least 210 times.

It has since been discovered that throughout the postwar period, it seemed, there had been a network of secret British prisons, hidden from the Red Cross, where men thought to pose a threat to the state could be kept for years and systematically tormented, tortured and sometimes murdered.

It is now known that MI5 have a department called the “international terrorism-related agent running section”: the section routinely responsible for interviewing suspected terrorists. The MI5 officers who were interrogating al-Qaida suspects – men who were being tortured in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Guantánamo and elsewhere around the world – were agent handlers. It appeared that MI5 was seeking to recruit torture victims as double agents.

Within two months of the May 2010 general election, under pressure from his Liberal Democrat coalition partners, as well as some of his own backbenchers, the new prime minister, David Cameron, announced the establishment of a judge-led inquiry into the UK’s involvement in torture and rendition. The man appointed to head the inquiry was named as Sir Peter Gibson, a retired judge. It is possible that MI5 and MI6 had a hand in his selection; for the previous four years Gibson had served as the intelligence services commissioner. Rights groups suggested that Gibson should be appearing before the inquiry as a witness rather than presiding over it.

In July 2011, most major international and British human rights groups, including Amnesty International, said they would be boycotting the inquiry. The following month, lawyers representing victims of Britain’s torture operations announced that they, too, would have nothing to do with it. Six months later, the government announced that the Gibson inquiry was scrapped.

Cameron’s government then brought forward a green paper that suggested a need for greater courtroom secrecy. Britain’s complicity in torture was to continue to be a dirty dark state secret.

None of this squares with Britain’s reputation as a nation that prides itself on its love of fair play and respect for the rule of law. Successive British government’s continues to preach to other nations around the world of the importance of justice, transparency and democracy whilst disregarding essentials such as these back at home.

Let’s hope, as Otto von Bismarck said, that “there is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, and the United States of America…

Hamlet: Let it work,

For ’tis the sport to have the engineer

Hoist with his own petard.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow. “Do you realize what you’ve done?”

At the United Nations General Assembly on Monday’s last, the Russian Federation hoisted the United States on its own petard, blowing up the fourteen-year-old fictitious narrative of the War on Terror by proposing real action. While Obama went to UNGA without a single proposal, Putin proposed a coalition against terrorists, “like the one we had against Hitler”:

We are suggesting to not be guided by ambition, but by mutual values and shared interests. To unite our efforts based on international law to solve the issues we are facing, and to create a truly broad international anti-terrorism coalition.

You have to agree that the reference to Hitler was a rhetorical masterstroke, mocking the American political and media establishments’ frequent slurs of Putin as Hitler. Taking over the terms of a discourse is the first step in exposing its hidden connivance. It’s the petard in action. Polonius-like with doddering ramblings, but rank with clichéd sound-bites and sulking fury, Obama boasted like a cornered school-yard bully, ““I lead the strongest military that the world has ever known, and I will never hesitate to protect my country and our allies, unilaterally and by force where necessary.” Against which boast, with almost biblical thunder, pounced Putin’s accusation, ““Do you realize what you’ve done?”

A stunning question, for, without ever mentioning the US, referring to it instead as the “sole center of dominance” after the end of the Cold War, Putin recalled its attention to the devastating consequences of its foreign policy decisions. “A power vacuum for extremism,” in his words, had opened like a sucking vortex in the Middle East and North Africa, which “led to the creation of zones of anarchy, immediately filled by extremists.” The Islamic State, he said, did not materialize from nothing.

So, then, what now? The Islamic State must be destroyed—in all its permutations. Imagine Washington’s consternation as its pretext for rampaging across the globe was being deftly and swiftly removed from its propaganda control.

“‘The Islamic State must be destroyed—in all its permutations.’ Imagine Washington’s consternation as its pretext for rampaging across the globe was being deftly and swiftly removed from its propaganda control…”

Since Monday, dramatic events unfolded. On his return to Russia on 29 September, Putin gathered the permanent members of the Russian Federation’s advisory council on security to discuss the fight against extremism and terrorism. On Wednesday, upon recommendation of the advisory council, the Russian Parliament (higher chamber) approved the use of Russian armed forces on foreign soil. President Assad formally requested Russian military assistance in fighting ISIS, thus making Russia’s defensive intervention in Syria the only one based on legality—unlike the aerial strikes conducted by the US, joined lately by France, and being considered by Australia and other countries, which violate international law, as noted by Sergei Ivanov, Kremlin spokesman. Foreign Minister Lavrov, on Wednesday, said that

Russia is helping Syria to fight against the Islamic State. We have explained our position, we do not to feel any affection to anyone in the region, but we are firmly convinced that we cannot allow Syria to collapse as a state. We have suggested that the US should harmonize its efforts to be sure that the air strikes on the terrorists’ positions are coordinated with the steps on the ground. I hope that Barack Obama has heard the words of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

lavrov-russian-foreign-minister-sergey-lavrov1Lavrov added that Moscow is preparing a UN resolution proposing a coalition against the Daesh. Will the United States expose its cheating hand by voting against it in the Security Council? We are living in interesting times. Russia is sending to Syria from forty to sixty—Su-24, Su-25, and Su-34—airplanes and two battalions. Russian strikes have already hit near Homs, as reported by CNN. The US has not heeded Russia’s request to keep clear of Syria’s aerial space during these initial operations, thereby increasing the risk of “confliction,” a military term meaning an incident SNAFU of international proportions.

Whatever happens next, the US is on notice to stop playing with fire. Let’s hope, as Otto von Bismarck said, that “there is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, and the United States of America,” so that the Americans understand, still in Bismarck’s words, not to “expect that once we have taken advantage of Russia’s weakness, we will profit forever.”

The Teutons, the Mongols, the Turks, the French, and the Nazis all learned that hard lesson. It’s time for the US to take up Russia’s offer to join a coalition alliance to stamp out these proliferating terrorists—implicitly, instead of training and funding them until the whole scam blows up in their faces, as it’s doing in Syria. “The secret of politics is to make a good treaty with Russia,” Bismarck advised. As history shows, it is not wise to play dice with Russia.

 

After the reintegration of Crimea in Russian territory, the United States has pressured regulatory authorities of the European Union to restrict the access of Russia to SWIFT, the system of international payment founded by 200 Anglo-Saxon banks in the decade of the 1970s. In response, the government of Vladimir Putin has established an alternative system of payments that has already begun to extend its operations among Russian banks and, let it be said in passing, has served as an inspiration for China as well as the other countries that make up BRICS.

The unipolarity of the United States in the world financial system is rapidly fading. As a consequence of their political near-sightedness, Washington has obliged other countries to establish instruments of financial cooperation that abandon the use of the dollar, as well as multilateral institutions that are no longer guided by the rules imposed by the US Treasury Department[1].

The fact is that finances and money have been utilized as instruments of foreign policy, that is, as mechanisms of global domination that look to undermine both geopolitical adversaries (Russia) as well as rising economic powers (China) that resist submitting themselves to the North American yoke.

Faced with the impossibility of establishing their strategic objectives through diplomacy, the United States is engaged in a financial war, either through economic embargoes, speculative attacks, freezing bank accounts of politicians and businessmen, etc.

In open violation of the principles of international law, Washington aims its artillery at countries that make up the so-called “axis of evil”: North Korea, Iran, Syria, Sudan, etc. Their modus operandi consists in strangulating the economy of the country involved in order to provoke a change of regime[2].

Now this same strategy is directed against the Government of Vladimir Putin. After the reintegration of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol to Russian territory –upheld in the referendum celebrated in March of 2014– the United States, the United Kingdom and Poland pressured the European Union to expel Russia from the Society of World Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT)[3].

Founded in 1973 in the city of Brussels, Belgium, SWIFT is an international system of communications that allow banks to realize electronic transferences among themselves. Before its establishment, financial entities were limited to communicate through Telex and bilateral telephone systems.

In this sense, SWIFT constituted a high level technological advance, given that it allowed both an increase in the speed of trade and world investment, as well as diminishing the costs of transaction in an unprecedented scale.

At the present time, SWIFT is utilized by 10,500 banks – above all US and European – in more than 200 countries. In their day of greatest apogee in 2015 they processed 27.5 million orders of payment.

SWIFT is a “technical” mechanism, purely “neutral” according to the magnates of Wall Street and the City of London. Nevertheless, the attacks of September 11 on the Twin Towers led the United States to involve itself in the system of payments: the Treasury Department since then demanded “specific information” with the excuse that they would “monitor” the channels of financing of “terrorist groups”.

In this way, with the argument that they were involved in illegal activities the Iranian banks were disconnected from SWIFT three years ago, a situation that left the provision of credit for foreign trade for the Persian country in an awkward predicament.

At the same time, Washington opened the way for the National Security Agency (NSA) to be involved. According to the revelations of Edward Snowden ‘Follow the Money’ is the name of the specialized programme of the NSA that is charged with spying on the global financial system[4].

The following [of money] realized by the personnel of the NSA ended with the establishment of a data base ‘TRACFIN’ that in 2011 contained at least 180 million registers of operations among banks, credit card transactions and, obviously, thousands of messages in the SWIFT system.

Hence the United States undertook a quasi monopolistic control of the system of international payments in order to asphyxiate their rivals. To date the disconnection of SWIFT had not been implemented against Russia because of a “lack of authority” on the part of the regulatory authorities. It is one thing to chastise a regional power, and quite another to take on a face to face battle with a world power.

With all that, the constant threats from the United States and their European allies led the Government of Vladimir Putin to establish an alternative system of payments. More than 90% of the Russian banks operations are cross-border, so that if the expulsion of Moscow from the SWIFT system were realized, the consequences for the world economy would have been catastrophic[5].

The principal Russian banks (Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank, Bank of Moscow, Rosselkhozbank, etc.) have already entered bilateral agreements and fully use the new system of payments, according to Olga Skorobogatova, the vice-governor of the central bank[6].

The new system of transactions diminished the costs in comparison with SWIFT, and more importantly, gave Moscow greater political autonomy and economic security in case of a new rise in sanctions. In addition, the Russian initiative unleashed the construction of alternative systems of payment in other parts of the world.

On the one hand, China is ready to move in coming weeks with their own system of transactions[7]. On the other, the members of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are discussing the possibility of launching a multilateral system of payments, that is, that not only Russia and China would benefit, but the system of payments would undertake operations among all members of the block[8].

The plan orchestrated from Washington and Brussels against Russia ended with a ‘boomerang effect’, since it not only involved the expulsion from SWIFT, but Moscow established an alternative system that completely neutralized the attempts of destabilization and in parallel, served as the inspiration for the BRICS countries and will soon serve the majority of emerging economies.

Ariel Noyola Rodríguez, economist graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Translation: Jordan Bishop.

Source: Russia Today.

Notes

[1] «The Fragility of the Global Financial Order», Mark Dubowitz & Jonathan Schanzer, The Wall Street Journal, March 3, 2015.

[2] «Financial sanctions: The pros and cons of a SWIFT response», The Economist, November 22, 2014.

[6] «Russia’s SWIFT Equivalent Already in Use», Russia Insider, September 21, 2015.

[8] «BRICS starts examining SWIFT alternative», Russia Today, June 17, 2015.

 

Rupert Murdoch: Propaganda Recruit for Reagan

October 6th, 2015 by Robert Parry

In February 1983, global media magnate Rupert Murdoch volunteered to help the Reagan administration’s propaganda strategy for deploying U.S. mid-range nuclear missiles in Europe by using his newspapers to exacerbate public fears about the Soviet Union, according to a recently declassified “secret” letter.

Murdoch, then an Australian citizen with major newspaper holdings in Great Britain and some in the United States, had already established close political ties with British Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and was developing them with President Ronald Reagan, partly through one of Murdoch’s lawyers, the infamous Red-baiter Roy Cohn, who had served as counsel to Sen. Joe McCarthy’s investigations in the 1950s.

By February 1983, Cohn had already arranged a face-to-face meeting between Reagan and Murdoch (on Jan. 18, 1983) and had brokered a collaborative relationship between Murdoch and Charles Z. Wick, director of the U.S. Information Agency who oversaw U.S. propaganda operations worldwide.

President Reagan meets with publisher Rupert Murdoch, U.S. Information Agency Director Charles Wick, lawyers Roy Cohn and Thomas Bolan in the Oval Office on Jan. 18, 1983. (Photo credit: Reagan presidential library)

President Reagan meets with publisher Rupert Murdoch, U.S. Information Agency Director Charles Wick, lawyers Roy Cohn and Thomas Bolan in the Oval Office on Jan. 18, 1983. (Photo credit: Reagan presidential library)

On Feb. 14, 1983, in a “secret” letter to Reagan’s National Security Advisor William P. Clark, USIA Director Wick described a phone call from Murdoch in which they discussed ways to heighten European and American fears about Soviet SS-20 intermediate-range missiles and thus undermine activists pushing for nuclear disarmament. Murdoch said his comments reflected the views of high-ranking British officials with whom Murdoch had talked.

In the letter, Wick told Clark that CIA Director William J. Casey was eager to help Murdoch’s efforts by releasing classified satellite photos of the Soviet missiles in eastern Europe but was confronting resistance from the spy agency’s professional analysts.

“Rupert Murdoch … called me on February 9 [1983],” Wick told Clark. “Senior British officials have been telling him of their increasing concern with the rapid progress being made by the unilateralists,” a reference to the anti-nuclear activists who were rallying millions of Europeans to the cause of nuclear disarmament.

“According to Murdoch, the majority of the people just do not understand the SS-20 threat. He asked if we could release satellite photographs of Soviet SS-20s to dramatically stem the rising opposition to GLCM [U.S. ground-launched cruise missiles] and Pershing II deployment. He felt that the delineation of the SS-20 threat graphically could be very persuasive. It would give the press – the friendly press in particular – an opportunity to counter the growing wave of unilateralism.

“I pointed out to Murdoch that I had seen these photographs and they are not comprehensible to the lay person. Murdoch responded that he would commission credible analysts to be briefed here. They could make the photographs understandable to the average individual with circles, arrows, and other enhancements.”

The next section of Wick’s letter remains classified – more than three decades later – on national security grounds.

On the letter’s second page, Wick describes his contact with CIA Director Casey regarding Murdoch’s phone call to seek the CIA’s cooperation in releasing the satellite photographs and making other public relations moves to influence domestic and international public opinion, including “a presidential press conference similar to President Kennedy’s during the Cuban missile crisis.”

Wick said President Reagan

“could present large blow-ups while experts would be on hand to provide explanations in greater detail. Bill Casey agreed to re-check the objections raised by his people when we initially discussed release of the photographs last year. Bill’s people still oppose release of the photographs for ‘legal and security considerations.’ However, Bill said we do not want to be too rigid and protective, given Murdoch’s observations and with so much hanging in the balance on the upcoming German elections.”

Wick added that he and Casey wanted NSC Advisor Clark to take this “major public diplomacy question” to the Senior Policy Group (SPG) to consider overriding the CIA staff’s objections. (Wick’s letter was declassified last month by the National Archives in response to a Freedom of Information Act request that I filed in 2013.)

Dangerous Tensions

In 1983, the escalating tensions with the Soviet Union over the SS-20s and the deployment of U.S. cruise missiles in Europe led to what became known as “the New Cold War,” with Reagan rapidly expanding the U.S. military budget and engaging in extreme anti-Soviet rhetoric.

In a March 23, 1983 speech to the nation about the supposed Soviet threat, Reagan did release a few satellite images but they were of facilities in Cuba and Central America, not eastern Europe and the SS-20s. “I wish I could show you more without compromising our most sensitive intelligence sources and methods,” Reagan said.

CIA historical review in 2007 revealed that the Reagan administration in the early 1980s was intentionally raising tensions with the Soviet Union, in part, by mounting provocative military exercises near its borders. In response, Moscow raised its nuclear alert levels fearing a possible U.S. first strike, a hair-trigger risk for an accidental nuclear conflict that was not well understood in Washington at the time.

The CIA study reported:

“New information suggests that Moscow … was reacting to US-led naval and air operations, including psychological warfare missions conducted close to the Soviet Union. These operations employed sophisticated concealment and deception measures to thwart Soviet early warning systems and to offset the Soviets’ ability … to read US naval communications.”

The Soviets were also spooked by Reagan’s harsh “evil empire” rhetoric and weapons build-up, prompting “Soviet officials and much of the populace to voice concern over the prospect of a US nuclear attack,” the CIA study said. “Moscow’s threat perceptions and Operation RYAN [a special intelligence operation to collect data on the U.S. threat] were influenced by memories of Hitler’s 1941 surprise attack on the USSR (Operation BARBAROSSA).”

As a major global publisher with close ties to Thatcher’s government, Murdoch saw himself as part of this ideological struggle and volunteered his news outlets to support hard-line Thatcher-Reagan policies against the Soviets. Documents previously released by Reagan’s presidential library in Simi Valley, California, revealed the key role played by Cohn in connecting Murdoch with the top echelon of the Reagan administration.

Both Roy Cohn and Ronald Reagan got their starts in politics during the anti-communist purges in the 1950s, Cohn as Sen. Joe McCarthy’s chief counsel and Reagan as a witness against alleged communists in Hollywood. Cohn, a hardball political player, built his reputation as both an anti-communist and anti-gay crusader who aggressively interrogated witnesses during the Red Scare and the Lavender Scare, claiming that the U.S. government was infiltrated by communists and homosexuals who threatened the nation’s security.

Cohn’s high-profile role in the McCarthy hearings ultimately ended when he was forced to resign over charges that he targeted the U.S. Army for an anti-communist purge because it had refused to give preferential treatment to one of his close associates, G. David Shine. Though Cohn denied he was romantically involved with Shine – and a homosexual relationship was never proven – Cohn’s own homosexuality became publicly known after he underwent treatment for AIDS in the 1980s, leading to his death in 1986.

However, in Cohn’s final years, he enjoyed close personal ties to the Reagan administration and exchanged warm notes with Reagan himself. But, more significantly, Cohn, as one of Murdoch’s lawyers, brought the influential publisher into the Oval Office on Jan. 18, 1983, to meet with Reagan and Wick. A photograph of that meeting – also released by the Reagan library – shows Cohn leaning forward, speaking to Reagan who is seated next to Murdoch.

“I had one interest when Tom [Bolan, Cohn’s law partner] and I first brought Rupert Murdoch and Governor Reagan together – and that was that at least one major publisher in this country … would become and remain pro-Reagan,” Cohn wrote in a Jan. 27, 1983 letter to senior White House aides Edwin Meese, James Baker and Michael Deaver. “Mr. Murdoch has performed to the limit up through and including today.”

The letter noted that Murdoch then owned the “New York Post – over one million, third largest and largest afternoon; New York Magazine; Village Voice; San Antonio Express; Houston Ring papers; and now the Boston Herald; and internationally influential London Times, etc.” [For more details on Cohn’s role, see Consortiumnews.com’s “How Roy Cohn Helped Rupert Murdoch.”]

Financing Propaganda

Following the Jan. 18, 1983 meeting, Murdoch became involved in a privately funded propaganda project to help sell Reagan’s hard-line Central American policies, according to other documents. That PR operation was overseen by senior CIA propaganda specialist Walter Raymond Jr. and CIA Director Casey.

By late 1982, the Reagan administration was gearing up for an expanded propaganda push in support of the President’s aggressive policies in Central America, including support for the Salvadoran and Guatemalan militaries – both notorious for their human rights violations – and for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels who also were gaining an unsavory reputation for acts of terrorism and brutality.

This PR campaign was spearheaded by CIA Director Casey and Raymond, one of the CIA’s top covert operation specialists who was transferred to the National Security Council staff to minimize legal concerns about the CIA violating its charter which bars influencing the American public. To further shield the CIA from possible fallout from this domestic propaganda operation, Casey and Raymond sought to arrange private financing to pay for some activities.

On Jan. 13, 1983, NSC Advisor Clark noted in a memo to Reagan the need for non-governmental money to advance the PR project. “We will develop a scenario for obtaining private funding,” Clark wrote, as cited in an unpublished draft chapter of the congressional Iran-Contra investigation. Clark then told the President that “Charlie Wick has offered to take the lead. We may have to call on you to meet with a group of potential donors.”

Five days later, on Jan. 18, 1983, Roy Cohn accompanied Rupert Murdoch into the Oval Office for a face-to-face meeting with President Reagan and USIA Director Wick. Nine days later, in the Jan. 27, 1983 letter to Meese, Baker and Deaver – written on the letterhead of the Saxe, Bacon & Bolan law firm – Cohn hailed the success of Murdoch’s “warm meeting with the President and the goodwill created by Charlie Wick’s dinner.”

But Murdoch was also thin-skinned. Cohn complained about what Murdoch saw as a presidential snub when Reagan bypassed the Boston Herald during a late January 1983 trip to Boston. Michael McManus, the deputy assistant to the President, offered an effusive apology to Cohn:

“we were all sorry about the confusion surrounding a possible Presidential visit to the Boston Herald. …

“I also called Mr. Murdoch as you suggested, explained the situation to him and apologized for any confusion. I am sure you are aware of our continued high regard for Mr. Murdoch personally and our appreciation of the importance of what he is doing.”

Despite Cohn’s complaint about the slight to Murdoch, the Australian media magnate appears to have pitched in to help the CIA-organized outreach program for Reagan’s Central American policies. Now declassified documents indicate that Murdoch was soon viewed as a source for the private funding.

On May 20, 1983, longtime CIA propagandist Raymond, who was overseeing the “perception management” project aimed at both domestic and foreign audiences, wrote that $400,000 had been raised from private donors brought to the White House by USIA Director Wick.

Raymond said the funds were divided among several organizations including Accuracy in Media, a right-wing group that attacked reporters who deviated from Reagan’s propaganda themes, and the neoconservative Freedom House (which later denied receiving White House money, though it made little sense that Raymond would lie in an internal memo).

As the White House continued to cultivate its ties to Murdoch, Reagan held a second Oval Office meeting with the publisher — on July 7, 1983 — who was accompanied by Charles Douglas-Home, the editor of Murdoch’s flagship UK newspaper, the London Times.

President Ronald Reagan meets with Charles Douglas Home, editor of London Times, and its publisher Rupert Murdoch in the Oval Office on July 7, 1983. (Photo credit: Reagan presidential library)

President Ronald Reagan meets with Charles Douglas Home, editor of London Times, and its publisher Rupert Murdoch in the Oval Office on July 7, 1983. (Photo credit: Reagan presidential library)

In an Aug. 9, 1983 memo summing up the results of a Casey-organized meeting with five leading ad executives regarding how to “sell” Reagan’s policies in Central America, Raymond referred to Murdoch as if he were one of the benefactors helping out.

In a memo to Clark, Raymond said the project would involve a comprehensive approach aimed at persuading a majority of Americans to back Reagan’s Central American policies. “We must move out into the middle sector of the American public and draw them into the ‘support’ column,” Raymond wrote. “A second package of proposals deal with means to market the issue, largely considering steps utilizing public relations specialists – or similar professionals – to help transmit the message.”

To improve the project’s chances for success, Raymond wrote, “we recommended funding via Freedom House or some other structure that has credibility in the political center. Wick, via Murdoch, may be able to draw down added funds for this effort.” Raymond included similar information in a separate memo to Wick in which Raymond noted that “via Murdock [sic] may be able to draw down added funds” to support the initiative. (Raymond later told me that he was referring to Rupert Murdoch.)

In a March 7, 1984 memo about the “‘Private Funders’ Project,” Raymond referred to Murdoch again in discussing a request for money from longtime CIA-connected journalist Brian Crozier, who was “looking for private sector funding to work on the question of ‘anti-Americanism’ overseas.”

Raymond wrote:

“I am pursuaded [sic] it is a significant long term problem. It is also the kind of thing that Ruppert [sic] and Jimmy might respond positively to. Please look over the stack [of papers from Crozier] and lets [sic] discuss if and when there might be further discussion with our friends.”

Murdoch’s News Corp. has not responded to several requests for comment about the Reagan-era documents.

Murdoch’s Rise

With these close ties to Reagan’s White House and Thatcher’s 10 Downing Street, Murdoch’s media empire continued to grow. To meet a regulatory requirement that U.S. TV stations must be owned by Americans, Murdoch became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1985. Murdoch also benefited from the Reagan administration’s relaxation of media ownership rules which enabled him to buy more TV stations, which he then molded into the Fox Broadcasting Company, which was founded on Oct. 9, 1986.

In 1987, the “Fairness Doctrine,” which required political balance in broadcasting, was eliminated, which let Murdoch pioneer a more aggressive conservatism on his TV network. In the mid-1990s, Murdoch expanded his political reach by founding the neoconservative Weekly Standard in 1995 and Fox News on cable in 1996. At Fox News, Murdoch hired scores of prominent politicians, mostly Republicans, putting them on his payroll as commentators.

Last decade, Murdoch continued to expand his reach into U.S. mass media, acquiring DirecTV and the financial news giant Dow Jones, which included The Wall Street Journal, America’s leading business news journal.

As his empire grew, Murdoch parlayed his extraordinary media power into the ability to make or break political leaders, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom. In December 2014, the UK’s Independent reported that Ed Richards, the retiring head of the British media regulatory agency Ofcom, accused British government representatives of showing favoritism to Murdoch’s companies.

Richards said he was “surprised” by the informality, closeness and frequency of contact between executives and ministers during the failed bid by Murdoch’s News Corp. for the satellite network BSkyB in 2011. The deal was abandoned when it was discovered that journalists at Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid had hacked the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and others.

“What surprised everyone about it – not just me – was quite how close it was and the informality of it,” Richards said, confirming what had been widely reported regarding Murdoch’s access to powerful British politicians dating back at least to the reign of Prime Minister Thatcher in the 1980s. The Reagan documents suggest that Murdoch built similarly close ties to leading U.S. politicians in the same era.

These glimpses behind the curtain also reveal how these symbiotic – or some might say incestuous – relationships have developed between media magnates and likeminded politicians. Though Murdoch might argue that he was simply following his ideological beliefs – and putting his news outlets behind his political goals – it’s also clear that his commitment to right-wing causes proved very profitable as well.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

Washington’s War Crime in Afghanistan

October 6th, 2015 by Bill Van Auken

The massacre of 22 people—12 doctors, nurses and other medical personnel, along with 10 patients, three of them children—in Saturday’s airstrike on the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medical center in Kunduz, Afghanistan is an appalling war crime for which the US military and Obama administration are responsible.

On Monday, the top US commander in Afghanistan admitted that a US warplane carried out the deadly attack, while seeking to shift the blame onto Afghan puppet troops for calling it in.

“An air strike was then called to eliminate the Taliban and several civilians were accidentally struck,” Gen. John Campbell told a Pentagon press conference. This account is at odds with the Pentagon’s initial story that US special forces troops had come under fire and called in the airstrike.

The plane involved was an AC-130, nicknamed the “Angel of Death,” a huge, slow-flying aircraft equipped with multiple cannons, rockets and bombs that is capable of circling a target for long periods, delivering devastating firepower. The Pentagon has boasted about this flying fortress’s ability to strike targets with “pinpoint accuracy,” in this case a huge, well-marked hospital.

Survivors of the attack described horrific scenes, with patients burning in their beds and doctors and nurses covered in blood from multiple grievous wounds.

Afghan officials shamelessly defended the attack on the hospital. “When insurgents try to use civilians and public places to hide, it makes it very, very difficult…” Fawzia Koofi, an Afghan member of parliament from northern Badakhshan Province, told the Washington Post. “You have two choices: either continue operations to clean up, and that might involve attacks in public places, or you just let the Taliban control. In this case, the public understands we went with the first choice, along with our international allies.”

Similarly, the acting governor of Kunduz, Hamdullah Danishi, told the Post, “The hospital campus was 100 percent used by the Taliban. The hospital has a vast garden, and the Taliban were there. We tolerated their firing for some time” before responding.

These statements constitute an “admission of a war crime,” MSF General Director Christopher Stokes said Sunday. They “imply that Afghan and US forces working together decided to raze to the ground a fully functioning hospital with more than 180 staff and patients inside because they claim that members of the Taliban were present,” he said.

MSF has categorically denied that any armed Taliban were present in the hospital and reported that it had repeatedly advised the US military as to the location of the hospital, which has operated in Kunduz for years.

The most plausible explanation is that the US military and its Afghan forces decided to attack the hospital because of its well-known practice of treating all in need of care, including wounded Taliban fighters. Such an atrocity is meant to send a message: anyone who aids an enemy of the US military forces occupying Afghanistan will die.

The attack is further evidence to be used in future war crimes trials. During its nearly seven years in office, the Obama administration has doubled down on the atrocities carried out by its predecessor.

Tomorrow marks the 14th anniversary of the October 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan. The Pentagon dubbed America’s conquest of the impoverished country straddling the strategic regions of Central and South Asia “Operation Enduring Freedom.” It would have been more accurate to call it “Operation Enduring Slaughter.” According to the extremely conservative estimate made by the United Nations, over 19,000 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan since 2009 alone.

Conditions have only continued to worsen. Civilian casualties have hit a record high, increasing by a staggering 60 percent during the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2014. The UN acknowledged that the rise was “mostly due to increased civilian casualties caused by pro-Government [i.e., US-backed] forces during ground engagements.”

Meanwhile unemployment has peaked at 40 percent, while the poverty rate is roughly the same. Social inequality has risen dramatically, as Afghanistan’s US-backed kleptocracy pockets the lion’s share of foreign aid money. These increasingly intolerable conditions have forced many to flee, with Afghans making up 13 percent of the refugees attempting to reach Europe, second only in number to those escaping Syria.

Sold to the American people as revenge for the 9/11 attacks, the war grinds on 14 years later with the US military continuing the slaughter of innocent Afghans for the purpose of keeping a corrupt and impotent puppet regime in power.

Within two days of Washington launching the war, the World Socialist Web Siterejected the official pretext, insisting that:

“… while the events of September 11 have served as the catalyst for the assault on Afghanistan, the cause is far deeper…

“The US government initiated the war in pursuit of far-reaching international interests of the American ruling elite. What is the main purpose of the war? The collapse of the Soviet Union a decade ago created a political vacuum in Central Asia, which is home to the second largest deposit of proven reserves of petroleum and natural gas in the world.”

The statement continued, “By attacking Afghanistan, setting up a client regime and moving vast military forces into the region, the US aims to establish a new political framework within which it will exert hegemonic control.”

14 years later, with Washington in a de facto alliance with Al Qaeda in Syria, and amid a steady ratcheting up of tensions with Russia and China, this assessment has stood the test of time.

The war in Afghanistan has turned into a debacle, one of US imperialism’s own making. Washington’s earlier intervention in Afghanistan, directed at toppling the Soviet-backed government in Kabul beginning in 1979, saw billions of dollars in arms and aid funneled to Islamist guerrillas that included those who formed both Al Qaeda and the Taliban. This effort ravaged Afghanistan, killing over one million and turning five million more into refugees.

The response to the fall of Kunduz to the Taliban will inevitably be another escalation of the US intervention and even more war crimes like that against the MSF hospital.

While those immediately responsible for the killing of medical personnel and patients must be held accountable for last weekend’s crime, the far greater criminals are those in the Bush and Obama administrations who launched and continued this predatory war based upon lies.

These political criminals can be brought to justice only through the mobilization of the working class against imperialist war and the capitalist system that is its source.

A leading figure in the formation of the Communist Party of Cuba and numerous heroic efforts on the African continent, Jorge Risquet Valdes-Saldana passed away on September 28 at the age of 85.

Risquet was born on May 6, 1930, and later joined the revolutionary youth movement in 1943. He was Cuba’s Representative and Head for Latin America in the World Federation of Democratic Youth and carried out an internationalist mission in Guatemala in 1954.

During the United States supported Fulgencio Batista dictatorship he was kidnapped, tortured and incarcerated. He joined the Revolutionary Army in 1958 in the 2nd Frank País Eastern Front.

After the triumph of the Revolution, he held the positions of Head of the Political Department and Head of Operations of the Army in the former Oriente province; Organization Secretary of the Provincial Committee of the United Party of the Socialist Revolution of Cuba in that province; head of the “Patricio Lumumba” Internationalist Battalion in Congo Brazzaville; Minister of Labor; and Head of the Cuban Civil Internationalist Mission in the People’s Republic of Angola between 1975 and 1979.

From the earliest days of the Cuban Revolution the country expressed concrete solidarity with the African Liberation Movement. Racism was outlawed in Cuba and its internationalist outlook permeated the foreign policy of the state.

In October 1960, when the-then Cuban Premier Fidel Castro Ruz visited the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the revolutionary leader set up his residence at the Theresa Hotel in Harlem. Castro met with Malcolm X, a leading figure in the Nation of Islam, along with participating in a banquet with African American workers at the famous hotel.

After the imperialist undermined the national independence struggle in the former Belgian Congo, Che Guevara in an eloquent speech before the UN denounced the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the founder of the Congolese National Movement (Lumumba) and placed the guilt for this crime squarely on imperialism. Guevara would lead a delegation of Cuban internationalists in 1965 to Congo in an attempt to reverse the course of the counter-revolution.

Cuban Role in the Liberation of Southern Africa

Even though the Congo campaign was not successful in defeating the counter-revolution in that mineral-rich country in 1965, a decade later the Cuban government would respond to a request by Agostino Neto, the leader of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) to assist the independence movement in defeating an invasion by the South African Defense Forces (SADF) and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) aimed at installing a puppet western-backed regime in Luanda. Between November 1975 and early 1976, some 55,000 Cuban internationalist troops were deployed which assisted the MPLA’s military wing FAPLA in defeating the SADF intervention and consolidating the national independence of Angola.

Cuban military units remained in Angola for 16 years fighting alongside the FAPLA forces as well as the South West Africa People’s Organization’s (SWAPO) military cadres of the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) and the African National Congress (ANC) armed wing, Um Khonto We Sizwe (MK).

The U.S. and its allies in Pretoria, armed, funded and provided diplomatic cover for both Jonas Savimbi of UNITA and Holden Roberto of the FNLA based in the-then Zaire, which was renamed after the triumph of the counter-revolution in Congo-Kinshasha. UNITA proved to be the most formidable foe since it was given direct assistance by the CIA and the SADF then operating in South West Africa (Namibia) prior to its independence in 1990.

This struggle reached its climax in 1987-1988 with battles centered at Cuito Cuanavale where the SADF was routed and defeated in Angola. These battles would convince the racist regime in Pretoria and its backers within the Reagan and Bush administrations that a military defeat against the Southern African liberation movements was not possible.

A ceasefire was declared in late 1988 and firm negotiations were undertaken between the MPLA government in Angola and the apartheid regime. The U.S. and racist South Africa did not want the Cuban government involved in the talks aimed at the withdrawal of SADF forces from southern Angola and the independence process in Namibia.

Nonetheless, due to the overwhelming support of the-then Organization of African Unity (OAU), later renamed the African Union (AU), and progressive forces internationally, the Cubans were not only allowed into the talks but played a prominent role. The central role of Jorge Risquet in the talks enhanced his international prominence illustrating the significance of Cuba in the African revolutionary process.

Risquet led the Cuban delegation in the talks that resulted in the withdrawal of the apartheid army from southern Angola and the liberation of neighboring Namibia under settler-colonial occupation for a century. Internationally supervised elections were held in Namibia in late 1989 leading to the declaration of independence from apartheid on March 21, 1990 under the leadership of President Sam Nujoma of SWAPO, which won overwhelmingly in the elections.

The independence of Namibia and the ongoing mass and armed struggles in South Africa led by the ANC, forced the removal of P.W. Botha, the-then president of the apartheid regime, and the ascendancy of F.W. DeKlerk. The new regime began to indicate that it was willing to negotiate an end to the political crisis in South Africa.

On February 2, 1990, the ANC, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and other previously banned organizations were allowed to function openly. Nine days later, on February 11, Nelson Mandela was released after over 27 years of imprisonment in the dungeons of the racist apartheid system.

Four years later the ANC would win a solid majority and take power in South Africa sweeping out the dreaded system of apartheid. In a matter of less than two decades between 1975 and 1994, the system of white minority rule in Southern Africa was soundly defeated with the profound assistance of revolutionary Cuba.

Risquet Spoke in Ghana at Symposium Honoring Kwame Nkrumah

In a keynote address in September 2012 in Ghana honoring the 40th anniversary of the death of Kwame Nkrumah, Risquet outlined Cuba’s role in the African Revolution from the 1960s to the present period.

He stressed in his address the ancestral ties between the people of Cuba and the African continent that resulted from the Atlantic Slave Trade. He also paid tribute to the role Kwame Nkrumah, the leader of the independence movement in Ghana and its first prime minister and president for his role in the creation of the Organization in Solidarity with the Peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America (OSPAAL) formed in 1966 at the Tri-continental Congress in Havana.

Risquet said in Ghana “This was the understanding with which Cuban fighters came to ancestral Africa to fight side by side with the people against colonialism and the oppressive apartheid regime. For 26 years, 381 thousand Cuban soldiers and officers fought alongside African populations; between April 24, 1965, when Ernest Che Guevara and his men crossed Lake Tanganyika, and May 25, 1991 when the remaining 500 Cuban fighters returned home triumphant.”

He went on to point out as well that “Among these internationalists were three of the Five Anti-terrorist Heroes currently held (now released) in the Imperialist’s prison. 2, 400 Cuban internationalist fighters lost their lives on African soil. Today we no more send soldiers. Now, we send doctors, teachers, builders, specialists in various fields.”

Tributes to Risquet were delivered by the ANC of South Africa, the MPLA of Angola and other revolutionary parties and organizations throughout the world.

Putin’s intervention in Syria disrupts Washington’s regional imperial agenda – neocons infesting Obama’s administration on the back foot, flummoxed on what to do next.

Their reaction awaits. Expect endless propaganda war, as well as increased support for ISIS and other takfiri terrorists.

London’s Guardian got it backwards suggesting Moscow’s intervention was “more provocative than decisive” – the same notion proliferated by other media in lockstep with the US-NATO coalition led by the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel.

The Guardian said “(r)egional powers have quietly, but effectively, channelled funds, weapons and other support to rebel groups making the biggest inroads against the forces from Damascus” – allied with Washington’s plan to weaken and isolate Iran.

Saudi Arabia supports the region’s vilest elements, cold-blooded terrorist killers – its Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir boldly asserting “(t)here is no future for Assad in Syria.” If he doesn’t step down, Riyadh will get involved militarily to remove him “from power.”

European Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Julien Barnes-Dacey called Moscow’s intervention “a massive setback for” America and other nations wanting Assad ousted.

Riyadh-based King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies associate fellow Mohammed Alyahya said the Saudi view throughout the conflict is “Assad must go,” echoing calls from Washington, Britain and other nations opposing him.

Prevailing anti-Putin propaganda claims his intervention means more instability and bloodshed – polar opposite the free world’s view. It’s a vital initiative to end conflict, maintain Syrian sovereignty, help its people, as well as free the region and other countries from the scourge of terrorism. It’s already making a difference, causing consternation in their ranks.

Neocon Washington Post editors expressed concern over Russia’s intervention, saying it may shift the balance of power in Assad’s favor, disrupting Obama’s plan to oust him, opening a new phase of war.

US strategy is in disarray, analysts saying as long as Moscow and Tehran provide support, Assad can survive indefinitely. Four-and-a-half years of Obama’s war to oust him failed. Expect Plan B to pursue endless regional wars and instability.

If Russia can curb or defeat ISIS and other takfiri terrorists in Syria, Washington will suffer a major defeat, its entire regional imperial project disrupted.

It’s unclear what it plans next. Expect new efforts to counter Russia’s intervention, partnered with Israel and other rogue states.

Moscow wants terrorism defeated and a political solution in Syria. Washington wants endless regional wars and instability – ousting all independent governments, replacing them with pro-Western ones, no matter the cost in human lives and suffering. Which agenda do you support? Which one deserves universal praise?

Paul Craig Roberts’ new Clarity Press book, titled “The Neoconservative Threat to World Order” explains “the extreme dangers in Washington’s imposition of vassalage on other countries…” – neocons in Washington risking nuclear war to achieve their objectives.

His “book is a call to awareness that ignorance and propaganda are leading the world toward unspeakable disaster.” Top priority for free people everywhere is confronting America’s imperial agenda and defeating it once and for all.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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