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.
The EU Ombudsman has upheld a complaint by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) against the Commission over its failure to implement UN tobacco lobby rules.
Deeming the Commission’s failure to comply with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control as ’maladministration’, Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has urged the Commission to publish details of all meetings with tobacco lobbyists online. O’Reilly also asked the Commission for an update on its promise to introduce a mandatory transparency register for lobbyists.
The EU is a signatory to Article 5.3 of the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which is intended to protect decision-making “from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry”. It thus obliges governments to limit interactions with the tobacco industry and ensures the transparency of those interactions that do occur. In May 2014, CEO submitted a complaint about the Commission’s failure to properly implement these rules. The resulting Ombudsman probe involved an inspection of official files and staff agendas at the Commission’s HQ, the Berlaymont, to identify possible meetings with tobacco lobbyists.
The Ombudsman’s investigation found that a top official from the Commission’s legal service had declared no meetings with tobacco industry representatives despite having meetings with a lawyer working for tobacco giant Philip Morris. The Commission’s contacts with the tobacco industry attracted major controversy following revelations of heavy lobbying pressure during the 2012-2014 revision of the EU’s tobacco products directive, including the ‘Dalligate’ scandal, which involved the forced resignation of then EU health commissioner John Dalli in October 20131.
This ruling is a significant victory for the fight against the sinister scheming of this lethal industry,” said CEO’s research and campaigns coordinator Olivier Hoedeman. “The Commission’s complacency and secrecy over its contacts with the tobacco industry are deeply regrettable – but part of a pattern. We hope it will finally get the message that it must fulfil its UN obligations and take strong measures to prevent the undue influence of tobacco lobbyists. The Commission must now implement WHO Convention rules across all departments, publish details and minutes of all meetings with tobacco industry representatives and introduce a mandatory lobby transparency register to ensure that tobacco industry lobbyists are forced to disclose information about their lobbying.
The new ruling follows other, recent Ombudsman rulings on several other CEO complaints about secrecy and conflicts of interests emerging from the Commission’s relations with tobacco industry. In December 2013, the Ombudsman slammed the Commission for its failure to act against Michel Petite, a lawyer at law firm Clifford Chance whose clients include Philip Morris, and who was simultaneously acting as head of the committee which advises on whether the Commission should authorise the new professional activities of ex-commissioners.
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.
That agreement is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and critics all along the political spectrum are exposing the enormous dangers of the deal — all without having to invent a single scary story.
Back in January the EU Commission published their response to the consultation on TTIP and it was found that 97% of the 150,000 responses opposed the trade deal. These respondents represented the general public. The biggest petition in the EU’s history was then presented that contained the signatures of 2 million citizens (now nearly 3 million) opposed to TTIP. Both were rejected as were proposals even for a simple hearing of the European Citizens Initiative.
Then in April this year, thousands of protestors took to the streets of cities all over Europe as unelected officials of the EU Commission continue to ignore the concerns of its citizens.
In June, fellow MEPs from many political parties who are also opposed to TTIP joined Ukip in standing, shouting, booing and clapping to show their dissatisfaction with proceedings. MEPs were due to set out their first formal position on TTIP since negotiations started two years ago and the meeting descended into chaos (video). The meeting was then stopped by the commissioners.
Meanwhile David Cameron has persistently attempted to call out those working to derail the deal. Cameron has accused critics of inventing false scare stories whilst urging business chiefs to help make the case to overcome sustained attacks from left-wing opponents and warned Britain would “rue the day if we miss this opportunity” to open up transatlantic markets.
Cameron, who (increasingly) seldom listens to the general public or elected members of parliament representing the electorate will no doubt use all his powers to get this deal though to redeem himself after being called incompetent by his own military generals and by the Obama administration over Syria.
In sharp comparison, both Paris and Berlin want the Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism (ISDS) of TTIP removed from the transatlantic trade treaty currently being negotiated with Washington. This is a game changer.
Matthias Fekl, the French Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, told EurActiv France that he would “never allow private tribunals in the pay of multinational companies to dictate the policies of sovereign states, particularly in certain domains like health and the environment”.
That was back in January. Nine months later and France has now reinforced that message and gone one big step forward.
In an interview with Sud-Ouest, Matthias Fekl threatened to “call a complete halt” to the TTIP negotiations if things do not change. EurActiv France reports. America has shown no desire to change any of the major issues that have been challenged.
Fekl told the French newspaper that he believes the “total lack of transparency” in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations poses a “democratic problem”.
Fekl, the Minister of State for Foreign Trade called on the United States to show “reciprocity” in the negotiations. “American members of parliament have access to a much higher number of documents than we do in Europe,” he said.
The German people are now taking a stand and now it is being reported in the USA that sentiment is going against the deal – “It is entirely possible that the U.S. could seek to conclude the deal in the next few years only to find that European governments are unwilling to risk the ire of their voters”.
Matthias Fekl, explained that, ever since the negotiations began in 2013, “These negotiations have been and are being conducted in a total lack of transparency,” and that France has, as of yet, received “no serious offer from the Americans.”
The reasons for this stunning public rejection had probably already been accurately listed more than a year ago. Jean Arthuis, a member of the European Parliament, and formerly France’s Minister of Economy and Finance, headlined in Le Figaro, on 10 April 2014, “7 good reasons to oppose the transatlantic treaty”. There is no indication that the situation has changed since then, as regards the basic demands that President Obama is making. Arthuis said at that time, that he was opposed to;
Private arbitration of disputes between States and businesses. Such a procedure is strictly contrary to the idea that I have of the sovereignty of States. …
Any questioning of the European system of appellations of origin. According to the US proposal, there would be a non-binding register, and only for wines and spirits. Such a reform would kill many European local products, whose value is based on their certified origin.
Signing of an agreement with a power that legalizes widespread and systematic spying on my fellow European citizens and European businesses. As long as the agreement does not protect the personal data of European and US citizens, it cannot be signed.
Allowing the United States proposal of a transatlantic common financial space, who adamantly refuse a common regulation of finance, and they refuse to abolish systematic discrimination by the US financial markets against European financial services.
The questioning of European health protections. We do not want our animals treated with growth hormones nor products derived from GMOs, or chemical decontamination of meat, or of genetically modified seeds or non-therapeutic antibiotics in animal feed.
The signing of an agreement if it does not include the end of the US monetary dumping. Since the abolition of the gold convertibility of the dollar and the transition to the system of floating exchange rates, the dollar is both American national currency and the main unit for exchange reserves in the world. The Federal Reserve then continually practices monetary dumping, by influencing the amount of dollars available to facilitate exports from the United States. As things now stand, America’s monetary weapon has the same effect as customs duties against every other nation. [And he will not sign unless it’s removed.]
Allow the emerging digital services in Europe to be swept up by US giants such as Google, Amazon or Netflix. They’re giant absolute masters in tax optimization, which make Europe a “digital colony.”
France is now considering “all options including an outright termination of negotiations” says France’s Trade Minister.
Concern over the impact of TTIP has united disparate groups from French farmers to German constitutional lawyers and politicians on the left and right.
50,000 demonstrators are expected to gather in front of Berlin’s central train station on October 10th to protest both the TTIP and a similar deal between the EU and Canada, known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). That event is part of the week-long International Days of Action against corporate-friendly trade deals. Two thirds of Germans are now opposed to the deal, hence the expected strong turn-out.
The European public, already heavily opposed to TTIP also oppose America’s bombings of Middle Eastern countries, which have forced hundreds of thousands of refugees into Europe. European leaders are being compelled to question their relationship and alliance with the United States.
David Cameron, already in breach of basic democratic principles back in Britain by sending special forces ground troops and RAF bombing missions in Syria is of course used to supporting the dismantling of democracy, no matter whether at home or abroad.
Universally ignored by almost all media outlets in every western country, including Britain, whose governments has called for Assad to go was a respectable YouGov report that concluded some 55% of Syrians wanted Assad to stay. Cameron had one third less of the electorate supporting him at the last election than Assad had of his people.
The result of America’s constant pressure and bullying of its european ‘allies’ to get involved in the bombing of countries where millions of refugees are expected in the year ahead, is that the european people are, in greater numbers, questioning the rationality of their elected leaders. This has only added to EU citizens suspicions over secret trade deals such as TTIP with America and is not only empowering them but forcing their own leaders to rethink the order of importance.
America seems to have forgotten Europe’s own pressures. Between the economic crisis that has rumbled on since 2008, the threat of a “Grexit” earlier in the summer, security concerns and the rise of terrorism and now the humanitarian crisis unfolding on Europe’s borders with the arrival of so many refugees, the political unity of Europe is at stake. There is a clear inability by politicians to unite on major challenges that may well pull the EU apart, say politicians – TTIP is no longer an imperative on the agenda.
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
It also associates the British electorate with:
the world’s only undeclared nuclear weapon state
a state that unlike the 28 members of the EU refuses to be a party to the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
a nuclear weapons state that unlike the 28 members of the EU is outside the inspection of the International Atomic Weapons Agency (IAEA)
a state that unlike the 28 members of the EU refuses to sign and ratify either the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) or the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)
a state that unlike the 28 members of the EU operates a system of imprisonment of political prisoners without trial
a state that condones terrorist activity by its extremist settlers against Palestinian civilians
a state that is desperate to find an excuse to invade Iran so as to scupper the P5+1, international accord for peace
a state that is alleged to have committed serious war crimes when, according to the UN, its troops killed 2100 civilians in a reprisal attack against the population of Gaza in 2014
human rights violations by providing work for British arms exporters that contravenes international law.
a policy that runs counter to both international and European agreed treaties.
Twelve staff members and at least 10 patients, including three children, were killed; 37 people were injured including 19 staff members.
US government admits their airstrike hit hospital
“Today the US government has admitted that it was their airstrike that hit our hospital in Kunduz and killed 22 patients and MSF staff. Their description of the attack keeps changing – from collateral damage, to a tragic incident, to now attempting to pass responsibility to the Afghanistan government.
Fires burn in the MSF emergency trauma hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, after it was hit and partially destroyed by missiles 03 October 2015.
The reality is the US dropped those bombs. The US hit a huge hospital full of wounded patients and MSF staff. The US military remains responsible for the targets it hits, even though it is part of a coalition.
There can be no justification for this horrible attack. With such constant discrepancies in the US and Afghan accounts of what happened, the need for a full transparent independent investigation is ever more critical.” – Christopher Stokes, General Director, Médecins Sans Frontières
It is with deep sadness that we confirm so far the death of twelve MSF staff during the bombing of MSF’s hospital in Kunduz. Latest update is that 37 people were seriously wounded during the bombing, of whom 19 are MSF staff. Some of the most critically injured are being transferred for stabilisation to a hospital in Puli Khumri, 2 hours’ drive away. There are many patients and staff who remain unaccounted for. The numbers keep growing as we develop a clearer picture of the aftermath of this horrific bombing.
This attack constitutes a grave violation of International Humanitarian Law.
MSF condemns in the strongest possible terms the horrific bombing of its hospital in Kunduz full of staff and patients.
MSF wishes to clarify that all parties to the conflict, including in Kabul and Washington, were clearly informed of the precise location (GPS Coordinates) of the MSF facilities – hospital, guest-house, office and an outreach stabilization unit in Chardara (to the north-west of Kunduz). As MSF does in all conflict contexts, these precise locations were communicated to all parties on multiple occasions over the past months, including most recently on 29 September.
The bombing continued for more than 30 minutes after American and Afghan military officials in Kabul and Washington were first informed. MSF urgently seeks clarity on exactly what took place and how this terrible event could have happened.
MSF demands an independent investigation
Surgery activities in one of the remaining parts of MSF’s hospital in Kunduz. In the aftermath of the bombings on the 3rd October 2015.
“Under the clear presumption that a war crime has been committed, MSF demands that a full and transparent investigation into the event be conducted by an independent international body. Relying only on an internal investigation by a party to the conflict would be wholly insufficient.
Not a single member of our staff reported any fighting inside the MSF hospital compound prior to the US airstrike on Saturday morning. The hospital was full of MSF staff, patients and their caretakers. It is 12 MSF staff members and 10 patients, including three children, who were killed in the attack.
We reiterate that the main hospital building, where medical personnel were caring for patients, was repeatedly and very precisely hit during each aerial raid, while the rest of the compound was left mostly untouched. We condemn this attack, which constitutes a grave violation of International Humanitarian Law.” – Christopher Stokes, General Director, Médecins Sans Frontières
MSF Rejects statements by Afghanistan authorities
A destroyed areas of the MSF hospital, in Kunduz, Afghanistan is visible 03 October 2015
at first light, the morning after the facility was hit by sustained bombing.
“MSF is disgusted by the recent statements coming from some Afghanistan government authorities justifying the attack on its hospital in Kunduz. These statements 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.
This amounts to an admission of a war crime.
This utterly contradicts the initial attempts of the US government to minimise the attack as ‘collateral damage’. There can be no justification for this abhorrent attack on our hospital that resulted in the deaths of MSF staff as they worked and patients as they lay in their beds.
MSF reiterates its demand for a full transparent and independent international investigation.” – Christopher Stokes, General Director, Médecins Sans Frontières
Testimony from MSF nurse eyewitness to attack
Andrea Bruce/ Noor Images
Lajos Zoltan Jecs, MSF nurse, photo taken in September 2013, Afghanistan.
MSF nurse Lajos Zoltan Jecs was in Kunduz trauma hospital when the facility was struck.
“There are no words for how terrible it was. In the Intensive Care Unit six patients were burning in their beds.
We looked for some staff that were supposed to be in the operating theatre. It was awful. A patient there on the operating table, dead, in the middle of the destruction. We couldn’t find our staff. Thankfully we later found that they had run out from the operating theatre and had found a safe place.”
The MSF hospital in Kunduz is currently not operating, following the sustained bombing early Saturday morning. All international MSF staff members that were in Kunduz have been evacuated. All critical patients were referred to other health facilities. The MSF Afghan staff who were not killed are either being treated in health facilities in the region or have left the hospital.
On Saturday, some staff assisted to provide healthcare in other non-MSF facilities in the region, and others have joined their families at this difficult time.
No medical activities are possible now in the MSF hospital in Kunduz, at a time when the medical needs are immense. It is painful for MSF to withdraw at a time when the medical needs are so acute, but in the aftermath of being bombed, it is too early to know if it would be safe to continue running medical activities.
MSF works hard in conflict areas, as had been the case in Kunduz, to ensure all fighting parties respect the sanctity of medical facilities. At the moment, MSF has not received any explanations or assurances that give us the confidence to be able to return. This is why the organisation is demanding a full, independent and transparent investigation of what happened, and why. Without that information, there are too many unknowns to allow a return in the immediate future. MSF is committed to the people in Kunduz and will explore, as soon as key questions are answered, options to return with medical services in the Kunduz region. MSF continues to run four other health facilities in Afghanistan.
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.
For the past month Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tried to rewrite the Bible story by declaring war on what he terms Palestinian “terrorism by stones”.
There are echoes of Yitzhak Rabin’s response nearly 30 years ago when, as defence minister, he ordered soldiers to “break bones” to stop a Palestinian uprising, often referred to as the “intifada of stones”, against the Israeli occupation.
Terrified by the symbolism of women and children throwing stones at one of the world’s strongest armies, Rabin hoped broken arms would deprive Palestinians of the power to wield their lowly weapon.
Now the West Bank and Jerusalem are on fire again, as Palestinian youths clash with the same oppressors. Reports suggest soldiers killed one Palestinian youth and injured more than 100 others on Sunday alone.
The touchpaper is Israel’s transgressions at the al-Aqsa mosque compound, known as Haram Al Sharif, in Jerusalem’s Old City. During the weeks of Israel’s high holidays, tensions have risen sharply. Israeli government ministers and ever larger numbers of Jewish ultra-nationalists, backed by paramilitary forces, have been ascending to the mosque area.
In parallel, Palestinian access has been restricted and settlers have stepped up seizures of homes in occupied East Jerusalem to encircle al-Aqsa.
Palestinians believe Israel is asserting control over the site to change the status quo.
Israel refers to the Haram as the Temple Mount, because the ruins of two ancient Jewish temples supposedly lie underneath. As Israel has swung to the right politically and religiously, government and settler circles have been swept by an aggressive Jewish messianism.
Palestinian efforts to resist have been limited. Israel has long barred Palestinian factions and organisations from any dealings in the city it calls its “eternal capital”.
The situation at al-Aqsa has come to symbolise the Palestinian story of dispossession.
The mosque has also served as a red line, both because it is a powerful cause that unites all Palestinians, including Christians and the secular, and because it rallies the wider Arab world to the Palestinians’ side.
But like Goliath, the Israeli prime minister appears to assume greater force will win.
First, he outlawed last month a group of Islamic students, many of them women, known as the Murabitoun, stationed at Al Aqsa. They had not even resorted to stones. Their crime was to try to deter Jewish extremists from praying at the site by crying “God is great”.
Then, Israeli police stormed the compound to evict youths who had barricaded themselves in. Severe restrictions on access to al-Aqsa followed.
As youngsters took to the streets, Netanyahu authorised live fire against stone-throwers in Jerusalem, and minimum four-year jail sentences for those arrested.
Predictably, violence has not calmed but spiralled. On Saturday night a Palestinian youth stabbed to death two Jewish settlers who had been visiting the Western Wall, near al-Aqsa.
Israel has described such incidents as “lone-wolf attacks”. In truth, these unpredictable outbursts of violence are the inevitable result of the orphaned status of Palestinians in Jerusalem.
Israel responded with another unprecedented move. Palestinians were banned from the Old City for the following 48 hours unless they lived or worked there. Israel’s track record suggests this will soon become the new norm.
Netanyahu also approved fast-track demolitions of Palestinian homes, more soldiers in Jerusalem and even tighter restrictions at al-Aqsa.
So where is this heading?
Doubtless, Netanyahu is in part proving his credentials to an ever more religious and intolerant Israeli public. After Saturday’s deaths, Jewish mobs once again patrolled Jerusalem’s streets seeking vengeance.
But he is also cynically exploiting western fears to reinvent the David and Goliath story. He hopes the words “Islamic terrorism” – conjuring up ISIL’s threats to religious freedom – will scotch western sympathy for Palestinian youths facing armed soldiers.
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, warned in his speech to the UN last week that Israeli measures were “aimed at imposing a new reality and dividing Haram Al Sharif temporally”.
These are not idle fears. In 1994 Israel capitalised on a horrific massacre of Palestinians perpetrated by a Jewish settler at the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron to justify dividing it. Today, Jews have prayer rights at the site, enforced by Israeli guns, and central Hebron has been turned into a ghost-town – much as Jerusalem’s Old City looks since the weekend ban on entry for Palestinians.
Most Palestinians fear an Israeli-engineered spiral of violence will be used to impose a similar division at al-Aqsa. There is little Abbas can do. His Palestinian Authority is barred from Jerusalem and committed to helping Israeli security elsewhere. Like the Muslim world, he watches helplessly from afar.
Which is why Palestinian youths will continue reaching for the humble stone, exerting what little power they have against a modern Goliath.
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.
Earlier reports suggested that he had gone to the Vatican representative’s residence in the capital of the impoverished and underdeveloped West African state. The coup was designed to derail the national elections which were scheduled for October 11.
The 1,200 presidential security regiment (RSP) had refused to disarm even after an agreement had been reached through negotiations mediated by the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Broader elements within the Burkinabe military had entered the capital threatening to disarm the RSP by force if they did not return to the barracks.
Diendere was quoted by the Associated Press as saying “I am willing to turn myself over to face justice. I would like the people of Burkina Faso to find a solution to this crisis through dialogue. All parties must talk to find an inclusive solution for the future of the country.”
Due to the political crisis the elections were postponed to a later date.
A national uprising against the dictatorial rule of ousted military leader turned head-of-state, Blaise Compoare, during late October 2014, created the conditions for the formation of an interim government. Michel Kafando and Isaac Zida were appointed as temporary president and prime minister respectively after intensive negotiations.
Hundreds of thousands of workers and youth took to the streets demanding an end to the 27-year rule of Compaore. The leader soon fled to neighboring Ivory Coast where he has close political and family ties.
In order to calm the October 2014 revolt, military and political forces agreed to hold internationally-supervised elections one year later. A coalition of parties claiming the political legacy of revolutionary socialist leader Capt. Thomas Sankara pledged to run as a bloc during the elections.
Both Kafando, a career diplomat, and Zida, a former military official, were placed under detention at the beginning of the coup on September 16. Kafando and Zida were eventually released and have returned to their positions.
Diendere was a longtime intelligence director for the 1,200-member elite presidential security regiment (RSP) which worked closely with French and United States imperialism. The coup was probably precipitated by the concern that the RSP would be disbanded leading to possible prosecutions of members of the unit which have committed crimes against the people of the country.
In addition, political parties allied with Compaore were barred from participating in the national elections. The former rulers are seeking to secure a future in the soon to be new political dispensation.
Mass demonstrations, international pressure and dissent within the broader military forces converged to force Diendere to surrender on October 1 after refusing to disarm for several days in the wake of a brokered agreement by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Interim Leaders Pledge to Continue Transition Process
After being the first of the two interim leaders to be released, President Kafando traveled to New York City to participate in the 70th United Nations General Assembly.
Kafondo addressed the international gathering saying “The transition I am leading is the result of a popular uprising in October 2014. It is a response to the arbitrariness, nepotism and injustice of an anti-democratic regime.” (UN News Center, October 2)
He expressed his greater appreciation of the notions of liberty noting “As I was deprived of this for a time, I know how precious it is.”
Just two weeks prior to his address at the UN, he had been arrested by members of the RSP whom he described as “praetorians of another time who were rowing against the current of history and trying to seize democracy to serve their sordid ambitions.”
The interim president continued stressing that “It is thanks to you, defenders of [liberty and democracy], that I speak freely today.” His speech denounced as “heinous” the September 16 coup staged by military officers who Kafando said were “bought by vengeful politicians” to influence political developments leading up to the previously scheduled elections.
RSP Officially Disbanded Amid Calls for Retribution
Burkinabe Confederation of Labor leaders are demanding that Diendere be put on trial for the coup as well as other crimes such as involvement in the assassination and overthrow of Capt. Thomas Sankara, the revolutionary leader who ruled the country during 1983-1987.
The labor federation, which represents 17 unions, had staged a general strike in opposition to the coup. Their efforts were instrumental in bringing the RSP to the negotiating table with the ECOWAS mediators.
Secretary General of the Confederation of Labor, Bazie Bassolma, outlined what he thought was the proper course to take in bringing the coup makers to justice. Bazie said “There are many, many, many things. The first thing is that we have found his name in many problems in our country. We also know that at this moment there are many bodies in our hospitals. So we need to try him to get justice for our people.” (VOA, October 1)
News reports said that at least 10 people were killed in the recent struggle against the RSP coup while many others were wounded and injured.
Bassolma went on to say also that “It is not only Thomas Sankara; there are others like Dabo Bokari and Charles Taylor in Liberia and Angola. His name is found on many, many problems his name was found. We cannot accept that terrorists killed many people and now want to get amnesty. We will not accept.”
The labor leader appealed to the Burkinabe people from across the county saying “You know the solution to our problem is not in elections. If we are not organized, if we are not mobilize it would be difficult to find solution to our problems.”
He also expressed his gratification to the people throughout the continent stressing that “The first thing is to thank our brothers and sisters in other countries who helped us in this difficult situation. We are fighting for democracy in Burkina Faso but also for Africa and the world.”
Unrest Reflects Growing Economic Crisis
Despite the positive reports about the phenomenal growth of African economies, countries like Burkina Faso have not been able to translate the escalation of foreign direct investment (FDI) into better living standards for workers, farmers and youth. Burkina Faso is the fourth largest producer of gold in Africa but remains one of the poorest countries in the world.
Even leading exponents of FDI such as Mo Ibrahim, a wealthy African businessman, said recently that he is concerned about the immediate prospects for growth and development on the continent considering the precipitous decline in oil and other commodity prices.
In an interview published by the Wall Street Journal on October 5, Ibrahim said “Things are stalling. We can’t pat ourselves on the back and pretend everything is hunky-dory. It’s not.”
This same Wall Street Journal article noted “An annual index of economic, political and developmental indicators compiled by Mr. Ibrahim’s philanthropic foundation and released Monday (October 5) showed that the security and business environment in many of Africa’s 54 nations isn’t improving as rapidly as a decade ago, when the continent was hailed as the next great global economic frontier. This year’s rating of 50.1 on a 100-point scale, while up from 46.5 when the index was first issued in 2000, is down from a peak of 50.4 in 2010. Under the Ibrahim Index of African Governance 100 represents a prosperous, democratic utopia.”
Last month, 250,000 party members voted Jeremy Corbyn leader of the Labour party, ‘the largest mandate ever won by a Party Leader’. The combined might of the political and media establishment had fought and lost its Stalingrad, having bombarded Corbyn with every conceivable smear in a desperate attempt to wreck his reputation with the British public.
The more extreme the attacks, the more people caught on. Social media surely played a part in this awakening; but the public simply needed to compare the cynicism with Corbyn’s obvious decency and common sense.
Long lines of media futurologists, having all dismissed Corbyn’s prospects, shuffled back to their keyboards in defeat and disarray. The tide truly had turned; something like real democracy had once again broken out in Britain.
So what to do when your bias has been so naked, so obvious, that it backfires? The political machine knows only one way – carry on regardless!
Thus, the focus has been on Corbyn not singing the national anthem, on whether he would wear a white poppy or a red poppy, or a tie, or do up his top button, or refuse to promise to kneel before the Queen and kiss her hand; all this has been granted national news headlines and incessant coverage.
‘At the heart of his dilemma’, opined a Times leader (‘National Insecurity’, October 1, 2015), ‘is a reluctance to shift from protest to leadership’. Translating from Murdochspeak, Corbyn has shown a reluctance to shift from principles to obedience in the customary manner.
In his Labour party conference speech, Corbyn generously mocked, rather than damned, the near-fascistic media coverage, noting that:
According to one headline “Jeremy Corbyn welcomed the prospect of an asteroid ‘wiping out’ humanity.”
With perfect timing, an Independent tweet made the point the following day:
Labour MP warns electing Jeremy Corbyn could lead to “nuclear holocaust”.
The comment was a reference to Corbyn’s declaration that he would not ‘press the nuclear button’ in any circumstance, giving the political and media establishment their first sniff at what they hoped was their great ‘gotcha!’.
Rather than celebrating Corbyn as a rare, principled politician sticking to a lifelong commitment shared by many reasonable people, he was portrayed as a dangerous loon risking nuclear annihilation. All without even the hint of a credible threat in sight.
We could provide any number of examples of media propaganda, but a high-profile piece on the BBC’s flagship News at Ten programme last Wednesday supplied a truly stand-out performance. Here, BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg featured in an almost comically biased, at times openly scornful, attack on Corbyn’s stance on nuclear weapons.
Kuenssberg started by saying:
Jeremy Corbyn wants debate. Well he’s got one. And has run straight into a clash, saying that no Labour leader has said in recent history: if he was Prime Minister, whatever the threat, he’d never use nuclear weapons.
The broadcast then showed her interviewing Jeremy Corbyn:
Would you ever push the nuclear button if you were Prime Minister?
I’m opposed to nuclear weapons. I’m opposed to the holding and usage of nuclear weapons. They’re an ultimate weapon of mass destruction that can only kill millions of civilians if ever used. And I am totally and morally opposed to nuclear weapons. I do not see them as a defence. I do not see them as a credible way to do things…
LK [interrupting]. ‘So yes or no. You would never push the nuclear button?’
JC: ‘I’ve answered you perfectly clearly. It’s immoral to have or use nuclear weapons. I’ve made that clear all of my life.’
LK: ‘But, Jeremy Corbyn, do you acknowledge there is a risk that it looks to voters like you would put your own principles ahead of the protection of this country?’
The content of the question, together with the obvious emphasis and passion, betrayed whereKuenssberg stood on the matter.
Corbyn responded calmly:
It looks to the voters, I hope, that I’m somebody who’s absolutely and totally committed to spreading international law, spreading international human rights, bringing a nuclear-free world nearer…’
Kuenssberg [interrupting]: ‘And that’s more important than the protection of this country?’
Kuenssberg sounded incredulous, appeared to be all but scolding Corbyn. Almost as an afterthought, she added:
Some voters might think that.
This was her token gesture to the BBC’s famed, mythical ‘impartiality’.
The idea that the possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons might endanger the British public clearly falls outside Kuenssberg’s idea of ‘neutral’ analysis.
Again, Corbyn gave a reasonable response:
‘We are not under threat from any nuclear power. We’re not under threat from that; we’re under threat from instability…. Listen, the nuclear weapons that the United States holds – all the hundreds if not thousands of warheads they’ve got were no help to them on 9/11.
What does it say about the BBC that the leader of the opposition, in declaring a commitment to international law and global peace, is portrayed as a danger to the country, if not the world, with no counter-view allowed?
In a longer version of the interview, posted on the BBC News website, Kuenssberg asked a question about Syria that also betrayed her allegiance to an elite ideological view:
Isn’t there a danger, Jeremy Corbyn, as Syria falls to pieces, as Putin flexes his muscles, that, on a whole range of issues, it looks as though you will preside over a party that is discussing everything, rather than leading them anywhere?
No hint here from the BBC’s political editor that Obama and Cameron might be flexing their ’muscles’ and leading Syria, like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, into total disaster. Why does ‘doing something’ always mean bombing in contemporary media discourse? Why is no other course of action conceivable? Why is our media so reflexively violent?
Isn’t it better that you reach consensus and agreement within your party where you can. You recognise the intelligence, the values and the independent thinking of all MPs…
Again, Kuenssberg interrupted, displaying impatience – perhaps even exasperation:
…even when [inaudible] changes around you, things happen…
Corbyn exposed Kuenssberg’s thin veneer of impartiality:
You seem to be stuck in the old politics, if I may say, where leaders dictate and the rest follow or not at their peril.
Returning to the piece broadcast on BBC News at Ten, Kuenssberg then showed archive footage of Corbyn, presumably from the 1980s, helping to put up an anti-nuclear weapons campaign poster. Her accompanying, shouty voiceover told viewers:
Getting rid of nuclear weapons has always been his ambition. But now he wants to be the Prime Minister. And the Labour Party this week decided to stick to its policy of keeping nuclear weapons – Trident submarines – despite him.
This morning, though, many of his top team seemed aghast that he’d totally ruled out their use, even as a last resort.
The BBC then broadcast no less than five senior Blairite Labour figures all opposing Corbyn: Andy Burnham, Shadow Home Secretary; Maria Eagle, Shadow Defence Secretary; Hilary Benn, Shadow Foreign Secretary; Angela Eagle, Shadow Business Secretary; Lord Falconer, Shadow Justice Secretary; and Heidi Alexander, Shadow Health Secretary.
The BBC did not allow a single person to express support for Corbyn’s very reasonable and popular stance.
Why, for example, did BBC News not interview John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer? Why not include other prominent Labour figures such as Diane Abbott who notes:
Jeremy Corbyn’s critics seem to think that leadership consists of a willingness to kill millions.
Or Bruce Kent, Vice-President of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, who says of Trident:
It is manifestly useless as protection against accidents, suicidal or non-state groups, or simple human error. Their nuclear weapons did nothing to save the US in Vietnam or the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
Or senior Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins who writes:
I can recall no head of the army and no serious academic strategist with any time for the Trident missile. It was a great hunk of useless weaponry.
Jenkins goes on to expose the ugly and rarely-reported truth of Trident:
The sole reason for Trident surviving the Blair government’s first defence review (on whose lay committee I sat) was the ban on discussing it imposed by the then defence secretary, George Robertson, in 1997. Members were told to “think the unthinkable” about everything except Trident and new aircraft carriers. It was clear that Tony Blair and his team had been lobbied, not by the defence chiefs, but by the procurement industry.
the UK needs to place a much greater focus on the use of scientific and technical resources for tackling the roots of conflict, such as climate change, resource depletion and economic inequality, rather than prioritising the development, deployment and sale of yet more weapons technologies.
Kuenssberg claimed in her summing up from the Labour party conference in Brighton that voters were hearing ‘noise rather than nuance’. A sublime example of what psychologists call ‘projection’.
She concluded that Corbyn becoming Labour leader was:
thrilling for many but it’s dangerous too. Mr Corbyn may strain to stop disagreements turning into public destructive disputes.
Danger! Threats! The nation is at risk! Ignorance is Strength.
If Corbyn achieves nothing else, we should be grateful that he and his 250,000 supporters have flushed the political and media establishment out of the pages of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and into the light.
Seventy years after the UN Charter was supposed to prohibit wars of aggression, we can see that the only countries that have complied with the spirit of the charter have been the so-called communist block, now non-communist Russia and nominally communist China.
Unlike the Soviet government in 1951, which was inexplicably absent from the Security Council to veto the UN mandate for the US invasion of Korea, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government have rejected any Security Council resolution rubber-stamping of the US war in Syria. That is probably the most remarkable historical aspect of the current situation. This has led to an all-out propaganda campaign to classify Russia as an aggressor although it is merely exercising the same right to collective self-defence that has privileged seventy years of US wars and mercenary actions to impose governments and political-economic regimes on the rest of the world’s population.
Now the US regime is “worried” about escalation.
With good reason one ought to say. After twenty years of covert and economic warfare against post-Soviet Russia and despite every attempt by the government in Moscow to reach an amicable arrangement with the US and its vassals, Russia has drawn a line. Will the US cross it? Will Russia hold it?
US President Obama has suggested that Russia will get “bogged down” in Syria. What is he saying? Translated into historical context this means the US is contemplating ways in which it can apply Brzezinski’s strategy– after the fact. Putin has admitted the error of intervening in Afghanistan to defend a secular government threatened by a mercenary army combining Afghan latifundists and opium producers armed to the teeth by the US regime. In the 1980s Russia was unable to withstand the US-funded onslaught. But then the war in Afghanistan has not ended either. Perhaps the lesson to be learned there is different.
In the 1830s, Britain dominated India through the chartered East India Company, the forerunner of the modern multinational corporation, complete with control over taxation, land, its own army and the opium trade. Between 1839 and 1842 the British, in fact the East India Company with a combined force of British and Indian soldiers waged a war to control this mountainous territory between the Russian Empire and British India. At enormous cost military victory was attained but Britain did not succeed in establishing control over Afghanistan.
In 1878, the British again tried to subdue Afghanistan and integrate it into its Indian Empire. Again Britain had to concede internal government to Afghan rulers and was only able to impose suzerainty– in the form of British control of Afghanistan’s foreign relations. Britain was gain defeated in Afghanistan in a brief war in 1919. The only accomplishment was to fix the boundaries between Afghanistan and British India, the so-called Durand Line, which became the border between Afghanistan and the Muslim state, Pakistan, which emerged from Britain’s duplicitous efforts to prevent emergence of a united secular India. Today the successors to the East India Company’s massive opium monopoly are still at work pacifying Afghanistan and maintaining control (together with the US regime), having turned Helmand province for example into one of the largest opium producing regions in the world.
In the 19th century Britain considered Russia its number one threat to India– threat to the massive bureaucratic plunder of a country with a population of over 200 million by some 200,000 from a European island with about 20 million inhabitants. (This was certainly comparable to Leopold II’s proprietary relationship to the Congo– both economically as well as demographically.) Ostensibly for this purpose Britain invaded Afghanistan three times.
However, despite this alleged threat, Russia first intervened in Afghanistan in 1979 to defend the secular government the US regime was doing its best to overthrow. Its withdrawal in 1989 has to be seen in the context of the vicious war of attrition the US was waging and the overall economic crisis that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the COMECON/ Warsaw Pact. As the British should know military victories in Afghanistan were never cheap and territorial control was never assured. However, the profitability of the global opium/ heroin trade has always been guaranteed by combinations of regular and corporate armies (like the East India Company and the CIA). This remains far more important than the Great Game– which then as now was a diplomatic fraud perpetrated to sustain parliamentary support for wars of private enrichment.
Today Mr Obama alludes to Brzezinski’s fanatical strategy for taxing the ordinary populations of the world in money and lives to maintain the same model of “free enterprise” inherited from Britain. It is a scarcely veiled threat to use whatever means are necessary to make it as impossible to defend Syrian sovereignty as it was for Russia to defend Afghanistan. Telling Russia they could get “bogged down” in Syria means nothing else but that plans are being considered for intensifying the terrorist war in Syria and anywhere else the US has assets that could drain Russia.
When the Russian foreign minister announced that the US refused to identify any contacts that could be made with a so-called “moderate” opposition, it became clear that the US cannot name them because they do not exist– any more than they did in Iraq or Libya.
Distracting the public with talks about cooperation and adamant declarations that Putin must abandon Assad before the US Empire can approve Russian participation is clearly a tactic for buying time until a Plan B can be implemented.
Russian air strikes will kill civilians. All air strikes do. It is mendacious– not merely hypocritical– for a regime whose troops have wantonly starved, massacred and irradiated Iraqis for over 15 years to pretend that civilian lives are at issue. President Obama, like his predecessors, know that there is virtually no difference between a smart 500 lb. bomb and a dumb one– except if one actually has a military target. Historically the US has never refrained from bombing indiscriminately, ask any Korean north of the 38th parallel or any Vietnamese born before 1975. We will only know if Russia’s campaign against US-sponsored terrorism in Syria saves civilian lives when and if the smoke is cleared and the Damascus government is allowed to function for its citizens as it had before the US and Israel began waging war against it. Until that time, it is ludicrous to debate how many people may die in Russian airstrikes—especially there is no willingness to stop Saudi airstrikes in Yemen or Israeli airstrikes wherever they feel like it. Moreover the Russian government is stating the obvious—which eludes US vassals in Europe—when they insist that Syrians have a right to safe and secure homes in Syria. Until the US and its lackeys stop destroying them there will be no end to refugees.
Why are all these public statements and propaganda campaigns from the US regime and its global media operations important– if at least thinking folks know that they lie?
It remains central to US global strategy that the white population in the US and Europe stay on its side at all costs. Non-whites have known– no later than when Patrice Lumumba was murdered in 1960– that their lives do not matter, that the UN has never protected them. Were ordinary “whites”, meaning those who just by chance were born in Europe or North America, were to recognize that these wars of enrichment, “regime change”, and humanitarian intervention are part of the process that has been impoverishing them– albeit at a slower rate– since 1971, they just might– and that is an enormous “if” stop worrying about refugees or so-called Christian civilisation and ask why they allow a psychopathic 1% of the population to plunder the world– at their expense too. They might see that every bomb or automatic rifle built in Germany, France, or Britain is a job lost, a teacher or doctor too few, or food and rent too high—or a pension unpaid. But that is a big “if” for those eyes fixed to smart phones and talkshows.
Vladimir Putin told the 70th General Assembly of the United Nations something the world has in fact forgotten. No better said, he called attention to the great lie of 1945. The United Nations was not founded in San Francisco in June 1945. It was actually founded in Yalta in February 1945. Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin agreed the framework by which the peace would be organized. One of those features was the settlement of reparations for the war the West had waged against the Soviet Union.
No doubt for the sake of diplomacy and considering the destruction of almost the entirety of European Russia before the US and Britain even contemplated the “second front” in 1944, the parties agreed to let Germany and its allies bear this cost. It had been agreed that Russia would draw these reparations from an extensive security zone between Germany and the Soviet border. This was not– as is frequently misrepresented– to expand the Soviet Union. It was an admission by the West that substantial troops and materiel raised by the Nazi regime in fact came willingly from fascist elements throughout Eastern Europe—with active corporate and tacit state support in the West. It was also a reluctant recognition that Hitler’s armies were (unfortunately from the West’s viewpoint) almost entirely destroyed by the Red Army– without significant help from Britain or the US. (No more than 10% of the entire Soviet war effort was supported by Western aid.)
When the San Francisco conference was convened, the US version of the “new world order” was already drawn. Later Churchill publicly lied about the Yalta agreement when he told Truman’s constituents in Fulton, Missouri that territory and resources he had also agreed should be under Soviet control had been seized by an “Iron Curtain”. The lies did not stop there. The atomic bombs dropped in Japan in August of 1945 had been sent as a message to the Soviet Union that what Hitler could not do with ground forces, the US would do with air forces.
By 1947, the US had already made its secret rearmament plans to bully and bankrupt Soviet reconstruction efforts. NATO was organised (1949) before the US re-invaded Korea (1951) as a “defence” against the Soviet Union– while the CIA was organising terror cells throughout Europe as so-called “stay behinds” and buying or manipulating elections together with Italian and French organised crime syndicates to assure pro-US governments. The US response to Stalin’s proposed demilitarisation of Germany was to create the Federal Republic, forcing the Soviet Union to organise the Democratic Republic several months later. Despite all attempts to provoke the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact was not established until after US air attacks (1955) on the Soviet territory during the US invasion of Korea. It is worth noting that the Soviet Union had withdrawn all forces from Korea after the war ended, while the US military deposed the Korean People’s Government and reinstalled the Japanese colonial gendarmerie which subsequently, together with the US military government, began a vicious death squad campaign against peasants and nationalists who were opposed to US occupation.
In short the UN began in Yalta in February 1945 and was gerrymandered by the US regime by June of the same year. From that time onward the US regime has manipulated the organisation as a fig leaf for its “open door” empire, filling it with the best diplomats and international bureaucrats money could buy.
Thirty years ago I was accredited to the UN headquarters as a freelance journalist. There was still a Soviet Union, a GDR, Yugoslavia, and Libya. Four countries vilified by the West until they were dismantled, dismembered or destroyed. Four states that in the entire history of the UN never waged a war on foreign soil, four states that with all the weaknesses that states throughout history have had managed to secure modest but comprehensively sound quality of life for their citizens in the sense of those conventions utterly ignored in the West, e.g. the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966).
I heard Ronald Reagan blaspheme in the plenary of the General Assembly, attacking poor countries struggling to fulfil that covenant like Nicaragua and Cuba. I also heard David Lange tell the General Assembly that France was guilty of state terrorism because of its bombing of Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior that year– for interfering in France’s atomic testing– in Auckland harbour. France got the EU to boycott New Zealand for that bit of honesty.
Ronald Reagan tried, like his fan Barack Obama, to accuse the Soviet Union/ Russia of global interventions. What he failed to say, as Obama also omitted, was that all the places that Soviet troops had been sent were countries where the US regime was waging covert– usually mercenary wars– against an established government. However this is the way all US official statements must be read: the accusation is an admission of its own actions. It is probably safe to say that the US will never accuse another country of doing something it is not doing itself.
We all know this from school: a pupil caught cheating or assaulting another pupil yells loud—“look who is cheating” or “look who is fighting” and points his finger at the person he has just hit or from whom he has copied the work. It is that simple. There is no secret agenda; no mysterious meeting whose minutes must be leaked before we know the truth. We all went to school or grew up with those kinds of children and saw them protected by teachers and their parents.
So when we ask what is really happening? Or what does the US regime really want? We just have to recall the behaviour of those cheats and bullies we knew in our school days. They grew up and became CEOs, police chiefs, directors of central intelligence, generals, and presidents and journalists. Perhaps a more serious and difficult question is “when we grew up, what did we become?”
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 unresisting Americans.
So have numerous other undesirable and deplorable happenings, such as the foreclosure on the homes of millions of Americans, while the “banks too big to fail” are bailed out with trillions of dollars, and such as foreign policy lies that have destroyed seven countries, bringing the US and Europe millions of refugees.
In addition there are the foreign policy lies that have brought the US and Europe into conflict with Russia, and the economic lies that shield the extraordinary concentration of income and wealth of the One Percent.
Also routine is Washington’s obliteration of weddings, funerals, and medical centers with bombs and drones. Two days after Obama expressed his despair, frustration and anger over the Oregon mass shootings, a US air strike hit a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. According to numerous news reports, at least 19 people were killed, including 12 members of Doctors Without Borders, and another 37 wounded. The US air strike killed one person on the operating table, and intensive care patients burned to death in their beds.
For Washington, these mass murders are only “collateral damage,” nothing warranting a presidential statement displaying despair, anger, and frustration.
Obama says he can do nothing about mass shootings, but he could certainly call off his illegal wars and deep-six his reckless and coercive approach toward Russia before we are incinerated. As Vladimir Putin said at the UN, “We [meaning Russia] can no longer tolerate the state of affairs in the world.”
Putin does not lie. When he says something, he means it.
Somebody in Washington had better listen to this man, because Washington is no longer The Unipower. There are now three superpowers—Russia, China, and the US—and probably in that order.
In America all forms of evil and corruption have become routine. Bob Dylan told us that vice and corruption have become routine: “People’s lives today are filled on so many levels with vice and the trappings of it. Ambition, greed and selfishness all have to do with vice. . . . We don’t see the people that vice destroys. We just see the glamour of vice on a daily basis—everywhere we look, from billboard signs to movies, to newspapers, to magazines. We see the destruction of human life and the mockery of it, everywhere we look.”
Vice is Washington’s signature. A fish rots from the head, and Washington has led our country into vice, greed, selfishness and the mockery and destruction of human life.
The Golden Rule is to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Allegedly, America is a Christian country. This means that Christian America is following Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in a masochistic way. Do we really want other countries to bomb and invade us, to reduce our towns and cities to rubble, to destroy our social and economic infrastructure, to kill millions of us and make most of the rest of us into refugees?
This is what America has done to the world. This is why Vladimir Putin said Russia can no longer tolerate the state of affairs in the world and why he asked America, “Do you realize what you have done?”
El pasado Lunes 28 de Septiembre del 2015 iniciaron las audiencias orales entre Nicaragua y Colombia con relación a las dos nuevas demandas planteadas por Nicaragua contra Colombia ante el juez internacional: se trata de acciones motivadas por diversas manifestaciones y declaraciones hechas por parte de Colombia con relación a la no implementación del fallo de la Corte Internacional de Justicia (CIJ), dado a conocer en noviembre del 2012. El Lunes 5 de Octubre del 2015, estas audiencias continuarán por una semana más.
Como se recordará, el fallo del 19 de noviembre del 2012 resultó de una demanda interpuesta por Nicaragua en diciembre del 2001. En el 2003, Colombia presentó excepciones preliminares objetando la competencia de la CIJ: esta última rechazó varias de ellas y se declaró competente en su fallo del 13 de diciembre del 2007 (ver texto). El 25 de febrero del 2010, Costa Rica presentó una solicitud de intervención, así como Honduras, el 10 de junio del 2010: ambas solicitudes de intervención fueron examinadas y rechazadas por la CIJ en dos decisiones separadas con fecha del 4 de mayo del 2011 (ver texto en el caso de la solicitud de Costa Rica y texto en el caso de la de Honduras) (Nota 1). Despejado el camino de incidentes procesales para fallar sobre el fondo, los jueces de la CIJ dieron finalmente lectura a su veredicto final, el 19 de noviembre del 2012. Al revisar la parte dispositiva del fallo, la decisión se tomó por unanimidad entre los 15 jueces de la CIJ, incluyendo al juez ad hoc designado por Colombia, el jurista francés Jean Pierre Cot.
Cabe recalcar que entre la presentación inicial de la demanda por parte de Nicaragua y la lectura final sobre el fondo del fallo por parte de la CIJ, transcurrieron 11 años de procedimientos en La Haya: ello permite dar una idea de cuan provechoso puede resultar el recurrir a incidentes procesales para dilatar el procedimiento contencioso ante la CIJ (que es usualmente de 4 años máximo si no hay ningún incidente procesal).
Como también se recordará, a los 10 días de leído el fallo del 2012, Colombia optó por denunciar el Pacto de Bogotá, una acción que ya había sido sugerida en el 2002 (ver entrevista al jurista colombiano Rafael Nieto Navia publicada en El Espectador el 27/11/2012). En otra larga entrevista, un jurista colombiano que luego renunció al equipo que asesoraba a Colombia calificó de “emocional” esta reacción de Colombia al fallo (ver entrevista publicada en Semana al académico Enrique Gaviria Liévano): esta última entrevista es de leer una y otra vez, ya que contiene muchos elementos poco conocidos en relación a la estrategia legal y política de Colombia (y algunas fallas que detectó en su momento el profesor Enrique Gaviria Liévano).
En septiembre del 2013, el Presidente Santos declaró “inaplicable” el fallo de la CIJ: ver nuestra breve nota publicada al respecto en Tribuglobal, el 24/09/2013 (Nota 2). Si bien el fallo en sí fue duramente criticado por varios sectores en Colombia, también encontramos algunos artículos en la doctrina, incluyendo la colombiana, que objetan las posiciones de sus mismas autoridades con relación al hecho que no presentaron ningún recurso de interpretación o de revisión del precitado fallo (Nota 3). Un Estado disconforme con el contenido de un fallo de la CIJ tiene a su disposición vías legales previstas por los artículos 60 y 61 del Estatuto , que detallan el artículos 98 (recurso de interpretación) y el artículo 99 (recurso de revisión) del Reglamentode la misma CIJ. Estados de América Latina disconformes con un fallo han recurrido a los recursos previstos para este fin, tal como lo hiciera El Salvador en el 2002 (solicitando una revisión del fallo de la CIJ de 1992 en su controversia con Honduras). En junio del 2008, México solicito a la CIJ una interpretación con relación a la decisión de la CIJ en el caso Avena (México contra Estados Unidos), dictaminada en el 2004. Se trata en definitiva de herramientas legales, a disposición de un Estado cuando este requiere algún tipo de aclaración sobre el contenido de un fallo de la CIJ, y que Colombia ha optado por no utilizar. En julio del 2013, el ex Secretario de la CIJ, Eduardo Valencia-Ospina, hizo ver en un artículo de opinión que el tema del canal de Nicaragua difícilmente podría dar lugar a una solicitud de revisión del fallo, tal como insinuado por algunos sectores en Colombia (ver artículo publicado el 31 de julio del 2013 en El Tiempo titulado “El pretendido canal interoceánico por Nicaragua y el fallo de La Haya”): el jurista colombiano aprovecho la ocasión para concluir su escrito indicando que “Lo anterior se aplica igualmente, en lo que concierne a una eventual solicitud de revisión, al conocimiento que con antelación al fallo haya podido tener uno de los jueces de la CIJ sobre aspectos específicos relativos al presunto canal. Tal información era irrelevante para efectos de la controversia sobre delimitación marítima y, por ende, del fallo que le puso fin. Fallo que, además, fue adoptado unánimemente por los 15 jueces que conformaron la Corte para el caso, incluyendo el juez ad hoc nombrado por Colombia”.
En septiembre del 2013, el Poder Ejecutivo de Colombia anunció también, entre varias medidas, la presentación de una acción de inconstitucionalidad contra el Pacto de Bogotá, argumentando, entre otros, que las fronteras de Colombia únicamente pueden ser modificadas mediante tratados: dicha acción fue resuelta declarando compatible con la Carta Magna colombiana el Pacto (ver texto de la decisión de mayo del 2014 de la Corte de Constitucionalidad). Con esta acción ante su propia Corte de Constitucionalidad, Colombia exhibió un espectáculo raramente visto: el de un Estado insatisfecho con una decisión de la CIJ, explorando las opciones de su ordenamiento jurídico interno para no aplicar el fallo de la CIJ.
En el plano internacional, el mismo Poder Ejecutivo anunció, días ante de iniciar la Asamblea General de Naciones Unidas en Nueva York de septiembre del 2013, que enviaría una carta suscrita conjuntamente con Costa Rica, Jamaica y Panamá denunciando el “expansionismo” de Nicaragua en el Caribe ante los órganos de Naciones Unidas (ver nota de El Espectador). A la fecha no se tiene mucha certeza con respecto al documento objeto de este anuncio por parte del Presidente Santos: pese a diversas solicitudes hechas por el suscrito a colegas diplomáticos para conocer el contenido de esta carta, no aparece registro de este documento, ni se ha logrado saber si fue efectivamente suscrito (o no) por estos tres Estados mencionados y Colombia, tal como anunciado.
Más allá de estas y otras gesticulaciones por parte de las máximas autoridades de Colombia, fueron pocas las voces que advirtieron a Colombia de la necesidad de revisar la posición de sus autoridades desde el 19 de noviembre del 2012: una de las más contundentes, a nuestro modesto parecer (por ser tal vez más significativa que otras), es la del que fuera coagente de Colombia durante el procedimiento en La Haya contra Nicaragua (y que renunció en agosto del 2012), el Embajador Guillermo Fernández de Soto, ex canciller de Colombia: “No puede ser que los fallos solo se acaten cuando son favorables. El fallo no se puede desconocer” (ver nota de Semana del 41/1/2012).
Ante la actitud adoptada por Colombia, Nicaragua presentó una primera demanda ante la CIJ contra Colombia el 16 de septiembre del 2013, dando lugar a un caso oficialmente denominado por la CIJ “Cuestión de la delimitación de la plataforma continental más allá de las 200 millas de la costa nicaraguense” (ver texto de la demanda). En su solicitud, Nicaragua pide a la CIJ que determine: 1. el trazado preciso de la frontera marítima entre las porciones de la plataforma continental que pertenecen a Nicaragua y a Colombia más allá de los límites establecidos por la CIJ en noviembre del 2012 y 2. los principios aplicables a la zona de la plataforma continental en la que las pretensiones de ambos Estados se traslapan.
El texto oficial en inglés de la demanda precisa que: “12. Nicaragua requests the Court to adjudge and declare: First: The precise course of the maritime boundary between Nicaragua and Colombia in the areas of the continental shelf which appertain to each of them beyond the boundaries determined by the Court in its Judgment of 19 November 2012. Second: The principles and rules of international law that determine the rights and duties of the two States in relation to the area of overlapping continental shelf claims and the use of its resources, pending the delimitation of the maritime boundary between them beyond 200 nautical miles from Nicaragua’s coast.”
Las audiencias orales sobre excepciones preliminares sobre esta primera demanda se realizarán a partir del 5 de octubre del 2015 en La Haya (ver el cronograma oficial de las audiencias).
El tono de las máximas autoridades de Colombia y algunas de sus manifestaciones motivaron a Nicaragua a presentar una segunda demanda ante la CIJ el 26 de noviembre del 2013, a 24 horas de surtir plenos efectos la denuncia del Pacto de Bogotá por parte de Colombia. Es de notar que, jurídicamente, la denuncia no produce sus efectos de forma inmediata, sino que el plazo establecido en el mismo Pacto de Bogotá es de un año: se lee en efecto que “ARTICULO LVI. El presente Tratado regirá indefinidamente, pero podrá ser denunciado mediante aviso anticipado de un año, transcurrido el cual cesará en sus efectos para el denunciante, quedando subsistente para los demás signatarios. La denuncia será dirigida a la Unión Panamericana, que la transmitirá a las otras Partes Contratantes. La denuncia no tendrá efecto alguno sobre los procedimientos pendientes iniciados antes de transmitido el aviso respectivo”. La última frase de este artículo redactado en 1948, y las diversas maneras de entender el concepto de “aviso” darán probablemente lugar a interpretaciones variadas de los asesores de unos y otros, que la CIJ deberá dilucidar en cuanto a su alcance exacto.
Esta segunda demanda por parte de Nicaragua (ver texto completo ) se inscribió por parte de la Secretaría de la CIJ como un nuevo caso denominado oficialmente por el juez internacional “Pretendidas violaciones de derechos soberanos y de espacios marítimos en el Mar Caribe“. En su demanda, Nicaragua pide a la CIJ que dictamine que Colombia ha violado la obligación que tiene de abstenerse de recurrir al uso o a la amenaza de la fuerza y que establezca que Colombia ha violado repetidamente los espacios marítimos de Nicaragua declarados como tal en el fallo del 2012 de la CIJ: la demanda viene acompañada de un juego de anexos (10 en total) que documentan de manera precisa la actitud y el tono hostil de las declaraciones de las máximas autoridades de Colombia.
El texto oficial de la demanda precisa:
“22. On the basis of the foregoing statement of facts and law, Nicaragua, while reserving the right to supplement, amend or modify this Application, requests the Court to adjudge and declare that Colombia is in breach of:
— its obligation not to use or threaten to use force under Article 2 (4) of the UN Charter and international customary law;
— its obligation not to violate Nicaragua’s maritime zones as delimited in paragraph 251 of the ICJ Judgment of 19 November 2012 as well as Nicaragua’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction in these zones;
— its obligation not to violate Nicaragua’s rights under customary international law as reflected in Parts V and VI of UNCLOS;
— and that, consequently, Colombia is bound to comply with the Judgment of 19 November 2012, wipe out the legal and material consequences of its internationally wrongful acts, and make full reparation for the harm caused by those acts”.
Las audiencias orales sobre las excepciones preliminares que ha presentado Colombia con relación a esta segunda demanda de Nicaragua en su contra son las que iniciaron el Lunes 28 de septiembre del 2015 (ver cronograma oficial de las audiencias). Para los estudiosos, especialistas en la materia y público en general, están disponibles los argumentos del primera día de audiencias (se pueden leer en este enlace en el que, luego de las palabras preliminares del Agente de Colombia, se consignan las exposiciones de Michael Wood, Rodman Bundy , Eduardo Valencia Ospina y Tulio Treves) ; de igual forma, las exposiciones oídas por los jueces en el segundo día de audiencias (ver enlace en el que, luego de las palabras introductorias del Agente de Nicaragua, se pueden leer las posiciones defendidas por sus asesores Antonio Remiro Brotóns, Vaughan Lowe y Alain Pellet). De la misma manera, se pueden consultar la segunda ronda de argumentos por parte de Colombia y las conclusiones finales de su Agente (ver enlace) así como los argumentos y conclusiones finales por parte del equipo de Nicaragua (ver enlace ).
Los equipos legales de ambas Partes
Para estas audiencias, Nicaragua se presentó a la barra con los siguientes asesores internacionales, quiénes, en algunos casos desde 1984, participan en la defensa de Nicaragua – y de muchos otros Estados – ante la CIJ: Vaughan Lowe (Reino Unido), Alex Oude Elferink (Paises Bajos), Alain Pellet (Francia) y Antonio Remiro Brotóns (España). Por su parte, Colombia se presenta con los siguientes asesores internacionales, varios de los cuales cuentan con una reducida experiencia en La Haya: W. Michael Reisman (Estados Unidos), Rodman R. Bundy (Estados Unidos), Michael Wood (Reino Unido), Tullio Treves (Italia) y Matthias Herdegen (Alemania). Adicionalmente el Ex Secretario de la CIJ entre 1987 y el 2000, el colombiano Eduardo Valencia- Ospina, figura en la lista de asesores contratados por Colombia.
Al ser la segunda vez que ambos Estados comparecen en La Haya en los últimos años, se recomienda comparar la composición de ambos equipos con relación a los integrantes internacionales que participaron en la demanda que culminó el 19 de noviembre del 2012 (ver listado de los equipos de Nicaragua y de Colombia en las páginas 8-10 del texto de la misma decisión de la CIJ). Sobre algunos detalles con relación a cambios de integrantes en el equipo de Colombia, remitimos al lector a este artículopublicado en Semana en octubre del 2014 titulado “Colombia ha gastado US$ 5,6 millones defendiéndose de Nicaragua”.
Es de notar que Colombia ha enviado a La Haya a la jefa de su diplomacia para encabezar a su delegación en su comparecencia ante los jueces de la CIJ: un hecho que no se adecúa del todo a la tradición y a la práctica que quiere que sea el Agente designado por cada Estado – usualmente un funcionario con rango de Embajador – el que encabece a su delegación: únicamente Costa Rica (enero del 2011, Costa Rica c. Nicaragua), Chile (diciembre del 2012, caso Perú c. Chile sobre delimitación marítima) y luego, de manera conjunta Bolivia y Chile (mayo del 2015, caso sobre acceso al mar de Bolivia) decidieron innovar en la materia, enviando a sus respectivos cancilleres a La Haya durante las audiencias orales. Se trata de un aspecto meramente formal, cuyos efectos en algunos jueces (más susceptibles que otros en no dejar que la CIJ se convierta en una tribuna política) no parecieran haberse analizado mayormente por parte de la doctrina. Tal y como tuvimos la oportunidad de señalarlo con ocasión de las audiencias finales celebradas en La Haya entre Costa Rica y Nicaragua en abril del 2015 (ver breve nota publicada por el OPALC), “el recinto de la CIJ no constituye una tribuna política: las audiencias públicas constituyen una última etapa procesal prevista por un tribunal internacional durante la cual las partes ponen a prueba a sus equipos legales y a sus peritos en aras de convencer a 17 jueces de la solidez de sus argumentos y de la debilidad de los de la parte adversa“.
La objeción de Colombia a la competencia de la CIJ
En ambas demandas, Colombia ha optado por objetar, mediante la presentación de varias excepciones preliminares, la competencia de la CIJ (ver nota de prensa). Como bien se sabe, se trata de una figura procesal mediante la cual la parte demandada cuestiona ante el juez internacional la base de competencia con el fin de evitar que la CIJ conozca el fondo del asunto. Esta figura goza de amplia aceptación en derecho internacional, en la medida en que se considera que un Estado soberano no tiene porqué explicarse ante un juez internacional si no ha dado previamente su consentimiento para someterse a este último. La presentación de excepciones preliminares busca no sólo evitar una decisión sobre el fondo por parte del juez, sino también que se debata el asunto como tal. Para algunos autores, este intento puede también denotar poca confianza del Estado en sus argumentos sobre el fondo: en una publicación especializada publicada en Francia se lee que: “Il n´est pas rare de remarquer que l´Etat qui présente ces exceptions a quelques doutes sur l´issue du procès, autrement dit, il préfère que l´affaire s´arrête plutôt que de risquer de tout perdre au fond» (Nota 4). En una época, las excepciones preliminares fueron sistemáticamente utilizadas ante la CIJ por la parte demandada, con la notable excepción de Costa Rica en 1986, primer Estado demandado – en aquella ocasión por Nicaragua – en no recurrir a esta herramienta en 28 años de litigios en La Haya: un gesto inusual, saludado años después en un artículo suscrito por el ex Presidente de la CIJ, Mohamed Bedjaoui (Nota 5). Por su parte, la posición de la CIJ ha consistido en ampliar paulatinamente su competencia y en interpretar de manera cada vez más estricta el alcance de la figura de las excepciones preliminares. El Art.79 párrafo 9 del Reglamento de la CIJ precisa que “La Corte, oídas las partes, decidirá por medio de un fallo, en el que aceptará o rechazará la excepción o declarará que la excepción no tiene, en las circunstancias del caso, un carácter exclusivamente preliminar. Si la Corte rechazara la excepción o declarara que no tiene un carácter exclusivamente preliminar, fijará los plazos para la continuación del procedimiento”.
Varias de las excepciones preliminares presentadas por Colombia se relacionan con los alcances de la denuncia que hizo del Pacto de Bogotá en noviembre del 2012, así como el argumento según el cual, para conocer un asunto relacionado con la ejecución de un fallo de la CIJ, se debe contar con el consentimiento previo de ambas partes y no solo de una. En el caso de las audiencias oídas la semana semana, son un total de cinco excepciones preliminares las que ha presentado Colombia. Al haber usado Nicaragua en ambas demandas la misma base de competencia de la CIJ (los párrafos 8-10 del texto de la primera demanda son muy similares a los párrafos 16-18 del texto de la segunda demanda, con excepción de la última parte), es probable que en esta semana que inicia, se repitan en gran parte el mismo tipo de argumentos por parte de Colombia.
Independientemente del número de excepciones presentadas, y de los riesgos que puede conllevar la estrategia de Colombia en el caso de estas dos nuevas demandas planteadas por Nicaragua, vale la pena indicar que no es la primera vez que Colombia recurre a la presentación de este tipo de excepciones ante una demanda de Nicaragua: ya lo había hecho con relación a la demanda interpuesta en el 2001, sin obtener que la CIJ se declarase incompetente (Nota 6). A este respecto, resulta oportuno indicar que el profesor José J. Caicedo (Colombia) fue de los pocos autores que considero innecesarias las excepciones presentadas por Colombia en el 2003, previendo además, que de declararse competente el juez internacional, Colombia quedaría expuesta ante los jueces. Lo hizo en los siguientes términos: “En la práctica, es frecuente que el rechazo de las excepciones preliminares abra la puerta a una solución diplomática entre las partes. El estado demandado, conciente de que el riesgo judicial que corre es más grande que sus oportunidades de éxito, prefiere entonces una solución diplomática que, a diferencia de las decisiones de la Corte en materia de delimitación, puede controlar. Sin embargo, teniendo en cuenta la posición que Colombia ha mantenido desde los años setenta según la cual las fronteras marítimas ya existen y sobre todo la intolerancia de esta posición, no creemos en un cambio de posición” (Nota 7).
Más allá del punto de saber si los asesores legales de Colombia han sacado algunas enseñanzas con relación al primer proceso en que enfrentaron a Nicaragua ante la CIJ, la actitud de Colombia después de la lectura del fallo de noviembre del 2012 es inédita en los anales de la justicia internacional. Las manifestaciones oficiales de sus actuales autoridades criticando duramente el fallo del 2012 a pocos días de su lectura también: raramente se ha visto a un Estado explorar diversas maneras para no implementar un fallo de la CIJ, incluyendo las vías que ofrece su propio derecho interno.
Las dos demandas presentadas por Nicaragua en el 2013 resultan en gran parte de esta actitud de las autoridades colombianas. La estrategia legal colombiana consiste ahora en intentar evitar que la CIJ se pronuncie sobre el fondo de estas. Como indicado en algunas ocasiones anteriores, el recurso a las excepciones preliminares debiera ser valorado con extremo cuidado. Remitimos al lector a las conclusiones de esta breve nota publicada con ocasión de las audiencias entre Bolivia y Chile celebradas a mediados del 2015 en La Haya: “El recurso a las excepciones preliminares siempre debiera ser cuidadosamente sopesado. En caso de que la CIJ rechace algunas de ellas, declarándose competente, coloca al Estado demandado en una posición inconfortable. Bien lo sabe Estados Unidos, al intentar evitar que la demanda planteada por Nicaragua, en abril de 1984, siguiera su curso: al no obtener que la CIJ se declarara incompetente, Estados Unidos optó por no comparecer en la fase siguiente del procedimiento que concluyó con el fallo (histórico) de junio de 1986. De igual manera, se puede inferir que el precitado fallo de la CIJ sobre excepciones preliminares en la controversia entre Nicaragua y Colombia colocó a Colombia en una situación incómoda ante los jueces de la CIJ: intentar evitar que la justicia internacional se pronuncie no siempre es bien percibido por parte del juez internacional” (Nota 8).
1.Sobre ambas decisiones, ver análisis publicado en Colombia: SARMIENTO LAMUS A., “La Corte Internacional de Justicia y la intervención de terceros en cuestiones marítimas: A propósito de la decisión en las solicitudes de intervención de Costa Rica y Honduras en la Controversia Territorial y Marítima (Nicaragua vs. Colombia)”, Anuario Colombiano de Derecho Internacional (ACDI), Vol. 5 (2013) pp. 123-151. Texto del artículo disponible aquí.
2.La misma nota fue publicada en francés, BOEGLIN N., “La décision de la Colombie de déclarer «non applicable» l´arrêt de la CIJ : brèves réflexions”, Sentinelle, Société Française pour le Droit International (SFDI), Num. 359, Texto disponible aquí.
3.Véase por ejemplo, PRIETO SANJUÁN, R.A., “À vous la terre, et à vous, la mer: à propos de l’étrange sens de l’équité de la CIJ en l’affaire du Différend territorial et maritime (Nicaragua c. Colombie)”, Anuario Colombiano de Derecho Internacional (ACDI), Vol. 8 (2015), pp. 131-165. Leemos que para este autor, « Vues les réactions qui ont fait suite à l’arrêt, tout porte à croire que la Casa de Nariño (nom du palais présidentiel colombien) a du mal à accepter que lorsque la Cour est compétente pour connaître d’une affaire, il lui revient de trancher le différend dont elle est saisie de manière définitive et obligatoire. La Ministre des affaires étrangères a en effet publiquement pris attache avec un cabinet britannique qui, assure-t-elle, l’a convaincue de l’existence de bonnes chances d’introduire une demande d’interprétation, voire de révision de l’arrêt devant la Cour. Une demande d’interprétation ? Pourquoi pas si l’arrêt présente une difficulté de compréhension, mais il semble que la Colombie ait bien compris que sa thèse a été rejetée…; quant à obtenir une révision, encore faudrait-il faire valoir un fait nouveau » (pp. 134-135). Texto completo del artículo disponible aquí.
4.Véase SOREL J.M & POIRAT Fl., «Rapport Introductif », in SOREL J.M. & POIRAT Fl. (Ed.), Les procédures incidentes devant la Cour Internationale de Justice : exercice ou abus de droits ? Paris, Pedone, Collection contentieux international, 2001, pp.9-57, p.55.
5.Se lee que para el ex juez de la CIJ (1982-2001) y Presidente de la misma (1994-1997), Mohamed Bedjaoui, « Dans une instance intentée en 1986 par le Nicaragua contre le Costa Rica, ce dernier admit d´emblée la compétence de la Cour. Ce fait mérite d´autant plus d´être signalé que c´était la première fois en 28 ans q´un défendeur avait témoigné envers la Cour, au seuil de l´instance, son dévouement au règlement judiciaire des différends ». Véase BEDJAOUI M., « La « fabrication » des arrêts de la Cour Internationale de Justice », in Mélanges Michel Virally. Le droit international au service de la paix, de la justice et du développement, Paris, Pedone, 1991, pp.87-107, p. 89, nota 1.
6.Sobre la decisión de la CIJ de rechazar ambas excepciones preliminares presentadas por Colombia, remitimos al lector a un análisis del jurista colombiano Rafael Nieta Navia: NIETO NAVIA R., “La decisión de la Corte Internacional de Justicia sobre excepciones preliminares en el caso de Nicaragua v. Colombia”, Anuario Colombiano de Derecho Internacional (ACDI), Vol. 2 (2009), pp. 11-57. Artículo completo disponible aquí.
7:Véase CAICEDO DEMOULIN J.J., “¿Debe Colombia presentar excepciones preliminares en el asunto sobre el diferendo territorial y marítimo (Nicaragua c. Colombia)?”, Revista Colombiana de Derecho Internacional, Junio 2003, pp.158-282, p. 281.
8.Véase BOEGLIN N., “Las audiencias entre Bolivia y Chile ante la Corte Internacional de Justicia (CIJ): breve análisis”, Ius360, 22/07/2015. Texto de la nota disponible aquí.
Nicolas Boeglin: Profesor de Derecho Internacional Público, Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR)
Rich and powerful elites have long dreamed of world control. The ambitious Romans, Attila the Hun, great Muslim leaders of Medieval Spain, the Mughals of India all exercised immense influence over different parts of the globe in set periods of recognised ascendancy.
Sometimes tribal, sometimes national, sometimes religious, often dynastic, their success defined epochs, but was never effectively global until the twentieth century. At that point, with the future of the British Empire under threat from other aspiring nations, in particular Germany , a momentous decision was taken by a group of powerful and determined men, that direct action had to be taken to assert their control, and that of the British race, over the entire civilised world. It has grown from that tiny select cabal into a monster that may already be beyond control.
“One wintry afternoon in February 1891, three men were engaged in earnest conversation in London. From that conversation were to flow consequences of the greatest importance for the British Empire and to the world as a whole.”
So begins Professor Carroll Quigley’s book The Anglo American Establishment. It may read like a John Le Carre thriller, but this was no spy fiction. The three staunch British Imperialists who met in London that day, Cecil Rhodes, William Stead and Lord Esher, were soon joined by Lords Rothschild, Salisbury, Rosebery and Milner, men whose financial, political, and administrative powers set them apart. Some of these names may not be familiar to you, but that is a mark of the absolute success of this group. From the outset they insisted on secrecy, operated in secret and ensured that their influence was airbrushed from history. They believed that white men of Anglo-Saxon descent rightly sat at the top of the racial hierarchy and they fully understood the impending threat from a burgeoning Germany whose modern, expanding economy had begun to challenge British hegemony on the world stage.
The above named elites drew up a plan for a secret society that aimed to renew the bond between Great Britain and the United States and bring all habitable portions of the world under their influence and control. The U.S. had grown rapidly in self-esteem, wealth and opportunity since the declaration of independence in 1776, but Anglo-American connections remained strong and would embroil her in the long-term plan for one world government. The meeting in 1891 was, in effect, the birth of the New World Order cabal.
Great financiers frequently used their fortunes to influence questions of peace and war and control politics for profit. Cecil Rhodes was different. He was determined to use his vast fortune not simply to generate ever-increasing profit, but to realise his dream, a dream he shared with his co-conspirators. Rhodes turned the profit objective on its head and sought to amass great wealth into his secret society in order to achieve political ends, to buy governments and politicians, buy public opinion and the means to influence it.  He intended that his wealth should be used to grasp control of the world, secretly. Secrecy was the cornerstone. No one outside the favoured few knew of the group’s existence. They have since been referred to obliquely in speeches and books as “The Money Power”, “The Hidden Power” or “the men behind the curtain”. All of these labels are pertinent, but we have called them, collectively, the Secret Elite.
Carroll Quigley revealed that Secret Elite influence on education was chiefly visible at the exclusive English private schools, Eton and Harrow, and at Oxford University , especially All Souls and Balliol Colleges .  This immensely rich and powerful group was given intellectual approval and inspiration by the philosophy of John Ruskin, professor of fine arts at Oxford. He spoke to the Oxford undergraduates as members of the privileged ruling class, telling them that they possessed a magnificent tradition of education, rule of law and freedom. He championed all that was finest in the public service ethic, duty and self-discipline, and believed that English ruling class tradition should be spread to the masses across the empire. 
But behind such well-serving words lay a philosophy strongly opposed to the emancipation of woman, had no time for democracy and supported the “just” war. Ruskin advocated that control of the state should be placed in the hands of a small ruling class. Social order was to be built upon the authority of superiors, imposing upon their inferiors an absolute, unquestioning obedience. He was repelled by the notion of levelling between the classes and by the disintegration of the “rightful” authority of the ruling class. Ruskin’s philosophy was music to the ears of the elitists. It gave their lust for global power the blessing of academic approval. What they did, they would claim, was not for them, but for mankind. They would rise to power on the spurious justification that the world would consequently be a better place for humanity.
Inspired by Ruskin, Cecil Rhodes and his accomplices created the secret society with an inner core of trusted associates called “The Society of the Elect”, who unquestionably knew that they were members of an exclusive cabal devoted to taking and holding power on a world-wide basis.  A second outer ring, larger and quite fluid in its membership, was named “The Association of Helpers”. At this level members might not have known that they were an integral part of, or inadvertently being used by, a secret society. Many on the outer edges of the group, idealists and honest individuals, may never have been aware that the real decisions were made by a ruthless clique about whom they had no knowledge. 
The man who exposed the secret society, Carroll Quigley (1910 – 1977), was the highly esteemed professor of history at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University , and a lecturer at Princeton and Harvard. He revealed that the organisation was able to “conceal its existence quite successfully, and many of its most influential members… are unknown even to close students of British History”.  Quigley’s greatest contribution to our understanding of modern history came with his books, The Anglo-American Establishment and Tragedy and Hope, A History of the World in Our Time. The former was written in 1949 but only released after his death. His disclosures placed him in such potential danger from an Establishment backlash that it was never published in his lifetime. In a 1974 radio broadcast, Quigley warned the interviewer, Rudy Maxa of the Washington Post, “You better be discreet. You have to protect my future as well as your own.” 
Quigley had received assistance of a “personal nature” from individuals close to what he called the “Group”, but “for obvious reasons” he could not reveal their names.  He made it clear that evidence about them was not hard to find “if you know where to look,” and it has to be asked why generations of historians have failed to pursue his trail. Though sworn to secrecy, Professor Quigley revealed in the radio interview that Sir Alfred Zimmern, the British historian and political scientist, had confirmed the names of the main protagonists within the secret society. Without a shadow of doubt, Zimmern himself was a close associate of those at the centre of real power in Britain. He knew most of the key figures personally and was himself a member of the inner core of the secret society for twelve years between 1910 and 1922. 
The enigma of Professor Quigley’s work lies in his statement that while the secret cabal had brought many of the things he held dear close to disaster, he generally agreed with its goals and aims.  Were these merely words of self-preservation? Be mindful of his warning to Rudy Maxa as late as 1974. Quigley clearly felt that these revelations placed him in danger. Unknown persons removed his major work, Tragedy and Hope, from the bookstore shelves in America , and it was withdrawn from sale without any justification soon after its release. The book’s original plates were unaccountably destroyed by Quigley’s publisher, the Macmillan Company, who, for the next six years “lied, lied, lied” to him and deliberately misled him into believing that it would be reprinted.  Why? What pressures obliged a major publishing house to take such extreme action? Quigley stated categorically that powerful people had suppressed the book because it exposed matters that they did not want known. The reader has to understand that we are discussing individuals whose power, influence and control were unrivalled.
From the very start, each of the initial conspirators brought valuable qualities and connections to the society. Cecil Rhodes was Prime Minister of the Cape Colony and master and commander of a vast area of Southern Africa which some were already beginning to call Rhodesia . His wealth had been underwritten by brutal native suppression  and the global mining interests of the House of Rothschild,  to whom he was answerable. William Stead was the most prominent journalist of his day and a voice to which ordinary people listened. Lord Esher represented the interests of the monarchy from Queen Victoria ’s final years, through the exuberant excesses of King Edward VII, to the more sedate but pliable King George V. His influence was immense because he operated between monarchs, the aristocracy and leading political figures. He chaired important secret committees, was responsible for appointments to the Cabinet, the senior ranks of the diplomatic corps and voiced strong personal opinion on top army posts.  Esher exerted a power behind the throne far in excess of his constitutional position. His role of powerbroker on behalf of the Secret Elite was without equal. Indeed Professor Quigley dubbed him, “the greatest wire puller of the period.” 
Another name that pervaded all that was powerful and influential during this period was that of the Rothschild dynasty, and Quigley placed Lord Nathaniel (Natty) Rothschild within the very core of the secret organization.  Rothschild was all-powerful in British and world banking and virtually untouchable.
“The House of Rothschild was immensely more powerful than any financial empire that had ever preceded it. It commanded vast wealth. It was international. It was independent. Royal governments were nervous of it because they could not control it. Popular movements hated it because it was not answerable to the people. Constitutionalists resented it because its influence was exercised behind the scenes – secretly.” 
Taken together, the principal players, Rhodes, Stead, Esher, Rothschild and Milner represented a new force that was emerging inside British politics, but powerful old traditional aristocratic families that had long dominated Westminster , often in cahoots with the reigning monarch, were also deeply involved, and none more so than the Cecil family. Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, the patriarchal 3rd Marquis of Salisbury, ruled the Conservative Party at the latter end of the nineteenth century. He served as prime minister three times for a total of fourteen years, between 1885 and 1902 (longer than anyone else in recent history). When he retired as prime minister in July 1902, he handed over the reins of government to his sister’s son, Arthur Balfour. Lord Salisbury had four siblings, five sons and three daughters who were all linked and interlinked by marriage to individuals in the upper echelons of the English ruling class. Important government positions were given to relations, friends and wealthy supporters who proved their gratitude by ensuring that his views became policy in government, civil service and diplomatic circles. This extended ‘Cecil-Bloc’ was intricately linked to “The Society of the Elect” and Secret Elite ambitions throughout the first half of the twentieth century. 
Another member of the inner core, Lord Alfred Milner, offers cause for greater scrutiny because he has been virtually airbrushed from the history of the period. Alfred Milner was a self-made man and remarkably successful civil servant who became a key figure within the Secret Elite and absolutely powerful within the ranks of these privileged individuals. He and Rhodes had been contemporaries at Oxford University , and were inextricably connected through events in South Africa . Rhodes recognised in him the kind of steel that was required to pursue the dream of world domination, “I support Milner absolutely without reserve. If he says peace, I say peace; if he says war, I say war. Whatever happens, I say ditto to Milner.”  Milner grew in time to be the most able of them all, to enjoy the privilege of patronage and power, a man to whom others turned for leadership and direction.
When governor general and high commissioner of South Africa , Milner deliberately caused the Boer War in order to grab the Transvaal’s gold and use the economic resources of South Africa to extend and perpetuate Secret Elite control. He had the grace to confess in a letter to Lord Roberts, Commander in Chief in South Africa, that
“I precipitated the crisis, which was inevitable, before it was too late. It is not very agreeable, and in many eyes, not very creditable piece of business to have been largely instrumental in bringing about a big war.” 
This was no immodest boast. Alfred Milner’s matter-of-fact explanation displayed the cold objectivity that drove the Secret Elite cause. War was unfortunate, but necessary. It had to be. They were not afraid of war.
The Secret Elite’s war against the Dutch settlers began in October 1899 and ended with the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging on 31 May 1902. The Boer Republics were annexed to the British Empire . The Transvaal ’s gold was finally in the hands of the Secret Elite at a cost of some 70,000 dead on the battlefields, plus 32,000 dead in British concentration camps, including more than 20,000 children of Dutch descent. Some thirty thousand Boer farms were burned to the ground, livestock slaughtered, and the women and children put in British concentration camps. In the camps, the families of men fighting for the Boer army were punished by being put on half the already meagre rations with no meat whatsoever.  W. T. Stead, former member of the inner core of the Secret Elite who had resigned in disgust over the Boer War, was overcome by the evidence presented to him. He wrote,
“Every one of these children who died as a result of the halving of their rations, thereby exerting pressure onto their family still on the battle-field, was purposefully murdered. The system of half rations stands exposed, stark and unashamedly as a cold-blooded deed of state policy employed with the purpose of ensuring the surrender of men whom we were not able to defeat on the field.” 
20,000 children dying in British concentration camps were of little consequence to Milner. He was so driven that he ignored the weight of opposition ranged against him. He warned his friend, Richard Haldane: “If we are to build up anything in South Africa , we must disregard, and absolutely disregard, the screamers.”  It takes a very strong man to disregard the screamers, to ignore moral indignation, to put the cause before humanitarian concerns. Some frontline politicians find it all but impossible to stand against a torrent of public outrage, but those behind the curtain in the secret corridors of power can easily ignore ‘sentimentality’.
Milner’s period of stewardship in South Africa had a very important consequence. He administered the defeated Transvaal and Orange Free State as occupied territories, and recruited into the upper layers of his civil service a band of young men from well-to-do, upper-class, frequently titled families who became known as “Milner’s Kindergarten.”  They replaced the government and administration of the Boer republics, and worked prodigiously to rebuild the broken country.  The Kindergarten comprised new blood; young educated men – mostly Oxford graduates, with a deep sense of duty, loyalty to the Empire and capable of populating the next generation of the secret society.  In the period 1909-1913 the Kindergarten set up semi-secret groups, known as Round Table Groups, in the United States and the chief British dependencies.
Take Canada as an example. Numerous Canadian Round Table groups were established from 1909. Lionel Curtis and Philip Kerr of the Secret Elite’s inner core  went on a four-month trip to Canada in the company of William Marris from the “Association of Helpers.” The object of the trip was to lay the foundations for Round Table groups, to reinforce the values of the British Empire and prepare them for a war against Germany. They carried a letter from Alfred Milner to his old friend Arthur J. Glazebrook asking him to help establish the groups. Glazebrook became one of the most devoted and loyal friends of the Secret Elite’s mission, and so successfully completed the task that for twenty years he was head of the groups throughout Canada . Vincent Massey, a Balliol College , Oxford graduate and lecturer in modern history at Toronto University, was another important operative for the Secret Elite in Canada . He would go on to hold senior cabinet and diplomatic posts and became governor of the prestigious private school, Upper Canada College , and the University of Toronto .  Sir Edward Peacock, housemaster at Upper Canada College , and Edward Rogers Wood, a prominent financier and businessman, were likewise very close to the Canadian branch of the Milner group.  Other members of the Secret Elite connected to Canada were, Sir George Parkin, Percy Corbett, Sir Joseph Flavelle and George P. de T. Glazebrook.  The latter was the son of Milner’s old friend Arthur Glazebrook. He too had studied at Balliol College , Oxford and went on to teach history at the University of Toronto.
The Round Table Groups in Canada , as elsewhere, were merely different names for “The Association of Helpers” and only part of the secret society, since the real power still lay with “The Society of the Elect”. This all-powerful inner-core would bring in new members from the outer ring as was deemed necessary.  The alliance of powerful investment bankers, politicians, diplomats and press barons shared the same unwritten purpose, the destruction of German imperial power and the confirmation of Anglo-Saxon domination of the world.
Money was never a problem for the Secret Elite. As we have seen, Natty Rothschild, the richest man in the world, was directly involved from the beginning, but the ‘Money-Power’ extended well beyond that single source. The Rand multi-millionaires, Sir Abe Bailey and Alfred Beit were members of the inner core  and always willing to finance Secret Elite proposals, fund their propaganda groups, and back Milner. Sir Ernest Cassel, an investment banker and one of the wealthiest men in pre-war Europe , was likewise involved. Cassel , a close friend of King Edward VII, acted as go-between for the British government and provided personal funds for Lord Esher. 
Other great financiers and bankers, centred in the City, the financial and banking district of London, shared the vision of a single world power based on English ruling class values. The world had entered an era of financial capitalism where these wealthy international investment bankers were able to dominate both industry and government if they had the concerted will to do so.  This “Money Power” seeped into the British Establishment and joined the aristocratic landowning families who had ruled Britain for centuries. Together, they lay at the heart of the Secret Elite.
In his “Confession of Faith”, Cecil Rhodes had written of bringing the whole uncivilized world under British rule, and the “recovery” of the United States to make the “Anglo-Saxon race but one Empire,”  by which he meant a white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant America working in tandem with like minds in England. Clearly the United States could not be “recovered” by force of arms, so Rhodes dream was expanded to include the wealthy elites in the U.S. who shared a similar mind-set.
Rhodes suffered from heart and lung problems and was aware that his projected life span was limited. He wrote several wills to ensure that his fortune would be used to pursue his dream. Part of his strategy was to gift scholarship places at his alma mater, Oxford University , in the belief that exposure to British culture, philosophy and education would strengthen the best young minds from the colonies and, most importantly, the United States . Rhodes scholarships favoured American students, with two allocated for each of the fifty States and Territories, but only sixty places for the entire British Empire . The “best talents” from the “best families” in the US were to be nurtured at Oxford , spiritual home of the Secret Elite, and imbued with an appreciation of “Englishness” and “retention of the unity of the Empire.”Professor Quigley revealed that “the scholarships were merely a façade to conceal the secret society, or, more accurately, they were to be one of the instruments by which the members of the secret society could carry out his [ Rhodes ] purpose.” 
The Secret Elite appreciated America ’s vast potential, and adjusted the concept of British Race supremacy to Anglo-Saxon supremacy. Rhodes ’s dream had only to be slightly modified. The world was to be united through the English-speaking nations in a federal structure based around Britain .  Alfred Milner became the undisputed leader of the secret society when Cecil Rhodes died in 1902. Like Rhodes , he believed that the goal should be pursued by a secret political and economic elite influencing “journalistic, educational and propaganda agencies” behind the scenes. 
The flow of money into the United States during the nineteenth century advanced industrial development to the immense benefit of the millionaires it created, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Morgan, Vanderbilt and their associates. The Rothschilds represented British interests, either directly through front companies or indirectly, through agencies they controlled. Railroads, steel, shipbuilding, construction, oil and finance blossomed in an oft-cut throat environment, though that was more apparent than real. These small groups of massively rich individuals on both sides of the Atlantic knew each other well, and the Secret Elite in London initiated a very select and secretive dining club, The Pilgrims, that brought them together on a regular basis.
On 11 July 1902, an inaugural meeting was held at the Carlton Hotel  of what became known as the London Chapter of The Pilgrims Society, with a select membership limited by individual scrutiny to 500. Ostensibly, the society was created to “promote goodwill, good friendship and everlasting peace”  between Britain and the United States , but its highly secretive and exclusive membership leaves little doubt as to its real purpose. This was the pool of wealth and talent that the Secret Elite drew together to promote its agenda in the years preceding the First World War. Behind an image of the Pilgrim Fathers, the persecuted pioneers of Christian values, this elite cabal advocated the idea that “Englishmen and Americans would promote international friendship through their pilgrimages to and fro across the Atlantic ”. It presented itself as a spontaneous movement to promote democracy across the world  and doubtless many of the members believed that, but The Pilgrims included a select collective of the wealthiest figures in both Britain and the United States who were deeply involved with the Secret Elite. They shared Rhodes ’ dream and wanted to be party to it.
The New York branch of The Pilgrims was launched at the Waldorf-Astoria on 13 January 1903,  and comprised the most important bankers, politicians and lawyers on the Eastern Seaboard. They established a tradition of close interaction with British and American ambassadors.  The ambassadorial connections with The Pilgrims would prove absolutely crucial in linking the Foreign Secretary in London and the Secretary of State in Washington to the Secret Elite and its agenda for war. A number of the American Pilgrims also had close links with the New York branch of the Secret Elite’s Round Table.
In Britain , at least eighteen members of the Secret Elite, including Lords Rothschild, Curzon, Northcliffe, Esher and Balfour attended Pilgrims dinners, though the regularity of their attendance is difficult to establish. Such is the perennial problem with secretive groups. We know something about the guests invited to dinner, but not what was discussed between courses.  In New York , members included both the Rockefeller and Morgan dynasties and many men in senior government posts. Initially, membership was likewise limited to 500.  The power-elite in America was New York centred, carried great influence in domestic and international politics, and was heavily indulgent of Yale, Harvard and Princeton Universities . They conducted an American version of what Carroll Quigley termed the Secret Elite’s triple-front-penetration of politics, the press and education.  The Pilgrims Society brought together American money and British aristocracy, royalty, government ministers and top diplomats. It was indeed a special relationship.
Of all the American banking establishments, none was more Anglo-centric than the J. P. Morgan bank, itself deeply involved with The Pilgrims. An American, George Peabody, established the bank in London in 1835. In 1854 he took on a partner, Junius Morgan, (father of J. P. Morgan) and the bank was renamed Peabody , Morgan & Co. When Peabody ’s retired in 1864 it became the J. S. Morgan bank.
The Rothschilds had developed a close relationship with Peabody and Morgan, and following a crash in 1857 saved the bank by organizing a huge bailout by the Bank of England. Although American by birth, the Morgan family wore their affinity to England like a badge of honour. Despite stinging criticism from Thomas Jefferson that Junius’s father-in-law, the Rev John Pierpont, was “under the influence of the whore of England ,”  Junius sent his son to the English High School in Boston . J. P. Morgan spent much of his younger years absorbing English traditions, and was an ardent anglophile and admirer of the British Empire.
In 1899 J. P. Morgan travelled to England to attend an international Bankers Convention and returned to America as the representative of Rothschild interests in the United States .  It was the perfect front. Morgan, who posed as an upright Protestant guardian of capitalism, who could trace his family roots to pre-Revolutionary times, acted for the Rothschilds and shielded their American profits from the poison of anti-Semitism. In 1895 the Rothschilds had secretly replenished the US gold reserves through J.P. Morgan, and raised him to the premier league of international banking. In turn, his gratitude was extended to another Rothschild favourite and leading figure in the Secret Elite, Alfred Milner. In 1901, Morgan offered Milner a then massive income of $100,000 per annum to become a partner in the London branch but Milner was not to be distracted from the vital business of the Boer War. J. P. Morgan was an Empire loyalist at the heart of the American Establishment.
A second powerful bank on Wall Street, Kuhn, Loeb & Co., also served as a Rothschild front. Jacob Schiff, a German who ran the bank, came from a family close to the Rothschilds. He had been born in the house his parents shared with the Rothschilds in the Jewish quarter of Frankfurt .  Schiff was an experienced European banker whose career straddled both continents, with contacts in New York , London , Hamburg and Frankfurt . His long-standing friend, Edward Cassel of the Secret Elite, was appointed Kuhn, Loeb’s agent in London . Schiff even dined with King Edward on the strength of Cassel ’s close friendship with the King.  Jacob Schiff had married Solomon Loeb’s daughter and, backed by Rothschild gold, quickly gained overall control of the Kuhn, Loeb Bank.  Schiff in turn brought a young German banker, Paul Warburg, over to New York to help him run the bank. Paul and his brother Max had served part of their banking apprenticeships with Natty Rothschild in London . Like the Peabody-Morgan bank in London , the Warburg family bank in Hamburg had been saved by a very large injection of Rothschild money, and undoubtedly acted as a Rothschild front thereafter.
On the surface there were periods of blistering competition between the investment banking houses and international oil goliaths J. D. Rockefeller and the Rothschilds, but by the turn of the century they adopted a more subtle relationship that avoided real competition. A decade earlier, Baron Alphonse de Rothschild had accepted Rockefeller’s invitation to meet in New York behind the closed doors of Standard Oil’s headquarters on Broadway. Standard’s chief spokesman, John D Archbold  reported that they had quickly reached a tentative agreement, and thought it desirable on both sides that the matter was kept confidential. Clearly both understood the advantage of monopolistic collusion. It was a trend they eventually developed to their own advantage. By the early years of the twentieth century much of the assumed rivalry between major stakeholders in banking, industry and commerce was a convenient façade, though they would have the world believe otherwise.
Consider please this convenient façade. Official Rothschild biographers maintain that the dynasty’s interests in America were limited, and that the American Civil War led to “a permanent decline in the Rothschild’s transatlantic influence”.  All our evidence points in the opposite direction. Their associates, agents and front companies permeated American finance and industry. Their influence was literally everywhere. J. P. Morgan, the acknowledged chieftain of the Anglo-American financial establishment was the main conduit for British capital and a personal friend of the Rothschilds. Jacob Schiff of Kuhn, Loeb, another close friend of the Rothschild family, worked hand-in-glove with Rockefeller in oil, railroad and banking enterprises. Jacob Schiff the Pilgrim was both a Rothschild agent and a trusted associate of J. D. Rockefeller the Pilgrim. Morgan, Schiff and Rockefeller, the three leading players on Wall Street, had settled into a cosy cartel behind which the House of Rothschild remained hidden, but retained immense influence and power. Control of capital and credit was increasingly concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer men until the rival banking groups ceased to operate in genuine competition. 
This trans-Atlantic financial collusion underpinned the Anglo-American bond on which the Secret Elite built their dream of world domination. Political control moved hand in glove with the Money-Power. One of the problems the Secret Elite had to contend with was democracy, even the very limited choice that British and American democracy had to offer. Professor Quigley observed that Alfred Milner, and apparently most members of the Secret Elite, believed that “democracy was not an unmixed good, or even a good, and far inferior to the rule of the best…”  They, of course, believed themselves “the best” and their morality did not exclude the use of warfare to carry out what they deemed to be their civilising mission; a new world order based on ruling class values in which they would be first amongst men.
In Britain , faced with an electorate that frequently changed allegiance from the Conservative party to the Liberal party and back again, the Secret Elite selected reliable and trusted men to hold high office in both parties. Conservative Prime Minister Arthur Balfour, a member of the inner circle of the Secret Elite,  and Foreign Secretary Lord Lansdowne began the transformation of British Foreign policy towards war with Germany in the sure knowledge that senior Liberals would continue that policy if and when the people voted for change. Herbert Henry Asquith, Richard Haldane and Sir Edward Grey were Milner’s chosen senior men in the Liberal Party and “objects of his special attention”.  Their remit was to ensure that an incoming Liberal government maintained a seamless foreign policy that served the grand plan. Their Secret Elite connections were impeccable. Together, with their good friend Arthur Balfour, they were intimately involved with the inner circles of the cabal. Their duty was to the King, the Empire, to Milner’s dream, to Rhode’s legacy. They confronted the same problems, analysed the same alternatives and agreed the same solution. Germany had to go.
The senior Liberals, Asquith, Grey and Haldane, conspired to undermine the anti-war Liberal Party leader Campbell-Bannerman from within and were supported by both the Conservative party leaders and King Edward VII, himself a key figure inside the Secret Elite. Every major step taken by the British Foreign Office from 1902 onwards was dictated by the overall objective to destroy Germany . Treaties with Japan , the Entente Cordiale with France and all of its secret clauses, the secret conventions agreed between King Edward and the Russian Czar had that single purpose. Simply put, the large field armies of France and Russia were needed to crush Germany .
In the United States , and indeed in France , political power was guaranteed by financial incentives and the appointment of suitable candidates, in other words through bribery and corruption. Senator Nelson Aldrich of Rhode Island was chosen by the Secret Elite to be the voice of “sound economics” in the Senate. A wealthy businessman and father-in-law of J.D.Rockefeller Jr., Aldrich was known as “Morgan’s floor broker in the Senate.”  Shameless in his excesses, he used public office to feather his own very large nest. Public service was to him little more than a cash cow through which he built a ninety-nine roomed chateau and sailed a two hundred foot yacht.  Over a two-year period the Money-Power worked steadily on their chosen Senator to turn him into an “expert” on banking systems. Congress appointed a National Monetary Commission in 1908 with Aldrich as Chairman to review U.S. banking. Its members toured Europe , supposedly collecting data on various banking systems. Aldrich’s final report, however, was not the product of any European study tour, but of a collective conspiracy.
In November 1910, five bankers representing Morgan, Rockefeller and Kuhn Loeb interests, met in total secrecy with Senator Aldrich and the Assistant Secretary to the U.S. Treasury on Jekyll Island , an exclusive playground of the mega-rich off the coast of Georgia . Of the seven conspirators, five, Senator Aldrich, Henry Davison, Benjamin Strong, Frank Vanderlip and Paul Warburg, were members of The Pilgrims.  Their objective was to formulate a Central Banking Bill that would be presented to Congress as if it was the brainchild of Aldrich’s Monetary Commission.
The proposed “Federal Reserve System” was to be owned entirely by private banks, though its name implied that it was a government institution. Individuals from the American banking dynasties, including Morgan, Warburg, Schiff and Rockefeller, would hold the shares. It was to be a central bank of issue that would have a monopoly of all the money and credit of the people of the United States . It would control the interest rate and the volume of money in circulation. The Federal Reserve System constructed on Jekyll Island had powers that King Midas could never have contemplated. The objective was to establish a franchise to create money out of nothing for the purpose of lending, get the taxpayer to pick up any losses, and convince Congress that the aim was to protect the public. 
The Aldrich proposals never went to a vote. President Taft refused to support the Bill on the grounds that it would not impose sufficient government control over the banks. The Money Power decided that Taft had to go. Their support in the 1912 Presidential election swung behind the little known Woodrow Wilson. The speed with which Wilson was bounced from his post at Princeton University in 1910, to Governor of New Jersey in 1911, then Democratic Party nominee for the Presidency in 1912 made him the Solomon Grundy of U S politics.
Not only did the Secret Elite put their man in the White House, they also gave him a minder, Edward Mandell House. Woodrow Wilson was President of the United States but this shadowy figure stood by his side, controlling his every move. House, an Anglophile who had been part educated in England , was credited with swinging the 1912 Democratic Convention in Baltimore behind Wilson .  He became Woodrow Wilson’s constant companion from that point onwards, with his own suite of rooms in the White House. He was also in direct, sometimes daily contact with J. P. Morgan Jr, Jacob Schiff, Paul Warburg, and Democrat Senators who sponsored the Federal Reserve Bill.  Mandell House guided the President in every aspect of foreign and domestic policy, chose his Cabinet and formulated the first policies of his new Administration.  He was the prime intermediary between the President and his Wall Street backers.  The Anglo-centric Money Power had complete control of the White House and finally established its central bank in time for the Secret Elite’s war.
Ponder the significance of this coincidence. Provided with huge sums of Secret Elite money rerouted via St Petersburg , French politicians, newspapers and journalists were effectively corrupted to elect the Revanchistwarmonger candidate Raymond Poincare to the Presidency of France. By February 1913, two major powers, The United States and France, had new Presidents who were elected to office through the machinations of the Secret Elite. They had positioned key players in the governments of Britain , France , and the United States and exerted immense influence over the foreign ministry in Russia . Politics, money and power were the pillars on which the Anglo-Saxon elite would destroy Germany and take control of the world.
All that was left to concoct was a reason for war. The Kaiser’s refusal to be drawn into direct confrontation with France and Britain over crises in Morocco in 1905 and 1911 demanded a rethink. Public hysteria in Britain about spies was developed into a cottage industry, with barely literate novels and wild articles in Northcliffe’s papers portraying Germany as a dangerous warmongering nation of Huns preparing to pounce on an unsuspecting and ill-prepared Britain . Similarly in France , through blatant bribery and corruption, both the press and the Revanchistesin French politics fomented anti-German sentiment. But Germany remained stubbornly unwilling to become involved a European war.
From 1912 onwards the Secret Elite looked to the Balkans to provide the excuse for war. Alexander Isvolsky, their top Russian agent, had been strategically moved to Paris , from which vantage point he directed the Balkan agitation. The mix of ethnic diversity, religious animosities, political intrigue and raw nationalism was deliberately provoked into two brutal Balkan wars which in themselves could have brought about a pan-European war, but the Kaiser refused to take the bait.
Something more dramatic, more sensational, was needed. The notion propagated by many historians that world war was ‘inevitable’ or that the world ‘slid’ into war is crass. Chance was not involved. It required a complex set of manipulated events engineered by determined men to set the fuse. What remained was a spark to ignite that fuse. It came with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir-apparent to the Austrian Empire, in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. Millions of words have been written to describe the events in Sarajevo that day, but none have ever revealed the trail of complicity that led from the gunmen back to the Secret Elite in London . Be certain of one thing. It was not the man who fired the bullet that caused a world war.
Thus war engulfed the known world to a degree that had no precedent. Histories have been written to explain away the reasons why, histories that favoured the victors and twisted the truth to blame Germany . How history has been manipulated, how evidence has been removed, burned, shredded or otherwise denied to genuine researchers remains a crime against truth, against humanity. The received history of the First World War is a deliberately concocted lie. Not the sacrifice, the heroism, the horrendous waste of life or the misery that followed. No, these were very real, but the truth of how it all began and how it was unnecessarily and deliberately prolonged beyond 1915 has been successfully covered up for a century.
Professor Quigley stated,
“No country that values its safety should allow what the Milner group accomplished – that is, that a small number of men would be able to wield such power in administration and politics, should be given almost complete control over the publication of documents relating to their actions, should be able to exercise such influence over the avenues of information that create public opinion, and should be able to monopolize so completely the writing and the teaching of the history of their own period.” 
Never were truer words uttered in dire warning. These Founding Fathers, the Secret Elite, began with Rhodes’ secret society and expanded across the Atlantic , always away from the public eye. They were deniers of democracy, men who always pursued their own malevolent agenda, who used this very process to advance their power. What they achieved in causing the First World War was but the first step in their long term drive to a new world order.
Gerry Docherty is a former head teacher. Jim Macgregor was a family doctor. They took early retirement and worked full time together for the past five years researching and writing Hidden History, The Secret Origins of the First World War- described at the Edinburgh International Book Festival as a “fascinating and incendiary book”. It reveals how historical accounts of the war’s origins have been falsified to conceal the guilt of the secret cabal of rich and powerful men (described in this article) and explains their manipulations and deceptions. Perhaps it will suffer the same fate as Carroll Quigley’s work, for there are many with cause to wish it suppressed. If you have an open mind and seek answers that have not been forthcoming, if you are prepared to dig further into a hugely important aspect of history, we invite you to read it.
 Initially an outspoken critic of Standard Oil, Archbold was recruited by Rockefeller to a directorship of the company, where he later served as vice president and then president until its ‘demise ’ in 1911.
 Ferguson , House of Rothschild, p. 117.
 Chernow, Titan, The Life of John D Rockefeller Sr., p. 390.
 Edward Griffin, The Creature from Jekyll Island , p. 436.
 Quigley, Anglo American Establishment, p. 134.
 Ibid., p. 312.
 Terence H. O’Brien, Milner, p. 187.
 Gary Allen, None Dare Call it Conspiracy, Chapter 3, p8.
 Chernow, Titan, p. 352.
 Organisation for the Study of Globalisation and Covert Politics,
Southeast Asian elites “forgot” about those tens of millions of Asian people murdered by Western imperialism at the end of and after the WWII. They “forgot” about what took place in the North – about the Tokyo and Osaka firebombing, about the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs, about the barbaric liquidation of Korean civilians by the US forces. But they also forgot about their own victims…
“The specter of mass protest – of mob rule – seems to have haunted Vladimir V. Putin throughout his political life, and that fear lies at the heart of his belief in the primacy of state authority. It also informs Russia’s forceful intervention in Syria. NYT, 4 October 2015.”
The U.S. government is missing – or withholding – audit documents about the finances and possible accounting irregularities at a $150 million U.S.-taxpayer-financed investment fund when it was run by Ukraine’s Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, who has become the face of “reform” for the U.S.-backed regime in Kiev and who now oversees billions of dollars in Western financial aid.
The Welsh Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, Rebecca Evans, has announced that the country will take advantage of new EU rules allowing countries to opt out of growing EU-authorized GM crops. Yep – Wales is moving forward with a complete ban on biotech’s seed!
Western imperialism, in all of its manifestation, is being challenged by five political leaders, through diplomacy, moral persuasion and public pressure. In recent time, Pope Francis, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn have raised fundamental questions concerning (1) war and peace in the Middle East and the Caucuses; (2) climate change and the destruction of the environment; (3) economic sanctions, military threats and confrontation; and (4) growing inequalities of class, gender and race.
The New Global Agenda
These five protagonists of a new global agenda differ from past critics from the left both in the style andsubstance of their politics.
The politics of change, reform and peace in the near immediate period has a particular complex, heterodoxcomplexion, which contains traditional conservative and popular components.
These leaders have a global audience and major impact on world public opinion – and indirectly and directly on Western politics.
Defying Past Left-Right Divisions
These five leaders defy the traditional left-right division. Pope Francis demands immigrant rights, equal pay for women, diplomacy and peace negotiations instead of war, and greater class equality. He excoriates neoliberal, capitalism (“the dung of the devil”).
But he also defends traditional Catholic doctrine on abortion, divorce, contraception and homosexuality. He opposes class struggle and social revolution in favor of class collaboration, dialogue, and negotiations.
President Putin favors negotiations and peaceful resolution of conflicts in Syria and the Ukraine. He is an ardent advocate of a global coalition to fight Islamic terrorism. He has sharply reduced western pillage of the Russian economy and restored salaries, pensions and employment. He has restored Russian military capacity and national security and reduced terrorist assaults from the Caucuses.
At the same time Putin supports some of the biggest Yeltsin era billionaires; is closely aligned with the conservative Russian Orthodox Church; and is excavating the remains of the last tyrannical Russian Tsar to honor him and his family.
President Xi Jinping has played a leading role in promoting increases in consumer spending, wages, pensions and social welfare. He has deepened links with US high tech industries and signed off on a major reduction of carbon fuels and pollution, offering $3 billion dollars to fund alternatives for less developed countries. He has fired, prosecuted and jailed over 250,000 corrupt government and party officials who exploited and abused the public, while limiting operations of speculative Western hedge funds.
At the same time, Xi retains the authoritarian one party system; defends China’s one hundred-plus billionaires; and restricts all forms of independent class political and trade union organizations.
Hassan Rouhani is both devout practicing Muslim and a staunch advocate of peace. He supports a ‘nuclear-free Middle East’. He is a consequential opponent of terrorism by Salafist Islamists, Zionists, Christians and Hindus. He is the leading critic of Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen and a principled defender of national self-determination. Internally he has reduced authoritarian state controls and censorship of free expression and promoted scientific and technological research – in a country where half of research scientists are women.
President Rohani has signed a high risk peace agreement with the US and its partners (5 + 1) dismantling Iran’s nuclear facilities and opening its military installations to international inspection by an international atomic agency of dubious neutrality.
At the same time, Rohani opposes a secular state, supports liberalizing the economy, invites foreign multi-nationals to exploit lucrative oil and gas fields, and supports the corrupt and regressive US backed Shia regime in Iraq.
Jeremy Corbyn, the newly elected head of the British Labor Party, has been a consequential critic of neo-liberal capitalism and a strong advocate of public ownership of strategic economic sectors. He backs a highly graduated progressive income tax to finance a comprehensive welfare program. e a
He advocates a democratic foreign policy that opposes Anglo-American and Israeli imperialism in the Middle East and elsewhere.
However, upon taking office as head of the neo-liberal, pro-imperialist Labor Party, he confronts a parliamentary party dominated by his adversaries. His appointments to the “shadow cabinet” are overwhelmingly pro-NATO and pro-European Union; some even oppose his Keynesian budgetary agenda. Moreover, Corbyn endorses ‘working in the EU’ and promises to support a ‘yes vote’ in any referendum, even as the world witnessed how the EU imposed harsh austerity budgets on Latvia, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and other countries in financial straits.
The Collective Impact of the Five
There is no question that these five leaders have made a major impact on world public opinion on issues of peace, climate change, equality and the need to reach international agreements. In most cases one or more of the leaders have exercised greater influence on a specific public or region and have had a greater impact on some issues over others.
The Pope, for example, has greater influence on Christians; Rohani on the Muslim public; Putin, Corbyn and Xi on secular opinion. Xi and the Pope have a greater impact on proposals for climate change. Putin, the Pope, Rohani and Xi are prominent in advocating peaceful resolution of conflicts; Corbyn and the Pope on reducing inequalities and securing social justice.
With the exception of Corbyn and Xi, all support traditional religious beliefs and observances. Most are ‘ecumenical’ in the sense of supporting religious tolerance.
Most important, all pursue these goals through persuasion, diplomacy and winning over public opinion. None of these world leaders have invaded or overthrown incumbent adversarial regimes or occupied countries. All are leading opponents of terror – especially ISIS.
President Putin is playing a leading role in challenging President Obama to join a broad coalition, including Bashar Assad and Iran, in fighting ISIS terrorism.
Washington, despite its rhetorical hostility, was pressured to respond – ‘partially favorable’.
President Putin has also taken the initiative in the Middle East. He leads a coalition, including Iraq, Iran and Syria to co-ordinate the war against terrorism.
China’s President Xi has committed military forces in support of the Russia’s anti-terrorist proposal for Syria. The Pope has offered tacit support via his pronouncements against terrorism and for international coalitions.
As a consequence of the massive flood of refugeesresulting from the US-EU-Saudi-Turkey support of Islamist mercenaries invading Syria and Iraq, several European allies of Washington are reconsidering their anti-Assad policies. They are moving toward the broad front proposals of Putin-Rohani-Xi and the Pope.
The social-economic impact of the Pope’s call for social justice is less apparent, apart from the routine lip-service from Western leaders. Among the quintet, Rohani is looking toward ‘market solutions’: inviting Western and Asian investors to revitalize the oil industry. Xi is cracking down on big time fraudsters in China and abroad, but has yet to embrace a comprehensive welfare and incomes policy. Putin presides over a petrol-economy in recession and has relied on private corporate oligarchs and overseas investors to regain growth. Corbyn’s egalitarian pronouncements have little impact among Labor Party politicians and his shadow cabinet. Moreover, he appears reluctant to mobilize the rank and file Labor activists for a fight for his program within the Party.
The climate change and environmental struggle received robust backing from the Pope –in his speeches to the US Congress, the United Nations and in his mass gatherings.
President Xi reinforced the message by proposing to fund a massive clean air program for the less developed countries, while setting rigorous targets to reduce pollution in China. There is no doubt that their message is well received by all environmental groups and the general public. Some political leaders, including Obama, appear to be, in part, receptive.
Rohani, Putin and Corbyn have played only a minor role in the defense of the environment.
Response of the Western Powers
The US, EU, Japan, Israel and Australia, referred to as the ‘Western Powers’ paid lip service to the cause of peace, while continuing to pursue military objectives via air wars, cross border terrorist activities and military build ups.
In general terms, they manipulate a double discourse – of talking peace and bombing adversaries.
However, the Western Powers feel the pressure of ‘the quintet,’ which is winning the political ideological contest. The ‘Russian threat’ is no longer viewed as credible by most of the international public. China’s international financial initiatives have gained major support from across the globe.
Japanese militarization has provoked mass domestic unrest and regional concerns – especially in Southeast Asia.
Israel is a pariah, not just in the Middle East but is increasingly viewed with hostility by the rest of international public opinion.
Germany, Europe’s leading economic power, has been discredited because of the massive fraud scandal by Volkswagen, its leading automobile maker and major exporter.
In other words, while the Western Powers retain military superiority and important markets, their overseas policies have suffered severe setbacks and their leaders have lost credibility. Their domestic and overseas supporters are turning against them. Moreover, the moral authority of Western leaders has been severely questioned by the Pope’s harsh critique of the ‘exclusionary’ policies toward immigrants and refugees, the excessive greed of capitalism, the reliance on force instead of diplomacy and the massive human suffering due to capitalism’s unrelenting destruction of the environment.
The Pope’s generalities would not have had such a powerful political impact, if they were not accompanied by (1) the selective use of arms and diplomacy emanating from President Putin; (2) the diplomatic successes of President Rohani; and (3) the economic muscle of President Xi, in support of economic development and international co-operation on the environment and climate change.
From widely divergent origins and diverse ideological backgrounds, five political leaders have set a new agenda for dealing with war and peace, equality and inequality, security and terrorism and environmental protection. Except for Jeremy Corbyn, who in any case will probably be rendered impotent by his own party’s elite, none of these progressive leaders’ ideologies is derived from the secular left.
They challenge the status quo, and raise the central issues of our time, at a time when the secular left is marginal or self-destructs (as Greece’s Syriza, Spain’s Podemos or Italy’s Five Stars in Southern Europe).
Faced with this heterodox reality, the Left has the choice of (1) remaining in sterile isolation; (2) embracing one, some, or all of ‘the quintet’; (3) or aligning with them on specific pronouncements and proposals.
The five have sufficient drawbacks, ‘contradictions’ and limitations to warrant criticism and distance. But in the big picture, on the major issues of our time, these leaders have adopted progressive policies, which warrant whole-hearted active support. They are the only ‘show’ in the real world – if we are serious about joining the struggle against imperial wars, terrorism, environmental destruction and injustice.
Southeast Asian elites “forgot” about those tens of millions of Asian people murdered by Western imperialism at the end of and after the WWII. They “forgot” about what took place in the North – about the Tokyo and Osaka firebombing, about the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs, about the barbaric liquidation of Korean civilians by the US forces. But they also forgot about their own victims – about those hundreds of thousands, in fact about the millions, of those who were blown to pieces, burned by chemicals or directly liquidated – men, women and children of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, the Philippines and East Timor.
All is forgiven and all is forgotten.
And once again the Empire is proudly “pivoting” into Asia; it is even bragging about it.
It goes without saying that the Empire has no shame and no decency left. It boasts about democracy and freedom, while it does not even bother to wash the blood of tens of millions off its hands.
All over Asia, the “privileged populaces” has chosen to not know, to not remember, or even to erase all terrible chapters of the history. Those who insist on remembering are being silenced, ridiculed, or made out to be irrelevant.
Such selective amnesia, such “generosity” will very soon backfire. Shortly, it will fly back like a boomerang. History repeats itself. It always does, the history of the Western terror and colonialism, especially. But the price will not be covered by the morally corrupt elites, by those lackeys of the Western imperialism. As always, it will be Asia’s poor who will be forced to pay.
After I descended from the largest cave in the vicinity of Tham Pha Thok, Laos, I decided to text my good Vietnamese friend in Hanoi. I wanted to compare the suffering of Laotian and Vietnamese people.
The cave used to be “home” to Pathet Lao. During the Second Indochina War it actually served as the headquarters. Now it looked thoroughly haunted, like a skull covered by moss and by tropical vegetation.
The US air force used to intensively bomb the entire area and there are still deep craters all around, obscured by the trees and bushes.
The US bombed the entirety of Laos, which has been given a bitter nickname: “The most bombed country on earth”.
It is really hard to imagine, in a sober state, what the US, Australia and their Thai allies did to the sparsely populated, rural, gentle Laos.
John Bacher, a historian and a Metro Toronto archivist once wrote about “The Secret War”: “More bombs were dropped on Laos between 1965 and 1973 than the U.S. dropped on Japan and Germany during WWII. More than 350,000 people were killed. The war in Laos was a secret only from the American people and Congress. It anticipated the sordid ties between drug trafficking and repressive regimes that have been seen later in the Noriega affair.”
In this biggest covert operation in the U.S. history, the main goal was to “prevent pro-Vietnamese forces from gaining control” over the area. The entire operation seemed more like a game that some overgrown, sadistic boys were allowed to play: Bombing an entire nation into the Stone Age for more than a decade. But essentially this “game” was nothing else than one of the most brutal genocides in the history of the 20th century.
Naturally, almost no one in the West or in Southeast Asia knows anything about this.
I texted my friend: “What I witnessed a few years ago working at the Plain of Jars was, of course, much more terrible than what I just saw around Tham Pha Thok, but even here, the horror of the US actions was crushing.” I also sent her a link to my earlier reports covering the Plain of Jars.
A few minutes later, she replied: “If you didn’t tell me… I would have never known about this secret war. As far as we knew, there was never a war in Laos. Pity for Lao people!”
I asked my other friends in Vietnam, and then in Indonesia. Nobody knew anything about the bombing of Laos.
The “Secret War” remains top-secret, even now, even right here, in the heart of the Asia Pacific region, or more precisely, especially here.
When Noam Chomsky and I were discussing the state of the world in what eventually became our book “On Western Terrorism – From Hiroshima to Drone Warfare”, Noam mentioned his visit to the war-torn Laos. He clearly remembered Air America pilots, as well as those hordes of Western journalists who were based in Vientiane but too busy to not see and to not ask any relevant questions.
“In the Philippines, the great majority of people is now convinced that the US actually ‘liberated’ our country from the Japanese”, my left-wing journalist friends once told me.
Dr. Teresa S. Encarnación Tadem, Professor of Political Science of University of the Philippines Diliman, explained to me last year, face to face, in Manila: “There is a saying here: “Philippines love Americans more than Americans love themselves.”
I asked: “How is it possible? The Philippines were colonized and occupied by the United States. Some terrible massacres took place… The country was never really free. How come that this ‘love’ towards the US is now prevalent?”
It is because of extremely intensive North American propaganda machine”, clarified Teresa’s husband, Dr. Eduardo Climaco Tadem, Professor of Asian Studies of University of the Philippines Diliman. “It has been depicting the US colonial period as some sort of benevolent colonialism, contrasting it with the previous Spanish colonialism, which was portrayed as ‘more brutal’. Atrocities during the American-Philippine War (1898 – 1902) are not discussed. These atrocities saw 1 million Philippine people killed. At that period it was almost 10% of our population… the genocide, torture… Philippines are known as “the first Vietnam”… all this has been conveniently forgotten by the media, absent in the history books. And then, of course, the images that are spread by Hollywood and by the American pop culture: heroic and benevolent US military saving battered countries and helping the poor…
Basically, entirely reversing the reality.
The education system is very important”, added Teresa Tadem. “The education system manufactures consensus, and that in turn creates support for the United States… even our university – University of the Philippines – was established by the Americans. You can see it reflected in the curriculum – for instance the political science courses… they all have roots in the Cold War and its mentality.”
Almost all children of the Asian “elites” get “educated” in the West, or at least in so-called “international schools” in their home countries, where the imperialist curriculum is implemented. Or in the private, most likely religious/Christian schools… Such “education” borrows heavily from the pro-Western and pro-business indoctrination concepts.
And once conditioned, children of the “elites” get busy brainwashing the rest of the citizens. The result is predictable: capitalism, Western imperialism, and even colonialism become untouchable, respected and admired. Nations and individuals who murdered millions are labeled as carriers of progress, democracy and freedom. It is “prestigious” to mingle with such people, as it is highly desirable to “follow their example”. The history dies. It gets replaced by some primitive, Hollywood and Disney-style fairytales.
In Hanoi, an iconic photograph of a woman pulling at a wing of downed US military plane is engraved into a powerful monument. It is a great, commanding piece of art.
My friend George Burchett, a renowned Australian artist who was born in Hanoi and who now lives in this city again, is accompanying me.
The father of George, Wilfred Burchett, was arguably the greatest English language journalist of the 20th Century. Asia was Wilfred’s home. And Asia was where he created his monumental body of work, addressing some of the most outrageous acts of brutality committed by the West: his testimonies ranged from the first-hand account of the Hiroshima A-bombing, to the mass murder of countless civilians during the “Korean War”. Wilfred Burchett also covered Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, to name just a few unfortunate places totally devastated by the United States and its allies.
Now his books are published and re-printed by prestigious publishing houses all over the world, but paradoxically, they do not live in sub-consciousness of the young people of Asia.
The Vietnamese people, especially the young ones, know very little about the horrific acts committed by the West in their neighboring countries. At most they know about the crimes committed by France and the US in their own country – in Vietnam, nothing or almost nothing about the victims of the West-sponsored monsters like Marcos and Suharto. Nothing about Cambodia – nothing about who was really responsible for those 2 millions of lost lives.
The “Secret Wars” remain secret.
With George Burchett I admired great revolutionary and socialist art at the Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts. Countless horrible acts, committed by the West, are depicted in great detail here, as well as the determined resistance struggle fought against US colonialism by the great, heroic Vietnamese people.
But there was an eerie feeling inside the museum – it was almost empty! Besides us, there were only a few other visitors, all foreign tourists: the great halls of this stunning art institution were almost empty.
Indonesians don’t know, because they were made stupid!” Shouts my dear old friend Djokopekik, at his art studio in Yogyokarta, He is arguably the greatest socialist realist artist of Southeast Asia. On his canvases, brutal soldiers are kicking the backsides of the poor people, while an enormous crocodile (a symbol of corruption) attacks, snaps at, and eats everyone in sight. Djokopekik is open, and brutally honest: “It was their plan; great goal of the regime to brainwash the people. Indonesians know nothing about their own history or about the rest of Southeast Asia!”
Before he died, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, the most influential writer of Southeast Asia, told me: “They cannot think, anymore… and they cannot write. I cannot read more than 5 pages of any contemporary Indonesian writer… the quality is shameful…” In the book that we (Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Rossie Indira and I) wrote together – “Exile” -, he lamented that Indonesian people do not know anything about history, or about the world.
Had they known, they would most definitely raise and overthrow this disgraceful regime that is governing their archipelago until these days.
2 to 3 million Indonesian people died after the 1965 military coup, triggered and supported by the West and by the religious clergy, mainly by Protestant implants from Europe. The majority of people in this desperate archipelago are now fully conditioned by the Western propaganda, unable to even detect their own misery. They are still blaming the victims (mainly Communists, intellectuals and “atheists”) for the events that took place exactly 50 years ago, events that broke the spine of this once proud and progressive nation.
Indonesians almost fully believe the right wing, fascist fairytales, fabricated by the West and disseminated through the local mass media channels controlled by whoring local “elites”… It is no wonder: for 50 nasty years they have been “intellectually” and “culturally” conditioned by the lowest grade Hollywood meditations, by Western pop music and by Disney.
They know nothing about their own region.
They know nothing about their own crimes. They are ignorant about the genocides they have been committing. More than half of their politicians are actually war criminals, responsible for over 30% of killed men, women and children during the US/UK/Australia-backed occupation of East Timor (now an independent country), for the 1965 monstrous bloodletting and for the on-going genocide, which Indonesia conducts in Papua.
Information about all these horrors is available on line. There are thousands of sites carrying detailed and damning evidence. Yet, cowardly and opportunistically, the Indonesian “educated” populace is opting for “not knowing”.
Of course, the West and its companies are greatly benefiting from the plunder of Papua.
Therefore, the genocide is committed, all covered with secrecy.
And ask in Vietnam, in Burma, even in Malaysia, what do people know about East Timor and Papua? The answer will be nothing, or almost nothing.
Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, and the Philippines – they may be located in the same part of the world, but they could be as well based on several different planets. That was the plan: the old divide-and-rule British concept.
In Manila, the capital of the Philippines, a family that was insisting that Indonesia is actually located in Europe once confronted me. The family was equally ignorant of the crimes committed by the pro-Western regime of Marcos.
The western media promotes Thailand as the “land of smiles”, yet it is an extremely frustrated and brutal place, where the murder rate is even(on per capita basis) higher than that in the United States.
Thailand has been fully controlled by the West since the end of the WWII. Consequently, its leadership (the throne, the elites and the military)have allowed some of the most gruesome crimes against humanity to take place on its territory. To mention just a few: the mass murder of the Thai left wing insurgents and sympathizers (some were burned alive in oil barrels), the murdering of thousands of Cambodian refugees, the killing and raping of student protesters in Bangkok and elsewhere… And the most terrible of them: the little known Thai participation in the Vietnam invasion during the “American War”…the intensive use of Thai pilots during the bombing sorties against Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as handing several military airports (including Pattaya) to the Western air forces. Not to speak about pimping of Thai girls and boys (many of them minors) to the Western military men.
The terror that the West has been spreading all over Southeast Asia seems to be forgotten, or at least for now.
Let’s move on!” I heard in Hanoi and in Luang Prabang.
But while the Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian people are busy “forgiving” their tormentors the Empire has been murdering the people of Iraq, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Ukraine, and all corners of Africa.
It was stated by many, and proven by some, particularly in South America, where almost all the demons have been successfully exercised, that there can be no decent future for this Planet without recognizing and understanding the past.
After “forgiving the West”, several nations of Southeast Asia were immediately forced into the confrontation with China and Russia.
When “forgiven”, the West does not just humbly accept the great generosity of its victims. Such behavior is not part of its culture. Instead, it sees kindness as weakness, and it immediately takes advantage of it.
By forgiving the West, by “forgetting” its crimes, Southeast Asia is actually doing absolutely nothing positive. It is only betraying its fellow victims, all over the world.
It is also, pragmatically and selfishly, hoping for some returns. But returns will never come! History has shown it on many occasions. The West wants everything. And it believes that it deserves everything. If not confronted, it plunders until the end, until there is nothing left – as it did in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Iraq or in Indonesia.
Renowned Australian historian and Professor Emeritus at Nagasaki University in Japan, Geoffrey Gunn, wrote for this essay:
The US wields hard power and soft power in equal portions or so it would appear. Moving in and out of East Asia over the last four decades I admit to being perplexed as to the selectivity of memories of the American record. Take Laos and Cambodia in the 1970s where, in each country respectively, the US dropped a greater tonnage of bombs than dumped on Japanese cities during World War II, and where unexploded ordinance still takes a daily toll. Not so long ago I asked a high-ranking regime official in Phnom Penh as to whether the Obama administration had issued an apology for this crime of crimes. “No way,” he said, but then he wasn’t shaking his fist either, just as the population appears to be numbed as to basic facts of their own history beyond some generalized sense of past horrors. In Laos in December 1975 where I happened to be when, full of rage at the US, revolutionaries took over; the airing of American crimes – once a propaganda staple – has been relegated to corners of museums. Ditto in Vietnam, slowly entering the US embrace as a strategic partner, and with no special American contrition as to the victims of bombing, chemical warfare and other crimes. In East Timor, sacrificed by US President Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to the Indonesian generals in the interest of strategic denial, and where some 30 percent of the population perished, America is forgiven or, at least, airbrushed out of official narratives. Visiting the US on a first state visit, China’s President Xi Jinping drums up big American business deals, a “new normal” in the world’s second largest economy and now US partner in the “war against terror,” as in Afghanistan. Well, fresh from teaching history in a Chinese university, I might add that history does matter in China but with Japan as an all too obvious point of reference.
“China used to see the fight against Western imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism as the main rallying cry of its foreign policy”, sighs Geoff, as we watch the bay of his home city – Nagasaki. “Now it is only Japan whose crimes are remembered in Beijing.”
But back to Southeast Asia…
It is all forgotten and forgiven, and the reason “why” is clear, simple. It pays to forget! “Forgiveness” brings funding; it secures “scholarships” just one of the ways Western countries spread corruption in its client states and in the states they want to draw into their orbit.
The elites with their lavish houses, trips abroad, kids in foreign schools, are a very forgiving bunch!
But then you go to a countryside, where the majority of Southeast Asian people still live. And the story there is very different. The story there makes you shiver.
Before departing from Laos, I sat at an outdoor table in a village of Nam Bak, about 100 kilometers from Luang Prabang. Ms. Nang Oen told me her stories about the US carpet-bombing, and Mr. Un Kham showed me his wounds:
Even here, in Nam Bak, we had many craters all over, but now they are covered by rice fields and houses. In 1968, my parents’ house was bombed… I think they dropped 500-pound bombs on it. Life was unbearable during the war. We had to sleep in the fields or in the caves. We had to move all the time. Many of us were starving, as we could not cultivate our fields.
I ask Ms. Nang Oen about the Americans. Did she forget, forgive?
How do I feel about them? I actually can’t say anything. After all these years, I am still speechless. They killed everything here, including chicken. I know that they are doing the same even now, all over the world…
She paused, looked at the horizon.
Sometimes I remember what was done to us… Sometimes I forget”. She shrugs her shoulders. “But when I forget, it is only for a while. We did not receive any compensation, not even an apology. I cannot do anything about it. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, and I cry.
I listened to her and I knew, after working for decades in this part of the world: for the people of Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and East Timor, nothing is forgotten and nothing is forgiven. And it should never be!
Only a handful of Democrats support Mr. Obama’s trade policy, and Republican support is unpredictable in the 2016 election year, depending on the stance of presidential candidates and new leadership in the House. As it is, the deal can’t go to a vote before Congress until early next year.
The odds of passage in Congress will hinge in large part on the final language in a number of provisions, ranging from the strengthening of rights for labor unions to whether U.S. cigarette companies will face special limitations within TPP countries.
If passed the deal will allow corporate tribunals to overrule Congress and violate the national sovereignty of the United States. The process will be authoritarian and not have an appeal process or exit provisions.
“Packaged as a gift to the American people that will renew industry and make us more competitive, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a Trojan horse,” Zero Hedge noted on Monday. “It’s a coup by multinational corporations who want global subservience to their agenda. Buyer beware. Citizens beware.”
If enacted the TPP will ultimately reduce America to third world status.
The global elite and their corporatist partners are determined to impoverish humanity, consolidate wealth and power and reinvent and modernize the feudal system of the Middle Ages.
Last week former defence minister Jason Kenney said if re-elected the Conservatives would significantly expand Canada’s special forces. Kenney said they would add 665 members to the Canadian Armed Forces Special Operations Command (CANSOFCOM) over the next seven years.
Why? What do these “special forces” do? Who decides when and where to deploy them? For what purpose? These are all questions left unanswered (and not even asked in the mainstream media).
What we do know is that since the mid-2000s Canada’s special forces have steadily expanded to 1,900 members. In 2006 the military launched CANSOFCOM to oversee JTF2, the Special Operations Aviation Squadron, Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit and Special Operations Regiment. Begun that year, the Special Operations Regiment’s 750 members receive similar training to JTF2 commandos, the most secretive and skilled unit of the Canadian Armed Forces. After having doubled from 300 to 600 men, JTF2 is set to move from Ottawa to a 400-acre compound near Trenton, Ontario, at a cost of $350 million.
Though their operations are “shrouded in secrecy” — complained a 2006 Senate Committee on National Security and Defence — JTF2 commandos have been deployed on numerous occasions since the unit’s establishment in 1993.
A number of media outlets reported that Canadian special forces fought in Libya in 2011 in contravention of UN Security Council resolution 1973, which explicitly forbade “a foreign occupationforce of any form on any part of Libyan territory.”
On February 29, 2004 JTF2 soldiers reportedly “secured” the airport from which Haiti’s elected president Jean-Bertand Aristide was bundled (“kidnapped” in his words) onto a plane by US Marines and deposited in the Central African Republic.
After the 2003 US/British invasion JTF2 commandos were reported to be working alongside their British and US counterparts in Iraq. While Ottawa refused to confirm or deny JTF2 operations, in March 2006 the Pentagon and the British Foreign Office “both commented on the instrumental role JTF2 played in rescuing the British and Canadian Christian Peace Activists that were being held hostage in Iraq.”
Nous étions invincibles, a book by a former JTF2 soldier Denis Morisset, describes his mission to the Colombian jungle to rescue NGO and church workers “because FARC guerillas threatened the peace in the region.” The Canadian soldiers were unaware that they were transporting the son of a Colombian leader, which prompted the FARC to give chase for a couple days. On two different occasions the Canadian forces came under fire from FARC guerrillas. Two Canadian soldiers were injured in the firefight and immediately after the operation one of the wounded soldiers left the army with post-traumatic stress disorder. Ultimately, the Canadians were saved by US helicopters, as the JTF2 mission was part of a US initiative.
Morisset also provides a harrowing account of a 1996 operation to bring the Canadian General Maurice Baril, in charge of a short-lived UN force into eastern Zaire (Congo), to meet Rwandan backed rebel leader Laurent Kabila. The convoy came under fire upon which US Apache and Blackhawk helicopters launched a counterattack on the Congolese, rescuing their Canadian allies. Some thirty Congolese were killed by a combination of helicopter and JTF2 fire.
In late 2001 JTF2 secretly invaded Afghanistan, alongside US and British operatives. In the first six months of their operations, members of JTF2 claimed to have killed 115 Taliban or Al Qaida fighters and captured 107 Taliban leaders. By early 2002 the British began having doubts about the tactics used by Canadian and American special forces. In Shadow Wars: Special Forces in the New Battle Against Terrorism David Pugliese reports,
“The concern among the British was that the ongoing raids [by Americans and Canadians] were giving Afghans the impression that the coalition was just another invading foreign army that had no respect for the country’s culture or religion.”
According to documents CBC News obtained through access to information, a JTF2 member said he felt his commanders “encouraged” them to commit war crimes. The soldier, whose name was not released, claimed a fellow JTF2 member shot an Afghan with his hands raised in the act of surrender. The allegations of wrongdoing were first made to his superior officers in 2006 yet the military ombudsman didn’t begin investigating until June 2008. The JTF2 member told the ombudsman’s office “that although he reported what he witnessed to his chain of command, he does not believe they are investigating, and are being ‘very nice to him.’” After three and a half years, the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service cleared the commanders in December 2011. But they failed to release details of the allegations, including who was involved or when and where it happened. The public was supposed to simply trust the process.
It seems as if the Conservatives support special forces precisely because these elite units have close ties to their US counterparts and the government is not required to divulge information about their operations. Ottawa can deploy these troops abroad and the public is none the wiser. “Deniability,” according to Major B. J. Brister, is why the federal government prefers special operation forces.
Author of the just-released Canada In Africa: 300 years of aid and exploitation Yves Engler will be speaking across the country in the lead up to the election. For information: Yvesengler.com
The media frenzy in the countries of the anti-Assad coalition over the Russian air strikes on Al-Qaeda-linked guerrillas in Syria has made one very significant fact quite clear. Along with the nervous reaction of the US, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and some other countries it is irrefutable proof that the interests of seemingly opposing forces – NATO and radical jihadism – are actually tightly intertwined. And their relations go far beyond the Syrian crisis.
Ultimately it makes no practical sense to differentiate Daesh and Jabhat Al Nusra merely on the basis of the fact that those extremist groups differ about the manner in which it is necessary to kill infidels. If Jabhat Al Nusra enjoys the confidence of some US senators, then the real problem might be the educational level of those senators (try to disconnect Senator McCain from his handlers and speechwriters and you will quickly see what kind of person he really is). Once again: Daesh and Jabhat Al Nusra are cut from the same cloth. And we should agree yet before acting: when determining military targets, all decisions must be based specifically on military considerations and situation on the ground and not on American vision of the future of “democracy in Syria.”
The military disposition in Syria is crystal clear. Primarily, blockade of the cities of Homs and Hama should be lifted and direct land route from Damascus to the Turkish border to be put under control of pro-government forces. The first strikes of the Russian AF were dispatched precisely in that direction.
In recent months, the terrorist groups in Syria were moving towards the sites of actual or planned air bases of the Syrian army. All major combat operations have now been moved to the Hama Governorate where Jabhat Al Nusra is particularly active. Thus the starting Syrian army counter-offensive in that area is strongly supported by the Russian AF. Moreover, the Syrian 4th Armored Division has just received T-90 tanks as well as BTR-80 and GAZ Tigr armored vehicles from Russia. Once operation is completed there, Syrian regains control over all ports and military air bases.
The counter-offensive near Hama will very quickly make it possible to figure out whether the plans to drive Jabhat Al Nusra into the desert are workable. That might not be consistent with the stated goal of battling Daesh, but in the field everyone understands that it is not possible to expel Islamists into the desert without lifting the blockades on the currently fortified regions. They have been – and remain – prime targets of the Russian air wings.
American and Saudi concerns have certainly nothing to do with the alleged civilian deaths from air strikes. The fact is that the billions spent by the royal family of Saudi Arabia, the CIA, and other agents in their attempts to oust Bashar al-Assad have literally been tossed away into the sand.
Following are a few facts to support this:
Hussein al-Ramahi, the head of the political commission of Hezbollah brigades in Iraq, has repeatedlyasserted that the boxes of weapons and ammunition seized from Daesh have markings proving that they belong to Saudi Arabia.
Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri, the deputy chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, was stating that US armed forces have been supplying Daesh troops with weapons and uniforms ever since the coalition was created.
During the battles for the Syrian city of Kobani, Iraqi and Syrian Kurds also claimed that they were in possession of video evidence proving that the Turks are assisting the Islamists by moving arms and ammunition through a security checkpoint on the Syrian-Turkish border and are even providing troops to reinforce Daesh divisions.
And in regard to the intrigues concocted by the monarchies, the US, and Turkey, I believe that the Islamists being bombed by Russia will actually soon be supplied with more up-to-date weaponry. I will not be surprised if the militants turn out to have not only portable air-defense systems, but also some that are only more or less portable. What’s more, these supplies will be delivered directly from Turkey.
No doubt that the Western intelligence agencies have already ordered their sponsored cells to elaborate resonant terrorist attacks against Russian interests worldwide. This shameless tactics will bring no other result but persuading everyone still hesitating about the real masters of ‘Caliphate Project’ that the black Daesh/Al_Qaeda banner is being knit far outside the Muslim world.
Russian jet performs three strikes against command post and munition depot near the Maarrat al-Nu’man, 33 km south of Idlib and 57 km north of Hama:
Using guided aviation bombs, the jets destroyed 4 terrorist command posts near Jisr al-Shughur, Idlib Governorate:
Strikes against command post and munition depot of the ISIS terrorists located in the mountainous area. The target was located in 13 km to the west from Jisr al-Shughur. As a result, the facility inflamed and the munition detonated:
High-accurate engagement of the munition depot located in Jisr al-Shughur:
Aviation strike against a terrorist training camp located in Idlib province. Caused fires of guerrilla shelters and explosive device manufacturing sites are seen:
It goes against every fiber of human decency to use a tragedy involving the murder of civilians by a terrorist in an aircraft to score political points. This is about murder, not politics. One day after warning Russia for its airstrikes in Syria, what happens? The USA precision-bombs a MSF hospital in Kunduz. Whoosh-BANG! God Bless America!
The bombing went on for half an hour yesterday after the alert was given that there was a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in the area where the US air force was operating, in bombing raids to remove the Taliban from Kunduz. Nine of the medical staff were murdered outright and scores of patients were injured.
It is difficult to imagine how this atrocity happened, but then again after the callous disregard for civilian human life demonstrated by the United States of America since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, after the strafing of civilians with napalm in Vietnam, after the fifty-plus overthrows of democratically elected governments around the globe, after the myriad of invasions of countries, after Afghanistan, after Iraq, after Libya, after Syria, maybe it is time for the USA to rethink policy. It could be argued that those pursuing the current approach which gets Americans hated around the world are not patriots, but traitors.
Let us take a look at the world around us and what do we see? In the year 2015 of the third millennium, we see poverty, ignorance, violence and the new phenomenon, international terrorism, which walks hand in hand with the West. It started in Afghanistan, where the Mujaheddin was used as a tool to attack the southern flank of the Soviet Union, it continued in Chechnya where external forces backed Wahhibist terrorist elements, it continued in Libya, where NATO, ably led by the FUKUS Axis (France-UK-US), sided with terrorists on their own lists of proscribed groups.
Whoosh-BANG! God Bless America
As the United States of America and its Poodles in Europe go globe-trotting, self-proclaiming themselves the global policemen, imposing their wonderful version of democracy (Parliamentary oligarchies which pander to the whims of the Lobbies, their puppet-masters) from thirty thousand feet, imposing their “whoosh-BANG! God Bless America” diplomacy, is the world a better place?
No, it is not. The Middle East continues to be a mess because the USA and its Poodles refuse to engage all the players involved, namely HAMAS and Hezbollah. Obviously, a global solution has to take into account all the positions, including Iran, including Syria, including Egypt. And including HAMAS and Hezbollah. Only when the British government engaged the IRA was peace achieved in Ulster/UK. The same approach has brought stability to numerous regions of Africa.
Today, Humankind spends thousands of billions of dollars on weapons systems to kill one another, with the excuse that arms sales is good for economies, Humankind spends more on weapons than on books. Hatred is spread with the aim of creating two warring sides, proxy-puppets doing the dirty work while those watching rub their hands in glee, and could not care less if a child gets in the way of a bullet.
And no wonder the world is in the mess it is in, with “no go” labels stuck to a growing number of countries as Washington interferes, like in Ukraine where a Putsch ousted the democratically elected President because he saw more advantage in a deal with Russia and Whoosh-BANG! God Bless America, Hunter Biden is appointed special advisor to the Ukrainian energy lobby. Well, surprise, surprise. And Ukrainian Fascists perpetrated massacres while the West looked the other way. Look at Libya – close to being a failed State, where Western intervention brought chaos and misery to a once prosperous and peaceful society. Look at Iraq, where Western intervention caused the collapse of the Ba’athist State and Islamic State sprang up under their noses.
And the West dares to express concern that Russia has bombed the Free Syrian Army? What is the Free Syrian Army, if not a bunch of terrorists and murderers? If you take up arms against the authorities, and murder soldiers and policemen, you are a terrorist, it is as simple as that. What the West means is “Please don’t bomb our terrorists”.
Perhaps Messrs. Obama and his friends would like to take their families to Syria and stand back watching as they allow the Free Syrian Army to do to them what they have done to Syrian Government troops and security officers. And then compare the way they were treated by the authorities and by their darlings, the Free Syrian Army.
A tissue of lies from the West
Anyway, after the serial lies told by the West, if Russia states that it was bombing terrorists, I believe Moscow’s word. Moscow has not lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Moscow did not perform a mission creep and breach UN Resolutions in Libya and in Syria, Russia did not strafe fields of cereals in Iraq to starve people to death, Russia did not drop Depleted Uranium on huge swathes of territory (war crime), Russia is supporting a democratically elected Government (last year) against terrorists.
Perhaps the West might stand back and allow Moscow to be the global policeman. After all, Russia’s track record is far better, far less intrusive, far more inclusive. Failing that, suppose the West butted out for a change, stopped interfering and tried an approach which puts development before deployment? And let us remember, Islamic State has chemical warfare weapons and is pursuing biological weapons, right now, as I write and you read. Think about it.
Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist and editor in online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru. ([email protected])
One glance on Sunday morning at The Guardian website demonstrated quite clearly what is wrong with Britain – and, probably, the rest of the ‘developed’ world. Three major concerns of the average household were news. And all three are connected, not just to each other, but to the way this country is being run.
Housing and the ‘Right to Buy’
This country has never recovered from the 1980s Great British Sell-off of our social housing – council houses and flats. Having sold them off, councils weren’t then allowed to use the money to build much needed… council houses. There has been a social housing crisis ever since.
Tory plans to force housing associations (private, non-profit organisations) to go down the same path will lead to more desperate people that local councils will have to deal with. The Tories are fond of telling us we all ‘aspire’ to home ownership, but that aspiration comes second to people’s simple wish to have a secure, affordable roof over their heads. Whether it’s the rent or the mortgage that is affordable is not actually that relevant.
Education and the loss of morale
Why is it that each new government has to overhaul the education system, just when teachers have got to grips with the last ‘reforms’? A YouGov poll finds that over 50 per cent of teachers are thinking of leaving the profession. Yet people go into teaching because they sincerely want to teach. Schools Minister Nick Gibb says “Teaching remains a highly popular profession…” He continues, “While many teachers stay in their roles for more than five years…” Five years? Is that now a long time to be in a job that used to be for life
Governments have for years depended on teaching being a ‘vocation’. No matter the conditions, the extra hours, the lack of support they receive, teachers will go on teaching, won’t they? Not any more it seems.
Health, the NHS and corrupt money
Poor housing and poor education often result in poor health, but we all know the National Health Service is in trouble financially. Tories use that as a good reason to privatise parts of it, but that doesn’t stop them hiding how bad it has got under their watch. One of the main problems has been the Private Finance Initiatives, introduced by the Tories, which has led to crippling debts.
While the right to buy has ruined the supply of housing for poorer people, so PFIs have ruined many hospitals. Those built under PFIs still have to allocate large sums of their budget away from patient care, just to go on paying the interest on these deals. Governments should get bold and put an end to this. Financiers have earned more than enough from the poor taxpayers.
But they won’t. Another health story to emerge is connected to the Volkswagen scandal, where harmful emissions have been polluting the air when customers had been led to believe that VW was environmentally friendly. It turns out they are rather more friendly to the body that is supposed to measure and monitor the emissions produced by their cars.
But although Housing, Health and Education form major ‘life’ concerns for the average person, for people earning a less than generous salary all three areas are heavily impacted by the lack of financial security. It goes without saying that the Guardian and other newspapers had, in September, highlighted the news that ‘zero hours’ contracts rose by nearly a fifth last year. And it should come as no surprise that they will increase because business groups are in favour of such contracts.
So there we have it: insecure jobs, insecure housing, and an insecure education system that lets down both teachers and pupils, all of which results in poor health that can’t be addressed by a failing health-care system.
Insecurity is the problem.
Life itself is never secure and dependable, but the current government and its devotion to business and profit are making life a whole lot less secure for many people. Are the Tories hoping we’ll all simply die of worry? Then they can close down government and go and enjoy themselves.
A week and a half ago news emerged from Havana that the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and the Colombian government had reached a framework for a final peace agreement to be signed within six months. This was hailed as a breakthrough in the half-century-old conflict and an opportunity to bring peace to the people of Colombia. But by adopting the government’s narrative, mainstream media have failed to recognize the primary cause of the violence and the inevitability that it will continue in the future.
The decades-long policy of the Colombian government has been a national security strategy of counterinsurgency, developed in the late 1950s under the sponsorship of the US military. The goal of the US government was to maintain a business-friendly political system that would implement economic policies amenable to multinational corporations and foreign capital. Resistance to such policies was deemed subversion, and people who sympathized with such resistance were branded as internal enemies to be eliminated or neutralized by military means.
The narrative of the national security doctrine holds that if the insurgent threat is eliminated, then peace will be restored. The implicit assumption is that the FARC rebels have always been the side standing in the way of peace. According to this interpretation, when the FARC initiated their military operations the state was acting for the benefit of the nation as a whole by organizing a counter response.
But this narrative is historically inaccurate. The Colombian conflict is not a battle of society at large against a group of guerillas, but a battle of a small group of elites controlling the state apparatus against the majority of the population.
“As in many other Latin American countries, we can find the seeds of present-day social inequality and strife in the concentration of Colombia’s land and resources under the control of a tiny minority, matched by the progressive dispossession of the majority of people, which originated with colonialism in the sixteenth century,” explains Jasmin Hristov in her book Blood and Capital: The Paramilitarization of Colombia. 
After the FARC developed as the armed wing of the Communist Party in Colombia, the counterinsurgency doctrine – developed by the US military and codified in manuals distributed as early as the 1960s – taught the US’s Colombian counterparts to view any advocacy for social justice or democratic reform as a form of Communist insurgency. In addition to armed rebels, clergy, academics, labor leaders, human rights workers, and other members of civil society became potential insurgent targets.
To further extend their reach into Colombian society, the government legally authorized paramilitarism in 1965 with Plan Lazlo to form “civilian defense forces” armed and incorporated into the Colombian military system.  These forces serve the government’s goal of preserving the status quo by carrying out their dirty work through the use of death squads, assassinations, torture, intimidation and disappearances while providing cover and the appearance of distance from the state itself.
The Colombian conflict cannot be understood without recognizing the true nature of the actors involved and the interests they represent. “The paramilitary has never been, and is even less so now, a third actor (the state and the guerillas being the other two), as portrayed in mainstream security discourses,” writes Hristov. 
Writing in the New York Times after the peace agreement was announced, Ernesto Londoño declared the “three-way fight among guerilla factions, government forces and right-wing paramilitary bands that often acted as proxies for the state had killed more than 220,000 people and displaced an estimated 5.7 million.”
Dan Kovalik, Professor of International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, disputes the notion that paramilitaries merely occasionally serve as proxies: “It is impossible to talk about the paramilitaries as separate from the Colombian state, for the Colombian state helped create the paramilitaries, and human rights groups have concluded year after year that the state has provided them with weapons, logistical support and has carried out joint operations with them, Even federal courts confronted with this questions under the Alien Tort Claims Act have concluded that the paramilitaries are sufficiently integrated with the state that their misdeeds constitute state action.”
Aside from inaccurately describing the fighting, Londoño’s statement uses statistics about the cumulative violence without describing who holds responsibility for the deaths and displacements. Later in his editorial, Londoño implicitly blames the FARC for the majority of the violence: “Dozens of victims traveled to Havana to speak about abuses they endured at the hands of the guerilla leaders. Some implicated government forces in brutal acts… The special war tribunals the government intends to start adjudicating crimes will be dismissed as kangaroo courts by those who would have favored a military defeat of the FARC.”
If one accepts the national security narrative that most violence by the government amounts to collateral damage as a result of reaction to insurgent aggression, then guerillas would be responsible for the majority of deaths and injuries. But this is hardly the case.
Kovalik notes that “human rights groups have consistently concluded that the Colombian state and its paramilitary allies commit the lion’s share of the human rights violations in that country – in the worst years, at least 80% of the abuses can be attributed to these forces.”
US Government Intervention and Plan Colombia
Londoño also credits US policy with providing the impetus to achieving peace: “Washington’s forceful intervention in the war, an intervention that began in the late 1990s, enabled the Colombian government to weaken the FARC and ultimately set the stage for peace negotiations.”
Washington’s counterinsurgency policy is seen not only as an instrument for peace, but as the primary factor enabling its achievement. This is stunning historical revisionism that portrays the instigator and sponsor of massive violence that has lasted decades as an honest broker for ending this violence.
In reality, Washington’s intervention began 40 years earlier than Londoño claims, and it created the war that has raged ever since. By any objective measure, US policy in Colombia has been an abject failure. Under US direction, funding and training, the Colombian state has had one of the worst human rights records in the hemisphere. Many human rights organizations attest to this, and have demanded an end to US military aid to Colombia.
“Year after year US policy has ignored the evidence and the cries of the United Nations, Colombian and international non-governmental organizations and the people of Colombia. Plan Colombia is a failure in every respect and human rights in Colombia will not improve until there is a fundamental shift in US foreign policy,” writes Amnesty International USA.
A Human Rights Watch report declared that: “all international security assistance should be conditioned on explicit actions by the Colombian Government to sever links, at all levels, between the Colombian military and paramilitary groups. Abuses directly attributed to members of the Colombian military have decreased in recent years, but over the same period the number and scale of abuses attributed to paramilitary groups operating with the military’s acquiescence or open support have skyrocketed.”
Bogotá professor and historianRenán Vega Cantor, in a study of U.S. involvement in Colombia, writes that: “State terrorism that has been perpetual in Colombia since the end of the 1940s feeds off the military support and financing of the United States, as much as the interests of the dominant Creole classes, to preserve their wealth and power and deny the fulfillment of elemental economic and social reforms that are redistributive.”
What the New York Times and the mainstream media miss in their analysis is that the current neoliberal Colombian sociopolitical system necessitates the continuance of violence to accommodate capital.
“The guerilla was not the cause of the Colombian conflict but rather one of its symptoms, and simultaneously became a contributing factor in the sense that its very existence has provided the ideological substance for the pretext and justification behind state-sanctioned violence and militarization, Thus unfortunately the presence of the guerilla has been used by the powerful to legitimate the onslaught on social forces that challenge the power of the dominant classes,” writes Hristov in her latest book, Paramilitarism and Neoliberalism: Violent Systems of Capital Accumulation in Colombia and Beyond. 
Hristov says that in order for the government to meet FARC’s demands, they would have to invest in social programs at the expense of the military-security apparatus currently in place. But since these systems serve the neoliberal economic restructuring that funnels land and resources from the masses to the tiny elite minority, it would be naive to assume this will happen.
“Even in a post-FARC era the state would always have a pretext, such as BACRIM [criminal bands with roots in nominally disarmed paramilitary groups] or the existence of other guerilla groups, to maintain its high level of militarization,” Hristov writes. 
The portrayal of the Colombian conflict in the New York Times and other mainstream media replicates state propaganda, in the form of the national security doctrine, while failing to account for the inherent violence of the economic system in Colombia that has driven the perpetual militarism and coercion in the country.
While any agreement offering the prospect of decreased bloodshed is encouraging, the fact that the Colombian state continues to abide by the Washington Consensus and its neoliberal socioeconomic model sadly signifies that the country is inevitably headed for continued violence, dispossession, and suffering by the vast majority of the population.
When the Colombian government and the western media recognize that Washington intervention exacerbates the violence, rather than helps minimize it, then possibly Colombia can begin to extricate itself and pursue a course that will enable the Colombian people to achieve lasting peace and social justice.
Matt Peppe writes about politics, U.S. foreign policy and Latin America on his blog. You can follow him on twitter.
 Hristov, Jasmin. Blood and Capital: The Paramilitarization of Colombia. Ohio University Press; 1 edition, 2009. Kindle edition.
 Hristov, Jasmin. Paramilitarism and Neoliberalism: Violent Systems of Capital Accumulation in Colombia and Beyond. London: Pluto Press, 2014. (pg. 153)
Russian Air Force jets have flown over 60 sorties since the onset of the Russian campaign against ISIL in Syria on Wednesday. The campaign has dislodged ISIL and al-Qaeda associated terrorist brigades. Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev expressed his support for Russia. French President Francois Hollande accused Russia of having become a conflicting party due to its support of Syrian President Al-Assad. The Russian initiative is consistent with countering long-term NATO plans aimed at destabilizing the Russian Federation’s underbelly.
On Wednesday, September 30, 2015, Russia began launching air strikes against ISIL targets in Syria. As of Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that there had been flown over 60 sorties, bombing 50 facilities of the Islamic State. Col Gen Andrey Kartapolov of the General Staff told reporters on Saturday that:
The aircraft have been taking off from the Hmeimim air base, targeting the whole Syria. … In the past three days we have managed to disrupt the terrorists’ infrastructure and to substantially degrade their combat capabilities. … Intelligence reports say that militants are leaving the areas under their control. … There is panic and desertion among their ranks. … Nearly 600 mercenaries have abandoned their positions and are making attempts to get out to Europe.
The President of fellow CSTO member Kyrgyzstan, Almazbek Atambayev, told the press on Sunday, that members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) should primarily think about protecting their own borders. President Almazbek Atambayev did, however, express his support for Moscow’s air strikes, stressing that the so-called Islamic State, a.k.a. ISIL, ISIS or Daesh had declared its ambition to control large territories. He added that:
Fighting IS is in the interests of Kyrgyzstan, and in this aspect we support Russia’s air strikes on positions of terrorists in Syria. … I support the actions of Russia. … If a country does not have a legitimate government, it is falling apart. … Similar events were in Libya, and a similar situation is in Iraq now.
During a meeting of the so-called Normandy Four on Ukraine, French President Francois Hollande reportedly said to Russian President Vladimir Putin that:
France, in the name of the legitimate self-defense, considering Islamic State to be an immediate threat, since they are preparing terrorist attacks in France and Europe, also decided to carry out air strikes. However, I recalled during the meeting with Vladimir Putin that these strikes had to be directed against Islamic State, exclusively against Islamic State. … Proceeding from this, everyone should bear responsibility. … We must focus our efforts on this terrorist group operating in two countries — Syria and Iraq.
Hollande would later accuse Moscow of having become a party to the conflict in Syria due to what he described as Moscow’s support to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. The remark fell within the context of allegations that Russian jets had targeted positions of other than ISIL fighters.
Sergey Lavrov. Photo, courtesy of ITAR-TASS, Artyom-Geodakyan.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, for his part, would note that when someone behaves, moves and acts like a terrorist it is probably a terrorist. A diplomatic way of telling the press that Moscow does not see a great difference between ISIL and e.g. the Al-Qaeda associated Jabhat Al-Nusrah.
Iraq, Iran, Syria and Russia have established a joint intelligence center in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. Moscow has previously hinted that Russia was prepared to look positively at a request for help from the Iraqi government.
Alexander Mezyaev is the Head of the Chair of the Academy on International Law and Governance in Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia explained the Russian and international legal background for Russia’s military operations in an article entitled “Russian Operation in Syria: International Law”.
Coordinated International Effort against Middle East Terrorism counters long-term NATO Objectives.
In a January 2013 interview with nsnbc, retired Pakistani Major Agha H. Amin noted that one of NATO’s long-term objectives with the destabilization of Syria was to spread a string of low intensity conflicts from the Mediterranean along Russia’s and other CSTO members soft and resource-rich underbelly to Pakistan. It is within this context that the statement of the President of Kyrgyzstan, Almazbek Atambayev, and his country’s support for the Russian air strikes can be understood.
Expanding Russian air strikes to also include e.g. Jabhat al-Nusrah and other mercenary brigades operating in Syria and Iraq would not be mission creep but rather part of a long-term strategy to counter well-documented, predominantly US and UK forged plans to destabilize and eventually to “Balkanize” the Russian Federation by drawing Russia and other CSTO member States into protracted low-intensity conflicts.
The Times is a virtual US administration/Pentagon house organ. Its articles read like imperial press releases, real journalism entirely absent, making sensationalist tabloid operations look good by comparison.
It’s latest propaganda piece headlined “US Aims to Put More Pressure on ISIS in Syria” – polar opposite its agenda, ISIS and other takfiri terrorists its proxy army battling Assad, what Times editors, columnists, correspondents, and contributors disgracefully suppress, what’s vital to report.
The Times claiming Washington and allies are “preparing to open a major front” against ISIS in northeastern Syria is a bald-faced lie, the latest willful deception from America’s so-called “newspaper of record” – its leading lying machine, deliberately betraying its readers.
“President Obama last week approved two important steps to set the offensive in motion over the coming weeks, officials said. Mr. Obama ordered the Pentagon, for the first time, to directly provide ammunition and perhaps some weapons to Syrian opposition forces on the ground,” said The Times.
He also endorsed the idea for an increased air campaign from an air base in Turkey, although important details still need to be worked out.
Fact: All Syrian opposition groups are extremists, terrorists, no so-called moderate elements exist.
Fact: Any increased US air attacks will continue waging war on Syria, supporting ISIS and other terrorist ground forces.
“As recently as Friday, Mr. Obama said he would take all steps necessary to combat the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. The new approach relies on Arab fighters whose commanders have been screened by American forces and Kurdish fighters who are more battle-tested and whose loyalties Washington can count on,” said The Times.
Fact: The so-called “new approach” is the same old dirty one, apparently intending to be stepped up, aiming for more death and destruction, harming ordinary Syrians most, assuring continued human floods seeking safe havens, many wanting refuge in Europe.
How long EU countries most affected will put up with Obama’s war remains to be seen – its refugee flood straining their ability to cope, measures taken so far wholly inadequate, a bandaid over a festering wound.
Obama is a serial liar, again over the weekend, telling reporters “(t)he top line message that I want everybody to understand is, we are going to continue to go after ISIL. We are going to continue to reach out to a moderate opposition.”
False!! His agenda is polar opposite. Instead of explaining it, The Times reported it like gospel – deliberately deceiving its readers.
It claimed “(s)enior administration officials say the new offensive holds promise and may change the dynamics on the ground.”
After four-and-a-half years of Obama’s all-out campaign to oust Assad, short of bombing Damascus and sending in hordes of US troops, conflict was largely stalemated until Russia intervened.
It’s only in day six so too early to know it its campaign is decisive.
But it’s already made a difference. ISIS and other terrorist are panicking, US policy in disarray, frantic to come up with Plan B – for the first time facing a formidable adversary, Putin committed to defeat the scourge of terrorism Washington created, first in Syria, perhaps Iraq next.
The Times repeated the Big Lie circulated by Obama and neocons infesting his administration, claiming Russian operations are “directed largely at Syrian groups that oppose President Bashar al-Assad…”
Fact: It targets all terrorist elements in Syria. So-called moderates or rebels are misnamed. They’re all imported cutthroat killers, US foot soldiers against Assad and the Syrian population.
The Times marches in lockstep with US imperial policy – supporting its ruthless agenda, irresponsibly bashing Putin’s efforts for peace and stability instead of offering high praise.
He represents the best chance for world peace. He’s precisely what’s needed to challenge Washington’s rage for endless wars. The entire free world applauds him. No amount of Times propaganda can change that!
President Bashar al-Assad interview with Iran’s Khabar TV
scroll down for video (Arabic)
Question 1: In the name of God, the most compassionate, the most merciful. Mr. President, thank you very much for accepting the invitation of the Television of the Islamic Republic of Iran to give this interview. Thank you very much.
There are many issues which need to be raised; and in this interview, I’ll raise a number of them. I hope that I’ll get candid and transparent answers from your Excellency. For about five years now, Syria has been suffering from a war waged by armed terrorist groups that inflicted tremendous damage on the Syrian people. According to available statistics, these damages are estimated at more than USD 200 billion to the infrastructure, about 250,000 casualties and about six to seven million displaced Syrian individuals. All this was the result of Western states’ insistence on overthrowing the Syrian regime. They haven’t succeeded in doing so. Now we can see a change in positions regarding the situation in Syria. The states which used to call for overthrowing the regime have started to declare that they accept President Assad’s participation in an interim government. What’s your reading of this change in positions, and why has it happened?
No foreign officials might decide Syria’s future, political system or the individuals to govern
President Assad: In the beginning, I would like to welcome you in Damascus; and I’m glad to be talking to our Iranian brothers through your TV station. Concerning the changes that you see happening in the Western world, part of this is based on their statements to the media. For us in Syria, we cannot take these statements seriously, regardless of whether they are positive or negative, for many reasons. I believe that our Iranian brothers, including Iranian officials, share our view on this. In other words, both of us do not trust Western officials. As to their recent statements about a transitional period and other issues, I would like to be very clear: no foreign officials might decide the future of Syria, the future of Syria’s political system or the individuals who should govern Syria. This is the Syrian people’s decision. That’s why these statements mean nothing to us.
But what is absolutely certain is that Western officials are in a state of confusion and their vision lacks clarity. At the same time, they are overwhelmed by a sense of failure concerning the plans they drew and didn’t achieve their objectives. The only objective of course is what you mentioned in your question, i.e. destroying Syria’s infrastructure and causing a great deal of bloodshed. We have paid a heavy price, but their objectives were subjugating Syria completely and replacing one state with another. They aimed at replacing this state with a client state which implements the agendas dictated by foreign governments.
We cannot trust Western positions regardless of whether they were positive or negative
At the same time, the lies they propagated at the beginning of the events in Syria, in order to promote their positions to their audiences, have started to unravel. You cannot continue to lie to your people for years. You might do that for a limited period of time. Today, as a result of technological advances in the field of information, every citizen in every part of the world could know part of the truth. These parts have started to come together in the minds of their people, and they have found out that their governments have been lying to them concerning what has happened in Syria. They have also paid the price either through terrorist operations, the terrorism that started to affect those countries or through the waves of migrants coming to their countries, not only from Syria, but from different countries in the Middle East. All these factors started to effect a change, but I would like to stress once more that we cannot trust Western positions regardless of whether they were positive or negative.
Question 2: Mr. President, some countries, like France, used to have good relations with you, between 2008 and 2010. You enjoyed good relations with President Sarkozy. Why have such people moved to the enemies’ side and started calling for overthrowing the Syrian regime?
President Assad: Because Sarkozy was charged by George Bush’s administration to build contacts with Syria. Those contacts had a number of objectives which aimed in general at changing the political line of Syria. But there was an essential objective that the Americans wanted Sarkozy to achieve. At that time there was talk about how the 5+1 group should deal with Iran’s nuclear file, specifically how to deal with nuclear materials or the radioactive materials which were enriched in your reactors in Iran. I was required to persuade Iranian officials to send these materials to Western countries to be enriched and returned to Iran, without any guarantees of course. That was impossible. It did not convince us, and the Iranian officials were not convinced.
When the West was unable to change Syrian policies, they found an opportunity at the beginning of the events of what is called the “Arab Spring”, an opportunity to attack the states whose political line they didn’t like. That is why the period you are talking about was concerned with appearances. In other words, the West opened up to Syria, but in fact that period was replete with pressure and blackmail. They haven’t offered one single thing to Syria, neither politically, or economically, or in any other field.
Question 3: What you said was about France. How do you read the positions of other countries, like the UK and the USA?
President Assad: Their positions today?
Intervention: I mean that France wanted to intervene through the relationship that connects you with Iran. How did other countries, like the UK and the USA get involved in dialogue with you at that time?
Western countries have one master, which is the United States
President Assad: Yes. When we talk about these states, we are taking about an integrated system. We use the term “Western countries”, but these Western countries have one master, which is the United States. All these countries behave in accordance with the dictates of the American maestro. Now, the statements of all these countries are similar. They say the same thing, and when they attack Syria, they use the same language. That is why when the United States gives the signal, these countries move in a certain direction, but there is usually a distribution of roles. At that time France was asked to play that role, considering the relatively good historical relations between France and Syria since independence. There is a big Syrian community in France, and there are economic, even military, and of course political relations. That is why the best option for them was to ask France, and not any other country. But ultimately, Western officials follow the orders of the American administration. This is a fact.
Question 4: Does that mean that you know specifically what the West wants from Syria?
President Assad: They want to change the state. They want to weaken Syria and create a number of weak statelets which can get busy solving their daily problems and internal disputes with no time for development or extending support to national causes, particularly the cause of Palestine, and at the same time ensuring Israel’s security. These objectives are not new. They have always been there, but the instruments of dealing with them differ from time to time.
Question 5: It seems that some of these countries, working on behalf of the United States, have very close ties with the terrorists, and their policies are identical with those of the terrorist groups. What is the damage that such countries, like Turkey and Saudi Arabia, can inflict on regional security and stability?
President Assad: There are, of course, different kinds of terrorism in our region, but they are all overshadowed by what is called Islamic terrorism because these terrorist groups or organizations have adopted Islam without having anything to do with Islam in reality. But this is the term being used now. These groups are promoting sedition among the different components in the region in general. This means that the greatest damage is the disintegration of societies in time. Now, fortunately, there is a great awareness in our society about the danger of sectarian sedition, and the necessity of uniting ranks, particularly as far as the Muslims are concerned. But with time, and with the continuation of sectarian incitement, creating gaps between the different components of society and producing a young generation brought up on the wrong ideas, that will be a very serious danger. This disintegration will become one day a de facto situation, and will lead to confrontations, conflicts and civil wars. This is very dangerous, and it is not exaggerated. It is a fact.
Question 6: Now, it has become common in international forums for states to announce that the Syrian crisis cannot be resolved except through a political solution. But Saudi Arabia and the Saud clan insist that you should step down from your position. What is your response to that?
Neither Saudi Arabia nor Turkey have right to talk about democracy
President Assad: What I said a short while ago: any talk about the political system or the officials in this county is an internal Syrian affair. But if they are talking about democracy, the question begs itself: are the states you mentioned, especially Saudi Arabia, models of democracy, human rights or public participation? In fact, they are the worst and the most backward worldwide; and consequently they have no right to talk about this. As to Erdogan, he is responsible for creating chasms inside his own society, inside Turkey itself. Turkey was stable for many years, but with his divisive language, and his talk about sedition and discrimination between its different components, neither he nor Davutoglu are entitled to give advice to any country or any people in the world. This is the truth, simply and clearly.
Question 7: Mr. President, you said more than once that some states caused the current situation in Syria, and that foreign intervention played a significant role in creating the crisis. However, this crisis happened on your watch. To what extent have you played a role in creating this situation?
President Assad: When there is foreign intervention, it cannot make a significant negative impact unless there were gaps in this country or in that society. That is why we said from the very beginning that there are many things which need to be reformed in Syria. There are gaps; and we are all responsible for these gaps, as Syrians. Of course, the state has its share of responsibility in this regard, and the higher the official, the greater the responsibility.
This is in general terms, but when we come to the facts about what happened in Syria, we cannot deny the importance of the foreign factor. Money was paid to make people demonstrate under slogans related to the constitution, the laws or to reforms. From the very beginning we responded positively to all these proposals, despite the fact that we knew that a large part of it was unreal and not genuine. But it was merely a slogan. Nevertheless, and from the very beginning we called for a political dialogue among Syrian political forces. The result of that dialogue was that the constitution was changed, and the provisions which they claimed, or as some have claimed to be the cause of the crisis, have also been changed. New laws, providing for more freedoms, were passed, new parties established and the media law was changed. All the things which were demanded, or which were used as slogans in the demonstrations, were implemented.
Then, they started in the West and in the regional countries which are subject to the Western agendas, particularly Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, started talking about the issue of the president specifically. Why? Because they wanted to personalize the issue, in order to say that the whole problem in Syria is caused by one individual, and consequently he, and not the terrorists or the regional and Western states which seek to destabilize Syria, is responsible. That is why I say again that the issue of the presidency or other issues are the concern of the Syrian people. I, personally, have said, on more than one occasion that when the Syrian people decide that a certain individual should stay, he will stay; and when the Syrian people decide that he should go, he will go immediately. This issue cannot be subject to any discussion, but if the opinion of the West is contrary to that of the Syrian people, it has no value whatsoever. That is why we say that returning to dialogue and continuing the dialogue which is conducted from time to time is the solution for the Syrian crisis. If there are demands for reform, that shouldn’t be the responsibility of the President but the responsibility of the state’s institutions, because they define the shape of the reform. When there is a national issue, it should be shouldered by the institutions and should be carried out by these institutions, particularly elected ones, foremost among which is the People’s Assembly.
Question 8: So, you believe that what happened in Syria has to do with institutions and not the person of the president of the republic?
President Assad: Of course, because the president comes to power through institutions and leaves power through institutions. The president assumes power through the constitution and steps down through the constitution, the laws and the elections. Those are the mechanisms. A president cannot assume power through terrorism or step down as a result of terrorism. He does not assume power through chaos and does not step down because of chaos. He does not assume power through foreign intervention or under foreign cover as is the case in most countries in our region. As you know, this is a fact. When he comes to power through a foreign country, he continues in power through a decision of this foreign country and leaves power upon a decision of that country. This, however, is not the case neither in Syria nor in Iran, and will not be the case in the future.
Question 9: If we go back to the beginning of the crisis in March 2011, would you manage the crisis in the same way you did?
From the beginning we decided to fight terrorism, and today we are more committed to this principle
President Assad: In all things in our lives, there are always main titles and small details which constitute these titles. What changes often are the details and not the main titles, except in special cases. This crisis has been a rich lesson. Every national crisis is a very rich lesson to the officials, to the population and to society in general. Every day, you learn a new thing and see things from a different perspective. Sometimes you see things which you don’t know even about yourself or the society you live in. That is why it doesn’t make sense to say that the crisis is passing by and we will not learn new things from it and will not change accordingly. It is natural to have differences concerning the details, but not the main titles. The reason is that these are basic principles. For example, in the beginning we decided to have dialogue, to respond to dialogue and that the solution should be through dialogue. We still believe in this principle.
Concerning fighting terrorism, from the beginning it was clear to us that there were foreign hands behind it, and that it aimed at creating chaos and a terrorist environment to destabilize Syria. From the beginning we decided to fight terrorism, and today we are more committed to this principle. From the beginning we decided to be independent in solving our problems. We want help from our friends; and this is what Iran is offering, and what Russia is offering, together with other countries of the world. But no other country can replace us in solving our problems. I believe that we are more determined today to be committed to these principles; and the events have shown that what we used to say at the beginning of the crisis was right. When we come to the details and mechanisms, there is no doubt that the way we see them now is different from the way we saw them then.
Question 10: You said that the Syrian crisis should be resolved through Syrian-Syrian dialogue. Are you prepared, Mr. President, to sit at the same table with those armed groups fighting on the ground?
President Assad: It is self-evident that no state in the world conducts dialogue with terrorists, because terrorists, like other citizens, should be subject to the laws and should be brought to account. However, the state might conduct dialogue with terrorists in one case, when the objective of the dialogue is for the individuals who carried out terrorist acts to lay down their arms and embrace the state and the law. This has actually happened in Syria; and we held dialogue with many groups within the framework of what we call reconciliations through which the state grants amnesty to those individuals, provided that they go back to their normal lives.
This mechanism or approach has achieved reasonable success in many regions, especially when you know that many of those who carried out terrorist acts did so probably because of certain conditions which pushed them in that direction and not necessarily because they have a genuine conviction or desire to do so. There are those who were deceived and those who were misled.
On the other hand, there are ideological terrorist groups which do not believe in dialogue. They reject dialogue and reject reconciliation. They believe that these killings and these acts of terrorism are part of religion and part of Islam. They believe that when they commit these acts and get killed, they have done a service to religion, and then go to heaven. It is impossible to conduct dialogue with these groups; they do not accept it and we do not accept it.
Question 11: What are the damages caused to security and stability in the region by what happened in Syria through the acts of these extremist Islamic movements which want to declare an Islamic State or an Islamic Emirate? And how should they be dealt with?
President Assad: These terrorist organizations, whether ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra or al- Qaeda are mere manifestations of a long and deep perversion in our region and our society. This perversion is at least five decades old; but it practically started two centuries ago with perverse interpretation of Islam. The main manifestation of this perversion is the Wahhabi movement which interpreted Islam in a perverted and, in most cases, contradictory manner with the import of Islam itself. So, these are mere manifestations.
Dealing with this short term damage, which is related to the terrorist acts, the destruction and killing they are carrying out, is not easy, but certainly possible. Dealing with it will constitute a victory for society, an important victory because it protects it against a disease and a real epidemic.
The big danger is for this treatment to take a long time and for these organizations to become entrenched within society. In that case you will be dealing with a very dangerous, cultural and intellectual situation. You will be before a new generation of ideological terrorists who believe in killing, takfir and discrimination as a basic method for building an Islamic State, as they believe. Then, the whole region will face a huge dilemma. This type of thought has no boundaries. It does not recognize political borders. It spreads, through contagion, very quickly in our region, and even in Europe, as we see today. That is why these organizations are extremely dangerous, but it is not enough to fight them as organizations. More importantly, we should fight the thought which led to the creation of these organizations, the states which promoted this type of thought and the institutions which provide funds for this thought through religious schools and foundations which promote extremism in the Islamic world.
Question 12: Mr. President, Western countries tried, in a symbolic move, to create an international coalition against terrorism. But this coalition does not seem to have succeeded. Why?
International coalition failed because the thief cannot be himself the policeman
President Assad: That is true, first because the thief cannot be himself the policeman who protects the city from thieves. Similarly, the state which supports terrorism cannot fight it. This is the truth about this coalition we see. That is why, and after more than a year, we do not see any results. On the contrary, we see that is has been counterproductive. Terrorism has expanded geographically, and the number of volunteers or recruits to these terrorist organizations has increased. Second, because these states which support terrorism from the beginning and which provide cover for it, cannot be serious. Take, for instance, the number of air strikes conducted by the sixty countries together in Syria and Iraq. They constitute only a fraction of what the Syrian air force is doing, despite the facts that we are a small country in the end, and the Syrian air force is not big. Nevertheless, we are conducting many folds the number of airstrikes carried out by those countries.
If the US really wanted to fight terrorism, it would have put pressure on terrorists’ supporters
There is a more important indicator of their lack of seriousness. How can the United States and its allies fight terrorism or ISIS in Syria and Iraq while their closest allies in the government of Erdogan and Davutoglu are supporting terrorists and enabling them to cross the borders and bring weapons, money and volunteers through Turkey? Had the United States really wanted to fight terrorism, it would have put pressure on those countries. That is why I don’t believe that this coalition will do anything except strike a balance between the existing forces in order to keep the fire alive and perpetuate the process of erosion in Syria and Iraq and later other countries of the region, so that we all remain weak for decades and maybe generations.
Question 13: The states which oppose your regime consider your presence in power a pretext for continuing the war. How do you respond to them, Mr. President?
President Assad: If I were a pretext for terrorism in Syria, what is the pretext for terrorism in Yemen. I’m not in Yemen. Who is the pretext for terrorism in Libya? Who is the pretext for terrorism in Iraq? In fact, if we take the example of ISIS, you will find that it did not emerge in Syria. It emerged in Iraq in 2006 when the Americans ran most things, if not everything, particularly the security issues in Iraq. It emerged there on their watch; and all ISIS leaders graduated from the prisons which used to be run by the United States, not the Iraqi government. This does not make any sense. Western officials in America and elsewhere acknowledge that they created this extremism through al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in the beginning to fight the Soviet Union. ISIS is a by-product of al-Qaeda that came in a different form and in a different region. What they say does not have any value. The West always looks for some other party or person to hold them responsible because they will not say that it was them who supported terrorism and stood against the Syrian people and sought to destroy them together with their culture, heritage and all the basics of their lives.
Question 14: The Western coalition failed in its fight against terrorism. Now a new coalition has started to form in the region bringing together Iran, Russia, Iraq and Syria. Considering that the terrorists receive a lot of support from the outside, can this coalition succeed?
New anti-terrorism coalition must succeed, otherwise the whole region will be destroyed
President Assad: It must succeed; otherwise the whole region, not only one or two countries, will be destroyed. We have full confidence in this. Of course, what you said about the support extended to these terrorist organizations by other countries will make the price of victory for these countries which are fighting terrorism very high indeed. If those countries joined the fight against terrorism in a serious and genuine manner, at least by stopping their support to terrorists, it will hasten the process of achieving the results which we all hope to see. But even if they didn’t do that and continued to support terrorism, we as states have a vision and have expertise. All of us have suffered because of terrorism. Iran and Russia have suffered different kinds of terrorism. When these countries unite against terrorism and fight it militarily and in the areas of security and information, in addition to other aspects, this coalition will, no doubt, achieve real results on the ground, particularly that it enjoys international support from countries which do not have a direct role in these crises and in this region. This is with the exception of the West, which has always sought to support terrorism, colonization and stood against peoples’ causes, most countries of the world feel the real danger of terrorism. There have been recently successive statements from countries which support this coalition. That is why I believe that this coalition has great chances of success.
Question 15: Mr. President, your country has suffered a great deal as a result of terrorism. What is your messages to the states which support terrorism?
The most important terrorist leaders in Syria and Iraq are Europeans
President Assad: We wanted to say to them that terrorism will get to you in the end, but it has actually reached them recently. When we used to say this a few years ago, they said that the Syrians are threatening. Today it is no longer a threat. Terrorism has arrived in different European countries in addition to the regional countries which support terrorism and have started to suffer the consequences. There are waves of immigrants from different countries and for causes related to terrorism and other causes which might push others to leave the region. It is known that a large number of terrorists have infiltrated those immigrants, and now they are in those European countries. More importantly, this region has always been accused of exporting terrorism and extremism to Europe.
The fact today is that the most important terrorist leaders in Syria and Iraq are Europeans. Probably the largest number of terrorists comes from Muslim countries, and particularly Arab countries, but most of the leaders come from Europe, and specifically from northern Europe which is relatively far from our region and has a rich and sophisticated society. Nevertheless, terrorism comes from those countries to our region. This means that terrorism knows no boundaries, and that terrorism cannot be used as a political card whenever we want. I always liken terrorism to a scorpion. You cannot put a scorpion in your pocket, because it will sting on the first opportunity. We are repeating this now. They have started to realize this fact, but they do not dare acknowledge it, because if they do, they will have to acknowledge that they were mistaken from the beginning. This is difficult for them domestically and will constitute political suicide. That is why we hope that they will be brave enough one day to acknowledge this error and to say that they acted against the interests of their people in the service of their electoral interests.
Question 16: Mr. President, in addition to the official sources you use in order to get informed about the condition on the fronts and the condition of the Syrian people, do you rely on other unofficial sources?
President Assad: Of course, in all aspects of official work, it is wrong for an official to rely only on reports and on the work of institutions. There are always errors in the work of institutions. There are always personal opinions and personal views which might be at odds with reality because of a certain interest, or because of the lack of clarity. That is why the broader the network of relations and the sources of information, the closer to reality the vision is. That is why meetings with relevant individuals who have nothing to do with reports, with ordinary citizens, with any other person might add another aspect of the truth. I believe this is essential, even in times of peace, let alone in a state of war like the one we live in. You need this kind of communication in such situations more than you need it in ordinary times. Paper cannot give you a full picture of reality. This is a general rule for me.
Question 17: You follow foreign TV stations, don’t you?
President Assad: Of course, I do that all the time. We should understand how our opponents think.
Intervention: Those media outlets broadcast negative news about Syria. How do you feel when you hear such negative news?
Western media and officials lost their credibility…what they say has no value or impact
President Assad: Since the early days of the crisis, this war has been a media and psychological war in the first place. This media war, particularly through Arabic TV stations, since only a few people here watch foreign TV stations, has made a great impact and has been able to distort reality for a large number of Syrians. But if we say that this was the case in the first year, things have started to become clearer gradually. So, these media outlets continue to make an impact in their countries, but they no longer have an impact in our countries, especially when it comes to foreign media outlets. I think that they are deceiving their people, not us. Second, when you have a national cause and you defend your country, you do not pay attention to what others say. You are concerned first and foremost with protecting your country, with achieving the popular interest, the national interest. Everything else has to take a second seat. Since these media outlets have lost their credibility, and since Western officials have no credibility to start with, what they say has no value or impact even from a psychological perspective. I read and listen to such things only to understand how they think, but really it no longer has any impact as far as I’m concerned.
Question 18: Your heard the news about the immigrants and refugees who went to other countries. When you see images and videos of those refugees, how do you feel?
Western exploitation of refugee crisis is more painful than being a refugee
President Assad:This is painful of course. Syria has always been a safe haven for refugees throughput its history, since before the Ottoman Empire, and even throughout ancient history, because of its geographical location, the nature of its society and culture, and because of many other factors. But recently, at least throughout the last century, it hosted the Palestinians, the Lebanese, and before that the Armenians who fled to Syria because of the massacres perpetrated against them. There were also the massacres perpetrated against the Syriacs during the days of the Ottoman State and in other junctures. We should not also forget the Iraqis after the American invasion in 2003. It is very painful for a Syrian to turn into a refugee; and perhaps this is a black spot in Syria’s history which we will remember for decades and centuries. But what is more painful is the exploitation of the refugees’ problems on the part of Western countries and Western media. They portray it as a humanitarian tragedy from which they feel pain, while in reality they are the greatest contributors to this condition through their support of terrorism and through the sanctions they imposed on Syria. Consequently, in many parts of Syria, and in many situations, the basic requirements of life might not be available. So, terrorism, on the one hand, and these Western countries, on the other, are perpetrating the same act. They attack terrorists, but they are terrorists in their policies, whether by imposing sanctions or by supporting terrorism. This is another painful aspect of the refugees question; they fire at the Syrian refugees with one hand and give them food with the other. This is what the Europeans or the Westerners are doing.
Question 19: Mr. President, the Syrian refugee crisis has become a regional and international issue. Who, do you think, should address this issue? What do you expect of international organizations?
Every refugee is asking for countries to stop supporting terrorism
President Assad: Before talking about the services that should be provided to them. We should deal with the cause; why did these Syrian citizens emigrate? Most of those emigrants do not wish to live one single day outside their country, but there are certain circumstances which forced them to do so, on top of which are terrorism and the support of terrorism from outside Syria. So, if we ask anything of the international organizations or of the states – and I believe every refugee will ask for the same thing – It would be for them to stop supporting terrorism, and to put pressure on countries, especially Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia to stop sending terrorists to Syria and providing them with weapons and money. When they do that, there will be no problem. Solving the problem in Syria is not complicated at all. The Situation will be better, and the larger part of the refugees will come back to their country immediately, because regardless of the services provided to them in any country in the world or through whatever organization, it will not be the same as for this person to be in his country and environment and among his family and friends, neither materially nor morally.
Question 20: Mr. President, this is the second time I visit Syria this year, and I have talked to the Syrian people. They are concerned about how long this war might last. How do you, Mr. President, assess the situation in Syria? How long will this situation last?
We pin great hope on Putin’s coalition and on international changes
President Assad: The war will continue as long as there are those who support terrorism, because we are not fighting terrorist groups inside Syria, we are fighting terrorist groups coming from all over the world with the support of the richest and the most powerful countries. We are a small country, but when you defend your country, you do not have a choice, and you cannot ask how and how long unless you have decided to give up on your country. In that case you as a citizen will not have a homeland. This is out of the question in Syria. That is why I believe that the new atmosphere which has started to emerge in the international arena – although once again I exclude the West – started to push towards finding a real solution to the Syrian crisis. It is true that this is proposed under the title of a political solution, but there cannot be a political solution while there are states supporting terrorism. This is one package. We hope that this new direction started to put pressure on the governments which support terrorism. And this has actually started to exert pressure on these states in order to reduce their support. The second cause of optimism is President Putin’s initiative to form a coalition which includes Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria. All these steps have been the natural answer to this question. For how long this war will continue? This war will continue until either terrorism defeats the people or the people defeat terrorists. So, we pin great hope on this coalition now and on these international changes.
Question 21: Mr. President, what are your own proposals to find a solution to this crisis?
President Assad: Of course, we support any political move in parallel with fighting terrorism. But this needs a number of factors to succeed. When we talk about dialogue among the Syrians, this dialogue has two aspects: there is a dialogue on the future of Syria, and it includes all Syrians. Every Syrian has the right to express an opinion in this dialogue in order to know the shape of the Syria we want. Later, there are institutions, there is the public opinion, there is a referendum on a constitution which might be produced by this dialogue. Whatever the people decide, then, will be binding to us as a state and for me as an official. But there is also a dialogue which is specific to the crisis: how to put an end to terrorism and how to restore security. If we talk about political reform, it does not concern the terrorists, because terrorists do not fight for political reform. They fight because they receive money or because they have a perverted doctrine, or because they want to have a role in a state that becomes another state’s client.
This dialogue requires an answer to the following questions: If we agree on something, what is our impact in reality? If we conducted a dialogue and reached the best possible ideas but without being able to implement them because the opposition we are conducting dialogue with has no influence on the terrorists, what do we get? On the other hand, shall we conduct dialogue with an opposition tied to foreign powers? From a national and patriotic perspective, this is unacceptable. You in Iran have political opposition, but you cannot call it an opposition if you knew, as Iranian citizens, that they receive money from a foreign country, or that they implement policies which are at odds with the interests of the Iranian people, and that they serve the interests of a foreign country. These factors do not exist so far. We have conducted dialogue with a number of groups, some of which were patriotic, we are not saying otherwise, but they told us that they have no influence on the terrorists. So, dialogue with them might be useful for the future of Syria, but not for solving the problem of terrorism. That is why the only option for us now is to destroy terrorism, because implementing any solution or any political ideas that might be agreed on will need a state of stability. Otherwise it has no value. Consequently, destroying terrorism is the foundation of any action in Syria. Political ideas can be implemented later.
Question 22: Your Excellency, Dr. Bashar Assad, you studied ophthalmology. How did you make the move to politics?
President Assad: This question cannot be raised when somebody enters the world of politics. It is legitimate when someone moves from medicine to engineering, let’s say. But politics is not a sector, it’s not economics or science. It is the outcome of all aspects of life: the economy, the military, security, people’s culture and all daily problems. All these things create something called politics. Politics is not a profession or an academic specialization. It is your link to the life you live. And in this region the complicated details of politics affect our daily life, and one cannot be but interested in politics. It is part of our lives in this region as a result of circumstances we live under and which influence us continually. So, I haven’t moved from one specialization to another or from one sector to another. I moved from place of work to another in the same public field.
Question 23: Going back to our earlier question about reforms in Syria, I read your biography and found that you made a good start with the reform process in 2000. Why haven’t you continued with these reforms?
Developing the economic situation was the basic challenge to reforms since 2000
President Assad: No, Syria has proceeded in a continuous development process, but there were priorities. For us, the basic challenge was the economic situation, which has always suffered from different problems, even before the crisis, and even under the relatively good circumstances. That was our priority. When I used to meet the citizens – before the crisis – complaints were always about the living conditions and the conditions of the economy. Political reform was linked to a certain extent to political elites in certain sections of society. It did not include everyone. As I said, the comprehensive issue was living conditions. Our basic challenge was how to develop the economy in addition to facing outside pressure because of different political reasons. That was our priority as a state. But if you talk to a large number of people, you will hear different views about priorities. Every person has his own view depending on their culture and problems. Some people might not have economic problems, so their priorities become different. For us as a state, we used to take the most common problems for the population. The state was moving forward, probably not quickly, but carefully and steadily.
Question 24: Mr. President, you have repeatedly said that important decisions need to be taken inside Syria, and that the dialogue must be among the Syrians themselves, but now we see that there are negotiations and discussions outside Syria, for instance like the negotiations between America and Russia. There are those who say that they are interfering in drawing Syria’s future. Does not that constitute a red line for you?
The Russians have never tried to impose anything on us
President Assad: We have old relations with the former Soviet Union and later with Russia, for more than six decades now. They have never tried to impose anything on us throughout the history of this relation, particularly during this crisis. The dialogue between Russia an America is not about interfering in Syria, the dialogue is happening between two sides: one which believes in interference in other states’ affairs, i.e. America and the West, and the other seeks to prevent such an intervention, prevent hegemony and violation of Security Council’s resolutions and UN Charter, i.e. Russia, the BRICS countries and a large number of other countries. It is not true that this dialogue is about intervention. They are not discussing the nature of the political system in Syria, or the identity of the next president, or how to solve the problem of terrorism in Syria. They are discussing the principle of the independence of the Syrian people’s decisions. That is why I believe that this dialogue is in the interest of Syria and the interest of the peoples of the world. When there is a strong power with allies defending the independence of peoples, this is in the interest of all of us, in the interest of the sovereignty and independence, which we have been so proud of for decades.
Question 25: Mr. President, do you know the substance of the negotiations between the Russians and the Americans?
The Russians and Americans are continuing contacts between us and the Russians
President Assad: Yes, there are continuing contacts between us and the Russians. They talk to us about all the details concerning the Syrian situation, including anything raised with the Russians by any other country, or any discussion between them and those countries, whether they were allies, opponents or enemies. There is complete transparency in this relationship.
Question 26: Going back to the negotiations with the opposition, in your interview with the Russian media you said that you are looking forward to Moscow 3. Now, there have been two discussions or meetings in Moscow and also in Geneva. I attended the Geneva meetings and saw that the opposition was divided and incongruent. In your opinion, can you reach a serious agreement with such an incongruent opposition?
We will reach no result if Geneva 3,4…or 10 continue with the same mechanism is in Geneva 1, 2
President Assad: No, if work is done using the same mechanisms, i.e. opposition groups formed in the West and in regional countries hostile to Syria which have been part of the bloodshed like Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Turkey, such an opposition cannot but implement the agendas of those countries. The simple question is: do these countries seek a solution for the situation in Syria or achieve stability? These countries are hostile to the Syrian people. They created the problem, and consequently, for them Geneva 1 and Geneva2 were merely a stage through which they wanted to achieve through politics what they could not achieve on the ground through terrorist acts. That is the objective.
Moscow conference’s mechanism is different
If Geneva 3, 4, and 10 continue with the same mechanism, i.e. for us to talk to individuals who are agents of other countries, we will certainly not reach any result. This is self-evident. We reach a result only when we conduct a dialogue, as Syrians, with each other. Hence the importance of the Moscow conference, because its mechanism is different. It includes different groups from inside and outside Syria. There are individuals who are agents of foreign, Arab or regional countries, independent individuals and patriotic individuals. The Geneva conference was based on one provision of the Geneva communique, which is the interim governing body, which we categorically reject. They wanted the Geneva conference to discuss only this point and to impose this provision on the Syrian government, or the Syrian state or the Syrian people.
The Moscow conference discusses everything. It discusses the whole of the Geneva communique which includes clear provisions like Syria’s independence, territorial integrity and the Syrian-Syrian dialogue. Everything in the Geneva communique contradicts the interim governing body provision. When we reach a consensus as Syrians in the Moscow conference, any other conference, or any other dialogue will be bound by the consensus that we will reach in Moscow. That is why we said that Moscow 3 is essential for the success of Geneva 3.
Question 27: There are many initiatives for solving the Syrian crisis, including the Russian initiative, the de Mistura initiative and the recent initiative made by the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. What is your assessment of this last initiative?
President Assad: When Mr. Zarif visited us a few months ago, the visit was on the background of proposing ideas for an Iranian initiative. Before the visit, the Iranian Foreign Ministry announced the basic principles for this initiative, principles with which we totally agree. But as you know, the success or failure of any political action is bound to be linked to the many details which might be included in such an action. When Mr. Zarif visited, we discussed with him all these details, and the meetings continued later between officials in both foreign ministries in order to come out with the final draft of this initiative. What has changed during this period was the announcement of President Putin’s initiative, particularly in his speech in the Collective Security Treaty Organization’s Collective Security Council in which he identified basically his perception of the initiative, especially in relation to fighting terrorism.
Syrian-Iranian discussion continues, with Putin’s initiative taken into account
Now, the discussion continues between us and our Iranian brothers at the foreign ministry in order to take into account this important change, so that it becomes not necessarily part of the Iranian initiative, but to make the initiative compatible with these important and positive changes on the Syrian arena, and probably on the Syrian-Iraqi arena. That is why I say that this initiative is very important and necessary, particularly after signing the Iranian nuclear deal, and with European officials starting to communicate with Iran. We believe that the Iranian role has become important for us in Syria through this initiative. Of course, when it is complete the details are integrated, it will be announced.
Question 28: We heard recently that a Chinese warship arrived in Lattakia and that a Russian warship also arrived in the Lattakia port on board of which there are two thousand Russian soldiers with advanced equipment. Military operations and airstrikes against terrorists have started. Why have they come now and got involved in the conflict, and what will the results be?
China does not take part militarily in fighting terrorism, It supports the Russian efforts
President Assad: Concerning China, it does not take part militarily in fighting terrorism. It has announced a clear position. It supports the Russian role and the Russian efforts in this regard, and supports President Putin’s initiative concerning fighting terrorism, which includes the recent Russian presence in Syria and which has started operations recently. As to the Russian aircraft carrier, Russia has a presence in Syrian airports, and there is no need for an aircraft carrier. When operations started in Syria recently, the Russian Defense Ministry announced officially the start of these operations. So, everything is clear and public, and there is nothing hidden. Russia announced that these operations are in the form of airstrikes, but without any land operations as the media tried to depict. The military assistance comes exclusively within this framework.
Question 29: Mr. President, do the military personnel have a specific frame of reference in Syria?
Plans within Russian operation drawn by Syrian and Russian officers
President Assad: As for the timeframe, it has not been set yet. This depends on the development of events. But if you mean the plans and details of these plans, yes, the plans have been drawn in cooperation between Syrian and Russian officers a while ago when preparations started for the reception for Russian forces in Syria.
Question 30: Going back to cooperation relations between Iran, Hezbollah and Syria, these three parties enjoy strategic relations in the region. Do you believe that these relations can stand up to Zionist American plans?
Independence situation in the region wouldn’t have been the same without Iran-Hezbollah-Syria relation
President Assad: I believe that without this relation, which you described as strategic, which dates back for decades, the situation in the region would not have been the same in terms of independence. At least, there’re would not have been an independent state, or independent government and consequently an independent people. This axis distinguishes itself by defending its rights and adhering to independence. There is no doubt that it is capable of doing so, because it was able to do so in the past. God willing it will be able to defeat terrorism which is a new instrument for subjugating the region. It will certainly be able to do that. Once again, I say that there are no other options for this region if it wanted to be independent and to prosper and develop. What enabled you scientifically to make your achievements in the nuclear field was independence. Without independence, Iran would not have been able to achieve this. It would not have been allowed to reach this level. So, independence is the foundation of development, the foundation of prosperity in all development areas: economically, culturally, intellectually and in all other areas without any exception. So we should maintain this relationship, consolidate and develop it.
Question 31: What are the impacts which will be made by the nuclear agreement between Iran and the West on the political equations in the region in your opinion?
President Assad: It has a tremendous impact, not in the way some people see it in terms of Iran’s technical, scientific or political capabilities. It has a great and extensive impact on all developing countries, because Iran is a developing country which has broken the knowledge blockade imposed on developing countries in order for the West to monopolize knowledge in certain areas, particularly that oil resources are being exhausted, and the future becoming dependent on nuclear energy.
If Iran is stronger, Syria will be stronger, and vice versa
All what has been said about this issue concerning the nuclear bomb was merely an illusion and fake marketing on the part of the West, because the real nuclear bombs they fear are the brains which now exist in Iran. This is the challenge. Iran is a developing country that provided a model. It emerged from a destructive war that lasted eight years, but the people were united and provided patriotic models. It provided a model of independence and that is why it achieved this result. This is the model which worries the West, and it is the model which concerns us as a developing country, as a country which maintains a strong relationship with us.
On the other hand, you and we are strategic allies; so if Iran is stronger, Syria will be stronger, and vice versa. From another perspective, had Iran abandoned its rights in the nuclear file, that concession would have been used as the new standard which will be applied to other countries, regardless of the legitimate international right of all countries to obtain nuclear energy. In the future, Syria or any other similar country might need nuclear energy. What Iran has won by its steadfastness and through the intelligence of its negotiators will be applied to all these other countries in the future. What you won, we have won as a developing country. That is why this is a very important aspect.
The final aspect is that related to the crisis. Acknowledging the real weight of Iran and its regional role will give it an opportunity to use its increasing influence to persuade the West that their policies are wrong. Of course, I do not pin, nor do you I believe, great hopes on the West changing its colonialist world view and moving in the right direction, but any effort made by Iran must have its impact. This impact, even if it were limited, would accumulate in time in order to mitigate the damage inflicted on our country by the colonialist West, practically now in relation to the situation in Syria and through your renewed relation with the European countries.
Question 32: Mr. President, as you know Iranian strategic relations have their roots in ancient history, and these relations have been strengthened and developed based on mutual regional interests. Can we have your take on the areas around which these mutual interests revolve?
President Assad: As I said a short while ago in the area of the independence of national decision making which covers all the other areas. When we are independent, we cooperate first politically, economically and militarily. Of course, we have been able to achieve the best in cooperating politically during the past three and a half decades, since the success of the Iranian Revolution. But I believe that we have not done enough economically, despite the conditions in which Syria lives. I believe this is an important area, and this is what I discussed with Iranian officials. The crisis itself might be an opportunity, particularly in light of the Western sanctions against Syria, for economic relations to develop between us and Iran. There are also military relations which are old and go back to the same period. They are advanced relations and we cooperate in detail with Iran on military issues. So, it is a comprehensive cooperation in all areas, but as I said, priority is given to the independence of decision-making in the region and preventing more countries from falling under Western hegemony.
Question 33: Mr. President, how do you see the role of his imminence, the Supreme Leader, in achieving stability in Syria and enabling the Syrian people to defend themselves against terrorism?
President Assad: First, the relationship between his imminence, the Supreme Leader, and me is a brotherly relationship despite the difference in years between us. It is a genuine brotherly relationship. He is possessed with special attributes in terms of clarity and adherence to principles. These are the things you look for in any politician; and I believe these are the attributes which are in harmony with Iranian policies and the Iranian people’s adherence to principles. They provided a new model in the possibility for states to maintain their principles and interests at the same time based on principles and not on short term political tactics or opportunistic political tactics.
This is what his imminence, the Supreme Leader, provided during the Syrian crisis. I’m also talking about Iranian policies before that; because the current policy is a continuation of the policies of Imam Khomeini who also embodied the adherence to principles. This has been the shape of Iranian policies since the revolution, with one difference only: the fact that they developed continuously to meet the needs of the times. They are based on the same principles but they always have more developed manifestations. In fact Iran’s support to Syria is based on a popular position now; but his imminence, the Supreme Leader, has an essential role through his directives to Iranian institutions; and we are familiar with the details of these directives in terms of the mechanisms of supporting the Syrian institutions in order to support Syria in her ferocious war against terrorism and the countries which support it.
Question 34: How do you define or explain to us this Iranian position in support of the Syrian people during this crisis?
The Iranians are principled and have been loyal to Syria
President Assad: It can be summarized in two words: First, what I said about adherence to principles. The Iranian people are principled. And the second word is loyalty, for the Iranian people have been loyal to Syria which supported Iran when it went through war for eight years. That war had the same objectives which they want to achieve in Syria today, but in a different form, using different tools and under different international circumstances. The Iranian people and leadership have not forgotten Syria’s position at that time. When most countries of the world tried impose sanctions against Iran, Syria was, I don’t want to say the only state, but one of the few states which stood by Iran, but it was the clearest in its position.
Today, whenever we meet any Iranian individuals they talk about Syria’s role at that time. Today, Iran pays back loyalty with loyalty, truthfulness and transparency. On the other hand, the Iranian people have a certain vision and a certain methodology which actually led you to the nuclear deal. When you see things clearly, enemies and opponents cannot deceive you. This vision for the region in general, including Syria, and including Iran’s future and also the future of the region is very important for the stability which we seek in the coming decades.
These characteristics are very important, and I talked a short while ago about patriotism, about the patriotic model provided by the Iranian people. I cite a simple example: when they started their attempts to stir unrest in Iran, it was the first country in which they wanted to implement the regional model through the 2008 elections. I met a number of European officials who told me that the Iranian state will fall soon. Of course they say “regime” and not “state”, because they do not recognize our states or peoples. I used to say no, these movements will fail. And Iran, the Iranian society, people and state were able to isolate this limited attempt, and all other attempts failed. Unfortunately, this succeeded in other countries of the region. These are patriotic models: the Iranians uniting around the nuclear file despite the different political currents in Iran. There are national issues around which you unite. I believe that all these attributes represent the Iranian people.
Question 35: Recently, there was a human disaster in Mina. The Saud clan government evaded stating the truth and tried not to uncover the facts. How do you describe this irresponsible Saudi behavior?
The Hajj is not a Saudi event, it is a Muslim and global event
President Assad: First of all, I offer my sincere condolences to the Iranian people for this human catastrophe. The chaos we saw in managing the Hajj rituals isn’t the first. Far from the political aspect, there is a difference between having the holy sites within the sovereignty of a state and dealing with these sites as if they were their personal possession. This is a painful incident for many countries of the world which lost their citizens in the incident. At the same time the Saudis have prevented the Syrians from making the Hajj for the past four years for purely political reasons, which is very dangerous. That is why the issue of how to manage the Hajj and who manages it started to be discussed throughout the Muslim world. The Hajj is not a Saudi event, it is a Muslim and global event. I believe that this issue needs to be discussed seriously at the level of the Muslim states.
Question 36: Once again, we go back to internal Syrian affairs. The opposition calls for you to step down. If you believe that stepping down will restore security and stability to Syria, what would you do?
President Assad: This is decided only by the people. That is why I say to them: if you believe that you are right why don’t you convince the Syrian people, and the Syrian people will decide, through their institutions or the elections, who the president should be. There were elections last year. Where were you? What did you do? What is your impact on the street? Nothing. Their impact is nothing. Every person who lends his decisions to another country is despised by the Syrian people, and his influence will be zero. He becomes a mere talking head in the media. All those who believe in such a proposition should take part in the elections and try to prove their viewpoints. We have no objection. As for me personally, I say once again that if my departure is the solution, I will never hesitate to do that.
Question 37: This interview will be translated into a number of languages and many members of your opposition will watch this. What is your message to them?
The real opposition is that which belongs to the people
President Assad: The real opposition is that which belongs to the people. If any person is convinced that he opposes the government, we tell him to speak out for the concerns of the Syrian citizens. If you speak out for the concerns, aspirations and desires of this citizen and act in his best interest, he will consider you his representative, and you will have a role in your country whether others wanted that or not. No one can stand against the people. But don’t call yourself a member of the opposition if you are an agent for another country. To be in opposition means to be patriotic. There is no unpatriotic opposition. Any unpatriotic individual is not a member of the opposition, he is a foreign agent.
Question 38: what is your message to the leaders of the countries which oppose you?
President Assad: I ask them to tell their people the truth one day. They always say the truth after they leave politics, because they act for their electoral interests. I tell them briefly: work for your national not electoral interests. Supporting terrorism is not only aimed against our peoples but against yours as well. This terrorism has started to bite back. What you have seen so far is only the beginning or “the tip of the iceberg”.
Journalist: Thank you very much for availing us of this opportunity to talk with you. If there is any other points you want to make, please go ahead.
President Assad: Thank you for coming to Syria; and I would like to send, through you, to the brotherly Iranian people my best greetings and all my love. The main part of the history that will be written in Syria after victory, God willing, will be dedicated to Iran’s support to Syria in all economic, political, and military fields. Thank you once more.
The Syrian army is preparing for offensive actions against Al Nusra and ISIS near the town of Al-Rastan. In the recent interview, the Commander of the 147th Syrian tank brigade said that they coordinate perfectly with the Russian forces providing them intelligence and air support.
According to the government sources, over 450 militants from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and another 250 people wanted by governmental authority have turned themselves into the Syrian Security Forces at the provincial capital of the Dara’a Governorate (Dara’a city). There are no confirmed reports about the reasons of such activity, but anybody can easily suppose why they did this. Meanwhile, the Syrian Air Force struck the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” and their allies from the FSA around the city of Busra Al-Sham.
On Saturday morning, the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces (VKO) targeted the Jaysh Al-Fateh (Army of Conquest) militant group positions in the Idlib Governorate: Mardeij, Ma’arat Al-Nu’man, Jisr Al-Shughour, Saraqib and Sarmeen.
Separately, the Russian Air Force’s destroyed a command-and-control center of Jabhat Al-Nusra at Saraqib.
Russian warplanes conducted a reconnaissance flight above the Al-Ghaab Plains of the Hama Governorate. This could be a feature of the future military activity in this sector.
ISIS has been targeted by the Russian warplanes at the city of Al-Raqqa sector at least 25 times and each time. This includes the Tabaqa Military Airport and Tabaqa National Hospital turned into the ISIS’ primary military base and headquarters in Al-Raqqa.
Recently, the VKO has targeted the terrorist group inside the Deir Ez-zour Governorate. The ISIS positions along the imperative Deir Ezzor-Raqqa International Highway and Al-Mayadeen-Deir Ez-zour Road were destroyed.
The Russian Aerospace Defence Forces has conducted more than 60 flights and bombed over 50 Islamic State targets in three days. According to the Lieutenant General Andrey Kartapolov, head of the Main Operation Directorate of the General Staff of Russia’s armed forces, the strikes have significantly reduced the terrorists’ combat capabilities.
Russia’s decision to use its Air Force in Syria was a necessary step that is essential in order to maintain the balance of power in the Eastern Mediterranean. There is no alternative: Russia’s geopolitical interests dictate to block the Islamic State and other terrorist groups’ advance to the Mediterranean coast. This is not about messianism, although historically St. Petersburg, and later Moscow, have always been sensitive to stimuli coming from the Middle East. Meanwhile, the West is pulling out maps from the archives that date back to the French mandate for Syria and Lebanon (1923-1946). This means that not only the border between Syria and Lebanon is being questioned, but also the Turkish border as well.
Washington, London, Paris and Tel Aviv totally controlled the Syrian crisis – until July 14, 2015. After the Iran deal was signed in Vienna, Tehran then emerged at the forefront of a major game being played over gas supplies, and military activity intensified on the Lebanese-Syrian border. Paris and Tel Aviv saw this move as a challenge and carried out a series of air strikes over Syria in late September. When former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing offers his opinions, he speaks in the spirit of the colonial wars of the 19th century, urging UN forces headed by a French general to be sent to the Arab republic turning President Assad into only a nominal ruler, a dignitary who could be trotted out when needed to bless Paris’s restoration of that mandate. This is rapid progress. The historical figure of General Henri Gouraud leaps to mind, who in 1920 bested King Faisal I of Iraq (a member of the Hashemite dynasty) at the Battle of Maysalun, thus capturing Damascus. Gouraud was so ruthless in his conquest of the Arab Kingdom of Syria that in 1921 he was able to carve out from its vast territory the État de Damas, the État d’Alep, the Alawite State (known as the Sanjak of Latakia), Jabal al-Druze (the Druze State), the Sanjak of Alexandretta (present day İskenderun and the Hatay Province in southern Turkey), and also Greater Lebanon (1920). Those unifications endured, in various incarnations, until 1946, when Paris withdrew its troops under pressure from Arab nationalists.
From a geographical point of view, the French today are operating within their sphere of influence, which was formed as a result of the conference in San Remo in 1920. For this reason, the French air force launched attacks (on Sept. 27) on the oil-rich northeastern city of Deir ez-Zor, where back in 1921 they had set up a military garrison, which was incorporated into a unified Syria in 1946. The French colonial empire, which was buried in 1962 under the rubble of the uprising in Algeria, has not only survived in the minds of the political elite, but is also showing a determination to be reincarnated.
The paradox is that Assad, an Alawite, is not requesting military assistance from Paris, which in the minds of Syrians is a symbol of dyed-in-the-wool European colonialism, but from Moscow. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, but the people of the Middle East have positive memories of Soviet presence in the region. In this sense, the air strikes carried out by the Russian air force on Jabhat al-Nusra & Daesh positions are marking the outlines of the absolutely new post-colonial framework for the Middle East, which was created not through secret diplomacy, but through the good will of Damascus and Moscow. It caused indignation of a vainglorious France. Yet everything is being done in a fully legal manner: Moscow’s actions are supported by a bilateral (with Damascus) Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Assistance. François Hollande cannot hide his resentment, and he is now accusing Assad of wholesale slaughter. And this is not empty rhetoric. Paris is trying to claim that this matter falls under the jurisdiction of 2005’s Resolution on theResponsibility to Protect (R2P), which obliges the UN Security Council to use force against regimes that allow “ethnic cleansing,” “genocide,” or “mass killings.” The French have not lost hope. After all, that gimmick worked with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Russia’s stronger hand in the Middle East is a fact that has already been recognized by the US and Great Britain. Prime Minister David Cameron, who previously maintained an uncompromising position regarding Bashar al-Assad’s hold on power, is now saying the Syrian leader could play a role a “transitional government,” although in public he continues to threaten him with an international tribunal, working in sync with Hollande. The Guardianquoted Cameron as saying that “So far, the problem has been that Russia and Iran have not been able to contemplate the end state of Syria without Assad.”
The Israelis are in an uproar, especially after these words from Putin: “We respect Israel’s interests related to the Syrian civil war. But we are concerned about its attacks on Syria.” Translated from the language of diplomacy, this is a warning. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon retorted, “Israel is not coordinating its operations in Syria with Russia.” He feels that the border between the Jewish state and the Arab Republic is the exclusive prerogative of Tel Aviv. The Kremlin is not contesting this position, which stems from the Israeli vision for the Middle East’s future borders (including Jabal al-Druze). The problem lies elsewhere. Without outside help, would Israel be prepared to survive a political earthquake in the Muslim world?
Sarkis Tsaturyan is the Russian-Armenian historian and international policy analyst. He teaches at the Moscow Peoples’ Friendship University.
Proclamation of the state of Greater Lebanon, Gouraud with Grand Mufti of Beirut Sheikh Mustafa Naja, and on his right is the Maronite Patriarch Elias Peter Hoayek, Sept 1, 1920.
This partial timeline provides evidence that the U.S. government and Obama in particular bear a significant responsibility for the Syrian war and the results of that war. Obama approved elements of CIA plans that go back over 65 years. The CIA meddling is distinct from the Pentagon’s failed plan to train “moderate rebels”, not covered in this timeline.
1940s and 1950s “…if you want to understand the origins of authoritarian rule in Syria today, it is important to go back to the 1940s and the 1950s and see the role the CIA played in that land.” See also here, p. 122: “In the late 1940’s, U.S. policymakers grew alarmed when the Syrian government, bowing to public pressure, refused to let a U.S. oil company build a pipeline through its territory. Washington also found the strong anti-Western sentiment and the large Communist party in the country ominous. Concerned that Syria was ‘drifting leftward’, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) laid plans to overthrow its three-year old civilian government.” CIA operatives met with right-wing military leaders in Damascus to discuss installing a “military-supported dictatorship”.
1947-1948 CIA attempts “to influence the 1947-8 elections by backing right-wing figures in the Nationalist Party…”
March, 1949 CIA sponsors Syrian coup d’etat; CIA directly involved.
1957 CIA and MI6 devise plan to assassinate 3 top Syrian leaders and overthrow the government. “…they planned to use agents provocateurs to launch a series of incidents.” “A ‘Free Syria Committee’ should be funded and ‘political factions with paramilitary or other actionist capabilities’ in Syria should be armed.” [Does this sound familiar?] See also here.
2006-2011 Prior to the onset of the Syrian war, the U.S. stirs up opposition to Syrian government (Assad). An April 18, 2011 article reads “Newly released WikiLeaks cables reveal that the US State Department has been secretly financing Syrian opposition groups and other opposition projects for at least five years, The Washington Post reports.”
March 2011 Daraa violence launches Syrian war. “The Daraa ‘protest movement’ on March 17-18 had all the appearances of a staged event involving covert support to Islamic terrorists by Mossad and/or Western intelligence.” “In Daraa, roof top snipers were targeting both police and demonstrators.” [Notice that this technique also occurred in the Kiev, Ukraine violence.] See also here.
August 18, 2011 Obama says Assad must go. “President Obama and European leaders called Thursday for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign, after months of his violent crackdown on protesters. The rhetorical escalation was backed by new U.S. sanctions designed to undermine Assad’s ability to finance his military operation.”
August 1, 2012 “Obama authorizes secret support for Syrian rebels”. “The full extent of clandestine support that agencies like the CIA might be providing also is unclear.”
October 2, 2013 “The CIA is expanding a clandestine effort to train opposition fighters in Syria amid concern that moderate, U.S.-backed militias are rapidly losing ground in the country’s civil war, U.S. officials said.” “The pace of the CIA program amounts to a trickle into the ranks of opposition fighters, who total about 100,000. U.S. intelligence officials said that as many as 20,000 of those are considered ‘extremists’ with militant Islamist agendas.”
“Those hard-line factions have drained momentum and support from moderate rebel groups. The most prominent Islamist groups, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra, include fighters who have extensive experience from the war in Iraq, have ties to al-Qaeda and have carried out high-profile strikes against Assad’s government.”
April 23, 2014 “The U.S. is providing more arms and training to the moderate rebels in Syria, under a growing secret program run by the CIA in Jordan.” “Skeptics doubt the U.S. effort will help much, given the weakened state of the opposition and the inroads made by al-Qaida fighters. The moderate fighters being supported currently have relatively little influence on the ground.”
Oct. 2, 2015 “The CIA has provided the thousands of fighters it has trained at secret bases in Jordan with communications equipment, intelligence support and arms, including antitank missiles. Those CIA-backed fighters reentered Syria across that country’s southern border with Jordan, but many have made their way into units that are now arrayed north and east of Damascus — areas that have been pounded by Russian strikes over the past several days.”
In my opinion, the most serious U.S. meddling is what the Wikileaks cables reveal, which is the State Department’s organization of domestic opposition to its elected government. This provoked the revolution that started in Daraa, and that provided an opening for radical and armed Muslim elements to enter the battle. Next in importance is Obama’s position that Assad must go, because this guides the entry of the CIA and Pentagon into the war while committing the U.S. to a politically untenable and impossible course of attempting to reconstitute a new government among radical and rival forces if and when Assad falls or rebel forces gain control. Undetermined but significant amounts of arms and training have ended up flowing to ISIS and other radical groups that the U.S. cannot control, and these forces can’t be dislodged without bigger military commitments by the U.S. Neither the CIA’s activities nor the Pentagon’s failed training program have resulted in control over the battlefield or those groups, which have expanded control over Syrian territory.
Why did Obama intervene in Syria? There are four main reasons and they are not mutually exclusive. One reason is “democracy promotion”. This appears again and again in his rhetoric and that of the State department, where “democracy” is taken to mean “rights” among other things. Obama viewed Assad as standing in the way of the Syrian people. Obama’s intention to bomb Syria when he accused Assad of using chemical weapons brought out a version of this position in his concern for violations of international law. Obama has an idea of world order and the U.S. role in enforcing it. Obama’s position on the Arab Spring also showed this democracy promotion concern. The second reason is to thwart Iran in order to maintain U.S. dominance in the region. Related to this is U.S. support for Saudi Arabia and Gulf states who have also supported rebel elements in Syria as well as support for Turkey. The U.S. leads a coalition. The third reason is Israel’s influence in administration circles and on Capitol Hill. The fourth reason is to thwart Russia’s influence in Syria and deny it access to the Mediterranean. This appears to have backfired.
These are all reasons associated with Empire. Maintaining and extending the U.S. Empire is the dominant underlying and unquestioned assumption in all of this and in all of the meddling going on in other countries. It is the idea that American ways are superior and should be extended over the globe to create some kind of world order that’s in some sense vaguely utopian or reaches a kind of ever-progressing ascent to God only knows what. There is no real benefit to us average everyday Americans from any of this government meddling in Syria. We can ascend on our own. We can progress or regress on our own, without such interference. We do not need to bring down Assad and replace him with phantom moderates of the choosing of the State Department, the CIA or a president. We can invent, paint, write and play music, plant and cultivate crops, build dwellings, travel, participate in sports, take recreational drugs, have sex, play computer games, write poetry and do innumerable other activities without notions of empire, foreign meddling, or even progress. Who is to say what anyone is to do but themselves?
Why would I or many sane Americans want to bother with who rules Syria or how they rule it? It’s not my province. It’s none of my business. How in the world can I know whether I’m doing any good if I decide to butt in?
The government doesn’t think this way. It’s composed of people who want to meddle and run for office for that very reason. They are arrogant enough to think that they know what’s good for everyone when they don’t know diddly-squat. Who are they but pompous babbling fools? The CIA attracts smart people who love to work by schemes and subterfuges behind the scenes. These are power freaks who love playing byzantine games and relish manipulations. Why should any sane American want to allow these kinds of people to have access to ungodly amounts of money and power that they waste on their futile and very dangerous schemes that kill, maim and destroy?
The specter of mass protest – of mob rule – seems to have haunted Vladimir V. Putin throughout his political life, and that fear lies at the heart of his belief in the primacy of state authority. It also informs Russia’s forceful intervention in Syria. NYT, 4 October 2015.
The NYT – one of the key spin doctors in spreading falsehoods – knows no limits in manipulating public opinion and demeaning Mr. Putin in Machiavellian fashion with lies and untrue inferences.
What the paper describes in its article titled “In Putin’s Syria Intervention, Fear of a Weak Government Hand”, is just about what the US has been doing in Syria since 2007 with increasing intensity by training, funding and arming terrorists that were given different names ranging from al Qaeda – to al-Nusra – ISIS/L- Daesh… “moderate opposition” – you name it, to please the Washington hegemon’s needs; and this with the objective of achieving ‘regime change’, meaning replacing President al-Assad with a Washington puppet.
All the while hypocritically and deceptively claiming the US / NATO and other European puppets were fighting the terrorists, when in fact America, the Saudis, Qatar, Turkey, NATO and the EU were funding, arming and training them.
The only legitimate intervention on behalf of a foreign country since WWII is Russia helping Syria since 30 September 2015 in eliminating the foreign funded, devastating terrorism, causing human misery and millions of refugees flooding neighboring countries and Europe.
Mr. Putin with the approval of the Russian Parliament, the Duma, agreed to this intervention at the request of the legally and people-elected President al-Assad. The official request of the Syrian Government is one of the two only lawful reasons for a foreign country to intervene in a sovereign nation. The other one is by request of the UN Security Council.
None of the US / NATO interventions in the Middle East and around the world, including economic sanctions, are legal. None of them would stand up in an honest court of justice that deserves its name; is there still one left that is not coerced into defending US interests?
All interventions in foreign countries by the United States directly or by proxy are spreading chaos, destruction and death in the name of ‘democracy’. They have been and continue to be – in its full meaning - illegal and in flagrant violation of the Charter of the UN. They serve only one purpose: for Washington to achieving Full Spectrum Dominance of the world, as outlined by the Zionist-drafted PNAC (Plan for a New American Century) – which is the road map for the US State Department’s Foreign Policy. – NYT and other MSM adherents might want to know this.
After listening to Mr. Obama’s pitiful speech of lies and deceptions before the UN General Assembly on 28 September, followed by that of Mr. Putin – who presented a series of down-to-earth facts, culminating in his conclusion ‘do you realize what you have done‘ – the world at large may have started opening their eyes and minds to the truth. The shrouds of deception, manipulation and outright lies spread by the sorts of the NYT and other MSM will gradually be lifted, giving light to a new dawn, a new horizon away from the NWO (New World Order) towards peaceful cooperation rather than US controlled wars, conflicts and destruction through bombs and financial fraud.
Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik News, TeleSur, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author o
Watching the addresses to the General Assembly of the United Nations by leaders of the major powers was a lesson in the use and abuse of power. The address made to the General Assembly by President Putin on behalf of the Russian Federation contrasted sharply with the address made by President Obama, for the United States. While President Putin emphasized the fact that the international world order and security system depended on the principles set out in the UN Charter, President Obama made the absurd claim that the United States had the right to ignore national sovereignty in order to “restore security” for peoples of nations oppressed by what it labelled “tyrants” and echoed the Bush doctrine that it would act alone or with its allies to accomplish these objectives, come what may.
Obama once again accused Russia of aggression in Crimea and Ukraine, accused Iran of sponsoring terrorism in the middle east, accused China of violating international law in the South China Sea, blamed Cuba and its people for the American imposed trade embargo for not “cooperating” with the United States and once again called for President Assad of Syria to be removed. He reiterated the claim that the United States had the right to impose its illegal sanctions where it saw fit and claimed, in an astonishing reversal of history and fact, that the United States has kept the peace in the world since the United Nations was founded.
President Obama gave the impression of an edgy street punk, intimidating everyone with his cock of the walk bravado and the threat of American military power unless we all “cooperated” with the United States. He talked of “terrible conflicts” throughout the world in the past seventy years, but never stated that the United States was the instigator of most of them, and claimed to have prevented a third world war when it is the United States that has threatened it many times in the past and, with the new threat of placing advanced nuclear weapons on German territory, threatens it now. He bragged about the cost imposed on those who chose to resist American hegemony instead of cooperating with it and claimed, with a straight face, that the order imposed by America had brought dignity and equal work for all people in the world but forgot that the one per cent have all the money while the rest of us do all the work
Obama shifted the blame for the refugee crisis from his government that caused it to “strong men.” Clearly the crisis, according to him, is the fault of Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gadhafi, and President Assad, for forcing the American government to attack them. Such is the surreal logic used by the Americans to justify the unjustifiable. He then made several references to control of the media, oppression of political opponents, and control of access to information, as a swipe at Russia even though these are things that are happening in America and Europe. Then he tried to justify the use of illegal sanctions against Russia by claiming it was working and causing hardship for the nation and that Russians were leaving the country as a response. He seemed oblivious to the slap in the face he delivered to the UN as he said these words since unilateral sanctions are a violation of the UN Charter. But it is more likely that the contempt shown by these words was openly and deliberately defiant of the UN and all it stands for.
President Putin, to the contrary, rejected this false history and false presentation of the causes of the current world crisis and put the blame squarely on the doorstep of the United States and its NATO allies where it belongs. He began by reminding everyone that the concept of the UN arose at the Yalta meeting in Crimea during the fight against Hitler and that the UN has a long history in trying to prevent conflict. He recognised that the Americans and their allies complain of inefficiencies in the UN, which really means that they complain when they don’t get their way, but emphasised that differences in views were recognised as inevitable from the creation of the UN and that the veto power was necessary to guarantee that no single power could dominate the rest. He also reminded everyone of the fact that the US and its allies have long used the veto when their interests were concerned and that any nation that bypasses the UN or violates the UN Charter acts illegally, and outside international law. He added that the American claim to all world power after the end of the Cold War, if acceded to would result in a world dominated by selfishness, by ditkats instead of equality, democracy and freedom and a world where independent states would be replaced by de facto protectorates.
In distinct contrast to the American position that state sovereignty does not exist, he reaffirmed the fundamental principle of international law that state sovereignty is essential for the free development of a nation and its peoples. He illustrated his point with the examples of US aggression in the Middle East and North Africa where chaos and catastrophe for the peoples of those countries are the consequence, instead of stable governments, and which aggression resulted in the rise of Islamic state and other terrorist groups that were created by the west as tools to be used against secular states under attack. He accused the west of hypocrisy in dealing with the refugee crisis while at the same time financing and supporting Islamic State and other groups. He reiterated that no one but President Assad’s armed forces and the Kurd militia are really fighting these groups.He stressed that Russia does not have ambitions of any type but stated that “we can no longer tolerate the current state of affairs in the world.”
To deal with the current crisis in the Middle East he proposed the creation of a broad anti-terrorist coalition similar to the anti-Hitler coalition. He also called on the cooperation of the Islamic nations and religious leaders to help in this struggle against the common enemy and stated that statehood must be restored where it has been destroyed, and military, economic and material assistance provided to countries in difficult situations, and that this must be done in accordance with the UN Charter and international law. In this regard he made special mention of Libya, Iraq and Syria.He stressed the need for global security and condemned the expansion of NATO after the Cold War, and the false choice presented to the east bloc countries by America of being either with the west or with the east and stated correctly that this aggressive logic had sparked the geopolitical crisis in Ukraine where popular discontent was used by the west to stage a military coup from outside that triggered a civil war. He reiterated Russia’s support of the Minsk Agreements of February 12, 2015 as the only way out of the crisis and underlined that the interests and rights of the peoples of the Donbass region must be take into account and respect given to their choices and that all steps taken by the Kiev regime must be coordinated with them.
He then shifted focus to another reality of the struggle for power in the world, the economic front and insisted that there must be a common space for economic cooperation using the World Trade Organisation principles of free trade, investment and open competition but the Americans are trying to bypass the WTO now and are trying to set up separate and secret structures such as the Trans Pacific Partnership project which Obama had bragged about. He also denounced the use of unilateral sanctions as a violation of the UN Charter and stated that they are being used not only to apply political pressure but also to eliminate economic competitors. These trends can unbalance the trade system completely and cause the disintegration of the global economic space. Russia, on the other hand, proposes harmonising regional economic projects, what he called the “integration of integrations”, based on universal and transparent rules of international trade. He made a point of citing the plans to connect the Eurasian Economic Union and China’s Silk Road Economic Belt and called for their further integration with the European Union.
Finally, while Obama paid lip service to the problem of climate change in his address, he made no concrete commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Chinese proposed that they would reduce their emissions by 40% over 2005 levels. Putin topped that with a promise to cut them by 75% over 1999 levels by 2030. But he went further by calling for fundamentally new technologies inspired by nature and for industrial development to be in harmony with nature in order to restore the balance between human activity and nature and called or a special UN forum to tackle climate change and stated that Russia is ready to co-sponsor such a forum.
So, there we have the world situation expressed in the speeches of these two men; Obama, for the United States, claiming the right to act on its own, to enforce its will with military might wherever it is resisted, to secure economic advantages for itself at all costs, all based on a refusal to treat every nation as equal and sovereign; and, President Putin, calling for a strict adherence to international law, for common efforts against terrorism and threats to peace, for integrated economic cooperation, all based on the principles of national sovereignty and the dignity of nations and peoples. The conflict has been clearly delineated. The lines have been drawn. We all wait to see how this fundamental conflict will be resolved.
The Welsh Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, Rebecca Evans, has announced that the country will take advantage of new EU rules allowing countries to opt out of growing EU-authorized GM crops. Yep – Wales is moving forward with a complete ban on biotech’s seed! 
Evans says that the nation plans to ban GM corn as well as 7 other GM crops authorized by the EU. She states:
“These new rules proposed by the European Commission provide Wales with the necessary tools to maintain our cautionary approach by allowing us to control the future cultivation of GM crops in Wales. It will allow us to protect the significant investment we have made in our organic sector and safeguard the agricultural land in Wales that is managed under voluntary agri-environment schemes.”
“Farming and food processing businesses remain the driving force of our rural economy. Our emphasis is on competing on quality, strong branding and adding value through local processing. We, therefore, need to preserve consumer confidence and maintain our focus on a clean, green, natural environment. By having the ability to control what is grown in Wales we can have confidence in preserving these values. I have therefore acted now to ban the eight GM varieties from being grown in Wales that are either approved or about to be approved for cultivation in the EU.
These crops have not been developed for Welsh growing conditions and would be of no real benefit to Welsh farmers at this time. I will of course keep this position under review and am keeping an open mind on future GM developments and more advanced genetic techniques.”
Meanwhile, in the US, Food Democracy Now has reported that the Senate Agriculture Committee has scheduled a hearing less than three weeks away — on Wed. Oct 21st, to try to pass its version of the DARK ACT, 1599. The House passed the DARK act in July; the act outlaws states’ rights to label GMOs. Forget bans in the US, we can’t even get correct labeling, thanks to Monsanto!
With the string of EU Countries banning GMOs, soon we’ll have to report on the stragglers who haven’t banned genetically modified organisms.
Image: Ukrainian Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko.
The U.S. government is missing – or withholding – audit documents about the finances and possible accounting irregularities at a $150 million U.S.-taxpayer-financed investment fund when it was run by Ukraine’s Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, who has become the face of “reform” for the U.S.-backed regime in Kiev and who now oversees billions of dollars in Western financial aid.
Before taking Ukrainian citizenship and becoming Finance Minister in December 2014, Jaresko was a former U.S. diplomat who served as chief executive officer of the Western NIS Enterprise Fund (WNISEF), which was created by Congress in the 1990s with $150 million and placed under the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to help jumpstart an investment economy in Ukraine.
After Jaresko’s appointment as Finance Minister — and her resignation from WNISEF — I reviewed WNISEF’s available public records and detected a pattern of insider dealings and enrichment benefiting Jaresko and various colleagues. That prompted me in February to file a Freedom of Information Act request for USAID’s audits of the investment fund.
Though the relevant records were identified by June, USAID dragged its feet on releasing the 34 pages to me until Aug. 28 when the agency claimed nothing was being withheld, saying “all 34 pages are releasable in their entirety.”
However, when I examined the documents, it became clear that a number of pages were missing from the financial records, including a total of three years of “expense analysis” – in three-, six- and nine-month gaps – since 2007. Perhaps even more significant was a missing paragraph that apparently would have addressed an accounting irregularity found by KPMG auditors.
KPMG’s “Independent Auditors’ Report” for 2013 and 2014 states that “except as discussed in the third paragraph below, we conducted our audits in accordance with auditing standards generally accepted in the United States of America,” accountant-speak that suggests that “the third paragraph below” would reveal some WNISEF activity that did not comply with generally accepted accounting principles (or GAAP).
But three paragraphs below was only white space and there was no next page in what USAID released.
Based on the one page that was released for 2013-14, this most recent audit also lacked the approval language used in previous audits, in which KPMG wrote: “In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements … present fairly, in all material respects, the consolidated financial position of Western NIS Enterprise Fund and subsidiaries.” That language was not in the 2013-14 analysis, as released by USAID.
The KPMG report for 2013-14 does note that “The [audit] procedures selected depend on the auditors’ judgment, including the assessment of the risks of material misstatement of the financial statements, whether due to fraud or error. … An audit also includes evaluating the appropriateness of accounting policies used and the reasonableness of significant accounting estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall presentation of the financial statements.”
That page then ends, “We believe that the audit evidence we have obtained is sufficient and appropriate to provide a basis for our audit opinion.” But the opinion is not there.
After I brought these discrepancies to the attention of USAID on Aug. 31, I was told on Sept. 15 that “we are in the process of locating documents to address your concern. We expect a response from the bureau and/or mission by Monday, September 28, 2015.”
After the Sept. 28 deadline passed, I contacted USAID again and was told on Oct. 2 that officials were “still working with the respective mission to obtain the missing documents.”
Yet, whether USAID’s failure to include the missing documents was just a bureaucratic foul-up or a willful attempt to shield Jaresko from criticism, the curious gaps add to the impression that the management of WNISEF fell short of the highest standards for efficiency and ethics.
A previous effort by Jaresko’s ex-husband Ihor Figlus to blow the whistle on what he considered improper business practices related to WNISEF was met by disinterest inside USAID, according to Figlus, and then led to Jaresko suing him in a Delaware court in 2012, using a confidentiality clause to silence Figlus and getting a court order to redact references to the abuses he was trying to expose.
Feeding at the Taxpayer Trough
Other public documents indicate that Jaresko and fellow WNISEF insiders enriched themselves through their association with the U.S.-taxpayer-financed investment fund. For instance, though Jaresko was limited to making $150,000 a year at WNISEF under the USAID grant agreement, she managed to earn more than that amount, reporting in 2004 that she was paid $383,259 along with $67,415 in expenses, according to WNISEF’s filing with the Internal Revenue Service.
Among the audit documents that I received under FOIA, the “Expense Analysis” for 2004 shows $1,282,782 being paid out as “Exit-based incentive expense-equity incentive plan” and another $478,195 being paid for “Exit-based incentive expense-financial participation rights.” That would suggest that Jaresko more than doubled her $150,000 salary by claiming bonuses from WNISEF’s investments (bought with U.S. taxpayers’ money) and sold during 2004.
Jaresko’s compensation for her work with WNISEF was removed from public disclosure altogether after she co-founded two related entities in 2006: Horizon Capital Associates (HCA) to manage WNISEF’s investments (and collect around $1 million a year in fees) and Emerging Europe Growth Fund (EEGF), a private entity to collaborate with WNISEF on investment deals.
Jaresko formed HCA and EEGF with two other WNISEF officers, Mark Iwashko and Lenna Koszarny. They also started a third firm, Horizon Capital Advisors, which “serves as a sub-advisor to the Investment Manager, HCA,” according to WNISEF’s IRS filing for 2006.
According to the FOIA-released expense analyses for 2004-06, the taxpayer-financed WNISEF spent $1,049,987 to establish EEGF as a privately owned investment fund for Jaresko and her colleagues. USAID apparently found nothing suspicious about these tangled business relationships despite the potential conflicts of interest involving Jaresko, the other WNISEF officers and their affiliated companies.
From 2007 to 2011, WNISEF co-invested $4.25 million with EEGF in Kerameya LLC, a Ukrainian brick manufacturer, and WNISEF sold EEGF 15.63 percent of Moldova’s Fincombank for $5 million, the report said. It also listed extensive exchanges of personnel and equipment between WNISEF and Horizon Capital. But it’s difficult for an outsider to ascertain the relative merits of these insider deals — and the transactions apparently raised no red flags for USAID officials, nor during that time for KPMG auditors.
Regarding compensation, WNISEF’s 2013 filing with the IRS noted that the fund’s officers collected millions of dollars in more bonuses for closing out some investments at a profit even as the overall fund was losing money. According to the filing, WNISEF’s $150 million nest egg had shrunk by more than one-third to $94.5 million and likely has declined much more during the economic chaos that followed the U.S.-backed coup in February 2014.
But prior to the coup and the resulting civil war, Jaresko’s WNISEF was generously spreading money around to various insiders. For instance, the 2013 IRS filing reported that the taxpayer-financed fund paid out as “expenses” $7.7 million under a bonus program, including $4.6 million to “current officers,” without identifying who received the money although Jaresko was one of the “current officers.”
WNISEF’s filing made the point that the “long-term equity incentive plan” was “not compensation from Government Grant funds but a separately USAID-approved incentive plan funded from investment sales proceeds” – although those proceeds presumably would have gone into the depleted WNISEF pool if they had not been paid out as bonuses.
The filing also said the bonuses were paid regardless of whether the overall fund was making money, noting that this “compensation was not contingent on revenues or net earnings, but rather on a profitable exit of a portfolio company that exceeds the baseline value set by the board of directors and approved by USAID” – with Jaresko also serving as a director on the board responsible for setting those baseline values.
Another WNISEF director was Jeffrey C. Neal, former chairman of Merrill Lynch’s global investment banking and a co-founder of Horizon Capital, further suggesting how potentially incestuous these relationships may have become.
Though compensation for Jaresko and other officers was shifted outside public view after 2006 – as their pay was moved to the affiliated entities – the 2006 IRS filing says:
“It should be noted that as long as HCA earns a management fee from WNISEF, HCA and HCAD [the two Horizon Capital entities] must ensure that a salary cap of $150,000 is adhered to for the proportion of salary attributable to WNISEF funds managed relative to aggregate funds under management.”
But that language would seem to permit compensation well above $150,000 if it could be tied to other managed funds, including EEGF, or come from the bonus incentive program. Such compensation for Jaresko and the other top officers was not reported on later IRS forms despite a line for earnings from “related organizations.” Apparently, Horizon Capital and EEGF were regarded as “unrelated organizations” for the purposes of reporting compensation.
The KPMG auditors also took a narrow view of compensation only confirming that no “salary” exceeded $150,000, apparently not looking at bonuses and other forms of compensation.
Neither AID officials nor Jaresko responded to specific questions about WNISEF’s possible conflicts of interest, how much money Jaresko made from her involvement with WNISEF and its connected companies, and whether she had fully complied with IRS reporting requirements.
Gagging an Ex-Husband
In 2012, when Jaresko’s ex-husband Figlus began talking about what he saw as improper loans that Jaresko had taken from Horizon Capital Associates to buy and expand her stake in EEGF, the privately held follow-on fund to WNISEF, Jaresko sent her lawyers to court to silence him and, according to his lawyer, bankrupt him.
The filings in Delaware’s Chancery Court are remarkable not only because Jaresko succeeded in getting the Court to gag her ex-husband through enforcement of a non-disclosure agreement but the Court agreed to redact nearly all the business details, even the confidentiality language at the center of the case.
Since Figlus had given some of his information to a Ukrainian journalist, Jaresko’s complaint also had the look of a leak investigation, tracking down Figlus’s contacts with the journalist and then using that evidence to secure the restraining order, which Figlus said not only prevented him from discussing business secrets but even talking about his more general concerns about Jaresko’s insider dealings.
The heavy redactions make it hard to fully understand Figlus’s concerns or to assess the size of Jaresko’s borrowing as she expanded her holdings in EEGF, but Figlus did assert that he saw his role as whistle-blowing about improper actions by Jaresko.
“At all relevant times, Defendant [Figlus] acted in good faith and with justification, on matters of public interest, and particularly the inequitable conduct set forth herein where such inequitable conduct adversely affects … at least one other limited partner which is REDACTED, and specifically the inequitable conduct included, in addition to the other conduct cited herein, REDACTED.”
The defendant’s filing argued:
“The Plaintiffs’ [Jaresko’s and her EEGF partners’] claims are barred, in whole or in part, by public policy, and particularly that a court in equity should not enjoin ‘whistle-blowing’ activities on matters of public interest, and particularly the inequitable conduct set forth herein.”
But the details of that conduct were all redacted.
In a defense brief dated Dec. 17, 2012 [see Part One and Part Two], Figlus expanded on his argument that Jaresko’s attempts to have the court gag him amounted to a violation of his constitutional right of free speech:
“The obvious problem with the scope of their Motion is that Plaintiffs are asking the Court to enter an Order that prohibits Defendant Figlus from exercising his freedom of speech without even attempting to provide the Court with any Constitutional support or underpinning for such impairment of Figlus’ rights.
“Plaintiffs cannot do so, because such silencing of speech is Constitutionally impermissible, and would constitute a denial of basic principles of the Bill of Rights in both the United States and Delaware Constitutions. There can be no question that Plaintiffs are seeking a temporary injunction, which constitutes a prior restraint on speech. …
“The Court cannot, consistent with the Federal and State Constitutional guarantees of free speech, enjoin speech except in the most exceptional circumstances, and certainly not when Plaintiffs are seeking to prevent speech that is not even covered by the very contractual provision upon which they are relying. Moreover, the Court cannot prevent speech where the matter has at least some public interest REDACTED, except as limited to the very specific and exact language of the speaker’s contractual obligation.”
A Redacted Narrative
Figlus also provided a narrative of events as he saw them as a limited partner in EEGF, saying he initially “believed everything she [Jaresko] was doing, you know, was proper.” Later, however, Figlus
“learned that Jaresko began borrowing money from HCA REDACTED, but again relied on his spouse, and did not pay attention to the actual financial transactions…
“In early 2010, after Jaresko separated from Figlus, she presented Figlus with, and requested that he execute, a ‘Security Agreement,’ pledging the couple’s partnership interest to the repayment of the loans from HCA. This was Figlus first realization of the amount of loans that Jaresko had taken, and that the partnership interest was being funded through this means. … By late 2011, Jaresko had borrowed approximately REDACTED from HCA to both fund the partnership interest REDACTED. The loans were collateralized only by the EEFG partnership interest. …
“Figlus became increasingly concerned about the partnership and the loans that had been and continued to be given to the insiders to pay for their partnership interests, while excluding other limited partners. Although Figlus was not sophisticated in these matters, he considered that it was inappropriate that HCA was giving loans to insiders to fund their partnership interests, but to no other partners. …
“He talked to an individual at U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Washington D.C., because the agency was effectively involved as a limited partner because of the agency’s funding and supervision over WNISEF, but the agency employee did not appear interested in pursuing the question.”
In the court proceedings, Jaresko’s lawyers mocked Figlus’s claims that he was acting as a whistle-blower, claiming that he was actually motivated by a desire “to harm his ex-wife” and had violated the terms of his non-disclosure agreement, which the lawyers convinced the court to exclude from the public record.
The plaintiffs’ brief [see Part One and Part Two] traced Figlus’s contacts with the Ukrainian reporter whose name is also redacted:
“Figlus, having previously received an audit from the General Partner, provided it to REDACTED [the Ukrainian reporter] with full knowledge that the audit was non-public. Also on or about October 2, 2012, REDACTED [the reporter] contacted multiple Limited Partners, informed them that he possessed ‘documented proof’ of alleged impropriety by the General Partner and requested interviews concerning that alleged impropriety.”
The filing noted that on Oct. 3, 2012, the reporter told Figlus that Jaresko “called two REDACTED [his newspaper’s] editors last night crying, not me, for some reason.” (The Ukrainian story was never published.)
After the competing filings, Jaresko’s lawyers successfully secured a restraining order against Figlus from the Delaware Chancery Court and continued to pursue the case against him though his lawyer has asserted that his client would make no further effort to expose these financial dealings and was essentially broke.
On May 14, 2014, Figlus filed a complaint with the court claiming that he was being denied distributions from his joint interest in EEGF and saying he was told that it was because the holding was pledged as security against the loans taken out by Jaresko. But, on the same day, Jaresko’s lawyer, Richard P. Rollo, contradicted that assertion, saying information about Figlus’s distributions was being withheld because EEGF and Horizon Capital “faced significant business interruptions and difficulties given the political crisis in Ukraine.”
The filing suggested that the interlocking investments between EEGF and the U.S.-taxpayer-funded WNISEF were experiencing further trouble from the political instability and civil war sweeping across Ukraine.
A Face of Reform
By December 2014, Jaresko had resigned from her WNISEF-related positions, taken Ukrainian citizenship and started her new job as Ukraine’s Finance Minister. In an article about Jaresko’s appointment, John Helmer, a longtime foreign correspondent in Russia, disclosed the outlines of the court dispute with Figlus and identified the Ukrainian reporter as Mark Rachkevych of the Kyiv Post.
“It hasn’t been rare for American spouses to go into the asset management business in the former Soviet Union, and make profits underwritten by the US Government with information supplied from their US Government positions or contacts,” Helmer wrote. “It is exceptional for them to fall out over the loot.”
When I contacted George Pazuniak, Figlus’s lawyer, about Jaresko’s aggressive enforcement of the non-disclosure agreement, he told me that “at this point, it’s very difficult for me to say very much without having a detrimental effect on my client.” Pazuniak did say, however, that all the redactions were demanded by Jaresko’s lawyers.
I also sent detailed questions to USAID and to Jaresko via several of her associates. Those questions included how much of the $150 million in U.S. taxpayers’ money remained, why Jaresko reported no compensation from “related organizations,” whether she received any of the $4.6 million to WNISEF’s officers in bonuses in 2013, how much money she made in total from her association with WNISEF, what AID officials did in response to Figlus’s whistle-blower complaint, and whether Jaresko’s legal campaign to silence her ex-husband was appropriate given her current position and Ukraine’s history of secretive financial dealings.
USAID press officer Annette Y. Aulton got back to me with a response that was unresponsive to my specific questions. Rather than answering about the performance of WNISEF and Jaresko’s compensation, the response commented on the relative success of 10 “Enterprise Funds” that AID has sponsored in Eastern Europe and added:
“There is a twenty year history of oversight of WNISEF operations. Enterprise funds must undergo an annual independent financial audit, submit annual reports to USAID and the IRS, and USAID staff conduct field visits and semi-annual reviews. At the time Horizon Capital assumed management of WNISEF, USAID received disclosures from Natalie Jaresko regarding the change in management structure and at the time USAID found no impropriety during its review.”
One Jaresko associate, Tanya Bega, Horizon Capital’s investor relations manager, said she forwarded my questions to Jaresko, but Jaresko did not respond.
Despite questions about whether Jaresko improperly enriched herself at the expense of U.S. taxpayers and then used a Delaware court to prevent disclosure of possible abuses, Jaresko has been hailed by the U.S. mainstream media as the face of reform in the U.S.-backed Ukrainian regime that seized power in February 2014 after a violent coup overthrew democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych.
For instance, last January, New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman cited Jaresko as an exemplar of the new Ukrainian leaders who “share our values” and deserve unqualified American support. Friedman uncritically quoted Jaresko’s speech to international financial leaders at Davos, Switzerland, in which she castigated Russian President Vladimir Putin:
“Putin fears a Ukraine that demands to live and wants to live and insists on living on European values — with a robust civil society and freedom of speech and religion [and] with a system of values the Ukrainian people have chosen and laid down their lives for.”
However, from the opaqueness of the WNISEF records and the gagging of her ex-husband, Jaresko has shown little regard for transparency or other democratic values. Similarly, USAID seems more intent on protecting Jaresko and the image of the Kiev regime than in protecting America tax dollars and ensuring that WNISEF’s investments were dedicated to improving the lot of Ukrainian citizens.
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.
The entire free world wants terrorism defeated. Russia leads the effort to confront it head-on. On October 3,Tass said Russian aircraft conducted over 60 sorties so far, bombing 50 ISIS targets, causing consternation in its ranks. National Defence Control Centre Col. General Andrey Kartapolov said “aircraft have been taking off from the Hmeimim air base (night and day), targeting the whole of Syria.”
Ever since Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the UN General Assembly on 28 September, the spokespersons for the US regime and its propaganda apparatus have tried to present Russia as a nostalgic power seething with envy. Such misrepresentations of current Russian policy and Russian history in the US are not unusual– in fact they have been the rule since 1917. Unlike the US, Russia is not an island whose ignorance and idiocy have been preserved by two oceans separating it from the rest of humanity (except the non-whites and half-whites south of Miami and the Rio Bravo).
Having the BBC herded along with Afghan government troops in heavily armed convoys as they made their way through Kunduz was hardly comforting for the official account. That account suggested that the government was gaining control of a city that had seen fierce Taliban resistance since their daring invasion on Monday.
The UK government has said it intends to change legislation in order to prevent local councils divesting from the arms trade and Israeli human rights abuses. Announcing the plans, a Conservative spokesperson said that “Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, alongside Labour-affiliated trade unions, are urging councils to use their procurement and pension policies to punish both Israel and the UK defence industry.”
With Germany’s largest company by revenue, Volkswagen, deep in damage recovery mode, and the market still unable to decide just how systemic and profound the fallout will be from the emissions scandal which has already cost the job of VW’s CEO and which according to some will impact the GDP of Hungary and the Czech republic as much as -1.5%, many are still trying to determine not if but how many other companies – whether “clean diesel” focused or otherwise – will be impacted by the crackdown on emissions fraud.
The Saudis have backed ISIS and many other brutal terrorist groups. According to sworn declarations from a 9/11 Commissioner and the Co-Chair of the Congressional Inquiry Into 9/11, the Saudi government backed the 9/11 hijackers (see section VII for details).
Indeed, the French terrorists who just murdered the cartoonists in Paris apparently just returned fromwaging war against the Syrian government, where they may – directly or indirectly – have obtained U.S. weapons and training.
A senior officer on the Joint Staff told State Department counter-terrorism director Sheehan he had heard terrorist strikes characterized more than once by colleagues as a “small price to pay for being a superpower”.
Security experts – including both conservatives and liberals – agree that waging war in the Middle Eastweakens national security and increases terrorism. See this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this.
For example, James K. Feldman – former professor of decision analysis and economics at the Air Force Institute of Technology and the School of Advanced Airpower Studies – and other experts say that foreign occupation is the main cause of terrorism. University of Chicago professor Robert A. Pape – who specializes in international security affairs – agrees.
Because 9/11 was the largest terror attack on the U.S. in history – and all of our national security strategies are based on 9/11 – we can’t stop terror until we get to the bottom of what really happened, and which state was behind it.
The Co-Chair of the Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 and former Head of the Senate Intelligence Committee (Bob Graham) said that the Paris terror attack, ISIS, and other terrorist developments are a result of failing to stand up to Saudi Arabia and declassify the 9/11 investigation’s report about Saudi involvement in 9/11:
“Terrorists should be perceived and described as criminals, not holy warriors, and our analysis suggests that there is no battlefield solution to terrorism.”
We, the People, have to stand up and demand that our power-hungry leaders stop doing the things which give them more power … but are guaranteed to increase terrorism against us, the civilian population.
La unipolaridad de Estados Unidos en el sistema financiero mundial se desvanece a paso veloz. Como consecuencia de su miopía política, Washington obligó a otros países a poner en marcha instrumentos de cooperación financiera que abandonan el uso del dólar, así como instituciones multilaterales que ya no se rigen más por las reglas impuestas desde el Departamento del Tesoro.
Es que en definitiva, las finanzas y la moneda se han venido utilizando como instrumentos de política exterior, esto es, como mecanismos de dominación global que buscan socavar tanto a adversarios geopolíticos (Rusia), como a potencias económicas en ascenso (China) que resisten a doblegarse ante el yugo norteamericano.
Ante la imposibilidad de alcanzar sus objetivos estratégicos por la vía diplomática, Estados Unidos se lanza a la guerra financiera,ya sea a través deembargos económicos, ataques especulativos, congelamiento de cuentas bancarias de políticos y empresarios, etcétera.
En abierta violación de los principios del derecho internacional, Washington apunta su artillería contra los países que, de acuerdo con su concepción, integran el denominado “eje del mal”: Corea del Norte, Irán, Siria, Sudán, etcétera. Su modus operandi consiste en estrangular la economía del país en cuestión para promover un cambio de régimen.
Ahora esa misma estrategia se dirige contra el Gobierno de Vladimir Putin. Es que luego de la reintegración de la República de Crimea y la ciudad de Sebastopol a territorio ruso –sustentada en el referéndum celebrado en marzo de 2014–, Estados Unidos, el Reino Unido y Polonia presionaron a la Unión Europea para que expulsara a Rusia de la Sociedad de Telecomunicaciones Financieras Interbancarias Mundiales (SWIFT, por sus siglas en inglés).
Fundado en 1973 en la ciudad de Bruselas, Bélgica, SWIFT es un sistema internacional de comunicaciones que permite a los bancos realizar transferencias electrónicas entre sí. Antes de su puesta en marcha, las entidades financieras se limitaban a comunicarse a través de Télex y sistemas telefónicos bilaterales.
En ese sentido, SWIFT constituye un avance tecnológico de primer nivel, puesto que ha permitido tanto aumentar la velocidad del comercio y la inversión mundiales, así como disminuir los costos de transacción en una escala sin precedentes.
En la actualidad SWIFT es utilizado por 10,500 bancos –sobre todo estadounidenses y europeos– en más de 200 países. En su día de mayor apogeo en lo que va de 2015 procesó 27.5 millones de mensajes de órdenes de pago.
SWIFT es un mecanismo “técnico”, puramente “neutral”, según los magnates de Wall Street y la City de Londres. No obstante, los ataques del 11 de septiembre a las Torres Gemelas sirvieron para que Estados Unidos se inmiscuyera en el sistema de pagos: el Departamento del Tesoro solicita desde entonces “información específica”con la excusa de que “monitorea” los canales de financiamiento de “grupos terroristas”.
De esta manera, con el argumento de que se encontraban inmiscuidos en actividades ilegales se desconectó a los bancos iraníes de SWIFT hace 3 años, situación que puso en aprietos la provisión de crédito a las operaciones de comercio exterior del país persa.
Asimismo, Washington abrió el camino para la intromisión de la Agencia de Seguridad Nacional (NSA, por sus siglas en inglés). Según las revelaciones de Edward Snowden, ‘Follow the Money’ es el nombre del programa especializado de la NSA que se encarga de espiar el sistema financiero global.
El seguimiento realizado por el personal de la NSA desembocó en la construcción de una base de datos, ‘TRACFIN’, misma que en 2011 contenía por lo menos 180 millones de registros de las operaciones entre los bancos, las transacciones con tarjetas de crédito y, por supuesto, los miles de mensajes transmitidos a través del sistema SWIFT.
Por lo tanto, Estados Unidos se hizo del control quasi monopólico del sistema de pagos internacionales para asfixiar a sus rivales. Hasta ahora la desconexión de SWIFT aún no se ha implementado en contra de Rusia por la “falta de autoridad” de las autoridades regulatorias. Pues sí, una cosa es castigar a una potencia regional, y otra muy distinta es entrar en una batalla cara a cara con una potencia mundial.
Con todo, las constantes amenazas de parte de Estados Unidos y sus aliados europeos propiciaron que el Gobierno de Vladimir Putin pusiera en funcionamiento un sistema de pagos alternativo. Es que más de 90% de las operaciones de los bancos rusos son transfronterizas, con lo cual, si se hubiese concretado la expulsión de Moscú del sistema SWIFT las consecuencias sobre la economía mundial habrían sido catastróficas.
Los principales bancos rusos (Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank, Bank of Moscow, Rosselkhozbank, etcétera) realizan ya acuerdos bilaterales y utilizan de lleno el nuevo sistema de pagos, anunció hace unos días Olga Skorobogatova, la vicegobernadora del banco central.
El nuevo sistema de transacciones disminuye el monto de los costos en comparación con SWIFT, y más importante todavía, brinda a Moscú de mayor autonomía política y seguridad económica en caso de una nueva escalada de sanciones. Adicionalmente, la iniciativa rusa detonó la construcción de sistemas de pagos alternativos en otros lugares del mundo.
Por un lado, China está lista para poner en marcha las próximas semanas su propio sistema de transacciones. Por otro lado, los integrantes del BRICS (acrónimo de Brasil, Rusia, India, China y Sudáfrica) se encuentran discutiendo la posibilidad de lanzar un sistema de pagos multilateral, esto es, que no sean sólo Rusia y China los beneficiados, sino que el sistema de pagos realice operaciones entre todos los miembros del bloque.
El plan de contención orquestado desde Washington y Bruselas en contra de Rusia derivó en un ‘efecto búmeran’, pues no sólo no la expulsaron de SWIFT, sino que Moscú construyó un sistema de pagos alternativo que neutralizó por completo los intentos de desestabilización y que, en paralelo, sirve de inspiración para los países del BRICS y muy pronto, también lo será para la mayoría de las economías emergentes.
Hungary is planning to host a NATO command center alongside with other central European and eastern European countries. The center would plan military exercises and coordinate the actions of the Alliance’s rapid deployment forces in the case of emergencies.
The Hungarian government announced that the new command center’s personnel, called a NATO Force Integration Unit, would include 40 officers both from Hungary and other NATO member states with no combat units deployed there.
“Its task in peaceful times is to organize and plan international exercises and, in an emergency, the coordination of the NATO Reaction Force,” the government spokesman’s office told Reuters.
NATO has already created similar command centers in Lithuania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Poland and Romania.
The centers’ task would be in to coordinate the actions of the Alliance’s spearhead force which is to be fully operational in early 2016. The role of the new force will be discussed by the member states’ defense ministers in Brussels on October 8.
On its website, NATO said that the “rapid deployment of allied forces to the eastern part of the Alliance” could be necessary and the new system of command centers could effectively help with that.
At the same time, some eastern European members of the Alliance, such as Poland, would like the NATO spearhead force to focus on deterring a potential Russian offensive amid the growing tensions between Russia and the Western countries.
The new system of command centers in central and eastern Europe will not be the only move in what the Alliance called “assurance measures” launched in response to perceived “challenges” posed by Russia as NATO steps up its military presence along Russia’s borders.
On Friday, the Alliance started month-long military exercises in Lithuania called Baltic Piranha. The war games will witness 500 Lithuanian soldiers join forces with Belgian, American and Luxembourgian troops, with the total number of military involved amounting to some 1,000 soldiers and around 100 pieces of military equipment.
At the same time, the US Air Force is starting preparations to transport B61 nuclear bombs to Germany’s Buchel Air Base, ZDF TV channel reports. The base has already acquired 20 nuclear weapons since 2007, according to the Royal United Services Institute.
The US is currently working on a new variant of the B61, Mod 12, which would be more accurate and have a smaller yield than the third and fourth modifications currently deployed in Europe.
However, the US relies not only on its nuclear arsenal in countering the perceived ‘Russian threat’. It has also prepared for a possible hybrid war with Russia in Europe’s Baltic States, German media reports.
The report by Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (DWN) says all the NATO war games organized in the region by Washington are held with the intent of preparing for various military response scenarios.
The Pentagon has shifted its military thinking when it comes to Moscow, selecting Russia’s direct neighbors in the Baltic region as the battleground, DWN adds. Its plan includes using irregular troops and destabilizing the region via mass rallies as well as cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure.
Russia has repeatedly stated that it sees NATO expansion and constant military activity along its borders as hostile and destabilizing. Additionally, Russia also denounced the US decision to deploy new nuclear arms in Germany as it would disrupt the strategic balance in Europe.
“This is another step and unfortunately it is a very serious step towards increase of tensions on the European continent. Such actions cannot be described as a step towards stronger trust and greater stability,” President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary said.
The Russian Air Force has conducted more than 60 flights and bombed over 50 Islamic State targets in three days, according to Russia’s top armed forces official. He added the strikes have significantly reduced the terrorists’ combat capabilities.
“The airstrikes were being conducted night and day from the Khmeimim airbase and throughout the whole of Syria. In three days we managed to undermine the terrorists’ material-technical base and significantly reduce their combat potential,”Lieutenant General Andrey Kartapolov, head of the Main Operation Directorate of the General Staff of Russia’s armed forces, told reporters on Saturday.
He added that according to Russian intelligence the militants are fleeing the area that was in their control.
“There is panic and defection among them. About 600 mercenaries have left their positions and are trying to reach Europe,” he said.
Washington has notified the Russian Defense Ministry that there were only militants in the areas of Russia’s military operation against IS in Syria, he added. ”The Americans informed us during contacts that there was no one except terrorists in this region,” he said.
“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.
Another bomber on a sortie from Khmeimim has dropped a KAB-500 air bomb on an Islamic State camp near Maarrat al-Numan. It destroyed fortifications, ammunition, fuel and seven units of equipment, Konashenkov said at a media briefing on Saturday.
KAB-500 bombs are accurate to within five meters.
The Russian Air Force has also eliminated a workshop in Idlib province, where terrorists have been mounting large-caliber machine-guns and other heavy armaments on pickup trucks.
Assault aircraft from at Khmeimim airbase have also inflicted airstrikes against terrorist forces near Jisr al-Shughur in Idlib province, destroying vehicle storage depots used for organizing terror attacks.
Regarding the airstrike on a target near Jisr al-Shughur, Igor Konashenkov pointed out, “footage of a huge pillar of smoke indicates a direct hit resulted in the total elimination of the facility.”
Drones stationed at Khmeimim airbase are maintaining “round-the-clock monitoring of the situation in Islamic State’s operation areas,” Konashenkov said.
“All disclosed targets are promptly engaged, regardless of the weather or light conditions,” said the Defense Ministry’s spokesman.
No anti-aircraft activity has been registered within the Russian task force’s sector of interest in Syria.
“No operable air-defense systems have been spotted in the Russian Air Force zone of action in Syria. Nevertheless, all operational flights are being performed with activated defensive onboard [radioelectronic combat] gear,” the spokesman said.
Announcing the plans, a Conservative spokesperson said that “Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, alongside Labour-affiliated trade unions, are urging councils to use their procurement and pension policies to punish both Israel and the UK defence industry.”
The spokesperson continued: “Hard-left campaigns against British defence companies threaten to harm Britain’s £10 billion export trade, destroying British jobs, and hinder joint working with Israel to protect Britain from foreign cyber-attacks and terrorism.”
The proposed amendment to legislation will be aimed at stopping councils from incorporating the concerns of human rights campaigners into their pension and procurement policies.
According to Communities and Local Government Secretary Greg Clark, such a step would be a challenge to “the politics of division.”
The language used by the Conservatives, including the claim that divesting from companies complicit in Israeli atrocities “poison[s] community relations”, mirrors the rhetoric of pro-Israel lobby groups.
Clark added that “divisive policies undermine good community relations, and harm the economic security of families by pushing up council tax.” Cabinet Office Minister Matthew Hancock said: “We will…prevent such playground politics undermining our international security.”
With Germany’s largest company by revenue, Volkswagen, deep in damage recovery mode, and the market still unable to decide just how systemic and profound the fallout will be from the emissions scandal which has already cost the job of VW’s CEO and which according to some will impact the GDP of Hungary and the Czech republic as much as -1.5%, many are still trying to determine not if but how many other companies – whether “clean diesel” focused or otherwise – will be impacted by the crackdown on emissions fraud.
We don’t know the answer suffice to speculate that it will be “many” for one simpler reason: there are dozens of ways to manipulate emissions tests in both the lab and on the road, and with the temptation to “reduce” emissions all too great for management teams laser-focused on boosting profit margins, one can be certain that in this particular case not only is there more than one cockroach, there are dozens.
The chart below from Transport and Environment shows some of the traditional ways in which carmakers manipulate CO2 emissions tests to make their cars appear more efficient:
Worse, according to a follow-up report, it is only a matter of time before far more widespread crackdowns take place within the auto industry where emissions fraud now appears as systemic as that of the global banking sector.
As reported earlier this week, the gap between official test results for CO2 emissions/fuel economy and real-world performance has increased to 40% on average in 2014 from 8% in 2001, according to T&E’s 2015 Mind the Gap report, which analyses on-the-road fuel consumption by motorists and highlights the abuses by carmakers of the current tests and the failure of EU regulators to close loopholes. T&E said the gap has become a chasm and, without action, will likely grow to 50% on average by 2020.
By exploiting loopholes in the test procedure (including known differences between real-world driving and lab simulations) conventional cars can emit up to 40-45% more CO2 emissions on the road than what is measured in the lab. But the average gap between test results and real-world driving is more than 50% for some models. Mercedes cars have an average gap between test and real-world performance of 48% and their new A, C and E class models have a difference of over 50%. The BMW 5 series and Peugeot 308 are just below 50%. The causes of these big deviations have to be clarified as soon as possible.
Greg Archer, clean vehicles manager at T&E, said: “Like the air pollution test, the European system of testing cars to measure fuel economy and CO2 emissions is utterly discredited. The Volkswagen scandal was just the tip of the iceberg and what lies beneath is widespread abuse by carmakers of testing rules enabling cars to swallow more than 50% more fuel than is claimed.”
Greg Archer concluded: “This widening gap casts more doubt on how carmakers trick their customers in Europe to produce much better fuel efficiency in tests than can be achieved on the road. The only solution is a comprehensive investigation into both air pollution and fuel economy tests and all car manufacturers to identify whether unfair and illegal practices, like defeat devices, may be in use. There must also be a comprehensive overhaul of the testing system.”
Who are the biggest European culprits.
The cost: distorted laboratory tests cost a typical motorist €450 a year in additional fuel costs compared to what carmakers’ marketing materials claim, the report finds.
Now multiply that by tens of millions of cars and you get a sense of the potential industry liability, especially since can be absolutely certain Europe’s US carmaking peers are just as guilty of emissions manipulation.
Russia has conducted its first airstrike against ISIL militants in Syria. The Russian Ministry of Defense says the operation took place in the Arab republic’s third largest city of Homs, which is a central link between the interior cities and the Mediterranean coast.
The operation came hours after the Russian Parliament approved the use of the country’s armed forces abroad.
According to Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Ivanov, the decision was made after Syrian President Bashar Assad requested military assistance from Moscow in the fight against terrorism.
While speaking to journalists on Wednesday morning, Ivanov also added that the move does not foresee any ground troop operations.
Russia, Iran, Iraq, and Syria have recently created an information center in Baghdad in order to coordinate the fight against Islamic State. The new center would begin operations in October or November.
Mahdi Nazemroaya, an award-winning author, sociologist and geopolitical analyst, spoke to Sputnik in an exclusive interview about the new center in Baghdad.
“Russia is very serious about fighting ISIL. This isn’t just for Syria or Iraq, it’s for regional security and it has broader international implications. ISIL has made it clear that it’s going to march to other places in the world and it is also a threat to the Russian Federation, specifically the North Caucasus. So this move is to stabilize the region and to keep the Syrian state intact,” Nazemroaya said.
He also went on to explain that this is very different from what the US is doing. He said that ISIL’s strength has not declined under the US’ bombing, nothing has been happening. The move that has been made by Russia, Iranians and the center in Baghdad show that now there will be real action taking place in the Middle East.
“Russia’s actions are absolutely intended to bring stability to Syria. It is vital to note that Russia wants to see Syria intact. It does not want to see Syria as a failed state. It wants to see a sovereign state’s government in place and all the institutions in place, which is the opposite of what the United States has done.”
Nazemroaya recalled the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the US and Britain when they illegally invaded Iraq and the first thing they did was ‘destroy the state’. “They destroyed its institutions and the chaos in Iraq and the rise of ISIL are linked to this.”
The analyst further noted, “The Iranians are also involved in this as they have extended support to the Syrian government. They want to keep Syria intact. They have been providing Syria with military, economic and humanitarian support to Syria. They have extended diplomatic support at various foreign forums as well.”
He also said that China is also interested in neutralizing the ISIL force. “The US bombing campaign has done nothing in the fight against ISIL. It is clear that the US and Turkey have been helping ISIL.”
The analyst further explained how the US has been facilitating ISIL’s actions and why it hasn’t put a stop to their rise when it could.
Syria has been in a state of civil war since March 2011. The country’s army has been fighting various extremist groups, such as the Nusra Front and Islamic State. In mid-2014 the US started an airstrike campaign against ISIL in both Iraq and Syria within the framework of an international coalition.
The entire free world wants terrorism defeated. Russia leads the effort to confront it head-on,
On October 3, Tass said Russian aircraft conducted over 60 sorties so far, bombing 50 ISIS targets, causing consternation in its ranks. National Defence Control Centre Col. General Andrey Kartapolov said “aircraft have been taking off from the Hmeimim air base (night and day), targeting the whole of Syria.”
“In the past three days we have managed to disrupt the terrorists’ infrastructure and to substantially degrade their combat capabilities. Intelligence reports say that militants are leaving the areas under their control.”
“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.”
A powerful precision electro-optical TV-guided KAB-500 air bomb was used against an ISIS location near Maarrat al-Numan, destroying its facilities, weapons, ammunition, fuel and equipment.
Photographic evidence showed major damage and destruction of ISIS targets struck. Drones maintain round-the-clock surveillance of their activities.
“There is panic and desertion among (ISIS) ranks. Nearly 600 mercenaries have abandoned their positions and are making attempts to get out to Europe.”
Lebanon-based Arab satellite television Al Mayadeen reported ISIS forces evacuating areas around their stronghold Raqqa location. Unknown numbers pulled out.
After Russia’s campaign began, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said ISIS and other terrorist groups are being targeted. “These organizations are well known and the targets are chosen in coordination with the armed forces of Syria.”
US media feature willful Pentagon misinformation and Big Lies, including Air Force General Robert Otto claiming Russia is using “dumb bombs,” not laser-guided precision weapons, accusing Moscow irresponsibly of indiscriminate bombing – polar opposite truth.
Claims about Russian air strikes killing civilians are willfully falsified. Targets are carefully chosen to avoid them – unlike how America operates.
Deliberately targeting an Afghan hospital last week, killing and injuring doctors, other medical staff and patients is the latest US atrocity. Calling a willful war crime collateral damage compounds it.
Washington won’t cooperate with Russia in a real war on terrorism for obvious reasons. Waging it undermines its objective, using ISIS and other takfiri terrorist to achieve its strategic aims.
US imperialism turns nations to rubble, set parts of the world ablaze, murders millions, creates enemies, spawns elements like ISIS, then used for imperial advantage.
When is enough enough? America is a global scourge, a serial killer, a neocon-infested monster, waging war on humanity, its mortal enemy – the real evil empire, vital to challenge and stop before it kills us all.
Ever since Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the UN General Assembly on 28 September, the spokespersons for the US regime and its propaganda apparatus have tried to present Russia as a nostalgic power seething with envy. Such misrepresentations of current Russian policy and Russian history in the US are not unusual– in fact they have been the rule since 1917. Unlike the US, Russia is not an island whose ignorance and idiocy have been preserved by two oceans separating it from the rest of humanity (except the non-whites and half-whites south of Miami and the Rio Bravo).
Hence when Julia Ioffe quotes Putin in English except for a single Russian word in her Foreign Policy article, it is more than pedantic. Her point is to reassure the journal’s readership that a single Russian word gosudarstvennik from an approximately 70 minute speech is more important than any of the complete sentences that composed President Putin’s polite but firm indictment of US imperial policy, especially as practiced in the Middle East. However as if to prove that she either has no comprehension of Russian or is simply illiterate, she elaborates:
The same is true when the two men talk about a certain post-war world order. In Obama’s mouth, the phrase evokes certain American ideals, however patchily or hypocritically implemented: human rights, democracy, and the idea that governments serve their people, not the other way around. It is about the democratic peace theory — the idea that democracies don’t go to war with one another. It is a force of progress and, often, progressivism. In Putin’s understanding, however, it is the vessel of a certain brand of standpatter conservatism and, most significantly, statism. Putin, at his core, is a gosudarstvennik, a believer in a strong unitary central government.
In fact, Putin used the term gosudarstvennost’ — the stability and strength of the state — and its linguistic derivatives no fewer than 10 times in his address. And he didn’t use it the way someone like Obama might. Libya’s gosudarstvennost’, Putin said, “was destroyed through the grave violations of U.N. Security Council Resolution No. 1973.” When he spoke about the refugee crisis engulfing the Middle East and Europe, he spoke not of the responsibility of governments to help those in need, he spoke of gosudarstvennost’. “Without a doubt, the refugees need sympathy and support,” Putin said. “But the only way to definitively solve this problem is to restore gosudarstvennost’ in the place where it was destroyed, by strengthening state institutions where they still exist or are being recreated.
Ioffe uses another standard liberal rhetorical device when she insists that “post-war world order” “evokes certain American ideals, however patchily or hypocritically implemented”. She does not explain why precisely anyone but Americans should consider patchy and hypocritical behaviour to bear any connection to ideals, let alone “American ideals”. According to Ioffe Putin is a “statist”, a believer in a strong unitary central government. Of course David Cameron is too. Moreover since the Patriot Act is still in force to assert that the US regime does not advocate strong unitary central government (in the form of the POTUS) is to be on the verge of delirium.
No mention is made of a conspicuous difference between Putin’s speech and Obama’s:
The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure our core interests in the region. We will confront external aggression against our allies and partners, as we did in the Gulf War.
We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world. Although America is steadily reducing our own dependence on imported oil, the world still depends on the region’s energy supply and a severe disruption could destabilize the entire global economy. 
In US jargon “free” anything means the unrestricted ability of US corporations and their allies to extract labour, raw materials and any other resources from any place in the world without interference by the people or governments of countries that may be in possession of them. US “core interests” are just what George Kennan said they were in 1947—everything the US wants to satisfy its gluttonous ruling class, just like the slave labour that made the US from the very beginning. Israel and Saudi Arabia are US allies in the region for this purpose. In sub-Saharan Africa the allies are now Uganda and Rwanda. Human rights and national sovereignty have never been core interests of the US, except to the extent its courts treat corporations as if they were human beings or sovereign entities.
What escapes Ioffe—and is characteristic of most Anglo-American imperial thought on the matter—is that Putin uses the word gosudarstvennost to mean “sovereignty”. Putin has rightly said that the violation of national sovereignty has caused today’s conditions—the post-war order, in which the US claims to be the sole absolute sovereign. That is obvious even with no knowledge of Russian.
In his speech today, Putin spoke of the vital importance of other international bodies, like the G-20 and the World Trade Organisation. But their significance lies in the same basic fact: These bodies allow Russia to use its historic and unparalleled talent at bureaucratic manoeuvrings to punch above its weight…
In other words, Russian policy always has to be subordinated to US policy—because even Russia is not big enough to have its own foreign policy. The Washington Post, in a more diluted form for its semi-literate bureaucratic readership, describes the Russian government’s position as if it were merely the reaction of lower class day children to being spit-balled by the upper-class boarders at some New England prep school. While not everyone expresses such blatant ignorance as former Hewlett-Packard mistress Carla Fiorina, the propaganda experts in the US know that the best way to manipulate public opinion in the US is by maintaining a rigorous “no fact zone” over US airspace.
With even sophomores able to reason the possible consequences of Russia’s intensified support for its long-time ally, Syria, a combination of irritation, condemnation and confusion can be found among the usual suspects who opine in the faux gauche media. Joshua Frank condemns Russia and anyone who supports its action in Counterpunch:
Russia’s latest involvement in the ever-worsening Syrian catastrophe — which has no doubt been fuelled by the U.S. and its regional allies — is being embraced by much of the anti-imperialist Left as a direct confrontation to U.S. intentions in the region. If one is to buy Russia’s propaganda more than Western disinformation, we’d have to believe that Vladimir Putin’s invitation to drop bombs in Syria is solely meant to aid the Syrian Army against the growing threat of the Islamic State. That’s it. It’s a pseudo-peace mission. Get it? Indeed, the Syrian Army is in retreat in much of the country and any help they can get is being welcomed by President Bashar al-Assad, who only controls 20% of the country. Assad needs victories, and he needs them fast. Yet, there is most certainly other geopolitical issues at play that shouldn’t be ignored. 
Frank is one of those closet cold warriors who believe that Columbia has the duty to carry Britannia’s torch throughout the world. He calls Russian statements “propaganda” because the word generates knee jerks throughout the outer party in the US. For Frank “Western disinformation” is obviously nicer, it sounds like “distress” or “distortion”; in the “land of euphemism” it means outright lies. In order to give his rant the quality of America’s favourite masturbatory tactic—even-handedness—he begins with reference to “Two bullshit talks at the UN, one from the leader of the “Free World”, the other from the head of the Russian Federation…” Needless to say the “Free World” has been extinct since 1989 but Frank hasn’t noticed. The point is to reassure readers that no facts will penetrate Left cyberspace if Frank can do anything to prevent it.
In a story by Vijay Prashad, also appearing in Counterpunch but originally published in the Indian journal Frontline, confusion is sown in a discussion of General John Allen’s assessment of the alleged war against ISIS.
Not long after Allen’s strong statement, 50 intelligence analysts who work at the U.S. military’s Central Command formally complained that their reports had been misused. They noted that their own assessments were less rosy than those of the upper administration. The Pentagon’s Inspector General has opened an investigation into these claims. Its spokeswoman, Bridget Serchak, noted: “The investigation will address whether there was any falsification, distortion, delay, suppression or improper modification of intelligence information.” Senior military officials at the Central Command—such as Major General Steven Grove, who ran its intelligence operation—are said to be targets of the investigation. The Central Command would not comment on the allegations. 
The excuse of bad or misused intelligence has been around at least since the US re-invaded Korea in 1951. Then the complaint was how could the Koreans north of the 38th parallel not only cross it by “surprise” but also nearly drive the US military and its Korean lackeys in the South into the Sea of Japan. This story of poor intelligence was repeated in Vietnam too. As a rule the “poor intelligence” song is sung whenever the official policy is faced with embarrassment or there is faction fighting within the ruling elite.
The “Leftist” mouthpiece The Nation, suggests one of the avenues the imperial elite is likely to consider.
On the other hand, Obama is surely correct in his insistence that the Assad regime’s brutality “is not just a matter of one nation’s internal affairs—it breeds human suffering on an order of magnitude that affects us all.” And it’s certainly reasonable for Obama to call for ‘a managed transition away from Assad and to a new leader, and an inclusive government.
The parties to a new peace conference must focus on creative ways to bridge that divide, even as they pursue other steps to de-escalate the conflict. Those interim steps should include support for local cease-fires, like the one recently agreed to in Zabadani and Idlib province. A second step should be deeper cooperation among all nations in stemming recruitment by jihadi extremists, in particular ISIS. A third step is an arms embargo, preferably one agreed to by the UN Security Council. That may seem a distant possibility now, given Russia’s recent steps to buttress its military base in Latakia and increase the flow of arms to Assad’s government, not to mention the continued supply of weapons to rebel groups, whether moderate or jihadi. But an embargo agreed to by Washington, Moscow, and the other P5 nations, as well as the Gulf monarchies, Iran, and Turkey—and applied to all parties, rebels as well as government forces—is an eventual necessity.
The Nation editors support “regime change” provided it is “creative” and has the veneer of diplomacy. The proposed peace conference is a way in which Syria can be dismantled like Yugoslavia under CIA pacifier Richard Holbrooke was at Dayton. To even suggest that the Gulf oil despots, euphemistically called Gulf monarchies, should have anything to say in the restoration of peace and sovereignty in the Middle East is nothing more than the polite form of cynicism that prevails among the glitterati on the Hudson. An arms embargo is one of those old tricks used in Iraq and elsewhere to make sure that only covert weapons supplies to US proxies arrive. The dishonesty of the proposal is apparent by the conspicuous omission of Israel, whose settler-colonial regime has waged overt and covert war against Syria since it was part of Nasser’s United Arab Republic. Since the recruitment of jihadi extremists has been US (CIA) policy, for which Saudi Arabia and the Gulf tyrannies are amply paid, the only party that can stop these recruitments, not to mention training and arming them, is the very foreign policy establishment for which the journal regularly speaks.
The British shadow foreign secretary, Hilary Benn, bane of deceased, serious Left MP Tony Benn, was reported in the Guardian to have said:
Russia needed to ‘urgently clarify what the aims are of its airstrikes in Syria.
‘There is wide international agreement on the threat from Isil/Daesh [Isis], but, while the Russians say that this is who they are targeting, reports from Syria suggest that this is not the case,’ he said.
What has happened in the last 48 hours makes it all the more pressing and important that the British government lead the way in seeking to secure a UN security council resolution to deal with the threat from Isil/Daesh, safeguard civilians, increase humanitarian aid and agree a plan to try to bring peace to the long-suffering Syrian people.’ 
Either Benn does not read or it is not only his ministerial pretension that is in the shadows. Russia has always stated its objectives in Syria quite clearly—ever since Mr Obama threatened President Assad with his “red line”. Unlike the US regime or HM Government and Opposition, the Russian government has consistently respected the letter and the spirit of the UN guarantees to the sovereign integrity of its member-states.
When the US regime subverted the UN Charter by declaring that NATO and OAS were merely “collective self-defence” arrangements—supposedly compatible with the Charter—it abrogated one of the primary terms by which states were encouraged to join this successor to the League of Nations: an end to aggressive war by military alliances. In 1991 and again in 2003 the German government subverted the provisional basic law (de facto constitution) by claiming that military participation in the invasions of Yugoslavia and Afghanistan were ultimately within the NATO framework, although they constituted neither self-defence nor actions within NATO territory at the time.
Wintour continues to confuse the Guardian’s “Left” readership with this thinly disguised regime polemic:
The immediate dilemma facing the UK was whether it would be forced to accept that the price of the ejection of Islamic State from northern Syria was the strengthening of President Bashar al-Assad. Cameron has always insisted that there can be no long-term settlement unless Assad goes, even if he remains during a transition. The Labour frontbench also recognises that Assad is the cause of most deaths in Syria. 
This is not far from the position that Frank intends to give respectability. Since it is clear—but not openly explained—that ISIS cannot be defeated without bombing then the best thing is for NATO to bomb because murdering Assad—Gaddafi-style—is worth killing every Syrian between Nusaybin – Al Qamishli and Damascus. The announcement that the French are joining the bombing can be explained easily—since the conclusion of the secret Sykes – Picot agreement in 1916, France has considered Syria a part of its republican empire. If Assad and the Ba’ath Party are to be vaporised or sodomised, the French elite has at least sentimental reasons to collect their share of the booty a century later.
The Economist, by no means Left but enjoying a large readership among the “outer party” of the Empire, advises the white, middle-class bureaucrats, academics and business people who read it:
Both Kunduz and Russia’s bombing are symptoms of the same phenomenon: the vacuum created by Barack Obama’s attempt to stand back from the wars of the Muslim world. America’s president told the UN General Assembly this week that his country had learned it ‘cannot by itself impose stability on a foreign land’; others, Iran and Russia included, should help in Syria. Mr Obama is not entirely wrong. But his proposition hides many dangers: that America throws up its hands; that regional powers, sensing American disengagement, will be sucked into a free-for-all; and that Russia’s intervention will make a bloody war bloodier still. Unless Mr Obama changes course, expect more deaths, refugees and extremism. 
The myth of the benevolent emperor, soon to be punished for his ill-placed mercy, is a trope that appeals especially to patients with Vietnam Syndrome. The Economist cautiously advises of the risks of coitus interruptus when an empire is in the process of raping a country.
The principal mouthpiece of the US corporate elite, the New York Times, presented the Russian airstrikes in Syria in the style consistent with the feigned objectivity for which the US propaganda flagship is renowned:
Russian aircraft carried out a bombing attack against Syrian opposition fighters on Wednesday, including at least one group trained by the C.I.A., eliciting angry protests from American officials and plunging the complex sectarian war there into dangerous new territory.
Russia’s entry into the Syrian conflict, foreshadowed by a rapid military build-up in the past three weeks at an air base in Latakia, Syria, makes the possibility of a political settlement in Syria more difficult and creates a new risk of inadvertent incidents between American and Russian warplanes flying in the same area. And it adds a powerful but unpredictable combatant to a civil war that has already resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and a flood of refugees.
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia justified his country’s entry into the conflict by saying that Russia was acting “preventatively, to fight and destroy militants and terrorists on the territories that they already occupied, not wait for them to come to our house.”
This article is riddled with deception. First of all the modifier “at least one group trained by the CIA” suggests that CIA-trained groups, of which ISIS/ ISIL is entirely composed, are distinguishable, “good CIA” and “bad CIA”. What could the “dangerous new territory” be? Syria is not the Netherlands, known to have expanded its national territory with land drained using dikes. Then the Times refers to a build-up at an air base. The reader is not told that the Latakia air base has been maintained by Russia since the days of the Soviet Union. The Latakia base and its naval station in Tartus have all the legitimacy of USAFB Ramstein, Germany or the USN Sixth Fleet station in Naples, Italy. To call Russia unpredictable is simply mendacious given the consistency with which Putin has always announced his government’s intentions and actions well in advance of implementation. The Times editors—who are intimately connected to the US national security establishment know very well that since Brzezinski replaced Kissinger in the National Security Council, Muslim militants and terrorists have been a major instrument for attacking Russia.
In fact were pundits like Joshua Frank to write what they really mean—and what many of the faux gauche in the US and UK believe—they would admit that they share the ambitions of the US regime to maintain their empire’s exceptional privilege in the world. Their quandary is namely that of speaking from both sides of their mouth while chewing the lies they have been regurgitating for decades.
So what is the real story that has the imperial establishment in a state of apparent panic? I propose the following explanation—just based on what ordinary people with some historical memory can construct.
Ever since the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 by CIA-trained mercenaries, the bulk of US wars have been conceived and managed at Langley. This was also the case with Vietnam as I argued in my essay (attached just for ease of reference). The regular US military provides a screen for these wars. At least that is Langley’s intention. After Vietnam there were in fact many regular military who were highly averse to fighting CIA wars (although not opposed to wars themselves, like in Iraq.) This led consecutive POTUS to increase the appropriations for so-called Special Operations forces. These irregulars dress like US military but are essentially nothing more or less than the US equivalent of the Waffen SS. They operate under direct political command structures that are more frequently than not completely distinct from the legislated chain of command. They wear regular uniforms in public in part to conceal their irregular role and also to promote an illusory “super-soldier” competence in the regular armed forces that is simply absent.
There are only two regular military forces active in the Middle East under “normal” US command, the US fleets in the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean. The rest, especially after the draw down in Iraq, is under the control of Langley, either directly or through Israel/ Saudi Arabia or SOC.
The recent push by the CIA forces in Syria is essentially a copy of the Vietnam bombing campaigns intended to depopulate the countryside and create “free fire” zones. The refugees serve two purposes; one is to create a space between Turkey and Damascus where Syrian forces can be destroyed with impunity (like the gap between Benghazi and Tripoli) and two, to provide the justification for “humanitarian bombing” campaigns. This strategy against Assad relies upon the deniability of the ISIS and the illusion that “moderate opposition” is actually Syrian. (Recall the problems the US regime (CIA) had in creating a “third force” in Vietnam.) Since ISIS is a mercenary army with little or no Syrian participation it cannot be treated as part of the “opposition” to Assad which the US regime claims justifies its war.
It is very important to remember that every CIA war has at least three basis components:
a) the covert policy target: e.g. overthrow of Assad;
b) the exploitation of the covert economy: weapons, drugs/ contraband, and shadow finance;
c) the ideological/ political manipulation of the “white” population (US and/ or Europe). This means that the covert policy target may enjoy support of different regime factions.
At the same time obtaining the covert policy objective may have little or nothing to do with the Company’s main business– profiting from the covert economy and regulating it on behalf of the sectoral executive management (e.g. illicit drugs and the pharmaceutical industry). Moreover ideological manipulation of “whites” in Europe frequently poses different problems than the rather simple strategies needed to manipulate the US population. In the present case there are several levels at which internal policy conflicts can arise within the Company which are then magnified when tabled with the interests of other factions in the US ruling class.
Now shift to Russia (and apparently China). Putin has made clear on numerous occasions that he does not support separatism in the Ukraine or pseudo-Islamic terrorism in states bordering Russia. Putin is a staunch defender of national sovereignty (something utterly foreign to US/ CIA doctrine). Until now Washington has relied on the propaganda and sanctions against Russia, as well as pressure in the Ukraine, to keep Putin’s government divided. (He has to contend with those USD billionaires inherited from Yeltsin, too.) Putin sees– correctly– the strategy behind the sudden flow of refugees to Europe. If the CIA is allowed to do to Damascus what they did to Tripoli, any action to preserve Russian presence will become untenable.
The overdue decision to intervene and actively support Assad is based on the general knowledge– reiterated in his UN speech– that the Syrian army is competent and battle-worthy but needs support against the covert warriors. Putin knows that the US is not bombing ISIS but bombing Syrian infrastructure and military. (Evacuating the population helps keep this fact concealed.) If Putin actually destroys the ISIS bases and creates the shield the Syrian army needs to mop up, then the CIA will lose this war and even worse, Russia may produce all the smoking guns needed to show everyone whose war it is.
Ideally the CIA would like to have Russia forced to restrict its operations to NATO rules (essentially grounding them). Russia won’t accept that. So now the question for Langley is: can they get a USAF shield in place to prevent Russia from neutralizing their mercenaries (to use a CIA term)? That would risk a real war, which the regular US military would have to fight (from a considerable disadvantage). Or do they sacrifice the ISIS and help kill them off so that they remain deniable assets– while perhaps evacuating and regrouping them in Saudi Arabia or Turkey. Turkey is a risky place to hide them. Evacuating them under cover of refugee streams will save manpower but brings a number of other problems (especially in Europe).
So the folks in Washington are not “numbskulls”– just incredibly vicious. There is an understandable fight over who is responsible for the policy in the Middle East now. The CIA has never willingly conceded its prerogative to make foreign policy (after all it is the organisation closest to the Business elite that runs the country.) However it depends on all sorts of regular military and political assets to impose its strategy and implement its decisions. That is the core of ambiguity and “confusion” in Washington, a struggle among the factions (in which the psychopaths in Tel Aviv play no small role, as the principal US offshore enterprise.)
I confess, as I have argued elsewhere in these pages, that the primarily white male supremacist establishment on both sides of the Atlantic are still embarked on the war-driven campaign for global domination begun by Britain in the 19th century. While David Cameron wants to recreate himself as a 21st century Palmerston and imagines he is fighting Russia like in 1853, the folks who run Langley hope—“they can” perpetuate the role they assumed when Britain was ruined in 1918. Generations of white imperialists, whether Progressive, Fabian or Tory, cannot bear the thought that Asia—Russia and China—could restore some semblance of the global equity that the United Nations promised seventy years ago and Anglo-American atomic bombs and mercenaries have obstructed since 1945. It is not Russia that suffers from nostalgia and obsessive delusions of global grandeur.
 General John Allen USMC (retired), in addition to his rank in the US Empire’s traditional storm troopers, is a graduate of the National Defense Intelligence College. The mission of the college is to be the center of academic life for the intelligence community—will help shape graduates who address the range of mission challenges as a fully integrated community, and encourage lifelong learning as they continue to serve this nation.” It must be remembered that “intelligence community” is the official euphemism for the US enormous political warfare organisation.
 The Nation is effectively the flip side of its nominal nemisis National Review, started by CIA alumnus W F Buckley. Run by “OSS diapers” like CFR member Ms K Vanden Heuvel, The Nation features the opinions of the “Reform liberal” (and Democratic Party) wing of the US national security establishment. http://www.thenation.com/article/the-syria-crisis/
 Hilary Benn (b. 1953) is the second son of deceased Labour MP and minister Tony Benn (1925 -2014). In a reported conversation with Tony Benn about the right-wing views of socialist Ralph Miliband’s (1924-1994) two sons (David and Edward, who are both senior members of the British Labour Party), he was to have lamented that he had the same problem with one of his sons.
 The town is one of the Turkey – Syria border towns still under control of the Syrian government.
 “Outer party” is the term Orwell used in 1984 to refer to the class of imperial functionaries that Noam Chomsky has said are the most heavily propagandised segment of the population, needed for maintenance of the empire at home.
 Henry Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (1784-1865), British prime minister when Britain and France defeated Russia in the Crimean War. He was also prime minister during the greater part of Britain’s Opium Wars against China. In that sense, like Cameron today, played a major role in the maintenance of Anglo-American control of the global narcotics trade. Today British forces protect the opium industry in Afghanistan along with the CIA assets, covered by the ISAF.
Having the BBC herded along with Afghan government troops in heavily armed convoys as they made their way through Kunduz was hardly comforting for the official account. That account suggested that the government was gaining control of a city that had seen fierce Taliban resistance since their daring invasion on Monday.
The chaos has now been compounded by an airstrike by US forces that ended up killing nine members of Médicins san Frontières and six patients, while also wounding 37 others. As the organisation stated, “At 2:10 am (20:40 GMT) local time… the MSF trauma centre in Kunduz was hit several times during sustained bombing and was very badly damaged.” The overworked centre had treated 394 patients, a problem compounded by the recent fighting.
According to US military sources, “there may have been collateral damage” to the medical facility. “This incident is under investigation.” A statement issued by the office of the President Ashraf Ghani said that Army General John Campbell, chief of US-led forces in Afghanistan, apologised.
Such instances of formality tend to be the crude outcomes of what is already certain. In this instance, the only force capable of conducting such a strike would have to have been associated with the bolstering coalition.
Some members of the MSF facility had been critical of the Ghani administration’s conduct of operations in Kunduz. One of the critics counted among the fatalities was Dr. Ehsan Osmani, a 25 year old doctor who was on one of his finals shifts at the Kunduz facility.
The picture looks even uglier given the attempts by the organisation to persistently ring NATO and contacts in Washington to warn them as the bombs rained for “nearly an hour”. MSF Afghanistan representatives reiterated the position that, “in all conflict contexts, these precise locations were communicated to all parties on multiple occasions over the last months, including most recently on 29 September.” Once in train, the machine of death can be a hard one to stop.
To add suitable propaganda value to the event, Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid made mileage out of condemning this “attack carried out on innocent people.” On that score, his assertion was hard to counter.
The interminable conflict in Afghanistan between government forces and those of the Taliban continues. Documents have been circulating from such bodies as the Institute for the Study of War suggesting that the US mission in Afghanistan needs revision. This warning is drearily familiar: a failed mission that needs persistent tinkering in order to avoid the obvious point of defeat. The consequence of such reasoning never changes: the occupation force should linger in a various guises, be it in a combative, advisory role, or both. Then comes the pressure to reverse decisions, and increase troop totals that were originally slated for the chop.
In February 21, 2015, the then newly appointed Defence Secretary Ashton Carter openly considered slowing down the withdrawal time table and “rethinking the US counter-terrorism mission.”
The vast, vacuous wound of history that is Afghanistan continues to draw imperial forces in with impeccable consistency. Initial plans to cut the number of US troops have been altered – the previous plan was reducing the number to 5,500 by the end of the last year. The ISW makes the obvious point that the “Afghan National Security Forces face numerous challenges in 2015 that may significantly hinder their capacity to assume responsibility for their country’s security.”
The very fact that the Taliban managed to nab Kunduz was ominous – it was the first major Afghan city to fall into their hands since 2001. It also trumpets, rather loudly, the realities that face the frazzled regime in Kabul – the Taliban have time on their side, consolidating their position in remote areas while still gathering pace to strike at more urban centres.
A striking point in Taliban strategy is their efforts to engage in institution building within various areas of contention, something that should be the preserve of the Kabul government.
In the meantime, the swaddling clothes are still well and truly on the being that is Ghani’s regime. His army has what overly technical strategists term “capability gaps”, hence the continued need for coalition buttressing via air support and external expertise.
The false accounts and skewed narratives about repelling contenders for the carcass that is the Afghan state do, however, continue. In the vast echo chamber of Twitter, individuals such as Sweden’s former prime minister and self-proclaimed “entrepreneur of future and peace” Carl Bildt can only see minutiae on the battle field, incremental gains that suggest that things are capital when they are actually disastrous. “Good news” came his message on October 1, “Afghan government forces making advance in efforts to retake Kunduz.” The persistent NATO-US presence suggests how fragile the state of affairs is.
If that presence entails bungled attacks on the only trauma centre in Kunduz, then the foreign advisors might as well hand in their resignations and exit the inglorious episode of a failed occupation that refuses to go away.
Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: [email protected]
A new contract being imposed on junior doctors makes a mockery of their dedication and hard work, explains Dr Tomasz Pierscionek
Marx and Engels, in 1848 pamphlet “The Communist Manifesto”, had much to say on how capitalism had reduced the status of skilled professionals. “The bourgeoisie,” they write, “has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers.”
These prescient words remain relevant. During the 1980s Margaret Thatcher employed the wealth and muscle of the state against the unions. David Cameron seeks to continue in her footsteps to break the backs of the working class and its defenders and roll back years of hard-won rights using austerity as an excuse to implement the neoliberal ideology he shares with his mostly wealthy supporters.
We are told that we are all in it together but some are, of course, more in it than others. The British Medical Association (BMA), representing over 156,000 doctors, is now the facing the consequences of such “austerity.”
In October 2013 talks began between the BMA’s junior doctors committee (JDC) and NHS England — an “executive non-departmental public body of the Department of Health” — to negotiate a new contract for junior doctors for the first time in 13 years.
Negotiations broke down a year later after the JDC felt the government’s proposals would adversely affect doctors’ working patterns and thus place patient care at risk. The British government then asked the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) to make recommendations pertaining to new contractual arrangements.
The DDRB published a report in July 2015 which favoured the government’s proposals. The JDC subsequently sought its members’ views and, after 99 per cent of 4,500 doctors responding to a BMA poll said the DDRB’s recommendations were unacceptable, decided on August 13 not to re-enter negotiations.
Consequently, the British government announced that in August 2016 it would impose a new contract on 56,000 junior doctors in England. The Scottish and Welsh governments have stated they will not impose a new contract on junior doctors while the Northern Ireland Assembly is yet to reach a decision.
In brief, the proposed contract would appear to adversely affect junior doctors’ salaries with some expected to receive an overall pay cut of up to 30 per cent. It does this by redesignating some unsociable hours (considered to be 7pm-7am on weekdays and weekends) as sociable, making 7am-10pm Monday to Saturday “normal working time” and thus eliminating the on-call supplement doctors earn when they work those hours.
Doctors who work part-time, take maternity leave or take time out of clinical practice to perform research would also lose financially. Patient care would be placed at risk as the new contract would abolish financial penalties for trusts that breach regulations preventing junior doctors from working excessively long hours.
A number of royal colleges, including the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Royal College of General Practitioners, have issued statements voicing their concerns. The Psychiatric Trainees’ Committee within the Royal College of Psychiatrists has publicly expressed its concerns about the proposed contract’s implications. The BMA’s JDC is developing plans to resist its imposition. The BMA council has decided to support the JDC in undertaking any lawful action in its fight for a fair contract. This weekend the JDC voted to ballot its English members in England for industrial action.
Junior doctors should be sent their ballot papers in the next few weeks.
Taking industrial action is a decision that doctors do not make lightly — it last occurred in 1975. The government cynically exploits the beneficence of doctors, who took an oath to make the health of their patients their primary concern, knowing we have a difficult choice to make.
News of the upcoming ballot is likely to be followed by carefully crafted and distorting attacks by the Tory-allied media on supposedly “greedy” doctors who seek to protect their “large salaries.” As is the case with much of the mainstream media’s pronouncements, reality is somewhat different.
A newly qualified doctor is paid a basic salary of £22,636 for a 40-hour week. Most work more than 40 hours and thus receive an on-call supplement depending on their total weekly hours and the number of “unsociable” hours worked (currently evenings past 7pm, weekends and nights) which can equal a little over £30,000 for a newly qualified doctor working the maximum (currently) legally allowed number of on-call shifts.
During such on-calls (often comprising several 12-hour shifts in a row during weekends or nights), hospitals are often staffed by only a few doctors whose actions, inactions and decisions can mean the difference between life and death. A junior doctor’s salary then rises by around a couple of thousand each year if they prove they have attained certain skills and have completed a required number of assessments.
The paperwork required to prove one has acquired the necessary competencies can mean hours of unpaid work — which doctors often complete in their own time. A typical 40-plus hour week can easily extend as doctors working on busy wards stay late, sometimes an hour or more beyond the end of their shifts, to ensure their patients get the care they require.
Doctors also stay late to tackle an ever-increasing mountain of paperwork. Additional professional requirements, such as occasionally preparing presentations for weekly hospital meetings, mean further hours of unpaid labour outside of work.
In order to progress beyond a certain point in their careers, junior doctors are required to pass a number of exams for which they study in their own time and pay for out of their own pockets. I paid over £1,900 to sit four exams and could easily have paid far more if I had not passed first time. I considered myself lucky as a GP colleague paid over £1,700 for just one of his exams.
Hundreds of pounds are also spent on mandatory membership of the General Medical Council, a royal college (each doctor begins associated with a certain speciality), and medical defence indemnity to protect us from litigation. We may get paid for a 40-odd hour week but our excess labour is unpaid. Is it any wonder many doctors qualifying from British medical schools seek to work abroad in the years after their graduate?
If the proposed contract comes into force, the exodus will increase. The General Medical Council confirmed a few days ago that in the 10 days after the government announced it would impose new contracts next August, a total of 3,468 doctors made requests to start collecting the paperwork they require to practice medicine outside Britain.
The government talks about expanding the NHS to provide seven-day services yet does not invest in the health service and will further damage conditions for doctors and place patient safety at risk. I cynically cannot help but wonder whether the Tories are trying to set the NHS up to fail so they can have an excuse to privatise the health service by claiming that it is inefficient and not up to scratch.
The BMA may not have had the experience of fighting neoliberalism that some unions have, yet many doctors are a pay cheque or two away from getting into debt and thus, whether they know it or not, are part of the broadly defined working class.
We must keep our nerve, prepare for the media onslaught and patiently explain our position. I was inspired to see doctors of all political persuasions, including some otherwise Tory supporters, preparing to take a stand against the government’s plans.
There also needs to be a transition from trade union to political consciousness as we realise that our fellow health workers and members of other unions are fighting in different sections of the front against the ideology of the free market. An injury to one is an injury to all.
There is no way out of austerity via the capitalist model and the consequences of its inherent economic downturns will always be passed on to paid wage labourers, be they the physician, teacher, Tube driver or any other worker. We are all in it together and we cannot afford to lose — for the sake of our patients, our NHS and our society.
Dr Tomasz Pierscionek writes this article in a personal capacity.
Here’s my ten minute piece on the current Refugee Crisis, in the Dáil yesterday -
“I too welcome the motion and, even though I speak only for myself, because I am an Independent Deputy, I will be supporting it. Unfortunately, our approach last winter was not quite so positive. We argued about the cancellation of the Mare Nostrum programme and protested to the Europeans that it was not a good idea. When programme was brought to an end, the refugees were never going to stop trying to come across the sea, they were just going to drown and that is what happened to many of them. People were also drowning when the Mare Nostrum programme was working but it was, at least, a big help at the time.
There is no doubt that this is an incredible crisis. On the issue of the refugees coming in, I support Deputy Mac Lochlainn’s point about the importance of getting these people into a work situation as quickly as possible. Surely, it would be rational to do this. The manner in which we have dealt with that issue in the past has left too much to be desired.
I still worry about this situation. If we consider what has happened in the past 20 years, the statistics are frightening.
The militarisation of the planet has continued to increase, especially since 2001. In the past five years, there has been a 16% increase in the proliferation of arms in comparison to the previous five years, a frightening development. Of the 60 million people currently displaced, it is estimated 33 million of them are displaced because of war.
What will we do about this? Ireland is a small country but I believe we can play a positive role in this regard. Several weeks ago, Annette Groth, a member of the German Parliament who had been in Hungary watching the plight of the refugees there, told the German Parliament:
Germany is the third biggest weapons exporter in Europe and has good relations with, for instance, Saudi Arabia and Qatar … Our government is still delivering arms to Saudi Arabia which happens to be supporting ISIS, the jihadists.
We all realise the whole Middle East region has gone crazy but we cannot stay silent on the reason for it. The number of refugees will actually increase, not decrease, unless there is a serious examination of the root causes of it all. For example, Deputy Mac Lochlainn made the point some countries are prepared to help more than others. Two countries not prepared to take in refugees are Saudi Arabia and America, yet the part they are playing in the destruction of this region is unbelievable. Yemen is being destroyed, with refugees being created every hour there, but no one has said a word about it.
Shannonwatch, through freedom of information requests, got the statistics on the planes coming through Shannon Airport last year. There are planes going through the airport from America to Saudi Arabia with all kinds of arms and most likely cluster bombs, which are being used in Yemen. We are allowing Shannon Airport to be used by the American Government and the arms industry to bring arms to the Middle East region to cause havoc. Bombs are falling on innocent people’s homes and they are being driven out of them but we are not stopping it. It is great we sent two boats to the Mediterranean and it is to be commended that we are prepared to take in refugees but how can we continue to allow Shannon to be used for as a US military base? If the Minister for Justice and Equality did nothing else for the rest of her time in government before the election, it would be wonderful if she took a positive decision on this issue, as it would mean so much. We cannot possibly defend our facilitation with what is happening.
Those fleeing to Europe now are fleeing to countries which sold the arms that caused the havoc and displacement in the first place. The Russians have now started to bomb Syria, making them as culpable as the Americans. Bombs do not solve problems; they create them. The French and British cannot wait to get in there more. The region is a minefield now. They have been training rebel groups to fight Bashar al-Assad. While I would not defend Assad for one minute, the alternative is worse. The ISIS crowd are flourishing because of what is happening. It is crazy what they are like. Bad as Assad is, his is one of the last multicultural governments in the region. His biggest crime is that he is independent of America and Israel. I accept he is guilty of many crimes against his own people over the past five years. He should be tried for war crimes, the same as the likes of Blair, Bush and Obama for what they have been involved in.
I make no excuses for Assad or the Russians but Ireland has an opportunity to play a positive role. We are an island, a small country, but it does not stop us from having a real and strong neutral voice for peace. We cannot start talking about peace, however, while we continue to allow Shannon Airport to be used as a US military base. That is the height of hypocrisy. Up to 2.5 million US troops have gone through Shannon since 2001. The amount of arms that we allow through with permits on civilian planes is astronomical. We refuse to search military planes that land at the airport. When people are in opposition, they say we should search the military planes in Shannon. When they get into government, however, they say they have assurances from America that all is well. All is not well.
Deputy Clare Daly and I had three days in court in Ennis recently. Witnesses came forward who were working in Shannon to testify they saw arms on military planes which is illegal. Still our Government does not want to look into this. The judge accepted the bona fides of the testimonies of these individuals. He ended up fining us in the end, which was irrational given his own arguments but that is a different issue.
Will we look at the Shannon issue and stop helping one country bomb another? It would mean so much. Can one imagine visiting people in the Middle East region and watching bombs falling on the houses beside them, looking to kill someone involved military activity but wiping out women and children? Can one imagine sitting there knowing the bombs could have come through Shannon before they were dropped? What does it say about us that we can tolerate this?
The manner in which the world operates has never been as disappointing. The arms industry, along with the pharmaceutical industry, is one of the two largest industries in the world. One cannot get elected President of America without the support of the arms industry. It will cost Hillary Clinton $2 billion just to run for president, which is a lot of money. One needs the arms industry’s support to run for President of America in a serious manner. The end result is payback. Bombs have to be dropped on people to support the arms industry and keep it thriving. We are complicit because we choose to turn a blind eye to Shannon Airport being used as a US military base. We should be ashamed of ourselves.”
For more than a year, the United States has been playing patty-cake with an army of homicidal maniacs who call themselves ISIS. On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he’d had enough of Washington’s song-and-dance and was planning to bring a little Russian justice to the terrorist militias that had killed 225,000 Syrians and ripped the country to shreds. In language that could not be more explicit, Putin said to the General Assembly: “We can no longer tolerate the currents state of affairs in the world”. Less than 48 hours later, Russian bombers were raining down precision-guided munitions on terrorist strongholds across western Syria sending the jihadi vermin scrambling for cover.
That’s how you fight terrorism if you’re serious about it. Bravo, Putin.
Putin’s blitz caught the entire western political establishment flat-footed. Even now, three days into the air campaign, neither the administration nor the policy wonks at the many far-right think tanks in Washington have even settled on an approach, much less a strategy, to developments on the ground. What’s clear, is that Putin’s action has surprised everyone including the media which to-this-day hasn’t even settled on it’s talking points.
This is extraordinary. Ask yourself this, dear reader: How can our political and military leaders watch Moscow deploy its troops, warplanes and military hardware to a theater where the US is carrying out major operations and have absolutely no plan of how deal with those forces if they are sent into battle?
If you are convinced, as I am, that we are governed by numbskulls, you will certainly find confirmation of that fact in recent events.
But while the Obama administration is frantically searching for a strategy, Putin’s air-squadrons are unleashing holy hell on the sociopaths, the head-choppers and the other assorted vipers that comprise the Islamic State. And Mr. Putin is getting plenty of help too, particularly from the crack-troops in the Iranian Quds forces and from the ferocious militia that defeated the IDF in two separate conflicts, Hezbollah, the Army of God. Check this out from Reuters:
Hundreds of Iranian troops have arrived in Syria in the last 10 days and will soon join government forces and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies in a major ground offensive backed by Russian air strikes, two Lebanese sources told Reuters….
The (Russian) air strikes will in the near future be accompanied by ground advances by the Syrian army and its allies,” said one of the sources familiar with political and military developments in the conflict….
The vanguard of Iranian ground forces began arriving in Syria: soldiers and officers specifically to participate in this battle. They are not advisors … we mean hundreds with equipment and weapons. They will be followed by more,” the second source said. Iraqis would also take part in the operation, the source said.
A military alliance between Moscow, Tehran and Hezbollah?
You’re darn tootin’, and you can thank Barack Obama and his lunatic regime change plan for that development.
Many critics of Putin’s action have said that “He doesn’t know what he’s doing” or “He’ll get bogged down” or “It’ll be another Vietnam”.
Wrong. The fact is, Putin is more a devotee of the Powell Doctrine than any of the morons at the Pentagon. And he is particularly mindful of Rule Number 5 which states: “Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?”
Has Putin thought about that or has he merely blundered ahead impulsively like US leaders are so apt to do? Here’s what he said on September 30:
We naturally have no intention of getting deeply entangled in this conflict. We will act strictly in accordance with our set mission. First, we will support the Syrian army only in its lawful fight against terrorist groups. Second, our support will be limited to airstrikes and will not involve ground operations. Third, our support will have a limited timeframe and will continue only while the Syrian army conducts its anti-terrorist offensive.
Bingo. In other words, he’s going to bomb these jokers into oblivion and let Quds brigade and Hezbollah mop up afterwards. There will be no Russian boots-on-the-ground. The Russian airforce will get precise intelligence on ISIS locations from Syrian agents on the battlefield which will minimize civilian casualties and limit damage to critical infrastructure. It will also make mincemeat out of anyone on the receiving end of the bombardment. Does anyone seriously believe that ISIS and the disparate rabble of “moderate” throat-slitters that receive CIA funding are going to be able to withstand this impending onslaught?
No way. Putin’s going to cut through these guys like a tornado through a trailer park. Yes, ISIS has had some success against the bedraggled Iraqi and Syrian armies. But now they’re up-against the A Team where they are clearly out of their league. Rolling up these cutthroats is going to take a lot less time than anyone figured.
Russian bombers are already destroying ammo dumps, fuel depots, heavy military hardware, command posts, anything that enhances ISIS’s ability to wage war. The new anti-terror coalition is going to cut supply lines and hang the jihadis out to dry. And the whole operation is going to be wrapped up before Uncle Sam even get’s his boots laced. This is from Iran’s Press TV:
A senior member of Russia’s parliament says an ongoing air campaign by Moscow against militants operating in Syria is going to intensify. Alexei Pushkov, who serves as the chairman of the Committee for International Affairs at the Russian State Duma, said Friday that Moscow will be intensifying its attacks against the militants in Syria while studying the risks associated with an extensive operation.
“There is always a risk of being bogged down, but in Moscow, we are talking about an operation of three to four months,” Alexei Pushkov said, Reuters reported.
Russia started to launch coordinated airstrikes on the positions of militants in Syria on Wednesday. The move came shortly after members of the Russian upper house of the parliament, the Federation Council, authorized the operations in Syria. (Press TV)
There’s not going to be any pussyfooting around. Putin’s going to go straight for the jugular and then head for the exits.
Do you think they’ve figured this out at the White House yet? Do you think they understand that Iranian troops and Hezbollah are not going to distinguish between the “moderate” terrorists and the “extreme” terrorists; that they’re simply going to “kill them all and let God sort it out”. Do you think they realize that Washington’s Middle East policy just collapsed and that the funding of jihadis and dreams of regime change just ended for good? Do you think they grasp that Washington’s role as guarantor of global security has just been transferred to Vladimir Putin who has put himself and his country at risk to defend the fundamental principles of international law, national sovereignty and self determination? Here’s Putin again:
We are supporting the government of Syria in the fight against a terrorist aggression. We are offering and will continue to offer it necessary military-technical assistance. We must continue a dialogue for the sake of reaching consensus. But it’s impossible to achieve real success as long as bloodshed continues and people don’t feel secure. We won’t achieve anything until we defeat terrorism in Syria.
Putin is leading a coalition in the fight against terror. We should all be grateful for that.
The FSA have killed hundreds of thousands of Syrian citizens, they have kidnapped and beheaded innocent citizens. They have killed Generals in the Syrian army with car bombs. They have thrown post office workers off the roof of their building. They have shot sportsmen because they represent their country. They have set off car bombs outside schools, police stations, hospitals and universities.
They have raped women and sold them.
They have killed Christians and destroyed both mosques and churches.
They have dragged innocent people, tied to the back of cars around the streets until they were dead.
They have have mutilated innocent people and thrown their bodies off a bridge.
The have beheaded babies. They have massacred whole villages of people, including children. They starved 60,000 people in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp. They cut out a soldier’s heart and ate it and Obama says these butchers are NOT terrorists!!!!
The US has locked up many innocent people claiming they were terrorists with no charges being laid against them for years, yet butchers are not classed as terrorists.
Well Obama, just what does somebody have to do before you would claim them to be a terrorist?
Seems to me that a terrorist is a person who you deem to be a threat to the USA. Of course the FSA are not a threat to the USA, because you trained them in the first place. So a terrorist is only a terrorist if they use acts of barbarism in the US. It does not matter that they have killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people including children in Syria. Unless it is on your doorstep, you don’t give a sh..t.
It is on the doorstep of Europe and the people of Europe do give a sh.t. We do not want your barbarians moving into Europe and we are all pleased that Russia is killing them.
Just a reminder of what your precious FSA have been doing in the past 4 years.
Free Syrian Army
Children kidnapped from Latakia and then killed by FSA
Normalised mass violence has become the unmentioned subject of US school syllabi. Teacher’s meetings and academic retreats must be getting longer and more perturbed: How do those in a university setting cope with an armed assailant who will take a dozen lives in a short span, and then perish?
Twenty four hour reporting loves such phenomena. It is crack violence for whoring reporting. It seemed most appropriate that the 10 deaths, repeated aerial shots of provincial Umpqua Community College, police and control centres, should be run around the clock on Oregon, even as Russian bombings of supposed ISIL sites in Syria were taking place. The latter commanded outrage that Russia was destabilising an already perilous situation, potentially undermining US-sponsored anti-Assad groups.
The former, on the other hand, saw a rehearsed pattern, a Pavlovian dog scenario that plays out in the theatrical bloodbath of gun, massacre and response. What matters is that nothing changes. Each group has a role to play in the theatre of inaction.
From the start of the interview fest, UCC and its surrounds were idealised as America’s sweet retreat, the vast shield against a national darkness. The community college was depicted as an escapist place of learning in rural Oregon. In such an Eden, such events do not happen.
There are the convenient illusions, those suggesting that gun killings take place elsewhere, where social decay is inexorable. Gun free areas operate. Controls are accepted. All of these are the insensible measures based on the idea that mass murdering weapons in civilian communities can be managed.
The gunman, Chris Harper Mercer, burst this illusion in several, literal ways. There were thirteen weapons recovered in the aftermath of the shootings, six at the school, and seven at home. Mercer also had body armour to add to his guerrilla styled arsenal. He was also, it is claimed by some of the survivors, interested in ascertaining the religion of those he shot, delivering Christians from their earthly existence.
The language of regulation is also as confused as the sentiment, legitimising the shooting culture by distinguishing what is an “active” shooter to what is not. The shooter was considered “active” which presumes that he was one by profession, as millions of others. Repeatedly, this “active shooter” went from room to room.
Then come the social media scourers and the vultures hoping to understand the assailant. There, after all, must always be a reason, a deep, metaphysical underpinning as to why one kills. Did he leave a manifesto of worth? Did he give us a sense of his murderous credo in advance? He was deemed to have, like many of his generation, an unhealthy interest in social media platforms. He was on a “chat board”. He spoke about imminent mayhem which was ignored. The very nature of such discussions were desensitised.
While some analysts will be averse to examine the system behind the shootings, the anti-socialising context, if you will, is hard to ignore. Angst and ennui become manifestations of total, expressive violence. There are no genuine discouragements, because at its heart, the US loves guns. But even psychologists, notorious for stumbling on this subject, admit that separating the potential school shooter from the standard disaffected school student is nigh impossible.
Those worried about the effects of American power may derive rueful satisfaction at the murderous elements that gun culture produces, even in learning communities. President Barack Obama has noted that the rate of such killings in the US is 297 times more than Japan, 49 times more than France, 33 times more than Israel.
The president’s fifteenth statement on mass shootings in America was also a reflection of automated response. The nature of such violence, he observed, has numbed the entire mechanism of response. The reporting is routine. Obama’s own response is routine. The conversation in the aftermath is routine. The gun lobby response is routine. He asked the gathered media to consider how many Americans had perished in terrorist attacks to those who had lost their lives to gun violence.
The securitisation of the learning environment is certainly one of the most conspicuous features of the gun violence culture. A criticism from the security fetishists regarding UCC was that it lacked a heavily armed presence. This reveals the great paradox of US gun culture: the only things that should be regulated are places where gun owners may be found, rather than the guns themselves. As Douglas County sheriff John Hanlin has previous claimed, gun control was an “indisputable insult to the American people.”
Portland Police have already promised to add extra officers to area schools after the UCC shootings. And even as Obama gave his address, the routine re-exerted itself. Security poured in. The FBI and associated agencies crowded the campus. Chillingly, it resembled tactics of combating a resourceful insurgent.
The individual incentive means that this becomes a problem of individuals. All sides partake in this, hoping to peer into an individual mind in the hope of localising a problem, or to unearth what social element caused the being to implode. The most troubling feature of the UCC shootings, however, point to no distinct ideology, or understanding. In killing, shallowness can be just as vital as the greatest political and religious projects.
Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: [email protected]
The two most anticipated speeches in the 70th annual United Nations General Assembly by U.S. president Barack Obama and Russian president Vladimir Putin lived up to their expectations. There were no surprises. As the world was watching, Obama gave a “jingoistic” speech flexing his military muscle while Putin gave a speech that was truthful and relatively speaking, straight forward. But I was really surprised that no delegates in the assembly had vomited during Obama’s speech. If you know the history of U.S. Empire since its inception everything that Obama said was a complete lie. Obama began talking about World War II and the “unthinkable power” of the atomic bomb:
Out of the ashes of the Second World War, having witnessed the unthinkable power of the atomic age, 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; and by building an international system that imposes a cost on those who choose conflict over cooperation, an order that recognizes the dignity and equal worth of all people
Obama was indirectly saying that the U.S. has the capability to unleash another scenario on its adversaries. It seemed that he was signaling to the world to “remember what the U.S. did to Japan during World War II, We can surely do it again! Japan is a vassal state with U.S. bases stationed in Okinawa and other areas. Is Japan a strong democracy without any foreign power that is accountable” to its people? or to those who live in the island of Okinawa? Maybe Obama should visit Okinawa and hear what the people have to say about “American-style democracy” with U.S. bases stationed on their land. Obama continued his speech with the audacity to talk about the “terrible conflicts” and how Washington has pushed forward the rule of law.
He said “Over seven decades, terrible conflicts have claimed untold victims. But we have pressed forward, slowly, steadily, to make a system of international rules and norms that are better and stronger and more consistent.” First and foremost, the U.S. is responsible for most of the conflicts in the past 70 years since World War II. Here is a list compiled by author and activist William Blum which can be found atwilliamblum.org“Instances of the United States overthrowing, or attempting to overthrow, a foreign government since the Second World War. (* indicates successful ouster of a government):
China 1949 to early 1960s, Albania 1949-53, East Germany 1950s, Iran 1953 *, Guatemala 1954 *, Costa Rica mid-1950s, Syria 1956-7, Egypt 1957, Indonesia 1957-8, British Guiana 1953-64 *, Iraq 1963 *, North Vietnam 1945-73, Cambodia 1955-70 *, Laos 1958 *, 1959 *, 1960 *, Ecuador 1960-63 *, Congo 1960 *, France 1965, Brazil 1962-64 *, Dominican Republic 1963 *, Cuba 1959 to present, Bolivia 1964 *, Indonesia 1965 *, Ghana 1966 *, Chile 1964-73 *, Greece 1967 *, Costa Rica 1970-71, Bolivia 1971 *, Australia 1973-75 *, Angola 1975, 1980s, Zaire 1975, Portugal 1974-76 *, Jamaica 1976-80 *, Seychelles 1979-81, Chad 1981-82 *, Grenada 1983 *, South Yemen 1982-84, Suriname 1982-84, Fiji 1987 *, Libya 1980s, Nicaragua 1981-90 *, Panama 1989 *, Bulgaria 1990 *, Albania 1991 *, Iraq 1991, Afghanistan 1980s *, Somalia 1993, Yugoslavia 1999-2000 *, Ecuador 2000 *, Afghanistan 2001 *, Venezuela 2002 *, Iraq 2003 *, Haiti 2004 *, Somalia 2007 to present, Honduras 2009, Libya 2011 *, Syria 2012, Ukraine 2014 *
Professor Noam Chomsky’s once said” (…) since 1945, the US has attempted to overthrow more than 50 governments, has grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries and has dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 others”. Obama also said that:
Technologies that empower individuals are now also exploited by those who spread disinformation, or suppress dissent, or radicalize our youth. Global capital flows have powered growth and investment, but also increased risk of contagion, weakened the bargaining power of workers, and accelerated inequality
This sounds like something the National Endowment for Democracy (NED, the U.S. based International Monetary Fund (IMF) , the World Bank, Wall Street and the main-stream media in the U.S. and the U.K. (BBC) have been doing since their inception.
There are those who argue that the ideals enshrined in the U.N. charter are unachievable or out of date — a legacy of a postwar era not suited to our own. Effectively, they argue for a return to the rules that applied for most of human history and that pre-date this institution: the belief that power is a zero-sum game; that might makes right; that strong states must impose their will on weaker ones; that the rights of individuals don’t matter; and that in a time of rapid change, order must be imposed by force.
On this basis, we see some major powers assert themselves in ways that contravene international law. We see an erosion of the democratic principles and human rights that are fundamental to this institution’s mission; information is strictly controlled, the space for civil society restricted. We’re told that such retrenchment is required to beat back disorder; that it’s the only way to stamp out terrorism, or prevent foreign meddling
“Might makes right” is what the US Government has been doing for the last 70 years. In fact, the U.S. has or has attempted to impose their will on sovereign nations since the end of the Spanish American War of 1898. Obama is not the first nor will be the last president to talk about imposing their form of “democracy” on the planet.
This is where Putin’s speech challenges Washington’s foreign policy strategies. Putin’s speech was mainly about the situation in Syria with the U.S. Backed “moderate” rebels and the Islamic State including other terrorist groups. However, Putin mentioned a recent historical fact about the U.S./NATO intervention in Libya and the start of the Syrian civil war which created social and political chaos in the Middle East and the North African region:
What is the meaning of state sovereignty, the term which has been mentioned by our colleagues here? It basically means freedom, every person and every state being free to choose their future. By the way, this brings us to the issue of the so-called legitimacy of state authorities. You shouldn’t play with words and manipulate them. In international law, international affairs, every term has to be clearly defined, transparent and interpreted the same way by one and all. We are all different, and we should respect that. Nations shouldn’t be forced to all conform to the same development model that somebody has declared the only appropriate one. We should all remember the lessons of the past. For example, we remember examples from our Soviet past, when the Soviet Union exported social experiments, pushing for changes in other countries for ideological reasons, and this often led to tragic consequences and caused degradation instead of progress.
It seems, however, that instead of learning from other people’s mistakes, some prefer to repeat them and continue to export revolutions, only now these are “democratic” revolutions. Just look at the situation in the Middle East and Northern Africa already mentioned by the previous speaker. Of course, political and social problems have been piling up for a long time in this region, and people there wanted change. But what was the actual outcome? Instead of bringing about reforms, aggressive intervention rashly destroyed government institutions and the local way of life. Instead of democracy and progress, there is now violence, poverty, social disasters and total disregard for human rights, including even the right to life. I’m urged to ask those who created this situation: do you at least realize now what you’ve done? But I’m afraid that this question will remain unanswered, because they have never abandoned their policy, which is based on arrogance, exceptionalism and impunity
Putin was right on point with historical facts when it came to Libya and Syria while Obama sold “Propaganda” on the world stage. According to Obama and every US president before him, the U.S. is exceptional; therefore their place in the world is to impose “democracy” on every nation on earth. Obama said:
A politics and solidarity that depend on demonizing others, that draws on religious sectarianism or narrow tribalism or jingoism may at times look like strength in the moment, but over time its weakness will be exposed. And history tells us that the dark forces unleashed by this type of politics surely makes all of us less secure. Our world has been there before. We gain nothing from going back
When Libya was “liberated”, at least according to Washington, chaos soon followed. Before the U.S. orchestrated invasion by NATO, Libya was one of the most developed nations in the continent of Africa. Syria is now the focus of regime change for the Obama administration. Russia stepped into the war and now threatens Washington’s plan for Syria, which is to create more chaos in the region that would ultimately threaten Iran’s borders. Washington wants to impose their will on Syria just like they did in Libya and the results were indeed catastrophic. Libya was a sovereign nation that was trying to free Africa from the U.S. dollar with a gold dinar, an idea that lead to the death of Muammar Gaddafi in a violent coup which was planned by the Neocons from the Bush administration after 911. Obama is following the Neocon plan as Syria maintains its legitimate right to defend itself against the Islamic State with Russia’s military and political support. If Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is removed from power by the Islamic State, Syria will be destroyed and that will enable the U.S., Israel and their allies to launch an all out war against Hezbollah and Iran.
Maybe Obama should listen to his own speech. Obama said that by “demonizing” their enemies leads to “tribalism or jingoism.” Obama’s speech was full of “jingoism.” In fact, the US government has been following a “warlike” foreign policy since the end of World War II. Putin was the true statesman while Obama spoke in a typical “jingoist” fashion. Obama made it clear with his speech that the future will be marred with war and violence and that is something Putin wants to avoid. Can Russia, China and Iran collaborate and stop Washington’s aggressive behavior towards the world? Call me optimistic, but I believe they can.
“What we are pressing for is not the power to be Big Brother, watching everyone from above, but rather a flock of Little Sisters, watching government from below. All that the Wikileaks phenomenon adds to that effort is the ability to share information beyond the control of any one government’s laws limiting that effort.” -Micah L. Sifry 
As these remarks are being written, leaders from twelve Pacific Rim countries, including Canada, are meeting in Atlanta Georgia in order to hammer out an Agreement-in-Principle on the largest economic treaties ever contemplated, the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP.)
As was disclosed on a previous program, the TPP has been drafted with an unprecedented degree of secrecy, and has been criticized by environmental and social justice groups for compromising health care access, food safety, the environment, labour rights and a whole battery of areas of concern affecting the wider citizenry.
It was the whistle-blower upload platform Wikileaks which provided some exposure of sections of this agreement. Back in November of 2013, it released the 95 page, 30,000-word draft text of the Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. This IP chapter detailed wide-ranging measures which would modify laws affecting patents on drugs and other goods, trademarks, copyright, and industrial design. These provisions would have wide-ranging consequences for individual rights, civil liberties, internet providers, publishers, and internet privacy within TPP member countries.
Two months later, Wikileaks disclosed the draft text of the Environment Chapter. The draft Consolidated Text appears to contain no mandated clauses or meaningful enforcement mechanisms for resolving environmental disputes arising out of the treaty’s subsequent implementation.
In her analysis of the Environmental Chapter, Professor Jane Kelsey of New Zealand notes that the environment is threatened by the industrial activity of corporations.  The Investment Chapter, if investor protection provisions in similar trade agreements are any indication, would empower foreign investors to sue governments attempting to move or enforce environmental laws which could theoretically cost those companies profits. The Investment Chapter therefore would seemingly override the comparatively toothless mechanisms in the Environment Chapter. This effectively prioritizes profit-making over the welfare of the planet.
Wikileaks has therefore served as a valuable mechanism for providing transparency into secretive dealings by State authorities.
Are there fundamental differences between these sorts of grassroots watchdog mechanisms and the more traditional “top-down” instruments, such as Freedom of Information laws?
Melbourne, Australia based lecturer Binoy Kampmark has made this question the focus of a recent paper entitled: The Transparency Movement in Geopolitical Economy: WikiLeaks, Economic Diplomacy and the Redistribution of Power. In this week’s episode of the Global Research News Hour, Dr. Kampmark elaborates on the merits of this emerging form of hactivism using the TPP as a case study.
Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, teaching within the Bachelor of Social Science (Legal and Dispute Studies) program. He spoke to the Global Research News Hour October 2, 2015 while in Winnipeg, Canada to present at an International Geopolitical Economy Research Group Conference.
Burnaby Radio Station CJSF out of Simon Fraser University. 90.1FM to most of Greater Vancouver, from Langley to Point Grey and from the North Shore to the US Border. It is also available on 93.9 FM cable in the communities of SFU, Burnaby, New Westminister, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Surrey and Delta, in British Columbia Canada. – Tune in every Saturday at 6am.
Lars Schall talked for Matterhorn Asset Management with Folker Hellmeyer, one of Germany’s most outspoken senior bankers. Hellmeyer points out why he thinks it’s impossible for the US Federal Reserve to raise interest rates.
Moreover, he discusses his optimism for gold and “the invisible hand” of the Plunge Protection Team.
Folker Hellmeyer, born 1961 in Hamburg, is a banking professional who started his career as foreign exchange trader with Deutsche Bank in Hamburg (1984 – 1987) and London (1988 – 1989).
From 1990 to 1995, he worked as an OTC broker in the interbank foreign exchange market at Bierbaum & Co. GmbH & Co. OHG. In 1995, he went to Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen GZ (Helaba) in Frankfurt as a senior analyst. Since April 2002, he is the chief analyst at Bremer Landesbank, where he is responsible for the Foreign Exchange and Money Market Sales department.
There has been so much attention on Greece in recent weeks, but the truth is that Greece represents only a very tiny fraction of an unprecedented global debt bomb which threatens to explode at any moment. As you are about to see, there are 24 nations that are currently facing a full-blown debt crisis, and there are 14 more that are rapidly heading toward one. Right now, the debt to GDP ratio for the entire planet is up to an all-time record high of 286 percent, and globally there is approximately 200 TRILLION dollars of debt on the books. That breaks down to about $28,000 of debt for every man, woman and child on the entire planet. And since close to half of the population of the world lives on less than 10 dollars a day, there is no way that all of this debt can ever be repaid. The only “solution” under our current system is to kick the can down the road for as long as we can until this colossal debt pyramid finally collapses in upon itself.
As we are seeing in Greece, you can eventually accumulate so much debt that there is literally no way out. The other European nations are attempting to find a way to give Greece a third bailout, but that is like paying one credit card with another credit card because virtually everyone in Europe is absolutely drowning in debt.
Even if some “permanent solution” could be crafted for Greece, that would only solve a very small fraction of the overall problem that we are facing. The nations of the world have never been in this much debt before, and it gets worse with each passing day.
According to a new report from the Jubilee Debt Campaign, there are currently 24 countries in the world that are facing a full-blown debt crisis…
■ Costa Rica
■ Dominican Republic
■ El Salvador
■ The Gambia
■ Marshall Islands
■ Sri Lanka
■ St Vincent and the Grenadines
And there are another 14 nations that are right on the verge of one…
■ Cape Verde
■ Sao Tome e Principe
So what should be done about this?
Should we have the “wealthy” countries bail all of them out?
Well, the truth is that the “wealthy” countries are some of the biggest debt offenders of all. Just consider the United States. Our national debt has more than doubled since 2007, and at this point it has gotten so large that it is mathematically impossible to pay it off.
Europe is in similar shape. Members of the eurozone are trying to cobble together a “bailout package” for Greece, but the truth is that most of them will soon need bailouts too…
All of those countries will come knocking asking for help at some point. The fact is that their Debt to GDP levels have soared since the EU nearly collapsed in 2012.
Spain’s Debt to GDP has risen from 69% to 98%. Italy’s Debt to GDP has risen from 116% to 132%. France’s has risen from 85% to 95%.
In addition to Spain, Italy and France, let us not forget Belgium (106 percent debt to GDP), Ireland (109 debt to GDP) and Portugal (130 debt to GDP).
Once all of these dominoes start falling, the consequences for our massively overleveraged global financial system will be absolutely catastrophic…
Spain has over $1.0 trillion in debt outstanding… and Italy has €2.6 trillion. These bonds are backstopping tens of trillions of Euros’ worth of derivatives trades. A haircut or debt forgiveness for them would trigger systemic failure in Europe.
EU banks as a whole are leveraged at 26-to-1. At these leverage levels, even a 4% drop in asset prices wipes out ALL of your capital. And any haircut of Greek, Spanish, Italian and French debt would be a lot more than 4%.
Things in Asia look quite ominous as well.
According to Bloomberg, debt levels in China have risen to levels never recorded before…
While China’s economic expansion beat analysts’ forecasts in the second quarter, the country’s debt levels increased at an even faster pace.
Outstanding loans for companies and households stood at a record207 percent of gross domestic product at the end of June, up from125 percent in 2008, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
And remember, that doesn’t even include government debt. When you throw all forms of debt into the mix, the overall debt to GDP number for China is rapidly approaching 300 percent.
In Japan, things are even worse. The government debt to GDP ratio in Japan is now up to an astounding 230 percent. That number has gotten so high that it is hard to believe that it could possibly be true. At some point an implosion is coming in Japan which is going to shock the world.
Of course the same thing could be said about the entire planet. Yes, national governments and central banks have been attempting to kick the can down the road for as long as possible, but everyone knows that this is not going to end well.
And when things do really start falling apart, it will be unlike anything that we have ever seen before. Just consider what Egon von Greyerz recently told King World News…
Eric, there are now more problem areas in the world, rather than stable situations. No major nation in the West can repay its debts. The same is true for Japan and most of the emerging markets. Europe is a failed experiment for socialism and deficit spending. China is a massive bubble, in terms of its stock markets, property markets and shadow banking system. Japan is also a basket case and the U.S. is the most indebted country in the world and has lived above its means for over 50 years.
So we will see twin $200 trillion debt and $1.5 quadrillion derivatives implosions. That will lead to the most historic wealth destruction ever in global stock, with bond and property markets declining at least 75 – 95 percent. World trade will also contract dramatically and we will see massive hardship across the globe.
So what do you think is coming, and how bad will things ultimately get once this global debt crisis finally spins totally out of control?
The 142,000 September payroll jobs reported today (2 Oct 2015) by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is too small to be consistent with the still high stock averages or the alleged economic recovery. Moreover, the BLS says that it over-estimated the July and August payroll jobs by 59,000. The average workweek declined to 34.5 hours. The labor force participation rate fell further and is now the lowest in about 40 years. This is especially damning when we remember that in those long ago years many more households could exist as one-earner households.
October 1 – the New York Times reported that “Russian aircraft carried out a bombing attack against Syrian opposition fighters on Wednesday, including at least one group trained by the CIA, eliciting angry protests from American officials and plunging the complex sectarian war there into dangerous new territory.” The article goes on in a silly state of surprise…
Palestinian minority in Israel worried by top cop’s twin-track as interrogator for secret police and hardline settler. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu parachuted in a new police chief last week after the government’s previous candidates were thwarted by controversy.
Here’s how Israeli justice works. Extremist settlers set a Palestinian family’s home ablaze, immolate three of its members in cold blood, seriously burn a fourth, and remain free to kill again because they’re not arrested – despite Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon admitting authorities know who’s responsible.
As American planes bomb a hospital operated by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in the Afghan town of Kunduz, killing patients and medical staff, this terrible horror follows previous incidents around the world that replicate the example of claimed ‘collateral damage’ inflicted upon hospitals and civilian installations, in Gaza, by its attackers in 2014 and earlier.
Propaganda wars precede hot ones – then continue once fighting starts. Putin is a master chess player, a patient one, a careful strategic planner.
He’s got Obama flummoxed, besting him at his own dirty game. He’s engaged in the war on terrorism in Syria Obama only pretends to wage, fighting Assad, not ISIS.
Putin’s commitment is real. The anti-Russian lying machine wants people to believe otherwise. Believe nothing US officials say or what go-along presstitutes report.
Their job is supporting imperial objectives, suppressing its most dangerous enemy – truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Longstanding US Middle East policy is no secret. Eliminate all independent leaders. Replace them with pro-Western puppets. Achieve unchallenged regional control.
Redraw the regional map by balkanizing Iraq, Syria, Iran, Lebanon and perhaps other countries for easier control, especially its oil and gas resources.
Above all, banish Russian and Chinese regional influence along with returning Iran to its bad old days, run by a US-installed despot.
Washington’s Middle East objective complicit with Israel is an agenda only a hegemon would love – total subjugation, prohibiting democracy, wealth and power interests alone benefitting at the expense of everyone else, including US taxpayers financing the ugly scheme, denied essential social services in the process.
Most Americans are too dumbed down by media-proliferated propaganda and too preoccupied with bread and circuses to realize how much they’re harmed – scammed by their government, consistently lied to, manipulated to believe the opposite of what’s true.
The “bewildered herd” is easily seduced by lunatics in Washington getting away with the highest of high crimes because of their indifference – aided by media scoundrels proliferating their Big Lies, a daily onslaught of rubbish.
It keeps coming because most people believe it – the self-styled newspaper of record New York Times a key agent of wealth and power interests, representing them exclusively, willfully lying to its readers, disgracing the profession of journalism, absent from its pages.
On October 1, it headlined “Vladimir Putin Plunges Into a Caldron (sic): Saving Assad,” saying “there is little question that Russia is determined to re-establish President Bashar al-Assad as Syria’s leader.”
“Re-establish” what’s already a fact? Assad was popularly reelected in June 2014 by an overwhelming majority – a process judged open, free, and fair by independent international monitors, what The Times never explained, spreading malicious lies, claiming he’s a despot, ignoring how warmly he’s greeted when showing up in public.
Of course, Putin supports him and his government. They’re fighting for Syria’s survival, for its people to be free from outside control, or worst of all an ISIS caliphate, lopping off heads of nonbelievers, the way close US ally Saudi Arabia operates.
The vast majority of Syrians want none of it. They back Assad because he’s going all-out to prevent the worst possible outcome of ongoing conflict – now with vital Russian help, and unverified reports about Iran possibly getting involved with ground forces joining their Syrian allies against a common enemy.
The Times explains none of this, its reporting entirely one-sided, spreading misinformation and Big Lies, suppressing important hard truths, a disgraceful example of misrepresentation.
Claiming “Assad…is vilified by many” Syrians is polar opposite truth. So is the myth about “indiscriminate(ly) us(ing) barrel bombs and other indiscriminate weapons against an insurgency that began with political protests.”
Fact: So-called “political protests” were US-instigated violence, the beginning of Obama’s war to oust Assad, using imported death squads, repeating the scheme used against Libya’s Gaddafi, turning Syria into another cauldron of endless violence and instability, its society entirely destroyed along with important historic sites, replaced by dystopian harshness.
Whether Russia’ involvement becomes a game-changer remains to be seen. For sure it changes the equation. US regional policy for the first time since the Soviet Union is being challenged, to what degree we’ll learn as events play out.
For now, it’s only day three of Moscow’s involvement. It’ll take time to evaluate its effectiveness.
The Washington Post headlined “Russia defends Syria airstrikes amid claims of blows to US-backed rebels,” irresponsibly saying “Russian troops” may be deployed – despite Putin categorically ruling out their use.
Throughout four-and-a-half years of conflict, he’s been out in front urging a political solution, now involved against ISIS – America’s ally, not enemy, an ugly truth Western media systematically suppress.
WaPo repeated the Big Lie Obama officials want people to believe, claiming Russian aircraft are targeting so-called US supported moderates, not ISIS.
Virtually all anti-Assad fighters are terrorists – ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al Nusra and other groups. So-called moderates are nonexistent or too few in number to matter.
On Thursday, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook lied, claiming Russian aircraft “do not appear to be hitting targets in areas where ISIL is operating” – repeated by media scoundrels without fact-checking or concern about accurate reporting.
Sergey Lavrov hit home hard telling reporters: “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!”
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov questioned the so-called Free Syrian Army’s existence, asking: “Is there a Free Syrian Army? Does it still exist? Have not the majority of its fighters switched sides and joined ISIL?”
The Wall Street Journal claimed Russian aerial attacks “may be a prelude to (more) sweeping operations against all of Mr. Assad’s foes,” citing unnamed “analysts,” the usual state-sponsored propaganda sources.
Without explaining virtually “all of Mr. Assad’s foes” are terrorists. It bears repeating. No so-called “moderate” elements exist in numbers to matter. Claiming otherwise is a ruse – along with circulating Big Lie about “Moscow…carrying out ‘indiscriminate military operations’ in areas where (ISIS) isn’t operating.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry is very clear about targets struck, with photographic evidence backup – unlike fabricated reports of civilian casualties.
On day two of Russia’s involvement, its Defense Ministry announced the “total destruction” of terrorist targets in Idlib province – including an ISIS command post and training camp.
An ammunition warehouse was struck, destroying “military hardware” and munitions. Follow-up attacks prevented ISIS from restoring its Hama command post.
Overnight strikes targeted an Idlib ammunition depot, a Hama headquarters, and a car-bomb making plant north of Homs. More results will be released once intelligence data processing is completed.
One thing is clear. Washington’s regional strategy now faces formidable opposition. The front line battleground is Syria, Russia involved to weaken ISIS as a fighting force – hopefully neutralize it, working jointly with Syrian and allied ground forces.
An unverified report circulated by Reuters, Al Jazeera and other media claim hundreds of Iranian troops, weapons and equipment arrived in Syria, saying more will follow – joined by Iraqi and some Afghan forces to battle ISIS. Events as they unfold bear close watching.
Like falling dominoes, more and more European Union countries have decided to stamp out the growth of genetically modified (GMO) crops within their borders.
According to Greenpeace, as the Oct. 3 deadline to notify the European Commission approaches, at least 14 European Union countries and three regions—which represent 65 percent of the EU’s population and 66 percent of its arable land—are in the process of banning the cultivation of GMO crops in its territories.
As of today, Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Poland as well as one regional administration (Wallonia, in Belgium) have formally notified the commission of their intention to ban GMO crop cultivation, Greenpeace said.
There are impending notifications from Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Italy and Slovenia, as well as and three regional administrations—Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the UK, Greenpeace noted.
These governments have chosen the “opt-out” clause of a European Commission rule passed in March that allows its 28-member bloc to abstain from growing GMO crops, even if they are already authorized to be grown within the union. Wales and Bulgaria were the most recent to join the growing ranks.
This wave of GMO-bans across Europe signify a distrust of EU GMO crop approvals, Greenpeace noted.
“At least half of the EU’s governments are rejecting the commission’s drive for GMO crop approvals. They don’t trust EU safety assessments and are rightly taking action to protect their agriculture and food.” Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg explained in a statement.
“The only way to restore trust in the EU system now is for the commission to hit the pause button on GMO crop approvals and to urgently reform safety testing and the approval system,” Achterberg concluded.
Many of these countries already have stringent laws against GMOs out of public health and environmental concerns. All 28 nations in the EU require GMO labeling, for instance.
After Scotland decided to take the opt-out (the first in Europe to do so), Scotland’s Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead spoke about the state of Europe’s GMO-distrust.
“The Scottish Government has long-standing concerns about GMO crops—concerns that are shared by other European countries and consumers, and which should not be dismissed lightly,” he said in a statement.
In another example, France is already strongly against GMOs and prohibits the cultivation of any variety of genetically modified maize. When France (which happens to be Europe’s largest grain grower and exporter) announced it was also opting out of GMO cultivation, the mostly symbolic move appeared to be singling out Monsanto’s MON 810 maize, the only GMO crop grown in Europe, and is currently under review at the European level.
Monsanto has faced a spate of bad press in recent months. Six months ago, the World Health Organization’s cancer arm famously classified that the chemical glyphosate in Monsanto’s flagship herbicide, Roundup, was a possible carcinogen. In recent news, the company was alsoslapped with two lawsuits, with the plaintiffs both claiming that the weedkiller caused their cancers.
Monsanto maintains the safety of its products and has also spoken out on the anti-GMO EU wave. After Latvia and Greece requested to not grow GMO-crops earlier this month, the biotech giant told Reuters that the two countries were ignoring science and refusing GMOs out of “arbitrary political grounds.”
In a statement, Monsanto said that the move from the two countries “contradicts and undermines the scientific consensus on the safety of MON810.”
Greenpeace said in its press release that it expects several more EU countries to follow in the GMO-ban wave as the deadline approaches.
Although it is not a part of the EU, Russia, as we previously covered, decided to stamp out any GMOs in its entire food production.
Here’s why: in 2011 lawmakers approved a voter ID law requiring a government-issued ID to vote, and the 31 offices the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency set for closing—which the agency said was due to the $11 million cut in the new General Fund appropriation—will take a disproportionate hit on counties that are majority African-American.
Columnist John Archibald writes that “Alabama just took a giant step backward.”
“Every single county in which blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters will see their driver license office closed,” writes columnist John Archibald. (Photo: Denise Cross Photography/flickr/cc)
“Every single county in which blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters will see their driver license office closed. Every one,” he continues, writing that the state “might as well just send an invitation to the Justice Department.”
“It’s not just a civil rights violation,” Archibald writes. “It is not just a public relations nightmare. It is not just an invitation for worldwide scorn and an alarm bell to the Justice Department. It is an affront to the very notion of justice in a nation where one man one vote is as precious as oxygen. It is a slap in the face to all who believe the stuff we teach the kids about how all are created equal.”
Columnist Kyle Whitmire makes similar charges, writing:
Depending on which counties you count as being in Alabama’s Black Belt, either twelve or fifteen Black Belt counties soon won’t have a place to get a driver’s license.
Counties where some of the state’s poorest live.
Counties that are majority African-American.
[...] When the state passed Voter ID, Republican lawmakers argued that it was supposed to prevent voter fraud. Democrats said the law was written to disenfranchise black voters and suppress the voice of the poor.
Maybe, maybe not.
But put these two things together — Voter ID and 29 counties without a place where you can get one — and Voter ID becomes what the Democrats always said it was.
A civil rights lawsuit isn’t a probability. It’s a certainty.
On its Facebook page, the ACLU of Alabama writes that the “decision to cut out ID services to almost all counties with a majority black population is discriminatory and wrong.”
“Before the Supreme Court struck down key provisions in the Voting Rights Act last year, something like this would have had to be reviewed by the Department of Justice. This is why we need to stand together and show our lawmakers that we need an update to the Voting Rights Act, and we need it now,” the organization continued.
In its Health of State Democracies assessment issued in July, which includes voting equality among the criteria, the Center for American Progress Action Fund ranked Alabama dead last, giving the state an “F” for how it fared on accessibility of the ballot.
The 142,000 September payroll jobs reported today (2 Oct 2015) by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is too small to be consistent with the still high stock averages or the alleged economic recovery. Moreover, the BLS says that it over-estimated the July and August payroll jobs by 59,000. The average workweek declined to 34.5 hours. The labor force participation rate fell further and is now the lowest in about 40 years. This is especially damning when we remember that in those long ago years many more households could exist as one-earner households.
The 5.1 percent reported unemployment rate is inconsistent with the collapse of the labor force participation rate and stands at 5.1 percent only because it includes not a single one of the millions of discouraged workers. The way BLS gets a low and comforting rate of unemployment is not to include most of the unemployed.
Were were the new jobs? If you can believe the numbers, despite the absence of retail sales growth, retail stores hired 23,700 new workers. Ambulatory health care services and hospitals hired 28,400, and 20,700 jobs were created for waitresses and bartenders. None of these jobs produce exportable goods and services.
My coauthor Dave Kranzler gives a good accounting of the shaky status of the economic part of the Matrix in which the public is kept by uninquisitive financial media. Here is Dave’s report:
October 1 – the New York Times reported that “Russian aircraft carried out a bombing attack against Syrian opposition fighters on Wednesday, including at least one group trained by the CIA, eliciting angry protests from American officials and plunging the complex sectarian war there into dangerous new territory.” The article goes on in a silly state of surprise “American officials said the attack was not directed at the Islamic State but at other opposition groups fighting against the government of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, whom Mr. Putin has vowed to support.”
So it is alright for the CIA to train anti- Assad terrorists, but not for Russia to fight them on behalf of a democratically elected leader of a sovereign country? – An election won some 15 months ago by President al-Assad by a landslide of almost 90% (88.7%), confirmed by a large delegation of international observers, representing more than 30 countries – obviously not Washington and its European puppets, who barked the election was a farce. Nobody barked at George Bush’s two farce elections, the results of which by now are proven were fraudulent and brought us the endless ‘war on terror’ – and so far an estimated 10 to 12 million deaths.
How dare the Syrians elect a President whom a foreign nation – the US of A – wants to remove by it’s traditional ‘regime change’ approach for reasons of (US) ‘national security’ – what an outright BS! – It is no longer a secret that the PNAC (Plan for A New American Century) needs Syria to fall into equal disarray and chaos as did Iraq and Libya – and Sudan, Somalia, Central Africa; Lebanon and of course Iran – and on goes the list – for the ultimate goal: America’s absolute hegemony.
The Iran nuclear ‘deal’ is a great achievement especially for Iran. No matter what Obama’s successor or a right-wing Israel influenced Congress will do with it, Iran has ‘reestablished’ itself in the international arena, even though there was effectively never a reason to accuse and sanction Iran for the pursuit of nuclear arms – which was never in her plans. Washington knows it very well, as it was reported in 2012 by the 15 most important US intelligence agencies; a fact of course, quickly silenced by the western media. The Iran nuclear arms threat was a mere monster-propaganda item to put Iran under pressure by sanctions and – what else – to provoke a ‘regime change’. It failed miserably.
An abrogation of the deal initiated by the United States in the face of the P5+1 agreement, would no doubt displease ever more of Washington’s fading group of ‘allies’ – let’s call them allies of fear. One day the fear will evaporate and convert into self-assertion and opposition. We can only hope that day will come soon. Every day lost on the way to empire’s demise claims thousands of lives by guns, bombs and weapons of mass destruction directly applied by the empire and NATO or supplied by it to its minions in the Middle East and Europe. Regardless of the ‘deal’ per se, an increasing number of fearless allies of Iran will eventually bring Iran back to where it belongs, into the world arena of free, respected and sovereign nations with strong social values for their people.
Back to the NYT article: What an almost unbelievably asinine arrogance it displays on behalf of the exceptional nation, even shamelessly admitting US interference in Syria by the CIA, long before Russia’s consideration to put an end to this atrocious and endless killing by American forces and its bowing servants.
What’s wrong with you guys at the NYT; with the MSM at large? – What is it that not even now, you the media, let alone Washington-Pentagon-NATO in their final throes can see the light – and join an effort of peace? Wouldn’t history be kinder when at least before the bitter end the empire would show some grace with a conscious effort to bring about a different world – one where people can trust each other again and where marriages of all races and creeds would re-emerge as happy family events?
Instead, as reported by Robert Parry, the Saudi air force was bombing last Monday a wedding party on Yemen’s Red Sea Coast, killing more than 130 people, including women and children. An event hardly reported on, just drowned by the steady rumbling of guns and bombs across a devastated Middle East. The Saudi’s acting with more than a tacit nod from Washington, rather as empire’s proxies, are massacring a population that has had enough of Washington imposed dictators over the last 40 years, wanting to choose as a sovereign nation their own sovereign government – which happens to be a moderate group of Moslems, the Houthis, a socially and religiously conscious movement of the 1990s, preaching tolerance and peace, eventually seeking more social justice by the Sana’a Government. The White House sledge-hammer approach to democracy could indeed not tolerate a movement of independence – and that with a socialist leaning – in one of the most strategic locations of the Middle-East, the Gulf of Aden.
One surviving relative of the wedding party said, it was difficult to determine the exact number of dead because the bodies were blasted into so many bloody pieces. “I saw no body intact,” said the uncle of one of the victims.
Such abject slaughter is what Russia intends to avoid, first for Syria, and hopefully eventually for the entire Middle-East. Mr. Putin is not seeking ‘regime change’, nor expansion of territory, as western pundits would like you to believe, but stability in a part of the world that has suffered over the last sixty years endless atrocities at the bloody hands of the Anglo-Zionist empire.
Yes, it is also a region awash in energy- hydrocarbons that today’s world still depends on, and with neoliberal values, he who controls energy, controls the flows of money and ultimately the people – the world – and who shall live and who shall die.
When comparing Obama’s and Putin’s recent speeches before the UN General Assembly, it is sickening to listen to Obama’s pathetic almost pity invoking lies-upon- lies-upon lies which he must deliver by orders of his military corporate and Wall Street financial masters. By contrast President Putin laid down the hard facts. Without mentioning names referring to the’western colleagues’ interfering in other sovereign nations – Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Iraq – to name just a few, creating chaos, devastating them to rubble, causing uncountable dead and misery; and ultimately responsible for the current flood of refugees – now used by the US-think-tankers (sic) strategists as a weapon to destabilize Europe, to make it more vulnerable, moldable, easier to control and subdue – just in case one or the other of the puppet governments may wake up and change sides
The NYT infers that it is OK for the exceptional nation to organize Color Revolutions, a euphemism for ‘regime change’, but not for Russia to help an ally to defend itself against proven US – Saudi – NATO armed, trained and financed ISIS/L - Daesh terrorists. – What planet are you living on?
Mr. Putin has clearly defined the two legal options to interfere in an independent sovereign country, (i) with a UN Security Council Mandate, or (ii) at the request of the official and legal Government.
The Syrian Government asked the Russian Federation for support against the foreign sustained terrorist insurgency. The Duma, Russian Parliament, gave green light to its government to help Syria fight against this western created terror, called at times ISIS/L or Daesh, al-Nusra or even Al Qaeda, you name it, whatever suits best the moment, when confusion is needed and shades of lesser or stronger terror are defined to justify US intervention. An intervention never, but never with the objective of bringing about peace and stop the killing, but always-always to produce chaos, disaster, destruction, massive death – and ultimately regime change – in the case of Syria to unseat the elected President Bashar al-Assad, who still today – after the western sponsored ‘civil war’ claimed more than 300,000 dead and more than 3 million refugees and mounting – enjoys a popularity among Syrians of more than 75%.
None of the western interferences meet the international criteria of legality, as defined by the Charter of the UN and cited by Mr. Putin – the request of an officially elected sovereign government, and / or the mandate of the UN Security Council. None, absolutely none, of the countless US war-mongering intrusions in sovereign contraries around the globe correspond to these principles.
Mr. Putin has called for an international coalition to join Russia to fight and eliminate the destructive and destabilizing terror forces that are threatening not only Syria, but the entire Middle-East, and make no mistake, ultimately these nefarious killing organizations may also threaten Russia, especially acting as well-armed and funded front-army for Washington. Nobody will blame Russia for defending her national interests.
The coalition so far includes Iraq, which hosts an international intelligence center, Iran, Syria and Russia – and lately, to the detriment of and as a serious set-back to the empire, it looks like China may also join the alliance to protect the region and stop the expansion of western-made atrocities carried out by the extremist Islamic State movements. Washington and its European vassals would, of course, never join an alliance that is bound to defend the livelihoods of populations of sovereign nations – and less so when the idea of such a coalition comes from and is led by Russia.
Enters the ultimate spineless non-character, France’s François Hollande, the epitome of Washington boot-licking. France’s air force is bombing Mr. Assad’s ground troops, so that the ‘moderates’ – aka, the different shades of the Islamic State, can advance towards Damascus. They may have a tough time. Mr. Putin has warned them – all the western ‘colleagues’- to be careful and not to interfere in the paths of Russian fighter planes, lest to risk a clash among ‘colleagues’.
The kaleidoscope of shades looks at the outset like a mosaic of western and Mid-Eastern belligerent forces – all pursuing their own interests to the detriment of millions of lives and livelihoods – and all – Washington Gulf cronies, the European spineless marionettes, the hosts of NATO – with the ultimate goal to help the emperor achieve Full Spectrum Dominance, a buzz word of the PNAC – and maybe, just maybe earn a few kudos, some meager crumbs of the spoil, for having been good boys.
What becomes increasingly likely – as the western media’s mass propaganda are demolishing Putin and his peace seeking mission – is the emergence of a proxy-war between the two super powers. The US needs war to sustain its economy, as it did before entering the two WWs. We can just hope that common sense and Mr. Putin’s wisdom will prevent Washington’s aggression from turning the world into rubble.
It may not happen. The Russia-China alliance, expanded by the other BRICS states (Brazil, India, South Africa) and the SCO nations (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) are demonstrating an alternative more peaceful co-habitation among sovereign countries. After all, they comprise at least half of the world’s population and about one third of our globe’s economic output – and their door is open for any country to join – not by force, but by free will – as the dawn on the eastern horizon demarks clearly a new socioeconomic and political future; a new all-encompassing Eastern Silk Road.
“We can no longer tolerate the state of affairs in the world.” President Vladimir Putin
Last Wednesday (28 Sept 2015) the world saw the difference between Russia and Washington. Putin’s approach is truth-based; Obama’s is vain boasts and lies, and Obama is running out of lies.
By telling the truth at a time of universal deceit, Putin committed a revolutionary act. Referring to the slaughter, destruction, and chaos that Washington has brought to the Middle East, North Africa, and Ukraine, and the extreme jihadist forces that have been unleashed, Putin asked Washington: “Do you realize what you have done?”
Putin’s question reminds me of the question Joseph Welch asked witch-hunting Senator Joseph McCarthy: “Have you no sense of decency?” Welch’s question is attributed with initiating the decline of McCarthy’s career.
Perhaps Putin’s question will have the same impact and bring the reign of “American Exceptionalism” to an end.
If so, Putin has launched a revolution that will overthrow the world’s subservience to Washington.
Putin stresses the legality of Russia’s intervention in Syria, which is at the request of the Syrian government. He contrasts Russia’s respect for international law with the intervention in Syria of Washington and France, governments that are violating Syria’s sovereignty with unrequested and illegal military action.
The world sees that it is Washington and its vassals who “violate international norms” and not Russia.
The sanctimonious self-righteousness, behind which hides Washington’s self-serving unilateral actions, is revealed for all to see.
Washington relies on its arsenal of lies. Washington’s media-based disinformation apparatus was too hot to trot. Just as the BBC’s TV reporter announced the premature destruction of World Trade Center Building 7 with the building clearly still standing in the background, Washington’s lie service announced the first civilian casualties of Russian air strikes “even before our planes got in the air,” noted President Putin in his comments on Washington’s disinformation warfare.
As a consequence of their subservience to Washington, the puppet states of Europe are being overrun by refugees from Washington’s wars that Europe so mindlessly enabled. As the cost of being Washington’s vassals comes home to Europeans, the standings of European political parties will be affected. New parties and ruling coalitions are likely to follow more independent paths in order to protect themselves from the costs of the enormous mistakes that flow from Washington’s arrogance and hubris.
The Labour Party conference this week closed with a row between shadow cabinet members over the renewal of the Trident nuclear WMD system.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sanely asserted he would never launch nuclear weapons if he became prime minister. But shadow defence secretary Maria Eagle and shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn said that such affirmations were “unhelpful” — thereby indicating that they might support pressing the nuclear button, and immolating several million people in a split second.
At the beginning of June in his first parliamentary speech as Labour’s new shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn made some important observations and arguments.
Adorned in the garb of a great social liberal, he marked the 50th anniversary of the suspension of capital punishment in Britain, which was followed by its abolition four years later, by saying: “The most important human right is the right to life,” adding that “we oppose the use of the death penalty in all circumstances.”
But oddly in the same speech he opined: “The ultimate responsibility of government is to defend the nation, and we remain committed to a minimum credible independent nuclear capability delivered through continuous at-sea deterrence while supporting global, multilateral disarmament negotiations and further reductions in stockpiles and numbers of weapons.”
Any use of nuclear weapons of mass destruction would result in the deaths, not of individuals by judicial fiat, but tens of millions of innocent civilian men, women and children, by political direction. Yet Benn argues in favour of this system to “defend the nation.”
His father, the great teacher and orator, long-time MP and minister, the late Tony Benn, had diametrically opposite views on the nature of nuclear weapons to his curiously misguided son.
Hilary Benn was very sensitive to criticism, especially calling his late father’s socialist and humanitarian views to attention, when I emailed him recently after his advocacy of Trident nuclear WMD in Parliament.
Here are just a few (of hundreds) denunciations of nuclear WMD by his father.
What’s the point of nuclear weapons? You can’t use them … multilateralism … It’s an illusion. (Total Politics 2009.)
You see, I resigned from the front bench 50 years ago because I was a defence spokesman, the first shadow job I had, because I couldn’t contemplate circumstances where we would ever be able to use nuclear weapons. Interviewed by Andrew Neil.)
Under the arrangements that Britain has with the US that allow us access to their nuclear technology in the Trident programme, America has long insisted that it should have access to all our intelligence material. (The Guardian 2005.)
In Tony Benn’s Letters to my Grandchildren, published in June 2010, he argues against developing Trident.
He describes how our nuclear weapons are dependent on the US — because we use their technology — and thus the “nuclear deterrent” is far from independent.
He questions whether nuclear weapons work as a deterrent for war anyway, and cites the Falklands war and various others. He also mentions the vast sums of money spent on Trident and the planetary disaster of a nuclear war, explaining that any person with good sense would not sanction the use of nuclear weapons.
In response to this, a prime minister who supports nuclear weapons would have to reassure everyone that he or she would be prepared to use nuclear weapons.
That is, the prime minister would be reassuring us that he or she is prepared to approve the killing of millions of people.
Hilary Benn, Maria Eagle and fellow nuclear travellers in the shadow cabinet should reconsider this betrayal of humanity they currently now advocate, in backing Trident nuclear WMD and their renewal at a cost of £100 billion to British taxpayers.
Corbyn is right on this life-and-death matter.
Dr David Lowry is former director of the European Proliferation Information Centre.