The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreed to in Vienna by the P5+1 countries and Iran is clearly a landmark agreement, one which will significantly alter the political and economic balance of power in the Middle East, as well as the global strategic picture. However, amidst the chorus of celebration from many capitals around the world, and condemnations from Israel, some of the Gulf states, and certain segments in Iran, much of the geopolitical significance of the agreement has been overlooked.
From this perspective, the deal is more than simply a new chapter in Iran’s relations with the West and the world at large; it is the agreement by which Iran will transform itself from a potentially powerful, though politically and economically isolated country, to an emerging regional power that will become a linchpin of the strategies of both the western and non-western worlds. Of course, this potential benefit came at the cost of major concessions from Tehran, concessions which are in many ways difficult to justify, especially within the context of Iranian domestic politics where issues of national pride have a very real political currency and cannot necessarily be measured in rials, euros, and dollars.
However, an analysis of the impact of the deal cannot simply be relegated to what is in Iran’s immediate interests, nor those of the P5+1 countries, but rather must take into account the long-term strategic imperatives of each. Moreover, the emerging non-western alliance of BRICS, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), New Silk Road, and Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) broadly speaking, factor significantly into this deal. So too does Turkey, both an important trading partner for Iran, but also a political adversary.
Seen in this way, the agreement reached in Vienna is a watershed in early 21st Century geopolitics and economic development, one which will have vast implications for years, and perhaps decades, to come.
A Nuclear Deal, a Business Deal
While the specifics of the agreement hinge on a number of specific issues such as the timetable for the lifting of sanctions and the arms embargo, the accepted level of uranium enrichment, and many other technical specifications, the agreement is not, in and of itself, a purely technical deal. Rather, it is in many ways an economic agreement. Put slightly differently, the deal was made possible, and driven to its completion, because of economic incentives on both sides.
For Iran the motivation is clear: ending the sanctions will allow it to return to normalcy and its economy to regain its dynamism lost since the imposition of sanctions in 2007, as well as providing Iran with access to an international market both for imports and exports, as well as financing and investment. In short, Iran’s central concern was having the ability to reintegrate itself into the global economy in order to continue to grow its economic and political power.
For the US and its western partners, this agreement provides a new opportunity for corporations to rake in untold billions of dollars in profits by penetrating a virtually untapped market for everything from consumer goods to energy investments and financial services. In this way, Iran offers the potential for massive profits from a market comprised of tens of millions of highly educated citizens and thousands of small and medium sized companies looking to make deals and grow in the near and long term.
From the financial side, the benefits are clear. As the Wall Street Journal recently wrote:
Iran’s $100 billion stock market is a major focus, given that there is no limit on foreign investment and [investors] view it as severely undervalued… If Iran transitions from a fringe market dominated by local investors to an open one with a size commensurate with its economy, the upside could be huge. Companies listed on the Tehran exchange are worth about 28% of the country’s gross domestic product, a lower ratio than most of the largest emerging markets.
In other words, international investors, be they western corporations, venture capitalists, or asset managers see in Iran an emerging market that, unlike some other emerging markets in the world, already has much of the technical infrastructure in place to rake in massive profits. Rather than having to wait to train the engineers, computer technicians, scientists, and entrepreneurs, these capitalist interests will be able to simply enter the market with their major cash holdings, and immediately capitalize on it.
There is, of course, also the question of investment in Iran’s vast energy sector. It is certainly no secret that the Islamic Republic has one of the largest reserves of energy in the world, as it has been a major player on the global market for decades. However, because of the sanctions, not only has the world been closed off to Iran to a large extent, but Iran has likewise been a no-go zone for energy investments, especially for major corporations. In one of the most high profile examples of this point, France’s energy giant Total was forced to suspend its billions of investments in Iran in 2008 due to sanctions and the political risk associated with the country. Undoubtedly Total and its western and non-western competitors are anxious to get back into Iran.
As Bloomberg correctly noted in late March 2015 on the eve of the initial framework agreement which laid the groundwork for the negotiations in Vienna, “[Iran] is emerging again as a potential prize for Western oil companies such as BP, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Eni SpA and Total SA. The Chinese can also be expected to enter the race, while U.S. companies, more burdened by sanctions and legacy, will be further down the pack…‘Iran is the big prize…The resource size is very attractive.’” Depending on political circumstances both in the US and Iran, US oil companies such as Exxon-Mobil and Chevron might have a difficult time penetrating that market, but that shouldn’t be an issue for their European competitors, nor for China’s massive Sinopec and Chinese National Petroleum.
It is important to remember that the market for consumer goods in Iran is massive, stemming from the upper-middle income nature of Iran’s population, and its long-standing taste for western trends. Companies such as Coca-Cola and Starbucks, Apple and Dell are all highly desirable in a country where more than half the population has internet access, literacy among the 15-24 year old demographic is 98%, and per capita income is higher than Brazil and South Africa, both members of BRICS. Iran is also a massive potential market for automobile and airplane manufacturers, both sectors highly sought after by Iranian consumers and companies.
One could easily wonder though why the Obama administration, and the major segment of the US ruling establishment that it represents, would push so hard for this deal when it’s unlikely that US companies are going to benefit from it to nearly the same extent as those in Europe and other parts of the world might? Is it merely that Obama is trying to shore up his own legacy, crowning his tenure in office with a deal of historic proportions, or is there another motive?
Neutralizing Iran: A Lever against Eurasia?
Anyone who understands the imperial and hegemonic agenda of the US should immediately understand that there is an ulterior motive for Washington in securing this deal, one which has nothing to do with morality, peace, or cooperation. Instead, the US wants to transform Iran from a regional and global adversary into something of an asset. This is not to say that Tehran and Washington will become instant allies, but rather the idea that Iran could be made into a neutral party, one that will cease to be an obstacle to the US agenda.
Essentially, the strategy relies on the tried and true colonial tactic of “divide and conquer,” or perhaps more appropriate in this case, “divide and neutralize.” What the US would like to achieve is a sort of fracturing of the Iranian political establishment, where the business elites with tremendous influence in Iranian society will have a vested interest in not creating or exacerbating tensions with their associates in the West, thereby making Iran into a de facto partner for western-led hegemony. Were Iran’s political leadership to become less assertive in the region and internationally thanks to internal pressure from powerful economic and business interests, this would greatly benefit US plans, and of course those of its allies in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and, despite its belligerent rhetoric, Israel.
Consider for a moment how Iran might have responded to the war in Syria had it not been economically isolated from the West. Does anyone truly believe that Tehran would have been as steadfast in its support for Damascus and Hezbollah if it stood to lose hundreds of billions of dollars in long term investment and ran the risk of crippling its own economy? It may seem counter-intuitive, but the harsh sanctions and restrictions on Iran gave it far more freedom to act independently in the region as it was exposed to far less economic risk. Were Iran instead cooperating with the West, it is a virtual certainty that the Syrian government would have long since fallen, and Syria would be a failed state similar to Libya or, at best, a puppet state of Turkey.
The importance of this point should not be understated. Iran’s lack of economic engagement with the West allowed it to grow into the counter-terrorism force that it has become in the region. Military experts understand that, despite the bellicose language employed by Obama and US political elites and their media mouthpieces, Iran is the single most effective force fighting against the Islamic State and Wahhabi extremism generally throughout the Middle East. Take away Iran’s motivation to be assertive, and complicate the puzzle with competing interests in Iran’s domestic politics, and suddenly you find that that force becomes far less potent, and the region becomes far more dangerous.
Perhaps the single most important objective for US strategic planners though is to prevent Iran’s integration into the emerging non-western, Eurasian political, economic, and military architecture. Washington has watched over the last few years as institutions such as BRICS, the SCO, the New Silk Roads, and the EEU grew from drawing board ideas into tangible realities which now threaten to coalesce into all-encompassing geopolitical alliances.
With Russia and China becoming closer by the day, and the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia following suit, regional integration has been proceeding at breakneck speed. Add to that the emergence of a still chaotic, but increasingly less NATO-dependent Afghanistan, along with the newly added SCO members India and Pakistan, and it is clear that the United States is faced with a daunting geopolitical imperative.
Therefore, the US must create a mechanism to slow down, if not stop and reverse, this burgeoning integration. It is here that Iran serves its most useful purpose in the eyes of imperialists in the US whose primary goal is the maintenance and expansion of US hegemony for another hundred years.
While Iran already has “observer” status in the SCO, its formal relationship with the bloc is uncertain at best. There are some who believe that the lifting of sanctions and normalization of relations would lead to Iran’s quick accession to the SCO. However this is perhaps a bit of wishful thinking.
With Iran free to make such decisions, it might decide that it has vested economic interests in the West that would make jeopardizing them with Russian and Chinese friendship a risky move. Iran could be made to feel that the advantages it will easily gain from cooperation with the West outweigh the potential of junior status within the SCO-EEU-New Silk Road framework, especially with Iran being a competitor with Russia for energy exports both to Europe and China. Indeed, this is part of the calculus as far as Washington sees it, that is to say, those in Washington with even a little vision. They want to force Iran into a competitive, rather than cooperative, relationship with Russia. Additionally, they’d like to see Iran playing the role of SCO home-wrecker, as it plays China against India in major investments such as Chabahar, the all-important Iranian port seen as a major prize by both Beijing and Delhi.
In this way, the US wants to remake Iran from a bulwark against US-NATO-GCC-Israeli hegemony, into a weapon to be used as a wedge against BRICS-SCO-EEU-New Silk Road cooperation. If this sounds far-fetched, it shouldn’t; this is precisely the same sort of tactics the US employed throughout the Cold War with many different countries that it sought to “weaponize” against the Soviet Union and the non-aligned states.
With a “New Cold War” being trumpeted by many, as well as the growing US-China conflicts in the South China Sea, Washington seeks to remake the geopolitical chessboard in both Eastern Europe and Asia. In order to do so it must realign its strategy and forge new alliances, de facto or otherwise. The seemingly eternal villain of Iran might just fit the bill.
Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City, he is the founder of StopImperialism.org and OP-ed columnist for RT, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
Face the Nation‘s John Dickerson grilling cabinet members Ernest Moniz and John Kerry about a nonexistent promise to get Iran to agree to inspections “anytime, anywhere.”
When Face the Nation‘s John Dickerson (7/19/15) interviewed Secretary of State John Kerry and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz about the Iran deal, his second question—after “when [Americans] see Iranians dancing in the street with this deal, why shouldn’t they be suspicious about it?”—was about the fact that it doesn’t give the United States the ability to inspect anyplace in Iran with no notice. Dickerson cited the Israeli prime minister:
One of the real opponents of this deal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said of the 24-day waiting period on inspections, he said, you wouldn’t tell a drug dealer, give them 24-day notice. They would just flush the drugs down the toilet.
Does he have a point?
Moniz made the obvious point that you can’t actually flush a secret nuclear program “down the toilet”:
I don’t think that’s really an option here with nuclear materials…. We feel very confident in the capability of IAEA with environmental sampling to detect any nuclear activity very, very long after it has occurred.
But Dickerson persisted, turning to Kerry: “What happened, Mr. Secretary, with anytime, anywhere?” To which the secretary of State responded: “There’s no such thing in arms control as anytime, anywhere. There isn’t any nation in the world, none, that has an anytime, anywhere.”
But, persisted Dickerson, “Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser, said in April you will have anywhere, anytime, 24-7 access.”
That’s not actually what Rhodes said; when asked about “anywhere, anytime” by CNN‘s Jake Tapper (4/6/15), he responded, “Well, Jake, first of all, under this deal, you will have anywhere, anytime 24/7 access as it relates to the nuclear facilities that Iran has.” In other words, anywhere that’s a nuclear facility–not anywhere in the country that the US happens to be curious about. (Rhodes clarified this the same day in an interview with Israeli TV—see Politifact, 7/19/15.) Kerry and Moniz said pretty much the same thing to Dickerson.
This obviously left Dickerson unsatisfied: “We will have to move on there,” he said, before going on to ask a question about how the deal will not prevent the “terrorist nation” of Iran from having a conventional military.
Perhaps the discussion would have been more satisfying—if not for Dickerson, then for viewers—if anyone had acknowledged the reality that it would be foolish for Iran to accept unlimited inspections at any location on its territory because the United States has in the past used inspections as a cover for espionage that facilitated military attacks. As Jon Schwarz put it in a piece in The Intercept (7/15/15):
All countries have things they legitimately want to hide, such as conventional military secrets and the security procedures of their leaders…. During the 1990s the US demonstrated with Iraq that it would routinely abuse the weapons inspections process in order to uncover such legitimate secrets—and use them to target the Iraqi military and try to overthrow the Iraqi government.
These efforts are not exactly a secret to US corporate media; the Washington Post and Boston Globe jointly broke the news that the UN’s UNSCOM inspection program in Iraq had been used for US military espionage on January 6, 1999 (written up by Seth Ackerman in FAIR’s Extra!, 3-4/99, 11-12/02). In the Globe‘s words, UNSCOM concealed “an ambitious spying operation designed to penetrate Iraq’s intelligence apparatus and track the movement of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.”
The Post (1/17/99) later revealed that intelligence garnered through the UNSCOM spying was used to bomb military targets in Iraq, with military analyst William Arkin writing:
National security insiders, blessed with their unprecedented intelligence bonanza from UNSCOM, convinced themselves that bombing Saddam Hussein’s internal apparatus would drive the Iraqi leader around the bend.
Rather than apologizing for this misuse of the inspections process, Washington insiders defended it. USA Today (3/3/99) reported:
Experts say it is naive to believe that the United States and other governments would not have used the opportunity presented by the UN commission to spy on a country that provoked the Persian Gulf War.
So it wasn’t considered debatable at the time—though a few years later, when the US was gearing up for an invasion of Iraq, US media started treating it as an allegation made by Iraq rather than an actual operation that had been exposed by leading US papers (as Ackerman documented—Extra!, 11-12/02).
And now that the US is trying to get inspectors into another Mideast country, no one in a position to either ask or answer questions on elite news shows like Face the Nation even recalls the scandal—or, if they do, they’re too polite to mention it.
As Anthony Gucciardi shared with you on July 1st, the study incorporated years of research into a serious conclusion that could help activists remove fluoride from the water worldwide.
The sanitation district board members at Snowmassdecided that ‘it wasn’t in the business of medicating’ its citizens, shortly after the federal government revised its recommendations regarding public-water fluoridation to lower the allowable levels. They recently voted to discontinue fluoridating the unincorporated city’s water even though a prominent member of the board was a dentist who did not vote in favor of halting the practice.
Ward Johnson has been practicing dentistry in Snowmass since 1992. He said:
“In my opinion, the only thing that has changed is we have toothpaste with fluoride now. Without systemically ingesting that fluoride, … you do not get the lifetime of benefit that you get when fluoride is in your enamel.”
Other countries around the world have found that water fluoridation does not positively affect dental carries, otherwise known as cavities. Though two-thirds of America suffers scientifically proven health risks associated to water fluoridation, there is ample evidence that this practice does nothing to help improve dental health.
There is a reason the rest of the world doesn’t fluoridate the water. In a recent shift, the Supreme Court of Israel ruled that Israel must stop adding fluoride into public water supplies in one year, following a decision on fluoride’s potential toxicity to humans by the Israeli health minister.
Only 369 million of the world’s 7 billion people drink water that is purposefully fluoridated, yet the US ranks among the top countries that still fluoridates its water.
Dave Dawson, another member of Snowmass’ board said:
“Only recently have the studies been done on the effects of fluoride beyond your teeth. People can fluoridate if they wish. I don’t see it as our business to medicate the public.”
The district will immediately stop fluoridating their water following the board vote.
If you want to learn more about water fluoridation risks, you can look to the many articles discussing this topic at Natural Society and other great health resources.
After 20 months of negotiations, the Obama administration last week reached agreement with Iran, China, France, Russia, the UK and Germany on a 15-year accord to “normalize” Iran’s civil nuclear program. Should this agreement survive the opposition of sections of the US ruling elite, it will constitute a significant tactical shift on the part of US imperialism, one with potentially far-reaching implications.
Since the 1979 Iranian revolution toppled the Shah’s bloody US-backed dictatorship, implacable opposition to Iran has been a constant in US foreign policy. During the past 12 years, Washington dramatically intensified its campaign of bullying and threats. Having ordered the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, respectively Iran’s eastern and western neighbors, George W. Bush twice came close to launching war against Iran.
In 2009, the Obama administration sought to bring about regime-change in Tehran via a “Green Revolution” fomented through unsubstantiated claims of a stolen election. Two years later, Washington cajoled its European allies to join the US in imposing the most punishing economic sanctions ever deployed outside a war.
Now, in exchange for sweeping concessions from Iran, Washington has agreed to suspend the economic sanctions and provide Tehran a 15-year path to “normalize” its civil nuclear program.
Obama has stipulated that last week’s agreement with Tehran is limited to the constraints on its civil nuclear program. Yet Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and other leading US officials have also made clear that they view the agreement as exploratory, a means to test Iran’s intentions. Their policy of “engagement” with Iran is a strategic bet that through a combination of continuing pressure and inducements, including an influx of Western investment, US imperialism will be able to harness Tehran to its predatory agenda.
The Republican Party leadership, the Wall Street Journal and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) are publicly opposing this shift. They are demanding that Obama extract iron-clad guarantees of Tehran’s submission and warning against sidelining the US’s traditional Mideast client states, above all Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The public bluster of the Republicans, however, is not necessarily an indication of the real intentions of the main decision-makers in the Republican Party. To some extent, the Republicans’ opposition can prove useful to Obama in prying further concessions from Tehran. That said, it is far from certain the Iran nuclear accord will be implemented, let alone endure.
The nuclear accord and the fractious ruling class debate over it are a reflection of the mounting problems that US imperialism faces as it seeks through aggression and war to offset the erosion of its relative economic power and to confront multiplying challenges to its global hegemony.
There is deep dissatisfaction within the US ruling class over the outcome of the three major wars the US has waged in the broader Middle East over the past decade-and-a-half. In Ukraine, Washington has thus far been stymied, with the sanctions imposed on Russia failing to produce the desired results. To the Obama administration’s dismay, many of its closest allies, led by Britain, defied the US and signed up as founding members of the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Development Bank earlier this year.
All of this has left the Obama administration and the US ruling class groping for an effective, integrated plan of attack.
Certain things can be said concerning the trajectory of US imperialism, the strategic calculations that underlie the proposed shift in US relations with Iran, and the implications of this shift:
* Obama and the entire US ruling elite are determined to maintain US global hegemony through military force.
There is something decidedly ominous about the president’s repeated proclamations over the past week that the failure of his diplomatic turn to Iran would result in war. These comments underscore that Washington is far from renouncing violence and point to the explosive character of global relations.
* Central to American imperialism’s global strategy is dominance over Eurasia, the vast land mass that is home to almost two-thirds of the world’s population.
In pursuit of this aim, Washington has long viewed Iran as an especially significant prize. The country stands at the intersection of three continents (Europe, Asia and Africa), commands the Straits of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of the world’s exported oil flows, straddles two of the world’s most energy-rich regions (Central Asia and the Middle East), and itself possesses the world’s second largest natural gas and fourth largest oil reserves.
* Washington’s trumped-up conflict with Iran over its nuclear program was never just about Iranian-US relations. Nor was it solely about control of the Middle East. It always involved the broader question of US relations with the world’s major powers.
Even as US dependence on Mideast oil has declined, Washington has stepped up its efforts to maintain control over the Middle East so as to ensure domination over a region that supplies many of its principal competitors in Europe and Asia, including China and Japan, with much of their oil.
* When Obama claims, as he has repeatedly done, that for US imperialism war is the only alternative to a nuclear deal with Iran that realizes many but not all of Washington’s objectives, he is, for once, not lying.
Had the sanctions regime started to unravel, Washington would have faced a demonstrable challenge to its pretensions to world leadership, one that it could not walk away from without suffering a major geo-political defeat. In response, it would have been obliged to extend the sanctions–in other words, retaliate against the “sanctions-busters” by freezing their overseas assets and denying Iran access to the US-European controlled world banking system. Or, in order to avoid such action, which could quickly spiral into a military confrontation with China or Russia, the US would have been compelled to render the issue moot by abandoning the sanctions in favor of all-out war.
The Pentagon has long been planning and gaming such a war. And while the American people know nothing of these plans, in various think tank reports it is openly admitted that a war with Iran—a country four times the size of Iraq and with nearly three times the population, and which has significant state and foreign militia allies—would quickly envelop the entire Middle East. It would further inflame the US-stoked Sunni-Shia sectarian conflict and, at the very least, tie down much of the US military for a protracted period. Last, but not least, such a war would incite rising popular opposition in the US, where class tensions are already fraught after decades of social reaction.
Obama is arguing that US imperialism has a cheaper, more prudent alternative. One, moreover, that, as Defence Secretary Ashton Carter boasted Sunday, “does nothing to prevent the military option” in the future.
* The agreement with Iran has been designed to give the US the maximum leverage over Iran and the maximum strategic flexibility. Should Tehran prove insufficiently pliant or should circumstances change, the US can initiate procedures to automatically “snap back” the sanctions and pivot back to confrontation with Iran.
Moreover, all of Obama’s arguments in favor of the nuclear accord—his assertion that it is better to “test” Iran’s intentions than immediately embark on a war that could prove hugely damaging to US imperialism’s strategic interests—are predicated on Washington’s supposed right to wage pre-emptive war against Iran.
* The Obama administration sees Western engagement with Iran as a means of preventing Tehran from being drawn into closer partnership with China and Russia. China is already Iran’s biggest trading partner and Russia its most important military-strategic partner.
A further US priority is to see if it can enlist Iranian support in stabilizing the Middle East under Washington’s leadership. The US and Iran are already at least tacitly allied in supporting the Iraqi government and Iraqi Kurdish militia in opposing ISIS in Iraq.
The Obama administration has also served notice that it intends to use the nuclear agreement to pressure Iran to assist it in reaching a political agreement in Syria that would see Bashar al-Assad’s Baathist regime replaced by one more amenable to US interests. Reversing previous US policy, Obama announced last week that Tehran should “be part of the conversation” in resolving the Syrian conflict.
* Longer term, the supporters of Obama’s Iran gambit aim to “turn” Iran, transforming it into an advance post of US imperialism in the Middle East and all Eurasia. That means to return the country to the type of neo-colonial subjugation that existed under the Shah’s regime.
Toward this end, Washington plans to probe and exploit the deep fissures within Iran’s bourgeois-clerical regime. It is keenly aware that the reins of Iran’s government are now in the hands of a faction (led by ex-president Hashemi Rafsanjani and his protégé, the current president, Hassan Rouhani) that has argued since at least 1989 for a rapprochement with Washington and has longstanding close ties to European capital.
* The Iran nuclear accord only intensifies the contradictions in US foreign policy, laying the basis for future shocks.
While exploring engagement with Iran, Washington is seeking to placate its traditional regional allies by showering them with offers of new weapons systems and increased military and intelligence cooperation. These actions threaten Tehran, which—notwithstanding the relentless US media campaign aimed at depicting it as an aggressor—already faces a massive military technology gap, not just with Israel, but with Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies.
Nor can the US afford to stand idly by as the European powers scramble to get back into Iran. On Sunday, Germany’s Vice-Chancellor and SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel arrived in Iran at the head of a German business delegation. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said he will soon follow.
To secure support from the US ruling elite, Obama is stressing that he has only agreed to lift the latest round of US sanctions on Iran. Other sanctions imposed in the name of opposing terrorism remain, meaning US corporations continue to be effectively barred from doing business in Iran.
If the US is not to lose out in the race to secure Iranian assets, it must either move forward with rapprochement—over the strenuous opposition of Washington’s current Mideast allies–or revert back to confrontation and demand the Europeans and others follow suit.
* Other strategic calculations, many of a pragmatic and short-term character, also appear to be bound up with the Obama administration’s decision to consummate a deal with Iran now. One cannot make firm judgments about these calculations, as events are moving rapidly and Washington’s policies are fraught with contradictions.
However, it was striking that in the lengthy interview Obama gave to the New York Times last week, the US president praised President Vladimir Putin, saying the agreement with Tehran could not have been reached without Russia’s strong support. He added that he had been “encouraged” by a recent phone call Putin made to talk about Syria. “That,” declared Obama, “offers us an opportunity to have a serious conversation with them.”
Is it possible that Obama is considering responding positively to Putin’s pleas for a ratcheting down of tensions over Ukraine in exchange for Moscow’s abandonment of Syria’s Assad? Could this be bound up not just with the crisis of US policy in the Middle East, but also with growing tensions between Washington and Berlin? Could this be intended as a shot-across-the-bow to Germany?
The US ruling elite has reacted with dismay to Germany’s cavalier role in the recent negotiations between the EU and Greece—not out of any concern for the Greek masses, but because of Berlin’s bald assertion of its new role as Europe’s disciplinarian.
Should the US ruling elite ultimately opt to move forward with the Iran deal, it will be from the standpoint of better positioning itself to withstand challenges to its dominance, including through military means, from its more formidable opponents, not only Russia and China, but also Germany, Japan and the other imperialist powers.
Since the swine flu panic that was widespread in 2009, prompting more than 60 million people to get vaccinated against it, countless amounts of individuals – predominantly children – have developed a range of health conditions. Mainly, brain damage has been the issue; everything from sleep disturbances and memory impairments to hallucinations and mental illness have been experienced by those who received the swine flu vaccine.
Most medical professionals and Big Pharma folks are quick to defend and recommend such vaccines; of course pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the manufacturers of the swine flu vaccine, Pandemrix, is a key player in this regard. However, they’ve come under fire recently and rather than sit under a protective you-can’t-touch-me cloak, the pharma giant has been ordered to pay about $60 million to the UK government after it was determined that Pandemrix played a role in causing brain damage in a range of cases.
“No doubt” swine flu vaccine linked to brain damage
“There’s no doubt in my mind whatsoever that Pandemrix increased the occurrence of narcolepsy onset in children in some countries – and probably in most countries,” says Emmanuelle Mignot, a specialist in sleep disorder at Stanford University who looked into the effects of the vaccine.
About 80 percent of those affected have been children, but GSK continually turned a blind eye. Even when a study came out showing that vaccinated children where 13 times more likely to develop narcolepsy, the company didn’t admit any link. Even when, in 2011, the European Medicines Agency issued a warning that people under 20 should refrain from getting the vaccine, GSK didn’t pay attention. They maintain that they are professionals dedicated to human health; the GSK website currently says, “At GSK responsible business is how we do business. Our mission is to improve the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better, live longer.”
Sure, tell that to eight-year-old Josh Hadfield, from Somerset, England. He took Pandemrix and guess what? He’s now on anti-narcolepsy drugs to help keep him awake in school, something which costs approximately $15,000 annually.
“If you make him laugh, he collapses. His memory is shot. There is no cure,” his mother says. “He says he wishes he hadn’t been born. I feel incredibly guilty about letting him have the vaccine.”
GSK web site puts emphasis on “delivering financial performance”
Interestingly, the same GSK website that talks about the company’s responsibility to help others feel good and live long lives also touches on a more pressing issue, at least for them – and it’s one that says a mouthful. Just a few sentences below its statement of health dedication, in larger font that stands out from the rest of the copy, it says, “How we operate is just as important to us as delivering financial performance.” The statement is attributed to Sir Andrew Witty, GSK CEO. So there you have it. That, my friends, is it in a nutshell, basically as close as we’ll come to “hearing” straight from the source itself that all Big Pharma truly has in mind is the health of their numbers.
Of course the fact that GSK will be paying the UK government millions of dollars to those who now have brain damage from taking Pandemrix also speaks volumes. It acts as an admission that taking the vaccine is indeed a health problem; otherwise, why would GSK be on board with giving money to those who are now hardly able to function in their daily lives? It they truly felt they were in the right, they’d stand firm and refuse to make any payments, right?
“There has never been a case like this before,” says Peter Todd, a lawyer who represented many of the claimants in the U.K. “The victims of this vaccine have an incurable and lifelong condition and will require extensive medication.”
It’s expected that even more people will develop brain injuries associated with taking the swine flu vaccine, especially narcolepsy and cataplexy, which makes a person lose consciousness whenever they experience deep emotions such as the basic act of laughing.
Retired US Army General Wesley Clark called for the internment of persons deemed “disloyal” to the United States government in an interview with MSNBC last Friday.
Warning of the threat posed by “lone wolf” attacks similar to last week’s mass shooting in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Clark advocated stepped-up surveillance of US communities and pre-emptive detention of persons suspected of ideological or political opposition to US government policies.
“We have got to identify the people who are most likely to be radicalized. We’ve got to cut this off at the beginning,” Clark said.
“On a national policy level, we need to look at what self-radicalization means, because we are at war with this group of terrorists,” the former top military commander added.
“They do have an ideology. In World War II, if someone supported Nazi Germany at the expense of the United States, we didn’t say that was freedom of speech, we put him in a camp, they were prisoners of war.”
“If these people are radicalized and they don’t support the United States and they are disloyal to the United States, as a matter of principle, fine. It’s their right, and it’s our right and obligation to segregate them from the normal community for the duration of the conflict.
“And I think we’re going to have to increasingly get tough on this, not only in the United States, but our allied nations like Britain, Germany and France are going to have to look at their domestic law procedures.”
Clark’s recommendations, proclaimed openly on national television, amount to a recipe for mass detention of political opponents of the American state.
His assertion of the “right and obligation” of the US government to conduct round-ups and mass internment operations against political opposition, specifically citing as his model the methods employed against ethnic Germans and Japanese during the Second World War, provides a chilling insight into the thinking of powerful sections of the US ruling establishment.
Clark’s insistence, moreover, that such measures remain in force “for the duration” of Washington’s temporally and geographically limitless “global war on terrorism” amounts to advocacy of the permanent imprisonment of individuals deemed guilty of no actual crime, but merely being “radicalized” and “disloyal.”
These are not the ravings of some television talking head or military crackpot. Coming from a figure of Clark’s pedigree, such comments necessarily reflect views widely discussed within the US state.
As supreme commander of NATO, Clark held one of the most senior and politically influential posts in the US military. While serving as Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), Clark oversaw the NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, Operation Allied Force, beginning in March 1999.
In both the 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns, Clark was considered among the Democratic Party’s leading contenders. He would likely have gained a senior position in the Obama administration had he not backed Obama’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton after dropping out of the 2008 primary campaign.
His role as a high-profile supporter of Hilary Clinton’s latest presidential bid suggests, however, that Clark’s political ambitions have only been placed on hold. Under a Clinton presidency, Clark could well get the chance to implement his proposals for mass “segregation” of dissidents.
Preparations for the sort of measures advocated by General Clark are clearly well advanced.
In recent weeks, as videos shot in locations from Arizona to New York show, US military units have conducted training exercises, practicing military internment and crowd control techniques at mock internment camps, with military personnel posing as detainees.
Clark’s statements, made last Friday on the major cable news outlet MSNBC, have been met with total silence from the corporate-controlled media, failing to receive even a passing reference in the pages of the New York Times,Washington Post, or the Wall Street Journal.
This silence in the face of an open call for internment of domestic political opponents, issued by one of the country’s leading political generals, underscores the fact that the entire political and media establishment has decisively broken with centuries-old bourgeois democratic norms. The media silence will no doubt serve to encourage forces within the US military and intelligence apparatus to intensify the drive toward dictatorship.
For decades, the military and intelligence bureaucracies have developed the administrative, infrastructural and police components of an embryonic totalitarian state. Congressional hearings in 1987 on the Iran-Contra covert operations conducted by the Reagan administration exposed the existence of a plan developed by the Pentagon, codenamed Rex 84, to detain hundreds of thousands of immigrants and political dissidents and imprison them in militarized prison camps.
One Rex 84 sub-component, Operation Cable Splicer, envisioned the replacement of existing bourgeois political institutions by a shadow dictatorship controlled by a select group of some 100 executive branch cadre.
In the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, the Bush administration staged a dry run of updated Continuity of Government (COG) plans for a “shadow government, deploying dozens of pre-selected officials to a network of secret command-and-control bunkers across America,” the Washington Post reported in March of 2002.
The George W. Bush administration made further preparations for new prison camps in 2006, signing a $400 million contract with KBR to build up the Department of Homeland Security’s “detention and processing capabilities.”
The Obama administration has expanded the authoritarian legal and policy framework developed under previous administrations. Since taking office, Obama has issued annual decrees renewing the state of emergency declared by the Bush administration after 9/11 and further entrenching emergency powers granted to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
In a series of annual National Defense Authorization Acts, the Obama administration has codified the anti-democratic measures implemented under Bush, asserting unlimited power to indefinitely detain or kill individuals without trial.
The preparations for mass detention are part of broader efforts to tighten the grip of the ruling elite over society, using the pretext of an unending “national emergency.” Plans for dictatorial rule have found concrete expression in the imposition of de facto martial law in Boston following the Boston Marathon bombings of 2013 and last year in Ferguson, Missouri following the outbreak of protests against the police murder of Michael Brown.
In March of 2012, President Obama issued an executive order, “National Defense Resources Preparedness,” that empowered the DHS to assume dictatorial control over the US economy, including any and all actions considered “necessary to ensure the availability of adequate resources and production capability, including services and critical technology, for national defense requirements.”
Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee approved legislation granting the US government new powers to demand regular reporting from social media platforms about individuals suspected of ties to “terrorist activity.”
It’s never been more obvious that Greece has been sold out to the banks. Like many countries before, their nation has been scheduled to endure poverty and chaos, followed by a firesale of their assets.
American business magnate, one of the world’s most successful investors, Warren Buffett has reportedly bought the Greek island of Agios Thomas for 15 mln euro, according to the website of the Greek newspaper Proto Thema and became yet another celebrity with his own piece of Greece.
The newspaper says the deal was made in partnership with Italian real estate magnate, millionaire Alessandro Proto.
The two men closed the deal for a reported 15 million euros last Thursday. The businessmen released a joint statement saying that they intended to invest in the island of Agios Thomas, also referred to as St. Thomas, located on the northwestern side of the island of Egina in the Saronic Gulf.
They plan to “build property in an effort to help the wider region develop.”
The island, 300 acres in size, was earlier available for sale over the internet at 15 mln euro.
If confirmed, this is yet another purchase of a Greek island by a foreign celebrity. Earlier this week Hollywood star Johnny Depp purchased an uninhabited Greek island of Stroggilo for 4.2 mln euro.
Of course, the value of these islands is hardly enough to pay down their massive debt, and that’s kind of the point. When the banks own your country, they’re not interested in liberating you from your financial slavery. Before you ever get around to repaying those debts, or defaulting, they’ll use austerity to bring your country to the brink of chaos, and buy up everything for pennies on the dollar, and make a handsome profit as the country recovers on their terms.
Prime Minister Tsipras has sold out to these financial interests; and the firesale of all Greek assets, not just their paltry islands, is well on its way.
ATHENS – On July 12, the summit of eurozone leaders dictated its terms of surrenderto Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who, terrified by the alternatives, accepted all of them. One of those terms concerned the disposition of Greece’s remaining public assets.
Eurozone leaders demanded that Greek public assets be transferred to a Treuhand-like fund – a fire-sale vehicle similar to the one used after the fall of the Berlin Wall to privatize quickly, at great financial loss, and with devastating effects on employment all of the vanishing East German state’s public property.
This Greek Treuhand would be based in – wait for it – Luxembourg, and would be run by an outfit overseen by Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, the author of the scheme. It would complete the fire sales within three years. But, whereas the work of the original Treuhand was accompanied by massive West German investment in infrastructure and large-scale social transfers to the East German population, the people of Greece would receive no corresponding benefit of any sort.
This is how the sovereignty and prosperity of a nation is sucked away by the financial elites of the world. But Greece isn’t the only bank-owned nation. The USI (United States Incorporated) has been thoroughly captured by the banking class, and once its usefulness as a war-fighting machine is finished; austerity, riots, and firesales won’t be far behind.
Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger .
She’s one of many neocon lunatics infesting Washington. She was Hillary Clinton’s hand-picked choice for Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.
She wrecked Ukraine. Maybe she has starting WW III in mind. In an interview on Ukrainian TV, she said if war on its territory escalates, “the costs will go up” for Russia – economically and militarily.
“As you know, the sanctions that the international community has put in place – that the US and the EU have in place – are there to change the policy of Russia, to encourage it to fulfill its obligations.”
“We’ve made clear that they will stay in place until Minsk is fully implemented, including an end to the violence, including a return of hostages, a return of the border.”
“But we’ve also made clear that if the violence increases, we’re prepared to put more pressure on Russia.”
Fact: Washington, Canada, go-along European nations and Kiev irresponsibly bash Russia.
Fact: Washington bears full responsibility for installing fascist Ukrainian governance waging US proxy war on its own Donbass citizens wanting democratic rights everyone deserves.
Fact: Imposed US and EU sanctions have no legitimacy whatever. Security Council members alone may impose them.
Fact: What’s ongoing in Ukraine is the pretext for irresponsible Russia bashing. Washington’s aim is regime change.
Tactics include attempts to marginalize, contain, isolate, destabilize and weaken Moscow. They accomplished the opposite – creating stronger Sino/Russian ties than ever, a powerful political, economic and military alliance against Western imperialism.
Fact: Russia is the continent’s leading peacemaker. Putin, Sergey Lavrov and other officials continue going all-out all-out to end Ukraine’s aggression on Donbass diplomatically.
Fact: Russia fully complies with Minsk ceasefire terms. Kiev breached them straightaway – continuing its dirty war on Donbass with full US support and encouragement, aided by Washington covertly supplying its military with heavy weapons and training its forces for battle.
Separately, Nuland praised recently approved Ukrainian constitutional amendments – supposedly granting Donbass special status as Minsk stipulates.
Not exactly. Donbass remains economically blockaded. Junta aggression continues. Its definition of special status is only what Kiev permits.
On Thursday, Poroshenko said “(t)here is no (of) federalization. Ukraine was, is and will be a unitary state. The project envisages no changes and can’t allow any special status for Donbass. There is just no place for it.”
“(T)he project only concedes the possibility of specific local administration in selected territorial entities of Lugansk and Donetsk regions, which is determined by another law” – denying Donbass democratic rights.
Donetsk and Lugansk officials reject Kiev’s constitutional changes denying them fundamental rights mandated by Minsk ceasefire terms.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said “Kiev authorities are talking a lot about the reforms, but they are absolutely ignoring the suggestions concerning all the questions of political reforms that are introduced by representatives of Donetsk and Lugansk. That is the most crucial drawback of what they are doing.”
Not according to Nuland. She praised parliamentary anti-democratic Donbass amendments “on yet another historic day.”
“It was very exciting to stand in the parliament and see vibrant democracy in action,” she blustered – “real debates and not fake discussions of old. Ukraine is doing its job” – solidifying fascist rule at the expense of democratic rights.
Alleged Kiev constitutional reforms reflect virtually none at all. Minsk mandated federalization is ignored, giving Donbass self-governing status. Unacceptable fascist control remains unchanged.
A Final Comment
Russian human rights groups led by the Russian Public Chamber (RPC) are filing about 17,000 lawsuits on behalf of Donbass and other Ukrainian citizens in the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Hundreds of cases were accepted. Others are expected to follow. RPC co-chairman Georgy Fyodorov said large numbers filed forced the ECHR to take them seriously.
At the same time, it’ll be months before hearings begin and much longer for resolution one way or the other. Things can drag on for years.
Plaintiffs are seeking over $5.5 billion in total – $335,000 for each case. Chances for any compensation from a rogue state near bankruptcy are slim at best.
Palestinian children face chokeholds, stun grenades, and forced confessions at the hands of Israeli forces, Human Rights Watch report reveals
The findings are contained in a report—Israel: Security Forces Abuse Palestinian Children—based on interviews with six children between the ages of 11 and 15, and corroborated by witness testimony and video evidence. All of the children were accused of throwing rocks between March and December 2014—a common charge that can lead to decades in prison.
“Israel has been on notice for years that its security forces are abusing Palestinian children’s rights in occupied territory, but the problems continue,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director for HRW. “These are not difficult abuses to end if the Israeli government were serious about doing so.”
Israeli forces are choking, beating, and abusing Palestinian children as young as 11, arresting and coercing them into confessions without granting them access to lawyers or even informing their parents of their whereabouts, a new investigation from Human Rights Watch reveals.
In each case, parents were not told their child had been arrested and the children were not provided lawyers during their interrogations. Two boys and one girl said they were forced under threat of beatings to sign confessions that were written in Hebrew, a language they don’t understand.
The families of two children were not permitted to visit or even call them during their respective incarcerations of 64 and 110 days.
Israeli forces inflicted violence on the children using stun grenades, chokeholds, and physical beatings. Two children urinated on themselves throughout the course of the arrest due to fear, and several say they suffer lasting psychological impacts, including nightmares.
“When they drove me from the settlement to the office, they put a black cloth bag on my head, and were shouting, ‘We’re going to beat you, you’re going to tell us who was with you throwing stones,’” 11-year-old Rashid from the Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem told HRW. “Then they were pushing me around, and cursing me, in Arabic. They kicked me in the shin, and my leg turned different colors. I was freezing. They kept putting me into a car and taking me out.”
Most of the children’s full names are being withheld in the report for their protection.
The problem is compounded by the large scale of such arrests and detentions. Palestinian human rights organization Addameer reports that approximately 700 Palestinians under the age of 18 from the occupied West Bank alone are prosecuted in Israeli military courts every year after being arrested and detained. The organization estimates that more than 8,000 Palestinian children have been incarcerated by Israel since 2000.
Whitson emphasized in a statement that Israel’s abuse of Palestinian children is “at odds with its claim to respect children’s rights,” and the U.S. shares responsibility for this mistreatment: “As Israel’s largest military donor, the U.S. should press hard for an end to these abusive practices and for reforms.”
Kristen Ghodsee’s “The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe,” is a variegated reflection on socialism as practiced in Eastern Europe, and especially Bulgaria, in the four and half decades following WWII. It is, at one and the same time, a meditation on the purpose of official anti-communism; a near hagiography of the British communist Frank Thompson, the elder brother of the famed historian E.P. Thompson, who died fighting with Bulgarian partisans in WWII; a history of the Lagadinovas, three brothers and a sister (the latter of whom would become famous throughout the socialist bloc as the “Amazon”), who joined the ranks of communist partisans struggling against Bulgaria’s Nazi-allied government; a Philippic against the contemporary political left for being comfortable only with opposition, and lacking any clear sense of what it’s for; and paradoxically, given the foregoing, an execration of communism, filled with the crude anti-communist diatribes one would expect from The Black Book of Communism, and not from one who sets out to explore the heroism of communist partisans and a British communist who fought with them.
Ghodsee is an ethnographer whose prior works include “three books on how non-elite Bulgarian men and women experienced the economic transition from communism.” (Ghodsee, 2012)
Function of official anti-communism
In writing The Left Side of History, Ghodsee set out to show there was much good about communism in Bulgaria. She felt that the achievements of communist Bulgaria were hidden beneath an avalanche of official anti-communist demonization. In this, she has responded to a danger foretold by the great historian of the Russian Revolution, E.H. Carr. Referring specifically to the Bolshevik revolution, Carr warned in 1978 that there was little danger that a veil would be drawn “over the enormous blots on the record of the Revolution, over its costs in human suffering, over the crimes committed in its name.”
Indeed, every effort has been made by those who would discredit the Bolsheviks and all they stood for to bring these to the fore. The greater danger, warned Carr, was that
we shall be tempted to forget altogether, and to pass over in silence, (the Revolution’s) immense achievements…I am thinking of the transformation since 1917 in the lives of ordinary people: the transformation of Russia from a country more than eighty per cent of whose population consisted of illiterate or semi-literate peasants into a country with a population more than sixty per cent urban, which is totally literate and is rapidly acquiring the elements of urban culture…and these things have been brought about by rejecting the main criteria of capitalist production—profits and the laws of the market—and substituting a comprehensive economic plan aimed at promoting the common welfare. (Carr, 1978)
For her part, Ghodsee celebrates the achievements of Bulgarian communism. It “provided support for working mothers and promoted programs to ensure the de jure and de facto equality of men and women. Communism promoted literacy and education and health care and guaranteed full employment for anyone able to work. Communism gave people jobs, homes, and daily routines that were predictable and stable…” (Ghodsee, 2015: 192)
Nowadays, communism is presented, not as a type of society that stressed the common welfare and the end of exploitation of man by man, but as an abomination equal to Nazism. In 2009, the European Union created a new holiday, the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism. Ghodsee condemns this as an attempt to discredit communism at a time the global financial crisis is inspiring austerity-weary populations to seek political alternatives. She cites also as further evidence of the efforts to blot out the rich contribution communists have made to the progress of humanity, a June 2013 decision by a Madrid court ordering the dismantling of a monument that commemorated the sacrifices of the mainly communist International Brigades, volunteers burning with passion for a new, more humane and democratic world, who fought against Franco’s fascists.
In my country, Canada, plans are afoot to erect a monument to the “victims” of communism, leaving ordinary Canadians puzzled as to why. Canada has never been Communist.
But there is a chance that Canadians, and others in the world, bedevilled by unemployment, economic insecurity, diminished economic opportunity and growing material deprivation, will increasingly look to the model provided by the really-existing socialism of the Soviet bloc as an alternative. “Communism may be making a bit of a comeback in Europe,” Ghodsee writes, “but it is also the case that some political elites are working harder than ever to stop it by blackwashing its history.” (Ghodsee, 2015: viii-xix) She adds, “At the exact moment when ordinary people are searching for political alternatives, many official historical institutes are supported (often with funds from the West) to discredit communism.”
Victims of communism, promoters of fascism
Ghodsee effectively punctures the growing movement to commemorate the ‘victims’ of communism by showing that the ‘victims’ were hardly innocents, but in many cases, were xenophobes, Judeophobes, and fascists responsible for the deaths, oppression and exploitation of numberless people.
Every year some Bulgarians lay wreaths at a wall inscribed with the names of many who died at the hands of communists. “The victims memorialized on the wall include many political opponents of communism executed after September 1944, when Bulgaria’s communists seized power in this tiny Balkan country,” reported the Associated Press. (Ghodsee, 2015: 192) Ghodsee points out that ‘Nowhere was it mentioned, even in passing, that Bulgaria’s ‘political and military elite’ were allied with Nazi Germany.” (Ghodsee, 2015: 192)
The ‘victims’ of communism memorialized in Bulgaria include:
Bogdan Filov, a passionate and committed ally of Hitler, who as Bulgarian prime minister from 1940 to 1943, deported 11,000 Jews to their deaths at Treblinka;
Petar Gabrovski, minister of the interior under Filov, and briefly prime minister; a vicious Judeophobe who started his political career as a Nazi;
Nikola Zhekov, head of the Bulgarian far-right legionnaires and a personal friend of Hitler;
General Hristo Lukov, the Bulgarian minister of war, who has become an inspiration for today’s neo-Nazis. (Ghodsee, 2015:194-196)
What are we fighting for?
Ghodsee writes of an encounter with students at an Occupy-like encampment.
I spoke to some students sitting on the ground in front of one of the tents. There was a sign in Bulgarian. It read ‘This is not a protest. This is a process. Revolution for a New Bulgaria.
“I asked the students why they were protesting. One young woman said, ‘I love my country, but I have no future here. While the Mafia governments stay i power, Bulgaria will never develop, I don’t want to leave. I want to stay and fight and make my country a better place.
Do you have any concrete proposals?” I said. The protestors I had spoken to thus far all had very different ideas about what needed to be done.
’Free university education,’ she said. The other students nodded. ‘And practical training placements for three years after you graduate.
You mean like it was before?’ I said. Before 1989, the state paid for all university education, and all students completed three years of national service upon graduation. The state guaranteed a job in the student’s area of speciality…
’Yes,’ the woman said…
“A second woman in the group waited until there was a lull in the conversation before she spoke. ‘There should be more kindergartens,’ she said. ‘Every mother should have a safe place for her child when she works.’
“’You mean like they had under communism?’ I said.
“At the word ‘communism,’ the students tensed.
“’We don’t want communism back,” the first young woman said. ‘We just want a normal country.” (Ghodsee, 2015:166-168)
In a similar vein, Ghodsee recounts a conversation between two elderly Bulgarian women, Elena Lagadinova, who joined the Bulgarian partisans at age 14 and later became a member of the Bulgarian Communist Party Central Committee, and Maria Zneopolska, author of a book on Frank Thompson.
Look at these protestors,’ Elena said, ‘They are against the monopolies and the corruption and the foreign capitalists. These are the same things (the communist partisans) were against.
It’s the same fight,” Maria agreed. She looked to Elena and then back at me. ‘But it’s not enough to protest against. Nothing ever changes until the people have something to fight for. (Ghodsee, 2015: 175)
While Ghodsee laments that “strident anticommunist rhetoric demonizes anyone who once called himself or herself a ‘communist’ or who believed in the communist ideal” (Ghodsee, 2015: xvi) and regrets the hegemony of an anti-communist ideology that makes it “easier to assert that the moon landing was staged than it would be to argue that there was anything good about the communist past,” (Ghodsee, 2015: 133) she, herself, reinforces the anti-communism she deplores.
This, she does, subtly, in earlier publications, through the use of language that implicitly accepts communism as a danger implanted from without. For example, in Lost in Transition: Ethnographies of Everyday Life after Communism, Ghodsee writes that “the revolution in Cuba (just 90 miles from Florida) brought the communistthreat closer than it had ever been to the United States” (emphasis added; Ghodsee, 2011: xi) rather than writing “the Cuban revolution brought communism (sans threat) closer than it had ever been to the United States”, or that it “brought the communist threat closer than it had ever been to the capitalist elite of the United States.” She wrote too of how “Many countries in Latin America and Africa were constantly fighting communist insurgencies” (Ghodsee, 2011: xi) as if the insurgencies were separate from the countries that battled them. Here she equates country with the state. It would have been more apt for Ghodsee to have written that many states in Latin America and Africa, backed by Western economic and political elites, fought to suppress rebellions from their populations against their oppression and exploitation. Of the other September 11, September 11, 1973, Ghodsee writes “Chile would elect a socialist leader, leaving the United States no choice but to support a coup d’état” (Ghodsee, 2011: xi), leaving one to muse over why she felt the United States government had no choice. Indeed, formally, it did have a choice, though it might be argued that the imperatives of the US economic system created a compulsion for Washington to intervene.
In The Left Side of History Ghodsee abandons subtle anti-communist language for crude, and shockingly puerile, anti-communist rhetoric. After touting the achievements of Bulgaria’s communism, she brands communist Bulgaria “a brutal dystopia ruled by paranoid dictators.” (Ghodsee, 2015: 129) Rather than examining the history of Stalin’s Soviet Union from the perspective of the multiple and almost insuperable challenges the country’s leadership faced, she offers a sophomoric psychological reductionism, transforming Stalin into a kind of cartoon character Dr. Evil, who she depicts as a “megalomaniac” who “hijacked the communist cause” (Ghodsee, 2015: 129) to pursue his “dreams of world domination.” (Ghodsee, 2015; 128) It appears that it is not only the European Union that has drawn an equal sign between Hitler and Stalin.
Against the Stalinist Beelzebub Ghodsee juxtaposes the pure and angelic heroes of her book, Frank Thompson and the Lagadinovas, the ‘good’ communists betrayed by their iniquitous leaders. “I needed to remind myself,” she writes, “that not all who fought or found themselves on the left side of history were radical Marxist zealots bent on world domination.” (Ghodsee, 2015: 199) Ghodsee wants us to believe that everything good about communism in Bulgaria is traceable to Thompson, the Lagadinovas, and the good communists, and all the bad is due to “Stalinists.”
This, however, is completely indefensible. The Bulgarian partisans and Frank Thompson had very little to do with the gains communism implanted in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian partisans were, by Ghodsee’s own admission, largely ineffective. They spent most of their time eking out a bare existence, frequently betrayed by peasants who didn’t support them. Unlike in neighboring Greece and Yugoslavia, where foreign occupations galvanized people to support the communist-led guerrilla resistance, Bulgaria was allied with Nazi Germany and endured no foreign occupation. The lives of most Bulgarians during the war were quiet, and they did not support the communist guerrillas. It was the Red Army, under Stalin’s leadership, that ultimately toppled Hitler’s allies in Sofia, and brought communism to Bulgaria. Stalin, far more than the Lagadinovas, and especially the hapless (though admirable) Frank Thompson, is responsible for the immense social gains Bulgaria enjoyed during the communist period.
Ghodsee’s political ideal, revealed in her various other writings, is “a more socially oriented state akin to the Scandinavian welfare state—states that combine democracy with social security.” (Ghodsee, 2004) She doesn’t say what she means by ‘democracy,” though it appears that she means a multiparty state, or at least, not the socialist states of central and eastern Europe in which one party, that of the Communists, was hegemonic. What she’s against is “the overly-individualistic, savage capitalism of the United States and the United Kingdom,” (Ghodsee, 2004) but is also against “one-party rule and leaders who remained unchallenged for thirty-five years” (Ghodsee, 2015: 191). She favors a combining of the full-employment, social welfare, egalitarian politics of the communist states (democracy as a type of society) with the procedural democracies of North America and Western Europe (democracy as a set of rules for electing representatives.) In this she is guilty of what she faults the contemporary left for: being clear on what she’s against (‘savage’ capitalism* and the one-party state), but having no concrete proposal for how to bring about the implied alternative, namely, socialism within a multi-party state—nor any sense, one suspects, of whether a socialist state with a Western-style parliamentary democracy is at all possible in a world profoundly dominated politically, economically, militarily and ideologically by a capitalist elite, who will no more accept a “democratic” socialism than an “undemocratic” one. The only difference between the socialism Ghodsee lionizes and the socialism she deplores is that the first has never existed. It’s as if, like the supporters of Syriza, Ghodsee believes that all one has to do is vote against capitalism (or austerity) and the capitalist elite, its institutions, and imperatives will meekly step aside. Jean Bricmont offers a refreshing corrective to Ghodsee’s naiveté. “If it is true, as often said, that most socialist regimes turn out to be dictatorships that is largely because a dictatorship is much harder to overthrow or subvert than a democracy.” (Bricmont, 2006)
The Left Side of History is not without its charms. Ghodsee does stress the importance for the left of having a clear idea of what it’s for and concrete proposals for how to get there. She makes the case, cogently I think, that the upsurge in official anticommunism is linked to the financial crisis and austerity and the need of ruling elites to eclipse, what from their point of view, is a danger that in a searching for political alternatives, people will turn to the really-existing socialism of the Soviet bloc for inspiration. She has shown that many of the so-called victims of communism were hardly innocent, but instead were victimizers—often fascists, racists and xenophobes, responsible for the persecution, oppression and deaths of numberless people. And in exploring the lives of Frank Thomson and the Lagadinovas, she challenges official anti-communism by pointing to communists who were not the “red scum” of official anticommunist demonology but selfless heroes with a burning passion for a more humane, democratic world.
The weakness of The Left Side of History lies in Ghodsee’s occasional substitution of anti-communist slogans for critical analysis, as in her portrayal of Stalin as a paranoid bent on world domination who hijacked a good cause and turned it to evil ends. In this she concedes to the official demonology. To be sure, in her view, Thompson and the Lagadinovas were communist heroes but Stalin and Stalinists were red scum. What Ghodsee loses sight of was that Thompson and the Lagadinovas were members of a movement in which Stalin played a central role, and could therefore, themselves, be called “Stalinists.” What’s more, Stalin, to far greater degree than Ghodsee’s chosen heroes, brought the achievements of communism to Eastern Europe.
Another weakness is Ghodsee’s depiction of communist Eastern Europe as a brutal dystopia. Indeed, this borders on bizarre, considering that she attributes the rise in official anticommunism to a need on the part of ruling elites to discredit communism as a model. Why would anyone feel compelled to discredit a brutal dystopia?
One could speculate that in writing The Left Side of History, Ghodsee was filled with a dread that her favorable assessments of communism would inevitably mean she would be denounced as a Stalinist. Could it be that as a prophylaxis, she armored herself with anti-Stalinist rhetoric? Her rhetoric is fevered, of a more rabid variety than even conservatives are capable of. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone seriously accuse Stalin—the champion of socialism in one country, the man who dismantled the Comintern and pursued what his leftist critics called an overly cautious foreign policy–of having had an agenda of world domination.
If indeed fear of being denounced as a Stalinist led Ghodsee to the missteps that have almost fatally weakened The Left Side of History, she might have looked to E.H. Carr for inspiration. After publicly declaring his concern that the achievements of communism would be expunged from history, Carr acknowledged that, “Of course, I know that anyone who speaks of the achievements of the Revolution will at once be branded as a Stalinist. But I am not prepared to submit to this kind of moral blackmail.” (Carr, 1978)
*Savage capitalism implies there’s some other kind of capitalism, perhaps a gentle one. But this is tantamount to distinguishing a gentle slavery from a savage slavery, as if indeed, a gentle slavery (or a gentle capitalism) is anything but an oxymoron.
Jean Bricmont. Humanitarian Imperialism: Using Human Rights to Sell War. 2006
Kristen Ghodsee, “The Specter Still Haunts: Revisiting 1989,” Dissent, Spring 2012
E.H. Carr, “The Russian Revolution and the West,” New Left Review 1/111/ September-October 1978.
Kristen Ghodsee, “Red Nostalgia? Communism, Women’s Emancipation, and Economic Transformation in Bulgaria,” L,Homme Z. F. G. 15, 1 (2004)
Kristen Ghodsee, Lost in Transition: Ethnographies of Everyday Life after Communism. Duke University Press Books, 2011.
Kristen Ghodsee. The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe. Duke University Press. 2015.
Back in 2006 readers may well have dismissed that warning about “state-sponsored murder” as improbable, even irresponsible. But now this distinguished panel [which includes former FBI director William S. Sessions, former Army intelligence chief Claudia Kennedy, and former DEA director Asa Hutchinson] tells us that is exactly what has happened. Under President Obama, the torture issue has faded not from reform but because we are no longer taking prisoners since, as this report states, “the regime of capture and detention has been…supplanted in large measure by the use of drones.” By killing high value targets with drones, “the troublesome issues of how to conduct detention and interrogation operations are minimized.” In effect, we have slid down the slippery slope of human rights abuse to find extra-judicial killings awaiting us like an unwelcome specter at the bottom.
Postscript: In reality, the Obama regime has simply replaced Bush’s torture techniques with ones “that emphasize psychological torture,” and by outsourcing torture to our “allies.”
It was reported just days ago that US policymakers have signed and dated plans drawn up for the US invasion and occupation of Syria. The plan as described by the Fortune 500-funded Brookings Institution – a corporate think-tank that has previously drawn up plans for the invasion, occupation, and “surge” in Iraq – is to occupy border regions of Syria with US special forces to then justify a nationwide “no-fly-zone” if and when Syrian forces attempt to retake these “safe zones.”
The “safe zones” are to be used by various terrorists fronts Brookings admits are tied to Al Qaeda, to take refuge from Syrian air power and from which to stage and launch attacks deeper into Syrian territory. The end game is the Balkanization of Syria into ineffectual vassal states the US can later stitch together into a larger client regime.
It was also reported that this signed and dated conspiracy to invade, occupy, and destroy Syria would be followed by widespread propaganda aimed at selling the policy paper under the guise of “defeating” the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS/ISIL). In reality, hundreds of trucks a day, originating deep within NATO-member Turkey’s territory, cross the Turkish-Syrian border unopposed, destined for ISIS territory, keeping the terrorist front well supplied and armed, along with its ranks full of fresh fighters.
It is clear that US, British, and other regional allies conducting airstrikes on ISIS in Syria are doing so with full knowledge that whatever damage they are doing is quickly absorbed by the logistical torrent they themselves allow, even underwrite, to freely flow into ISIS territory. No attempts have been made by the US or any of the NATO nations involved in the Syrian conflict, to first stem ISIS’ supply lines – an elementary and obvious strategic goal necessary if the West was truly interested in stopping ISIS.
[Defence secretary Michael Fallon’s] aim merely to spread the RAF’s targets across a greater area? If, on the other hand, he has a secret plan to transform coalition strategy into something more ambitious, perhaps he should share it with us. Syria does not want for bombs. What it lacks are suitable ground forces who could drive out and destroy Isis under the coalition’s military umbrella. A more aggressive approach is possible. It would require American leadership, sweeping changes in the programme to train and equip Syrian rebels, and more direct air support in their battles. It would, eventually but inevitably, bring rebels into greater contact with the Assad regime. Such an approach seems unlikely to survive the parliamentary test at home.
Fallon does have a “secret plan,” US and British special forces are already operating in Syria alongside terrorist militants. The “secret plan” is actually now published on the Brookings Institution’s website, and involves openly occupying Syrian territory with Western special forces supporting these “Syrian rebels” who are admittedly tied directly to Al Qaeda.
Conveniently, the mentioned anticipated parliamentary impasse will get a boost in public support in favor of greater intervention in the wake of ISIS attacks in Tunisia where mostly British tourists were targeted, maimed, and killed. Attacks in France, and another wave of overtly sensationalist execution videos seems almost intentionally providing the West with the perfect pretext with which to sell an otherwise unjustifiable act of military aggression by Western forces against Syria.
The Guardian op-ed is only the carefully worded first of many to come in a propaganda campaign aimed at justifying the invasion and occupation of Syrian territory in a piecemeal military campaign meant to “sleepwalk” the Western public into yet another lengthy and costly war. Anyone who is even semi-conscious will, the West hopes, be convinced that ISIS is a perfectly justifiable pretext with which to carryout this premeditated military adventure.
US Plans to Use Al Qaeda in 2007, Now Fully Realized
It must be repeated that even as early as 2007, under the administration of then US President George Bush, it was reported that the United States, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and other regional allies planned to fund, arm, and support a wide terrorist front – affiliated with Al Qaeda – to wage proxy war against Iran, Syria, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
It is clear that this premeditated and documented conspiracy has been fully implemented, manifesting itself as the “Islamic State” which is clearly being used both as a proxy military force with which to wage war against Western enemies, as well as a pretext for justifying Western military aggression around the world. It is also being used conveniently to maintain an iron grip at home via an increasingly Orwellian police state predicated on “fighting the threat of terrorism.”
As others have hinted at, the West is also intentionally promoting a strategy of tension to predictably divide the world’s population into two camps – those that back Western neo-liberalism, and those that back the medieval methods of ISIS and periphery ideologies. Those in the middle are intentionally marginalized by the vast Western media, and even in the alternative media, cognitive infiltration has helped mute the voices of reason and accelerate this global conflict.
At the end of the day, empires using proxies and even manufactured enemies is par for the course. Unfortunately, unlike empires in the days of old, the weapons and technology available to modern-day imperialists have such devastating and wide-ranging impact, few will escape the fallout.
Exposing both the West’s military aggression and the fact that those it claims it is attempting to “protect” the world from are monsters of their own intentional creation, and expounding the merits of a multi-polar world where extraterritorial military adventures thousands of miles from one’s shores is an intolerable crime against humanity, is a good first step in disarming this latest round warmongering creeping toward Syria’s battered borders.
United Nations peace plan stalled amid escalation in ground offensive by U.S.-backed forces
Reports are streaming out of Yemen saying that the anti-Ansurallah (Houthis) forces have initiated an offensive in the strategic southern port city of Aden.
Fighters allied with the exiled President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi have intensified their attacks on the Ansurallah-controlled areas inside and outside the city including the airport. These ground assaults are reinforced through the continuing airstrikes by the Saudi Arabian and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Militias and army units loyal to the Hadi government which is now based in Riyadh have reportedly taken control of Tawahi, the remaining district in central Aden that was still held by the Iran-allied Ansurallah forces and its allies within other sections of the Yemeni military following the leadership of another former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh.
These accounts of the conditions inside Aden are being relayed by pro-Hadi spokespersons. The United States is supporting the Hadi regime through refueling technology and intelligence provided to the Saudi-GCC alliance aircraft carrying out daily bombing raids in Aden as well as across this Middle Eastern nation.
This impoverished and underdeveloped state has been bombed for nearly four months by the Saudi-GCC Coalition. On March 26, after the collapse of the U.S. presence in Yemen, the forces in the region working in conjunction with Washington’s foreign policy have waged a brutal war against the people of the country.
In the most recent phase of the war in Aden, Operation Golden Arrow was initiated on July 15 in coordination with the Southern Popular Resistance, which opposes the Ansurallah, along with reinforced pro-Saudi forces. In the southern region of Yemen secessionist sentiment is still very strong since this region of the country was independent prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union and a civil war during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Although the Saudi-GCC alliance backed regime of ousted President Hadi claimed that they have retaken Aden, other eyewitness accounts say that even though the Houthi movement has lost control of key areas of the city, many who are fighting on the ground are not necessarily supportive of the SaudGCC position in the conflict, but want the Ansurallah out of their areas.
In the aftermath of the claims made of the collapse of the Ansurallah forces in and around Aden, on July 20 there was a counter-offensive by the Shite-based movement which has spread its influence from the North.
Reports from inside the country say that Yemenis from the Ansurallah movement shelled a town near Aden resulting in nearly 100 deaths. One international aid group, Doctors Without Borders, characterized the level of fighting as “the worst day” for the city and its surroundings in over three months of war. The Houthis and their allies began shelling the town of Dar Saad on July 19.
Illustrating the role of the Saudi-GCC fighter-bombers in Yemen, on July 19 the U.S.-backed coalition struck Houthi bases north of Aden and in Dar Saad, killing 55 people.
Fighting continued as well in Taiz on July 20. Taiz is Yemen’s third-largest city and it has been a contested area for weeks. The clashes on July 20 killed eight residents, while ground fighting raged on in Marib, with six anti-Houthi militiamen and 10 Ansurallah fighters killed in clashes.
In addition to the shifting political and military situation in the south of the Yemen, there are claims that Saudi and United Arab Emirates Special Forces are now operating in the area.
According to the Financial Times, “Southern anti-Houthi forces seized control of much of the port of Aden with the help of United Arab Emirates Special Forces and Yemenis trained in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, said fighters in the city and overseas analysts.”
This same report goes on to note that “Analysts and sources on the ground in Aden tell the Financial Times that the Aden offensive had been planned for weeks, if not months. Members of the UAE Special Forces have been embedded with southern resistance fighters since April while local fighters were being trained in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. For several weeks, shipments of arms, Yemeni fighters and armored personnel carriers have been arriving in the last resistance stronghold in Aden, the western Bureiqah district, in preparation for a major offensive.” (July 15)
The Wall Street Journal observed also that the U.S.-backed forces fighting the Ansurallah in Aden were working in coalition with Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). These alliances have been taking place in an effort to thwart the influence of Iran which politically supports the Houthis as they have taken large areas of the country including the capital of Sanaa.
A writer on the situation now prevailing in Yemen says “Local militias backed by Saudi Arabia, special forces from the United Arab Emirates and al Qaeda militants all fought on the same side this week to wrest back control over most of Yemen’s second city, Aden, from pro-Iranian Houthi rebels, according to local residents and Houthi forces. As Yemen’s conflict degenerates into a precarious tangle of alliances, it poses a new quandary for the U.S. Yemen was a cornerstone of the American global counterterrorism strategy until earlier this year when the Houthis drove out a government that was working with Washington. The U.S. then backed a Saudi-led coalition that launched airstrikes against the Houthis in March.” (WSJ, July 15)
Bombing of Sanaa Continues
In the capital of Sanaa which was taken by the Ansurallah forces last September, the situation remains tense. This city has been subjected to intense aerial bombardments from the Saudi-GCC alliance for nearly four months.
The Saudi-GCC coalition attacked the residence of Mehdi Meqlawa, a well-known colleague of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in a Sanaa suburb. In the Yemeni capital, it also bombed the Ansurallah headquarters near the Souq Aziz market, killing at least one person.
An Associated Press report on July 20 said “a car bomb went off near the house of a Houthi rebel leader in the capital Sanaa, killing seven and damaging the gates of the house, according to witnesses and officials. Medical officials said six people were also wounded in the attack. One security official said five were killed. It was not possible to reconcile the difference in casualty figures, common in the immediate aftermath of such attacks. A local affiliate of the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the car bomb in the western Garef neighborhood, saying it targeted a ‘den’ of the Houthis, according to a statement shared on Twitter accounts of supporters of the IS group.”
This article acknowledged that “It was not immediately clear if the Houthi leader, Ihab al-Kuhlani, was at home at the time of the attack and whether he was affected by the bombing.”
The bombing of mosques, political offices and residential areas are designed to not only kill large numbers of people but to also foster sectarian animosity between Sunni and Shite Islamic adherents. Parallels between developments in Yemen and what is taking place in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen are designed to perpetuate a divisive political atmosphere providing a rationale for ongoing intervention by Washington and its allies in the region.
Efforts to achieve a ceasefire for humanitarian purposes have failed due to the political intransigence of the U.S.-backed military and para-military forces operating in the theater of Yemen’s war. Unless there is a halt in the fighting soon, the humanitarian situation in Yemen will worsen as well as the further regionalization of the war.
Washingtonsblog’s anonymous founder and principal commentator is one of the most deeply knowledgeable writers on current events, and on July 19th he headlined “Governments Worldwide Will Crash the First Week of October … According to 2 Financial Forecasters.” He noted that both Martin Armstrong and Larry Edelson, two of the most respected stock-market predictors, are independently of each other predicting that “virtually all governments worldwide will be hit with a gigantic economic crisis in the first week of October 2015,” due to “a collapse of government solvency” as ricocheting government defaults spiral each other downward; and, because the U.S. won’t be forced to crash as quickly as Europe and Japan, there will then be a temporary worldwide rush into U.S. corporate stocks and bonds, especially stocks, as the short-term safe haven for investors fleeing from sovereign (government) bonds.
The next day, July 20th, Michael Meier’s German Economic News bannered “Clear Signs of Relaxation Between Obama and Putin,” and reported: “The nuclear deal with Iran and the withdrawal of heavy weapons by the rebels in the eastern Ukraine are clear signs of a détente between Russia and the US. The EU now needs to quickly develop their own strategy. Otherwise, the Europeans will have to pay for the chaos in Ukraine.” The article continues, addressing Europeans:
Your countries have to pay an enormous price for the sanctions [against Russia, and, earlier, against Iran]. With regard to a possible new global economic crisis, the loss of the Russian sales market has been devastating. The hope to do business quickly after the nuclear deal with Tehran could prove to be an illusion. Even the lightning-trip by Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel to Tehran will change little. Unlike Russia, the EU towards Iran continued business with Iran during the sanctions, but was stubborn to pay the extra cost of following U.S. requirements. Meanwhile, Russia has caught up technologically and is now sure to be able to step up its exports to Iran and outside of the arms industry [and thus will be less dependent upon imports from Europe after the anti-Russia sanctions are lifted].
The greatest danger, however, threatening the EU financially is in Ukraine: The EU echoed US policy there [though, unlike the U.S., the EU has lost hugely from U.S. Ukrainian policy]: [This U.S. policy was] Ukraine should join the EU and end all connections with Russia. For the U.S., Ukraine is far away, no real trading-partner [though it might become one after the February 2014 change of government in Ukraine. Not so for Europe: Ukraine is now, in effect, inside Europe.]. …
The reckless Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine took the European taxpayer immediately into the obligation: As in Greece, the Americans will insist that Europeans must keep Ukraine financially afloat. [Whereas the U.S. has few financial obligations there, the EU now is committed to Ukraine via its post-February-2014 Association Agreement. And Russia has already lost what it had risked in Ukraine, and now is relatively immune to Ukraine’s continuing collapse.] The Russians can always carry out their threat, and stop the gas deliveries through Ukraine [if the EU does not pay Ukraine, and Ukraine not pay Russia]. …
The costs of the “rescue” of Ukraine will exceed those for Greece many times.
So, with Japan’s having postponed its crash as long as possible, and the EU’s crash being now imminent, a flood of foreign billionaires’ cash into U.S. equities seems assured.
Now consider this 12 March 2013 explanation from me of how the Obama Administration, with the acquiescence of both Parties in Congress, simply postposed until at least 2019 what will probably be the biggest U.S. economic crash ever, and focus especially upon this graph in that article:
The article explains: “So, basically, another Great Depression seems to be predicted here. According to their model, it will probably happen after the interest-rate on 10-year Treasuries rises above 5.2%, when the unrealism of current official projections has become sufficiently clear to the world so that the federal debt resumes soaring and the interest-portion of federal expenditures rises similarly. That would be some time after 2018.”
However: What would happen if, in, say, October 2015, all the rest of the industrialized world crashes and their investors are pouring into U.S. equities? In that case, the Federal Reserve will be able to end their QE and raise U.S. interest rates beyond the magical 5.2% with impunity.
Has Obama’s strategy been to weaken all other major economies so that the U.S. will still be able to avoid a collapse even while the wealth-disparity between America’s rich and poor continues getting ever-wider (largely via the Fed’s monetary policies reinforcing the fiscal policies from a heavily Republican pro-austerity Congress)? For example, is this part of the reason for what Obama has been doing to Ukraine, and to Russia, and soon stopping doing to Iran? Has he been preparing to get foreign aristocrats to pour their money into Wall Street?
If this is true, then how did he manage to get the EU to cooperate with this policy, which is economically suicidal for them? What are even European aristocracies expecting to win from this? Obviously, the European public lose enormously: their former welfare states will transform, like in Greece and in Ukraine, into high-tax low-welfare virtual national prisons, even as refugees pour into them from the wars that America has largely engineered in northern Africa and in Ukraine. Is Obama a brilliant psychopath?
Several cases have been reported amid growing insecurity
Even though the three states where the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) struck last year have been declared free of the epidemic, there have been reports of cases over the last several weeks in Liberia.
The West African state of Liberia has maintained close ties with the United States since its founding as a republic in 1847. Freed enslaved Africans from the U.S. during the antebellum period and their descendants have constituted the governments inside the country for nearly 170 years.
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, one of only two African women who hold such an office on the continent, continues to rely on funding and political direction from Washington. Thousands of Pentagon troops were deployed to Liberia at the height of the EVD crisis during 2014. However, they have been downsized after the number of cases had drastically declined.
Nonetheless, recently Liberia has recorded two deaths from the dreaded disease. On July 16 one of the victims, a nurse, died in a hospital in the capital of Monrovia soon after she was checked in.
This woman became the sixth case of EVD since it reappeared in June after no cases were reported for over two months. The latest victim lived in Montserrado County, where Monrovia is located. It has been suggested that the case in Monrovia is linked to five others from neighboring Margibi County.
Reports say that the nurse was caring for her son who became ill. Health authorities inside the country are tracking up to 140 people who may have had contact with the latest victim.
“We have asked all county health officers to be on the alert,” said Francis Kateh, Liberia’s chief medical officer. “We are not saying the other counties have Ebola. But we need to alert them so that we wouldn’t experience the previous outbreak.” (USA Today, July 16)
Ever since December 2013 when the most recent epidemic was first recognized, there have been 27,600 EVD cases, with more than 11,000 deaths. Liberia was the hardest hit with more than 4,800 deaths.
EVD was first recognized in 1976 in the-then Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). There have been several outbreaks in nearly four decades with the 2013-2015 epidemic being the most widespread and lethal.
The outbreak of EVD in Liberia came only a decade after a 14-year civil war which killed thousands and dislocated many others. The limited infrastructure in existence in the country was severely damaged.
This civil war compounded the inherent dependent relations towards the U.S. Since the 1920s, international banking interests and mining corporations have largely controlled the government in Liberia.
With inadequate resources to build medical clinics, hospitals and to train healthcare personnel, such an outbreak of EVD was bound to cause extreme distress on the population and the economy. The blockading of large swaths of urban and rural areas during the height of the outbreak took a devastating toll on agricultural production, social services and local commerce.
Sierra Leone and Guinea Are Also Reporting Cases
The two other West African states which constituted the epicenter of the largest outbreak during 2013-2015, Guinea and Sierra Leone, have also reported several cases in recent weeks.
Sierra Leone, a former British colony, has a similar political history as Liberia. The country was established in the early 19th century for the re-settlement of freed Africans after the conclusion of the war between London and its thirteen colonies in what became known as the U.S.
The Liberian civil war during the 1990s spilled over into Sierra Leone doing damage to the society which has still not fully recovered. With the conclusion of the war more than ten years ago, the Pentagon has utilized the country as training ground for the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). Soldiers trained by the U.S. Army Africa, a wing of AFRICOM, had been deployed to Somalia as participants in the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), which is financed heavily by Washington and the European Union (EU).
Ghana’s Daily Graphic reported that in late 2013 and early 2014, “The outbreak reared its head at a time when the country’s health officers were unprepared for the Ebola battle. The unpreparedness of government to face such a battle was clearly manifested by the few ambulances allocated to referral hospitals in the district headquarters towns. Although some districts have gone for months without recording any case of Ebola, new cases are still being recorded within the Western Area in which the capital city is situated, as well as, Portloko and Kambia in the north of the country.” (July 16)
A programs officer for ‘Health Alert,’ William Sao Lamin, which is a non-governmental organization focusing on advocacy, monitoring and educational work, said to Politico press that Sierra Leone’s medical sector encompasses a staff of 6,000 serving 1,200 health units and 19 referral hospitals across the country. Out of this number of health officials, over 150 who were infected succumbed to EVD, including 12 physicians. (Daily Graphic, July 16)
Lamin further explained that prior to the Ebola outbreak the health sector was already strained with acute shortages of qualified personnel. “The volunteers in the hospitals cannot be relied upon as they are untrained and unpaid”, he stressed.
One of the physicians who died from EVD, Dr. Shek Umar Khan, was the only virologist in the country attached to the Lassa fever unit in the Kenema Government Hospital.
Across the border in Guinea, a former French colony, which has undergone several military mutinies and coups since 1984 when the country’s founder President Ahmed Sekou Toure died, the social and economic conditions have not been conducive to the building of healthcare treatment centers with trained personnel. Guinea has been cited as the source of the origin of the recent outbreak in late 2013 which spread rapidly across its borders into Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The World Health Organization (WHO) which monitors the number of cases and coordinates responses in conjunction with the regional government that are the most severely impacted, admits that it had failed in not moving rapidly enough to stem the tide of the epidemic. Although in its recent reports, WHO officials say they are far more prepared to address the recurrent cases that have surfaced over the last few weeks.
NBC News quoted a WHO official saying “All nine of the cases reported from Conakry (Guinea’s capital) and all 10 of the cases reported from Freetown (Sierra Leone’s capital) were either registered contacts of a previous case or have an established epidemiological link to a known chain of transmission. One of the 30 cases reported in the week to 12 July arose from a yet unknown source of infection. However, a substantial proportion of cases (7 of 30: 23 percent ) continue to be identified as Ebola-positive only after post-mortem testing.” (July 15)
Vaccine Testing Continues
Meanwhile a trial involving an inhaled vaccine in monkeys has shown positive results according to researchers. Efforts to develop a vaccine have met challenges in West Africa over the last several months with the decline in the number of infections.
Despite a considerable amount of discussion since 2014 involving the development of a vaccine, no medicines have been approved that can cure the disease in humans. Scientists involved in the testing claim that a treatment, which is known as TKM-Ebola-Guinea, has the ability to kill the Makona strain of the virus, at least in primates. The vaccine has not been tested on humans. (Tech Times, April 23)
Researchers working on the vaccine have revealed that the drug is made by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp. and it is supposed to work by blocking the genes that halts the replication of the virus.
In another trial, ZMapp, an Ebola drug manufactured by Mapp Biopharmaceutical cured primates in lab experiments. Nonetheless, the primates were infected with another strain of EVD.
“We can’t say for certain that an experimental drug that works against one strain will work in another, even if they’re almost identical genetically,” noted Thomas Geisbert of the University of Texas Medical Branch, who is a senior investigator in the study.
Bulldozers are poised outside the West Bank village of Susiya, deployed in advance of their stated mission—the razing of homes, animal shelters, cisterns, clinics and schools and the eviction of some 300 Palestinian residents, all to make way for Jewish settlers.
The arrival of the bulldozers this month did not come as a surprise. Susiya’s struggle to survive has been in the Israeli and international news for at least three years. Its case has reached to the Israeli Supreme Court, and its cause has drawn protests from local and international activists, members of the U.S. Congress and even the Department of State, which spoke against the demolition this past week.
Despite all this, The New York Times has had nothing to say about Susiya, although the story is eminently newsworthy and has appeared often of late in Israeli and international media and in the reports of human rights groups.
Palestinians have lived in Susiya for centuries, written records of a community at that site in the South Hebron Hills go back to 1830, and it appears on British Mandate maps from 1917, but none of this counts in the eyes of Israeli settlers and officials, who are determined to remove the residents from their homes and land.
Settlers have been encroaching on Susiya since 1983 when they established an illegal colony near the village. Three years later the Israeli army’s Civil Administration, which runs affairs in the West Bank, expelled the residents from their traditional village land and turned it over to the settlers, who now run it as an archaeological site.
The villagers have twice been forced to move since then, setting up homes nearby only to be driven out by the army each time. Since their third expulsion in 2001 they have lived on their agricultural fields, constantly under threat of losing their final hold on the land.
This treatment is in flagrant contrast with a “generous planning policy” that Israeli grants the settlers. As the Israeli rights group B’Tselem notes, “The settlers of Susya and its outposts enjoy full provision of services and infrastructure and are in no danger of their homes being demolished—despite the fact that the outposts are illegal under Israeli law and in the settlement itself…23 homes were built on private Palestinian land.”
Meanwhile, Susiya residents spend a third of their income for water to be tanked in, paying five times the price paid by the nearby settlers who are served by the water network.
Israeli has confiscated 370 acres of Susiya’s land, and settlers prevent the villagers from accessing another 500 acres. Now the settlers, backed by the state, are pressing to have it all.
In the face of this patent discrimination and injustice, Susiya has found support from a number of champions in Israel and abroad. Rabbis for Human Rights, an Israeli group, helped take the case to the Supreme Court. Jewish Voice for Peace, Rebuilding Alliance,the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and others in the United States are pressing members to take action through petitions and phone calls to representatives.
And this support reaches beyond the activist community to government officials. On June 7 this year all 28 European Union member states with consulates in Jerusalem sent representatives to Susiya to stand in solidarity with the villagers.
More striking still, the campaign on behalf of the impoverished village has reached the halls of the U.S. Congress and state department. Last week Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) sent an open letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking him to intervene and help save Susiya. Ten members of the house joined her in signing.
The state department took notice and spoke out. At a press briefing on Thursdayspokesperson John Kirby took a question about the fate of Susiya, and he was prepared with a detailed answer: The department “strongly urges” Israel to refrain from “any demolitions in the village.” Such actions would be “harmful and provocative,” they would “worsen the atmosphere” and “set a damaging standard.” The message was clear.
This made the news in Israel, but The New York Times remained silent. It had nothing to say when the 28 EU consulates took part in an act of solidarity with Susiya. It made no mention of the Eshoo letter. Now it has studiously avoided the remarks by Kirby at the state department last week.
The Times would prefer to say nothing about the case of Susiya, which exposes the Israeli occupation in all its worst manifestations. To report the full story would damage the fictional narrative promoted by Israel and the Times: that the West Bank is “disputed territory” fought over by two equal sides and Palestinians are terrorizing the settlers.
If the pressure becomes great enough, if other mainstream media begin to report on the threats to Susiya and the protests at the highest levels of the U.S. government, theTimes may have to relent. Then it will be instructive to see how it manages to play catch-up and, we expect, strive to give the story an Israeli spin.
This month marks the one year anniversary of the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 – an incident that took place against a backdrop of a brutal proxy war – pitting Kiev and its supporters in Washington DC, the EU and NATO – against rebel forces in eastern Ukraine and Russia. As with most 21st century conflicts, truth has been the first casualty of war here.
On July 17, 2014, flight MH17 traveling east from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – crashed near the village of Grabovo, and on the outskirts of the town of Torez just outside of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, approximately 40 km from the Ukrainian-Russian border.
To call this situation volatile would almost be an understatement. A pivotal event such as this could easily be used as a pretext for escalating not only a New Cold War between the West and Russia, but also a hot war. Only six months previously, the Ukraine found itself in the throes of a western-backed coupd’état in Kiev which tore the country apart. This was quickly followed by a snap referendum in Crimea, where voters opted for secession from the Ukraine and into the relatively secure arms of the Russian Federation. The west cried foul and so began a new grudge match. Arguably, tensions between the west and Moscow have been at their highest since the apex of the Cold War during the east-west Soviet era. Needless to say, with MH17 the stakes could not be any higher, and regarding the west, it was obvious who would be assigned the blame for this tragedy.
More than any other incident, this one was flushed out firstly through public relations channels, and then secondly through official government bodies. From the onset the West took its position by claiming it had “proof” that ‘Russian-backed rebels’ were responsible for shooting down the passenger airliner. Immediately after the incident took place, the western government-media complex insisted that the murder weapon was a Russian-made BUK Surface to Air Missile system.
Buk-M1-2_9A310M1-2: A Russian-made BUK SAM Missile battery, commonly stocked by the Ukrainian Army
Western mainstream media outlets wasted no time in disseminating this government-issued conspiracy theory, backed-up by a number of other clams of “evidence” coming out of the Washington-backed regime in Kiev. At the time, US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed to have a“mountain of evidence” convicting ‘pro-Russian separatists’ and Moscow. Unfortunately, Kerry’s mountain was no more than a mole hill. Nearly all of those claims have since been debunked and exposed as fraudulent – but from a public opinion perspective, the damage was already done.
Within 48 hours, News Corp and other pro-war rags ran a series of loaded headlines including, “Putin’s Missile”, “Putin’s Victims” and “From Vlad to Worse”. Vladimir Putin and his government in Russia were already convicted in the Kangaroo court of public opinion under the guise of guilt by association with Russian-speaking rebels fighting Kiev’s military forces in the east.
‘Factless’ News Corp: Always the loyal war rag.
However, upon closer examination of the facts surrounding this case, an alternative set of conclusions can be drawn from this event – one which points to the very strong possibility that what the world really witnessed last year was a classic ‘false flag’ event – an attempted slight-of-hand bit of military trickery designed to cast blame on one party for a crime that was really committed by another. It wouldn’t be the first time that this type of sub-plot was put into motion to advance a world power’s geopolitical objectives.
Revelation of the Method: A ‘False Flag’ Attack
The term false flag, or “black flag”, is most common in naval battles, and describes the historic covert, military use of a flag other than the perpetrator’s true flag colors as a type of ruse de guerre - designed to deceive and confuse in order to provide a fake ‘moral high ground’ in the theater of mass public opinion.
The classic blueprint for MH17 was not dreamt-up by Russian war planners, but by the Pentagon – over 50 years earlier. A clandestine plan known as Operation Northwoods, was similarly conjured in 1962 by the US Department of Defense’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and the CIA in front of a Cold War backdrop pitting the United States against then Soviet ally Cuba, led by Fidel Castro. The plan was signed off by then JCS Chairman Lyman Lemnitzer and detailed how spooks would use prepositioned explosives to blow-up a passenger airliner over Cuba, blaming it on Cuba and by extension – Washington’s arch-nemesis the Soviet Union. This ‘false flag’ attack would then be used as valuable leverage in a global public opinion campaign against Washington’s existential and ideological enemies. They also talked about developing a “Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington”. Fortunately, the deceptive plot was eventually rejected by the Kennedy administration.
It’s important to note that had the US been successful in framing Moscow for the downing of MH17 in 2014, it would have given Washington a bright green light to intensify its efforts in destabilizing neighboring Ukraine, and later in Georgia, then in Estonia, and so on. As the MH17 false flag began to crumble, so did any prospects of a Washington geopolitical takeover in the region.
Arguably, Washington DC and its allies attempted a similar geopolitical frame-up only one year earlier in August 2013 in Syria. What we now know to be a false flag chemical weapons attack took place in Ghutta, a suburb located on the outskirts of Damascus. The plan was simple: create a chemical or ‘WMD’ event to coincide with the visiting of UN weapons inspectors in Damascus and blame it on the government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. Once international outrage and blame could be established, then a US-led ‘Coalition’ would carry out yet another oxymoronic ‘humanitarian’ military intervention against Syria, topple the regime and then work on installing a US-compliant government there. It almost happened. Had the British Parliament passed a war resolution in early September, then the US would have had the green light to begin bombing – risking another potential world war in the process.
In the end it was Russia who quickly supplied the solution: a UN monitored disposal of all of the Syrian military’s aging chemical weapons stocks – and thus removing any future change by the US or Britain to fabricate another ‘WMD’ indictment against the Assad regime in Syria. That master chess move was down to Russia’s dab-handed foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and it was a masterstroke which may have helped to avoid a wider world war.
Tracing the whereabouts of MH17 during its final moments is of great importance if one is to determine what happened and why. For this reason, a number of key data sets and important information and testimonies have been buried – not by Russia and Russian-speaking rebels in the east Ukraine, but rather by US and European stakeholders as well as obscured by the entirety of the western corporate media.
We know that a Malaysian Airlines spokesman has already confirmed that, for some unknown reason, Kiev-based Ukrainian Air Traffic Control (ATC) ordered MH17 off of its original flight path along the international air route, known as L980. Most likely, this order was given to pilots while MH17 was still in Polish air space. L980 is one of the most popular and most congested air routes in the world, as well as a key link between major international hubs in Europe, like London Heathrow, Amsterdam Schiphol, Frankfurt, and Asian destinations, like Singapore, Mumbai, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur. As MH17 moved into Ukrainian air space, it was moved by ATC Kiev approximately 200 miles north – putting it on a new course, heading directly into a war zone, a well-known dangerous area by now – one that hosted a number of downed military craft over the previous 3 weeks.
Robert Mark, a commercial pilot and editor of Aviation International News Safety magazine, confirmed that most Malaysia Airlines flights from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur would normally travel along a route significantly further south than the route MH17 was diverted onto. Data on these and other similar flights can be found at the website Flight Radar24.1
The plot (or the cover-up) thickens even more at this point, as publically available data appears to have been changed in the weeks following the incident. In the days after the crash, popular microblogger Vagellis Karmiros showed MH17′s clear change of course over the warzone to the north from compiling flight location and route data publically available on the website FlightAware. Karmiros’s findings were even featured in an infographic in the UK’s Daily Mail at the time.2
The digital smoking gun: Then approximately six days after the crash, the information on popular publicly accessible flight tracking websites like FlightAware and FlightRadar24 appear to have been altered – to give the impression that all recent MH17 flights had gone over the Donetsk war zone too – effectively erasing the possibility that the plane’s flight path had been altered by Air Traffic Control in the first instance.3 The following is a screenshot from FlightAware, of MH17 on the day of the incident, July 17, 2014, where the doomed journey came to an abrupt halt over the village of Grabovo, in eastern Ukraine. Notice the flight path along a trajectory north of Crimea:
Below are a set of five different FlightAware screenshots which originally showed how MH17′s normal route was approximately 200 miles south of its fatal kill zone on July 17th, 2014. Here are four samples: MH17 flight path for July 12, 2014 – Original data available in the immediate days following the crash:
MH17 ‘new’ flight path for July 12, 2014 - since changed approximately 6-7 days after the crash:
MH17 flight path for July 13, 2014 – Original data available in the immediate days following the crash:
MH17 ‘new’ flight path for July 13, 2014 - since changed approximately 6-7 days after the crash:
MH17 flight path for July 14, 2014 – Original data available in the immediate days following the crash:
MH17 ‘new’ flight path for July 14, 2014 - since changed approximately 6-7 days after the crash:
MH17 flight path for July 15, 2014 – Original data available in the immediate days following the crash:
MH17 ‘new’ flight path for July 15, 2014 - since changed from approximately 6-7 days after the crash:
Were these flight paths changed, and if so, why? Again, the obvious motive here is misdirection. By altering the public-facing flight path data of MH17 after the fact would be to cloud the realization that MH17′s fateful path on July 17, 2014 was NOT it’s normal flight path – and thus halting any further inquiry as to exactly who diverted MH17 and why. According to these revised images, that appears to be exactly what has been attempted here. Was FlightAware hacked and the flight path data altered? The answer to this question might help lead to finding out whether or not we are in fact witnessing a very elaborate cover-up here. The Missing Tapes So what about the air traffic control tapes? These could easily provide the information investigators need to establish the who, what, when, whereand why of MH17′s doomed journey. The BBC reported on July 17th:
Ukraine’s SBU security service has confiscated recordings of conversations between Ukrainian air traffic control officers and the crew of the doomed airliner, a source in Kiev has told Interfax news agency.4
Were the ATC audio records of the MH17 flight confiscated by the Kiev government? No reason has been given for this loss of transparency, but not a word from Washington regarding this cover-up of crucial evidence. Did the order to change the flight path come from the Ukrainian authorities? Was the pilot instructed to change course? To be sure, the order to change the flight path did not come from Eurocontrol, but more likely from ATC in Kiev. Undoubtedly, this is the most obvious smoking gun that the fix was in for MH17 – as someone directed the flight directly over a war zone. Mainstream pundits and investigators have gone to great lengths to conceal this single most damning piece of evidence which should indicate that there is a running cover-up surrounding this incident. Soon after the incident, British news outlets began floating the story – without evidence, that MH17 was diverted to “avoid thunderstorms in southern Ukraine”. This was also placed on Wikipedia at the same time.5Nico Voorbach, Dutch president of the ‘European Cockpit Association’, appears to be the man used to nudge along this talking point. Voorbach casually slides this crucial fabrication out there, telling The Guardian, of all papers, “I heard that MH17 was diverting from some showers as there were thunderclouds”. The only problem is that Malaysian Airlines immediately refuted this in a report from Malaysia News:
“MAS operations director Captain Izham Ismail has also refuted claims that heavy weather led to MH17 changing its flight plan (…) There were no reports from the pilot to suggest that this was the case,” Izham said. 6
What is significant, however, is that the Western media acknowledged that the change in the flight path did occur, indicating that the alleged “heavy weather” narrative is a fabrication designed to distract and obscure the fact that MH17′s course was indeed diverted directly into the war zone that day. Amazingly, when searching all weather sites online, there is no weather data available for July 17th in the area of the incident. What? More digital chicanery to cover-up the truth? Weather and Visibility Factor Another argument can be made that Kiev-based air traffic controllers not only led MH17 right over its alleged ‘target zone’ in Eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, but they also helped make it both visible to SAM missiles and to fighter jets. Although weather data online is all but unavailable for the area of Donetsk, Ukraine for July 17th, conditions are evident by numerous videos depicting the crash and crash site in the aftermath — it was cloudy and overcast, with more visibility above the cloud canopy. This factor is important because at its cruising altitude of approximately 33,000 feet (10,000 meters), the airliner would not be visible from the ground in the rebel-held area where Washington is insisting a SAM missile was launched. Why Kiev air traffic controllers order MH17 to suddenly drop its altitude, from 35,000 feet to around 33,000 feet, just before the plane’s demise is unknown for sure, but it would have been near impossible for the alleged rebel gunman occupying this relatively small rebel-held patch of land to make a visual sighting of MH17 and acquire the target during the 1-2 minute window they would have had (assuming they were even in possession of the BUK missile system). The following are some fresh footage and eyewitness reports from the scene of the crash:
The Takedown Washington’s fragile ‘conspiracy theory’ quickly fell apart. Russian officials blindsided Washington and its NATO partners when it released all available satellite imagery and air traffic control data which was recorded in and around the final minutes of Flight MH17 – and presented it to the world media on live television. The data painted a very different picture, drawing contrasting conclusions to what Washington and Kiev officials had been disseminating via western media since July 17th. Following their presentation, Moscow handed its findings – air traffic data and time stamped satellite imagery – to European authorities. In stark contrast, US officials were reluctant to do the same – despite numerous cock-sure claims by high-ranking US officials including Secretary of State John Kerry. On Monday July 21st, the Russian government, with almost every major global media outlet in attendance, released all of its air traffic data and satellite imaging data – all verifiable, including time stamps and supporting data. The entire content of the presentation was also handed over to the European authorities. Watch the official broadcast here:
The conclusions to be drawn from this are stunning, to say the least. Despite the public release of this information, US and British media outlets did not bother to report back to its people on these findings. They are as follows: Minutes before the downing of MH17, the plane made a mysterious ‘Left Turn‘ as it flew over the Donetsk area at approximately 17:20:00 Moscow Time, making a sharp 14km deviation, before attempting to regain its previous course before dropping altitude and disappearing from radar at 17:23:00. As we previously pointed out, air traffic controllers in Kiev had already diverted MH17 200 miles further north into the target zone, so the question remains: was Kiev ATC also responsible for this final, fatal diversion, or was there another reason for this unusual turn? According to clear satellite images provided, on July 16th, the Ukrainian Army positioned 3-4 anti-aircraft BUK M1 SAM missile batteries close to Donetsk. These systems included full launching, loading and radio location units, located in the immediate vicinity of the MH17 crash site. One system was placed approximately 8km northwest of Lugansk. In addition, a radio location system for these Ukrainian Army missile batteries is situated 5km north of Donetsk. On July 17th, the day of the incident, these batteries were moved to a position 8km south of Shahktyorsk. In addition to this, two other radio location units are also identified in the immediate vicinity. These SAM systems had a range of 35km distance, and 25km altitude. From July 18th, after the downing of MH17, Kiev’s BUK launchers were then moved away from the firing zone.
Then assistant spokesperson for the US State Dept. Marie Harf had already declared her support for the western-backed coup in Kiev
Unlike rebel fighters, the Ukrainian military is in possession of some 27 BUK missile systems capable of bringing down high-flying jets, and forensic satellite imagery places at least 3 of their launchers in the Donetsk region on the day of this tragedy. Yet, Washington and NATO will not inquire about the possibility that any of these system had targeted MH17.
This is another definitive smoking gun: why did the Ukrainian Army move these short-range anti-aircraft SAM missile batteries into position on July 16-17th – to an interior region of East Ukraine where it’s known that the rebel resistance possess no air crafts whatsoever? Not surprisingly, both the US and Kiev have not answered that difficult question, perhaps for obvious reasons. Most importantly however, Moscow radar picked up a Ukrainian Air Force fighter jet. At 17:20 Moscow Time, MH17 began to abruptly lose speed, eventually slowing to 124mph (200kmph). At that moment, what appears to be an SU-25 Ukrainian fighter jet appears on ATC radar, climbing in the direction of MH17 before trailing MH17 on the same flight path approximately 3-5km behind the passenger airliner, as it began rapidly approaching the same flight level. This happened just minutes before MH17 disappeared on radar. Note here that a Ukrainian fighter would not have been visible on ATC radar before it broke the ATC long-range standby radar tracking ceiling of 5km in altitude. Civilian ATC radar would not be able to identify this Su-25 as military because no secondary detection system is mounted – typical for military aircraft. Over the next four minutes, the Ukrainian fighter remained in the area. Note also that the Su-25 can be armed with air-to-air R-60 missiles with a range of up to 5km-12km. Washington’s Revised Conspiracy Theory In a damage control exercise, US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf, called an ‘urgent’ press conference. The plan was to try and rescue the narrative. The Los Angeles Times reported:
U.S. intelligence agencies have so far been unable to determine the nationalities or identities of the crew that launched the missile. U.S. officials said it was possible the SA-11 [anti-aircraft missile] was launched by a defector from the Ukrainian military who was trained to use similar missile systems.7
The quiet U-turn by Washington signaled that its previous case blaming the rebels has been destroyed, and rather than concede that the Ukrainian Army has actually shot down MH17, they instead tried to concoct a revision about an unlikely Bond-like “rogue defector” villain and his “rogue team” – who all just happened to be wearing Ukrainian Army uniforms.
Even Hollywood’s best script writers could not rescue Washington’s terminally over-worked MH17 narrative.
The Crash Site
Most importantly, but completely overlooked by analysts following this story is the location (s) of the crash site itself. The scatter patterns of debris, along with the arguing which ensued between international bodies and the Donbass Rebels in east Ukraine – speaks volumes about a false flag master plan gone wrong.
The Boeing 777-200ER airliner lost contact at about 10 km before the eventual crash site. The fatal event occurred somewhere in the interval between 17:21:28 and 17:22:30 Moscow Time. The exact time of the crash is believed to be at 17:23:00.
Had the plane been shot down further east, and crashed some 30-40 miles southeast of its eventual grave, then the Ukrainian Army would have had complete control of the crash site, the evidence, as well as the flight data recorder ‘blackboxes’. As luck would have it, Kiev and Washington were not afforded the luxury of being able to hermetically seal off the crime scene – and thus completely control the narrative. For whatever reason, the plane was shot down too early, placing the wreckage along with the all-important black boxes in the wrong place – all of which made the false flag narrative slightly more complicated to sell than operation planners had originally intended (theoretically anyway).
The Investigation That Wasn’t
Once again, Russia’s impressive chess move by presenting all of their satellite and radar data in the immediate aftermath of the crash may very well have helped to avoid a major international conflagration.
With the egg still drying on their faces, western mandarins shifted into PR damage-control mode. In a massive face-saving exercise, much was made in the western media and in high-powered political circles about the need for a “thorough and fair investigation into MH17″. Any chance of that happening quickly died once the flight data recorders were handed over to British authorities for safe keeping at the UK’s Air Accidents Investigative Branch located in Farnborough, England. It’s been nearly one year now since the aircraft’s black boxes were placed into the hands of British authorities and it seems as if any further factual inquiries into what really happened that day have hit the wall. After Russia’s data dump there is simply no chance that the ‘Russian-backed’ Rebels could be framed for the disaster, so NATO’s intelligentsia have little choice other than to simply sit on the evidence indefinitely.
It seems that the biggest losers are still the victims’ families. In December 2014, the Netherlands rejected families’ demands to allow the UN to take over from Dutch leading the investigation, as relatives claim the Dutch have “completely botched” the case by failing to meet basic international CSI protocol for securing evidence, as well as their inability to build a legal case to prosecute those responsible. As a leading NATO member with a clear stake in the Ukrainian civil war, the Netherlands can hardly consider themselves as a neutral arbitrator in the case. This is a good example of what happens to false flags once they reach the legal phase – when all of the previous hype and inertia generating through break-neck media speculation and wild political hyperbole – comes to a grinding halt in the face of the facts.
This past week saw the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) release its ‘preliminary findings’ in a new report which claims to have identified a “Russian BUK Missile” launcher as the smoking gun, as well as blaming Malaysian Airlines for being ‘sloppy’ in its professional conduct by “not doing enough” to prevent its plane from flying over the deadly war zone. Far from fact-based, both citations by the DSB amount to nothing more than gross speculation and wild theorizing. To call it an investigation is laughable.
Western media pundits have also been working overtime to characterize the DSB as a neutral arbitrator who is also apolitical, and a “meticulous”, honest broker. As a leading member of NATO, the Netherlands are anything but neutral and for anyone to suggest that that is truly the case would be both naive, and worse – ignorant – considering how NATO has managed to leverage the west’s fictional account of MH17 in order to fund and arm the Ukrainian military, as well as begin its recent unprecedented, break-neck expansion eastward right up to Russia’s border.
They claim that their final “definitive report” will be released sometime in the fall – but few in the know will be holding their breath, as this one looks like it has all the makings of a protracted exercise in obfuscation designed to stay as far away from any conclusive investigation as possible, and allowing for continuing political pressure on Moscow via the original blame game.
The disinformation merry-go-round
Who needs evidence when you have social media instead? The week following the downing of MH17, Washington deployed its front-of-house asset, US ambassador to the Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt (image, left), in its endless running fabricated social media campaign designed to somehow convince the world (or at least naive US media consumers) that the Russian military were occupying eastern Ukraine. Here, his damning tweet would implicate Russia for “firing artillery over its border into the Ukraine.” As cheap stunts went, this was one of the lowest ever. It turns out that Pyatt had simply grabbed a series of images off of the Google World-style satellite mapping website Digital Globe, while proudly touting it as “evidence” of Russian artillery fired into eastern Ukraine. This sort of media buffoonery has since become par for the course ever since the neoconservative faction led by Victoria Nuland managed to seize control of the US State Department in 2013. Here is Pyatt’s ‘evidence’ as it appeared last summer:
Pyatt’s Twitter gaff was part of an “disinformation merry-go-round” currently on heavy rotation in Kiev. Unlike the all-too-eager media drones in the US and Europe, Russian officials have been able to explain the mechanics of the Washington-Kiev fiction mill:
This scheme is called ‘an informational merry-go-round’,” Konashenkov added, using an expression commonly uttered in Russia relating to feeding the information to the media.
“It’s no secret to anyone that fakes like this are made by a group of US counselors staying in the Kiev building of the Security Council, led by General Randy Kee,” he noted.
The general outlined the cycle as follows: the US counselors in Kiev feed the disinformation to the Ukrainian media, with the news being taken by the Washington official representatives and presented as statements.
Afterwards, Washington’s stage-managed Ukrainian media outlet’s immediately cited the US Ambassador’s flimsy findings and published numerous articles as labeled as “objective” reporting on alleged Russian military movements inside Ukrainian territory.
Opportunity and Motive
Considering the military conflict which was taking place in eastern Ukraine at the time, there are three uncomfortable coincidences (or realities) that were prevailing before the downing of MH17 on July 17th.
Firstly, the crash was also timed with an all-out Ukrainian Military offensive which was planned weeks in advance and was set to begin on July 18th. Secondly, it was widely reported that the troops were losing morale, and were suffering defections in an increasingly unpopular military theater of Eastern Ukraine. Kiev was losing the PR war hearts and minds in the Ukraine and abroad. Lastly, following the downing of MH17, Kiev was again characterized as a victim of “Russian aggression” and went on to garner huge public sympathy and support.
In the weeks leading up to July 17th, NATO, led by the US, conducted two large-scale military and intelligence drills in the Black Sea region. The first was an annual affair named, SEA BREEZE 2014, which just so happened to end on… July 17th. The drill included hundreds of US military specialists running ‘war simulations’ in electronic warfare, data collection from a spy satellite, and ‘monitoring’ of all passenger aircraft flying in the region. In addition, both US and British armed forces had also scheduled a concurrent military exercise code named, Rapid Trident 2014, another NATO sanctioned international drill which takes place around the Ukraine, which, according to the US Forces in Europe website, is supposed to “promote regional stability and security, strengthen partnership capacity and foster trust while improving interoperability between the land forces of Ukraine, and NATO and partner nations.” Since March, the Pentagon has kept quiet regarding the number of US forces, and hardware assets expected to participate in the maneuvers. According to US Army spokesman Col. Steven Warren, Rapid Trident is the only Ukraine military exercise the US planned to participate in this year, and it’s main purpose was, “To help the Ukrainian military improve its troops and weapons operability with NATO forces.”
Just another coincidence.
Eye in the Sky
Here’s yet another smoking gun. The US had deployed its latest state-of-the-art, experimental satellite which just happened to be positioned over Eastern Europe for 1-2 hours, and directly over Donetsk in eastern Ukraine between 5:06pm – 5:21pm – the exact time frame in which MH17 was shot down.
Did the US know something was happening in advance? It certainly seems so. Will the US ever release the information it clearly has documenting the MH17 disaster? Probably never.
MH17 Endgame: International Sanctions
Clearly, war planners in Washington are determined to fabricate a case against Russia in order to enable either of these two outcomes:
1. Create a ‘global’ mandate for wider international sanctions against Russia.
2. Create a UN Security Council Crisis by implicating Russia via an “international violation”.
In retrospect, the primary endgame of framing Moscow for the downed passenger airliner was to impose international sanctions against Russia. It’s crucial to note here that the west’s continued determination in blaming rebels in eastern Ukraine for MH17, and by extension Moscow, seems necessary in order to maintain the facade which was the original basis for their sanctions regime against Russia.
Unlike Washington, the European economies have suffered greatly from sanctions against Russia, hitting Germany, France and Spain exports particularly hard at a time when when an already fragile Eurozone is teetering on the edge of disaster. If the truth about MH17 were ever to be revealed, and thus shattering the cheap narrative constructed by Washington’s conflict marketing department last year, the political blow-back from Europe’s leading economies would be substantial, with America’s allies demanding some sort of quid pro quo to cover their own shortfalls.
Shameless Cheap Shot
In the aftermath of the tragedy, a number of unscrupulous politicians sought to score what they thought were easy points against Russian president Vladimir Putin. Topping that list of shameless actors is none other than Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott (image, left), who threatened to “shirt-front” Putin over the issue ahead of the G20 Summit hosted by Australia last November. When Putin arrived, Abbott bottled, and revised his rhetoric to asking the Russian leader for an apology and also financial compensation for MH17 victims’ families – even though there was absolutely no evidence to even suggest that Russia had anything to do with the crash.
Towing the NATO line, as ever, Abbott then invited Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko to visit Australia at a later date to “discuss security.”
A Symbolic Date
In terms of Russian history, there is not a more symbolic date than July 17th. This was also the date on which the Russian Imperial Romanov family led by Tsar Nicholas II, his wife and five children and other persons – were awoken at 2:00am and assassinated by firing squad in the early hours of 17 July 1918. Wikipedia recounts:
“Present with Nicholas, Alexandra and their children were their doctor and three of their servants, who had voluntarily chosen to remain with the family—the Tsar’s personal physician Eugene Botkin, his wife’s maid Anna Demidova, and the family’s chef, Ivan Kharitonov, and footman, Alexei Trupp. A firing squad had been assembled and was waiting in an adjoining room, composed of seven Communist soldiers from Central Europe, and three local Bolsheviks, all under the command of Bolshevik officer Yakov Yurovsky.”
Russia’s public satellite ‘data dump’ on July 21, 2014 was certainly a game changer – effectively snookering Washington and Kiev. The existence of this intelligence means that, for fear of losing face on the issue, Washington and its NATO partners cannot present any real intelligence – which they also have in their possession.
In an attempt to save face, western governmental bodies will now likely stop short of issuing any definitive statements as they already had last summer, of accusing either Donbass Rebels or Moscow of actually shooting down MH17.
The only remaining option to nudge their PR agenda foward, is to continue with the campaign of endless innuendos and other slanderous remarks in the media sphere using nongovernmental agencies and war advocacy think tanks. During its news package this week on the latest Dutch Safety Board report, CNN featured Heather Conley (image, left) a senior VP from theCenter for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC. Conley crowed that somehow the report was another “blow to Vladimir Putin’s credibility.” Naturally, the irony is lost on Washington.
One year on, and we’re still no closer to closure, and very far from justice regarding the case of MH17. Expect more cover-ups and misdirection from western authorities who fear any new evidence that may threaten the narrative they were aggressively canvassing in the immediately aftermath of the last year’s tragedy.
Meanwhile, Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Grand Chessboard and the aged old battle to control Euraisa’s Heartland continues…
The GOP comedy circuit has been filled of late by a few punches delivered by Donald Trump, who has decided that dumping on his fellow Republicans is one sure way to land in the Oval Office.
Arizona Senator John McCain found himself on the receiving end of some bluster after suggesting that Trump had “fired up the crazies” with his supposedly 5,000 strong anti-immigration rally in Phoenix. This stood to reason, not least of all because McCain considers himself to be one of the sober ones in the GOP. And that, at times, is an adventurous assertion. “We have,” he told the New Yorkerwith regret, “a very extreme element within our Republican Party.”
Trump certainly attempted to beef his show with political fodder, not least of all with the father of a man killed by an undocumented immigrant, because obviously, a documented one might have been more homely, more in tune with local values. Pity Jamiel Shaw Sr. but also the Trump entertainment complex that makes short work of its stand-ins.
The porous US-Mexico border features heavily in the Trump manual of campaigning, though underlying that resentment is a bubbling envy at enterprise and industry. Trump, in other words, is on the hunt for heroes – apart from himself as the blindingly obvious choice. His seemingly venal vitriol against Mexico is one tinged with agitated admiration. Yes, those crossing the border might be adept “criminals” and compulsive “rapists” pinching jobs and deflowering US innocents, but he also loves “the Mexican people. I love their spirit I respect Mexico as their country. Their leaders are much sharper and smarter than ours.” They too, have the dream, and dangerously wish to live it.
This is a theme that Trump is obsessed by, a form of cerebral Darwinism in action. The US is losing pace; the others are catching up. The brain boxes are not to be found at the top of the fast withering American tree, but in the party offices of the Chinese Communist Party, where they chuckle at American ineptitude and geriatric bumbling. “They have geniuses and we have people who don’t have a clue. We have stupid leaders” (CNN, Jul 11).
This is prescient, largely because he represents that same credo of wealth appropriation, the plundering pig always in clover pretending that thrift, rather than debt, powers his persona. Success is based purely on the weight of the wallet and the number of “assets” that supposedly gives the American dream padding. It is the code of a modern, if less able, robber baron. One has to steal to win.
Which bring us to that rather quirky manipulation of the hero cult which seems to matter so much in The Donald’s universe. Unhappy is the land that needs a hero, suggests Bertolt Brecht’s man of misfortune, Galileo. McCain does not qualify for the American pantheon of awe inspiring war heroes because, according to Trump at the Family Leadership Summit held on Saturday, “I like people who weren’t captured, O.K.? I hate to tell you.”
As for Trump’s own illustrious record, keeping away from the bloodshed seemed to have been a matter of firm commitment. All in all, the record of evasion and escape is impressive, though these were not justified with a sophisticated critique of war. Amy Davidson gives us the list. He had four student draft deferments, two while at Fordham, and two after transferring to the University of Pennsylvania, piggy backing on family contacts. The fifth was a medical deferment on the fanciful ground of “bone spurs”. By sheer dumb luck, he escaped the 1969 draft lottery as the number of inductees required had already been called.
This is the Trump recipe: luck, overworked family contacts, America’s grand sinecures that do away with any notion of the pioneer spirit; the art, not of the deal, but of evasion, escape and profit. And, of course, entertainment.
The entertainment feature of the Trump campaign is both symptom and system. The entire presidential race has become a long Hollywood mastication sluiced with endless pots of finance. It is prohibitive, it is consumerist, and it has mastered the formula of political alienation. Invariably, it has also emptied out the war hero message. Trump, for that reason, seems a gruesomely appropriate fit.
The Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim and Danny Shea, in confining “The Donald” to sop stories on “the Kardashians and The Bachelorette,” miss the point. The circus that is unfolding is becoming the diseased story of the election, notably from the perspective of the GOP, whose other contenders desperately hope that Trump trips into oblivion.
While it is hard to believe he won’t disappear as another short historical entry into the book of presidential contenders, he will continue to lay waste to the Republican trail, lopping off a few limbs in the process. The GOP is set for the big squeeze, as if it wasn’t happening already.
Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email:[email protected]
On January 3, 1961, Dwight Eisenhower severed relations with Cuba – two years after Fidel Castro replaced dictator Fulgencio Batista with governance serving all Cubans, not just its privileged few.
Two months later, Kennedy’s failed Bay of Pigs invasion followed. He refused another. US relations with Cuba remained frozen until Obama began talks two years ago to change things.
On Monday, the Havana Times published Democracy Now’s report on restoring diplomatic ties, saying:
“History is being made in Washington today when Cuba raises its flag and officially reopens its US Embassy after 54 years.”
“Hundreds are gathering for this historic moment, including US and Cuban lawmakers and diplomats, activists and artists, scholars and historians.”
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Roriquez is in Washington along with chief negotiator Josefina Vidal and former parliament President Ricardo Alarcon.
Cuba’s flag flew in Washington for the first time in over 54 years. America’s embassy opened for business in Havana. A State Department official said “on July 20, both Interests Sections (became) embassies.”
“(A)greement between United States and Switzerland and another agreement between Cuba and Switzerland will be terminated as a result of the upgrade.”
John Kerry will visit later this summer for a formal inauguration ceremony. An ambassadorial appointment will take time if Republicans keep blocking nominees. Lower-level personnel will handle diplomatic relations.
Interest Sections head Jeffrey DeLaurentis will serve as Charge d’Affairs after formal inauguration ceremonies later this summer.
Last week, Cuban President Raul Castro called on Obama to end Washington’s embargo entirely by executive order – “to dismantle aspects of this policy that damaged and caused hardships to our people.”
Congressional Republicans refuse. They denounced removing Cuba from the State Department’s state sponsors of terrorism list. They vowed to block any ambassadorial nominee.
Longstanding US Cuba policy remains unchanged – replacing its sovereign government with one it controls. Decades of attempts failed – a testimony to Fidel Castro’s remarkable leadership, resilience and determination not to let dark forces in Washington undermine revolutionary change.
His brother succeeded him as president in February 2008 – over a year-and-a-half after his near-fatal illness.
In August he’ll be 89 – appearing at times in public, writing occasional articles and reflections to share important thoughts and ideas with readers. He remains the world’s leading elder statesman, an inspiration to millions worldwide.
Aside from reestablishing formal diplomatic ties, nothing else so far changed. Economic blockade remains official US policy. So does destabilization and plans to return Cuba to its bad old days.
Last week, Foreign Ministry deputy director for US affairs Gustavo Machin said Washington’s plans may still call for regime change despite Obama claiming otherwise. He says one thing and intends another.
“We haven’t seen anything suggesting practical change” in US/Cuban relations, Machin explained – rhetoric alone without followthrough.
The State Department’s 2016 budget includes $20 million for so-called Cuban democracy promotion programs. Their goal is undermining socialist governance – replacing it with US controlled rapacious capitalism, what Castro’s revolution succeeded in eliminating.
Reestablishing diplomatic ties has nothing to do with normalization – everything to do with giving US monied interests another market to exploit, Cuban people along with it.
Fidel Castro and other Cuban officials don’t trust Washington for good reason. Nor should anyone. Diplomatic relations come with a big price.
It includes subversion masquerading as diplomacy, attempts to control Cuba’s economy, wanting it strip-mined for profit, its people exploited like serfs, Washington’s embassy little more than a den of CIA spies and other imperial interests, in return for nothing benefitting Cuba.
As long as Republicans and anti-Cuban Democrats control Congress, expect decades of economic blockade and overall hostile relations to continue.
America’s repressive presence in Guantanamo alone is a thumb in the eye to Cuban sovereignty. Washington’s foothold on its territory gives it a chance to grab it all – a possible successful Bay of Pigs 2.0 without firing a shot.
FIRA, GREECE. On Sunday July 5, the Greek people voted in a historic referendum to refuse the Troika’s draft agreement.
The Referendum was an outright ”ritual of democracy”. The Greek people were betrayed. On Monday morning, July 6, on the day following the referendum, Prime minister Tsipras put forth a 13 page draft proposal which included most of the demands of the creditors. This proposal, which was drafted before the referendum in close consultation with the creditors was essentially intended to lead towards the acceptance of the creditors’ demands, namely to support the YES vote which was defeated in the July 5 Referendum.
The July 6 post referendum document put forth by PM Tsipras on Monday 6 July was accepted in substance by the Troika. It was then endorsed by the Greek Parliament.
The important question for the Greek people.
Does the vote of acceptance by the Greek parliament provide a legally binding green-light to the government to finalize debt negotiations AGAINST the Greek people, overriding the NO Vote in the Referendum.
What is the role of a referendum under Greece’s constitution?
While the result of a referendum is not always legally binding, it nonetheless provides an explicit political mandate to the government which has to be followed. A referendum cannot be based on an a priori deception. The results cannot be ignored in a democracy.
The referendum was held while the Tsipras government had already decided to cave in to the creditors.
Neither the Parliament nor the government can rescind the VOTE of the Greek people on the July 5 2015.
Under a democracy, the government has a responsibility to implement the NO vote in the Referendum, which was sponsored by the Syriza government in the first place.
If it is not willing to respond to the demands of the Greek people it must resign.
It is important at this stage that the Greek people question the legality of the parliamentary decision. It is worth noting that the Supreme Special Court (Ανώτατο Ειδικό Δικαστήριο) endorsed the holding of the Referendum.
What must now be established is the constitutionality of the parliament’s denial of the Referendum procedure and its de facto endorsement of the YES Vote. That decision has to be challenged. And this must be done before a final binding agreement with the creditors is reached.
The complete and detailed final text of the bailout agreement will most likely not be made public.
It should be noted that many features of this agreement, including those outlined in Tsipras’ 13 page document are in violation of Greece’s constitution. (e.g. articles 22-23 pertaining to labour and social rights).
An ad hoc bailout agreement negotiated by bureaucrats cannot override precise clauses contained in the country’s constitution. That is ultimately the objective of the creditors: undermine the premises of Greek democracy.
Serbian emergency shelters for Bosnian refugees sold to the public as a concentration camp to win public support for international intervention.
In August 1992, millions of people were shocked to see photographs of a supposed Bosnian Serb death camp. But the death camp story was a lie. The ITN crew had filmed from inside a fenced-in storage area. By shooting through the fence ITN created footage that gave the impression that the Bosnian men were imprisoned. With a little editing, this footage was turned into pictures that gave the impression of a death camp – media manipulation.
The death camps were in fact refugee centers.
The photos were produced by ITN, the British TV news giant, from footage shot by an ITN film crew which spent a long day in Bosnia. The film was shot in a refugee center in the town of Trnopolje. (Pronounced Tern-op-ol-yay)
Most of the photographs featured a tall, emaciated man with a deformed chest, stripped to the waist, apparently imprisoned behind barbed wire. Do you remember those pictures?
They were a hoax.
This is proved in the Serbian TV Movie entitled Judgment, English version with commentary produced by Jared Israel and Peter Makara, Emperor’s Clothes.
To start with, the barbed wire was staged. As you will see in this movie the ITN film crew went inside a storage area surrounded by a chicken wire and barbed wire fence. They filmed through the fence, thus creating the false impression that the people they were filming were fenced in. Now if this truly was a facility to murder people why would it be fenced of with a chicken fence, that is about 2m high, this fence could easily be destroyed using bear hands.
That was only their first cute trick. Step by step, Judgment! shows how these phony pictures were created. Judgment! is so damning that ITN’s lawyers have threatened the Internet company that hosts the server with a law suit because they advertise the film on this website, www.tenc.net!
The fabricated photos were broadcast worldwide starting on August 6th, accompanied by captions and comments comparing Trnopolje to Nazi death camps.
It was a big lie.
Since 1992, fake videos and images have been used by the mainstream media to justify US-NATO interventions in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine
See also the following review, which acknowledges that the images and ITN production which made the headlines of the mainstream media were used as a pretext to invade a sovereign country on humanitarian grounds.
Hindsight will judge whether agreement in Vienna was historic or another example of Washington never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
Time will tell. It’s too soon to know whether the deal will prove successful or unravel altogether. Troublesome land mines give pause for concern.
The power of Israel and its Lobby looms large. Blitzkrieg efforts are underway to undermine what was achieved – to kill the deal altogether, leave sanctions in place and keep Iran isolated.
Dark forces in America and Israel continue a steady drumbeat of anti-Iranian demonization based on Big Lies – for political reasons, no others.
Congress has final say up or down on accepting or rejecting terms agreed on. Most House and Senate members oppose it – whether enough for a two-thirds veto-proof margin won’t be known for sure until votes are cast. Unrelenting pressure will continue on both sides.
Washington got IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano appointed in 2009 replacing Mohamed ElBaradei – unjustly criticized for being too soft on Iran. He carefully avoided anti-Iranian rhetoric and baseless charges.
Amano changed things – releasing forged documents exposed as fabrications, wrongfully accusing Tehran of activities related to developing nuclear weapons.
Will Washington use him for or against Iran going forward? Will he conduct honest assessments of its nuclear activities? Will he confirm Iranian compliance with Vienna terms or claim otherwise – with or without independently verified evidence?
On Sunday, Obama sent the agreement to Congress. Netanyahu urged rejection. Passage will feed an “Iranian terror machine,” he blustered. His demagoguery wore thin long ago.
He’s a frequent US television guest. On CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday, he lied saying “(t)his regime has just received the dream deal. (It) paves Iran’s path to a nuclear arsenal.”
“It makes the problem of terrorism in the region and the world much worse by giving Iran billion of dollars for their war and terror machine. Not a good deal.”
“(I)t’s my obligation as the prime minister of Israel to speak out against something that endangers the survival of my country, the security of the region, the security of the world. It’s not only important to us, I think it’s important for the entire world.”
A positive sign was German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel heading a delegation arriving in Tehran for discussions. Other European nations are expected to follow – eager to do business with sanctions lifted.
Removing them won’t prevent possible snapback based on fabricated claims about Iran violating Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) provisions.
If one P5+1 country vetoes the other five on maintaining sanctions relief, reinstitution will follow, undermining years of hard work.
Guilt by accusation is enough. No evidence is needed – just the decision of one nation overriding the others, if 30 days of dispute resolution panel consideration fails to reach consensus.
A majority Security Council vote can order continued sanctions relief provided what’s proposed isn’t vetoed.
America’s odious history of breaching agreements by post facto repudiation or reinterpreting terms looms large as a possible deal breaker.
Given unrelenting US anti-Iranian hostility, chances for Vienna consummated terms holding at best are very tenuous. Things can unravel anytime for any reason, legitimate or otherwise.
A Final Comment
On July 20, the Security Council unanimously passed a resolution lifting Iranian sanctions it imposed – with snapback authority over the next decade to reinstitute them if Tehran breaches Vienna terms agreed on.
EU nations approved the nuclear deal the same day. Congress has 60 days to review it before acceptance or rejection. It’s far from a done deal. Enormous obstacles must be overcome for a considerable time to come.
Obama is being praised as a man of peace for the nuclear agreement with Iran. Some are asking if Obama will take the next step and repair US-Russian relations and bring the Ukrainian imbroglio to an end?
If so he hasn’t told Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland or his nominee as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force General Paul Selva, or his nominee as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Joseph Dunford, or his Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James.
The other day on Ukrainian TV Victoria Nuland declared that if Russia does not “fulfill its obligations,” by which she means to turn all of Ukraine over to Washington including Crimea, a historical Russian province, “we’re prepared to put more pressure on Russia.” During the past week both of Obama’s nominees to the top military positions told the US Senate that Russia was the main threat to the US, an “existential threat” even. With this level of war rhetoric in play, clearly Obama has no interest in reducing the tensions that Washington has created with Russia.
In my last column I wrote that the agreement with Iran does not mean much, because Washington can renew the sanctions at any time merely by making false charges against Iran. Obama knows this even if Lindsey Graham and John McCain pretend that they don’t know it.
The US and its proxies continue to murder people over a large area of the earth. Clearly Obama is not a man of peace, and neither are his European enablers and the United Nations. So what is the reason for the accommodation with Iran after many years of rabid demonization of a country for no other reason than the country insisted on its rights to nuclear energy granted by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty?
If you can free yourself from the brainwashing from the presstitute media, three BIG reasons jump out at you. One is that the neoconservatives’ perception of the threat has shifted from “Muslim terrorists” to Russia and China. Unlike Muslim terrorists, both Russia and China are constraints on Washington’s unilateralism. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Washington has grown accustomed to being the Uni-Power, able to exercise its will unchallenged in the world. The rise of Russian strength under Putin and Chinese strength under the new policy has destroyed Washington’s Uni-Power privilege. Washington wants the privilege back.
Washington is not in good shape, economically or militarily. According to Nobel Economist Joseph Stieglitz and Harvard University budget expert Linda Bilmes, Washington has wasted at least $6 trillion dollars in its 14-year old wars in the Middle East. Despite the extraordinary cost, Washington has been defeated, and is now faced with the Islamic State, a new entity arising out of Washington’s mistakes that is creating a new country partly out of Iraq and partly out of Syria.
Despite its gigantic hubris, Washington has figured out that the US cannot simultaneously take on Russia, China, Iran, and the Islamic State. This realization is one reason for the nuclear agreement with Iran. It removes Iran from the mix.
A second reason for the agreement is that Iran is opposed to the Islamic State and can be employed as an American proxy against the Islamic State, thus freeing Washington for conflict with Russia and China.
A third reason for Washington’s agreement with Iran is Washington’s concern with Europe’s energy dependence on Russia. This dependence is inconsistent with the EU going along with Washington’s sanctions against Russia and with NATO’s military moves against Russia. Washington wants to end this dependence and has hopes that money can bring Iran into becoming a supplier of natural gas and oil to Europe.
The explanation I have provided is realism, not cynicism. All that the agreement with Iran means is that Washington has belatedly realized that the concocted Iranian and Muslim threats are using up time, energy, and resources that Washington needs to apply to Russia and China. Moreover, there were too many threats for the American people to know which was paramount.
One of the reasons that Greece has to be destroyed is to block the entry of Russian natural gas into Europe from the Russian pipeline into Turkey.
Washington has US troops in Ukraine training the Ukrainian military how to subdue the break-away provinces, and the stooge Ukrainian government has taken no steps to comply with the Minsk Agreement. Clearly Washington intends that peace is not in the cards in Ukrainian-Russian relations.
At some point Russia will have to accept defeat or else stop contributing to its own defeat. On more than one occasion when the Russian break-away provinces had the Ukrainian military totally defeated, the Russian government intervened and prevented the collapse of the Ukrainian military. For its consideration, Russia has been rewarded with more demonization and with US aid to the Ukrainian military. When hostilities resume, which they will, Russia and the break-away Russian provinces will find themselves in a worsened position.
The Russian government cannot pursue peace when Washington is pursuing War.
The implications of the recent Iranian nuclear deal extend far beyond centrifuges and uranium enrichment. Russia, which has long played tensions between Tehran and Washington to its own ends, may know this better than anyone.
MONTREAL — Tehran and Washington have both been constrained by their own post-1979 rhetoric about one another. Even after a final nuclear deal was signed in Geneva on Tuesday, officials in Tehran and Washington say they are not normalizing ties. Generally, however, both sides have long wanted to improve relations without making any concessions, giving up their respective strategic goals, or publicly abandoning their ideological positions.
It should not be forgotten that Washington and Tehran started a secret dialogue via diplomatic backchannels in the Sultanate of Oman in 2013, shocking their allies and enemies alike. The U.S. threats to attack Syria in August 2013 may have been aimed at gaining traction and leverage in the secret bilateral talks between Tehran and Washington.
According to Banafsheh Keynoush, a former translator to four Iranian presidents and the Iranian reformist lawyer Shirin Ebadi, Tehran has long wanted to rekindle trade with Washington.
Journalist Gareth Porter makes a similar claim, even arguing that Iranian officials deliberately used uranium enrichment to normalize ties with Washington. Writing for Middle East Eye on Wednesday, Porter contends that during Bill Clinton’s second term in the Oval Office, “Iranian strategists began to discuss the idea that Iran’s nuclear programme was its main hope for engaging the hegemonic power.” There was even a letter faxed by Iran for a “grand bargain” in 2003 that Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, acknowledges as an Iranian response to a misleading signal from a third party claiming to speak on Washington’s behalf.
Russian President Vladimir Putin walks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, left, in Ufa, Russia, Thursday, July 9, 2015.
Getting down to business
It is no coincidence that as the nuclear talks progressed, chatter about a resumption of business ties between Iran and the United States flared up on Wall Street and in Tehran’s bazaars. When a final deal was announced in Vienna this week, it was also announced inside Iran that a “special plan” has been drafted to export petrochemical products to the U.S., among other places, according to Iran’s Mehr News Agency. The announcement was not hearsay, but made by the prominent Iranian Association of Petrochemical Industry Corporations.
The plan to export Iranian petrochemicals is just the tip of the iceberg, though. Tehran Times reports that on May 23, Gholamreza Shafei, the head of the Iranian Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines, and Agriculture, “said the Iranian government has given the green light to private business owners to forge trade ties with their American counterparts.” He also acknowledged that the establishment of a joint Iranian-U.S. chamber of commerce had been discussed for about ten months up until that point. In fact, talk of establishing a joint Iranian-U.S. chamber of commerce was disclosed by the Iranian government’s Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) in 2013. IRNA reported that discussions about a joint Iranian-U.S. chamber of commerce started at the same time that Washington and Tehran began direct talks in 2013.
The convenience of normalizing trade ties between Iran and the U.S. is that the process could unfold with little public sign of normalization. Iran-U.S. trade and business transactions can ensue without a normalization of diplomatic relations and without any significant changes in the public perception of Iran-U.S. ties in either country. Rhetoric on both sides could, more or less, be kept in place while trade prospers, and hardliners on both sides opposing rapprochement could be kept at bay as well.
Changing geostrategic parameters between the US, Russia, and Iran
Hostilities between the U.S. and Iran have been something that other international actors have long taken advantage of for their own agendas. Tehran and Washington have been cognizant of this.
The Russian government has used the tensions between Tehran and Washington as a card for its own negotiating strategies a number of times. Moscow, however, has always consciously tried not to cross a certain line when playing on Iranian-U.S. differences as it’s sought concessions from Washington. Moscow has never wanted to weaken Iran or let Washington subdue Tehran. The Russians and Iranians both know very well that their security is organically interlocked.
With the normalization of U.S. and Iranian ties and the conciliatory approach that Washington and Tehran took in 2013, the leveraging of Russia’s bilateral ties with Iran against the U.S. is a path Moscow essentially can no longer pursue. The Kremlin realizes this, and since 2013 it has taken earnest steps to cement Russo-Iranian ties as a strategic partnership that could mirror the Sino-Russian partnership. This includes taking steps to establish greater confidence and trust between Moscow and Tehran. Moscow has also atoned for former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s decision to halt the shipment of S-300 missile air defense systems to Iran in 2010 by revoking his ban on the systems’ delivery, upgrading systems, and offering to sell the superior Antey-2500 to the Iranian military if Tehran withdraws its lawsuit against Rosoboronexport for failing to deliver the S-300 at the Geneva-based Conciliation and Arbitration Court of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Non-nuclear bilateral talks between Tehran and Washington have undoubtedly included some type of U.S. effort to turn the Iranians against the Russians, especially now that the European Union needs an alternative energy supplier to replace the Russian Federation. Even when the U.S. pushed the Russians in 2010 to cancel the S-300 deal that Moscow made with Iran in 2007, it was celebrating the fact that the Iranian government took Russia to the OSCE’s Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in 2011 seeking $4 billion in compensation for a breach of contract by the Kremlin.
From left, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, President of Iran Hassan Rouhani, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliev and Russian President Vladimir Putin press a symbolic button to release some young belugas (white sturgeons) to the Volga river, during the Caspian Summit in Astrakhan, Russia, Monday, Sept. 29, 2014.
The information war against Russia
The U.S. mainstream media and intelligentsia working within the constellation of U.S. interests have launched an anti-Russian information campaign emphasizing that Iran and Russia are “allies of convenience” and that the Russo-Iranian partnership will not last. They claim Russia is the biggest loser in a nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the U.S., plus Germany). Their talking points decidedly point to the negative aspects of the history between Russia and Iran and emphasize that Moscow and Tehran will be competitors in the energy market, especially in Europe. They also emphasize that the Russians have fearfully rushed to secure trade agreements with Iran before the Iranian market opens for trade to the U.S. and Western Europe. They presuppose that Iran will prefer U.S. and Western European corporations to Russian ones because the Russian ones are not as advanced and the Russian technology is outdated.
At the same time, another narrative claims Russia and Iran are trading places in the international community. This transformation has gradually been described over the last decade as Russia being like Gaullist France, an independent part of the West agitating against Washington. Descriptions then began to paint Russia in terms of the People’s Republic of China when tensions flared between Moscow and NATO during and after the Russo-Georgian war over South Ossetia and the missile shield in Europe. Russia was described as separate from the West, like China, but co-existing.
After EuroMaidan in Ukraine, Russia slowly began being described as the new Iran, a country involved in a hostile relationship with the West. This is why the U.S. government’s Radio Free Europe claims: “After decades as an isolated rogue state, Iran appears to be finally coming in from the cold. And after decades of pretending to be a partner to the West, Russia has gone rogue.”
A lot of these assessments are either polemics or sophistry. One widely circulated Reuters article by Agnia Grigas and Amir Handjani claims that Russia will be the “big loser” in a nuclear deal with Iran, but it’s riddled with mistakes and presuppositions. The authors, both experts in the energy sector, were not aware that the BP Statistical Review of World Energy had announced that Iran held the world’s biggest natural gas reserves with a volume of 1202.4 trillion cubic feet. Nor were Grigas, an expert on Russia and the post-Soviet space, who has consulted for the Eurasia Group, and Handjani aware that it was the Chinese empire — not Iran — that had lost the most territory to Russia in the past.
Putting those errors aside, the Reuters article stipulates that the “Russo-Iranian alliance has been more a marriage of convenience than a genuine partnership.” This is wishful rhetoric from the Washington Beltway. The authors supported this assertion by claiming that, “Russia uses Iran as a geopolitical foothold in the energy-rich Persian Gulf and to poke a finger in the eye of U.S. allies in the region.”
“In return, Iran takes advantage of Moscow’s veto power at multinational forums such as the United Nations,” they continued.
They further presume that, “[a]n Iran that is engaged with the West in areas such as energy, trade and peaceful nuclear power generation would no longer see Russia as protector of its interests.”
Russia has no foothold in the Persian Gulf, and there is no evidence that Moscow has used Tehran to hassle any of Washington’s regional allies in the Middle East. Inversely, the Kremlin has no interest in instigating problems with U.S. allies in the Middle East, like Israel and Saudi Arabia, and instead wants to trade with them and lure them away from Washington.
On the other hand, however, the Iranians will never let themselves be manipulated to do the bidding of another international actor and have always worked as the protectors of their own interests without depending on other countries. There has not been a long track record of Russia using its veto for Iran. Nor is Iran in the same position as its ally Syria, as Tehran does not have any overt fears and concerns with the U.N. Security Council; this is why Iran was not shaken by any of the U.N. Security Council resolutions passed against it.
Bavar-373s, S-300s, and the UN weapons sanctions
On the other side of the spectrum in the information war between Moscow and Washington, sectors of the Russian media point out that the opening of the Iranian market will mean big business for Russian corporations — including Russian arms manufacturers, the Russian nuclear industry, and the Russian energy sector.
Some Russian experts, however, have warned of Iranian infidelity. In June, the Russian news agency TASS reported that Vladimir Sazhin, senior research fellow in the Russian Academy of Sciences, argued: “Iran does not care at all about Russia’s interests. It needs money and at some future date it will be able to offer considerable competition to Russia, and not in Europe alone: on the oil market, in two or three years from now, and on the gas market, in five to seven years.”
Reports emerging from both the U.S. and Russia are generally exaggerated or they misunderstand Iran. They also fail to recognize that Iran manufactures most of its own military equipment, including ballistic missiles, submarines, combat jets, tanks, helicopter, drones, and radar detectors.
It is correct that the dropping of the weapons sanctions would give a boost to the Russian weapons industry. The boost, however, will not be a business bonanza because the Iranian military is not dependent on Russia for its security or equipment. As mentioned before by this author, even if the Iranians purchase some of their military hardware from the Russians, Tehran has a “policy of military self-sufficiency and primarily manufactures its own weapons.” When Moscow refused to repair three Russian-made Kilo class submarines because Iran was not willing to send them to Russia, the Iranian military did the overhauls itself. The Iranian military even contends that its Bavar-373 air defense system is more or less the equivalent of the Russian S-300.
Iran’s arms industry is “a dynamic and modern industry that is moving ahead; we may supply our needs from friendly states, but we basically believe that our deterrent power should be based on a home-grown technology,” Brigadier General Ali Shadmani, the Iranian Armed Force’s deputy chief of staff, told the Fars News Agency in April, in response to reports that the S-300 was going to significantly safeguard Iranian air space as if Iran could not protect its own skies. Shadmani went on to explain that Tehran did need the missile defense system in 2006 and 2007, and the deal for the S-300, which was solicited by Russia, was a sound move at the time. He further noted that Iran still wanted the system, even though it is producing the Bavar-373, because “production is not fast enough to satiate” the needs of the Iranian military.
It is very likely that the main goal for the Iranians for dropping the arms sanctions was to export their own weapons. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1747, unanimously adopted in 2007 with the consent of both China and Russia, actually kept the Iranian arms industry from competing on the weapons market with the arms manufacturers of the P5+1. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani even addressed the Iranian public, saying all of Tehran’s objectives were fulfilled in Vienna under the terms of the final nuclear deal, even though the U.N. arms embargo against Tehran will partially remain for a few years.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is also Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, center, shakes hands with an official upon arrival at the Mehrabad airport in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Zarif and his entourage returned to Tehran on Wednesday morning, a day after Iran and the West reached a historic nuclear deal. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
While Iran trades with the West, Eurasia will remain its strategic depth
Although there is jockeying to enter the Iranian market, the various assessments in sympathy or hostility toward Russia or the U.S. disregard two important facts. First, it is Tehran that decides who it trades with and who it does not trade with. Second, the Iranians are not limited in their post-Vienna options for trade partners.
Iran has made trade deals with Russia on the basis of preferential treatment for a secured strategic partner and ally. Moscow and Tehran are working to build an insulated strategic alliance in Eurasia, and they aim to establish a bond similar to the one that China and the Russian Federation have.
While the Iranians will not give up their strategic ties with Russia, they will work in their best interests and hope for a balanced strategic partnership with Moscow. Tehran seeks a balanced approach with Russia in a mutually beneficial relationship with the Russian Federation that does not reduce Tehran to becoming subordinate to Moscow. Iran will engage Western European and U.S. businesses, and make deals with them in place of Russian businesses where it is needed and deemed appropriate.
Despite any blossoming of trade with the U.S. and Western Europe, Tehran will maintain its strategic depth in Eurasia. This is why the Iranians have lobbied and applied for Iran to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization alongside Russia and China.
Moreover, Tehran does not trust Washington. As has been stated during the negotiations, the nuclear agreement is not built on trust but on verification and reciprocity.
What of the war clouds?
From the start, the Iranian nuclear dossier was political in nature. Gareth Porter writes that as a “militarily weak but politically influential regional ‘middle power,’” Iran essentially prompted the nuclear standoff as leverage to engage the U.S. with the goal of normalizing ties with Washington. The nuclear standoff, however, was a crisis manufactured by Washington to rein in the Iranians and the “Axis of Resistance,” comprised of Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, and other regional actors in the Middle East. Allegations that the Iranian nuclear energy program was not peaceful were a convenient tactical charade used by Washington and its allies to try to pressure Iran. The objective of this was to rein in Tehran to restructure the Middle East as part of Washington’s broader unipolar roadmap of targeting the Russians and Chinese and establishing control over Eurasia.
Beijing, Moscow, Tehran, and Washington all have contingency plans for different scenarios. The chances of betrayal do exist and the Iranians are prepared for this. In 2009, the Brookings Institute even recommended that Washington create the illusion that it gave the Iranians a chance to negotiate before attacking them “to ensure the logistical support the operation would require and to minimize the blowback from it.” The Pentagon should “strike only when there is a widespread conviction that the Iranians were given but then rejected a superb offer — one so good that only a regime determined to acquire nuclear weapons and acquire them for the wrong reasons would turn it down,” the Brookings Institute report “Which Path to Persia?” advises.
For months, while Foreign Minister Zarif and his negotiating team of Iranian deputy foreign ministers were trying to draft a deal with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the P5+1 or EU3+3, Iranian military commanders were making parallel statements about being ready for war and the need for military upgrades. In fact, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave specific directions to the Iranian government and military to increase spending on June 30. Khamenei has ordered them to renew their preparedness for conflict, too. At the conclusion of the nuclear negotiations in Vienna, the supreme leader told President Rouhani that certain members of the sextet that Zarif had inked the final nuclear agreement with were untrustworthy and had to be watched carefully. This mistrust in itself ensures that Iran will take a balanced approach toward the U.S. and Russia.
For Mint Press News by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya. Originally published on July 17, 2015. To read about the reasons why the U.S. was forced to seek a deal with Iran please click here.
The video obtained from a McCain staffer by Cyber Berkut appears to match the ISIS-produced James Foley execution video. Senator McCain has well-known ties to such Islamic fundamentalist groups.
News reports of the July 16 shootings in Chattanooga Tennessee already provide some curious features that warrant close scrutiny. Perhaps unsurprisingly, complete oversight of the shooting investigation has been turned over to the FBI. Also, the Israeli-linked SITE Intelligence Group is involved in providing the news frame for alleged shooter Muhammed Youssef Abdulazeez.
For over a decade now the FBI has been busy creating phony terror events throughout the US to provide the semblance of a discernible enemy in the “war on terror,” as investigative reporter Trevor Aaronson has documented. This has proven immensely lucrative for the Western military-intelligence-media complex.
A report on Malaysian Airlines MH17 air disaster in Ukraine last year by a group of old-hand aviation security experts maintains that the Boeing might have been downed by an Israeli Python air-to-air missile.
The report was leaked via the private LiveJournal account of Albert Naryshkin (aka albert_lex) late on Tuesday and has already been widely discussed by social media communities in Russia.
The authors of the investigative report have calculated the possible detonation initiation point of the missile that hit the passenger aircraft and approximate number and weight of strike elements, which in turn designated the type and presumed manufacturer of the weapon.
Malaysian Airline Boeing 777-200 performing flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014, crashed on the territory of Ukraine near the village of Grabovo, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crewmembers aboard.
The aircraft disintegrated in the air and the debris of MH17 were scattered across an area of about 50 sq. km.
The external view of MH17 hull pieces indicates that “fragments of the pilots’ cockpit have suffered specific damages in the form of localized puncture holes and surface dents typical for hypervelocity impacts with compact and hard objects,” the report says, stressing that similar damage could be found on the inner side of the cockpit.
The report specifically points out that chips of the body coat around the holes in the fragment are typical of wave effects created by hypervelocity impacts.
Some damage, though larger and less clustered, could be found near the air-scoop of the left-wing engine of the aircraft.
The nature of the damage allows for the identification of the source as a high-explosive fragmentation warhead from a modern anti-aircraft weapon, claims the report.
Apart from the large puncture holes, the debris of the nose and the cockpit of the aircraft bear a large number of scattered micro-craters resulting from the impact of high-velocity dust and tiny debris, such as an unburnt blasting agent and elements of the ordnance that accompany a shock wave from a blast that occurred very close to the target. In the case of MH17, the pilots’ cockpit.
The report says that as a rule, the initial speed of the striking elements of modern anti-aircraft weapons vary between 1,500 and 2,500 meters per second.
The dimensions and character of the puncture holes left by the strike elements allegedly allow their size and form factor to be established, which in its turn makes it possible to identify the type of weapon used in a particular case.
The cross dimension of absolute majority, 86 percent, of the 186 hull holes studied by experts measure between 6 and 13mm, with explicit maximum of them having cross dimension of 8mm.
This fact brought the expert group to a conclusion about the size of the strike elements of the warhead. If the warhead had been armed with two types of strike elements, the majority of the holes would have been of two types, the reports notes.
The strike element has been established of being a rectangular block measured 8mm x 8mm x 6mm, with margin of error of 0.5 mm, a high probability it was made of steel and an estimated weight of 3 grams each. The total number of such elements should have varied between 2,000 and 4,000.
The bulk of the strike elements are estimated between 4.88 – 14.8 kilograms.
The report confutes the argument of Russia’s Almaz-Antey military concern that early claimed that “intricate shape”double-t steel fragments, similar to those used in warheads of surface-to-air Buk missile systems, have been extracted from the debris of MH17 flight.
Howwever, the double-t strike elements of a Buk missile weigh 8.1 grams, more than twice as much as a single damage fragment among those that pierced MH17’s hull. Thus, according to the report, the hypothesis about a Buk missile system being involved in the crash is “most probably incorrect.”
With 95 percent probability, the group of experts estimates the weight of the missile’s warhead (explosives plus strike elements) that shot down MH17 of being between 10 and 40kg.
This led the experts to determine the exact type of the weapon used against Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.
The report says that that Soviet- and Russian-made surface-to-air missile systems use more powerful warheads than the established maximum 40kg, as is the case with MH17.
Moreover, Soviet- and Russian-made air-to-air missiles which have a similar 10-40kg warhead capability use other types of strike elements within one warhead – obviously not the case with MH17.
A whole range of existing foreign air-to-air missiles have corresponding warhead characteristics, yet lack of physical elements of the missile used against MH17 prevented experts from establishing the exact type of the weapon used.
Still, the circumstances and conditions of the assault allowed experts to make certain assumptions.
The missile that attacked MH17 had a passive radar homing head, which explains why the missile exploded so close to the cockpit. Under the radar-transparent nosecone of a Boeing 777-200 there is a surveillance radar station operable during the flight, so most likely the missile homed on to this radar as the target.
Apart from a radar homing head, the missile could also be equipped with an advanced, matrix type, imaging IR seeker, which enables the missile to determine the size and the type of the target and choose for attack its most vital element. For a huge Boeing aircraft, that’s the cockpit.
A simulation of the missile attack has proved that missiles with that type of guidance choose to attack a big passenger plane from the front hemisphere.
There are four air-to-air missiles that fit the description established by the experts, namely: French Magis-2, Israeli Shafrir, American AIM-9 and Israeli Python – all short-range.
The first three have been struck off the list for various reasons, including type of warhead or guidance system specifications. The Python deserved a closer look.
The Python is equipped with a matrix-imaging IR seeker. It enables a relatively moderate power warhead to effectively engage big aircrafts. The warhead is armed with a set of ready strike elements. Even more importantly, some open military sources suggest that in early 2000s a number of Sukhoi Su-25 assault fighter jets we refurbished to use fourth and fifth generation Python missiles, which look very similar to the Su-25’s standard air-to-air R-60 missile.
Key Israeli objectives in keeping Gaza besieged and waging last summer’s aggression include preventing Palestinian self-determination as well as Hamas/Fatah unity.
Israel doesn’t want Hamas and likeminded groups destroyed. It wants them weakened, contained, isolated in the case of Gaza, and used as pretexts for occupation harshness.
It allies with takfiri terrorists to achieve its objectives – notably the Islamic State (IS). It supplies weapons. It treats its wounded in Israeli hospitals.
Along with Washington, it uses Islamic terrorist elements as strategic assets. On Sunday, five car bombs were detonated simultaneously in central Gaza City – reportedly targeting Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Vehicles they owned were struck.
Graffiti on nearby walls read “Daesh” (the Islamic State designation). So far no group accepted responsibility. Was it an Israeli plot against both groups using proxy IS terrorists to do its dirty work?
Several injuries were reported, no known deaths. Hamas officials are investigating the incident. IS and fringe Salafi groups operate in Gaza – likely with Israeli support and encouragement.
They challenge Hamas authority. They hold extremist Islamic views. Since last summer, other explosions occurred.
While directly aiding IS terrorists, Netanyahu outrageously equated them with Hamas – calling them “branches of the same poisonous tree,” polar opposite reality.
IS advocates strict Islamic caliphate rule under sharia law. Hamas is moderate by comparison. Its goal is ending Israel’s occupation and establishing Palestinian statehood within June 1967 borders.
IS wants caliphate extremism in all Arab states. It’s dependent on US, Saudi, Israeli, Turkish and other regional aid to continue its aggressive mission – seizing territory from sovereign countries, eliminating all nonbelievers.
Hamas has political and military wings. It’s Palestine’s democratically elected government. It’s no terrorist organization as falsely claimed.
It wants peace and stability, not war and other forms of violence. It wants long denied Palestinian liberation – free at last from vicious Israeli control.
It doesn’t support sharia law or persecute Gazan Christians. IS beheads or otherwise eliminates anyone considered apostates to their extremist Islamic views.
Whether Israel’s dirty hands were behind Sunday’s multiple Gaza bombings isn’t known. It’s typical of how it operates – including waging war on moderate Islam using IS and other takfiri terrorists.
Meanwhile, its officials falsely claimed Hamas planned multiple terrorist attacks against Israeli and Palestinian Authority targets. The nonexistent plot was allegedly foiled by arresting over 250 West Bank Hamas members and supporters – a thinly veiled scheme to strengthen Fatah, its officials working collaboratively with Israel for special benefits they derive.
It allegedly involved kidnapping Israeli officials, targeting vehicles on major West Bank roads, attacking IDF checkpoints and assassinating senior PA officials.
You can’t make this stuff up. Obvious questions aren’t addressed. Qui bono? What could Hamas possibly gain from conducting these type incidents – unable to change status quo conditions, risking another Gaza war?
Israel and longtime Fatah collaborators benefit greatly – at the expense of millions of Israelis (and many Palestinians) fooled to think they’re now safer.
Hamas official Abdurahman Shadid said its West Bank members and supporters face a continuing “campaign of arrests” and persecution. Most detainees were “severely tortured” to force false confessions.
Israel’s war on Palestine is unrelenting – including using Judas officials against their own people.
Iraqi volunteer forces announced on Sunday that they have shot down a drone that was spying on the Arab country’s security forces in the city of Fallujah, Western Iraq.
Iraq’s popular forces reported that they have brought down a hostile surveillance aircraft over Southeastern Fallujah in Anbar Province.
They said that the wreckage of the ISIL’s spy drone carried ‘Israel-Made’ labels.
No further detail has yet been released on the incident.
This was not the first Israeli-made drone downed in Iraq.
In August an Israeli Hermes drone was shot down in the vicinity of Baghdad Airport, the second such loss in less than three days after another Israeli pilotless drone of the same model was shot down by Iranian troops in the Central parts of the country.
The Arabic-language Al-Mayadeen TV channel reported that an Israeli drone crashed near Baghdad Airport, adding that the unmanned aircraft was a Hermes Model.
FNA correspondent in Baghdad reported that the US embassy security staff rushed to the crash site and collected the debris and the remains of the downed Israeli drone.
This was the third drone loss by the Israeli army in one month. The first drone was shot down by Palestinians in Gaza a few weeks earlier.
Iran’s ally, the Hezbollah Movement, has shot down several Israeli drones in Southern Lebanon in the last few years.A former US military official, who asked to remain unnamed, said Iran’s forces or its technology and weapons systems are present in several countries across the region, and the repeated downing of the same model of drones became meaningful to Israeli army analysts.
“Following the IDF decision, all Hermes missions will be halted in skies over Iran, Iraq, Syria, Palestinian territories and Lebanon,” he told FNA in August.
A few days earlier in August, Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) announced in a statement that it had shot down a similar Israeli drone near the highly sensitive nuclear enrichment facility in Natanz in Central Iran.
The IRGC Public Relations Department said in the statement that the Israeli pilotless aircraft was a radar-evading, stealth drone with the mission to spy on Iran’s Natanz nuclear enrichment plant.
Then in December 2015, Syria intercepted an Israeli spy drone in the province of Quneitra near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
“The drone was on a spying mission above the town of Hadar when it was shot down,” the Syrian television said.
The Syrian military sources noted that the Israeli drone was a Skylark I.
Quneitra has seen heavy fighting between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and rebels including al-Qaeda-linked fighters.
Israel has struck Syria several times since the start of the latter’s nearly four-year war on terrorist groups.
Skylark I is a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by Israel’s Elbit Systems Company.
The Telegraph has brought out a new dribble of disinformation regarding the US-NATO led war in Syria. In an article published in May 2015, entitled Bashar al-Assad’s airmen laugh as they drop barrel bombs on fellow Syrians, 20 May 2015, The Telegraph intimates (based on an Al Jazeera video report) that the Syrian Air Force is killing Syrian civilians on the orders of Bashar Al Assad. The extensive bombing raids by US and allied forces in Syria allegedly against the ISIS are not mentioned.
Below is the analysis of Robert Stuart in his open letter to The Telegraph.
Stuart shows how The Telegraph has “skilfully” used stock footage from 2012, to support its lies and fabrications.
Meanwhile Britain has joined the humanitarian bombing campaign without parliamentary assent, not to mention the unspoken truth: British covert support to the ISIS terrorists in liaison with the US, Turkey and Israel.
The article refers to “New footage obtained by al-Jazeera” in the subheading and states in the first paragraph that “New footage has emerged showing Syrian aircrew using barrel bombs”.
The Telegraph includes the al Jazeera footage in the online version of its article. However the section of the video commencing at 1 minute 54 seconds, in which a crew member uses a cigarette to light the fuse on a long, slender munition which is then ejected overboard, appears at 4 minutes 32 seconds in this You Tube video which was published on 27 October 2012.
At least part of the al Jazeera footage was therefore over two and half years old – and possibly even older – at the time the Telegraph article was published.
Further statements in the Telegraph article suggest that the al Jazeera footage is contemporary:
The inclusion of a quote from President Assad from February 2015 denying that his government uses “barrel bombs” indicates that the al Jazeera footage can be considered subsequent evidence countering this claim.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond is quoted saying of the al Jazeera footage: “It shows the casual and indiscriminate way in which Syrian regime forces are dropping these horrific weapons out of helicopters onto civilians below. For months we have seen reports of barrel bombs hitting hospitals and schools, killing thousands.” The use of present tenses (“are dropping”, “have seen”) strongly indicates that the al Jazeera footage is to be understood as depicting current events.
New footage obtained by al-Jazeera, shot on board a Syrian military helicopter, contradicts the dictator’s claim that his forces have never used barrel bombs
Aircrew sit next to the bombs (on floor, foreground) as they fly to their destination Photo: al-Jazeera
New footage has emerged showing Syrian aircrew using barrel bombs, one of the most feared weapons in President Bashar al-Assad’s arsenal.
Aircrew sit next to the bombs (on floor, foreground) as they fly to their destination Photo: al-Jazeera
The video footage, which contradicts Mr Assad’s claim that no munitions of this kind have ever been used by his forces, shows an airman crouching inside a Syrian military helicopter, chatting to his neighbour as he lights the fuse of a barrel bomb.
Once the white touch paper is burning, the man casually pushes the weapon out of the aircraft and sends it hurtling towards the ground.
After three weeks of closure (since June 29), Greek banks reopened – with lots of restrictions leaving ones imposed earlier largely in place. The Athens Stock Exchange is still closed.
Capital controls remain in place. Withdrawals are limited to 60 euros daily or 420 a week all at once. Restrictions on inbound and outbound international transactions are unchanged.
Domestic payments resumed – including checking, paying bills and gaining security box access. Since October, cash withdrawals exceeded 35 billion euros.
Given dire conditions, expect depositors to want control over as much of their money as possible. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble pushed for bail-ins (haircuts on depositors) from large accounts during Brussels talks, mostly business ones.
Imposing them isn’t part of the bailout deal. They could come later depending on conditions – at the expense of depriving small businesses of enough working capital to survive plus greater economic damage.
Reports indicate closure and capital controls cost Greece around $3.3 billion as well as lost tourism revenues. Retail trade was hard hit, losing $650 million.
Export losses were $259 million. Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry officials said around $6.5 billion in business transactions were frozen. A huge backlog hasn’t been paid.
Dire conditions make bail-ins increasingly likely – more greatly impoverishing beleaguered Greeks than already if imposed on all accounts.
European Commission, ECB and IMF officials are in Athens to discuss further legislation (to be voted on this week) required for bailout approval – not forthcoming without them.
They include judicial reform, higher agriculture taxes, Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD) measures for dealing with financial crises, and accepting Troika oversight of Greek affairs going forward, a humiliating climbdown to official vassal state status.
More SYRIZA defections may happen this time – not enough to matter but showing enough internal party dissension perhaps to force new elections by early fall.
Uncertainties cloud prospects for needed debt restructuring – no haircut according to Germany’s Merkel. Creditors won’t consider extending maturities or other relief measures without evidence of Greece implementing required bailout terms.
On Sunday, Merkel said “(w)hen the first successful assessment of the program…is completed (bailout relief) will be discussed. Not now, but then.”
If fall elections loom, perhaps delayed until a new government is in place rather than deal with a lame duck one.
If all legislative conditions are satisfied, Troika officials will begin negotiating how the bailout will be implemented – a process possibly continuing for weeks or longer.
Uncertainties remain – especially if it appears new governance may replace SYRIZA. If it can’t muster enough support from its ranks, new elections may follow.
Expect Greek troubles to worsen before any signs of stability. The nation teeters on collapse, its people suffering hugely under force-fed austerity.
Days before assuming office in January, Prime Minister Tsipras proclaimed an imminent end to “our national humiliation.” Things worsened instead of improving – culminating with unconditional capitulation to Troika bandits on terms no responsible government would tolerate.
Conditions in Greece are deplorable – including mass unemployment, underemployment, deepening poverty, loss of social services, homelessness, hunger, shuttered businesses, and graffiti-covered walls reflecting human suffering.
As long as entrapment in euro bondage remains, expect no relief whatever for beleaguered millions.
Greece’s only chance for recovery is Grexit, regaining its sovereignty, walking away from its odious debt, and deciding its future lies East, not West – free from Troika predators.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.
Patients who take antidepressants with painkillers could be setting themselves up for deadly adverse events, new research suggests.
In a study published in BMJ, researchers said that taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) with antidepressants increases the risk of intracranial bleeding, which occurs in the skull. Scientists cautioned that the study doesn’t prove NSAIDs cause the bleeding, but said the possibility needs to be further explored. Popular over-the-counter (OTC) NSAIDs include Advil, Aleve, aspirin and Motrin. 
For the study, researchers at Korea Institute of Drug Safety and Risk Management analyzed more than 4.1 million patients who began receiving antidepressants for the first time from 2010 to 2013. More than 2 million of those patients were also on NSAIDs during the first 30 days in which they took antidepressants.
Stewart Mercer, a professor of primary care research at the University of Glasgow who was not involved in the research, said in an accompanying editorial that the results “give some cause of concern.”
During the initial 30-day window of antidepressant use, the team of researchers found 742 patients who experienced intracranial bleeding, with 169 on antidepressants only and 573 taking a combination of antidepressants and painkillers. Neither age nor the type of antidepressants – newer serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or older tricylic drugs – had an impact on the risk of intracranial bleeding. The risk did appear to be greater in men, however. 
The working theory is that the combination of antidepressants and painkillers could be interfering with the way the body’s blood platelets work. The researchers noted that antidepressants, particularly SSRIs, “block platelet uptake, and use of these agents results in bleeding complications.” Further, “NSAIDs are also known to inhibit normal platelet function.” SSRIs and NSAIDs have both been linked to gastrointestinal bleeding.
Mercer said that the teams of scientists have yet to determine the risk of intracranial bleeding when the drugs are used alone, the long-term effect of combining the drugs, and why men are more at risk for intracranial bleeding than women. He also suggested the metabolisms of some ethnic groups could be different from others’.
Just recently, the FDA said it would require the makers of prescription NSAIDs to strengthen the language on the drugs’ warning labels to inform consumers that the medications can increase people’s chances of a heart attack or stroke, even when taken for a relatively short time. The agency also said it would ask companies that make over-the-counter (OTC) NSAIDs to do the same.
Boxed warnings were first placed on NSAIDs in 2005 after the painkiller Vioxx was pulled from the market due to potentially causing heart attack and stroke.
More than half a million people age 65 years or older die every year in the West from psychiatric drug use, and the worst part is that these death pills aren’t even effective at treating either mental illness or depression. Researchers from Denmark’s Nordic Cochrane Centre found that the benefits of psych drugs are minimal at best, and that most people who currently use them would be better off just ditching them entirely.
Published in The BMJ (British Medical Journal), an eye-opening paper by Professor Peter Gotzsche reveals that most antidepressants and dementia drugs are generally useless when it comes to providing tangible relief. The drugs are also vastly overprescribed, he says, and they come with such a high risk of adverse effects that it isn’t even worth it for the average person to try them.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people are dying every year from the normal and prescribed use of psych meds like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are linked to causing extreme depression and provoking users towards suicide or even homicide. Add to this the fact that most psych meds have never been shown effective, matching or not even reaching placebo in terms of their efficacy, and there’s no legitimate reason for their continued use.
“Their benefits would need to be colossal to justify this, but they are minimal,” Gotzsche warns about the more than half a million people age 65 and older in the West who die annually from psych med use. “Given their lack of benefit, I estimate we could stop almost all psychotropic drugs without causing harm.”
Drug companies fund fake trials to make psych meds appear safe and effective
But what about all those drug trials that supposedly reinforce the science behind the safety and efficacy of psych meds? A bulk of them are funded by pharmaceutical companies that have become experts in the art of manipulation and pseudoscience, says Gotzsche.
By knowing how to conduct clinical trials in such a way as to arrive at preconceived conclusions in favor of drug safety and effectiveness, pharmaceutical companies are able to pull the wool over the eyes of regulators and the public to keep the racket going. For psych meds, this includes enrolling trial participants who were previously taking other drugs that left them with withdrawal symptoms temporarily mitigated by the new drugs being tested.
“Animal studies strongly suggest that these drugs can produce brain damage, which is probably the case for all psychotropic drugs,” contends Gotzsche, who takes particular issue with antipsychotics, benzodiazepines and antidepressants, which he says collectively kill nearly 4,000 people every year in Denmark, and many more in the U.S.
“Given their lack of benefit, I estimate we could stop almost all psychotropic drugs without causing harm — by dropping all antidepressants, ADHD drugs and dementia drugs… and using only a fraction of the antipsychotics and benzodiazepines we currently use. This would lead to healthier and more long-lived populations.”
Big Pharma is an organized crime ring pushing deadly, ineffective drugs on the vulnerable
The only people who should ever be given psych meds, in Gotzsche’s estimation, are those with extreme mental conditions that require acute and closely monitored treatment that is tapered off as quickly as possible — and even then, patients are strongly advised to seek other, safer treatment methods if possible. By no means should any individual ever take psych meds long-term, in other words, as these drugs are highly addictive and can cause serious side effects when trying to quit them.
“The short-term relief seems to be replaced by long-term harms,” says Gotzsche. “Animal studies strongly suggest that these drugs can produce brain damage, which is probably the case for all psychotropic drugs.”
Gotzsche wrote a book published back in 2013 entitled Deadly Medicine and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare that exposes the drug industry for engaging in massive fraud and deception to push deadly drugs like psych meds on the public. The system has been so corrupted by this influence that millions of people are now taking drugs that don’t work and are extremely deadly.
“The main reason we take so many drugs is that drug companies don’t sell drugs, they sell lies about drugs,” reads the book.
“This is what makes drugs so different from anything else in life… Virtually everything we know about drugs is what the companies have chosen to tell us and our doctors… the reason patients trust their medicine is that they extrapolate the trust they have in their doctors into the medicines they prescribe.”
The New York Times and Washington Post should expand their coverage of civilian deaths in Yemen caused by a US-backed military campaign.
On March 25, 2015, a Saudi-led coalition began an airstrike campaign in Yemen to defeat the Houthi rebels who have effectively overthrown the government backed by Saudi Arabia and the US. The Obama administration is openly providing “logistical and intelligence support” to the offensive (AFP, 3/26/15).
The Yemeni civil war has claimed the lives of over 1,500 civilians (CNN, 7/8/15). The coalition declared the entire city of Saada a military target, which Human Rights Watch labeled a war crime (AP, 6/30/15). Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East has said that the Saudi-led, US-supported coalition is “turning a blind eye to civilian deaths and suffering caused by its military intervention” (Common Dreams, 3/31/15).
The US public must not do the same. Yet the coverage of civilian deaths in Yemen by major US media outlets, like the New York Times and the Washington Post, has been cursory and superficial. The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald (7/6/15) foretold the coverage of an airstrike by the US-backed coalition that killed at least 45 civilians in Fayoush, Yemen (LA Times, 7/6/15):
None of the victims will be profiled in American media; it’ll be very surprising if any of their names are even mentioned. No major American television outlet will interview their grieving families. Americans will never learn about their extinguished life aspirations, or the children turned into orphans, or the parents who will now bury their infants.
Coverage in the Times and Post bore out Greenwald’s predictions: The Times website ran a Reuters wire story (7/7/15) and the Post online had an AP piece (7/6/15), neither of which included any details about the victims. Neither paper appeared to cover the airstrike in their print editions.
Join FAIR and the group Just Foreign Policy in urging these media outlets to provide serious coverage of the civilian bloodshed resulting from an offensive the US government is supporting:
While the whole world – with the exception of Israel and Saudi Arabia – celebrates a ‘victory for international diplomacy’ that should end decades of sanctions and repel the risk of international war in the region, certain truths should be recalled about the real motives of the US administration in Iran and Tehran’s foreign policy.
The Vienna agreement concluded July 14th, 2015 between Iran and the “P5 + 1” (the five members of the UN Security Council – China, USA, France, UK, Russia – plus Germany) concluded 12 years of negotiations on the Iranian nuclear issue. Initiated in 2003 by the Bush administration, the very year of the invasion of Iraq, the accusations that Iran has a secret military nuclear program and aspires to obtain the atomic bomb were as unfounded as those that were brought against the alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. These allegations, which all data and all international observers proved to be false, only served as a pretext for the aggression that was to be the last act of the project for a New Middle East redesigned according to the desiderata of Washington. A Middle East in which there would be no room for any state or any force that could represent a danger to US hegemony and their control of resources and strategic areas of the region.
Iran – like Syria – constituted a major obstacle to this project, and was to meet the same fate as Iraq, the invasion of which was only a prelude. Its aggression was planned, and has often been presented as imminent, but the American failure in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Israeli-American debacle against Hezbollah in 2006 and the emergence of new poles around rising powers such as Russia and China, in partnership with Latin America, South Africa and other Eurasian powers, prefigured a geostrategic shift to a multipolar world in which the United States would not only lose their exclusivity, but their very relevance. Hence the American desire to regain some presence – and the will for the Obama administration to achieve some diplomatic ‘successes’ – by concluding the ‘historic’ agreements with Cuba and with Iran, two nations under a State of siege without precedent for decades because of their independent, anti-imperialist and internationalist policies, and who have not folded despite the economic, diplomatic, media (and sometimes military) merciless war to which they were subjected. On the contrary, Cuba, like Iran, had reached an unprecedented regional influence, and despite Western propaganda, the agreements represent for them a resounding victory and a crushing defeat for Washington and its vassals who can put forward only illusory successes, trumpeted to compensate for their inanity.
Thus Barack Obama who put forward a fatwa of Sayed Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, banning the production, possession and use of nuclear weapons, presenting it as a result obtained by the efforts of his administration. But the reality is that this prohibition was enacted by Imam Khomeini as early as 1984, in the middle of the Iran-Iraq war, while Iran was subjected to the chemical attacks of Saddam Hussein – with the active complicity of the West. Despite the existential threat which then weighed upon the Islamic Republic and the pressing demands addressed in this regard by the Iranian political and military elites , Imam Khomeini categorically prohibited any research on chemical, biological or nuclear weapons – and a fortiori any possession or use of such weapons. His authority remains so overwhelming that it is inconceivable to see this religious – and not just political – prohibition challenged by anyone within the Islamic Republic, or even Hezbollah as Hassan Nasrallah could explicitly highlight. Besides, Sayed Ali Khamenei himself issued an explicit fatwa to this effect in the mid-1990s, made public in 2004. It was recalled by Iran in 2005 before the International Agency for Atomic Energy (IAEA), whose reports all testified to there being no hint of Iran pursuing a military nuclear program, all the data clearly establishing the opposite. But perhaps ‘Big Brother’ apportions so many resources to spying on the private conversations of his vassals that he forgets to take note of the official statements and reports of his antagonists, and even of his own intelligence agencies, up to those of Israel , all of which corroborate the purely civilian nature of Iran’s nuclear program.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad himself, caricatured excessively in the West as a genocidal provocateur at his time, by the way of preparing the masses for the coming aggression (when he did not even have the appearance of a ‘mullah’, contrary to Hassan Rouhani; Western ‘codes’ are fickle), recalled that intangible principle from his inaugural address . Finally, Iran has remained a spearhead of the International Conference for Nuclear Disarmament, working for the decommissioning of all weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East under the slogan ‘Nuclear energy for all, nuclear weapons for none’.As emphasised by Vladimir Putin, a champion of respect for international law for whom this agreement also represents a great victory, this movement can only be strengthened, and Iran is bound to play a leading role in the Middle East.
Thus, only the gullible masses, conditioned by corporate media dutifully following orders, could believe that there was a real danger of possession of nuclear weapons by Iran. Note that the prize for inconsistency must again be awarded to the pathetic Francois Hollande, who dared to declare in response to the enlightened question of a presstitute (“Can we trust the mullah regime?”) : “My concern was to prevent nuclear proliferation, to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.If Iran was to get nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia, Israel, other countries would also want to gain access to nuclear weapons. And it would be a risk for the entire planet.” Undoubtedly, a nuclear Israel would be a threat to the entire planet – and it is actually so, this country being one of the few countries to possess hundreds of nuclear warheads without having ratified the Treaty of Non-Proliferation, and without allowing any inspection of its sites by the IAEA. Such contortions speak volumes about the degree of debasement of France faced with USraeli interests.
Thus, the accusations against Tehran have always been shameless lies to hinder its development and to contain its power and sovereignty, which leaders and the Iranian people are well aware of, contrary to what some analysts may suggest. Western sanctions against Iran are to be gradually lifted in the coming months, which will end an artificial crisis ‘completely manufactured’ – in the words of Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs –, to the great dismay of Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu, who had notably campaigned on his intransigence on the Iranian nuclear issue, for which he has threatened his very relations with the White House with an unprecedented interference in American politics, has indeed condemned the agreement in the most explicit terms . This short speech is worth quoting and commenting on:
The world is a much more dangerous place today than it was yesterday.
The leading international powers have bet our collective future on a deal with the foremost sponsor of international terrorism. They’ve gambled that in ten years’ time, Iran’s terrorist regime will change while removing any incentive for it to do so. In fact, the deal gives Iran every incentive not to change.
In the coming decade, the deal will reward Iran, the terrorist regime in Tehran, with hundreds of billions of dollars.This cash bonanza will fuel Iran’s terrorism worldwide, its aggression in the region and its efforts to destroy Israel, which are ongoing.
Amazingly, this bad deal does not require Iran to cease its aggressive behavior in any way. And just last Friday, that aggression was on display for all to see.
While the negotiators were closing the deal in Vienna, Iran’s supposedly moderate President chose to go to a rally in Tehran and at this rally, a frenzied mob burned American and Israeli flags and chanted ‘Death to America, Death to Israel!’
Now, this didn’t happen four years ago. It happened four days ago.
Iran’s Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Khamenei, said on March 21 that the deal does not limit Iran’s aggression in any way. He said: ‘Negotiations with the United States are on the nuclear issue and on nothing else.’
And three days ago he made that clear again. ‘The United States’, he said, ‘embodies global arrogance, and the battle against it will continue unabated even after the nuclear agreement is concluded.’
Here’s what Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Iran’s terrorist proxy Hezbollah, said about sanctions relief, which is a key component of the deal. He said: ‘A rich and strong Iran will be able to stand by its allies and friends in the region more than at any time in the past.’
Translation: Iran’s support for terrorism and subversion will actually increase after the deal.[There follows a parallel with North Korea, which would have obtained nuclear weapons in spite of its commitments and international inspections].
The bottom line of this very bad deal is exactly what Iran’s President Rouhani said today: ‘The international community is removing the sanctions and Iran is keeping its nuclear program.’
By not dismantling Iran’s nuclear program, in a decade this deal will give an unreformed, unrepentant and far richer terrorist regime the capacity to produce many nuclear bombs, in fact an entire nuclear arsenal with the means to deliver it.
What a stunning historic mistake!
Israel is not bound by this deal with Iran and Israel is not bound by this deal with Iran because Iran continues to seek our destruction.
We will always defend ourselves.
Should we see nothing but a sound effect, one of those grotesque and shameless statements which are customary to Netanyahu, like the ‘diagram’ –taken straight out of Looney Tunes cartoons – which he brandished before the United Nations General Assembly in September 2012? Beyond the usual extravagances of the military nature of the Iranian nuclear project, and the blatant inversion of values that constitutes the imputation to Iran, a nation that has committed no aggression since the 18th century, an alleged militarism and expansionist policy (this is rather the true picture of Israel from its establishment to the present), it should be noted that many of the statements of Netanyahu are based on reality, or even, if we replace the terms ‘terrorism’ and ‘aggression’ with ‘Resistance’ and ‘internationalism’, quite relevant.
Yes, the world has changed, and the Israel that terrorised the region and imposed its law for decades is now afraid, and has very good reasons to be afraid. It is a pleasant enough spectacle worthy of being watched more closely.
Since the fall of the Shah in 1979, the Iranian regime has passed from the status of the United States’ main ally in the Middle East, in line with the pro-American medieval autocracies – and before Israel itself, with whom relations were as close as conceivable – to that of its most resolute opponent. One of the first decisions of Imam Khomeini was to close the Israeli embassy and replace it by the first Palestinian embassy in the world; as for the US Embassy, it was also closed after the confinement of American staff for over a year, in order to obtain the extradition of the Shah, exiled to the United States, to be tried and punished for his crimes. If Iran has no direct diplomatic relations with the United States, officially regarded as the ‘Great Satan’ and the ‘heart of global Arrogance’, it does not even recognise the existence of Israel (let alone its legitimacy), the ‘Little Satan’, described by Imam Khomeini as ‘a cancerous tumour that must disappear from existence’ as early as 1979.
Imam Khomeini declared the last Friday of Ramadan as the International Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day, during which millions of Muslims march in Iran (and worldwide) with, indeed, cries of ‘Death to America’, which means Death to American imperialism, and ‘Death to Israel’, which is a call for the outright disappearance of the State of Israel, not just the end ofthis regime or that policy. And indeed, as Netanyahu stressed, Hassan Rouhani himself participates in such events in which American and Israeli flags are burned – although some mainstream media, for once, questioned the authenticity of the charge of Netanyahu, while in other circumstances, they had always taken for granted the Israeli statements; this proves that the master is Washington before Tel Aviv. Besides, the slogans ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel’ punctuate all Sayed Khamenei’s speeches, hostility to Israel and American foreign policy being deeply rooted in the whole of Iranian society, which is very cultivated and alert, and even highly sophisticated.
This hostility from Iran to US hegemony and Israeli militarism is not only political and diplomatic but also economic and military: as early as 1979, the factions of the Palestinian, then Lebanese, Resistance, found a first choice ally in Tehran, who lavishly dispensed money, training and weaponry to Hezbollah and the PLO, then to Hamas and Islamic Jihad,unconditionally. Initially clandestine, Iran and its allies do not even keep quiet about this support anymore, and claim it loud and clear. It is thanks to them that Israel could be routed in Lebanon and held in check in Gaza. Iran affirms it does everything possible to arm Resistance factions, and never responded to US-Israeli threats but by upmanship:
« No, we are not involved in Bahrain. Whenever we are involved, we explicitly declare it. We were involved in the fight against Israel, which resulted in victories in the 33-days [Lebanon, 2006] and 22-days wars [Gaza, 2008-2009. And from now on, wherever a nation or a group fights and confronts the Zionist entity, we will support and help it, and we are not at all afraid of saying this. This is a fact. » Sayed Ali Khamenei, 3 February 2012
These are the official posture and language of the Islamic Republic of Iran and all its leaders and representatives, whether Sayed Khamenei or Hassan Rouhani, of their Syrian allies or Hezbollah, and whether the Western press makes its headlines out of it or passes over it – tamely – in silence to allow its masters to brag of an alleged diplomatic victory. Such is the policy of Iran since 1979, continued despite all the tensions, through the Iran-Iraq war that ravaged the country, and at the height of Western sanctions and US-Israeli aggression threats. The lifting of sanctions against Iran will inevitably result in increased support for the Resistance movements in the Middle East, as Netanyahu fears, and announces new defeats for Israel .
Thus we easily understand the rage of the Israeli Prime Minister, who, after trying to get US support to attack Iran, then to derail the nuclear negotiations, and finally, in desperation, to include recognition of the existence of Israel in the final agreement (which the Islamic Republic of Iran categorically rejected and will not accept ever), finds himself completely isolated and humiliated. Certainly, for the terrorist, racist and colonialist state of Israel, Iran is an existential threat. Not that it threatens its people with genocide, of course. Sayed Khamenei explained what he meant by the necessary disappearance of the Zionist entity, and we should listen carefully:
The Zionist entity is an entity that has set itself the goal of showing blatant violence since the beginning of its illegitimate birth. They do not even deny this violence. They have set themselves the goal of clenching an iron fist. They say this everywhere and they are proud of it. This is their policy.
Since the year 1948 – when this illegitimate entity came into being officially – until today, they have been pursuing this policy. It is 66 years now that they have been pursuing this policy. Of course, it had committed many crimes in Palestine even before it was officially recognized and even before colonialists imposed it on the world and on the region. But during these 66 years, they did whatever they could as a government and as a political system. They committed any violent act that one can think a government can do to a people. And they have no scruples whatsoever. This is the truth of the Zionist entity.
There is no cure for this except the annihilation of this entity. Annihilating the Zionist entity does not at all mean massacring the Jewish people in the region. The logical statement that our magnanimous Imam (may God bless him) made – that Israel should be annihilated – is based on a humanist principle. We presented to the world the practical solution for this and no one could criticize it in a reasonable way. We said that a poll and a referendum should be conducted so that the people who live in, come from and belong to this region will determine who should rule over it. We said that the people should resolve this issue.
This is the meaning of annihilating the Zionist entity. This is the solution. This solution is understandable and favored by today’s standards of logic in the world. This is a practical solution. We even put forward a proposal to the United Nations and a number of international organizations in charge of such affairs. And this proposal was discussed by them.
There is no cure for the problem that this savage and wolfish entity – whose policy is to behave towards people with iron fists, cruelty and savagery and that does not care about and deny killing people and children, attacking different regions and causing destruction – has created except its destruction and annihilation. If, by Allah’s favor, that day comes and if it is annihilated, then so much the better. But what is the cure as long as this fake entity survives? The cure is decisive and militant resistance against this regime.
The Palestinians should display power in the face of the Zionist entity. No one should think that if it had not been for the missiles of Gaza, the Zionist entity would have stopped its incursions. This is not the case. Notice what they are doing in the West Bank. This is while there is no missile, weapon and gun in the West Bank. The only weapon that the people have there is stones. Notice what the Zionist entity is doing there. It is doing whatever it can. It destroys people’s homes, it destroys their gardens, it destroys their lives and it humiliates and belittles them. If it is necessary, it closes water on them and it blacks out electricity.
The Zionists could not tolerate someone like Yasser Arafat who compromised with them. They besieged, humiliated, poisoned and destroyed him. It is not the case that if we do not display power in the face of the Zionists, they will tolerate and show mercy to people and observe their rights. This is not the case at all. The only cure that exists before the Zionist entity is annihilated is that the Palestinians manage to act in a powerful way.
If they act in a powerful way, it is possible that the other side – which is this wolfish and violent regime – will retreat, as they are looking for a truce with all their power. This means that they have become desperate. They kill people and children and they show cruelty in an excessive way. But they are desperate as well. They are in dire straits and this is why they are after a truce.
Therefore, we believe that the West Bank should become armed like Gaza. It is necessary to show power. Those people who are interested in the fate of Palestine should do whatever they can. This is what should be done: the people in the West Bank should become armed as well. The only thing that can alleviate the Palestinians’ pains is to show power. Otherwise, if we act in a tame, subservient and obedient way, nothing that is to the advantage of the Palestinians will be done and the violence that this violent, malevolent and wolfish creature is showing will not decrease. Sayed Ali Khamenei, July 23rd, 2014
This is Iran. Iran is determined to arm the Palestinian people and any Resistance movement for their self-defence against the policy of terror and occupation. And in the middle of the Israeli aggression against Gaza, while everyone spoke only of peace, it said in front of the world it intended to intensify its internationalist policy of arming factions of the Resistance (its policy of ‘aggression’, according to Netanyahu) and extend it to the West Bank.
For Iran, not only is this the only way to improve the lives of Palestinians, as demonstrated by Hezbollah in Lebanon, but it is only one step before the final disappearance of the Zionist entity from the Middle East map. Incidentally, is it not Cuban internationalism in Congo and Angola which dealt the fatal blow to the racist regime of South Africa? The analogy is certainly not perfect, but many parallels can be drawn between Havana and Tehran – two brave, sovereign and anti-imperialist powers, truly at the service of their people and of the oppressed, moved only by humanitarian considerations in their foreign policy, without the slightest expansionary hint. Cuba is in the process of normalising its relations with Washington, which has irretrievably lost Latin America, but for Tehran, the die is not cast yet.
Yes, such is the Iranian vision. Whether one considers the Iranian view of the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as possible, desirable or unthinkable is not the issue (although it will be interesting to evaluate it in terms of morality, international law and pragmatism; one can already point out the example of the end of French Algeria): what matters is that this is the official and unofficial position of Iran, that Iran is determined to work without relief and mobilise all its resources for this purpose. And what is clear is that the Middle East is in the process of remodelling with Iran as the main regional power, bound to play a world power role.
The Axis of Resistance (Iran-Syria-Hezbollah) will definitely be strengthened, while Israel and Saudi Arabia, and their regional allies (Turkey, Egypt, Gulf countries, etc.), can only see their influence wane. Having failed to hinder the development of Iran and to influence this Iranian internationalist foreign policy, which is the real American preoccupation, Washington was forced to negotiate exclusively on the nuclear issue, and give in to demands from Iran.
Faced with this dramatic victory of the Islamic Republic, which has seen all its requirements met without any truly significant concession on his part, Barack Obama vainly self-congratulated by presenting the agreement as “a powerful display of American leadership and diplomacy”. He nevertheless acknowledged:
We will continue to have profound differences with Iran… even if Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon, Iran still poses challenges to our interests and our values… Israel has legitimate concerns about its security relative to Iran. You have a large country with a significant military that has proclaimed that Israel shouldn’t exist… that has financed Hezbollah, and as a consequence there are missiles that are pointed towards Tel Aviv… But will we try to encourage them to take a more constructive path? Of course. But we’re not betting on it.
If the neoconservatives have their way again, U.S. ground troops will reoccupy Iraq, the U.S. military will take out Syria’s secular government (likely helping Al Qaeda and the Islamic State take over), and the U.S. Congress will not only kill the Iran nuclear deal but follow that with a massive increase in military spending.
Like spraying lighter fluid on a roaring barbecue, the neocons also want a military escalation in Ukraine to burn the ethnic Russians out of the east, and the neocons dream of spreading the blaze to Moscow with the goal of forcing Russian President Vladimir Putin from the Kremlin. In other words, more and more fires of Imperial “regime change” abroad even as the last embers of the American Republic die at home.
Much of this “strategy” is personified by a single Washington power couple: arch-neocon Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century and an early advocate of the Iraq War, and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who engineered last year’s coup in Ukraine that started a nasty civil war and created a confrontation between nuclear-armed United States and Russia.
Kagan, who cut his teeth as a propaganda specialist in support of the Reagan administration’s brutal Central American policies in the 1980s, is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing columnist to The Washington Post’s neocon-dominated opinion pages.
On Friday, Kagan’s column baited the Republican Party to do more than just object to President Barack Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal. Kagan called for an all-out commitment to neoconservative goals, including military escalations in the Middle East, belligerence toward Russia and casting aside fiscal discipline in favor of funneling tens of billions of new dollars to the Pentagon.
Kagan also showed how the neocons’ world view remains the conventional wisdom of Official Washington despite their disastrous Iraq War. The neocon narrative gets repeated over and over in the mainstream media no matter how delusional it is.
For instance, a sane person might trace the origins of the bloodthirsty Islamic State back to President George W. Bush’s neocon-inspired Iraq War when this hyper-violent Sunni movement began as “Al Qaeda in Iraq” blowing up Shiite mosques and instigating sectarian bloodshed. It later expanded into Syria where Sunni militants were seeking the ouster of a secular regime led by Alawites, a Shiite offshoot. Though changing its name to the Islamic State, the movement continued with its trademark brutality.
But Kagan doesn’t acknowledge that he and his fellow neocons bear any responsibility for this head-chopping phenomenon. In his neocon narrative, the Islamic State gets blamed on Iran and Syria, even though those governments are leading much of the resistance to the Islamic State and its former colleagues in Al Qaeda, which in Syria backs a separate terrorist organization, the Nusra Front.
But here is how Kagan explains the situation to the Smart People of Official Washington: “Critics of the recent nuclear deal struck between Iran and the United States are entirely right to point out the serious challenge that will now be posed by the Islamic republic. It is an aspiring hegemon in an important region of the world.
“It is deeply engaged in a region-wide war that encompasses Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, the Gulf States and the Palestinian territories. It subsidizes the murderous but collapsing regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and therefore bears primary responsibility for the growing strength of the Islamic State and other radical jihadist forces in that country and in neighboring Iraq, where it is simultaneously expanding its influence and inflaming sectarian violence.”
The Real Hegemon
While ranting about “Iranian hegemony,” Kagan called for direct military intervention by the world’s true hegemonic power, the United States. He wants the U.S. military to weigh in against Iran on the side of two far more militarily advanced regional powers, Israel and Saudi Arabia, whose combined weapons spending dwarfs Iran’s and includes – with Israel – a sophisticated nuclear arsenal.
Yet reality has never had much relationship to neocon ideology. Kagan continued:
“Any serious strategy aimed at resisting Iranian hegemony has also required confronting Iran on the several fronts of the Middle East battlefield. In Syria, it has required a determined policy to remove Assad by force, using U.S. air power to provide cover for civilians and create a safe zone for Syrians willing to fight.
“In Iraq, it has required using American forces to push back and destroy the forces of the Islamic State so that we would not have to rely, de facto, on Iranian power to do the job. Overall, it has required a greater U.S. military commitment to the region, a reversal of both the perceived and the real withdrawal of American power.
“And therefore it has required a reversal of the downward trend in U.S. defense spending, especially the undoing of the sequestration of defense funds, which has made it harder for the military even to think about addressing these challenges, should it be called upon to do so. So the question for Republicans who are rightly warning of the danger posed by Iran is: What have they done to make it possible for the United States to begin to have any strategy for responding?”
In Kagan’s call for war and more war, we’re seeing, again, the consequence of failing to hold neocons accountable after they pushed the country into the illegal and catastrophic Iraq War by selling lies about weapons of mass destruction and telling tales about how easy it would be.
Instead of facing a purge that should have followed the Iraq calamity, the neocons consolidated their power, holding onto key jobs in U.S. foreign policy, ensconcing themselves in influential think tanks, and remaining the go-to experts for mainstream media coverage. Being wrong about Iraq has almost become a badge of honor in the upside-down world of Official Washington.
But we need to unpack the truckload of sophistry that Kagan is peddling. First, it is simply crazy to talk about “Iranian hegemony.” That was part of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rhetoric before the U.S. Congress on March 3 about Iran “gobbling up” nations – and it has now become a neocon-driven litany, but it is no more real just because it gets repeated endlessly.
For instance, take the Iraq case. It has a Shiite-led government not because Iran invaded Iraq, but because the United States did. After the U.S. military ousted Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein, the United States stood up a new government dominated by Shiites who, in turn, sought friendly relations with their co-religionists in Iran, which is entirely understandable and represents no aggression by Iran. Then, after the Islamic State’s dramatic military gains across Iraq last summer, the Iraqi government turned to Iran for military assistance, also no surprise.
Back to Iraq
However, leaving aside Kagan’s delusional hyperbole about Iran, look at what he’s proposing. He wants to return a sizable U.S. occupation force to Iraq, apparently caring little about the U.S. soldiers who were rotated multiple times into the war zone where almost 4,500 died (along with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis). Having promoted Iraq War I and having paid no price, Kagan now wants to give us Iraq War II.
But that’s not enough. Kagan wants the U.S. military to intervene to make sure the secular government of Syria is overthrown, even though the almost certain winners would be Sunni extremists from the Islamic State or Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front. Such a victory could lead to genocides against Syria’s Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other minorities. At that point, there would be tremendous pressure for a full-scale U.S. invasion and occupation of Syria, too.
That may be why Kagan wants to throw tens of billions of dollar more into the military-industrial complex, although the true price tag for Kagan’s new wars would likely run into the trillions of dollars. Yet, Kagan still isn’t satisfied. He wants even more military spending to confront “growing Chinese power, an aggressive Russia and an increasingly hegemonic Iran.”
In his conclusion, Kagan mocks the Republicans for not backing up their tough talk:
“So, yes, by all means, rail about the [Iran] deal. We all look forward to the hours of floor speeches and campaign speeches that lie ahead. But it will be hard to take Republican criticisms seriously unless they start doing the things that are in their power to do to begin to address the challenge.”
Image: Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland during a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, on Feb. 7, 2014. (U.S. State Department photo)
While it’s true that Kagan is now “just” a neocon ideologue – albeit one with important platforms to present his views – his wife Assistant Secretary of State Nuland shares his foreign policy views and even edits many of his articles. As she told The New York Times last year, “nothing goes out of the house that I don’t think is worthy of his talents. Let’s put it that way.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Obama’s True Foreign Policy ‘Weakness.’”]
But Nuland is a foreign policy force of her own, considered by some in Washington to be the up-and-coming “star” at the State Department. By organizing the “regime change” in Ukraine – with the violent overthrow of democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 – Nuland also earned her spurs as an accomplished neocon.
Nuland has even outdone her husband, who may get “credit” for the Iraq War and the resulting chaos, but Nuland did him one better, instigating Cold War II and reviving hostilities between nuclear-armed Russia and the United States. After all, that’s where the really big money will go – toward modernizing nuclear arsenals and ordering top-of-the-line strategic weaponry.
A Family Business
There’s also a family-business aspect to these wars and confrontations, since the Kagans collectively serve not just to start conflicts but to profit from grateful military contractors who kick back a share of the money to the think tanks that employ the Kagans.
For instance, Robert’s brother Frederick works at the American Enterprise Institute, which has long benefited from the largesse of the Military-Industrial Complex, and his wife Kimberly runs her own think tank called the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
Image: Gen. David Petraeus posing before the U.S. Capitol with Kimberly Kagan, founder and president of the Institute for the Study of War. (Photo credit: ISW’s 2011 Annual Report)
According to ISW’s annual reports, its original supporters were mostly right-wing foundations, such as the Smith-Richardson Foundation and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, but it was later backed by a host of national security contractors, including major ones like General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and CACI, as well as lesser-known firms such as DynCorp International, which provided training for Afghan police, and Palantir, a technology company founded with the backing of the CIA’s venture-capital arm, In-Q-Tel. Palantir supplied software to U.S. military intelligence in Afghanistan.
Since its founding in 2007, ISW has focused mostly on wars in the Middle East, especially Iraq and Afghanistan, including closely cooperating with Gen. David Petraeus when he commanded U.S. forces in those countries. However, more recently, ISW has begun reporting extensively on the civil war in Ukraine. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Neocons Guided Petraeus on Afghan War.”]
So, to understand the enduring influence of the neocons – and the Kagan clan, in particular – you have to appreciate the money connections between the business of war and the business of selling war. When the military contractors do well, the think tanks that advocate for heightened global tensions do well, too.
And, it doesn’t hurt to have friends and family inside the government making sure that policymakers do their part to give war a chance — and to give peace the old heave-ho.
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.
Two well-known financial forecasters claim that virtually all governments worldwide will be hit with a gigantic economic crisis in the first week of October 2015.
Martin Armstrong is a controversial market analyst who correctly predicted the 1987 crash, the top of the Japanese market, and many other market events … more or less to the day. Many market timers think that Armstrong is one of the very best.
Armstrong has predicted for years that governments worldwide would melt down in a crisis of insolvency and lack of trust starting this October. Specifically, Armstrong predicts that a major cycle will turn on October 1, 2015, shifting investors’ trust from the public sector and governments to the private sector.
Unlike other bears who predict that the stock market is about to collapse, Armstrong predicts that huge sums of capital will flow from bonds and the Euro into American stocks. So he predicts a huge bull market in U.S. stocks.
Edelson is predicting the biggest financial crisis in world history – including a collapse of government solvency – starting on October 7, 2015 – the same week as Armstrong’s prediction – when the European Union breaks up.
Edelson also thinks that huge sums of investment will flow from the Eurozone to America, driving up U.S. stocks (unlike Armstrong, Edelson thinks U.S. bonds will also benefit). He thinks that Japan will be the next domino to fall … and that Japan’s default will also drive investments into the U.S. as a safe haven.
In other words, both Armstrong and Edelson think that – as the best looking horse in the glue factory – the U.S. stock market will skyrocket as others fall apart.
But to be clear, both believe that the domino collapse will eventually hit the U.S., and America will end up defaulting on its debts – and falling into financial crisis – as well.
Are Armstrong and Edelson right or wrong?
We don’t have long to wait to test their very public predictions …
Correction: Several people have pointed out that Armstrong is not predicting that the crisis will be felt on October 1, 2015. Rather, he’s forecasting that October 1st is a major turning point, but that the governmental financial crisis may not be felt until some months later.
The 2016 US presidential election will be the most expensive in history, costing an estimated $10 billion, when all spending by candidates, the Democratic and Republican parties, super PACs and other corporate lobbies and trade unions is tabulated.
The vast sums being raised and spent by the Democratic and Republican candidates make a mockery of the claims that the United States is a democracy in which the people rule. It is big money that rules, dominating the entire process of selecting the candidates of the only two officially recognized parties and effectively determining the outcome of the vote on November 8, 2016.
Of the $390 million raised so far, $300 million has gone to the 15 announced candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, while $90 million has gone to four Democrats—$71.5 million of that to the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. The disparity is misleading: once the primary contest is over, and a Republican is selected to face Clinton, there will be billions spent on each side in the general election campaign.
The role of big money in the presidential campaign has become so obvious that even the corporate-controlled media can’t cover it up any longer. The Washington Post, for example, published a report July 16 whose headline left little to the imagination: “2016 fundraising shows power tilting to groups backed by wealthy elite.” The article noted that “independent” expenditures by so-called super PACs—political action committees loosely linked to the candidates—would for the first time exceed the spending by the candidates and their official campaign committees.
On the Republican side, the pace has been set by Jeb Bush, brother of former president George W. Bush and son of former president George H.W. Bush. His campaign and two associated super PACs raised $119 million during the second quarter of 2015, the largest amount ever raised for a presidential candidate so early in the campaign.
Nearly all this money came from well-heeled donors: Bush himself gave more money to his own campaign ($399,720) than all of his small donors combined ($368,023). Besides the billionaires and multi-millionaires who gave up to $1 million apiece to the super PAC (the limit set by the Bush campaign), Bush raked in cash from lobbyists representing finance, oil, wholesale, real estate and a raft of other industries.
Super PACs are the offspring of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision and subsequent court actions, which effectively removed any limit on what billionaires and corporations can give to political action committees (donations to candidates themselves are still limited to $2,700).
Super PACs first played a significant role in 2012, mainly in the Republican primary campaign, where billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Foster Friess kept Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum in the field against Mitt Romney, himself a hedge fund boss and near-billionaire.
What is happening in 2016 is a further quantitative leap. Super PACs account for $230 million in funding for Republican candidates, compared to $65 million raised by the candidates themselves.
Every significant Republican candidate has a billionaire (or in the case of Donald Trump, is a billionaire), except Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, whose occasional objections to US military adventures overseas have cut him off from such funding, causing his campaign prospects to fade rapidly.
Super PAC funding has made Jeb Bush the frontrunner, while also boosting Senator Ted Cruz ($53 million) and Senator Marco Rubio ($44 million) to the status of serious contenders. Another top Republican hopeful, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, raked in $20 million for his super PAC before declaring his candidacy July 13.
Super PACs will sustain at least another half dozen Republican candidates. Three billionaires are funding former Texas Governor Rick Perry, with $16 million of the $17 million he has raised. Ohio Governor John Kasich, who is to announce next week, has $11.5 million, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie $10 million. Even Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a latecomer to the campaign, is backed by $9 million in super PAC money. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina also have enough big-money donors to run campaigns.
On the Democratic side, the same essential reality prevails, albeit masked by the pretense that the Democratic Party is the party of working people, and the populist rhetoric of some of the Democratic challengers to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
Clinton’s fundraising has the same profile as the Republican candidates, with the difference that, not expecting a serious primary contest, Clinton’s strategists asked big money donors to hold their fire until the general election campaign. Most Democratic billionaires, like Warren Buffett, currency speculator George Soros, and investment banker Tom Steyer, are waiting until next year.
But Clinton has already raked in smaller amounts—essentially down payments—from media billionaires Haim Saban and Fred Eychaner, hedge fund operator Marc Lasny, J.B. Pritzer of the Hyatt family fortune, Lynn Forester de Rothschild, and numerous other Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Wall Street moguls.
Last week Clinton posted on her campaign web site the names of 122 “bundlers” who raised at least $100,000 for her campaign in the second quarter. These included corporate lobbyists for Dow Chemical, Microsoft, Exxon, PepsiCo, Verizon and MasterCard, among many, many others. The identity of one “bundler” is telling: Steven Rattner, the investment banker who headed Obama’s auto task force that imposed 50 percent pay cuts on newly hired autoworkers.
Clinton’s main challenger, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, has no super PAC but raised $15.2 million anyway, mainly over the Internet. He actually raised more money than Clinton from small donors, those who gave less than $200. This shows that Sanders is performing his assigned function: using anti-billionaire rhetoric (which includes refusing to have a super PAC), to attract those disaffected by the right-wing policies of the Obama administration, and bringing them back into the orbit of the Democratic Party.
This entire process has nothing whatsoever to do with democracy. It shows how the US financial aristocracy manipulates public opinion, seeking to preserve the illusion of popular choice in the presidential election behind the most transparent of fig leaves. In the meantime, the billionaires will put the candidates through their paces, selecting the individual they will install in the White House to do their bidding.
The extent of the massive government intervention to halt the plunge in the Chinese stock market was revealed last week by figures showing that major state-owned banks have made available more than $200 billion to boost share prices.
The intervention, organised through the Chinese Securities Finance (CSF) corporation, has halted the share market plunge that saw the Shanghai Composite Index lose 30 percent in the period June 12 to July 9, wiping out more than $3 trillion from Chinese share market capitalisations. Markets have since rebounded, rising by 17 percent in the past two weeks. But whether the recovery is sustainable is another question.
The massive bank intervention was one of a series of measures initiated by the government and financial authorities to halt the plunge that was threatening economic and political stability. Other measures included: the withdrawal of major companies from share trading; police investigations of “malicious” short selling; and restrictions on the ability of company executives and CEOs to trade in shares. Some 17 percent of listed companies still have share trading activities suspended.
The bank intervention was carried out via two channels. Money was provided to the CSF to lend to share brokerages and sustain their liquidity and to directly purchase mutual funds.
The Chinese finance magazine Caijing reported that the country’s five largest banks were directly involved, each providing 100 billion renminbi and that 17 banks participated in total, providing loans worth 1.3 trillion renminbi.
While the intervention appears to have halted the market slide, at least for the present, there are concerns over what it indicates not only for the Chinese market but for the global financial system as well.
Last week Standard & Poors (S&P) warned of an increasing prospect of debt defaults in China and in the US junk bond market. It said these threats represented an “inflexion” point in the financial cycle. The Chinese corporate debt market is equivalent to 160 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. According to S&P, companies will need to sell around $57 trillion of debt over the next four years, with 40 percent coming from China and 20 percent from US markets. The credit rating agency said it expected that the rate of debt defaults will accelerate in the coming period.
S&P analyst Jayan Dhru told the Financial Times:
“Rapid debt growth, opacity of risk and pricing [due to the involvement of banks in the market], very high debt to GDP, and the moral hazard risk of the Chinese market make it a high risk to credit.”
Moral hazard refers to the assumption by investors and speculators that financial authorities, governments and central banks stand behind the market and will intervene to prevent a collapse, encouraging them to take on ever-riskier investments in the search for higher yields.
The S&P analysis pointed to the risks posed to markets by the rise of financial parasitism. It said four out of five new US debt issuers from 2012 to 2014 were B-rated companies, issuing higher yielding junk bonds. These securities have increasingly been used to finance share buybacks and for what it called “less productive investment,” rather than for spending on capital equipment to expand productive activity.
These speculative ventures have been fuelled by the near-zero interest rate regime set in place by the US Federal Reserve and other major central banks and could be at risk if the Fed moves to increase its base interest rate, even by a relatively small amount.
Fed chairman Janet Yellen has indicated that the Fed may start to lift interest rates as early as September but, in an effort to sooth markets, has made it clear that any lift-off will be very slow and monetary policy will continue to remain “accommodative.” The problem, however, is that even with these reassurances no one really knows how many speculative operations may be affected by any interest rate rise.
A rise in interest rates, leading to a fall in bond prices (which move in an inverse relationship to interest rates) could lead to bonds being sold off. This would mean there is less liquidity in the market, with the result that lower-rated companies that have been able to raise funds because of easy money conditions may not have access to money they had in the past.
According to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, around $28 billion left bond markets last week, the biggest outflow in two years. That outflow could increase if and when interest rates start to rise.
By and large global markets were able to weather the storm in Chinese stocks. But the increasing fragility of the Chinese financial system and its potential global implications were underscored last week by an extraordinary decision by the World Bank.
Last Wednesday, it released an assessment on the state of the Chinese economy in which it warned that “the poor performance of the financial system” had confirmed previous assessments that it was “unbalanced, repressed, costly to maintain and potentially unstable.” The report also pointed to “risks stemming from wasteful management, over-indebtedness and a weakly regulated shadow-banking system” and made critical comments about the level of government involvement in financial markets.
Two days after the report was released the critical remarks were removed.
Defending the decision at a press conference on Friday, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said the deleted comments had not gone through the proper international reviews and had been published in error.
Kim’s press conference, which was held in Beijing, came after a series of meetings with top Chinese government officials, including Premier Li Keqiang, who took direct charge of the stock market crisis, Finance Minister Lou Jiwei and the chairman of the People’s Bank of China, Zhou Xiaochuan.
However, Kim insisted the deletions from the report were not the result of pressure from the Chinese government and financial authorities. “The release of that particular section was simply an error,” he said. “There was no pressure or communication with the Chinese government at all.”
The assurance is likely to be taken with a large grain of salt.
The World Bank’s country director for China, Bert Hofman, also tried to ease concerns, saying the contentious section had not gone through the proper vetting channels. He denied any pressure from the Chinese government.
“We have worked with the government on the financial sector for many years and the report didn’t fully reflect the type of discussion that we had with the government,” he said.
The World Bank and the Chinese government have been collaborating on the introduction of so-called reforms to the Chinese financial system as part of Beijing’s efforts to integrate it more fully into global financial markets. The share market boom, which was directly promoted by the government as it lured small-scale investors into share market trading, was part of those efforts.
However, the massive government and bank intervention to halt the share market collapse could undermine its longer-term agenda.
Larry Fink, the head of BlackRock, the world’s largest hedge fund, warned that Chinese government intervention to prop up the stock market had damaged the country’s financial reputation and could repel institutional investors. “By putting in these blockages and restrictions, it looks like the markets are artificial,” he said.
During his confirmation hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Dunford said he viewed Russia as the greatest threat to America. But not just any «threat». In language that could have been pulled out of a U.S. newspaper from the 1960s, Dunford testified, «If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I’d have to point to Russia», adding, «and if you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming».
While Dunford’s Cold War rhetoric warmed the cockles of the hearts of leading Senate committee war hawks such as John McCain, McCain’s eyelash-batting pal Lindsey Graham – a 2016 presidential candidate – and Texas Joseph McCarthy lookalike Ted Cruz, it was not well-received at the White House or the State Department. White House Press Secretary John Earnest distanced President Obama from Dunford’s views, stating at a press conference that Dunford was expressing «his own view and [it] doesn’t necessarily reflect the . . . consensus analysis of the president’s national security team».
Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford
State Department spokesman Mark Toner, in commenting on Dunford’s remarks, was more emphatic when stating that Secretary of State John Kerry rejected the general’s comments, «The secretary doesn’t agree with the assessment that Russia is an existential threat to the United States, nor China, quite frankly». Toner was referring to Dunford’s testimony that China was second only to Russia in posing a significant threat to the United States.
However, it was Kerry who promoted Nuland, who is married to arch-neoconservative and Project for the New American Century (PNAC) architect Robert Kagan, to the position that placed her in charge of U.S.-Russian relations. Previously, Nuland served as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s press spokeswoman. And if Mrs. Clinton’s penchant for «standing by her women» is any indication, a Hillary Clinton presidency could see Nuland, who once worked for Vice President Dick Cheney, promoted to a higher-level position, including Secretary of State or National Security Adviser. Obama and Kerry can distance themselves from Dunford’s alarming comments all they want, however, it is they who have permitted individuals like Nuland, Breedlove, Dunford, and the saber-rattling Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to become major policy officials within the Obama administration.
Dunford and Breedlove appear to have been pulled from central casting for a remake of the 1960s Stanley Kubrick noire comedy film, «Dr. Strangelove». Dunford, who bears the problematic nickname «Fighting Joe» and has been described as a «fervent Catholic», sounds like the blusterous General Buck Turgidson, who, after a wayward B-52 continues on to Russia, against orders, to drop its nuclear payload on a missile base, tells a bewildered president, «It is necessary now to make a choice, to choose between two admittedly regrettable, but nevertheless ‘distinguishable,’ postwar environments: one where you got twenty million people killed, and the other where you got a hundred and fifty million people killed». Breedlove, on the other hand, is just as much an ideologue as is the fictional General Jack Ripper, who in «Dr. Strangelove» tells his British liaison officer, «Today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought».
Dunford, Breedlove, Nuland, and Carter could very well push the United States and Russia to the brink of a hot war. Breedlove championed the creation of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, or VHRJTF as it is known to the acronym- and abbreviation-addicts of the Pentagon. VHRJTF brings ground forces from nine NATO nations to Russia’s borders. The new rapid-response unit took part in the first «live fire» exercise in Poland, code-named NOBLE JUMP, since the end of the Cold War. VHRJTF also consists of U.S.-supplied drones. The possibility that an unmanned drone could bring about a replay of the 1960 U-2 incident, in which a manned American spy plane was shot down over Russia, this time with a drone straying into Russian airspace from one of the Baltic countries, cannot be ruled out.
Obama and Kerry were quick to distance themselves from «Fighting Joe» Dunford’s saber rattling before the Senate committee. However, if they wanted to truly reset relations with Russia, Kerry could fire Nuland, Obama could pull Dunford’s nomination, and both could ask NATO to request a new Supreme Commander. However, as President Dwight Eisenhower warned in his 1961 Farewell Address about the menace of the «military-industrial complex», Obama and Kerry are powerless to get rid of those who were placed in power by what has now become a «military-intelligence-contractor» complex.
What is even more troubling is that Breedlove, Dunford, Nuland, and Carter appear prepared to not only take on Russia and China in a new Cold War, but are willing to confront the new «anti-NATO», the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which just wrapped up its summit in Ufa, the capital of the Russian Federation’s autonomous republic of Bashkortostan. If the «gruesome twosome» of Nuland and Breedlove, soon to become the «terrible troika» after Dunford is confirmed by the Senate, have their way, NATO and the United States will not only be willing to face off militarily against SCO members China and Russia but also the new members of Pakistan and India, in addition to charter members Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
Russia has savaged the West’s attempts to isolate it and China has broken America’s attempt to establish a military containment «cordon sanitaire» around China by welcoming Belarus as a new observer nation of SCO, joining Afghanistan, Mongolia, and Iran as prospective full members of the alliance. Cambodia, Nepal, Armenia, and Azerbaijan joined the organization as dialogue partners, supplementing existing partners Sri Lanka and Turkey. Egypt, Bangladesh, and Syria are also prospective members of the organization that is a counter to the ever-expanding NATO. SCO’s geopolitical security mission, coupled with the emerging economic power of the BRICS alliance of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, equates to a majority of the world’s population rejecting America’s military and economic dominance and NATO’s and the Pentagon’s menacing swagger. It is as if Dunford, Breedlove, and Nuland have never heard of SCO, BRICS, or the Eurasian Economic Union.
It is amazing that Dunford and Breedlove can issue challenges to their perceived enemies when Carter has announced a 40,000 troop strength cut for the U.S. Army. Instead, Carter plans to supplement NATO forces in Europe with more Bradley Fighting Vehicles and tanks that would be manned by a smaller number of U.S. troops. Like the Roman Empire, the United States has over-extended itself around the world.
It is not Russia nor China that maintain troops in 150 countries around the world. That dubious distinction falls on the United States. Fighting Joe Dunford and General Breedlove can talk all they want about the Russian and Chinese «threat». But for the rest of the world, which sees SCO and BRICS as welcome foils to the plans for further NATO expansion, it is America and its policy of fostering «color revolutions» and displaying military shows of force that represent the true threats to global stability.
After the recent firefight between Right Sector militants and the police in Mukacheve, Ukraine’s neighbors are taking steps to beef up their own security.
Slovaks have strengthened the forces protecting their borders, fearing that armed militants from Ukraine might cross into their country.
The Polish media has reported with alarm that Ukrainian battles are taking place only 60 km. from the nearest Polish village of Ustrzyki Górne, and the press is asking if the Polish government is doing anything to prevent fugitive militants from entering Poland.
Polish officials are silent for now, not wanting to cast their Ukrainian ally in an unfavorable light, despite bombings at police stations in Lviv, only 80 km. from the Polish border. And it is only 90 km. to the Polish town of Przemyśl, where radicals from the Union of Ukrainians in Poland are based, who make no effort to hide their roots in the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-Ukrainian Insurgent Army, their sympathy for Right Sector, or their wish to turn Przemyśl into a center for Ukrainian nationalism in Poland.
Czech President Miloš Zeman has stated that a flood of refugees should be expected, fleeing events in Ukraine, and the hour may very well be approaching when the Czech army will have to defend the state’s borders from an unchecked influx of migrants.
The Czech police are looking for the owners of cars with Czech license plates that were seen transporting Right Sector militants in the Ukrainian city of Mukacheve, and local Ukrainian nationalists have made threats against prominent Ruthenian figures living in the Czech Republic, so there can be no question that Ukrainian nationalist activists are already present in the Czech Republic.
János Lázár, the head of the Hungarian prime minister’s office, has noted the dramatic deterioration of security in Eastern Europe. He acknowledged that Hungarian intelligence is working in Transcarpathia to protect ethnic Hungarians, against the wishes of the government in Kiev.
After the events in Mukacheve, Ukrainian experts are seriously considering the possibility that the Peoples Republic of Transcarpathia might make an appearance in the region (Gen. Vladimir Ruban, the director of the Center for Prisoner Exchange, has suggested such a scenario), as well as units of Hungarian self-defense forces. The Hungarian self-defense forces were mentioned for the first time in March 2014, when the Party of Hungarians of Ukraine, led by Miklós Kovács, proclaimed its determination to protect Transcarpathian Hungarians from the supporters of Euromaidan. Such measures turned out to be unnecessary at the time, but the risk still exists. Ukrainian «Nazis» regularly threaten Hungarians. The most recent example was the vow made by Carpathian Sich militants to kill Hungarian politicians for their «anti-Ukrainian activities.»
István Szávay, the deputy leader of Jobbik, the most influential opposition party in the Hungarian parliament, urged Europe to wake up. He pointed out that Mukacheve (known in Hungarian as Munkács) is only a short hop from Berehove (Beregszász in Hungarian), which is the center of the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia. And since the civil war in Ukraine is no longer just a theoretical threat to Hungary, Budapest must act to protect Transcarpathian Hungarians from the despotism of Ukrainian extremists. The blame for the bloody chaos in Ukraine Jobbik places at the feet of the EU and the United States.
Ukrainian nationalist organizations are obviously a direct threat not only to Ukraine’s immediate neighbors (Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Poland) but also to Europe as a whole. One member of Right Sector who was killed in Mukacheve was a member of the Ukrainian diaspora living in Portugal. The Union of Ukrainians in Portugal offered their condolences on his death and announced a formal memorial service in the Greek Catholic Church in Lisbon.
Taking into account the influence that the nationalists wield among the Ukrainian diaspora in Europe, it is only a matter of time before Ukrainians living abroad are further radicalized. At the moment we know that at least a few Ukrainian nationalists were killed in the Donbass who had come from the Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Poland to fight.
Europe has faced a similar phenomenon before, when the Washington-backed Albanian extremists took their fighting experience and emigrated by the thousands to Slovenia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Germany, Greece, and Hungary, bringing with them a radical outlook, huge stockpiles of weapons, and a readiness to engage in any criminal activity. Things reached the point that the Hungarian government announced their intention to erect a wall on the border with Serbia, in order to prevent an influx of illegal migrants.
Ukraine is already being called the «Kosovo of Eastern Europe», and, like the Albanians who preceded them, Ukrainians could become another headache for Europe. The Europeans have no wish to see Islamism and Ukrainian nationalism comingling within their borders, so European countries will take measures to tighten immigration restrictions on citizens of Ukraine.
The first signs are already visible. The Western press has finally begun openly referring to Ukrainian nationalist organizations as «fascists.» And there will certainly be more to come.
Image: George Christensen’s comments were met with cheers from Reclaim Australia protesters. (ABC: David Sparkes)
“Our voice says we will not surrender, we will not sit idly by and watch the Australian culture and the Australian lifestyle that we love, and that is envied around the world… we are not going to see that surrendered and handed over to those who hate us and for what we are and what we stand for.”
So claimed Federal Coalition MP George Christensen before the anti-Islamic Reclaim Australia rally in the north Queensland town of Mackay held over the weekend. It was good to see a politician cut through the fictional harness of restraint and fly his colours proudly. It even got the Islamic Council of Queensland concerned that he make an effort to visit a mosque in his electorate.
His own boss, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, has done his side of the political aisle few favours by gagging the front bench from appearing on certain programs on the national broadcaster, the ABC. Don’t, he seems to be saying, engage in that rather discomforting notion of debate. We already know the truth.
There was certainly no gagging of Christensen, who managed to mangle several concepts before the manufactured terror of an emerging theocracy on Australian soil. An impressive thought, when you consider the minute presence of Muslims in Australia to begin with. But that is what the radicalisation rhetoric gets you: dividends considerably more than what you invest in.
Christensen was also eager to press home his justification to speak at the rally to the press as one motivated by pure decency, and one motivated by the spectre of “radical Islam”. “One of the guys who is going to speak there earlier this year organised a major charity toy drive for kids out west.” A good sort of chap, then and not one of those “ratbags” to be worried about.
The defiantly clumsy member for Dawson was joined by former federal MP Pauline Hanson, who did something similar in the Queensland town of Rockhampton. Hanson, more than any other politician, has every reason to feel slighted by the pinching of her intellectual (dare one call it that?) property by such individuals as former Prime Minister John Howard, and Abbott himself. Her maiden speech given before a shell-shocked parliament in September 1996 gave Howard his appropriation cue. If you don’t rob the cradle of ideas now, your base of voters might walk.
A good deal of that speech seems rather tepid today, much of that occasioned by its assimilation into the mainstream political argot. There are the usual concerns about political correctness and enforced “separatism”. There is mention of the “Aboriginal industry” laden with welfare benefits. There is a fear of cultural and political asphyxiation at the hands of those “Asians” doing their bit of swamping.
While Howard pinched her terms of reference, transmuting her base metal into racially acceptable gold, Abbott sought to destroy her credibility and that of her party, One Nation. Giving the speech a dusting, and one can see the terror of the Mullahs lurking in the subtext, with Abbott similarly fashioning the modern context of radicalised terror and asylum seekers. Little wonder, then, that such offspring as Reclaim Australia do arise.
It might even be said that Hanson has gone some way to borrowing from Abbott, doing him the favour of flattering imitation. She expressed concern about the “spread of Islam” and promised that she was “not targeting Muslims – I’m targeting the ideology, what Islam stands for.” In a rather curious way, Hanson is doing more tiptoeing than Christensen, outing ideology as the main culprit. Christensen, a politician who is a clown in drag, happily meshes a fabricated Australian “culture” with an equally fabricated threat. Two non-matters that do not exist cannot, by definition, suggest existence.
Anti-racist protesters, represented by the “No Room for Racism” umbrella, also gathered in counter moves. In Perth, they outnumbered the Reclaim Australia demonstrators. Rally Against Racism organiser Miranda Wood told the ABC that, “Hate speech is not welcome and we will be there to challenge it.”
For all of the noise, numbers were few across the Australian cities. There were five arrests in Sydney, but the rallies in Brisbane, Perth, Hobart and Canberra continue to suggest that this is a protest of fantasy over substance. That will not trouble Abbott, how knows that the fear factory operates, not at vocal, messy rallies, but in homes terrified of the phantom enemy.
Political figures like Christensen argue that attending such a rally is akin to turning up in selective wrapping. He may not feel he is throwing in his lot with the neo-Nazis (indeed, the MP for the Queensland seat of Dawson went so far as to suggest “regret” that such figures were present at Reclaim Australia rallies), but ideas, however noxious, tend to be a shared currency.
And the mint that provides that currency remains one of fanciful fears and ruthless political cynicism. It is unlikely to stop printing any time soon. Abbott has no reason to reclaim something he always thought was his.
Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: [email protected]
A Cuban foreign ministry official said Washington may still be trying to remove the Communist Party from power in the island nation.
The United States may still be attempting to remove the Cuban Communist Party from power, in spite of a public promise from President Barack Obama to move away from “regime change,” warned an island nation foreign ministry official Thursday.
With only three days to go before Cuba and the U.S. reopen embassies in each others’ nations after 54 years, Cuba said the United States needs to abandon its policy of regime change if Washington really wants better ties with the Caribbean nation.
“You have to appreciate the words of the president … but you also have to see what happens in practice,” Gustavo Machin, the deputy director for U.S. affairs in the Cuban Foreign Ministry, said during a news conference.
Obama told reporters at the Summit of the Americas in Panama that regarding Cuba, “We are not in the business of regime change.” The normalisation of relations process began in December 2014.
The U.S. president’s statement came after a face-to-face meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro. It signaled a break from U.S. efforts to overthrow or destabilise the Cuban government since former President Fidel Castro came to power in a 1959 revolution.
But, Machin insisted, “We haven’t seen anything suggesting practical change.” The diplomatic official cited multimillion-dollar annual budgets for what are commonly called the Cuban democracy programs, which Cuba believes are Washington’s hostile efforts to undermine its government and socialist political system.
In fact, according to Reuters, the 2016 U.S. State Department budget request contemplated US$20 million for such programs to aid victims of political repression, support civil society and promote free speech.
“We recognize the statement by the president, but you have to see the practical impact of what happens, don’t you?” Machin reiterated.
Diplomatic relations will be restored on Monday when the so-called interests sections in Washington and Havana will be upgraded to embassies.
For the first time since 1959, a Cuban foreign minister will travel to the United States on Monday, when Cuba will hold a ceremony in Washington with some 500 guests and a delegation led by the Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, Machin announced. Washington has yet to schedule Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Havana to raise the U.S. flag.
Following the reopening of embassies, Cuban and U.S. officials are expected to begin talks to further normalise relations. Cuba has insisted that in order for relations to be considered fully normalized, the United States needs to lift the illegal blockade on Cuba and return Guantanamo Bay to Havana.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Standing next to a 12-foot nuclear bomb that looks more like a trim missile than a weapon of mass destruction, engineer Phil Hoover exudes pride. “I feel a real sense of accomplishment,” he said.
But as Hoover knows, looks can be deceiving. He and fellow engineers at Sandia National Laboratories have spent the past few years designing, building and testing the top-secret electronic and mechanical innards of the sophisticated B61-12.
Phil Hoover, an engineer at Sandia National Laboratories, shows off a flight test body for a B61-12 nuclear weapon. Sandia engineers have spent the past few years designing, building and testing the top-secret electronic and mechanical innards of the bomb. Credit: Jerry Redfern for Reveal
Phil Hoover, an engineer at Sandia National Laboratories, shows off a flight test body for a B61-12 nuclear weapon. Sandia engineers have spent the past few years designing, building and testing the top-secret electronic and mechanical innards of the bomb.Credit: Jerry Redfern for Reveal
Later, when nuclear explosives are added at the federal Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas, the bomb will have a maximum explosive force equivalent to 50,000 tons of TNT – more than three times more powerful than the U.S. atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, 70 years ago this August that killed more than 130,000 people.
The U.S. government doesn’t consider the B61-12 to be new – simply an upgrade of an existing weapon. But some contend that it is far more than that.
Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons expert at the nonpartisan Federation of American Scientists in Washington, is resolute that the bomb violates a 2010 Obama administration pledge not to produce nuclear weapons with new military capabilities.
“We do not have a nuclear guided bomb in our arsenal today,” Kristensen said. “It is a new weapon.”
Kristensen’s organization was formed in 1945 by nuclear scientists who wanted to prevent nuclear war. And it’s not the maximum force of the B61-12 that worries him the most on that front.
Instead, he says he fears that the bomb’s greater accuracy, coupled with the way its explosive force can be reduced electronically through a dial-a-yield system accessed by a hatch on the bomb’s body, increases the risk that a president might consider it tame enough for a future conflict.
Congress shared similar concerns in rejecting other so-called low-intensity nuclear weapons in the past. But most of the national criticism of this bomb has focused on its price tag. After it goes into full production in 2020, taxpayers will have spent about $11 billion to build 400 B61-12 bombs. That sum is more than double the original estimate, making it the most expensive nuclear bomb ever.
To Kristensen and others, if President Barack Obama’s pledge was serious, the bomb shouldn’t exist at any price.
How the B61-12 entered the U.S. arsenal of weapons is a tale of the extraordinary influence of the “nuclear enterprise,” as the nuclear weapons complex has rebranded itself in recent years. Its story lies at the heart of the national debate over the ongoing modernization of America’s nuclear weapons, a program projected to cost $348 billion over the next decade.
This enterprise encompasses defense contractors, including the subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp. that runs the Sandia labs for the government, as well as the U.S. Department of Energy and the nuclear weapons-oriented wings of the U.S. military – particularly the Air Force and Navy. With abundant jobs and dollars at stake, the nuclear enterprise is backed by politicians of all stripes.
A review of several thousands of pages of congressional testimony, federal budgets and audit reports, plus an analysis of lobbying and campaign contribution data, shows that the four defense contractors running the two New Mexico nuclear weapons labs, Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratory, enjoy a particularly symbiotic relationship with Congress.
That relationship begins with money.
Since 1998, these four contractors have contributed more than $20 million to congressional campaigns around the nation. Last year alone, they spent almost $18 million lobbying Washington to ensure that funding for nuclear weapons projects continues even as nuclear stockpiles shrink.
Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, said the outlay is a bargain considering what’s at stake for the contractors.
“It’s an insignificant cost of doing business relative to the potential income from these contracts,” she said.
In arid, impoverished New Mexico, the nuclear weapons enterprise thrives on particularly close connections between business interests and politicians, doors revolving in both directions and successful efforts to minimize oversight of corporate behavior.
Artillery of pro-Kiev militants hard shelled Donetsk in the evening yesterday. The city hospital, a large number of residential houses and infrastructure came under fire. There were many causalities among civilians. The clashes have been occurring around Donetsk Airport and Peski settlement. Additionally, Ukrainian forces attacked from the directions of Avdeevka, Mariinka. The town of Gorlovka was also shelled.
Intense clashes were occurring in the direction of Mariupol last night. The toe-to-toe fight with usage of small arms and mortars was around Lebedinskiy settlement. Ukrainian shelling and counter-battery fire of DPR Armed Forces were observed in the settlements of Stoganovka, Chermalik, Shirokino and Granitnoe.
The military situation in LPR has been growing more tense. The settlements of Popasnaya, Jelobok, Donetskiy and the sector of Stannica Luganskaya came under Ukrainian fire. The clashes were fixed in the sectors of Stannica Luganskaya, Bolotenoe and Bahmutka. Kiev’s side used 82 and 120 mm mortars and APCs.
As a result of the recent clashes Novorossian warriors destroyed 2 mortar batteries (8 mortars total), 1 battle tank and damaged 1 armored vehicle. 5 pro-Kiev militants were killed and 21 injured. Novorossian armed forces had 23 soldiers injured and 1 armored vehicle destroyed.
Another 100 US humvees for Ukraine were delivered to Odessa yesterday. The military equipment has already been seen moving to the frontline.
Translated by Eric Zuesse, from German Economic News | as published:21:40clock18:07:15 [18 July 2015]
The precarious situation in Greece means that thousands of refugees are making their way to northern Europe. There, the reaction is increasingly panicked: The Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer has announced plans to fend off refugees with “rigorous measures.” In Germany, there have been several attacks on asylum facilities. In Italy and the Czech Republic, there were demonstrations and riots.
Dramatic scenes at the station of Gevgelija in Macedonia: Refugees from Greece fight for a place in a train to the north. (Photos: AP)
Everyone wants to come along. (Photo: AP)
Trains to Serbia are overcrowded. (Photo: AP)
The following is from Italy’s Meridiana TV on July 17th, showing an anti-immigrant demonstration just north of Rome:
On Friday, tumult came to the station from Gevgelija in Macedonia (as shown in the AP photos above). Thousands of refugees flooded there heading northward due to the unclear situation and the rapidly deteriorating conditions in Greece. They try to get into the EU via Serbia from Macedonia. On Greek Islands the humanitarian conditions are unbearable.
However, on the Greek mainland, refugees at the moment also have little prospect of improvement: The Greek Orthodox Church considers itself unable to cope with them in addition to the problems of their own people. German Economic News is informed that some monasteries have three times as many people to feed than free meals available to feed them. The problem for the monasteries is that they are the first to feel the financial restrictions. Cash is scarce because of the 60-euro limit for withdrawals — therefore in Greece, charities that were always very generous must now set strict priorities. They need the cash for their own families. Social services suffer a noticeable decline in donations, due to the economic crisis.
Reception conditions for refugees are “very precarious,” according to the Commissioner for Refugees of the United Nations, António Guterres. “And the conditions for integration into Greek society are also extremely precarious.”
YTD 80,000 migrants already had come to Greece before the crisis. Many were traveling through Greece to other countries, and this continues. “Therefore, we are seeing more and more a movement of refugees from Greece to Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and then continuing northward,” Guterres said.
The United Nations cooperated with the Greek government in the construction of the asylum system. Support for the refugees should “be the responsibility of the European Union,” Guterres said.
Instead, the EU follows, after the rejection of a quota by the Eastern Europeans and France, a different strategy, and prepares for the possible onslaught with defensive measures: Hungary has announced its intention to construct a border fence to prevent refugees from reaching its cities. This has also been proposed in Italy, because the refugees, according to north Italian regional politicians, interfere with tourism [an essential industry there].
On Saturday night, went up in flames in Remchingen (Baden-Württemberg) a vacant former clubhouse, after a remodeling to prepare for refugees to move in during 2016. EarlySaturday morning in Lower Franconia Waldaschaff a paper trashcan burned in the garage of a refugee hostel [perhaps lit by locals]. At the time about 18 people were in the house, but no one was injured. The building itself was not damaged.
And before that, on Thursday night, unknown person(s) in Bavaria Reichertshofen set fire to two entrances at a building complex, which is planned to house starting in September, 67 asylum seekers. A motorist noticed this fire shortly after midnight. Firefighters then arrived, but already two floors and the roof had burned.
The Messaggero and the Corriere della Sera report that in Rome on Friday occurred clashes with police because a crowd demanded the withdrawal of refugees from a camp. The atmosphere was extremely aggressive (see video at the beginning of the article)
In Prague there have been demonstrations for and against immigrants.The news portal Novinky.cz showed around a thousand people signed for a rally organized by the right-wing National Democrats, against immigration, and for separation of the Czech Republic from the European Union. A large contingent of police prevented clashes with hundreds of participants in a demonstration against right-wing extremists which had earlier begun. The protesters fought against the extremists mainly shouting matches, but occasionally there were also minor scuffles.
About a month ago numerous Czech right-wing extremists had been met in the Slovak capital Bratislava with violent incidents on the edge of a demonstration against the admission of refugees and the “Islamisation of Europe.”
CSU [Christian Social Union, rightwing Bavarian party] chief Horst Seehofer wants to further reduce the record number of asylum seekers from South Eastern Europe by using “rigorous measures.” About 40 percent of asylum seekers come from the Western Balkans, Seehofer said on Saturday at the Lower Bavarian CSU district convention in Essenbach. “The acceptance rate is zero. So it can not go on.” He was confronted daily by complaints from local politicians, that there are no more buildings and areas for accommodation. “We have found this 40 percent abuse, one can say the mass abuse, and must adjust accordingly.”
In summer, accommodation is still feasible — “but then awaits the fall and winter,” and Seehofer predicted problems during the cold season. “Therefore, we need to have these issues with the Western Balkans solved now, so that we can say to our people, We have stopped the abuse ”
The issue of asylum is, in Seehofer’s assessment, so explosive that it could destabilize the established structure of German politics. “This issue can change the party,” the CSU leader said then at the district congress of the CSU at Barbing in the Upper Palatinate. At the same time, he stressed that Bavaria would continue to accept refugees from Syria and other war zones. The CSU must lead the debate in facts and should not in slogans. “We do not want to strengthen even more the seduction from the political right.”
If the ongoing standoff between the Syriza government and the Troika of the European Union (EU), European Central Bank (ECB), and International Monetary Fund (IMF) could be boiled down to its essentials, it would be this: The “institutions” will only equip the Greek economy with enough operating funds to manage a bare-bones operation. And they will begrudgingly accede to this only if Syriza maintains a primary surplus and the neoliberal labour market reforms that the Troika judges necessary to keep the Greek economy, and other eurozone economies, competitive in the global market. The left-wing government must, in essence, demonstrate that its loyalty to the European bankers’ project takes precedence over its obligations to democracy.
If accepted, this means, for Syriza, that it will not be able to implement its anti-austerity measures – the massive public works projects needed to revive the country’s economy, expand its tax base, or drive down its public debt through growth. Bailout of the private and national central banks, which had or still hold sovereign Greek debt on their balance sheets, is, in any case, now being internalized by the ECB by means of quantitative easing. These toxic assets have been swapped out for euros at terms far in excess of their actual market values. This is not a complete bailout of the banking system. It will not restore that sector to its previous level of profitability. But quantitative easing is sufficient to guarantee eurozone-banking-system liquidity should the Greeks refuse to listen to “reason” and renege on their “commitments,” thereby triggering a run on the banks.
This dispute is no longer about maintaining the structural integrity of European capitalism, which has been shored up in advance, but about fashioning an unmistakable demonstration for would-be movements to challenge the status quo. And this has already had the intended dampening effect, as evidenced by Podemos’ disappointing results in the Andalusian elections.
Lubricating the Economy
But national banks do not exist merely to lubricate the European economies. That ultimately is the role of the European Central Bank and, to a lesser extent, of the IMF. Private banks are primarily profit-making institutions. They make their profits on the spread between the rates at which they borrow, in the final analysis, from the ECB to maintain operating reserves, and that which can be extracted from their borrowers. Quantitative easing can be counted upon to keep bond rates low. But the banks, nevertheless, cannot find promising private entities in this profit-barren economy to lend money to, despite the rather meager profit margins the banks might be willing to accept. Industrial and commercial enterprises cannot make lucrative use of their existing capacity and so are loathe to expand. Debt-ridden workers are already under water and can, in any case, declare bankruptcy, leaving banks holding the bag.
This is not the case with nations and governments. There is no mechanism for them to write off excess debt. And, lacking a proper sovereign bank to underwrite fiscal decisions in accordance with the popular will, nations are captive to private market forces. So the bloodletting continues: austerity in exchange for loans. A housebroken Greece is to be granted future loan rollovers, arranged through the Troika, to pay off and service existing loans ad infinitum – a permanent Ponzi scheme, with no identifiable end game. And the only collateral that Greece can provide against these loans is its public assets, its cultural resources, and its tax base, all of which are rapidly shrinking in value due in no small part to the imposition of the “bailout” system itself.
In the meantime, as this is being written, Syriza has been forced to give its creditors, now basically the ECB, an ongoing veto over measures that might impact the economy, Greek banks, or the budget. It has to finance its state from tax receipts and cannot bridge the gap between receipts and expenditures by issuing short-term bonds to the ECB, which has already capped what it is willing to accept. The ECB has failed to lift the limits on what Greek banks can borrow under the Emergency Lending Assistance scheme. Neither has it requalified the Greek banks to borrow from the ECB. Tying off the last loose end, the ECB has, as well, prevented Greek banks from accepting government bonds needed to raise short-term capital. The Greek government and the Greek economy are gripped in an ever-tightening vise. Promised financial assistance of 7.2-billion has been held hostage since August of last year. In a variant of “your money or your life,” Syriza is faced with this: Contribute to the restoration of euro banking profitability and recognize your ongoing subordination to the neoliberal project, or your regime and your economy will be on indefinite lock down. Accept these conditions, and be kept on short rations.
Greek companies and households, according to the Financial Times, “pulled 7.6 [billion] out of their bank accounts during the government standoff with its international bailout creditors in February, driving deposits down to 140.5 [billion] – the lowest level in 10 years.” All this makes the need for capital controls an all but inescapable imperative.
This power asymmetry was baked into the EU framework. All nations, upon joining the eurozone, ceded their fiscal autonomy to an unelected banking technocracy. Unlike the consolidated federal banking system in, say, the United States, England, China, or Japan, the ECB exists by mandate solely to maintain price stability. It does this by setting key interest rates and by, supposedly, controlling the money supply – neither of which, incidentally, are directly meaningful in stemming state-induced inflation. And while the ECB can have a determining effect on interest rates, it cannot, in actual fact, control the money supply since all private banks create money by issuing loans. What the ECB can do, and what private banks cannot do for themselves under all circumstances, is to backstop the private banks by making available adequate operating funds to conduct business. The ECB has the sole ability to spend euros into existence. As such, the ECB, unlike private banks, can never run out of money.
The ECB’s demand that its loans be repaid is therefore a political demand and cannot be seen otherwise. It has no functional meaning beyond enforcing fiscal discipline, since “repayment” by Greece, other nations, or any other entity with which the ECB conducts business has absolutely no effect on the ECB’s ongoing ability to maintain operations. Repayment is nothing more than ledger decoration. If repayments were made in physical euros, rather than in electronic keystroke entries, the physical euros would simply be shredded.
But the ECB also has, by design, no mandate to maintain full employment. And, more generally, it has no mandate to support any of the spending decisions of democratically authorized governments. Countries that issue their own sovereign currencies, in contrast, are never revenue-constrained. Such governments are themselves the sources of the money needed to pay for their own expenditures. They are not revenue-dependent on their populations, either as sources of taxes or of loans. Taxes, under such circumstances, exist first to drive state-issued monies, by defining the medium under which government liabilities can be lawfully extinguished. They then exist as tools for siphoning off inflationary (excessive) demand, for redistribution, for carving out additional fiscal space to expand the public sector, and for discouraging activities deemed detrimental to the public welfare.
Foreign contracts, like domestic public contracts, when denominated in the national currency, can always be serviced in money the countries’ central banks have the bottomless capacity to issue. Countries that issue their own sovereign currencies cannot suffer sovereign debt crises.
It follows from this that anything that a currency-issuing economy is capable of producing, given the limits of its accumulated capacity, it also can fully afford to produce. And until the point of full capacity utilization is reached, no nation can be justly said to be living beyond its means.
The architecture of the European Union has quite simply robbed the constituent nations of this autonomy. It has created debt colonies subject to perpetual domination at the hands of an autonomous, unshackled, central banking system. That banking system has appointed itself, by dint of prior social engineering, the executive committee of Europe’s ruling classes. And its agenda is clear. The Troika is prioritizing, for the moment, rent seeking and national exploitation over jump-starting the productive sectors of capitalism until the latter is drained of its social-welfare legacy and overhead. The financial sector is enriching itself, while preparing capitalism for renewed accumulation based on a more propitious basis for exploitation and profit extraction.
Challenging the Austerians
Social democracy has largely surrendered to this agenda without resistance. It is only the pace and timing of implementation, rather than the agenda itself, that distinguishes its mainstream from the business community “austerians,” as Syriza calls them.
Once a socialist or radical left has ruled out a similar capitulation, there are really only two alternative solutions to this. On the one hand, Syriza can challenge the existing limits, find stopgap measures that free fiscal space, implement as much of its program as this permits, elbow the monetary union into a looser federation, and build a multinational insurgency within the eurozone having, as its intermediate aim, the socialization of the ECB. That is, it can advocate and work for the ultimate subordination of the ECB to democratic norms and accountability by relentlessly pushing boundaries and recruiting allies within the existing framework.
Or it can prepare for as orderly an exit from the zone as it can negotiate and go it – for the moment – alone. It can repudiate its external debt or write it down and redenominate the remainder of that debt in its own newly defined currency. Greek socialists can choose, in other words, to operate on the political terrain that they have already “hegemonized” and which plays to their acquired strengths. By so doing, Syriza can regain Greece’s fiscal autonomy on a national basis. It can, through example, be a beacon of inspiration to other oppressed nations, who may be similarly emboldened to peel themselves away from the monetary union. With enough defections, the future of the union as a bankers’ dictatorship might itself be placed in jeopardy, precipitating a later regroupment on a different institutional footing.
But, while a Grexit (a Greek exit from the eurozone) will reclaim the essential monetary and fiscal levers the government now lacks, these levers will not overcome the structural dependence of the Greek economy on foreign investment, nor shield it from the pressures of global finance. Greek capitalism, with the exception of merchant shipping and tourism, is largely based on small enterprises. Extensive nationalization would be difficult to coordinate, inherently chaotic, and probably politically and economically unwise. Even ardent proponents of an early Grexit, such as Marxist economist Costas Lapavitsas, restrict their calls for nationalization to the banking sector and to those public utilities that were previously privatized. Alluding to the New Economic Policy experiment in the Soviet Union, Lapavitsas has raised the distinction between public control, which may only entail the disciplining of capital combined with extensive public works programs, and a widespread socialization project, reserved for the remote future.
The immediate aftermath of departure would have to be meticulously planned in advance – something we have yet to see – and the population prepared for the likelihood of extensive rationing as the prices of imported goods skyrocket. This may lead Syriza to impose controls on the movement of capital and commodities. While the Syriza government, liberated from restraints from on high, should be able to mobilize the available resources to jump-start its economy, the economy it jump-starts will still be one of relative deprivation – and one vulnerable to continuous siege from the continental forces at its perimeter.
Did the Greek electorate sign up for this when they voted for Syriza? Are the citizens being mobilized to confront these issues? How are they being readied to face these challenges? Will the question be put to a vote? And if so, by whom? The existing government? Or a new one created to effect the transition?
What is even more worrisome than a planned and orderly exit, however, is indecision and drift. For there is certainly a yawning gap between Germany’s hysterical demonization of Syriza, and Syriza’s actions. If, for instance, the Greek banks, unfettered by capital controls, are permitted to become insolvent in a prolonged impasse, Greece would be compelled to print its own currency under conditions not of its own choosing and under ad hoc circumstances for which it had not adequately prepared. Recourse to this contingency, under emergency settings, would signal that the decision had already been implicitly made on high that the cost of letting Greece exit the eurozone is lower than the costs of granting variances that would later have to be scaled up in answer to a euro-periphery insisting on similar deals. A “Grexident,” rather than a planned exit would add another dimension of turmoil and upheaval to an already perilous situation.
There is still another dimension to this. While the ECB retains the ability to shore up the system against liquidity shortfalls in the event of a departure, the prospect of future fragmentation is worrisome for capital on a different front. It introduces a mountain of new investor risk and uncertainty. Would Spanish, Portuguese, Irish, or Italian corporations issue bonds to raise funds in euros, if a later redenomination would cause them to go under? Would a corporation invest outside its own country if there were ongoing uncertainty about the future denomination of its investment? If a Grexit is followed by peripheral fragmentation, crises and paralysis contagion could set in, undermining neoliberal integration and leading predictably to wide-spread financial retrenchment. The Troika must be evaluating a response to this scenario. But how? By turning a blind eye to Greek initiatives that formally violate the terms of agreement, but keep Greece from exiting? Or with plans to isolate and crush an “independent” Greek economy, demonstrating decisively that the path out of the eurozone leads from disaster to ruin?
What has to be kept in mind is that there is no legal framework for Germany and the Troika to expel Greece from the Economic and Monetary Union of the EU. Greece must elect to do so freely, or be made to do so under duress. The initiative, in any case, formally resides solely with the Greeks.
The lack of a legal framework for expulsion accords Syriza with an unintended license for experimentation and maneuver. France and Italy, for instance, have already set precedence by missing deficit and structural adjustment targets, suffering little or no consequences for having done so. Germany violated the limits on its external balance. The Greek finance minister, Varoufakis, failed to convince the Troika to swap out existing debt instruments for perpetual interest bonds that would not add to the public debt for lack of a principal repayment obligation. Varoufakis tested the waters. But Greece’s overlords were not about to be complicit in Syriza’s efforts to jump-start its economy even by means that were in technical compliance with budgetary proscriptions. Clearly, an expansionary fiscal policy is something that cannot be negotiated. It is an obstacle that must be surmounted creatively, but without assistance.
One method, and one which Varoufakis evidently considered in 2013, would be for the Greek government to generate a parallel currency for internal transactions. They have already committed themselves to ramping up the intensity and efficiency of tax collection. This is probably the one place where Syriza and the Troika agree. When the necessary institutional changes are implemented, the Greek government can begin to securitize future taxes and issue scrip based on revenue anticipation. This scrip can be an electronic entry into accounts, personal and corporate, with which the government has business. Or it can be issued in small denomination bills intended for day-to-day purchases. It is denominated, in either case, in euros, with an exchange rate of parity. Euros will remain the unit of account, but scrip can be introduced as an additional means of payment. And since this means of payment is only acceptable for internal transactions, scrip is implicitly a form of direct capital control.
This parallel currency should be acceptable for settlement of private-sector tax liabilities and must be transferrable within the nation and to foreigners who have business or pay taxes in Greece. It is precisely a scrip’s acceptability to extinguish tax liabilities that assures its ability to circulate. It is in effect a short-term loan granted by the population to the government. And because it is perpetual without a defined maturity date requiring repayment of principal, it would not technically increase the public debt-to-GDP ratio. On the contrary, if used to prime the pump of economic expansion, it should reduce that ratio. Moreover, as long as the government makes no effort to pay principal or interest on existing government bonds, it can avoid the danger of triggering default clauses.
Because this proposed scrip would be pegged to the euro and in demand as a means of tax payment, the process of arbitrage should be sufficient to maintain par value. If its market exchange rate falls below par, taxpayers might be expected to scramble after cheap scrip to meet their obligations, which, after all, will be accepted at par value by the treasury. This process of driving up the scrip’s exchange value with the euro should be sufficient to counterbalance speculative forces operating to undermine the peg.
Socialist economist Michael Burke has pointed out that Greek business claims the highest share of national income among countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, at 56 per cent. Of this, only 11.3 per cent of the national income is actually invested. This is a vast pool of surplus value that can be socialized. There is no reason why this untapped remainder cannot provide a firm platform to securitize taxes for countercyclical activity. With adequate capital controls, Syriza is in a position to present business with a Hobson’s choice: Either invest this savings now or it will be confiscated and spent by the state later. In the meantime, these savings will be securitized as scrip for immediate relief.
Scrip can pay civil servants and support the expansion of public services. With it, Syriza can fund infrastructural improvements and research and development needed to earn additional euros for Greece through improved trade and import substitution. And at the same time, it frees euros for the large-scale import purchases of food, medicine, and fuel. It offers Syriza the opportunity to build a commanding heights to the Greek economy, which is crucial for any future socialist transformation. And it augers the possibility that Greece may no longer face the Troika as a supplicant.
But neither is this a sufficient plan B. Even if the fiscal restraint imposed by the eurozone’s limiting of primary deficits to 3 per cent of GDP were circumvented, its tax base would still restrain a Greek economic recovery. The advantages to this parallel currency is that it permits a path through which the tax base, once securitized, can pump a self-expanding loop through the system generating additional incomes to tax. Scrip issuance would allow Greece to run a fiscal deficit with at least perfunctory debt service potential until the economy recovers, and to do so without borrowing from the institutions. Any recovery would increase Greece’s credit-worthiness and Syriza’s bargaining strength. Nevertheless, the type of robust recovery needed is still unlikely given the country’s structural limitations. According to one estimate, Greece needs to run a primary deficit of 10 per cent to return it to a fully elaborated growth path. Without the total fiscal autonomy of a supportive central bank, this is unlikely to be attained.
Can the ECB still starve Syriza of euros and lock up the Greek economy? There are two issues involved here. Clearly the government would no longer be dependent on receipt of additional euros to pay for public services. Euros here would have been displaced by scrip for that purpose. And again, banks create money when they issue loans. So a banking system that is again lending money would create additional system-wide reserves. But would these reserves be adequate to fully cover the additional loan exposure of a reviving economy and offset possible future bank runs, without also being backstopped by the ECB? This is where the power of the Troika resides: The ECB alone can do that. Because of fear of ECB abandonment, Greek banks are unwilling to extend short-term operating loans. This, in turn, is blocking otherwise viable Greek exporters from fulfilling their contracts and taking on new business. And that business is vital to obtaining additional euros.
How can this be offset? Beyond what can be generated by scrip, Greece, which is Germany’s seventh largest customer for military equipment, could rip up existing contracts and earmark those funds to bank reserves. It can similarly review and repudiate any other public contracts with foreign nations and firms that do not serve the commonweal. Greece is still earning euros through shipping and tourism. These euros need to be sequestered in special bank accounts and swapped out for scrip to conduct internal transactions. Investment bank accounts should not be insured by the state. And Syriza should fully renounce its “odious” debt obligations to further tighten centralized oversight over the leakage of euros that promise no tangible benefit to the Greek population. It can, in other words, find creative ways of economizing on the use of euros while freeing itself, in the short term, from the ECB.
And there is the larger picture. What such stopgap measures can do is to transform the eurozone from a monetary union to a looser monetary federation. Greece can “exit austerity without exiting the euro.” It can chip away at the power of the Troika and provide hope and encouragement to similarly minded insurgencies such as Podemos, Sinn Fein, and trade union militants eager to break with or move existing mass workers’ parties to the left. By stoking the anti-austerity brushfire, any success by Syriza, no matter how modest, would mobilize an emboldened left to ask larger questions about the structure, design, and necessity of this bankers’ federation.
This is not the time for left critics of Syriza abroad to pass judgment, to issue edicts from on high, or to grandstand with revolutionary rhetoric devoid of concrete substance. Syriza will sort this out in dialog with the Greek people. It is a time to fully comprehend the enormous obstacles Syriza faces in implementing its program. It is a time, above all, for constructive, comradely engagement; a time to think this through together. •
Barry Finger is an editorial board member of New Politics, where this article first appeared.
The President of France has come up with a very creative way of solving the European debt crisis. On Sunday, a piece authored by French President Francois Hollande suggested that the ultimate solution to the problems currently plaguing Europe would be for every member of the eurozone to transfer all of their sovereignty to a newly created federal government. In other words, it would essentially be a “United States of Europe”. This federal government would have a prime minister, a parliament, a federal budget and a federal treasury. Presumably, the current national governments in Europe would continue to function much like state governments in the U.S. do. In the end, there may be some benefits to such a union – particularly for the weaker members of the eurozone. But at what cost would those benefits come?
When I first learned that French President Francois Hollande had proposed that the members of the eurozone should create their own version of a federal government, I was quite stunned. But I shouldn’t have been surprised. For the global elite, the answer to just about any problem is more centralization. The following comes from a Bloomberg article that was posted on Sunday…
French President Francois Hollande said that the 19 countries using the euro need their own government complete with a budget and parliament to cooperate better and overcome the Greek crisis.
“Circumstances are leading us to accelerate,” Hollande said in an opinion piece published by the Journal du Dimanche on Sunday. “What threatens us is not too much Europe, but a lack of it.”
“I have proposed taking up Jacques Delors’ idea about euro government, with the addition of a specific budget and a parliament to ensure democratic control,” Hollande said.
His remarks touched on what analysts have seen as a major flaw in the euro.
Under the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht, countries which share a common currency must obey rules on borrowing and deficit spending.
But the Greek crisis saw one of the 19 eurozone members notch up successive worsening deficits and amass a mountain of debt. The problems were only addressed by bailouts from the European institutions and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Critics say the problem stems from a lack of centralised control over national fiscal policies, which today are jealously guarded areas of sovereignty.
In addition, this eurozone government would have its own prime minister. In essence, he would be the European version of the president of the United States. The following comes from the Independent…
There would be a eurozone government with its own prime minister, the officials said. This government would have its own budget – separate from the EU budget – to aid and invest in more fragile countries, It would try to harmonise corporation and pay-roll taxes to ensure fair competition in the eurozone.
Of course Hollande is not the only one calling for more centralization. Last month, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem proposed a plan that would create a shared European treasury…
Draghi called for the creation of a shared treasury within 10 years in a joint proposal with politicians including European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem last month.
I don’t anticipate that we will see any of these things implemented immediately.
However, what is important is the fact that this is where the European elite plan to take Europe. And when the next great European financial crisis erupts, these proposals will be offered as the “solutions” necessary to end the crisis.
During times of emergency, the elite are often able to push things through that they would never be able to accomplish under normal circumstances. At the moment, it would be extremely difficult to get everyone to agree to a full-blown “United States of Europe”. But if things were to start spinning wildly out of control and people were suddenly desperately clamoring for solutions, the environment would be quite different.
What that time arrives, the key will be to get Germany and France to agree on what a “United States of Europe” should look like. If Germany and France can agree, it is inevitable that most of the other members of the eurozone would ultimately fall in line.
One potential hurdle for the creation of this new government would be the euro. The current treaty agreements concerning the euro are quite complicated and quite restrictive. If Germany and France decided that they did want to create a “United States of Europe”, they might have to create an entirely new currency in order to accomplish that.
I know that sounds kind of crazy right now, but at one time the concept of “the euro” sounded really crazy too.
For the moment, the debt crisis in Europe just continues to get even worse. Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Belgium and France are all drowning in debt. Whether or not we see a “Grexit” in the short-term, I fully expect that European bond yields will continue to rise and European stocks will take quite a tumble in the months ahead.
I believe that we are right on the verge of a very significant European financial crisis. In particular, keep on eye on the big banks. Just like in the United States, the “too big to fail” banks in Europe are massively overleveraged and are tremendously exposed to derivatives.
In fact, the bank with the most exposure to derivatives on the entire planet is Deutsche Bank. It has been reported that Deutsche Bank has a whopping 75 trillion dollarsworth of exposure to derivatives, their co-CEOs were recently forced to resign, and there are all sorts of rumblings about troubles going on behind the scenes at the bank.
What do you think would happen if the biggest and most important bank in Germany suddenly became the next Lehman Brothers?
That is something to think about.
Meanwhile, the euro continues to fall. For a long time, I have been repeating my prediction that the euro would fall to parity with the U.S. dollar.
One year ago, the EUR/USD was sitting at 1.35.
Today, it has come all the way down to 1.08.
There will be more ups and downs, but we are almost there.
A time of great chaos is coming to Europe, and the eurozone will be deeply shaken.
But whether or not there is a break up of the eurozone in the short-term, in the long-term the goal of the European elite is even more integration and even more centralization.
So even though there will be significant bumps in the road, I fully expect to see the “United States of Europe” that French President Francois Hollande has proposed.
The agreement reached July 14 between Iran and the “5+1,” the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China) plus Germany, is a huge achievement — for Iran.
Whenever any oppressed country, besieged by imperialism, is able to gain a treaty, gain even a temporary agreement or forestall an outright war while maintaining its sovereignty, it should be acknowledged as a victory over U.S. intransigence.
Speaking with reporters in Vienna, Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called the agreement a “historic moment.” “We are reaching an agreement that is not perfect for anybody, but it is what we could accomplish, and it is an important achievement for all of us,” he stated.
Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif
U.S. imperialism has attempted through decades of ever-tightening economic sanctions, endless forms of industrial sabotage, political subversion, assassinations, isolation, military encirclement, destabilization campaigns and endless media vilification to bring down the Iranian government and restore a subservient regime such as ruled Iran before the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
The complete failure of these decades-long efforts has finally forced a new agreement. But this limited agreement does not mean an end to Washington’s continuing efforts to sabotage Iran’s independent development. The 159-page agreement and the complex inspections and conditions for step-by-step lifting of the walls of sanctions provide numerous opportunities to use the International Atomic Energy Agency inspections to continually investigate and gain access to all manner of Iranian facilities and to make new demands, create new crises or attempt to sabotage the whole agreement.
The agreement on the part of U.S. and Western corporate power is based on the arrogant hope of ensnaring Iran in a web of economic indebtedness, political compromises and social instability to ultimately regain control of Iran’s rich resources. So the agreement is hardly a finished product. It reflects an ongoing struggle.
U.S. military threats will continue and possibly escalate through constant movements of aircraft carriers and all of their accompanying warships, destroyers, jet bombers and Trident nuclear submarines, capable of destroying all life on earth in one launch, off the coast of Iran. U.S. wars in the region directly and through its proxies of Saudi Arabia, Israel and countless mercenary, marauding bands will continue.
Sanctions = extortion
Sanctions are a form of warfare. They are economic extortion by a group of nuclear-armed pirates. The sanctions on Iran predate Iran’s decision to revive a nuclear energy program that had begun, with full U.S. support, during the rule of the brutal, U.S.-backed Pahlavi monarchy. U.S. sanctions began soon after the Iranian Revolution along with the seizure of Iranian assets held in U.S. banks.
These were followed by U.N. Security Council sanctions, imposed under U.S. pressure in 2006, 2008 and 2011, and by European sanctions in 2010 and 2012. Finally, U.S. sanctions legislation demanded that every country in the world participate in a blockade of Iran or face severe U.S. penalties and be cut off from the vast network of U.S. banking, loans and credits.
Russia and China were consistently for ending the sanctions. They face sanctions and encirclement themselves. The Western imperialist powers of Germany, France and Britain — the European Union — were willing to participate if U.S. schemes could be accomplished and the sanctions could achieve the goal of regime change. But in the long run the European powers have little interest in doing what is not favorable to their own capitalist interests. In the 5+1 talks, divisions among the European imperialists became an added pressure, making it difficult for the U.S. to make impossible demands or to just walk away from the negotiations.
While creating enormous hardships and shortages, the sanctions failed to destabilize the government or create an overwhelming reactionary upsurge. By the time of the agreement, the Iranian government was even able to bring inflation, due to shortages, down to 15 percent annually from the almost out-of-control 45 percent.
The immediate money flowing to Iran under the agreement is Iran’s own money. Billions of dollars of Iranian assets had been unilaterally seized and many Iranian assets frozen. Over the course of 20 months of painstaking negotiations, Iran regained $12 billion of its own money. While this is hardly a gift from the banks that illegally held it, its return is a significant accomplishment. There are more than $100 billion in Iranian funds seized and frozen in accounts around the world. Hundreds of billions more were confiscated through lost oil and gas revenue due to the blockade.
Hypocrisy of nuclear threat
The greatest hypocrisy was that of countries with stockpiles of nuclear weapons sanctimoniously lecturing and wringing their hands at Iran’s development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. They endlessly claimed it was a threat to world peace and used it as leverage to achieve concessions. Meanwhile, the U.S. has aided Israel in building hundreds of nuclear weapons, continually threatens first strikes against countries with no nuclear weapons and is further modernizing its own nuclear stockpile.
Of course the negotiations were never really about nuclear weapons. The “great Iranian nuclear threat” was just a pretext to pull in other countries.
As a signer of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran — unlike Israel — has the right to enrich uranium to any levels. But in order to end the economic strangulation, Iran agreed to a deal that severely limits it from what every other one of the 93 signers has the internationally recognized right to do.
Nevertheless, it is no small accomplishment that Iran was able to maintain its right to a peaceful nuclear program
Wall Street considers Iran a threat
Wall Street and the dependent proxy states in the region — especially Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies — consider Iran a threat. Why? Ever since the Iranian Revolution broke decisively over U.S. corporate domination of its resources and liberated Iran’s oil and gas resources from the unequal contracts serving the giant oil corporations Exxon, Mobil and Shell, it has served as a revolutionary example.
Iran has a capitalist class that is anxious to increase its own profits and position. But the Iranian Revolution was forced to make a sharp break with imperialist domination as the only way forward. A radical Muslim clerical leadership with a strong anti-imperialist focus has maintained this fundamental break for 35 years.
By developing its economy independent of Wall Street theft and domination and controlling its own resources, Iran has transformed itself within three decades from an underdeveloped country with massive poverty into a modern state with a highly educated population. While capitalist relations prevail, the population was still able to win guaranteed, comprehensive, free medical care; free education, including at the university level; a modern infrastructure; and housing with full electrification.
Women’s education has improved from majority illiteracy to full literacy. More than 60 percent of university students are now female.
Who are the hawks?
In applauding the new nuclear agreement, some U.S. peace forces describe it as a victory over Iranian “hawks” and an easing of a war threat from Iran. This is totally misleading. The war threat on a global scale, and most especially in the Middle East, and the responsibility for war, invasion, occupation and cynical sectarian divisions lies with U.S. militarism. The most powerful U.S. corporations — Big Oil and the military industries that profit from war — drive the right-wing forces mobilizing against any normalization of relations with Iran.
They realize that with the end of sanctions, foreign investors will not have gained unlimited access to Iran. As the March 30 Wall Street Journal laments: “The country launched a privatization program a decade ago that has, albeit fitfully, moved share ownership from companies directly controlled by the government into the hands of Iranian pension funds. Those pension funds are also controlled by government entities — leaving the bulk of the market still under government sway, a concern for some potential investors.”
Israel and Saudi Arabia, as dependent U.S. proxies in the region and whose position and billions of dollars in military equipment are based on their role promoting war and instability, are both threatened by any form of agreement with Iran.
These driving interests are the basis of the large militarist factions in the U.S. ruling class that are still determined to push for war with Iran. They have plans to mount a massive media and lobbying campaign in the 60 days that the U.S. Congress has to approve the agreement. “Bomb Iran” is their theme. “War is inevitable” is their message. War profits is their motive.
It is the hawks like Sen. John McCain, funded by powerful U.S. corporations with a profitable stake in war and militarism, that are determined to sabotage even this short-term agreement. These are the hawks who have lined up a series of right-wing and reactionary think tanks to mobilize a multimillion dollar campaign to defeat the agreement in Congress and possibly to incite military provocations.
A multimillion dollar TV, print, radio and digital campaign will be paid for by well-funded think tanks such as United Against Nuclear Iran, Secure America Now, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, the American Security Initiative and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. They are all busy preparing a full court press in Congress and public opinion.
But the problem U.S. banks and corporations face is that with this agreement finally set, there is a stampede to Tehran. Business hotels in Tehran are packed and U.S. corporations fear being left out of the deals being made, based on Washington’s own intransigence.
Those forces in the U.S. ruling class that are more aware of the shrinking position of U.S. power, including the fallout from its disastrous wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, are anxious to achieve a regional realignment. They desperately hope to weaken the alignment of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas through sectarian division and destabilization.
They well understand that it was the revolutionary overturn of the brutal U.S.-imposed Iranian monarchy in 1979 that fundamentally decreased U.S. influence in the entire region.
The unsolvable contradiction is that U.S. imperialism has both failed to destabilize Iran and has utterly failed to stabilize its rule in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, despite massive destruction. Its plans for a quick overturn in Syria have also met determined resistance, despite billions of dollars in funds, equipment and the training of mercenary forces.
This agreement may be only a temporary reprieve. But for Iran it is a hard-fought step forward in a continuing struggle to maintain both Iranian sovereignty and economic development in the face of U.S. imperialist threats and provocations.
NATO’s recent decision to deploy a military spearhead in eastern Europe against what it claims is aggressive Russian expansionism now threatens to evolve into an uncontrollable level of brinkmanship with potentially cataclysmic consequences on a global scale. This ill-conceived decision to position NATO forces within miles of the Russian borders is also predicated on calculated deception and egregious misrepresentations of facts. True to form, mainstream media outlets are now parroting the refrains agreed upon in the inner circles of strategy-oriented think-tanks and military intelligence agencies to justify these hazardous moves. The U.S.’s own Nobel “Peace Prize” president also recently announced that the executive office was seeking $1 billion to pre-position heavy military artillery and tanks in five nations near the Russian frontier as appropriate “defensive measures” against a “possible Russian attack” .
To set the record straight, the U.S. and its globalist allies had been hard at work for more than a decade to bring about “regime change” in geopolitically key nation-states, including Ukraine. Attempts in late 2004/early 2005 carried the monicker “Orange Revolution” and relied heavily on numerous “soft power” “nation-building” NGOs, such as USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the Open Society Institute, which themselves are generously funded by powerful insiders from the world of international banking and pro-NATO interest groups. They have functioned as key instruments in “restructuring” sovereign nations slated for takeover. After the first failed attempt to integrate Ukraine entirely into the EU framework, and mutatis mutandis, into NATO, the opportunity presented itself again in February 2014 to complete the unfinished business.
The global financial crisis that began in 2007/2008 impacted the Ukrainian economy quite severely. The World Bank had forecast a 15-percent decline in the country’s economy and a tripling of the unemployment rate to 9 percent for 2009. Western corporate and financial big-players laid the groundwork for loans (read: debt incursion) through the World Bank, contingent as always on the country’s implementation of key structural reform measures directed by the International Monetary Fund.  The neoliberal takeover of the Ukrainian economy with predictable austerity outcomes led to a shift in perspectives among ordinary Ukrainians who feared that further, even more severe forms of hardship would naturally follow from increased integration into the EU corporate/financial framework. The people made their voices heard at the ballot boxes with the 2010 re-election of Viktor Yanukovych, whom Western analysts had portrayed as uncomfortably pro-Russian. Western suspicions then appeared to be confirmed when the Yanukovych government refused to endorse the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement.
Even a cursory reading of Title II of the 909-page Agreement makes it perfectly clear that the legal foundations have been carefully laid for the total and seamless integration of Ukraine into the NATO military alliance, with all the potentially catastrophic results that entails. The Agreement also stipulates the complete assimilation of Ukraine’s industrial, financial/banking sectors into the legal framework governed by the ECB and the European Parliament.
Former Moscow correspondent for Germany’s Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF), Gabriele Krone-Schmalz, had the following warning to make regarding the Agreement:
“Also wir, die Medien, hätten zu einem frühen Zeitpunkt wissen müssen und das auch verkünden müssen, dass dieses Assoziierungsabkommen die Ukraine zerreist.” (“We in the media should have known and we should have reported early on that this agreement tears Ukraine apart.”) 
And why didn’t the Western media report this? Because, as Claus von Wagner of ZDF’s “Die Anstalt” (July 29, 2014) accurately surmised, “that would not fit in with the image of a peaceful EU which is threatened by the evil Ivan.” (“…. weil das nicht ins Bild passt von der Friedensmacht EU, die vom bösen Ivan bedroht wird.”)
The U.S. / NATO’s response to Ukraine’s initial refusal to endorse the Agreement was of course to overthrow the legitimately elected Yanukovych government. The now infamous leaked telephone conversation between U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland revealed not only that the U.S. had spent $5 billion in its efforts to foment “regime change” in Ukraine, but also that “the U.S. was actively planning who would be appointed to the top government posts in Ukraine, post-coup.” 
The putsch pattern typically follows an identifiable script: paramilitary mercenaries and hired agents provocateurs perform the ground-level dirty work of destabilizing the general population through targeted attacks that always result in civilian casualties; social media then set about to spread the word of the attacks and to define and construct the intended “enemy”; mainstream media then swing into high gear to operationalize the construct by reinforcing among the citizens the dangers associated with the newly fabricated “enemy”—a message which is then repeated ad nauseum on a daily basis. In the case of 9/11, this was the so-called “Al Qaeda” and its alleged “co-conspirators” in Iraq and Afghanistan; in Syria, the poison gas attacks which the western alliance claimed had been perpetrated by the Assad government against its own people; in Ukraine, “pro-Russian militia,” who in reality were clearly recruits from the most violent factions of Svoboda, a virulent neo-fascist organization with strong paramilitary ties. Robert Abele pointed out that “Nuland herself, along with U.S. Senator John McCain, made no fewer than four independent trips to Ukraine to publicly hand out cookies to the right wing, self-proclaimed neo-Nazi parties (i.e. Svoboda and Right Sector).” 
Washington’s goals in the coup were twofold: First, to usher in a pro-EU/pro-NATO government whose leaders would adhere to the framework defined by the transnational corporate/financial elite who were actively effecting regime change. Second, to operationalize ultra-nationalist Ukrainian elements from the Right Sector and Svoboda as reliable insurgents and hit-men to cultivate and nurture anti-Russian sentiment within the Ukrainian population. As Mahdi Nazemroaya has noted, the post-coup government included several members of Svoboda in key cabinet positions. 
In response to the violent Western-backed overthrow of the legitimate government of Ukraine, “more than 83 percent of the qualified voters of Crimea, on their own volition, participated in a referendum to rejoin Russia. And of that number, nearly 97 percent voted to separate themselves from Ukraine and once again become a part of Russia, in what was a massively one-sided victory.”  And yet, this legitimate right of a people to self-determination is routinely and deliberately erroneously described in western media as an “illegitimate annexation by Russia,” or in the words of former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, a Russian “invasion and occupation of Crimea.” 
The West’s quest for global hegemony has been an evolving process for more than a century. The events of 9/11 made possible the invasion and occupation of both Afghanistan and Iraq. With the fall of Libya, the US-led western alliance set its sights on Syria, with the usual suspects of mercenaries and paramilitary forces that brought down the Gaddhafi government brought in fully equipped to wreak havoc on the Assad regime from within. With its power-grab across the Middle East and its current planned deployment of heavy artillery and troops at the Russian borders, NATO has demonstrated an unprecedented level of brinkmanship that could quickly escalate into a Third World War—one that no one will survive.
The determination known as the NATO-Double-Track resolution, pushed through by the Pentagon hawks during the Reagan administration, planned to seed much of central Europe with Pershing II and cruise missiles that would have directly threatened all of Europe and the former Soviet Union. Concerned citizens in Europe from the entire political spectrum sounded the alarms and took to the streets in unprecedented numbers to stop the aggressive measures. Today, NATO’s perilous gambit warrants an even greater number of demonstrations in every town and city worldwide. The global community needs to counter NATO’s madness with a resounding NO!
James Polkholds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the Freie Universität Berlin. He is the author of four books, including The Triumph of Ignorance and Bliss. Pathologies of Public America. Polk is currently researching the philosophical foundations of global governance.
 See Eric Schmitt and Steven Lee Myers, “U.S. Is Poised to Put Heavy Weaponry in Eastern Europe,” New York Times, June 14, 2015, A1.
 See in particular, Ediliberto Segura, Olga Pogarska, Oleg Ustenko, Larisa Kozyarivska, Sergey Kasyanenko, sigma Bleyzer, “Ukraine’s Financial Crisis: Past, Present and Future,” (Kyiv, Ukraine: The Bleyzer Foundation, April 28, 2009); International Monetary Fund IMF Country Report No. 05/415: Ukraine: 2005 Article IV Consultation and Ex Post Assessment of Longer-Term Program Engagement—Staff Reports; Staff Supplement; and Public Information Notice on the Executive Board Discussion; Statement by the Hon. Arsenii Yatsenuk, Governor of the Fund for Ukraine, at the Joint Annual Discussion, Boards of Governors 2004 Annual Meetings, Washington, D.C. International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group, Press Release No. 27, October 23, 2004.
 Robert Abele, “The Norms of Justice, International Law, and the ‘Duty to Protect’,” in Stephen Lendman, Flashpoint in Ukraine. How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks World War III (Atlanta, GA: Clarity Press Inc.), 208.
 Mahdi Nazemroaya, “The Geopolitics of Euromaidan,” in Stephen Lendman, Flashpoint in Ukraine. How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks World War III (Atlanta, GA: Clarity Press Inc.), 91.
 Michael Parenti, “Ukraine and Regime Change,” in Stephen Lendman,Flashpoint in Ukraine. How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks World War III (Atlanta, GA: Clarity Press Inc.), 50.
 Nicholas Burns in conversation with Warren Olney on “To the Point,” National Public Radio (June 25, 2015).
Kiev junta officials want war, not peace. They want illegitimate fascist rule hardened – with no recognized democratic pockets. Local autonomy is strictly forbidden despite mandated under Minsk ceasefire terms.
Rebel fighters continue showing good faith efforts for peace and stability. Despite obvious threats, they’ll withdraw heavy weapons from frontline positions – in place to deter junta aggression.
A statement was issued saying “(t)o show our commitment to the Minsk agreements, we are ready to make the next step towards peace. For that, (we’ll) pull back our units with tanks and armored vehicles, equipped with weapons under 100mm calibre, to at least three kilometres (1.9 miles) from the front line.”
Withdrawal doesn’t apply to several “problem areas.” They include up to 12% of the ceasefire line. OSCE monitors were notified of what’s planned.
In contrast, Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) military spokesman Eduard Basurin said multiple daily junta “ceasefire violation and criminal actions…speak for Kiev’s buildup for active hostility.” Attacks are intensifying.
Minsk terms required all heavy weapons withdrawn well behind frontline positions. Junta forces kept theirs in place – shifting positions to create the illusion of pullback. Rebels complied unilaterally until forced to act against Kiev aggression.
Escalated Saturday attacks were heavier than more recent ones. DPR’s Defense Ministry reported 44 junta ceasefire violations in the last 24 hours. Shelling was intense, it said.
A Donetsk hospital was targeted – at least one death and several injuries reported, including a doctor. Central city civilian neighborhoods were shelled. Damage cut off water in some city areas. A gas pipeline was struck. Basurin said:
“Residential buildings have been hit…DNR emergency services are on their way to the shelling site, fires have broken out there.”
Ukrainian forces continue shelling rebel held areas, he explained. RT International correspondent Murad Gazdiev called weekend attacks “unprecedented in recent times” – perhaps indicating greater aggression to come.
“Deafening explosions in the center of Donetsk” were heard, he said. “(A)mbulances and fire trucks (were) sent everywhere.” Areas targeted had “nothing of military value” – just apartment blocks, shops, a hospital and school.
Other DPR areas struck included its airport (largely destroyed from previous fighting), Yasinovataya, Gorlovka, Spartak, Zheleznaya Balka, Krasny Partizan, Belaya Kamenka, Novaya Laspa and Shirokaya Balka settlements.
On Sunday, DPR Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko said “over 70,000 Ukrainian military mobilized along the line of engagement, and every day the number is growing” – more evidence junta officials want war, not peace.
DPR parliament Speaker Andrey Purgin called on BRICS countries to impose sanctions on Ukraine, its officials and enterprises for continuing aggression on Donbass.
“The Ukrainian armed forces continue massive artillery bombardments of the Donetsk and Luhansk republics destroying houses, hospitals and killing civilians daily,” he said.
“I appeal to the BRICS leaders with a demand to impose sanctions against Ukrainian officials and companies involved in the terror of the people of Donbass.”
“Poroshenko was rapidly approaching ‘the point of no return’ when no one could convince Donbass of Ukraine’s (willingness) to negotiate (for peace).”
Constitutional amendments rammed through parliament violated Minsk. So-called debate excluded Donbass representation. Its rights were ignored.
Measures enacted were sent to Ukraine’s constitutional court. Expect rubber-stamp approval to follow. Rogue states operate this way – including waging naked aggression on its own people rejecting illegitimate fascist rule.
Speaking from Charlottesville, US celebrity billionaire and presidential hopeful Donald Trump lamented that US President Barack Obama «dealt from desperation» while drafting a final nuclear agreement with Iran in Vienna. Trump had it partially right, but he also had it partially wrong too. It was not that the Obama Administration was desperate per se as Trump lambasted. It is that the United States of America is in decline as the foremost power of the world, which is what forced the US government to sit at the negotiating table with the Iranian government.
Geopolitical, economic, and tactical conditions obliged the US to sit down with Iran. Washington was compelled to seek a deal with Iran by geostrategic circumstances. It is the same story with the Cubans. The decline of the United States and its increasing isolation in Latin America forced the Obama Administration to start talks with Havana and to reverse the decades-long hostile US policies on Cuba.
The Pathology of the Sanctions System against Iran
The sanctions system against Iran was not designed to bring Tehran to the negotiating table, as the Obama Administration misleadingly claims. This is US government revisionism and a political myth constructed to hide the pathology of the US-designed international sanctions system. The international sanctions system was designed to force Tehran to surrender and to submit to Washington’s edicts.
Sanctions were never needed to bring Iran to the negotiating table. Within the format of talks between Iran and the EU-3, the Iranians were even negotiating with the British, French, and Germans long before the sanctions system was established. The earlier nuclear negations between Tehran and the EU-3 failed in 2005 due to the obstructionist administration of George W. Bush Jr., which was more interested in a war with Iran or regime change in Tehran to bring about «the birth pangs of a ‘new Middle East.’» 
When Washington and its European Union partners realized that the sanctions would not make Iran surrender in 2013, they understood that they had run out of options. Economic sanctions could go no further and had reached their limits. Instead, the global environment and circumstances were increasingly beginning to change to the benefit of Iran.
With or without the removal of the sanctions system, Russia and China were getting ready to enhance trade. Moscow and Beijing already considered the unilateral US and EU sanctions illegitimate. In parallel, the European Union’s need to economically re-engage Iran to counterbalance the sanctions/economic war against the Russians that emerged after EuroMaidan in Ukraine was increasing. The sanctions would have started to unravel and other countries would have eventually joined Russia and China in normalizing their trade with an economically resurgent Iran.
The Costs of War
The US had no reliable options left. Despite the hawkish «all options are on the table» rhetoric from the Washington Beltway, a war with Iran was understood to cost too much and to be far too risky. If the US could have militarily attacked Iran, it would have done it like it did to Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. This has been stated publicly by Iranian military commanders, which say that they know that Tehran was the main US target for the Bush II Administration.  Thus the Bush II slogan: «Anyone can go to Baghdad, but real men go to Tehran!»
Any attack on Iran would lead to a highly unpopular regional war in the Middle East that would have devastating political, social, economic, security, strategic, and diplomatic results for Washington. In one way or another, a war with Tehran would cripple the US in the Middle East and demote it as a world power. US war games simulating an invasion of Iran even assessed major losses for Washington. 
A June 2015 report published by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment even confirms this by saying that the US does not have the proper military arsenal for conventionally attacking Iran, because the Pentagon cannot launch a long-range assault.  According to the report, the Pentagon is primed for short-range direct strikes whereas the Iranians, like the Chinese and the Russians, have long-range defensive systems that prevent the US from getting close enough for an attack. 
Nor were and are there any guarantees that any possible war with Iran would not spill outside the borders of the Middle East and Central Asia or that such a conflict would not transform into a broader international war. In this context, Washington had no guarantees that the Russians and the Chinese would not intervene to help the Iranians against a US attack. Moreover, as the US and EU increasingly come into confrontation with Russia and the US increasingly comes into confrontation with the Chinese, Washington and its EU allies need rapprochement with Iran to reduce, at least temporarily, their hostilities on one front.
Tehran, Washington, and the Eurasian Century
If Beijing and Moscow totally annulled their partial commitments to the sanctions system, the US was uncertain if the corporations and governments of the EU and Asia-Pacific would have continued with the US-led sanctions system. The reaction of US allies after the Lausanne Agreement says a lot in this regard.
After the Lausanne Agreement, business leaders and trade officials from Asia, Europe, and the rest of the world began making trips to Iran in anticipation of the reopening of the larger Iranian market. Executives from the Anglo-Dutch energy giant Royal Dutch Shell and the Italian energy giant Eni even travelled to Tehran.  While European and Asian corporations were rushing to Iran prepare for the normalization of trade, the French ambassador to the US, Gerard Araud, told the hawks opposing a nuclear deal with Iran at the Atlantic Council think-tank to calm down about European businesses rushing to restart trade with Iran.  «Really, we lost a lot of money, not the Americans», he reminded the Atlantic Council. 
With the Russian and Chinese challenge being posed against the US dollar and Bretton Woods system with the creation of a rival financial global architecture with the BRICS News Development Bank (NDB) and China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), it is clear that the financial and banking sanctions the US put into place would have also eroded away. As global circumstances changed and Eurasian integration accelerated, it was the US that wanted a final deal in Vienna more than Iran.
 Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, «Plans for Redrawing the Middle East: The Project for a ‘New Middle East,’» Global Research, November 18, 2006.
 «Commander: US Intention of Invasion Deterred by Iran’s Home-Grown Military Power,» Fars News Agency, June 21, 2015.
 Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, «The Geo-Politics of the Strait of Hormuz: Could the U.S. Navy be defeated by Iran in the Persian Gulf?» Global Research, January 8, 2012.
 Bryan Clark and Mark Gunzinger, «Sustaining Americas Precision Strike Advantage,» Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment, 2015.
 Christopher Adams and Anjli Raval, «European oil majors hold Tehran talks,» Financial Times, June 24, 2015.
 David R. Sand, «U.S. allies not waiting for Iran’s sanctions to come down,» Washington Times, May 27, 2015.
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The flow of science in this modern age is largely controlled by just six corporate publishing groups, which by calculated design have been gobbling up the journal market since at least the 1970s. And a new study out of Canada reveals that this mass consolidation of publishing power is, to a large extent, skewing what passes as scientific progress.
Researchers from the University of Montreal pored through the whole of scientific literature published between 1973 and 2013 and found that the publishing realm has changed dramatically during this time. Many smaller publishers have been absorbed into larger ones, for instance, and academic research groups have become increasingly beholden to the interests of these major publishers, which tend to favor large industries like pharmaceuticals and vaccines.
Much of the independence that was once cherished within the scientific community, in other words, has gone by the wayside as these major publishers have taken control and now dictate what types of content get published. The result is a publishing oligopoly in which scientists are muzzled by and overarching trend toward politically correct, and industry-favoring, “science.”
“Overall, the major publishers control more than half of the market of scientific papers both in the natural and medical sciences and in the social sciences and humanities,” said Professor Vincent Lariviere, lead author of the study from the University of Montreal’s School of Library and Information Science.
“Furthermore, these large commercial publishers have huge sales, with profit margins of nearly 40%. While it is true that publishers have historically played a vital role in the dissemination of scientific knowledge in the print era, it is questionable whether they are still necessary in today’s digital era.”
The following Natural News infographic illustrates the disturbing reach of this academic oligarchy:
Six major publishers control fields of chemistry, psychology and social sciences
The fields most controlled by this academic oligarchy include those dealing with chemistry, psychology, social sciences and the professional fields. On the flip side, biomedical research, physics, and the arts and humanities are influenced to a much lesser degree by these six corporate publishers, according to the study.
What this suggests is that, over time, certain disciplines have become more corrupted than others as they’ve been absorbed into the corporate publishing fold. Such content, though often skewed, is highly profitable for publishers which not only don’t have to pay for the articles they publish but also resell such content digitally at profit margins upwards of 40%.
“As long as publishing in high impact factor journals is a requirement for researchers to obtain positions, research funding, and recognition from peers, the major commercial publishers will maintain their hold on the academic publishing system,” added Lariviere.
Publishing in one of “Big Six” corporate journals doesn’t add value, study finds
But does publishing in high-impact journals really make much of a difference in terms of article exposure and the quantity of citations? Not really, the researchers found. The reach is roughly the same, they found, except that smaller publishers are less likely to be actively promoting a special interest agenda, and are thus less likely censor science that doesn’t correspond with the official narrative.
“One would expect that a major publisher acquiring a journal would have the effect of increasing the latter’s visibility,” said Lariviere. “However, our study shows that there is no clear increase in terms of citations after switching from a small to large publisher.”
“Our findings question the real added value of big publishers. Ultimately, the question is whether the services provided to the scientific community by these publishers warrant the growing share of university budgets allocated to them.”
Faced with the possibility of yet another Wall Street crony taking over the Oval Office next year, progressive lawmakers are directly challenging Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton to break up—and break up with—the big banks.
Speaking at an annual meeting for progressive organizers and advocacy groups on Friday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called on presidential hopefuls to support recently introduced legislation that would stem the ever-turning revolving door between government and the financial industry.
“We have a presidential election coming up. I think anyone running for that job—anyone who wants the power to make every key economic appointment and nomination across the federal government—should say loud and clear that they agree: we don’t run this country for Wall Street and mega corporations. We run it for people,”
Warren said, according to her prepared remarks, during the keynote address.
“So let’s turn that into something specific,” Warren told the thousands convened at the Netroots Nation annual convention, held this year in Phoenix, Arizona from July 16-19.
The new bill, introduced by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) this week, “won’t fix everything, but it will throw some heavy sand in the gears of the revolving door—and it’s a bill any presidential candidate should be able to cheer for,” Warren said.
Image: Already Hillary Clinton’s campaign has pocketed about $300,000 from employees at the nation’s six largest banks. (Photo: Marc Nozell/cc/flickr)
As Nation columnist George Zornick notes, Warren’s address “can fairly be read as a direct challenge to Clinton,” who is known for her long-standing ties to Wall Street.
Indeed, the Wall Street Journalreported on Thursday that in her first few weeks as a presidential contender, Clinton’s campaign
“collected about $300,000 from employees at the nation’s six largest banks, with about $88,000 coming from Morgan Stanley executives alone, and about $62,000 from workers at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.”
Speaking at a campaign event in Iowa on Friday, Clinton’s primary challenger for the Democratic ticket, populist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), advised reporters to “ask Hillary Clinton about her views on whether she thinks we should break up these large financial institutions. I do.” He added, “You will have to ask her views on whether we should re-establish Glass-Steagall.”
The New York Times reports:
Asked whether Mrs. Clinton would seek to break up the country’s largest banks or reinstate Glass-Steagall, an aide to Mrs. Clinton said she would speak in more detail about both issues in the coming weeks. (Alan Blinder, an economist who is advising Mrs. Clinton, said this week that she would not attempt to revive Glass-Steagall.)
Further, the Times continues, “Sanders boasted that he had not received financial contributions from Goldman Sachs, which he said sought ‘undue influence’ in American politics.” Of the $50,000 in donations the Clinton team has thus far received from employees of the Wall Street giant, Sanders said, “That’s her decision.”
Retired US Army General and the former Supreme Allied Commander of Europe for NATO Wesley Clark advocates rounding up “radicalized” and “disloyal” Americans and putting them in internment camps for the “duration” of the war on terror.
“In World War II if someone supported Nazi Germany at the expense of the United States, we didn’t say that was freedom of speech, we put him in a camp, they were prisoners of war,” Clark told MSNBC.
The difference is that World War II was a war declared under Article I, Section 8, Clause II of the Constitution whereas the war on terror is undeclared and thus illegal.
Clark is in essence advocating a life sentence for people who have not committed a crime but merely engaged in speech — often reprehensible, yet constitutionally protected — the government considers radical and in opposition to its foreign policy.
The Bush administration declared the war on terror would last a generation or more. Senior officials with the Obama administration meanwhile have said — when formulating “disposition matrix” to determine how terrorism suspects will be disposed of — they had reached a “broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade” or more.
The Edward Snowden “leaks reveal that the war on terror at home continues to grind on, capturing in its dragnet millions of Americans and foreigners, many of them innocent of any crime. The war on terror has become institutionalized, and the domestic costs of this war continue to mount: privacy is being eroded; communications are being monitored; and dissent is being cracked down on. The primary targets of the domestic war on terror continue to be Muslims and Arabs, though it is now clear that the sweep of the domestic war has ensnared millions of other Americans. And there is no end in sight to this domestic juggernaut,” writes Alex Kane.
Clark’s remarks reveal the mindset of the upper echelon of government. Those who disagree with the government are now to be rounded up and shut up indefinitely in political internment camps.
Mass internment of official enemies on par with Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union is now “on the table” and openly discussed as suspicious attacks and FBI orchestrated and grandstanded terror plots continue to grab headlines and build a reactionary consensus as the designed result of an incessant, decades-long propaganda campaign.
Flynn was a top intelligence official following 9/11. He worked for the Pentagon’s internal intelligence agency—the Defense Intelligence Agency—before conflict with Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper forced him to resign a year ahead of schedule. Following his resignation, Flynn became an outspoken opponent of Obama’s foreign policy because, in spite of the president’s expansion of military operations, the general believed Obama had not been sufficiently aggressive in battling the Islamic State.
He also indicts America’s infamous—and widespread use—of torture. “You know I hope that as more and more information comes out that people are held accountable,” he says. “History is not going to look kind on those actions … and we will be held, we should be held accountable for many, many years to come.”
His statements parallel sentiments he expressed previously. Earlier this year, he condemned the findings of the highly publicized CIA torture report, which revealed the use of inhumane and grotesque “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Flynn said history “will look back on it, and it won’t be a pretty picture.”
As the director of Intelligence for the Joint Special Operations Command—a secretive unit that reports directly to the White House—Flynn oversaw the transformation of JSOC into an intelligence-based unit. As detailed by journalist Jeremy Scahill’s documentary, “Dirty Wars,” JSOC was responsible for thousands of raids—many deadly—on Afghani civilians, many of whom had no ties to terrorism.
When he was asked (on a separate occasion from the Al Jazeera interview) how many people JSOC killed in Iraq, Flynn reportedly responded, “Thousands, I don’t even know how many.”
Now, however, Flynn acknowledges the aggressive military approach that encompassed his actions may not have been wise—an analysis not to be taken lightly considering his extensive role in military operations in the Iraq. In fact, he admitted U.S. military policy played a significant part in the rise of the Islamic State. As The Intercept reported of his interview with Al Jazeera,
“Flynn says that the invasion of Iraq was a strategic mistake that directly contributed to the rise of the extremist group the Islamic State. ‘We definitely put fuel on a fire,’ he told Hasan. ‘Absolutely … there’s no doubt, I mean … history will not be kind to the decisions that were made certainly in 2003.’”
His statements are further evidence that the military’s misadventures are not the brave, noble missions they are so often made out to be. A recent declassified report suggested the military knowingly contributed to the rise of ISIS. As far back as 2006, intelligence agencies warned that waging war in the Middle East would result in increased terrorist activity.
Whether increased terror activity is precipitated by drone strikes, full-on invasions, or both of Flynn’s admissions, what is clear is that the United States now reaps what it sows in the Middle East. It is becoming astoundingly clear that the U.S.’ wars in the Middle East—many times justified by lies for the sake of securing resources—cause more harm than good.
Bill Kristol is the epitome of the neocon mindset: cultivating a staid and urbane image while writing the most unhinged and mendacious claptrap. In his utterly predictable denunciation of the successful Iran nuclear talks, Kristol frames the issue in the crudest terms: if the deal goes through on the US end it will mean the return of $150 billion that was seized from the Iranians by the United States — and that money will be used to commit terrorism against the United States!
Writes Kristol: “How can we debate [the deal] without attending to the $150 billion that is going to a regime with American blood on its hands?”
Kristol cites the National Review which makes the fatuous claim (first made by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, which is headed by a close advisor to Israeli prime minister Netanyahu) that Iran has killed 1,000 Americans since 9/11. It turns out any weapon used in Iraq or Afghanistan against an invading US military that might have Iranian manufacturing origins means that the Iranians are responsible for that kill.
Do they want to extrapolate that methodology to include every bullet sold by the US military-industrial complex to every despot overseas?
But you can see how this works: A Netanyahu think tank makes an outlandish claim, it is picked up by the National Review and thus laundered from its biased foreign origins, and then recycled and further laundered by Kristol in his publication. Cute trick.
And Kristol’s objection to foreigners with American blood on their hands is highly selective. The Marxist-jihadist death cult Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MeK) hasplenty of American blood on its hands, but Kristol’s own magazine joinedother neocon voices in urging the US to remove the terrorists from the US list of terror organizations. Why? Because they are Kristol’s kind of terrorists: they infiltrate Iran to assassinate civilians and foment unrest, while passing off laptops with Mossad-fabricated data made to look like Iranian nuclear weapons activity.
The other thing that has Kristol up in arms over the deal is what he calls the “notorious” Annex III.D.10 of the agreement, which he claims will “help the Iranian regime fight off attempts by others to slow its nuclear program, and more.”
But what does that annex really say?
10. Co-operation in the form of training courses and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to prevent, protect and respond to nuclear security threats to nuclear facilities and systems as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems;
10. Co-operation through training and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to protect against, and respond to nuclear security threats, including sabotage, as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems.
In other words, the parties to the agreement will help Iran protect against attempts to attack and sabotage Iran’s peaceful and legal nuclear program. Recall the Israeli/US cyberattack on Iranian nuclear facilities and simultaneousprograms to assassinate Iranian scientists. Kristol is furious that anyone would find such illegal and murderous activity to be objectionable. After all, blood on one’s hands doesn’t count if it is Iranian or other Muslim blood.
Oh, and, writes Kristol: “Munich!!!” That is obligatory any time diplomacy supplants neocon lust for war.
That Kristol remains a favored foreign policy “expert” on stations like FoxNews and ABC says very little about the quality of his analysis and much more about his saying what the mainstream media want their audiences to hear.
And so, despite his doubts and dithering, President Obama is taking us to war in another Muslim country. Good for him. …Our invasions have in fact been liberations…in our own national interest, of course, but also to protect Muslim peoples and help them free themselves. Libya will be America’s fifth war of Muslim liberation.
Indeed the timeline of his faulty predictions would no-doubt span the equator. Imagine any other profession where one can be so consistently wrong and still be considered (and handsomely remunerated as) an expert. Imagine your doctor was wrong in his diagnosis 95 percent of the time. Imagine your financial advisor consistently lost 95 percent of anything you invest with him. Yet Kristol continues to drop his golden turds from the hallowed heights of the foreign policy firmament. What a country…
David Cameron speaking in an interview with US TV network NBC about western bombing raids in Syria has said he wants “the UK to do more but that he needs to “take Parliament with him”.”
Cameron’s words come as a closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.
Friday we reported that British pilots have been actively involved in NATO missions bombing Syria and apart from Cameron, and presumably his inner circle, British parliament has not been included in the decision making process.
RAF pilots involved are part of an exchange program with foreign forces but the idea that they could be used in active missions opposed by parliament in 2013 weakens British democracy.
Since Cameron won the General Election in May 2015 gaining a majority of just 12 to govern the UK, his party has attempted a series of measures to undermine democracy in the UK.
Up for watering down are the Hunting Act, Trade Union Rights and the Human Rights Act; add to that Social Security which was ravaged in the emergency budget last week and it does not take a genius to work out Cameron’s plans for the next five years.
In 2013, mainly with the help of Labour leader Ed Miliband, parliament scuppered Cameron’s plans to join the US launching air strikes into Syria.
It was a popular decision as the British people have neither the stomach, nor if austerity is the name of the game, the funds for another war.
Not so very long ago the west was calling rebels in Syria the real government of that country. The west was keen to help these rebels come terrorists come revolutionaries to overthrown the Assad government.
Then the antagonists fractured into groups, some taking a wealth of weapons supplied by the west, and turned on all and sundry.
Syria continues to struggle along as a broken country with no peace in sight.
Since the 2013 ‘No vote’ in British parliament we have all watched with horror footage of beheadings, atrocities against gays and non-Muslims and experienced a wave of terror attacks in the Middle East and at home.
Will bombing raids by the west in Syria help the people of Syria? How many civilians will be caught up in such bombing missions? Will such raids defeat Islamic State or make new terrorists happy to take part and achieve ‘martyrdom’?
The west at time of writing refuses to liaise with President Assad of Syria and help remove IS terrorists from that country or elsewhere.
If we are truly committed to stopping Islamic State we would surely be prepared to join forces with the Syrian leader and his forces.
But from day one we have had our own agenda in Syria which includes ousting President Assad.
David Cameron would do well to talk to the British people and parliament before he lets his mouth run off in an interview with NBC.
As Cameron’s NBC interview was reported in the UK Lord Richards, former chief of defence staff was appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show and he called for a new “grand strategy” to defeat IS, saying the UK should get on a “war footing”.
BBC News reports “Mr Cameron is due to use a speech on Monday to warn young Britons tempted to join IS fighters they will end up as little more than “cannon fodder”. “If you are a boy, they will brainwash you, strap bombs to your body and blow you up. If you are a girl, they will enslave and abuse you,” he will say.”
The west helped open a Pandora’s Box in the Middle East; there is no going back but do we really want another war?
Footnote: If the US and its allies were hoping the nuclear deal this week would bring that country onside in the fight against Islamic State they were wrong-France 24 reports ”Nuclear deal will not alter Iran’s policy toward ‘arrogant’ US, says Khamenei.”
It is worth noting that the UK Parliament was against it, namely, enlarging a campaign against the Islamic State that would also involve targeting Syrian positions. The security cognoscenti were always insisting that any conflict with IS worth its salt would have to involve strikes in Syria.
In 2013, however, the Commons took to the vote and say nay to the issue of striking Syria. The issue then was a supposed “red line” on the alleged use of chemical weapons by the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Punishment by way of airstrikes was in order. President Barack Obama was making mutterings about authorising them, and the French were getting hawkish.
The house, however, would not be swayed, and the government motion was defeated by 285 votes to 272. Chancellor George Osborne was left to tell Radio 4’s Today programme that there would be “national soul searching about our role in the world”.
Be that as it may, intervention in Syria has continued to remain a rather stealthy, vicarious affair for those in the UK cabinet. The result is a dog’s breakfast of rationales as to who should receive British support, generally of a more covert variety. Assad continues to be worth deposing, but he remains a foe of IS, which has roared into the geopolitical front line with ruthless aplomb.
This week, it came to light that the UK involvement in Syria has gone well beyond what Parliament authorised. Initial authority had been given to UK forces to strike IS targets in Iraq. Those actions have also been shielded by Baghdad’s blessing. To date, however, UK Defence Secretary Mike Fallon has maintained that the embargo would remain on British strikes against Syrian positions, at least till Parliament said otherwise.
The human rights group Reprieve, was not convinced. Yes, it may well be that the planes used in the operations continued to be American – but that did not necessarily say much about the pilots involved in the missions. In a Freedom of Information request, the organization decided to dig deeper into what, exactly, the Ministry of Defence had been up to on the issue of air involvements.
In the words of Jennifer Gibson, Reprieve’s staff attorney, “UK personnel have already been involved in bombing missions over Syria for some time – making the current debate over whether Britain should carry out such strikes somewhat obsolete.” The avarice of executive power was very much in evidence.
A spokeswoman for Prime Minister David Cameron initially tried to sidestep the issue of whether British personnel had been involved by taking a leaf out of the book of vague and trusty protocol. Since the 1950s, it had been a “well known” practice that UK personnel had been embedded with allies. There were currently “upward of a dozen” such personnel operating in the campaign against IS.
Then, the clinching remark: “The PM was aware that UK personnel were involved in US operations and what they were doing.” To date, the air aspect of the campaign has been confined to logistical support for other Coalition forces, air-to-air refuelling missions and surveillance.
This, in effect, was not so much mission creep as mission stretch, with its fair share of dangerous consequences, despite efforts on the part of such figures as former chief of the air staff, Sir Michael Graydon, to suggest otherwise. As Tory backbencher John Baron opined on the Today programme, “we should be very sensitive to the fact that we have military personnel participating, in effect, in military intervention.” Tim Farron, the new Liberal Democrat leader, suggested that the move had effectively played “into the hands” of IS, a body ever keen to find more recruits.
Alex Salmond, the Scottish National Party’s foreign affairs spokesman, was distinctly unimpressed by this shadowy widening of conflict. “The Government’s policy in this matter is entirely unacceptable – effectively overseeing a bombing campaign by stealth – and we need to know what the defence secretary knew, when he knew it, and when he was proposing to tell the country. He clearly didn’t do so in the debate on 2 July.”
Salmond’s concerns have echoed the general scepticism about which warring horse to back in the conflict. Support for one faction, he suggested, would not necessarily lead to any “desirable” outcomes. Trite, but undeniable. “Experience tells us that interventions can have unforeseen consequences.”
Experience, however, tends to be the neglected sage in the rooms of policy makers, with the Middle East continuing to draw in the incapable, the blind and, ultimately, the anti-democratic.
Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: [email protected]
A groundbreaking new study reveals that GMO soy accumulates the carcinogenic chemical formaldehyde, calling into question its safety and the notion that GMOs are substantially equivalent to their conventional counterparts.
Systems Biology Group, International Center for Integrative Systems: GMO Soy Accumulates Formaldehyde & Disrupts Plant Metabolism, Suggests Peer-Reviewed Study, Calling For 21st Century Safety Standards
A new study published today in the peer-reviewed journal AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES reveals genetic engineering of soy disrupts the plant’s natural ability to control stress, and invalidates the FDA’s current regulatory framework of “substantial equivalence” used for approval of genetically engineered food (GMOs).
The study, led by Dr. V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, Ph.D., an MIT-trained systems biologist, utilizes his latest invention, CytoSolve, a 21st century systems biology method to integrate 6,497 in vitro and in vivo laboratory experiments, from 184 scientific institutions, across 23 countries, to discover the accumulation of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, and a dramatic depletion of glutathione, an anti-oxidant necessary for cellular detoxification, in GMO soy, indicating that formaldehyde and glutathione are likely critical criteria for distinguishing the GMO from its non-GMO counterpart.
Dr. Ayyadurai stated, “The results demand immediate testing along with rigorous scientific standards to assure such testing is objective and replicable. It’s unbelievable such standards for testing do not already exist. The safety of our food supply demands that science deliver such modern scientific standards for approval of GMOs.”
“The discovery reported by Dr. Ayyadurai reveals a new molecular paradigm associated with genetic engineering that will require research to discover why, and how much formaldehyde and glutathione concentration, and what other cellular chemicals relevant to human and animal health, are altered. We need the kinds of standards Dr. Ayyadurai demands to conduct such research,” stated Dr. Ray Seidler, a former EPA Senior Scientist. “Formaldehyde is a known class1 carcinogen. Its elevated presence in soybeans caused by a common genetic engineering event is alarming and deserves immediate attention and action from the FDA and the Obama administration. Soy is widely grown and consumed in the U.S., including by infants fed baby food products, with 94% of soy grown here being genetically engineered,” declared Seidler.
The study concludes the U.S. government’s current standards for safety assessment of GMOs, based on the principle of “substantial equivalence,” is outdated and unscientific for genetically engineered food since it was originally developed for assessing the safety of medical devices in the 1970s. The current criteria for assessing “equivalence” considers only basic nutritional and superficial characteristics such as taste, sight, smell and touch, for declaring GMOs safe for human consumption, allowing them to be fast-tracked to market without independent scientific testing. If formaldehyde and glutathione were criteria, then the GMO would likely not be deemed “equivalent” to its non-GMO counterpart. This finding calls into question the FDA’s food safety standards for the entire country.
The publication of the paper coincides with release of a bulletin by the Obama Administration on July 2, 2015, calling for “Improving Transparency and Ensuring Continued Safety in Biotechnology.”
Ayyadurai shares, “This is not a pro- or anti-GMO question. But, are we following the scientific method to ensure the safety of our food supply? Right now, the answer is ‘no’. We need to, and we can, if we engage in open, transparent, and collaborative scientific discourse, based on a systems biology approach.”